Few firms left with deep enough pockets to undertake the DFCC works!

NEW DELHI: The much-awaited Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) may soon become a reality. Of the total 3,360-km, construction of 2,822 km stretch is on the fast track, and bids may be invited for the remaining 538 km Shonnagar-Dankuni stretch of Eastern DFC by the end of this year or early next year.

Divided in two sections (Shonnagar-Gomoh and Gomoh-Dankuni), this segment will be built in PPP mode, either through BOT (build-own-transfer) or annuity models. A decision on the exact modalities is pending.

As the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCCIL) is in possession of 87 per cent of land, forest and environment clearances, there are no major worries for completion, except one , that is finding suitable partners from a basket of merely four-five eligible companies.

The the size of the projects may pose a worry. DFCCIL estimates the cost of the entire 538 km at 12,218 crore.

However according to sources, the cost of each of the two sections may go up to 10,000 crore. And, there are not many construction companies left with requisite balance-sheet size.

Sources are hopeful that if the contractor is identified the project can be implemented in six years. The work involves over two kms of tunneling in Kodarma (Jharkhand) where rock strata coexist with fractured coal seams, making the whole proposition geologically unstable.

Meanwhile, work is advancing fast in the rest of the Eastern DFC, from Shonnagar to Ludhiana (1,318 km).

The 343 km Khurja-Bhaupur section of EDFC in Uttar Pradesh is scheduled for completion in November. The 574-km stretch from Bhaupur to Dadri, also in UP, will be completed in December 2020. The 401 km segment from Khurja to Pilkhani (Punjab) will be completed in December 2021.

Despite land related issues, the progress is relatively faster on Western DFC. The 641-long Rewari (Haryana)-Palanpur (Gujarat) will be completed by March 2020. The residual segment will be completed in 2021. WDFC s built with JICA finance.

Overall, there is 58 per cent physical progress in 2,822-km stretch, of EDFC and WDFC together, which is under construction.

DFCC’s Freight Train Control Room ready in Prayagraj

NEW DELHI/PRAYAGRAJ: Asia’s biggest control room monitoring the running of goods trains by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCC) – a public sector undertaking corporation run by government of India’s Ministry of Railways – is now ready in Prayagraj.

Once functional, the control room will oversee running of all goods trains on the busy Ludhiana (Punjab) to Kolkata (West Bengal) route spanning 1,856 kilometres. The sector forms the vital Eastern Corridor of the countrywide dedicated freight corridors, officials said.

Efforts are now on to have Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurate it, said officials aware of the development.

The state-of-the-art operating control centre at Subedarganj has been under construction for the past few years and recently got completed. The Union Ministry of Railways is in touch with the prime minister’s office to get the PM inaugurate it, possibly this very month, added officials who did not wish to be named, as they were not authorised to speak to media.

In the test phase, the newly built control room that has come up in the RPF parade ground located opposite the IOC terminal in Subedarganj, has already started managing goods trains running on the Bhadan-Kurja section of the corridor, which recently became functional. The control room keeps real-time track of all details of trains like speed, location and halts, they added.

DFCC (Prayagraj East) chief general manager Om Prakash said that soon the section till Bhaupur will also become functional in the Eastern Corridor and by next year, the plan is to start running goods trains on the Bhaupur-Mughalsarai section too.

Officials said that as part of making the entire Eastern Freight Corridor functional, 60% of the track-laying work from Punjab to West Bengal has been completed. Work is on in full swing on the remaining parts as well. The aim is to complete all work and make the corridor fully functional by 2022, they added.

The control room will be manned by a 250-strong staff in each shift. A visitor’s gallery has also been constructed in the control room from where one can witness the control room’s functioning on five huge LED screens.

Kathmandu-Lhasa Rail Link can enhance China’s Influence in Nepal

Nepal signs rail, road link deals with China during Xi visit

KHATMANDU: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day visit to Nepal has been a nasty wake-up call for India. It was the first visit by a Chinese President in 23 years and it sent out a clear signal: India cannot dictate terms to its smaller, landlocked neighbour, nor take it for granted. Displaying a willingness to play an expanded role in the region, Xi declared China would always support Nepal in safeguarding the nation’s “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Two countries sign a preliminary pact on a long-awaited rail link connecting the Tibetan capital Lhasa to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu

China also promises help to upgrade the Arniko Highway linking Kathmandu with Tatopani transit point

Xi also pointedly promised China would “help Nepal realise its dream of becoming a land-linked country from a landlocked one.” Driving that point home, China and Nepal signed a feasibility-study agreement for a 70-km rail link connecting Kathmandu and Shigatse in Tibet where it would join an existing railway line to Lhasa. Also on the cards are improved road links and slashing travel time from Kathmandu to the Tibetan border from five hours to two. In addition, China earlier offered Nepal use of four ports for shipment of goods.

India hasn’t wanted to be left behind in the connectivity race and recently inaugurated a 69-km oil pipeline from Barauni in Bihar to Amlekhgunj that can carry two million tonnes of petroleum products annually. (Significantly, though, that project was first proposed in the 1990s). Also, construction’s underway on two rail links, one of which will eventually link Patna and Kathmandu.

Bids invited from Advisers for Strategic Disinvestment of 3 PSUs

NEW DELHI: The government has kicked off strategic disinvestment exercise for this fiscal by inviting bids from advisers for sale of its controlling stake in three of Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), NEEPCO and THDC India.

Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal of 30 per cent stake sale in CONCOR. Presently, the government has 54.80 per cent shareholding in the company and with the stake sale, the government will lose the management control.

Besides, the Cabinet had cleared government’s stake sale in power companies THDC India and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) to NTPC.

In strategic disinvestment, a buyer also takes the management control.

“Government of India is considering selection of transaction adviser/legal adviser/asset valuer separately for two strategic disinvestment of Government of India existing paid up equity shareholding in two CPSEs under the administrative control of Ministry of Power,” the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) said while inviting bids.

THDC India is a 75:25 per cent joint venture between the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government. The central government owns 100 per cent stake in NEEPCO.

Without naming CONCOR, a separate public notice said, the Government of India is considering partial disinvestment of its existing total paid up equity shareholding in a government company under Ministry of Railways along with transfer of management control.

Proposals are invited by November 4 from reputed entities with required experience and eligibility to act as transaction adviser/legal adviser/ asset valuer to assist and advise government in the process.

So far during the current financial year, the government has mobilised Rs 12,357.49 crore through disinvestment transactions, according to data available on DIPAM website.

The government is targeting to mobilise Rs 1.05 lakh crore from disinvestment proceeds and achieving this has become more critical after it doled out Rs 1.45 lakh crore stimulus by way of a cut in corporate tax.

Disinvestment proceeds will be critical for the government to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent of the GDP in the year ending March 31, 2020.

Officials said strategic sale may involve two-stage bidding beginning with an expression of interest (EoI) or a preliminary intent showing bid, and a final financial bid. Pre-bid meetings with likely bidders and roadshows to attract potential investors will form part of the process to provide clarity on every aspect of the stake sale.

Also, a data centre will be set up for bidders to look for information on the up for sale, they added.

Officials said the idea is to complete the stake sale within an estimated timeframe of 4-5 months.

Besides, the Cabinet has given its nod to sell the government’s entire 53.29 per cent stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and its 63.75 per cent stake in Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).

The strategic disinvestment of the five is expected to fetch Rs 60,000 crore to the exchequer.

Kenya launches 120-km Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge extended Railway line to boost rural economy

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta boards the train after the launching ceremony of Kenya’s standard gauge railway (SGR) Phase 2A at Maai Mahiu Station in Kenya, Oct. 16, 2019.

NAIROBI: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday launched the 120-km Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gaige Railway (SGR) that is expected to transform the country’s hinterland through enhanced movement of passengers and cargo.

Kenyatta was joined by dignitaries to ride in the maiden SGR passenger train prior to the official ceremony to launch its operation along a corridor whose scenic features include escarpments and expansive plains.

“The completion of Nairobi to Suswa section of SGR is expected to revolutionize the development of this region through affordable transport. It will also stimulate tourism in the greater Rift Valley,” said Kenyatta.

He said that Kenya is banking on the extended railway line that is part of the proposed Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba SGR project, to strengthen its position as a regional industrial and logistics hub.

The Kenyan leader also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for an Inland Container Depot (ICD) that will be linked to the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR infrastructure to ease the movement of bulk cargo to the interior.

China Communication Construction Company implemented phase 2A of the SGR whose landmark features include five stations that will facilitate passenger transport as well as 3 tunnels, 29 bridges and 148 culverts.

The contractor adhered to international environmental protection guidelines and financed several community livelihood projects during the implementation of the extended railway line.

Wu Peng, the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, said the launch of SGR phase 2A will boost connectivity, spark growth of local industries and create additional jobs.

The implementation of second phase of SGR project that commenced in October 2016 opened the Kenyan hinterland to investments.

James Macharia, cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, said that its operationalization marked a milestone in Kenya’s quest to revolutionize the movement of industrial goods and skilled labor.

Assam Govt wants to Reopen Pre-Partition Railway Links with Bangladesh

GUWAHATI: In an attempt to reconnect and accelerate the trade relationship, Assam government has moved Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and NITI Aayog for reopening of the pre-partition railway links from Chittagong to Makum, Cox Bazar to Ledo and third line between Bangladesh via Golakganj till Moirabari.

It is to be mentioned that a India-Bangladesh trade, stakeholders meet will be held on October 22 and 23 in Guwahati, wherein, Assam industry minister Chandra Mohan Patwary will generate awareness and discuss opportunities in trading natural resources with neighboring countries through surface routes.

In India’s attempt to connect with these markets, Assam and the Northeast has an advantageous position by virtue of its geographical location, and Assam is going all out to capitalise this opportunity, said Patowary.

Work on Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Railway line to start this year

Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA: Plans to build a 19km-long railway along six roads in Phnom Penh will begin this year. The line is set to contribute to the capital’s urbanisation while reducing traffic congestion.

The Ministry of Environment said on its Facebook page on Monday that its secretary of state So Khan Rithy Kun had led an inter-ministerial meeting to review and provide recommendations on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the railway’s development.

Attending the meeting were representatives from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Environment, representatives from two private consultancy firms and officials from Phnom Penh Municipal Hall and Phnom Penh Department of Environment.

In the meeting, Nippon Koei Co Ltd, an international engineering consultancy, provided information about the types of trains set to be used, the location of the new lines and liquid and waste management.

Consultation firm PPIC Co Ltd was chosen to cooperate with the project’s coordinators to help implement any suggestions raised in the ESIA report.

The ministry said the railway track will be built along Charles de Gaulle boulevard, Monireth boulevard, Russian boulevard, Veng Sreng road, National Highway 1 and Tomnup Kob Srov road.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra, Ly Borin, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and Var Sim Sorya, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman, declined to comment on the project.

Seng Kry, the deputy director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Environment Department, who attended Monday’s meeting, confirmed that the railway’s construction will begin this year, but the project’s cost is still unknown.

“The construction will start after the ESIA study is completed,” he said.

Egypt signs Agreement with Japanese Rail Supplier Nippon Koei for Cairo Metro’s Line-4

Tokyo-based Japan International Cooperation Agency has agreed to finance half of the estimated $4bn required for the first phase of Cairo Metro Line 4

CAIRO: Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation for the systems and signalling package for the first phase of Cairo Metro’s Line 4.

The final contract has yet to be signed, a source familiar with the project tells MEED.

NAT received two bids for the contract in August last year. One team comprises Mitsubishi Corporation and the local Orascom Construction, and another team comprises Hitachi and Sumitomo, both of Japan.

NAT re-tender

NAT is preparing to retender the two civil works contracts for the scheme.

A consultancy team led by Japan’s Nippon Koei is understood to have completed the revised terms of reference and is preparing the tender documents for the two packages.

Last March, NAT requested Tokyo-based Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) – which has agreed to provide financing for the project – to reject the bid for the civil works package because of the “high price of the submitted bid”, and asked for the contract to be retendered.

MEED reported last year that the first civil works package for the scheme was to be imminently awarded to the sole bidder, a joint venture (JV) of Japan’s Taisei Corporation and local firm Orascom Construction.

In January, the bid for the second civil works package was still undergoing technical evaluation. The Taisei/Orascom JV is also the sole bidder for that contract.

NAT structured the first phase of Cairo Metro Line 4 into four packages. In addition to the two civil works packages, there is one package each for the rolling stock and electro-mechanical and signalling systems.

In July, NAT cancelled the tender for the metro’s rolling stock package. The authority cited Mitsubishi Corporation’s price submission as “higher than the estimated value defined for such works”.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation was the sole bidder for the rolling stock package.

JICA has agreed to finance about half of the estimated $4bn required for the implementation of the first phase of Cairo Metro’s Line 4.

It is understood JICA has already concluded the loan agreement for an initial $300m, with the remaining loan value to be released “based on the project’s progress”.

Hitachi Rail wins $435.5m Contract in UAE’s Etihad Rail project

Etihad Rail has awarded Hitachi Rail a $432m (AED1.6 billion) power systems and integration contract on the second stage of the UAE’s national rail network.

DUBAI: UAE-based Etihad Rail has awarded an AED1.6bn ($435.5m) systems and integration contract to Hitachi Rail STS for stage two of its rail network.

Etihad Rail will be the first national freight and passenger railway network connecting the seven emirates of the UAE. The 1,200km railway project is estimated to cost AED40bn ($11bn).

The second stage of the project involves the construction of a 605km rail link between Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia and Fujairah on the east coast.

Hitachi Rail will design and build the subsystems along with other stage two works and contracts.

The Japanese company will also be responsible for the management of uptime and operation tests.

Running for a length of 800km, the Hitachi Rail STS power system will become the longest distribution network in the country. It will handle power of 11kV (medium-high power).

The trains that will serve on the network will feature the European signalling system (ETCS level 2) to ensure that they move across GCC countries without halting at the borders.

They will also be equipped with a Crisis Management Unit to communicate with different organisations in the UAE such as the police and civil defence when required.

Equipped with a communications system and modern control centre, the main centre of operations will be located at Faya and another will be located at Mirfa.

Etihad Rail will also install cameras and enforce other security procedures with the police departments in the seven emirates.

The contract was signed by Etihad Rail CEO Shadi Malak and the Hitachi Rail STS CEO Christian Andy.

Japan Ambassador Akihiko Nakajima and Etihad Rail Chairman Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan were also present when agreement were signed.

In June, Etihad Rail awarded contracts to connect Abu Dhabi and Dubai with a rail line.

With a total value of AED4.4bn ($1.2bn), the two contracts encompass civil and track works included in Packages B and C for stage two of the national railway network.

In November, the UAE Ministry of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance signed an agreement to fund the second stage of Etihad Rail national rail network.

Hitachi Rail unveils concepts for ‘Train Station of Future’

Hitachi Rail to introduce Robots that will use AI technology to direct passengers to their trains and other amenities.

Rolling stock manufacturer Hitachi Rail has published concepts for ‘train stations of the future’, which could use robots and digital technology to improve passenger experiences.

The company envisions trains stations that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enable robots to guide passengers around the station.

This follows Hitachi Rail’s announcement that it is testing prototype technology that may prevent long queues at ticket-barriers.

The technology underwent public trials at Haneda airport in Tokyo in 2017. Named EMIEW3, the robot could converse in multiple languages.

It used artificial intelligence (AI) and communicated with the central computer system to receive information about different activities in the airport.

This technology can ensure that the stations are cleaner and greener. It hopes to encourage rail travel by supporting passengers who rarely use trains.

The company said customer’s experience will be personalised with the help of real-time information.

Hitachi also plans to introduce battery-powered trains to replace the existing diesel fleets.

Hitachi Rail sales director Nick Hughes said: “Britain’s train stations could be revolutionised in the years to come as we harness the latest breakthroughs in robotic and artificial intelligence technology.

“Our concept of a smart station is already becoming a reality, with much of this technology already being trialled in Japan and Europe”.

In March, Hitachi Rail Italy (HRI) secured a contract from Denmark’s Metroselskabet to supply eight new autonomous trains for M1/M2 lines of the Copenhagen Metro.

The deal, valued at around €50m, also includes the delivery of signalling and communication systems.

What stops Private Trains from running on Indian Railway tracks?

Private Trains can put Railways on the right track! 

NEW DELHI: There are apprehensions about private trains in some quarters. The main one is that private players will fix the fare so high that the common man cannot travel anymore by rail. Before the opening of the skies for private players, the monopolised prices of Air India never allowed the proliferation of air travel even among the upper middle class, let alone the middle class. The entry of low-cost private airlines changed that.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways but still an entity in its own right, will run two passenger trains, to begin with. Before Independence, the Indian rail network and operations was managed by various private entities. The freight trains have already been operated by private players in competition with the Railways. So, strictly speaking, introducing private passenger trains is not a revolutionary step per se. However, given the fact that the Railways has been operated since Independence as a department, not even as a PSU of the Government of India with no scope for private players to pitch in, this is a much-needed positive change.

Since the Railways enjoyed the monopoly of running the rail mode, it cared little for the introduction of state-of-the-art technologies in infrastructure, integrated system and rolling stock on a par with the countries which are advanced in rail transport. When private bus operators copy rail transport in terms of the smooth ride by introducing the multi-axle Volvo and Scania buses, introduced sleeper coaches in buses and even provided chemical toilets, the Railways remained predominantly stagnant in terms of quality of service offered to the passengers on board, except in premium trains such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi.

The state road transport corporations introduced multi-axle Volvo and Scania buses in their fleet to counter omni bus operators monopolising premium- segment passengers. The arrival of private players in air travel in the 2000s increased the competition, reduced the ticket price and thereby increased the volume of domestic passenger traffic. Had the roads and skies not been opened for private players, our road and air services would have remained lackadaisical even today.

There are many apprehensions about private trains in some quarters and let us explore how far they are correct. The first one is that the private players will fix the fare so high that the common people cannot travel anymore by rail. Before the opening of the skies for private players, the monopolised prices of Air India never allowed the proliferation of air travel even among the upper middle class, let alone the middle class.

Only after the entry of low-cost private airlines did the metamorphosis take place.  As a result, domestic air passengers went up from 1.4 crore in 2000 to 13.90 crore in 2018, which is a ten-fold increase. It is left to private train operators to strategise how they will achieve profitability even in the presence of price war and attract passengers by giving value for money.

The next apprehension is over the safety and security of passengers while travelling by private trains. Like the Railways, the private players may also lease trains from

the Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC). Else, they can bring their state-of-the-art trains which consume less energy and provide a smooth ride even at higher speeds with minimal noise and vibrations.

However, they can operate their trains only after the RDSO (Research Designs and Standards Organisation) certification. The private players may hire drivers from anywhere but only after certification from the Railways for their fitness to be loco pilots, should they be allowed to steer the trains. The high standards of the Railways and RDSO with respect to safety issues is well known and the Railways or organisations under its aegis never compromised on safety standards.

The next apprehension is that the existing railway employees will lose their jobs if private trains are introduced. The Railways does not have excess running staff and hence the question of railwaymen losing their jobs with the introduction of private trains has no basis.

On the contrary, the loco pilots and guards who opted either for voluntary retirement or superannuated have no bar in becoming loco pilots in private trains, if they are fit enough to do the job. This can be a starter for implementing the suggestion by the Chief Economic Advisor in the recent Economic Survey to increase the age of retirement. Moreover, with better services provided on board and expansion of many value-added services by the private trains, these trains would generate employment opportunities for the youngsters.

Transport is essentially a service, where the operators should continue to innovate to introduce new value-added services to make the travel a pleasant experience rather than a chore for the passengers. This is next to impossible, when there is monopoly in running rail passenger trains.

The Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) of the Railways is not answerable for any of the inconvenience passengers face during rail travel today. If passengers fall ill during a journey or there is some serious setback in passengers’ health, there is not even a nurse to administer first aid, let alone getting full medical care. The private players can be very imaginative and offer services which have never been thought through by the Railways such as assured pick-up and drop services to the stations, facilitating senior and super senior citizens in boarding and deboarding trains, spick and span on-board environment and emergency medical aid that clearly distinguish their services from that of others and that ultimately improves the travelling experience for the train passengers.

Despite commonalities such as vagaries in climate, congestion in runway and flying as per ATC instructions, the punctuality of private airlines is about 80 per cent, whereas it is about 60 per cent for Air India. IRCTC already announced that if the train is delayed by an hour or two, the passengers would be given back Rs 100 and Rs 250, respectively. Have we ever got such an assurance on punctuality from the Railways ever?

After the announcement of private trains by the IRCTC, the initial public offerings (IPO) announced by the IRCTC received tremendous response from qualified institutional buyers (QIB), high net worth individuals (HNI), retail investors and employees as well. The booking of tickets in

these private trains has also been very good. What more proof is required to showcase the reception for private trains by the people of India?

When Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he posed a question during a meeting: “When private buses can run on Indian roads, when private airlines can fly in the Indian skies, what stops private trains from running on our railway tracks?”

The Railways took an enormously long time to realise what Modi had envisaged. However, the Railways has come of age and it is better late than never.

Voyants Solutions industrializes BIM Workflows to design iconic station for Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: Voyants Solutions Private Limited has been selected to design an iconic new Gwalior Railway Station that would complement the existing station and attract tourism. The firm used BIM models and workflows to optimize building design and incorporate existing structures. Voyants Solutions designed a structure and development plan that specifically accommodated the challenging requirement of keeping the existing station fully operational during construction.

Like the city of Gwalior, the railway station will be a combination of new and old. The station sits between the old city of Gwalior to the west and the new settlement to the east. The proposed design embraces the old heritage station, which remains a focal point, and adds a light-weight shell structure based on the arch of the existing building. These new modular three-dimensional arches will bring light and new life to the complex. The project designers faced unique constraints to their design since the station will remain fully operational with all platforms open during construction. Voyants Solutions determined that it could meet these specifications with a framed structure, where multiple components could be fabricated off-site and placed in position with the help of cranes. The construction team would cast the pile foundations in-situ, using auger boring and self-compacting concrete.

Voyants Solutions constructed a complete BIM model using Bentley software. They designed the structure in MicroStation and STAAD.Pro, then created a digital engineering model in OpenBuildings Designer. The design required parametric modeling, 3D modeling, and animation. Given the parametrically controlled model, a base component was generated and informed based on site constraints. The complete BIM model made it easy to understand design requirements and optimize project results. Sustainability was a key feature of the design. The team used building energy modeling technology to optimize natural light and minimize the heat gain of the building. By incorporating large overhangs, shading features, and natural ventilation, the firm reduced the heat gain of the building by 40 percent.

A team of five designers at Voyants Solutions prepared the plan set and 3D model for this project in one month. Voyants Solutions estimated labor-hour savings of 30 percent for this proposal and a 500 percent ROI for the project. Bentley software helped the organization industrialize its BIM workflows to quickly deliver a high-quality design with a cohesive scheme.

Upendar Rao Kollu, managing director at Voyants Solutions, said, “Innovative designs need innovative applications. Bentley applications have allowed the multidiscipline team to work on a single platform and create iconic designs.” The Voyants Solutions team succeeded in creating a visually stunning and functional design for the Gwalior Railway Station that will improve passenger-related amenities, serve as a community hub, and contribute to the economic development of the local community.

Railways plans separate pricing mechanism for Steel Rails, may invite Foreign Firms

Indian Railways had in 2018-19 procured 100,000 tonnes of rails from Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL), the first from the private sector in at least three decades. Now Govt may invite foreign firms to set up rail-making units in India

NEW DELHI: The government might have a separate pricing mechanism for procurement of rails from private steel companies by Indian Railways (IR). According to multiple sources, the ministry of steel will be taking a decision on this.

IR had in 2018-19 procured 100,000 tonnes of rails from Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL), the first from the private sector in at least three decades. Early this year, JSPL won another order, for Rs 665 crore from Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL, a company under the railways ministry) to supply 89,042 tonnes of rails.

The central government is considering a global tender for manufacturing of rails. Companies would be asked to set up production units as part of the ‘Make in India’ project.

“With (government-owned) Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL) unlikely to meet demand from the railways, there are plans for a global tender,” said a source in the know.

The government is likely to ask for an Expression of Interest (EoI) from global companies. The major entities who could take part include Voestalpine Schienen, Sumitomo Corporation, Angang Group International, East Metals, CRM Hong Kong, British Steel, France Rail and Atlantic Steel, says the source.

In November 2018, Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL), a project development subsidiary of the railways, was given exemption from the mandatory local sourcing clause while procuring steel rails. This exemption was required under the provisions of the Domestically Manufactured Iron and Steel Policy for government procurement.

According to estimates, the requirement of rails for this financial year would be around 1.7 million tonnes (mt). Of this, SAIL has committed around 1.35 mt. The railways has so far placed orders for 130,000 tonnes worth around Rs 650 crore to JSPL. Sources said there is likely to be a shortage of at least 300,000 tonnes, which the government wants to meet through the proposed global tender.

“Regular supply from JSPL is likely to start from March. The product is now going through various quality checks,” said an RVNL official. He said the company was unaware about any planned EoI.

In 2018-19, SAIL had supplied 985,000 tonnes of rails worth Rs 5,900 crore. It has said it is confident of increasing this by 37 per cent in 2019-20.

“At present, Indian manufacturers — SAIL and JSPL — can go up to 1.5-2 mt in terms of capacity. A lot will depend on how much they can produce, based on the railways requirement,” the RVNL official added.

The railways and SAIL have been in a dispute regarding quality of steel. This was after a report from a Transportation Technology Transfer team from the University of Illinois that the tensile strength of existing tracks was “not adequate” for 25-tonne axle load operations. The railways wanted an increase in the tensile strength from the current 880 mega pascals (MPa) to 1,080 MPa. A three-member panel was then set up on the issue.

Railway’s Land Lease terms and monopoly concern could derail CONCOR sale

NEW DELHI: An attempt to privatise Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) could falter over creation of a private monopoly, competition concerns and the terms set for the land leased by Indian Railways to the rail hauler to build terminal infrastructure, says experts.

“You cannot deny the fact that CONCOR amongst all the other inter-modal operators is a dominant player. Strategic disinvestment resulting in a new private entity becoming a dominant player is not good from the market point of view. It will lead to a new private monopoly being created out of it,” an executive with a top consulting firm said, asking not to be named.

Besides, CONCOR terminals have been built on land leased from Indian Railways on a per container license fee basis. For instance, CONCOR currently pays about Rs 1,160 per container to Indian Railways as land license fee for the Tughlakabad inland container depot (ICD), its flagship facility near Delhi. The license fee rises annually in the ratio of the percentage increase in CONCOR’s net profit.

In comparison, terminals run by existing private container train operators are built on land purchased from the market.

There are a few instances where private operators have leased small parcels of land from Indian Railways to provide connection from their terminals to the nearest railway network. For this, the license fee is computed on the basis of the circle rate – the rate at which the government recognises the land value for that site and operators pay lease rentals per annum at 7% on the capital value as per circle rate.

CONCOR currently gets land from the Indian Railways at a concessional rate as compared to other inter-modal operators. If this is given on a platter to a new private operator, it will result in the economics of the business going squarely in favour of the new entrant. While people who have slogged it out and lost money during the last 12 years (the sector was thrown open to private operators in 2007) will suffer further at the hands of a new player, the consultant said.

“So, from a competition point of view, it’s a wrong move to privatise CONCOR unless the land lease terms are re-worked,” he stated.

It will not only be in the best interest of Indian Railways to “re-work” the land lease terms post privatisation of CONCOR, but is also in the interest of the sector to bring everyone on par, says industry sources.

“Railway land is the biggest issue facing the strategic disinvestment of CONCOR. The deal cannot destroy the basic rules of the game laid down by the concession agreement signed between the private operators and the Indian Railways in 2007, which provides a level playing field to all. We tolerated CONCOR’s dominant position all along because its land leases are very old and pre-dates the 2007 policy. But, going forward, if that land goes into private hands, then it will be a completely destructive move,” said the chief executive of a private container train operating company.

At current market price, the government’s 54.8% stake in CONCOR could fetch at least Rs 20,000 crore including control premium.

“If that kind of money has to be invested in buying CONCOR, it would mean huge amount of debt would be involved. Whether that kind of debt can be serviced by the profit earned is a moot question,” the consultant mentioned earlier said.

“Railways can continue with the same system of charging land license fee, then the other operators will be aggrieved and they would take legal action. If they don’t, then the license fee would have to be increased to market levels but the profitability will go down. So, the chances of putting that kind of money at a lower profit would be dim. I feel it is a very difficult proposition to find buyers for CONCOR,” he added.

India among Top-7 Nations that produce own Train Sets

Asserting Indian Railways’ Make-in-India approach, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has recently said that India is “one amongst only 7 countries in the world which make their own train sets”.

NEW DELHI: Proud achievement for Indian Railways! India is placed among the top countries in world that manufacture their own train sets. Asserting Indian Railways’ ‘Make-in-India’ approach, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has recently said that India is “one amongst only 7 countries in the world which make their own train sets”. Addressing a gathering, Goyal said India is becoming a global power. India has been able to make its own train sets, Goyal said adding that this became possible since the central government is working in “proactive mode as well as in a transparent fashion”.

Goyal stated that India is producing ‘modern trains’ like Vande Bharat Express. “Indian Railways has already started Vande Bharat Express from Delhi to Varanasi. During the Navratras, Indian Railways was hoping to start it from Delhi to Vaishno Devi, Katra too,” Goyal said.

Vande Bharat Express is a semi-high speed engineless train set that has already generated export interest from various countries. Indian Railways is currently working on a plan to manufacture more energy-efficient versions of the Vande Bharat Express in both chair car and sleeper versions. According to the plans, by 2022, 40 such train sets will be ready for the Indian Railways network.

Recently, Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry has also taken the decision to replace all conventional ICF-design railway coaches with modern Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches. The Railway Ministry also informed Parliament it has started the process of acquiring technology to produce aluminium body coaches in its Indian Railways factories. A total of 411 pairs of trains are operating with LHB coaches on Indian Railways’ network. From the financial year 2018-19 onwards, the Indian Railways production units are only manufacturing LHB coaches, the Ministry said.

Indian Railways’ Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai is among the largest coach manufacturers in the world. It has the capability of producing passenger coaches, semi high-speed train sets like Vande Bharat Express. Recently, The Modern Coach Factory (MCF), located in Uttar Pradesh’s Raebareli, created a record by manufacturing a total of 554 LHB coaches in the first four months of the current financial year.

Indian Railways is hoping to streamline the coach production process further by corporatising the manufacturing units and merging them under a single entity, the Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company.

Railways to use ISS system to detect Terrorists: DG RPF

NEW DELHI: In view of persisting terror threats, Integrated Security System (ISS) is being installed at several railway stations to detect the suspected terrorists and identify the unattended luggage from the railway premises as well as the train coaches.

In an interview with IANS, Arun Kumar, Director General of RPF said, “Other than the deployment of the RPF and the RPSF (Railway Protection Security Force) we have launched a commando batallion known as CORAS commando.”

Kumar said that the RPF is now harnessing technology in a big way as far as railway safety is concerned.

“Under the ISS, we have installed number of CCTV cameras at number of places, in train coaches, railway stations and we are going to analyse the feed from the CCTV cameras, using this artificial intelligence. This will provide us important feedback for the safety of the railway premises,” he said.

“We have used the face detection technology as pilot project in Bengaluru and now it has also been installed at New Delhi railway station and several other stations. In the face detection system we also have a software to collect the feedback from the CCTV (Close circuit Television) cameras. We feed the software with the known criminals and terrorists sketches and photographs.”

“And when that particular person comes in the camera, it gives alert to the system installed in the control room,” Kumar said.

The RPF Director General said that the system has been installed at over 202 stations including New Delhi railway station.

The national carrier has planned to install CCTV cameras at all the major stations to keep an eagle eye on the miscreants and the terrorist activities on the rail network.

According to the railways, the national transporter carries about 1.2 million passengers daily on its vast network of over 62,000 km.

Kumar said that besides the face detection system, the RPF is trying to use many other softwares to get a better analysis of the entire safety system.

The DG said that the RPF has also introduced the body-worn cameras for the patrolling teams so as to avoid untoward incidents on the station premises.

A body-worn cameras are the devices connected to the uniforms of the personnel to record the incidents happening around.

