Enough of ICF Rakes for Kolkata Metro!

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Running since 1984, Kolkata Metro is the oldest rapid transit system in the country. It changed the face of public transportation in the city which is still one of the most congested in the world. Many cities followed the trend starting with Delhi which became the first modern kind of Metro system in the country followed by Bangalore, Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kochi, Nagpur and many more yet to come. 

Bombardier and Hyundai were roped in for the supply of rolling stock for Delhi,  Bangalore got BEML, CSSR Nanjing was assigned for Mumbai, Alstom won the bids for Kochi and Chennai and so on. These rakes are smart and advanced. With the use of Modern technology, passenger safety is the primary concern in all of these systems. 

Unfortunately in Kolkata, the rakes used in 1984 are still in use. Poor 30+ years old rakes are prone to snags which are now very frequent in Kolkata Metro System. New AC Rakes from ICF were introduced in 2010, which ofcourse underwent many modifications after they arrived in the city. ICF which are manufacturing Metro coaches for Kolkata since 1984 have no place to conduct trials in their facility.

Kolkata Metro line 1 has a footfall of over 700,000 per day in the network of just 28km, it is the most poorly maintained system in the country. Firstly, lack of security, the baggage scanners are just for show. Secondly, even after so many cases of attempted suicides on the tracks, Platform Screen Doors were never considered. Thirdly and most importantly, Snags! The ICF made trains now very frequently get stuck in the tunnels causing panic among the passengers. Malfunctioning of doors, leakages from AC are very common sight. Be it the old non-AC ones or the AC ones, technical snag is now a common occurring in Kolkata Metro. One or twice is acceptable, but its now becoming a common phenomenon causing inconvenience to thousands.

 

A new ray of hope ignited when the Medha Rakes arrived. The lot of so called "Most advanced" Rakes arrived in 2017. But guess what?, These rakes were lying idle in the Metro depot for 2 years because the designs were faulty. Somehow the Metro authorities managed to roll them into service in 2019. Though the rakes are ugly from outside, from inside it was a pretty nice upgrade as per the standards of ICF. Still out of five, two have been sent back to ICF because they were so faulty that they were of no use and the necessary work could not have been carried out in the carshed.

Saturday, 13th July 2019, Sajal Kumar Kanjilal was trying to board one of these new train at Park street when his hand got stuck in the door. To the horror of the passengers, the train started moving with the body of the trapped person outside the door who gradually fell in the tunnel. The doors are equipped with sensors and are supposed to reopen if anything gets stuck. But it didn't happen and a person lost his life. As the power was shut down, it was a nightmare for the passengers too as the air condition was also shut down and they began to suffocate. As per a local daily, passengers claimed they were stuck for nearly 20 minutes which is pretty long time for evacuation and there were no announcements made. 

Kolkata Metro is directly under the Indian Railways, so unlike DMRC, sadly it cannot take any decision by its own. ICF is directly assigned to manufacture these so called "world class" rakes without floating any global tenders. The Metro authorities are tired of complaining to the Railway board about the rakes but of no use. We, as a citizen of this city and the country, have some responsibilities towards our society, We request to the Railway board not to send any more ICF products to Kolkata. We Kolkatans are tired of the mishaps. We urge the Indian Railways to float a global tender for the rakes. A person has lost his life, No money can bring him back, Its the need of the society, the current rakes are already running on life support system. Kolkata Metro is a pride for not only Kolkata, but for India too. It was the first one to run underground and gave a challenge to rest of the cities which gradually went ahead. Yes, we are getting Line 2, which is surely a technological marvel, but Line 1 is where it all started. So its a humble request to the Ministry of Railways, Save Kolkata Metro. Enough of ICF! A person has lost his life.