Engineers on Central Railway were surprised when they stumbled upon mounds of ash from century-old steam locomotives that had gathered over ages before they could clear it and fix the age-old problem of flooding at the Kasara railway yard by micro-tunnelling under the rail tracks.
Steam engines of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, now called Central Railway used coal or wood for fuel. When a steam locomotive arrived at a shed or its resting place, it would drop its fire and the cinders and the ash that had built up during the running would be removed. Disposal of the ash was a strenuous job and carried out regularly and old photographs in the archives show it was not uncommon for piles of ash to be scattered around the depot site. Kasara was once a major steam depot for powerful engines that needed to climb and get down the steep Ghat sections.
“When we got down to work to find a solution to fix the water problem, it was a challenge of different type. Kasara yard was getting flooded every year due to insufficient outlet for excess water. The wall of platform one was acting like dam and thus the water coming down from the hill was getting accumulated in the Down yard,” a senior divisional engineer said
“It was very difficult work. This work was targeted after seeing last year’s flooding. There were lot of hurdles. In some portion there was very difficult hard rock to cut whereas in some portion it was filled up with ash where track was settling where we had provided rail cluster & also imposed caution orders during execution. Our goal to complete before start of this monsoon was accomplished. We hope great relief during this monsoon,” he added.
Now most of the water will go underneath two platforms & 10 tracks and will not get accumulated in the yard and delay trains. “The steep climbs of Ghat section demanded very tough operations and even now banker engines are required to push trains uphill and bring them downhill with enough braking power. The days of steam must have been very difficult and in those old processes, mounds of steam ash had been deposited here which remained there,” an official said.
Elaborating about the project, Central Railway’s chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said, “As a part of the monsoon preparedness, we have provided 1.8 metre diameter pipe by micro-tunneling technique at the Kasara yard on north east line. Despite many challenges faced, we have successfully completed the work and this will prove a big turning point in improving the operational efficiency and safety of track in coming days.”