Bringing down the gap between the floor of the train and the platform and, at the same time, increasing the height of tracks, this is what the suburban railway authorities are struggling to achieve. But now, officials said, the new Siemens and Bombardier rakes that have come in the city have made matters worse, with respect to the gap.
The matter has now reached the railway board for a rethink, they added.
As per railway rules, the height of a platform should be between 760mm and 840mm from the top of the tracks and the maximum gap between the platform and the floor of the train should be between 342mm and 437mm.
However, engineers have found that one main problem they’re facing is that the new rakes have floor heights far exceeding safety specifications. For example, the floor of the Siemens rakes from the top of the tracks is 1,220mm high while as per railway rules, the ideal height should be 1,187mm to 1,197mm. The floor of the Bombardier rake, currently at Virar car shed, is a touch worse at a height of 1,230mm.
For platforms which are 760mm in height, the new rakes leave a gap of 460mm and 470mm, respectively, which officials say is dangerous. And even though a platform height of 840mm will make the gap 380mm and 390mm, respectively, which is within safety range, officials say in this city where, more often than not, commuters catch or alight the train when it is in motion, a gap of 380-390mm continues to be dangerous and should be brought down further.
Hence, Western Railway (WR) has now been forced to write to the railway board for permission to increase the height of its platforms further to reduce the gap.
WR divisional manager Shailendra Kumar told dna that the board has been approached for permission to raise the height of platforms to 920mm. At this height, the gap will be in the range of 300mm to 310mm, which can be considered safe, officials said.
Another hurdle towards bridging this gap, officials said, is the modern air-suspension system the new rakes have. The system doesn’t let the floor sink when the train is fully loaded with passengers, unlike in old rakes, maintaining the gap between the platform and the train floor at a dangerous level, wherein a commuter could slip in and come under the train.
“The ideal height of an air spring should be around 250mm, as per railway rules. However, in the new locals, it is as high as 258-260mm. It is becoming increasingly difficult to bring down the gap to a level where, we can safely say, a person slipping in won’t go under the train,” said an official.
A senior Central Railway official said that minding the gap has become difficult as 40 of its 105 rakes put into service everyday are the new Siemens ones. On WR, the numbers are far higher.
WR, in 2012-13, raised the heights of six platforms at Dadar, Kandivli, Malad, Borivli, Bhayander and Virar stations. Work is in progress at nine platforms in Grant Road, Charni Road, Elphinstone Road, Lower Parel, Vile Parle and Khar stations. Tenders have been awarded for another 20 platforms at Andheri, Jogeshwari, Bhayander, Kandivli, Mumbai Central, Marine Lines, Charni Road, Lower Parel, Mahim, Bandra, Khar and Dadar.
CR, on the other hand, has been working on platforms at its two worst-affected stations — Thane and Badlapur. But its officials admitted that the height of the new trains is causing a problem.