With rail­ways set to de­cide on what to do with Coach 864-A, which com­pletes its term in a month, his­to­rian calls for it to be pre­served as a re­minder of the dark day

Mid Day - - FRONT PAGE - RA­JEN­DRA B. AKLEKAR ra­jen­

‘The coach is a grim re­minder of the blasts that oc­curred in the city, and it makes a case to save and pre­serve it, an ex­am­ple of how we ran it for 12 years even af­ter it was shat­tered’ Deepak Rao, city po­lice his­to­rian

IN a fit­ting tribute to the city’s re­silience, and a mat­ter of pride for the Cen­tral Rail­way, the last re­main­ing of the blown-up-and-re­stored train coaches, af­ter the 7/11 se­rial blasts, is still in op­er­a­tion and get­ting ready for an­other month’s run. Though the coach is ex­pected to be his­tory and scrapped by the end of the month, rail­way au­thor­i­ties say they will try and save it.

THE coach, 864-A, was part of the 12-car 5.57 pm Church­gateVi­rar lo­cal that was torn apart at Matunga Road sta­tion on July 11, 2006; Wed­nes­day was the 12th an­niver­sary of the 7/11 blasts that killed nearly 180 and in­jured scores oth­ers.

Of the seven af­fected coaches, five, in­clud­ing 864-A, had been re­stored within a year at a cost of R1-1.2 crore; over the years, the other four were phased out. Two had been im­me­di­ately “con­demned” as they were be­yond re­pair.

Sec­ond in­nings

Orig­i­nally made by Jes­sop Com­pany, Kolkata, 864-A was re­stored with ma­te­rial brought from the same firm.

Its main frame, the back­bone of the struc­ture, had sagged and needed re­place­ment. Frames of the outer shell and rods sup­port­ing it were pro­cured from Jes­sop.

The roof was re­placed with metal sheets from orig­i­nal spares. Af­ter restor­ing the main frame, ac­ces­sories — seats, fans and other items — were in­stalled. Fi­nally, bo­gie frames with wheels were at­tached.

It un­der­went ex­ten­sive tests be­fore it was de­clared fit for op­er­a­tion — runs were sim­u­lated in the work­shop un­der most dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

Ex­change pro­gramme

Af­ter restora­tion of the coaches, they had been trans­ferred to the CR as part of an ex­change pro­gramme while up­grad­ing Mum­bai rail­way’s elec­tric net­work from the old DC to AC.

Af­ter that, it ran on CR’s Main line for some time, be­fore be­ing trans­ferred on the trans-har­bour line, where it was run­ning till late last week.

The coach has been pulled out for rou­tine main­te­nance and should be back in two or three days, ready to keep go­ing on till the end of the month, when a de­ci­sion will be taken on its fate.

City po­lice his­to­rian Deepak Rao said, “The coach is a grim re­minder of 7/11, and it makes a case to pre­serve it, an ex­am­ple of how we ran it for 12 years de­spite it be­ing shat­tered.”

‘The coach is a tribute to the courage and for­ti­tude of Mum­baikars... We will have to take a de­ci­sion based on its co­dal life and con­di­tion... whether to con­tinue or with­draw it’ Deven­dra K Sharma, CR gen­eral man­ager

The last re­main­ing re­stored coach from those blown up dur­ing the blasts of 7/11 NOW



The coach — 864-A — af­ter the blast on July 11, 2006, and (right) af­ter restora­tion.

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