Indian Railways jumps on OROP bandwagon

Employees of the Indian Railways have demanded the benefits of the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) policy if the Centre implements the scheme for defence services personnel. They have made this pitch in their discussions with the Seventh Pay Commission.

Speaking to media, Shiva Gopal Mishra, general secretary of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation, the largest railway union in the country, acknowledged the demand. “The principle of OROP should be applicable to the railway employees also if the same is accepted for the defence services by the pay commission. We sympathise with their demand and feel it should be extended,” he said.

The railway unions had met the commission for oral evidence in March this year.

The demand could create complications for the Centre which has so far not been able to respond to the original demand from ex-servicemen. The specific mandate for the pay commission, however, does not include the examination of OROP even though its award will cover military personnel too. The railway employees have, however, made it clear to the commission that if there is any suggestion on OROP in the final report, then their demands should also be considered favourably.

The Commission has already overshot the time frame for submitting its report on a revised salary structure for central government employees, which was due in August. It is now likely to submit the report by September-end.

The demand by railway employees for OROP could lead to demands from other civilian services as well, even as the bill for meeting the demand from the defence services is still being firmed up. At 1.33 million, railway employees form the single largest chunk from among any ministry or department of central government staff. Their salary and allowance bill for 2015-16 is estimated at Rs 62,410 crore, or almost 42 per cent of the total bill of Rs 1,49,524 crore as per budget figures.

While the Seventh Pay Commission, in its internal deliberations, is understood to have not taken a favourable view of the OROP because of the financial implications, any formal examination of the same will have to depend on the government’s position on the issue. The government is now expected to set up a committee on the issue.

Overall, the commission has decided that the extent of rise in pay for all central government staff would, on average, be about 26 per cent. But here too, the commission is learnt to have favoured going back to the Fifth Pay Commission award of making pay scales attached to posts instead of retaining the innovative pay bands system introduced by the Sixth Pay Commission.

It has also decided to remove the slight edge in pay structure of IAS officers as compared to other central service officers.

Sixth line between Borivali-Mumbai Central commences, as Railway Board allocates Rs.930 Crore

Mumbai: The actual work of executing the 30-km Borivali-Mumbai Central project has begun with the tendering process set in motion, said the official of Western Railway (WR). “After deliberations, Railway Board sanctioned the budget (Rs.930 crore) and officials have swung into the action to execute the project,” said Shailendra Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM). “Once completed, this line from Mumbai Central to Borivali will be exclusively used by outstation trains, thereby allowing increase in frequency of suburban services and improvement in punctuality,” he added.

A vital plan of Mumbai Urban Transport Project-2 (MUTP), this venture had been riddled with technical hurdles, which officials believe will now get cleared.

“A major stumbling block was clearing the land between Santacruz and Borivali stations. This has been achieved,” he said.

This project is being considered as one of the most difficult and costly ventures for Railway. Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, the implementing agency, would be incurring a cost of at least Rs. 930 crore, that is Rs. 31 crore per km.

The plan envisages demolishing a rail bridge between Bandra and Khar Road stations, said another official involved with the project.

WR officials said acquiring land on various stretches on this section would be a major hurdle and they are in touch with the Suburban Collector, the State Government and civic body to resolve this issue.

Railway Minister declares Railways to be disabled-friendly

disabled friendly rlysNew Delhi: Railways is planning to augment its infrastructure to cater to more people including differently-abled persons. The transporter behemoth plans to augment its infrastructure both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to cater to more people and to include specific problems like accessibility for the disabled, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said at an award function here today, adding that Rail travel will be more accessible for people with disabilities.

India has over 8,000 stations, and around three crore people travel every day by train. Though the country’s population has increased, the railway infrastructure has not risen proportionately, the minister said after presenting the 6th National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People-Mphasis Universal Design 2015 Awards to the individuals and organisations, working to create an accessible and barrier-free society for persons with disabilities in the areas of built environment, transport, ICT, services, and aids and appliances, at the India International Centre here.

“I will ask mechanical department officials (of the railways) to look into how to make rail bogies accessible for disabled people,” Prabhu said in his speech in Hindi. He, however, said it might take some time, and he was not making any false promises.

Though the act giving rights to disabled came into effect in 1995, the society still needs to change its mindset towards disabled people, he said.

Railways has recently introduced Braille stickers in some coaches to facilitate visually-challenged passengers. Prabhu said wheelchairs were available at the railway stations in Delhi as part of some companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy, and asked the private sector to contribute more in this connection.

He also said there were elevators in many stations.

Some of the notable work that was celebrated at the event included a smart cane and other assistive technology developed by an IIT Delhi professor; a one-stop resource app on disability; and aviation industry’s first employee with disability, among others.

The railway minister asked more people to help out to get “sukh aur anand” (mental satisfaction), and not as part of CSR.

He said disabled people’s “dharm” (duty) should be to always strive to go forward, while the “karm” (also duty) of others should be the help them as much as they can.

Earlier, Javed Abidi, honorary director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), said India has many websites that are inaccessible to the blind.

Talking about issues faced by disabled people while travelling by rail, he said blind people were unable to book tickets online, while the deaf were unable to talk to officials while at the stations as most people do not know sign language.

He said train bogies were inaccessible to disabled people, and asked Prabhu to modify the coach designs to make them disabled-friendly.

Abidi said disabled people were also unable to make it through the overhead foot-bridges to go to other platforms.

Though the government issues an identity document to disabled people, that is not recognised by the railways for travel and that requires a separate certificate for disability, he lamented.

Prabhu presented a host of awards to individuals and companies for developing new designs and technologies for access to disabled people.

CR writes to Railway Board to reduce gap between FOB and Trains from 14 to 8ft.

Railway FOBMumbai: The Central Railway (CR) has written to the Railway Board as well as the Railway’s Research Design and Standards Organisatiageon (RDSO) for permission to decrease the distance between the foot overbridge and the train from 14 feet to eight feet, enabling it to widen the bridge, which remains dangerously packed during peak-hours.

CR is already working on a plan to connect the Kalyan-end foot overbridge from the west to Elphinstone Road since commuters tend to use the bridge at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) end. CR officials hope that the current CST-end bridge too will be widened but have to take permission from RDSO who will determine if there is any danger if the distance from the train and the bridge is decreased to eight feet.

Officials have said that a letter asking about the shortening of the space has been sent to the Railway Board and RDSO and are awaiting for the permission to start the work soon, “We cannot widen platforms at Parel because there are lines already running on either sides so we have no option but to widen foot overbridge at CST-end. Once this is done, the bridge will be wider and the danger of a stampede will be decreased,” said CR general manager Sunil Kumar Sood.

Parel has seen sudden increase in passenger density after corporate offices came up alongside the station. Also, people tend to walk from Parel station to Elphinstone Road to switch over the Western Railway, which has increased passenger density.

Faridabad Metro inspection done, soon to be open to public

Metro safety commissioner RK Kardam and his team inspecting the progress of work in Faridabad on Thursday
Metro safety commissioner RK Kardam and his team inspecting the progress of work in Faridabad on Thursday

The Commissioner, Metro Rail Safety, (CMRS) has completed the inspection of the Faridabad metro corridor. During the 3-day inspection all stations, ticket-vending machines, escalators were checked.

The inspection, which started on August 10, was completed on August 12. Now, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is awaiting the no-objection certificate (NOC) from CMRS. Once the NOC is issued, Delhi Metro will finalise the date for the commissioning of the corridor for public.

During the three-day inspection, CMRC RK Kardam and his team checked all stations, ticketvending machines, escalators and the track from Badarpur to Escorts Mujesar. On the third and the last day of the inspection, the team checked the metro pillars.

On the first day of the inspection, the CMRS and his team inspected six metro stations and also the tracks. On the second day, the remaining three metro stations and the tracks were inspected. Even the foot-over bridges were checked.

The inspection team was accompanied by DMRC officers.

The safety commissioner also inspected the metro control room and pillars at Sarai Kwaja.
According to reports, DMRC may make minor changes in the foot-over bridges as per the instructions of the safety commissioner.
The trial of the metro service started in April and was expected to be over in July. Earlier, there were reports that the service may be launched around the Independence Day. But, now there are reports that the start of the service may get further delayed.
However, people want the ser vices to start as early as possible.
The DMR has set up eco-friendly stations on the line. It had also installed solar power generation facilities at all nine stations on the Faridabad corridor.
As all metro stations in Faridabad are connected with foot-over bridges (FOBs) across Mathura Road, the DMRC is studying the prospects of installing solar panels on the FOBs also.
“These solar power plants, with a total generation capacity of 1,660.4 kwp, have been installed under RESCO (Renewable Energy Supply Company) model, wherein the capital cost has been invested by the solar developer and the DMRC has signed the power purchase agreement for 25 years. DMRC will only pay energy charges for the actual energy generated,” a DMRC spokesman said.
The power generated will be used for the lighting and other auxiliary requirements at the station and depot buildings.
Stations like NHPC Chowk, Mewala Maharajpur, Sector-28, Badkal Mor, Old Faridabad, Neelam Chowk Ajronda, Bata Chowk, Escorts Mujesar will have a generation capacity of 151.2 kwp each.
The generation capacity of Ajronda depot will be 452 kwp.
The power receiving substation (RSS) for the Faridabad corridor has already been developed in Sector 46. It is a green building with facilities like a 50-kWp solar plant, rain water harvesting system and sewage treatment plant facilities.
“In total, DMRC has so far commissioned solar power facilities with a generation capacity of approximately 2,800 kwp at stations of Dwarka Sector 21, Anand Vihar, Pragati Maidan, Metro Enclave, Yamuna Bank, Yamuna Bank Depot, Faridabad RSS, ITO, Ajronda Depot and the Faridabad station,” the spokesman said.
The work is almost complete at all metro stations in Faridabad.
The 13.875-km-long Faridabad corridor has nine stations — Sarai, NHPC Chowk, Mewla Maharajpur, Sector 28, Badkhal Mor, Old Faridabad, Neelam Chowk Ajronda, Bata Chowk and Escorts Mujesar.
Two more stations – NCB Colony and Ballabgarh – will be added to this line by 2017, officials said. The work for the stations has already started.
Meanwhile, Faridabad police have geared up to tackle trafficrelated problems once the metro service is started.
Faridabad commissioner of police Subhash Yadav said that the widening of the national highway, which is currently underway, may create some problem. He, however, said that traffic police personnel are working hard to ensure that traffic movement in the city is smooth after metro services begin.
Meanwhile, the demand for linking railway stations to metro stations is growing stronger.
“There will be chaos on the bridges connecting Mathura Road like Bata Chowk, Neelam Chowk. So I think that the government should construct footover bridges from the Old Faridabad railway station to Old Faridabad metro station and from New Town Railway station to Bata metro station,” said Ramneek Prabhakar, a resident of the city.

Faridabad Metro track inspection in full swing; Inauguration Soon

track inspection faridabad metroFaridabad: People going to Faridabad will soon have an alternative mode of transport as Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is expected to open the extended Badarpur line Very Soon .

The Badarpur-Faridabad extension will take the metro to Faridabad in Haryana for the first time. This line will be an extension of the violet line between ITO and Badarpur. The same section will expand up to Kashmere Gate on the other side from ITO. During the 3-day inspection all stations, ticket-vending machines, escalators will be checked.

The Commissioner, Metro Rail Safety, (CMRS) has almost completed the inspection of the Faridabad metro corridor, said a source.

The inspection, which started on August 10, was completed on August 12. Now, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is awaiting the no-objection certificate (NOC) from CMRS. Once the NOC is issued, Delhi Metro will finalise the date for the commissioning of the corridor for public.

During the three-day inspection, CMRC RK Kardam and his team checked all stations, ticketvending machines, escalators and the track from Badarpur to Escorts Mujesar. On the third and the last day of the inspection, the team checked the metro pillars.

On the first day of the inspection, the CMRS and his team inspected six metro stations and also the tracks. On the second day, the remaining three metro stations and the tracks were inspected. Even the foot-over bridges were checked.

The inspection team was accompanied by DMRC officers.

The safety commissioner also inspected the metro control room and pillars at Sarai Kwaja.
According to reports, DMRC may make minor changes in the foot-over bridges as per the instructions of the safety commissioner.
The trial of the metro service started in April and was expected to be over in July. Earlier, there were reports that the service may be launched around the Independence Day. But, now there are reports that the start of the service may get further delayed.
However, people want the ser vices to start as early as possible.
The DMR has set up eco-friendly stations on the line. It had also installed solar power generation facilities at all nine stations on the Faridabad corridor.
As all metro stations in Faridabad are connected with foot-over bridges (FOBs) across Mathura Road, the DMRC is studying the prospects of installing solar panels on the FOBs also.
“These solar power plants, with a total generation capacity of 1,660.4 kwp, have been installed under RESCO (Renewable Energy Supply Company) model, wherein the capital cost has been invested by the solar developer and the DMRC has signed the power purchase agreement for 25 years. DMRC will only pay energy charges for the actual energy generated,” a DMRC spokesman said.
The power generated will be used for the lighting and other auxiliary requirements at the station and depot buildings.
Stations like NHPC Chowk, Mewala Maharajpur, Sector-28, Badkal Mor, Old Faridabad, Neelam Chowk Ajronda, Bata Chowk, Escorts Mujesar will have a generation capacity of 151.2 kwp each.
The generation capacity of Ajronda depot will be 452 kwp.
The power receiving substation (RSS) for the Faridabad corridor has already been developed in Sector 46. It is a green building with facilities like a 50-kWp solar plant, rain water harvesting system and sewage treatment plant facilities.
“In total, DMRC has so far commissioned solar power facilities with a generation capacity of approximately 2,800 kwp at stations of Dwarka Sector 21, Anand Vihar, Pragati Maidan, Metro Enclave, Yamuna Bank, Yamuna Bank Depot, Faridabad RSS, ITO, Ajronda Depot and the Faridabad station,” the spokesman said.
The work is almost complete at all metro stations in Faridabad.
The 13.875-km-long Faridabad corridor has nine stations — Sarai, NHPC Chowk, Mewla Maharajpur, Sector 28, Badkhal Mor, Old Faridabad, Neelam Chowk Ajronda, Bata Chowk and Escorts Mujesar.
Two more stations– NCB Colony and Ballabgarh– will be added to this line by 2017, officials said. The work for the stations has already started.
Meanwhile, Faridabad police have geared up to tackle trafficrelated problems once the metro service is started.
Faridabad commissioner of police Subhash Yadav said that the widening of the national highway, which is currently underway, may create some problem. He, however, said that traffic police personnel are working hard to ensure that traffic movement in the city is smooth after metro services begin.
Meanwhile, the demand for linking railway stations to metro stations is growing stronger.
“There will be chaos on the bridges connecting Mathura Road like Bata Chowk, Neelam Chowk. So I think that the government should construct footover bridges from the Old Faridabad railway station to Old Faridabad metro station and from New Town Railway station to Bata metro station,” said Ramneek Prabhakar, a resident of the city.

I was surprised to see the Bangalore Metro: Consul General of the Consulate of Israel

Dov Segev-Steinberg
Dov Segev-Steinberg

Bangalore: When Dov Segev-Steinberg, the acting Consul General of the Consulate of Israel, Bengaluru, found out that he would be returning to India (after a gap of 12 years), he was overjoyed.

Although, he is only staying for a few weeks, as an interim to his successor, he says he is enjoying every minute of it.

“I have been a member of the foreign services for the last 33 years, and have been stationed in six countries — the US, Egypt, India, China, Qatar and South Africa. I returned to Jerusalem (from South Africa) two years ago, and I am awaiting my next assignment. When I was asked by the Ministry to fill in as the Consul General in Bengaluru, for a few weeks, I almost jumped out of my skin! I was so happy to reconnect with people and a culture I love.”

The first time he came to India was in 1999, as a Consul General in Mumbai. He spent the next four years in the port city trying to establish ties between Israel and India.

“At that time, Bengaluru didn’t have a Consulate. Now there are six to seven all across the country. It shows how important we think this country, region and state are. We understand that the possibilities are enormous, whether it’s in the field of agriculture, water or technology.” He adds that Israel’s ties with Bengaluru are special because the City is the IT hub.

“We have Israeli companies working here and Indian ones who have gone there, and there are investments on both the sides.”

On his return, he was shocked at how fast the country and City have grown. “After 12 years, it’s amazing to see the changes. When you lead your day-to-day life, you don’t see the changes to that extent.”

Elaborating on these changes, he says, “The City has changed in terms of infrastructure, roads and more. Though the traffic is a problem, it is not unusual; this is a phenomenon we face in Israel as well. There are a growing number of cars and the population is increasing, but I’m happy to see, just like we do in Israel, people here are trying to face the challenge by building trains, highways, subways and so on. I remember when I first came to Bengaluru this time, we passed by MG Road and I was surprised to see the Metro; it didn’t exist 12 years back. It shows me that people are confronting the challenge.”

While he admits that such development comes at a cost, he says that every society has to find a way to fix the problems. “If we don’t fix these problems, we will pay the price, especially when it comes to the environment. But technology is the answer.” Giving an example, he adds, “When it comes to water, we need more of it with the increasing population but that also means an increase in water wastage. Israel is one of the countries where more than 80 per cent of this water is recycled. We would like to share our experiences with friends around the world.”

He emphasises on the importance of the two countries getting along because of their cultural similarities. “When we speak of culture, it includes a variety of things. In Israel, we have great admiration for India and her achievements.

While India is the largest democracy, Israel is one of the most vibrant ones. We are similar in terms of history as well — we got our independence half a year after India did, through similar conditions.”

This popularity of India translates in many ways, whether it’s the tributes paid to Bollywood in movies like ‘Desperado Square’ or famous streets in Tel Aviv being named after Indian personalities like Rabindranath Tagore.

For a better understanding of life in Israel, head over to the ‘Israeli Film Festival’, which is on till August 27, at Alliance Francaise, Suchitra Film Society and Bangalore International Center. Entry is free.

Rs.2000 crore Government Guarantee can solve Mumbai Metro tussle: MMOPL

For sustaining project operations, the MMOPL claims to have so far raised Rs 2,136 crore in debt from a consortium of lenders led by the IDBI Bank Ltd. The MMOPL has also suggested that the state extend an operational subsidy of Rs 21.75 crore a month

Mumbai: At a time when the Maharashtra government is at loggerheads with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra)-led Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd (MMOPL) over cost escalations and fare hike of the Mumbai Metro rail services, a new option has been kept on the table to resolve the wrangle.

With the country’s first public-private partnership Metro project bleeding heavily within just 14 months of being rolled out, the MMOPL has suggested that the state extend a Rs 2,000 crore loan guarantee, enabling it to raise loans at lower interest rates from global lending institutions like the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

For sustaining project operations, the MMOPL claims to have so far raised Rs 2,136 crore in debt from a consortium of lenders led by the IDBI Bank Ltd. This includes a debt of Rs 943 crore raised at a later stage for continuous funding of the project amid cost overruns. The average interest rate to service this debt works out to 11.75 per cent, a senior MMOPL official said, adding that the overall interest expenses worked out to Rs 135 crore.

The MMOPL has argued that extension of a government guarantee will enable raising loans at 1 to 1.5 per cent interest rates from JICA or other global lending institutions that extend loans on a government-to-government basis.

Abhay Kumar Mishra, Chief Executive Officer, MMOPL, in an official communication to the state government dated July 29, has referred to loans being made available at low rates to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation for the Delhi Metro to justify the case.

On Thursday, Mishra told “We would like to have an amicable solution for the sustainable running of the Mumbai Metro line one. We are open to discussions with the government to work out all possible solution. We feel that actions by all stakeholders should be towards finding solutions.”

With the original project cost for the 12-km Metro line, running along the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route, pegged at Rs 2,356 crore, a concession agreement entered into in 2007 had RInfra holding 69 per cent share capital in the MMOPL. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), a state-run undertaking, holds 26 per cent equity, whereas the remaining 5 per cent is held by Veolia Transport.

The MMOPL now claims that the project cost has shot up to Rs 4,026 crore, a 71 per cent escalation, a contention that the state and the MMRDA are unwilling to accept just yet.

Blaming the state and the MMRDA for delays in meeting legal obligations including right of way for the project, handing over land for the Metro car depot, failure to shift utilised, besides worsening of global economic indices for cost overruns, the MMOPL has also suggested that the state extend an operational subsidy of Rs 21.75 crore a month, extension of a one-time capital grant of Rs 1000 crore, and allow it to further monetise real estate in its possession to mop up the losses.

The state has however turned these options down, with government functionaries even questioning the basis and the extent of cost overruns and blaming these on the MMOPL itself. On August 10, Maharashtra’s minister of state (Urban Development) Ranjit Patil had argued that “the project cost overruns have not been factually determined and fructified.”

The government has issued MMOPL a notice seeking a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audit on all accounts, arguing that it would help ascertain the extent and the nature of cost overruns.

The MMOPL has also petitioned to the government for considering lower tariff for electricity. It has argued that it was paying Rs 11 per unit for power, whereas the DMRC was paying just Rs 5.60 per unit. The wrangle between the state and the MMOPL escalated after a government-appointed Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) suggested last month that the MMOPL may fix the fare slab from Rs 10 being the minimum fare and Rs 110 as the maximum. The present fare band ranges from Rs 10-Rs 40.

Acknowledging that a sharp increase in fare hike might inconvenience commuters and impact Metro’s ridership, the MMOPL has invoked the state government for apportioning the increased cost. A viability gap fund of Rs 650 crore has already been extended for the project.

Both the sides are also warring over who will get administrative control over the Metro project. Under the Metro Railway Act, 2002, the MMOPL has been identified as the Metro rail’s administrator. The government has however argued that the Mumbai Metro One project was awarded as per the Tramways Act, and has invoked the Union government for denotification of Mumbai Metro from the former Act.

Indian Railways launch e-Booking Service for Wheelchairs

Passengers can now book wheelchairs online as Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has launched the service for free at New Delhi station

eBooking WheelchairPassengers can now book wheelchairsonline as Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has launched the service for free at New Delhi station.

The wheelchair facility is for the benefit of old, sick and differently-abled people, who can pre-book wheelchairs while booking their tickets online, IRCTC Chairman and Managing Director AK Manocha said.

“We have started the service on a pilot basis at the New Delhi station which can be replicated at other stations also,” he added.

At present, there are nine wheelchairs available for booking as part of e-wheelchair service. Such a wheelchair can be hired for a maximum time of one hour. Those availing the facility need to deposit their I-cards such as voter ID card, Aadhaar card or PAN among others with a deposit fee of Rs 500, which will be returned after the wheelchair is given back.

The facility will also be dispensed from IRCTC’s Tourism Facilitation Centre located at platform no.16 of New Delhi station.

There is no age limit for booking of wheelchairs. Any passenger having confirmed reservation ticket can book the wheelchair on IRCTC website.

ADB to carry out study for financing Road-cum-Rail Link between India and Sri Lanka

Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Mr.P.Radhakrishnan urged Ministry of Railways to also plan for development of “Multifunctional/Multi-Model Logistics Park” at Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka, with the help of CONCOR that helps to improve the Trade and Commerce relationship between the two countries, stating that the proposed Rail-cum-Road Link will act as a strong Economic Corridor for both the countries for this century

Proposed bridgeNew Delhi: The Government of India today said that the Asian Development Bank has been asked to carry out pre-feasibility study for financing road and rail link across Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. Stating this in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways P Radhakrishnan said that the project is in the conceptual stage and is subject to approval of government of Sri Lanka.

The Minister said that once the report from ADB is received, the same will be shared by the Indian government with the Sri Lanka Government for further examination.

Mr.Radhakrishnan said that both countries felt that not only there is an urgent need to enhancing of trade, commerce and bilateral relationships between the two countries, but also the collaboration in innovation, knowledge sharing, Science & Technology, Space Sciences, Communication, Information Technology and ICT, Agricultural cooperation, Research and Development etc for the betterment of the region in particular. The envisaged Road-cum-Rail line project between India and Sri Lanka will facilitate heightened economic cooperation in this important region of Southeast Asia, the Minister said.

Minister also urged Ministry of Railways to plan for development of a Multifunctional/Multi-Model Logistics Park near Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka for better movement of goods and supplies through Freight containers. He said that this initiative by Ministry of Railways will enhance the Trade and Commerce between the two countries and Rail-cum-Road Link will help speedier transportation of freight logistics by rail and road mode, and serves as the key Economic Corridor for both the countries.

The Minister also urged Confederation of Indian Industry, FICCI and other Organisations to engage with Sri Lanka in greater detail, for development of the industries covering the manufacturing, agro-products, life sciences, agriculture, Information Technology, heavy industries and the other core sectors.

Reliance Infra says it won’t exit Mumbai Metro project; seeks amicable solution, open to CAG Audit

The Mumbai Metro, which runs along the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route, is the country’s first public-private partnership Metro project in which all the three phases

M.S.Mehta, CEO, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd
M.S.Mehta, CEO, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd

Mumbai: Anil Ambani led Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (RInfra) on Wednesday said the company was open to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit of the Mumbai Metro rail services. The state government, which is at loggerheads with RInfra-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) over fare hike for the Metro rail services, had earlier issued the MMOPL a notice for an audit of all their accounts. The state had also approached the Centre with the demand.

Speaking to the media, M S Mehta, CEO, Reliance Infrastructure, said, “We are open to discussions with the state government on the financials of the Mumbai Metro. We are also open for a CAG audit, if at all that is what the government wants.”

The Mumbai Metro, which runs along the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route, is the country’s first public-private partnership Metro project in which all the three phases — construction, operation, and maintenance — have been given to a private player.

Blaming the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the State Government for project overruns, the MMOPL is now claiming that the Mumbai Metro cost has risen from Rs 2,356 crore in 2007 to Rs 4,321 crore, an increase of a whopping 83 per cent.

The state, on the other hand, has cast aspersions on the basis and the extent of cost overrun claimed by the MMOPL. On Monday, Ranjeet Patil, Minister of State (Urban Development) had claimed, “The project overruns have not been factually determined. We do not accept them.” The state government has further argued that the MMOPL has not responded to their requests for substantiating the cost overrun claims.

At a time when the CAG is already conducting a limited audit pertaining to the utilisation of viability gap funds extended to the MMOPL, the state had on August 1 issued a show cause notice to the entity seeking a “full audit” of all accounts of the MMOPL.

On August 10, the state also discussed this demand with Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also declared that the state won’t permit any fare hike till the fresh audit is completed.

A government-appointed fare fixation committee (FFC) had last month suggested that the MMOPL may fix the fare slab from Rs 10 being the minimum fare and Rs 110 as the maximum. At present, the fares range from Rs 10-Rs 40. However, MMOPL has decided to continue the existing fares till October 31.

Alternatively, the MMOPL has approached the government for a grant of an operational subsidy of Rs 21.75 crore a month, besides a one-time grant of Rs 1000 crore and permission to monetise real estate and commercial potential of the properties under their control to “sustain the project operations and effectively service debt.” The state, however, has turned down this demand.

On Wednesday, Mehta also clarified that at present, the company is not looking to exit the project. “We would like to have an amicable solution for the efficient running of the project for the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, Reliance Infrastructure posted a year-on-year decline of 12.4 per cent in the consolidated a net profit for the quarter that ended on June 30, 2015 at Rs 401 crore due to a loss of Rs 50 crore incurred on Mumbai Metro and Rs 39 crore in its cement business.