To a question over the luggage and other objects lying unattended for several hours at the railway platforms and in the railway premises, he said, “We have a software connected via artificial intelligence to identify the luggage lying unattended for over 30 minutes on the rail premises.”

“When any unattended object or luggage is detected, the artificial intelligence system alerts us, and our teams deployed at the station collect those luggage for inspection,” he said.

Sharing other measures the RPF was taking to ensure safety and security of the passengers and the railway property, he said baggage screening system and biometric facility for the passengers travelling on long-distance trains are also planned in the coming days.

“We are putting the system into place and soon we will have the biometric reading of all the passengers on the stations they will board the trains,” he said.

To a question over the security of the Vande Bharat Express going to Jammu and Kashmir in the backdrop of the revocation of Article 370, the Director General said, “For the Vande Bharat Express we have done security audit of the route.”

He said three rail divisions fall from Delhi to Katra i.e. Delhi, Ambala and Ferozepur. “And accordingly with the help of the local police we have taken the security measures,” he said.

Kumar also mentioned about the incidents of the stone pelting on the first Vande Bharat Express during its trial run when several of its window shields were damaged.

“In the first Vande Bharat Express we witnessed the incidents of the stone pelting so we have done community policing initiative and tried to control that,” he said.

“Beside the community policing, the new train also has the CCTV cameras installed in the coaches which will also help in improving the security system of the train,” the RPF officer added.

Indian Railways provisionally selects 50 routes for private operators

The private operators will run the trains on routes allocated to them on payment of applicable charges.

NEW DELHI: The Railways on Friday provisionally selected 50 key routes on which trains by private operators can be run and asked its zones to examine the feasibility of the routes.

The decision was taken in a high-level meeting of Railway Board members which was chaired by member traffic. Principal chief operations managers of the six railway zones – northern, central, south eastern, north central, south central and southern railway also attended the meeting.

At the meeting, introduction of modern passenger trains by private operators, who would be selected through a transparent Request for Quote (RFQ) and Request for Proposal (RFP) process, was discussed.

The private operators will run the trains on routes allocated to them on payment of applicable charges.

“For this purpose, 50 origin/destination pairs/routes were provisionally discussed. Zonal railways will examine the feasibility of introducing additional and new trains keeping in view the infrastructural projets and capacity enhancement works which are underway and those which are in the pipeline,” the official said.

The need for developing coaching terminals commensurate with line capacity enhancement to meet the requirement of introducing and operating additional trains was also discussed in the meeting.

The railways on Monday announced the introduction of IRCTC’s Tejas Express train from Delhi to Lucknow which will run six days a week except Tuesdays starting October 5.

This is the first train that will be fully run by the railways’ subsidiary, IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation), and is the national transporter’s first step towards privatising operations of some trains.

IRCTC is yet to announce the operation date of its second train — the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Tejas Express.

Earlier, in an internal note, railway board had said private operators would be considered for inter-city, long-haul trains as well as suburban routes.

A peek into the Indian Railways’ blueprint to roll out private trains

The Indian Railways (IR) is set to embark on a new journey by embracing private passenger trains and divesting its near-total monopoly. The plan, as it stands now, is ambitious enough to change the very landscape of the railway network and alter the government-run transporter’s basic tenet of overarching control on trains, tracks and manpower.

People might soon have the option to travel on a swanky private train instead of waiting for the one operated by the government transport behemoth to arrive at the platform. The concept of waiting list for tickets might also become history in at least some routes as there would be more trains, if the IR’s plans are implemented.

In New Delhi’s Rail Bhawan, the IR is getting ready with a set of bidding documents to invite private train operators — including global players — to run trains and fix their own fares in 150 routes. The blueprint, sets the deadline of late 2020 for awarding the contracts so that the new train-sets can hit the tracks by 2023-24.

Private companies already operate and run container trains in India. But passenger operations have been the preserve of the IR. The plan to allowing private players in passenger operations won’t be a piecemeal exercise, going by the IR’s plans. Private operators might even be allowed to bring in their own loco-drivers, though with a caveat that the drivers will have to be certified by the IR for security and safety reasons.

“The railways will have 150 private trains, to begin with,” says Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav in an exclusive interview on the introduction of private trains. “We will run those in Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah corridors and also in other viable stretches. There will be a regulator to decide on disputes on routes, fares et al.”

The operators will be allowed to either import coaches and locomotives or to get those on lease from the IR, he adds.

RailNews spoke with two other senior officers connected with the development to understand the nitty-gritty of the groundbreaking initiative of the transport behemoth — the fourth largest in terms of network (68,000 route-km) after the US, China and Russia. The IR, the officials say, will take a haulage charge from the private operators for using its platforms, tracks, signalling and other infrastructure. Electricity charge will be calculated separately so as to give incentives to operators who bring in new-age trains that consume less power.

There is no clarity as yet on which global railway operators are showing interests in running train in India. The IR hasn’t publicly spelt out the conditions for the private entry. But a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows the initiative may straightway fetch the IR Rs 16,000 crore in private investments. If, as Yadav says, 150 private trains are introduced and each has 16 coaches, it would make 2,400 coaches in total. Assuming each coach costs Rs 6.5-7 crore, according to industry estimate, the IR should be able to attract Rs 15,600-16,800 crore in private investments.

The IR’s latest train — Vande Bharat, or Train 18 as it was earlier called — has 16 coaches. It was manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) under the Make in India banner and was inaugurated on February 15. The semi-high speed train can reach 160 km an hour, had automatic sliding doors and other latest technologies that set it apart. Though it received wide publicity, the train faced criticism for consuming more electricity. It also sparked differences between the Indian Railways’ electrical and mechanical wings over issues related to weight and other specifications.

The private trains will most likely be run by a consortium of train operators, rolling-stock suppliers and investors, says Harsh Dhingra, a management consultant who had earlier served as chief country representative of Bombardier in India. Else it might be difficult to get the technical, operational and financial expertise together for a successful operation. “A supplier like Bombardier can at best be a part of a special purpose vehicle, but the lead has to be taken by a train operator,” Dhingra adds.

Deutsche Bahn AG (Germany), SNCF (France), MTR (Singapore), Virgin Trains (UK), First (UK) and Renfe (Spain) are among the famous train operators across the world.

The IR is likely to allow public sector train companies, like SNCF, to take part in the bidding.

The government had on its part, as was articulated by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in the Lok Sabha last month, said it would place private trains under the larger bracket of public-private partnership. After all, tracks, signalling, stations and other infrastructure will continue to be with the IR. And the government won’t give away its existing trains to private players.

Dhingra also anticipates Indian companies directly or indirectly connected to railway networks — for example, Tata, Adani and Larson and Tubro — may join the bandwagon. The India managing director of Talgo, Spain-based high-speed passenger train maker, Subrat Nath says he has been receiving enquiries from Indian companies on a possible tie-up. “Our company is bullish on India. If the Indian Railways offers buzzing routes for private operators, why not? We would like to be part of a consortium and bid for it. We feel the early birds will have profitable businesses.” He adds that Talgo India has the potential to grow bigger than its parent company, Talgo Spain.

The IR has tested Talgo trains on its tracks, but the Spanish train manufacturer is yet to make any business from India. For private operators, the key to profit will be through routes and time slots. They will have to get routes that have heavy passenger traffic but ensure there are no delays, for quick turnaround of trains.

As it stands today, the IR may bid out several routes and time slots in the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata corridors for private players, apart from handpicking other viable routes such as Bengaluru-Chennai, Bengaluru-Mysuru, Secunderabad-Vizag, Nagpur-Secunderabad and Howrah-Vizag, according to officials in the know.

The selection of routes won’t be random. IR has estimated that both the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) — connecting mainly Delhi and Kolkata and Delhi and Mumbai — would be ready by December 2021. That means, 90% of the freight traffic on the existing corridors, which carry passengers and freight, will shift to the DFCs, where 120 trains will run daily at 70-80 km per hour, up from 40 now. Also, in the next four years, the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata passenger corridors will be upgraded for trains to run at 160 kmph, from 130 now. The cabinet has given approval to upgrade the tracks. So, by 2023-24, the IR will need a large number of semi-high-speed trains to fill up the void in the passenger corridor.

The private operators are expected to play a role here. An IR official says busy routes other those in the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata corridors too need to be put out for bidding to woo big train operators. After all, bigger players will enter into the Indian railway market only if they see volumes. The initiative makes sound financial logic for the IR, as private trains will not erode money from its exchequer.

There is no doubt that the IR’s financial health continues to be a concern. Its earnings have not improved. Besides, 63% of its expenditure is now incurred on account of salary and other allowances (40%) and pension (23%), according to the budget estimate of 2019-20. Fuel accounts for 15%.

No wonder, the operating ratio of the IR was 96.2% in 2018-19, which is marginally better than 98.4% in 2017-18. That means, the IR uses more than Rs 96 of every Rs 100 it earns for its day-to-day expenses. This leaves aside virtually nothing to re-invest.

Given this situation, there is an argument that it would make sense for the IR to get private players instead of going ahead with its plan to replace 43,000 outdated ICF coaches with Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) ones. Not only will the IR struggle to find the money for this replacement, but LHB coaches are an outdated technology globally, say experts. Private trains, on the other hand, will bring in newer coaches and the latest technologies. At present, LHB coaches are used in trains such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi.

The introduction of private passenger trains, however, is not going to be easy considering the potential opposition from railway trade unions and political parties. Though the IR has for the last 13 years allowed private players to operate container trains on its tracks, the very words “privatisation” and “private train” sit uneasily among a section of the railway fraternity. The first hurdle for the IR would be to convince its own workers and trade unions that getting private trains won’t rob them of their jobs. The IR has a staff strength of a little over 1.2 million against the sanctioned strength of 1.5 million. The fear among the workers is that the entry of private train operators will curtail their strength even further.

“We will oppose any move to privatise the railways,” says Shiva Gopal Mishra, general secretary of All India Railwaymen’s Federation. “Why should we get trains from private operators when we have quality trains such as Shatabdi and Vande Bharat? Had trade unions not been there, the railways would have long been a loss-making entity, just like Air India.”

The trade unions are also threatening nation-wide protests. The move to invite private operators, once it is announced, may witness massive political opposition as well.

Interestingly, the IR was during the major part of the British Raj developed and operated by private companies such as East Indian Railway Company, Great Indian Peninsula Railway and the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway, among others. But it has been under the Government of India’s control since 1924. After 1947, there was no attempt to bring in private passenger trains, though foreign companies with Indian partners were allowed to run civilian airlines.

So what will be the impact of private trains? Statistically speaking, the introduction of 150 private trains is unlikely to upset the functioning of the humongous Indian railway apparatus that operates 13,542 passenger trains a day and carries 23 million passengers. Private trains will account for just 1.1% of passenger trains a day. Yet, the deployment of 150 technically superior and faster train-sets will give the IR a facelift. Punctuality is also likely to see a major improvement.

After all, if one Vande Bharat Express had caught the imagination of the entire nation, imagine what 150 stylish ones will do.

Five Questions on Private Trains

Vivek Sahai, a former Railway Board chairman, has posed these queries to Indian Railways on its plans to start private trains:

1. IRCTC was created for better catering services. Has it been selected to operate trains because it has achieved that objective?
2. If private trains are introduced, who will control the fare? Also, why has railways not been able to raise passenger fares?
3. Will profitable routes be given to private operators?
4. Why is railways only planning 160-kmph trains? Why not 200-kmph trains?
5. Private trains may be a success in Japan, but what is the guarantee the same model will work in India? Has our purchasing power reached a level it can sustain trains with better amenities but also higher fares?

IRCTC IPO: Railways Public Offering Oversubscribed 111 Times

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways Public Sector Undertaking Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) has made a sparkling debut on the public markets in three days of its initial public offering (IPO).

The shares have been oversubscribed 111.85 times. While portions allocated for qualified institutional buyers were oversubscribed 108.79 times, retail investors 14.65 times and employees 5.79 times, the IPO was most in-demand among non-institutional investors who oversubscribed it 354.52 times.

  • The shares were oversubscribed 111.85 times.
  • On the opening day of the bidding process, 81% of the shares had been subscribed.
  • The investors bid for over 225 Cr shares of the company.

On the opening day of the bidding process (September 30), 81% of the shares had been subscribed. The IPO, whose price band had been fixed at INR 315-320 per share, closed on October 3. The issue comprised an offer for sale of 2,01,60,000 shares and is part of the government’s divestment process in public sector undertakings.

As per the data on NSE, investors bid for over 225 Cr shares of the company and bid INR 72K Cr at the upper price band. The government will hold a 87.4% stake in IRCTC after the IPO.

IRCTC manages ticket selling and catering services for the national railway service. The company was incorporated on September 27, 1999, as a public limited company. It is the only entity authorised by the Indian Railways to provide catering services on board trains, sell railway tickets online as well as packaged drinking water at railway stations and trains in India. It has also diversified into other business segments like e-catering, executive lounges and budget hotels.

The company claims to have a transaction volume of more than 25 Mn per month and 7.2 Mn logins per day and about 800K tickets booked every day through IRCTC website and Rail Connect.

Over 1.4 Mn passengers use Indian railways every day, with over 71.42% of the tickets booked online. From FY2014-2019, online bookings grew at an annual rate of 12.5%, making IRCTC one of the few public sector companies that achieved steady growth, among losses in other units.

This listing is a part of the finance ministry’s decision of strategic disinvestment of public sector undertakings (PSU) to reach the target of $1.5 Tn (INR 1.05 K Cr) as income from disinvestment in FY 2019-20. It has managed to generate close to INR 12 K Cr through strategic disinvestment drive. The ministry also believed that the potential of these entities can be discovered better by strategic investors.

All delayed rail projects to be finished by 2022: MoS (Railways)

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways, which has witnessed delays in completion of several important projects, is aiming to finish all of them by 2022, on the occasion of 75th Independence Day. It also sees the option of allowing private operators to run trains as an opportunity to provide world class services.

In an interview with IANS, Minister of State for Railways Suresh C. Angadi said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed that all the pending projects and works be completed by 2022. We are focusing on completing pending works, like doubling and tripling of tracks, electrification, installation of CCTVs and signalling system upgrade.”

“New projects will be taken up only after completing them,” Angadi said.

The railways has witnessed delay in several projects, like building dedicated freight corridor, electrification and doubling of tracks in many parts of the country.

When asked about giving trains to private operators, the Minister cited the example of private TV channels and said, “The entry of private players will generate more jobs and investment opportunities. In the long run, a lot of development will follow due to the competition.”

In countries like China trains run at 400 kmph. But in India trains were not running even at 160 kmph, he said. “To compete with the world, we have to opt for investment from many sources. When a private company or people comes and invests in railways, it will create opportunities to develop economy,” he said.

According to the Railway Ministry, besides the Lucknow-New Delhi and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes being given to the IRCTC for operations, it’s mulling to allow private operators to run inter-city train services on 14 routes, 10 overnight and long-distance and four suburban trains.

The railways proposes to allow private operators on the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Jammu/Katra, Delhi-Howrah, Secunderabad-Hyderabad, Secunderabad-Delhi, Delhi-Chennai, Mumbai-Chennai, Howrah-Chennai and Howrah-Mumbai routes.

On opposition of the Congress and other parties to corporatisation and privatisation of railways’ manufacturing units, the Minister said, “The Congress never thought about development. It has always opposed development.”

“We have not got to think of the Congress, but development and competition, and let the economy grow and create employment opportunities,” Angadi said.

Citing examples, he said, the national highways remained undeveloped till the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government took it up and today even foreign countries were appreciating them.

The railways has proposed to corporatise Rae Bareli Modern Rail Coach factory in UP.

On the second Vande Bharat Express to J&K — almost eight months after Modi flaged off the first train from New Delhi to Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, in February — an evasive Angadi decided to turn his focus on praising the Prime Minister, his vision and policies.

“First of all I want to congratulate the Prime Minister for his vision. When he became the Prime Minister he thought of developing railways and improving economic corridor. When he launched the Vande Bharat Express to Varanasi, he felt why not it should reach Vaishno Devi. Thus, keeping in mind peoples’ faith and feeling he dedicated the Vande Bharat Express to Katra for Vaishno Devi pilgrims.”

The Minister did not forget to eulogize the BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for bold steps, like abrogation of Article 370. “It’s the beginning of a new era for J&K as Home Minister Shah has dedicated the train for J&K,” Angadi said.

On the railways’ investment plans in J&K, Angadi decided to take a long-winding political route without forgetting to bash the Congress and its politics.
On being pressed further on the issue, he said, “Not only railways but other ministries too have their plans. It (the development) will be demand-oriented.”

Angadi said 40 Vande Bharat trains were in the pipeline and would soon start operating to different locations.

There will be 150 Private Trains to start with: Chairman/Railway Board

“The railways will have 150 private trains to start with. We are still working on the routes that will go for bidding,” said the Railway Board chairman.

NEW DELHI: Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav makes it amply clear that the Indian Railways is readying bidding documents to bring in private train operators. In an interview with RailNews, Yadav explains why the railways needs private trains, and how and where these will be rolled out. Edited excerpts:

Why is the railways planning to bring in private trains?

By December 2021, we should be able to complete our dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) connecting Delhi and Mumbai, and Delhi and Howrah [Kolkata]. At present, the permissible maximum speed for freight trains is 60 kmph. But the DFCs are being developed for 100 kmph. All this would mean that 90% of freight traffic on these routes will shift to DFCs.

Meanwhile, the Union cabinet has approved nearly Rs 13,000 crore to upgrade the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata stretches for trains running at 160 kmph.

So, in four to five years, we will be able to run trains according to demand. There will be no waiting lists. But that will also mean that a large number of new trains will be required. The role of the private trains comes in here.

But the railways can also manufacture more trains and fill the gap. Why do we need private trains?

Private operators are expected to bring in their own trainsets, state-of-the-art technology and innovative ways of providing passenger amenities and finding new luggage-handling solutions.

To prove the concept of private train operations works, we recently handed over two luxurious rakes called Tejas to our own company, IRCTC. It is an experiment before allowing pure private operators. Now, IRCTC has announced value additions such as Rs 25 lakh insurance on every ticket, wheelchairs, home pick-up and delivery of luggage, etc. IRCTC can even pick you up from your home and drop you at the station. In Delhi and Lucknow (to be connected by the IRCTC-run train by October 4), passengers can also avail accommodation at retiring rooms.

How many private trains will there be? And where will they run?

The railways will have 150 private trains to start with. We are still working on the routes that will go for bidding. We will run these trains in the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah corridors and also in other viable stretches.

Will it be mandatory for private operators to manufacture coaches and locos in India?

During bidding, we will give options — import, buy rakes from an Indian company or from us. They can get coaches on lease too. But our expectation is that new types of trainsets will arrive.

How much investment are you expecting from private players? When will these trains start running?

We can’t give the exact investment numbers as yet. These are being worked out. We are hoping private trains should run by 2023-24. And for that to happen, the bidding process needs to be initiated soon.

But who will be the arbitrator if the railways fails to honour its commitments?

When private train operators are brought in, we will need a regulator. The regulator will take a call on disputes, including those on routes and fares.

But the railways has faced criticism for not being able to successfully run private container trains, which have been around for 13 years.

We regularly sit down with private container operators. Their problems are being sorted out. The operators feel they are unable to compete with Container Corporation of India. It is a railway PSU and a big player.

You have also decided to corporatise production units despite opposition from workers. Why?

The corporatisation of production units is essential because we will need more coaches and locomotives fit for 160 kmph. Once more autonomy is given, our production units will bring in new technology and produce rolling stocks for internal consumption and for export. There is a huge demand of rolling stocks from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Australia may also show interest. It has already imported some coaches.

We are debating whether we should have one holding company or two to club our eight production units. One argument is that we should have two PSUs — one for locos and one for coaches.

But trade unions are opposed to private trains. How will you deal with that situation?

Before taking a final decisions, we will consult all stakeholders, which include trade unions. We will ensure interests of railway employees are fully protected.

Pilot project to introduce Industry 4.0 launched at MCF/Raebareli by Railways

Full transition to the digital factory using ‘Industry 4.0’ across entire value chain from design to production will help enhance productivity hugely by providing insight into production process to take the decisions in real-time basis,” said a Railways official.

RAEBARELI: A pilot project for ushering in Industry 4.0 in the country has been launched at the Modern Coach Factory in Uttar Pradesh’s Raebareli district, the railways said on Saturday.

Industry 4.0, commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, is a name given to the current trend of automation, inter-connectivity and data exchange in manufacturing technologies to increase productivity.

Industry 4.0 is a complex cyber-physical system which synergies production with digital technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Analytics, Machine Learning and Cloud Computing.

The Ministry of Railways and the Department of Science and Technology have joined hands in partnership with IIT Kanpur for taking up a unique project on ‘Industry 4.0’. They launched the pilot project on Friday for implementation at the Modern Coach Factory, an official statement said.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Department of Science & Technology Ashutosh Sharma said that his department has recently launched a new programme ‘Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (ICPS)’ to foster and promote R&D in this emerging field of research.

He said about Rs 4,000 crore is expected to be spent in years to come in this area. Railway Board, Member Rolling Stock, Rajesh Agrawal said that the initiative is expected to make India an advanced Industrial economy with exponential growth in jobs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address in Houston on September 22 had highlighted the importance of ‘Industry 4.0’ in global economy and India’s advantage.

DB International operations seek Expert Solutions at 9th International Railway Summit

DB International Operations’ Chief Technology Officer, Simon Giovanazzi, will meet with expert solution providers at the 9th International Railway Summit, it has been announced. The summit, which takes place in Warsaw from 19-21 February 2020, offers key buyer companies the opportunity to receive free consultations for their project needs.

DB International Operations is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn Group dedicated to passenger and freight railway operations and maintenance projects outside of Europe. Deutsche Bahn Group is one of the leading providers of mobility and logistics services worldwide.

DB International Operations is an innovation driver with comprehensive technical and digital competence, offering customers operational services in addition to maintenance of infrastructure and rolling stock. The company operates in over 130 countries and have over 180 years of railway experience.

Simon Giovanazzi, Chief Technology Officer of Deutsche Bahn International Operations, will take part in bespoke pre-arranged one-to-one meetings with expert solution providers at the 9th International Railway Summit in Warsaw. Mr Giovanazzi is also the CEO of InfraView, a software company within Deutsche Bahn, which operates a supplier-independent diagnostic and analysis platform for railway data.

Organisations interested in learning more about International Railway Summit and about how they can participate in the event can visit http://www.irits.org or contact the organisers, IRITS Events

International Railway Summit is a meeting of senior executives representing the world’s key rail operators, rail infrastructure management companies, national and local governments, rolling stock manufacturers and a wide range of solution providers.

International Railway Summit provides a ‘matchmaking’ service between rail industry leaders (‘buyers’) and technical experts, based on buyer delegates’ project requirements and the proven expertise of large and small suppliers that we have carefully handpicked. Based on this matchmaking, buyer delegates attend one-to-one consultation sessions with suitable suppliers during the annual summit.

In addition to the one-to-one meetings, delegates also attend a conference programme given by key industry leaders and experts and network over lunches and dinners with their counterparts and industry colleagues from all over the world. International Railway Summit is hosted by IRITS Events. The 8th edition will take place in New Delhi, India on 20-22 November 2019. The 9th edition will be held in Warsaw, Poland on 19-21 February 2020.

About the International Railway Summit

The International Railway Summit is an exclusive meeting of the world’s key rail operators, national and local governments, and leading technical experts. Rail sector leaders receive free bespoke consultation from innovative experts, relevant to their future projects. The summit also offers a full conference programme, technical visits, and evening dinners, designed to forge lasting relationships between participants.

The 8th edition will take place in New Delhi, India on 20-22 November 2019. The 9th edition will be held in Warsaw, Poland on 19-21 February 2020. International Railway Summit is hosted by IRITS Events Ltd.

Nagpur Division to use new concrete technology to firm up hillocks in ghat section

NAGPUR: Central Railway is contemplating usage of a new concrete technology to firm up the hillocks that are prone to landslides in the ghat section of Nagpur Division. The work is planned along side laying third-line in Teegaon-Chinchoda section of 17 kms that cuts through Sahyadri Ghats of Nagpur-Itarsi section. The area is treacherous as falling boulders from mountains abutting the tracks pose danger, particularly more during the monsoon season, for passenger trains.

After much deliberation, Construction Organisation of Central Railway zeroed on geotextiles, the in thing in construction business these days for use in preventing boulders from falling off the mountains. Concrete canvas is basically known as Geosynthetic Cementitious Composite Mats (GCCMs) in technical term. Right now Railways is using the technology for extending life of track formations that could in long run cut down its maintenance costs. Railways are now deciding to hold trials in Nagpur Division by using concrete impregnated fabric, the technical terminology, and if successful in preventing slippage of loose boulders here then same could be used in other ghat sections, said the railway officials.

Railways were on lookout for reliable technique to minimise threats of disruption in ghat section and is preparing to start slope protection work. As per details, the Construction Organisation has decided to even the hillock surface before the fabric is affixed on it with help of screws. The thin film would be put up at certain height that would be decided at time of execution of work given the challenging conditions that exist in the ghat. Officials further added that at present it is difficult to estimate how much height they could go but given the high cost of this new fast setting concrete, Railways are determined to go all out for testing the utility of the fabric.

Once the concrete fabric is fitted it is then allowed to hydrate to form a thin transparent wall. Compared to conventional concrete, geotextiles offers use of ease and can be carried on site easily. They came in rolls similar to cable bundles and two persons can lift it without much effort and it is then rolled out and applied on the surface. The wall is then sprayed with certain quantity of water and then allowed to solidify, which is maximum 24 hours. Once settled a thin transparent wall is formed and it is fire proof and beyond that water proof that is basically requirement in this section. Another advantage of geotextiles is that they are quite durable and have low carbon footprint.

The ghat receives very high intensity rainfall that leads to seepage of water in the mountains leading to loosening of soil that holds big boulders. CR officials said they are going to use this technology for very first time and thereafter monitor its performance. One worry among Railways engineers is to determine whether the concrete wall managed to withstand shocks from passing trains. Listing the advantage CR’s engineers said that in comparison with traditional concrete use, the concrete canvas can be rolled out at a rate of 4002/hour, nearly 10 times faster, thereby reducing time on site time. Given it chemical component, even under harsh ultra violet rays the concrete fabric does not lose shape and hence has long life. The maintenance is almost negligible that is added advantage and importantly it arrests growth of weeds inside the concrete wall.

SCoR operations likely to start by April next year from Visakhapatnam

VISAKHAPATNAM: The new railway zone, South Coast Railway (SCoR), headquartered at Visakhapatnam is likely to begin operations from February 1 or April 1 of next year. A detailed project report (DPR) was submitted to the railway board by the officer on special duty (OSD) of South Coast Railway in the last week of August with several recommendations.

Once the DPR is approved by the board it would notify a date for formal commencement of the new zone. It would take a minimum of four months for the zone to become operational and reconfigure the existing structures and spaces of Waltair Division to new zonal headquarters, said sources

The DPR had suggested February 1 or April 1 of 2020 for operations to begin. From the commencement date, the railway board would allocate the funds needed for the new zone, sources said. “After approving the DPR, the railway board is likely to create a project cell,” sources said.

The jurisdiction of the commissioner of railway safety would be at Secunderabad. South Central Railway is under the jurisdiction of South Central Circle at Secunderabad whereas Waltair Division is under South Eastern Circle at Kolkata till now. Since the Vijayawada (BZA), Guntur and Guntakal divisions in SCR have now been included in SCoR, its jurisdiction will be brought under South Central Circle, sources in the railways said.

Since the Waltair Division would cease to exist, a sub-divisional set up with ADRM rank officer with a team of officers will ensure its smooth operations. As several important establishments are located at Visakhapatnam it will continue as a major hub for railway operations.

East Coast Railway to lose Rs 3,000 crore due to bifurcation of the Zone

With Andhra Pradesh eyeing all railway lines that fall within its boundary, Odisha may well end up being on the losing side in the bifurcation of Waltair division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) to form the new South Coast Railway (SCoR) zone.

Before the 2019 elections, the Centre gave a go-ahead to the bifurcation which was seen as a bid to appease Andhra and now the neighbouring State is actually making the most of it. The new railway zone comprises Guntakal, Guntur and Vijaywada divisions while Waltair division splits into two – one part merges with Vijayawada division and other converted into a new division with headquarters at Rayagada under ECoR.

But the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of SCoR submitted to Railway Board reveals there is more it to than meets the eye behind bifurcation of Waltair division. The report says, of 1106 km of railway route coming under Waltair, 450 km will be merged with Vijaywada division. Of the rest 656 km, 541 km will be under Rayagada and 115 km under Khurda Road. After bifurcation, SCoR will have rail routes measuring 3496 km but ECoR will have to be satisfied with 2321 km. The new zone could actually have more railway lines if Palasa-Nuapada and Nuapada-Gunupur lines are retained in SCoR as proposed.

“In the event of any decision to keep the jurisdiction of Khurda Road Division unchanged for the time being, Palasa-Naupada mainlines and Naupda-Gunpur branch line may be retained with SCoR as a part of expanded Vijayawada division,” the report says. Sources said the ECoR is expected to lose nearly `3,000 crore revenue which it earned annually from the 450 km freight corridor which will now be handed on a platter to SCoR.

It is proposed to split Kothavasala-Kirandul Line at Araku station and retain the 106 km Kothavasala-Araku line with SCoR while handing over the 340 km Araku (excluding)-Kirandul to Rayagada division.

ECOR to lose Rs 3,000 crore

As proposed, all track routes of Waltair division running within AP (except a small part from Naupada to Ichhapuram) will be in SCoR, but Rayagada will not have a direct approach from ECoR until the proposed Theruvali-Gunupur new line is completed. Completion of the rail line seems unlikely in next one decade as only `one crore has been given in the budget out of an old estimate of `935 crore.

Ideally, Rayagada being a new division, should have direct link with ECoR and it can only be possible if SCoR can be unlinked from Visakhapatnam to Korukunda. “When Vijaywada division already has 964 km of railway line, what is the logic of adding 450 km more? If Vizianagaram can be added in Rayagada division, it will not only have direct link with ECoR, but also the latter will lose only 221 km instead of 450 km,” said an official.

Moreover, the proposal of Srikakulam MP Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu to Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal requesting him to keep the AP portions of railway line that are currently under Khurda division under the control of SCoR has raised concerns.“If they want entire AP portions in the new zone, Railway Board should also consider Odisha’s demand for handing over Jharsuguda-Rourkela-Bondamunda and Balasore-Rupsa-Jaleswar to ECoR on compensation ground,” official sources added.

Role of external financing in Indian Railways

Chitresh Shrivastva, Railway Policy Analyst

Since Independence, Indian Railways has undergone tremendous, yet significant changes impacting its holistic growth leaving both positive and negative imprints. But what remains constant is the role of the government in maintaining the operations of the railways in a global economy with greater focus on the railways, which can be assessed by looking at the technology and infrastructure investments at domestic and global levels.

Railways, around the word, like in the United States, have undergone changes in ownership. But, Indian railways and other railway networks in the southern hemisphere, mostly the developing countries, continue to be monitored by their respective governments. Indian Railways is a social institute saddled with liabilities owing to social obligations pegged at Rs 38,000 crore, and subnormal revenue generation given increase in variable costs.

These include staff wages with the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission, increase in both diesel and electric fuel costs and safety costs, integral to railway operations globally. Under such circumstances, it is not just impossible but also irrational to believe in the government to manage the project costs on its own without external support. Let’s understand the growing prominence of external institutions such as World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency in helping the government supplement its efforts to establish projects with a global outlook poised at improving the position of the Indian Railways.

Before moving to the core of the discussion, it is essential to assess the growth in domestic investments over the last five years — during the first tenure of the Narendra Modi government.

Despite the rapid succession of the Railway Ministers, the government has had a positive outlook towards the growth of railways with a greater focus on the core operative area, which forms the backbone of the railways.

The government, having realised the fundamentals of an efficient railway operation, undertook strategic projects aimed at improving the infrastructural health. The primary element being the large network of railway tracks, much of which have depreciated over the years.

The Ministry of Railways had decided to repair the tracks under a maintenance drive since the number of train accidents were going up. The expenditure on track maintenance and new line construction saw a 21 per cent increase in the fiscal budget of 2015-16.

