Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not another large bird

17 Across: Large bird can't take off from down under (3). That would probably leave Bertie Wooster scratching his head, especially after he finds the first letter is 'E' and the last is 'U'. But not me. EMUs have been a part of life for a very long time. That's only to be expected, for the EMU in this case is the Electrical Multiple Unit, which is what have been running on Chennai's suburban train systems (as on many train systems the world over) since as far back as the 1920s. In those days, Tambaram was an important point on the rail and road network for it was the first large settlement after leaving the city of Madras, towards the southern districts.

With the EMUs came the need to maintain them. The workshop was inaugurated in 1931, almost at the same time that metre-gauge EMU services from Beach to Tambaram were regularized. In those days, the services were run with 3-car rakes; over the years they've grown to the 9- or 12-car rakes that are in use now. With a capacity of about 200 people to a car and each car running at least 10 trips a day, that's a lot of footfalls. Besides handling routine maintenance and safety checks, this workshop is also expected to keep the rakes completely clean and neat.

It may not be a bird, but for the approximately 1000 employees at the EMU workshop, it would certainly be a big task to keep the 25 rakes on the Beach - Tambaram sector moving smoothly!


Hilda said...

I am totally lost. What is a rake?

Shantaram said...

>> Hilda>> Well, a string of coaches that make up a train is also called a rake... a bit of jargon... there's a glossary of railway terms here for more information!