The company’s total income, however, has surged by 6 per cent.

MMRDA plans a 118-km Metro Rail network for Mumbai

mumbai metro rail rakeMumbai: In what could change the way Mumbaiites travel, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has finalised an ambitious plan to build a Metro network with lines that cover 118km across the city. The plan, which has been put on the table after updating the original Metro master plan, includes for new Metro lines in addition to the proposed Metro 3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) and Metro 4 (Wadala-Ghatkopar-Thane- Kasarvadavli). Both Metro 3 and Metro 4 already have state government approval.

The four new lines that have been proposed are Mankhurd-Bandra-Kurla Complex (12km), DN Nagar- Dahisar (18km), Andheri East-Dahisar East (17km) and JVLR-Kanjurmarg (12km).

The MMRDA is expected to submit the revised master plan to the state government on August 20 during the meeting of its governing authority headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Besides that, a detailed plan of two of the new lines – Andheri East-Dahisar East and DN Nagar- Dahisar – will also be submitted for approval. The detailed project report (DPR) for these two lines has been prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

“We are going to seek approval for the revised plan of 118-km metro network, as well as Andheri East- Dahisar East metro line in the meeting. If the DPR for DN Nagar-Dahisar line is received in the next few days, it will also be put before the authority,” said Sanjay Sethi, MMRDA additional commissioner.

Of the four proposed lines, the JVLR-Kanjurmarg line will be built along the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR). It will be linked to Metro 3 at SEEPZ. The Metro 3 is being developed by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The Metro 4 (Wadala- Ghatkopar-Thane- Kasarvadavli) line will have an underground line from Wadala to Kapurbawdi, while the rest of the stretch till Kasarvadavli (in Thane) is proposed to be elevated.

MMRDA is planning to develop all future Metro lines on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode, commonly known as the cash-contract system.

“We are going to build these lines on EPC mode, in which we will seek financial assistance from funding agencies such as the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, etc,” Sethi said.

The state is expected to incur expenses of about Rs 64,000 crore to develop the city’s Metro network by 2020.

Kolkata Metro consents to New Alignment but points out problems

E-W MetroKolkata: The implementing agency for the stalled East-West Metro project told Calcutta High Court on Wednesday that it had no objection to the alternative route alignment proposed by the state government but there were hurdles to be crossed while going down that road.

If the alternative alignment were to be adopted, the project would need no-objection certificates from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Indian Army, Calcutta Port Trust and the CESC, said additional solicitor-general Kaushik Chanda, representing the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC).

Chanda submitted in court a letter on behalf of the KMRC and said: “My client has no objection to the realignment of route. But the central government would have to disburse the Rs 764 crore needed for a new alignment. My client has started the process of getting funds.”

He also suggested that infrastructure company Afcons be asked to start work “in the meantime”.

Afcons, a part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, had filed a petition in the high court saying it didn’t have access to the required sites to start work.

Justice Dipankar Datta responded to Chanda’s suggestion by asking what would happen if additional funds weren’t released on time or no-objection certificates couldn’t be obtained after construction started. The additional solicitor-general said sticking to the old alignment was the solution.

“But how? This government is in favour of hawkers and had told this court that it was against their eviction. In the old alignment, removal of hawkers from Bowbazar and Brabourne Road is the main issue,” Justice Datta said.

Advocate Subir Sanyal, representing the CESC, said shifting underground cables in BBD Bag would pose technical and logistical challenges. “The underground cables in the BBD Bag area supply power to three-fourths of Calcutta. For the realignment, these cables would have to be shifted and a site in the adjacent area is required,” he pointed out.

Clearance is required from the army, the custodian of the Maidan, to build the proposed Esplanade station. The ASI’s permission is needed to build tracks near three heritage structures.

“These problems can be amicably settled only through meetings,” Justice Datta said.

One such meeting is slated for August 17.

Metro panel suggests Kanjurmarg as alternative to Aarey for Metro-III Car Depot

aareyMumbai: The committee appointed to find an alternative to Aarey Colony for the Metro III car depot has recommended Kanjurmarg as the site for the facility. A formal decision is for the chief minister to take.

The committee, headed by the commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), UPS Madan, submitted the report on Wednesday.

At Aarey, 2,298 trees were obstructing the proposed car shed plan for Metro III (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz). Of them, 2,044 were to be transplanted and 254 needed to be cut. The contract to build the depot, worth Rs 130 crore, was awarded in July, but work stalled because of protests. Environmental activists opposed the plan on the grounds that transplantation rarely works.

An MMRDA official said that shifting the depot will entail an extension of the 32.5km corridor by 8-10km up to Kanjurmarg.

MMRDA had already proposed to build a Metro line between Kanjurmarg and Seepz in the master plan approved in 2004. The official said, “This line—to be elevated—will now merge with the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground corridor. Because of the extension, the project cost will increase by Rs 2,000 crore. We hope that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) will increase the loan amount.”

Jica has sanctioned Rs 13,235 crore for the Metro III project. If Jica does not loan the additional sum, the state will try to raise resources, the official said.

For the depot, the committee examined various options, including Backbay Reclamation, Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land, Bandra-Kurla Complex, the university campus at Kalina and Dharavi. “None had adequate land for the depot,” said an official.

Jayadeva Flyover may be dismantled for Bangalore Metro phase-II project

The proposal to demolish the flyover figured in a recent meeting of the high-powered committee monitoring the progress of the metro project

Jayadeva FlyoverBangalore: Razing the Jayadeva flyover – the important stretch of road that connects Bengaluru on either side of the Bannerghatta Road – is one of the options Bangalore Metro Rail authorities could be looking at for he second phase of the project.

The proposal to demolish the flyover figured in a recent meeting of he high-powered committee monitoring the progress of the metro project. Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, who chaired the meeting, directed queries to BMRCL Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola, who is tightlipped on the subject. “I cannot give any statements now. We are working on different options,” he said.

It all started in December 2012 after Jayadeva Hospital director Dr CN Manjunath resisted plans to cede a portion of the hospital land for the project. Had the hospital agreed to give up portions of its land, project planners would not have considered the flyover option for the proposed RV Road-Bommasandra line. The second alignment option involved taking a right turn before the start of the flyover (from RV Road side) and taking it through private properties, whose owners -mostly residents -are up in arms. The third option, apparently , is to take over the flyover portion and redo the whole thing. “In place of the existing flyover, a three-tier elevated road will come up, of which two are meant for vehicles and the other one will be for the metro. This is what I have been told,” Dr Manjunath said.

Jayanagar MLA BN Vijaykumar called it “a foolish idea that would lead to more trouble. The flyover ensures there is smooth traffic flow from Jayanagar to the Silk Board junction. They have not informed me about this.”

City in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy said no official decision has been taken on demolishing the flyover. “This plan is at least a year old.The flyover is actually helping traffic. I have asked them to take the metro underground,” he said.

Kerala to push Centre for Green Signal to Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode Light Metro

TVC-Kozhikode Light MetroThiruvananthapuram (TVC): Kerala state Chief Minister Mr Oommen Chandy and the State PWD Minister V.K. Ibrahimkunju will meet Union Minister for Urban Development Mr.Venkaiah Naidu soon at New Delhi to seek sanction for the Light Metro projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

At the media briefing after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mr.Chandy said the state government had earlier written to the Union Minister for Urban Development seeking the centre’s approval for the projects on priority.

The government would go ahead with the land acquisition process and would also initiate steps for creating infrastructure facilities with the hope that the centre would give clearance at the earliest.

Commenting on a media query, the chief minister refuted reports that the project would be delayed following objections from the State Finance department.

It was a striking coincidence that both the projects ran into troubles in various stages right from the start . However the revised DPRs were approved by the State Government only recently.

Thiruvananthapuram Light Metro

Thiruvananthapuram’s first attempt to build a rapid transit system for the city failed, when its proposal to build a metro rail system was rejected by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in the 2000s. The Government of Kerala, then entrusted the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC), an autonomous research body under the State Government, to conduct the feasibility study of the proposal to build a monorail system in Thiruvananthapuram. The feasibility study was conducted by a core team comprising five scientists of NATPAC and various survey teams. Topographic studies, identification of stations and surveys were the main components of the study.

The State Government had initially asked the state transport department to prepare a detailed project report (DPR). However, the DMRC was later entrusted with the task. DMRC principal advisor E. Sreedharan submitted the DPR toChief Minister Oommen Chandy on 11 December 2012. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) was created in October 2012. The Thiruvananthapuram Monorail project was assigned to the KMCL on 26 November 2012. The government had handed over the Kozhikode Monorail project to the KMCL prior to that.

On 12 June 2013, the State Cabinet gave clearance for an agreement to be signed between KMCL and DMRC. The DMRC will receive 3.25% of the ₹ 55.81 billion (₹ 35.90 billion for Thiruvananthapuram and ₹ 19.91 billion for Kozhikode) in general consultant fees. The agreement was signed on 19 June 2013.

Global tenders were floated for the Thiruvananthapuram Monorail. The deadline for technical bids was extended from 1 October 2013 to 15 October. However, a consortium led by Bombardier Transportation was the only firm that expressed an interest before the deadline. Pre-bid queries had also been made by Japanese firm Hitachi, Malaysian firm Scomi, and firms from the United Kingdom, South Korea, and China. The tender for the proposed project only received one bid, so a second tender had to be issued. The deadline for bids was extended again to April 15.

Bombardier Transportation, Hitachi, Afcons, Scomi, and Larsen and Toubro expressed interest in the second round of tender submissions. A pre-bid meeting was held in New Delhi on 20 February 2014. Bidding on the Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram projects was delayed by the model code of conduct coming into effect prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

On 28 August 2014, the State Government decided to use Light Metro, instead of Monorail, in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, mainly due to cost overruns. Though slightly costlier, Light Metro has several advantages, such as easy raising of capacity, DMRC’s expertise in the field and more number of companies who can bid for the project.

Plan

The Thiruvananthapuram line will start from Technocity and terminate at Karamana covering a distance of 22.537 km with 19 stations, along the old NH 47. Slight accommodations were made for the proposed flyovers at Kazhakuttam, Sreekariyam and Ulloor. Special spans are proposed where the line crosses the railway line at Railway Km 221/6-8. The car depot is located on a 12.5 hectares of Government land near the CRPF Camp at Pallipuram. The project will be built in 3 phases. Stations would be located at Technocity, Pallippuram, Kaniyapuram, Kazhakuttom, Kazhakuttom Junction, Karyavattom, Gurumandiram, Pangappara, Sreekariyam, Pongumoodu, Ulloor, Kesavadasapuram, Pattom, Plamoodu, Palayam, Secretariat, Thampanoor, Killipalam, andKaramana. The line will be built in three phases.

Route Terminals Length (km) Stations Opening date
Route 1 Technocity Kariavattom 7
Route 2 Kesavadasapuram Karamana 8
Route 3 Kariavattom Kesavadasapuram 8
Total Technocity Karamana 22.20 19 April 2018

Route 1 covers a distance of 7 km from Technocity to Kariavattom. It is expected to be commissioned 30 months after the contractor is finalised.

The light metro will have provisions for extension towards the south up to Neyyattinkara as well as towards north to attingal. There is another proposal to extend the network to Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Cost

The cost of the project, based on April 2012 prices, was 27.0256 billion (US$420 million) excluding taxes of 4.75 billion (US$74 million). The cost to construct each kilometre of the light metro was estimated as 1617.1 million. The Design, Build-Operate-Transfer (DBOT) mode was proposed. The State and Union governments were to each pay 20% of the cost, and the rest was to be paid by other investors such as banks.

In the 2012 State Budget, finance minister K. M. Mani, allotted 200 million (US$3.1 million) for the Thiruvananthapuram project. The project will be financed in part by a 5% state governemtn surcharge on petrol and diesel sales. The surcharge is expected to bring in 2.50 billion per year.

The operation and maintenance costs are divided into three major parts – staff costs, maintenance cost which include expenditure towards upkeep and maintenance of the system and consumables, and energy costs.

In 2015, the cost for the Technocity – Karamana section was revised to 4,219 crore.

Rolling Stock

Each train will be made up of 3 coaches on the formation – leading car / intermediate car / leading car. The length and width of the cars will be 18m and 2.7m respectively. The total length of train will be approximately 54 m.

Fare

Proposed fares for the light metro vary from a minimum of 8 for two km to 30 for 18–24 km. However, the minimum fare projected for 2019 is 11 and the maximum 42.

Replacement of Monorail

Representatives of Hyundai Rotem proposed in 2012 to use Maglev technology for setting up a mass rapid transport system in the city.

On 28 August 2014, the State Government decided to use Light Metro, instead of Monorail, in both Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, mainly due to cost overruns.

Personal Rapid Transit

A Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system in Thiruvananthapuram has been proposed by INKEL ltd. A shift of 40% of the car and auto rickshaw travellers to the new system is expected. The PRT will function as a feeder mode of transport to supplement the metro.

The project will be completed in two phases. The first will be from Pallipuram to Thampanoor and the second from Thampanoor to Neyyattinkara. Thirty-five stations are proposed and the track will pass through Vellayambalam, Palayam, Statue, Overbridge, East Fort and Thampanoor.

The approximate cost of the project is 60  crore per kilometre and it can be completed in 24 to 30 months.

Finance Minister K.M. Mani allocated 2.5 million in the 2012-13 State Budget for preliminary work on the PRT in Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam.

The project is expected to be completed in 24 months from date of commencement.

Kozhikode Light Metro

Kozhikode Light Metro is a proposed mass rapid transport system (MRTS) for the city of Kozhikode (Calicut), in India. In 2010, the State government explored the possibility of implementing a metro rail project for Kozhikode city and its suburbs. The proposal was to have a corridor connecting the Karipur Airport to the Kozhikode Medical CollegeHospital through the heart of the city. An inception report was submitted by a Bangalore-based consultant, Wilber Smith, on the detailed feasibility study on the prospect of implementing the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) andLight Rail Transit System (LRTS) in the city. However, the project has been scrapped to be replaced by Kozhikode Monorail project. The State Cabinet then decided to form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement monorail projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, and administrative sanction was given in October 2012. The state government issued orders entrusting the Thiruvananthapuram Monorail project to the KMCL on 26 November 2012. The government had handed over the Kozhikode Monorail project to the KMCL prior to that. On 12 June 2013, the State Cabinet gave clearance for an agreement to be signed between KMCL and DMRC, that would make the latter the general consultant for the monorail projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. The DMRC will receive a consultancy fee of 3.25% of the 55.81 billion ( 35.90 billion for Thiruvananthapuram and 19.91 billion for Kozhikode). The agreement was signed on 19 June 2013. However due to cost overrun and the cold response from the bidders the project was put on hold. Bombardier Transportation was the only bidder for the project. The project was later scraped and Light metro was proposed.

The Proposal

The Union Urban Development Ministry decided to consider the proposal for a Metro in Kozhikode after the success of the Delhi Metro and signed up for drawing the detailed project report (DPR) of the Rs.27.71 billion Kozhikode metro transport project with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation as a feasibility study for the introduction of suburban services in Kozhikode city. The Ministry decided to bear 50% of the cost of the preparation of the DPR for the city that comes under the population cut-off bracket. The preliminary feasibility study had been carried out by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) in association with the Kerala Road Fund Board in December 2008. Based on this feasibility report, the Board entrusted Wilber Smith to conduct the study in June 2009. Already, the NATPAC has submitted a metro rail project covering a total distance of 32.6 km from Karipur to the Calicut Medical College. The cost of the project was estimated at Rs. 27.71 billion and was expected be completed within five years. The monorail project which replaced the metro rail project was estimated to cost Rs 1,991 crore has received a bid from the lone bidder Bombardier consortium, and was almost double of the estimate. The project was scrapped and the Light Metro has been approved.

Proposed Route

As per the proposal for Metro, it would start from Karipur Airport, touching Ramanattukara, Meenchanda, Mini- Bypass, Arayadathupalam and culminate at the Medical College. The metro rail project will benefit, apart from the residents of the city, the neighbouring grama panchayats of Malappuram district and Kozhikode district. An estimated 2083,000 people would get the benefits of the new transportation system by 2031. The project, which can be partly finished within three years, will be economically and technically feasible. However the detailed project report prepared by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the alignment for Kozhikode Monorail is retained for the Light metro poject.

The Funding

The Union government was in favour of implementing the project with private participation, ruling out its own financial involvement. The Ministry of Urban Development and the Planning Commission were also against government investment in the project, and refused to accept it as a project in line with the Delhi Metroand Chennai Metro. The political rivalry between the earlier Left Front government in Kerala and the UPA government at the Centre was a major reason for such developments and the slow down in the project. The change in government in Kerala changed that scenario, making the Kozhikode Metro one of the top priorities of the UDF government. But later, not to affect the Kochi Metro project The Kerala cabinet under the Chief Ministership of Oommen Chandy decided to give clearance only for the Kozhikode Monorail project, replacing the Metro rail project.

The newly proposed Light Metro is proposed to be implemented as government initiative expecting a viability gap funding from the central and state government. Remaining fund is expected to be sourced internally and externally form competent agencies.

CONCOR gets Land near Ganaur for proposed Rail-linked Multi Modal Logistics Park

Land for CONCORGanaur (GNU): Officials of Container Corporation of India and Indian Oil Corporation received Regular Letters of Allotment (RLA) of land from Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in connection with two of their projects coming up in the state.

The projects entailing a total investment of Rs 1,250 crore involve setting up of a Rail-linked Multi Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) of CONCOR near Ganaur and Research and Development Project in Faridabad.

These will generate 7,100 jobs, a release said here. While CONCOR has been allotted 37 acres, IOC has been allotted some 59.32 acres, to set up the projects.

The land allotment letters were received by CMD CONCOR Anil Kumar and Executive Director of IOC R Prabhu at a simple ceremony here.

CONCOR will invest some Rs.350 Crore for a domestic container and rail freight terminal with a warehousing facility to help the industry cut logistics costs and provide faster and cheaper access to ports, the release said. IOC will invest about Rs.300 Crore in the next two years and about Rs 900 crore by 2019. Among others, the company will set up solar and gasification plants, and bio-energy related units, the release said.

CONCOR is a Navratna PSU incorporated in 1988. Besides providing inland transport by rail for containers, it has expanded to cover management of ports, air cargo complexes and cold-chains.

The CM expressed his resolve to develop Haryana as an industry-friendly state and said the New Industrial Policy will soon be announced.

Railways to build Transmission Network as per CEA recommendations: says Member Electrical

Indian Railways conducting an Energy Audit to estimate the amount of savings that can be made and achieve reduction in Energy Costs

IR Power TransmissionNew Delhi: The national transporter plans to build a transmission network as per the recommendation of the Central Electricity Authority, India’s apex power sector planning body, said Navin Tandon, Member Electrical, Railway Board.

“The MoUs provides a framework under which both parties may collaborate and cooperate for efficient, reliable and economical generation, transmission, distribution, trading, supply, marketing of electricity and energy efficiency in Indian Railways,” the government said in a statement.

Indian Railways is planning to set up a renewable energy capacity of 1,200 MW and a transmission system to carry the power generated in an attempt to cut its power costs. The national carrier is also conducting an energy audit to estimate the amount of savings that can be made. Railways needs about 12 billion units of electricity a year, with consumption growing at an average 5% a year. Its power bill is estimated at Rs.12,500 crore for the current fiscal year.

The equipment for the green power capacity will be sourced from domestic manufacturers with about 1,000 MW to be produced from sunlight and the rest from wind. The exhaustive rail network of the national carrier gives it the right of way, which in turn makes it easy to set up electricity transmission link.

The Railways also plans to source 10% of its electricity demand through renewable energy sources by 2020, said A.K. Mittal, Chairman, Railway Board, at the signing of four agreements between the Ministry of Railways and the Ministries of Power and Renewable Energy on Wednesday.

These agreements are for cooperation in electricity transmission, energy efficiency and promotion of green energy.

Piyush Goyal, India’s minister for power, coal and renewable energy, said that the partnership between his ministries and the Railways has very ambitious targets to cut the cost of power.

Goyal said all equipment will be domestically sourced, which will give boost to government’s programmes like Make in India, Skill India and will create jobs.

The plan to use domestic equipment comes in the backdrop of an ongoing trade battle with the US at the World Trade Organization (WTO), where a dispute settlement panel has been established to hear US complaints against India’s domestic content requirements on procurement of solar cells and modules under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission programme (JNNSM).

The Railways is trying to take advantage of its position as the largest consumer of power in the country to bring down its electricity costs. It has also called for bids from power producers to supply 1,010 MW of electricity over three years.

Indian Railways has floated the tender through Railway Energy Management Co. Ltd for sourcing electricity in the eastern region (350 MW), west (440 MW) and north (220 MW).

By calling for competitive bids, the railways expects to benefit from lower tariffs. The transporter is seeking to reduce its electricity cost to less than Rs.5 per unit from the present average of around Rs.7 per unit. The national transporter plans to reduce electricity bills by nearly one-third by seeking competitive bids from power producers, sourcing from electricity exchanges and reaching bilateral arrangements. This plan was articulated in this year’s railway budget.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said that the railways was paying the highest tariff despite being the largest consumer.

“The idea is that we must buy electricity on our own. The agreements will deal with all these aspects,” Prabhu said.

Ministry of Railways signs four MoUs to improve Efficiency, Clean Energy use

Ministry of Railways has signed four Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) aimed at better management and utilization of energy. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu said that these MoUs, will provide a frame work for providing future solutions in the power sectors and to facilitate Railways bring a change in the energy mix of Railways

In the presence of Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways and Piyush Goyal, Minister of State Independent Charge for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, four Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Power & Ministries of New & Renewable Energy and their organizations for cooperation in the areas of Electricity Transmission and Efficiency, Energy Conservation and promotion of Renewable Energy in a time bound manner over the Indian railways network.

MOU for co-operation in the area of Electricity and Energy Conservation between Ministry of Power (MOP) and Ministry of Railways(MOR) to share knowledge on various developments in the power sector to reduce the cost of power to Railways.( MOU between MOP and MOR signed between Shri P.K.Pujari, Secretary Power and Shri Navin Tandon, Member Electrical).

MOU between Ministry of Railways (MOR) and Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE)for co-operation in the Renewable Energy to bring in a change in the energy mix & Solarization of Railways. (MOU between MNRE and MOR signed between Shri Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary, MNRE and Shri Sudhir Garg, ED(EEM)/Railway Board).

MOU between Ministry of Railways and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) for co-operation in the area of Energy Conservation to identify technologies to further improve efficient utilization of Energy on Railways. (MOU between BEE and MOR signed between Shri Ajay Mathur, Director General/BEE and Shri J.S.P.Singh, Adviser/Electrical/Railway Board).

MOU between Railway Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL) and Energy Efficiency Services Limited(EESL) for implementation of Energy Conservation projects over Railways to implement energy efficient systems on Indian Railways.( MOU between EESL & REMCL signed by Shri Saurabh Kumar, MD/EESL & Shri Rajeev Mehrotra, CMD/RITES).

Present on the occasion of signing of Memorandum of Understanding were Shri A.K.Mital, Chairman Railway Board, Shri Navin Tandon, Member Electrical, Shri P.K. Pujari, Secretary Ministry of Power, Shri Upendra Tripathy, Secretary MNRE, Rajeev Mehrotra CMD/RITES, Shri Ajay Mathur, DG/BEE, Shri Saurabh Kumar, MD/EESL and other officers from Railway Board and Ministry of Power and NRE.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu said that these MoUs, will provide a frame work for providing future solutions in the power sectors and to facilitate Railways bring a change in the energy mix of Railways. This is also needed looking at the requirement of the present time which wants close co-ordination between stakeholders, working together and understanding each other to make faster deliveries to people. These MoUs will pave for efficient and reliable utilization of resources in the power sector and also in the renewable energy sector for making it possible for the Railway to take benefits of various developments taking place in the power sector as a whole. Shri Suresh Prabhu said that Railways on the expenditure side have two major heads – salary and fuel. While nothing much can be done much on salary side, we are constantly working to reduce the expenditure on fuel.

We have already embarked upon the path of reducing power consumption, improving energy efficiency, reducing power cost and utilizing new and renewable energy sources and the four MoUs signed today will boost railways’ efforts in this direction in a big way. The Minister pointed out that Railways have started energy audit which would give a better picture of energy consumption pattern which in turn will help in planning appropriate energy mix. The domain knowledge of Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and their various organizations will go a long way to help Railways in this crucial sector. We have already started on a mission to use LED source of light for energy saving.

Indian Railways has also taken steps to increase the use of solar energy to meet its varied energy needs and may become one of the largest producers of new and renewable energy in future. The Minister pointed out that Railway in its own right is a cleaner and environment friendly mode of transport and would like to make further efforts to become the green transporter.

In his address, Piyush Goyal, Minister of State Independent Charge for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy said that the signing of four MoUs today is a momentous occasion and transcends three crucial Ministries of Government of India. The MoUs aim at taking a holistic view of energy sector for the benefit of Indian Railways and also the nation.

Mr.Goyal appreciated that the Indian Railway is going for green energy like solar and wind energy in a big way and is poised to become one of the largest generators of renewable energy in the years to come. He pointed out that the entire energy mission in the country is 100 per cent domestic source oriented and is in line with ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ programmes of the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

Three Central Ministries through these MoUs have come together to meet ambitious targets in the field of energy saving, energy efficiency and production of green energy. Appreciating the Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu’s passion for environmental issues, Shri Goyal said that Shri Suresh Prabhu has been the biggest champion of this cause and in a way worked as an ambassador for cleaner environment.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital said that the Indian Railways is one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, playing a key role in India’s social and economic development by providing affordable transport facilities to the common man and facilitating transport of ores, minerals, iron, steel, cement, mineral oils, food grains and fertilizer at a competitive rates.

Mital pointed out that Indian Railways consume about 15 billion units for traction purposes and 2.5 billion units for non-traction purposes alone. The electricity consumption of Indian Railways is around 1.7% of India’s total Electricity consumption. The annual Electricity bill in the fiscal year 2014-2015 was about Rs 12322 crores. Ever increasing passenger and freight traffic is likely to further increase the energy requirements for the traction purpose. A small saving on part of Indian Railways in electricity consumption will have a large effect on our bottom-line and at the same time contribute to the country’s energy saving. Shri Mital said that the Railways, is an eco-firendly means of transport.

To further contribute to ecological sustainability, IR has set itself a target of meeting its 10% of demand through Renewable energy sources by year 2020 and has targeted large scale harnessing of solar and wind energy as well as adoption of energy efficient appliances/equipment, to reduce electricity consumption. He said that under the leadership of Railway Minister, in this year Budget, Railways has committed to expand sourcing of solar power as part of Solar Mission of Railways by setting up of 1000 MW solar plants in next 5 years. We have set up an Electrical Energy Management Cell in the Ministry and an Energy Management Directorate in RDSO to work on Sustainable Energy Management in Railways.

Indian Railway has also initiated a number of steps for reducing carbon emission through use of renewable energy. These include roof-top and vacant land-based solar power plants, wind power plants, solar based water heating systems, solar coolers & solar street lights etc. at various locations. These initiatives are being implemented with the ultimate objective of economy in procurement price of electricity and best value for money through competitive bidding. The MOUs which will be signed today will help Railways to work together with our sister Ministries and tap their knowledge and experience in implementation of Electricity & Energy Efficiencies projects.

