Cabinet clears Indian Railways’ plan to seek Dividend Waiver for 2016-17

NEW DELHI: The railway ministry can now move a resolution in both Houses of Parliament adopting the Railway Convention Committee’s recommendations for a waiver on dividend for 2016-17. Cabinet approves Resolution for adoption of the recommendations of the Railway Convention Committee (2014) as contained in their Sixth Report on “Rate of Dividend payable by the Railways to the General Revenues for the year 2016-17 and other ancillary matters”

The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared a proposal for a one-time waiver of Indian railways’ dividend payout of around Rs 9,000 crore to the general exchequer for 2016-17, purely as a one-time move, the Rate of Dividend payable by Railways to the General Revenues be waived off. With this, railways can now approach the Parliament for its approval to the waiver.

After the merger of the railway budget with general budget last year, it was decided that the national transporter would not have to pay dividend for the capital invested in it. While railways was budgeted to pay Rs 9,730 crore as dividend for last financial year, a subsidy of Rs 4,300 crore was claimed by it towards loss-making routes, putting the net dividend reportedly at about Rs 5,430 crore.

“Cabinet approves the proposal of the ministry of railways to move a resolution in both the houses of Parliament adopting Railway Convention Committee’s (2014) recommendations that for the year 2016-17, purely as a one-time move, the rate of dividend payable by the railways to the general revenues be waived off,” said the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on its Twitter handle.

Artesyn and Lab To Market Collaborate to bring SIL4 COTS ControlSafe™ Platforms for Train Control & Rail Signaling to Indian Market

Tempe, Ariz. [16 November, 2017] — Artesyn Embedded Technologies, a global leader in highly reliable and available embedded computer systems, today announced a collaboration with Lab To Market Innovations Pvt Ltd, an Innovations development company incubated at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, to bring the ControlSafe™ portfolio of rail computing platforms to the Indian railways market.

Artesyn’s ControlSafe portfolio includes the ControlSafe Platform, ControlSafe Expansion Box Platform, ControlSafe Carborne Platform and the ControlSafe Compact Carborne Platform. They are designed to enable rail system integrators to accelerate time-to-market and reduce the cost and risk of developing or upgrading train control and rail signaling applications. By leveraging a SIL4 COTS fail-safe and fault-tolerant computing platform, railway technology companies can focus on their value-added offering and final certification for end solutions.

“The ControlSafe portfolio is designed for a wide range of onboard and wayside applications and is already saving integrators years of time-to-market and millions in development costs all over the world,” said Qianqian Shao, product manager, Artesyn Embedded Technologies. “We have selected Lab To Market for its entrepreneurship and experience in the Indian market and this alliance will enable us to jointly tailor solutions for the next generation of India’s train control systems and signaling applications.”

“India has a world-renowned rail infrastructure carrying over 20 million passengers a day and a growing need for investment into dedicated freight networks,” said professor S.K. Sinha, founder and managing director of Lab to Market. “We have assembled a team of some of the best experts in transportation, electronics, embedded systems and business development, backed by the number one university in India for technology and research. Using the ControlSafe platform, with SIL4 certifications, will help us bring this much-needed infrastructure to reality more quickly, cost effectively and with a reliable development roadmap.”

The first three platforms in Artesyn’s ControlSafe portfolio have been certified to SIL4, while certification is planned for the latest platform to be announced, the ControlSafe Compact Carborne Platform.

About Lab To Market

Lab to Market’s main business is to develop and license products/solutions to industries with the active involvement of academia. Lab to Market is incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and works closely with the faculty of this most prestigious institution, known world over for its world class facilities and research output. Our mission is to develop market-ready and commercially-viable products and solutions from the ‘proof of concept’ and ‘laboratory prototypes’ of academic institutions, research laboratories and similar others.

About Artesyn Embedded Technologies

Artesyn Embedded Technologies is a global leader in the design and manufacture of highly reliable power conversion and embedded computing solutions for a wide range of industries including communications, computing, consumer electronics, medical, military, aerospace and industrial automation. For more than 40 years, customers have trusted Artesyn to help them accelerate time-to-market and reduce risk with cost-effective advanced network computing and power conversion solutions. Headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Artesyn has over 16,000 employees worldwide across ten engineering centers of excellence, four wholly-owned world-class manufacturing facilities, and global sales and support offices.

Rake diversion triggered Shutdown of NTPC Simhadri unit: Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd

MCL has been regularly offering coal as per programme of NTPC Simhadari to South East Central Railway as well as East Coast Railways

BHUBANESWAR: Diversion of coal rakes entitled for NTPC’s Simhadari plant from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (MCL) by NTPC management triggered shutdown of its 500 MW unit in Andhra Pradesh, an MCL release said.

