Himachal Govt. releases Rs.12 Crore for Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri rail line project

SHIMLA: Much awaited Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri rail line project is now going to see the light of the day as Himachal Pradesh government has released Rs 12 crore out of its due share for the acquisition of land, while share from the Centre too is expected soon. This ambitious rail project was announced around 10 years back, but till date the process of land acquisition was not started.

Project Name: Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Beri BG Railway Line
Project Brief: The project involves laying of BG rail track between Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri in Himachal Pradesh section involving Railway track, tunnel, viaducts, bridges.
Project route length: 64 KM (Kilometer)
LocationThe geographical location of the project in Himachal Pradesh

Sources in the state government said that in the first phase, 20km of land would be acquired for the 60km-project, of which 6km land is in Punjab and 14km in Himachal. Sources said the Union ministry of railway has to bear 75% of the total cost while the state government has to bear 25% cost. They said as the railway ministry is going to release its due share, before that, the state government has released some part of its share.

Recently, railway officials held a meeting with chief secretary V C Pharka in which they had informed about the release of railway’s share for the project. With the state government releasing its share now, hopes are for the early start of construction work.

While addressing a rally in Mandi on October 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri rail line was conceived around 10 years back, but after elections same was shelved. He had said the Centre is starting work on the project. In a meeting held on August 8, 2007, in which chief secretary and secretary (finance and planning) from the state were present along with member engineering of railway board at Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi, a decision was taken to include it as a national project.

The estimated cost of this project then was assessed as Rs 1,047 crore. The share was decided in the ratio of 75:25 between the railways and the state government. HP government was to contribute 25% (Rs 261.75 crore) of the total cost of the project including land. Ministry of railways had to arrange the balance funds and cost overrun.

Rs.1.5 Crore allocated for third line between Mughalsarai-Kiul via Buxar on ECR

PATNA: The long-pending demand for a third rail line between Mughalsarai and Kiul via Buxar seems to have been considered by the Centre as Rs.1.5 crore has been allocated in the Budget for 2017-2018 to assess its feasibility and submit a survey report to the railway ministry. Technical experts will submit the report within six months from now so that the third line could be sanctioned in the next Budget, sources said.

Danapur DRM R K Jha said the Mughalsarai-Jhajha mainline route has reached about 160 per cent saturation, which often leads to late running of passenger trains. Besides, both Down and UP lines in Danapur division have been since pre-independence era. Passenger and goods trains are running on the same tracks. Thus, a third line between Mughalsarai and Kiul will decongest the existing route, he said .

Sources said railway ministry had allocated Rs61 lakh last year to conduct a survey between Buxar and Mokama for laying a third line. The survey report has already been submitted to the Railway Board. It says a third line is feasible. However, the report mentioned a few hiccups likely to arise between Danapur and Patna Saheb station due to congestion, sources said, adding the new survey will be carried out on Mughalsarai-Buxar and Mokama-Kiul routes only.

According to technical experts, there has been an astronomical increase in the number of passenger trains in Danapur division. About 280 passenger trains and 40 goods trains passing through the division daily.

Danapur division has become a bottleneck for train traffic. Patna-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and other Rajdhani trains from Howrah and Guwahati cross through this division. Super fast trains like Sampoorna Kranti Express, Garib Rath, Shramjeevi Express, Magadh Express, Vikramshila Express, Himgiri Express and Poorva Express run on the mainline section of the division daily, the experts said, adding that long-distance trains like Patna-Ajmer, Patna-Jammu Tavi, Patna-Indore, Patna-Vasco-de-Gama, Patna-Mumbai, Patliputra- Bangalore, Patna-Chennai, Patna-Ernakulam and a few others run on the mainline route daily.

Railways is likely to incur a cost of about Rs.1.5 crore per km in laying a third line between Buxar and Mokama stations in the first phase. Railways could also build elevated or underground corridor to lay a third line where there is space constraint, sources said.

SMS based Passenger Complaint & Suggestion System (SPCSS) for Indian Railways passengers

Indian Railways have introduced a System where one can complain from a running train.  The SMS about complaint will be acknowledged and attended.  Give the Train No., Bogie No., precise nature of complaint like no water in toilets, no lights, fans not working, security problem or whatever through SMS.  The Railway number to which one can SMS is 8121281212.  This will help someone in emergency.

OBJECTIVES

  1. To get complaints/suggestions from customers through SMS for aligning railway resources and priorities to customers’ aspirations and expectations.
  2. To reduce the gap between the customers’ expectations and railway’s performance.
  3. To help railways prioritize focus areas.
  4. To foster greater participation of customers in railway services.

SALIENT FEATURES

  1. Complaint/suggestion can be registered at 8121281212 by sending an SMS.
  2. In response, an automated acknowledgement with a unique ID will be sent as an SMS.
  3. With the unique ID, passenger can know the status of the complaint by sending SMS:- “STATUS < SPACE > < REFERENCE ID>” to 8121281212 or by logging on our website scr.indianrailways.gov.in/
  4. Final reply will be sent through an SMS and will also be available on website- www.scr.indianrailways.gov.in/

SWR joins IR’s 2020 Target of producing 1000 Mw Solar Energy – harnesses Solar Power at Rail Soudha, Hubballi

South Western Railway Hq takes up Green Energy push thus contributing towards the Ministry of Railways mission of producing 1000 Mw Clean Energy and 100% Solarization of 7000 Railway Stations initiatives by 2020.

HUBBALLI: In an effort to get at least a tenth of its energy need from renewable sources, the Ministry of Railways plans to achieve at least a 1,000 Mw solarization and about 200 Mw of wind power plants by 2020, and deployment of solar energy panels on train coach roofs and on top of Railway establishments all the the country.

As part of the IR’s initiatives, Solar energy is being harnessed for the needs of Rail Soudha – South Western Railway’s Headquarters complex situated on Gadag Road, Hubballi. A 100 Kwp (2  X 50 KWP) Roof Top Solar Systems have been commissioned on top of the Rail Soudha bulding recently which is estimated to achieve around 1.5 Lakh units per annum average power generation through solar energy. Presently the total energy demand of Rail Soudha is approx.5.6 Lakh  units per annum. Hence 26.8 % of the total energy requirement of Rail Soudha shall be met through solar power. going forward. The work of supply and installation of solar panels was executed at Hubballi by M/s. Central Electronics Ltd.  45 KWp Roof Top Solar System has been provided at Hubballi Workshop also and the plant is under testing. This step of harnessing solar power towards green initiatives will significantly reduce the energy cost for SWR.

Indian Railways consumes 18.25 billion kilowatt hours of electricity as on date, which is 1.8% of the total country’s utilisation. Railway Minister has mandated conversion of 7000 Railway Stations into 100% Solar Powered by 2020 and accordingly Railway Board has decided to go full throttle for pushing solar power generation in the country.

In a recent presentation, it said 1,000 Mw of solar units were envisaged to be set up by developers on railway or private land and rooftops of rail buildings, at their own cost; the ministry of new and renewable energy would give a subsidy or viability gap funding for five years.

Right now, India produces around 9000 MW of solar energy, which had been pledged to increase to 20,000 MW by 2020. But now, the goal is 40,000 MW.  As far as Indian Railways is concerned, so far, 14 Mw of solar and 36.5 Mw of wind energy have been set up, and 220 Railway Stations have solar rooftop installations. ‘We expect about 10 Mw of additional solar capacity (via five zonal railways) by March 2017,” an official at Railway Board said. Of the 1,000 Mw of solar units planned, half are planned as rooftop installations through developers and the rest as land-based systems.

As for installing on coach roofs, government-owned Central Electronics (CEL) has provided solar panels on three coaches as an experiment; Northern and Southern Railways have been directed to provide panels on two more trains. CEL is to do a detailed study for an additional 350 Mw rooftop capacity.

In wind energy, of the 200 Mw plan, about 40 Mw is in operation — including 10.5 Mw capacity at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and a 26 Mw unit at Jaisalmer, in October 2015. “Tenders will soon be issued for wind power plants in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra,” said the official quoted earlier.

In association with Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and other Govt. associations, 50 special solar parks would also be established, such that each of these parks generate a minimum of 500 MW power every year.

Especially after tariffs for solar power fell to record low of Rs 2.9 per kilo-watt hour. Recently, leading solar power generating companies quoted their price for working on World’s largest solar power plant at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh (which is expected to generate 750 MW of solar energy)

And Mahindra Renewables Pvt. Ltd, Acme Solar Holdings Pvt. Ltd and Sweden’s Solenergi Power Pvt. Ltd quotes the following bids for working for winning the contract:- Rs.2.979 per kWh, Rs.2.97 per kWh and Rs.2.974 per kWh respectively.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which is being headed by PM Modi has agreed to allocate a budget of Rs 8100 crore for doubling solar power generation to 40,000 MW by the end of 2020. Massive increase in budget has been allocated to double solar power generation, even as plans for putting 7000 railway stations under 100% solar power is rapidly underway, thus contributing for India’s vision of becoming world’s leading hub for alternate energy, and the right buttons are being pressed for the same from Ministry of Railways too.

This fresh allocation of budget, and a pledge to increase solar power generation to 40,000 MW up from estimated 20,000 MW by 2020 is a big boost to the industry. During the budget announcement, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that 7000 railway stations would be solar powered by 2020. As per latest reports coming in, work has started in full swing to achieve this mission, which would be path-breaking in several aspects. Indian Railway would eventually emerge as the World’s 1st Railway System to harness 100% solar power across 99% of its stations.

As per reports coming in, installation of solar power across 300 railway stations have begun, mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, which are Sun-abundant states with less rainfall and more sunny days.  On the other Zonal Railways, steps are being initiated to meet the targets. Railways has already floated tenders for generating 25 MW of solar energy from rooftop installations at railway stations, and within few weeks, the contract for 2000 railway stations would be finalised.

Govt. has planned the monetization aspect as well. The contracts and tenders for installing roof-top solar power generators would be based on developer mode, wherein the project developer will sign long term contract for power-purchase from these solar installations. These developers would be then assigned to sell the same power to end-users, thereby ensuring that cost of the project is recovered.

As per some reports, in the first phase, each railway station has been planned to generate 25 MW of solar power at rooftop and 50 MW of solar power via ground-mounted installations. In the 2nd phase, 60 MW of rooftop and 660 MW of ground-mounted solar energy would be generated, across 9 states.

Railways is also working with UN Development Program for generating 5 Gigawatts of solar power via various projects.
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Merger of Rail, General Budgets allowed Railways to hide Deficit in FY17

Had Indian Railways not got a waiver from dividend obligation thanks to the merger of the rail and general budgets, the transporter’s operating ratio (OR) would have crossed 100 in 2016-17, 100.36 to be precise.

NEW DELHI: Had Indian Railways (IR) not got a waiver from dividend obligation thanks to the merger of the rail and general budgets, the transporter’s operating ratio (OR) would have crossed 100 in 2016-17, 100.36 to be precise. An OR above 100 indicates an operational deficit. And if funds commensurate with demand were provided for essential replenishment of the railways’ physical assets like tracks and rolling stock, the OR would have touched a deplorable 111.

While that’s how the transporter’s claim of running an internal surplus will fall flat, it is an admitted fact that whatever pittance it shows as excess of net revenue over operational expenditure is a far cry from what’s needed to fund its massive expansion plans. The ambitious expansion-cum-modernisation programme, now sought to be largely funded through off-budget means, are required to improve efficiency, ensure safety, boost revenue streams and regain the market share lost to trucks and airlines in recent years.

In the recent Budget, IR’s operating ratio for 2016-17 was revised from the initially budgeted 92 to 94.9, with the gross traffic revenue (GTR) falling far short of expectations; the GTR for the current year is now pegged at Rs.1.72 lakh crore. The OR for 2017-18 is fixed at 94.57. Even though there is some pick-up in non-fare box revenue, these are still only a small part of the overall receipts.

It is noteworthy that this was the first year when the decades-old practice of presenting a separate railway budget was discontinued and was merged with the Union Budget. This means the railways will not have to pay dividend or the interest on capital-at-charge (mainly a loan in perpetuity from the government as gross budget support), starting this year. The budget estimate for dividend was Rs.9,731.29 crore for FY17 but was made nil in the revised estimate. Had that not been the case, the railways would have a shortfall of Rs.2,036.29 crore. The finance ministry would now want the rail PSUs like CONCOR, IRCON, IFRC and IRCTC to pay dividends to the exchequer like any other PSU, partly negating the benefit of dividend waiver at the IR level.

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Taking note of the situation, the standing committee on railways recently asked some obvious questions to the ministry of railways — reasons for the poor state of finances wherein working expense is going up and net revenue is falling, in turn worsening the OR. Also, given the deterioration of OR, the committee has remarked that it reflects negatively on the efficiency of the railways and has for a asked response on measures taken to prevent the rise.

However, according to a person tracking the railways, the OR itself is being shown better than it really is. “Numbers till December 16, 2016, show that the operating ratio is 109.60 instead of 94 as projected for the current financial year,” added the person, requesting not to be named.

According to the person, the maths will be even worse if the essential funds had not been starved. “The railways requires around Rs.25,000 crore for depreciation reserve fund (DRF) whereas it provided a mere Rs.3,200 crore last year and Rs.5,000 crore this year,” said the person, adding that if adequate funds were allocated under DRF for upkeep of assets, there would have been no requirement for a railway safety fund. The government this year created a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, or safety fund, with a corpus of Rs.1 lakh crore over the next five years.

The railways’ revised net revenue estimate stands at Rs.7,695 crore compared with the budget estimate of Rs.18,210.64 crore, a decline of 58%. The budget estimate for 2017-18 has been kept at Rs.8,948.37 crore. In fact, for 2015-16, net revenue has been Rs.5,847.97 crore, less than the budget estimate for FY16, a shortfall of 23%.

The railways has been witnessing a fall in its freight revenue — the backbone of its receipts — due to reduced movement of coal, which constitutes 50% of the goods basket. The budget estimate from goods earnings for 2016-17 of Rs.1,07,653.40 crore has been revised to Rs.99,555 crore. At the same time, the ordinary working expense of the railways has been increasing. From actual expense of Rs.1,47,835.93 crore for FY16, the budget estimate for FY17 was fixed at Rs.1,69,260 crore and is expected to be Rs.1,78,350 crore at budget estimate for FY18, Rs.30,514.07 crore higher than the actual of 2015-16.

A government official, who did not want to be identified, said the finances of the railways are under stress and it is time “spade is called a spade”.

Three more stations under Ajmer Division to get Solar Power

AJMER: In another step towards reducing carbon footprints, three more stations, Falna, Rani and Marwar, of North Western Railway’s (NWR) Ajmer division will get solar plants from Thursday which will generate 210kw energy by saving electricity of Rs 21.3 lakh. Currently, Ajmer and other railway stations have been solar powered.

In last odd one year, equipping railway stations with solar power was pushed hard by the railway administration and now ‘A’ grade railway stations like Falna, Rani and Marwar junctions will be equipped with solar power which will reduce about 274 tonnes of carbon footprints.

“The work was monitored by high officials according to the timeframe,” said an official source. He said cost of solar plants on these stations will be recovered in about seven years and helping in clean environment.

To save electricity, the division has also boosted installing of LED lights in all railway stations under Ajmer wing.

“Installation of LED lights will not only save 18.24kw electricity, but also will reduce energy bill worth Rs 5.12 lakh per year and 66.57 tons of carbon footprints will be brought down by this move,” added an official. He further added that LED installation has been completed in Abu Raod railway station and streetlights in colonies of Ajmer and Abu road will be replaced by LED. It is planned to cover 15 more railway stations soon.

Apart from installation of solar plants at railway stations, the mission will also educate the staff to become eco-friendly.

“We wanted that every employee of railways and even passengers will learn a lesson on why saving energy is important and therefore railways spreading message of save energy,” said Puneet Chawla, Divisional Railway Manager DRM of Ajmer Division.

Solar plants at these stations will be inaugurated by General Manager of North Western railway, Anil Singhal, on Thursday during his annual inspection of Ajmer division. There are other projects including construction of two-lane road over bridges between Khimel- Falna railway stations, RPF outpost and barrack at Falna railway station, national train enquiry system at Falna station, integrated passenger information system at Rani, new electronic interlocking system at Marwar and operation through video display unit and control panel. Facilities like integrated passenger information system at Marwar and more facilities will be provided to passengers on these railway stations just in a day.

Power Supply glitch halts Mumbai and Kolkata Metro Rail services

For nearly two hours and 15 minutes, passengers had a harrowing time on the Mumbai and Kolkata Metro Rail systems

MUMBAI / KOLKATA:  Metro Railway services in top two Metros of India were disrupted for 2 hours 15 minutes during peak hours of Thursday owing to a major breakdown in power supply, causing commotion among passengers.

Electricity supply to the Kolkata Metro Railway was disrupted for 2 hours 15 minutes from 9.53 AM following the major breakdown in supply by private power utility CESC, a Metro Railway spokesperson said here. There was panic among commuters as Kolkata Metro Rail services were disrupted due to a power breakdown.

“This is the first time in its history that Metro Railway services were affected owning to power failure, that all our four receiving sub-stations, which depend on supply from power utility CESC, failed,” said a Metro Railway spokesperson Indrani Banerjee. “No passenger was affected and everyone was properly evacuated at the stations,” Banerjee said. “None of the trains in motion during that period stopped inside the tunnels as the rakes rolled on to the next station on inertia and were stopped by the motormen at the designated platforms using pneumatic brake system,” the spokesperson added.

Likewise, Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Mumbai Metro passengers were also stranded on Thursday afternoon when the metro services came to a standstill due to a technical snag leading to overcrowding at platforms and passengers suffocating inside the metro. The metro services were disrupted for two hours and 15 minutes. A section of passengers in the rush hour trains were anxious at the power going off in the middle of the tunnels and also at the almost darkness at the platforms when the trains rolled into stations. Railway staff, including security men, used torch lights to help passengers in alighting from the trains at the platforms and to move outside in an orderly manner. “Around 12:45 pm, due to technical snag in overhead equipment between Andheri and Azad Nagar stations, there was disruption in train services.” It took half an hour for Mumbai Metro One officials to inform Mumbaikars about disruption over a micro-blogging site. “Trains were in normal operation between Ghatkopar and Airport Road stations. We continued to operate services on single line between Airport Road and Versova stations to minimise inconvenience to our esteemed commuters,” claimed the spokesperson.

There are a number of emergency lights inside every coach and these came on as soon as the regular power went off. The Metro system in the city gets its power feed from four substations and that even if three of these are shut down, it can run on supply from one substation. In Kolkata, all three units of the 750 MW Budge Budge power generating station of CESC here tripped at 9.53 AM following a network disturbance.

Lucknow Metro Rail to start Commercial Operations from March 26, trials on Full Swing till Charbagh

LUCKNOW: Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) has started the metro train trials in full swing covering the entire stretch of about 8.5 km from Transport Nagar to Charbagh, which is scheduled for opening on March 26, 2017.

The train for the first time travelled beyond Mawaiya and reached up to Charbagh last week. The train is now covering the entire stretch of 8.5 km of the priority corridor which has been erected in just 2 years.

During these trials, the interface of the metro train will be checked to ensure that there is no physical infringement with civil infrastructure during the movement of the train on the track and also testing of various subsystems of coaches shall be done.

Later on, in stages, the new signalling technology to be implemented on this corridor and Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) will also undergo rigorous testing.

Metro officials said, “The response of the train at different speeds, braking of the train and the interconnection with the Operations Control Centre (OCC) will also be monitored during the trials. The behaviour of the track system and the Over Head Electrification (OHE) will be checked repeatedly.”

This particular section from Transport Nagar till Charbagh consists of eight elevated stations – Transport Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Shringar Nagar, Alambagh, Alambagh ISBT, Mawaiya, Durgapuri and Charbagh. Civil work on all stations is complete and finishing activities are in progress. Gradually, the trial runs will be expanded to the other parts of the entire corridor.

Lucknow Metro is gradually progressing towards the completion of civil work on all its corridors. It also achieved maximum speed certificate from RDSO recently to run the train at 90 km per hour. Trial runs are continuing in this section under the supervision of RDSO since February’s last week.

GM|SCR inspects Dhamavaram-Pakala Section of Guntakal Division of SCR

General Manager, South Central Railway Vinod Kumar Yadav conducting Rear Window inspection on Dhamavaram-Pakala Section of SCR/Guntakal Division

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway conducted annual inspection of Dharmavaram-Pakala Section on Guntakal Division today i.e., 23rd February 2017.  Amitabh Ojha, Divisional Railway Manager, Guntakal Division accompanied the General Manager all through the inspection.

According top priority to safe and smooth train operations, the General Manager commenced the annual inspection of the Division with level crossing gate (non-interlocked) between Dharmavaram and Kadiri railway stations.  He interacted with the Gateman and enquired on the standard safety protocols being followed while road commuters crossing the gate. Satisfied with the response the General Manager awarded the Gateman.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR inaugurating 100% LED Lit Dharmavaram-Pakala Section

Vinod Kumar Yadav formally inaugurated LED lighting at Kadiri Railway Station and declared the entire Dharmavaram – Pakala Section as 100% LED lit Section. The General Manager inspected entire station premises including circulating area, waiting halls and reviewed various passenger amenities. He also inspected points, signals and track circuits. Kadiri MLA Attar Chand Basha and other public representatives met the General Manager and submitted representations seeking additional passenger amenities.

At Madanapalle Railway Station, the General Manager inaugurated Children’s Park, New Type II quarters and Solar Pump. He also inspected the Health Unit and reviewed the medical facilities available in the Unit. Later, he inspected the Permanent Way and appreciated the efforts in track maintenance. General Manger advised the staff to be vigilant while delivering duties and asked them to keep up the good work.  Thippa Reddy, Hon’ble MLA of Madanapalle and other public representatives met the General Manager and submitted memorandums seeking halt for some more express trains at Madanapalle. Between Madanapalle and Piler  stations, the General Manager inspected sharp curves, minor bridge and major bridge located across River Pileru and examined their standards of safety. C. Bhaskar Reddy, Hon’ble MLA met the General Manager and submitted representations seeking enhanced passenger amenities .

GM SCR interacting with Track Maintenance staff

Ram Kripal, Commissioner Railway Safety, South Central Circle,  S.N.Singh, Principal Chief Engineer,  N. Madhusudhana Rao, Chief Operations Manager,  P. Ganeswara Rao, Chief Commercial Manager,  D.K. Singh, Chief Safety Officer,  John Thomas, Chief Electrical Engineer,  Arjun Mundiya, Chief Mechanical Engineer,  N.V. Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer, Dr. K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Director accompanied the General Manager and conducted department wise inspection.

Departmental Inquiry into the incident of Kakatiya Express ordered

Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway ordered for a departmental inquiry into the incident of Train No. 57626 Manuguru – Secunderabad Kakatiya Express passing the home signal at Jangaon Railway Station on 22nd February, 2017.

The General Manager personally reviewed the incident and instructed the Staff & Officials to follow Safety procedures meticulously and advised them to look into the system improvements in train operations on a continuous basis.

A team of Junior Administrative Grade Officials will undertake a detailed inquiry into the incident and submit the report to the General Manager for further course of action.

Kakatiya Express driver blames signal glitch

The signal at the Jangaon station was not functioning properly and the driver was probably not at fault for missing it, the loco pilot of the Kakatiya fast passenger said in his defence. As loco pilots blamed faulty signals and poor infrastructure for the incident, South Central Railway authorities embarked on a probe to find out the circumstances leading to the incident. If the driver’s claims were to be true, then the incident brings to the fore how railways is de void of any high-end technology intervention in making the signalling system automated, which experts say can cause such incidents to occur at regular intervals.

On an average, 10-12 loco pilots are shown the door every year in the South Central Railway zone alone. Currently, loco pilots have to completely depend on their presence of mind and split-second decision making. On certain occasions, the delay in applying break by even a few seconds or a sudden break can lead to an accident.

A pilot project of Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) has been set up in the Secunderabad-Wadi section after a trial run two years ago.

Suresh Prabhu unveils Antyodaya Rail Coaches for Common Man

Minister for Railways Dedicates Coaches of Antyodaya Express to the nation at Delhi Safdarjung Station

NEW DELHI: Equipped with cushioned seats, aluminium composite panels, and LED lights, the Antyodaya Express, a new fully unreserved train for the common man with specially designed colourful coaches was unveiled today by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Ready to be pressed into service on busy routes, the first Antyodaya Express will be launched between Mumbai and Tatanagar, and the second will be between Ernakulam and Howrah shortly.

Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inspected the newly turned rake of Antyodaya Express consisting 22 Coaches, today i.e. 22 Feb 2017. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A. K. Mital, Member (Traffic) Shri Mohd Jamshed, Member (Rolling Stock) Shri Ravindra Gupta, Member Traction Shri AK Kapoor, other Railway Board Members and GM Northern Railway Shri R K Kulshreshta, senior officials were also present on the occasion. The Minister appreciated the new Antyodaya Rake and dedicated it to the common people of the nation.

“We had announced in the Rail Budget that we would launch four new passenger services. First Humsafar was launched and now Antyodaya,” Prabhu said after inspecting the new general class coaches with new colour scheme that are equipped with many facilities like water purifiers, mobile phone charging points and fire extinguishers.

“Antyodaya was meant for Aam Aadmi (common man). The facilities provided in Antyodaya coaches are similar in first class. Our government’s focus is on Aam Aadmi so we launched the product with many facilities for them,” he said.

Asked about the fare structure for Antyodaya Express, Prabhu said “It will be decided shortly.” However, it is reliably learnt that the fare of the new unreserved train is likely to be higher than the Mail/Express fares.

The Antyodaya fare structure will be between 10 per cent to 15 per cent more than the regular fare, sources said.

Railways have maintained that manufacturing cost of these coaches with modern facilities is high, so there have to be special fares for these services which will be higher than that of regular trains.

Provided with bio-toilets for zero discharge of effluents, Antyodaya coaches will have toilet occupation indication lights provided at each end near the doorway with better visibility from compartments, a first in general class.

Besides, all coaches will be inter-linked and there will be cushioned seats with aluminium composite panels for enhanced aesthetic interior look of the coaches. Along with cushioned luggage racks with coat hooks, the train will also have LED lights and enhanced capacity dustbins. Railways will also soon launch Tejas Express and Uadaya Express as promised in the budget.

In the efforts to continually improve the standard of passenger services and amenities in trains and to create a strong brand, Suresh Prabhu had announced in the Rail Budget Speech of 2016-17 that ‘This government truly believes that the fate of India would not change unless the lives of the common man or woman improve. Not only is he or she the center point of our policy making, but is ubiquitous in our public discourse and in our ideology. We propose to introduce the Antyodaya Express, a long-distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service, for the common man to be operated on dense routes.’ In this regard, 22 Antyodaya coaches have been turned out by Integral Coach Factory/Chennai.

Antyodaya Express – Train for Unreserved Travel. Here Are the 7 Things to Know!