Speaking on the occasion, Member Electrical, Railway Board Shri Navin Tandon said that the Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu had a clear agenda to rationalize the cost of electric power for Railways. This is one action which can become a game changer in improving the financial health of Railways. Further, solarization of Railway is Railway Minister’s dream in line with the Hon’ble PM’s directives, as well with the aim to reduce the cost of power for Railways. The concerns of Railway Minister are known for environment and so is the emphasis on renewal energy.

Railways have a total Electric bill of about Rs.12500 Crores, including Rs.10900 Crores for traction and Rs 1700 Crores for Non-traction energy. To rationalize this energy cost, Minister of Railways had constituted a committee under Central Electricity Authority (CEA) which generated an “Energy Action Plan” to reduce electricity bill for Railways by getting electricity at economical tariff through open bidding, conducting energy audits, harnessing green energy etc.

Ministry of Railways, as a long term strategy, would like to build its own transmission network, connected to Inter State Transmission network as per CEA recommendations. Shri Tandon said that by our own efforts by initiating various energy efficiency related measures, Railways have been able to save about Rs 2000 Crores in last 5 years. BEE has calculated that these efforts have led to an improvement by 3.33% in use of energy in Traction application, on year to year basis, far ahead of 1.33% achieved by the industry under PAT (Perform Achieve and Trade) scheme. He pointed out that there is still a huge scope and so we are now associating with BEE for a closer look at our systems to suggest even better energy efficient means. Shri Tandon said that we have already become part of the Energy efficient LED lamp scheme when Railway administration assisted the distribution of LED lamp to Railway staff at Diesel Locomotive works Varanasi. In just four days more than 32000 lamp were purchased by our over enthusiastic staff. Today the scheme has been flagged off in Delhi as well with the purchase of a LED lamp by Minister of Railways himself.

SALIENT FEATURES OF MOUsMOU between MOR & MOP and between MOR and BEE

  • Implementation of Electricity & Energy Efficiency projects for Indian Railways including feasibility, study, construction, operation and maintenance of Electricity & Energy Efficiency projects in a phased manner by optimum utilization of resources of both Parties.
  • Co-operation for construction, operation and maintenance of transmission lines for connection with Railway substation through the PSUS under the control of both parties and development of smart grids & online Load Monitoring Centers, in co-ordination with National load Dispatch Centers etc.
  • Facilitating sharing of information, experiences, knowledge and training of staff and officers of Railways at their own cost on identified subjects or through organization of joint workshops, conferences and seminars etc.
  • Exchange of Scientific and Technological information and data, training of scientific and technical personnel’s, implementation of joint research or technical projects for achieving energy conservation on Indian Railways.
  • Co-operation in implementation of energy conservation projects for targeted achievement of energy savings over Indian Railways and development of long term road map.
  • Replacement with energy efficient equipments and technology innovation on non-commercial basis for encouragement to Zonal Railways on energy conservation measures.
  • Finalization of concept of papers on present technologies and their usages in Railways.

MOU between MOR and MNRE

  • Conceptualization, structuring, implementation, Operation and Maintenance of Renewable Energy Projects in phased manner by optimum utilization of resources of both Parties.
  • Implementation of Renewable Energy projects at different Indian Railways premises (Railway stations, yards, offices, workshops and residential complexes & other installations).
  • Both parties may also recognize the importance of available Renewable Energy resource for industrial and thermal applications.

MOU between REMCL and EESL

  • Under the MOU,EESL will undertake Energy Audits of Railway Building, assess potential of energy savings through techno-commercially viable energy efficiency measures as may be mutually agreeable, finalisation of Technical Specifications of various energy efficient equipments such as LED Lights, Air Conditioners, Ceiling fans, Water pumps, Automatic Power Factor Correction panels, Compressors etc. to be deployed in the relevant projects & assist in procurement on competitive bidding basis as per public procurement norms ensuring the technical performance of newly installed equipments as per design specifications to provide the following services to Zonal Railways on remuneration basis.
  • To spread awareness of LED bulbs, arrangements made by Electrical Energy Management Directorate, Railway Board with Energy Efficiency Services Limited for distribution of 7 watt LED bulb for Railway employees under their Demand Side Management based Efficient Lighting program (DELP).
  • LED bulb distribution will start on 12.08.2015 from 1600 Hrs. for railway employees at Rail Bhawan, Baroda House and DRM office, New Delhi. These bulbs are provided at a subsidised rate of Rs. 93/- and each employee with valid proof is eligible to get a maximum of four bulbs.

BACKGROUND

Railways are one of the biggest consumers of power in the country and would like to become leader in the renewable sector and master the technologies leading to efficiency utilization of energy. These 3 MoUs with Ministry of Power (MoP), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will take care of complete power sphere from Railways perspective covering generation of power to demand side and make it possible for Government of India to show case how learning from each other can take you ahead in exploiting world class technologies and provide cheaper services to the people at large. These MoUs will also provide Railways the technical expertise, and open training facilities available in the power sector, to Railways.

The National Action Plan on climate change aims at enhancing renewable energy in the overall energy mix and other uses. While working together with MNRE, railways can use its open air spaces and vast stretches of land to generate renewable energy. Both these organisations will also work towards increasing awareness of benefits of the renewable energy using the space resources visibility of Railways. Developing appropriate funding mechanism is a very important aspect to make a technology successful and so this collaboration will explore various financial possibilities including utilisation of international funds.

20 Rail Pravasi Associations to come together at Kalyan Station on Aug 15 to protest the Lack of Safety in Suburbans

Mumbai Suburban systems rushMumbai: Following the various incidents of commuters coming under attack last week, commuters associations have decided to hit the streets on August 15 to protest. Though they have been trying their best to convey their problems to the Railways authorities, but with no results, they have decided to use Independence Day as a platform to highlight commuters’ woes.

Around 20 Rail Pravasi Associations from across the central suburbs will come together at Kalyan station to protest the lack of safety measures adopted in trains and platforms as well. After the two incidents of women being attacked by train thieves, women safety, especially during night, has also been included in their agenda for protest. On August 15, these associations will come together and show their displeasure about the functioning of the Railways.

“Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the officials at the Railways to pay attention to every issues of the commuters, but none of them are eager to meet us. We have been trying relentlessly to get them to hear our problems, but our pleas have fallen onto deaf ears. Hence, we have to now protest and thousands of commuters will unite on Independence day,” said Lata Argade, secretary of one of the commuter associations.

In the last few weeks as well, many youngsters and women have been targets of miscreants and few have lost their lives as well. Increase in the number of death incidents on rail routes have led to these associations increasing demands.

TN Revenue Department refuses to part with Land for Railway projects on Road Widening

CBE Rly stationChennai: The Revenue department has decided not to provide land for the widening of the narrow path between Collectorate and office of the Superintendent of Police, as proposed by the Railways to streamline traffic in front of the Coimbatore railway station and develop an alternate entry.

When contacted, a revenue official said that there was only limited space near the path and already construction of a new building was underway. “We are unable to provide the land to the Railways. The decision was taken after conducting a detailed study on the proposal and considering all aspects of it,” the official added.

Coimbatore railway station is the second largest in the Southern Railway zone. But its main entry is always overcrowded with parked vehicles, passengers and taxis, leading to frequent traffic snarls.

In an effort to ease traffic, the Railways had requested the Revenue department on December 26, 2014, to provide a patch of land for widening the narrow road between Collectorate and SP Office to develop an alternate entry with a parking spot, ticket counter and all the necessary facilities.

At present, the road is three metres wide and spreads over 766 sq.m. The plan was to widen the road to seven meters after acquiring 761 sq.m of land adjacent to the road, owned by the Revenue department.

When contacted Divisional Railway Manager of Salem Division Shubranshu told that Railways has not received any communication so far. However, he said that widening of the road is the only alternate to decongest traffic in front of the station.

Asked about the possibility of developing the Coimbatore North Junction as the second terminal as an alternate solution, the DRM said, “We are in the process of developing the Coimbatore North junction. However, it will not put an end to the traffic woes at the main junction. If the Revenue department cannot provide the land we will look into other possibilities for the benefit of passengers.”

Hoardings on Railway property need Corporation nod: Madras High Court

Hoardings Rly LandsChennai: Holding the hoardings erected within railway premises too must have approval from corporation authorities or district collector, the Madras high court has given agencies which own such structures to apply for necessary permission within 15 days. The competent authorities concerned would pass orders on the applications within 30 days thereafter, it said.

Dismissing a big batch of petitions filed by hoarding owners and agencies, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam said: “It shall be your responsibility to obtain permission, permit and licence from the municipal corporation or any other government or local departments for display, as and when required, so as not to contravene any rule or law of the land.”

The common question taken up for consideration was whether railway administration’s permission would suffice to display advertisements on railway property or it would require the nod from municipal corporation/district collector.

The bench said the agencies must pay the municipal corporation or any other government department concerned requisite licence fee and taxes.

DPR of Andheri-Dahisar Metro pegged the Project Cost at Rs.5757 Crore

DPR-of-Andheri-Dahisar DMRCNew Delhi: The detailed project report (DPR) prepared by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for the Andheri-Dahisar Metro has pegged the project cost at Rs 5,757 crore. The project is expected to take at least four and a half years to complete.

The 16.5km corridor will run along the Western Express Highway, one of the busiest road stretches in the city. The Andheri-Dahisar line will have connectivity with the existing Line 1 and the proposed JVLR-Kanjurmarg line.

MMRDA’s additional commissioner Sanjay Sethi said, “As per the DPR, there will be 16 stations on the corridor (translates into one station per km).” The depot is being planned on Airports Authority of India (AAI) land at Dahisar.

The DPR will be put before the MMRDA committee on August 20. This corridor and the ones from DN Nagar to Dahisar, BKC to Mankhurd and Jogeshwari to Kanjurmarg combined will be 118km. All these corridors will be elevated.

Sethi said the project will be executed on cash contract. “We will be approaching multi-lateral agencies like Asian Development Bank and World Bank for loan.”

The DPR did not touch upon the interchange facility of the network with the suburban rail corridor that runs parallel. The DPR is being updated for other transport corridors originally proposed by the MMRDA, including an elevated bus rapid transport system (BRTS) along WEH from Kalanagar in Bandra (East) to Dahisar. The project was dropped because of the state government’s preference to build an elevated Metro corridor between Dahisar and Andheri-Bandra.

CR demands Hot Key ATVMs with three-only steps for easy and fast transaction

CR says that due to multiple and time taking steps involved, Railway commuters prefer ticket counters, not ATVMs.  This has forced CR authorities to suggest easy and fast transaction mode to CRIS and Railway Board

atvms no trafficMumbai: The number of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) has more than doubled in the past four years on the Central Railway (CR), but there is a problem. The tickets issued through these machines have not increased proportionately.

The statistics procured from CR indicate that more than 60% (around six lakh) daily suburban commuters still buy tickets at the counter. Around 2.35 lakh daily commuters opt for ATVMs, while 1.80 lakh prefer Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewak (JTBS) and 500-600 passengers choose mobile ticketing.

The ATVMs were introduced by the Railways with much fanfare to replace cheaper coupon vending machines (CVMs) that were popular with the commuters. But it seems they have failed to pick up. For suburban commuters, this means long ticketing queues still persist because ATVMs are not user-friendly. The breakup of ticket sales, according to CR data, showed the average daily ticket sales through ATVMs had increased to 2.74 lakh in April 2014-15, when the number of ATVMs was 382. However, it dropped to 1.46 lakh in July last year.

Railway authorities attributed this reduction to the sudden withdrawal of facilitators, following the railway board order. “The ATVMs are very confusing because of the 7-8 steps involved. Therefore, we had proposed hot-key ATVMs to the railway board and Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS), which will involve only three steps. But so far we have not received any response,” said a senior CR official.

Each ATVM is worth Rs1.25lakh. This means more than Rs 8.27crore of the taxpayers’ money is spent to procure 662 ATVMs, but they have failed to serve the purpose. Whereas, the proposed ATVMs by CR will cost only Rs 75,000, the prototype of which is also ready.

The number of ATVMs available on the suburban section is 662, of which 280 were installed in the past four months. Still, the number of daily average tickets sold is 2.35 lakh. Uday Bobhate, general manager, Centre for Railway Information System, said, “The demand to develop any new IT module has to come from the railway board. We have not received any such demand from the board.”

PCMC change design of Ravet ROB to facilitate Pune-Lonavla track section expansion

ravet bridgePune: Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has changed the design of its railway overbridge (ROB) at Ravet due to expansion of tracks on the Pune-Lonavla section.

A third track is being planned on Pune-Lonavla stretch. On July 8, the railway authorities sent a letter to the civic body asking it to shell out Rs 26.51 lakh extra before change in overbridge design is approved.

Consequently, the estimated cost of the overbridge has shot up from Rs 15.58 crore to Rs 28.83 crore. This has also pushed up the maintenance charges which the civic body will have to pay the railways.

“A short-notice resolution on the extra charges has been approved,” Atul Shitole, chairman of the standing committee, told.

As per the resolution, the civic body plans to develop a 45-metre wide bus rapid transit system (BRTS) route from Bhakti Shakti Chowk in Nigdi to Mukai Chowk in Kiwale with Pune-Lonavla railway track crossing it at Nisarga Darshan Society. The PCMC sought to construct a railway overbridge at this spot for providing easy passage of vehicles.

It had sent the design of this overbridge to the railways for approval last year. Following which, the railways, through a letter on January 4 last year, demanded Rs Rs 1.45 crore to shift an electrical unit section post along the railway tracks. The railways also demanded Rs 5.97 crore in maintenance charges. The standing committee approved a resolution on June 17 last year to pay this amount.

However, the civic body made changes in the design of the overbridge after the railways proposed to lay third track on Pune-Lonavla stretch. As a result, the estimated cost of the overbridge increased from Rs 15.58 crore to Rs 28.83 crore further pushing up the maintenance charges. The railways through a letter on July 8 this year demanded additional charges of Rs 26.51 lakh and said the changed design of the overbridge will be approved after this amount is paid.

Nellore and Visakhapatnam get more Multi-model Logistic Parks

CONCOR MMLPsVisakhapatnam (VSKP): More Multi Model Logistic parks and container freight stations are being established in the newly carved out coastal Andhra Pradesh state during this year. Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal and Visakha Container Terminal have already got the permission from Customs for establishing CFS at their respective regions.

The state owned Balmer & Lawrie Co Ltd., have already initiated their Multi Model Logistic Park at Visakhapatnam Port area. Balmer & Lawrie were already operating successfully three CFS at Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata metros and their fourth project at Visakhapatnam was long planned and recently the MoU was signed between Visakhapatnam Port and the company. In the same line ,Visakha Container Terminal also has been allotted 10 acres of land at Port area for their own CFS activities. VCTPL has already started their expansion of existing container terminal project and CFS operation will be part of that. The Container Corporation of India has already started operation at their Multi Model Logistic Park which was recently established opposite Visakhapatnam Airport in 10 acres land, also it plans for expansion in the additional 90 acres land provided for them. CONCOR also planned a separate double railway lines to their CFS as their complex is situated near the main line route of Kolkata-Chennai.

Meanwhile Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal has already started developing a state-of-art Container Freight Station within their port area. They have allotted 48 acres for this CFS in the first phase to handle around 6000 Teus with a covered warehouse space of one lakh sq. ft. The KPCL has also plans to extend the rail lines and establish a rail siding at this CFS. In Nellore region, CONCOR also has plans to develop one Container Freight Station and details are awaited.

CONCOR MMLP2sPresently Visakhapatnam has already five container freight stations in the port region operating successfully. Apart from CONCOR, M/s.Gateway East India, M/s. Sravan Shipping, M/s. Bhavani Shipping and M/s. VPL Integral were operating successfully. M/s. Sravan Shipping has already started their expansion project of the existing CFS operation.

Some more CFS Players such as Chennai based Sattvagroup and Visakhapatnam based Srivalli Shipping also have plans to establish CFS at Visakhapatnam during this year. M/s. Srivalli Shipping was operating an empty container yard for the past three years at Auto Nagar in Visakhapatnam. In the inner part of Andhra M/s.Guntur Container Terminal owned by Chennai based LEAAP group has established an ICD at Edlapadu in Guntur District and is operating successfully.

CFS and ICDs in India remain the fastest growing segment and growing competition from private participation will also bring forth an array of new services and customized logistic solution which the trade is always looking forward to. Coastal Andhra with a vast coast of 900 kms., has already opened wide for establishing new port and terminals by the state and the central governments. It is also expected that the Multi Model Logistic Parks, the existing ones as well the new ones would play a key role in the economic development of the region, that is a good sign for logistic trade.

Logjam ends: Seven Hyderabad Metro Stations Get The Go-ahead From Fire Department

Fire SafetyHyderabad: The long-standing logjam between the Disaster Response and Fire Services Department and the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited over fire permission for Metro stations came to an end with the fire department finally giving the go ahead to seven of the stations between Nagole and Mettuguda on Wednesday.

For nearly three years, the department had claimed that the construction of stations do not conform to the National Building Code (NBC) to which the Fire Services Act is totally adhered to. It had even issued notices to the HMRL directing a change in design of the stations.

On the other hand, the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) have been sticking to the Delhi Metro Act 2002. The Union government in 2012 had even issued a gazette notice extending the Delhi Metro Act to the HMR’s construction here. The issue of fire permission, however, was kept hanging till the Telangana government issued a GO in favour of the HMR three months ago.

Now, the fire authorities have granted  permission to the HMR which has adhered to the National Fire Protection Association standards, a code followed in the United States of America. “The issue is that of exit routes in case of a fire accident in an overhead station. NBC says the exit should be within six metres from one end of the station platform and that there should be two such exits on both sides of the station, but here we have it about 30 metres away. Inspections were held last year and permissions were denied,” said a senior fire department official.

Speaking for his side, NVS Reddy, managing director, HMRL, said: “The issue has been resolved as authorities are satisfied with the fire precautions in place. We have stuck to NFPA which is a set of international guidelines and tougher than NBC.” Moreover, all metro rails including Delhi metro rail follows NFPA, he added. According to him, the decisions were taken at the highest level of governance and thus does not involve any bypass of rules. The process of sanctioning fire permission for rest of the stations are to be started soon.

CONCOR’s Four ‘missing’ Freight Trains found after Two Weeks

Freigt train CONCORAhmedabad:  In a bizarre case, four full-length freight trains laden with containers carrying goods worth crores of rupees were reported ‘untraceable’ for several days, creating anxiety among exporters and customers.

While all the goods trains – each nearly a km long – are now reported to have been ‘traced’ at various locations in Gujarat, the exporters claim that they would suffer huge losses if their consignments don’t reach intended destinations around the world as per schedule.

The matter first came to light when a train pulling 90 container wagons left Jodhpur in Rajasthan on July 27 for a 600-km four-day long journey to Mundhra Port in Bhuj, in the Kutch region of Gujarat.

The 90 wagons were loaded with different types of export goods intended to be transferred to waiting ships at the Mundhra Port bound for destinations around the world.

“After four days, since our goods had not reached Mundhra Port for their onward voyage, we enquired with the Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) officials in Jodhpur, but they evaded our queries,” Jodhpur Handicrafts Exporters Association (JHEA) secretary Bharat Dinesh told IANS.

Besides Dinesh, several other members of JHEA had sent their goods by that regular container service of the North Western Railway (NWR) and were worried as it could mean major import-export, banking and other issues.

“Despite repeated attempts to find out the fate of our goods, the CONCOR officials failed to reply and we apprehended the worst for our consignment, totally worth around Rs.9 crore (nearly $1.5 million) on that train. In fact, one official shirked responsibility and directed us to ask Indian Railways, and a railway official said it was beyond jurisdiction since the train had moved out to another railway division,” Dinesh said.

The problems the exporters could face include expiry of letters of credit and bank guarantees in some cases as ships have departed without loading the intended goods, he explained.

Confirming the developments, CONCOR Group General Manager M. Azhar admitted it was on account of various technical, operational and natural issues that the delays occurred.

“Due to the floods in Gujarat and Rajasthan in the past few weeks, there were breaches of around two kilometres of railway tracks on the Bhildi section and of the three routes to Mundhra Port, two had to be shut down. Trains were diverted from Ahmedabad Division,” Azhar told IANS.

He added that the CONCOR was in constant touch with the Indian Railway authorities on the issue and the latter assured that the problems are likely to be rectified by this weekend.

“As for the long-delayed trains, we asked the railways to clear the oldest trains – including the one which left Jodhpur on July 27 – on priority as exporters must not suffer. At present four of such long-delayed services are back on track and are en route to Mundhra Port,” Azhar added.

While one train was traced to a remote location around 30 km from Mehsana on Tuesday, the other trains have been traced to other locations on Wednesday.

When it was pointed out that there was total blackout of information from the CONCOR’s Jodhpur branch, Azhar described that as “unfortunate”, adding that the “valued exporters” had a right to know the status of their consignments.

Preferring to term it “miscommunication” rather than a case of “missing trains”, Azhar explained that the entire CONCOR operations are monitored by the sophisticated Freight Operations Information System that enables it trace each and every container moving on the railway network.

Dinesh and other exporters said in this era of satellite communications, mobiles, FOIS and in some cases even GPs, it was indeed strange that entire trains could not be traced by the CONCOR Jodhpur officials which could result in losses to them.

Railways UTS App (paperless ticket) Scheme picking up in Chennai

IR UTS AppChennai: Paperless mobile suburban tickets introduced in July for the first time on suburban routes have become popular as sale has now touched 1,000 tickets per a day.

Southern Railway is planning to popularise the tickets and is hopeful of achieving sales of at least 1 lakh tickets per day in the near future, which would be 10% of the total commuters in the suburban network.

The scheme is available at all suburban stations on Chennai Beach-Velachery, Chennai-Chengalpet, and Tiruvallur and Gummidipundi sections.

Tickets can be booked using an UTS app on a smartphone connected to internet and GPS and the mobile ticket can be showed to a ticket checker.

The person should be 25metres away from the track and within 5km radius of originating station. The paperless tickets saves time of the passengers by avoiding queues and is in line with ministry of railways ‘Operation Five Minutes’ designed to prevent wait time to buy tickets.

With increased level of penetration of smartphones, the railway administration is hoping that this mode of ticket booking will pick up faster than the automatic ticket vending machines in the suburban network.

MRVC moots Suburban Rail Tariff Authority for Mumbai Suburban Railway system

A white paper to be submitted to the Railway Board also proposes the formation of a Suburban Rail Tariff Authority

Mumbai: In a radical suggestion, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has proposed different fares for fast and slow locals in Mumbai and also an independent fare fixation committee for the suburban network.

In a white paper to be presented to the Ministry of Railways, MRVC, the nodal body for development of local rail network in Mumbai metropolitan region, has suggested that that local trains’ ticket pricing must take into account fares of competing modes of transport like BEST buses, Metro, and Mono.

Currently, the ticket prices for both fast and slow services are the same and the only price differential is between first and second-class tickets.

The same formula applies to season passes. If MRVC’s suggestion is accepted, a premium will be charged for fast trains.

The new thinking comes in the wake of the Western Railway preparing to introduce air-conditioned trains early next year. Since the fare structure of AC trains will be different, the corporation believes it also provides an opportunity to rationalise ticket prices across the suburban network. The white paper talks about how the transport landscape in Mumbai has changed with the introduction of Metro and Mono and stresses the need for local trains to keep pace.

Mounting losses, competition from Metro, Mono spark out-of-the-box thinking

Since a fare revision in Mumbai suburban system has always been a sensitive issue, the white paper suggests formation of an independent Suburban Rail Tariff Authority to fix ticket prices.

The white paper was ordered by Railway Minister Suresh P Prabhu with directions to cover the whole gamut of issues connected with Mumbai’s over-burdened local train network. Once the white paper is presented to the Railway Ministry, it will be put up for commuters’ suggestions.

Chapter 4 of the report, which deals with the economic status of Mumbai’s locals, states that the poor financial performance of the suburban network is a major concern and time has come for serious introspection and appropriate remedial measures.

The report states that Mumbai locals at present are the cheapest mode of public transport at 50 paise per km as compared to Metro at Rs 5 for a km, Monorail Rs 1.67 and BEST buses at Rs 4 for a km.

Mumbai suburban railway network’s losses have increased five fold in the past five years and the cumulative loss for 2014-15 stands at Rs 1400 crore.

Former chairman of Railway Board Vivek Sahai said different fares for slow and fast locals is the most practical solution to deal with the local train network’s failing financial health. “A passenger on long-distance train pays separate fare for fast and passenger trains, so why not on suburban railway? In Mumbai, time is important and local trains are the fastest mode. There could be separate colour-coded season ticket for slow and fast trains,” he said.

Transport expert Ashok Datar too agreed the differential fare structure could bail out the suburban railway system. “It is a very nice idea and we have been pushing this one for quite some time. This and many more such ideas could be tried out in the existing scenario to increase the revenue of suburban trains.”

Rajiv Singhal of the Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee, however, said different fares for fast and slow trains will work only if the former offer something more than a quicker commute.

Mumbai suburban railway runs 2923 services daily. This includes 1618 (245 fast) services on Central Railway and 1305 (466 fast) services on Western Railway. The report adds that with every new service introduced, the operating expenses go up. In 2004-05, the cost of running a single service of a 12-car rake was Rs 52.73 lakh. In 2013-14, it went up to Rs 97.14 lakh.

Suresh Prabhu to be Chief Guest at the Unveiling of Pitch Top 50 Brands

Pitch Top 50To honour outstanding brands, exchange4media is all set to unveil the nation’s best brands in the fifth edition of Pitch Top 50 Brands today in Gurgaon. The theme of this year’s event will be “Branding a Purpose versus Purpose of Branding”.

Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu, will be the Chief Guest at the gala. The event will begin with a special address by Amarjit Batra of OLX. exchange4media is also hosting a panel discussion around the theme of the event which will be moderated by Avik Chattopadhyay of Expereal.

The panel will comprise of industry veterans like Gaurav Mehta of OLX, Apurva Chamaria of HCL Technologies, Sanjay Singal of Dabur, Kaacon Sethi of DB Corp and Vikas Varma of Music Fatafatti.

The evening will then move on to the unveiling of this year’s Pitch Top 50 Brands.

The nominated brands have been screened through a three-tier process which includes short-listing top 30 brands in each category in the first stage, and subsequently, top 10 brands in each category the next stage. In the last stage, the short listed entries have been presented to the jury that judged the shortlisted entries on various parameters like idea and innovation, consumer connect, communication impact, and execution and results.

In order to thoroughly evaluate deserving brands, exchange4media partnered with a research agency that pulled out key insights from customer surveys that spanned 25 cities in India with respondents across different SEC classifications.

To see Top 100 shortlisted brands, click http://brands50.pitchonnet.com/top-100/

The top brands have been adjudged by a jury headed by Sunil Alagh, Founder and Chairman, SKA Advisors. Jury members include industry veterans like Amitesh Rao, Director- Brand & Media, MTS India; Apurva Chamaria, Head – Global Brand & Digital Marketing, HCL Technologies Ltd; Dr. Atish Chattopadhyay, Dean, MICA; Avik Chattopadhyay, Co Founder, Brand Strategy Firm Expereal; Jyotsna Makkar, CMO, Microsoft India; Lloyd Mathias, Marketing Head, Printing & Personal Systems, Hewlett-Packard India; Nandini Dias, CEO, Lodestar UM; Sharif Rangnekar, Director & CEO, Integral PR; Sunder Hemrajani, Chairman, Greenway Appliances Private Ltd. & Former Managing Director, Times Innovative Media Ltd; and Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, Madison Media Group.