NTPC management had continuously diverted coal rakes from MCL entitled for Simhadari STPS (super thermal power station) to the Korba STPS and Seepat TPS (thermal power station) which were running super-critical.

MCL has been regularly offering coal as per programme of NTPC Simhadari to South East Central Railway as well as East Coast Railways.

As on date, materialisation of Andhra Pradesh-based thermal power station has been 95 per cent of pro rata ACQ (Annual Contracted Quality) for the month and 79 per cent for annual pro rata ACQ.

Between November 11 and 14, 2017, MCL has dispatched an average of seven rakes to NTPC Simhadari (seven, six, nine and six rakes respectively), which has been more than the supply of 5.5 rakes per day to the plant, as per the decision of the sub-group of the Ministry of Coal.

MCL is committed to maintain continuous supply of coal to its consumers and with the cooperation of Railways, the company has been successful in checking the growing demand-supply gap in the country. On Tuesday, 73 rakes were provided by Railways to MCL for coal supply.

In the current quarter Q3, the supply of coal from MCL has crossed an average of 400,000 tonnes per day.

MCL has supplied about 82 million tonnes of coal to its consumers in the current fiscal and has sufficient stock to feed all power consumers, including NTPC Simhadri.

The company had crossed 141 million tonne supply of coal to consumers during 2016-17, which had been the highest supply ever by any coal company in the country.

Now onus on States to ensure Land Transfer for Rail Projects: CRB Ashwani Lohani

NEW DELHI: With nearly 500 projects worth Rs 4 lakh crore delayed, the railways has decided that no new project will be taken up from now on until states give written commitments regarding transfer of land. Delay in land acquisition is one of the major causes for new rail projects not taking off.

The decision was taken by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani following internal deliberations. The board has issued policy guidelines to all zonal headquarters authorising general managers (GMs) to invite tenders only if they are reasonably certain of the possibility of land acquisition within a reasonable time-frame.

“In suppression of all earlier instructions, Railway Board has decided that issue of tenders or commencement of physical work for New Line projects shall be taken up only after completion of land acquisition subject,” said the policy document issued on October 30.

The document says that GMs can also consider seeking a written assurance from the state governments in this regard. The idea is to put the onus on state governments for smooth transfer of land for railway projects.

“The problem of land acquisition comes in new line projects, majority of which are recommended by states. So, the new guidelines put the onus on states to provide the land if they want new projects to be sanctioned,” said a senior railway board officer.

According to official statistics, there are about 491 projects – new lines, gauge conversion and doubling — pending completion. Of these, 171 are new railway line projects worth Rs 2 lakh crore.

“For the purpose of execution, large projects can be divided into phases by GMs… after ensuring that each phase, on completion, yields commercial return for Railways,” the policy document added.

It has been decided that the policy will be followed not just in cases of new projects but also old ones where tenders have not yet been finalised. Under the earlier policy, tenders could be issued if 70 per cent of land was available for the projects. But according to railway sources, it was hardly followed.

The guidelines have been sent to all states so that they can initiate the procedures for facilitating land acquisition for railway projects.

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800 Trains Set in a Few Clicks: Railways introduces Asia’s largest Interlocking System

The cost of installing the new system is a whopping Rs 39 crore. This new technology will allow the path of a train to be set in a way that it has to cross several tracks.

KOLKATA: With growing cases of derailment in the past few months, the South Eastern Railway (SER), in a move to increase capacity and ensure the safer running of trains, has replaced the route relay interlocking (RRI) system at Kharagpur with Asia’s largest solid state interlocking (SSI) system. This technology that is set to come into effect from Sunday will allow station masters at Kharagpur to set 800 different routes for trains in a matter of a few clicks.

This is in stark contrast to the vintage RRI system which only allowed operators to set a mere 423 routes.

Principal Chief Operations Manager of SER, Suchitto Kumar Das said, “This will be Asia’s largest SSI system. The RRI system is of pre-1980 vintage and has crossed its codal-life.”

The cost of installing the new system is a whopping Rs 39 crore. This new technology will allow the path of a train to be set in a way that it has to cross several tracks.

The prime benefit of the interlocking system is that it ensures no cross movement takes place during the crossings, to avoid disastrous collisions.

“The SSI system is much more dependable than the older ones. We have been carrying out tests on this system for the last 7-8 months,” said Das.

