There seems to be no end to the woes of suburban commuters on the Central Railway (CR).
On Thursday, around 12.30pm, passengers were stranded for the third consecutive day, when an electrical fuse in the motor coach of a Thane-CST train tripped at Dadar, causing a spark and resulting in smoke from the pantograph of the train. This forced many passengers to jump off the train and walk along the tracks.
Confirming the incident, a CR official said the train was detained at Dadar station till 12.42pm, after which it was taken to the Kalwa car shed.
Thursday’s incident took place on an old direct current (DC) rake, more than 25 years old, and in urgent need of replacement, activists said. In fact, CR’s Mumbai division has 27 such old rakes, that need to be replaced immediately. However, the unavailability of new rakes has forced officials to continue using old ones, leading to frequent failures.
Although the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) had procured new Bombardier rakes in October 2013, they have still not been inducted into suburban operations. So far, two rakes have completed safety trials.
“The delay in supply of Bombardier rakes is adding to our troubles. Even if the new Bombardier rakes were inducted on the Western Railway, we could have used some of the existing WR rakes,” said Sunil Kumar Sood, general manager, CR.
Activists, however, blamed officials for shirking responsibility over the deteriorating condition of services. “The railways has spent public money to procure these rakes. Why are they not being used? Senior officials should either take responsibility for the deteriorating condition of services, or resign from their posts,” said Aniket Ghamandi, a commuter activist.
“All tests related to Bombardier rakes have been complete and compliance reports have been submitted to the WR. They must now be sanctioned by the commissioner for railway safety (CRS). Following this, it will go to the railway board for a final sanction,” said Prabhat Ranjan, MRVC spokesperson.
Meanwhile, representatives of the WR said the process of getting a sanction from the CRS had been started.
“The safety certification for the Bombardier rakes is in process. The compliance reports have been received by us, and we will prepare a safety certificate on it. It should be forwarded to the CRS by early next week,” said Hemant Kumar, general manager, WR.