Alarmed that the cracks are starting to show, Metro Railway has decided to change some of its 15-year-old tracks. Following extensive metallurgical tests, the replacement work is scheduled to go on track within a month. The first phase will be flagged off between Netaji Bhavan and Rabindra Sadan stations, before proceeding to Esplanade.
“Replacement of the 10-km stretch will take around two years and will be done at night so that there is no disruption of service,” Metro Rail chief engineer Ashok Gupta said.
The replacement work, costing over Rs 4 crore, will start on the 1.5-km stretch below Bhowanipore as this requires immediate attention. “A study has revealed that most of the cracks, over the past three years, have occurred in that stretch,” said Gupta.
More than half-a-dozen cases of cracks in the Metro tracks have been reported. “The imported rail will be replaced by indigenous ones manufactured at the Bhilai factory of Steel Authority of India,” Gupta disclosed.
The condition of the tracks is better in the more recently-laid northern stretch, from Esplanade to Dum Dum. “Though there is no real risk of a derailment, we do not want to take a chance,” officials said.
Other measures like beefing up night check of rails and using ultrasonic flaw-detection systems are also being introduced to prevent Metro mishaps. And extensive metallurgical tests are being carried out. “The tests are being conducted at the research and development wing of the railways in Lucknow,” said a senior Metro Railway official. “We are now exploring the possibility of conducting such tests at the National Test House in Calcutta, to speed things up,” he added.
There are also plans to rehabilitate all the 18 rakes running the 33-km stretch, over a period of five years. “We have already completed the mid-life rehabilitation of two-and-a-half rakes,” said Metro deputy chief operations manager A.K. Samanta. “There is a proposal for six new rakes once the Garia-Tollygunge section is commissioned.”