With the success of the ongoing static trials for automatic doors on trains of the Western Railway (WR), authorities are looking forward to conducting field trials for the new technology by the end of the year.
The static tests, which are being conducted at the WR’s Mahalaxmi workshop, check if the doors on trains close and open automatically, without glitches. The automated system is currently installed on only two doors of an old suburban coach.
After visiting the workshop on Tuesday, Hement Kumar, general manager of WR, said, “The trials are successful. This means it is technically feasible to close doors of suburban trains.”
However, issues of ventilation inside coaches once the doors close, modification of luggage racks to accommodate and integration of the system with the existing train management are yet to be addressed.
For field trials, the system will be installed on the coach of a suburban train. But before that, authorities are first attempting to resolve the issue of improving ventilation inside coaches.
“It will take time before the new system can be integrated with the motorman and guard’s cabins, from where it will be operated,” said Kumar, adding that the estimated cost of installing the automated system on each 12-car suburban rake is Rs4.5-5 crore.
The rise in cases of commuters falling off running trains had prompted authorities to suggest automated closed-door trains for the city. It was first proposed by SK Sood, general manager of the Central Railway, following which the railway board had directed the WR to try the it on a pilot basis.
Further, railway officials said although the doors take between 3-5 seconds to open and close, the punctuality of suburban trains will not be affected as the time spent at the platform will increase only by a few seconds.
“It will be beneficial,” said Kumar, when asked if the closed-door system was necessary. He said the installation of automatic doors would be easier on the new MUTP-II trains, also undergoing trials.