Friday, October 7, 2016

Deaths on CR Tracks: Can Be Explosive by 2030!

  • Ten people die daily & ten get seriously injured
  • Central Railway Panel suggests Rs 20,000 cr makeover Plan
  • Focuses on Parking for Locals at Panvel, Thane, Kalyan
  • Underground loop at CST, off Pdemelo Road

MUMBAI: Twentyone year old Bhavesh Nakhate wouldn’t have risked his life to catch a crowded train and precariously hang on to the coach’s handles had he known that there was another train in just two minutes.
But unfortunately, there was no train in two minutes and Bhavesh had to take that particular ‘local’ at Dombivali on his way to CST. Many people were hanging on to the train and there was someone who was shooting the journey on his mobile from inside. Suddenly, you see Bhavesh slipping away between Kopar and Diva. Thud. He falls and he was dead. The video clip went viral creating a sensation in social media.
Moved  by this, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered both Central and Western Railways to study the accidental deaths and come out reports to improve the situation.
The Central Railway came out with a report which, when  implemented, could convert the suburban into Metro like services with two-minute headway.
The situation with the existing stock can be “explosive” by 2030 as the number of casualties will multiply manifold due to open doors on the trains, the committee cautions and stresses that CR trains need air-conditioning and door closures much before the Western Railway
The committee which had four MPs - Kirit Somaiya, Rajan Vichare, Poonam Mahajan and Arvind Sawant – apart from S K Sood, (then General Manager of Central Railway), Ketan Goradia (Commuters Association), L R Nagwani (NGO), Ajoy Mehta (BMC Commissioner) and E Ravindran (Kalyan Dombivili Municipal Commissioner).
The committee members deliberated and finally signed a big report which is now placed on CR website.
The “Report on Review of Rising Trend of Accidental Deaths in Mumbai Suburban System” comes out with a Rs 20,000 crore makeover plan for CR including.
Some pointers from the report are:
·         Purchase of 150 new trains
·         Door closures and A/C trains
·         Additional platforms and stabling lines (parking for trains) at CST, Thane, Kalyan and Panvel
·         Disaster management plan
·         ROBs, fencing of tracks and so on
·         Committee discusses at length on the lack of parking places for trains which creates congestion (drag) on the system and leads to delays in train running.
·         Committee suggests ways to increase frequency of trains at two minute intervals by providing for loops, stabling lines etc.,
·         Underground loop at CSR and stabling lines at Thane, Kalyan and Panvel discussed.
·         Thane, KDMC and BMC commissioners were also on the committee and signed the report.
·         The situation with the existing stock can be “explosive” by 2030 as the number of casualties will multiply manifold due to open doors on the trains, the committee cautions and stresses that CR trains need air-conditioning and door closures much before the Western Railway
·         To be fair to CR, the committee recognises the fact that CR works at 400+% capacity on normal days and at times even exceeds 800+% capacity and calls for additional exclusive platforms to handle suburban trains, new trains to bridge the gap, and stabilizing lines to help double the services.
·         The panel envisages that half of the projected investment is to go for acquiring new rakes, while the stabling lines or parking places for trains to reduce piling up of rakes – akin to bumper-to-bumper road traffic - will be developed on self-financing basis.
·         Discussing the pressure on the existing system, the committee notes that at CST as many as 584 trains terminate and turn back in 20 hours. Similarly, 395 trains terminate at Thane, 256 at Panvel, 194 at Kalyan, 181 at Vashi, 72 at Karjat, 34 at Kasara and 30 at Khopoli.
·         This leads to a drag on the rail network and leads to piling up of trains approaching these stations – CST, Kalyan, Panvel in particular – which in turn causes delays.
·         To reduce this congestion and to improve efficiency of the network, the committee discusses at length proposals to construct auxiliary platforms and lay stabling/loop lines. The stabling lines and loops – proposed at CST, Kasara, Thane, Kalyan, Vashi and Panvel - will free the platforms and allow smooth flow of traffic since the rakes do not have to turn back as is the case now at most terminal stations.
·         CR has stabling lines for about 120 trains, and the facility is being increased to accommodate another 29 trains. However, stabling lines for another 150 rakes needs immediate attention, the committee says.
·         With the fate of CST-Panvel elevated corridor unclear and considering the rapid growth on the section, the committee says the only way to is CBCT or Communication-Based Train Control which can reduce the headway from four minutes limit of existing signaling system to two minutes.
·         Communications-based train control (CBTC) is a railway signaling system that makes use of the telecommunications between the train and track equipment for the traffic management and infrastructure control.
·         The Committee notes that the introduction of CBTC, at a cost of Rs 800 crores, can lead to requisition of 35 rakes and as many stabling lines in Panvel-Roha and Panvel-Karjat sections. This should be done immediately under MTP by the Railways and the Government of India.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently promised to take up the CBTC issue with the Railways.
CR GM Akhil Agrawal also promised to study the report and he also indicated that the Railway is looking beyond Mumbai City for parking places in places like Thane, Kalyan and Panvel.
With Suresh Prabhu himself taking keen interest in the suburban services, one hopes to see some action on this important report.
Prabhu was in Mumbai recently appreciating the beautification of 36 railway stations under Hamara Station, Hamari Shaan campaign.
Hope he will also focus on Beauty With Safety and Punctuality.

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