At a time when plans for a bullet train are afoot and passengers are demanding better trains with superior facilities, an air-conditioned double-decker train, procured recently for nearly Rs. 25 crore, has been languishing on a siding near Mulund station. Meant to operate on the Mumbai-Goa route, the train has become a playground for miscreants. It has been damaged to such an extent that the toughened glass windows are cracked, apparently as a result of stones being thrown at them. Some of the windows have been plastered with tape and blue foil has been pasted on parts of the bright yellow coaches, probably to hide damage. Most of the damage has been done to the lower portions of the coaches. The 10-coach AC double-decker train has been standing on one of the siding tracks between Mulund and Nahur stations, very close to the tracks on which local trains ply. The track is covered with shrubs and people walk along it even as buildings are being constructed next to the rail lines. Normally, railway police staffers patrol these sidings and yards, catching hold of unscrupulous elements. “It is possible that the stones were thrown while the train’s trial runs were underway on the Roha-Ratnagiri stretch. It is unlikely that such an incident happened since the time that it has been parked there (near Mulund). We will still look into the matter,” said a senior Railway Police Officer.
The cost of each double-decker coach is around Rs. 2.5 crore, bringing the total cost of the 10 coaches to Rs.25 crore. “It is sad that miscreants treat the train so badly and damage it,” said Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Central Railway, when mid-day showed him photographs of the damaged train. The train is slated to be run on the Mumbai-Goa route, which is a money-spinner. In May-June, officials from Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO), Central Railway and Konkan Railway jointly conducted trial runs for the train.
According to officials, the trial runs were held between Roha and Madgaon, and Madgaon and Ratnagiri in two phases. The officials claimed that the section between Roha and Madgaon has 68 tunnels and the train managed to navigate the stretch satisfactorily. A report is being prepared by the RDSO and it will be submitted to the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Central Circle.
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Enhanced capacity[/su_highlight]
The AC double-decker train has a carrying capacity of 120 passengers per coach against 60-70 in a normal coach. Despite there being at least 27 trains on the Mumbai-Goa route, a large number of buses, carrying 45-50 passengers each, also ply on it. Railway officials said the 10-coach AC double-decker should be be able to carry at least 1,200 passengers.