Woes of last minute travellers are about to come to an end — thanks to Antyodaya Express, the unreserved train service catering to those who make their plans on the go, was launched by Indian Railways. Here are a few things to know about the brand new Antyodaya Express:

1. Antyodaya Express will be a long-distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service, operated on dense routes.
2. The trains will have facilities like water purifiers, indication display boards for toilet occupation, bio-toilets, cushioned luggage racks with coat hooks, and mobile charging points.
3. Antyodaya Express will also have fire extinguishers, anti-theft arrangement, LED lights, and enhanced capacity dustbins.
4. Although similar to the Deen Dayalu coaches introduced earlier this year for unreserved travel, Antyodaya Express will be a full train, with its coaches connected internally.
5. The trains are designed by Integral Coach Factory (ICF). The train’s LHB-type (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches have been manufactured in Chennai.
6. For the first time, Railways are trying out operations with locomotives at both ends. This will ensure faster acceleration and deceleration.
7. Two Antyodaya trains will be running on the Howrah- Ernakulam-Howrah and Hatia-Ernakulam-Hatia routes soon.

These coaches are fully unreserved LHB second class coaches with the following additional amenities:

●      Cushioned luggage racks which can serve as seats
●      Additional hand holds in doorway area
●      J-Hook near longitudinal luggage racks
●      Multiple Unit cables at both ends of the coach
●      Vestibuled ends for internal movement of the passengers
●      Potable Drinking water dispenser
●      Mobile charging points
●      Fire Extinguisher with anti-theft lock
●      FRP (Fibre Reinforced Plastic) Modular Toilets
●      Pleasing interior colour scheme
●      Toilet Occupation indication display board
●      LED Lights
●      SS Slip-free flooring at Doorway & Gangway
●      Anti-Graffiti coating for exterior painting

Ministry of Railways has identified following Antyodaya Express which will be launched in Phases:

(i) 15567/15568 Darbhanga-Jalandhar City Antyodaya Express (Weekly)
(ii) 22885/22886 Lokmanya Tilak(T)-Tatanagar Antyodaya Express (Bi-weekly)
(iii) 22841/22842 Santragachi-Chennai Central Antyodaya Express (Weekly)
(iv) 22895/22896 Bilaspur-Firozpur Antyodaya Express (Weekly)
(v) 22921/22922 Bandra(T)-Gorakhpur Antyodaya Express (Weekly)
(vi) 22877/22878 Howrah-Ernakulam Antyodaya Express (Weekly)
(vii) 15563/15564 Jaynagar-Udhna Antyodaya Express (Weekly)

The introduction of Antyodaya Express trains would be a major step in the endeavour of Indian Railways to provide better amenities and convenience to the travelling public at affordable prices, and would emerge as a strong brand of IR.

Trichy Division creates Environment & Housekeeping Management (EnHM) Wing to monitor environment-related issues

THIRUCHCHIRAPALLY: An Environment and Housekeeping Management (EnHM) Wing has been created in Tiruchi Railway Division to coordinate housekeeping activities in major stations within the division and improve cleanliness on board trains maintained in Tiruchi and those originating from here.

It will work under the control of the Divisional Railway Manager. A senior scale officer has been posted to head the wing at the divisional level here. The Divisional Environment and Housekeeping Manager heading the wing here will have a team of health inspectors, senior supervisors.

Sources said the wing would be responsible for coordination of integrated housekeeping function of trains, major railway stations and coach maintenance depots. Its functions include mechanised cleaning of all ‘A1’ and ‘A’ category railway stations restricted to all passenger interface areas, mechanised cleaning of coaches in depots and coach maintenance depots in addition to pests and rodents control.

In Tiruchi Railway Division limits, Broad Gauge Coaching Complexes are situated at Tiruchi and Villupuram railway junctions where passenger coaches are maintained and serviced regularly.

On Board Housekeeping Services (OBHS) in trains and petty repairs to amenity fittings in toilets at stations form part of the housekeeping activity.

A senior railway officer said OBHS was in vogue in six long trains originating from Tiruchi Railway Division including the Tiruchi – Howrah – Tiruchi Express, Mannargudi – Bhagat Ki Kothi – Mannargudi Express, Puducherry – Mangaluru (via Tiruchi) and Villupuram – Kharagpur – Villupuram Express.

The Tiruchi Division accounts for a total of six ‘A’ category stations – Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Mayiladuthurai and Villupuram. The wing would monitor all environment-related issues including energy conservation and organise cleanliness-related programmes.

Hardships of people in the NE will be reduced once Jiribam-Imphal Rail line is commissioned: MOSR Rajen Gohain

Once the Railway line is commissioned, it will make the region the most promising of economic activity, increase the scope of employment, boost agriculture produce and enhance transportation with ease and comfort, said Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Railways.

IMPHAL: Once the railway connection from Jiribam to Imphal is commissioned, there will not be much effect of economic blockades or bandhs and the State will become one of the business hubs of South East Asian countries.

This was stated by Union Minister of State (Railways) Rajen Gohain during a press conference held at the Nityaipat Chuthek office of BJP Manipur Pradesh this evening.

Rajen Gohain stated that he is visiting Manipur to present a detailed report of the railway project from Jiribam to Imphal and also regarding the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election.

Once the Railway line is commissioned, it will make the region the most promising of economic activity, increase the scope of employment, boost agriculture produce and enhance transportation with ease and comfort, said Gohain.

It has been witnessed that BJP is in good position to win the election and form the next State Government.

He said that the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal Railway project was taken up in 2008 and soon after it was declared a National project in view of its immense significance.

Around 12.5 Kms of the railway line has been completed and inspected by experts.

There are 45 tunnels and more than 100 major and minor bridges along the railway line from Jiribam to Imphal.

Till January this year, Rs 595 crore has been invested for the railway project.

One of the tallest bridges and the longest railway tunnel would be witnessed after completion of the Jiribam-Tupul section of the railway project and it is expected to be commissioned before December 2018 .

This would be followed by Tupul-Imphal section on December 2019, Rajen Gohain informed.

Once the railway line is commissioned, hardship faced by people in the State due to bandhs and blockades along National Highways would be eased considerably.

However, the railway project could not achieve much progress during the last three months or so due to the economic blockade.

Survey for Imphal-Moreh railway line has been completed and the construction work will be started within a short period.

He claimed that whatever developmental changes seen in the State are is due to the Centre’s NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Look East Policy has now been changed to Act East Policy by giving special preference and importance to the Northeastern States.

He also appealed to the people of Manipur to vote for BJP so as to for bring speedy development in the State as already seen in his home State.

Electrification of Anwarganj-Mathura Rail track to start soon

IZZATNAGAR: The electrification of the railway track between Mathura and Anwarganj Railway stations of North Eastern Railway will start shortly, officials have said.

“The electrification would be done by IRCON in two parts – from Mathura cantt to Kasganj and from Kasganj to Anwarganj stations,” General Manager of North Eastern Railway Railway Rajiv Mishra said, while talking to reporters here today.

Mishra said the Bareli-Ramganga track was ready for running trains but needs permission from the Election Commission to do so.

“Gauge conversion between both the stations has been completed and CRS (Commission of Railway Safety) has also given green signal. Permission for running the train between the two stations has now been sought from Election Commission owing to the imposition of model code of conduct for the UP Assembly elections,” he said.

“The operation of the train between two stations will start once the EC grants its permission. Otherwise the trains will run after March 11,” he added.

On the steps taken regarding sabotage attempts on tracks to derail trains, Mishra said the GRP, RPF and local police were working with better coordination while the vigil has been increased to foil such attempts.

Mishra said new technologies were being put in place to minimise the role of brokers from railway reservation.

“CCTV would be installed at Mathura cantt station by the end of the year to eliminate brokers from reservation system,” he said.

Mishra said various steps were being taken to improve on the passenger amenities front.

“The construction of toilets at the end of every platform is being done on war footings. Steel benches are being placed at every platform. Availability of clean drinking water at stations is being ensured and modification of waiting rooms with better catering is being done,” he said.

Centre may opt Legislative route on Rail Development Authority

NEW DELHI: The government is likely to adopt the legislative route to set up an independent Rail Development Authority (RDA) that will be responsible for fixing passenger fares and freight charges, among many other things.

Although the Indian Railways wanted RDA to be set up through an executive order, the NITI Aayog had pitched for legislative route to ensure independence of the authority.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to sources, has given his consent for a legislation-backed RDA on the lines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

“A joint presentation by NITI Aayog and Railways were made before the Prime Minister and the PM expressed satisfaction,” he said.

Besides, fixing the fare and freight and fare charges, the authority would also be responsible for protecting the interest of consumers, ensuring quality of service, promoting competition, encouraging market development, efficient allocation of resources, provide non-discriminatory open access specially on DFC and to benchmark service levels for ensuring quality, continuity and reliability of service.

RDA may be also entrusted with the task of regulating private investment in railways and resolving commercial disputes.

National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) Report of 2014 had recommended that a Rail Tariff Authority should be set up which should become the overall regulator.

Later Bibek Debroy Committee Report had also recommended a regulator with overarching functions.

Many of the countries like the UK, Russia, the US, Australia and Germany have regulatory structure in some form or the other.

Star Cricketer Dhoni takes up Travelling in a Train; fans storm Ranchi Railway Station to meet up their Star

En route with Jharkhand team-mates, MS Dhoni travels in train after 15 years. No starry tantrums for Captain Cool!

RANCHI: After SRK’s hyped train ride that witnessed a massive fan following at various train stations, former Indian Captain MS Dhoni decided to board a train after a long gap of almost 15 years.

The South Eastern Railway served a very special passenger last night when its former employee Mahendra Singh Dhoni preferred to travel by train with his Jharkhand one-day cricket team from Ranchi to Howrah to participate in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Having stepped-down as the captain of Indian team, Dhoni decided to offer all his support and dedicate himself to the Jharkhand cricket team. Leading his team for the upcoming Vijay Hazare trophy, Dhoni and the boys boarded a train from Ranchi to head to Kolkata.

Dhoni played his last domestic game in the year 2007 and this match would be his next domestic stint after10 years. When the news of Ranchi’s favourite cricketer boarding the train broke headlines, the station filled-up with his fans within minutes.

Amidst high level security, the team members had to make their way to their allotted seats. Dhoni however did oblige a few fans with autographs and selfies.

Rewinding the clock back to his struggle days in early 2000s when he was posted as a ticket inspector in Kharagpur, India’s most successful captain, Dhoni travelled in second-tier AC of 18616 Kriya Yoga Express. Dhoni, who will lead Jharkhand in domestic one-dayers for the Vijay Hazare Trophy here, did not ask for any special service in his first train ride in more than 13 years.

“They (Jharkhand) did not have a special coach reserved for them and Dhoni travelled with his team and other co-passengers in 2AC. They had a block booking for 23 passengers including Dhoni,” South Eastern Railway chief public relations officer Sanjoy Ghosh said.

71st Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee Meeting held on SCR

Hyderabad Division of SCR also holds 60th Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee Meeting next day.

SECUNDERABAD: The 71st Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC) Meeting was held under the chairmanship of Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway today i.e. 21st February, 2017 at Secunderabad. Forty Eight ZRUCC Members including M. Murali Mohan, Hon’ble MP Rajahmundry; D. Rajeswar Rao, Hon’ble MLC attended the meeting. The members of ZRUCC nominated by respective State Govts., elected members from DRUCC (Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee) of six Divisions, Public Sector Undertaking, Principal Chamber of Commerce & Trade Associations, Registered Passengers Association, nominees of Hon’ble Minister of Railways under special interest category participated in the meeting.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR speaking on the occasion informed that South Central Railway stands among the best in providing passenger amenities including lifts, escalators, foot over bridges, wheel chairs, battery operated cars etc., towards fulfilling the needs of the various categories of rail commuters. SCR has run several special trains for mega events like Krishna Pushkaram, Sabarimalai, Sankranti festival etc. SCR’s performance during the current financial year has been promising and it has achieved a freight loading of 80 million tonnes during the current financial year till January 2017. SCR is according top priority for safety of passengers and freight mobility. In order to ensure high quality passenger amenities, 68 stations have been declared as Adarsh Stations. Out of which, works at 61 stations have been developed as Adarsh stations and works are under progress at 7 more stations. The General Manager informed to members that MMTS Phase II works will be completed by end of December 2018. He also informed that Secunderabad and Vijayawada railway stations have been selected under station redevelopment programme for developing these stations as world class stations.

The General Manager informed that 36 lifts and 34 escalators are already provided at various important stations on SCR and works of 34 lifts and 16 escalators are under progress towards enhancing passenger comfort. Vinod Kumar Yadav assured the ZRUCC members that their suggestions and views expressed during the meeting will be given due consideration while formulating plans for improving amenities and services. Catching up with the changing technological scenario, SCR has developed mobile apps like HYLITES, TADAAST, RISSTA, App for paperless ticketing, Clean My Coach app etc. DigiPay services have been introduced for the benefit of passengers at Kacheguda station. The members were also apprised of the performance of SCR and developmental works under progress through a power point presentation.

The members appreciated the efforts of SCR and its positive response to representations of members. The suggestions from various members include additional stoppage of express trains at important towns; setting up of more additional escalators and lifts; improving the cleanliness at stations; provision of bus services from the railway stations by coordinating with respective transport sector; extension of platforms; augmentation of trains by additional coaches; construction of ROBs/RUBs; expedition completion of new line and doubling projects; enhancing security o­n trains especially for women passengers.

A.K. Gupta, Addl. General Manager and Principal Heads of all departments participated in the meeting. Prasun Chakraborty, Deputy General Manager (General) and Secretary ZRUCC convened the meeting.

60th Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee Meeting Held in Hyderabad Division of SCR

The 60th Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee Meeting of Hyderabad Division, South Central Railway, was also held on 21st February, 2017 at Divisional Railway Manager’s Conference Hall, Hyderabad Bhavan, Secunderabad under the Chairmanship of Aruna Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division. N. Srinivasa Raju, Addl Divisional Railway Manager, B.D. Christopher, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager & Secretary DRUCC and other Branch Officers of Hyderabad Division were present in the meeting. Nineteen DRUCC members attended the meeting.

Aruna Singh, Chairperson DRUCC welcomed the DRUCC members and addressed the meeting.  She highlighted the  financial performance of the Division during 2016-17  (till  Jan 2017) and requested the members to support in improving the passenger traffic over the Division and also help support in counseling/educating the rail users in maintaining  cleanliness over the Railway premises  in order to better serve the passengers. Declaration of Kacheguda as first Digital Pay enabled station over South Central Railway was highlighted.

The Chairperson also informed the members on provision of passenger amenities  such as   provision of Reverse Osmosis water plant, battery operated cars, stainless dustbins, water vending machines,  provision of Lift  facility at Nizamabad, up gradation of  Jogulamba Halt in to an ‘E’ category station, additional seating arrangements at Jadcherla through MPLAD funds,  additional Milk stalls, Fruit Juice stalls, Parking contracts,  Pay & Use toilets, provision of POS (Point of sale) machines at stations, etc have been completed during the current financial year. Arrangements made at Gadwal for Krishna Pushkarams during August’16, running of special trains, augmentation of trains by attaching additional coaches to clear rush were also highlighted. Further, special cleanliness drives organised over the Division and progress of important passenger amenity works at various stations were briefed to the members.

DRUCC members expressed their satisfaction over the improvements made at stations, especially the cleanliness at stations, introduction of additional trains, augmentation of coaches, stoppages etc.  The members represented for introduction of new trains, provision of Highlevel platforms, provision of Cover over Platforms, provision of parking sheds, speedy completion of doubling works between Secunderabad-Mahbubnagar etc.

The Chairperson assured the members that their suggestions/representations would be examined within the guidelines/norms in force/ policy guidelines and action would be taken accordingly. DRM requested support of the members to sponsor amenities at stations through MPLAD scheme or through CSR route in their areas. The meeting was concluded with a Vote of Thanks by Divisional Commercial Manager.

PMO expresses Displeasure over functioning of Railways, asks Rail Minister to fix Train Safety

The PMO letter notes that against a track doubling target of 1600 Km, only 531 Km could be achieved until Dec 2016. In contrast, China constructed 9000 Km of new rail network in 2016 and spent the equivalent of Rs.13 lakh Crore. The PMO’s displeasure with the Railways is so high that Mishra also warns Mittal through the letter that the railways needs to “justify higher allocation in the next budget”. It isn’t just the PMO that is annoyed by what it is sees as a lack of urgency by the Railway Ministry to perform. Sources reveal that even Finance Ministry has also been asking the Rail Ministry to focus on its core  — that of running trains Safely & Modernising facilities.

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is feeling the heat, and that too from the Prime Minister’s Office. Recently, through an official letter, the PMO voiced its extreme displeasure at the functioning of the railways. The letter — dated January 31 this year — assumes all the more importance in the wake of recent railway accidents which has left over 225 people dead. The letter from the PMO to the Railway Board red-flagging the gross failure of the Railways to meet targets can be read as a warning to Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu as well, meaning either to shape-up or ship-out – A warning for Prabhu to resolve Railways’ slothful ways.

The contents of the letter are indeed damning for the Railway Ministry. Written by Nipendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to the Railway Board Chairman A.K.Mittal, it addresses the Ministry’s inability to achieve many of the targets that it had set itself over the last two years. Key among them was a promise to achieve “Modernisation of Facilities in Railways” which, as the letter suggests, has not happened so far.

“You are aware of the focus of the Government towards development and modernisation of facilities in railways,” Mishra tells Mittal in the letter.

“While reviewing the progress up to 2016, against the target of 1500 km of doubling, only 531 km has been achieved. In electrification, against the target of 2000 RKM, only 1,210 km has been achieved by railways,” it states.

Doubling is laying another set of tracks on the same route. It serves the purpose of easing congestion on those sections which have ample traffic but low availability of tracks.

The PMO’s displeasure with the railways is so high that Mishra also warns Mittal through the letter that the railways needs to “justify higher allocation in the next budget”. In this year’s Rail Budget, the Railways had received an impressive Rs.1,31,000 crore from the Finance Ministry. This was much more than what other transport ministries such as road and civil aviation had received.

The year 2016 was one of the worst years for the Railways as far as train accidents went. Experts say most of the accidents took place on heavily congested routes allegedly due to rail fracture, which happens when the track is overused without proper maintenance. It is for these busy routes that doubling is most important and experts have time and again pointed out the need for more doubling in railways.

So far the Railways Ministry, according to the PMO, has not used its resources well. The letter speaks of the Government’s displeasure over the Ministry, “crowding its expenditure for the last quarter”.

According to sources, nearly 50 per cent of the planned expenditure by the ministry remains unused in the early quarters and the railways only starts using them by the last quarter. The letter makes it clear that railways should ensure that there is no crowding of expenditure, “as that slows down the pace of implementation in the first quarter of the next annual budget”.

It isn’t just the PMO that is annoyed by what it is sees as a lack of urgency by the Railway Ministry to perform. Sources reveal that even Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also been asking the ministry to focus on its core work — that of running trains safely and modernising facilities in the railways.

The letter from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Railway Board red-flagging the gross failure of the Railways to meet targets can be read as a warning to Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu as well, meaning either to shape-up or ship-out.

The tersely-worded letter conveys the disillusionment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his handpicked choice for the Railways Ministry, Prabhu, failing to deliver on his mandate. When Prabhu was made the minister in place of D.V. Sadananda Gowda, a former chief minister of Karnataka, who was more keen on shoring up his base in his home state, expectations ran high as the Railways finally had a minister who resembled a technocrat than a conventional politician, and who seemed keen on undertaking the structural reforms that would allow the Railways to modernise, expand and cut flab in non-core areas.

The letter is also a sign that PM Modi is adopting a zero-tolerance attitude towards rail safety in the context of three major rail accidents in the space of three months from November to January after maintaining a steady silence over the issue. The PMO letter notes that against a track doubling target of 1,600 kilometres (km), only 531 km could be achieved until December 2016. In contrast, China constructed 9000 km of new rail network in 2016 and spent the equivalent of Rs. 13 lakh crore. The letter goes on to urge the Railways to spend the money allocated to it so as to justify a higher allocation next year and it warns against a crowding of expenditure in the last quarter of the fiscal which impacted the initiation of work on fresh budget proposals in the first quarter of the next fiscal.

When Prabhu announced in his first budget speech that he would not announce new trains or waste precious railway resources on populism and would focus on completing projects announced earlier, including track doubling and new lines, he became the toast of the town. It is undeniable that existing railway tracks are under tremendous stress because of overuse and age and these are causing fractures which in turn leads to derailment. The 2012 Kakodkar Safety Committee had strongly recommended the doubling and quadrupling of lines and introducing 60 kg rails as a solution to frequent track fractures.

Prabhu has not made headway in hiving off the “non-railway” operations of the Indian Railways. It beats reasoning that the Railways is squandering resources and precious focus by running schools, hospitals, catering facilities, the Railway Protection Force and real estate development. Perhaps, it is time the government pursued the option of entrusting the job of track laying to private infra companies. One of the recommendations of the Debroy Committee on railway reforms was to introduce competition in the sector and make the Indian Railways just one of the players. The characteristic governmental sloth is to blame and the only way to speed up execution is to involve the private sector and usher in competition. The social media savvy Prabhu is still Modi’s best chance to reform the Railways but he needs to devote less time on cosmetic changes and ensure the pace of work picks up across Railway zones and divisions.

New Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System for Mumbai in a year

MUMBAI: Railway Board on Monday said an independent rail crack detection technology will be soon introduced in Mumbai.

Additional Director General (Public Relations) Railway Board Anil Kumar Saxena said one new technology – Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System – is undergoing trials, while tests on another – optic fiber cable-based Acoustics Sensing System – will start soon. One of these will be introduced in Mumbai’s suburban section in a year’s time, he said.

While the first system uses ultra-sonic waves to detect fractures, the second uses a library of sounds to identify acoustics of any disruption, like a rail fracture or the presence of a foreign object on the tracks.

Digital Axle Counter, a new technology introduced in Mumbai’s suburban section to keep signals running when tracks get submerged during heavy rains, has been interfering with the Track Circuit System, which is capable of picking a rail fracture in real time.

While the Track Circuit System detects a rail fracture within seconds of its appearance and turns the nearest signal red, preventing the possibility of a mishap, the Digital Axle Counter has been turning the signal green again, overriding the Track Circuit.

Nearly 70 per cent of derailments occur due to rail fractures and one of the biggest recent derailments in Mumbai’s suburban section, when a Kurla-Ambernath trainwent off the rails near Vithalwadi station on December 29 last year, was caused by a rail crack. Over 400 rail fractures have been reported in the suburban railway section in the past two years.

But with the introduction of one of two technologies the railways is trying out, the conflict between Digital Axel Counter and the Track Circuit System will be resolved.

The trials for Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System and Acoustics Sensing System were sanctioned in the last railway budget.

Saxena said the Mumbai suburban section is an important part of the Indian Railways as it caters to 80 lakh passengers every day. “We are always very serious about passengers’ safety,” he said.

Saxena said the introduction of the new technology will minimise accidents. “Both the technologies are being used around the world. Some modifications will have to be made to suit local topography, but we should be able to bring one of them to Mumbai soon,” he said.

New Bengaluru-Hassan line commissioning next week; Prime Minister invited for inauguration

Hassan-Yeshwantpur Intercity Express is the first confirmed train to run after the formal inauguration, the date for which is yet to be announced

BANGALORE: Former Prime Minister and Hassan Lok Sabha member H.D. Deve Gowda will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the new Hassan-Bengaluru line. “The Railway Minister (Suresh Prabhu) desires that the line be opened by the Prime Minister and [has] requested me to extend a formal invitation. I’m going to Delhi tomorrow and try to speak the Prime Minister or intimate this to his office,” Mr. Deve Gowda told on Tuesday.

Immediately after coming to power, Mr.Modi had promised to complete the line on priority; it still took about three years. “I am not going to blame anyone for the inordinate delay of 22 years for the completion of the line,” said Mr. Deve Gowda, who had sanctioned the line when he was PM.

The 110-km Nelamangala-Shravanabelagola railway line, part of the new 166-km Bengaluru-Hassan line, is set to be commissioned by South Western Railway (SWR) on February 28. This follows authorisation given by A.K. Manoharan, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, who inspected the line and conducted speed trials between February 6 and 10. Ashok Gupta, chief administrative officer, Construction, SWR, told The Hindu that the commissioner on Monday issued authorisation to run passenger trains with a maximum speed of 80 kmph.

With this, the hope of the people of Hassan and coastal regions for the shortest rail route to Bengaluru has come true. The project had been announced by Deve Gowda way back in 1996, but the work progressed at a snail’s pace, partly owing to non-availability of land and mostly because of meagre fund allocation by the Railways.

Sharing the cost

In 2010, the then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa decided to share the cost of ongoing as well as new Railway projects to sped up the work. More funds from the Railways came when D.V. Sadananda Gowda was Railway Minister.

SWR’s chief public relations officer E. Vijaya said the commissioning would be done with a trial run of a passenger train on the section on February 28. The formal inauguration would be done depending upon the dates acceptable for the dignitaries.

New train

As of now, SWR has planned an intercity express between Hassan and Yeshwantpur, leaving Hassan at around 6 a.m. and reaching Yeshwantpur at 9.30 a.m. In the return direction, the train would leave Yeshwantpur at around 6 p.m. and reach Hassan at 9.30 p.m. It is tentatively scheduled to halt at Chikkabanavar, Kunigal, Yediyur, Balagangadhar Nagar, Shravanabelagola and Channarayapatna.

Meanwhile, the zone has sought the Railway Board’s permission to re-route the yet-to-be-introduced Train No. 16575/576 Bengaluru-Mangaluru Kudla Express via the new route. Mr. Sadananda Gowda had announced this train in 2014 to run via Mysuru.

Ms. Vijaya also said three goods trains between Mangaluru and Bengaluru would be diverted via the new section after February 28.

Manpower allocation

Since it is a large section, SWR requires at least 120 workers, including 60 tracks-men and about 35 stations masters. The zone is in the process of identifying personnel for posting and the process could take about a fortnight, Ms. Vijaya said.

Work to introduce Semi-highspeed Trains on two routes to begin soon

The Railways has finalised the detailed project report (DPR) for an ambitious semi-high speed rail project aiming at running trains at 160 kmh on two busy corridors.

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways will soon start sub-projects aimed at introducing semi-high speed trains on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, a senior ministry official said on Tuesday. The Railways has finalised the detailed project report (DPR) for an ambitious project aiming at running trains at 160 kmh on two busy corridors.

New Delhi-Howrah and New Delhi-Mumbai corridors would be upgraded to run trains at speed of 160 kmph as part of ‘Mission Raftaar’ launched by railways. “The two sub-projects under ‘Mission Raftaar’ are expected to be completed in three years with a total outlay of Rs 18,163 crore,” the official said. After the upgrade, trains on the routes will run at a speed of 160 km per hour.

The ‘Mission Raftaar’ project of the Indian Railways envisages to raise the average speed of both passenger and freight trains. The mission is being spearheaded by a cross disciplinary mobility directorate in the Railway Board. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a Detailed Project Report of the routes is being prepared.

