The nerve centre of a major railway junction such as New Delhi, with almost 270 trains originating/terminating or simply passing through it, is the RRI (Route Relay Interlocking) Cabin, which sets the routes and blocks any conflicting movements across the pathway of a train signalled to move. Eliminating any mishaps arising from human error is its basic function. And, when it needs to be shut down for up-gradation or remodelling, one may expect all hell to break loose! But the Railways has ensured this did not happen.
The Railways could have cancelled all the trains, while the technicians went about rewiring the whole system but it would have meant subjecting the travelling public to untold hardships. The next best alternative was diverting the trains to nearby stations, something akin to a by-pass surgery, with the blood circulation being taken up by a heart-lung machine while the arteries are being repaired. And that’s exactly what the Railways did!
Careful planning ensured that during the nine days of shut-down (from September 6 to 14), almost 750 trains, involving about 8 lakh passengers, were diverted or terminated short of their destination and originated from 13 nearby stations — such as Hazrat Nizamuddin, Sarai Rohilla, Delhi Cantt; Okhla, Delhi Main, Adarsh Nagar, Delhi Safdarjung, Sahibabad, Delhi Shahadra, Shakurbasti, Tilak Bridge and, in some cases, towns as far away as Panipat and Meerut City, with the cancellations kept to the bare minimum.
Of course, for the duration of the shut-down, all parcel bookings had to be closed, except for transporting certain perishables goods, again only from and to the alternative stations.
Advance planning also ensured that tickets — some of them may have been bought a few months ago — were issued, with the alternative boarding and destination stations printed clearly on them, so that passengers had no doubt which station they had to board from, or detrain at. The only trains that continued to use the New Delhi station were a pair of prestigious trains — the Rajdhanis to Mumbai and Kolkata, while the 3,000 gangmen realigned and connected up new tracks and hundreds of technicians rewired the RRI!
During the last remodelling exercise of the New Delhi Railway Station, carried out in 1997, the main thrust was to revamp the circulating area on the Minto bridge side entry, to provide increased vehicle parking. Two additional platforms and a third over the bridge on the Shivaji bridge end were also added.
However, the explosive growth of passenger traffic with the number of trains handled per day increasing. from 150 in 1987 to 170 in 1997 and 270 in 2007, an 80 per cent increase over the last couple of decades, prompted the latest capacity expansion.
This time, which could perhaps be the last such effort as there is no more room for further expansion, no less than four new platforms are being added, increasing the number of platforms to 16.
New routing system
The revamped RRI (Route Relay Interlocking) system, replacing the metal to carbon relays with metal-to-metal relays, a technology developed by Siemens, will increase the capacity to capability of setting routes from the present 690 to nearly double, at a record breaking 1,276 routes, overtaking the Delhi Main Railway Stations record of about 1,100 routes created a couple of decades back!
A separate walkway will now connect the Shivaji bridge end overbridge to the Central overbridge, providing access to the Paharganj end, and in the process provide alternative pathways to all the 16 platforms.
Reflecting the nation’s multi-religious ethos, New Delhi station complex boasts of 13 religious structures, including small temples and mosques, that have made the current remodelling exercise tricky. A fairly small mosque at the Shivaji bridge end of the Platform 2 is in the way of extension work to accommodate 24 coaches, leaving it to be used mostly for the EMUs (Electrical Multiple Units) for the commuter services, since they are only 12 coaches long.
Bi-directional capability for each platform and the new RRI would permit speedy movement across the entire Station complex which should hopefully make waiting at entry points, and any last minute changes in platforms, a thing of the past! However, unless a rigid system of grade separation of inbound and outbound passengers on the lines of the Airports, and adopted at some of the world-class railway stations, is introduced, stampedes with horrendous outcomes, often witnessed at New Delhi while boarding certain east-bound trains, for instance during the Chhat festival, will perhaps continue!
Date : 15/09/2008
Courtesy : Businessline