Staff Reporter

Clanging sounds welcome people

  • Three-decade-old workshop depends more on men
  • The workshop earned Rs. 9 crores last year

    VIJAYAWADA: "We are used to these sounds. For new comers, it is painful to bear this incessant noise," said Md. Faizullah, a fitter in plating department of the Railway Wagon Workshop, while removing cotton plugs from his ears.

    Clanging sounds welcomed people into the sprawling premises of the workshop at Rayanapadu, on the city outskirts, where hundreds of workers were engrossed in risky jobs at different furnaces.

    Removal of damaged parts of wagons, effecting repairs and periodic overhauling of wagons formed part of their daily duty. "It is my livelihood. Unless I am accustomed to this environment, I cannot perform well," said Faizullah wiping the dripping sweat from his forehead while emerging from the furnace chamber on Wednesday afternoon.

    One of the biggest wagon workshops in Indian Railways, the Rayanapadu workshop undertakes repairs of 20 wagons a day.

    A blend of conventional and modern technology, this three-decade-old workshop depends more on men than machinery.

    "We are not against using machinery. But, some machinery is highly expensive and not so efficient compared to manual operations," said Balaram Singh, chief workshop manager. This workshop is next only to the one at Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh in size and output.

    "A workforce of 2,750, including 273 women, is the backbone of the workshop. Besides railway wagons, we also undertake repairs to the wagons owned by the Defence and several thermal power stations," he explained. The workshop earned Rs. 9 crores last year from its clientele outside the railways.

    Each railway wagon carries 70 tonnes of load and its durability for 30 years. It should be overhauled once every four and a half years. "It is not possible to increase the durability of wagons.

    But, we have successfully increased the load-bearing capacity by eight tonnes. Even after condemning a wagon, we use some of its parts for other wagons," Mr. Singh said.

    Conversion of oil tankers into fly ash carriers was the recent achievement of the workshop. It converted 150 oil wagons into fly ash carriers by spending Rs 50,000 each. "Fly ash transportation is one of the biggest achievements of Vijayawada railway division. Taking a cue from it, we are planning to transport sand from the city to Hyderabad soon," said S.K. Sharma, Divisional Railway Manager.

    He said that a proposal was sent to the Railway Ministry seeking Rs 23 crores for the expansion of the workshop. "We are planning to introduce plasma welding in plate cutting section. It reduces sound pollution. Use of poly urethane paints is also on the cards, as this paint increases the life of wagons and protects them from rust," he said. Mr. Singh said it was not possible to make the workshop sound pollution-free.