However, beyond the infrastructural costs, the movable asset costs are also to be examined. This can be broken into three components:

1) Locomotives 2) Carriages and wagons (Freight) 3) Rolling stock

The induction and maintenance costs of the locomotives saw an increase of 15 per cent between fiscal years 2015-16 and 2017-18.

The cost rose to Rs 6,204 crore in 2017-18 from Rs 5,273 crore in 2015-16, while the freight carriages and wagons and rolling stock when combined together saw a 21 per cent increase in expenditure — Rs 27,057 crore in 2017-18 from Rs 22,352 crore in 2015-16.

Also, fuel expenses accounted for approximately 7 per cent of the total expenditure incurred by the railways, which can be inferred as a meagre increase in costs. The government focused majorly on electrification, for which it came up with a two-pronged strategy of lowering fuel cost and increasing speed.

The current government, in its first phase, saw a drastic shift from a populist to a more policy-oriented approach. It aimed at achieving a more capitalistic approach through greater focus on foreign direct investments and promoting technological cooperation with companies like Japan, America, France and Spain.

Although the initial collaboration with Spain did not take off as anticipated, India still strengthened its collaboration with Japan, America and France while rectifying and prioritising its approach at the domestic level.

The increased focus of the government on gauge conversion boosts expansion of railway network and undertaking of eco-feasible projects. These include electrification and subsequent undertaking of suburban and metro projects, which form a micro part of the larger policy-oriented approach.

The resultant policy saw an approximate increase of 14 per cent to Rs 31,316 crore from Rs 27,081 crore. There has been an ever-growing need for greater investments in railways, given the turbulence in the aviation market driven by domestic and international factors, with an approximate 40 per cent increase in the railway budgetary support — Rs 66,786 crore.

This budgetary support is insufficient for large magnitudes of development of railways and can be hurtful to the railways in the long run, given the need for rehabilitation of current long-term investments in infrastructure upgradation.

The Indian Railways contributes to 2.9 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Since there’s generous government support for railways, the need of financial institutions to fund railway projects must be questioned in line with domestic contributions for capital intensive projects, which the government alone cannot bear.

Growing research and development costs and developing the railways in the presence of subnormal fares and growing investments make sustenance a difficult affair in the current setting.

India is poised to create its position amongst the global railway systems. Therefore, it needs external cooperation and collaboration. Some of the notable investments made in the direction of Indian railways are as follows: India has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with countries like Sweden, France, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, Slovak Republic, Kazakhstan, Canada, South Korea, China, Czech Republic and China to facilitate technical visits for better understanding of the Indian and global environment, accumulate knowledge from experts and get access to technical documents and reports and implementation training programmes, feasibility studies and projects.

These are capital-intensive investments for upcoming projects aimed at improving the domestic fuel economy of the railways, while boosting expansion and assets such as rolling stock, construction of train sets and increasing production of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches under the Make in India programme.

This will mark a new era in inculcating self-sufficiency and adopting innovative practices in safety improvements while improving train operations and efficiency. Let us take into consideration the two most trending projects on the Indian Railways — dedicated freight corridor and high-speed rail corridor, which has invoked the interest of the World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency. They act as links between countries and potential technology partners helping the railways meet technology and policy obligations.

This is more important as the increasing environmental liabilities pushed the railways to pursue projects that provide smart commuting solutions and participation of the Asian Development Bank, a relatively new entrant and an emerging partner in funding suburban rail projects, will help streamline connectivity.

The mushrooming of metro rail networks is also an essential indicator of technical standing of domestic railways beyond mainstream railway projects. The initiative, however, comes with its drawbacks.

The developing countries are heavily dependent on these financial institutions, directed by the clauses of these institutions and complemented with increased liability of loan repayment.

This, therefore, calls for introspection by governments of developing countries so they undertake projects through every ounce of reasoning and priority to attract investments that are rational, endow sustenance in the long run and withdrawal of unviable policies in both core and non-core fields.

While in the international political economy, we hail the role of monetary institutions, it is to be understood that the institutions only help provide monetary support, while those investing in the assets get with modern technologies and help build hauling capacity of the railways. This improves railways’ financial standing and modernises the network.

(Courtesy: Chitresh Shrivastva is a Railway Policy Analyst. Views expressed are the personal)

Longest Electrified tunnel between Obulavaripalli-Krishnapatnam on SCR helps save up to Rs 7.5L per rake

India’s longest electrified rail tunnel built by Indian Railways is not just an engineering marvel but also a game-changer for freight operations across the railway network.

GUNTAKAL: Indian Railways achieves big feat! India’s longest electrified rail tunnel built by Indian Railways is not just an engineering marvel but also a game-changer for freight operations across the railway network. The longest electrified railway tunnel – 6.7 kilometres long – in the new 112-km long broad gauge (BG) line between Obulavaripalli-Krishnapatnam is expected to result in major monetary benefits. Indian Railways is saving almost Rs 7.5 lakh per coal rake, since the commercial operations on this route began, a railway official told Financial Express Online. The horseshoe-shaped tunnel has been constructed through the New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM) spanning across a length of 6,600 metres. The total anticipated cost of the constructed tunnel is Rs 437 crore, while that of the whole project is Rs 1,993 crore. The tunnel has been provided with LED lights at intervals of 10 metres.

According to Ch Rakesh, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), South Central Railway (SCR), four commodities namely coal, iron ore, limestones, and fertilizers are being loaded on the freight trains from the Krishnapatnam port and deported to the western parts of the country. The freight trains move through the newly constructed BG line between Obulavaripalli and Krishnapatnam, which has the longest electrified tunnel built between the Cherlopalli and Rapur stations

The SCR zone, which successfully completed the construction of the tunnel in a record time of 43 months, began commercial operations between Obulavaripalli and Krishnapatnam port on July 3, 2019. The official said that the ever since freight operations began through the tunnel, passing through the Obulavaripalli station, the Railway Ministry has saved lakhs in basic freight operations per rake through coal, fertilizer, iron ore and limestone. According to the SCR zone, the difference in basic freight operations per tonne for the old and new route is as follows:

  • For coal, the difference in freight per rake varies from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh.
  • For fertilizer, the difference in freight per rake varies from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh
  • For iron ore, the difference in freight per rake is about Rs 6 lakh
  • For limestone, the difference is about Rs 5.25 lakhs

The official explained that this difference in cost saving for the freight operations of each these commodities is because of the new BG line between Obulavaripalli and Krishnapatnam port which now enables the freight trains to directly come straight from Venkatachalam. Earlier, when this line was not constructed, the freight trains had to take a longer route for travelling to the western destinations of the country. But now, with the tunnel in line, the distance has been reduced by 72 km between Venkatachalam and Obulavaripalli. This has reduced the travel time from 10 hours to five hours and the cost of freight operations on each of the commodities.

It has also resulted in increasing the freight traffic on this route. The line has also reduced the distance for the trains coming from Guntakal division going towards Krishnapatnam and eased the traffic density in the Obulavaripalli Reningunta Gudur section. Prashant Kumar, Senior DCM, Guntakal Division said that as of now, on an average, 12 freight trains pass through the single line section of the BG track on a daily basis.

Indian Railways to adopt HOG system to save Power cost

This new rail project means lakhs of additional seats in trains; saves Rs 1,400 crore!

NEW DELHI: Noise pollution and massive fumes from trains’ power generator car will soon be a thing of the past. A clean technology—Head on Generation (HOG)—is being adopted by the Indian Railways, power supply is tapped from overhead power lines and distributed to train coaches.  The HOG system makes use of overhead electric supply to supply power to the coaches. This eliminates the need for two power cars to be attached to LHB rakes on the network, hence helping save crores of rupees in diesel consumption.

“The power generator cars which used to make huge noise and emit fumes will no more be there. In place of two such generator cars there will be one standby silent generator car to be used for emergency,” the railway ministry said.

The new technology is expected transform the way air conditioners (ACs) run and power is supplied in the railway coaches, the railway ministry said on Tuesday, adding that this will result into a foreign exchange saving of about 1,400 crore per year as it will reduce dependence on diesel. Currently, there are one or two power cars at the end of every train in every Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) rake, where the electricity to be supplied to coaches is produced in a diesel generator.

The new technology HOG will be available at 6 per unit as compared to end EOG system, in which cost of power is 22 per unit.

“In place of the other car, there will be…LHB second luggage, guard and divyaang compartment,” the ministry said. As a result, beginning October, more than four lakh additional berths will be available to passengers everyday.

Rajesh Agarwal, member, rolling stock at the Railways Board told reporters that there is a plan to convert all LHB trains to HOG technology within the end of the current financial year. As of now, 342 trains have already started using the new technology.

Apart from the announcement pertaining to new clean technology, on Thursday, the national carrier announced slew of incentives, such as deferring its busy season surcharge of 15% during October 1 to June 30 on freight. The automobile sector, which is looking at cutting costs, amid falling vehicle sales, had requested the railways for more rakes. Towards this, national transporter will hike the number of rakes for the automobile sector to ramp up freight loading.

According to Agarwal, the step is a transformational one. “PM Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal are clear that we have to focus on transformational steps, instead of incremental ones. This move from EOG to HOG for LHB coaches will be a win-win for all – we will save a huge amount of money, it is very eco-friendly, it is in line with global standards and passengers benefit in the form of increased number of seats and the reduced noise pollution,” Agarwal told

DMRC’s Rithala-Narela Metro Rail corridor to get Centre’s green signal

NEW DELHI: The Narela sub-city is finally going to get the much-needed metro connectivity. “The Rithala-Narela corridor of the Delhi Metro’s Phase-IV project will get the Centre’s approval soon,” Union minister for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Land pooling: Building India’s capital,’ Puri said that the 21.7km-long Rithala-Bawana-Narela corridor and two other corridors of the Phase-IV project will receive approvals in the next few months. Lajpat Nagar-Saket G Block (7.9 km) and Inderlok-Indraprastha (12.5km) are the two other corridors that are awaiting the Centre’s nod.

The state government had given approval to all the six proposed corridors of Phase-IV in December last year. However, the Union Cabinet gave its green signal to only three corridors in March this year: Tughlakabad-Aerocity (20.2km), Janakpuri West-RK Ashram (28.9 km) and Mukundpur-Maujpur (12.5 km). Back then, Puri had said: “There is an urgent need for mobilisation of the much-delayed Phase-IV project of the Delhi Metro, and that is why three of the six corridors have been given approval on priority. The other three corridors would be approved later.”

The Rithala-Bawana-Narela corridor would see the Delhi Metro reach peripheral areas that are plagued by poor transport services. Apart from connecting far flung sectors of Rohini, the corridor will also touch Barwala, Puth Khurd, Bawana, Sanoth and Narela areas. It will not only provide connectivity to the industrial hubs, but also ensure that life can be breathed into the ghost town of Narela sub-city. Developed by Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Narela has been created as a self-sufficient sub-city. But due to the lack of connectivity, few families prefer staying in the area. DDA hopes that the metro would revive the area.

75% land acquisition process completed in Hinjewadi by Pune Metro

PUNE: The Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) acquired 75 per cent land required for the Hinjewadi to Shivajinagar metro line 3 project.

The project, introduced to address traffic congestion faced by people in the Hinjewadi Information Technology (IT) park, required a total of 44 hectares. The PMRDA plans to acquire 22 hectares from Hinjewadi and Maan villages. According to PMRDA officials, 15 hectares has been acquired from the farmers and villagers.

The other 22 hectares for the project come under three government departments. Out of the 22 hectares, 10 hectares belongs to the government polytechnic college located on Ganeshkhind road, four hectares is owned by Pune rural police department and the remaining eight hectares falls under the jurisdiction of the state dairy department.

Vivek Kharwadkar, PMRDA planning officer, said,“We have succeeded in completing 75 per cent land acquisition process for metro line 3 project. The discussion regarding land acquisition for metro car shed in Maan is currently in its final stages. The process is likely to be completed by the end of this week. By the end of next week, we will have acquired 90 per cent of the land required for this project.”

In July 2019, the state government issued a government resolution (GR) to hand over land from the Government Polytechnic college located on Ganeshkhind road for the proposed 23km metro route.

Kharwadkar added,“There is no need for land acquisition in this case as the government has already issued a GR. Now, we have to submit a requisition to the district collector requesting him to issue a 7×12 extract which is likely to be completed within the next one month.”

The state government has appointed PMRDA as the special planning authority for the Hinjewadi to Shivajinagar metro project which is expected to cost Rs 8,500 crore. The first phase of eight kilometres from Hinjewadi to Balewadi is expected to be operational by December 2020. There will be 23 stations on the entire metro route.

ETA-Tricolite JV bags Rs.101 Crore Contract of Delhi Metro

NEW DELHI: ETA Engineering and Tricolite Electrical Industries Limited (ETA-Tricolite JV) got the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on September 13, 2019, as The ETA-Tricolite JV has emerged as the lowest bidder.

The total value of the contract is Rs.100.91 crore. The scope of work includes design verification, detail engineering, manufacture, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of electrical and mechanical (E&M) system including fire, hydraulic system and DG sets, environment control system (ECS) and tunnel ventilation system (TVS) for the Dwarka Sector 21-Dwarka Sector 25 Metro Rail Project (Extension of Delhi Airport Express Link) and Najafgarh-Dhansa Bus Stand corridor (Delhi Metro Line 9 extension).

The section from Najafgarh to Dhansa Bus Stand station shall be financed by Japanese Bank Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) whereas Dwarka Sector 21 to Dwarka Section 25 (ICC) shall be self-financed.

The tender was notified in February this and technical bids were opened on March 14, 2019.

The first trial runs on 4.29 km long Dwarka – Najafgarh corridor (Line 9) was commenced on July 16, 2019. This section has a total of three stations. Najafgarh station is underground. Out of Dwarka and Nangli are elevated ones, while N

This section is expected to be commissioned in December 2019.

ETA Engineering Private Ltd. is working in India since 1994. The company is part of the ETA ASCON – STAR GROUP of Companies based out in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Tricolite Electrical Industries Limited – is a leading Exporter, Manufacturer, Supplier of Electric Switchboards, 33 KV Panels, 11 KV VCB Panel from Gurugram, Haryana, India.

This information is exclusively shared by Gurgaon based consultancy firm Subinfra Project Management.

Crisis looms large on Kolkarta East-West Metro first phase

The 16.5km East-West Metro corridor, which has missed multiple deadlines, will stretch between Salt Lake Sector V and Howrah Maidan. The authorities were hoping the inauguration of the first phase of the project to be operational by Durga Puja.

KOLKATA: he East-West Metro mishap in Bowbazar may further push back the inauguration of the first phase of the project, which the authorities were hoping to be operational by Durga Puja, officials said.

The 16.5km East-West Metro corridor, which has missed multiple deadlines, will stretch between Salt Lake Sector V and Howrah Maidan.

In the first phase, which the authorities had hoped would be unveiled by Puja, trains will run between Sector V and the Salt Lake stadium, a distance of 5.5km.

“Some technical problems were identified during the trial run. Unless those are addressed, the first phase cannot be operational. But with most officials busy tackling the Bowbazar crisis, there is almost none to deal with the technical issues in the first phase of the project,” a senior railway official said.

A machine that was boring an East-West Metro tunnel in Bowbazar had hit a giant aquifer on August 31. Water from the aquifer flooded the tunnel, triggering large-scale subsidence and causing damage to many buildings. Hundreds of residents have been evacuated.

The technical problems that came to light during the trial run:

Platform screen door

Sources said drivers were finding it difficult to align the train doors with the platform screen doors during the trial run. The drivers were all from the north-south Metro corridor, which does not have platform screen doors.

“It was natural that the drivers found it difficult to align the train doors with the screen doors. A difference of a few millimetres in alignment means the doors will not open,” said an official. “The drivers need more practice to be able to implement the precision-based system.”

At times, even though the doors had aligned, the platform screen doors failed to open. “These teething troubles will be rectified with time,” said the official.

Signalling system

East-West Metro has an advanced signalling system, called communication-based train control. The automated system does not need any signal post because the train picks up signal from the tracks.

When a train moves, the tracks behind it become open for the next one. This ensures a safe distance between two trains.

“The trains will be integrated with the signalling system. Depending on whether the tracks ahead are clear or not, the signalling system directs a train through telecommunication to move or stop. There is no green or red signal,” the official said.

“However, at times when tracks ahead were clear, the system was asking the train to stop or not to move. These snags need to be rectified.”

Automated gates

East-West Metro will have automated gates for entering or exiting platforms. “The station in-charge will monitor the functioning of the gates. If any gate malfunctions, that will show on the monitor. The system is yet to become functional,” the official said.

Asked about the snags, an official of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation, the implementing agency of the project, said: “Metro Railway will run the trains, so they have to look into the issues.”

Bangalore Metro to switch to U-Girders for ORR, KIA Metro lines

BENGALURU: To expedite much-delayed Silk Board-K R Puram (19.5km) on Outer Ring Road and KR Puram-Kempegowda International Airport (36km) metro corridors, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) has decided to use U-girders for constructing the viaduct.

This is the first time BMRCL is using U-girders for Metro work. “In the ORR-KIA route, U-girders would be used for almost 80% of the corridor’s length. Another 12% of the length with sharp curves will have I-girders. About 8% will be below the road level,” BMRCL managing director Ajay Seth told. “Phase 1 and 2 mostly used ‘box-girders with pre-cast post-tensioned segmental construction’ and I-girders at transition spans next to each station,” he said.

U-girders will involve casting the entire span of a viaduct between two piers in single piece whereas box-girders will have many segments between two piers.One U-girder between two pillars can be erected overnight, against 5-6 days required in case of box girders.

“U-girders are cast in yard like box-girders. But in case of box-girders, it takes longer to join the segments at the site. In U-girders that time can be saved. However, this means we will need larger casting yards, larger cranes and wide roads at construction sites. The ORR-KIA line enables such wider road access,” said Seth. The BMRCL’s earlier plan to use U-girders for the elevated section between Gottigere and Swagath Road Cross in Reach 6 of Phase 2 did not fructify.

“Now there is enough experience available in the country for that technology. Metro corporations in Delhi, Chennai, Kochi and Mumbai have used that. Systra, an engineering firm, will provide the design since they hold the patent. IISc will do the proof-checking,” said Seth.

The BMRCL has set 2023 deadline for ORR-Airport lines. However, it is yet to invite tenders for both corridors. To avoid further delays, BMRCL has already commenced soil testing and issuing notices to the property owners for land acquisition for these two-corridors.

Techies commuting on the ORR as well as passengers and airport staff travelling to and from KIA have been demanding for Metro connectivity for the past several years.

Experts say U-girders will also save time as well as lower construction cost. The U-girders will also have built-in sound barriers, apart from built-in cable support. Compared to other types of girders, the much longer U-girders drastically reduce construction time.

However, due to their length, they require absolute precision during construction. Also, their length makes transporting them from the casting yard to the site a tricky proposition. While the conventional box girders and I-girders are 2.2m to 2.5m long, the length of U-girders varies between 22 and 27 metres. The longer length means a span between two pillars can be constructed overnight compared to 5-6 days in case of conventional girders. Delhi Metro has used these girders in Airport Express Line, the Badarpur to Faridabad section of Violet Line and a section in Noida.

Bangalore Metro considers increasing outsourcing manpower for Phase-2

BANGALORE: Following Chennai metro’s model, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) is exploring the option of outsourcing manpower for several sections of maintenance and operations of Namma Metro in Phase 2. Two extended lines on Mysuru Road and Kanakpura Road are scheduled to be opened in the second half of 2020.

Under Phase 1, the BMRCL already outsources staff for various sections including security, housekeeping, issuing of tokens, and other services. It is looking to expand on this for the second phase. When asked about the plan, Ajay Seth, MD, BMRCL, told that the scope is yet to be decided. “We are outsourcing only a part of the maintenance and operations. This will be done for selected requirements,” he said.

To operate and maintain the 42 km Namma Metro line under Phase 1, the BMRCL spent ₹327 crore last financial year, and generated fare box revenue of ₹421 crore. According to a metro official, 60% of the operational cost goes towards towards security and staff salary. “The BMRCL is borrowing thousands of crores. To repay the loan and interest, we have to explore various possibilities to minimise the cost and augment the resources available. It is possible to outsource sections like AC maintenance. The idea is still in the preliminary stages,” the official said.

BMRCL Employees’ Union vice-president Suryanarayana Murthy expressed disappointment with this development, and said that while sections like housekeeping and security can be outsourced, the BMRCL should not follow this model to run crucial functions such operating trains, station-control, traction, signalling and others. “These works require special training and a specific set of skills. The BMRCL is contemplating this model as existing permanent employees are demanding wages on a par with those employed in other metros in the country. They are also demanding that the corporation comply with Pay Commission recommendations. If the BMRCL outsources people for core areas, it will go against the interest of BMRCL employees,” he said.

The 72 km Phase 2 of Namma Metro comprises two new lines — the Yellow Line between R.V. Road and Bommasandra and the Red Line between Gottigere and Nagawara. The existing Purple Line will be extended from Mysuru Road to Kengeri and from Baiyyappanahalli to Whitefield. The Green Line will be extended from Yelachenahalli to Anjanapura and from Hesaraghatta Cross to the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre.

Phase 2, in its entirety, is likely to be completed by 2023. Last month, the Chief Minister had reviewed ongoing metro projects and had asked BMRCL officials to ensure that commencement of commercial operations from Yelachenahalli to Anjanapura and Mysuru Road station to Kengeri is not delayed. BMRCL had announced that these stretches would be operational in the second half of 2020.

Railway Ministry suggests MRVC to seek funding through PPP for MUTP-4

NEW DELHI: n a review meeting held earlier this month, Union Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal asked the officials of Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to look for funding through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for two of its three projects proposed under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-4).

The names of projects under MUTP-4 for Railway Minster suggested to seek funding through PPP are include the ambitious 55 kilometers long CSMT-Panvel elevated corridor expected to cost Rs 14,000 crore, CSMT-Thane underground high-speed corridor expected to cost Rs 16,000 crore, and a corridor for a Mumbai suburban line from Vasai to Panvel expected to cost Rs 6,000 crore. Out of which the first two corridors will require to be funded by prospective investors through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) has prepared a feasibility study on the CSMT-Thane underground corridor and submitted to MVRC for review but the report failed to impress the MRVC and Central Railway officials. The proposal has now been sent to the Maharashtra government for a review and comment on the same.

A senior official from Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC said), “the idea is that the goods train presently running on the two lines will be moved to the Dedicated Freight Corridor on the completion of its construction by 2024, leaving the lines only for suburban passengers’ use. Also, we are looking at bunching the goods trains during off-peak hours to increase suburban passenger services along with adding more trains with improved signalling systems.”

Railway Minister has also instructed MRVC officials to check the feasibility of running additional services for the Vasai-Panvel corridor using automatic signaling and cab-signaling systems instead of constructing additional lines and incurring the huge cost for the same. The Railways have already the approved automatic signaling and cab-signaling systems under MUTP-3A on the existing lines.

Finally, DMRC signs MoU with Haryana Govt to run Gurgaon Rapid Metro

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) on Monday signed a Memorandum of Undertaking (MoU) with the Haryana Government to operate and maintain Gurgaon Rapid Metro.

The Haryana Government has entered into the new agreement with DMRC after the IL&FS driven operators Rapid Metro Gurgoan Limited (RMGL) and Rapid Metro Gurgaon South Limited (RMGSL) had decided to close its operations serving notice to Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).

This information is shared by Advocate Chetan Mittal, the counsel of Haryana Government, on Tuesday during the hearing of ongoing petition related to this issue before the Punjab & Haryana High Court. He was representing the Haryana Mass Rapid Transport Corporation (HMRTC) and  Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). However, the terms of operation and maintenance of Rapid Metro Rail not yet finalized hence the Court directed the IL&FS to continue the operation till September 18.

The matter would again come up for hearing on tomorrow before the bench of High Court.

On September 9, the Court had passed an interim order to IL&FS to operate and maintain the Gurgaon Rapid Metro Rail till September 17 midnight as a licensee. However, the court had directed the Haryana Government to bear its operational cost.

A Rapid Metro official said, we asked HUDA to give us a commitment that it would pay us at least 80% of the debt. Since it was unwilling to do so, we said we will not be able to sustain operations. But later on, we asked the high court to appoint an auditor who can ascertain the dues and we informed the court that till such time we will continue operations.

The Gurgaon Rapid Metro is the country’s first fully privately-developed metro project which was built by the IL&FS. The company is now facing bankruptcy proceedings in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

The Haryana Government was in close contact with the DMRC officials and talking was ongoing after the receiving notice from the IL&FS-led operator RMGL. Earlier, it was expected that the DMRC would take over the operation & maintenance of Rapid Metro in February but the matter was pulled in the High Court.

As per data shared by the RMGL, over 60,000 commuters using the Rapid Metro for their daily commuting. However, experts say that the main factors of failure of Rapid Metro in Gurugram were choosing the wrong location, routes, funding pattern and high cost.

1.8 million new jobs estimated in India’s Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project

MUMBAI: Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO) has released new jobs figures for the Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project verified by KPMG estimating that it will create over 1.8 million direct and indirect jobs in the Pune-Mumbai region through the creation of a hyperloop route.

New Industrial Policy

According to the new Industrial Policy released in April 2019, which intends to make Maharashtra a trillion-dollar economy, the proposed hyperloop project directly addresses all key targets. The Hyperloop project would directly or indirectly promote 9 out of 14 “thrust sectors” identified by the new Industrial policy.

Investment Opportunities

In collaboration with KPMG, Virgin Hyperloop One has estimated that the total project will attract an investment of over Rs 70,000 Crore during the duration of construction of the Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project. Over its lifetime, the Hyperloop project will create over US$36 billion in socio-economic benefits resulting in a 2.6% increase in Maharashtra’s GDP, and create new hyperloop component and manufacturing opportunities for the state to supply projects within India, and export to the rest of the world.

Key factors

While projecting the employment and investment opportunities, the Virgin Hyperloop One has taken all major factors into account like construction, operation, manufacturing and research and development over the life of the Hyperloop project. The figures also take into account the jobs directly related to hyperloop project development activities, and indirect jobs including upstream industry sectors that support the hyperloop project.

Explaining the projections, Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director of India and the Middle East for Virgin Hyperloop One, said, “the Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop Project is well on its way to becoming the first of its kind transit option, creating new economic opportunities for hundreds of millions of Maharashtra residents. But that’s just the beginning. We envision a future in which Maharashtra becomes a global supply hub to support hyperloop projects around the world with manufacturing, design, and engineering support services making it not just hyperloop’s first home, but a global leader for the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years.”

Public Infrastructure Project

In a landmark announcement for building the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop transportation system, the Maharashtra Government declares Pune-Mumbai hyperloop a public infrastructure project, recognizing hyperloop transportation technology alongside other more traditional forms of mass rapid transit systems and setting it up to be the first hyperloop project in the world.

Virgin Hyperloop One-DP World JV

The committee formed by Maharashtra Infrastructure Development Enabling Authority (MahaIDEA ) had also approved the consortium of Virgin Hyperloop One-DP World as the Original Project Proponent (OPP) for the Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop Project.

According to the Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project estimates, there are approximately 75 million passenger journeys between Mumbai and Pune annually are expected to skyrocket to 130 million by 2026. The Hyperloop Transportation system developed by Virgin Hyperloop One can meet this growing demand by supporting as many as 200 million passengers annually while linking central Pune and Mumbai in less than 30 minutes, as opposed to the current 3.5+ hours.

“The ultra-high-speed linkage not only opens up new economic and social opportunities but also offers a sustainable form of mass transportation with zero direct emissions”, said in the official statement issued by Virgin Hyperloop One.

Request For Proposal

The Maharashtra Government is finalizing the Request For Proposal (RFP) for the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop infrastructure project and is expected to invite request for proposal soon.

“The VHO-DPW proposal for Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project includes USD $500 million of private equity funding for Phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 will be funded via debt and equity to be mobilized by the private sector ensuring that public money is not re-allocated from other infrastructure projects”, said in the official statement.

KEC-CCECC JV bags Rs.580 crore Civil Contract for Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor

NEW DELHI: The National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is implementing RRTS projects in India, has issued the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) to the joint venture of KEC International and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (KEC-CCECC JV) for construction of elevated viaducts and stations on Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor.

The scope of work includes the construction of elevated viaduct from the start of elevated ramp near Sahibabad RRTS Station up to end of Ghaziabad RRTS Station, including all special spans and two nos. of elevated RRTS Stations viz., Sahibabad and Ghaziabad (excluding Architecture Finishing & Roof Structure of Stations) of Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) corridor.

The KEC-CCECC JV emerged as the lowest bidder among other bidders. The order value of this contract is Rs.580 crore. The Letter of Acceptance (LoA) issued on August 8, 2019. This is the first MRTS work order which has been received by the KEC International Ltd. in India. However, the company is involved in various verticals of infrastructure development viz. Power Transmission and Distribution, Railways, Solar, Civil, Smart Infrastructure and Cables. The company is currently executing various infrastructure projects in over 30 countries and has a presence in over 100 countries.

Vimal Kejriwal, MD & CEO of KEC International Ltd, said, “We are delighted with the order wins in the RRTS and Metro sectors, which are in line with our strategy for expanding our Railway presence. These orders mark our entry into the urban transport sector and further expands our client portfolio. This foray will also help us in building a robust executable order book, thus enabling us to scale up the business and achieve the desired growth plans.”

In a recent media interaction, in response to a question pertaining to opening date of Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor, Vinay Kumar Singh, Managing Director of NCRTC said that a section from Duhai to Sahibabad will be commissioned first by March 2023. Then every six months they keep adding 20 km. By March 2025, the entire Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor will be commissioned.

Gurgaon Rapid Metro losing steam?

Over 60,000 commuters keep their fingers crossed as RMGL takes on HSVP over operations of the Gurugram metro project in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

GURGAON/CHANDIGARH: Sachin Sharma, 43, regularly commutes to his workplace at Cyber City in the Rapid Metro. He has been boarding the train at Sector 54 Chowk metro station and alighting at IndusInd Bank Cyber City as a daily routine for the past one year. But he is a worried man now with uncertainty looming large over the continuity of the network.

For a city with an abysmal record on public transport, the news of Rapid Metro network struggling financially has come as rude shock for the residents. Around 60,000 people commute daily in Rapid Metro, India’s first fully privately financed metro system that also acts as a feeder to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) network, connecting at the Sikanderpur metro station on the Yellow Line.

On shaky ground

Not able to meet its targeted ridership of one lakh — for the first and second phases put together — the almost 12-km-long metro network has been on shaky ground financially since it began its commercial operations on November 14, 2013. The first signs of trouble appeared last year when Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon Limited (RMGL) accused the Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP), formerly Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), of material breaches and defaults on the concession contract and asked the Haryana government to fix them within 90 days.

In an agreement reached between the RMGL and HSVP (then HUDA) on December 9, 2009, the company was entitled to participate in property development and advertisement at project site to generate revenue in addition to the fare. As per the contract, the concessionaire has the rights to display visual advertisements inside the rolling stock, the stations or along the route. The company was also allowed to utilize the land over, under and within the stations for property development and commercial exploitation during the concession period, subject to a limit of 250 square metre per station.

Non-fare revenue

Passenger fare contributes only 30%-40% to the total revenue of a metro project, depending upon which stage it is in; the rest is the non-fare revenue generated through advertisements and property rights. It is these rights that are the bone of contention between the two partners, with the RMGL accusing the HSVP of not allowing them in full, as per the contract.

Sources privy to the dispute between the two told that the company also accused HSVP of failing to carry out the development work along the metro corridor as per the Master Plan-2031 and not putting in place a sound feeder bus mechanism, hitting the ridership and causing loss of fare revenue.

The HSVP has rubbished the charges saying the company is levelling false allegations as it is looking for an easy way out of the financial mess it is in because of its own reasons. It has also accused the RMGL of failing to meet its obligations on ridership.

‘Poor management’

Industry experts partially blame the financial troubles of the Rapid Metro on the poor management of the project and bad marketing strategies. The fact that the first Managing Director of RMGL, Sanjiv Rai, was denied an extension and was replaced by Rajiv Banga was enough hint at his “non-satisfactory performance”. It was in sharp contrast to four extensions to ‘Metro Man’ E. Sreedharan before he retired in 2011, and four-year extension to DMRC MD Mangu Singh, said experts.

