The chairman of the Railway Board, Arunendra Kumar, inspected local trains in Mumbai on Sunday, seeking a technical solution to the problem of the dangerous gap between the footboard and the platform.
Kumar, who is an officer of the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers, visited the Mumbai Central car shed where he checked the technical aspects of some old as well as new Siemens rakes.
Officials accompanying the railway board chief said Kumar is looking at the possibility of making changes in the design of the coaches to reduce the gap that has resulted in accidents.
Kumar, who has expertise in construction of these trains, was also divisional railway manager in Mumbai in the early 2000s and so has experience of the city's suburban system.
The Siemens and Bombardier rakes are higher mainly because of the air suspension system, which is a new feature in these suburban train coaches.
The air suspension system is stiffer and does not allow the floor to go lower even when the coach is fully loaded, unlike in the old BHEL rakes. And this is responsible for the wider gap between the footboard and the platform.
Under the railway rules the height of the platform must be between 760mm and 840mm from the top of the tracks. The maximum gap between the platform and the footboard of the train is supposed to be 342 to 437mm.
The higher footboard in the new rakes is contrary to the safety specifications and this has been a big bother for engineers who are searching for a solution to the gap problem.
The floor of the Siemens rakes is 1,220mm from the top of the tracks, whereas the height must be between 1,187mm and 1,197mm. In the case of the Bombardier rakes that are on trial, the floor height is 1,230mm.
In the meanwhile, the Western Railway (WR) has chalked out a Rs47 crore plan to raise the height of 145 platforms on the suburban section to 900mm. The Central Railway (CR) has asked for Rs16 crore to raise the height of some of its platforms, sources said.
On Sunday, the railway board chairman also reviewed the performance of the WR, CR, Konkan Railway and Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation. He is scheduled to meet state government officials on Monday.
Railway Board chairman, Arunendra Kumar, at Charni Road station at around noon on Sunday.