While Sunday’s mega block on the Western Railway caused commuters a great deal of trouble, it’s end result – the successful conversion of the traction from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) is going to give commuters a smooth ride in the days to come.
The WR will now be able to add more services without worrying about the capacity of its electric network.
It is looking at 15-car rakes on all trains. This, however, will only be possible after the AC traction is completed on the entire stretch. To start with, the WR will convert all its suburban trains from nine-car to 12-car, over the next three months.
The AC traction has a 25,000 V power, while the DC traction has just 1,500 V. It also consumes less enegry. With the conversion, trains can move at their maximum speed, without being worried about overloading. This will thus improve punctuality, and thus, services. Officials say the frequency of local trains will soon go up from 180 seconds to 90 seconds in each line.
WR officials said that the AC traction had lighter equipment, so the chances of breakdowns in overhead equipment were lower, and services would thus run more smoothly. “The DC system was introduced in 1920 for Mumbai’s local trains. Today, the entire world has switched to the AC system, including the entire Indian Railway system,” said a senior MRVC official.
“The DC traction was not just an issue for suburban train services, but even outstation ones, which were forced to change their AC engines to those compatible with the DC section in Mumbai. DC traction also requires more substations, which means more space and infrastructure,” Sharat Chandrayan, CPRO of WR, said.
However, commuters will have to be patient too see the benefits of the conversion. “The only immediate effect people will observe after Sunday’s block is a shift in neutral zones (The area where the train changes from DC to AC traction, resulting in suspension of lights and fans inside train compartments for 10 seconds),” said a senior WR official.