Western Railway's Millennium Rake retired

Updated: Oct 30, 2019, 07:49 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Western Railway's state of the art train, which was the precursor to today's advanced rakes, passes into the ages

The retiring train. File pic
The retiring train. File pic

Western Railway will mark the end of an era this week as its flagship 'Millennium Rake' retires after 25 years of service — 15 years in its new avatar and 10 years before that in its brown and yellow garb. The silver-and-maroon train introduced in 2005 was the first with GPS indicators, speakers, aero-dynamic looks and amenities.

What's more, the prototype was created right here in the city, at the Mahalaxmi workshop, where it was upgraded from an existing 10-year-old Direct Current (DC) local train. The train has finally exhausted its codal life (duration for which an asset can be used optimally), which is why it will be put to rest, railway officials informed.

Numbered 931-932, the train quietly passed into history as the process for dismantling it began earlier this week at the Kandivli car shed. It had been the first one to break the ubiquitous brown and dust-yellow-coloured-trains mould that had served the city for decades since 1920s.

Western Railway Mumbai's Divisional Railway Manager's office at Mumbai Central proudly displays a replica model of the train till date. "Originally introduced as a nine-car train, it not only included a passenger information system, GPS-enabled train-positioning system, but also a centralised air duct, a luxury in those days. The train had been spruced up at Mahalaxmi workshop itself with the best material available in the market. Built at a cost of R2 crore, it served as a prototype rake for today's trains," a senior railway official said.

With the GPS facility, the electronic LCD display installed in the train informed passengers about the approaching station and the direction of the platform. Also, an automatic pre-recorded tape announced the name of the approaching station and it was a novelty in those days. While the then General Manager late Anoop Krishna Jhingron had introduced it on October 17, 2005 at Churchgate, then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had flagged it off at a public function later.

Commuters' delight

The millennium rake was a result of an Indo-German joint venture for its electrical equipment and with better seats, proper ventilation and other features the corrosion-free millennium train was a favourite among commuters. It had prompted the railways to recommend the design to the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Chennai, which had begun to manufacture new-age Siemens local trains by then.

"It was one of the path-breaking trains for Mumbai's suburban railway system as it changed the template of the old generation trains and commuters loved its look and feel. Western Railway's Mahalaxmi Workshop had taken extra efforts to remodel this train meticulously with finesse," Western Railway's chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar said.

Electric suburban trains in Mumbai were introduced on Western Railway, formerly called the Bombay Baroda and Central India (BB&CI) in 1928. The first one was flagged off by Governor Sir Leslie Wilson on January 5, 1928 between Colaba and Borivli in the presence of 700 invitees.

Star train

"It's sad that Western Railway is withdrawing its masterpiece and unique millennium local train 931/32 from service as it has completed 25 years of codal life. In 2005, Mahalakshmi workshop modified the conventional train into DC/AC Millennium EMU with modern interiors and features like LED display, IVRS and air blowers. It was a superstar among the old Direct Current local trains and maintained its uniqueness despite the launch of other new generation hi-end trains like Siemens, Bombardier, Medha and BHEL local trains. It will always be remembered as Mumbai's star train," Arpan Mitra, a railfan said.

Another rail fan Vijay Aravamudhan said that he was thrilled the moment he saw the train since WR had "rebuilt the interiors entirely installing stainless steel partitions, grab chains etc." He added, "A lively colour scheme of silver-grey with dark maroon and a yellow band made it stand out. Also for first time, aerodynamic driving cabs were designed for this train, with improved interiors for the motorman and improved lighting along with forced ventilation blowers for the first-ever time in local trains for the general public. It was always a pleasure riding on this train."

Oct 17, 2005 - Day the train was introduced

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