The Delhi-Howrah section will be upgraded at a cost of Rs 6,974 crore, and the Delhi-Mumbai section at an estimated Rs 11,189 crore. The official said the work involved replacing locomotives-hauled trains with Main line Electric Multiple Units and Diesel Electric Multiple Units trains.

The work includes civil, electrical and signal and telecom for upgrading the track for high speed use. The work also involves an arduous task of fencing off the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes. Fencing off the entire route is crucial for running trains at 160 kms an hour which can be later raised to 200 kms per hour, a senior Railway Ministry official said. According to Railways, it would be a paradigm shift for rail network development and besides upgradation, fencing is essential for preventing trespassing and cattle movement to ensure high speed and safety and it will find prominent mention in the budget papers.

While the rate of return for Delhi-Howrah route is 18 per cent, it is 14.7 per cent for Delhi-Mumbai. The Delhi-Mumbai section will cover Baroda-Ahmedabad route and Delhi-Howrah sector will also include Kanpur-Lucknow corridor in the project. The two major trunk routes have been taken up in the first phase and later on Howrah-Chennai and Mumbai-Chennai sectors will also be taken up.

India signs Memorandum of Cooperation for Rail Safety with Japan

NEW DELHI: India signed an agreement with Japan last week on enhancing railway safety in the Indian Railways with focus on railway track and rolling stock safety, a press statement said on Tuesday.

The Memorandum of Cooperation was signed here on February 17 between Railway Board Chairman A.K.Mittal and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan Vice-Minister Hiroshi Tabata.

The areas of cooperation include rail inspection, rail wielding and providing automatic railway track safety inspection, maintenance of rolling stock and “any other relevant railway safety matters jointly determined by both sides” with the aim to prevent major rail accidents.

The agreement with Japan comes at a time when the train derailments are on the rise. In 2016-17, the number of consequential train accidents remained the same level as last year at 95 while derailments rose from 56 to 74. Unmanned level crossing accidents fell.

SCR to run 36 weekly Tatkal Special Trains between Bangalore (YPR)-Visakhapatnam

SECUNDERABAD: In order to clear extra rush of passengers, South Central Railways has announced running of 36 weekly Tatkal Express Special trains between Yesvantpur and Visakhapatnam.

Accordingly, Train No. 06579 Yesvantpur-Visakhapatnam Weekly Tatkal special train will depart Yesvantpur at 18:35 hrs on 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st March, 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th April, 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th May, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th June, 2017 (Friday) and arrive Visakhapatnam at 14:35 hrs on the next day.

In the return direction, Train No. 06580 Visakhapatnam-Yesvantpur Weekly Tatkal special train will depart Visakhapatnam at 13:45 hrs on 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th March, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th  April, 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th May, 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th June and 2nd July, 2017 (Sunday) and arrive Yesvantpur at 09:05 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, these tatkal special trains will stop at Banasavadi, Krishnarajapuram, Whitefield, Bangarpet, Kuppam, Jollarpettai, Katpadi, Renigunta, Gudur, Nellore, Ongole, Chirala, Tenali, Vijayawada, Eluru, Rajahmundry, Samalkot, Anakapalle and Duvvada stations in both the directions.

These special trains will consist of 13 coaches viz., one AC II Tier, two AC III Tier, eight Sleeper Class and two Luggage cum Brake Van coaches.

Change in Train Number and Type of Service

  1. Ernakulam-Howrah (Train No.82802) Suvidha Special Train will run as Special fare train and is renumbered as Train No. 02856 on 14th, 21st, 28th March 2017 (Tuesday). Accordingly, Train No. 02856 Ernakulam-Howrah Special fare Train will depart Ernakulam at 08:50 hrs on Tuesdays and arrive Howrah at 23:00 hrs on Wednesday.
  2. Kochuveli-Guwahati (Train No. 06336) Special Fare Special will runs as Suvidha Special and is renumbered at Train No. 82642 on 5th March 2017 (Sunday). Accrodingly, Train No. 82642 Kochuveli-Guwahati Suvidha Special train will depart Kochuveli at 12:00 hrs on Sunday and arrive Guwahati at 08:45 hrs on Wednesdays.

Rs.262 Crore approved for 58.5 km-long Rail line between Hamira-Sonu in Jaisalmer

JAISALMER: Following the spurt in demand for limestone, which saw Jaisalmer station becoming the top revenue earner among stations of the North Western Railway (NWR), the ministry has approved the laying of a new 58.5km-long rail track between Hamira and Sonu for an estimated cost of Rs 262 crore.

The new track is expected to reduce the woes of transporting limestone to steel factories in various parts of the country. The line will also be important for the army and is expected to reduce environmental pollution caused by limestone dust.

Around 50 lakh tonnes of limestone from the mines of Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals limited (RSMM), 40km away from Jaisalmer, are sent to various steel companies in the country. Over 500 trucks transport limestone daily from the mines to Jaisalmer railway station from where it is taken by rail to various places.

This increased transportation cost as well as limestone dust pollution in the area. While the demand to lay a rail line between Sonu and Jaisalmer has been pending for long, the railway ministry has now given the financial approval for the project.

Confirming this, NWR CPRO spokesperson Tarun Jain said the railways had approved the 58.5km line from Thyat Hamira to Sonu and has sanctioned Rs 262 crore for the purpose.

The work on land acquisition has been completed and the tender for the work has also been approved. The project is expected to be completed next year.

Along the route, there will be 62 bridges, three ROBs, nine RUBs as well as a new station, Lanela, between Sonu and Thaiyat Hamira.

Jain said the Jaisalmer station comes first in revenue generation in NWR every year, with 50 lakh tonnes of limestone transported to steel plants in the country, including Bhilai, Durgapur, etc., earning Rs 500 crore in the process.

Service tax waived for cargo bound for Nepal

Decision to boost ferrying goods to Himalayan country from Visakhapatnam port

VISAKHAPATNAM: The decision to scrap 4.5% service tax on ocean freight for consignments transshipped from Visakhapatnam and Kolkata ports as the third country imports to Nepal will benefit the trading community of the Himalayan country.

Alternative EXIM port

The service tax imposed in June last year was withdrawn vide the Ministry of Finance TRU Circular No.204/2/2017 dated February 16 with immediate effect on goods intended for transshipment to any country outside India.

Trading community of Nepal has hailed the initiative after Nepal Commerce Minister Gauchan Thakali and others pleaded strongly with their counterparts in India that the imposition of service tax on cargo bound to their country would negate the letter and spirit of free trade agreement signed by them.

The contention of the traders as well as the Nepali authorities was that the collection of service tax by cargo handling agents in India would ultimately pass on to the importers making the ferrying of goods very expensive.

The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association have been demanding several initiatives to make Visakhapatnam an alternative port to Kolkata for them.

Following problems faced for shipment of cargo from Kolkata Port, on a request by Nepal, the Ministry of Commerce declared Visakhapatnam Port as an alternative Exim port last year following which the Visakhapatnam Port has been trying to create the required ecosystem to facilitate movement of cargo.

Related Article: http://www.railnews.in/nepal-asks-india-to-remove-service-tax-on-the-ocean-freight/

Fertilizers, coal, project cargo and garments are expected to be moved from Visakhapatnam to Nepal via Birgunj. Several high-level delegations from Nepal frequented Visakhapatnam and inspected the facilities on rake availability with the railways and Container Corporation of India (CONCOR).

Visakha Container Terminal Private Ltd, a BOT operator of Visakhapatnam Port, has developed a 24×7 all-weather facility here with deep draft to handle large shipping lines including those belonging to Maersk.

Visakhapatnam Port Deputy Chairman P.L. Haranadh told that they were expecting trade to Nepal to pick up shortly with talks in progress to introduce a box train to Birgunj Inland Container Depot.

Government-owned Nepal Transit and Warehousing Company has also been offered land for building a warehouse after the Nepal Rastra Bank has already issued a notification for payments. A proposal to open the Nepal’s Consulate General Office in Visakhapatnam is also under consideration to facilitate speedy clearances instead of depending on the consul officials in New Delhi.

ICF/Chennai ready to manufacture 160 Kmph self-propelled ‘world-class’ Highspeed Train Sets at half the cost of import

Indian Railways is all set to roll out a first-of-its-kind ‘Make in India’ Semi-Highspeed self-propelled train sets! According to ICF, the train sets will allow for quicker acceleration and will be a Technological Leap for the Coach Factory.

CHENNAI: Indian Railways is all set to roll out a ‘first of its kind’ semi-high speed self-propelled train set! Yes, the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) will ‘Make in India’ the EMUs (Electric Multiple Units) that can travel at speeds of up to 160 kmph. According to ICF, the train sets will allow for quicker acceleration and will be a technological leap for the coach factory.
The train sets are currently in the design stage and will start getting manufacturing some time in 2018. For this reason, Indian Railways has codenamed the project as ‘Train-2018’. What makes these train sets special, apart from the fact that they mark a leap for ICF, is that they will be manufactured at “half the cost” if the same were to be imported!

The new train will have 16 fully air-conditioned coaches, and will boast of ‘world-class’ passenger amenities. Proposed for inter-city superfast travel, the train sets will replace locomotive-hauled intercity express trains.

The train sets will have ‘Automatic Plug-Type’ doors which will open and close automatically at the stations. Like most chair cars, the train will have wide windows.

Keeping in mind passenger entertainment, Indian Railways proposes to equip the new train sets with onboard Wi-fi and infotainment.

The train will also boast of GPS-based Passenger Information System to keep passengers informed about the location of the train.

“The new train will have world-class facilities for passengers. The train will have plush interiors and diffused LED lighting.

The toilets of these coaches will be fitted with zero discharge vaccum based bio-toilets and touch free fittings,” an ICF official told.

“The train set will be equipped with under slung 3 Phase IGBT based propulsion system which is energy efficient. Train 2018 will also offer more passenger space,” the ICF official said.

All coaches of Train-18 will be inter-connected by fully sealed gangways. This will allow passengers to move from one coach to another with ease.

Additionally, ICF is looking to equip the train sets with improved mechanical couplers and modern bogies. “This will help keep the jerks and vibrations at bay,” the official said. “The train will have fully suspended traction motors, pneumatic secondary suspension and anti-roll bar.

The brake system will be Electro Pneumatic, which will reduce the braking distance, so that full speed potential of the train can be harnessed,” the official said, adding that Train-2018 will have “many modern features which will debut for the first time on Indian Railways”.

The idea to develop these modern train sets was an outcome of the “Rail Vikas Shivir” that was organised by Indian Railways late last year.

This also fits in with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s ‘Mission Raftaar’ that was announced in Rail Budget 2016. Under Mission Raftaar, Indian Railways proposes to double the average speeds of freights trains and increase the average speed of superfast mail/express trains by 25 kmph in the next 5 years.

India keen on Rail Link connecting Kathmandu to Delhi, Kolkata to strengthen cross-border connectivity: Suresh Prabhu

KHATMANDU: India today said it was keen on linking Nepal’s capital with New Delhi and Kolkata through a railway network in a bid to strengthen cross-border connectivity amid China’s strategic push into the landlocked Himalayan nation.

“We need to build the railway tracks connecting Kathmandu with Delhi and Kolkata as soon as possible,” Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

“If we could build these two railway tracks soon it would increase Nepal’s connectivity with India,” Prabhu said while addressing the ‘Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017’, which concluded in Kathmandu today.

“I will give priority to building such networks soon,” he said.

Prabhu’s remarks came amid China’s investment push into Nepal with rail and road connectivity through Tibet.

Noting that infrastructure was a prerequisite for attaining higher economic growth, Prabhu called the Nepal government and private sector to ramp up investment in construction of physical infrastructure.

“If you invest in infrastructure in a country with wide infrastructure gap, you will get good return on investment.

Also, economic growth triggered by infrastructural development will provide additional benefits to investors,” he said.

He added that India was ready to share its drone technology and experience with Nepal for monitoring the project.

According to experts, this move a counter to China’s bid to expand its rail network towards Lumbini via Kathmandu.

Prabhu held separate meetings with Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari,Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak, Civil Aviation, Culture and Tourism Minister Jiwan Bahadur Shahi and Energy Minister Janardan Sharma.

He also met Nepalese business leaders, political leaders, industry heads, with whom discussed a wide range of infrastructure development issues.

Siemens Rail wins Rs.287 Crore Order from Nagpur Metro

Siemens to deploy state-of-the-art signalling systems for Nagpur Metro. With Trainguard, Siemens has created a modular system for conventional train control that can be deployed universally. The most important safety-relevant and operational functions relate to optimized headway times, punctuality and reliable track-to-train transmission.
Tilak Raj Seth, EVP, Siemens India Ltd and CEO, Mobility Division

NAGPUR: Siemens Limited and Siemens Rail Automation Ltd. S.A.U Spain have jointly won an order worth Rs. 287 crore to supply state-of-the-art signaling technology for the first two metro lines of the Nagpur Metro, the North-South and the East-West Corridors.

The German technology company has bagged the order jointly with Spain’s Siemens Rail Automation. “Siemens Ltd and Siemens Rail Automation SAU Spain have jointly won an order worth Rs 287 crore. Of this, Siemens Ltd’s share is Rs 146 crore,” it said in a statement here.

The project comprises the deployment and installation of the communications-based train control (CBTC) solution Trainguard MT for 38.2 km of double track with 36 stations and two depots, as well as onboard equipment for 23 trains. The East-West corridor will have 19 stations and the North-South 17 and will link the Airport with the Automotive Square, at the north of the city.

“We are delighted to have won the Nagpur Metro Rail signalling contract. The metro is a prestigious infrastructure project and we will deliver technology that employs CBTC to maximise the network capacity while minimising operational costs,” Tilak Raj Seth, Executive Vice-President, Siemens India Ltd and CEO, Mobility Division said.

Trainguard MT – Automatic Communications-based Train Control (CBTC)

The modular train control system Trainguard MT provides the signaling basis for attractive, reliable, and efficient mass-transit systems. The radio-based system allows a choice between fixed or moving block operation and achieves headways of 90 seconds. Trainguard MT includes functions for monitoring, implementation, and control of the entire operating sequence. It can be implemented in different degrees of automation, e.g., semiautomatic operation, operation under driver control, and driverless operation.

Trainguard MT is based on reliable Simis computers and tried-and-tested automatic train control solutions such as Trainguard LZB 700 M and Meteor, which demonstrate Siemens’ expertise in the field of radio-based train control. Thanks to standardized interfaces, Trainguard MT is compatible with various different operation control systems, interlocking designs, and track-vacancy detection systems.

 

Kochi Metro rallies to become India’s first CBTC based Metro Rail system by March

It will enable pilot-less train operations in Kochi Metro in the long run!

KOCHI: The installation of signalling and telecommunication (S&T) equipment to enable India’s first communication-based train control (CBTC) system is in the last lap on the Kochi metro’s 13-km Aluva-Palarivattom corridor, which is expected to be commissioned in April.

The signal system will be in place in another 10 days, while the communication equipment is being fine-tuned to be made operational by early March. Signals have a limited role to play in CBTC since the precise position of trains is relayed to the metro’s operation control centre (OCC) at Muttom by ‘beacons’ along the corridor. The computerised OCC monitors and controls all train movements, DMRC sources said.

Frequency, trials

Once commissioned, trains will be operated every 10 minutes. Low-speed trials of a train laden with sand bags are over. Moreover, multiple signal trials were conducted, followed by trial of coaches. The procedure will continue at higher speeds in the coming weeks till the design speed of 80 kmph is attained.

The second train too will join in by the end of this month. The third and fourth trains will subsequently join them for integrated trials slated for early March. Integrated trials are crucial to the testing of the CBTC system since its foolproof operation has a direct bearing on safe running of trains.

Elaborating on the system, KMRL sources said it is a moving block train control system that continuously monitors the position of each train and trackside elements like points, emergency stop plungers, and switches. It ensures that trains adhere to speed restrictions and come to a halt at designated stops.

In January, the metro agencies had conducted evacuation tests, wherein a train jampacked with around 1,000 people was evacuated within the specified time limit.

Pilotless Trains

On the commencement of unmanned train operations (UTO or pilotless trips), KMRL sources said the communication-based train control (CBTC) system would enable them. “We can migrate to UTO with minor modification of trains, depending on traffic and other requirements. Each train will have a pilot during the initial period,” they added.

GM|SCR launches Digital Payment campaign on the Zone – Kacheguda is now 100% DigiPay Railway Station

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR & Others releasing Baloons during launch of DigiPay Campaign

HYDERABAD: South Central Railway, known for its digital friendly measures, took another significant step forward for the benefit of rail commuters by taking up a Digital Payment Campaign towards making major Railway stations as fully Digital Payment Enabled. General Manager, South Central Railway Vinod Kumar Yadav formally launched the campaign at Kacheguda Railway Station, which has been made a 100 % DigiPay station today i.e., 20th February 2017 by releasing Tri-Colour balloons in the sky.

An enthusiastic crowd of rail passengers, citizens including students and working professionals were present at the Digital Payment Campaign which was also graced by several senior officials from SCR, RailTel and Andhra Bank including A.K. Gupta, Additional General Manager, P.Ganeswara Rao, Chief Commercial Manager, Smt Aruna Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division, V. Satyanarayana Murthy, Chief General Manager, Hyderabad Circle, Andhra Bank.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR addressing the Staff, Vendors and the Public at the launch of Digital Payment Campaign

Kacheguda will be the first Station on Indian Railways to become 100% fully Digital Payment enabled station. All transactions can be done Cashless by means of accessing the Digital Platform with the use of Debit / Credit Cards, Mobile Paperless Ticketing and Payment through Digital Wallets. Point of Sale (PoS) Machines are put up at Ticket Counters, Parcel Office, Cloak Room, Food Court, Parking Stand, Retiring Rooms, Pre-paid AC Waiting Hall, Tea Stalls, Fruit and Juice Centres, Catering Units, Book Stall, Dairy Parlour etc.,

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR making payment at KCG Station Vijaya Dairy Parlour through Digital Payment

The General Manager, SCR, Vinod Kumar Yadav in his address said that the zone has initiated this step to fulfill the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu towards spreading the use of Digital payment and ensure cashless transactions. The General Manager called this step as a magnificent outcome of imbibing technology to enable a Digital friendly Cashless society. Transforming Kacheguda to a DigiPay Railway Station is a huge step forward in terms of signifying the co-operation amongst various stake holders, he added. The concept of DigiPay Station is to empower the passengers to go for digital transactions for any requirement. This beginning will set the momentum for transforming 10 more stations as DigiPay Stations on SCR in Phase-I, followed by all other A1 & A category stations in a phase wise manner, the General Manager informed.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR initiating the Signature campaign during DigiPay launch at Kacheguda

The General Manager complimented the licensee of various facilities / stalls at Kacheguda for pro-actively coming forward in the success of this endeavor. Although it was not mandatory in the contract for the licensees to provide for Digital PoS machine payment option, they came forward to join hands with Railways, which reflected their concern for a National cause. The efforts and continuous interaction that the Railway officials of Hyderabad Division had with the licensees, led to the results, the General Manager opined. The initiative of Andhra Bank in providing Point of Sales (PoS) machines to the required extent at the station was instrumental in shaping the plans of SCR to make Kacheguda a DigiPay Station. The High Speed WiFi access at Kacheguda provided by Rail Tel which serves the purpose of undertaking Digital Transactions also came in for praise from the General Manager.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR taking Selfie at the Digital Payment Campaign

In tune with the festive atmosphere at the launch, College students broke into a Flash Mob Dance in the circulating area of the station, swaying to Music set for lyrics highlighting the development and modernization of Railways.  A Signature Campaign – Signing up to identify with the Digital Payment initiative met good response Citizens and Rail Users. Selfie Boards propagating Kacheguda as DigiPay Station also attracted people, in particular the youth a lot. The General Manger visited the Stalls on the Platform and also made Digital Payment Transaction for purchase made, to formally signify the rise in the status of Kacheguda as DigiPay Railway Station.

Two Special Trains between Secunderabad-Raxaul for Holi Festival

In order to clear extra rush of passengers during Holi festival, South Central Railway will run two Special Trains between Secunderabad and Raxaul as detailed below:-

  1. Accordingly, Train No. 07091 Secunderabad – Raxaul Special train will depart Secunderabad at 21:40 hrs on 7th March, 2017 (Tuesday) and arrive Raxaul at 18:15 hrs on Thursday.
  2. In the return direction, Train No. 07092 Raxaul – Secunderabad Special train will depart Raxaul at 12:45 hrs on 10th March, 2017 (Friday) and arrive Secunderabad at 06:55 hrs on Sunday.

These trains will comprise of 18 coaches viz., one AC II Tier, three AC III Tier, twelve Sleeper Class and two Luggage cum Brake Van Coaches.

Enroute, these special trains will stop at Kazipet, Ramagundam, Mancherial, Balharshah, Sevagram, Nagpur, Betul, Itarsi, Pipariya, Jabalpur, Katni, Satna, Allahabad, Gyanpur, Varanasi, Mughalsarai, Buxar, Ara, Danapur, Patna, Bakhtiyarpur, Mokama, Barauni, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, and Bairgania stations in both the directions.

Finance Ministry kick-starts listing process of 3 Rail PSUs

IRCTC, IRFC, IRCON listing process begins. The government is considering divesting a portion of the paid-up equity share capital through an IPO and has sought Expression of Interest (EoI) from merchant bankers by March 16.

NEW DELHI: Within three weeks of Budget announcement, the Finance Ministry today started the process of listing three rail PSUs – IRCTC, IRFC and IRCON. The government is considering divesting a portion of the paid-up equity share capital through an IPO and has sought Expression of Interest (EoI) from merchant bankers by March 16.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) is scouting for merchant bankers to manage the initial public offering (IPO) of the three PSUs, which is under the administrative control of the Rail Ministry. The government currently holds 100 percent stake in these three companies. In his 2017-18 Budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government will put in place a revised mechanism and procedure to ensure time-bound listing of identified CPSEs on stock exchanges as the it will foster greater public accountability and unlock their true value.

The government currently holds 100% stake in these three companies. In his 2017-18 budget speech, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the government will put in place a revised mechanism and procedure to ensure time-bound listing of identified CPSEs on stock exchanges as the it will foster greater public accountability and unlock their true value.

“The shares of Railway public sector enterprises (PSEs) like IRCTC, IRFC and IRCON will be listed in the stock exchanges,” Jaitley had said in his speech. The government intends to raise Rs 72,500 crore through disinvestment of PSUs in the next fiscal. Of this, Rs 46,500 crore would be raised through disinvestment of minority stake and Rs 11,000 crore through strategic sale.

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Service Charge waiver on e-Tickets may hamper IRCTC’s listing

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) plan to see itself listed on the stock exchange might hit a roadblock as the waiver of service charge by the government on online ticket booking could lead to losses making the stock unattractive to investors.

In the 2017 Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced the waiver on service charge for digital payments allowed in the wake of demonetisation will continue. However, rail officials and market experts are of the opinion that there will be no takers of the shares of the company if this continues. A top rail ministry official said that listing potential of the company will go down since it will not be profitable if the service charge waiver continues.

The matter will be discussed when the road map for listing Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation is prepared. A railway official said that they had expected the waiver to be temporary but now it appears to be permanent. This will impact the company and there will be little interest from investors.

Earlier this month, Railway Financial Commissioner Shahzad Shah had said the railways is not prepared for listing. He had also said the removal of service charge was a major setback to Indian Railways. Various concessions on rail tickets have pinched the pockets of this sector. And, now with one more dispensation, Railways will have to worry about its business.

NITI Aayog nudges Railways to bring all Districts under IR Network

The Centre is mulling a separate scheme for giving added impetus to laying new railway lines in hilly, remote and unconnected habitations. The scheme would be designed along the lines of the highly successful programme ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)’

NEW DELHI: Government think-tank NITI Aayog wants the Railways to prepare a plan similar to Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) to link districts which are not on rail map.

“We need schemes like NHDP, PMGSY in Railways also. Even today, some parts of North East and Odisha are not connected by rail network,” a senior government official said. Officials said that NITI Aayog is expected to suggest separating the task of laying railway tracks and connecting remote habitations through the rail network as an entirely different programme outside the current allocations. This would be done in order to give the initiative added focus and to ensure completion of these projects, many of which have been languishing for years for want of added attention.

“NITI Aayog will be suggesting to Railways to come up with a project report on the lines of PMGSY and NHDP. We would like to make this a national priority. All the districts of India should be on railway map,” he added.

The official said that the NITI Aayog is in favour of segregating the tasks of laying railway tracks and connecting districts which are not on the rail map as an entirely different programme outside the current allocations.

The official also suggested that the Railways should work on increasing passenger traffic and compete with airlines to offer comfortable journeys to high value passengers at competitive rates.

He said that the railways’ passenger growth has remained stagnant which doesn’t augur well for the organisation.

PMGSY was envisaged during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government in 2000.

NHDP, on the other hand, is the Road Ministry’s flagship road building programme.

Terming railways, roads and rivers as the “lifeline” of the country, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Budget, had said, “Total allocation for infrastructure stands at a record level of Rs 3,96,135 crore in 2017-18.”

In the 2004-05 Budget presented during the tenure of current Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Ministry of Railways had announced a similar programme called the “Remote Area Rail Sampark Yojana” with an additional outlay of Rs 20,000 crore.

The scheme was to get operationalised from 2005-06 and was aimed at completing all pending projects in remote and unconnected areas and also undertake new initiatives.

The ministry had then estimated that once opened for traffic, these lines would also require about 18,000 persons per year for normal maintenance and operations, on incremental basis. Apart from this, it was expected that there would be scope for indirect employment of nearly 55,000 persons per year.

However, in a written reply to a standing committee of Parliament in 2008-09, the ministry said that the scheme could not take off as state governments didn’t show any interest in contributing their share of the funds — around two per cent of resources were to come from funds collected by states on stamp duty on property transactions.

Officials said that the new programme, modelled on the lines of the PMGSY or the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP), would also help in attracting dedicated funds for connecting remote areas and improving investments in these sectors.

Launched in 2000, the Centre had constructed over 400,000 kilometres of roads, mostly in rural and unconnected habitations, so far under the PMGSY.

In the 2017-18 Union Budget, the Centre has allocated Rs 19,000 crore for the programme; which, along with the state’s share, will take the total funding for the programme in the financial year to over Rs 27,000 crore.

Under the NHDP, also launched during the previous NDA government, the Centre, along with the NHAI, plans to upgrade, rehabilitate and widen the existing network of highways along with building new ones. The project is to be completed in phases.

Railway Ministry starts rating its 16 Railway Zones to keep top officers on their toes

“The ranking is done on 17 indicators. Zonal Railways are being evaluated as per relative performance on each indicator by comparing the targets fixed for each one after much deliberation,” said a senior official.

NEW DELHI: The railway board has started rating its 16 zones, with the aim to ensure that all senior officials take their work seriously as the performance of the zones will be reflected in their promotion and career progression. In the last rating done by the Railway Board between April and December 2016, South Eastern Railway headquartered in Kolkata is on the top while North Eastern Railway with its head office in Gorakhpur has got the last rank. Interestingly, Northern Railway, with its HQ in Delhi, a few kilometres from the Railway Board office, was third from last.