On the marketing front too, while the RMGL seemed to be wasting its efforts on wrong choices such as running birthday trains to earn revenue, it failed to attract the larger workforce in the Cyber City to use the network. Experts said that tie-ups with companies operating in the Cyber City and lucrative offers to their employees could have helped the RMGL achieve its targetted ridership, especially when the corridor was connected to the DMRC’s Yellow Line.

Extending the RMGL network along the Golf Course Road, the most elite address in the Millennium City, especially when the stretch was being widened to 16-lane highway, for its Phase-II too proved to be an unwise decision. Instead, connecting the Udyog Vihar Industrial Area, housing a large number of garment units and other companies, with the network and extending it further to the Maruti Suzuki plant on Old Delhi-Gurugram Road and bus stand could have added far more numbers to the ridership. In the future, the extension towards Udyog Vihar could also act as a possible link between the DMRC’s Yellow and Blue Lines, further augmenting the ridership.

Financial troubles

The financial troubles of IL&FS, the company that constructed the Rapid Metroin mid-2018 and the Union government moving an application before the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai, seeking suspension of its board of directors on the grounds of massive mismanagement of public funds proved to be the last nail in the coffin of the RMGL.

The RMGL was among the 38 domestic group entities of IL&FS classified as “Red Entity” by the Union government, saying that it could not meet its payment obligations towards even senior secured financial creditors.

The HSVP has said that there is a need for due diligence on the financial activities of the Rapid Metro. The authority officials maintain that nobody knows who the Rapid Metro management had borrowed money from and where they spent it and what fraudulent contracts they signed.

“When a private party comes to develop an infrastructure within the city limits it has to face many challenges and the support of the government is the first thing which is solicited. When a project like this fails for whatsoever reasons, it demotivates private players, investors and even the government. The need of the hour is to get all the associated parties on a common platform so that they are able to play their respective roles and ensure that the project runs smoothly,” said Sarvesh Tiwari, an infrastructure expert who was earlier associated with the Rapid Metro project.

While the two parties battle it out legally in the Punjab and Haryana High Court — the matter is scheduled for hearing on September 17 — the commuters, the most important stakeholder in the matter, keep their fingers crossed for a favourable outcome.

Hitachi Rail MD Karen Boswell OBE to step down!

TOKYO: Hitachi Rail Group today announces that Group Chief Administration Officer (CAO) and Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Limited, Karen Boswell OBE, will leave the company on 1 October 2019.

Karen joined Hitachi in June 2015, and has led the UK business through a period of accelerated growth and transformation.

Over the last four-and-a-half years, Hitachi Rail’s presence in the UK has increased substantially across a network of state-of the-art train maintenance centres, a manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, Co. Durham and head office support. The company’s total employees has grown accordingly, from 400 in mid-2015 to over 3,000 today, and UK revenues for FY18 were a record £1.3bn, rising from £182m in FY14.

In March 2017, in addition to her role as UK MD, Karen was appointed Group CAO of Hitachi Rail’s global business, with overall responsibility for group strategy, IT, legal and communications, brand & marketing.

In recognition of her achievements with Hitachi Rail, in April 2018 Karen was appointed as a Corporate Officer of Hitachi, Ltd., from where she has contributed to corporate goals to enhance diversity and inclusion and the development of social and environmental value globally.

Karen was awarded an OBE for services to the UK rail industry in the Queen’s 2016 Birthday Honours.

Andrew Barr, Hitachi Rail Group CEO, commented: “Karen has made an enormous and lasting contribution to Hitachi Rail at both UK and group levels, and she will be leaving with our business in great shape and well positioned to build on the achievements of the last four-and-a-half years.

“I would like to thank Karen for her leadership during a period of rapid growth for our business in the UK, and trust that everyone at Hitachi will join me in wishing her well for the future.”

BEML launches first Traction Motor run Test Facility for Metro in Bengaluru

BEML improving Metro Ride Quality, Sets Up Bogie Traction Motor facility.

BENGALURU: The Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) a state of the art and Miniratna company under the Ministry of Defence set up first of its kind Bogie Traction Motor Run test facility for Metro at its Metro manufacturing unit at Bengaluru, India.

The facility centre was inaugurated by Ajay Seth, IAS & Managing Director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) at a function held at BEML’s Bangaluru Complex, in the presence of Deepak Kumar Hota, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of BEML Limited and other senior executives of BEML & BMRC.

The Bogie Traction Motor Run test facility centre is indigenously developed and it is one of its kind in the country which will help in improving the metro train ride quality and increases the reliability of coaches. The test will run on electrical drive type for checking the drive from Bogie Traction Motors to Wheels.

It may be recalled that BEML Limited had supplied 150 metro cars to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) which are running as 3 car train sets in the city.

In addition to above, BEML so far supplied 105 cars for conversion into 6 cars train sets against a contract of 192 cars and balance are being delivered progressively by June 2020 which is helping in decongestion of the road traffic of Bengaluru.

The company is currently supplying world-class metro cars to Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation and MMRDA’s Mumbai Metro Rail project in addition to cars already supplied to Bangalore Metro, Delhi Metro and Jaipur Metro. The company had received two orders (LoA) for the supply of metro train coaches (Rolling Stock) for Mumbai Metro Line 2A and Line 7 of MMRDA’s Mumbai Metro Rail project.

In last month, BEML Limited has successfully delivered the first mock coach of the metro train to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for its Mumbai Metro Rail Project which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 7.

On the same day, BEML Limited has signed two Memorandum of Undertakings (MoU) to work jointly on various projects of mutual business interest which will make an invaluable contribution towards indigenization and ‘Make in India‘ initiative. One MoU was signed with Wipro Infrastructure Engineering and another MoU with Bharat Forge Limited.

The BEML Limited is the leading Rolling Stock manufacturer with 48% market share in the Indian Metro segment.

DPR ready to link Old and new Gurugram with Gurgaon Metro route by 2025

GURGAON: The dream of connecting the old Gurugram with the metro will be fulfilled by 2025. Haryana Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (HMRTC) has made a final plan to connect Old Gurugram through HUDA City Center station of Delhi Metro rail network to the new Gurugram forming a metro loop. A detailed project report (DPR) has been prepared by the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) with estimated to cost of the Gurgaon metro project of Rs 5,125 crore. There are 25 stations proposed on this 31 km long route.

The detailed project report (DPR) has been prepared on the basis of a joint survey conducted by RITES and SPA with respect to a detailed study on other possibilities including ridership. The SPA will officially hand over the report to Gurgaon Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) on Monday. According to the report, further action will begin after approval by the authority. It is expected that work on the ground will be started in December.

25 stations are proposed

The metro will connect at the Sikanderpur metro station starting from HUDA city center. On this route, a total 25 stations namely Sector-45, Cyber ​​Park, Sector-46, Sector-47, Sector-48, Technology Park, Udyog Vihar Phase-6, Sector-10, Sector-37, Basai, Sector-9, with HUDA City Center Sector-7, Sector-4, Sector-5, Ashok Vihar, Sector-3, Krishna Chowk, Palam Vihar Extension, Palam Vihar, Sector-23A, Sector-22, Udyog Vihar Phase-4, Udyog Vihar Phase-5, Cybercity will be built.

Project cost will be Rs 5,125 crore

Officials said that it would cost Rs 5.125 crore to prepare the project. This includes Rs 217.25 crore on land acquisition, 975.98 crores for metro alignment and formation, 935.42 crores for station building and others, 128.06 crores for the metro depot, 324.07 crores for traction and power supply, 228.34 crores for mainline signal and Rs. 320.15 crore for telecom, 44.90 crores for staff quarters, Rs. 5125 crore for other works (including Rs. 166.02 crore for road construction, and other works).

Metro will connect old and new Gurugram

Currently Delhi is connected to the new Gurugram via metro. The old Gurugram will also be connected to the new Gurugram under the metro loop scheme. Due to its proximity to the railway station, metro travel is considered to be better connectivity. It is estimated that more than 1.42 lakh people will travel between old and new Gurugram by taking the help of the metro every day once the Metro starts in the year 2025. By 2041, the ridership on this metro route will increase to more than 2.41 lakhs.

GMDA will get the report in four days

A survey has been conducted for the metro in the city by HMRTC. This survey has been done by the RITES, including the School of Planning & Architecture. In the survey report, the information not only including the estimated number of passengers but also other modes of transport. The School of Planning & Architecture has to submit its survey report to GMDA by Monday and thereafter GMDA officials will review and approve the same.

Centre’s approval will be taken by December

Officials said that the DPR on behalf of GMDA was prepared in June and sent to the state government for approval. The state government approved the DPR in July. The consultant is to be appointed by GMDA for this work in the month of September itself. Also, the DPR has to be approved by the Central cabinet. This approval will be received by the beginning of December, thereafter the work will start on the ground.

J Kumar Infra bags 2 Civil Contract from MMRDA worth Rs.2,340 crores!

The company has won an order from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for constructing and designing elevated viaducts and nine elevated stations for Mumbai Metro line 9.

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has today issued two contract orders to major infrastructure company J Kumar Infraprojects Limited for construction of Mumbai Metro Line 4A (Kasarwadavali-Gaimukh corridor) and Metro 9 (extension of line 7 from Dahisar (East) to Mira Bhayandar and Andheri to CSIA). The consolidated value of both contracts is Rs.2,340 crores.

The Executive Committee of the MMRDA, headed by Ajoy Mehta, Chairman, Executive Committee, MMRDA and Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, today approved the tender process and recommended the appointment of J Kumar Infraprojects Limited for design and construction of above corridors.

Mumbai Metro Line 4A

Design and construction of elevated viaducts and two stations from Kasarwadavali to Gowinwada and Gowinwada to Gaimukh for the corridor of Mumbai Metro Line 4A (extension of Metro line 4 Wadala to Kasarwadavali of Mumbai Metro Rail Project of MMRDA). The total contract value of the letter of acceptance is Rs 342 crore.

Mumbai Metro Line 9

Design and construction of elevated viaduct and 9 (nine) elevated stations, including 2 (two) flyovers, and underground twin tunnel, cut and cover, ramp and one underground station for Mumbai Metro Line 9 (extension of line 7 from Dahisar East to Mira Bhayandar and Andheri to CSIA of Mumbai Metro Rail Project of MMRDA). The J Kumar Infraprojects will execute their responsibility for a cost of Rs.1,998 crore.

Apart from the above, in August 2018,  J Kumar Infraprojects had bagged an order worth Rs 867.75 crore for design and construction of viaduct and 5 (five) elevated stations of Mumbai Metro Line-6 of Mumbai Metro Rail Project of MMRDA.

Shares of J. Kumar Infraprojects erased morning gains to trade lower in  afternoon trade. The company has won an order from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for constructing and designing elevated viaducts and nine elevated stations for Mumbai Metro line 9.

The order is worth Rs1,998cr, the company said.

J Kumar Infraprojects Ltd is currently trading at Rs130, down by Rs0.55 or 0.42% from its previous closing of Rs130.55 on the BSE.

The scrip opened at Rs130.60 and has touched a high and low of Rs135.70 and Rs129.20 respectively.

The BSE group ‘B’ stock of face value Rs5 has touched a 52 week high of Rs268.40 on 17-Sep-2018 and a 52-week low of Rs104 on 01-Feb-2019.

Tandon-Fountainhead JV bags consultancy contract of Delhi-Meerut RRTS

NEW DELHI: New Delhi based consultants Tandon-Fountainhead JV emerged as L1 bidder in the recent consultancy bid opened by National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) in New Delhi.

The joint venture (JV) of Tandon Consultants Pvt. Ltd. (TCPL) and Fountainhead Architects has won the contract for detailed design consultant (DDC) for detailed design of two elevated stations viz. Sarai Kale Khan and New Ashok Nagar including Multimodal Integration scheme, approximately 11 km elevated viaduct (from Sarai Kale Khan up to elevated RRTS ramp near Khichripur and Sarai Kale Khan to Jungpura Stabling yard), stabling yard and detailed master plan of approximately 12 hectares (ha) land parcel at Jungpura for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) Project- Phase I.

The tender was floated on February 2, 2019, and technical bids were opened on April 16, 2019. Among all the bidders Tandon-Fountainhead JV has been found as the lowest bidder after the opening of financial bid.

The Sarai Kalen Khan RRTS station will be country’s first mega transit hub. This is because three Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) corridors will intersect here. This station will also coincide with the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station, the Delhi Metro’s Sarai Kale Khan station and the Sarai Kale Khan ISBT.

NCRTC has planned to set up an operation control center (OCC) for all RRTS corridors at Jangpura (South Delhi). In the first phase, the RRTS corridors will connect national capital with other three regional nodes Meerut, Panipat, and Alwar.

Madhya Pradesh CM lays Foundation for Rs.7,500 Crore Indore Metro Rail project

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said once people started migrating to the extended areas for employment, metro rail would be able to offer a viable transport option.

BHOPAL: The country’s cleanest city is soon going to a fast-paced mode of transport as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath laid the foundation for a metro rail project in Indore.

Speaking on the occasion, Nath said cities should be expanded and for doing so transport resources should be made available in the extended city limits. Citing the examples of cities like Noida and Gurugram where big institutions were removed from the city limits to relocate a portion of the population on the outskirts, Nath said something needed to be done for Indore.

He said big institutions were like magnets that attracted the masses and once people started migrating to the extended areas for employment, metro rail would be able to offer a viable transport option.

While crediting his political party for initiating metro projects in Indore and Bhopal, the chief minister said a decade ago, when he had served as the Union minister for urban development, he had sanctioned the two proposals.

Nath said he had asked the then government to prepare detailed project reports and the foundations for the same were being laid today, while adding that attempts were being made to develop Indore as a metropolitan region.

The metro project, being built at an estimated cost of Rs 7,500 crore, would start from the Bengali Square area and pass through Nainod, Bhanwarsala Square and Radisson Square. With 29 stations, it will pass from beneath the ground for a stretch of 7.11 km.

While the elevated section is expected to be completed by 2022-end, the underground stretch is scheduled to be operational by July 2023. Depot line is expected to be completed by February 2023 and work on system line is likely to come to an end by August in the same year. Construction work on the metro project in Bhopal is underway.

Indian Railways signs Memorandum of Understanding with CII for facilitation of Green Initiatives

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways have undertaken some major Green initiatives as part of India’s contribution towards mitigation of global warming and combating climate change. To carry forward this green initiative, an MoU was signed between Ministry of Railways and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) for facilitation of green initiatives in Indian Railways at New Delhi today in the presence of the Minister of State of Railways, Shri Suresh C. Angadi, Director General of CII Shri Chandrajit Banerjee, Member, Rolling Stock, Shri Rajesh Agarwal and other Railway Board Officials.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State of Railways, Shri Suresh C. Angadi said that Cleanliness (Swachhta) has become a movement. Taking inspiration from the Prime Minister, mass participation is now being witnessed across the country on this front. In Railways also, concerted efforts are being made to ensure cleanliness and hygiene in trains and on station premises. He appreciated Railway officials and staff for their effort in this direction. He expressed his happiness that 50 Railway units including workshops and production units, 12 Railway stations and 16 more buildings and other facilities have achieved Green Certification. He hoped that more Railway Production Units and workshops will attain such Green Certificates.

The objectives of the MoU:

  1. Energy efficiency in manufacturing facilities and railway workshops.
  2. Greening of Railway properties.
  3. Demonstrative pilots of ‘net-zero energy buildings/ railway stations’.
  4. Capacity and skill development by continuous sharing of best practices on energy and environment through training programmes.
  5. Development of Green procurement policy, waste management policy, solid waste disposal, carbon neutrality, phytoremediation.

Three Coffee Table Publications –one each on Energy Efficiency, GreenCo Rating and Green Buildings(including railway stations) were also released for wide circulation as part of efforts taken by the Indian Railways team as envisaged in MoU.

Indian Railways & CII have been working together since signing of MOU in 2016 on Green Rating & Energy Efficiency Studies of IR’s Production Units & major workshops and after assessment in last three years, 50 Railway Units including workshops and production units have achieved GreenCo certification. In addition, 12 Railway stations and 16 more buildings and other facilities have also achieved Green certification.

GreenCo rating system developed by CII evaluates the green initiative and the rate of performance of industrial units who are pursuing environmentally sustainable practice and also certifies green building, green campus and green schools etc.

DPR for 50km Una-Hamirpur Rail Link is ready: MOS(F&CA) Anurag Thakur

HAMIRPUR: Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur on Saturday said that the ambitious project of Hamirpur rail link between Una to Hamirpur will be a reality as the Detailed Project Plan (DPR) is ready and the Centre is in talks with the state government regarding the funds.

Mr Thakur told the media that the central government is keen to widen the rail network in Himachal Pradesh and said that the work for the linking of Nangal-Una-Talwara route is in progress and it would be completed in coming eighteen months.

He said that the necessary funds for the project had been released by the Centre to the Railway department. The ministry has approved the construction of Una-Hamirpur railway line that will cost Rs 2,850 crore.

Demand for Diesel Loco is unlikely to go down; we are bullish on India’s growth story: Nalin Jain, President/Wabtec

Nalin Jain, President-Global Equipment Division, Wabtec

NEW DELHI: The demand for diesel locomotives from Wabtec’s Marhowra factory will not be hit by the current slowdown as they consume less fuel than diesel engines churned out by Indian Railways’ factories, said Nalin Jain, President-Global Equipment Division, Wabtec.

Wabtec is an $8-billion company that acquired GE Transportation. In a conversation, he said that Jain feels that “as a result of the merger, we have become a very strong player in the overall rail space.”

Where does India fit in the new entity post Wabtec-GE merger?

Wabtec has grown rapidly in the last decade or so and continues to grow. In the global rail transportation sector, in topline terms we are probably the number 1 or 2 company — with the exception of China’s CRRC Corporation Ltd. India is among the top five markets in terms of topline, number of people in the country, and opportunity that exists for Wabtec.

GE Transportation plus the legacy of Wabtec in India now has 2,700 people here, which is about 10 per cent of the global 27,000 headcount. In terms of headcount, India is the third largest country after the US and France.

One year ago (as GE Transportation), I would have said we sell locomotives to Indian Railways (IR). Now, our teams touch all rail transportation segments — metros, coaches, locomotives. In our recent global leadership call, India was highlighted as a growth market — driven by our success and growth in the transit market.

What about the team of GE that had done a lot of R&D for the locomotive?

Our entire engineering workforce of around 700 which was part of GE Transportation’s footprint in the John F Welch Technology Centre in Bengaluru — has now moved over to Wabtec. With the merger, our engineering presence has doubled to close to 1,400 people now.

How many locomotives been delivered to the Railways?

Roughly, we are at 114 locomotives. Of this, 50 were fully built and imported, mostly delivered last year. The balance have been Made in India — meaning majority of the components have been sourced from local suppliers. We are close to about 70 per cent localisation goal in value terms.

Don’t the suppliers have issues with GST?

It is a huge issue for the industry. For a locomotive, the output tax is only five per cent. But the input components that go into the locomotive attract a tax of 12-18-28 per cent. Higher tax on input and lower tax on output creates an inverted duty structure. So, we are at a situation when the inverted duty/tax structure of components that go into a locomotive are at 20-21 per cent. This leads to a 16 per cent increase in cost.

This is hurting the industry big time — not just Wabtec, but also all original equipment manufacturers. This is an issue flagged by CII. It has been recognised and acknowledged by Railways, but there is no solution yet.

Specifically for the Railways locomotive project, there is a change of law clause. To that extent, GE will get compensated, for which we are in discussions with the Railways.

But, this is a unique case where the industry faces inverted tax structure. Textiles is another sector where they have agreed to refund the trapped tax and the government should consider a similar approach or raise the output tax on locomotives to 12 per cent to neutralise the high input tax rates.

Railways has made its intent clear on migrating away from diesel to electric. Is there a discussion on where these locomotives can be converted to run on gas/LNG as well?

There is no such discussion on dual mode engines. Railways has been clear that while electrification will happen, there will still be need for diesel locomotives for contingencies and disasters, strategic reasons in border areas as well as low density routes where economics make sense.

How is it working with the new government and what are the expectations from it?

We have not seen anything drastically different, considering that it is the same government, and the same Railways Minister.

This is a bold and decisive government, with the right intent. We are hopeful that the government will now accelerate some of the initiatives that it had set out to achieve, like further impetus to manufacturing, ease of doing business and skill building. Measures like these will eventually go a long way to boost economic growth of the country. We are also optimistic that the government will find a solution for the GST issue which is hurting the industry and can impact investment in Make in India.

India is seeing a slowdown in growth, what will happen if the demand from your customer drops? As in, what will Railways do with locomotives if there is not much demand to haul cargo?

India’s GDP growth is still at 5 per cent. As long as the GDP growth story continues, I don’t see demand going down. The government is doing all that is possible to get investment.

Also, rail freight is a cyclical business. Given the impetus to increase the rail share of movement in transportation, even if it were to go up by one-two per cent, there will be demand. That’s where scale comes into play.

We are supposed to deliver only one-eleventh of Railways’ fleet. And specially when we are delivering five-eight per cent more fuel-efficient locomotives. I believe Railways will grow to about 15,000 locomotives in the next 10 years, assuming a seven per cent GDP growth.

Even if they have a demand pressure they would park or condemn the old technology locomotives which are neither efficient, nor emission compliant.

The Future is Smart: says Siemens India MD and CEO Sunil Mathur

Siemens is focussing on digitalisation of physical processes to future-proof its customers’ businesses, as well as its own.
Siemens India MD and CEO Sunil Mathur says before propagating digitalisation, his company had to show how it made economic sense for themselves.

MUMBAI: Nestled on the edge of the Western Ghats in the eastern suburb of Kalwa near Mumbai is a sprawling manufacturing campus that belongs to German engineering conglomerate Siemens’ Indian arm, Siemens Ltd. A wide spectrum of industrial products ranging from motors to switchgear is made in this factory, which came up way back in the 1960s.

On a wet July afternoon after a torrential downpour, work at the unit churning out switchgear—a key component of industrial equipment—is on in full swing. The factory dating back to India’s pre-liberalisation, socialist era can easily be mistaken for a legacy manufacturing unit—outdated and inefficient. But Siemens’ Kalwa works is anything but.

Siemens, in India and globally, is increasingly focussing on digitalisation as the new way of life for itself and its diverse set of clients. “Customers don’t simply want a product like a motor anymore. They want to know how we can help them become more competitive and the answer lies in greater digitalisation and customisation,” Sunil Mathur, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Ltd, tells. In 2017, Siemens decided to showcase its Kalwa factory as an example of how it can help brownfield industrial installations transform and become more efficient through automation and digitalisation. The factory uses a variety of solutions—physical and digital—developed by Siemens to allow the asynchronous manufacturing of different types of switchgear on a single production line. “We thought if we are going out and propagating digitalisation, we should be able to demonstrate how it makes economic sense for us,” Mathur says.

Digital Switchgear Factory of Siemens.

After its digital transformation, Siemens was able to manufacture 180 variants of switchgear on a single assembly line at its plant in Kalwa, near Mumbai.

Before the transformation, 77 variants of switchgear were made on three production lines with a 21-second cycle time to produce one unit. After the transformation, over 180 variants are produced on a single line with a cycle time of nine seconds. To ensure a greater proportion of products pass quality tests in the first attempt, 22 quality checks were enhanced to 68, which has led to a 99% success rate.

At the heart of this process of transformation are two in-house technologies, which Siemens is also using to make life better for its customers.

The first is called Digital Twin, which allows for an end-to-end virtual simulation of the entire manufacturing process for any product. Say the product in question is a car. Digital Twin can help with its design, determine the materials to be used, and then test the product to evaluate intricate details like what impact a certain airspeed can have on the windscreen. Logically, this helps in cutting down time-to-market for a new product and makes the manufacturing process more cost efficient.

The second technology is called MindSphere, a cloud-based operating system based on the Internet of Things, which connects real objects to a digital ecosystem and harnesses analytics to drive process innovation.

The move towards digitalisation—coupled with Siemens’ legacy DNA of electrification and automation—is paying rich dividends for the company as the greater focus on marrying the physical and the digital is reflecting in improved financials and steady business from a sticky set of clients ranging from Mahindra & Mahindra’s (M&M) automobile factory in Chakan, Pune to the Taj Lands End hotel in Bandra, Mumbai.

In financial year 2017-18 (Siemens Ltd’s financial year is from October to September), the company reported a turnover of ₹12,725 crore, up 15.5% over the year earlier. Its earnings before interest and tax in the same period grew 30% to ₹1,316 crore. Net profit, however, declined 21% to ₹894 crore due to a higher ratio of tax paid by the company. Siemens Ltd was incorporated in 1922 and began manufacturing in India in 1957. It makes everything from gas turbines and distributed control systems for power distribution to propulsion systems for diesel locomotives used by the Indian Railways. The three pillars which the company is broadly banking on for future growth are digital factories (like the Kalwa plant), smart mobility, and smart infrastructure.

Happily, for Mathur, infrastructure, mobility, and manufacturing output were all buzzwords that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman focussed on in her Budget speech in Parliament on July 5. From committing ₹100 lakh crore for infrastructure development to incentives for promoting electric vehicles and steps to modernise the railways and boost the metro rail network in cities, each of these focus areas for the government opens up business opportunities for Siemens. “Whether it is power generation, transmission and distribution, the development of smart cities and smart infrastructure, modernisation of the railways, Make in India or Digital India, Siemens is present in every single focus area for the government and looks forward to being a part of the journey,” Mathur says.

The government of India wants to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP from 15% to 25% in the next five to 10 years. This translates to an incremental manufacturing output of $700 billion, which would require an investment of $1.5-$2 trillion. Since there is a limit to domestic consumption, companies would need to look at manufacturing for exports and be globally competitive. This is where digitalisation helps.

Balkrishna Patil, general manager and head of powertrain CME (central manufacturing engineering) at carmaker M&M’s Chakan plant in Pune, says Siemens has been instrumental in enhancing the efficiency of the company’s manufacturing operations. “We wanted our plant to be flexible and future-ready with end-to-end integration of the machines, along with data integration and automation. Siemens is one company that has the in-house capabilities in all these verticals,” he says. Siemens has designed and implemented a manufacturing execution system at Chakan, which is the nerve centre of M&M’s operations and helps leverage data analytics to eliminate product defects, keep the production line flexible vis-à-vis varying demand for different types of products, and preventive maintenance of machines through diagnostics, which leads to shorter downtime and hence greater utilisation. A lot of this is achieved through the use of sensors that transmit data, which is stored and mined for insights.

“Siemens is helping them [companies] connect the tangible, physical side of manufacturing with virtual technologies for greater impact,” says Bhaskar Mandal, Head of Siemens’ Digital Industries business.

Bhaskar Mandal, Head of Siemens’ Digital Industries business, says that his division is helping customers enhance manufacturing operations across process-based industries (like cement, steel), as well as discrete products (like cars). “We are in an era of Industry 4.0 and the move up the technology scale is helping companies become more productive and cost efficient. Siemens is helping them connect the tangible, physical side of manufacturing with virtual technologies for greater impact,” says Mandal.

While factories may be the temples of modern India, as Jawaharlal Nehru had famously remarked, 40% of energy consumption in the country—where energy security and environmental concerns are of utmost importance—is on account of buildings coming up in cities because of rapid urbanisation. It is projected that India will become the most populous country in the world by 2025 and 70% of its population will stay and work in cities.

While the government wants to establish smart cities in India, it is easier said than done because existing cities have cumbersome and complex infrastructure. Also, the multi-agency coordination, at a government level, needed to make a city smart by digitally empowering energy, traffic, and sanitation management may not always be possible.

A smart city is just a collection of smart campuses, which can be a factory or a hotel or a commercial building,” says Robert Demann, head, Smart Infrastructure, Siemens.

Siemens, therefore, is focussing on ‘smart infrastructure’. “A smart city is just a collection of smart campuses, which can be a factory or a hotel or a commercial building,” says Robert Demann, head of Siemens’ smart infrastructure business. “When you group a lot of solutions like the Internet of infrastructure, charging infrastructure for electric cars, and smart metering for energy consumption under one roof, you get a smart campus.”

Take the case of Taj Lands End, a popular five-star hotel in Mumbai’s tony suburb of Bandra. A few years ago, the management realised that energy was the largest cost centre that was eating into the profits of the hotel. They got in touch with Siemens, which helped them install sensors and a patented algorithm that helped the hotel regulate temperature optimally.

“In the first year itself we were able to save 1.2 million units of energy (which according to commercial tariffs for power in Mumbai could be worth ₹12 crore) and we could recover the cost of the technology in 16 months,” says Nilesh Mahajan, director of engineering at Taj Lands End.

While micro campuses like hotels are one part of creating smart infrastructure in a city, the other crucial component is smart mobility. Through this vertical, Siemens predominantly works with the Indian Railways and metro projects coming up in different cities. Siemens started off as a signalling partner for the Indian Railways, helping the largest railway network in the world transition from manual interlocking to relay interlocking. It then started making components for rolling stock such as the air conditioning apparatus that runs on alternate current and propulsion equipment that helps propel diesel locomotives. It is also doing the electrification of metro lines in eight of the 13 cities that are building new metro lines. Siemens has since moved up the value chain and in October 2018 it was awarded the contract, in partnership with the Tata group, to develop Pune Metro Line 3 from Shivajinagar to the IT hub of Hinjewadi.

“Today we service the high-technology components used in the railway ecosystem. Tomorrow we want to move into ‘services’,”
says Tilak Raj Seth, Head of Siemens’ Mobility Division.

The future for Siemens’ mobility division also lies in digital. “Today we service the high-technology components used in the railway ecosystem on behalf of the railways. Tomorrow we want to move into ‘services’. We have already connected locomotives with a remote monitoring system that generates data which informs the railways of the need for predictive maintenance,” says Tilak Raj Seth, head of Siemens’ mobility division. Siemens has also developed a prototype, along with the Indian Railways, of a rail break detection system, which can help prevent serious accidents by routinely collecting data from sensors and identifying patterns that can lead to early detection of faults in the rails.

These new initiatives focussing on digital products and services have helped Siemens partially mitigate the slowdown it faced in new business from large infrastructure projects, which have slowed down due to a number of reasons.

“The strong focus on products and services has helped Siemens mitigate slowdown in industrial capex, as it has been able to capitalise on op-ex related spending,” say analysts Nilesh Bhaiya and Amit Shah of Motilal Oswal Financial Services in a recent report.

“Customer value enhancement is at the centre of all its digital initiatives where it strives to enhance efficiency in terms of energy savings, reducing development time, streamlining production, predictive maintenance of assets using AI etc.,” say analysts Dhirendra Tiwari and Abhijeet Singh of Antique Stock Broking in a recent report. Not only is India an important market for Siemens, it is also a crucial development centre for its global digital solutions. “India is a key focus market and plays an important role in our global digitalisation strategy.

Research and software development in India coupled with the sharpened focus on startup innovations… will actively drive the implementation of cutting-edge technologies,” Roland Busch, chief operating officer and chief technology officer of Siemens AG, said during the company’s Innovation Day event in Mumbai in May.

Around 4,000 software engineers based in India will collaborate with Siemens’ worldwide teams to develop, test, and commercialise applications in the areas of smart urban infrastructure, digital enterprise, connected mobility, future of energy and artificial intelligence.

Through its own transformation and that of its clients’ businesses, Siemens is demonstrating that combining nuts and bolts with bits and bytes can be good for business.

Railways extends support for giving a boost to Economy, announces measures of Freight incentive

Indian Railways suspends busy season surcharge from this year. Waives off 15% peak season surcharge.

NEW DELHI: Citing economic slump and to give a boost to the economy, Railways on Thursday decided to suspend the busy season surcharge for all freight traffic and said during the last five months it did more business as compared to the last year, but the growth is not what it expected. Member Traffic (Railways) P S Mishra told a press conference at the Railway Bhavan that the levy of Busy Season Charge, which is levied at the rate of 15 per cent from October 1- June 30, has been deferred till further advise (except for iron ore and POL). Coal and coke and container traffic are already exempt. Railways also plans to increase the flow of rakes for auto companies to increase freight traffic contribution from the sector. Details of these measures announced by Member (Traffic) are as under:

Freight rate related measures:

Levy of Busy Season Charge Deferred:

  • BSC, which is levied @ 15% from 1 Oct-30 June, has been deferred till further advice (Except for iron ore and POL).
  • Coal & coke and container traffic are already exempt.

