Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has provided in the budget for key components of new-age suburban trains, which have been facing spares-related problems since they began running in November 2007. Both the Western and Central railways are have been managing by doing maintenance work that does not involve replacing these components.
The Railway Budget 2011-12 provided a token amount of Rs. 1,000, as is the standard practice when the administration is unclear about the total amount required, for procuring the spare parts. The rest of the funds would be given when required and adjusted in the accounts at the end of the financial year.
The total anticipated cost of the spares is Rs. 12.28 crore.
Initially, the parts were imported from Europe but are now manufactured by Indian Railways itself.
The components include traction motors responsible for running the train, power converters that allow trains to run on both 1,500-volt DC and 25,000-volt AC lines and power transformers. Also included in this list is software used to run the trains.
There have been instances of wheels jamming and pneumatic brakes failing. There were also problems with the traction motors due to faulty bearings.
Trains have broken down due to unit failure, which occurs when these vital components fail.
The first of the train warranties end in 2012. If the trains break down, they could bring the city to a standstill.
“We came to know of the problems once trains began operating on a regular basis. Once the warranty ends, the railways will have to pay for the repairs,” said Dr PC Sehgal, managing director, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, which brought the new-age trains to Mumbai.
The railways have set up four workshops for maintenance and replacement of the spare parts. The workshop at Kalwa repairs traction motors; the one at Baroda looks after transformers; the Nashik workshop oversees power converters while the Integrated Coach Factory at Chennai works on the software.
So far, 114 new-age trains have been introduced, while 16 more are expected by June. The trains, worth Rs. 20 crore each, were bought under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project.