As the new railway dispensation under Suresh Prabhu has brought in a private sector-like appraisal system, the career graph of top officers will depend on the amount of money they have helped the state-run transporter earn, physical assets they have helped create and punctuality of trains.

The ranking is based on a set of 17 key performance indicators (KPIs) such as operational and financial performance measured by passenger traffic and freight loading among others. The KPIs have been made part of the annual performance appraisal reports (APARs) of General Managers, Divisional Railway Managers and departmental heads in Zonal Railways.

“The ranking is done on 17 indicators. Zonal railways are being evaluated as per relative performance on each indicator by comparing the targets fixed for each one after much deliberation,” said a senior official.

The KPIs have been set against five broad categories of performance linked directly to the health of Indian Railways. These categories are operational and financial performance, capacity enhancement, capacity utilisation, asset reliability, and manpower training and upgrade.

Under financial operational performance, how much freight has been carried by a zone and how many passengers it has handled will carry maximum weightage -10 marks each.

As part of the process, Zonal and Divisional units were asked for targets for the year, which they furnished after much deliberations. Now, each General Manager, DRM and departmental heads are being evaluated against his her own targets.

RVNL, WR back Air-Conditioned Rakes for MUTP Phase III

This comes after the ministry sought the views of the two agencies on the procurement of air-conditioned rakes under MUTP Phase III

MUMBAI: There is some good news for Mumbai’s perennially harried commuter. The city is now almost certain to get 47 air-conditioned rakes as part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) Phase III. Both the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) and Western Railway (WR) have written to the Railway Ministry that these rakes should be air-conditioned. This comes after the ministry sought the views of the two agencies on the procurement of air-conditioned rakes under MUTP Phase III.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the MUTP Phase III on November 30, 2016.

MRVC Chairman-cum-Managing Director Prabhat Sahai and WR chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar confirmed the move. DNA had first reported on this issue in its December 23 edition. Under MUTP III, Western and Central Railways will get 47 rakes, for which Rs 2,899 crore has been earmarked.

Sahai said that since it has already been decided that these rakes would have automatic door-closing mechanism, it was prudent to have air-conditioning as it would increase commuter comfort.

The debate on whether these rakes should be air-conditioned had started among city-based railway officials almost immediately after the CCEA approval.

The logic of those arguing yes, said officials, was that these rakes would start coming in by 2020, since its procurement would have to follow global tendering norms. By then, there would be a robust demand for air-conditioned suburban commuting in Mumbai, if there isn’t one already.

The other reason, said a top-ranking official, was that the current crop of conventional Siemens and Bombardier rakes- cumulatively over 145 – will serve out their life well into the 2030s and adding more conventional rakes under MUTP Phase III might become illogical.

According to officials, at current prices, each rake to be procured under MUTP Phase III would cost Rs 61 crore. This compares well with the cost of the first AC rake- unconnected to MUTP Phase III – which is currently being tested on Central Railway. A Right to Information plea by DNA media to the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai recently had put the cost of the AC rake at Rs 51.42 crore.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in Nepal to attend Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017

Prabhu arrived here to attend the ‘Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017’, organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) in association with the Nepal government and Youth Community for Nepalese Contractors (YCNC) to be held between February 19-20. Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae was also present at the occasion.

NEW DELHI/KHATMANDU: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has arrived in Nepal for a three-day visit during which he will attend an infrastructure summit which he said was crucial for accelerating the Himalayan nation’s economic growth.

Prabhu arrived here yesterday to attend the ‘Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017’, organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) in association with the Nepal government and Youth Community for Nepalese Contractors (YCNC) to be held between February 19-20.

The minister, who is the guest of honour and keynote speaker at the summit said, the infrastructure summit would be pivotal for accelerating economic growth of Nepal at a time when the country is striving to graduate to the league of developing nations.

Confederation of Nepalese Industries give Momento to Union Railway Minister.

Welcoming Prabhu at a reception to honour him yesterday, CNP president Haribhakta Sharma said the minister’s visit will be a good opportunity for sharing ideas and experiences of Indian model of infrastructure development, where involvement of the private sector has become one of the key drivers in accelerating steady rate of economic growth.

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae was also present at the occasion. During his stay in Nepal, Prabhu will pay a courtesy call to President Bidha Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.

He will also hold meetings with Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak and other senior government officials as well as private sector representatives.

In a statement, CNI said the minister’s visit will be instrumental in strengthening Nepal-India ties for socio-economic development of both countries.

The Summit is organized with an objective of helping in the economic development of the country by attracting huge investments from the private sector, strengthening regional connection and partnership by realizing the rationale of investment in infrastructure sector.

The summit which is jointly organized by the Government of Nepal and the Youth Community for Nepalese Contractors (YCNC) is focusing on private sector for indispensable partnership.

Similarly, more than 30 experts from industry sector, ministers from the government, policy makers and development partners will be participating in the programme. According to the organizers, former PM Baburam Bhattarai, former finance ministers and ministers of Nepal, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Department for International Development (DFID) (UK), International Finance Corporation (IFC), officials from diplomatic missions and representatives will also be participating in the programme.

Warm welcome in Kathmandu to Indian Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu by Infra Summit organizing committee of Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017

The Summit will discuss among other things, the possibility of public-private partnership (PPP), successful model of  regional and international level of partnership, the state of infrastructure development, essential environment for growth of investment, infrastructure market, value proposition, flexible financial system and green infrastructure.

Likewise, this Summit will also include ‘infrastructure idea hunt’ as a new subject. People with new ideas in infrastructure development area of the country can present their ideas in the summit. For the purpose, the organizers have already selected 10 ideas in co-work with the Idea Solution.

Railways’ Operating Ratio touches a record 109% in April-December

The revised estimate for Indian Railways’ operating ratio in 2016-17 is 94.9%

NEW DELHI: How much does Indian Railways spend to earn every Rs.100 it does in revenue?

In the nine months to December, the national transporter ran up a record-high operating ratio of 109%, meaning it spent Rs.109 to generate Rs.100, reflecting the competition it is facing from airlines and road transport to carry people and freight.

Operating ratio is a gauge of operational efficiency that measures expenses as a proportion of revenue.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley did not mention this key indicator of Indian Railways’ performance in the speech he made when on 1 February he presented the first general budget in 93 years that incorporated the railways budget.

To be sure, this critical parameter found mention in the 2017-18 budget’s expenditure profile. The revised estimate for Indian Railways’ operating ratio in 2016-17 is 94.9% and 94.6% is the estimate for 2017-18.

“As of now the operating ratio is around 109% but we are hopeful to close it at around 94-95% in financial year 2016-17 where our budget target was 92%,” a senior railway ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

In 2015-16, the operating ratio around the end of November was 96%, but the railways managed to lower it to 92% before closing its books for that fiscal year.

For a railway operator, an operating ratio of 80 or lower is considered desirable.

The disappointing performance is being attributed to the burden of the Seventh Pay Commission’s pay hike recommendations and a fall in demand for coal freight.

“You need to look at things holistically. There are political decisions of not increasing passenger fares, ministries like defence, women and child, etc are not ready to share the subsidy burden given to their beneficiaries; and decreasing freights—all these have brought Indian Railways to this stature,” the official cited above said.

Another government official, who also did not wish to be identified, confirmed that the railways’ operating ratio for the year till 31 December was around 109%. “There are legacy issues which can’t be wished away,” the official added.

A railway ministry spokesperson, in an emailed response said, “The Indian Railways’ resource position has shown a downtrend during 2016-17 primarily due to drop in loading of coal, which constitutes around 50% of the freight loading, in the first six months of the fiscal, along with drop in the lead. The year also saw rise in revenue expenditure due to implementation of the 7th CPC (central pay commission) on pay and pension and increase in prices of HSD (high speed diesel) oil.”

“Since the provision of earnings and expenditure is not uniform in every month/quarter, the provision of Operating Ratio (OR) is assessed on an annual basis at the time of Budget Estimates, Revised Estimates (RE) and in Actuals after the end of financial year,” the spokesperson added.

Indian Railways’ operating ratio has stayed above 90% for the last few years. In 2014-15, the budgeted operating ratio was 92.5%, against which railways was able to achieve 91.3%. In 2015-16, the operating ratio was 90.5% due to savings of Rs.8,720 crore.

“Nevertheless noticing the downtrend, a number of measures have been taken to improve the position both on the earnings front as well as to control expenditure. The likely outcome of the measures contemplated has been kept in view while finalizing the RE 2016-17 where the operating ratio is estimated at 94.9%,” the railway ministry spokesperson added.

Rating agency CRISIL Ltd paints an optimistic scenario for Indian Railways in a recent research report. As per the report, the railways’ operating ratio will improve to 89-90% by 2021, once its investments start showing results.

“Railways incidentally is facing a lot of challenges not only in terms of its operating ratios but also in terms of the competition that it faces from the road sector. So, the important thing would be how do you modernize the infrastructure in the railways, how do you improve the management of the railways, how do you bring about more transparency in their accounting system,” finance secretary Ashok Lavasa said in a conference.

Former Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said typically operating ratio improves in the last quarter of a financial year.

“The last three months of the fiscal are crucial and it’s time when freight picks up pace again,” Kumar said.

In budget 2017, Jaitley made a record allocation of Rs1.3 trillion for Indian Railways, with a gross budgetary support of Rs.55,000 crore.

Talgo Train sets could be commercially operational by mid-2018: Subrat Nath, Director, India & APAC, Talgo

In a telephonic interaction with media, Subrat Nath, Director, India and Asia-Pacific, Talgo said that if everything went according to plan, the rake could be in commercial operation by the middle of next year.
Subrat Nath, Director, India and Asia-Pacific, Talgo

MUMBAI: Spanish train manufacturer Talgo is in talks with the Railway Ministry to lease its trains for some short-distance routes, preferably under 500 kilometres, on a profit-sharing basis. In a telephonic interaction, Subrat Nath, Director, India and Asia-Pacific, Talgo said that if everything went according to plan, the rake could be in commercially operational by the middle of next year.

Hypothetically speaking, Nath said, if the Railway Ministry accepts a proposal to have Talgo trains on lease by March 31 this year, then the rakes could come in by April 2018 and after a trials of a few months, it could be ready for commercial operation by August 2018.

“A three-member team of the Railway Board consisting of additional members is looking into the feasibility of deploying Talgo trains on the Indian Railway network. Only after they submit the report can things move forward.

There are two options, first of which is a global tender where there will be several more participants. That could take time. The other is the leasing model that we have suggested where our rakes can be leased over some routes on the Indian Railways on a profit-sharing basis. But as I said all the financial details can be made only after the three-member team submits their report,” Nath said.

The current plan, according to him, is to provide just Talgo coaches to the Railways because the Spanish firm during the trials found the quality of Indian locomotives very good. “What we want to do is to provide Talgo coaches to the railways on lease and use locomotives from the railways to haul the train.

The locomotives in the railways’ fleet are very powerful, capable of high speeds. That is why we believe the best value for the railways would be to have Talgo coaches hauled at higher speeds by Indian locomotives,” said Nath.

Nath said that in case the Talgo is chosen by the railways, it will have to further undergo a full set of trials supervised by the RDSO (Research Design Standards Organisation – the apex technical authority of Indian Railways headquartered at Lucknow) and also have to get the approval of the Commissioner of Railway Safety.

EXIM Bank team visits Sri Lanka to monitor India-funded projects

COLOMBO: A team from EXIM Bank has visited Sri Lanka this week to monitor the progress of projects funded by India mainly in the railway sector.

Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM) team visited sites of the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project, including Kankasanthurai Railway Line, Omanthai – Pallai railway line, Thalaimannar – Madhu Road Railway Line, Medawachchiya – Madhu Road railway line from February 13-16, the Colombo Page reported.

It may be recalled that Government of India has provided concessionary credit facilities amounting to about US$ 800 million to the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project. IRCON International implemented the project, including track upgradation and setting up of signalling and communication infrastructure.

They also evaluated the signaling and telecommunication system installed under the Lines of Credit (LoC).

IRCON International implemented the project, including track upgradation and setting up of signaling and communication infrastructure.

The team also called on Sri Lanka Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Nimal Siripala De Silva and senior railway officials.

“India remains committed to strengthening its bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka, including through closer economic ties, enhancing connectivity and other linkages, and continued development partnership,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a statement.

Drilling of 7 Km Mumbai-Ahmedabad Undersea Route begins to ascertain Soil Condition of Bullet Train path

Soil and Rock testing time for India’s first undersea Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor path. Railways opted for an elevated corridor to avoid land acquisitions and the need to build underpasses.

MUMBAI: Drilling of the seven-km undersea route of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor is underway to ascertain soil condition of India’s first bullet train path. Passengers will get the thrill of riding under the sea, a first in the country, near Thane at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour in the upcoming high speed train project connecting two major metropolis.

“Soil and rocks below the 70-metre-deep see are being tested as part of the geo-technical and geo-physical investigation undertaken for the entire project,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding “the test will also cover the 21-km-long underground tunnel between Thane and Virar.” Barring the 21-km-long tunnel, most part of the 508-km- long corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track while there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea as per the detailed project report by JICA, the funding agency of the project.

Railways opted for an elevated corridor to avoid land acquisitions and the need to build underpasses. The tunnel was necessitated to protect the thick vegetation in that area, said the official. The geo-investigation is crucial for the project as it would ascertain the bearing capacity of the soil below 70 feet at the sea.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties.

The survey is likely to be followed by the final location survey to mark the alignment and exact spots for the pillars on which trains will run at higher speed to reduce the travelling time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad drastically.

Currently it takes about seven hours to travel between the two cities and the bullet train aims to reduce it to about two hours.

Construction of the corridor is expected to start in 2018 and is estimated to be completed by 2023.

JICA agreed to fund 81 per cent of the total project cost through a 50-year loan at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent and a moratorium on repayments up to 15 years.

NITI Aayog reviews progress of Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project

NEW DELHI: The NITI Aayog has reviewed progress of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project for which the ground breaking ceremony will take place during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this year.

The meeting chaired by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, was also attended by 20-member Japanese delegation last week, decided to expedite preliminary work and obtain environmental clearances. This was 4th high level meeting on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project.

“The review of the project was taken. Idea is that to put pressure on ground to implement it as soon as possible. We are making satisfactory progress,” said a NITI Aayog official who attended the meeting.

The ground breaking ceremony, he said, would be held at the time of visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe some time later this year.

“A general consultant from Japan has started working on the project since December 2016… Next step would be to do Environment Impact Assessment (EIA),” the official said.

He further said that ground construction for the project will commence by the end of 2018 and the train service is likely to be operational from 2023.

The high speed railway line between the two prominent cities in Western India is expected to cover 508 km in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan.

While most part of the corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track, there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea as per the detailed project report by JICA.

Railway Minister directs CR to operate Extra Rake for transporting Onions from Nashik

NASHIK: Central Railway will operate another freight train, in addition to existing three, from Nashik for transportation of onions to other parts of country, a senior official said today.

He said the orders to operate the rake from tomorrow came from Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, given the huge production of the bulb this year.

“Railway is providing four rakes for onion farmers to dispatch onion to hinterland (three for Central Railway destinations and one for South Central Railway destination).

As per the directives of the Minister for Railways, one more rake will be made available from February 20 for onion farmers for sending their produce to the markets,” Narendra Patil Chief Public Relations Officer of Central Railway said.

Onions Market in India

India is the second largest onion growing country in the world. Indian onions are famous for their pungency and are available round the year. Indian onions has two crop cycles, first harvesting starts in November to January and the second harvesting from January to May.

The Major Onion producing states area Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Tamil Nadu. Maharashtra ranks first in Onion production with a share of 27.72%. Maharashtra State contributes about 80-85% in the total onion export and Nashik which falls on Central Railway Mumbai Division is the major market for red onions in the country. Likewise, Nagarsol which is also in Maharashtra in Nanded Division) of South Central Railway also enjoys highest loading of onions.

There is a lot of demand of Indian Onion in the world, the country has exported 12,01,245.29 MT of fresh onion to the world for the worth of Rs. 2,747.41 crores during the year 2015-16.

Generally onion produced in Kharif and Late Kharif season is not suitable for storage while onion produced in summer season can be stored upto 5-6 months and it can be brought in the market during rainy season i.e. from June to October. There are certain problems which arises during conventional storage of onion viz. loss in weight, sprouting and rotting. To overcome these losses onion are stored in scientific manner.

Modern onion storage structures like the ones built by CONCOR have been so planned to aerate the onions from all sides. The following points to be followed by CONCOR during its construction of Onion Storage Structures in different parts of the country.

1. Lower base of onion storage structure has been raised from the ground level by 1.5′ to 2.00′ for that the foundation laid out according to soil type. Pillar height should be 1.5′ to 2′.
2. Skeleton of structure rests on these pillars made up of iron angles/wooden material. Lower base can is also made up of iron angles wooden battens. Its breadth should be a 5′.
3. Side wall is made up to bamboo battens/iron angle with the support and help of iron angles. Its height is 5′. Bamboo battens/iron angles so arranged that onions don’t come out of it and also proper air circulation is made at 5′ height.
4. Height of roof of onion storage structure is generally 2′ above onion stored. For roof iron/cement/Mangalore tiles are used. Material of roof is heat resistant. Also, according structural design roof have sufficient slope.
5. To avoid droplets rain water and sunlight, sides of roof are sufficiently projected outside and also same from direction of rain (south-west).
6. Sites selected for onion storage structure are well drained and are easily to good road.
7. Onion storage structure is naturally ventilated from lower and other sides. Circumstance for natural ventilation is avoided or minimised.
8. No tall civil work close to structures and Tall civil work is generally 1.5 times height of onion storage structure away from onion storage structure.
9. The width of onion storage structure should be 610 cm. for natural air circulation. In high humid area width of storage structure is less with provision of mechanism for air circulation. The width of onion storage structure is not more.
10. The length of onion storage structure is right angle to the direction of wind (East-West). While constructing onion storage structure the length of structure is in the direction of wind.
11. Windward side of storage have closing system during storm and heavy rain and opening facility when necessary. During storm and heavy rain windward side of storage will not be opened.
12. The sides of the roof are sufficiently forwarded to avoid rainwater and to resist heat. The sides are not short. The heat resistant material at the upper side of roof of onion storage structure are not equipped with galvanised iron sheets.

Yeshwantpur, Bangalore Cantt Stations to turn Nerve Centres in 4 years

BANGALORE: Yeshwantpur and Bangalore Cantonment stations would be upgraded into world-class stations in the next four years if the project launched on Wednesday by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is executed without a hitch.

South Western Railway (SWR) general manager A K Gupta said 23 stations across the country have been selected and Bengaluru has the distinction of having two of its stations in the list. Interacting with the media before the minister launched the stations redevelopment programme in New Delhi, Gupta said the projects will make the stations the nerve centres of the city, besides providing high-quality passenger amenities.

SWR has set June 6 as deadline for submission of documents for bidders. When asked about the timeline of the project, he said the work order will be placed within an year and the project is expected to be completed within three years.

As per the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, Yeshwantpur station will be developed at a cost of Rs 100 crore and Cantonment station at Rs 80 crore. Both amounts are indicative as the bidder can propose a project at a higher cost. In return, the developer will get 45-year lease of 2.25 acres of land near Cantonment station and 20 acres adjacent to Yeshwantpur station.

SWR officials said Mysuru, Belagavi, Ballari, Vijayapura, Dharwad and Bangarpet are among the 15 stations that will be proposed for inclusion in phase II of the programme.

Project nodal officer and SWR chief planning and design engineer D K Garg, who briefed the media and investors, said the stations will be connected to the existing transport systems, including Metro, bus and taxis. Accessibility of Cantonment station will be improved, Garg said. The developer will have to maintain the station for 15 years, during which he will share the revenue generated through advertisement and leasing of stalls on the premises.

Naba Sarania visits Railway Workshop in New Bongaigaon

NEW BONGAIGAON: Naba Kumar (Hira) Saraniya, Member of Parliament from Kokrajhar constituency, visited Carriage and wagon workshop, New Bongaigaon on Friday to take stock of its units and their current functional status besides examining its bottlenecks.

Following a brief meeting with Chief Workshop Manager (CWM), DS Kunwar and other officials, Sarania spent nearly half-an-hour looking around each unit (shop) of the railway plant and reviewed their current capacity and future prospects.

During his visit, leaders of Purbanchal Rail Karmi Parishad (PRKP), NF Railway Employees’ union and NF Railway Mazdoor Union extended their full support and made him aware of the present crises the workshop is facing.

CWM Kunwar also apprised the parliamentarian about the latest developments in the workshop and his reformatory actions implemented in it for better output.

While talking to the media, MP Sarania said lack of employment opportunity is the main factor behind the rising number of gun-clutching youths and said that he had also raised arms once for the interest of the people and spent vital years of his life then.

Before leaving the workshop, Sarania assured its employees and the officials of taking up the issues of the plant in front of the appropriate authorities. He would demand the Union government to increase the productivity of the workshop to minimise the outsourcing and for generating employment opportunities here for the local youths, Sarania said.

As per the Chief Workshop Manager, out of over 2500 employees, 300 are women and they have been working in 21 units of the workshop. Since a number of posts have been lying vacant here since years, it has affected the work force in the plant and the office, an official said.

South Korea comes forward to redevelop New Delhi Railway Station as World Class facility

NEW DELHI: South Korea has come forward to redevelop the New Delhi railway station, one of the busiest terminals in the country, as a world-class facility.

Catering to more than five lakh passengers in a day, the station will be converted into a swanky complex at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore, offering best facilities and shopping experience to travellers, according to an ambitious plan unveiled by the railways.

Besides the multi-storey station building with separate sections for departures and arrivals, there is a provision for three skyscrapers for commercial use at the Ajmeri Gate side of the station which handles 361 trains a day.

South Korean Railways has shown keenness for the redevelopment of New Delhi station, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The railways has explored the possibility of redeveloping the station leveraging commercial development of vacant land and air space in and around the station and has submitted a detailed plan with a possible layout to South Korean Railways.

The architectural plan was elaborately drawn up with approach and exit routes, keeping the heavy traffic movement near the station at Connaught Place, the official said.

While passengers waiting for trains will have adequate space on the first floor of the station, those disembarking will go out of the station through platforms on the ground level. The second floor will house offices, as per the plan.

If everything goes accordingly, there will be a joint inspection of New Delhi station with South Korean team soon.

These redeveloped station would have digital signage, escalators and elevators, automatic self-ticketing counters, executive lounges and many other facilities for passengers.

The redevelopment of New Delhi station is part of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s emphasis on attracting substantial revenue through redevelopment of 400 stations with private participation.

The railways has recently launched the first phase of the ambitious station redevelopment project for 23 junctions.

DRUCC expresses displeasure over issues remaining unresolved in Tinsukia Rail Division

TINSUKIA: At a time when almost all divisions of NFR, including Alipurduar and Katihar, have been implementing various developmental works including double tracking, Tinsukia Railway Division on the other hand has even failed to provide basic passenger amenities, let alone ensure any development, observed Dipak Bhowmik, former member for several consecutive terms of Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee(DRUCC) who was instrumental in introducing Kolkata Express in the division.

With so many deficiencies in the division it is a matter of surprise how Tinsukia division could achieve to secure best prizes in certain categories despite poor passenger services in the train, unauthorized entry in reserved compartments including Rajdhani Express, poor passenger safety, regular burglary, uncontrolled catering services, un-elevated station platforms, withdrawal of train services and encroachment, maintained a railway insider.

Time and again several issues were raised before present DRM Prasant Mishra by different organizations but they fell into deaf ears. Tinsukia division is riddled with problems while several lakhs are allegedly being spent on ritual inspections of Railway high officials. The GM Chahatey Ram during his last visit to the Division categorically instructed the DRM to clear all encroachment from railway land, including railway stations, which have turned out to become dens of anti-social elements, but nothing progressed.

Despite public demand and inconvenience, foot over-bridges have not been constructed in Bhojo, Safrai and Lakowa stations. Passengers have to cross tracks in contravention to railway safety guidelines, while many platforms are not elevated to BG standard creating extreme problems for aged and elderly passengers. Some stations are poorly lit, thus becoming vulnerable for night passengers, more so for women. Makum Jn being the third oldest railway station in India, the station is yet to have a road. Passengers have to cross railway tracks to get into the platform. Public have been demanding an over-bridge for long to tide over traffic congestion in the area as Makum Jn connects NH 37 and NH 38 to Doomdooma and Digboi.

Large-scale corruption in construction and maintenance has been alleged. On November 16, 2016, the newly-constructed washing pit in Banipur Station (Dibrugarh) caved in incurring loss of several crores of rupees, but no inquiry was allegedly conducted by the railway authorities, according to a source.

Tinsukia being in close proximity to China border, the Railway Ministry ought to have prioritized extension of the historical Makum-Dangori section to Dholla. Even though DEMU services were appreciated by the local populace and college goers, they were withdrawn systematically without any public notice.

Delhi Metro Chief issues Directions to address few recurring issues

In the wake of repeated technical snags on metro lines, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chief Mangu Singh has issued directions to address a few recurring issues. Expect fewer snags on your Delhi metro ride as DMRC is coming up with ways to improve efficiency.

NEW DELHI: The recent spate of snags in the Delhi Metro has prompted its chief Mangu Singh to issue a series of directions to address a few recurring issues.

Singh has reviewed the operational issues of the over 200-km-long network and identified the trouble spots, mainly pertaining to signalling and power supply, a senior Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) official said today.

HOW DELHI METRO PLANS TO IMPROVE ITS EFFICIENCY:

  1. Automatic Train Control (ATC) cards, which is a speed control mechanism on board trains, and Train Interface Computer (TIC) cards, failures of which have been a major cause of service disruption, are being replaced.
  2. “The module failing the (ATC) card has been identified and spare modules are being procured. The module will be replaced on all cards as a preventive measure. TIC cards will be replaced in the next six months,” metro chief spokesperson Anuj Dayal said.
  3. Singh has also focused on Track Circuits which are electrical devices used to detect the absence of a train on tracks and inform signallers, another trouble area, especially on the Dwarka-Vaisahli/Noida City Centre corridor or Blue Line.
  4. Copper cables of the system have been replaced with that of steel to prevent theft in certain areas of the network while Relay Boards, that open or close an electrical circuit, are being replaced in many stations.
  5. “Axle Counters, which can detect the entry and exit of trains from a certain location and can certify whether the section is clear for a second train or not, are likely to be installed at all originating points on Blue Line to minimise disturbances,” he said.
  6. A senior DMRC functionary had recently said much of the Blue Line’s woes can be attributed to its old signalling system which, when installed, was not supposed to take the load it currently does.
  7. Due to the ‘fail safe’ nature of the network, the metro system slows down or stops only to ensure the safety of the passengers on board thereby resulting in delay of services, Dayal said.

Why not give Port Trust land for Metro car-shed, Raj Thackeray asks

MUMBAI: MNS chief Raj Thackeray today said that the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra was giving away huge tracts of land under the Mumbai Port Trust here to private builders, while chopping down trees in the Aarey Colony in the northern suburbs for a Metro car-shed.