Pitch, the Marketing magazine from the exchange4media group releases its own benchmark of excellence and honours the brands that make it to the top. Pitch Top 50 Brands aims to acknowledge the impactful, efficient and commendable marketing practices being upheld by the top five brands in the 10 listed categories.

Bombay High Court suggests Installation of CCTVs in Local trains for women’s safety

cctvs suburbanMumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday mooted a proposal for the Railway authorities to consider installing CCTVs in ladies’ compartments of local trains to prevent incidents of crime against women.

The suggestion came from a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil which was hearing a petition filed by Help Mumbai Foundation and a suo motu (on its own) petition on strengthening measures to ensure women’s safety.

The petitioners raised the issue in the wake of an incident in which a 22-year-old woman was allegedly molested by an unidentified youth while she was travelling alone in an unguarded ladies compartment of a Churchgate-bound local train on August 7.

The bench also asked the Government Railway Police (GRP) to hold meetings with the Chief Security Commissioners of Central Railway and Western Railway within two weeks to discuss ways and means to strengthen the security system to protect women.

Raising the issue of women’s safety on behalf of the petitioners, Advocates Raju Chavan and Madhav Jamdar said the recent incident was the failure of the Railways to ensure safe passage to women commuters during evening hours.

The lawyers argued that the Railways were not serious in providing security to women during their travel in local trains.

IRCTC to refurbish 2000 Retiring Rooms at 600 Railway Stations

IRCTCNew Delhi: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is set to refurbish at least 2,000 retiring rooms at 600 railway stations across the country. It has invited Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from reputed service providers for maintenance and expansion of retiring rooms and provision of upgraded services to rail passengers. The East Central Railway (ECR) alone has 50 plus retiring rooms.

IRCTC chairman cum managing director A K Manocha said the corporation would engage renowned service providers to invest in infrastructure of retiring room complexes. “Several facilities, including television, telephone, air-conditioner, dormitory intercom, alarm, fire fighting and public address systems will be introduced in guestrooms. The IRCTC also intends to install RO water purifier system and Wi-Fi connectivity on all retiring room premises,” he added.

At present, passengers enjoy facilities like AC and non-AC rooms and dormitories with attached and common bathrooms, lockers, food and beverage services in railway guest rooms. However, IRCTC is committed to providing upgraded retiring room complexes on the pattern of guesthouses with more personalized services.

Retiring rooms would function round the clock, said IRCTC MD, adding their reservation could be made online at www.irctc.co.in or at railway station counters. Launched in 1999, IRCTC, a ‘mini Ratna’ of Indian Railways, is dealing with catering, tourism, Rail Neer (packaged drinking water), tourism and online rail and air ticketing operations.

New Luxury Beijing-Moscow Orient Express on track to Popularity

beijing-moscow orient expressBeijing, China: A luxury long-distance train service linking Beijing and Moscow and modelled on the infamous Orient Express is bridging cultures and harking back to an era before low-cost air travel.

Ticket sales are picking up steam since the first of the trains departed earlier this summer, according to the local authorities and travel agencies behind the service. On Wednesday, the latest train arrived in Erenhot, on the China-Mongolia border, carrying 187 passengers.

beijing-moscow orient express inside“The route of the Orient Express has changed and it has been suspended many times over the past century, but the spirit remains–exploring the unknown, seeking common understanding and accepting differences as well,” said Wang Danyang, deputy chief of the tourism bureau of Erenhot.

The city government partnered with three travel agencies, one in Beijing, one in Erenhot and the other in Germany, to launch the train service on May 20, scheduling 12 journeys this summer.

“Six trains start from Beijing and six from Moscow. Today’s train is the seventh and we are looking forward to more in the future,” said Wang.

The total length of the route is more than 7,800 km–about one fifth of the circumference of the Earth. Tourists usually spend 11 days on the train and stay in hotels at a cost of more than 40,000 yuan (US$6,442) per person.

Many Chinese are familiar with the Orient Express through the Agatha Christie detective novel set on the train and its film adaptation, but long-distance train travel is becoming a novelty as the country’s burgeoning middle class turn instead to flying, said Yao Jun, president of the Erenhot China Youth Travel Service.

However, Yao believes a slow but relaxed train journey gives passengers a chance to appreciate culture along the way.

And what culture. The route covers much of the ancient “Tea Road” created by Chinese merchants in the 17th century. They brought tea, china, silk and other goods by camel from Fujian province to Russia and then to other European countries.

Li Haoming, a Beijing native who took the new Orient Express in June, described the experience as like being in a “mini UN.”

“Most of the tourists were foreigners. We tasted vodka together in Russia and rode horses in Mongolia. Then some fellow Chinese travelers taught everyone how to do tai chi. I’ve never felt so close to people of other cultures before,” said Li.
beijing-moscow orient express inte

Central Railway to run Special Trains for Ganesh Chaturthi

ganesh trainsMumbai: The Central Railway (CR) will run over 100 special trains to clear the extra rush of passengers during festival Ganesh Chaturthi.

A total of 118 special trains will be run, according to a CR statement issued here.

As many as 36 special trains will be run to Madgaon (six days a week except on Thursday) from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT).

The special train (train no. 01005) will depart from LTT at 12.55 midnight daily (except Thursday) from September 9 to September 28 and will arrive at Madgaon station at 2:40 PM on the same day, it said.

From Madgaon, (train no. 01006) will depart 3:25 PM daily (except on Thursday) from September 8 to September 28 and reach LTT at 03.55 AM in the wee hours.

Forty-two daily special trains to Karmali (Goa) will depart from LTT (train no. 01025) at 05.30 AM from September 8 to September 28 and will arrive at Karmali at 5 PM on the same day.

Train no. 01026 will leave Karmali station at 5.50 AM daily from September 9 to September 29 and reach LTT station at 5.45 PM on the same day.

Central Railway will also run 40 Chiplun Diesel- Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) special trains from Panvel to ferry passengers from Roha, Kolad, Indapur, Mangaon, Goregaon Road, Veer, Sape Wamne, Karanjadi, Vinhere, Diwankhavati, Khed and Anjani stations.

Bookings for train no. 01005 and 01025, on special charges, will open from August 14 and Panvel-Chiplun DEMU specials will run as unreserved specials, the release added.

Tri-Weekly Train Connecting Andhra Pradesh to Delhi Flagged Off

vskp-dli flagging offVisakhapatnam (VSKP): A new train connecting Andhra Pradesh to New Delhi was flagged off by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today. The existing AP Express connecting New Delhi and Hyderabad will now be called Telangana Express.

Visakhapatnam-New Delhi-Visakhapatnam Super Fast AC AP Express began its maiden journey from this coastal city with the minister flagging off the train through video linking from Rail Bhavan in New Delhi.

The tri-weekly express will leave from Vizag, as the coastal city is also called, every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 7.45 am and will reach New Delhi at 7 pm the next day.

It will stop at Duvvada, Vijayawada, Anakapalli, Samalkot, Rajahmundry, Tadepalligudem and Eluru in Andhra Pradesh and Khammam, Warangal, Peddapalli, Ramagundum and Sirpur Kagaznagar in Telangana.

It will also stop at Balharshah, Chandrapur, Nagpur JN, Itarsi, Bhopal, Jhansi, Gwalior and Agra Cantt, taking over 36 hours to cover the 2,099 km distance.

The train will leave from New Delhi every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.40 am.

Though it was originally proposed to run the AP Express from New Delhi to Vijayawada on a daily basis, as announced in the railway budget 2014-15, following persistent demands from leaders from Vizag it was decided that the train will originate from the coastal city and run via Vijayawada.

Mr Prabhu said that with the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, separate trains were sanctioned for the two states. He said the Vizag-Delhi train was launched in tune with the aspirations of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

He also announced that the existing AP Express between Hyderabad and New Delhi will now be called Telangana Express. However, officially this will come into effect only from November 15.

The existing AP Express is a daily train, connecting Hyderabad with the national capital.

Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said discussions were on to make Vizag a separate railway zone.

The ceremony in Delhi was also attended by union Ministers Ashok Gajapati Raju, YS Chowdary and Bandaru Dattatreya, while MPs and state ministers from coastal Andhra were present at Vizag railway station.

FCI plans Advanced Movement of Foodgrains by Rail to the Northeast

fci railwaysNew Delhi: The FCI is planning to move foodgrains to the northeast in advance by rail from Punjab and Haryana to create a buffer stock, parliament was informed on Tuesday.

“In order to ensure smooth supply of foodgrains under the TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) and other schemes of the government as well as to maintain buffer stocks in the northeast, Food Corporation of India plans movement of foodgrains in advance from Punjab and Haryana to different parts of the northeast by rail,” Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswam told Lok Sabha.

He said certain operational constraints such as inclement topography, landslides due to rain, frequent bandhs and strikes, unforeseen circumstances due to law and order problems and natural calamities sometimes affect movement of foodgrains in the northeast.

“As there is limited rail network in the northeast, FCI inducts stocks from railheads and railhead depots to all FCI depots in the region to ensure smooth supply of foodgrains,” he said.

Paswan said there have been complaints about irregularities in the functioning of the TPDS, including leakage and diversion of foodgrains, and foodgrains not reaching the beneficiaries, in some states, including the northeast.

FCI Sidings on NFR ZoneStating that TDPS was operated under the joint responsibility of the central and the state governments, Paswan said that as and when complaints are received by the government from individuals and organisations as well as through media reports, these are referred to the state governments concerned for inquiry and appropriate action.

He said 25 complaints have been received from the northeast till June this year.

“Further, the government and FCI continuously monitor the inter-state foodgrains movement to ensure availability of foodgrains in the region,” the minister said.

“A joint coordination mechanism between Railways, FCI and Department of Food and Public Distribution has been set up to monitor rail movement on weekly/monthly basis.”
Paswan said coordination committees have also been set up at regional and zonal levels to monitor foodgrains movement.

“During 2014-15, movement of foodgrains to the northeast increased by 13 percent as compared to previous year,” he said.

China sweetens its Bid to win Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail Contract

hsr indonesiaJakarta, Indonesia: China has sweetened its bid in a race with Japan to win the construction contract for a high-speed railway connecting Jakarta to the city of Bandung, Indonesia said on Tuesday.

President Joko Widodo told reporters on Tuesday the government had hired private consultants to consider the rival proposals for Indonesia’s first bullet-train connection and would announce the winner at the end of the month.

The Jakarta Post reported that Japan, which began talks several years ago on building the 150-km line, had estimated the cost at at least $4.4 billion.

Oura Daisuke, a representative with Japan International Cooperation Agency in Indonesia, told Reuters that Japan had offered a 40-year loan at a 0.1 percent interest rate and with a 10-year grace period. He declined to reveal the loan amount.

China has now improved its initial bid, offering a $5.5 billion loan with a 50-year tenure, a 2 percent interest rate and a grace period, Indonesian Development Planning Minister Andrinof Chaniago told reporters on Tuesday after meeting China’s Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, Xu Shaoshi.

China had initially proposed a $4 billion loan with a lending period of 25 years and an annual interest rate of 2 percent, the Jakarta Globe reported.

“There are a lot of changes making (the new proposal) better,” Chaniago said.  Xu met Widodo on Monday and China Railway Corporation is due to hold a high-speed train exhibition in Jakarta on Thursday.

“Our proposal is better,” Xu said in a press conference after meeting Widodo. “We promise we can deliver this project in three years starting with groundbreaking in August … and it will be completed in 2018.”

Mark Giblett, Group Head of Asia Project Finance for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, said several high-speed rail projects would be coming up in the years ahead, including one connecting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

“As such, it is likely that Japanese and Chinese companies will be bidding quite aggressively on the early projects so that they can secure a ‘first mover’ advantage in the market,” he told Reuters by email.

CAG’s Mumbai Metro audit to cover only part of Versova-Ghatkopar project

audit mmrcMumbai: The Metro fare hike dispute is likely to drag on for some time as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is not conducting a full project audit, while MMRDA officials say that new fares can’t be determined without such an audit.

While chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asserted on Monday that the fare will not be allowed to be increased unless an audit is completed, the CAG has restricted the scope of its audit to the viability gap funding (VGF) part of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor.

The VGF funding is to the tune of Rs 650 crore as against the initial project cost of Rs 2,356 crore.

The R-Infra-promoted Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd (MMOPL) has claimed that project cost increased to Rs 4,321 crore due to delays caused by the absence of right of way and clearances and changes in design.

However, a senior MMRDA official said, “We have asked the central government and the CAG to cover the entire scope of the project in the audit but there has been no response. Auditing the VGF component of the project will not establish if the cost escalations cited by MMOPL are justified.” Metro fares will remain unchanged till October 31.

The central government too can’t review the fare on its own and will have to either appoint a new Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) or ask the existing one to review the fare. MMRDA sources said, “The most the Centre can do is ask the existing FFC to review the fare recommendation or appoint a new FFC. The Metro Act (2002) allows the central government to appoint the FFC from time to time. It also says that the FFC’s recommendations are binding on the operator.”

On August 7, the Supreme Court upheld the fare slab of Rs 10-110 recommended by the FFC. An MMRDA official said, “It will remain a complex issue. What if the operator is opposed to the setting up of a new FFC and what if the SC agrees with the operator’s contention?”

Rules guiding FFC on Metro fare not clear, says dissent note

A dissent note in the Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) report on Mumbai Metro fares has said that the Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002, which is applicable for Mumbai’s corridor, has not been “clearly spelt out”, especially for a public-private partnership (PPP) project like the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line. And that’s why Mumbaikars are paying a fare of Rs40 instead of Rs13, it added.

“…the existing rules to guide the FFC to enable it to fix the fare… have not been clearly spelt out so far, specially for a PPP project. This has proved to be a major challenge and constraint for the FFC. It is suggested that this aspect be dealt (with) by Government of India, at the earliest, specially for PPP metro projects, since affordability and reasonability of fare structure will be the essence for the common public at large (sic),” noted former Maharashtra chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia, one of the three members of the FFC.

As per the note, adequate precautions should have been taken earlier to keep fare fixation and revision out of the purview of the Metro Railways Act, 2002. “The very applicability of the provisions of Fare Fixation in this case did not arise, since it was a PPP project, whose pre-bid parameters were already decided and frozen in terms of fare structure and service levels… This action, however, does not alter the BASIC and FUNDAMENTAL NATURE of the PARAMETERS, which were conditions precedent to the bidding process and inherent part of the bid document for the proposed execution of the Mumbai Metro Project. (sic).”

Stating that it cannot be assumed to have given a complete go-by to the basic and unalterable parameters, terms of this project, as per the Concession Agreement, Banthia termed Mumbai Metro a unique project where the Metro Railways Act has been superimposed on the existing Concession Agreement. Therefore, the need is to have harmonious interpretation of the Agreement with the Act, his note said.

For this purpose, the state Urban Development Department and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority had met minister of urban development Venkaiah Naidu on Monday in New Delhi, so that the Act can be amended for such a ‘unique project’.

Broad Gauge Rail service elates people in Dhemaji in the Northeast

Sarbananda Sonowal Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Indep Charge) along with RP Sarma Lok Sabha MP from Tezpur and RS Virdi GM NF Railways flags off two trains 15614/15613 Murkongselek- Guwahati Intercity Express and 55814/55813 between Murkongselek-Harmuti and Dekargaon at Murkongselek in Dhemaji district of Assam after gauge conversion on Monday 10th August 2015, which were flagged off by video conference from New Delhi by Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu
Sarbananda Sonowal Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Indep Charge) along with RP Sarma Lok Sabha MP from Tezpur and RS Virdi GM NF Railways flags off two trains 15614/15613 Murkongselek- Guwahati Intercity Express and 55814/55813 between Murkongselek-Harmuti and Dekargaon at Murkongselek in Dhemaji district of Assam after gauge conversion on Monday 10th August 2015, which were flagged off by video conference from New Delhi by Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu

Dhemaji (DMC): The railway connectivity got a boost in the region bordering Arunachal Pradesh on Monday with the launch of two maiden broad gauge (BG) passenger trains to Murkongselek, the easternmost railway station on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river.

Sarbananda Sonowal Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Indep Charge) along with RP Sarma Lok Sabha MP from Tezpur and RS Virdi GM NF Railways flags off two trains 15614/15613 Murkongselek- Guwahati Intercity Express and 55814/55813 between Murkongselek-Harmuti and Dekargaon at Murkongselek in Dhemaji district of Assam after gauge conversion on Monday 10th August 2015, which were flagged off by video conference from New Delhi by Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu
Sarbananda Sonowal Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Indep Charge) along with RP Sarma Lok Sabha MP from Tezpur and RS Virdi GM NF Railways flags off two trains 15614/15613 Murkongselek- Guwahati Intercity Express and 55814/55813 between Murkongselek-Harmuti and Dekargaon at Murkongselek in Dhemaji district of Assam after gauge conversion on Monday 10th August 2015, which were flagged off by video conference from New Delhi by Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu

The people of Murkongselek (Jonai), Silapathar and Dhemaji, besides the people of the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh are delighted as the train services to Murkongselek has resumed after a gap of four years, but on a broadened track, with the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) introducing the Guwahati-Murkongselek Intercity Express and the Murkongselek-Dekargaon Passenger trains on the recently converted Rangiya-Murkongselek BG route.

Sarbananda Sonowal Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Indep Charge) addressing a function organised to flag of the two trains in the presence of RP Sarma Lok Sabha MP from Tezpur and RS Virdi GM NF Railways trains 15614/15613 Murkongselek- Guwahati Intercity Express and 55814/55813 between Murkongselek-Harmuti and Dekargaon at Murkongselek in Dhemaji district of Assam after gauge conversion on Monday 10th August 2015, which were flagged off by video conference from New Delhi by Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu
Sarbananda Sonowal Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Indep Charge) addressing a function organised to flag of the two trains in the presence of RP Sarma Lok Sabha MP from Tezpur and RS Virdi GM NF Railways trains 15614/15613 Murkongselek- Guwahati Intercity Express and 55814/55813 between Murkongselek-Harmuti and Dekargaon at Murkongselek in Dhemaji district of Assam after gauge conversion on Monday 10th August 2015, which were flagged off by video conference from New Delhi by Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu

Union Minister of Railway Suresh Prabhu today flagged off the 15613/15614 Guwahati-Murgongselek Intercity Express through remote from New Delhi at 1:30 pm. He also flagged off the 55719/55720 Dekargaon-Bhalukpong Passenger train at the same time.

Mendipathar Railway StationLakhimpur MP and Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs, Sarbananda Sonowal, who attended a gorgeous function at the Murkongselek station, later inaugurated the operation of the 55813/55814 Murkongselek-Dekargaon Passenger train, which left the station at around 2 pm.

The Murkongselek railway station wore a festive look today as thousands of people from nearby areas gathered there to celebrate the resumption of the train service. NFR General Manager RS Virdi along with other senior railway officials along with Tezpur MP Ram Prasad Sharma and Pasighat East MLA Kaling Moyong also attended the function.

Mendipathar Railway Station2Sonowal, in his address, said that operation of the BG railway linking Guwahati and other capitals was a long pending public demand, which was fulfilled today. He said the Central government was planning to introduce more trains along the route linking the region with the national capital.

Dibrugarh Railway StationReferring to complaints of public inconvenience with the timing of rail movement, Sonowal said he has taken up the issue with the Union Railway Minister, requesting him to redress the grievances. “I will hold talks with the NFR higher-up for changing the train timings as sought by the people,” he said.

The last phase of the gauge conversion work along the 155-km stretch between North Lakhimpur and Murkongselek was completed early this year. Later, top railway officials in May this year conducted the high-speed trial run on the route.

With average 133 Km BG Track laying per annum since last 5 years, NE State Capitals all set to be Connected by Rail in 5-7 Years: Railway Minister

NE State CapitalsNew Delhi: Capitals of Northeastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya will be brought within the railway network in next 5-7 years, said Suresh Prabhu, Union railway minister, while inaugurating new train services after the completion of North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek and Balipara – Bhalukpong sections into broad-gauge yesterday.

Presently, only the capitals of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh (for Itanagar the nearest railhead is Naharlagun, which is around 12 km) are on the broad gauge network, and capital of Tripura (Agartala) is connected with meter gauge line. “While Agartala is all set to be on broad gauge network by March 2016, it will be our endeavour to connect the state capitals of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya by rail with the rest of the country in next 5-7 years,” Prabhu said.

He further said to augment railway network in Northeastern region, 13 new lines, three gauge conversion projects and four doubling projects with balance fund requirement of Rs 37,000 crore have been taken up. These projects on completion will augment network by 1,915 km in the region.

Prabhu said that railways have been commissioning around 133 Km broad gauge track every year in the Northeastern region in last 4-5 years. “In 2014-15, a record was made when about 450 Km of lines were commissioned. This year again, we are all set to achieve a new record of commissioning of about 550 kilometres of broad gauge lines in this region,” he said. The Railway Minister also informed that Bogibeel Bridge over river Brahmaputra in Upper Assam is also progressing well and its completion is scheduled for June, 2017. This rail-cum-road bridge, which would be around 5 km long, will connect Dibrugarh district, in south bank, with Dhemaji district on the other side.

Commissioning of newly converted North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek section marks the completion of Rangiya – Murkongselek gauge conversion project running all along the north bank of river Brahmaputra. “This will start a new era of development for the people of this region. This will also serve the defence needs of our country,” the railway minister said.

This 510 Km gauge conversion project costing about Rs 3,600 crore was sanctioned in 2002-03.  Prabhu said the project suffered delays in past due to funds constraint.

“But in 2014-15, an outlay of Rs 713 crore was provided for this line and the balance Rs 300 crore has been provided in 2015-16. The results are visible as we are today opening the entire project,” he said while flagging off a new train that would connect Murkongselek, in Dhemaji district bordering Arunachal Pradesh, with Guwahati.

Perhaps Squatters are tolerated near Railway tracks only in India: Bombay High Court

squatters in rly land
Illegal encroachments of Railway Land near Railway Tracks in Mumbai

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday chided the state government and the Railways for allowing squatters to stay for over two decades near railway tracks between Santacruz and Vile Parle stations. The court said it endangers the lives of around 3.5 million Western Railway commuters.

“Almost the entire city comes from North Bombay (sic) to South Bombay by train and returns by train,” said a bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice B P Colabawalla.

A petition was moved by Shiv Sai Welfare Society, on behalf of 105 families, urging a stay on eviction proceedings by Railways and for alternative permanent housing. Its advocate Sachin Masurkar said the families were living there before 1995 and were overlooked in the 2001 survey of a World Bank project for permanent housing for slum-dwellers. He said it is the MMRDA’s responsibility to house project-affected persons even if they are illegal occupants.

Seeing the photographs, the judges observed the hutments are barely two feet from the track. “You have no business to squat near the railway line. It happens only in India where you are tolerated for 20 years. Tomorrow you will construct near the runway,” said Justice Kanade. Masurkar said, “Not that I want to stay here forever. It is the question of my survival.” But Justice Kanade retorted, “It is also the survival of those who travel by train. Every other day we read about stone-throwing incidents.”

Masurkar said the occupants have documents to prove their eligibility. Justice Kanade said, “We don’t want to say anything about those who allowed you to stay and assisted you to procure documents. The point is whether you have a right to squat two feet from the railway line. According to us, you have no right.”

The bench also asked the Railways’ advocate Suresh Kumar, “Why do you allow these people to continue after 20 years?” Kumar said 19,000 families were provided houses under the WB project. “They all came after that,” he said.

Refusing relief, the bench said, “We are surprised how the state government and the Railway authorities permit construction of such shanties next to the tracks.” It also expressed surprise at how squatters get electricity, free water supply and documents like ration card and PAN card. But it directed the authorities to decide the Society’s representation within a month.

Bareilly-Kasganj broad gauge rail route inaugurated

Bareilly Jn-KasganjKasganj (KSJ): Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha inaugurated the newly laid broad gauge rail line between Bareilly (Moradabad Railway Division of Northern Railway) to Kasganj (Izzatnagar Railway Division of North Eastern Railway).  The route was recently converted into broad gauge.  The Minister also had launched two new trains, yesterday.

With this conversion, between Bareilly and Kasganj railway stations, the valleys of Kumaon in Uttarakhand would get connected with the rest of the regions of the country, Sinha said.

Asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving special importance to Uttar Pradesh, Sinha said the Railways has decided to build 123 rail overbridges in the state.

The PM was giving priority to finish important projects which were stuck for long, he said.

Railways to run 4 Special Trains from Mumbai for Velankanni festival

Mumbai: The Central Railway will run four festival special trains from LTT to Velankanni to clear extra rush of passengers during Velankanni Festival.

Train number 01031 special train will leave Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at 1.15 pm on August 26 and 28 (2 trips) and arrive Velankanni at 10 pm next day. Train number 01032 special train will leave Velankanni at 9 am on August 28 and 30 (2 trips) and arrive LTT at 6.15 pm next day.

It will have halts at Thane, Kalyan, Lonavala, Pune, Daund (by 01032 only), Solapur, Wadi, Yadgir, Raichur, Mantralayam Road, Adoni, Guntakal, gooty, Tadipatri, Kondapuram, Muddanur, Yerraguntala, Kadapa, Rajampeta, Koduru, Renigunta, Arakkonam, Kancheepuram, Chengalpet, Villupuram, Tirupadaripulliyur, Chidambaram, Sirkazhi, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam.

The train will comprise of one AC 2-tier, two AC 3-Tier, 11 sleeper class, 2 general second class and 2 general second class cum guard’s brake van.

History of Velankanni

Velankanni BacilicaThe Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is located at the small panchayat town of Velankanni in the Nagapattinam district of south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It lies on the Coromandel (Cholamandalam in ancient Indian Texts) Coast of the Bay of Bengal, 350 km south of Chennai (Madras) and 12 km south of Nagapattinam.

Once a port that traded with Rome and Greece from the times the Chala Dynasty ruled the South India to the time of Vijayanagar Empire. Vijayanagar rulers donated the land and labour to built the famous Basilica of Our lady of Good Health during 15th Century to Portugese who were trading with the Vijayanagar Empire.  This tiny commercial center gradually lost its importance to the larger city of Nagapattinam. The canal built to link this town with Vedaranyam still lies to the west. The Vellayar, a minor branch of the Cauvery River, runs south of the town and discharges into the sea. The town was among the worst hit by the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

The town is home to a significant Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to God in the name of Our Lady of Good Health,Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Velankanni can be traced to the mid-16th century and is attributed to three miracles at sites around where the Basilica stands: the apparition of Mary and the Christ Child to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm. These accounts are based on oral tradition and there are no written or attested records in support of them. The Holy See has not approved these apparitions.

Velankanni Railway Station in the Southern State of India
Velankanni Railway Station in the Southern State of India

The chapel was finally built by Portuguese sailors. More than 500 years later, the nine-day festival and celebration is still observed and draws nearly 2 million pilgrims each year. The Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni, also known as the “Lourdes of the East,” is one of the most-frequented religious sites in India.

Velankanni has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.

