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Why you seldom get an AC Metro in Calcutta

Fear of snags preventing authorities to use new AC rakes
An air-conditioned rake of Metro Railway at Dum Dum station.

Sanjay Mandal   |   Calcutta   |   Published 10.05.19, 09:04 PM

Cool comfort is eluding many Metro Railway passengers at the height of summer because two new air-conditioned rakes have been found unfit to ferry people and fear of snags has restricted the use of other three, officials said.

“Two of the five new AC rakes manufactured by Integral Coach Factory in Perambur, near Chennai, are so defective that they will be sent back to the manufacturer,” a Metro official said on Friday.

Result: the authorities are deploying more non-AC rakes to make up for the shortfall

at a time the city has turned into a heat chamber with the Celsius pushing 40 degrees Celsius.

Kasba resident Sanjib Mukherjee was waiting for a train at Kalighat station on his way to Esplanade on Thursday afternoon when a crowded non-AC rake pulled in.

“Like many others at the station, I did not board the non-AC rake, expecting that an AC rake would come next. But the rake that came next was non-AC, too, and was even more crowded,” he said.

The five AC rakes manufactured by the Perambur factory started arriving in the city in phases two years ago. Only three have been pressed into service and that, too, for fewer rides than others.

“The other two cannot be deployed to ferry passengers because of their malfunctioning doors and water leakage from roof-mounted air-conditioners. So, the authorities have decided to send the rakes back to the factory,” the official said.

Metro sources said the three new rakes that were running were making two round trips between Kavi Subhas and Dum Dum every day on an average. In contrast, the non-AC rakes and the older AC rakes make seven to eight round trips each.

The authorities said fear of snags was preventing them from deploying the three for more extensive use.

Adding to the commuters’ woes, two of the 13 older AC rakes have been pulled out for repairs.

“One of them is undergoing overhauling, which each rake goes through every four years. The other has been sent for a biannual maintenance,” the official said. “Each rake, AC or non-AC, needs overhauling.”

As one of the older AC rakes has been kept on standby, the AC fleet of Metro has an effective strength of 13.

“Nine non-AC rakes are being deployed. Four of these are so old that they will be discarded the moment their replacement comes,” the official said.

“If the new AC rakes could be used like the older ones, the commuters’ woes would have lessened a bit.”

The new rakes had been problematic since arrival. They had flunked multiple trials over 18 months before receiving the mandatory safety clearance last December.

The first two of the new rakes had arrived in July 2017 and trials had revealed various technical problems.

The rakes were also found to be generating higher radio frequency waves than permissible, which can impair the Metro signalling system, along with mobile phone and television transmission.

Officials from the Lucknow-based Research Designs and Standards Organisation, which function under the railway ministry, had been called for troubleshooting. Later, three were cleared for commercial run.


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