“Why the government could not use Port Trust’s land for Metro car-shed,” Thackeray said, speaking at a campaign rally ahead of February 21 election to the Mumbai civic body, BMC.

The planned tree-felling in the leafy Aarey Colony area which is close to Sanjay Gandhi National Park for car-shed of Mumbai Metro is being opposed by activists.

Raj also targeted BJP over its newspaper advertisements. Marathi papers charge 7.5-8 crore rupees for full-page advertisements, and apart from them the party was placing advertisements in English, Hindi, Gujarati papers, he said, asking what was the monetary source of BJP.

On Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s jibe at him earlier today that Raj would only continue to do mimicry of other leaders, the MNS chief said he mimicked because he could see caricatures all around him.

“I can see so much contradictions and hollowness among people, so I am making fun of them,” he said.

Commenting on cancellation of CM’s rally in Pune this afternoon reportedly because of lack of audience, Raj said, “There were people, but nobody could see them because they were all `transparent’.”

BJP, which could not sew up alliance with Shiv Sena for civic elections this time, has often raised the issue of lack of `transparency’ in Shiv Sena-controlled BMC’s functioning.

GPT Infraprojects bags Order from Rail Vikas Nigam

The company has bagged an order worth Rs 217 crore from Rail Vikas Nigam.

KOLKATA: GPT Infraprojects, the flagship company of the GPT Group, has bagged an order worth Rs.640 million from Rail Vikas Nigam with a completion period of 18 months.

The order is for construction of major bridge over river Chandrabagha, ROB and RUB with approaches at road crossings in Virbhadra-New Rishikesh-Shivpuri section of Rishikesh-Karanprayag new BG rail line project in the state of Uttarakhand.

GPT Infraprojects is an infrastructure company. It offers civil construction projects for infrastructure work such as railways, roads, airports, irrigation and urban infrastructure. The firm also has manufacturing facilities for railway concrete sleepers.

Earlier this month, the company has also bagged an order worth Rs 217 crore from Rail Vikas Nigam. The order includes construction of important and major steel girder bridges, along with foundation, substructure and related projection works in connection with Mathura-Jhansi third line in Agra and Jhansi division on North central railway in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The completion period of the said project is 36 months.

The company has reported a net profit of Rs 3 crore in the quarter ended December 2016 against net profit of Rs 3.53 in the same quarter last fiscal.

Shares of the company gained Rs 3.05, or 1.22%, to trade at Rs 252.05 at the BSE (Monday).

Committee to examine how to minimise tree-cutting for Mumbai Metro-3

MUMBAI: Maharashtra’s chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, has asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation to set up a committee of government officers and citizens, which would give suggestions on how to minimise the number of trees that would need to be cut for phase 3 of the project, an official in the chief minister’s office revealed, on February 14, 2017.

A group of citizens, including petitioners in the Bombay High Court against the felling of trees for the Metro, Ashish Paul, Pervin Jehangir, Sanjay Asher and Zoru Bhathena, met Fadnavis to discuss the issue. “The CM assured us that he is pro-environment and the government will take all possible steps, to save the maximum number of trees. We told him that more trees are going to be chopped down than required, which is a major environmental destruction throughout the city,” Bhathena said.

“The CM told us that the metro is just one step to reduce the carbon footprint. We assured him that we are not anti-metro and in fact, we believe that the metro will be a boon for Mumbai,” Bhathena said.

According to initial estimates, more than 5,000 trees are required to be cut for the current proposed route between Colaba and Seepz in Andheri, under phase 3 of the Mumbai Metro.

Two sections of Hyderabad Metro Rail to open in mid-2017

HYDERABAD: Two sections of the ongoing 72km elevated Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) project will be opened in mid this year, an offical said today.

“Two sections of the project – Miyapur-SR Nagar (11 km) of corridor I and Nagole-Begumpet (16km) of corridor III will be opened in mid this year, HMR Managing Director NVS Reddy said.

Delivering a lecture on “Opportunities and Challenges” to a gathering of young students at the Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Hyderabad campus, Reddy said “Corridor II up to MGBS will be opened mid next year.” “With many engineering and financial innovations and technological excellence, the (HMR) project is nearing completion. Once completed, it will stand as a testimony to the engineering talent and management skills of our country,” Reddy said.

Explaining to the MBA students how the project is different from the other metros, he said HMR is not just a simple transportation venture but it is an opportunity to redesign Hyderabad as an eco-friendly and people-friendly city with special facilities for women, children, senior citizens and differently abled people.

Reddy said systematic planning, clear communication and precast engineering methods helped in securing public support for the project which faced opposition in initial days.

The 72km elevated project, being developed by L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad (L&TMRH), will have three corridors and 66 stations.

PAC pulls up Railways for delay in Repair of Bridges

NEW DELHI: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today pulled up the Railways Ministry for long delays in repair and rebuilding of “distressed” railway bridges.

The key parliamentary panel said the delay was “unpardonable” and that the reply provided to it by the Railway Board in this regard was “too poor”, “prima facie evasive”, “sketchy” and “incorrect”.

PAC Chairman K V Thomas is learnt to have pulled up the ministry officials present at a meeting on the issue here today.

The committee took up the issue of repair of railway bridges and the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in this regard.

Although the Railway Board had promised close monitoring of railway bridges after the CAG flagged the issue for the first time several years ago, the status of strengthening of bridges remains the same, Thomas is learnt to have said in the meeting.

“The quality of the reply given by the Railway Board is too poor and prima facie evasive, raising serious doubt whether the replies to audit findings were approved by the Railway Board Chairman, let alone by the government,” a source said quoting Thomas.

The Railway Board was lambasted for its claim of paucity of funds as the main reason behind slow progress in repairing bridges as it had not utilised funds to the tune of Rs 60.95 crore.

As per norms, bridges of ‘Distressed Category I’ should be rehabilitated within one year and that of ‘Distressed Category II’ should be reconstructed within four years.

Contrary to the deadline, the Railway Board took “as much as 43 months” even to sanction the repair work.

The delay on part of the railways was dubbed as “unpardonable” by the committee.

Krishnapatnam Port Trust commences HMM’s weekly ACS Service to boost Connectivity to far East/S-E Asia

The KPCT team conducted a formal inaugural ceremony for a direct weekly service of HMM’s (Hyundai Merchant Marine) ACS Service flagged off amid fanfare from Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal on the 17th February 2017. Inauguration of the maiden vessel call by “M.V. HYUNDAI PRESTIGE”, as part of ACS’s Service, has written a new chapter in the EXIM trade from East Coast of India.

KRISHNAPATNAM: A direct weekly service of HMM’s (Hyundai Merchant Marine) ACS Service was flagged off, amid lot of fanfare, from Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal on the 17th February 2017. Inauguration of the maiden vessel call by “M.V. HYUNDAI PRESTIGE”, as part of ACS’s Service, has written a new chapter in the EXIM trade from East Coast of India.

The KPCT team conducted a formal inaugural ceremony commemorating the maiden call with Mr.Y.D Park (MD, Hyundai Merchant Marine India) & Mr. Anil Yendluri (CEO, Krishnapatnam Port) launching the service from KPCT. Mr. Jithendra Nimmagadda (COO, KPCT) welcomed the vessel by presenting a memento to the vessel Captain Musteata Loan. Sales, Operations and Customer service teams of Hyundai Merchant Marine and their agents Choice Group along with KPCT team were part of this memorable inaugural event.

The port rotation of this Service is:  Krishnapatnam – Port Klang – Singapore – Pusan – Ulsan – Shanghai –  Hongkong – Yantian.

This weekly service will provide fastest and most competitive service to the Exporters / importers of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Northern Tamil Nadu fastest connectivity to the ports of Port Klang, Singapore, China, Busan, US West Coast and European markets.

KPCT has always been at the forefront of Indian port sector by providing state-of-the-art facilities, customer-centric services and unparalleled operational efficiencies, which is improving the competitiveness of Indian EXIM community in the Global trade. Several Mainline carriers have started their services from KPCT as the support of exporters and importers to KPCT grew exponentially.

HMM team announced that this service was possible due the immense support received from the EXIM trade particularly from exporters of Tobacco, Shrimps, Cotton, Granite, Buffalo meat, Chillies, etc. and Importers of Solar panels, Furniture, Pharmaceuticals, Timber, etc. and due to the World-class facilities of KPCT.

For further information about KPCT, please contact cs.kpct@krishnapatnamport.com | +91 80086 12345.

IIT-Mumbai Professor show Railways how to set a Timetable in Five Minutes

The professors predict the software would be adopted by suburban rail networks across the country. The project has been chosen to be presented at a global seminar by the International Association of Railway Operations Research (IAROR) in France to be held in the first week of April.

MUMBAI: The utterly complex local timetable which can take railway officials over a fortnight to chalk out won’t rob them of sleep as often, thanks to the brainpower from IIT-Bombay.

A team of professors from the Indian Institute of Technology here collaborated with the Central Railway to write algorithms that have simplified the process of creating railway timetables to a degree that the suburban railway schedules can be created in as little as five minutes.

With the software it has developed, the team created a periodic timetable that unifies the many processes rail staff would need to employ. The new system is not only a notch above the existing scheduling process, but it also sidesteps various bumps the railways faces, such as fluctuating number of rakes, availability of platforms at certain terminals, and various glitches and deficiencies the railways battle every day.

The professors predict that the software would in time be adopted by suburban rail networks across the country with small tweaks to suit each city’s requirements.

On Thursday, a team comprising Professors Narayan Rangaraj and Madhu Belur, M Tech scholar Soumya Dutta and Central Railway’s deputy chief operations manager (goods) KN Singh gave a presentation on the software to the railway’s operations department.

The authorities that sat in on the meet included chief operations manager RD Sharma and senior divisional operations manager Anil Patke.

Central Railway’s chief public relations officer Narendra Patil told Mumbai Mirror that they had been working on this project with the IIT professors for the last two years. “This will not only help us in more efficient and easier planning but also give us a lot of options for adopting time tables for suburban operations according to our needs,” added Patil.

Professor Rangaraj, from IIT-B’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, said he and his colleagues wanted to help the railway administration with planning things by employing updated planning tools. “With the help of this software, you can also easily find out how many trains you can ply on the given routes,” he said.

The project has been chosen to be presented at a global seminar by the International Association of Railway Operations Research (IAROR) in France to be held in the first week of April. The organisation encourages academic and professional railway research and contributes to the development of new standards for railway traffic management by integrating various scientific disciplines .

Narrow Gauge Train escapes Sabotage bid on Gwalior-Sheopur line

Miscreants had placed around 70 Stone Slabs on the two-foot-wide tracks continuously for 3km distance, jeopardising the lives of hundreds of passengers.

BHOPAL: Sabotage attempts continue to plague the world’s longest narrow gauge tracks — the 202km Gwalior-Sheopur line that dates back to 1895. The latest derailment bid was foiled by the alertness of the motorman on Wednesday night.

Miscreants had placed around 70 stone slabs on the two-foot-wide tracks, jeopardising the lives of hundreds of passengers, said officials. As it is the only railway link for towns between these two districts, nearly 1,000 passengers pile on these trains every day, some travelling dangerously on the roof.

The train was heading towards Gwalior from Sumawali when loco pilot Rajesh Jain spotted large stones on the tracks. He pulled the emergency brakes and the train stopped less than 10 feet from the stones. The obstruction was removed and the train continued but only 300 metres down the line, Jain saw another large stone. Since he was going slow, he was able to stop well in time. This blockade was cleared with the help of passengers. But the ordeal continued. They found 68 more slabs in the next 3km.

Speed was reduced to 10kmph and it took nearly two hours to cover just 3km, sources said. The train had left Sumawali at 6.32pm and reached Gwalior at 9pm where the matter was reported. Investigations are underway to identify and arrest those involved, say sources. This is not the first time attempt to derail a train on this line, say sources.

The heritage track, once known as Gwalior Light Railway (GLR) or ‘Maharaja Railways of India’, is now part of North Central Railway (NCR). The railways wants to replace the narrow gauge tracks with broad gauge because of “undue expenditure”. A proposal of Rs 1,500 crore for this is pending with the Centre, sources said.

Established by Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia II, construction started in 1895 and was completed in 1909. The route connects 28 small towns between Gwalior and Sheopur. In 2009, the Centre had proposed that the tracks be included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

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Science Express flagged off to cover 34 Cities in the Country

“Climate Change a Big Threat to Mankind, can be tackled through Collaborative Efforts and we have to take steps in a concerted and collective way to address it,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said at the launch of Science Express. Ninth Phase of Science Express to Criss-Cross India till September this Year

NEW DELHI: Three Ministers jointly flagged off the 9th phase of Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS) from Safderjung Railway Station here today. While Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave and Union Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Harsh Vardhan were present at the railway station, Union Railway Minister, Shri Suresh Prabhu, joined the flagging off event through videoconferencing.

Addressing the gathering, Shri Dave said that in future, the Science Express should reach out to 6.5 lakh villages of the country. He emphasised that till the train is transformed into a peoples’ movement and a vehicle to motivate people to take individual actions and initiatives to fight climate change, it will not succeed in its endeavours on the ground and will only be reduced to becoming a point of discussions in seminars. “What should each individual do, what should the governments do, what should the society do, everyone’s role has to be determined”, Shri Dave pointed out. The Minister highlighted that transparency in work and every pie of taxpayer’s money must be utilized in the right measure and past efforts have to be continued to ensure that the money reaches the people.

Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu and Harsh Vardhan flagged off the Science Express Climate Action Special train

Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that Climate Change is a big threat for the mankind and we can tackle this through collaborative efforts. Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, India played a key role in initiating Climate Action Plan during Paris meet. He also said that Science Express will not just convey the message about climate change, but also generate dialogue and discussion on this burning issue. Science Express will embark on its journey of over 19000 km to cover 68 locations across India till September 8, 2017 and is expected to attract 30 lakh visitors. Climate Action Special will spread awareness on this key issue and augment our efforts to ensure a better future.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that four more such trains must be run in the coming years to develop the train into an even bigger movement. The Minister also said that the importance of Climate Change can be gauged from the fact that it is the only theme that has been chosen for two consecutive years for Science Express. Recalling his visit to San Fransisco to represent India at two meetings on Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial last year, the Minister said that 21 big nations of the world acknowledged that led by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, India has taken unparalleled initiatives in the field of Clean Energy, Mission Innovation, or Climate Change and that India has the ability and the strength to lead the world.

He added that the role of school students is most critical in making the Science Express a peoples’ movement. Recounting the statistics, the Minister said over 1.5 crore visitors and students from 33,801 schools have visited the Science Express till now. The Minister also lauded the role and contribution of all departments and agencies at the Centre and States, as also the educators aboard the train in the running of Science Express.

Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ajay Narayan Jha, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Shri Ashutosh Sharma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Amita Prasad, Member, Railway Board, Shri Ravindra Gupta were among those present on the occasion. Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ajay Narayan Jha gave the welcome address and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Amita Prasad delivered the vote of thanks.

After today’s flagging off, the SECAS will be open for public viewing at Delhi Cantonment Railway Station on February 18-19, following which it will embark upon its journey across the country. SECAS II will run from February 17 to September 8, 2017 (See Schedule), over 19, 000 km during which it will be exhibited at 68 stations across India. The exhibition will convey a message about Climate Change and will also be a good opportunity to generate dialogue and discussion.

At each halt of SECAS, activities are planned to engage visitors across different age groups to reinforce its message. An exciting and much sought-after Outreach Programme is also conducted in local schools/institutions, along with activities on the railway platforms. In addition, informative take-away material has been made available for wider distribution amongst schools and visitors.

DST has entrusted Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC), Ahmedabad with the task of managing the SECAS across India. VASCSC’s team of qualified, trained and highly motivated Science Communicators travelling with the train explain and interpret the exhibition, answers queries, facilitate the visitors and conduct complementary activities.

The exhibition is open to all, but primarily targets students and teachers. More information is available on the website www.sciencexpress.in. For visit to the exhibition, an email can be sent to sciencexpress@gmail.com, or the team aboard the train can be contacted on 09428405407. School students can participate in the JOS Lab in small batches of up to 20 students, by prior registration.

There is no entry fee for visiting the exhibition. Items such as mobiles, cameras, bags, match-boxes, cigarettes, beedis, tobacco, water bottles, any liquid, and any sharp/ pointed objects. During its run across the country, the Railway station of the respective city will be the venue for visiting the train. The timing for visiting the train is from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

BACKGROUND:

Science Express is an innovative mobile science exhibition mounted on a 16-coach AC train which has been custom-built for Department of Science & Technology (DST) by Indian Railways. This unique mobile exhibition was first launched in October 2007 by DST. Since then, it has made eight tours of the country, travelling about 1, 42, 000 km and exhibiting at 455 locations. Over its 1602 exhibition days, Science Express received an overwhelming response and 1.56 crore visitors. SECAS has become the largest, the longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition.

Climate Change is an important environmental issue, with many short-term and long term impacts. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are not just global in scope and unprecedented in scale but they also more severely affect the poor and marginalized people. However, there is very little understanding about climate change and its impacts. The state-of-the-art exhibition on board the SECAS aims to create awareness among various sections of society as to how climate change can be combated through mitigation and adaptation.

Science Express, redesigned as SECAS, intends to contribute towards increasing understanding of the science of climate change, the observed and anticipated impacts, and different possible responses. The previous 3 phases of Science Express were rolled out as a joint initiative of DST and MoEFCC as ‘Biodiversity Special’ and showcased the myriad biodiversity of India. Thus it was rational to shift the focus to the theme of climate change, as it will affect the biodiversity of not just India but the entire globe as well.

Of the 16 coaches of SECAS, exhibitions in 8 coaches developed by MoEFCC. These exhibitions have been exclusively devoted to information, case studies and material related to various aspect of climate change, the underlying science, impacts, adaptation activities, mitigation solutions and policy approaches in a manner that is easy to understand and interesting for not just school students, but also the masses. Exhibits and activities have been put up by DST and DBT in other coaches.

Science Express Phase I to IV showcased cutting-edge research in Science and Technology being carried out worldwide. Phase V to VII was based on the theme of biodiversity and as ‘Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS)’, it showcased the rich biodiversity of India and its conservation measures. Phase VIII as ‘Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS)’ highlighted the global challenge of climate change.

SECAS II is a unique collaborative initiative of Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Railways and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC). MoEFCC has asked Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to make a contribution to the initiative.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016. The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. The first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA-1) took place in Marrakech in November 2016. The Conference successfully demonstrated to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway and the constructive spirit of multilateral cooperation on climate change continues.

The broad themes covered in each exhibition of the coaches are:

  • Coach 1: Understanding Climate Change – Insights in the climate as a system, the greenhouse gas effect and the underlying reasons for climate change with key message that the current change in the climate is due to human activities.
  • Coach 2: Impact of Climate Change -How temperature rise, monsoon variations, sea level rise are predicted to affect vital sectors like water, agriculture, forests and biodiversity, and human health and ways to reduce these.
  • Coach 3 & 4: Adaptation -Concepts of adaptation and examples from day to day life, adaptation strategies and stories from field. Adaptation options in urban and rural contexts and the adaptation actions India is taking.
  • Coach 5 & 6: Mitigation -Concept and definition with examples, emphasis on restoring balance, enhancing sinks and reducing emission through Renewable Energy (RE) technologies.Various programmes implemented by India and low carbon strategies andambitious goal to increase RE footprint.
  • Coach 7: International Negotiations for Climate Change -Introduction to UNFCCC, IPCC and internationally agreed action &targets. Explaining concept of equity and common but differential responsibility, Kyoto protocol & other key outcomes of major COP, Paris Agreement, etc.
  • Coach 8: Positive Actions -What can one do at school, on roads, at home and in offices and focus on concept of lifestyle choices with the key message ‘Increase your Handprint. Decrease your Footprint’.
  • Coach 9&10: Exhibition put up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt of India, covering themes like Biotechnology for bio-resources and nature conservationwith emphasis on Tiger Conservation and Chemical Ecology and India’s research and development initiatives in field of Biotechnology.
  • Coach 11: Exhibition put up by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) showcasing select innovations, demonstrating the ingenuity of common people and an innovative project which uses augmented reality techniques. Exhibition on themes like Innovations in S&T, Science Education, DST Scholarships & Schemes, Technologies for rural development, etc.
  • Coach 12: A Kids Zone has been set up for children from Std. 4and below to participate in fun-filled activities, games and puzzles in science, mathematics and environment.
  • Coach 13: The Joy of Science (JOS) Hands-on Lab in this coach is a space where students from Std. 5-10 can perform experiments and activities to understand concepts in environment, science and mathematics in an interesting manner. A training facility is also set up for orientation of teachers here.
  • Solar panels have been installed on the rooftop of Science Express coaches 11-13, as a collaborative effort of DST and CEL, for harnessing solar energy.

Schedule of Science Express Climate Action Special

February 17 – September 8, 2017

Sr. No. Station Exhibition Dates Sr. No. Station Exhibition Dates
1 Delhi Safdarjung(Flag off) 17 Feb 2017 35 Kottavalasa 20 – 23 May 2017
2 Delhi Cantt 18 – 19 Feb 2017 36 Gudivada 24 – 26 May 2017
3 Hisar 20 – 23 Feb 2017 37 Mirylaguda 27 – 30 May 2017
4 Dhuri 24 – 26 Feb 2017 38 Gulberga 31 May – 02 Jun 2017
5 TaranTaran 27 – 28 Feb 2017 39 Kalluru 03 – 05 Jun 2017
6 Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra 01 – 02 Mar 2017 40 Whitefield 06 – 08 Jun 2017
7 Udhampur 03 – 04 Mar 2017 41 Kengeri 09 – 11 Jun 2017
8 Nangal Dam 06 – 07 Mar 2017 42 Koduru 12 – 14 Jun 2017
9 Sirhind 08 – 10 Mar 2017 43 Puducherry 15 – 16 Jun 2017
10 Chandigarh 12 & 14 Mar 2017 44 Attur 17 – 19 Jun 2017
11 Rampur 15 – 17 Mar 2017 45 Karur 20 – 22 Jun 2017
12 Kasganj City 18 – 20 Mar 2017 46 Kodaikanal Road 24 Jun 2017
13 Khalilabad 22 – 25 Mar 2017 47 Virudhunagar 25 – 27 Jun 2017
14 Mau 26 – 29 Mar 2017 48 Arumuganeri 28 – 30 Jun 2017
15 Gaya 30 – 31 Mar 2017 49 Kayankulam 01 – 04 Jul 2017
16 Patna 01 – 02 Apr 2017 50 Guruvayur 05 – 07 Jul 2017
17 Kiul 03 – 04 Apr 2017 51 Kannur 08 – 10 Jul 2017
18 Sitamarhi 05 Apr 2017 52 Vasco Da Gama 11 – 13 Jul 2017
19 Samastipur 06 Apr 2017 53 Ratnagiri 14 – 17 Jul 2017
20 Salmari 07 – 08 Apr 2017 54 Mumbai CST 19 – 22 Jul 2017
21 Fakiragram 09 – 10 Apr 2017 55 Nasik Road 24 – 26 Jul 2017
22 Lumding 11 – 12 Apr 2017 56 Murtajapur 27 – 29 Jul 2017
23 Agartala 13 Apr 2017 57 Nagpur 30 Jul – 02 Aug 2017
24 Badarpur 15 – 17 Apr 2017 58 Amla 03 – 06 Aug 2017
25 North Lakhimpur 19 – 21 Apr 2017 59 Habibganj 07 – 09 Aug 2017
26 Rangpara North 22 – 24 Apr 2017 60 Bina 10 – 12 Aug 2017
27 Bagdogra 25 – 26 Apr 2017 61 Khajuraho 13 – 14 Aug 2017
28 Dhanbad 27 – 30 Apr 2017 62 Marwar 17 – 18 Aug 2017
29 Barrackpore 01 – 02 May 2017 63 Balotra 19 – 21 Aug 2017
30 Kalyani 03 – 05 May 2017 64 Deesa 22 – 24 Aug 2017
31 Chandil 06 – 08 May 2017 65 Bhuj 25 – 27 Aug 2017
32 Bhadrak 09, 11 & 12 May 2017 66 Bhaktinagar 28 – 31 Aug 2017
33 Puri 13 – 16 May 2017 67 Gondal 01 – 04 Sep 2017
34 Chatarpur 17 – 19 May 2017 68 Gandhinagar Capital 05 – 08 Sep 2017

The SECAS II will run from February 17 to September 8 2017, culminating its journey at Gandhinagar. During its journey, the Science Express will cover over 19,000 km, and will be exhibited at 68 stations across 20 states of the country. During this seven month journey, SECAS will roll into Tripura for the first time.

Science Express, redesigned as SECAS, intends to contribute towards increasing understanding of the science of climate change, the observed and anticipated impacts, and different possible responses. It is an innovative mobile science exhibition mounted on a 16 coach AC train, which has been custom-built for Department of Science & Technology (DST) by Indian Railways. This unique mobile exhibition was first launched in October 2007 by DST. Since then it has travelled across India eight times, traveling about 1, 42, 000 km and exhibiting at 455 locations. More than 1.50 crore people visited the exhibition over 1, 602 exhibition days. Science Express has become the largest, the longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition. It has six entries in the Limca Book of Records.

The exhibition will convey a message about Climate Change and will also be a good opportunity to generate a dialogue and discussion. The state-of-the-art exhibition on board the SECAS aims to create awareness among various sections of society, as to how climate change can be combated through mitigation and adaptation. Exhibitions in 8 out of the 16 coaches of SECAS have been developed by MoEFCC. Exhibits and activities by DST and DBT have been put up in the remaining 8 coaches.

Some of the broad themes of the coaches include – Underlying reasons for climate change, with a key message that the present change in the climate is due to human activities; impact of climate change and ways to reduce it; adaptation strategies and adaptation measures being taken by India; mitigation and various programmes implemented; international negotiations for climate change and focus on concept of lifestyle choices on what one can do to “Increase the Handprint and decrease your Footprint”.

The exhibition is exclusively devoted to information, case studies and material related to various aspects of climate change, the underlying science, impact, adaptation activities, mitigation solutions and policy approaches in a manner that is easy to understand and interesting, not just for school students, but also for the masses.

The SECAS II is a unique collaborative initiative of Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Railways and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC). MoEFCC has asked Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to extend support in the endeavour.

Science Express Phase I to IV showcased cutting-edge research in Science and Technology being carried out worldwide. Phase V to VII was based on the theme of biodiversity. As ‘Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS)’, it showcased the rich biodiversity of India and its conservation measures. Phase VIII as ‘Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS)’ highlighted the global challenge of climate change.

The previous three phases of Science Express were rolled out as a joint initiative of DST and MoEFCC as ‘Biodiversity Special’ and showcased the myriad biodiversity of India. Thus, it was rational to shift the focus to the theme of climate change, as it will affect the biodiversity of not just India, but the entire globe as well.

Queries on the visit to the exhibition can be sent through an email to sciencexpress@gmail.com, or contact the team aboard the train on 09428405407. The exhibition is open to all and there is no entry fee for the exhibition. The railway station of the city will be the venue of the exhibition. The timing of the exhibition will be from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.

