There may be no easy solutions to reducing the number of deaths on the city’s lifeline soon.
After nearly ruling out the automatic doors in the suburban local trains, starting 15-coach trains as a short-term solution to curb rail accidents has also been shot down by the authorities. Central Railway (CR) has cautioned that increasing 15-coach trains on suburban network could lead to a “sluggish service”.
In the meeting of the accident review committee, appointed to seek solutions to cut the number of deaths on the tracks, the CR listed out the constraints of running 15-coach trains.
CR officials pointed out that the permissible speed of 15-coach trains is 90kmph as against 100 kmph of 12-coach trains. Also, they have speed restriction of 15 kmph for entry-exit at the CST yard, whereas 12-car trains maneuver at the speed of 25kmph. They informed that as their services will be confined between CST-Kalyan, they will bring down the overall speed and quality of services.
With the objective of increasing capacity by 25%, a 12-coach train with three more coaches on experimental basis was augmented six years ago. Three years on, the CR introduced 15-coach trains on its network between CST-Kalyan, on October 16, 2012. A total of 16 services were introduced then and the number is unchanged so far.
Following public outrage over the death of Dombivli resident Bhavesh Nakate, railway minister Suresh Prabhu suggested more 15-coach train be rolled out, along with other measures such as raising the height of platforms and installing automatic door closure system.
According to railway officials, to run more 15-car trains along the fast corridor, a lot of infrastructure work will have to be carried out. “Apart from adding more coaches to 12-car trains, the platforms have to be extended, which will take a lot of work and time,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare said CR officials have informed that in order to run 15-coach trains, signals have to be re-spaced. “There has to be a complete overhaul of the signaling system, which is capital-intensive option,” he said.
Meanwhile, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, has written to Prabhu complaining about CR’s reluctance to implement the suggested short-term measures. He also took objection to CR general manager SK Sood’s remarks in the meeting and demanded action.