Tamil Nadu

New railway coaches gather dust

While passengers complain of rattling and unclean coaches in many express / passenger trains operated across Tamil Nadu, dozens of brand new Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches worth several crores of rupees are gathering dust in the yards of Southern Railway awaiting clearance of the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS).

The light weight LHB coaches are based on German technology and equipped with a variety of inbuilt features that provide extra space, smooth ride and safety.

These coaches are designed for an operating speed up to 160 kmph and cost about Rs. 2.5 crore each.

According to sources, the Indian Railway took a decision to replace the conventional AC and non-AC coaches with LHB coaches in all trains by the end of 2016 and later extended the deadline. Priority was given to Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express trains. While other railway zones got a sizeable number of LHB coaches for important trains in their States, the Southern Railway, which holds the largest number of coaches in the country, has been left far behind in the allocation.

Ironically, about 30 new coaches delivered to the zone are idling in the yards awaiting clearance from the CRS and the Railway Board.

“A minor change was made in the design to customise the coach for local requirements. We need the clearance of the CRS to operate these coaches on high speed. At least 30 new LHB coaches are lying in the yard and adequate precaution is being taken to protect them from creepers and rodents,” a senior railway official told The Hindu on Wednesday.

Though the Integral Coach Factory is located in Chennai, not many LHB coaches are rolled out for use in the Southern Railway. The Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli, and Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, also make LHB coaches.

“It is true that many important trains in the zone, including the Chennai-Madurai Duronto Express, are run with coaches that are more than a decade old. The rakes of the Tamil Nadu and Grand Trunk Expresses operated between Chennai and New Delhi have a coupling technology that often gives violent jerks at low speed. They are also very old compartments and need to be replaced with LHB coaches at the earliest,” the official said.

Official sources said that Southern Railway had not placed request for LHB coaches in the last two years and at least a dozen were given without any demand. In the last two years, more than 30 complaints were lodged by travelling public on failure of air-conditioning system or fans in trains.

“There are some maintenance issues as well. Many express trains arrive from one destination and depart to another within few hours giving hardly any time for cleaning and maintenance. Poor maintenance of air-conditioning systems could lead to formation of fungus in the vents resulting in health hazards to passengers,” another railway official said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 8:48:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/New-railway-coaches-gather-dust/article14024505.ece

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