Decks have been cleared for the introduction of Chennai-Bangalore AC Double Decker train service with the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Ministry of Railways, issuing clearance on the basis of trial runs conducted on the route in February.
The first pilot runs were conducted under RDSO supervision on February 24 and 25 to examine whether the coaches would encounter any interference from fixed structures such as track-side installations, platforms, or overhead equipment en route.
The route clearance study recorded “an infringement” with the coach roof at Bangalore Cantonment Station. No other problem was observed during the run that covered the entire 362 km distance between Chennai and Bangalore or platforms of stations where the train has stoppages - Perambur (up direction only), Arakkonam, Katpadi, Ambur, Jolarpettai, Bangarapet and Krishnarajapuram.
The hitch at the Cantonment Station was conveyed to South Western Railway for corrective action and a second trial run was conducted by RDSO on March 1 and 3 on the route.
“Results of the final trial show that there is no infringement of 25 mm thermocol spacer pasted on the coach body at any platform between Chennai and Bangalore stations in both up and down directions, V. Ramachandran, RDSO Director-General, told The Hindu.
Based on the results of the final trial, the RDSO has given clearance to the Southern Railway and the South Western Railway to operate the train with a maximum number of 11 AC coaches plus two power cars.
Though the double decker train which has its LHB coaches designed by the Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala is capable of clocking speeds up to 160 kph, the RDSO has set a speed cap of 110 kph in the Chennai-Bangalore section.
According to Mr. Ramachandran, no modifications were required en route even when other similar double decker trains (coach width 3050 mm) were introduced between Delhi and Jaipur, and Mumbai and Ahmedabad stations in 2012.
Meanwhile, sources at the Basin Bridge train care centre to which the double decker is attached for primary maintenance expressed their concerns over the “lack of clarity” in the upkeep protocol. They are also worried whether the existing facilities would suffice for the upkeep of coaches given the variation in dimensions compared to conventional LHB chassis.
However, the RDSO chief said the Basin Bridge train care centre would not require specific upgrades for the upkeep of the new train.
Maintenance requirements of these AC double decker coaches are very much similar to that of LHB type coaches fitted to Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. The Basin Bridge train care centre can follow the same maintenance protocol for LHB type coaches for the new train, he said.
“We have tested out the train on the pit lines and everything is fine,” said S.K. Sood, Chief Mechanical Engineer, Southern Railway.