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India's first railway line becomes 'high-powered'
Tuesday June 9, 2015 10:39 PM, IANS

Mumbai: India's first and oldest railway line laid between Mumbai CST and Thane on Tuesday became "high-powered" with a successful conversion from a 1,500-V DC to 25,000-V AC traction system.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at a function here dedicated the new high-powered system, which will entail huge savings in electricity bills and time to the Central Railway.

He inaugurated the newly-converted system, which cost Rs.1,176 crore, between Mumbai CST-Mumbra on slow corridor and Mumbai CST-Thane on the fast corridor.

"The major benefits of this conversion includes seamless operation on 25,000-V electric traction services for all mail/express trains (including non-daily), coming/going from Igatpuri side and Lonavala side to CST and vice versa," said a Central Railway spokesperson.

This conversion from DC to AC traction - sanctioned nearly 20 years ago - will reduce energy losses from changeover of trains (from DC to AC traction sections) by 30 percent or around Rs.114 crore annually in the Mumbai Division, plus lower maintenance costs.

Besides, the technical halt of 15 minutes for long-distance trains for the change-over will be eliminated, permit increased traffic flow, enhance speed and sectional capacity, reduce costs and allow higher reliability, the spokesperson added.

The signalling system will also become more reliable with provision of state-of-the-art technology, audio frequency track circuits and improved control communication due to provision of optical fibre cable network.

India's first train ran between Bombay as it was called and Thane on April 16, 1853. But it was in November of the previous year that the trial run took place.

The Mumbai suburban section between Mumbai and Kalyan was the first in the country to be electrified in 1925 with the 1500-V DC traction system - the only option available then.

However, over the years, it proved ineffective to handle any increase in services, either frequency or longer trains as it could not provide the extra power, was much less reliable and prone to fire hazards.

"History has been created by executing this challenging work of very complex nature in the busiest network of Indian Railways, without any disruption to sensitive commuter traffic," the spokesperson said.

Prabhu was flanked by Mumbai MPs Gopal Shetty and Rajan Vichare, Central and Western Railway's General Managers and other top officials on the occasion.

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