Mumbai: Sole surviving 7/11 serial blasts coach awaits fate
With railways set to decide on what to do with Coach 864-A, which completes its term in a month, historian calls for it to be preserved as a reminder of the dark day
In a fitting tribute to Mumbai's resilience, and a matter of pride for the Central Railway, the last remaining of the blown-up-and-restored train coaches, after the 7/11 serial blasts, is still in operation and getting ready for another month's run. Though the coach is expected to be history and scrapped by the end of the month, railway authorities say they will try and save it.
The coach, 864-A, was part of the 12-car 5.57 pm Churchgate-Virar local that was torn apart at Matunga Road station on July 11, 2006; Wednesday was the 12th anniversary of the 7/11 blasts that killed nearly 180 and injured scores others.
Of the seven affected coaches, five, including 864-A, had been restored within a year at a cost of Rs 1-1.2 crore; over the years, the other four were phased out. Two had been immediately "condemned" as they were beyond repair.
The last remaining restored coach from those blown up during the blasts of 7/11
Originally made by Jessop Company, Kolkata, 864-A was restored with material brought from the same firm. Its mainframe, the backbone of the structure, had sagged and needed replacement. Frames of the outer shell and rods supporting it were procured from Jessop. The roof was replaced with metal sheets from original spares. After restoring the mainframe, accessories — seats, fans and other items — were installed. Finally, bogie frames with wheels were attached.
It underwent extensive tests before it was declared fit for operation — runs were simulated in the workshop under most difficult conditions.
After restoration of the coaches, they had been transferred to the CR as part of an exchange programme while upgrading Mumbai railway's electric network from the old DC to AC.
After that, it ran on CR's Main line for some time, before being transferred on the trans-harbour line, where it was running till late last week. The coach has been pulled out for routine maintenance and should be back in two or three days, ready to keep going on till the end of the month, when a decision will be taken on its fate.
City police historian Deepak Rao said, "The coach is a grim reminder of 7/11, and it makes a case to preserve it, an example of how we ran it for 12 years despite it being shattered."
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