The millions of commuters who use the city's Western Railway (WR) network can hope for a better, faster journey. Today, the WR will complete the process to switch from the 1,500-kv Direct Current (DC) system to the 25,000-kv Alternate Current (AC) system.
The AC system will allow trains to run faster, which could result in more services.
"The DC rakes used to run at a speed of 75-80km per hour, while AC rakes can touch a speed of 100km per hour," said Mahesh Kumar, General Manager, WR. "The conversion will increase our capacity to run more and faster trains. The additional services will start once more rakes are available."
On Saturday, WR operated its last DC rake from Bandra to Churchgate as a ceremonial culmination of the DC local era.
The conversion work would lead to a total shutdown of rail services between Churchgate and Andheri from 10.30am to 4.30pm today. Even harbour line services that run on the western line will not be operational.
Outstation trains are likely to be delayed by a few minutes during this period. These trains will run on diesel locomotives on the Mumbai Central-Andheri section.
Meanwhile, another senior official revealed that additional services on the Andheri-Borivli and Andheri-Virar routes will start by end of March. The official could not come on record as the election code of conduct is in place.
"We are planning to start 22 to 25 more services on these corridors depending on the availability of rakes. More rakes are expected to be available by March end," the official said. The total cost incurred for the Churchgate to Virar conversion project is Rs500 crore.
The DC to AC conversion of WR's rakes has integrated it with other railway networks across the country. Consequently, long distance trains will save around 15 minutes, which they otherwise spent getting their engines changed.
Post conversion, the number of substations on the WR has reduced from 25 to five. This have brought down maintenance requirements significantly.
The conversion will also result in energy saving of up to 30 per cent. So far, the railways have saved Rs72 crore in power bills as a result of energy saved due to conversion from DC to AC.