Waiver of Supplementary charges on Mini and Two point rakes:

  • The 5% Supplementary charges applicable on Loading on Mini and Two point rakes is being waived off.
  • This is likely to boost loading of Smaller cargo sizes and help cement, steel, food grains and fertilizers loading.

Round-trip charging on container traffic:

  • As per haulage charge rating of container traffic, 0-50 km is the minimum distance slab for charging.
  • It is seen that container traffic in this ultra short lead (0-50 km) is very low at present.
  • Therefore, round-trip charging of container trip has been introduced for a distance of less than 50 km on each way.
  • Under this scheme, haulage charge for 0-100 km slab will be charged for total to and fro movement, instead of charging for 0-50 km slab each way.
  • Impact- this comes out to be about  35% cheaper per TEU for the complete round-trip
  • It is expected to especially give a fillip to EXIM traffic between ports and Inland Container Depots.

Discount on movement of empty containers and empty flat wagons

  • A discount of 25% discount in haulage charge of containers has been given to encourage movement of empty/flat to ports; thereby increasing loaded container traffic in return
  • It is expected to enhance price-competitiveness of Railway vis-a-vis other modes of transport and expand freight basket by capturing new traffic.

Large-scale de-notification of commodities for container traffic

  • As per container haulage charging policy, notified commodities are charged at Container Class Rates (CCR), which is 15% lower than General Tariff Rates (GTR). Rest of the commodities are charged at Freight All Kind (FAK) rates, which are even lower than CCR.
  • Recently, 90 more commodities have been de-notified, which brought down their haulage charge from CCR to FAK rates.
  • Now, out of total 635 commodities in Goods Tariff, only 38 commodities are under notified/CCR rates (11 of these are POL commodities).

Auto sector’s demand

Mr. Mishra added that the Railways would be increasing the number of rakes for transportation of automobiles from eight to 26, and gradually to 50 rakes by the end of this financial year. “This is being done on the request of the auto sector. We have very limited presence in auto which we are trying to increase,” he said.

He added that at the industry’s request, Indian Railways was also working on a special wagon design for transportation of four wheelers as well as two wheelers as more traffic was expected from the sector despite the slump there. Mr. Mishra expects to increase the present share of 2% in loading auto freight, to around 8-10% by the end of this fiscal.

Freight Marketing initiatives:

  • Induction of more New Modified Goods  car rakes and introduction of new design of Bi level auto car wagons (BCACBM wagons).
  • Rationalization of Road Railer with 4 new weight slabs instead of earlier 3 weight slabs. More competitive rates.
  • Weight and weighment conditions relaxed in perishable traffic  when loaded in goods wagons

Measures to enhance ease of business and digitisation

  1. Pan-India Implementation of eT-RR
  • Facility of Electronic Transmission of Railway Receipts (eT-RR) has been successfully implemented across the country wef 01.08.2019
  • eT-RR is user-friendly and paperless transaction system where Railway Receipt is generated and transmitted electronically to customer through Freight Operation Information System (FOIS). Delivery of goods is given through e-surrender of eT-RR. That is, customer is saved the hassle of carrying physical Railway Receipt from originating to destination station
  • This facility is expected to bring down the transaction costs of rail customers, and also pave the way for greater digitisation.
  1. Weighment-related reforms
  • Pre-weigh bin system for weighment of goods traffic has been permitted in private sidings. This is expected to bring down the time for Weighment and loading, and also bring in higher accuracy in Weighment. It shall go a long way in redressing the issues related to Weighment.
  • As per earlier policy, if a second Weighment of wagons was done, the higher of the two reading was considered final for charging or levy of penalty.  Now, the policy has been modified to state that second weighment will be considered final for charging. This policy change makes the provision of second weighment meaningful and is expected to redress customers’ grievance in accuracy of Weighment.
  • Low density commodities like Pet Coke, Met Coke, Chuni and De-oiled cake have also been exempted from mandatory weighment. This is likely to save transit time and increase fluidity, which translate in to cost saving for customers also.

IRCTC to launch its first Passenger Train on Lucknow-Delhi Route

NEW DELHI: Ministry of Railways, over the last few years, have been executing prestigious projects for improving the overall traveling experience of rail passengers including running of premium high speed trains, station and premises development, and providing state of the art amenities to its passengers on trains as well as at stations.

To further professionalise the services, Railways have entrusted IRCTC, it’s commercial tourism and catering arm and a two decade old service organization to operate two premium passenger trains for general public using the air conditioned chair car rakes of Tejas trains.

These two trains will ply on Lucknow – Delhi – Lucknow  and Ahmedabad – Mumbai- Ahmedabad routes for 6 days in a week and will primarily cater to the business travellers traveling frequently between these cities, besides catering to tourists. Trains would be equipped with all modern on board facilities for ensuring a high level of comfort to the passengers.

The first train to start with IRCTC management will be operated in Lucknow – New Delhi – Lucknow sector having a total journey time of 6 hours and 15 minutes. This train will have  one Executive class air conditioned chair car having 56 seats and nine air conditioned chair cars having capacity of 78 seats each. The total carrying capacity of the train will be 758 passengers.  The train will start its journey in the morning at 06:10 hours and will reach New Delhi at 12:25 hours having scheduled commercial halts at Kanpur Central and Ghaziabad. In the return direction, train will leave New Delhi at 16:30 hours and will reach Lucknow at 22:45 hours having schedule halts at Ghaziabad and Kanpur Central enroute. Train will run 6 days a week except Tuesday.

Another train on Tejas rake will be run by IRCTC on Ahmedabad – Mumbai – Ahmedabad route a little later. This train will leave Ahmedabad at 06:40 hours and will reach Mumbai at 13:15 hrs. In the return direction, train will leave Mumbai at 15:40 hrs and reach Ahmedabad at 22:25 hrs. This train will also run 6 days a week, except Thursday.

Salient features of  these trains are as under:

  • Train will be available for booking exclusively on IRCTC website irctc.co.in and its mobile app “Irctc Rail Connect”. There will be no booking at railway reservation counters. However, passengers can get their tickets booked through IRCTC authorized agents. Train will also be available for booking through IRCTC’ online travel portal partners like Paytm, Ixigo, PhonePe, Make My Trip, Google, Ibibo, Railyatri etc.
  • Train will also be available for booking for on duty and leave travel of personnel of defence forces and Central Paramilitary Forces through their online e-ticketing portals integrated with IRCTC such as CGDA (Controller General of Defence Accounts) portal, CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and NDRF (National Disaster Rescue Force) Portals, and also to NSG (National Security Guards) etc.
  • These trains will have advance reservation period of 60 days. Initial trips will be booked on less than 60 days also till such time dates neutralize keeping in mind the train launch date and opening of first booking.
  • While there will be no concession tickets in the train, children below 5 years of age have been exempted from fare and will be booked with their parents. Names of Children so booked will not appear on the chart. Children of age 5 years and above will be booked at full fare and will be provided with a seat.
  • Train fare will be dynamic in nature keeping in consideration the prevailing bus, taxi, rail and airfares. Train will have different series of fares for lean, busy and festive seasons. February, March and August months of the calendar year will form the lean season. Further, train fares will be on point to point basis.
  • Current Booking will be available to users after preparation of first chart which will normally be 4 hours before the scheduled departure of the trains, up to 5 minutes before the scheduled departure of the train.
  • One air conditioned chair car coach of 78 seats will be available for Group Booking on first cum first served basis. This coach can be booked any time from the opening of booking and up to 3 days in advance of the departure of the train. Booking of a full coach for group will be available completely online to facilitate tourism, corporate travel and other social needs of the public.
  • There will be no tatkal quota or premium tatkal quota in these trains. There will be only General Quota and Foreign Tourist Quota. Foreign Tourist Quota of 5 seats in EC and 50 seats in CC will be available for Foreign Tourists.
  • All passengers travelling on IRCTC trains will be provided with Rail Travel Insurance of up to Rs. 25 Lakhs, free of cost by IRCTC.
  • IRCTC is also working on extending the Executive Lounge facility at New Delhi railway station to IRCTC train passengers at a reduced rate.
  • In case of cancellation of train, automatic full refund of full fare on confirmed and /or waitlisted e-tickets will be made. There will be no need of cancelling the ticket or filing TDR in such case.
  • On board infotainment services will be available in IRCTC trains to the passengers.
  • IRCTC is also contemplating on sale of merchandise goods on board to its passengers on these trains.
  • High quality food and beverages will be provided to the passengers on board in the train. Food will be compulsory and charges will be collected at the time of ticket booking itself. There will also be provision for separate free coffee and tea vending machines. Service in the train will be done through trolleys similar to airlines. Each coach will be provided with RO water filter in addition to the packaged drinking water bottle for each passenger. Passengers will be served morning welcome tea, breakfast, snacks before de boarding, evening high tea and dinner as per itinerary timings. Details for which will be provided on IRCTC website.

IRCTC is planning to imbibe regional delicacies having local and ethnic cuisines to suit the taste buds of passengers. On board hospitality services will be managed through professional and competent staff from either gender.

  • IRCTC is planning to extend the facility of collecting passengers’ baggage from their homes and deliver to them in the train on their seats and then again from their seats to their destination stay point on payment. Modalities for the same are being worked out with vendors for this purpose. Passengers will be able to travel without worrying for their luggage. Luggage will be insured.
  • IRCTC will also extend the facilities of taxi hiring, hotel bookings etc on payment to such passengers who need it. Wheel chair will also be provided to passengers on demand.
  • Ticket cancellation and refund rules will be akin to Indian Railways Cancellation and Refund Rules in force with the following differences:
  1. If a Waitlisted Ticket is presented for cancellation up to 4 hours before the scheduled departure of the train, a clerkage charge of only Rs. 25/- per passenger shall be deducted from the ticket amount and balance refunded online. Indian Railways deducts Rs. 65 per passenger as clerkage from AC class passengers in such case.
  2. If a Fully waitlisted ticket is dropped at the time of train charting due to no seats being offered to the passenger, full ticket amount will be refunded online. No clerkage will be  deducted on such tickets. Indian Railways deducts Rs. 65 per passenger as clerkage from AC class passengers in such case.
  3. If a partially confirmed ticket is cancelled after chart preparation and up to 30 minutes before scheduled departure of the train, full ticket amount will be refunded. No clerkage will be deducted. Indian Railways deducts Rs. 65 per passenger as clerkage from AC class passengers in such case.

Lucknow – New Delhi – Lucknow IRCTC train will be run as  per following timings: 

Arrival Departure Station Arrival Departure
06:10 Lucknow Jn. 22:45
07:20 07:25 Kanpur Central 21:30 21:35
11:43 11:45 Ghaziabad 17:10 17:12
12:25   New Delhi   16:30

Detailed information about the facilities at stations, on board hospitalities, rules for ticket booking, procedures, refunds and cancellations etc will be made available to users on IRCTC website, once the trains are opened for booking.


“INDIAN RAILWAY CATERING AND TOURISM CORPORATION LIMITED is proposing, subject to applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, receipt of requisite approvals, market conditions and other considerations, to make an initial public offer of its Equity Shares and has filed the draft red herring prospectus (“DRHP”) with SEBI. The DRHP shall be available on the websites of the SEBI at www.sebi.gov.in, websites of the Stock Exchanges at www.bseindia.com and www.nseindia.com, and on the websites of BRLMs i.e., www.idbicapital.com, www.sbicaps.com and www.yesinvest.in. Investors should note that investment in Equity Shares involves a high degree of risk and for details relating to the same, see “Risk Factors” on page 25 of the DRHP. Potential investors should not rely on the DRHP filed with the SEBI for making any investment decision. 

The Equity Shares have not been and will not be registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) or any other applicable law of the United States and, unless so registered, may not be offered or sold within the United States, except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the Securities Act and applicable state securities laws. Accordingly, the Equity Shares are only being offered and sold (i) within the United States only to persons reasonably believed to (a) be “qualified institutional buyers” (as defined in Rule 144A under the Securities Act, “Rule 144A”) and (b) “qualified purchasers” within the meaning of the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940, in transactions exempt from, or not subject to, registration requirements of the Securities Act, and (ii) outside the United States in offshore transactions in reliance on Regulation S under the Securities Act and pursuant to the applicable laws of the jurisdictions where those offers and sales are made. There will be no public offering of the Equity Shares in the United States.”

DB Cargo and Siemens sign condition-based Maintenance Contract

GERMAN Rail (DB) rail freight subsidiary DB Cargo has signed a contract with Siemens to carry out condition-based and predictive maintenance on more than 250 electric locomotives.

The aim of the partnership is to increase the availability of class 152 locomotives built in 1995-2001 and multi-system class 189 locomotives supplied in 2003-2005. Both fleets were supplied by Siemens.

DB says this is the first time in Europe an operator and locomotive supplier have continued to exchange and exploit technical data after delivery.

The Many Facets of the Aarey Metro Debacle

MUMBAI: The verdant expanse of Aarey forests in suburban Mumbai turned into a battleground between environmentalists and authorities. Triggering this confrontation was the BMC-appointed Tree Authority’s clearance to cut almost 2,700 trees in the area to construct a car shed for the upcoming metro line.

This controversy expectedly reignited the development vs. environment debate. In a space-starved and congested city like Mumbai, Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Aarey are the few open green spaces left. Rich in biodiversity, home to several animals and birds and with lakhs of trees, the Aarey forests are the lungs of the city.

Tree cutting for Metro 3 car shed at Aarey colony – BMC receives over 30,000 objections

Environmentalists fear that this mass felling of trees will disturb the whatever ecological balance Mumbai still retains and can exacerbate chronic problems like flooding.

It has not been an easy ride for the state government over the last few days. Environmentalists and activists have staged a massive protest against the felling of trees and MHADA’s move to acquire more land from Aarey Colony for building other metro sheds. In a major victory for these protestors most recently, the government has decided to shelve its plan to acquire more land from Aarey and instead sought an alternate land parcel spread over 28,000 sq. ft. area at Wadala in the south eastern region.

That said, as of now, the earlier proposal to cut down 2,700 trees continues.

The issues at hand are complex and tricky. Mumbai is in desperate need of enhanced public transport solutions, and the metro will address the commuting requirements of tens of thousands of suburbanites. But should development come at the cost of the environment? The damage done by hacking close to three thousand trees may be irreparable and could have long-term consequences for the city.

Real Estate and Social Implications

While the Metro will benefit residents living around the Aarey forests by reducing their daily commute time, the construction of a Metro car shed is unlikely to have any direct real estate benefit. It is only a parking lot and service area for Metro trains.

However, the state government has also allotted 90 acres of land inside Aarey forests to rehabilitate tribals and slum dwellers. In fact, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has also floated tenders to build homes for slum dwellers from Maroshi in Andheri and tribals from Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

The construction of SRA projects unlocks prime land opening up many possibilities for developers – but again, the development of an SRA project in an ecologically sensitive area like Aarey brings up its own environmental questions.

This SRA project has met with much opposition due to its potentially negative impact on the local environment and ecosystem. Tribals on their part are also resisting this development and have protested against moving to rehabilitation buildings. Indigenous to the Aarey area, these tribals have been demanding better welfare for their community.

Ideally, rehabilitation of slum dwellers must be near their original place of residence. It is definitely not feasible, either economically or socially, to transplant a large group of people to a new location in the city and expect them to find new means of livelihood and survival.

However, there must be enough land available to rehabilitate slum dwellers near their original residence – which is also tough in a city of Mumbai.

Availability of land in prime areas is the biggest hurdle infrastructure developers face when it comes to projects in metro cities. The problem is even more acute in Mumbai, which is primarily an island city that can only grow northwards.

A recent tweak to Development Control (DC) rules governing slum rehabilitation projects by the state government has opened fresh avenues for developers. Developers can now avail construction benefits for building rental houses for the economically weaker sections and developing transit camps for slum dwellers.

This provision can be seen as a windfall for developers as the benefit has been extended from the suburbs to the island city. However, this essentially means developing rental accommodation and transit camps in the distant suburbs, several kilometres away from the original residence of slum dwellers.

True, developers benefit as land prices in the far-off suburbs are much lower than in the island city. Mumbai’s DC Rules permit developers a zonal FSI of 1.33 in the island city, while an SRA scheme gives them an FSI of 3. This means that the builder can develop as much as three times of the plot size. From a monetary point of view, the developer certainly gains from SRA development and relocating the original residents to another part of the city.

But again, this equation does not factor in how the slum dwellers themselves would be affected.

Aditya Thackeray demands MMRCL MD Ashwini Bhide’s transfer, claims corporation is against Mumbai citizens

Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on Tuesday sought transfer of MMRCL’s Managing Director Ashwini Bhide for not heeding the opposition to tree felling in Aarey Colony for Mumbai metro’s car shed.

He also questioned the stand taken by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s (MMRCL) that there can’t be a metro for the city if land was not made available in the forested Aarey Colony. The BJP-led Maharashtra government’s plan to cut about 2,700 trees in Aarey Colony in north Mumbai for car shed of the metro has had green activists and citizens’ groups up in the arms.

Aaditya, son of ruling BJP’s ally Uddhav Thackeray, has lent support to those opposed to tree felling. Bhide, on Monday, said it was not possible to build the car shed anywhere else as suggested by green activists.

“The concerned officer is not only disrespecting the elected representatives and citizens of Mumbai but her statements also seem to threaten the common man and the courts,” Aaditya said at a press conference.

“MMRCL’s stand is against the citizens of Mumbai,” he added, demanding Bhide’s transfer. He gave a presentation on the flora and fauna of Aarey Colony (which is adjacent to Sanjay Gandhi National Park) and said if construction was allowed there, the Mithi river which flows through the city would get flooded often.

The consultants who suggested the use of Aarey land for a car shed, ignoring the area’s bio-diversity, must be probed, he said.

“We must know what is the scam behind this stand,” he added.

Thackeray also wondered if the real estate lobby was behind the demand for locating metro car shed in Aarey, saying once the car shed came up, the area would be thrown open for commercial development. The opposition was to the car shed and not to the metro per se, he said while demanding that Aarey be declared a protected forest.

AFCONS clinches Rs.676 crore Civil Contract for Kanpur Metro; Tendering process initiated for Technical Works

KANPUR: The civil works tender for building nine metro rail stations of the Kanpur Metro Rail project has been worn by M/s AFCONS Infrastructure Limited. M/s AFCONS emerged as the lowest bidder, edging out competitors Larsen & Toubro Limited, KEC-CCECC JV and NCC.

The successful bid for the project means AFCONS Infrastructure will be responsible for constructing the nine initially planned nine metro stations in Kanpur and elevated viaduct structures for the same.

The nine stations are IIT Kanpur Station, Kalyanpur Railway Station, Motijheel Station, Gurudev Chauraha Station, Geeta Nagar Station, Rawatpur Railway Station, Kanpur University Station, SPM Hospital Station and Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital Station.

The contract for the said work is worth Rs 676 crore while the whole project will cost an estimated Rs 11,076.48 crore.

The technical bid for the project was also opened earlier last month (August 2019), and work will be contracted out for an estimated Rs 105.00 crore.

A number of cities in Uttar Pradesh are set to get their own metro rail systems in the coming years, with Agra and Kanpur metros already having received approval from the Centre, while metros for Meerut, Gorakhpur and Varanasi in various stages of planning.

Bids invited for Depot E&M Workshop works of Kanpur Metro Rail project

Scope of Work: Civil, PEB, and E&M work for construction of Depot cum workshop, including structural, architectural, plumbing, drainage, external development, road works, electrical, mechanical, VAC, fire fighting, fire detection etc. at Government Polytechnic Depot for IIT Kanpur to Naubasta Corridor-1 of Kanpur Metro Rail Project.

  • Approximate cost of work:INR 105.00 Crore
  • Tender Security/Earnest Money Deposit (EMD):INR 1.05 Crore
  • Work Completion period:18 months
  • Tender Document Cost:INR 23,600.00 (including GST)
  • Sale of Tender Document:From 30.08.2019 to 20.09.2019
  • Pre-Bid Meeting:09.2019 at 15.00hrs
  • Date & time of Submission of Tender:10.2019 till 15.00 hrs.
  • Opening of Technical Bid:10.2019 at 15.30 hrs.

Eligibility Criteria: The tenderers should have completed at least one similar work of the value of Rs. 84.00 crore or more, or two similar works each of value of Rs. 52.50 crore or more or three similar works each of value of Rs. 42.00 crores or more during the last seven years ending 31st July 2019. Similar work for this contract shall be work of construction of Metro train depot/Metro stations/Metro building/Ramp comprising Civil, Architectural & E&M works.

  • Liquidity:Minimum cash flow should be at least Rs.10.00 crore.
  • Profitability:Profit before Tax should be Positive in at least two years, out of the last five audited financial years.
  • Net worth:Net Worth of tenderer during the last audited financial year should be >Rs. 14.00 crore.
  • Annual Turnover:The average annual turnover from the construction of the last five financial years should be > Rs.56.00 crore.

Vortex IOT to launch rail sensor system with Network Rail, Tata Steel

LONDON: UK-based Vortex IOT is set to launch its advanced Rail Optical Detection of Intrusions and Obstructions (RODIO) solution in collaboration with Network Rail and Tata Steel.

The new solution, which is financed by Innovate UK, is designed to detect and classify hindrances in the track automatically and remotely.

It is capable of detecting obstructions such as fallen trees, landslides, trespassers, vehicles and maintenance workers.

From the concept stage to completion, the technology took 18 months to develop. It underwent extensive scrutiny at the Network Rail RIDC (Rail Innovation & Development Centre) facility in Tuxford, Nottinghamshire.

Vortex IOT will launch RODIO on 9 and 10 September in the presence of around 50 rail industry experts.

Vortex IOT managing director Adrian Sutton said: “The ground-breaking, cost-effective RODIO device will allow the industry to detect any obstacles that may interfere with train journeys in real-time and therefore deal with them in a timely manner and reduce the overall delay.

“The system also includes an early alert system for theft, trespass and intrusions and guarantees high precision even in low-visibility and dark conditions.

“We have worked closely with Network Rail and Tata Steel for more than a year to bring this product to fruition and look forward to launching it in September.”

In addition to RODIO, the company has developed other IoT-based platforms, including a secure, self-healing mesh network, an air quality measurement (AQM) platform and integrated smart parking optimisation.

Network Rail Design and Technology project manager Gregan Quick said: “Network Rail welcomes technological advances in safety, and putting passengers and freights users first. RIDC Tuxford is facilitating the trial of this IOT based solution.”

Tata Steel MIET, software development manager for process control and automation Gareth Osmond said: “The opportunity to get involved as a partner in the RODIO project was a simple choice for Tata Steel and the work done by Vortex IoT has been exemplary.”

The key role of IoT and analytics

IoT sensor technologies are capable of gathering information on many aspects of rail operations. For example, 80% of track issues resulting in derailments are caused by vertical displacement of the track. IoT sensors installed on trackside assets can detect vertical displacement and temperature changes. They can also monitor the motions of actuators on the trains and catenary tension swings.

Sensor output is just one of the many kinds of data that can inform decisions about trackside operations and maintenance. Data from historical sources such as rail traffic, rolling-stock flows, maintenance logs, and planning and control activities are also important. However, analysing this data, much of it streaming in real time, far exceeds the abilities of human operators.

This is where today’s advanced analytics applications are able to handle the huge amounts of data that operators cannot. The applications can initially use historical data to develop models and algorithms that predict when safety, performance or other operational parameters are being exceeded. Over time, the predictions of these models can be tested against actual performance. The analytics applications then use real-time, streaming data to adjust their models to make them more accurate, which is what is meant by machine learning. As more and more IoT sensor data is analysed, the models become increasingly accurate.

Predictive maintenance

Trackside predictive maintenance is a key area where these data-driven machine-learning systems can improve safety and reduce costs. There are defined inspection cycles and time-limiting maintenance windows, which put a special emphasis on maintenance planning for the use of repair equipment and personnel. Today’s preventive and conditions-based maintenance can be improved by using IoT and analytics technologies.

Many assets fail during operations when using time-based maintenance schedules from equipment vendors. Unfortunately, if you shorten the maintenance schedule too much, you risk wasting money refurbishing or replacing assets that are actually in serviceable condition. Nokia, for example, has developed a rail asset lifecycle optimisation application that uses existing conditions-based asset assessment and improves upon it using analytics and machine learning techniques.

Correlating data from IoT sensors, environmental information and historical trends, these kinds of solutions optimise the maintenance modelling for each asset by continually refining its ability to forecast failure time. Over time, it can also create value with prescriptive analytics that identify specific actions to optimise operations or automate responses to allow for faster adjustments of schedules and plans.

The Nokia solution also provides data on the consequences if premature failure should occur. This provides the operator with a way to assess risk as well. With the Nokia system, operators are given data-driven visualisations in a wide range of intuitive visual formats to provide context for operators. This allows them at a glance to align risk tolerances, business objectives and processes based on their asset management strategies and capital investment planning.

These kinds of ‘smart’ systems can also help in the operations of railway stations. There are applications for smart lighting, smart waste, flood detection and platform ice detection. To take smart waste as an example, as with rolling stock maintenance, the issue with fixed schedules is that oftentimes waste bins are overflowing, other times they are nearly empty. The issue is how to get better at predicting when to empty them.

There are a variety of IoT sensor solutions that measure waste levels in bins. This helps to plan waste pickup schedules. However, while these solutions can tell you the current state, they have no ability to predict when they should be emptied. As a result, your schedule will still need a fair bit of leeway built in.

Predictive analytics are able to develop models based on the real-time sensor data and historical data. They can also pull information flows from other areas such as train schedules, passenger traffic patterns or predicted ambient temperatures (better to empty the waste bins sooner during heat waves). The result is a constantly improving waste bin emptying schedule as the analytics program gets better and better at prediction.

Integrated approach

The smart rail station would ideally link all of the data being collected around the station from a variety of similar applications, including CCTV video data, online ticket sales, local event programming (such as a football match or outdoor concert) to be able to better predict station usage and how best to optimise resources, safety and security across all areas of station operations. It not only saves money; it improves the passenger experience.

While this may sound quite futuristic, there are existing solutions for most of these use cases today, and many more are coming. There is a danger, however, that railway operators may be tempted to approach each solution separately. The real power of these applications is the ability to integrate as much data as possible, as the simple smart waste application illustrates very well. This requires operators to take a system-wide approach with a strategy for digital communications, IoT management, and data collection, storage and processing. This system-wide approach is why communications system vendors, such as Nokia, are developing solutions in this space, offering rail operators an integrated platform from which to launch their full digital transformation.

Decks cleared for 61km Karnal-Yamunanagar and 50km Jind-Hansi Rail lines in Haryana

HRIDC completes DPR & detailed survey of two new rail lines.

CHANDIGARH: The decks have been cleared for the construction of two rail lines in Haryana as the Haryana Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited has completed their detailed survey and detailed project report, an official said on Tuesday.

With the construction of the rail lines between Karnal (falling under NR-Delhi Division) to Yamunanagar (falling under NR-Ambala Division) totaling 61 kms, and Jind (falling under NR-Delhi Division) to Hansi (falling under Bikaner Division of NWR) tatalling 50 kms , the long-standing demand of the people would be fulfilled, a government spokesman said.

He said that after the approval of the state government, the DPRs of both these projects have been submitted to Ministry of Railways. The cost of these projects would be shared between the State Government and Ministry of Railways. The estimated cost of these two rail line projects is Rs 1173 crore and Rs 923 crore respectively.

The spokesman said the Jind-Hansi new line would join the existing Jind station on the Delhi-Bathinda railway line.

The construction of this line would reduce the distance between Jind and Hisar by 50 km. The spokesperson said that the proposed Karnal-Yamunanagar new line would join existing Bhaini-Khurd station on Delhi-Ambala Railway line and existing Jagadhari workshop station on Ambala-Saharanpur Railway line.

The construction of this line would provide direct and fast connectivity between Karnal and Yamunanagar as the travel distance would be reduced by 50 kilometres. Besides, it would also provide direct connectivity to Haridwar.

There would be 5 new railways stations on this line namely Rambha, Indri, Ladwa, Radaur and Damla. He said that the construction of this line would provide direct and fast connectivity between these two industrial cities of Karnal and Yamunanagar as the travel distance would be reduced by 50 kms.

Besides, it would also provide direct connectivity to the holy city of Haridwar which was a long pending demand of this area. The proposed rail line would also facilitate faster economic growth of industrial and agricultural sector in the region, he added.

The spokesman said that the proposed Jind-Hansi new line would join existing Jind Station on Delhi-Bathinda Railway line and existing Hansi Station on Rewari-Hisar Railway line. There would be 6 new stations on this line namely Intel Kalan, Rajpura, Narnaud, Madha, Kherigagan and Sheikhpura.

He said that the construction of this line would provide direct and fast connectivity between Jind and Hisar as travel distance would be reduced to about 50 kms.

Apart from this, it would also help in faster transportation of agriculture produce and fertilizers in this rural belt. He said that a mega warehousing project could be developed at Narnaud which would have rail connectivity to all parts of the Country.

Railways to cap ticket prices of trains run by Private Players

NEW DELHI: Before allowing private players to run trains, the Indian Railways will put in place a regulator in charge of fixing a ceiling on fares preventing a sudden spurt in prices especially during festive seasons like usually seen with airfares.

Responding to a question, V K Yadav, CRB/Railway Board said, “It will take some time to bring in private players to run trains. We will have the regulator, which will deal with fare, allocation of routes and safety. The trains and routes will be allotted through a transparent bidding process.” He also said several private players have shown keen interest to run trains, though he did not take any names. Sources said a couple of players in the civil aviation sector are keen on the project.

He added that private players will be allowed when existing major train routes are decongested with the shifting of 90% freight trains to the dedicated freight corridors. Yadav claimed that the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor will be operational by December 2021.


We’ll have the regulator, which will deal with fare, allocation of routes and safety in trains run by private players: Railway board chairman V K Yadav.

He stated that private players will be allowed when existing major train routes are decongested with the shifting of 90% freight trains to the dedicated freight corridors.

Currently, the railways have provided two Tejas rakes to its ticketing and catering wing, IRCTC, to run them between Delhi-Lucknow and Ahmedabad-Mumbai as proof of concept. “We will give complete freedom to the operators. They can provide entertainment facilities, a range of food and beverages. IRCTC has come out with interesting options such as hotel bookings, taxi services and baggage pick from home and drop at destinations and providing a wheelchair to needy passengers,” Yadav said.

He added that the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas will start operation before October 15.

IRCTC targeted getting a maximum business just before Diwali. IRCTC officials had said that they were even exploring the possibility of giving a refund if the train is delayed beyond one hour in reaching its destination. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas is likely to be rolled out in November.

Yadav also announced several ambitious targets for railways including the upgrade of nearly 85% of the rail network to allow passenger trains to run at 110 kmph. He said the railways have intentionally kept the speed limit at 160 kmph considering the existing embankment of the train tracks and the bridges.

“Higher speed will require a complete overhaul,” he said. Yadav added that the speed of freight trains on DFCC would be 100 kmph.

The railway board chairman also said that they will start e-catering service on trains and at platforms in the next two months, which will allow people to order food in trains and at stations.

Amazon, Railways join hands to install pick-up kiosks

Commuters can receive parcels at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and Thane, Dadar and Kalyan stations.

MUMBAI: Amazon India has partnered with Indian Railways to set up pick-up kiosks at stations in Mumbai. It will be launched as a pilot in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and Thane, Dadar and Kalyan stations.

Mumbai has the country’s largest suburban railway network, which services millions of passengers every day. “The kiosks have been placed in high foot traffic locations within the station that provide easy accessibility and better convenience to Amazon customers who want to pick up their packages on their way in or out,” said a company statement.

Customers can select these points as a pick-up location on the checkout page of their order while shopping on Amazon.in. “The suburban railway network forms the backbone of public transportation in Mumbai. We are excited about our partnership with the Indian Railways because it will help us provide an easy and convenient service for customers via these pick-up kiosks when they are in transit every day,” said Prakash Rochlani, director, last mile transportation, Amazon India.

