Mumbai railway commuters' cool local ride is stuck near a cave-in

Updated: Dec 27, 2016, 19:58 IST | Shashank Rao |

The partially collapsed Sion-Dharavi-Bandra link bridge and the low Mahalaxmi FOB are the main hurdles for AC rake

In 2011, a major portion of the road on the Sion-Dharavi-Bandra link bridge had collapsed. Repair work hasn’t begun yet. Pic/ Nimish Dave

Did you ever think that a road cave-in from five years ago would be what’s keeping the AC local from coming to you? But that’s what’s happening.

The cave-in on the Sion-Dharavi-Bandra link bridge, which inconvenienced motorists having to cross that busy junction, is the reason suburban railway commuters are being deprived of a cool ride. While the first AC local, which will serve the 37 lakh-odd people using the Western Railway, is already making news, authorities have identified two vital points that would end up being roadblocks in operating this rake.

Double trouble
One hurdle is the Sion-Dharavi-Bandra link bridge that crisscrosses over the tracks between Mahim and Bandra stations, and the other the foot overbridge near Mahalaxmi station, which is low and a bother for railway authorities. On July 22, mid-day had reported ‘Mumbai's first AC train too tall for British-era bridges’.

Sources in the Western Railway said there are chances of this 30-year-plus culvert link bridge to be demolished soon. “It will be demolished probably by March for reconstruction. This will enable us to run the AC local,” said a senior WR official.
During the reconstruction, the height of the bridge will be increased to accommodate the AC train.

In August 2011, a 31-m x 20-m portion of the road on the culvert bridge had collapsed; repair work still hasn’t started. And since then, it has become a nightmare for motorists, who get stuck on that road quite often as there is just one-and-a-half lane available to them and used by vehicles coming from both sides.

Last week, the civic body passed the proposal for reconstruction of the link bridge at a cost of R12 crore. Work on it has been stuck since 2013, as Metro-III project was launched. Chairman of BMC’s standing committee Yashodhar Phanse reiterated, “The bridge’s reconstruction will start soon.”

Regarding the problem at Mahalaxmi, WR sources said the height of the FOB there too would be taken care of. The level of tracks was raised to prevent waterlogging between Mumbai Central and Mahalaxmi stations. This has left little space for the AC train to ply, if it comes on WR from CR.

The tall train
The AC local is 4.3 metres tall and this has caused problems on CR too. The cooling units on top of the AC coaches could hit the base of these FOBs and ROBs; they will leave just 30-50mm (or 3-5 cm) gap between the top of the train and the base of the bridge.

The CR has started planning dynamic trials on the Kalyan-Karjat/Khopoli stretch where the train shall run soon. But, there have been reports of the train likely to be transferred to the WR, which apparently is better equipped to run AC rakes.
“Whoever runs this train, it shall be for Mumbai,” said GC Agrawal, GM, WR.

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