As of 2001 the Indian census indicated Velankanni had a population of 10,144. Males constitute 48% of the population and females 52%. Citizens there have an average literacy rate of 69%, higher than the national average of 68%: male literacy is 75%, and female literacy is 64%. 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health and the Tourism Importance

Velankanni is home to one of the country’s biggest Catholic pilgrimage centres. The Catholic Basilica devoted to Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as the “Lourdes of the East”. The origins of this church can be traced back to the 16th century and its founding is attributed to three miracles: the apparition of Mary and Jesus to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the survival of Portuguese sailors assaulted by a violent sea storm. It is built in the Gothic style, was modified by Portuguese and then further expanded later on due to the influx of pilgrims. The church building was raised to the status of basilica in 1962 by Pope John XXIII.

Annually, 20 million pilgrims flock to the shrine from all over India and abroad, out of which an estimated 3 million people visit the shrine during its annual festival from 29 August to 8 September. The 11-day annual festival concludes with the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of Mary on 8 September.

Velankanni railway station is a terminal station on the 10 kilometre long Nagapattinam – Velankanni broad gauge line. The foundation stone of the line was laid in 1999 and it was completed in 2010 at a cost of Rs. 48 crores. The line is part of the Tiruchirappalli railway division of Southern Railway zone of the Indian Railways.

The Vailankanni–Chennai Egmore Link Express runs daily with only four coaches from Velankanni, which then is coupled with Kamban Express at Nagappattinam Junction for its journey towards Chennai . The weekly Velankanni Express between Vasco da Gama, Goa and Velankanni is operated by South Western Railway zone. Apart from the express trains, two passenger trains are also operated daily, one each to Karaikal and Nagappattinam.

RITES submits Kanpur Metro DPR to KDA

Kanpur: Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) has submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Metro rail project in Kanpur to the Kanpur Development Authority (KDA). The agency had been asked to submit its report by June, but it was delayed by one month due to soil testing reports and some incomplete information from KDA. Now, the KDA is examining the report submitted to it a couple of days back and is gearing up for consultations with other stake-holders for consensus on DPR.

Kanpur Metro Rail RouteIn fact, the report presented by RITES is not final. KDA would seek objections from other departments and make some suggestions. Thereafter, the suggestions would be incorporated by RITES and only then a final report would be made. Copies of the DPR draft have been sent to the KDA, Jal Nigam, divisional commissioner, district magistrate and Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) to study and examine it and give their suggestions.

The DPR submitted by RITES is for two routes. As per plan, in the first phase there would be two routes. One is from IIT to Naubasta and is 25-km-long while the second one is 10-km-long and is from Chandra Shekher Azad University for Agriculture to Barra. According to sources, the cost of IIT to Naubasta route as around Rs 9,500 crore and the Metro would be underground in half of the route while the other half would be elevated. The proposed route would begin from IIT and would pass through Kalyanpur, Rawatpur, Mall Road, Phoolbagh, Kanpur Central Station, Jhakarkati Bus Terminal, Transport Nagar, Bara Devi, Kidwai Nagar and Naubasta.

Another link route would pass through Harsh Nagar, Chunniganj Parade , Bada Chauraha and Central Station. The second route would begin from CSA and would pass from GSVM Medical College, Fazalganj, Vijay Nagar, Govind Nagar to Barra-7. RITES had done soil testing at 50 points and had collected techno-feasibility report.

According to KDA vice-chairman Jaishree Bhoj, “The draft prepared by RITES has been received and KDA is discussing and examining it. Copies of the draft had been sent to other departments and it there is any objection, it would be attended to and after that the draft would be sent to the state government for approval.” KDA is planning parking lot and market space in most of the stations, she added.

Corridors

The main corridor is to be 25 km. The proposed Metro Rail route includes IIT, Rawatpur, Bada Chauraha, Motimahal,Kanpur Central, Jhakarkati Bus Termnial and Naubasta. According to the plan, the metro route would begin from IIT Kalyanpur- Rawatpur, Mall Road, Phoolbagh, Kanpur Central Station, bus terminal of Jhakarkati- Kidwai Nagar – via Transport Nagar crossing- to Naubasta.On this route, 17 km track would be elevated and left 8 km would be underground. From IIT to Harsh Nagar, the route shall be elevated and from Chunniganj to Jhakarkatti via Parade, Bada Chauraha and Central Station the route will be underground.From Transport Nagar to Naubasta the track will be elevated. A 10-km secondary corridor with 8 stations is also being though of. It would begin from Chandrashekhar Azad Agricultural University via GSVM Government Medical College- via Govind Nagar Road- Fazalganj Chouraha to Vijay Nagar crossing to Barra 7 via Barra Road.From CSA to Double Pulia via Kakadev and Rawatpur Station, the route will be underground while from Double Pulia to Barra 7 the route will be elevated.

According to KDA, the DPR will be sent to state government for approval and further to central government for final approval. If the latter is approved the work would be started by January, 2016. RITES has already done the soil testing in Gooba Gardens neighbourhood of Kalyanpur sub city followed by Rawatpur and other 8 places. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced the date of 15th August, 2015 to officially approve the project.

Mumbai Metro fares only after MMOPL Audit; says Devendra Fadnavis

Mumbai Metro fares can be hiked only after MMOPL Audit; says Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra amid the controversy on Reliance Infra over revision of fare hike to burden citizens for its cost overruns

Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharastra
Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharastra

Mumbai: A hike in Metro fares will not be allowed until the special audit of the company operating the service doesn’t get completed, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Monday. The state on Monday also requested the Centre to de-notify Mumbai Metro from the Central Metro Act, so it gets the power to fix the fares.

Fadnavis had, in April, announced a special audit of the company, Reliance Infra-led Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) to examine the actual expenditure and operating cost, among others, as the government had reservations over the fare hike and escalated cost of the project. The CM on Monday said the government was tapping legal options to resolve the fare hike issue.

At a meeting called by Union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, Ranjit Patil, minister of state for urban development, sought ways to prevent the operator from charging higher fares. “Bringing Metro under the Central Metro Act, which lacks clarity on public-private-partnership projects, gave MMOPL the power to fix the fares. So we have asked the Centre to de-notify the project from the ambit of the Act for now and then add it again later, after making amendments that ensure the power to fix fares stays with the government,” said Patil.

“We told Naidu the abnormal fare hike has angered the commuters. He assured us that appropriate decision would be taken, after consulting the ministry of law and justice,” he said, adding the state has asked the Centre to reconstitute the fare fixation committee (FFC).

Patil was accompanied by MMRDA commissioner UPS Madan, city MPs Kirit Somaiya and Gopal Shetty, who said the report submitted by the fare fixation committee (FFC) was biased towards the operator.

Earlier, the project was being developed under the Tramways Act, which gave the state the power of fare fixation. “The FFC ignored the concession agreement between the state and Reliance Infra, and did not give us a proper hearing before increasing the Metro fare up to Rs.110,” Patil said.

The Ministry of Urban Development can either ask the same committee to review the recommendations or set up a new committee.

Sources in the chief minister’s officer said the MMOPL was not likely to initiate any hike in the near future. Meanwhile, about 50 Shiv Sena workers on Monday protested near Ghatkopar station against the fare hike.

Mumbai Metro wants to burden citizens for its cost overruns – FFC Dissent Note

Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra)-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) wants to burden you by not taking any risk or responsibility on itself due to cost overruns, says a dissent note sent with the Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) report.

The note attached in the FFC report, submitted to the MMOPL on July 8, states that the committee was “urged to disregard claims in relation to cost overruns from Rs2,356 crore to Rs4,321 crore”, which were made by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to spare commuters from paying higher Metro fares.

Ex-chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia and FFC member, in his dissent note, recorded, “…MMOPL also referred to the serious delays attributable to the MMRDA, resulting into cost overrun, which were beyond their control and resulted in cost escalation. A summary of the delays attributable to MMRDA are provided in Exhibit 1. The issue of the disputed cost escalation is currently under arbitration between MMOPL and MMRDA.”

However, according to a Louis Berger report submitted to the MMRDA last September (on scrutiny on increase in project cost), out of the disputed amount of Rs1,965 crore, the hike in expenditure attributable to the MMRDA is just Rs43 crore. The balance Rs1,920 crore is because of the decisions taken by the MMOPL.

Some of the reasons behind cost overruns due to the MMOPL are additional rolling stock, signalling, electrical and mechanical works, escalators and lifts, track works, project development cost, and civil works.

The dissent note also mentions that the MMRDA had pointed out that as a fundamental principle of public-private partnership projects, “the project risks must be optimally divided between the concessionaire and the concessioning authority. However, in the present case, the MMOPL seems to be taking on no risk or responsibility on to itself but seemingly seeks to pass such costs on to the people of Mumbai.”

The FFC report has recommended fare of Rs.110 to commute on the entire 11.4-km line, or Rs10 for each station travelled. This fare structure was given the green signal by the Supreme Court on Friday.

Bangalore Metro plans leasing out Station space to Retail Stores for revenue

Namma Metro StnBangalore: The Bangalore Metro is planning to lease out space at stations for large format stores to raise non-fare revenues, as it looks to keep fares low and meet costs of debt servicing.

While non-fare revenues constitute a significant part of operational earnings of metros worldwide, it is especially important in India where income levels are low.

Mindful of this, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) which operates Namma Metro (meaning ‘Our Metro’), is leasing out large spaces, earning revenue from hoardings, and even selling soil and rock extracted during construction. It also hopes to get permission for higher construction limits.

The metro is planning to lease out at least three areas of around 100,000 square feet each, identified at Peenya, Nagasandra and Jalahalli, that it says is ideal for large stores such as malls.

“All these are highly populated areas and there are no malls in the near vicinity of these three stations,” said Vasanth Rao, General Manager at BMRCL.

The company is also selling about eight acres at Byappanahalli and plans to lease out prime properties along the western end of rail lines at Vijayanagar and Mysore road, soon after starting services in these areas sometime in October. The company has already conducted trial runs on these lines.

BMRCL’s proposal to increase the floor area ratio (FAR) for construction along the metro corridor is pending with the state government.

“We are just waiting for final approval from the urban development ministry. If we get it, the notification for this will be issued,” said Rao.

The first phase of Bengaluru’s metro network consists of two corridors: Purple line running east-west and a green line running north-south. Only 19.1 km of the 42 km phase-1 is operational currently.

However, real estate developers said they were wary of projects in Bengaluru that involves government participation, including that of Bangalore Metro.

“From what we have seen, Metro is asking for a high price on rentals. Another negative factor for Metro projects is the fear about returns,” said N.A.Afzal, chairman of legal affairs at Bangalore Realtors Association, a real estate lobby group.

“The rented spaces are not getting enough footfalls to sustain large businesses. Until and unless it’s connected fully, it will be tough to do business,” he said.

The Metro is also leasing small areas in stations to commercial outlets. Some 15 kiosks of brands such as Cafe Coffee Day are operational now. Bids have been invited to set up 24 more and 50 more are being planned.

The Delhi Metro houses both large and small format shops such as McDonald’s, Cafe Coffee Day and Big Bazaar among others at many of its busy stations.

“We want to develop Byappanahalli station like the Habitat Center in Delhi, with facilities such as auditorium and theaters,” said Rao, to make it a “destination point” for people.

Japan and China compete for Indonesia Bullet Train contract

jakarta-bundungChina and Japan are competing for a contract to build a bullet train system in Indonesia. According to Indonesian officials, the two are bidding for a project which entails the construction of a 150-kilometer high-speed railway between Jakarta and Indonesia’s fourth-largest city of Bandung.

Japan submitted a feasibility study on the railway to Indonesia in 2011, while China delivered a similar report in July.

Citing sources familiar with the project, Japanese media have reported that the two proposals contain similar terms that center on a 40-year credit loan, but Japan’s offer of a 0.1% interest rate is slightly lower than China’s.

Some Indonesian media have said this gives Japan an advantage but Wang Liping, a Chinese diplomat based in Indonesia, told the China Business News that a comprehensive assessment rather a single condition is needed for the country to make a decision on the project.

The size of the loan, the interest rate, total spending, after-sales services, technical schemes and projected construction time are all variables that could influence the decision regarding the project, he said.

According to a source close to Chinese rail contractor China Railway Group, the Chinese side has promised to complete the railway in three years, while Japan has projected a construction start date in three years’ time and completion of the project in eight years. “Therefore, China’s proposal is more efficient than Japan’s,” Wang said.

While the Indonesian media has dubbed the China-Japan rivalry a “beauty pageant,” the Indonesian government has commissioned an independent third party to conduct an overall assessment before making a final decision.

Indian Railways has the opposition in residence: Bibek Debroy

A railway minister, who should formulate policy for the sector, is reduced to deciding how power is provided on passenger coaches. The Civil Service are the opposition in residence

debroy opinionsWho supplies power on trains? I don’t mean to ask that question about EMUs (electrical mobile units) or MEMUs (mainline electric multiple units), coaches you see on suburban networks. I meant other passenger coaches on other trains. There are a little over 50,000 of those. Each year, Indian Railways (IR) adds around 3,200. That’s a gross, not net, addition to stock. There is junking of about 1,000 every year. And by power on trains, I didn’t mean traction through locomotives – diesel, electricity and, increasingly rarely, steam. I meant the power supply inside passenger carriages, for lighting, fans, air-conducting, charging mobiles and sundry other needs. It is one of those things few passengers think about.

There are three ways of supplying that power. First, there is a self-generating (SG) mode. Why waste mechanical energy from revolving wheels? Fix a pulley-belt to the axle. This plugs into alternators, which feed DC batteries. Roof-mounted units next convert DC into AC inverters. This works for both AC and non-AC coaches. Second, there is an end-on-generation (EOG) mode, something we are familiar with if we travel by Rajdhani, Shatabdi or Duronto. Those are the two power cars, at either ends of the train. Each of these power cars has two diesel generating sets. Third, there is the head-on-generation (HOG) mode, where the locomotive supplies power. If it is a diesel locomotive, alternators are used. Suburban EMUs/MEMUs work in this way.

Which is better, SG, EOG or HOG? I am not a railway engineer. But as far as I can make out, HOG is best. The cost of generating power is 25 per cent less. Unfortunately, with the exception of suburban and Metro trains, we don’t have fixed rakes and train sets. Hence, there are possibilities of locomotives being detached from trains and then you don’t have power for passenger coaches. Thus, HOG is out.

Since 1998 (2000 if you prefer), IR has used LHB (named after Linke-Hoffman-Busch) coaches. They are better and safer than older ICF (Integral Coach Factory) coaches and all new coaches are LHB, including the 3,200 new ones produced every year. With HOG disqualified, should LHB coaches have SG or EOG? Most railway engineers possess strong views about one or the other and an answer depends on who you ask. The economics seems to be loaded in favour of SG. After all, you don’t need two power cars at either end and with the same locomotive, can attach two additional passenger coaches now. However, despite trying for several years, SG technology hasn’t been completely fixed.

It isn’t only about new LHB coaches produced by current IR production units in Kapurthala and Chennai. There will be other units that will produce coaches – owned by IR, joint ventures with state governments, PPPs with private entities, completely private. If there are private entities that own passenger rolling stock and run private passenger trains, what they opt for is their affair. But that’s a long way off.

Thus, whatever coaches are produced, in whatever form, will be used by IR. Therefore, design, technology and a whole lot of other issues need to be decided by IR, with RDSO (Research Designs & Standards Organisation) chipping in. Nor can one mix and match SG with EOG. Since IR doesn’t have a concept of fixed rake or train sets, a coach that’s on one train today may be attached to a different train tomorrow. We need coaches to be interchangeable. Therefore, SG or EOG, but not both.

To make matters explicit, there will be vendors of batteries, alternators and inverters. It’s not the case that their voices don’t have clout and they will legitimately prefer SG over EOG. I am not taking a position on one vis-à-vis the other, I am not competent. But this is reminiscent of Frederic Bastiat’s (1801-50) petition against the sun and sunlight submitted by manufacturers of candles, tapers, lanterns, sticks, street lamps, snuffers, extinguishers and producers of tallow, oil, resin, alcohol and so on. When substantial sums of money are involved, vested interests will lobby.

Cut to the Railway Board. Today’s Railway Board has a Chairman (known as CRB) and separate Members for Electrical, Engineering, Traffic, Staff and Mechanical, with a Financial Commissioner. CRB doesn’t have right of veto – he/she isn’t a proper CEO. The Railway Committee wished to make CRB a proper CEO and suggested Members for Traction & Rolling Stock, Passenger & Freight Business, HR & Stores, Finance & PPP and Infrastructure. In the Committee’s structure, a single Member would have been in charge on traction and rolling stock and would have taken the decision on SG versus EOG. But according to newspaper reports, IR and the present Railway Board don’t feel any such change is required: The status quo is superior.

In the present structure, Member (Traffic) is only marginally concerned with an issue like this. The relevant Members are Electrical and Mechanical. If they disagree, as is indeed possible, CRB can’t really intervene and decide. Therefore, a railway minister, who should formulate policy for the railway sector, is reduced to deciding how power is provided on passenger coaches. How can I not quote from Jim Hacker’s diaries? “The Civil Service are the opposition in residence.”

CNR lobs massive charge against Israel after losing Electric Loco Tender to Bombardier

CNR didn’t meet Technical Requirements. We have sent China’s CNR a two-line letter disqualifying it from a huge locomotives tender; says Israel Railways.  CNR cites it is disrespectful.

cnr elec locoChinese railway company CNR has protested a decision to award a tender for locomotives to Bombardier in a letter sent Sunday to Israel Railways. The firm claimed the results of the tender were predetermined and hurt the “public’s interest” and demanded Israel Railways avoided completing the tender until CNR could examine the materials and “exhaust its procedural rights.”

Last week, Israel Railways announced that Canadian transportation giant Bombardier won a tender for the procurement of electric locomotives one of the largest in the electrification project undertaken by Israel. The total cost of the infrastructure overhaul is estimated at NIS 13.7 billion, while the current tender, for 62 electric engine cars with an option for 32 more, is believed to be worth NIS 1 billion. Four companies bid on the tender: Chinese firms CNR and CSR, French Co., Alstom and Bombardier. In recent months, CNR and CSR merged, leading Bombardier and Alstom to threaten legal action if the Chinese bids weren’t disqualified and they were.

Now, according to CNR, the tender process was tailor-made to suit Bombardier. The company cited several charges, including that firms which produced products according to European regulations received higher marks and the team in charge of the electrification project was composed entirely of advisors to Germany’s national rail company, Deutsche Bahn, which is a client of Bombardier.

Therefore CNR demands to receive all documents relating to the tender, including the bids, internal communications from the tender committee, the scores given to the other bidders, information relevant to the scoring of the bids, and all the expert opinions both internal and external presented to the committee.

In response, Israel Railways said it “offered all bidders an equal opportunity. The tenders committee made its decision based on practical considerations alone, according to the law.”

Israel Railways sent China’s CNR a two-line letter disqualifying it from the tender

The bid by Chinese railway equipment manufacturer China North Railway (CNR) in the huge Israel Railways locomotives tender has been disqualified, according to a letter sent yesterday by Israel Railways to CNR management in China. The letter said that CNR’s bid had been disqualified because it failed to meet the technical requirements of the tender. According to CNR, however, the perplexing letter was very short and provided no explanations, giving rise to suspicions that the bid had been disqualified because CNR had merged with another participant in the tender. The tender, which involves the supply of 62 electric locomotives, with an option for 16 more, is one of the largest procurement tenders by Israel Railways in recent years.

The tender is estimated at €270 million (NIS 1.1 billion). Senior industry sources said that CNR had been disqualified because of its merger with China South Railway (CSR), which is also competing in the tender. The sources said that the two companies’ merger gave rise to concern about price collusion between them. They added that by disqualifying one of the bids, Israel Railways was trying to avoid a future lawsuit by the other two bidders in the tender, French company Alstom and Canadian company Bombardier. These companies have already threatened to seek court intervention if the Chinese bids are not disqualified. CNR said that Israel Railways’ laconic letter was disrespectful and non-serious. CNR added that the letter only added to suspicions that the technical disqualification was just an excuse to disqualify it, and was actually motivated by the merger with CSR. The China Lines company, which is representing CNR in the tender, said, “A two-line official letter leaked before it was sent raises questions about the motives behind it. We will demand and receive a professional, serious, and respectful explanation of the reason why the world’s largest locomotive company was disqualified. Otherwise, we will have to act using all the means at our disposal.”

Israel Railways said, “The company does not comment on matters being discussed by the tenders committee.”

OH power cable installation on Chennai Metro’s elevated Little Mount-Alandur stretch begins

cmrl oh power cablingChennai: CMRL officials have started installation of overhead power cables on elevated lines as track laying work is nearing completion on the elevated Little Mount-Alandur stretch of the Washermenpet -airport corridor.

Trains use power drawn from these lines to run. After cables are installed, electrical substations and equipment will be installed and trials conducted in the coming months. The stretch, part of the Little Mount-Alandur-airport elevated line, is the next elevated line scheduled to be commissioned.

The line was supposed to be opened in mid-2014. But it got delayed because contracts failed and metro rail had to call for fresh tenders and award the work to new contractors.

As viaducts and tracks are ready between Little Mount and Alandur, metro rail has started overhead power cable installation. The line will pass one level lower than the Koyambedu-Alandur line at Alandur station.

“The work is going ahead at a good pace though behind schedule. We hope to complete the cable and unfinished work on the viaduct and the tracks in the next few months. A good percentage of the construction work on the elevated viaduct has been completed till the airport. Station work is also going on,” said a metro rail official. The roof of the stations over the platforms has been fixed at Little Mount and Guindy.

Sources said it would take a year for the Little Mount-Alandur-Airport elevated lines to be ready. “It will take another few months for the trials to be completed,” said an official.

Though the underground line along Anna Salai is stuck after the contract with Gammon-Mosmetrostroy JV was terminated, metro rail is readying the Koyambedu-Shenoy Nagar underground line where tunnel boring was completed a few months ago. “Track laying has started along the stretch inside the tunnels,” he added.

Rail Operation by Private Firms on IR Network not permissible: MOS (Rlys.)

Private Freight Terminal Services on PPP Model acceptable; says MOSR in Parliament

mosr parlNew Delhi: Rail operation on Indian railway network by private firms is not permissible, said MOS (Railways) Mr.Manoj Sinha. However, he added, “private firms can transport commodities using Indian Railway network in containers and can also develop freight terminals”. The permission to run container trains by private players is in vogue since 2006 and so far 17 companies have taken license to run containers trains on Indian Railways of which 15 are active. Under the scheme the rakes are owned by Container Train Operators and Indian Railways has the exclusive right to haul the brakes on its networks. Private freight terminals are developed under Private Freight Terminal Policy of 2010 which was revised in 2015. So far 59 proposals of Private Freight Terminal (PFT) have been received out of which 24 terminals have been notified and 35 granted ‘in principle’ approval.

On the Zonal Railways, no passenger/freight train services are currently operated by the private sector. However, Container services offered by licensed private players are operated by Indian Railways. Such services are operated on Pan-Indian Railway basis instead of Zonal Railway basis. The income earned from such operation in 2014-15 was Rs. 4868.92 crore (Provisional). Policy instructions exist for operation and maintenance of retiring rooms at stations through private licensees on payment of annual license fees. Public toilets at more than 850 railway stations have been brought under the ‘Pay & Use’ scheme with the participation of private sector. Instructions have been issued for operation of passenger ticketing terminal through authorized agents on fixed licenses and commission sharing basis, under the Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendra (YTSK) scheme. The likely revenue from recently introduced Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendra (YTSK) scheme cannot be assessed at it is dependent on demand.

Such partnerships encourage investments and result in better services to users and have no direct impact on number of employees.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Japan relaxes the restrictive JICA Loan terms to facilitate Indian firms bid for DFCC projects

Easier JICA norms allow local firms win DFC projects. Indian Railways is the equity investor in the project with a debt-equity ratio of 3:1 (the debt component was originally conceived to be less but was later enhanced)

jica loanIn a possible boost for the Make in India campaign and for the speedy construction of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC), Japanese authorities have agreed to relax the restrictive JICA loan terms such that Indian firms too can bid for the WDFC projects, without being in a consortium or in a joint venture with Japanese entities.

Currently, the fully tied-up Japanese overseas development assistance (ODA) to WDFC, of Rs 38,722 crore, is subject to the STEP (special terms of economic partnership) condition — projects can be awarded only to Japanese firms as principal contractors or JVs or consortia in which they have at least a 50% share of the work.

This has been a dampener for Indian companies even as the Japanese participation in the WFDC projects has remained dismal and restricted to a handful of firms. Players like Sojitz, Mitsui and Marubeni have been reluctant to put in bids for civil work contracts after qualifying, forcing India to take up the matter strongly with Tokyo.

Official sources told that in a recent round of talks in New Delhi that followed visits of some Indian officials to Tokyo, the Japanese side has said the STEP loan — the third and final tranche of which was tied up on June 30 — won’t be disrupted for the reason that the contracts are given to Indian firms or to consortia where they are the lead partners. Domestic companies like L&T, Tata, GMR, JSPL and others would benefit from the proposed easing of the JICA loan conditions.

A proposal to reduce the condition that the share of goods and services to be procured from the Japanese firms be reduced from “30% or more” to “25% or less”, was also taken up by the Indian side in the recent talks anchored by the finance ministry, sources said, adding that there was no definite commitment from the Japanese negotiators.

The JICA loan carries a nominal interest rate of 0.1% (there is an additional cost of 7% for hedging the currency risk which the Indian Railways as equity investor will pay to the finance ministry after a 10-year moratorium). It is the principle resource for the 1,502-km corridor, connecting Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai, traversing four states — Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. While the total construction cost of WDFC is estimated to be around Rs 46,200 crore, a few thousand crores are being spent additionally for land acquisition. The Indian Railways is the equity investor in the project with a debt-equity ratio of 3:1 (the debt component was originally conceived to be less but was later enhanced).

While the recent talks with Japan also saw India insisting on a time-bound technology transfer to Indian firms, sources said such transfers have seamlessly been taking place in most of the contractor JVs. They added that even the norm of mandatory sourcing of 30% of materials from Japan was not much of a hassle as mostly components not manufactured in India are being imported.

The WDFC, along with the 1,840-km eastern dedicated freight corridor (EDFC) and four other corridors being planned, are expected to cut congestion in the golden quadrilateral rail line that carries 58% of the country’s freight traffic at present despite its length being just 16% of the India’s total rail network. The freight corridors on which the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor would piggyback, are expected to help the railways regain its shrinking share in freight transport (36% at present) and bring huge economic gains by cutting costs of industries.

The WDFC and EDFC will be commissioned in phases, starting June 2018. These corridors, which will be well-connected with ports, will be fully commissioned by December 2019.

Step-up

* Under STEP condition, projects can be awarded only to Japanese firms as JVs or consortia
* Japanese participation in WFDC, however, has remained dismal, limited to a few firms
* L&T, Tata, GMR, JSPL and others will benefit from easier STEP loan terms

Station Masters of CR and WR demand hike in minimum Grade Pay

stn mstrMumbai: Station masters in Mumbai division ofCentral Railway and Western Railwayhave sought Union Finance Ministry’s speedy clearance to the Railway Board’s proposal for increase in minimum grade pay. The station masters, united under the banner of All India Station Masters’ Associations (AISMA), made this demand in a press conference in Mumbai on Monday.

