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Metro panel to probe tunnel trauma

Metro on Tuesday ordered a departmental inquiry into the stalling of a non-AC rake between Maidan and Park Street stations, which left rush-hour passengers trapped for hours. Many of the passengers fell ill.

“We have formed an inquiry committee comprising representatives of the electrical, civil, maintenance, operations and traffic departments. The panel will submit a report at the earliest,” said a Metro official.

Metro sources said poor upkeep of the coaches was prima facie responsible for the malfunction.

On Tuesday morning, Metro general manager Rajeev Bhargava and members of the probe panel visited the Noapara car-shed to inspect the rake that got stalled and asked the staff to change the schedule of the maintenance of the rakes.

“The general manager spent over two hours with maintenance department officials and asked them to increase the frequency of the upkeep and pay special attention to old rakes,” said a senior Metro official.

The maintenance department staff usually start work at 10.45pm, after the end of the day’s service.

Sources said Bhargava asked the department’s staff to attend to a rake as soon as it chugs into the car shed. Every night the rakes start entering the car shed from 8.30pm.

Rake upkeep suffered after the Metro route was extended in the south by 9km in two phases — till Kavi Nazrul (Garia Bazar) on August 22, 2009, and Kavi Subhash (New Garia) on October 7, 2010.

The day’s first train leaves Noapara at 6.45am and the last train reaches the terminal station at 10.37pm.

Till the extension of the service, trains used to cover 16.45km from Dum Dum till Tollygunge. Post-extension, they run 25.13km. The extra distance has increased the average monthly run of Metro from 6,000km to 10,000km.

“Ideally, the rakes should undergo a thorough maintenance and inspection twice a month. But that can’t be done, given the current schedule,” said an official at the Noapara car shed.

Metro currently runs 27 rakes, of which 13 are air-conditioned. Of the 14 non-AC rakes, seven were introduced between 1990 and 1994 and the seven others in 1985.

The rakes in the earliest batch are four years past their 25-year lifespan.