The Central Railway (CR) completed the long-delayed conversion of electrical systems from 1500volt direct current (DC) to 25KV alternating current (AC) between Kalyan and Thane over the weekend. The switchover was also done on the fifth and sixth lines between Thane and Kurla terminus in the early hours of Sunday.
The 12152 Howrah-Kurla LTT Samarasta Express was the first train with an AC locomotive to enter Kurla terminus while the 12542 Gorakhpur Express was the first with an AC locomotive to depart from Kurla.
CR officials expressed satisfaction that the work was undertaken according to plan. But they admitted that the tougher part for conversion of the traction between Thane and CST would have to be started soon.
The shift to AC would enable CR to save on energy costs, but involves providing more headroom for taller coaches like the Rajdhani-type LHB coaches. Today, the height available under some of the old road bridges and foot overbridges (FOBs) across the CR is 4.71 m, which would get reduced to 4.265 m after the switchover. But the LHB coaches have a height of 4.381 m. The railways has budgeted to introduce these larger coaches for long-distance services.
Some FOBs would have to be rebuilt. But raising old road bridges would be a tough proposition that would require the level of the tracks to be lowered, officials said.
CR has already applied to the railway ministry to be allowed to undertake such bypass measures in the case of the century-old Carol Bridge at Parel and the Currey Road bridge.
These issues will likely result in many train services being moved to the Kurla terminus, ending the pre-dominance of the 160-year-old CST.
With the ministry asking the CR to wind up the conversion work by the middle of the year, CR authorities are planning to go ahead with lifting just four overhead structures that are so low that there is no other option but to raise their height. These include Hancock bridge at the north end of Sandhurst Road, the Matunga north end FOB and the Kasaiwada FOB at the south end of Kurla.
DC to AC project
The DC to AC conversion plan began from Igatpuri and Pune and has progressed up to Thane.
The work from Thane to CST will be implemented by the middle of this year. The Harbour Line section will take a little longer. The budget sanctioned is Rs1,299 crore.