The partnership is aimed at boosting the company’s delivery network in Mumbai and make the consumer experience more convenient. “Millions of people use the suburban railways as a primary mode of transportation. We welcome this partnership as the launch of Amazon kiosks will help elevate our commuters’ experience at these stations. This will help Amazon customers pick up their orders during their commute, and thereby save time,” said Indian Railways.

The partnership is Central Railway’s (CR) Mumbai Division’s initiative to generate non-fare revenue. A CR official said the pilot will last for three months. “The stations have been selected as they have among the highest footfall in the suburban section and availability of space. At Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the kiosk will be in the suburban concourse,” the official said. The CR will earn ₹6 lakh for the kiosks and will subsequently take a call on how to take it forward.

KRDCL plans ‘Aggregate Stations’ in between main stations along 532km Kasargod-Thiruvananthapuram semi-HSR project

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what might aid quick travel from remote locations, the Kerala Railway Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) plans to set up ‘Aggregate Stations’ in between main stations along the 532-km section under the semi high-speed rail project connecting Kasargod and Thiruvananthapuram.

“The concept is similar to sub-urban rail system. However, we’ll be setting up a maximum of three such stations in a 50-70 km stretch, for instance in between Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam stations,” V Ajith Kumar, MD of KRDCL, told. As per final draft of the Rs.66,079-crore project, done by Paris-based engineering and consulting group Systra, there will be only 10 main stations in the entire stretch – Kochuveli, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Kakkanad (Ernakulam), Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod.

“We’ll deploy the same set of air-conditioned rakes as those used for services in the North-South corridor. While main service trains have rakes with nine to 12 coaches, the link trains will have three rakes, but will be operated at the same speed – 200 kmph,” the official said.

The authorities are yet to finalise ‘Aggregate stations’ as the traffic projection is being studied by consultant Systra as part of preparation of the detailed report, which is expected in a month or two.

The existing railway line between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod is highly saturated and due to sharp curves and older alignment, the average sectional speed of Mail/Express trains are limited to 45 kmph. The journey time under the proposed rail corridor will cut be cut to just 4.5 hours to cover the stretch that currently takes 12 hours.

Recently the State Cabinet gave clearance to the project. The KRDCL, a joint venture of the railways and the state government, will have to acquire about 1,200 hectares for the project. The travel charge is projected to be Rs 2.75 per km and the project is expected to be completed in 2024.

While a new railway track will be laid parallel to the present track from Tirur to Kasargod, the section from Thiruvananthapuram to Tirur will mostly run parallel to the existing track, but will have deviations.

Foreign FIs keen to invest in Nashik Metro project: Maha Metro project: Maha Metro MD

NASHIK: Few overseas financial institutions (FIs) have shown interest in investing in the proposed Nashik Metro project. Managing Director of Maharashtra Rail Corporation Ltd (Maha Metro) Brijesh Dixit told that some foreign financial institutions are keen to provide loan for the project.

Maha Metro, a JV between Centre and Maharashtra government, is mandated to undertake all metro rail projects in the state barring Mumbai metropolitan region.

“These FIs are ready to invest in the Nashik Metro project. However, it would be the Union government that would take a call on deciding the lenders for the project,” Dixit said, refusing to reveal the identities of the foreign agencies.

The Nashik metro project, which is known as Metro Neo, is pegged to cost around Rs 2,100 crore and the Union and state governments would provide with Rs 939 crore, while the remaining Rs 1,161 crore would be the loan component.

According to Maha Metro sources, multilateral agencies could also be roped in for funding for the project. Dixit said that work for the project would begin after the Union government clears the project.

“Maha Metro is looking forward to start the work of this project in Nashik. At present, no city in the country has come up with such an innovative mass rapid transportation system project. Nashik would be the first city to have it,” he added.

The state cabinet approved the detailed project report (DPR) of Nashik Metro project on August 28 and is in the process of sending it to the Union ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA) for its nod — a mandatory move.

Under this project swanky rubber-tyred electric bus coaches would ply on two separate elevated corridors of around 32-km length having 25 stations. There would also be two feeder corridors. The buses would draw power from the overhead electric wires.

While carrying out the feasibility study of the project, Maha Metro ruled the possibility of conventional metro in Nashik as it would not be financially viable. The conventional metro projects entail huge investments, but the peak hour passenger load in Nashik is less.

Interestingly, Nashik Metro project would be the first of its kind in India where instead of conventional metro coaches buses would operate to ferry passengers. A Maha Metro official said the Nashik Metro model developed by the company was discussed on various forums.

“The Union government last month formed a committee headed by Dixit to prepare standardization of detail specifications for such rubber-tyred Mass Rapid Transportation System (MRTS) so that it can be implemented in smaller cities of the country with a population of 2-3 million,” he said.

RRTS pre-construction activities on Delhi-Gurugram-SNB and Delhi-Meerut corridors gaining momentum

NEW DELHI:  The Pre-construction activities associated with the Delhi-Gurugram-SNB (Shahjahanpur-Neemrana-Behror Urban Complex) RRTS corridor has been gaining momentum, with like soil testing, geotechnical investigation and utility diversion in progress. Consultancy bids were invited for Civil and E&M works of Delhi-SNB RRTS line for Civil, Architectural and E&M Works for the design of three elevated Stations and Viaduct for Delhi-SNB RRTS line. With this, the aspects of engagement of Detailed Design Consultant (DDC) for Civil, Architectural and E&M Works for the Design of Three Elevated Stations (Udyog Vihar, Sector-17 and Rajiv Chowk) and Elevated Viaduct between IDPL Complex Ramp (Gurugram) to Rajiv Chowk Ramp for Delhi- SNB RRTS Corridor would be finalised.

The National Capital Region Transport Corporation has recently started pile load test at Rajiv Chowk in Gurugram. A pile load test is carried out to check the resistance and load-bearing capacity of the soil. It ensures the load-carrying capacity of deep foundations before the construction of piers and viaduct.

The NCRTC has recently floated a tender for the engagement of Detailed Design Consultant (DDC) for civil, architectural, and E&M works for the design of three elevated stations in Gurugram — Udyog Vihar, Sector 17, Rajiv Chowk — and for elevated viaduct between IDPL complex ramp to Rajiv Chowk Ramp for Delhi-SNB RRTS corridor.

One of the three RRTS corridors prioritised for implementation, the 106-km-long Delhi-Gurugram-SNB corridor will be elevated for about 71 km (11 stations) and the remaining 35 km (5 stations) will be constructed underground, mostly in Delhi and Gurugram.

Haryana government approved the Detailed Project Report of the corridor in February while the Rajasthan government gave nod to the project in June this year.

The corridor will converge at Delhi’s Sarai Kale Khan with the other two RRTS corridors, Delhi-Meerut and Delhi-Panipat. The three corridors will be interoperable and will be integrated with other modes of public transport wherever possible.

Once operational, the corridor is expected to bring down the travel time between Delhi and SNB to about 70 minutes.

Likewise, NCRTC has also begun pre-construction work on the 16-km long Delhi Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS) section, part of Delhi Ghaziabad Meerut corridor. Tender has also been floated for ‘Detailed Design Construction’ (DDC) for three major stations Sarai Kale Khan, New Ashok Nagar and Anand Vihar Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT), which will also be the major converging points of all three RRTS corridors.

Currently, the NCRTC — implementing agency has started work on the Ghaziabad portions. “The preliminary work such as survey, pile, utility work such as utility diversion of electrical lines, water pipe line and sewer line has been started for parts of Phase I corridor of the Delhi Meerut Corridor. These three stations are the most important stations as these will inter connect the entire major RRTS corridor — Delhi Meerut, Delhi Gurugram Panipat- Sonipat and Delhi-Alwar,” said a senior NCRTC official adding civil construction will also be soon started for the sections.

Among the three stations, New Ashok Nagar and Sarai Kale Khan will be  elevated ones, While Anand Vihar Rapid Railway station will be totally underground as the existing Delhi Metro station is an elevated station due to which it attracts a heavy traffic in the vicinity and near Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) Anand Vihar..

The NCRTC official further added, “Besides three stations, an 11 km viaduct from Sarai Kale Khan will be developed which will connect RRTS ram near Khichripur to Jangpura stabling yard. The stabling yard will be developed on the 12 hectare land parcel Jangpura.”

Moreover, inorder to bring different mode of transports at one point through the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS), these stations will be developed as Multi Modal Integration (MMI) which will connect  ISBT Sarai Kale Khan, Hazrat Nizamuddin Station, Delhi Metro and Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), Aerocity, Uttar Pradesh State Transport Corporation (UPSTC) through skywalks, escalators, underpasses and pathways.

Anand Vihar Rapid Rail station will connect Delhi metro’s Blue line and seven stations on Pink line which is under construction, the Anand Vihar ISBT and the intra-city railway station, Nizamuddin Railway Station, UPSRTC and subway facility for the pedestrians.

Moreover, cutting the travel time between Noida- Ghaziabad, New Ashok Nagar station will provide a short direct route to Noida-Dwarka  and Vaishali Ghaziabad.

Currently, Yamuna Bank station is the interchange to Noida and Vaishali but this New Ashok Nagar will provide a direct access to the destination. Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor will be the first RRTS to be implemented in India.

The Budget for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut project is Rs 3,1902 crore with a deadline to be completed by 2024. Further, the Rapid Rail will be equipped with high speed and capacity, air conditioned and its station will be fitted with free Wi-Fi and high speed networking.

The work on the 16km Delhi leg of the 82km high-speed Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) is finally picking up pace.

“The detailed design consultants for Sarai Kale Khan and New Ashok Nagar stations are already preparing a master plan, which includes multi-modal integration, for both,” said Sudhir Kumar Sharma, the spokesperson of National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is executing the project.

For Anand Vihar, the third station in the Delhi section, NCRTC will appoint a design-and-build consultant, Sharma added. The approximately 6km underground section will include Anand Vihar station.

The RRTS trains will cover the distance between Delhi and Meerut in less than an hour. The construction work on its 17km priority stretch between Duhai and Sahibabad has been already going on in full swing, said an NCRTC official. “While this section is expected to become operational by March 2023, the full corridor will be ready in March 2025. The construction work will soon be visible in the form of piers and viaducts in the priority section,” he added.

The Delhi stretch, which got delayed due to various reasons, includes the mega terminal at Sarai Kale Khan, the connecting point for the Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Panipat and the Delhi-Alwar corridors. Both Anand Vihar and New Ashok Nagar will also have interchange facilities with Delhi Metro. While Sarai Kale Khan and New Ashok Nagar stations will be elevated, Anand Vihar will be underground as the area already has a railway and two metro stations, and a busy interstate bus terminal.

The costruction of the Duhai-Shatabdi Nagar (Meerut) and Sahibabad-Anand Vihar sections will be taken up simultaneously after the priority section, said Sharma. On the Delhi stretch, the underground section will be built first as train operations can’t start without connection with the depot at Duhai.

Tenders for the underground section will be floated by the first half of November and those for the elevated section in Delhi by the end of the year, said Sharma.

NCRTC floats Global Tender for Rapid Rail Coaches

NEW DELHI: Construction wing of the ‘High Speed Rapid Rail’ for the first prioritised corridor is going in full swing as the National Capital Regional Transport Corporation (NCRTC) has floated ‘global’ tender for the rapid rail coaches designing, manufacturing, supply, testing, commissioning and comprehensive maintenance of standard gauge coaches under the Make in India Initiative of Central Government. It will also include their (coaches) maintenance at Duhai and Modipuram depot of the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS) corridor.

The civil construction work on the 82 km long corridor has already started in the beginning of this year. The RRTS trains that will be operated at the speed of 160 kmph per hour will be unique and first of its kind with having designed with the ‘aerodynamic’ coaches, which will be self-propelled on electric traction with 25KV Air-conditioned (AC) System.

The rapid rail will be started with six coaches. Out of the six coaches, one will be reserved for woman passengers and a separate coach will be developed and designed as ‘Business Class Coach’ for the elite class. Besides, the trains will be fitted with CCTV cameras and will have space for luggage and will have two by two transverse seating arrangements.

“The platform is being designed to accommodate nine coaches train. However, initially NCRTC will start the service with six coaches and it will be expanded to nine coaches after observing the passenger movement. Besides, keeping the commuters convenience in mind, the trains will have 2 by 2 transverse seating arrangement besides comfortable standing space,” said an official.

Moreover, the NCRTC also intends to use the European Train Control System (ECTS)  level-2 signalling system for the RRTS trains to promote and enhance interoperability of  trains for seamless commuter movement across the corridors without the hassle of changing the train. “The trains will be compatible with EUTCS Level 2 signalling system which is being used in India for the first time. ETCS Level -2 signalling system will not only facilitate interoperability but will also ensure train movement at quick frequencies, thus reducing the waiting time for passengers. It will bring efficiency, ensure safety and will allow uninterrupted train operations even in adverse weather condition,” said the official.

The Phase I of the RRTS corridor – will cover an 82km distance between Delhi to Meerut in less than one hour. The construction work on 17km-long priority section between Duhai to Sahibabad of Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor has already started and is expected to be ready by March 2023.

Delachaux acquires majority stake in Frauscher Sensor Technology

Delachaux pursues strategic goals that are perfectly in line with ours. The focus is on much more than increasing the value of the company.

BENGALURU: Colombes, Île-de-France based Engineering solutions provider the Delachaux Group has completed the acquisition of a majority stake in Frauscher Sensor Technology Group.

The remaining stake will be owned by the Frauscher Management Team.

Established in 1987 in Austria, Frauscher specialises in manufacturing wheel sensors and axle counters for the rail industry.

The company employs more than 430 people and has operations in 13 countries. It has installed wheel sensors and axle counters in more than 80 countries.

The acquisition bolsters Delachaux Group’s existing product and service portfolio. Delachaux is the owner of rail infrastructure manufacturer Pandrol, as well as energy, data management systems and metals engineering businesses.

With the transaction now complete, Michael Thiel will continue to serve as CEO for Frauscher Sensor Technology.

Additionally, he becomes a member of the Delachaux Group Executive Committee.

Thiel said: “Delachaux pursues strategic goals that are perfectly in line with ours. The focus is on much more than increasing the value of the company.

“Our global growth plans, as well as development projects and research activities, have been secured. This will enable us to tap further markets and develop new solutions for various application areas.”

Frauscher is currently working on the development of Distributed Acoustic Sensing-based solutions for various applications in the rail industry such as train tracking, asset condition monitoring and security.

Delachaux Group CEO Guy Talbourdet said: “We share with Frauscher the same values of long term perspective, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit, and I have no doubt that we will develop powerful synergies to provide innovative solutions to our customers in the rail industry.”

TRAI conducted Independent Drive Tests on four Rail routes to assess the network quality of MSPs for voice services

NEW DELHI: TRAI, through its agency, conducted Independent Drive Tests (IDT) in Six cities viz. Bhopal, Durg-Bhilia, Kannur, Mumbai, Navi-Murnbai and Varanasi. Drive tests were conducted to assess the network quality provided by cellular mobile telephone service providers for voice and data services. The details of drive tests conducted in the 6 cities are given below:-

Agartala to Lumding rail route: All the mobile operators did not meet the benchmark of ~2 percent of Drop Call Rate. Only Vodafone Idea met the benchmark of >95 percent of CSSR.

Ahmedabad to Bhuj rail route: All the mobile operators have met the benchmark of ~2 percent of Drop Call Rate except Airtel and BSNL. All the service providers have met the benchmark of ~95 percent of CSSR.

Bhopal to Khajuraho rail route: All the mobile operators have met the benchmark of ~2 percent of Drop Call Rate except Airtel, BSNL, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea. All the service providers have met the benchmark of ~95 percent of CSSR except Airtel, BSNL and Vodafone Idea.

Durgapur to Patna rail route: Only Airtel has met the benchmark of ~2 percent of Drop Call Rate. All the service providers have met the benchmark of ~95 percent of CSSR except BSNL.

Falakata to Guwahati rail route: All the mobile operators have failed to meet the benchmark of ~2 percent of Drop Call Rate. All the service providers have met the benchmark of ~95 percent of CSSR except Airtel, BSNL and Vodafone Idea.

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were assessed for the networks of all telecom service providers operating in the region. KPIs for voice services were Coverage; Call Setup Success Rate; Drop Call Rate; Block Call Rate, Handover Success Rate; Rx Quality. KPIs for data services were Download and Upload Throughputs, Web Browsing Delay, Video Streaming Delay and Latency. The complete report is available at TRAI website www.analytics.trai.gov.in.

In case of any clarification, please contact, Shri. Asit Kadayan, Advisor (QoS) at TeI. No. +91-11-2323-0404 or at email.id: advqos@trai.gov.in.


Call Attempt: An attempt to achieve a connection to device attached to a telecommunication network.
Block Call <=3%:A call that is not connected because there is no free channel in radio access network to serve a call attempt.
CSSR (Call Setup Success Rate) >=95%: Ratio of Established Calls to Call Attempts.
Drop Call Rate <=2%: An ability to maintain a call once it has been correctly established.
Hand over Success Rate (HOSR) >=95%:Ratio between successful handovers to handover requested ..(Handover is a process by which a mobile telephone call is transferred from one base station to another as the subscriber passes the boundary of a cell).
Rx Quality >95%:Measure of quality of voice.
Download Throughput: Data transmission rate for downloading a test file from a test server to a test device.
Upload Throughput: Data transmission rate for uploading a test file from a test device to test server.
Web browsing delay (secs): Averagetime taken to fully load the website tested.
Video Steaming delay (secs): Average time taken to fully download the video tested.
Latency (msecs): Time taken for a packet to reach the receiving endpoint after transmitted from the sending point.

ORIDL floats GC tender for 275km Jagannathpur-Rairakhol and 78km Rajathagrah-Kaipadar new BG line construction

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Rail Infrastructure Development Ltd (ORIDL) had floated two separate tenders for appointing the General Consultant (GC) for conducting the Aerial LiDAR Survey, preparation of Feasibility Study, Alignment Design, Detailed Project Report (DPR), Cost estimation and preparation of Land Plans and documents for land acquisition in connection with construction of new electrified BG Rail line for the 275 km Jagannathpur-Rairakhol and 78 km Rajathagarh-Kaipadar Road sections in the state of Odisha falling in the jurisdiction of East Coast Railway. ORIDL will be the employer and the consultancy firm will be providing services to ORIDL. The standards of output required from the appointed agency/firm are to be of the highest standards both in terms of quality and adherence to the agreed time schedule.

Reconnaissance Engineering and Traffic (RET) Survey for the project has already been conducted by East Coast Railway in the year 2013 with route length of 81.7 Km. ECoR has prepared a revised RET Survey report in the year 2018 changing the alignment to connect Kaipadar Road with Naraj Marthapur station instead of Rajathgarh station with a route length of 68.5 Km. The proposed alignments and location of stations have been indicated in the RET Survey reports. The consultant is required to examine both the RET survey reports and is expected to optimise the alignment and designs for achieving better economy in cost as well as time of construction.

The purpose of this GC consultancy is to study and start from what has already been reported in earlier reports of East Coast Railway as described, verify them including through fresh survey including fresh detailed topography survey using Aerial LiDAR Technology (with the help of helicopters/aircraft), collect the hydrological data and design the waterway of bridges, design the alignment and formation levels, carryout Final Location Survey, prepare GADs and Engineering Drawings for a new Railway corridor taking off from Rajathgarh/Naraj Marthapur station on Barang – Talcher route and joining at Kaipadar Road station on Howrah – Chennai route of East Coast Railway (AND) Jagannathpur station on Howrah – Chennai route and joining at Rairakhol station on Angul – Sambalpur route of East Coast Railway.

The GC is required to finalize the exact and optimum route length and track length under the scope of this contract and to conduct desk study of earlier survey reports, railway alignments, data, drawings and plotting the earlier alignments including suitable and alternate connections with at either end in consultation with ORIDL and ECoR on Google Earth/KMZ format and broadly checking whether the route selected earlier is the best one and prepare other possible alternatives for decision. It is also the responsibility of GC to study the proposed serving stations, identification of locations for bridges, cross-drainage structures, level crossings / ROB / RUB and marking of high tension/low tension wire and any road crossing etc. Aerial LiDAR survey (using Helicopter/aircraft) with horizontal & vertical ground control network along the proposed / possible alignments to establish X, Y, Z co-ordinates along alignment and taking coordinates of stations, yards etc., as may be required for the purpose of setting out and construction of the proposed railway corridor and to design the alignment with a Ruling Gradient of 1 in 100 (compensated).

Apart from various high level scope of works and services, the GC shall also be liable to execute the Scanning, Digitization, Geo-referencing (w.r.t WGS-84 co-ordinate system) of Survey of India (SOI) topo maps/Geological maps/forest maps/revenue maps etc. and their use in design of the alignment for identification of environmentally/geologically sensitive areas and for preparation of land acquisition/forest clearances plans as per direction of Engineer. The Consultant shall procure, collect and use the relevant maps from the concerned agencies.

Along with the tender, the tenderer is required to submit a broad methodology of execution of works to fulfil the scope of work. On award of the work, the consultant will be required to submit a detailed methodology of execution of work for the approval of the Engineer. Immediately on award of contract, the consultant will be required to depute their senior Personnel for discussion with ORIDL officials as regards the modalities of taking up the field work. On finalizing the modalities, the field teams shall be deployed to the work sites.

During the survey/field work, the contractor has to carry out the work in close coordination with the employer’s personnel and various agencies/various departments in Govt. of Odisha & Railways. The survey reference points shall be taken over from the concerned department in Railways /Survey of India/Govt of Odisha.

The survey work shall be done by competent and experienced surveyors well versed in surveying and shall be done in best professional manner. The consultant shall be responsible for the accuracy of the same.

It shall be the responsibility of the consultant to ensure that all the survey instruments deployed for the survey work are periodically calibrated and if required the necessary calibration certificates shall be furnished to ORIDL.

Sequence of Operations for using LiDAR Methodology

  • Paper & Alternative Study , FSR ( Feasibility Study Report) etc
  • Application For Using LiDAR Technology to DGCA , For Aerial Survey Permit.
  • Reconnaissance Survey/GTS bench mark location
  • LiDAR Data Acquired by Aerial Survey / GCP Collection.
  • LiDAR Data including LiDAR Point Cloud colorization & Classification / GCP Data Processing (including all deliverables )
  • Preparation of Draft Feasibility Report
  • Preparation of Final Feasibility Report In Consultation with ORIDL/ECoR/Stake holders.

However the Joint Venture is not permitted. Vendors like RITES, BARSYL, AARVEE, AECOM, GeoKno, SYSTRA, SMEC, JACOBS, RAMBOLL, EGIS Consulting etc are evincing interest to participate in the Bidding.

Can Mumbai Suburban, Metro or Monorail survive the monsoon?

BMC, Railways blame Mithi river for flooding, chaos!

MUMBAI: The incessant rains bought maximum city, Mumbai, to its knees. But a day after the heavy rains, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Railways blamed the Mithi River for causing flooding and chaos.

Come monsoon and Mumbai’s overburdened suburban rail system is overwhelmed when rainwater floods its tracks. This year, the Central, Western and Harbour lines were the worst hit, with trains running at 30-minute intervals, when they ran at all. Commuters like Sanjay Garg, 32, who are totally dependent on the suburban service to commute to and from work, were forced to take two days of unpaid leave, as heavy rains brought mobility to a complete halt. Sharing his anger and agony were literally millions of Mumbaikars. The only ones who enjoyed the ‘holiday’ were students as schools had to shut down.

The civic body BMC is contemplating building artificial lakes or holding ponds to divert excess water that Mithi gets from three lakes during a downpour. The Railways plans to approach the BMC to propose widening the river itself. Praveen Darade, additional municipal commissioner (hydraulics) told, “We are going to appoint a consultant who will suggest a plan for construction of artificial lakes or ponds within the city or wherever land is available. The excess water from these artificial ponds or lakes will later be drained into Mithi River when there is light or no rainfall. The consultant will also study if the water from artificial lakes or ponds can be put into use somewhere.”

On the other hand, a senior Central Railway official told, “In the next meeting with BMC officials, we will discuss the issue of Mithi river overflowing and propose widening of the river.” On Wednesday, areas in central Mumbai, including Kurla, Matunga, Mahim, and Sion, were submerged with water from Mithi, leading to shutting down of three lines of suburban trains, arterial roads and other means to connect south and south central Mumbai with the rest of the city.

As incessant rains lashed Mumbai and Maharashtra, life was thrown out of gear with delay in train and flight services causing great inconvenience to passengers. Several passengers were seen sleeping outside the Mumbai Domestic Airport amid the flight delays due to rainfall. There were relentless rains in several parts across Maharashtra for the past few days. It also resulted in massive water logging and flood-like situation in some regions.

With 88 lakh people using the suburban rail system on daily basis, city authorities went in for metro rail projects and an expensive monorail as alternative commuter choices to ease the congestion on the suburban rail system. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the nodal agency for implementing infrastructure projects in the city, spent Rs 1,000 crore for an 8.26-km monorail system, running from Chembur to Wadala with seven stations in between. However, this monorail was used more as a ‘joyride’ by people rather than for work commute.

The second phase, one of the longest monorail corridors in the world was 19.54 km from Chembur to Wadala to Jacob Circle, which became operational in 2019 at a cost of Rs 3000 crore. Fares on the monorail range from Rs 10 to Rs 40 and these have the capacity to carry 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh commuters every day.

However, it hasn’t proved to be a popular choice of transport for Mumbaikars. With poor last-mile connectivity and long time gap between trains (30-45 minutes), commuters still prefer the local trains and buses. Sujata Singh, 25, whose office is in Lower Parel, is frustrated as she often has to wait at least 20 minutes to ride the monorail from GTB Nagar to Lower Parel. She feels the monorail is for those who can travel at leisure. Though the government was confident that the monorail would achieve high ridership, the reality is that it is catering to just 7,000 commuters daily. Nor has it proved to be a good revenue generator for the city.

The Metro network

The other major mobility project taken up by the MMRDA is the Mumbai metro. Construction for the stretch from Versova to Ghatkopar began in 2007 with over Rs 4000 crore spent on it. The metro has a carrying capacity of four lakh persons daily and has reduced travel time by 20 minutes on the east-west route. It runs around 200-250 services every day which has to an extent reduced congestion on the roads with carbon dioxide levels too expected to drop by 1,66,000 tons a year.

It is also safer compared to the suburban stretches, where eight people reportedly die daily, while crossing the tracks or falling off the train as people scramble to get in and out. Such accidents are prevented by the metro system.

Overall, it has had limited success so far. The current metro ridership is at seven lakh per day and is expected to rise to 11 lakh. More metro lines are being added which are expected to become functional by 2022. Having a corridor of 58 km, Metro 2A line will cover Dahisar to DN Nagar (18.5 Km), line 2B will cover DN Nagar to Mandale (23.5 Km) and line 7 will run from Dahisar East to Andheri East (16.5 Km), connecting the western and eastern extremes.

There will be 63 new metro trains, each with six coaches, which will be brought in to complete the metro network. The metro fare generally ranges from Rs 10-Rs 40, though no revenue figures are currently available. The $ 926-million project is funded on a loan from the Asian Development Bank.

However, just having a Metro or monorail will not solve the city’s transport woes. Nikshit, 20, who uses the metro from Andheri to Ghatkopar agrees that it is time-saving. But, to reach the metro station, he has to take a bus and then a local. This ‘last-mile’ connectivity is one of the major issues that prevents more commuters from using the metro or monorail. According to the survey done by Centre for Public Research (CPPR) in Kochi, last mile connectivity was an important factor in people using public transport.

In Mumbai, though there is an option to take shared auto-rickshaws at the stations, this is not regulated and has sprouted as the outcome of a lack of other transport options. Like Delhi, Mumbai needs to introduce e-rickshaws. To make it popular, the fare can be set at Rs 10 and subsidy can be provided by the government to encourage operators. It will also reduce the need for creating parking space for private vehicles at stations.

Linking metro to transit points

To bridge the gap between metro station to transit points, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) started 200 feeder bus services on most routes. Recently, DMRC introduced ‘one card’ to pay for all tickets — bus, metro as well as parking fees. According to a survey by the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in Delhi, 50 percent of the people who use private vehicles will switch to metro if there is good transit system in place. This survey also pointed out that last-mile connectivity was the key to increasing metro ridership.

The MMRDA does have plans to use some of the funds to improve last mile connectivity enabling more people to use metro and monorail. Recently, MMRDA has approved a Rs 3500-crore project to build ropeways on the Malad-Marve and Gorai-Borivali routes.

The project will also include widening of footpaths, improving street lighting, cycle tracks, dedicated parking zones, introduction of e-rickshaws etc. Also, ‘OnGo’- a mobile transport ticketing system will be launched soon, enabling users to pay using phones and scan the codes to open the AFC gates at stations.

Solving last mile issues for monorail travellers

Mumbai’s 20-million plus population, who have the reputation of being on the move 24X7, urgently needs alternatives to the suburban rail. While the monorail hasn’t proved to be a popular choice so far, it can be a success with higher frequency and better connectivity to its stations. It runs on an elevated platform which makes its capital cost cheaper as compared to the metro. Though it has only four coaches, with higher frequency it can help reduce vehicular traffic and numbers on the local trains. It can also act as a feeder system. There is no doubt that the metro has far higher passenger capacity-to-cost ratio, but in dense cities like Mumbai, both can work in tandem. This can also take the pressure of an aging bus system which at present caters to below 20 lakh commuters daily.

With the city expanding, the suburbs need better connectivity and alternative transport systems can bring that about. But effective implementation depends on transparency and accountability from MMRDA. Delays and cost increases cannot be written off every time.

Active citizen participation is needed, not just for accountability, but also in planning the routes. Though the Mumbai civic authorities have so far not initiated any citizen participation process for infrastructure development, some groups have been proactive. For instance, last year, residents had protested at Khar against Metro 2B elevated construction over safety concerns. They wanted the line to be construed underground.


Kolhapur-Vaibhavwadi Railway Line gets Cabinet Nod

KOLHAPUR: The union cabinet has finally approved the long-pending demand of rail connectivity between Konkan Railway and western Maharashtra.

The cabinet recently approved construction of Rs 3,439 Crore Railway Line project connecting Vaibhavwadi (Sidhudurg District) on the Ratnagari Division of Konkan Railway to Kolhapur on the Pune Division of Central Railway. The railway ministry gave this information via twitter, stating that project is expected to be completed by the year 2023.

While project was principally accepted by the government, the official decision was on hold because of model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections that were held earlier this year in April-May.

According to the information given by the railway ministry, Vaibhavwadi-Kolhapur rail line will be of immense benefit for districts in Maharashtra like Kolhapur, Sangli, Latur, Beed, and Osmanabad along with districts of neighboring states like Belagavi, Gulbargha and Ballari.

The Railway Board had sanctioned the rail link project few months ago that got approved by the cabinet this week. The Board had sanctioned an amount of Rs 20 crore in the current financial year to start the work. The railway ministry had completed all the preliminary work before sanctioning the said amount and Konkan Railway has been given responsibility to complete the project.

The new rail link will pass through Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Kolhapur districts, connecting coastal regions of Konkan and western Maharashtra. This is expected to boost tourism, lead development of ports and harbors, including Jaigarh and Dighi ports, and allow flow of goods from Konkan.

It is expected that Vaibhavwadi-Kolhapur rail link will also felicitate transport of petroleum and petrochemicals. The new rail link will pass through hills in the western ghat that separates Konkan from other parts of Maharashtra. Konkan Railway has already completed the preliminary work on the project, including actual ground and satellite survey.

“The work for railway link project, requiring 638 hectare of land, was allotted to Konkan Railway because of it past record,” a railway official said.

Work on the 103 kilometre Kolhapur-Vaibhavwadi section of Konkan Railway will begin soon. This decision was taken at a review meeting of Konkan railway recently. The meeting was attended by the Chairman, Railway Board, CMD, Konkan Railway and other senior officials.

During the discussions the officials emphasised that the construction of the Kolhapur-Vaibhavwadi section will be a game changer for not only the Konkan Railway but also for the region and the economy of Maharashtra. It will link the coastal region of Maharashtra with Western Maharashtra, lead to development of ports and harbours in the coastal region and allow flow of goods from the hinterland to the coast.

