The infrastructure at the Central Railway Workshop in Mysore city is being ramped up for undertaking the periodic overhauling and maintenance of Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB) coaches that constitute the rakes of the Shatabdi and the Rajdhani trains.
This is part of the capacity building of the railway workshops across the country as the Indian Railways plans to substitute the conventional Integral Coach Factory-designed coaches with the German technology-based LHB coaches for most Indian trains in the long run.
“The Mysore workshop has been upgraded to handle the LHB coaches and 29 such coaches have been overhauled here since October 2012. The workshop’s installed capacity at present is to take up maintenance of eight LHB coaches a month or 96 coaches a year. This is in addition to the periodic overhauling and maintenance of 70 ICF-designed coaches a month, of which 10 will be AC coaches. The workshop also takes up intermediate overhauling of 40 coaches a month,” Mr. U. Subba Rao, chief workshop manager, said.
Though the LHB coaches are expensive (One LHB coach costs about Rs. 1.8 crore while an for an ICF coach costs Rs. 65 lakh), they are found to be more efficient and capable of higher speeds ranging from 160 kmph to 200 kmph and reckoned to be safer while providing greater ride comfort.
The LHB coaches at present are air-conditioned, the Railways has designed non-AC LHB coaches as well and they will supplant the conventional ICF coaches in future, according to Mr. Subba Rao.
V. Suresh, senior section engineer, Bogie Repair Shop, said there were nearly 100 LHB coaches operating out of the Bangalore Railway Division but as Bangalore does not have a railway workshop, infrastructure had been put in place at the Central Workshop at Ashokapuram here for coach maintenance.
“The load will be shared between the Mysore and the Hubli workshops, and we have presented a proposal for capacity upgrading,” Mr. Rao added.
The staff here have designed a hydraulic press, reckoned to be the most important machinery for coach maintenance. While a few testing equipment have been procured, there are other requirements such as a surface traverser for shifting coaches, which costs around Rs. 3.5 crore, he said. A proposal has been submitted for the construction of a new building at a cost of Rs. 5 crore.
Conventional ICF coaches require periodic overhauling once every 18 months against once in 72 months for LHB coaches. The workshop staff have been sent for training at Lower Parel in Mumbai and at the Jagadhri workshop in Haryana where they have been working on LHB coaches for almost 10 years, according to Mr. Rao.
The Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala, Punjab, manufactured 460 LHB coaches last year and the ICF at Perambur, Tamil Nadu, was scaling up the LHB production. The new factory established at Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, was exclusively meant for the production of LHB coaches, Mr. Rao added.