GUWAHATI, July 13 - Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) will soon start work on two major projects in Assam for upgradation and augmentation of coach maintenance facility.
As part of the plan, work will commence post-monsoon on augmenting the coach maintenance workshop at New Bongaigaon for refurbishing of new-generation Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches.
In addition, a new workshop for maintenance of Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train units has been sanctioned at Lumding and work will commence on shortly, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NFR Pranav Jyoti Sharma told The Assam Tribune.
“An augmentation work of approximately Rs 90 crore has been sanctioned for refurbishing of LHB coaches at New Bongaigaon workshop,” he said.
The work has been entrusted to RITES Ltd which is a Government of India enterprise established in 1974 under the aegis of Indian Railways. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between NFR and RITES for the augmentation work at New Bongaigaon.
“The work is likely to commence once the rainy season gets over and it is likely to take two years for completion. No additional land will be required for the project,” said the NFR CPRO.
The augmentation work assumes significance in view of the fact that the Indian Railways is increasingly replacing the old conventional coaches by LHB coaches.
Railways sources said that the LHB coaches have many advantages compared to conventional coaches in terms of life cycle costs, safety, as well as passenger comfort.
The LHB coaches can handle extreme environmental conditions and the large vehicle size makes it possible to develop the coach with more travel space, high passenger capacity and wider bays and doorways.
Meanwhile, Sharma said that the work on the new DEMU workshop at Lumding is also expected to commence soon. Till now, there is no DEMU maintenance facility in the State. “Since the NFR is targeting to replace all short distance commuter conventional rakes with the improved DEMU rakes, the need of such maintenance facility has arisen,” he said.
The DEMU trains were first started in Assam in 1996 in the Guwahati-New Bongaigaon-Fakiragram section, but later had to be withdrawn due to technical glitches.
They were reintroduced in 2016 and since then their operations have been extended across the State. Plans are now afoot to convert all short distance services in the NFR to the DEMU.
On an average, more than 750 passengers can be accommodated in a DEMU train, which is much higher than that of passenger trains with conventional coaches. A DEMU train is a multiple-unit train powered by on-board diesel engines. The DEMU requires no separate engine or locomotive, as the engines are incorporated into one of the carriages.
As a DEMU train can ply in both directions, it does not require any cumbersome engine reversal at terminal stations.