Items such as mobiles, cameras, bags, match-boxes, cigarettes, beedis, tobacco, water bottles, any liquid, and any sharp/ pointed objects are not allowed on the Science Express.

Aadhar Card is a Must for all Railway Recruitment Exams

NEW DELHI:  Aadhar card has been made mandatory for all railway recruitment tests. In order to ensure fair conduct of examinations, railway recruitment boards (RRBs) have made it compulsory for all candidates to mention their aadhar card number in the registration form. This move has been taken in order to avoid impersonations during the examination. This is something very big and important for all government job aspirants, especially those preparing for railway recruitment examinations. Details in this regard can be found below.

Including Aadhar card number is a convenient and hassle free way of ascertaining the identity of examinees.

What are the major changes?

  • Applicants will mention Aadhar card details for the railway recruitments
  • Details can be either 12 digit aadhar number or 28 digit aadhar registration receipt
  • During the examination, fingerprints will be collected through a biometric attendance system
  • Fingerprints will be matched with the Aadhar server

In addition to this RRBs have further requested all those candidates who are not enrolled for Aadhar yet. In case you aren’t enrolled yet, visit the nearest Aadhar enrolment centre and get enrolled for the same.

However, the above mentioned provision is not applicable for candidates belonging to J&K, Meghalaya and Assam. Candidates of these States are required to give details of a valid government identity card number (passport number, voter ID card number, driving license number, etc.)

Candidates should note that the provisions of the Aadhaar Act and the Regulations under the Act have come into effect from 14 September 2016 and notifications to this effect have been published in the Official Gazette. Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act 2016 permits the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose pursuant to any law or any contract to this effect.

Indian Railways inks pact with ICAI for Accrual-based Financial System

ICAI’s Accounting Research Foundation signs pact with Railways. Railways will seek to introduce accrual accounting at 17 Railway zones

NEW DELHI: Chartered accountants’ apex body ICAI today signed an agreement with the Indian Railways for moving its accounting system to the accrual format.

“Accrual based financial statement will support Indian Railways in better utilisation of available resources, estimation of future liabilities and prioritisation of spending.

“It will also pave way for best financial management practices to be introduced in Indian Railways,” ICAI said in a release.

The pact is for “introducing the accrual-based financial statement as an additional set of accounts to existing cash-based government accounts”.

It has been entered into between ICAI Accounting Research Foundation (ICAI ARF) and the Indian Railways. The foundation is the research arm of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

Accrual system of accounting would provide a better picture of the particular entity’s financial position.

A pilot project for introduction of accrual-based financial statement as an additional set of accounts at North Western Railway at Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala (Punjab) was successfully implemented by ICAI ARF, the release said.

Now, the agreement signed by ARF with Railways will seek to introduce accrual accounting at 17 Railway zones and 8 production units across the country, sources said. The agreement will be valid for 18 months. The agreement was signed by V. Sagar, Director, ICAI ARF and Secretary, ICAI and Sanjeev Sharma, Deputy Chief Project Manager (Accounting Reforms), Northern Railway in the presence of Shahzad Shah, Financial Commissioner, Indian Railways and Nilesh Shivji Vikamsey, Chairman, ICAI ARF and President, ICAI.

The interesting aspect is that accrual based financial statements will serve as an additional set of accounts to existing cash based accounting.

Accrual based financial statement will support Indian Railways in better utilisation of available resources, estimation of future liabilities and prioritisation of spending. It will also pave way for best financial management practices to be introduced in Indian Railways.

This agreement follows implementation of the pilot project for introduction of the Accrual based Financial Statement as an additional set of Accounts at North Western Railway at Jaipur and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala by ICAI ARF.

The CA Institute’s ARF will not be implementing this on a pro-bono basis, sources said.

Railways to soon make General Tickets available in SBI Branches

The Indian Railways and the State Bank of India are in constant touch to work out the modalities.

NEW DELHI: In a major step towards easing availability of train tickets, the Indian Railways will soon start disbursing tickets of the general class from banks. The railway board had started working on this in August 2016 and the initiative is said to be in its final stages now. The Indian Railways and the State Bank of India are in constant touch to work out the modalities for this. The project will reach its final stages by April 2017 after which a trial run will begin soon.

The Indian Railways is considering two options for this new initiative. One is to make tickets available to the travelers by installing an automated vending machine in the bank premises. And the other is to make changes in the ATM and link them with railway’s ticket distribution system.

Convenience to commuters:

Railways has said that this would make procuring tickets very convienient. Railways is expecting that crowd outside ticket counters to reduce drastically after this. Travelers will also be freed from hassles of standing in long queues.

Similar initiatives to reduce hassle:

The Mango post office in Jamshedpur has already been selling general tickets for the last five years. Tickets can also be purchased from bus stand in Mango from a counter opened by railways.

In Tata nagar railway station, there are two CoATVMs installed from which general tickets can be purchased using notes, coins and smart cards. Over 15, 000 general tickets are sold in Tata nagar daily.

Over 500 tickets are made available through post office and bus stand in Mango, and close to 150 tickets are disbused through CoATVMs.

Passengers to pay about 15 per cent more than the existing fare for travel in Antodaya Unreserved Express

Indian Railways to run two Antodaya Express rakes which are ready now to be rolled out on the high demand long-route destinations – one to ply between Mumbai-Tata and the second is slated to run between Ernakulam-Howrah.

NEW DELHI: General passengers will have to shell out about 15 per cent more than the existing fare for travelling in Antodaya Express, the fully unreserved superfast service to be launched shortly in dense routes. Equipped with facilities like water purifiers, mobile phone charging points and fire extinguishers among others, the first Antodaya Express is slated to be pressed into service from Mumbai for Tatanagar this month. Provided with bio-toilets for zero discharge of effluents, Antodaya coaches will have toilet occupation indication lights provided at each end near the doorway with better visibility from compartments, a first in general class.

Two rakes of Antodaya Express are ready now to be rolled out on the high demand long-route destinations, a senior Railway Ministry official said. While one will be launched between Mumbai and Tata, the second is slated to be between Ernakulam and Howrah, another busy route.

However, the official said the fare for Antodaya Express is likely to be slightly higher than the mail/express fares. The fare structure has not been finalised yet but it will be between 10 per cent to 15 per cent more from the regular fare, he said. Catering to the growing requirement of general passengers, Railways had announced the introduction of Antodaya superfast trains with many modern facilities for unreserved category in the last budget.

Cushioned luggage racks with coat hooks, Antyodaya Express will also have LED lights and enhanced capacity dustbins. Besides there will be cushioned seats with aluminium composite panels interior for aesthetic look of the coach. Railways has maintained that manufacturing cost of these coaches with modern facilities is high, so there have to be special fares for these services which will be higher than that of regular trains.

Earlier Railways introduced the Humsafar Express, the fully AC-3 service, also part of the budget commitment, with dynamic fares. After Antodaya, railways will launch Tejas Express, another special service in April with higher fares.

Flexi-fare System is an unfair use of Rlys dominant position in the market; it violates Competition Act: Ex.RailMin Adhir

Ex-Union minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury issues notice in Lok Sabha over flexi-fare system in Indian Railways, issues notice to discuss under Rule 184 of Lok Sabha

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is facing googly from an MP, who few years back was one of their own. Ex-minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has given a notice to discuss under Rule 184 of Lok Sabha.

The notice issued by him said that that the flexi-fare system is an unfair use of the Railways’ dominant position in market, and added that it violates the Competition Act.

In the meantime, the Indian Railways have decided to encash on the growing demand for application-based cab services. It is likely to provide space for such facility at about 500 major stations in the country, eyeing an annual profit of Rs 300 crores.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will unveil the new scheme for app-based cab service in March along with providing parking space near major stations. The Indian Railways currently earns about Rs 122 crores each year from parking spaces in the country. With the new policy, It is hoping to earn Rs 200 crores more annually from these parking lots , a senior official said. Even as a passenger can still avail Ola or Uber service through the mobile apps, allowing a kiosk and proper parking space near busy stations is likely to ensure good business for the aggregators, he said.

He also said that the policy was finalised after a series of discussions with cab aggregators and all of them were eager to have a space near railway stations.

Bifurcation of Mumbai Suburban Rail into 4 Fare Zones could make long Rail commutes cheaper

MUMBAI: A zone-based fare structure, similar to the one used in and around London, has been proposed for the city’s suburban railway system. The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has suggested that the entire suburban system be divided into four fare zones each on Western Railway and Central Railway’s Main and Harbour corridors. It claims it will be able to earn Rs 2,468 crore a year with the new fare model against Rs 1,556 crore at present.

The proposal, now with the Railway Board that takes the final call on fare revision, claims that of the 30 lakh season ticket holders using the suburban network, nearly 10.9 lakh (37.5%) will pay less.

Under the zone system, the fare will remain unchanged irrespective of the distance travelled within a zone. For example, the Churchgate-Dadar (10.17 km) stretch will be a zone. Currently, there are two first class fare slabs: Rs 50 (Churchgate-Mumbai Central) and Rs 70 (Churchgate-Dadar). Under the proposed system, the fare will be Rs 25 irrespective of the station a person travels to between Churchgate and Dadar.

The proposal was made at the Rail Vikas Shibir in November where the PM sought ideas to improve the functioning of Indian Railways.

The city’s suburban system had incurred a loss of Rs 1,400 crore last year. Niti Aayog, the central planning body, had flagged concern about the system’s poor financial health and had initially refused to approve funds for MUTP III unless there was a road map for improving revenue. The MUTP projects are critical to bolster Mumbai’s rail infrastructure to keep up with the growing population.

“We need to shift from the telescopic fare structure to zonal system as the former does not do justice to those staying in the extended suburbs. The fare is low for those in south Mumbai for whom affordability is not an issue,” said MRVC Chairman and Managing Director Prabhat Sahai, adding, “There were thousands of ideas presented at the Rail Vikas Shivir. The board will examine each and assess whether to accept or work on the basic idea.”

The MRVC has also proposed an additional charge of Rs 5 (second class) and Rs 25 (first class) if a commuter changes corridors (for instance from CR to WR or vice versa).

“Short distance travellers, whose fares are anyway very little, will have to pay more as compared to longer distance travellers under the new system,” said Sahai. Almost 9.2 lakh (31.5%) of Mumbai’s 30 lakh season ticket holders will have a nominal impact, meaning a hike within 20% of the existing fare, and the balance 9 lakh (31%) will pay more than 20%.

A monthly pass under the proposed plan will be Rs 450 as against Rs 485 between CST-Dadar and Churchgate-Dadar (both one zone). For second class commuters, the monthly proposed fare for travel within one zone will be Rs 150. As of now, Churchgate-Dadar is Rs 130. With rationalization, the hike will be between Rs 20 and 50.

“MRVC proposal is a good one as it aims to delink the rail fare with the rest of India. If the Mumbai suburban is able to generate profit, it would be easier to get substantial amounts sanctioned from the board for the modernization works,” said a senior railway official. Railway bosses have time and again raised concerns about the low fare as lack of investment due to losses is affecting the efficiency of the system.

Sahai said they also propose to allow long-distance passengers to buy suburban tickets at the time of booking tickets on the Passenger Reservation System (PRS). This ticket will be charged at Rs 10 and the long-distance passenger will be able to travel anywhere in Mumbai for single journey. This is expected to fetch Rs 140 crore every year.

The proposal can significantly reduce fares for many commuters in the city and its satellites, especially those who travel longer distances. However, those who change lines, say from CR to WR, may end up paying more.

Delhi Metro to bring in World’s first Transit Rating system

NEW DELHI: The world’s first transit rating system, which caters exclusively to metro networks, was unveiled at the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s head office here on Wednesday.

With this, the Metro Bhawan has also become the first building in the country to achieve a certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The DMRC, along with the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), announced the LEED for transit rating system, designed specifically to address the needs of transit systems around the world.

“Delhi Metro Rail Corporation will be the first metro network in the world to pursue the pilot – LEED v4 O+M: Transit – for its stations in Delhi-NCR. Also, the Metro Bhawan is the first building to pursue and achieve LEED certification,” said a statement released by the DMRC.

LEED is an international certification, which provides a framework to building owners and operators for identifying and implementing practical green building solutions. It was introduced for transit purposes after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the DMRC, the USGBC and the GBCI in October 2015.

To assess the functioning of metro stations, an ‘arc performance platform’ has been released, which will track performance based on five categories — energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience.

Developed with inputs from the DMRC, the new system will allow operational transit facilities to benchmark efficiencies and demonstrate continual improvement.

Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, said, “LEED v4 is based on actual performance parameters. The DMRC’s initiative will also motivate other metros to take environment-friendly measures and achieve this certification.”

Doubling Works of Railway Line on Pune-Miraj Section to start within a month

PUNE: The much-awaited doubling of the Pune-Miraj rail track would commence within a month, official sources on the Central Railway confirmed on Thursday. The project, once completed, would give push to cargo and passenger transportation in Western Maharashtra that is deprived of a strong rail network.

The Ministry of Railways had announced doubling of Pune-Miraj-Londa track in the 2015 rail budget. The project — at an estimated cost of Rs 4,670 crore — is among the costliest projects of the railway department. The project has completed procedural norms and actual ground work would start within a month’s time.

“The Railway project is important for faster connectivity with the south India. The project has completed all procedural hurdles and actual ground work would commence within a month,” said an official, requesting anonymity.

Another official, on condition of anonymity, said, “The doubling of the track would open new avenues for the business sector in western Maharashtra. The railway does not have a strong network in this region. The region is ahead in economic activities, but transportation is the biggest concern for passengers and industries in this region. The deadline of such projects is important. History shows us a different picture and the department is committed to finish the work within two years.”

Shivnath Biyani, member of road and railway passengers association, said, “We had been demanding this project for last many years. The doubling of existing track would increase the number of trains from Miraj to other destinations.”

He added, “The South-Central Railway has completed doubling of track till Belgaum and would soon reach Gonda. Therefore, work should be completed within two years. But the railway is known to not follow deadlines. The biggest beneficiary of this project is industries in western Maharashtra. It would boost sugar, bauxite, coal, jagery, grains and textile transportation.”

Vijay Bhosale, member Pune divisional railway consultant committee, said, “The doubling of track will boost passenger transportation. The citizens in western Maharashtra heavily rely on road transportation. The projects could reduce the time to reach Pune and Mumbai. Even double track help in transport of perishable goods.”

Railways awaiting Land to start Work on Line from Tumakuru to Davangere

BANGALORE: Work on the new railway line between Tumakuru and Davangere will be taken up soon after getting the required land from the Karnataka government, a senior railway official has said.

A total of 2,136 acres is needed for the 200 km railway line and the state government has promised to provide it free of cost. So far, the state government has acquired 23 acres but has not handed it over to the railways.

Once land is handed over, the works will be started. The work is expected to started in 2017-18. Once the new railway line completed, it will reduce the travel time between Bengaluru and Hubballi drastically, the official added.

On the proposed line between Mysuru and Thalassery in Kerala, the official said the Kerala Railway Development Corporation is conducting a feasibility study. Based on the study report, the Railway Ministry will take the final decision.

Besides, feasibility study of the proposed railway line between Bidar and Nanded, Badami and Yelburga via Gajendragad, Challakere-Hiriyur-Turuvekere-Channarayapatna; Hassan-Belur-Chikkamagluru-Sringeri-Shivamogga; Swamihalli-Rayadurga; Almatti-Koppal; Hindupur-Chitradurga and Whitefield-Bangarpet will be taken up in 2017-18, he said.

German Bank to Sanction ₹2,500 Crore for Amaravati Metro Rail

A.P. Government to begin work on the project soon, says Minister for Municipal Administration, Govt.of AP.

VIJAYAWADA: German bank KfW has agreed to sanction a loan of ₹ 2,500 crore for the much-publicised metro rail project in the city. With this, the State government is contemplating starting the work shortly.

The government proposes to construct two corridors with a length of 26 km. While one corridor will come up covering 12.5 km, the other will cover 13.5 km.

Phase-I by 2018

Another metro project, which was planned for Visakhapatnam, would be taken up on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. The government is proposing to construct two corridors in Visakhapatnam. The other two corridors are from Gurudwara to the Old Post Office and Tatichetlapalem to Park Hotel. The Visakhapatnam project is envisaged for completion by 2019.

Municipal Administration Minister P.Narayana on Thursday said the the government was planning to complete the phase-I in Vijayawada before 2018.

After opting out of the proposal to approach the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for loan, the State government is heavily banking on funding by the German and French development banks KfW and Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) to put the Metro project on track.

The government is expecting a loan of ₹4,000 crore from these banks, which have in-principle approved the loan. They are yet to work out individual contributions.

The Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation (AMRC) held talks with various external funding agencies, including the European Investment Bank, World Bank and Asian agencies. The government also explored the ‘green route’ and planned to tap funds through the Climate Bonds Initiative, a U.K.-based non-profitable organisation.

The government opted out of JICA loan as it made clear that the soft loan would be ‘tied’ loan and insisted that 30 per cent of the loan component must be utilised for procurement of the rolling stock from Japan.

Logos invited

The Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation Limited (AMRCL) has invited logos for the prestigious project, to be submitted by February 20.

In a press release, AMRCL Managing Director N.P. Ramakrishna Reddy said there were about 165 metro rail and 450 light metro rail projects in the world and each one of them had its logo.

The logo for Amaravati should depict the Sunrise State, a train, tracks, water and greenery and local cultural traits / icons reflecting Amaravati history.

The best design will be awarded Rs.50000 and the second best design Rs.30000 and the third one Rs.20000. No prize money will be given for other contenders.

The art work/graphic designs can be submitted as hard copies, or soft copies through e-mail info@amrc.co.in

Details of AMRC can be seen on the website http://www.amrc.co.in

Mysore Division to tap Solar Energy at 20 Railway stations; to install Solar Panels along the length of the platform roof

MYSORE: As part of the Indian Railways current drive to tap alternative form of energy to go green, the Mysuru division of the South Western Railway (SWR) will soon have about 20 railway stations fuelled by solar energy. The plan is to install solar panels along the length of the platform roof at these stations which are in the process of being identified and this will help reduce dependence on the local electricity supply companies. The move will entail considerable savings on power bills besides taking giant strides in being eco-friendly.

Atul Gupta, Divisional Railway Manager, told that Mysuru division shells out nearly ₹90 lakh per annum towards power bill and with the installation of the roof top solar panels on platforms at least 25% per cent of the power charges could be saved. “Besides cost savings, it will reduce dependence on local power supply companies who can divert power thus saved to industries or domestic consumption. Once we are self-sufficient in power, we will be off the grid to a large extent resulting in reduction of load on them,” Mr. Gupta said.

The work on installation of solar panels on platform roofs at Mysuru and Hassan will be taken up in due course but the remaining stations are in the process of being identified depending on their geographical locations, solar energy potential, and requirements. This is part of the ongoing drive across Indian Railways to tap alternative forms of power and reduce dependence on conventional power generated from coal and hydro, Mr. Gupta added.

Senior Divisional Electrical Engineer Vishwanathan explained that an MoU has been signed with private companies to install, maintain and operate the solar panels at Mysuru and Hassan stations and will be completed by 2017-18. “The remaining stations are in the process of being identified but the project will be completed within the next two years,” he added.

As per the plans, solar panels of 100 kV capacity each will be installed at Mysuru and Hassan and each station is expected to generate about 800 units to 1,000 units of electricity per day on a clear day with bright sunshine. In case of Mysuru, the requirement is 3,000 units per day and will result in an average saving of 25% in power cost.

The solar panels will ensure uninterrupted electricity supply at stations during day time for at least six to eight hours and can power reservation counters, waiting hall, platforms, and so on.

These are in addition to the 15kV solar hybrid plant at Birur station while 60 level crossing gates are also energised by solar power.

Thalassery-Mysuru Rail route will help north Malabar: says Kannur MP

KANNUR: Kannur MP P.K. Sreemathy has said that the proposed Thalassery-Mysuru railway line, the survey for which Rs.45 lakh has been earmarked in the Railway Budget this year, will be a boon for those travelling in the route and for tourism.

In a press release, Ms.Sreemathy said the allocation of fund in the Union Budget 2017-18 for the survey of the proposed route followed repeated demands to the Central government that steps be taken for the construction of the railway track in the Thalassery-Mysuru route.

The proposed route would be the shortest route linking north Malabar with Mysuru, she said.

Cargo movement

The MP added that it would also accelerate cargo movement and tourism development in the region.

As the proposed route passes through areas close to the Kannur International Airport under construction, the rail line would also be beneficial to air passengers from the new airport, she added.

RailYatri launches Milk Delivery service for Babies

NEW DELHI: Startup RailYatri.in, a train travel marketplace, has launched milk delivery service for train travellers. Warm milk will be delivered in specially designed spill-proof thermo packages. The milk for babies can be ordered through the RailYatri app and delivered at the designated stations.

RailYatri.in analysis found that in more than 80% instances, trains are not prepared to serve baby food or milk to passengers. Long delays and uncertainties that often mark train travel add to this persistent problem leaving travelling parents in a big fix.

“Train travel can have some severe hurdles when you are travelling with an infant. Our effort is to make sure no mother goes through the agony of seeing her hungry baby cry. Keeping such emergencies in mind, we will now deliver warm milk for babies in hygienic, spill-proof packages. We already serve great meals for the entire family, so why should the little ones’ need be unattended,” says Manish Rathi, CEO and co-founder, RailYatri.in.

“Parents usually carry their baby’s food and milk along. However, in case of unforeseen situations like long train delays or if someone forgets to carry baby food, you now do not have to worry about milk for your child. We have taken special care to deliver milk in the best condition, with emphasis on hygiene and quality packaging,” explains Rathi.

Isolux Corsán awarded USD 45 Million new Railway projects in India

NEW DELHI: Infrastructure company Isolux Corsán today said it has reinforced its presence in India with a new railway electrification project for two sections on the main route connecting Mumbai and Chennai.

“The contracts, having a budget of Euro 45 million, will have an execution period of three years,” the company said in a statement.

GM|SCR inspects Pagidipalli-Nadikudi-Guntur Section of Guntur Division

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR conducting Annaul Inspection between Pagidipalli-Nadikudi-Guntur section

GUNTUR: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway, undertook annual inspection of Pagidipalli-Nadikudi-Guntur Section of Guntur Division today i.e., 16th February 2017. Vijay Sharma, Divisional Railway Manager, Guntur Division accompanied the General Manager all through the inspection.

The General Manager along with Principal Heads of Departments inspected the unmanned level crossing gate between Valigonda and Ramannapet stations, met the Gangmen working in the section and enquired on track maintenance works. Later, the General Manager halted at Ramannapet station, inspected station premises, curves and points and Railway colony etc. Giving top priority to safety, the General Manager inspected a manned level crossing gate between Ramannapet and Nalgonda Section.

Vinod Kumar Yadav GM SCR on Rear Window Inspection between Pagidipalli-Nadikudi-Guntur section

At Nalgonda Railway station, Gutha Sukender Reddy, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Nalgonda along with several other public representatives met General Manager and submitted representations on various issues. Interacting with media present here the General Manager said that SCR is according top priority for passenger safety as well as provision of passenger amenities.

Between Vishnupuram and Pondugula stations, the General Manager inspected the major bridge situated on river Krishna. He enquired on the safety aspects and security measures being carried out regularly for strengthening and safeguarding the bridge. At Nadikude Junction, Vinod Kumar Yadav inspected Health Unit and Running Room.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM SCR inspecting Safety Material at Nalgonda Railway station during inspection of Guntur Division

Vinod Kumar Yadav held a meeting with Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Narasaraopet and other public representatives at Guntur Railway station and received representations on public demands regarding amenities, services etc.

Ram Kripal, Commissioner Railway Safety, South Central Circle, S.N.Singh, Principal Chief Engineer, N. Madhusudhana Rao, Chief Operations Manager, P. Ganeswara Rao, Chief Commercial Manager, D.K. Singh, Chief Safety Officer, John Thomas, Chief Electrical Engineer, P. Somkuwar, Chief Workshops Engineer, N.V. Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer, Dr. K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Director were amongst the officials who accompanied the General Manager and conducted department wise inspection wherever the General Manager halted for inspection.

French, German agencies take stock of Amaravati Metro Rail project

Collector of Krishna District says the Metro Rail project requires 76.92 acres, of which 68.32 acres is private property.

VIJAYAWADA: Senior executives of KfW and AFD took stock of the progress of land acquisition for the Amaravati metro rail project and funding issues at a meeting with Krishna District Collector Babu A., Municipal Commissioner G. Veerapandian and Amaravati Metro Railway Corporation (AMRC) Managing Director N.P. Ramakrishna Reddy, at the AMRC office here on Tuesday.

KfW is a development bank owned by the German government and AFD is the main implementing agency for France’s official development assistance to developing countries.

Addressing the delegates, Mr. Babu said the project required total 76.92 acres, of which 68.32 acres is private property and the rest belongs to the government.

The land was being acquired with the consent of owners and alternative lands shown to them. Houses are being sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and NTR Housing Scheme, Mr. Babu said, adding loans were being extended under the MUDRA scheme to people losing employment. Mr. Veerapandian explained the city development plans with due emphasis on expanding the road network.

Land acquisition

Mr. Ramakrishna Reddy told that the Collector promised to complete the land acquisition in two months and preliminary notices were being issued for that. Of the total funding, KfW was likely to provide $ 300 million and AFD over $ 100 million.

Joint Collector G. Chandrudu said the land acquisition was going on at the desired pace with the involvement of settlement and rehabilitation officers.

The KfW team comprised Robert Volkovic, P. Rooney, Julia Scholtes, Usha Rao and D. Skambracks and the AFD delegation consisted of Mathieu Verdure, S.B. Srinivasan, Herve Dubreuil and Rajnish Ahuja.

Light Detection & Ranging (LiDAR) Technology in Survey of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Route

MUMBAI: Railways will use the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology for the aerial survey of the route to hasten work on the ambitious high-speed corridor as it gives accurate data on the contours of land even under vegetation.

So as to expedite the work on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor, Indian Railways will use a chopper to carry out a detailed survey of the land meant for laying tracks for running trains at about 350 km per hour.

The 508-km corridor, which is the first bullet train project in India, slated to be operational by the end of 2023, aims to reduce travel time from the current nine hours to three hours between the two major metropolis.

The LiDAR aerial survey would be completed in 9-10 weeks against the normal 6-8 months. It will help the Railways to kickstart ground work on the project at the earliest, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

After collecting the data, it will take about a month to analyse it, he added.

The survey will be done with a helicopter which carries equipment for the same, including high-resolution digital camera (100 mega pixel), laser scanner and data recorder among others.

The LiDAR is a remote-sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light. The GPS unit interacts with GPS satellites to finalise ground control points.

The advantage of LiDAR is that it penetrates through vegetation to identify the accurate level and contour of land. Cross-section of land can be seen without any foliage which will help plan for bridges.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for this project will come by way of a soft loan from Japan.

