Metro Railway will receive its first pair of state-of-the-art air-conditioned rakes by July, 2016. These rakes are being built by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai as per standards set by the Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO). With the arrival of these two, the Kolkata metro will have 16 AC rakes in its fleet apart from 13 non-AC ones. By the end of 2018, the metro is likely to receive 14 more AC rakes for which an order has been placed with CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co Ltd in China
“The two rakes being built by ICF now are much more advanced than those in service. They will have 3-phase alternating current motors and features like regenerative braking for substantial energy saving, stainless steel body, disc brakes, better passenger information system and CCTV for passenger security. The existing AC rakes with the metro were also supplied by ICF but the new design is a challenge. With metros coming up in several cities in the country, there will be a high demand for rakes. If advanced rakes can be built in India, there will month longer be any need to import them,” a metro official said.
The Kolkata metro is different from those in other cities. This is the only metro network that depends entirely on an electrified third rail rather than overhead equipment (OHE). When the Kolkata metro was designed more than 30 years ago, technology hadn’t evolved sufficiently to dig tunnels large enough to accomodate OHE. The third rail was the only option. Today, when most metros draw power from the OHE, few rake manufacturers have retained the technology to build rakes that draw power from a third rail. As the north-south corridor of Metro Railway is third-rail dependent, all ongoing projects in Kolkata (save for the E-W Metro) will use the same technology for integration.
“We will need many more rakes as and when the ongoing projects are completed. Take the Kavi Subhas-Airport (via Rajarhat) link. This will form a circular link with the N-S corridor once the stretch between Noapara and the airport is completed. Once the integration happens, demand for rakes will go up. Units like ICF are gearing up for this. Within the next few years as the ongoing projects get completed, one would get to see more advanced rakes in the network,” the official added.