I remember faces of Chandrakant Mhatre, the team leader at the railway workshop and Abdul Hamid, the welder who put back life into this coach. They were excited and explained how the entire roof had been severely damaged, besides widespread internal damage. The main frame of the coach, which is the skeleton of the structure, had sagged and needed replacement. Frames of the outer shell and the supporting rods were procured from original manufacturers in Kolkata. The coach ran exactly a year after the blast with painting of two doves on it signifying peace, flagged off by a railway babu from Churchgate station. The coach had been filled with more media men than commuters. This was in 2007.
A few years later the coach was forgotten, the doves vanished and so did its legacy from public memory. A few years ago, the coach was transferred to Central Railway and runs without any doves or markings. I have travelled in this coach several times now. Every time, I get into, I get memories of that stench, but am put off by the lively crowd and the dense rush crowd that gets into this coach, unaware of what it had been through. And such restoration is a rare thing…not done even to the coaches of the London subway trains that were hit by similar blasts. 864-A runs as national pride, I should say.
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