The project that was kick-started at the Kharagpur yard on November 4 will continue its work, till Sunday. It is likely, that passengers may face severe disruptions in the suburban rail services from Friday, once the SER begins to switch over to the SSI system from its current RRI system.

During the work, the SER will make platform numbers 7 and 8 at Kharagpur operational. To increase capacity, it will also link a third line from Howrah and a second line from Midnapore to the Kharagpur yard by Sunday.

As per SER’s Chief passenger transportation manager, Soumitra Majumdar, over 116 pairs of trains originate, terminate or pass through Kharagpur every day.

With the dawn of the new technology in place, three signal cabins will become inessential, and the requirement for cabin masters will decrease.

“We’ll require more station masters to operate the system. Some trains may be delayed, but we don’t anticipate any major trouble after Sunday,” he told.

Cloud deployment of Railways Management Systems to register highest CAGR

The trend of optimisation has spanned beyond the fields of electronics, technology and media, reaching key verticals in the transportation sector such as the railways. With the evolution of sensors and wireless connectivity, remote management of railways is becoming more accurate. Railways management systems are being developed on a range of new technologies that can potentially augment the operational performance of railways administration.

Considering how railways will remain to be the backbone of logistics, infrastructure, and the overall economy of a country, administrative authorities are expected to adopt railways management systems for bolstering this commodity. According to Future Market Insights, the global market railways management systems in anticipated to gain traction in terms of revenues over the period of next five years.

During this forecast period (2017-2022), advent of new and improved technologies and subsystems will continue to transform the efficiency of railways management systems. The report projects that by the end of 2022, the global market for railways management system will be worth nearly US$ 5 billion.

According to the report, North America is anticipated to represent the largest market for railways management systems. Robust railway infrastructure in the US, increasing interests of North American railway administration towards adoption of advanced technologies, and extended railway budgets will continue to factor the soaring adoption of railways management systems in this region through 2022.

Traffic planning solutions to make headway through 2022

On the basis of solutions facilitated through railways management systems & subsystems, the global market is anticipated to witness higher demand for traffic planning solutions. In 2017, close to one-third of revenues procured in the global railways management system market are anticipated to be accrued from the adoption of traffic planning solutions.

Advanced traffic management systems for railways are expected to enable local administration adapt to the changing traffic patterns of regional railways. Management and planning of narrow track traffic will continue to be a key concern for railways administration, especially in metropolitan environments.

Primarily, railway administrations are adopting fully-integrated railways management systems built around the operational plan of local, interstate and regional railways. The report further projects that adoption of track management systems will witness robust traction over the foreseeable future. These solutions are expected to provide better efficiency in management of high speed and conventional speed trains, as well as their long-hauling rolling stocks.

The demand for operation management systems is also expected to soar in the view of increasing incidence of train collisions due to operational flaws. By 2022-end, operation management systems sold across the globe are likely to bring in over US$ 1.1 billion in revenues.

Cloud deployment of railways management system to register highest CAGR

On-premise deployment of railways management system is anticipated to bring in nearly US$ 2 billion in global revenues by the end of 2017. In the approaching years, however, several railway administrations across the globe are likely to deploy railways management system through cloud-based networking models.

For improving compliance of railways management systems across integrated platforms, cloud deployment will be viewed as the best option. Moreover, real-time management and active notification systems will be working more effectively through cloud deployment of railways management systems. Through 2022, global revenues procured from cloud deployment of railways management systems are anticipated to register highest CAGR of 13.2%.

Tracking the competitors in global railways management system market

The report observes that companies namely, Hitachi, Ltd., Cisco Systems, Inc., IBM Corporation, ABB Limited, Thales S.A., General Electric Co., Toshiba Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., GAO RFID, and Amadeus IT Group, S.A will remain active in expansion of global railways management systems market through 2022.

Key developers of railways management systems are expected to focus on full integration and adoption of advanced sensors & monitoring tools. These companies will be compelled to offer comprehensive railways management systems, ones that adapt to every kind of railway traffic density, and across underground lines and conventional railways.

About Future Market Insights: Future Market Insights is the premier provider of market intelligence and consulting services, serving clients in over 150 countries. FMI is headquartered in London, the global financial capital, and has delivery centres in the U.S. and India.

FMI’s research and consulting services help businesses around the globe navigate the challenges in a rapidly evolving marketplace with confidence and clarity. Our customised and syndicated market research reports deliver actionable insights that drive sustainable growth. We continuously track emerging trends and events in a broad range of end industries to ensure our clients prepare for the evolving needs of their consumers.

