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No more spilling of teacups on Rajdhani, Shatabdi Express! Indian Railways now ensures jerk-free rides

Devanjana Nag
indian railways

Now, travel smoothly on Indian Railways premium trains like never before! The national transporter has finally managed to get rid of the jolts and swaying that people have to bear with while travelling on premium trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express. This has been achieved by providing a new version of the Centre Buffer Couplers (CBC), the equipment used to attach train coaches. According to an IE report, by late April this year, Indian Railways managed to retrofit all its LHB (Linke-Hoffmann-Busch) stock – over 5,000 coaches, including all the 42 rakes of Rajdhani Express. The unstable nature of the couplers caused several issues such as teacups spilling, people losing balance while walking in the aisles of Rajdhanis, etc. Moreover, they posed a safety issue as well.

Rajesh Agrawal, Railway Board Member Rolling Stock was quoted in the report saying that the Rolling Stock team in the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Zones and Board reviewed the designs, technicals, etc., to eliminate jerks within six months starting from November 2018. The premium trains including the Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express were prioritised to be completed by the month of January. This has now been completed, he said. Also, to use regenerative/dynamic braking at speeds above 30 kmph, drivers are being counselled in order to completely smoothen the draft/buffing forces. Semi-automatic couplings are being planned for the future for trains like Vande Bharat Express, he added.

The last set of remaining rakes was retrofitted with the new equipment in South Eastern Railway zone. The job that was carried out without fanfare, took two years at a cost of around Rs 5 lakh per coach. Now, all trains have been covered. To eliminate the jerks, the retrofit solution involved replacing the single pack draft gear/floating plate draft gear with balanced draft gear in the Centre Buffer Couplers, the report said. While CBCs had a fault of enabling internal movement that led to jolts and swaying, the new balance draft gear is provided with shock-absorbers.

The report further mentioned that wear and tear also causes a gap between two couplers fitted together. In a bid to get rid of that, shims have been fitted in them. And now, the RDSO has been asked to come up with a new design of couplers that even after wear and tear, does not allow the gap to develop. Additionally, train drivers are being counselled not to use air-brakes at high speeds and instead, use the dynamic regenerative braking of the engine as far as possible. Before the previous NDA government ended its term, the national transporter marshalled all its resources to get hold of its rakes and complete the retrofit in coaching depots across the country, the report added.