BENGALURU: It was only the second time in Namma Metro’s history that a battery-operated locomotive was deployed to push a train through an underground tunnel. The German-made loco, purchased in 2012, was used on Saturday to bring along an entire 3-coach Metro train through the underground tunnel between Sampige Road Mantri Square Metro to Krishna Rajendra Market station.
To ensure this effort succeeds, nearly 400 Metro staff across departments have been spending sleepless nights for the last eight days. The train was later sent using regular electrical power to a pocket tunnel (side space along railway track used for stationing) at National College Metro station.
R M Dhoke, Director of Rolling Stock, Signalling and Electrical and in-charge of Operations and Maintenance, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, who was among the ten people who were on board the first loco-cum-train to chug along the track spoke to Express about the 3 hour-15 minute ride. “The train was pulled at 10 km per hour along the 3.6 km stretch. We began our trip at 3.25 pm at Sampige Road Station and went along the underground tunnel till we reached the pocket tunnel of K R Market Metro station at 6.40 pm,” Dhoke said. It appears to be a privileged ride as just four were on board the loco and five inside the train.
The ‘Zephir’ branded loco was bought from the Italian unit of the German firm for `3.6 crore. Such locos are generally used in rescue operations when accidents take place along tracks. It had been put to use at Peenya depot to move coaches.
Apart from those on board, Metro engineers, signalling and operations staff were walking along the tracks and were at stations en route to ensure this historic run took place smoothly, he said.
“In technical terms, one could say that the loco’s battery bank is 1,000 ampere hours. It means it has enough capacity to pull 240 tonnes or a six-car Metro train. Metro trains are only three coaches presently and so it can pull almost double the load,” Dhoke explained.
On March 15, 2015 a similar exercise was undertaken using the same loco for pulling a train in the underground tunnel from M G Road to Magadi Road Metro station, a distance of 4.8 km. “The operations went off very smoothly this time. We learnt from our first experience when the battery started depleting in the truck,” the Director said. As an emergency measure, charging facilities were readied at all the stations en route before the train was brought using the loco.