FMI’s team of over 200 research analysts provides market intelligence at global, regional, and country level. Our analysts are committed to provide independent insights, relying on our cognitive defusion training module, which conditions them to look at data objectively and unbiasedly.

ECOR to install Wi-Fi in small stations through Universal Services Obligation Fund

BHUBANESWAR: The Railway Board has recently approved the provision of installing free Wi-Fi hotspots at 200 rural and remote stations across the country through Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) of the Centre. RailTel, a company under the ministry of railways, will carry out the project. USOF, which comes under department of telecommunications, has an objective to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality ICT (information and communications technology) services to people in rural and remote areas.

Stations like Malatipatpur, Sakhigopal, Birapurusottampur, Delang, Motori, Retang, Mancheswar, Barang, Gopalpur, Balikuda and other small stations under the jurisdiction of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) will be provided with free Wi-Fi service through the USOF project.

These stations will get high speed internet facility like Bhubaneswar, Puri and Visakhapatnam. Passengers passing the stations and local people can enjoy the free Wi-Fi facility at these stations. Target for completion of the project is March 2018.

Umesh Singh, ECoR General Manager, has reviewed the progress of Wi-Fi services in different stations and asked all concerned officials to expedite the new work.

The zone has already installed Wi-Fi services at small stations like Keonjhargarh, Paradeep, Tikiri and Bissamcuttack with the help of local industries, corporate houses and social organisations. The zone had decided on its own to request some corporate houses to invest their CSR fund to provide the service at some rural stations. This fund will boost their plan, said a senior railway officer.

Besides this, the ECoR has already installed Wi-Fi hotspots at all A1 category stations like Bhubaneswar and A category stations like Cuttack of the ECoR.

Call to use less Forest Area for Bhadrachalam-Sattupalli Railway Line

Kothagudem: Roads and Buildings Minister Tummala Nageswara Rao informed that he would explain the necessary changes in the proposals of Bhadrachalam Road-Sattupalli railway line to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter’s video conference.  At a review meeting in Kothagudem on Wednesday, the Minister laid stress on significant reduction in acquiring forest lands and cut costs by opting for land in plains which makes it easy to go in for alignment.

If the proposals revising all alignments made by the Minister are accepted, the distance would come down by 44.93 km from Bhadrachalam Road to Penuballi, and also by 30 km between Sattupalli and Jeelugumilli. In the proposal I, as revised by the Minister, the Bhadrachalam Road-Kovvur distance would be cut down by 53 km there by cutting the construction costs.

Tummala recalled that in the proposals accepted by the Centre, it was noted that the line passed through forest lands and that it was difficult in the present circumstances to acquire land. He explained that first proposal of the Bhadrachalam Road-Kovvur railway line, as accepted by the Centre in 2012-13, covered a distance of 151 km and to be laid at a cost Rs 923 crore. The cost was to be shared by both the Centre and the State.

Following the division of Andhra Pradesh, the two Telugu States had agreed in principle to share the cost. The distance covered in Telangana would be 78.50 km (cost Rs 239.82 crore) and 72.40 km in Andhra Pradesh (cost Rs 221.18 crore). As per the current estimates, the cost of the entire railway line would be about Rs 2,700 crore.

In the second proposal, the entire cost was to be met by Singareni Collieries (except land acquisition cost) with civil works accounting for Rs 586.44 crore, electrical engineering Rs 34.47 crore, signaling & traction Rs 29.90 crore and electrical (TRD)Rs 53.41 crore. The land acquisition cost was to be borne by the railways.

According to current estimates, the cost would now be around Rs 958 crore. In the third proposal, both the Centre and the Railways had approved PPP (Public Private Partnership) concept costing Rs 723 crore, covering a distance of 125 km. The revised cost would now be Rs 2,250 crore.

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Railway Board (Rail Bhawan) security comes under MHA Operational Control

NEW DELHI:  The Union Home Ministry has taken operational control of security at Rail Bhawan, the headquarters of the Indian Railways, the government said on Wednesday.

Located at 1, Raisina Road, near Parliament House, the Rail Bhawan building’s security and access control is under ‘B’ category deployment cover of Railway Protection Force (RPF).

As per a Home Ministry order to the Railways on November 7, the RPF deployment will continue but its operational control will now be in the hands of the Home Ministry.

The order said access to the building will be regulated as per the Home Ministry norms on security.

“The system of issuing visitor and temporary passes will be as per the Home Ministry procedure. The Ministry will also take care of things like identity cards, validation slips, restrictions, and entry.”