The officials further explained that the future economic growth of Maharashtra depends on connectivity of its coastal areas with the rest of the state and the country.

CMD, Konkan Railway, informed that in order to improve services, of Konkan Railway to more villages and towns in the region, 10 new stations are also being built. The first station will be inaugurated in January 2019.

The Kolhapur-Vaibhavwadi line has already been sanctioned by the Railway Ministry. Indian Railways will bear 50% of the cost and rest will be borne by the Government of Maharashtra.

SCCL, SCR discuss Sathupalli-Kothagudem Railway line works

Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) Director S Chandra Sekhar Rao met South Central Railways General Manager Gajanan Mallya, who visited Kothagudem on Friday, at SCCL guest house on Friday.
SCCL Director S Chandra Sekhar Rao having a word with South Central Railways General Manager Gajanan Mallya (second from right), in Kothagudem on Friday.

KOTHAGUDEM: Kothagudem: Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) Director S Chandra Sekhar Rao met South Central Railways General Manager Gajanan Mallya, who visited Kothagudem on Friday, at SCCL guest house on Friday. During the time, the Director discussed the progress of works on Sathupalli to Kothagudem railway line. The railway line construction works are being taken up jointly by the SCCL and the South Central Railways. Deputy Regional Manager (Railways) Anand Batia, Senior Manager N Manoj, Singareni officials Antony Raj, Sri Devi Kumar, Executive Director Coal Moment Alwyn and others were present.

Indian Railways SAIL Collaboration moving the Nation: says Chairman/SAIL

Working relentlessly to improve quality of rails: said Anil Kumar Chaudhary, Chairman/SAIL

NEW DELHI: When two large organisations collaborate, it makes a far reaching and resounding impact. The case in point is the collaboration between the Indian Railways and Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) for more than six decades. State-owned SAIL on Thursday said it was working relentlessly to further improve the quality of rails, said A.K.Chaudhary, Chairman/SAIL.

While the Railways is the heart of transport infrastructure of our Country, SAIL is the most trusted and longstanding supplier of rails and forged wheels to the Indian Railways. While SAIL’s Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) produces world class rails that crisscross the Country, its Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) is the only forged wheel producer in India for passenger coaches, wagons and locomotives.

Together RAIL and SAIL make a formidable combination, which touch the life of every citizen of the Country.

SAIL has continuously developed its products to meet and in some cases even go beyond the exacting standards. In rails, it has steadily rolled out the required volume, quality and length of rails (which has gradually increased from 13 meter to 260 meter), year after year.

In wheels, SAIL has supplied more than 1.8 million numbers of wheels of various dimensions ranging from 720 mm to 1100 mm of diameter to the Indian Railways in last six decades.

To achieve this, the PSU has adopted measures like reducing the hydrogen content in rail steel, the company said in a statement.

The Nickel-Copper-Chromium (NCC) corrosion resistant rails that SAIL-Bhilai Steel Plant developed and supplied for coastal areas have successfully undergone field trials.

SAIL is the country’s largest steel making company and as per an agreement, it supplies rails to Indian Railways from Bhilai Steel Plant in Chhattisgarh.

It has supplied more than 1.8 million of wheels of various dimensions to the Indian Railways in last six decades.

Construction Works on Patna Metro Rail to start in 6 months, DMRC bags the Consultant role

Bihar cabinet gives nod to DMRC to execute Patna Metro Rail project.

PATNA: The construction work on the ambitious Patna metro rail project will start in the next six months, senior officials in urban development and housing department (UDHD) said on Wednesday. The state cabinet on Tuesday approved Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) as General Consultant for the project.

According to the proposal moved by the urban development and housing department, the DMRC will be paid a consultation fee of Rs.482.9 Crore.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has bagged the role of Consultant for Patna Metro Rail project, which is likely to take off by the end of this year. The final fight was between DMRC and Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), following which the project was awarded to DMRC looking at its excellent track record in developing the Delhi Metro. Besides it also works as Consultant for Lucknow Metro.

“Talks were going on with DMRC and the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited for the execution of the Patna project. But we were more inclined towards DMRC as it has good track record in timely execution of metro projects. Besides, their consultation fee was comparatively lower. Hence, it was decided to hand over the project to DMRC and a final nod was given by the state cabinet on Tuesday,” a senior UDHD official said.

Elaborating on the steps to be taken following the cabinet nod, the UDHD official said: “A memorandum of understanding will be signed between the DMRC and the Patna Metro Rail Corporation Limited (PMRCL). DMRC is likely to set up its office in Patna within a fortnight, followed by a survey of right of way and land-acquisition requirements on the two earmarked corridors for the project.”The officials said DMRC will commence field location survey (FLS) following the agreement with PMRC.

“We will start with FLS process to identify exact spots for stations, depots and root alignment. The DMRC will get its own workforce to look after the project execution work,” said Sanjay Dayal, special secretary in UDHD. He said land acquisition will start following the FSL.

 “A committee headed by Patna divisional commissioner has already been formed to ensure timely land acquisition for the project,” Dayal said.

When asked about any changes in the alignment of the two corridors identified so far, Dayal said some issues have cropped up in the alignment of second corridor near Kumhrar Park. “Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has raised some objections near its Kumhrar site. We will decide on alternate route. The DMRC will do the feasibility study and suggest the alternate route,” he said.

DMRC is to be paid Rs482.9 crore as consultation fee for the first phase work, which has two corridors — east-west and north-south. The east-west corridor will be between Danapur and Mithapur via Patna Junction, while the north-south corridor is to be from Patna Junction to proposed ISBT via Dak Bungalow crossing, Gandhi Maidan, Ashok Rajpath and Rajendra Nagar Terminal. The east-west corridor will be 16.94km-long with elevated 5.48km and total 12 stations — three elevated, eight underground and one at grid.

The north-south corridor will be 14.45km-long with 1km of elevated path and 4.55km underground. It will also have 12 stations — nine elevated and three underground.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will contribute 60% of the total project cost as loan while 20% each will be contributed by the Centre and the state.

The two proposed corridors East-west: Danapur Cantonment-Saguna Mor-Raja Bazar-Hartali Mor-Income Tax roundabout-Patna Junction-Mithapur North-south corridor: Patna Junction-Dak Bungalow crossing-Gandhi Maidan-Ashok Rajpath-Rajendra Nagar Terminal-proposed ISBT. The two corridors identified in the detailed project report for the metro project, include 14.45km north- south corridor (proposed ISBT- Rajendra Nagar Terminal- Ashok Rajpath- Gandhi Maidan- Dak Bungalow Crossing- Patna Junction) and 16.95km east-west corridor (Danapur cantonment-Saguna Mor- Raja Bazar- JD Women’s College- Hartali Mor- Income Tax Rounabout- Dak Bungalow crossing- Patna Junction- CNLU- Mithapur).

“The Patna metro rail project is targeted to be completed by 2024. Following conclusion of initial surveys, the DMRC will commence the process of selection of constrictor for construction works,” the UDHD official said.

The Centre as well as state governments will contribute 20% each of the project cost, while the remaining 60% of the funds would be met by taking financial aid. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will contribute 60%.

The foundation for the metro project was laid by PM Narendra Modi through remote control from Mokama on February 17, this year. The project is to be executed utilizing an estimated outlay of Rs 13,365.8 crore in a targeted timeframe of five years.

The DMRC is expected to finalize the land initiate the Tender process by October 15. It is expected that the construction work would commence by December 2019. PMRC expects to roll out the first line of Metro by 2024, which would run parallel to Bailey Road. It would start from Danapur Cantonment, run parallel to the Bailey Road till Dakbungalow Square, from where it would turn towards Patna Junction and end up at Mithapur. Another Line would connect Patna Junction to Rajendra Nagar Terminal via Gandhi Maidan. The total length of both these lines would be 30km, half of which shall be elevated while the other half shall be underground.

The construction cost of both these lines are expected to be Rs. 13,365.8 crores (USD $2 billion), out of which Central and State Government would finance 20% each. The remaining 60% finance would be borne by Japan.

MRVC to seek funds for 2 new corridors

MUMBAI: Union Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal asked the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to look for funding through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for two of its three projects proposed under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-4, in a review meeting held earlier this month.

The three projects include the ambitious 55-km-long CSMT-Panvel elevated corridor – expected to cost Rs 14,000 crore, CSMT-Thane underground high-speed corridor – expected to cost Rs 16,000 crore, and a corridor for a suburban line from Vasai to Panvel – expected to cost Rs 6,000 crore, of which the first two will require to be funded by prospective investors through PPP.

A feasibility study on the CSMT-Thane underground corridor was undertaken by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) but the report failed to impress the MRVC and Central Railway officials. The proposal has now been sent to the state government for a review.

For the Vasai-Panvel corridor, officials have reportedly been instructed by Goyal to check the feasibility of running additional services using automatic signalling and cab-signalling systems – which have already been approved under MUTP-3A – on the existing lines, instead of constructing additional lines and incurring the huge cost for the same.

A senior official from MRVC said, “The idea is that the goods train presently running on the two lines will be moved to the Dedicated Freight Corridor on the completion of its construction by 2024, leaving the lines only for suburban passengers’ use. Also, we are looking at bunching the goods trains during off-peak hours to increase suburban passenger services along with adding more trains with improved signalling systems.”

Panvel elevated railway corridor to end its journey at Wadala, instead of CSMT?

In a boost to the plan for a transport hub at Wadala, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) are contemplating starting the elevated harbour rail corridor to Panvel from Wadala, instead of the earlier planned Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT).

The authority wants to develop Wadala into a transport hub, with an integrated transport hub (ITH) project at Anik bus depot. Among the proposals are a bus depot, Mono-rail-Metro lines and inter-state bus terminal (ISBT).

The MMRDA has approved the harbour railway elevated rail corridor project, terming it “essential” in its Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS). The authority is in talks with the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to study the need to start the corridor from CSMT.

One of the reasons that the corridor is being planned from Wadala and not from CSMT is Metro 11. The approved line will connect Wadala to General Post Office (GPO) near CSMT. Metro 11 from Wadala is an extension to the under-construction line 4 (Wadala-Kasarvadavli).

“The change has been discussed in several rounds of meetings with the Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA) and MMRDA officials. While we have got the CTS approval, the MMRDA will decide the final plan. The project will then be sent to the railway board for sanctions,” said a senior MRVC official.

The elevated railway corridor will connect to both the Navi Mumbai and Mumbai airports. The corridor will pass through Palm Beach Road in Vashi, cross the Uran creek and take a diversion from Seawoods railway station for the new airport. Commuters will be able to reach the Navi Mumbai airport – the deadline for which is 2019 – from Seawoods railway station in 20 minutes.

In order to reach the Mumbai airport, passengers will have to alight at Mankhurd railway station (part of the elevated corridor) and board a Metro from there to reach the Mumbai airport. Mankhurd is one of the proposed stations on the Metro-2B corridor.

The CSMT-Panvel elevated corridor and Vasai-Virar elevated corridor were not approved under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) 3 A and were sent back to the MRVC in March 2019.

The Railway ministry had asked the MRVC to review the projects keeping in mind the city’s new development plan, construction of new Metro lines and shifting of business districts from CSMT towards the suburbs.

The MRVC has also proposed MUTP-4, which includes an elevated corridor between CSMT and Panvel, third and fourth railway lines between Panvel and Vasai and underground railway between CSMT and Thane railway stations.

Railway Minister exhorts DFCCIL for speedy execution of projects

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in a review of the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited project through video-conferencing from Mumbai exhorted DFCCIL for speedy execution of projects and timely completion of the Dedicated Freight Corridor.

He held the meeting with Chairman Railway Board Vinod Kumar Yadav, Member Engineering Vishwesh Chaube, MD DFCCIL Anurag Sachan and other senior officials on Sunday.

Mr Goyal exhorted DFCCIL for speedy execution of projects and timely completion of the Dedicated Freight Corridor. The Minister called for phase-wise targets to be fixed for the completion of the DFC project.

He emphasised on the development of Multi Modal Logistics Parks,Sidings, Terminals, Container Depots along the Corridor and stations on the DFC alignment, an official statement here said.

Some of the major points discussed during the review are enumerated as– Contracts, Progress of Elimination of Level Crossings : Progress of elimination of Level Crossings on the DFC route is on the fast track, for speedy completion of projects. The Minister has instructed to have resolution of critical issues of project completion at each level. In recent years, due to intervention of Mr Goyal, pending issues have been resolved.

DFCCIL is working towards fast-tracking the construction of the Western and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridors. The two DFCs are targeted to be completed in phases by 2021.

EDFC include Bhadan-Khurja section (194 km) regular run is planned from October 2, this year. This section will be opened with World Class Operation Control Centre (OCC) at Prayagraj (Allahabad), a shining example of ‘Make-in-India’ initiative. The OCC will act as the command centre for the entire route length of 1856 Kms. of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC), controlling and monitoring the system including Train operation and power supply system.

WDFC will include the first Double Stack Container Goods train which was successfully run between Ateli – Phulera section (190 km) on August 15, last year. A trial run on WDFC’s 306 km Madar (Ajmer) – New Rewari–Kishangarh Balawas section was completed on December 30, 2018. Successful run of electric locomotive in Khurja-Bhadan section was completed on August 15.

West Bengal Chief Minister wants DFCC in Kolkata

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee wrote to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday, urging him to address the strategic policy gap affecting the future of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC), which is meant for cargo movement across the country.

The CM said she wanted the project to come to Kolkata from Ludhiana as 70% of the land in Bengal had been acquired and about 60% handed over to railways. She said the World Bank-aided project would take away the cargo burden from the railways.

Banerjee mentioned that EDFC covers about 1,192km, from Ludhiana to Mughalsarai. “From Mughalsarai, there will be a second eastward leg for another 126km up to Sonnagar in Bihar. However, the fate of the further eastward stretch from Sonnagar to Dankuni in Bengal, stretching over 538km, is still uncertain,” she wrote.

Railways takes ISRO help in monitoring 700 trains real-time. bets on GPS-equipped Locomotives, ISRO Satellites!

Punctual trains to be reality soon! Developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems in collaboration with ISRO-AAI, the RTIS device installed in the Locomotive will detect the position and speed of trains with the help of ISRO-developed GAGAN geo-positioning system. Here’s how ISRO will help Railways run Trains efficiently, and on time!

BANGALORE/NEW DELHI: The national transporter had already flagged off the system implementation on January 8, starting with few mail and express trains along the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-Bandra Terminus, New Delhi-Patna, New Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Jammu routes. Speaking to RailNews, a senior railway ministry official said, “A new beginning has been made in the new year: the train movement information is acquired and fed to the control charts using ISRO satellite-based real-time train information system (RTIS) automatically.”  The RTIS device installed in the locomotive will detect the position and speed of trains with the help of ISRO-developed GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System) geo-positioning system. GAGAN is a flagship joint venture between ISRO and Airports Authority of India and is headquartered at Kundalahalli, Whitefield, Bangalore.

The Control Office Application (COA) system designed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has begun real-time monitoring of over 700 trains, fitted with GPS (Global Positioning System). The system will help track movement of trains even between two stations. The COA system was designed after the Indian Railways collaborated with ISRO for monitoring of passenger and freight trains, making it easy to track them and automatically feed the control room about their movement.

Using this information, the device will send updates about the train movement to a central location server in the CRIS data centre. The information will include arrival, departure, run through, unscheduled stoppages and mid-section updates. Once the processing of data is completed, the information will be relayed to the Control Office Application (COA) system, paving the way for the automatic plotting of control charts with no manual intervention in the divisions.

It will not only help in real-time monitoring of passenger trains, but also help railways avoid theft of coal, oil and other materials ferried by freight trains.

In the past, the running status of trains was manually updated, and divisional controls set up for train movement control were dependent on the information passed between stationmasters and station controllers.

According to railway officials, the COA has already been integrated with National Train Enquiry System (NTES).

In addition to that, the Railways is also working with the premier science organisation to check accidents at unmanned railway crossings.

“The new system will help railways to modernise its control room, railway network for more efficient train movement across its network. The move is aimed at further improving the accuracy of train-running information,” the official added.

Arun Kumar, Director-General of RPF, said, “Now it will not be easy to stop freight train between stations. Anybody who attempts to commit theft or steal goods will be caught red-handed.”

Indian Railways gets major share of its revenue from freight services. The continued theft and pilferage were a cause of concern. The new system will help railways modernise control room, rail network for efficient train movement across the network.

In other news, the Ministry of Railways on Wednesday announced a discounted fare scheme to be rolled out by the end of September. The railway ministry said that discount to be offered can be up to 25% of the base fare and the scheme shall be applicable for AC Chair car and Executive chair car categories of selected trains such as Shatabdi, Gatimaan, Tejas, Double Decker, Intercity among others.

“Discount to be offered can be up to 25 per cent of the base fare. Reservation fee, superfast charge, GST, etc., as applicable will be separate. Discount can be given for the first leg and/or the last leg of the journey and/or intermediate sections and/or end to end journey. There is a provision to make catering optional with the discounted fare,” an official release said.

The national transporter has adopted three-pronged measures to implement separate projects. Indian Railways is banking on Global Positioning System (GPS), ISRO satellites, CCTVs and WiFi to provide safe, secured and technologically advanced ambience and environment for its passengers.

GPS in all locomotives: All the locomotives of Indian Railways will have GPS by the end of the current fiscal (FY 20) so that real-time position of the trains can be ascertained, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav was quoted as saying by PTI. This move is part of the Real-time Train Information System (RTIS). Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been roped in to improve punctuality of the trains. Yadav has said that train’s position and speed will be relayed through ISRO satellites to the Indian Railways’ Control Office Application (COA) system. This will go for automatic plotting of control charts.

CCTVs at railway stations, in Mail/Express trains: With an aim to improve passenger security, Indian Railways has decided to install CCTVs in Mail/Express trains. Major junctions will also be equipped with CCTVs.

WiFi at key stations: Indian Railways passengers will be able to experience high-speed WiFi facilities at major stations. This mega exercise is scheduled to be completed by September this year, Yadav said. Indian Railways was stressing on infrastructure development, Yadav said adding that there has been significant growth in Railway traffic in the country in the past 25 to 30 years.

In Budget 2019, the Modi government set out its top priorities for Indian Railways. Passengers’ safety, modernization of railway stations, improving railway travel experience, and increasing train efficiency were the key areas where the government focused. In the Railway Budget 2019, the government proposed to introduce Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system. The central government also talked about a massive programme launched by Indian Railways to modernize railway stations. To provide Digital India experience to travellers, Indian Railways targetted to provide free WiFi at 4,882 stations by August 31, 2019. Indian Railways has also proposed to install CCTV cameras at all stations and coaches of passengers’ trains by 2020-21.

IRCTC to manage two Tejas Trains

The semi-high-speed Tejas Express trains are expected to run six days a week. While the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas will begin services in October, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train will start in December.
  • Apart from ticket checking and catering, IRCTC will have the flexibility to fix fares on the trains.
  • IRCTC will have the rights to advertise on these new Tejas trains to earn additional revenue.

NEW DELHI : Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp. Ltd (IRCTC) is preparing for the launch of two brand new Tejas Express trains, an initiative that will help the state-run company generate additional revenue and plan for more such offerings.

This is the first time that IRCTC, which manages the bookings and catering services on Indian Railways’ 120,000km network, will be managing train services on its own.

IRCTC will have the rights to advertise on these trains to earn non-fare revenues, a railway official said.

While the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas will begin services in October, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train is expected to start in December. IRCTC will operate the two trains for three years. The trains are expected to run six days a week.

Introducing Tejas under a new model is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s 100-day agenda of its second term in office.

The semi-high-speed Tejas Express trains were first introduced in the Mumbai-Goa route two years ago.

“There are multiple aspects this initiative (of involving private entities) that would need to be planned and solved for,” said Peeyush Naidu, partner at Deloitte. “To begin with, these would cover selection of trains/routes as well as modality of involvement of private players—especially in terms of sustainability of their operations as well as this business model over time.”

The new Tejas trains will be the first to be run by an entity other than the national transporter. Later, more trains may be handed over to private sector entities to raise service standards.

The government official cited above said IRCTC will have the flexibility to fix fares on Tejas. There could be different charges for tickets. For instance, some tickets may be capped at a fixed price, while some others may follow dynamic or flexible pricing. The rest may be sold at half the price of the flights on the same route.

Concessions and railway privileges will not be allowed in these trains, the official said, adding that ticket checking, and catering will also be taken care by IRCTC.

“The trains/routes that would be amenable for private participation would need to be carefully identified with respect to considerations like existing operations of Indian Railways and the role it plays in transportation of different categories of passengers across the length and breadth of the country; financial viability of private operations (given the presently subsidized tariffs); views on potential competition between railways and private players on routes; and finally the impact that selection of such routes can have on Indian Railways,” Naidu said.

As far as ticket checking is concerned, there will be a separate ticketed area at the stations, where passengers with tickets will be permitted to enter. In this case, Indian Railways staff will not get to board the trains to check passengers’ tickets.

IRCTC will also have to sign an undertaking agreeing not to carry passengers beyond the train’s capacity, a common practice in train journeys, the official said.

The state-owned company can also introduce a separate check-in counter for passengers. These trains will have 18 coaches and will be equipped with modern facilities such as televisions, call buttons, USB charging facility and coffee vending machines among others, the official added.

“While the handing over of two trains to IRCTC could help in considering various options and discussing with potential stakeholders, Indian Railways will finally have to come out with a blueprint on the above aspects so as to generate interest from credible private players and for success of this initiative,” Naidu said.

Two lines with 30 Stations approved for Nashik Metro

Fadnavis requests PM to put city Nashik Metro on fast track. MMRCL aims at providing connectivity to the rapidly growing city.

NASHIK: Chief Minister Devendra Fadvanis has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the ambitious Nashik Metro project get the Centre’s approval soon.

Fadnavis made the request while addressing a gathering in Mumbai on Saturday during the foundation-laying ceremony of the three Metro lines by the PM. “The state government has sent the details of the Nashik Metro project to the Union government for its nod. I would request our prime minister to give his blessings to the project and ensure that it gets the Centre’s approval as soon as possible,” said Fadnavis.

The state cabinet recently approved the detailed project report (DPR) of the Rs 2,100-crore Nashik Metro project, known as Metro Neo. MahaMetro is the implementing agency.

The Centre’s green signal is mandatory as it will be partly funding the project. While Rs 552 crore would be provided by the state government, the Centre would chip in with Rs 388 crore. The remaining amount would be raised as loans.

Some overseas financial institutions have already shown interest in investing in the project.

“The Nashik Metro is the first hybrid metro project in the country and it will cover nearly 40 km. This project would be a game-changer for the city’s internal mass transport system as it would even connect the smaller roads of the city,” stated Fadnavis adding that such hybrid metro projects are even conducive for cities like Kalyan, Dombivilli, Bhiwandi etc.

Under the project, aimed at providing connectivity to the rapidly growing city, two trackless elevated corridors will be developed, a government statement said.

One of the corridors is between Gangapur and Nashik (line 1) of 22.5 km length which will have 20 stations. The line 2, of 10.5 km length, will be laid between Gangapur and Mumbai Naka, which will have 10 stations, it said.

He added that the Nashik city’s Metro project is eco-friendly and sustainable.

The Nashik Metro is the first of its kind project in the country where rubber-tyred swanky AC bus would run on two elevated corridors instead of conventional metro rail coaches that run on tracks. The buses would run on electricity and draw power from overhead wires.

In his speech, Modi had complimented the state government for changes that are being brought about in infrastructure.

According to Modi, the Centre’s thrust is on making huge investments in the next five years to improve the infrastructure of cities to give a further boost to connectivity, productivity, sustainability and safety.

Arunachal CM reviews Railway projects in state with NFR officials

ITANAGAR, Sep 4: Chief Minister Pema Khandu took a review of all the railway projects in Arunachal with the officials from the Northeastern Frontier Railway (construction) here on Wednesday.

During the meeting with NF Railway (Construction) General Manager NK Prasad, the chief minister held discussion on construction of Murkongselek to Pasighat railway line. He assured all cooperation of state government in expediting the project.

During the review on status of several ambitious railway projects proposed in the state, it came to light that the ‘190km Bhalukpong-Tawang railway line will involve 177km of tunneling. Estimated to be completed in 10 years, survey works involving marking of alignment, soil inspection etc has been completed and DPR will soon be prepared.’

The chief minister also enquired on other railway projects such as the Pasighat-Tezu, Bame-Aalo, and all other projects proposed in the foothill areas of the state.

Khandu further discussed on the scope to help farmers export their produce by railway expanding its role for transportation of perishable cargo items. He also sought status on satisfaction level of customers on rail service from Naharlagun to Guwahati and Tinsukia.

The chief minister urged the railway officials to maintain customer satisfaction level and to impose ban on use of non-biodegradable products. He suggested the railways maintain utmost hygiene and to use perishable items like bamboo products.

Now, Indian Railways is going the EV way!

Railways is testing waters for locomotives to run on lithium-ion batteries, the most common ones used in electric vehicles. Locomotive powered by Lithium-ion batteries, has already been developed and put into operation on the Eastern Railway.

NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: After a push for electrification, the Indian Railways is now testing waters for locomotives that can run on lithium-ion batteries.

Chittaranjan Locomotive Works will be making 10 such railway engines. A locomotive, powered by lithium-ion batteries, has already been developed and put into operation at the Eastern Railway.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most common ones used in electric vehicles (EVs) and has higher energy density compared to their weight.

“With plans for full-electrification of the Indian Railways gathering momentum, these battery locomotives will be used for small functions like shunting or transfer of small equipment within a station or covering small distance,” said a senior Railways official.

Presently, shunting operations are done by diesel locomotives that are not considered energy efficient.

This comes at a time when the NITI Aayog has lined up its ambitious targets like full conversion to EVs for three-wheelers by 2023, and two-wheelers by 2025.

On a pilot basis, the Eastern Railway Kanchrapara Railway Workshop has already converted one motor coach to work as battery cum 25 kV shunting engine. “This will be working on dual mode — wired (25 kv) and wireless — so that the locomotive works even without grid connected power. However, it will be able to pull freight and passenger trains at low speed when on battery mode,” the official said. In this new locomotive, the mode of operation from electric traction to battery can be changed by a simple switch operation.

The battery operated shunter is capable of moving passenger train with up to 24 coaches and freight train of 58 BOXN (a type of wagon).

The battery-operated locomotives would be produced on a large scale for shunting operations, as the national transporter wants to electrify balance broad gauge (BG) routes by 2021-22. Compared to an average 608 route kilometres (RKM) per year of electrification done in the period 2009-14, the average electrification of railway tracks had increased to 2,737 RKM per annum between 2014 and 2019.

According to the government’s roadmap, 7,000 RKM will be electrified in 2019-20, followed by 10,500 each in 2020-21 and 2021-22. During the current financial year, electrification of only around 1,000 km has so far been completed. Officials expect the pace to increase by the end of the year.

Interestingly, this is not the first time the Railways is using battery-operated locomotives. Sonarpur car shed had earlier converted an old periodic overhaul motor coach into battery operated shunter through their own technology in the early 2000s. It was developed using spare equipment from conventional EMU/MEMU and traction batteries (2V/1100Ah) from conventional air conditioned coaches. “The major difference this time is that the Railways is also joining the lithium-ion club,” the official said.

Titagarh Wagons to exit French rolling stock manufacturing subsidiary

KOLKATA:  India-based railway wagon builder Titagarh Wagons has decided to exit its French rolling stock manufacturing subsidiary Arbel Fauvet Rail (AFR).

The Indian firm decided to leave AFR just weeks after a commercial court in Paris ordered the liquidation of the French subsidiary.

Titagarh Wagons vice-chairman and MD Umesh Chowdhary said: “We have resolved to move out from AFR, as it was making losses of 4-5 million Euros annually for the last three years, due to a general slowdown, and it required more capital. Also, we decided to pump in funds where growth lies.”

Titagarh Wagons acquired AFR in 2010, following which it was renamed AFR Titagarh. Since its acquisition, Titagarh Wagons has invested more than Rs1bn ($13.93m) in the company.

Chowdhary told PTI that the Indian rail wagon builder will now put more focus on manufacturing metro coaches.

Titagarh Firema recently emerged as the lowest bidder to supply 102 metro coaches for Pune Metro Rail in India. The tender was issued by Maharashtra Metro Rail.

The scope of works under the contract includes design, manufacturing, supplying, testing and commissioning of the metro rail units. Titagarh will also provide necessary training to Pune Metro personnel.

Overall, the value of the contract is approximately Rs11.25bn ($156.73m).

The majority of the metro coaches will be built in its Indian manufacturing plant in Nagpur while some of the units will be delivered by the Italian facility.

Jupiter Group acquires 60 percent stake in CEBBCO

KOLKATA: Kolkata-headquartered Jupiter Group, which manufactures freight wagons, railway components and railway equipment at its integrated, state of the art facility in West Bengal has, along with its international partners, announced the acquisition of over 60 percent stake in Madhya Pradesh based company Commercial Engineers & Body Builders Co. Ltd. (CEBBCO).

CEBBCO has facilities for manufacturing of railway freight wagons and components for coaches and locomotives. The company offers a wide portfolio of products and its customer list include names such as Tata Motors, Volvo Eicher, Mahindra – MAN Trucks, Ashok Leyland, Asia Motor Works, Ministry of Defence (Indian Army), Indian Railways, Reliance Industries Ltd., BHEL and L&T Power among others.

CEBBCO has five facilities in Madhya Pradesh and one in Jharkhand. Its major facility for commercial vehicles and power is located at Mandla near Jabalpur. It has two workshops for commercial vehicles in Richai near Jabalpur. The large facility which accommodates the Railway Engineering Division is located at Deori near Jabalpur. Additional facilities for commercial vehicles are located in proximity to customers such as Pithampur near Indore to serve Volvo Eicher and at Jamshedpur in Jharkhand to serve Tata Motors. All facilities are centrally located and can serve customers in all parts of the country. Further, these facilities are strategically located closer to the suppliers of steel in Odisha and Jharkhand.

CEBBCO which is a listed entity has been going through a resolution process under the RBI’s February 12 circular. As part of this resolution process, Jupiter Group, its international partner Tatravagonka and associated entities have acquired over 60 percent stake in CEBBCO. Major lenders to CEBBCO, Axis Bank and Tata Capital have opted to convert some part of their debt into equity clearly indicating their belief in the company’s fundamentals and the potential for turnaround of operations.

The International partners of Jupiter Group include Tatravagonka and Budamar Logistics. Tatravagonka holds a 26 percent stake in Jupiter Group which it acquired in 2015. Tatravagonka is headquartered in Slovakia and is the leading designer and manufacturer of Freight Wagons in Europe with approximately 40 percent market share. Budamar Logistics owns 50 percent of Tatravagonka and is a leading transportation, freight forwarding and logistics provider with strong presence in Central Europe. Budamar is also into the railcar leasing business and has a fleet of over 10,000 wagons.

Together, Jupiter Group and its international partners plan to make investments in CEBBCO to revive the operations and to enable it to realise its potential. The partners will infuse the necessary working capital required by the company to resume operations. They have already commenced dialogue with key customers to enhance volumes purchased from CEBBCO and will also pursue railway tenders for wagons to be manufactured at CEBBCO’s RDSO (Research, Design & Standards Organisation) approved facility for railway products.

ELTEC Electronik expands auto LTE Router range for Railway Industry

MAINZ, GERMANY: ELTEC Elektronik has added to its family of wireless LTE routers with the CyBox RT 2-A, i.e. a dual LTE/WiFi system for automotive applications.

The system combines a wireless router, access point and integrated switch in a compact and robust housing.

This allows unlimited Internet surfing and data exchange with the control center for mobile applications in buses, trams and trucks.

In addition to the 1 GbE interface, additional interfaces enable the connection of vehicle-internal bus systems (CAN, IBIS, OBD-2, RS232 and RS485).

Efficient fleet management can be implemented. Optimum capacity utilization can also be achieved by transmitting and controlling passenger numbers. Operators benefit in the form of cost reductions and better service.

The CyBox RT 2-A supplements the ELTEC family with gateways and routers for railway applications. It is specially designed for automotive applications but is also perfect for demanding industrial applications.

