West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress may be intent on changing most of the state’s red into green but one of Mamata’s own “green contribution” to the Indian Railways, rolled out during her stint as the Union Railway Minister, is all set to be junked.
Faced with a deluge of maintenance-related complaints, the Ministry of Railways is “actively considering” a change in the colour scheme of its point-to-point, non-stop Duronto trains, launched by Mamata in September 2009. In fact, at the time of the first Duronto’s launch, it was adequately hinted (though never officially admitted) that the primarily green-coloured look of the train, interspersed with a dash of red, blue and yellow, was a design borrowed from one of Mamata’s own paintings.
However, with so many colours in the design, Railways realised quite early that it would have been impossible to bring out the desired colour-scheme on these coaches via the painting method. They were left with no option but to go in for the self-adhesive vinyl-wrapping of the Duronto coaches. At first, the vinyl-wraps appeared to be less cumbersome to handle but three-and-a-half years down the line, most of the zonal railways that own and maintain Duronto coaches are a harried lot.
At a recent conference of the Chief Mechanical Engineers (CME) of all the zonal railways held at Rail Bhavan, the matter was raised with a demand to review the colour scheme.
“Railways complained that in Duronto trains vinyl wraps are very difficult to maintain. Railways may approach Railway Board in consultation with the General Managers for review of colour scheme and painting procedure,” reads the minutes of the CME conference (copy with The Indian Express) where the matter was flagged.
“Many zonal railways have complained that the vinyl-wrapping comes off during the washing or maintenance work of the coaches. Once a portion of the vinyl-wrap peels off, it leaves ugly looking patches on coaches. On coaches that have a conventional colour scheme, it is possible to touch-up an area from where the paint comes off. But in case of Durontos, touching up is not just possible owing to their multi-colour design,” a senior ministry official from the Mechanical Engineering Directorate said.
“Several zonal railways have tried to rope in expert hands to do patchwork on Duronto coaches from which the vinyl-wraps had come off. However, not many people are available for this kind of a job and even if they manage to do some patchwork, the end-result has often turned out to be an eyesore,” the official added.
Senior Rail Bhavan officials said that changing the colour scheme seems to be the only possible remedy and was being deliberated at the top level. Many zonal railways, it is learnt, have communicated to the Railway Ministry that the vinyl-wrapping was not just costing them 10-20 per cent more than painting them but was also not proving to be long-lasting.
Presently, Durontos run on 62 routes across the country at frequencies ranging from once a week to five times a week.