The high-speed train is likely to benefit about 12,000- 15,000 commuters on the route daily. As per plan, the entire corridor will be on elevated track, except for a stretch of 21 km which will be underground, of which 7 km will pass under sea.

PayTM emerge as India’s biggest private B2C player in Rail Ticket bookings

PayTM has announced that over 10mn travel tickets were booked on the company’s platform; Over $500mn in annualized GMV. The company has claims to have emerged as India’s biggest private B2C player in train tickets segment within months of launch.

NEW DELHI: PayTM’s online rail booking platform is doing more ticket bookings than any other private online B2C player in India, second only to the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) official website.

The company launched online train ticket bookings in partnership with IRCTC in September this year to complete the full range of air, road and rail booking solutions available on PayTM.

While the PayTM Wallet is accepted on the IRCTC platform, the company also powers the payment gateway on IRCTC’s App.

Given that over 30 million Indians use the Indian Railways to travel every day, this move will play a major role in making cashless transactions a way of life across all geographies and demographic profiles in India.

“We are thrilled to partner with IRCTC for online rail bookings and bring the trusted PayTM experience to India’s single largest group of travelers. We are encouraged by the response received for rail ticket bookings on PayTM App. Emerging as the country’s biggest private B2C player in online rail ticket bookings is a big step towards our goal of building India’s largest travel ticketing platform,” said VP PayTM, Abhishek Rajan.

PayTM is the first horizontal e-commerce major to enter into Travel business, a domain that has hitherto been dominated by vertical players. The company has chosen Bengaluru as the base of operations for its Travel Marketplace.

Kanpur District Polling Officer asks Railways to halt Goods Train movement on Polling Dates

KANPUR: District Election Officer Mr.Kaushal Raj Sharma, on Tuesday, wrote a letter to Divisional Railway Manager, North Central Railway, Allahabad and Divisional Railway Manager, Moradabad Division of Northern Railway and asked them to minimize the train movement in Kanpur-Farrukhabad rail section on February 19. He urged to stop the movement of goods trains between 6 am and 8 pm to facilitate railway crossing by citizens to cast vote in different geographies of the district.

The railway lines passing from the district had divided the district in many parts. The movement of trains would check the movement of vehicles, police force, para military forces and administrative officers when the railway crossing would be closed for passing of train.

In case of emergency, forces and officers may not reach in time if the railway crossings get closed. Therefore, minimize the movement of trains on that day and fix minimum closure time for railway crossing so that movement of polling parties could not be disturbed.

Nashik Onion Traders demand more Rakes, Bhusawal Rail Division say not possible

NASHIK: Onion traders on Wednesday met the district collector and sought an increase in the number of railway rakes to transport the perishable crop.

The traders are under pressure this year in the wake of a bumper crop. Currently, 13 rakes of onion (1,800 tonnes a rake) is reaching market because of the bumper crop. This is more than double last year’s figure. “The railways is failing to provide two rakes a day in February even as at least four are needed to transport the crop,” onion merchant Sohanlal Bhandari said.

“Every day, around 2 lakh quintal of onions reach the market. If we consider 40% of the amount are carried by railways, it means there should be at least four rakes a day. In February, the railways provided us 29 rakes,” he said.

“The problem is that we are not being able to send onions out of Nashik now. As a result, we will not be able to procure it as well. And all this are leading to the fall in onion prices. Goods movement is a must and the railways should arrange for more rakes,” said one of the onion merchants who met the collector.

The railways had supplied about 60 rakes during the same time last year, when the production of the onion was half than what it is this year.”  However, now the production is more, the Railways are unwilling to spare more rakes, they said, adding that if Bhusawal Division of Central Railway is not able to cater to the burgeoning demand, the officials should approach adjoining Nanded Division of South Central Railway and ensure if additional rakes can be augmented and supplied”.

If the railways does not set things right, we will be under pressure to discontinue the intake of produce. This will lead to problems of the farmers,” another merchant, Keshav Patil, said.

The merchant added that the traders had on January 7 placed the demand of 250 rakes for February to push out the crop from the district.

Senior railway officials present at the meeting expressed their inability to provide more rakes, given the lack of infrastructure and congestion of trains.

“There is heavy congestion of trains in Fatuha (Fatwa) junction in Bihar, which is the favoured destination for the traders here. The turnaround time for the rakes has increased from three to eight days, and even more. The railways is unable to ply more rakes as picking up the perishable crop and delivering those 10 days later is not going to help,” a senior railway official said.

He suggested the traders instead pack their goods for Sitpur, Ranipatra, Dankuni and Gaur Malda that could help find some solution.

“We have suggested them a few other destinations. We will be able to help them if the solution works out,” the officer said after the meeting with the traders.

Protest against proposed new Rail Line between Hatkangale-Ichalkaranji

Sanghatana demand Railways to opt for elevated track instead of laying tracks over the fertile lands belonging to farmers of poor economic background. The members vehemently said that they will obstruct any attempt to spoil the economy and productivity of the poor farmers in the region. The argument gained more support locally.

KOLHAPUR: The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana led by Raju Shetti has raised objections against the new railway line sanctioned in this year’s Union budget between Hatkangale and Ichalkaranji, saying that it is non-viable and that it could affect fertile agricultural land in the area.

The government has sanctioned Rs 160 crore for the new line under the allocation for new projects.

Vijay Bhosale, the Ichalkaranji city chief of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana and a member of the Pune Division railway consultant committee, said, “It is not a viable project. There are three railway stations in the periphery of Icalkaranji. There is no space for the line, except in the western parts of the taluka. The land in this area is fertile and is owned by marginal farmers, who do not have other means of survival. Sanghatana demanded Railways to opt for elevated track instead of laying tracks over the fertile lands belonging to farmers of poor economic background. The members vehemently said that they will obstruct any attempt to spoil the economy and productivity of the poor farmers in the region. The argument gained more support locally.

Bhosale further said, “Hatkanangale is six to seven km from Ichalkaranji. The project will require construction of a new station, which will need 10 to 12 hectares of land. As the city is already developed, the railways has to build the station outside the city. This will further reduce the distance between the two stations.”  He further said that if Railways want to lay the new railway line, they may opt elevated track so that agricultural land belonging to poor farmers will not be lost in a greater proposition if line is laid on land.

The railway authorities said that just the funds have been sanctioned but the land mapping or the estimate has not happened yet.

Nagesh Pujari, a farmer who is the secretary of the newly-formed action committee against the proposed railway line, said, “The new rail line will affect the marginal farmers in the villages between Hatkanangale and Ichalkaranji, ie, Kambhoj, Kabnur, Rui and Kodochi. These marginal farmers have no other means of survival. We would protest against the project at various levels.”

Supporting the railway line project, local MLA Suresh Halnavar said, “The railways is the vehicle of progress. As per the new land acquisition norms, farmers would be properly compensated. The track is very important for the development of Ichalkarnji. The Hatkanangale-Ichalkaranji line will further connect to Belgaum. The connectivity with Karnataka would be a big boost to the industry in Ichalkaranji. The protesters should think of the development of the region.”

Shivnath Biyani, member of the road and railway passengers association of Maharashtra, said, “The ministry has only sanctioned the project and allocated funds for the primary work. The details of the project is yet to come. Based on the details we will decide to welcome or resist it. The funds can be utilised for electrification of Kolhapur-Hatkangale line.”

Flaws in implementing Dynamic Pricing leads to faster Loss of premium travel base of Railways to Airlines!

Dynamic pricing has made Trains 15 per cent more expensive than Airlines!

On December 20, Suraj Rastogi, a traveler went looking for a train ticket for a journey between Guwahati and Pune.

The only option was a Suvidha train with 45 seats on AC III class. The price tag?  Rs 6,590 for a 52-hour journey.

A three-hour flight option, for the same day, was available for Rs 4,790/-

RailYatri – a data analytics and traveller survey engine, says that the Indian Railways (IR) is losing its premium travel base faster than ever before. Much of the blame falls on the pricing schemes implemented in the last few years.

Historically, Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto are among the premier trains, catering to travellers willing to pay for added comfort, reliability, and timeliness. These premier train passengers have already seen fares increase by nearly 70 per cent in the last few years (without taking dynamic pricing into consideration).

RailYatri findings show that premier travellers understand the rationale behind dynamic pricing. The issue is with implementation. “We can’t blame them, because the existing slab-pricing implementation is indifferent/not adaptable to the ground reality,” said Manish Rathi. “It may be called dynamic pricing, but there is nothing dynamic in it. A good dynamic pricing implementation should encourage demand when it is needed and increase the value of the service when the demand is higher,” he adds.

Dynamic pricing has made Trains 15 per cent more expensive than Airlines.

The emerging rule is higher the class, lower the distance travelled. Long distance (above 1,000 km) premium travellers are increasingly opting for air travel over trains. Even at the same costs, flights provide added advantages, with simpler booking processes, shorter travel hours, no wait-lists and lesser delays.

RailYatri research indicates that 8-12 per cent of travellers migrated from trains with dynamic fares.

The percentage is similar to the number of wait-listed travellers. This implies these trains are now running at less than full capacity.

With January to March being a relatively lean season, the demand is expected to drop further.

Migration of the last-minute/mid-distance traveler

If flights are taking away premium long distance travellers, buses provide alternative options for distances less than 1,000 km.

The biggest selling proposition of bus travel is its near guaranteed supply. It is possible to walk to a counter and book a bus ticket for immediate travel. While the flat-bed sleeper bus replicates the train experience, the improvement of road networks has reduced travel time, too.

Wait-list in non-premium trains has increased

At least 48 trains ply between Kanpur and New Delhi. However, it is not unusual to see Shatabdi with 500 seats vacant even as all other trains have longer wait-lists. This shows the market is highly price-sensitive and some premium traffic has spilled over to other trains.

Unless addressed, the demand for subsidised classes will continue to increase.

This being the segment that is contributing to losses, the question remains about the Railway’s ability to attract profitable customers.

Loss of Pricing Power

There is growing convergence of pricing across trains, buses and flights. For the first time in the Railways’ history, fare determination is being driven by market forces.

The Railways is used to determining its own fares, but those days are coming to an end. Players who cannot work within market-determined pricing will be punished by consumers, who will simply stay away.

The way forward

We understand the need to serve budget travellers even if they contribute to losses. However, for economic viability it is equally important for IR to retain its once profitable loyal customer base.

Here are a few suggestions:

i) Overhaul dynamic fares – pricing is science;
ii) IR needs to stop spreading itself thin. Selling secondary items such as rooms, taxis, etc while bleeding the customer base does not make sense;
iii) Revisit quotas. Quotas take away seats from the market and create uncertainty for the traveller, who then looks for other options.

Work on replacing British-era Rail Bridges on Salem Division put on fast-track

COIMBATORE: The Salem railway division has put on fast-track the work on replacing the nine 165-year-old British-era bridges with concrete ones to ensure the safety of the passengers. The maintenance work of these bridges was taken up after a delay of more than 14 years.

In the past nine months, the Salem railway division has re-constructed five bridges on Jolarpet-Coimbatore railway track. The work on the sixth one located on Somanur-Sulur track at Irugur-Tirupur section was taken up on Tuesday. The Rs.2 crore project will be completed by February 19.

“We will take up the work on the remaining three bridges on the same route in the coming months,” said Salem divisional railway manager Hari Shankar Verma.

“All the bridges are 165 years old. Caution order had been issued several years ago. The project to demolish the British-era bridges and replace them with the concrete ones was first sanctioned in 2003-2004. As the project didn’t take off, it was reallocated in 2008-2009. However, we are unaware why there was a delay. During an inspection, I was told about the need to reconstruct these bridges. We began the work after checking the files,” Hari Shankar Verma said.

Four such bridges on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway route, he said, would also be demolished and reconstructed. “We will ensure that all such pending projects that have been sanctioned will be taken up,” the officer added.

Due to the work on the bridge number 465 located between Somanur and Sulur, six trains were delayed and many had to be started from Tirupur instead of Coimbatore. The Coimbatore-Salem passenger train started from Vanjipalayam before Tirupur, instead of Coimbatore. The other trains that were delayed were Erode-Palakkad town passenger, Allepey-Dhanbad Tata Express, Salem-Coimbatore passenger and Bilaspur-Ernakulam Express.

On February 17 and 19, Salem-Coimbatore passenger will be delayed by 85 minutes, Allepy-Dhanbad/Tata Express will be delayed at Irugur by 70 minutes and Ernakulam-Coimbatore Express will be delayed by 10 minutes.

The railway department has already set up the first girder of the bridge. “The pre-cast girders will be set up and the tracks will be re-laid in this section,” said an official. The replacement of steel girders that were used to build the bridges by the British with concrete is supposed to be safer and more long-term solution because many steel girders have reportedly corroded over the years, officials added.

Inspection of newly-converted Sengottai-Aryankavu BG railway line

Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, Bengaluru, had inspected the newly-converted broad gauge railway line in Sengottai-Aryankavu new block section in Sengottai- Kollam section on Wednesday. He also conducted a high speed trial run in Sengottai-Aryankavu new block section on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 12 noon. All users of railway lines between Sengottai-Aryankavu were cautioned not to approach/trespass the railway line during the speed tests.

Lucknow Metro gets Maximum Speed Certificate of 90 Kmph

LUCKNOW: Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) achieved significant milestone by getting the speed certificate from RDSO after going through the detailed design of Lucknow Metro train on February 14. With this speed certificate metro can conduct the trial of trains at maximum designed speed of 90 kmph on the priority section on Kanpur Road.

LMRC managing director, Kumar Keshav has assured earlier that he would try to get speed certificate from RDSO in early February to be able to run commercial operation of train by March 26, 2017. His team followed the orders and achieved certificate from RDSO within deadline.

In continuation with the ongoing trials, metro train on February 14 ran in the morning at 11:30 am at a higher speed of 60 kmph from Transport Nagar to Mawaiya metro station. The train had run all the day with all safety parameters being successfully evaluated and achieved during this high speed trial, said LMRC officials.

LMRC said that few of prerequisite tests of train have already been completed at test-track and ramp within depot. “All efforts are being made by LMRC to complete the testing and commissioning of trains within the time-frame”, said officials. The state government has instructed LMRC to begin commercial operation of metro from March 26, 2017.

A metro train goes through different types of testing before beginning its actual passengers’ operations. It would also have to go through load tests where artificial loads equivalent to crush loading of 8 passengers per square meters would be put on train. To achieve this, huge number of sand bags would be used in the train.

LMRC said that European experts are continuously monitoring the systems and trains and ensuring best technical support to the metro’s technical team. “LMRC is taking all initiative to ensure that the metro train is ready for public operation by the end of the March, 2017”, it added.

Railways to follow Aviation Industry in Fare Structure

The national transporter has engaged the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) – an APEX body of Chartered Accountants, to prepare a Management Information System (MIS) for the project.

NEW DELHI: After the experimental ‘flexi fare’ system which is still mired in controversy, the Indian Railways is now planning to go the aviation industry way. The major tariff structure reform will see the Railways do away with the present system of distance-based telescopic fare  and ‘rationalise’ it by adopting the sectoral and root costing method, done by airliners and in vogue world over.

Under the present system, the fare of a 1000-kilometer journey in Rajdhani or any mail train is the same. But after the new system, the fare for the same distance would vary from point to point depending on many performance indices (PI) including distance, class of stations the trains will pass through among others.

The present traditional telescopic fare structure is a system in which the fare decreases in slabs as the length of the journey increases depending on the category of trains. But as per the planned new fare structure, the fare for a distance of 1000 km being travelled between New Delhi and Patna will vary from a distance of about 1000 km between New Delhi and Nagpur or for that matter Kolkata and Mumbai even if the category of the train remain the same.

“It could either be cheaper or costlier. It will be like the system adopted by the airliners where New Delhi to Mumbai flights are almost half the price between New Delhi and Pune on any flights,” explained a railway official.

The new costing will take into account the cost of total production which means even food and grocery and cost of linens and laundry, which may be cheaper in Kolkata zone as compared to Mumbai zone.  And not only this, the fare will also be based after profitability analysis of each train, category of train and point to point distance.

“Path costing is an important aspect which has not been done ever since the separate rail budget existed. Now with a new pattern, this will bring major changes keeping in mind the benefit of passengers. Similar exercise will be done for freight services,” added the official.

The Railways will switch from cash to accrual-based accounting which gives more accurate financial picture of the organisation. The accrual-based accounting will allow the railways to report segment-wise revenue, helping it know the profitability of different lines of business and services.

Technically, it tracks the entire cost of assets and services delivery and simultaneously ascertains the return on investment for every rupee spent. Through costing techniques, the mammoth organization would be able to identify money makers and money losers.

In the accrual-based accounting, revenue is reported in the fiscal when it is earned, irrespective of when it is actually received, and expenses are deducted when they are incurred, regardless of when they are paid. In cash-based accounting, books are prepared when cash is paid or received.  The national transporter has engaged the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the apex body of chartered accountants, to prepare a management information system (MIS) for the project.

Railways to induct 8 wheeled New Diesel Electric OHE Inspection and Maintenance Cars

NEW DELHI: With a view to take inspection of electrical over head equipment to a more modern level for ensuring safe rail operation, Indian Railways has decided to introduce 8 Wheeled Diesel Electric Over Head Equipment (OHE) inspection and maintenance Car on Railway Network. With the introduction of these OHE maintenance and inspection cars, the reliability and safety of OHE equipment on Indian Railway will be increased.

Research Design Standard Organisation (RDSO), the research arm of Ministry of Railways has already finalized the specifications for the prototype of these cars. Under the first phase, Indian Railways will be procuring 45 nos. 8-Wheeler OHE Inspection & Maintenance Cars for operation on Broad Gauge electrified routes on 25kV AC.

The Ministry of Railway has already placed contract with two firms namely M/s Bharat Earth Movers Limited, Bangalore and M/s Phooltas Transrail Limited, Patna for submitting designs.

This inspection car is a self-propelled vehicle and is used not only for periodical inspection, patrolling and maintenance of traction overhead equipment (OHE) but also used for attending to sites of breakdown, restoration and damaged OHE. These are specially used during night for electric current collection tests in order to ascertain the safe contact between pantograph of electric locomotive and contact wire of the OHE. The 8-W Inspection & Maintenance OHE Car uses the power generated by the diesel alternator set provided in the OHE car for propulsion. It has maximum operating speed of 110km/hour.

The Diesel Electric type OHE cars are being procured as per latest specification of Research Design Standard Organisation (RDSO) for which design is to be done by firms, and finally approved by RDSO. The design of these vehicles is likely to be approved by RDSO by March 2017 and prototype shall be approved by November 2017. Thereafter supplies of these OHE cars will start from February 2018 and is likely to be completed by June 2019, In Phase – II another tender for 53 nos. of such vehicles (8-W DETC) is also under finalisation and the contract shall be awarded soon.

AIRF wants Konkan Railway to be merged with Indian Railways

MARGAO: The All India Railmen Federation (AIRF) members on Monday demanded that the Konkan Railway be merged with the Indian Railways and castigated the government for its attempts to intimidate and interfere in the functioning of the railway staff and their unions.

At the AIRF meeting held in Margao, the workers unanimously demanded that the Konkan Railway be merged with the Indian Railways. The demand was earlier made on October 31, 2015 at Jodpur in the presence of the Union Railway Minister.

Speaking to media persons, AIRF president Rakhal Das Gupta said, “The merger will improve the working conditions of the Konkan Railway workers and also that of the railway system under the corporation.”

However, he dismissed the suggestion that railway stations under Konkan Railway were cleaner and better maintained than the Indian Railways. He insisted that the conditions at the Konkan Railway stations were not on par with those at the Indian Railways.

Besides, the Federation also castigated the government for its attempts to intimidate and interfere in the functioning of the railway workers’ unions.

“The government is trying to dictate to us as to who should be elected as managing committee members, which is totally unacceptable,” he said.

KRCL study tour for drivers

Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) recently organised a study tour for autorickshaw and tourist taxi drivers of Mulki to help them learn about places of interest.

It was organised by KRCL’s Mangaluru Public Relations Manager K. Sudha Krishnamurthy following an instruction from Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, a release here said.

As many as 50 drivers participated in the tour, which included Moodbidri, Karkala and surrounding places.

Ateli-Phulera Rail link of Western DFC to be operational next year

NEW DELHI: The Ateli (near Rewari in Uttar Pradesh) – Phulera (near Jaipur in Rajasthan) link of western rail freight corridor, being implemented by L&T-Sojitz consortium, is expected to start commercial operations by March 2018. Freight corridor once declared to be commercially fit will smoothen container traffic to western ports.

The corridor of about 190 km of routes and 380 km of tracks, is expected to smoothen container traffic movement to ports on the west coast, D.S.Rana, Director-Infrastructure, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation Ltd (DFCCIL), told on the sidelines of a conference.

Second stretch

This will be the second stretch of rail link to be ready for commercial operations. As of now, a 56-km stretch of New Durgauti-Sasaram section of the eastern freight corridor is ready, on which a commercial goods train was launched on March 30.

Adesh Sharma, Managing Director, DFCCIL, said that they are working out a policy with the Indian Railways regarding clearance from Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS).

Since freight corridors won’t carry people, DFCCIL and Railways had thought that CRS clearance will not be required. However, there are junctions where there would be interfaces with passenger tracks. So, the policy is being worked out about having CRS clearances in specific areas.

Meanwhile disputes on acquisition of small patches of land is also affecting the pace of project implementation, some of which has already been awarded.

Of the 10,600 hectare of land required to implement the Eastern and Western dedicated rail freight corridor, 10,150 hectare has been fully acquired. Meanwhile, there are around 140-180 hectare of land yet to be acquired in each Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Some of these disputed areas are a part of projects already awarded by Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited – some portion to Tata Power– Aldesa consortium, which affect the pace of project implementation as it requires shifting of the new track construction (NTC) machines used to lay tracks.

These new track machines, which can lay railway tracks at a speed of 1.5 km of tracks a day, require contiguous land on which they can lay rail tracks and sleepers. So, even if there is a small unavailability of land leading to discontinuation of tracks, the machine needs to dismantled, shifted on road to the next point of track laying route and re-assembled to start laying of track.

“The process of dismantling and reassembling takes about 10 days each, thus leading to loss of time,” Adesh Sharma said. He, however, added that the project cost has not escalated as the material cost has been subdued last year. He expects that the a large share of land acquisition related disputes in UP will be handled by June this year and that of Maharashtra by August 2018.

DFCCIL is going the automation route for its construction, and operation which will lower the cost of operation. At the construction level, its contractors are using new track machines, which can lay long rails and sleepers much faster than humans. On the operations end, DFCCIL, which is owned by Indian Railways, will have 40 per cent lower costs than that of the Indian Railways due to using automated processes which will drop the number of people required on the project.

While the costs of freight corridor are sharply lower than the Railways, Indian Railways will decide the tariffs for the use of freight corridor.

MSEDCL blocks Nagpur Metro Rail’s Solar Power Plan

NAGPUR: Mahametro’s plan to meet 65% of Nagpur Metro Rail’s energy needs through solar power has received a jolt as state-run discom MSEDCL has refused to relax its norms for the project. Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has asked the two agencies to hold a meeting and find a way out.

MERC has also told Mahametro to file its say justifying its case as being unique and requiring a special dispensation considering the intent and purpose of the solar roof top policy.

The date of meeting between Mahametro and MSEDCL is to be finalized. A senior Mahametro official said that it would be held in the coming week.

Solarization is vital for the success of the Metro Rail project. The cost of MSEDCL power as per the Commission’s latest tariff order is Rs.7.33 per unit. This is exclusive of fuel surcharge and electricity duty. On the other hand, NMRCL can get solar power at between Rs.5 and Rs.6 per unit. The effective difference between the two tariffs is over Rs.2 per unit, which is quite high.

Mahamemetro wanted to go for a mix of solar energy and MSEDCL power under the latter’s solar roof top policy. The maximum load permitted under the policy is 1MW. However, Mahametro plans to generate 14MW through solar power and buy 9MW from MSEDCL. The discom has told MERC that as Mahametro’s solar capacity was more than 1MW, it had to be considered as a captive plant.

“If the electricity cost is low then the fares will be low leading to higher ridership. This will make the project viable and is therefore in public interest. Moreover, solar energy is green and will lead to lower pollution. Foreign lenders have readily granted a loan to the project because of this aspect,” a Mahametro official told.

The solarization project has already been delayed due to heavy workload of the commission. “Our tender documents are ready since months. MERC did not accept our petition for two months saying that it was dealing with power tariff petitions of the power distribution companies,” the official said.

Without Foot-Over-Bridge, Hoodi Railway Station users Flirt with Danger

BANGALORE: Hoodi Railway Station, which was inaugurated last September, has seen a steady increase in patronage, but users have to often put their lives to risk due to lack of basic amenities like foot overbridge.

The bridge was meant to be built with four months after the station inauguration but the work is yet to begin, thanks to procedural delays in fund allocation.

Currently over 1000 people use the station and many of them are forced to walk across the tracks to change platforms.

“A large number of people board trains at Hoodi station. They risk their lives while moving from one platform to the other to board trains. The foot overbridge is urgently needed,” said Sanjeev Dyamannavar, member, Praaja RAAG group.

For construction of the station, area MP P.C.Mohan had contributed Rs 1.75 crore from the MP Local Area Development Fund in 2016 and an additional Rs 1.12 crore was to be granted for South Western Railways to construct the bridge.

However, Divisional Railway Manager Sanjiv Agarwal said they are yet to receive the funds. “We are still awaiting the MP funds. The collector has to release the money. It is taking some time from their side,” he added.

Mohan, on the other hand, felt the Railways needs to follow it up more often with the Deputy Commissioner (DC). “I have done my part and allocated the funds for the overbridge. It is confirmed and the money will reach the SWR. I have also sent a letter to the DC office as well. These things take time and the Railways have to also put some effort to follow it up,” he added.

The Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), which was at the forefront in the campaign for suburban rail, said Hoodi Station should be developed to aid commuters residing and working in Whitefield and Mahadevpura areas. However, with the funds for the bridge caught in red tape, rail commuters have to put their lives at risk while boarding trains.

Key accused in Kanpur and Ghorasahan rail track sabotage incidents surrenders in Court

Bhojpuri film men, lured by ISI, arrested for plotting train derailment in Bihar

PATNA: One of the key accused in Kanpur and Ghorasahan rail track sabotage incidents, Gajendra Sharma, surrendered before a court in East Champaran district on Monday. Police sources said Gajendra, a named accused in Ghorasahan blast attempt case, was also involved in the derailment of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur in which at least 150 people were killed on November 21 last year.  The investigation from NIA has thrown up at least three key links to the regional film industry. Dream merchants from India’s eastern heartland and Nepal have helped Pakistan’s spy agency ISI in its attempts to stage nightmarish train derailments so they could get their Bhojpuri movie projects on track.

Police also arrested two more persons – Deepu Kumar and Suraj Kumar – from Chhoradano in East Champaran district for their alleged involvement in Nakardei rail track blast on December 3. The alleged involvement of Pakistan’s ISI in Nakardei rail track blast came to light after the arrest of Shamshul Huda, an ISI agent, from Kathmandu in Nepal.