With the integrated WIFI access point (up to 2 x 802.11 ac with 1300 Mbit/s and 3×3 MIMO each) and the two LTE interfaces (Cat 6/2 x 300 Mbit/s download and 2 x 50 bit/s upload) the CyBox RT 2-A can also be used as a head station for mobile WiFi compatible devices in a bus or tram.

There, it provides communication with the Internet or access to local data such as timetable information, videos, etc. The integrated configurable firewall with client isolation prevents the respective users from accessing other clients in the network.

The CyBox RT 2-A supports WiFi and GSM/UMTS/LTE modems and has two LTE modules. Two SIM slots per LTE module enable convenient operation with several mobile phone operators for optimum network coverage.

Thanks to the design without rotating mechanical parts and the low power consumption, this product is maintenance-free. The robust IP40 housing requires no active cooling and is highly resistant to shock and vibration.

Several Ethernet devices can be connected using the integrated 5 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet switch (via RJ45). The CyBox RT 2-A also has a USB interface and optionally an internal SSD for storing local data. The geographical position can be tracked by means of an integrated GPS/GLONASS receiver.

The CyBox RT 2-A was developed with automotive requirements in mind, providing all necessary functions on a single board with an additional interface module.

Different mounting variants are available. For easy installation, all status indicators are located on the front panel.

A web interface allows secure remote access for updates and convenient configuration of the router. All source codes are delivered with the OpenWrt operating system software for a transparent and secure system without ‘hidden backdoors’.

The router meets the requirements for E1 approval. It operates in an operating temperature range of -40 °C to +75 °C.

ELTEC offers a warranty of 24 months for this new automotive router, which can be extended to 60 months. Customers receive a highly reliable solution which is developed and manufactured in Germany.

Railways may get Free Spectrum worth Rs.65,000 Crore for Signal Upgradation

Indian Railways has moved a cabinet note with the Law Ministry’s approval and is likely to get the nod as the issue is at present under active consideration of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, said sources.

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways, amid the opposition from private sector, is all set to win the battle over spectrum after prolonged negotiations, as it has been agreed upon to allocate 10 megahertz in premium frequency band valued about Rs 65,000 crore free of cost to the public transporter to enhance passenger safety and security.

The spectrum is essential for the public transporter to modernise its age-old signalling and telecommunication system to match the requirement for speeding up trains, a must for its survival and competing against other modes of transportation.

At present, the national transporter has eight spots in 900 MHz band for mobile train radio communication and GSMR (Global System for Mobile Communication for Railways). As GSMR is becoming an obsolete technology, the Railways have now decided to adopt LTE (long term evolution) technology for achieving broadband communication along the track.

“We have sought 10 MHz in 700 MHz band, which will be used for train control safety application and for monitoring security of passengers in running trains,” a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the process said.

The 700 MHz band is being used worldwide for deployment of 4G and evolution of 5G services as signal transmitted in this frequency band covers vast area compared with other radio frequency range and, therefore, it is one of the most sought-after bands for deployment of 4G.

“We have sought free allocation, as it will be devoid of any commercial gain and will be used for only enhancing security and passenger amenities,” the official said adding that the Railways is not in a position to pay for it.

In the last auction, 700 MHz spectrum, most efficient for 4G, went unsold because of a high reserve price.

Seeking the spectrum free of cost for non-commercial use, the Railways had sent the proposal to the Telecom Department and the issue was forwarded to the Digital Communications Commission (DCC).

The DCC, an inter-ministerial panel under the Telecom Ministry, approved proposal to develop a framework to allocate spectrum to entities without auction for non-commercial and captive usage.

There were several meetings with the authorities concerned highlighting the need for spectrum for passengers’ safety and security and finally DCC has agreed upon with the Railways proposal.

DCC has decided to allocate spectrum non-commercial applications to government agencies without auction, said the official aware of the latest development.

However, for commercial organisation, spectrum would be given through auction only.

Railways has moved a cabinet note on the spectrum issue with the Law Ministry approval and it is likely to get the nod and the issue is at present under active consideration of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Currently spectrum cost about Rs 6,500 crore per MHz and for 10 MHz it would cost Rs 65,000 crore. Railways will be installing ultra-high speed 4G-based communication network along railway routes.

According to the decision, free spectrum allocation is to be made to government agencies like Railways, defence, department of space and others like Metro rails, Doordarshan, All India Radio for discharge of sovereign functions that are non-commercial in nature.

The spectrum for mobile service access will continue to be given through auction route only.

Railways has a network size of over 66,000 route km connecting more than 8,000 stations on which 21,000 passenger and freight trains run every day to move eight billion passengers and one billion tonnes of freight annually.

Besides free spectrum, Railways is also getting Rs 500 crore under Nirbhaya Fund for installing CCTV cameras at stations and coaches.

The national transporter has floated tenders inviting private players to install and operate CCTV cameras to enhance the surveillance system in the entire rail network. Apart from CCTV cameras, about 4,800 stations will also be covered with Wi-Fi network under corporate social responsibility of Tata Trust.

Railways saves crores on Diesel cost of premium trains with new eco-friendly system!

Indian Railways achieves another environment-friendly feat. New eco-friendly system being used!

NEW DELHI: Taking a step towards modernization, the Northern Railway zone is now operating 14 pairs of Premium and Mail Express trains on the “Head On Generation” (HOG) system. With this move, an annual diesel cost of Rs 42 crore has been saved by Indian Railways. Currently, six pairs of Shatabdi Express, four pairs of Rajdhani Express, train number 12235/12236 Anand Vihar Terminal-Madhupur Junction Humsafar Express, 22401 Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Udhampur AC Express, 12280/12279 Taj Express and train number 12497/12498 Shan-e-Punjab Express are being run on this system. Indian Railways is also planning to convert 11 more pairs of trains to the HOG system in the near future, which includes two Shatabdi Express, two Duronto and seven Mail Express trains.

The Northern Railway zone is now operating 14 pairs of Premium and Mail Express trains on the “Head On Generation” (HOG) system.With the improvement in technology and continuous advancements in the field of power electronics, power supply systems, and control system, the national transporter is adopting an energy-efficient power supply system for coaches- the HOG system.

Indian Railways is introducing Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) AC coaches on several Premium and Mail express trains. Unlike Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches, LHB coaches need an uninterrupted power supply to meet the electric load of lights, fans, air conditioning, charging points, and pantry needs, collectively known as Hotel Load. According to Indian Railways, for this purpose, end-on-generation system is used in the form of generator in power cars that are attached generally at the two ends of the rake. With the improvement in technology and continuous advancements in the field of power electronics, power supply systems, and control system, the national transporter is adopting an energy-efficient power supply system for coaches- the HOG system.

In this system, power is fed from the electric locomotive to the train instead of the power cars to cater to the Hotel Load of the train. The electric current is tapped through the locomotive’s pantograph and fed to a transformer and then to a converter to obtain the 750 Volts, 3 Phase 50 Hertz power supply required for the coaches.

The HOG system is economical, environment-friendly and advantageous in operation. Also, the system is more reliable with less number of chances of failure during train operations due to equipment failures. It is being said that the system will earn additional revenue for Indian Railways by replacing the power cars with passenger coaches. Also, there is no use of diesel for power generation so there is no air pollution due to the burning of fossil fuel. Moreover, the high decibel noise emanated by power cars has been eliminated as well.

CONCOR forms piercing line pattern

MUMBAI: The stock of Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) has formed a piercing line candlestick pattern on the weekly scale. The piercing line candlestick pattern is considered to be a bullish reversal pattern and usually occurs at the bottom of a downtrend.

The piercing line pattern is a two candlestick pattern. The first candle is red, which supports the downtrend and the second candle is a long green candle, which opens below the close of the previous candle and then closes above the midpoint of the preceding red candle. This action triggers concerns for the bears and the stock reaches a potential bottom.

After a span of almost one and half months, CONCOR has managed to successfully close above its crucial short-term moving average i.e. 13-day EMA. Besides, the stock is trading above its weekly pivot since last four trading sessions. From the momentum indicators perspective, the 14-period daily Rs.I is currently quoting at 40.62 and it is trading above its 9-day average. The daily stochastic oscillator is also suggesting some bullish strength as %K is above the %D. Moreover, the momentum indicator MACD line has crossed above the signal line, which resulted in histogram turning positive.

Going ahead, the stock has immediate support in the zone of Rs. 478-475 level, while the major support is placed in the range of Rs. 465-460 as upward sloping trendline is placed in that zone. On the higher side, any sustainable move above the level of Rs. 510 is likely to open up gates for further rally in the stock price, towards the levels of Rs. 520, followed by Rs. 540.

KEC’s export rake of 90 Containers flagged-off from CONCOR’s Nagpur ICD

NAGPUR: Container Corporation of India Ltd, a public sector undertaking, under the Ministry of Railways, a Navratna Company has its Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Narendra Nagar, Ajni. It has added another laurel in trade movement by flagging off a customer-specific dedicated full export rake of KEC International Limited containing transmission towers in 90 containers to gateway ports from CONCOR, ICD, Nagpur on Friday. All that needs to be done is that the ICD needs to be connected with the station by the railways. CONCOR is a subsidiary of Indian Railways that is engaged in transport of cargo containers to the seaports.

The consignment was Customs cleared by M/s Thaparsons K V Shipping Agents P. Ltd, one of the leading Customs House Agent and logistic provider of Central India. The flagging off of this rake was done by Anup Kumar Satpathy, Chief General Manager of Central Region of CONCOR, Nagpur, Dr Pinky Baskey, Deputy Commissioner Customs/ICD, Nagpur, Santosh Kumar Singh, Chief Manager of CONCOR/ICD, Nagpur, Amol R Bhople, GM (Plant Operations) of KEC International Limited, Nitindatt L. Lekhak, Manager Logistics of KEC International Limited, Shourabh Sharma, CEO of Goodrich Logistics P Ltd, Karan Thapar, Thaparsons K V Shipping Agents P. Ltd, and prominent trade members.

CONCOR also intends to do coastal shipping services for Bangladesh through Krishnapatnam Port to serve the export trade of Central Region which is expected to be launched soon.

CONCOR’s CGM for Central India Arunkumar Satpathy said the agency is in a position to start the facility in a month’s time if the rail connectivity is established. Under the present situation, trains running from the direction of Nagpur to Mumbai can reach the ICD but not those form the opposite direction. “There has been a time overrun as the work was expected to have been completed by 2016. However, now the railways have assured to finish it within a month’s time after which the ICD here can become operational,” said Sathpathy, adding, “Once ready, majority of the work from the present ICD at Narendra Nagar will be shifted to Mihan.”

Coastal shippers demand more Railway and Container facilities at Ports

They need priority berthing and more free time!

NEW DELHI: Coastal shipping players want priority berthing and more free time at ports as India looks to increase the share of coastal cargo movement. This emerged at a conference organised here recently by CONCOR and Maritime Gateway.

Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), the PSU which started a weekly coastal shipping service in January, between Kandla and Tuticorin, is witnessing an increase in the total logistics costs as its ships face delay due to lack of dedicated infrastructure for coastal cargo at ports, where priority is given to foreign vessels to berth, according to CONCOR CMD V Kalyana Rama.

Higher charges

The ports give priority to foreign vessels as they pay higher charges to the ports.

“The Shipping Ministry’s proposal to provide 40 per cent lower port charges for coastal cargo vessels tends to get diluted when the terminals are operated by the partners in the public-private partnership model,” said PK Agrawal, Director-Domestic, CONCOR. The customs paperwork tends to vary for coastal cargo in different ports.

These hitches need to be cleared if India has to achieve the Shipping Ministry’s target of moving about 12 per cent of cargo through coastal shipping against the current seven per cent.

“Tuticorin Port is already working on a proposal to increase the free time that coastal cargo vessels get,” said TK Ramachandran, Chairman, VO Chidambaranar Port, erstwhile Tuticorin Port, adding that the proposal is awaiting the Board’s approval.

“CONCOR plans to expand its coastal shipping service to other ports as well,” said G Ravi Kumar, Executive Director, CONCOR.

Meanwhile, CONCOR plans to operationalise its coastal cargo service between India and Bangladesh this year.

Cargo shipping

The service is likely to run between Krishnapatnam Port on the East Coast and Chittagong Port in Bangladesh, and would consider calling on other ports like Paradip and Hadia if the demand arises.

It is also working on a proposal to send cargo to ports in Iran, from where it can be moved to Russia using the rail route.

Goods are already moving on this route between India and Russia, but CONCOR is not a part of it.

CONCOR commences Container Train Services at Suranussi on the Ferozepur Division of NR

FEROZPUR: Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR), a Navratna PSU of Ministry of Railways and Indian Railways join hands to commence Container Train operations from Suranussi, located near Jalandhar in Firozpur Division of Northern Railway. A land license agreement was signed at Firozpur Division on 12th August, 2019 between Railways and CONCOR at a glittering ceremony graced by Sh T. P. Singh, GM (Northern Rly.), Sh. Rajesh Agrawal, DRM/Firozpur, Sh. Sanjay Swarup, Director (International Marketing & Ops.)/CONCOR, Sh. Kamal Jain, Exe. Director, CONCOR (Northern Region) and other senior officers from Railways.

This new facility shall give impetus to transportation of Domestic and EXIM cargo in containers from the catchment areas of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Amritsar. Earlier, this Container Rail Terminal was opened on trial basis in March 2019 during which a total of 540 TEUs (Twenty Equivalent Unit containers) in six container trains were handled, moving 12,690 Metric Ton of cargo to various parts of country on multi-modal basis by CONCOR. Sh. Sushil Kumar, Sr. Div. Engr (II), Firozpur Div. and Sh Vineet Mathur, Chief Manager-CONCOR (Ludhiana) signed the agreement on behalf of Raiways and CONCOR, respectively.

Shares of CONTAINER CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD. was last trading in BSE at Rs.472.5 as compared to the previous close of Rs. 485.8. The total number of shares traded during the day was 9748 in over 316 trades.

The stock hit an intraday high of Rs. 487.05 and intraday low of 471.6. The net turnover during the day was Rs. 4646403.

Routing subsidy through Port Trusts will spruce up Coastal Cargo: CONCOR

NEW DELHI: To make terminal operators at ports treat vessels carrying domestic cargo at par with those carrying international cargo, the Shipping Ministry should allow them to charge the same level of tariff from all vessel operators, feels Container Corporation of India (CONCOR).

Vessel operators can handle export and imports or EXIM cargo, or coastal cargo, that is mostly domestic, and pay accordingly. CONCOR is the largest container train operator which also aims to become a large Indian coastal cargo operator.

Priority vessels

As the terminal operators or ports make more money by handling EXIM vessels, many of them tend to prioritise these vessels against coastal cargo vessels when both jostle for same space or facilities of a port.

The Shipping Ministry has already asked ports and terminal operators to charge lower tariffs for coastal cargo vessels compared to EXIM cargo vessels.

“The 40 per cent subsidy should be provided by the landlord port or Port Trust to the terminal operator to prevent the terminal operators from giving lower priority to coastal cargo vessel operators,” said Pradip Agrawal, Director-Domestic, Container Corporation of India (CONCOR).

CONCOR has, in January 2019, started a regular coastal vessel service along India’s coast between ports at Kandla (Deendayal Port Trust) and Tuticorin (VO Chindambarnar Port Trust). It also plans to further expand the service to various ports within and outside India. While coal, steel, cement, fertiliser are already moving along the coast, there is scope to move foodgrain, salt, sugar, tiles and marbles along the coastal belt, said Agrawal

“Different ports or terminals have different strategies when they handle coastal and EXIM cargo vessels. Some ports/terminals provide good services to coastal operators; some do not provide any discount for neither coastal nor EXIM cargo vessels; and some provide high level of discounts even to EXIM vessels to attract vessels and cargo,” Indian National Shipowners’ Association or INSA CEO Anil Devli noted.

In this context, “if the government wants promote coastal cargo, government can say they will bear the extent of discount on charges imposed by ports – such as pilotage (charges for helping move a vessel within/near port) and wharfage (charges for using port’s space for tying a vessel and other operations) – for coastal vessels only,” Devli added. Both ports and terminal operators levy various charges on a ship that calls a port. Broadly, cargo-related charges are collected by the terminal operator, while vessel-related charges are collected by the landlord port, added Devli.

Managing terminals

In a port ecosystem, the terminal operations could be managed by those who own the port like Port Trusts themselves; or by separate companies specialising in handling terminals.

CONCOR’s Agrawal said that ports need to make available some dedicated space for de-stuffing and stuffing cargo. After the cargo is unloaded, it has to be shifted to warehouses that are located over 50 km away, which adds to the time and cost.

CONCOR is in talks with Food Corporation of India for moving foodgrain from North to South or from Punjab to Tamil Nadu.

Gateway Rail flags off first Export Train Service from Viramgam ICD

The ICD will open international trade for the industrial belt of Sanand-Mehsana-Bechraji.

VIRAMGAM: Gateway Distriparks Ltd (GDL) subsidiary Gateway Rail Freight flagged off the first export train service from the newly-built inland container depot (ICD) at Viramgam near Ahmedabad. The first consignment of export containers of Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India Ltd (HMSI) was cleared under assistant commissioner of customs Bisht.

Samvid Gupta, joint managing director of Gateway Rail Freight said, “With the addition of this ICD, our group will be able to offer intermodal service from its 12 container terminals across India to the shipping lines and the international trade. We are committed to delivering world-class service to our esteemed customers.”

The first export train service was flagged off by Divisional Railway Manager, Ahmedabad Division Deepak Jha.

Gateway Rail also operates ICDs at Gurugram and Faridabad in Haryana and Ludhiana in Punjab. It operates 30 BLC (bogie low containers) class trains to provide a daily service between these ICDs and the western ports of Nhava Sheva, Mundra and Pipavav. It also offers optional road transport service from these ICDs to provide an integrated intermodal solution for the international trade in NCR and Punjab and will now offer similar service from the newly inaugurated ICD at Viramgam to the international trade of newly developing industrial belt of Sanand- Mehsana- Bechraji of Ahmedabad.

Sachin Bhanushali, director and CEO, Gateway Rail Freight said, “We are committed to offering a reliable rail transportation service for imports and exports from our Viramgam ICD which would make a fundamental difference in the Intermodal service for Gujarat trade.”

In a surprise, Rail Wagon makers seek higher GST amid clamour for slashing GST rates

Rail manufacturing segment buck the trend, seeking the opposite—an increase!

NEW DELHI: Amid the clamour for cuts in goods and services tax (GST) rates to help revive demand, rail manufacturers are seeking the opposite—an increase. Alstom, General Electric and Bombardier, which have set up manufacturing facilities in the country for rail wagons, have written to the government, seeking a 12% GST levy on rail products from 5% now.

Inputs are levied GST of 5% and 18%, leading to an inverted duty structure as hundreds of crores of rupees in input tax credit are stuck, the companies say. This gives imported rail products an advantage as they just have to pay the 5% levy, frustrating the government’s aim to boost local manufacture.

“The restriction on refund of unutilised input GST credit on account of inverted duty structure has increased costs of the railway products manufacturing industry and gives a competitive disadvantage to domestic products vis-à-vis imported products, thereby adversely impacts Make in India initiative,” said Alstom India chief financial officer Simon Garnier.

Refunds of unutilised input tax credit on certain notified goods including railway products has been restricted. The products affected include locomotives, rolling stock, wagon and coaches.

Garnier said the industry has been in continuous talks with the concerned authorities and expects the government to resolve this matter urgently to provide domestic companies a level playing field. They have lobbied the finance ministry, railways, the GST Council and state governments. They want the government to raise the GST on final products, allow input tax credit or lower the levy on inputs.

“GST is a positive step towards a simplified tax structure. However, rail industry suppliers are grappling with severe financial burden on account of inverted duty structure coupled with restriction on refund of unutilised credit,” said Nalin Jain, group president, equipment business, Wabtec Corp.

Additionally, it was leading to an import bias with indigenous rolling stock costing more than imports.

Due to nonavailability of refunds, the unutilised input tax credit on account of the inverted duty structure has become a cost, said an industry official who did not wished to be named.

“This has led to an inefficient tax structure and unfair advantage to afew rail suppliers including suppliers who import rolling stock,” said a Bombardier executive. “This inverted duty structure followed under the GST regime is an unfair trade practice, provides non-level playing ground to rail suppliers who have single business interests in India and is completely against the agenda of government’s make in India initiative.”

IR to upgrade entire Signalling System with anti-train collision system: Chairman/Railway Board

The railways has identified 10 more high-speed rail corridors besides the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route to give them to private players.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is in the process of upgrading its entire signalling system in the next few years by equipping the whole network with anti-train collision system, Chairman of Railway Board V K Yadav said on Thursday.

Yadav said the railways has identified 10 more high-speed rail corridors besides the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route to give them to private players. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed train is popularly known as Bullet train project.

“We are now in the process of upgrading the entire signalling system in the next few years with anti-train collision system,” he said at the Rail India Conference and Expo.

“Right now, on the signalling system on the vast Indian Railways network of 70,000 km, we do not have modern signalling system,” Yadav added.

About the Indian Railways’ 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedbad High Speed Train, he said, “Work on the high-speed corridor is progressing fast and smoothly.”

He said, besides the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, “the railways has identified 10 more high-speed corridors”.

Yadav also said the Indian Railways is planning electrification of its entire network in the next three years.

On giving some train operation to private players, he said, “For the first time we are giving a Tejas train to Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to run between Delhi and Lucknow.”

Yadav mentioned that apart from the Delhi-Lucknow route, the Indian Railways has also figured out Mumbai-Ahmedabad normal train route for private players.

On increasing speed on the network, he said, “Fifteen days back the Cabinet has cleared the plan to upgrade the Mumbai-Delhi and Delhi-Howrah route to 160 kmph and we have targeted to complete it in four years.”

He said that planning for upgrading speed on existing rail network requires a deep analysis and research.

Pune Metro starts installing tubular portals for overhead wire system

Pune Metro will use 25,000 Volt AC Traction Power Overhead Catenary system. Metro officials said there are 30 to 35 portals per km on Metro line. For installing these tubular portals on the viaduct, special concrete pedestals have been provided along the parapet of the viaduct.

PUNE: Pune Metro started the work to install tubular portals for the overhead catenary wire system on the priority section of Pimpri to Swargate in Corridor One. The tubular portal, the first in the country, was installed on the viaduct at pier number 327.

Brijesh Dixit, MD, MahaMetro, said, “We are committed to starting the Metro work on priority section between Pimpri and Dapodi as per schedule and this overhead cable work is a milestone in that direction.” The Metro is likely to be flagged off on the five-km Pimpri-Dapodi stretch in early January, officials said.

Pune Metro spokesperson Hemant Sonawane said the Metro will use 25,000 Volt AC Traction Power Overhead Catenary system. “The catenary system is supported through galvanised steel tubular portals of height 9.1 metre from the track level. The portals are very sleek and aesthetic with a life span of over 40 years. MahaMetro is the first in India to use tubular portals for OHE (Over Head Equipment) catenary system. The approximate weight of one portal is 900 kg. The approximate average distance between two portals is 35 and 40 metre,” said Sonawane.

Metro officials said there are 30 to 35 portals per km on Metro line. “For installing these tubular portals on the viaduct, special concrete pedestals have been provided along the parapet of the viaduct. To install these tubular portals over the viaduct, special cranes of 50 tonne capacity and 34 metre boom length are being used,” said an official.

“For the Pimpri-Dapodi section to be commissioned by December 2019, a total of about 162 portals are to be installed. With the average installation rate of 4 to 5 portals per day, it’s likely to complete the work by October 2019,” said Sonawane.

Metro officials said the Over Head Equipment work is being executed by Mumbai-based firm, Bright Power. “These GI (Galvanised Iron) tubular portals are manufactured at Silvasa, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, by Transrail India.”

KPTL bags new orders worth Rs.975 Crore

There are two orders for design, supply, erection, testing and commissioning for railway electrification, including OHE, TSS and associated works, it said.

MUMBAI: Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd (KPTL) announced that it has secured new orders worth Rs 975 crore. The new orders include engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) order for pipeline laying and associated works in India, a company statement said.

There are two orders for design, supply, erection, testing and commissioning for railway electrification, including OHE, TSS and associated works, it said.

Besides, KPTL’s international subsidiary has also secured new transmission and distribution projects (T&D) in Europe.

“The oil & gas and railway orders along with the international T&D orders will help in strengthening our position in the respective businesses. These order wins helps us to further consolidate our order book and gives us confidence to meet our revenue and profitability guidance for 2019-20,” KPTL MD and CEO Manish Mohnot said.

KPTL is a EPC company engaged in power transmission and distribution, oil and gas pipeline, railways, infrastructure development, civil contracting, warehousing and logistics business with a strong international presence in power transmission and distribution.

Railways, barring core operations of running trains, going private, slowly but surely!

NEW DELHI: The Railways made a beginning by allotting two popular routes – New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad — for private operations. For now, the IRCTC, a railways subsidiary, has been given the job.

Facing mounting losses in the passenger business, Indian Railways is moving ahead slowly but steadily towards privatization by offloading many of its services into private hands. In time, most major functions, barring the core operation of running the trains, will be managed by the private sector.

The Railways made a beginning by allotting two popular routes – New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad — for private operations. For now, the IRCTC, a railways subsidiary, has been given the job.

While Railways maintains that the trains will be operated in PPP model, it is no doubt a harbinger of private entry into the passenger train business as there would be as many as 20 routes connecting all metro cities to be privately managed, according to the plan.

So far, IRCTC had been allowed to run only luxury trains for tourists, like the Maharaja Express or the Buddhist and Ramayan Specials. But for the Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad sectors, IRCTC, which will run the Tejas Express, will not only decide the passenger fares but also have private Train Ticket Examiners, exclusive catering, separate lounges and staff to manage the service. Except for the train driver, guard, signalling and, of course, the track, all other functions will be privately managed. Until now, the passenger fare has always been Railways’ decision.

With private siding, port connectivity and ‘own your wagon’ schemes among others, Railways’ freight operations are already open to private players. These schemes allow private parties to lay rails connecting ports to export their products with their own dedicated wagons. Private sidings also allow businesses to invest in building siding for their freight operations.

However, the passenger business had been only partially opened — for tourism purpose — in a limited exercise so far. Now, with the opening of the two routes, the flood gates seem set to be opened further for private stakeholders to run passenger trains all over the country.

Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai, Chennai-Bengaluru, Mumbai-Shirdi, Howrah-Digha, Delhi-Patna and many such high demand routes will be gradually offered to private players, as per the plan.

While the manufacture of wagons is mostly in private hands, now passenger coaches are also to be produced privately for Railways, despite the national transporter having its own factories. The Vande Bharat Express, which was successfully made at Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, is now on offer for private manufacturers to set up shop and build it.

Notwithstanding the strong opposition from railway unions across the country, Railways has launched a mega plan to corporatise its production units. According to the action plan, a detailed study is under way to corporatise all seven Production Units (PU), including the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW-West Bengal), Integral Coach Factory (ICF-Chennai), Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW-Banaras), Rail Coach Factory (RCF-Kapurthala), Modern Coach Factory (MCF-Rae Bareli) and its associated workshops. These are to be clubbed into a new entity called ‘Indian Railways Rolling Stock Company’ under the Ministry of Railways. Starting with the newly set-up MCF-Rae Bareli, all PUs are to be taken over by the new entity in a phased manner.

Catering and onboard housekeeping services are already outsourced to private players. Most importantly, though signalling and telecommunication system is still with the Railways, the maintenance of overhead equipment (OHE), crucial for hauling electric engines, is in private hands.

While the track is Railways’ baby, its maintenance has been outsourced. The sub-assembly of high-end equipment required for rolling stock is also now privately managed.

Moreover, rail factories are expanding without commensurate deployment of staff, thus causing a large number of vacancies at these units.

According to Railways sources, since the Bibek Debroy Committee had suggested corporatisation of Indian Railways and encouraging private sector participation, the ensuing action plan is only continuation of the implementation of those recommendations.

Besides, many railway PSUs are going for divestment to meet the Modi government’s Rs 1.05 lakh crore disinvestment target, declared by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her maiden Budget. IRCON, RITES, RVNL, RailTel and IRFC are some of the railway PSUs set for disinvestment.

Railways insiders maintain that barring train operations and control, including safety and track, everything else will be in private hands eventually.

The Railways is also going full steam ahead to redevelop about 400 stations, with  private participation. The plan envisages that stations will have shopping malls, office complexes, eateries, budget hotels and parking lots as part of the redevelopment programme.

While the developer will also provide improved amenities for passengers on platforms, Railways will have a share of the earnings from commercial exploitation.

Apart from real estate development at stations, all railway printing presses are also to be closed and handed over for commercial development. These age-old printing presses, situated at Howrah, Delhi and Chennai, are in the process of being outsourced.

The Modi government began by discontinuing the practice of a separate Railway Budget and merging it with the main Budget, and the freight business was opened to private players. Now, the passenger segment is also passing into private hands for all practical purposes, albeit gradually.

PCMC-Dapodi stretch of Pune Metro gets traction on overhead cables

PUNE: Mahametro has begun work on erecting tubular portals for the overhead wire system in its priority section – between PCMC and Dapodi in the north-south corridor of the Pune Metro rail project.

The first tubular portal was erected on the viaduct at pier number 327, according to Maha Metro.

Pune Metro plans to use 25000 volt AC traction power overhead system, which is supported through galvanised steel tubular portals of a height of 9.1 metres from track level. The portals have a life of 40 years. Mahametro is the first to use tubular portals for an OHE (overhead equipment) catenory system in India, with weight of one portal at 900 kg, while distance between two portals averages between 35 and 40 metres.

Mahametro officials said there are at least 30 portals along a kilometre of metro line.

For installing these tubular portals on the viaduct, special concrete pedestals have been provided along the parapet of the viaduct. To erect these tubular portals over the viaduct, special cranes ith a 50 tonne capacity are being used.

“For priority section, PCMC to Dapodi, to be commissioned by December 2019, a total of 162 portals are to be erected. With the average erection rate of four portals per day its likely to complete the portal erection work by October 2019. With progress of the portal erection, also the other activities for installation of the catenary system shall be taken up in parallel,” said the press release sent by Maha Metro.

This OHE work is being executed by Bright Power from Mumbai.

Brijesh Dixit, MD, Mahametro said, “We are committed to start the priority section work as per schedule and this overhead cable work is milestone in the metro progress work.”

DMRC invites bids for OHE works of Mumbai Metro Rail Project Line-2A

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Limited invites e-tenders from the eligible bidders for Design Verification, Supply, Installation, Testing and Commissioning of 25 kV Overhead Equipment (OHE), 33 kV Auxiliary Power Supply & SCADA System for Elevated Corridor of Dahisar(E) – D.N. Nagar (17 stations, 18.59 KM) & Rolling Stock Depot at Charkop (Line-2A) of Mumbai Metro Rail Project. The key information of the tender notice is as under:-

Tender Notice No. CONTRACT: AE-02R

Work Description: Design Verification, Supply, Installation, Testing and Commissioning of 25 kV Overhead Equipment (OHE), 33 kV Auxiliary Power Supply & SCADA System for Elevated Corridor of Dahisar(E) – D.N. Nagar (17 stations, 18.59 KM) & Rolling Stock Depot at Charkop (Line-2A) of Mumbai Metro Rail Project.

  • Estimated Cost of Works: INR 178.27 Crore
  • Tender Security: INR 1.78 Crore
  • Completion period of the Work: 36 Months
  • Tender documents on sale: From 20.12.2018 to 28.01.2019 (up to 1500 hrs)
  • Cost of Tender documents: INR 23,600.00
  • Date & time of Submission of Tender online: 18.01.2019 to 28.01.2019 (up to 1500 hrs)
  • Date & time of opening of Tender online: 29.01.2019 (at 1500 hrs)

Details of authority and place for submission of Bid Document cost, Tender Security amount, seeking clarifications & Pre-Bid Meeting-

Chief General Manager/Contracts,
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation,
5th Floor, A-Wing, Metro Bhawan,
Fire Brigade Lane, Barakhamba Road,
New Delhi –110 001
Tel: – 011-23415838

Click here to see official notification of the DMRC Limited.