The plan for local trains with automatic sliding doors – an urgent requirement in Mumbai where an average 700 people die after falling from overcrowded trains annually – is on track, a top railway official told dna on Monday.
Alok Johri, member (mechanical), railway board, said that the project is still on the anvil and that it was just the technological that were taking time. Johri is the railways' top mechanical engineer and his department supervises all aspects of construction of trains.
"Any such project has its technical requirements and a gestation period. All these aspects are being looked into. However, one thing is clear. The railway board has told the Integral Coach Factory (in Chennai) that such a train should be made. We believe the project would gain momentum in another seven to eight months," Johri said.
In a report on April 18, dna had highlighted the problems dogging the project and reported that the railway ministry was not able to choose between three structural options.
The first option is to have automatic sliding doors, but without vestibules or air-conditioning. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that this would be the cheapest option at Rs39 crore. It would take around 18 months to build, provided permissions come in the next few weeks, sources said.
The second option is to have automatic sliding doors and vestibules but no air-conditioning. This is expected to cost Rs41 crore and would take around 22 months to build.
However, due to the compartment categories in Mumbai locals (like the ladies, first class, handicapped sections) the vestibules will be at six locations.
The third option is to have automatic sliding doors together with vestibules and air-conditioning. This, sources said, would cost Rs43 crore and take more than 26 months to build.
Most railway officials believe that the third option is the only one worth trying due to the oppressive heat and crush capacity crowd. They also explain that the Rs4 crore difference between the cheapest and costliest options is manageable.
Without vestibules, without AC: Estimated cost Rs39 cr; construction time around 18 months.
With vestibules, without AC: Cost Rs41 cr, time around 22 months.
With vestibules and AC: Cost Rs43 cr, time necessary more than 26 months.