“We are getting salary, which is lower than those who are working under us. This is ridiculous! Railway Board took note of our demand and approved an increase in minimum grade pay from Rs 2,800 to Rs 4,200. However, the Finance Ministry has been sitting on it since the last four years,” Shashi Jaiswal, Secretary of AISMA, Mumbai said. He said that as per the safety advisers’ observations, the work pressure of station masters has gone up by 500 per cent. “However, our pay-scale and other benefits have never been upgraded,” Jaiswal said.

“If our valid demands were not met soon, all the station masters will be forced to stop working,” he said.

As per the official figures, there are almost 35,400 station masters working at 7,146 railway stations and 300 major yards in India, who supervise the safety and punctuality of train movements.

Fencing of Delhi-Agra Semi High-speed Rail Track must for safety of Cattle

cattle on trackNew Delhi: Cattle on roads are a familiar India story. Now the country’s first semi-bullet train has been halted by cattle. The Commissioner of Railway Safety is demanding that the Indian Railways erect a fence all along the 195-km route of the train, that is to run at 160 kmph between Delhi and Agra, and was scheduled for launch this year. Railway sources estimate that around 100-150 cattle get run over by trains on this busy route every year. But, the Railways argues, this has hardly ever landed them on the horns of a dilemma before.

Globally, fencing of tracks is considered a must only in case of trains clocking upward of 200 kmph, argues Railway Board officials. Fear of cattle being run over, which is not new to Indian Railways, has not held up launch of trains, let alone a showpiece service like the semi-bullet train. Besides, the cost of raising walls or fences along the tracks is prohibitive. While fencing is cheaper, the Railways experience with it is that it gets stolen. Walls would cost between Rs 25 and 40 lakh (depending on the type chosen) per kilometre.

Railway engineers also argue that even if the entire track were to be fenced, nothing would stop cattle — or even humans— from coming on way of the train at level crossings. “Based on inputs from the Commissioner of Railway Safety, we have identified 35 km along the route as potentially vulnerable stretches to erect fences so that cattle do not stray onto the track,”

Railway Board Chairman A K Mital told “we are working on it. I would not like to give a date right now as to when the service will commence.” The Railways has already conducted successful trial runs of the semi-bullet train, reaching the desired speed after engineering solutions on track and rolling stock. It had even decided a fare structure and was working on a time table as it geared up for its low-cost entry to the elusive “semi-bullet train” club.

North Central Railway, where the majority of the train’s route falls, sees around 150 trains get delayed every month thanks to cattle being run over, said a Railway Board source. The route cuts through agricultural fields and village settlements, and the track is neither elevated not fenced. Besides, the Bhopal Shatabdi on this track, on which the new service is modelled, already clocks a top speed of 150 km per hour — without any fencing.

CR’s Parel Workshop looks to up Bio-Diesel Production

bio dieselMumbai:  “We have successfully achieved our target to produce 1,500 litres of bio-diesel per month (since August 2014) from edible oils and looking ahead an uptick in this production, though we are facing shortage of raw material like used edible oil which is its primary source,” said an official from Parel workshop.

Explaining the process of chemical reaction which transforms used edible oil into bio-diesel, the official added, “a triglyceride molecule reacts with an excess of alcohol in the presence of strong base catalyst to produce fatty esters and glycerin as a by-product and this fatty ester of alcohol is known as bio-diesel.”

With a concern for cleaner environment, Indian Railwayshas decided to promote use of alternative fuels like bio-diesel in a big way for powering the vast fleet of over 4,000 diesel locomotives.

Technically, bio-diesel can be used in diesel engines without engine modification and can attain full operating power.

“We are very shortly going to approach hotel owners and edible oil users to give or donate once used edible oil to us. The only problem with us is that if edible oil has been used more than once, then viscosity of the bio-diesel does not match with ideal bio-diesel’s viscosity,” said Narendra Patil, Chief PRO of Central Railway.

Terming this venture as moving from “Black Gold” to “Green Gold”, Patil further added, “Bio-diesel has potential to become the fuel of the future and it will not only provide employment opportunities in rural areas but also energy security, cleaner air and savings in foreign exchange.”

Biodiesel is safe, biodegradable, and reduces serious air pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and air toxics.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, using B-20 biodiesel fuel blend can reduce unburned hydrocarbons up to 20 per cent, carbon monoxide upto 12 per cent and particulate matter upto 12 per cent.

IRCTC goes all out to sell Tour Packages

irctc tour pacsNew Delhi: The Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Ltd, East Zone, has come up with new plans for all kinds of travelers, including senior citizens from economically backward sections of society and middle-class Bengalis who aren’t prepared to spend a lot during foreign tours. The Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) is also conducting customized tours for school and college students.

“We have plans to improve the quality of catering in trains like the Rajdhani Express. We are also laying a lot of stress on tourism. We have already handled some tours under the Mukhya Mantri Tirtha Yatra Yojana from Chhattisgarh. Talks have already been held with the Odisha government and we shall also take up the matter with the Government of Jharkhand. Under this scheme, state governments send batches of 1,000 Below Poverty Line (BPL) senior citizens on tour. The idea is to send people who have never paid tax or travelled far from their homes. They normally travel to locations such as Gangasagar and Puri. The look of awe, wonder and satisfaction on their faces is worth the effort,” said Debashis Chandra, group general manager, IRCTC (East Zone).

According to him, such tours provide a unique opportunity to mid-level hotels and transporters. The PSU also provides customized tours for groups of students and families. The number of people can range from five to 30. IRCTC arranges for everything from confirmed berths on trains to escorts, road transportation, tour guides, accommodation and food. It also arranges for air travel in case the tourists opt for it.

“We started Thailand tours three years ago and the four trips were very successful. This year, we have planned trips from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata to Singapore and Malaysia. Another trip has been planned for Sri Lanka. The rate per person for Sri Lanka (5 nights/6 days) is Rs 46,899. This includes everything including air fare, visa charges, accommodation, food, sight-seeing and expenses of a tour manager who speaks Bengali. We have tried to keep the rates as competitive as possible. The rates for Sri Lanka and Singapore are slightly higher as there are no cheap flights. We have direct cheap flights to Kuala Lumpur so the Malaysia tours are cheaper. If other tour operators agree, we may request cheap airlines like Air Asia for flights to Singapore and other locations,” Chandra added.

While the above mentioned trips are for budget tourists, IRCTC is also ready to go the whole hog for people who are ready to pay more. Accommodation at premium hotels and other services like personal vehicles and made to order meals can be arranged.

Dadar-Aurangabad Janshatabdi extended upto Jalna

Jalna (J): The Railways has extended The Dadar-Aurangabad Janshatabdi Express upto Jalna.

Officials said that train number 12071/12072 Dadar (T) – Aurangabad – Dadar (T) Janshatabdi Express will now be running upto Jalna. Train number 12071 Janshatabdi Express leaving Dadar at 2 pm will arrive Jalna at 9.40 pm the same day.

Similalry, train number 12072 Janshatabdi Express will leave from Jalna at 4.45 am and arrive Dadar Terminus at 12.30 pm same day.

There will be no change in the existing halts and timings of arrival and departure at stations in between Dadar and Aurangabad, officials added.

NIFT-Rae Bareli finalises Design of Lucknow Metro Staff Uniform

LMRC DressLucknow: High precision and meticulous planning have been hallmarks of Metro rail projects in the country. So when it came to getting just the right uniform for Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) employees, it took premier design institute NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), Rae Bareli, five months to get the perfect fit.

NIFT, Rae Bareli was given contract to design LMRC’s summer and winter uniform in November 2014. After 3-4 phases of screening and many rounds of discussions with LMRC officials, NIFT finally got the uniform’s colour and design approved by authorities in March 2015. The CM unveiled the Metro uniform in July this year. All Lucknow Metro’s officials and engineers would sport grey t-shirts and trousers on the site, LMRC officials said.

The idea of introducing a uniform for Metro employees was first mooted by ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan after he was appointed by the government as principal advisor to LMRC. He proposed giving the contract of designing uniforms to NIFT on the pattern of Delhi Metro.

A senior LMRC official said, “NIFT Rae Bareli proposed the best of colours, nice bright shades and innovative designs for Metro uniforms, but we were looking for something subtle. Our requirement was for a dark colour which doesn’t easily get stained on the site. After several meetings, we settled on grey t-shirts and solid grey trousers.” Order for 75 uniforms was subsequently placed with a manufacturer. LMRC will order more when recruitment begins.

During winter, sweatshirts and woolen pants would replace the t-shirts and summer trousers. The uniform is mandatory for all those who visit the site and engineers permanently posted at the construction site. Director, NIFT, Rae Bareli, Bharat Shah said, “We put two designers, Venkat Subramanyam and Ayan Tewari, on the job and suggested multiple options to them. But ultimately, it was their selection. Their choice is apt considering the fact that they need to work on the field.”

IRFC to issue Rs.6000 Crore Tax-free Bonds: MOS (Rlys.)

irfc tax free bondsNew Delhi: Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) would raise Rs 6,000 crore through tax-free bonds in the current fiscal, Lok Sabha was told on Monday.

IRFC has been authorised by the Railway Ministry to issue tax-free bonds for a total amount of Rs 6,000 crore during the financial year 2015-16 through public issue, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said in the House.

Railways would utilise the funds to finance acquisition of rolling stock such as engines, coaches and wagons for use by the Railways.

Railways to decongest Seven Trunk routes: MOS (Rlys.)

New Delhi: The government is working on the decongestion of seven trunk railway routes, said Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha in a written reply in Lok Sabha on Monday.

These seven identified trunk routes across the country, which are also termed as High Density Network routes, are, (1) Delhi-Howrah, (2) Howrah-Mumbai, (3) Mumbai-Delhi, (4) Delhi-Guwahati, (5) Delhi-Chennai, (6) Chennai-Howrah and (7) Chennai-Mumbai.

“Railways have a large number of sanctioned projects under the plan heads of doubling, new line, gauge conversion and traffic facility works to decongest routes,” Sinha said. “These include 155 new line works, 42 gauge conversion works, 235 double line works, 554 traffic facility works and 60 electrification works,” he elaborated.

“Capacity augmentation and bottleneck removal are a continuous effort keeping in view the traffic growth,” he added.

On Monday, ET reported that Indian Railways plans to start issuing quarterly account statements in what could be one of the most significant reform initiatives of the Narendra Modi government.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told top foreign investment banks and brokers at a closed-door meeting at the BSE on Friday evening that this is one of the changes that the state-run monopoly is planning. The move is aimed at improving transparency as the government looks at attracting billions of dollars in investment.

Currently, information on accounts is available in the annual railway budget. Quarterly disclosures will help investors get a sense of the actual picture though a lot will depend on what information is provided, economists said.

Railway Minister inaugurates 2 first BG Passenger Trains to India’s eastern most Railway Stations

Suresh Prabhu inaugurates newly converted North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek and Balipara – Bhalukpong sections into broad-gauge by flagging off new Train Services

suresh inaugurating ne trainsNew Delhi: A Programme was held in Rail Bhawan today wherein Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurated new train services after the completion of North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek and Balipara – Bhalukpong sections into broad-gauge. The programme was organized through video-conferencing between Rail Bhawan (New Delhi) and Murkongselek (Assam) and also between Rail Bhawan (New Delhi) and Bhalukpong (Arunachal Pradesh). At New Delhi side, besides the Railway Minister, Shri Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Railways, Shri Bhubaneswar Kalita Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Chairman Railway Board Shri A. K. Mital, Member Engineering, Railway Board Shri V. K. Gupta and other Railway Board Member were among those present on the occasion.

At Murkongselek side, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and at Bhalukpong side, Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State Ministry of Home Affairs were among those present on the occasion.

Following trains were flagged off on the occasion: –

  1. 15613/15614 Guwahati-Murkongselek Intercity Express (Daily)
  1. 55719/55720 Dekargaon-Bhalukpong Passenger (on newly gauge-converted Ballipara-Bhalukpong section)
  1. Extension of 55429/55430 Rangiya-Rangapara North Passenger upto Dekargaon with New Nos. 55721/55722.
  1. Extension of 55613/55614 of Dekargaon-Harmuti Passenger upto Murkongselek with new No. 55813/55814
  1. Increase in frequency of 15903/15904 Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express from Weekly to Bi-weekly announced in Railway Budget 2012-13.

Speaking on the occasion, the Railway Minister said that it is a “Golden Day” in the history of the State of Arunachal Pradesh, as it is getting second Broad Gauge connectivity with the commissioning of Balipara – Bhalukpong gauge conversion today. Earlier this year, the State Capital Itanagar was provided connectivity with the National Capital through a direct train. I am sure this rail connectivity will bring prosperity in the lives of people of this State.

Shri Suresh Prabhu further said that alongwith this, commissioning of newly converted North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek section marks the completion of Rangiya – Murkongselek Gauge Conversion project running all along the North Bank of Brahmaputra. This will start a new era of development for the people of this region. This will also serve the defence needs of our country. This 510 Km Gauge Conversion project costing about Rs 3600 crores was sanctioned in 2002-03.  The project suffered delay mainly due to funds constraint in the past. But in 2014-15, an outlay of Rs 713 crores was provided for this line and the balance Rs 300 crores has been provided in 2015-16. The results are visible as we are today opening the entire project.

Shri Suresh Prabhu said that to augment, Railway network in N.E. region, 13 new lines, 3 Gauge Conversion and 4 Doubling projects with balance fund requirement of Rs.37000 crore have been taken up. These projects on completion will augment network by 1915 km.  He pointed out that rail connectivity to North-Eastern States has been made a mission item by the new government, as we provided an all time high budget allotment of Rs 5200 crores to the projects in this region in 2014-15, which is over 50% more than 2013-14. This tempo has been maintained in 2015-16 also by providing Rs 5300 crores.

Shri Suresh Prabhu said that hon’ble Prime Minister has always been emphasizing on developing infrastructure in all the 8 North-Eastern Sisters which include Sikkim.  We will continue to have best ever relationship with all the 8 Sister States.

Shri Suresh Prabhu said presently, only the capitals of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are on Broad Gauge network, and Capital of Tripura is connected with Meter Gauge. While Agartala, the Capital of Tripura is all set to be on Broad Gauge network by March, 2016, it will be our endeavour to connect the state capitals of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya by rail with the rest of the country in next 5-7 years.  For this, all of us have to work together.

Shri Suresh Prabhu said that Railways have been commissioning about 133 Km Broad Gauge track every year in the North Eastern region in last 4-5 years. In 2014-15, a record was made when about 450 Km of lines were commissioned. This year again, we are all set to achieve a new record of commissioning of about 550 kilometres of Broad Gauge lines in this region. The Railway Minister also informed that Bogibeel Bridge over river Brahmaputra is also progressing well and its completion in June, 2017 will change the landscape of this area.

Shri Suresh Prabhu said that the Railways has been playing a major role in serving the infrastructural needs of the Northeast and will continue to contribute to the socio – economical development of this region.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railway Shri Manoj Sinha said that it has been the important priority of the Government to develop best possible infrastructure in the north-eastern States. Indian Railways is also committed to provide better railway connectivity in the region. Indian Railways has really completed these significant gauge conversion projects which have made possible flagging off of new trains today in this area.  Shri Sinha appreciated the Engineers of Indian Railways who have been accomplishing Engineering marvel in developing railway connectivity in the region.

In his message, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A. K. Mital said that the entire Metre Gauge in NE Region will get replaced with Broad Gauge by March, 2016 and all the States of NE Region, except Sikkim will have Broad Gauge connectivity in this financial year. Agartala, the capital of Tripura will come on Broad Gauge network by March, 2016, fulfilling the long cherished dream of the people of this State.

In his message, Member Engineering, Railway Board, Shri V. K. Gupta said that it is a momentous occasion when newly converted North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek and Balipara – Bhalukpong sections are being inaugurated by the Minister for Railways.  Shri Gupta mentioned that with completion of North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek section, the entire 510 Km long Rangiya – Murkongselek route along the North Bank of Brahmaputra has come on Broad Gauge. This is a significant event for a large population residing along the North Bank of Brahmaputra and the people of Arunachal Pradesh, as it will usher a new era of development in the region. He further pointed out that with the conversion of Balipara – Bhalukpong Metre Gauge line into Broad Gauge, Arunachal Pradesh has got its second Broad Gauge connectivity, apart from Naharlagun (Itanagar). Both these lines are also important from strategic point of view as they will facilitate seamless movement of troupes to safeguard our frontiers.

Railways may soon start issuing Quarterly Results: Suresh Prabhu

For improving rail infrastructure, India need to invest 10 per cent of the total infrastructure GDP of $2 trillion over next five years which means that we need to invest $200 billion annually in the Railways over the next five years, after which we need an annual investment of 1.5 times more of this ($350 billion) for the next five years – said Suresh Prabhu at the Investors Meet at BSE Towers.

Q-budget rlysNew Delhi: Indian Railways, one of the country’s largest commercial enterprises, plans to start issuing quarterly account statements in what could be one of the most significant reform initiatives of the Narendra Modi government.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told top foreign investment banks and brokers at a closed-door meeting at the BSE on Friday evening that this is one of the changes that the state-run monopoly is planning. The move is aimed at improving transparency as the government looks at attracting billions of dollars in investment.

Currently, information on accounts is available in the annual railway budget. Quarterly disclosures will help investors get a sense of the actual picture though a lot will depend on what information is provided, economists said.

“Quarterly numbers from railways is better than the annual budget, which is an anomaly and a hangover of the British raj,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman of Feedback Infra. “Quarterly numbers would be effective if they comprise operating numbers, capex and review of other special initiatives like installing bio-toilets and update on various schemes and so on.”

Prabhu told his audience that the railways was not just meeting targets for the first quarter but exceeding them. He expects that the next big wave of investment in the country after power and telecom will be in rail. The railway ministry’s invitees to the event at the Bombay Stock Exchange included representatives of top insurance companies, investment banks, brokers and foreign institutional investors.

A presentation by Prabhu at the event showed that revenue in the first quarter ended June rose 14.54% from the year earlier while there was a growth of 134% in total projected expenditure to 17,734 crore against the budget expectation of 13,231 crore.

The railways is undertaking massive accounting reforms to ensure tracking of expenditure, the presentation showed. It also dwelled on the revenue mix and key expenditure areas, information that will be made public every quarter.

“Prabhu’s assurance that railways will give out quarterly numbers will definitely boost investor confidence as it is the bare minimum for the sake of greater transparency,” said Alok Churiwala, spokesperson, BSE Brokers Forum.

Cash-strapped Indian Railways, the world’s largest passenger network and fourth-largest cargo carrier, is targeting $120 billion of investment in the next five years. Prabhu’s plans to tap low-cost pension and insurance funds would give it capital for 20-30 years.

“Giving out quarterly results was a good step for bringing transparency but a small part of the big picture,” said Ajay Shah, professor at the National Institute for Public Finance and Policy.

“We should judge Indian Railways based on the work that will be done on the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy committee report.”

The Debroy committee report had suggested a road map for restructuring Indian Railways.

Reforms alone can boost rail earnings

In a first, the Railways has decided to declare its quarterly financial numbers for three months till June, which shows that the national transporter’s capital expenditure soared a whopping 134 per cent to Rs 17,734 crore (Rs 177.34 billion) from the projected Rs 13,231 crore (Rs 132.31 billion).

Disclosure of quarterly earnings is a good idea. The Railways must also recast accounts in a commercial format to help investors figure out the risks and take investment decisions. Rail finances will improve only when the practice of freight and upper-class passenger fares subsidising lower-class fares ends. An independent regulator to fix access charges on the rail track brooks no delay. Implementing the Bibek Debroy panel’s recommendations to corporatise the railways and involving the private sector in a holistic way to augment capacity will boost earnings. Why dither?

Minister Suresh Prabhu shared the details with foreign and domestic investors and bankers over the weekend at a closed door meeting at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

“It’s for the first time any government-run organisation has declared its quarterly performance,” Prabhu told the investors in a presentation, a copy of which has been seen by PTI.

The total earnings in Q1 rose 14.54 per cent, while working expenses grew at a measly 4.22 per cent, lower than the targeted 7.68 per cent growth during the reporting period.

The 108-km new line from Agra to Etawah and a new line from TunaPort to Gandhidham in Gujarat were commissioned during the Q1, according to the presentation.

Similarly, a 23-km stretch on the Lalitpur-Singrauli line and 122-km long gauge conversion project from Lohanu to Sikar in Rajasthan were also commissioned in the reporting period.

Doubling works of 150 km to de-congest the network was also commissioned during the reporting period. Moreover, the Railways completed electrification of 151 km network during the period.

Prabhu while rolling out the red carpet to investors asked them to replicate their success in telecom, power and road sectors as well as the Railways.

He said that the national transporter needs a whopping Rs 1 trillion funds this year and Rs 8.5 trillion over the next five years.

“You have successfully invested in the telecom and power and roads sector, but never in the Railways. The government also didn’t invest during the past two decades. So we’ve chalked out a five-year plan under which we are looking at an investment of Rs 1 trillion this financial year and Rs 8.5 trillion over the next five years,” Prabhu told the gathering.

Those attended the closed-door meeting at the BSE Tower included multinational i-bankers, Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), domestic insurers like LIC and other financial institutions, sources said.

Most rail lines are running at 100 per cent of their capacity now leading to lots of congestion. Hence we need investments to ease the rail traffic, Prabhu said, adding it will cost Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) for laying 1-km rail link and another Rs 6 crore (Rs 60 million) for doubling/ tripling of an existing railhead.

Stating that most of the funds for railways come either from public institutions like LIC which has committed to subscribe Rs 1.5-trillion worth of RFC bonds, or through the budgetary support, Prabhu maintained that the Railways need large funds from the private sector, considering the state of public finances.

Explaining the need for capital investment, the minister, who was praised for his radical reforms in the power sector during his tenure in the previous NDA ministry, said, “For improving rail infrastructure, we need to invest 10 per cent of the total infrastructure GDP of $2 trillion over next five years.

“This means that we need to invest $200 billion annually in the Railways over the next five years, after which we need an annual investment of 1.5 times more of this ($350 billion) for the next five years,” Prabhu said.

Offering a break-up of rail finances, he said it has three main sources of revenue generation – passenger and freight fares and the budgetary support. However, Prabhu said as many as 65 per cent of the rolling stock are passenger trains but they generate only 30 per cent of revenue, leaving 70 per cent of revenue to be mobilsed by freight trains which constitute only 35 per cent of rolling stock.

On rail modernisation plans, he said the national transporter is on its way to construct 400 model railway stations this fiscal year. He also said as many as 79 announcements made in the rail budget for the year have already been implemented.

On involving the states in railway development, he said his ministry will sign MoUs with 17 states for investment.

“We have already signed MoUs with Maharashtra and Odhisa and on the way to do the same with a total of 17 states,” he said, adding Maharashtra has agreed to pump in Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) over next 10 years.

“On the part of the Railways, we will be investing Rs 70,000-80,000 crore (Rs 700-800 billion) in Maharashtra over next five years,” he added.

On the dedicated freight corridors, he said out of Rs 82,000 crore (Rs 820 billion) approved by the Cabinet last month, the Railways has already floated tenders for Rs 19,000 crore (Rs 190 billion) so far.

About the proposed two locomotive units with FDI participation-one electric and the other diesel – he said tenders will be floated by the end of this month and a number of MNCs have evinced interest in the project.

Safety Audit on Badarpur-Faridabad Metro commences today

safety audit dmrc
While partial energy requirements of the corridor would be met by solar power, different teams of the DMRC are working on areas like electric wires, communication system, and track safety

New Delhi: A safety audit spread over three days will be undertaken by the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS) of the Badarpur-Faridabad stretch of the Delhi Metro from today.

“The CMRS would carry out the inspection from August 10-12. This would take the opening of the line to the next step. While partial energy requirements of the corridor would be met by solar power, different teams of the DMRC are working in full swing on areas like electric wires, communication system, and track safety,” the DMRC said.

The 14-km section is an extension of the ITO- Badarpur line (Line 6) of the network with which the Delhi Metro will make its first entry into Faridabad. Once fully operational, it will span from Kashmere Gate to Escorts Mujesar, a length of 43.4 kilometers.

It will have a total of 32 stations, including five inter-change stations – Kashmere Gate, Mandi House, Central Secretariat, Lajpat Nagar and Kalkaji Mandir. The depot for the section, Arjonda Depot, has been constructed near Sector 20 A.

The extension of the Badarpur-Escorts Mujesar metro route up to Ballabgarh in Faridabad District is expected to become operational by the end of 2017.

Apart from the Mujesar terminal station, the upcoming stations are Sarai, NHPC Chowk, Mewla Maharajpur, Sector 28, Badkhal Mor, Old Faridabad, Neelam Chowk Ajronda, and Bata Chowk.

For solar power generation, nine facilities have been installed at the stations and one at the Arjonda Depot.

They will collectively produce 1,660.4 kilowatt peak. “The power generated will be used for the lighting and other auxiliary requirements of the stations and depot buildings,” the officials said.

In total, the DMRC has so far commissioned solar power facilities with a generation capacity of approximately 2,800 kilowatt peak.

Cost of Bogibeel Rail-cum-Road bridge over Brahmaputra may escalate by over Rs.300 Crore: HCC

bogibeel brDibrugarh (DBRG): The cost for constructing girders of India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge at Bogibeel over Brahmaputra in Assam, by a HCC-led consortium, is likely to escalate by over Rs 300 crore, mainly due to expansion and delay of the project.

“The joint venture received the contract for Rs 987 crore in November 2011 to construct 36 spans or girders. Now the design has been modified with requirement of 41 spans… The total cost to construct the entire superstructure will now be around Rs 1,300 crore,” HCCProject In-Charge ( Bogibeel Bridge) Santosh Kumar Misra said.

Hindustan Construction Company owns 51 per cent stake in the JV, where Germany-basedDSD Brouckenbau has 20 per cent and VNR Infrastructure has 29 per cent holdings, building the girders or superstructure.

The 42 sub-structures or the piers of the massive bridge are being constructed by Gammon India, which is also alleged to be carrying out the work at a slow pace.

“The earlier timeline given to us for opening the entire project to public was November 2015, but it has been delayed due to various factors. Now we will complete our work by December 2016 and the bridge will be opened for public by June 2017,” Misra said.

The Northeast Frontier Railway project, which was first initiated during the tenure of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda in 1997, has missed several deadlines of completion since then.

Misra said the starting of construction work got delayed by almost a year after receiving the contract as heavy rains affected setting up of the basic infrastructure to build the bridge at the site.

“The first span was launched in April 2014 and so far we have rolled out 10 units on the river. Another 10 spans are being prepared to launch by this month. We are now planning to deliver two spans every month,” he added.

To expedite the work further, HCC is planning to add 150-200 more workers to its current strength of around 2,500 people at the southern bank of Brahmaputra, which has rication, assembly and launching facilities, Misra said.

The 4.94 km Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge will be the longest one in the country having the twin mode of transportation.

Currently, the 5.6 km long Bandra-Worli sea link, also constructed by HCC, is the longest bridge but offering only road network in Mumbai.

The total cost of Bogibeel project has escalated drastically over the years and is now likely to touch Rs 5,000 crore, which will take into account the main bridge, dykes on north and south banks, road network of 30 km, rail track of 74 km and six new railway stations among others.

HCC claimed that a total of 70,000 MT of steel will be used for completing the superstructure, which will be equivalent to 10 Eiffel Towers.

Being a fully-welded bridge, the total length of welding to be carried out is about 12,800 km, which is equivalent to circling around the moon 1.5 times.

The Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge will be double-decked having two railway tracks on lower level and a three-lane road on the upper deck flanked by footpaths on each side.

It is located around 17 km downstream of Dibrugarh town and will connect the NH-37 on south bank with NH-52 on north side.

Due to its location, the bridge will be of strategic importance to India as it will significantly enhance the ability to transport troops and supplies to the international border with China in Arunachal Pradesh.

Hyderabad Metro Rail realignment cost may escalate by Rs.700 Crore: L&T

L&T HYD Metro Rail realignHyderabad: The Hyderabad Metro Rail realignment may cost an additional Rs 700 crore. The major cost increase will result from realigning Route No. 2 that leads through the Old City. The realignment will increase the route by 3.5 km. However, the realignment on Route No.1, near the legislative assembly, might lead to a reduction of 100 metres in length.

Although there might be some cost reductions here, the realignment may lead to the destruction of the Public Gardens, an old landmark of Hyderabad. The realignment on this route is to protect another landmark building – the state assembly.

The technical feasibility for the realignment has been presented to the state government by the concessionaire Larsen & Toubro many weeks ago, but the powers-that-be are yet to take a view on the report. Only after the government approves the technical feasibility report will L&T come up with the detailed cost estimates. However, at present rates, each kilometer of Metro Rail costs Rs 200 crore.

Public analysts say that the government might find it difficult to fork out the additional costs of realignment — which will be substantial. Because the major cost increase will be on Route No. 3, these analysts apprehend that the Old City section of the Metro Rail may be abandoned. Route No. 2 starts from Jubilee Bus Stand and ends at Falaknuma. The realignment is proposed near Charminar and the route under the realigned proposal will go over the Musi.

Meanwhile, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s announcement that he wants to demolish Osmania General Hospital’s main building has sparked off a public debate. Although Chandrasekhar Rao has cited poor structural condition of the hospital building, many public analysts have other apprehensions. Since two lines of the Metro rail — Route No. 1 (from Miyapur to Nagole) and Route No. 2 — intersect close to the Osmania Medical College (OMC), the averment is that the chief minister’s intent has something to do with the Metro.

The OMC is just two kilometers from OGH, which sits on 26 acres of land part of which has been encroached upon. Public analysts perceive that the land freed from the demolition of OGH might be used to generate revenues that might help finance the additional cost of Metro Rail, post realignment.

This perception, however, might be without basis. Chief Secretary of Telangana Rajiv Sharma, when quizzed, said, “I can tell you categorically that there is no Metro Rail connection with Osmania General Hospital.” L&T Metro Rail managing director VB Gadgil was even stronger in his response. “Where did you pick this up from? What may happen to OGH has nothing to do with Metro Rail,” he asserted. “Earlier we had wanted land there. But we were given compensatory land in Raidurgam. So we don’t want land there at all,” he added.

Connectivity on the NFR to get Boost with Launch of 2 first BG Passenger Trains

RM inaug nfr trainGuwahati (GWH): Railway connectivity in India’s north eastern region will get boost on Monday with the launch and inauguration of two first broad gauge passenger trains to Murgongselek, the eastern most railway station on the north bank of the River Brahmaputra in Assam and to Bhalukpong in Arunachal Pradesh by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Prabhu will flag off the 15613/15614 Guwahati-Murgongselek Inter-City Express and the 55719/55720 Dekargaon- Bhalukpong passenger trains through remote from New Delhi at 12.30 p.m. today.

He will also flag off the extension of the 55429/55430 Rangiya-Rangapara North Passenger train upto Dekargaon under the new number 55721/55722 and the extension of 55613/55614 Dekargaon-Harmuti Passenger train upto Murgongselek under the new number of 55813/55814.

Prabhu will also announce an increase in the frequency of the 15903/15904 Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express from weekly to bi-weekly, said a railway ministry release.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and Arunachal Pradesh MLA Kumsi Sidisow will be present in Bhalukpong Railway Station, while Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbanda Sonowal and Assam MLA Pradan Barua will be present at the Murgongselek Railway Station for this landmark event in Indian railway history.

Durgauti-Sasaram Freight Corridor likely to be commissioned by Mar 2017 on a pilot basis: MD/DFCCIL

Railways to commence first section of eastern freight corridor by March

Adesh SharmaNew Delhi: Indian Railways is likely to officially start the 56-km Durgauti-to-Sasaram stretch by March next year while the rest of the track is likely to commence in phases in FY18, according to a financial daily.

The Durgauti-Sasaram section is likely to be commissioned on a pilot basis, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCI) Managing Director Adesh Sharma told reporters in New Delhi over the weekend.

“A small section will be operational before next March and on the whole, the Eastern and Western Corridors will be functional in phases from 2017-18 and 2019-20. The aim is to complete the project ahead of time,” Sharma said. A 3,360-km track comprising both corridors is being constructed at a cost of INR 82,000 crore.

The Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) is 1,856-km long while the Western rail freight corridor’s length is 1,504 km. Sharma expects railways’ share of the country’s goods traffic to reach ~45% from the present 36% once the West and East rail freight corridors are operational.

Out of the total 10.548 hectares land to be acquired for the EDFC, ~85% has been acquired except in the Sonnagar-Dankuni section, the DFCCI head said.

Indian Railways plans Time Table for Goods Trains

goods wttNew Delhi: Aiming at a paradigm shift in the freight operations, Indian Railway will come out with a time table for goods train movement, a first for the public transporter, to attract more loadings and improve the delivery schedule.

Currently passenger trains get preference over the movement of freight trains on the busy tracks across the country which causes delay and uncertainty over the time schedule for delivery of goods.

Goods trains are kept in loop lines to allow passenger trains to pass as most of the trunk lines face congestion, said Adesh Sharma, Managing Director of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCC).

DFCC is a Special Purpose Vehicle set up by railways to undertake planning and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors in the country. Currently DFCC is involved in construction of two corridors – the Western DFC (1504 km) and Eastern DFC (1856 km)- spanning a total length of about 3,360 km.

The railways used to carry about 80 per cent of total goods transported in the country but over time its share got reduced to 36 per cent, with the rest shifting to roads.

“Once the two corridors, which are being constructed for exclusive movement of goods trains, are operational then we will be able to shift goods transportation from the roads to rails as we will come out with a Time Table for freight operation,” Sharma said.

The DFC is expected to be commissioned in phases from 2017-18 to 2019-20 and a small section of 56 km in Bihar in the Eastern Corridor is expected to be opened to traffic in the current fiscal.

The movement of goods will be faster and we will ensure the goods reach within 20 hours from Delhi to Mumbai or Kolkata, once the two corridors become fully operational, he said.

The Eastern Corridor, starting from Dankuni in West Bengal, will pass through the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to terminate at Ludhiana in Punjab.

The Western Corridor connecting Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT), will traverse through the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Besides the time table, Sharma said a series of steps is being worked out to attract the loadings on the DFC.

While the speed of goods train will go up to 100 km per hour as against the current speed of 25 km per hour, frequency of freight movement will also increase significantly.

As per the plan, DFC stations will be equipped with modern systems and loco drivers will have Mobile Radio Train Communication System for constant communication with control room.

The DFC network would attract setting up of Multimodal Logistics Parks along the corridor to facilitate value addition including packaging, retailing, labeling and transportation.

Now, a DEMU Train link from Pernem to Karwar

pernam-karwar demu
Chugs Off: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the local passenger train connecting Pernem to Karwar in Karnataka in the presence of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Member of Parliament Narendra Sawaikar

Pernam (PERN): Union Railway Minister Mr.Suresh Prabhu flagged off a diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU) train connecting Pernem to Karwar, in Karnataka, on Saturday.

The train operation by Konkan Railway Corporation Limited was flagged off in the presence of chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar and MP Narendra Sawaikar. The train will have two trips daily.

Suresh Prabhu said that since his wife was a Goan, it was his responsibility to fulfill the request of his “in laws” and when the CM requested, he immediately took up the issue and ensured that the file was processed. “Konkan Railway Corporation Limited will complete 25 years very soon. The work on the doubling the Konkan Railway track and the modernization of the track will start in next two months,” Prabhu said.

He said that connectivity to the Greenfield airport at Mopa by train will require 6km track and work for that has already started. “We are starting a separate company taking into account the 17 states and that company will take up the development of railways in those states,” Prabhu said.

“Goa has its own identity and has huge potential and scope for increasing tourism because of the beauty of the nature. It’s the responsibility of the Centre to see to it that Goa should benefit as much as possible in terms of developmental works,” he said.

Prabhu said that there will be latest technology ‘video wall’ facility at the Margao railway station and warehouse facility at Verna. ‘Ethnic food stall’ facilities will be started at the railway stations, the minister said.

“We also train guides and we have also started it in Goa,” he said.

Parsekar said that DEMU service will reduce the pressure on roads and will reduce road accidents. He said that Konkan Railway has plans to double the track and that will help increase the frequency of the DEMU services.

“There are reservations in the minds of the people of South Goa whether they will be able to avail the services of the new airport coming up at Mopa and in this scenario the DEMU will help to a great extent, if we are able to connect rail services to the airport,” he said.

“People from South say that they are qualified for jobs at coming up electronic city at Tuem but they could not travel to take up jobs, but with the DEMU services people can take up jobs anywhere in Goa,” he said.

“The work on the airport will start soon and I would like the Konkan Railway to simultaneously take up the work on the connectivity to the airport,” Parsekar said.

He said that only one train going to Mumbai takes halt at Pernem railway station and locals want one or two more trains to halt and should also increase the ticket reservation quota for the railway station.

Partially Egyptian-made train gets first test-run

Egyptian HSREgypt’s national rail service will trial a new, partially Egyptian-made train on Saturday afternoon, sending the train on a test-run between Cairo and Alexandria.

Nagwa Albeer, the spokesperson for Egyptian National Railways, told Ahram Online that the train is the first train that has been produced with “greater than 50 percent Egyptian contribution” to operate on the country’s railways.

The fully air-conditioned train is the product of a joint manufacturing project between the state-owned Arab Organisation for Industrialisation and a Chinese company, which made the train body.

The new train also has a VIP section where seats on the Cairo-Alexandria route will cost LE100, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

The rest of the tickets run at LE65 a piece. Ahmed Hamed, the head of Egyptian National Railways, told Al-Ahram Arabic website that the train will not be in service until technical evaluations of its safety have been completed.

Saturday afternoon’s trial run will take place without any passengers.

Egypt has suffered a number of costly train accidents in recent years, often attributed to the outdated equipment and infrastructure.

In 2013, six train crashes took place in Egypt, leaving dozens killed and injured.

The country’s worst train disaster took place in 2002, when a fire aboard a train headed from Cairo to Aswan killed 361 people.

Spanish Transport Minister says Haramain High Speed Rail Project on Schedule

Ana Pastor, Spanish Minister for Public Works and Transport
Ana Pastor, Spanish Minister for Public Works and Transport

Spanish Public Works and Transport Minister Ana Pastor confirmed on Friday that the construction of the Haramain High Speed Rail project, which will connect the Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina, is going according to schedule.

The minister made these remarks in an interview with EFE during her visit to Egypt, where she attended the inauguration of the new Suez Canal on Thursday. Pastor affirmed that the project is going forward, explaining that there is a prototype train that has covered the 450-kilometer (280-mile) -long railway between the two cities, and confirmed that by the end of 2016, the project would be complete.

The timetable for constructing the railway, connecting Mecca and Medina, stirred up much controversy and received criticism from Saudi authorities, to the extent that Saudi Transport Minister Abdullah al-Mogbel threatened to terminate the agreement with the Spanish consortium if it failed to stay committed to deadlines.

Similarly, Egyptian authorities are currently studying a project to extend an 880-kilometer (546-mile) -long rail line between Alexandria in the north and Luxor to the south.

As for the new Suez Canal, Pastor told EFE that the new waterway – which was inaugurated by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Thursday – represents a turning point in cost reduction, which will mean cheaper products.

“This infrastructure along with the Panama Canal represents a very important development in international maritime navigation,” Pastor said, while she made reference to possible Spanish investments in the industrial and logistic development in the Suez Canal Zone, which stretches for a distance of 195 kilometers (around 121 miles).

Minister Pastor represented the Spanish government on Thursday during the inauguration ceremony of the new Suez Canal, which was also attended by several heads of states and officials.

Track-laying for Kolkata’s East-West Metro to start

ew metro koaaKolkata: Laying of tracks along the East-West Metro corridor will start in a few weeks and is expected to be completed in a year’s time.

While this bit of news will cheer you, the planners are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the imbroglio over extension beyond Sealdah to Mahakaran is resolved by then. It will help them continue laying tracks, as and when the link progresses, without taking a break. Track-laying is considered the start of the final stage in any railway project.

It is interesting that the EW corridor has ended up being a Metro Railway project. Several years ago, when it was first planned, Metro was urged to take up construction. Metro agreed but on one condition: the tracks would have to be broad gauge. Engineers associated with the project refused and insisted on standard gauge. The Metro opted out but ultimately the project came its way. Metro had insisted on broad gauge tracks because they planned an interface between the east-west and north-south lines at Central station. The north-south corridor had been built with such a provision in mind.

“As the EW corridor will have standard gauge, an interface will make no sense. Ideally, the main station in the EW network should be at Esplanade, where there is sufficient space. It will also benefit commuters who can travel from Sector V to Esplanade and then take another train towards south Kolkata. The station building at Esplanade can also be a landmark and ease a lot of existing problems in the heart of Kolkata. It is no longer advisable to consider a station on Brabourne Road as any construction there will result in subsidence. The best option is to take the line to Mahakaran station and then towards the Hooghly,” an engineer said.

According to him, the station at Esplanade can be a multi-storied structure with parking lots and commercial establishments on top. Parking is a major problem in Esplanade and the commercial space can be commercially exploited, making the project more viable.

“When any underground structure is built, engineers have to contend with buoyancy. The underground water tries to push up the structure. To counter this, a lot of load can be added on the underground structure. Even a multi-storied structure over the Metro station at the existing tram depot near Curzon Park won’t cause any problem,” said an official. Rather it would create some much needed vertical space, he added. This is what officials would discuss with those from the defence ministry when putting forward their case for a station at Esplanade.

Known Theatrics: Reliance Infra may pull out of Mumbai Metro

Reliance InfrastructureAnil Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure has threatened to pull out from operating the Mumbai Metro. Citing financial inviability, the Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) has told the Maharashtra government that it would be difficult to continue the operation in case it failed to generate adequate revenue.

In a letter to Maharashtra chief secretary, MMOPL has demanded a minimum operational subsidy of Rs.21.75 crore per month besides the one-time capital grant of Rs 1,000 crore to continue operating the 11.4 km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) corridor. The operator has asked the government to decide on the demand by October 31 this year.

RailNews contacted Reliance Infrastructure for their version, but despite repeated attempts the company did not respond to our queries. The private concessionaire has told the Maharashtra government in clear terms that no hike in Metro fares could contain the financial losses and only financial assistance from the government could ensure smooth operation of the Metro services.

“Being a PPP project, the business sustainability on a standalone basis is of paramount importance as the project does not have any access to any type of concession/subvention from the government or any other source… In case the business fails to generate adequate revenue to meet its cost to operate the line, it would be extremely difficult for the operator to continue the operation,” said Abhay Kumar Mishra, the chief executive officer of MMOPL in his letter to Maharashtra chief secretary..

Moreover, the MMOPL has also sought its right to utilise the real estate for commercial purposes. The development assumes great significance as the Reliance Infrastructure had earlier given up the operation of Airport Express Metro in Delhi citing financial inviability. While the matter is still pending arbitration, the Delhi Metro was forced to take up the operation of the Airport Metro. However, sources said the Metro services in Mumbai will come to an abrupt halt if the operator decides to withdraw from operating the corridor. Ever since its inauguration on June 8 last year, the Mumbai Metro has been a hit among the commuters.

Nearly 5 lakh people use the Metro on a daily basis. Line 1 of the Mumbai Metro, also known as the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor, is first part of the Mumbai’s Metro system. The 11.4km elevated corridor comprising 12 stations, connects Versova and Ghatkopar, the eastern and western suburbs of Mumbai. The corridor was built at the cost of Rs 4,321 crore. The corridor is operated by MMOPL, a joint venture owned by Reliance Infrastructure with Veolia Transport and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) as stakeholders.

Citing unaffordability by commuters, the MMOPL has also refused to increase the existing fare slab of Rs 10 to Rs 40 despite the fare fixation committee recommending increase of the fares up to Rs 110. The concessionaire said that even the fare fixation committee has suggested the MMOPL to seek financial aid from the Maharashtra government in public interest.

“The four experts appointed by the fare fixation committee have recommended increase in the fare and opined that MMOPL must approach the Maharashtra government for grant or operational subsidy… but the MMOPL has decided to continue operating at the existing fare by providing a concession of nearly 60 per cent to commuters at least up to October 31, 2015. During this period we are hopeful that the government shall sympathetically consider our proposal in the larger public interest,” the letter read.

The private operator claimed that the fare fixation committee has categorically said that even if fare of Rs 10 is increased to Rs 110, MMOPL will be incurring losses on a day-to-day basis. It also cited various concessions extended to Delhi Metro in terms of low electricity rate and interest rate which enables maintenance of a low fare without compromising business sustainability. “The DMRC has access to various forms of concession viz. lower interest rate of 1 per cent and electricity rate of Rs 5.60 per unit.

On the contrary, the MMOPL is paying an interest rate of 11.75 per cent while it pays Rs 11 per unit for electricity,” it claimed.

Loco makes smooth trial run on Digha-Sonpur bridge

Digha-Sonpur Rail Road Bridge readySonpur (SEE): Railway minister Suresh Prabhu ​through videoconferencing flagged off the trial run of a diesel locomotive on the newly built Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge on Saturday. Covering a distance of about 8km from Pataliputra station to Sonepur, the locomotive successfully tested the fitness of tracks.

Junior railway minister Manoj Sinha flagged off the locomotive at Pataliputra station in Patna. Its maiden run drew thunderous applause from Sinha, other Union ministers, MPs, MLAs and railway officials who were present on the occasion. Sinha and ECR GM A K Mittal in fact travelled on the locomotive up to Sonepur.

According to Sinha, railways can now run goods train on the Digha-Sonepur track. But passenger trains cannot run unless Bind Toli is vacated by the state government for building a ‘guide bund’, which is a must for a nod from the CRS (commissioner of railway safety) for running passenger trains on the route, he said and added the railways would run passenger trains on the track within two months of eviction of encroachers from Bind Toli.

ECR CPRO Arvind Rajak said the Patna high court on July 27 ordered that Bind Toli should be vacated in 15 days and residents of Bind Toli be rehabilitated as per the state government’s provisions. Sources said the revised cost of the Digha-Sonepur bridge went up to about Rs 2921.46 crore, out of which railways’ share was Rs 1681.37 crore while the NHAI and state government’s joint share was Rs 1240.09 crore.

(File Phone Jan 01, 2015) ECR GM Madhuresh Kumar (centre) inspecting the Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge on a track trolley
(File Phone Jan 01, 2015) ECR GM Madhuresh Kumar (centre) inspecting the Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge on a track trolley

132 Kms Manpur-Bakhtiarpur rail section on Danapur Division opens

Patna: Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday inaugurated 132-km Manpur-Tilaiya-Rajgir- Bakhtiarpur section under the East Central Railway through videoconferencing. Junior railway minister Manoj Sinha, who was in Patna on the day, inaugurated an advanced ‘cardiac catheterization laboratory’ at railway superspecialty hospital at Karbigahiya end.

Sinha also inaugurated newly built Nawadih-Kawad rail line, a stretch of about 33km. He announced that two pairs of DEMU trains would run on this section. The Nawadih-Kawad section is a part of the Koderma- Giridih new line project. Of the 111-km stretch, railways has so far opened 86-km stretch for running passenger trains, the minister said and added the railway ministry has allocated adequate funds to Bihar for development work of railways in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Jamalpur Railway Workshop to be modernized soon

Jamalpur GymkhanaMunger (MGR): The Jamalpur Railway Workshop would be equipped with modern technology very soon, said Pradeep Kumar Agrawal, Additional Member, Railway Board (Mechanical), here on Friday. He was addressing the workshop officers.

He said the Vivekdeo Roy committee suggested separation of security, health and education from the gamut of Indian Railways. He said if accepted, such recommendations might make railways privatization possible. A high powered committee was constituted by the railway ministry and the report has been submitted to the Railway Board in December, 2014.

Agrawal dispatched a tower car manufactured at Jamalpur workshop in 2011 for Mughalsarai and a 140- tonne crane for Babadih, both in ECR. This was the 58th crane manufactured at Jamalpur workshop.

Chief works manager Animesh Kumar Sinha briefed Agrawal about the workload. Later, a delegation of the Eastern Railwaymen’s Congress, Jamalpur branch, met Agrawal and submitted a memorandum mentioning that the workers’ strength at the workshop was declining day by day.

Dharmendra Kumar Yadav, branch secretary of the Congress, told Agrawal that there were 10,000 workers during 2009-10, but the strength was reduced to 8000 only. The secretary urged him to increase the workforce. Yadav said more than 1,000 persons were waiting in the panel prepared by the board for job, but the railways had turned a deaf ear.

Railways to form SPVs for infra development with 17 States: Suresh Prabhu

Rail SPVPanaji: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said his ministry will form special purpose vehicles (SPVs) with 17 states to develop railway infrastructure.

“We are creating a special purpose vehicle with each state separately. There are 17 states, who have shown interest. It would be a joint venture,” Prabhu told PTI on the sidelines of the function to flag off local train at Pernem station in north Goa.

He said Goa, North-Eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir are not included in this scheme.

“For the 17 states, we will create SPVs. The state will invest the capital, along with the Centre, in this company (SPV), which will be used for development of railway infrastructure,” the minister said.

According to Prabhu, Maharashtra has decided to invest Rs 10,000 crore for next five years in this company to develop railway infrastructure..

“We are creating a special purpose vehicle with each state separately. There are 17 states, who have shown interest. It would be a joint venture,” Prabhu told PTI on the sidelines of the function to flag off local train at Pernem station in north Goa.

He said Goa, North-Eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir are not included in this scheme.

“For the 17 states, we will create SPVs. The state will invest the capital, along with the Centre, in this company (SPV), which will be used for development of railway infrastructure,” the minister said.

According to Prabhu, Maharashtra has decided to invest Rs 10,000 crore for next five years in this company.

“Now all the states are interested in signing. This is a good thing. We can develop additional infrastructure and bandwidth,” he said.

He also announced 250 additional trains to clear the rush during forthcoming Ganesh Chaturthi festival, which would be celebrated across Maharashtra’s Konkan region and Goa in September.

“Ganesh chaturthi is the most important festival in Goa. We have decided to run 250 additional trains to clear the rush,” Prabhu told a gathering at Pernem Railway Station today, where he flagged off the train between Pernem and Karwar.

Several railway divisions, including Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL), Central Railway, Southern Railway and others, will pitch in to ply the special trains.

Prabhu said 17 stations on KRCL route will have wi-fi facility and escalators will be installed in the stations, including Margao, Ratnagiri, Kankavali and Thivim.

Delhi Metro to hold Training on Ballastless Tracks

New Delhi: Delhi Metro will conduct an advanced training programme on ‘ballastless tracks’ for the professionals of urban rail-based systems across the nation and also the neighbouring countries, an official statement said on Sunday. “The ballastless technology facilitates the movement of trains at high speed and requires very less maintenance. Three-day training programme will focus on various aspects of maintenance of ballastless tracks, which are now being used by several Metro systems, including Delhi Metro”, the statement said. It also said that training programme would be held August 10-12 at Delhi Metro Training Institute at Shastri Park in north-east Delhi. Professionals from all other urban rail-based systems in India as well as the neighbouring countries are expected to participate in the training programme.

Bhopal Divisional authorities still Groping in Dark for possible Cause of Accident

eyes-in-the-dark1 (1)Harda/Bhopal: Even though the railways announced completion of the rescue operation on Wednesday evening nearly 40 hours after the unprecedented twin derailment 18 kms off Harda station the Bhopal Divisional Railway authorities were still groping in the dark for possible cause of the accident.

At least 34 people died and 70 others were injured after seven coaches of Mumbai-Varanasi Kamayani Express and five bogies of Patna-Mumbai Janata Express capsized while crossing a swollen Machak river on Tuesday night.

The Railway authorities claimed to have rescued over 300 persons but the toll could still go up as several passengers were feared to have been washed away in the gushing waters. Some bodies were recovered from over a mile away from the mishap site. A survivor of Kamayni Express mishap, AkhileshPratap Singh said he along with nearly 100 passengers, travelling in the general class coach managed to reach a hilltop to safety.

Madhya Pradesh Public Relation Department Commissioner AnupamRajan said the dead included 10 women and five children and 11 members of a family going to Shirdi.

West Central Railway spokesperson Piyush Mathur said parts of the two trains plunged into the river as the base material below the track was washed away in floods triggered by heavy rain.

The Commissioner of Railway Safety (Central Zone) will conduct the probe. However, VK Gupta, one of the members of the railway board who visited the site said this was one of the freakiest accidents he had come across. The surprising part was the rise of water level by over four metres in less than 10 minutes between the safe crossing of the previous train and the ill-fated ones.Gupta said the accident could have led to a worse scenario.

Lemuel Lall, a journalist who visited the spot on Wednesday said one of the suspected causes was the abrupt application of brake by the driver of Kamayani Express which was running at a high speed and was signalled to halt by the guard of the slow moving Janata Express.

The unusually sharp braking apparently shook the base below the track that was loosened by flowing water. The track was not inspected in the evening and damage caused by heavy rains went unnoticed. Although the accident site was just over 18 kms from Harda station it took over 30 minutes for the information to reach there. Initial rescue operations were hampered by incessant rain and poor visibility. But the army rushed to the spot and with the help of civilians rescued nearly 250 passengers averting a bigger loss of lives.

A state government official said the rescue operations began in right earnest only after the National Disaster Response Force(NDRF) team arrived at the scene nearly two hours after the derailment.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to those who suffered serious injuries, and said the accident was caused by a natural calamity and couldn’t have been prevented.

According to another version, the embankment of a pond breached due to sudden release of water from a dam near Aamkhal could have caused the flash flood. The railway official, however, did not confirm any such breach.

There was a war of words between the railways and the meteorological department over the disaster. While the met office says it had warned of heavy rainfall in the affected region the railways denied any such information. The met office said the warning was sent to the divisional railway manager’s (DRM) office on Tuesday morning.

Political games instantly began with the Congress and AamAdmi party squarely blaming Suresh Prabhu for the absence of safety in the railways and demanding his resignation.

At least 23 trains were cancelled for over two days. This is the second disruption of rail traffic in less than a fortnight within the radius of 100 kms of Itarsi, one of the key junctions of Central Indiathat routes rail traffic across the length and breadth of the country.

More than 3,200 express trains were cancelled between June 17 and July 23 resulting in 50,000 ticket refunds per day losses over Rs 1,230 crore.

A major fire that destroyed the route relay interlocking (RRI) cabin at Itarsi. The RRI cabin that was due for replacement in 1998 was continued with for over 17 years. The RRI accident also could have been avoided if a smoke detector been installed.

