Western Railway has prepared a Rs 46.9 crore plan for increasing the height of 145 of its suburban platforms to a uniform 900mm over the next couple of years, provided the fund is sanctioned by the Centre without much delay.
It plans to complete the work in three phases. In the first phase, the height of a set of 32 platforms, which now measures 760mm from the tracks, will be altered. The present height is fine by railway rule-wise, but dangerous when the new Siemens and Bombardier rakes begin operation.
It would cost Rs 12.2 crore to complete the first-phase work. According to WR officials, work on nine of these 32 platforms have been completed, and work is progressing in another eight. The rest, 15, will be finished by July 2015.
WR will take up 16 platforms that currently have heights between 760 and 840mm in the second phase. It would cost Rs 5.6 crore, and officials expects this money to be sanctioned soon.
Work on the third and biggest phase, comprising 97 platforms, which currently are around 840mm high, is estimated to cost Rs 29.1 crore. Railway officials are hopeful that the media attention the infamous 'gap' has attracted, combined with political pressure would ensure that the money for this is sanctioned by the Centre.
"Rs 29-odd crore is a big amount, so it would be tough for us to start the work without the money being sanctioned. The work on phase one and two is being undertaken with the money allotted for the 6th line project (a 6th line between Mumbai Central and Borivli)," said an official.
Railways expects to complete phase two and three within 24 months from the date the fund is sanctioned. Officials said if the money comes in by the middle of this year, the work could be completed by middle of 2016.
As reported by DNA, the general consensus among railway officials is that a height of 900mm is ideal in a city where tracks are undulating and several suburban network stretches are prone to flooding.
Speaking to DNA, Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager, said emphasis would be on doing the job in such a way that phase one and two are undertaken around the same time. "Commuter safety is paramount, so the height of platforms would be raised to lessen the gap as quickly as possible," Kumar said.
Phase No. of platforms Cost Time frame
1. (760mm) 32 Rs 12.2cr July 2015
2. (760-840mm) 16 Rs 5.6cr Date of sanction + 24 months
3. (nearing 840mm) 97 Rs 29.1cr Date of sanction + 24 months
Total no. of platforms: 145.
Total cost: Rs 46.9cr.
According to railway safety rules, the height of a platform should be anything between 760mm and 840mm from the top of the rails, and the maximum gap between the platform and the floor of the train should be between 342mm and 437mm. Both WR and CR now want railway board to raise the height stipulation to anything between 900mm and 920mm as local trains are wider and higher than other trains.
For example, Siemens rakes have a floor height of almost 1,220mm whereas the ideal height, as per rules, should be around 1,187mm and 1,197mm from top of the rails. The new Bombardier rake, currently stabled at Virar car shed, is a touch worse with floor at a height of 1,230mm from top of the rails.