The Bihar police had dismissed the incident as ‘rumour’ and did not even register FIR against anyone.

Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the rail track sabotages on Tuesday secured additional four-day police remand of Umashankar Patel, Motilal Paswan and Mukesh Yadav, all accused in Ghorasahan and Kanpur cases. Earlier, the special NIA court of judge Manoj Singh had granted 11-day police remand for the trio on February 4.

The derailment and blast conspiracies were allegedly hatched by ISI of Pakistan. ISI agent Shamshul Huda, a Nepalese citizen, was handling the terror mission from Dubai. Huda was arrested by Nepal police in Kathmandu on February 5. His interrogation later revealed another railway track blast near Nakardei in East Champaran.

Mujahir Ansari, Brajkishore Giri alias Baba Giri, Ashish Singh Kurmi alias Sujeet and Umesh Giri, all associates of Huda, have already been arrested by Nepal police.

Bhojpuri film men, lured by ISI, arrested for plotting train derailment in Bihar

The National Investigation Agency’s probe into the Ghorasan incident from Bihar in which an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was found near a railway track on October 1 has thrown up at least three key links to the regional film industry.

The first is Brajkishore Giri, an actor who also owns the Big Bollywood studio in Nepal’s Beergiri area. Another name is of Gajendra Sharma, proprietor of the Dangal Studio in Bihar’s Motihari city who also ran an orchestra for weddings and other events. The third is Mukesh Yadav, a Bhojpuri songwriter.

All three were allegedly lured by the money ISI promised in return for derailing Indian trains.

All the accused have landed in the police net in Nepal and India. According to NIA sources, acting on behest of Sheikh Shafi, a Pakistan-based ISI handler, Shamshul Hoda, who’s a Nepalese citizen, was tasked with hiring Indian men to carry out train derailments. Hoda is known to have contacted Brajkishore Giri, a man with ambitions who was bitten by the Bhojpuri movie bug.

Over 150 people died on November 21 when the Indore-Patna Express flew off the tracks. A month later, 50 people were injured when the Ajmer-Sealdah Express derailed. Both incidents took place near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Authorities are probing the possibility of sabotage in these and a clutch of other train crashes in the past six months.

Already having acted in Bhojpuri films such as Raftar, Brajkishore Giri was working in an underproduction project Ae Moray Jaan Tohray Mein Bas Le Hamray Pran when he was arrested by Nepal Police. After being approached by Hoda, Giri used his Bhojpuri movie contacts to rope in Gajendra Sharma and Mukesh Yadav.

Brajkishore Giri was baited with money amounting to several lakhs, which he wanted to pump into the film business to fulfil his “own dream of producing a Bhojpuri movie”. The agency is also probing a fake Indian currency racket linked to the ISI conspiracy.

Giri contacted Gajendra Sharma, who also made low-budget movies in Motihari. The third among the Bhojpuri movie trio is Mukesh Yadav, one of the first arrests made in the case by Bihar Police. He is a songwriter.

Gajendra, whose music studio was leaking money, allegedly conspired with Giri. But with Gajendra’s surrender in Motihari, Bihar, the NIA is hoping to complete the jigsaw puzzle in the ISI-hatched plot.

Three people – Moti Paswan, Uma Shankar and Mukesh Yadav – were arrested last month from Bihar’s East Champaran district and they reportedly pointed to ISI’s role in the Indore-Patna Express derailment. Sources said on the instructions of ISI handler Shafi, Hoda hired Arun and Deepak, two of Mukesh Yadav’s links, who were tasked to derail a train in Ghorasan.

“However, the duo developed cold feet,” said sources.

“The powerful IED was later discovered by children playing near the rail track.

The authorities were informed and the bomb exploded while it was being taken aside, though no one was injured. With the use of sulphur and ammonium nitrate, a cocktail of explosives was prepared, but the plan of ISI failed with the discovery of the bomb.”

Arun and Deepak were called to Nepal where they were allegedly eliminated by the ISI. Sources say that songwriter Mukesh was also called to that country, but he survived because he did not show up.

They added that a team will soon go to Nepal to question Hoda and Giri. They will also examine the funding in the case, which is suspected to be in fake Indian currency.

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Karnataka State Cabinet okays DPR for Bangalore Suburban Railway

BANGALORE: The Karnataka State Cabinet on Wednesday approved a detailed project report prepared by RITES for implementing 440 km of suburban rail network for Bengaluru.

Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the project is estimated cost Rs 10,949 crore. The plan is to have a suburban rail network between Bengaluru and Mandya, Bengaluru and Yeshwantpur, Yeshwantpur and Tumakuru, Yeshwantpur and Yelahanka, Yelahanka and Baiyappanahalli, Yelahanka and Chikkaballapur, Yelahanka and Doddaballapur, Bengaluru and Bang­arpet and Kunigal and Soladevanahalli.

He, however, refused to disclose how the government is planning to mobilise funds for the project.

 

Kochi Metro could save ₹400 Crore: E.Sreedharan

DMRC’s Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan being greeted by K.V. Thomas, MP, on his arrival at Sacred Heart College in the city to deliver Chavara Memorial Lecture on Tuesday.

KOCHI: Initial technical problems apart, Delhi Metro could be executed in a better and more satisfying way than Kochi Metro which is still plagued by problems such as inordinate delay in land acquisition, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan has said.

Still, Kochi Metro could make savings of up to ₹400 crore due to reasonable rates quoted by contractors, sound design, swift decision making and execution by the DMRC. The metro agency’s work culture, planning and project management helped the metro adhere to the deadline in the Aluva-Palarivattom-Maharaja’s College Ground corridor.

Speaking to media persons after delivering the Chavara Memorial Lecture at Sacred Heart College here on Tuesday, he said Kochi Metro did not encounter as many technical issues as Delhi Metro. But inordinate delay in land acquisition, especially in the Vyttila-Pettah-Thripunithura was a cause for concern, since even civil works had not begun here. Hartals, labour and quarry strikes too posed problems in Kochi.

Reiterating that all works in the 13-km-long Aluva-Palarivattom corridor would be over by March, Mr. Sreedharan said the inability to commission the entire (phase one) 25-km-long stretch up to Pettah would affect passenger patronage initially.

To a question on DMRC deciding to retender pending civil works in the Maharaja’s Ground-Ernakulam Junction Railway Station and Vyttila Kunnara Park-Pettah stretches, with the additional option of Pettah-Thripunithura corridor, he said it was up to Kochi Metro Rail Limited to decide on whether to extend the four-year agreement with the DMRC, which would expire in June.

Message to Youth

The metro man called upon the youth to accord top priority to integrity, punctuality, social commitment and professional competence. He exhorted them to go to bed early, awake early, adhere to a healthy diet and to lessen usage of cell phones.

French help for running Delhi-Chandigarh trains at 220 Kmph

NEW DELHI: If things go according to plan, trains on the Delhi-Chandigarh route may run at a top speed of 220 km per hour.

French Railways has come forward to assist its Indian counterpart in upgrading the track between Delhi-Chandigarh to facilitate running of trains at a maximum speed of 220 km per hour.

French National Railways (SNCF), which has carried out a technical study to upgrade the speed of passenger trains on the 245-km-long existing rail corridor between Delhi and Chandigarh, today presented its report to Railway Ministry offering possibilities of track upgrade for running trains at higher speed.

According to the report, SNCF has suggested higher speed ranging between 160 km and 220 km per hour for Shatabdi trains in the Delhi-Chandigarh corridor to reduce travel time between the two cities.

“The French team has offered three options to us. First is to upgrade the track for running trains at 160 km per hour speed at an estimated cost of Rs 17 crore per km,” said a senior Railway Ministry involved in the high speed rail project.

The second option is to run trains at 180 km per hour speed and the third is for a speed of 220 km per hour.

While it would cost Railways about Rs 27 crore per km for upgrading the track for 180 km speed, the cost will go up to Rs 46 crore per km for strengthening the track for 220 km per hour speed.

The report has suggested the possibilities of running as many as 12 Shatabdi trains between Delhi and Chandigarh by 2030 by taking the ridership and future growth into account, said the official.

Currently, there are only three Shatabdi trains between two cities.

French Railways will offer its expertise on upgrading the track, signalling system and rolling stock to run trains at higher speed, as per the MoU signed between Railways and SNCF on December 9, 2015 for technical cooperation in the rail sector.

Committee to examine how to minimise tree-cutting for Mumbai Metro-3

MUMBAI: Maharashtra’s chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, has asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation to set up a committee of government officers and citizens, which would give suggestions on how to minimise the number of trees that would need to be cut for phase 3 of the project, an official in the chief minister’s office revealed, on February 14, 2017.

A group of citizens, including petitioners in the Bombay High Court against the felling of trees for the Metro, Ashish Paul, Pervin Jehangir, Sanjay Asher and Zoru Bhathena, met Fadnavis to discuss the issue. “The CM assured us that he is pro-environment and the government will take all possible steps, to save the maximum number of trees. We told him that more trees are going to be chopped down than required, which is a major environmental destruction throughout the city,” Bhathena said.

“The CM told us that the metro is just one step to reduce the carbon footprint. We assured him that we are not anti-metro and in fact, we believe that the metro will be a boon for Mumbai,” Bhathena said.

According to initial estimates, more than 5,000 trees are required to be cut for the current proposed route between Colaba and Seepz in Andheri, under phase 3 of the Mumbai Metro.

GM|SCR reviews the progress of Development Works over the Zone

SECUNDERABAD: General Manager, South Central Railway Vinod Kumar Yadav reviewed the progress of all ongoing newline, doubling, electrification projects over the zone at a high level meeting attended by Principal Heads of Departments, Divisional Railway Manager’s of Secunderabad & Hyderabad Division and Regional heads of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) & RITES at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad today i.e., 15th February, 2017.

The General Manager critically reviewed the progress of all ongoing projects on SCR and stressed upon the need to complete the targeted works as per schedule. He undertook a detailed review of works being undertaken by RITES organization. He emphasized the need to complete all last mile projects which will strengthen infrastructure and help in capacity augmentation.

Srinivas, Chief Project Manager, RVNL briefed on MMTS Phase-II works, Secunderabad-Mahbubnagar doubling, Guntur-Tenali doubling with Electrification, Vijayawada-Bhimavaram doubling with Electrification, Vijayawada-Gudur third line, Guntakal-Kalluru Electrification, Wadi – Raichur – Guntakal Electrification, Kazipet workshop and Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir etc. General Manager advised on the speedy completion of ongoing works and the plans formulated by RVNL. Issues needing attention and cooperation from the respective State Governments and the Railways were also discussed in detail.

Bhoolchandani, Chief Administrative Officer, Construction, S.N. Singh, Principal Chief Engineer, N. Madhusudhana Rao, Chief Operations Manager, M.S. Mahaboob Ali, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer, John Thomas, Chief Electrical Engineer, Ashesh Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Secunderabad Division, Smt Aruna Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division, K. Venkateshwara Rao, Group General Manager, RITES and P. Srinivas, Chief Project Manager, RVNL, were amongst the Officials present.

Suresh Prabhu congratulates ISRO for launching 104 Satellites in one go; seeks ISRO’s help in Rail Safety & Security

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu today congratulated the Scientists and all the other officials of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for successfully launching 104 Satellites in one go from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre of ISRO, Sriharikota.  He lauded the officials stating that the ISRO Scientists have made enormous quality efforts in the last two decades in fulfilling various successful milestones to put India on top of the global footprint and in establishing its name and reputation in the field of advanced space sciences, technology and innovation.

The Indian Space Research Organisation on Wednesday successfully launched a record number of 104 satellites including the Cartosat-2 in one go on board a single rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The satellites will be injected into the sun synchronous orbit at different slots at different angles and at different times.

Indian Railways on Mar 17, 2016 joined hands with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for effective use of space technology tools in introduction of web-enabled rail user-centric services, remote sensing and graphic information system (GIS) based applications.

Suresh Prabhu directed the Railway Officials to pursue the possibilities of using the technology from ISRO specific to the Safety and Security of Railway systems in India to enhance the Operational Efficiency of Indian Railways in the days to come, citing the examples of GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation projects undertaken by Airports Authority of India in association with ISRO for achieving navigational excellence and greater operational efficiency in commercial aerospace.

Apart from the principal payload Cartosat-2 series satellite and two more nano-satellites weighing less than 10 kilogram, 101 other co-passengers are from foreign countries including one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates and 96 from the US.

The Russian Space Agency held the record of launching 37 satellites in a single go in 2014. The US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration has launched 29 satellites, while ISRO successfully launched 20 satellites in June 2015.

Terming the inking of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) as “not the marriage of convenience but the marriage of necessity”, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said the initiative would help both Indian Railways and ISRO.

He also pitched for use of technology by the Railways to solve day-to-day problems and asked the national transporter to keep modernising itself by constantly updating with the latest technology in association with prestigious organisations like DRDO/ISRO/IITs and IIMs.

“We need to use technology for solving day-to-day problems. Lot of changes have taken place over a period of time. Our challenge is not just to use technology but how to constantly keep update with the technology. Railways have to keep modernising,” Prabhu said.

ISRO Deputy Director PG Diwakar and Railway Board Executive Director (Telecom Development) Shobhan Chaudhuri were the signatories of the MoU for developing applications in the field of remote sensing and Graphic Information System (GIS). RailNews when contacted Mr.Sobhan Chaudhuri at Railway Board on today’s ISRO’s successful launch and the related developments, he, being the signatory to the MOU with ISRO is totally unaware of the developments and said that he is not interested or supposed to talk anything! When asked again for a simple technical comment, he doesn’t have any answer. Railways should have posted those people driven with positive energy and vision to steer Indian Railways into an organisation of global excellence and not those persons without any subject knowledge on day to day developments and technological advancements in the country that could helps Railways in its day to day functions.

The MoU is enviisaged to use of space technology tools in various services of Railway industry in India – provide passenger information for all trains, indicating next station/stoppage, real-time train-tracking, survey of new rail route alignments particularly in hilly and difficult terrains. It will also aid in conducting track vulnerability studies, mapping of assets, audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossing gates and introduction of web-enabled rail user-centric services.

Currently, Railways is using space technology for providing connectivity to Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters and unreserved ticketing system at remote and non-rail head locations.

Besides this, the technology is being used for emergency communication using satellite phones from disaster sites, Global Positioning System (GPS) for various applications like remote monitoring of locomotives, passenger information system in Mumbai suburban trains, synchronised clocks and WiFi facility in select Rajdhani Express trains.

CONCOR: Demand is a Constraining Factor

Better operating performance helped the company post net profit of Rs.186 Crore which beat estimates

NEW DELHI: The share price of India’s largest container logistics company, Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) fell 2.1 per cent on weak December quarter results. Revenue for the quarter at Rs 1,330 crore was down 5.2 per cent year-on-year and was also lower than estimates, which pegged it in the range of Rs 1,340 crore to Rs 1,400 crore. Muted export import (Exim) performance led to the fall in revenue. Exim segment, which accounts for about 80 per cent of CONCOR’s revenue, registered a 6.5 per cent fall year-on-year to Rs 1,058 crore thanks to pressure on pricing, while domestic segment was flat at Rs 272 crore.

The same is also visible from the commendable volume growth in the Exim segment, which was up 11.12 per cent to 6.67 lakh twenty foot equivalent units or TEUs, while domestic volume growth came in at 5.56 per cent to 1.16 lakh TEUs. While overall realisations fell 14 per cent year-on-year, Exim’s was down 16 per cent and domestic by 5 per cent due to shorter delivery destinations, withdrawal of congestion charge (paid by customers), higher double stacking and discounts. Distance between origin and destination is falling as more north-bound cargo shifts to Mundra and Pipavav on the western coast from JNPT port in Mumbai.

The numbers at the operating level, however, are better as the company was able to keep a tab on its costs. CONCOR has reduced its empty running costs from Rs 44 crore in year ago quarter to about Rs 35 crore in the December quarter, a reduction of 25 per cent. Improvement in operational efficiencies also help prop up profitability. Operating profit margins at 19.6 per cent were five basis points lower than year ago quarter, but higher than analysts’ estimates of around 18 per cent. Thus, operating profit, while down 5 per cent year-on-year to Rs 261 crore, was higher than estimates of Rs 256 crore.

Better operating performance helped the company post net profit of Rs 186 crore, which again, was down 9.5 per cent but higher than estimates of Rs 170 crore.

The key long-term trigger for the stock is the commissioning of the dedicated freight corridors, which are expected to come up in 2020, and improving market share gains for the rail freight sector from the road segment.

At the current price, the stock, which has not impressed the Street with the result as well as the bonus issue (1 for 4 shares held) and dividend (Rs 9.6 per share) announcement, is trading at 28.8 times its FY18 estimates. Investors should avoid the stock given lack of pricing power, muted demand environment and expensive valuations.

Sabotages – miscreants cut rail track near Chandausi on NR; Goods train on Konkan hits Fishplate placed on tracks

Sabotage attempts continue to mar Indian Railways. The two incidents in the last 24 hours – one on Konkan Railway and the other on the Moradabad Division of Northern Railway throw Railway officials into tizzy.

MUMBAI: In yet another instance of mischief or sabotage, a fish-plate (equipment that joins two sets of tracks) was kept on the tracks between Rajapur and Vaibhavwadi on Konkan Railway. A goods train going from Mumbai to Madgaon in Goa passing on the tracks at around 3:15 pm hit the fish-plate but fortunately did not derail. The loco pilot of the train lodged an FIR with the local police. Senior officials are monitoring the situation.

Incidentally, Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu travelled on the Konkan Kanya to Ratnagiri on the same tracks later in the evening.

Cut in track detected near Chandausi Railway station

A possible rail mishap was today averted after a cut in a track was detected between Chandausi and Moradabad railway sections in the district, in yet another incident of track damage.

The 32 mm cut in track was detected at 3:15 AM near Mohammadganj village following which senior officers were informed. An alert Railway Gangman on patrolling duty informed rail authorities about an attempt by miscreants to cut tracks between Chandausi-Bahjoi. Police and GRP have launched a probe into the incident.

Equipment used to cut it was also found near the track.

Senior officers and forensic teams have reached the spot and are probing the matter.

“At 06:45 am, keyman Soomveer of Gate No 1 reported attempt to cut rail by miscreants at km 72/4-5 in block section Chandausi-Bahjoi,” a railway official said.

Kankavali police registered a case against unidentified persons for causing danger to the railway passenger’s as well as train’s safety.

On February 9, four gelatin sticks were found on the railway tracks near Taloja in Navi Mumbai, but police said it looked like act of mischief rather than sabotage attempt.

A day before, discarded overhead equipment was spotted lying on the rail lines in Raigad district in Konkan.

On January 24, a seven-metre-long rail piece was found on the tracks near Diva station near Mumbai. The alert driver of Madgaon-Dadar Janshatabdi Express averted a mishap by applying the emergency brakes. On February 6, a huge piece of rail rod was found on the tracks between Kalamboli and Taloja stations at Navi Mumbai in Raigad district.

The incident comes just a couple of days after a key suspect in the Kanpur train derailment was arrested from Kathmandu after being deported from Dubai. A special team of Nepal police arrested ISI agent Samshul Hoda along with three others at the Tribhuvan International Airport on February 7.

Over 140 people were killed and dozens other injured when Indore-Patna Express derailed near Kanput on November 20, 2016. A month later, fifteen bogies of Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailed near Rura in Kanpur injuring over 40.

Earlier on February 9, an attempt was made to damage a railway track on Chandausi-Aligarh route near Chandausi railway station here.

On a tip off, police had detected equipment near track and on inspection found that attempts were made to damage the track.

There has been a spurt in incidents of damage to track in the country this year.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had told Lok Sabha recently that there had been seven “blast attempts” and three cases of attempted sabotage of rail tracks.

“There have been unusual activities in the last few days and some incidents were averted due to the alertness of railway personnel,” the Minister had said.

Railways have cited “outside interference” as the possible reason of derailment in more than 40 such cases this year.

Citing some recent incidents, a railway official had said “outside interference was found” in some cases near Kanpur, Mumbai, Hajipur and other areas where fish plates were removed and a large rail piece was placed on the track.

The recent rail accidents in Uttar Pradesh, which is scheduled to vote for Assembly election in seven phases starting February 11, have the security agencies working over time to safeguard tracks and other important rail installations. Investigations have pointed towards involvement of foreign terror groups.

The Railways was now in the process of putting in place latest technology like ultrasonic track detection system to find out fractures so that early warning can prevent mishaps.

Besides technology, Prabhu has said the Railway Protection Force has been asked to evolve a forensic strategy.

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Inspection of newly-converted Sengottai-Aryankavu BG Rail line commences

MADURAI: Inspection of the newly-converted broad gauge railway line in Sengottai-Aryankavu new block section in Sengottai- Kollam section by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, Bengaluru has commenced at 09.00 a.m. today i.e. the Wednesday 17th Feb.

Commissioner, Railway Safety would also conduct a high speed trial run in Sengottai-Aryankavu new block section on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 12 noon. All users of railway lines between Sengottai-Aryankavu were hereby cautioned not to approach/trespass the railway line, a statement said.

All users of railway lines between Sengottai-Aryankavu were hereby cautioned not to approach/trespass the railway line, a statement said. He would also conduct a high speed trial run in Sengottai-Aryankavu new block section on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 12 noon.

NFR, IRCTC jointly launch Astha Circuit Tourist Train for NE

GUWAHATI: The North East Frontier Railway and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) have jointly launched the ‘Astha Circuit Tourist Train’ for the people of North East.

“This train was launched to fulfil the budget promise. The special train will start from Kamakhya for Puri and Bhubaneswar with stoppage at Kolkata and back to Kamakhya. For the first time, this type of special dedicated tourist train is being originated from the NF Railway,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer of NFR said in a press statement.

The proposed train would take travellers to a mix of popular pilgrimage destinations across the eastern part of the country at cheapest available rates and would be managed by IRCTC.

“This is a very unique concept where a dedicated tourist train will be originating from Kamakhya for the very first time in the history of NF Railway,” Sharma said.

The ‘Astha Circuit Tourist Train’ would take tourists to a mix of various popular religious destinations, covering Gangasagar, Sri Swamy Narayan Temple, Kalighat, Birla Temple, Sri Jagannath Temple, Konark Temple and Lingaraj Temple.

The duration of the tour from Kamakhya and back would be six nights and seven days, at a cost of Rs 850 per person per day, plus taxes.

Per person cost for the entire trip would be Rs 6,161 (all inclusive) including breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleeper class accommodation and visit to various temples through local transport.

The train would start from Kamakhya on February 17 and would end at Kamakhya on February 23, the statement said.

The train would have various boarding stations including Kamakhya, Alipurduar, New CoochBehar, New Jalpaiguri, Malda, New Farakka, Pakur, Rampurhat and Bolpur.

De-boarding stations would be Rampurhat, Pakur, New Farakka, Malda Town, New Jalpaiguri, New CoochBehar and Alipurduar.

Tourists who intend to avail the services may book tickets online from www.irctctourism.com, through registered e-ticket agents or from any office of the IRCTC.

Such tourist trains were also being planned from other parts of the country to Assam and nearby areas, the statement said.

Ninth Phase of Science Express to Criss-Cross India till September this Year

NEW DELHI: Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS II) will be flagged off on February 17 at 11 a.m from Safdarjung Railway station in Delhi.

Five Ministers – Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Anil Madhav Dave, Ministers of Science and Technology, Dr.Harsh Vardhan, Minister of State, Y.S.Choudhary and Ministers of Railways, Suresh Prabhu and Minister of State, Manoj Sinha, are likely to be present at the flagging off ceremony. After the flag-off, the SECAS will be open for public viewing at Delhi Cantonment Railway Station on February 18 and February 19. Following the public viewing, the train will embark upon its journey across the country.

The SECAS II will run from February 17 to September 8 2017, culminating its journey at Gandhinagar. During its journey, the Science Express will cover over 19, 000 km, and will be exhibited at 68 stations across 20 states of the country. During this seven month journey, SECAS will roll into Tripura for the first time.

Science Express, redesigned as SECAS, intends to contribute towards increasing understanding of the science of climate change, the observed and anticipated impacts, and different possible responses. It is an innovative mobile science exhibition mounted on a 16 coach AC train, which has been custom-built for Department of Science & Technology (DST) by Indian Railways. This unique mobile exhibition was first launched in October 2007 by DST. Since then it has travelled across India eight times, traveling about 1, 42, 000 km and exhibiting at 455 locations. More than 1.50 crore people visited the exhibition over 1, 602 exhibition days. Science Express has become the largest, the longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition. It has six entries in the Limca Book of Records.

The exhibition will convey a message about Climate Change and will also be a good opportunity to generate a dialogue and discussion. The state-of-the-art exhibition on board the SECAS aims to create awareness among various sections of society, as to how climate change can be combated through mitigation and adaptation. Exhibitions in 8 out of the 16 coaches of SECAS have been developed by MoEFCC. Exhibits and activities by DST and DBT have been put up in the remaining 8 coaches.

Some of the broad themes of the coaches include – Underlying reasons for climate change, with a key message that the present change in the climate is due to human activities; impact of climate change and ways to reduce it; adaptation strategies and adaptation measures being taken by India; mitigation and various programmes implemented; international negotiations for climate change and focus on concept of lifestyle choices on what one can do to “Increase the Handprint and decrease your Footprint”.

The exhibition is exclusively devoted to information, case studies and material related to various aspects of climate change, the underlying science, impact, adaptation activities, mitigation solutions and policy approaches in a manner that is easy to understand and interesting, not just for school students, but also for the masses.

The SECAS II is a unique collaborative initiative of Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Railways and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC). MoEFCC has asked Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to extend support in the endeavour.

Science Express Phase I to IV showcased cutting-edge research in Science and Technology being carried out worldwide. Phase V to VII was based on the theme of biodiversity. As ‘Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS)’, it showcased the rich biodiversity of India and its conservation measures. Phase VIII as ‘Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS)’ highlighted the global challenge of climate change.

The previous three phases of Science Express were rolled out as a joint initiative of DST and MoEFCC as ‘Biodiversity Special’ and showcased the myriad biodiversity of India. Thus, it was rational to shift the focus to the theme of climate change, as it will affect the biodiversity of not just India, but the entire globe as well.

Queries on the visit to the exhibition can be sent through an email to sciencexpress@gmail.com, or contact the team aboard the train on 09428405407. The exhibition is open to all and there is no entry fee for the exhibition. The railway station of the city will be the venue of the exhibition. The timing of the exhibition will be from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.

Items such as mobiles, cameras, bags, match-boxes, cigarettes, beedis, tobacco, water bottles, any liquid, and any sharp/ pointed objects are not allowed on the Science Express.

Background: 

Climate Change is an important environmental issue, with many short-term and long-term impacts. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impact of climate change are not just global in scope and unprecedented in scale, but they also severely affect more, the poor and marginalized people. However, there is very little understanding about climate change and its impact.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016. The central aim of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. The first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) took place in Marrakech in November 2016. The Conference successfully demonstrated to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway and the constructive spirit of multilateral cooperation on climate change continues.