Don’t Compromise with Safety in Railway Operations; Human Life is precious: Supreme Court

Law enacted in 1989 for doing away with unmanned level crossings has not been implemented in the last 26 years which tantamount to dereliction of duties… observes the Social Justice Bench of Supreme Court of India

IR Social JusticeThe Supreme Court on Friday slammed railways for the unmanned railway crossings which take a heavy toll of human lives and asked the government why it was introducing new trains without first ensuring the safety of the people.

A social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said the law enacted in 1989 for doing away with unmanned level crossings has not been implemented by the railways in the last 26 years. It asked the railways to give a roadmap for manning such crossings.

“Why do you bring more trains when you cannot protect the lives of people? Human life cannot be treated so cheaply. Safety is very important and you must take it seriously,” the bench said.

There are more than 11,000 unmanned crossings, out of which 203 have been marked as accident-prone. The unmanned crossings are responsible for the maximum number of train accidents at around 40 per cent.

The counsel for railways told the bench that it would take time to man all such crossings and it would be done in a phased manner. He, however, did not give a time-frame for completing the task.

“Why don’t you tell us when will you complete the task? There must be some road map for at least 203 accident prone crossings. We are not sitting here for fun. You must tell us what are you doing in this regard,” the bench said.

The advocate then sought time to consult the railway authorities.

NHRC issues Notice to Delhi Metro over Labourer’s death

NHRCNew Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) over reports of a labourer’s death and injuries to another due to negligence.

Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report that a labourer, Vijay Kumar, died and another was injured when a huge cement slab, weighing about three tonnes, fell on them in a tunnel at an under construction Metro site in West Delhi, the Commission has observed that the incident, if true, raises questions regarding violation of human rights of the labourers.

“When the work involved is of such a hazardous nature, safety measures have to be strictly followed and safety of the labourers and other persons working at the site has to be ensured,” said NHRC which issued a notice to the Managing Director of DMRC seeking report on the matter in four weeks.

According to a media report, the incident happened on July 29. The two labourers were rushed to nearby Bhagatchandra Hospital where Vijay Kumar (26) was declared brought dead while Jai Prakash (35) was treated for injuries and discharged the same day. The DMRC had outsourced the construction work to a company HCC-Samsung.

The police has already registered a case of causing death by negligence against the contractor.

Kochi Metro inks MoU with German Development Bank ‘KfW’ for Water Transport Project

kfw kochi projectThe Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and German Development Bank KfW on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on funding the ‘Integrated Water Transport Project for Kochi City.’

On the occasion, KfW senior project manager Stephanie Rieger said a final agreement on the loan would likely be signed by year-end. As per the MoU, the KfW will provide external funding to the tune of Rs 580 crore (EUR 85 mln) for the project, which envisages overall development of the water transport system in the Kochi agglomeration area. The total project cost is estimated at Rs 740 crore (excluding land acquisition).

“It is for the first time an external funding agency is providing 80 per cent of the total project cost. The DPR for the project had already been approved by the State Planning Board. The Cabinet is likely to approve the DPR within two weeks. The State Government will submit the project before the Centre soon, and it is expected to be submitted before the KfW Board by month-end,” said  KMRL MD Elias George.

The water transport project aims at enhancing the city’s water transport network and integrating it with the other modes of transport. Along with modernising the waterways and launching 78 advanced boats, the project will also focus on the ‘One Island One Jetty Plan’. The plan includes construction of new boat jetties, development of the existing jetties, development of the roads leading to the jetties and  development of commercial spaces. The cost of land acquisition is estimated at Rs 72 crore.George said an ‘aqua wing’ would be set up at the KMRL to manage and coordinate the water transport project. “Once the loan pact is signed, we will float a global tender. We are hopeful of commencing the work early next year,” he added.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Rieger said KfW was keen on funding more infrastructure projects in India.

Rs.96 Crore Kurla Harbour Elevated Station tender pushed back

kurla station elevatedMumbai: The opening date for the Rs.96-crore tender for the Kurla elevated harbour station was pushed back from August 7 to August 25 due to, what top Central Railway officials called, ‘technical reasons’. However, a group of railway officials maintained that the push-back has raised fears on whether the environment in the railways is ‘good and efficient’ enough for firms to come bidding for a Rs.96-crore work order.

The Rs.96-crore work order involves the creation of a rail flyover starting from the north of Chunabhatti station to the south of Tilaknagar station with a three-line Harbour station right above the current platforms 7 and 8. To be built on stilts, the elevated station would allow goods trains to move on the tracks at ground level while Harbour line trains ‘fly’ over them.

“Central Railway all through July has issued tenders worth Rs.550 crore. However, the fact remains that happy days are here only if there are enough firms to bid for these works. What we have been seeing for a long time is that the bigger construction companies which have the wherewithal to got for work upwards of Rs.100 crore are unwilling to work in the railway set-up which is at times excessively rigid, hierarchical and also prone to delays,” said a CR official. Last year, CR faced such a problem with work orders for several projects in the range of Rs.20-30 crore having to be re-issued as there were no bidders.

However, with the new railway dispensation under minister Suresh Prabhu talking big about completing pending projects and also looking to spend several lakh crore rupees to upgrade the railway infrastructure in the country, officials believe the situation is better than ever before. “Prabhu has made far-reaching changes in the way top-level officials like the general manager as well as members of the Railway Board can deal with even large tenders upwards of Rs.100 crore. We believe the streamlined processes will be attractive for firms to carry out these works,” said a top-ranking railway official.

Projects galore:
July 04 : Rs.96 crore Kurla elevated harbour station order
July 19 : Rs.177 crore order for Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli project
July 21 : Rs.38 crore tender for Panvel terminus project
July 30 : Rs.120 crore order for Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli project
July 31 : Rs.105 crore for the Kalyan-Kasara 3rd line project

Bombardier wins Israel Railways deal for 62 Electric Locomotives

Isreal RlysJerusalem: Canada’s Bombardier Inc has been chosen to supply 62 electric locomotives to Israel for 1 billion shekels ($263 million), state-owned Israel Railways said on Thursday.

Israel is in the middle of a multi-billion-dollar process to electrify the country’s 420-km (260-mile) railway system to reduce noise and pollution.

Israel Railways said it would take delivery of the locomotives in 2017 and that they were mainly for use on a new fast rail line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The contract, which includes an option to buy 32 more units, is part of Israel’s extensive rail electrification programme.

The locomotives each have an output of 6 megawatts and will be able to pull up to eight double-decker carriages or 12 single carriages, containing 1,400 passengers, at speeds of up to 160 km per hour.

Bombardier, which has been supplying trains to Israel for more than a decade, beat out France’s Alstom and two Chinese companies, CSR and CNR, to win the deal, said Israel Railways, which is also holding a tender for 294 new electric double-decker carriages.

According to reports, Bombardier beat Alstom and the Chinese manufacturers CSR and CNR.

Chhapra-Muzaffarpur Rail Line: Railways sanctions Rs.5 Crore for Land Acquisition

Chhapra (CPR): Hope for a new and shorter rail route from Chhapra to Muzaffarpur has brightened with the railways sanctioning Rs.5 crore for land acquisition purposes. Distance from Chhapra to Muzaffarpur through the existing rail route is about 120 km, but if this new project is commissioned the distance will be reduced to about 78 km only, connecting several villages.

This new rail route was announced about seven years ago when the then Chhapra RJD MP Lalu Prasad was railway minister. Acquisition of land had been initiated at that time and out of 47 villages, land of about 22 villages had been acquired. But after his tenure, the project failed to take off.

Saran land acquisition officer Kaushlendra Singh said, “A demand for Rs 35 crore was placed for land acquisition in the remaining villages, but the railways sanctioned only Rs 5 crore. With this amount, land of only two villages-Bishnupura and Sherpur villages-under Sadar block, would be acquired.” Deputy chief engineer of East Central Railway (ECR) has also suggested acquisition of 18.87 acre of land at Bishnupura village and 3.85 acres of land at Sherpur village.

The new rail route is likely to pass through Sherpur, Bishnupura, Garkha, Bheldi, Rewadih in Saran district and Bakhra, Saraiya etc in Muzaffarpur district. Locals, particularly students, teachers and employees of J P University, Chhapra, are hopeful that after completion of the project, the newly-constructed Chhapra gramin station, which is awaiting its inauguration, would serve as a junction. The station is located near JP University and many organizations have demanded to name it after Jayaprakash Narayan.

CID files charge sheet against ex-IAS officer in Ahmedabad Metro Scam

Ahmedabad: Gujarat police today filed a charge sheet against former chairman of Metro-link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) project Sanjay Gupta and 10 others, accusing them of syphoning off Rs.113 crore.

The 200-odd page charge sheet was filed before the special court for anti-corruption cases by the investigating officer and Deputy SP, S G Parmar. It accuses Gupta, former IAS officer, and others of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy, etc.

Others named in the charge sheet are his associates Radhesh Bhatt, Sudhanshu Kushwah, Chetan Patel, Prakash Patel, Sandip Patel, Govind Vanzara, Harinarayan Sinh, Tarun Padhiyar and Animesh Doshi. Bhalchandra Kaklute has been described as an absconding accused.

Bogus firms were created in the names of office boys and tenders awarded at inflated rates to them by Gupta, the main accused, it says.

False invoices were filed without getting any supplies for filling up the land at Motera for casting yard and depot, it mentions.

The investigation started after an audit revealed that against MEGA’s claim of 20.67 lakh sq mt land filling worth Rs 194.56 crore while work had been done only over 9.42 lakh sq mt, the charge sheet says.

Bogus bills for land filling work were cleared without any work done on the ground. The value of the material purportedly used for this was Rs 113.22 crore, it says.

The charge sheet also says that CID recorded statements of 301 witnesses.

CID arrested Gupta on May 14. He was chairman of metro rail project in 2012. He sought bail twice but failed to get relief.

Gupta quit IAS in 2003 to start his own business. He owns Neesa Group which runs hotels. He had also started a Hindi channel called ‘Jano Duniya’ which was later closed

Eastern Freight Corridor section to be operational this Fiscal

New Delhi: Expediting the flagship freight corridor project, railways will make operational a 56-km stretch between Durgauti and Sasaram in Bihar by March next year while whole of the dedicated track will be made functional in phases from 2017-18.

Aiming at swift transportation of goods, railways is constructing 3360-km-long track comprising both Eastern and Western corridors for exclusive movement of freight trains at an estimated cost of about Rs 82,000 crore.

Efforts are on to commission the Durgauti-Sasaram section on a pilot basis in the current fiscal, DFC Corporation Managing Director Adesh Sharma said here today.

While the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) covers 1856 km, Western DFC involves construction of 1504 km long track.

EasternCorridorGiving the timeline, Sharma said, “Our aim is to complete the project before time. While a small section will be operational before March next year, on the whole the Eastern and Western corridors will be made functional in phases beginning from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

Once they are operational, significant amount of goods traffic is expected to be shifted from roads to rail.

Currently railways share is about 36 per cent of total goods traffic and with DFC fully operational the share is likely to increase to about 40 per cent to 45 per cent, he said.

He said DFCC is using latest technology and machinery such as automatic track laying machines brought from US to expedite the project.

A 260-metre-long track is laid at a stretch by the automatic machine and it speeds up the project.

Funded by World Bank and partly by railways itself, Eastern DFC starting from Dankuni from West Bengal will pass through the states ofJharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Harayana to terminate in Ludhiana.

Constructed at an estimated cost of about Rs 1000 cr, the 56-km long track to be made functional first will have 18 manned level crossings.

It will be a double-line track and all the level crossings will be eliminated in due course as the aim is to make the entire DFC a level crossing-free track in the country, Sharma said.

There are a total of 989 level crossings on the entire DFC which will have to eliminated through the construction of overbridge and underbridge along the track.

Western DFC between Delhi-Mumbai is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The double line track from JNPT to Dadri through Vadodara, Samand, Palanpur and Rewari will be 1,504 km long.

Sharma said more than 80 per cent land required for the entire project has been acquired and compensation is being paid as per the law of the land.

Railways is procuring 200 high power locomotives from Japan out of which 100 will be manufactured at Dankuni with transfer of technology from Japanese companies as part of an agreement.

The 9000 horse power locomotives will be used on the Western DFC.

Equipped with Train Protection Warning System and Mobile Radio Communication System, the speed of freight train on DFC will go upto 100 km per hour as against the current speed of 25 km per hour.

With DFC operational, Sharma said the Railways will also come out with a time table for goods trains, which is not possible now.

It will take 20 hours to transport goods from Delhi to Kolkata or Mumbai on DFC which otherwise takes about 2 to 3 days now because of the saturation of path.

Railway Minister to meet BFSI Heads in Mumbai today

Suresh Prabhu to hold closed door meeting at BSE with Financial Market players today

BFSI SectorMumbai: Ministry of Railways are convening a meeting in Mumbai on Friday with representatives of Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) to sensitize the finance community of emerging investment opportunities in the Railway Sector.

Leading investment bankers, stock brokers and economists have been invited for the meeting.  This is a follow up on the Banks’ and Financial Institutions’ Conclave held in Delhi on July 21.

Railway Minister who is expecting a whopping investment of $120 billion in next five years for railways, may seek discussion on innovating ways to finance the cash-strapped national transporter. A PIB release said, “The meeting of senior railway officials with Heads and CEOs of FIs and a few corporates is being organized at the initiative of the Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu who had in his maiden Railway Budget unveiled massive investment plans for strengthening and modernizing the key Railway infrastructure in the country.”

Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu, Chairman/Railway Board Mr.Mittal and Indian Railways Financial Commissioner are scheduled to address the meeting.

The meeting is being held in Mumbai this time to increase exposure and visibility to the investment plan of Railways. The Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) which is the financial intermediary for the Railways is co-hosting the meeting.

Indian Railways has not got any big investment for the in last 20-25 years but huge fund flow is expected as government has allowed FDI in certain segments like coach manufacturing, station development, suburban rail and high-speed network. Key area where huge money could be mobilised by government is Prabhu’s idea to modernisation of 400 railway stations through open bids. This could see huge corporate interest.

A study of country’s major railway stations like Sealdah and Howrah show that thousands of crores of rupees flow via small businesses on railway platforms. Most of this money is unaccounted for and the government gets no share of it. Also, many stall operators and book sellers of major railway stations have been getting the government contract continuously for many years. The railway minister now plans to change such norms and raise funds through PPP route.

“Prabhu mainly wants to assess the investor sentiment and psyche to know how effectively the investments could flow and what are the various models that should be followed,” said a banker who has been invited for the meet.

Over 300 Accidents in 4 Years: Railway Staff were to blame in 7 cases out of 10 cases

The government defines “consequential accidents” as those with “serious repercussions in terms of loss of human life, human injury, loss to railway property or interruption to rail traffic” (Source: Parliament statement, March 16, 2015)

Accidents-ReasonsNew Delhi: All figures except those for ‘Cost of damage’ and ‘Compensation paid’ are for “consequential train accidents (excluding incidents at unmanned level crossings caused due to negligence of road vehicle users)”.

The government defines “consequential accidents” as those with “serious repercussions in terms of loss of human life, human injury, loss to railway property or interruption to rail traffic”. Figures for 2014-15 are up to February 2015. Figures for ‘Cost of damage’ are for “consequential train accidents”. Figures for ‘Compensation paid’ are for “train accidents, untoward incidents, accidents at manned level and unmanned level crossings”. Figures for 2014-15 are provisional.

Accidents Chart

What solutions are available for disaster management?

Tackling Derailments: Prabhu’s speech for the Rail Budget 2015-2016 primarily concentrated on three key safety issues. Curbing derailments was one of them. The minister had promised primary track renewals with “modern track structure consisting of sleepers and heavier rails”, as well as better welding techniques. He had also proposed replacing analog machines with digital ones for testing of tracks.

This was similar to what Bansal had proposed: upgradation of track structure using 60 kg rails, 260 meter long welded rail-panels and improved flash butt welding technology. He had also claimed that 17 bridges identified as distressed had already been sanctioned for rehabilitation within the next one year. It is not known whether the Machak river bridge was on that list.

Accidents at level crossings: The major aspect of railway safety which both Bansal and Prabhu stressed in their respective speeches was the high number of accidents at level crossings.  Describing it as a ‘disquieting issue’ Bansal had asked for an increase in the Railways share in the Central Road Fund from the then allocation of Rs 1,100 crore to a required amount of ‘almost Rs 5,000 crore’. He had also requested increased allocation to the Railway Safety Fund. He had cited a cost of Rs 37,000 crores for eliminating 31,846 LCs, out of which 13,530 are unmanned.

Prabhu suggested more high-tech reforms, saying that the elimination of LCs and ‘the construction of Road over Bridges (ROBs) and Road under Bridges (RUBs) was the Railways’ highest priority. He also said that as a short term precaution, the RDSO has been asked to develop a suitable device in consultation with Indian Space Research Organization. This device would use geo-spatial technology for providing audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossings.

Collisions: Prabhu promised to “install Train Protection Warning System and Train Collision Avoidance System on select routes at the earliest”. Bansal, too, had promised the same.

The major step taken by the UPA government was to set up a Railway safety committee under Anil Kakodkar in 2012-13. Bansal in his speech had said that the ministry had sanctioned some of the committee’s recommendations for implementation, while rest were under consideration. Prabhu promised to review all pending recommendations by the Kakodkar Committee over the next five years.

Outlook: In the past three Railway Budgets (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16), Bansal’s tenure saw 2,885 track renewals while Prabhu has set a target of 2,500 renewals. The NDA’s first major rail budget has also concentrated more on the upkeep and beautification of railway stations and coaches, with a greater stress on passenger amenities and digitisation of railway resources and services.

Sri Lanka puts IRCON in the Dock over several issues relating to restoration of railway system in the North

SL Railway LogoColombo: The Ranil Wickremesinghe government in Sri Lanka has put in the dock the Indian public sector railway construction company Ircon International (IRCON), over several issues relating to the restoration of the railway system in the Northern Province between 2010 and 2015.

On the advice of a four-man committee, the Lankan cabinet has decided to review the execution of the US$ 800 million dollar Indian-funded project, and take appropriate action with the help of experts, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told the media here on Thursday.

The investigating committee had found “enormous cost over-runs in the construction carried out by an Indian company; issues related to estimates; damages to sleepers; and defects in the buildings constructed.”

The cabinet note had refrained from naming the company though.

The committee also observed that competitive bidding had not been adopted and accordingly, government had suffered a loss.

The cabinet took a policy decision to give railway construction work to the Lankan Department of Railways from now on, and use local material and expertise to the extent possible.

Asked who is to be blamed for this, Senaratne told that only an inquiry will reveal it.

Political observers wondered if the issue is being raked up by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government to fix former Minister of Transport, Kumara Welgama, who is now in the forefront of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance’s campaign to bring back former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power as Prime Minister through the August 17 parliamentary elections.

Welgama was a prime mover of the railway project and fully supported IRCON to finish the work ahead of schedule. But now he is in the opposite camp supporting Rajapaksa.

However, even when Welgama was minister, the railway unions had opposed the grant of the project to IRCON on the grounds that the Lankan Railways could do the same work at less cost. But IRCON General Manager S.L.Gupta contended that given the difficulties encountered in the execution of the project and the modern technology imparted, the project could not be any cheaper. The tracks laid by IRCON could take speeds up to 120 km per hour and the rolling stock supplied was of the latest technology.

The Omanthai-Palai line (90.5 km) was started in 2010 and completed in 2013 at a cost of US$ 185.35 million. The Madu-Talaimannar stretch (63 km) was completed in three years in 2013 at a cost of US$ 149.74 km. The Medawachichiya-Madu track (43 km) was started in 2010 and completed in 2012 at a cost of US$ 81.30 million. The Palai-Kankesanthurai  line (56 km) was started in 2011 and completed in 2014 at a cost of US$ 149.34 million. Signaling equipment cost US$ 86.50 million. And other expenditure, including personnel, amounted to US$ 146 million. The project was funded by a US$ 800 million Government of India Line of Credit.

Sri Lanka says Indian, Chinese railway projects cost too much

Sri Lanka’s government is investigating two railway projects funded and built by India and China as costs were found to be excessive and also probing other irregularities and corrupt practices in the transport sector, a spokesman said.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the corruption was uncovered by a Special Investigation Committee appointed to probe allegations against the former regime.

The cost for rebuilding the island’s northern railway line, which was destroyed in the ethnic war, was found to have been too high, he told a news conference.

He was referring to a project done with an Indian government soft loan by Ircon International Limited, an Indian government construction company.

The committee had probed the “enormous cost and issues regarding the estimates of the constructions of the northern railway line,” Senaratne said.

It also found the costs estimated for the construction of the southern Matara – Kataragama railway line to be high.

This project was funded with a Chinese loan and is being built by China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation (CMC).

In both projects, competitive bidding had not been done in selecting contractors.

The Internal Transport Ministry has also sought advice from the Attorney General’s Department on taking legal action against institutions and people found responsible for irregularities, Senaratne said.

He said legal action has been instituted against politicians of the ousted Rajapaksa regime for not paying for the use of state buses during the January 2015 presidential poll.

The Ministry of Internal Transport is seeking to recover 142 million rupees for providing Sri Lanka Transport Board buses for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s publicity campaign in the presidential election.

MRTS may soon chug last mile to St.Thomas Mount

Chennai MRTSChennai: The long wait for completion of the MRTS stretch be tween Velacherry and St Thomas Mount may be finally over, thanks to the Madras high court.

Marking an end of litigation over 4,530sqmt land stretching for about half a kilometer, which had delayed the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) Phase-II extension, the high court has said compensation to owners of acquired land at Thillai Ganga Nagar in Nanganallur should be calculated in terms of the new land acquisition law.

In an order which means much higher compensation package to land-losers, Justice M Sathyanarayanan said: “It is not in serious dispute that only a minimal extent of land is to be taken possession and as pointed out by additional advocate general it is only about 4,530sqmt. Once it is taken possession, the project will be complete and the travelling public will be immensely benefited and traffic congestion in Chennai will also be eased.“

The judge also set aside a special tahsildar’s order fixing compensation on the basis of Land Acquisition Act 1894, and directed him to proceed under the new acquisition law ­ the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. “This court is of the view that the interim draft award as well as notices issued under the old act have to be set aside quashed with a consequential direction directing the jurisdictional district collector competent authority to proceed afresh in terms of Sec 40(3) of the new Act.Railway authorities also are not having any serious objection for resorting to such a course. Adoption of such a course, not only advances public interest, but will also avoid further time and cost overrun in the implementation of the project,“ he observed. The order marks culmination of the second round of litigation. The first round started after authorities invoked the emergency clause and dispensed with personal hearing of land owners before their pieces of land were taken over.

The present cases are about notices being issued by the special tahsildar for MRTS phase-II extension calling upon individual land owners to appear before him in person along with documents such as title, patta and tax receipts for 30 years for receiving the compensation package. The notices were dated September 18, 2014. Land owners contested the quantum of compensation saying since the new land acquisition Act came into force on January 1, 2014, their compensation should be in terms of the new Act, and not the old one.

Saudi Arabia–Haramain High Speed Train makes First Trial run

The Saudi Railways Organization conducted the first successful trial run of the Haramain High Speed Train on Tuesday,  July 28th, 2015, on a 100-kilometer stretch between King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh and Madinah. Al-Haramain Train project first of its kind in Mideast

Transport Minister Abdullah Al-Muqbil, who is chairman of the board of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO), revealed that electricity has been connected through overhead lines for the Haramain High-Speed Railway network, according to Arab News. Al-Muqbil said the train has been tested on the line with a gradual speed of 300 km/h. Tests will continue for a few months until the efficiency of the train is verified.

The 450-kilometer high-speed railway — first of its kind in the kingdom and linking Makkah,  Madinah and Jeddah including Rabigh is expected to become fully operational next year, reducing the distance between the two holy cities to less than two hours, reported Saudi Gazette.

Saudi Arabia’s High Speed Express Train linking Makkah-Jeddah-Madinah makes first trial run

The train will cross the distance between Jeddah and Makkah in 30 minutes and the distance between Makkah and Madinah in two and a half hours.

The minister expected King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and Madinah to be linked to the railway line by the end of 2015, a report said.

Meanwhile, the train station in Jeddah is nearing completion, reported Arab News.

The Haramain trains are equipped with the latest signalling and communications system and provide the safest mode of high-speed rails with the latest techniques, a report said.

The project which consists of the construction of a training center in Dammam, is valued around $8 billion.

The picture shows top Saudi officials on the train during the trial run.

The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.

The project’s importance stems from many considerations, primarily the increasing numbers of pilgrims, visitors, residents and worshipers coming to the country, Madinah and Makkah year after year.

The train will greatly reduce the congestion on the roads between Makkah and Madinah, in addition to Jeddah governorate. It will also reduce road traffic accidents and pollution levels, resulting from vehicles’ fuel emissions. Additionally, it will provide job opportunities for Saudi youths after they get the necessary training and qualifications on the operation and maintenance tasks.

The project consists of establishing electric tracks between Makkah, passing through Jeddah and reaching Madinah with a length of 450 km. The tracks are equipped with signals and advanced communication means.

The project will go through two important phases; the first will involve building the overpasses, bridges, underpasses, water channels and other necessary infrastructure including the stations; and the second phase will involve developing the tracks and railways and the trains.

There are four main stations in the project between Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City in Dabiagh and Madianah. An additional fifth extra station will be established at King Abdulaziz International Airport with the new airport expansion project to link the airport and the station with the whole project.

Makkah station is the most costly with SR3.2 billion, Sulaimanyah station comes following with a cost of SR2.9 billion, then King Abdullah Economic City with a cost of SR1.75 billion and Madinah station at a cost of SR1.54 billion.

The project involves constructing 140 overpasses and 860 water channels to discharge rainwater.

The trains, 35 electrical trains with a speed of 300 km per hour, were manufactured with world class specifications and standards by Talgo, a Spanish manufacturer of intercity, standard, and high speed passenger trains.

Experts in the field said Al-Haramain Train is a unique and one of its kind projects considering that it is the first high speed electrical train in the Middle East.

Seven trains will run within one hour from and to Jeddah, two trains will run between Makkah and Madinah, and 4 trains will run between Makkah and Rabigh and the one train will transport 19,600 passengers per hour.

GPT Infraprojects bags order worth Rs.52 Crore on NFR

Kolkata based GPT Infraprojects Ltd announced that the Company has bagged orders valued at Rs.52 crore from Northeast Frontier Railway for assembly, erection, supplying, fitting and fixing, launching WOT steel grider with bearing in Bridge No.44 over river Makru of Span 1×30.00m+4×106.00m+1×71.50m+1×30.00m at KM 22.425 in between Dholakhal and Kaimai Road Station including other ancillary works in connection with the construction of the new BG Line from Jiribam to Imphal (Two Packet System) in Joint Venture with Rahee Infratech.

GPT Infraprojects Limited, the flagship company of theGPT Group is a premier Infrastructure company based out of Kolkata, India engaged in the execution of civil and infrastructure projects and manufacture of concrete sleeper for Railways. The entity has strong project execution capabilities, a healthy financial base, and enviable growth prospects across all areas of operation.

The shares of the Company are listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and Calcutta Stock Exchange (CSE).

The manufacturing units of the company are located at Panagarh (Dist Burdwan, West Bengal, India), Ladysmith (KZN, South Africa) and Tsumeb (Namibia).

The Company is an ISO 9001:2000 certified organization. The Panagarh Unit of the Company is the approved unit by Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), Ministry of Railways, the company official said.