The Telegraph
Thursday , May 1 , 2014
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A shower none wanted

Water leaking from the roof accumulates on the floor of a Dum Dum-bound air-conditioned train on Wednesday afternoon. Metro Railway says clogged drainpipes in the air-conditioning system are causing the leak

A section of Calcuttans is getting drenched in an unwelcome shower at a time when the rest of the city is thirsting for rain.

Metro Railway’s overburdened air-conditioned coaches are generating artificial rain from their roofs.

A Metro official said the roofs were leaking because the air-conditioning system’s drainage pipes, concealed above the ceiling, had not been cleaned properly.

Maintenance has suffered after the city’s transport lifeline increased the frequency of AC trains because of the exceptional heat this summer. “All the 13 AC rakes in our disposal are being pressed into service,” the official said.

“When an AC rake stops for some time at the terminal station, water accumulates at a particular place under the roof because of condensation. After it pulls out of the station, the accumulated water leaks because of the clogged drainpipes,” he explained.

High relative humidity over the past three days has cranked up condensation to an unprecedented level, he said.

Metro officials admitted water leakage has become a serious problem and “we are flooded with complaints from passengers”.

A commuter on an AC train from Kavi Subhash said she got drenched in water leaking from the roof on Wednesday afternoon.

“A deluge of water from the AC vent above the ladies’ seat fell on me within minutes of the train pulling out of the station. I had taken out a book to read but it got soaked along with my handbag. I jumped out of my seat and walked to the other side. The splash lasted a few seconds but droplets kept falling throughout the journey,” she said.

Sanjib Mukherjee, a resident of Ballygunge employed with a private firm, suffered a similar wet agony on a train he thought would provide him a relaxing ride after a walk in the sun. “The train was packed to the brim and suddenly there was a commotion as drops of water started falling from the roof. All I could do was grumble and bear it because there was space to escape the droplets,” said Mukherjee, who boarded the train at Kalighat and got off at Esplanade.

The officials said the leakage problem has exacerbated because they have been able to send only one or two AC trains — out of the 11-12 in operation every day — to the Noapara yard for short maintenance.

“Routine maintenance takes four to 24 hours while a train has to be kept at the yard for seven to nine days for cleaning all the drainpipes. Metro cannot afford to keep a train in the yard for so many days in this demanding summer,” an official said.

“The drainpipes are getting clogged for various reasons… oil and dust deposits being the primary cause. Rubbish is accumulating because of inadequate maintenance,” he said. “We have asked the maintenance wing to clean the pipes and repair the faults.”