Expect rush-hour trains on Western Railway to be a little more crowded as rooftop travellers will no longer be able to ride upper class from Sunday, when the final phase of conversion to alternating current (AC) traction will be completed, making this kind of commute extremely deadly.
WR will undertake a special mega block on November 13 to do away with the age-old direct current (DC) technology, which has load capacity of 1,500 volt. In comparison, the new AC lines will have 25,000-volt power. “The new power mode is 17 times stronger than the old one, and all those within two metres of the overhead wires will be instantly pulled towards the wires due to its magnetic field,” said a WR official.
The railways have installed protective iron barriers on rail over-bridges from Churchgate to Virar.
WR has launched a campaign to warn commuters of the change. “AC conversion between Borivli and Virar is complete, and the final phase will be carried out on Sunday. “We have intensified the awareness drive about not travelling on the rooftops of trains and have roped in celebrities such as actor Jeetendra, singer Shaan and comedian Raju Shrivastava for the purpose,” said Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer of WR.
“There are announcements and awareness stickers pasted between train compartments from where people climb to the roof,” a WR official said.
WR officials said the number of rooftop casualties has come down because of the sustained campaign, counselling, and fines.
However, records show that 28 people have died on the Western Railways suburban network after being electrocuted during rooftop travel since 2008.