“The reception can continue to be manned by Railway Ministry staff. If so desired, however, they will work under the operational control of the zonal supervisor concerned of the reception organisation of the Home Ministry.”

Growth in Transportation of Goods items strengthening NFR coffers

GUWAHATI: Growth in transportation of various items, including food grain and mineral oil, as well as rise in prices of some commodities in the markets has brought dividends for the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), with the zone’s year-on-year cumulative revenue earnings from freight traffic witnessing an increase during the first half of the current fiscal.

NFR’s revenue earnings from freight traffic on originating basis went up to Rs 609.35 crore during the April 1 to September 30 period this year, compared to Rs 594.10 crore in the year-ago period, resulting in a growth of 2.57 per cent.

During the period under review, the commodity-wise freight traffic of the NFR on originating basis also went up by 2.78 per cent annually to 4.81 million tonnes (MT) from 4.68 MT in the comparative period of 2016-17.

The increase in freight traffic and the resultant earnings have happened despite the fact that rail traffic from the NFR zone to the rest of the country remained snapped for as long as three weeks in August this year due to massive floods in eastern Bihar.

In the first half of the current financial year (2017-18), the NFR earned Rs 62.49 crore from transportation of 0.30 MT of coal compared to Rs 52.43 crore from transportation of 0.29 MT of coal in the same period of the last fiscal.

Its earnings from other major components like container service and ‘other goods’ also went up on an annual basis.

NFR earned Rs 14.62 crore from transportation of 0.05 MT of container service during the first half of this fiscal as against Rs 13.67 crore from transportation of 0.04 MT of the product in the year-ago period.

Similarly, its earnings from ‘other goods’ went up to Rs 103 crore by transportation of 1.53 MT of such items, compared to Rs 75.96 crore from transportation of 1.25 MT of ‘other goods’ during the first six months of 2016-17.

The zone earned Rs 184.17 crore from transportation of 1.50 MT of mineral oil (petroleum oil and lubricants) during the first half of this fiscal.

In addition, it earned Rs 172.54 crore from transportation of 0.67 MT of food grain, Rs 6.54 crore from 0.11 MT of fertilizers, Rs 17.43 crore from 0.20

MT of cement and Rs 48.46 crore by transporting 0.45 MT of raw materials for steel plants.

Overall, in the first half of the current fiscal, the Indian Railways’ cumulative revenue earnings from freight traffic on originating basis also jumped by over eight per cent on an annual basis to Rs 52,414 crore, while its commodity-wise freight traffic also registered a growth of over five per cent to 559.16 MT.

It is noteworthy that of the 17 zonal railways, as many as 12 registered a growth in the earnings from freight traffic during the first half of the current fiscal.

Railway officials said one of the reasons for the growth registered by NFR this year is the low base.

They added that freight traffic and earnings from it can receive further boost in the NFR zone as work on the double tracking has been taken up and railway services are being extended to remote parts of the north-eastern states.

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All Rail Coaches to have Bio-toilets by 2018 as Indian Railways advances the target for 100 percent installation

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Railways has advanced the target for 100 percent completion of installing Bio-toilets in coaches to December 2018.

The decision was announced at event titled, “Indian Transport Sector: Marching towards Sustainable Mobility” at Conference of Parties (COP-23), Indian Pavilion at Bonn, Germany on Tuesday.

Ravindra Gupta, Member (Rolling Stock), Ministry of Railways, who is on official tour to Germany, presented the quintessential role of Indian Railways in promoting sustainable mobility.

Gupta also emphasized particularly on the innovative steps taken by Indian Railways by way of bio-toilets for having an open discharge free in line with mission of “Swachh Bharat” and an Open Defecation Free (ODF) Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Two sessions were organized as a part of this side event. The first session highlighted efforts of Indian Railways towards a low carbon pathway and the second was dedicated to overall sustainable mobility initiatives in Indian transport sector.

The event was attended by nearly 50 national and international participants including eminent speakers, policy makers, industry representatives.

The event started with an Audio-Visual film on Indian Railways showcasing key low carbon transport initiatives being taken by Indian Railways such as Electrification, Energy Efficiency initiatives, renewable energy deployment etc.

The session was organised in partnership with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), as knowledge partners, FICCI as industry partner, and RITES as technical partner.

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Army submits bridge drawings to Indian Railways

The GADs for making bridges at Parel-Elphinstone Road stations, Currey Road and Ambivali stations were submitted to the Railways.

MUMBAI: THE ARMY on Wednesday submitted the General Arrangement Drawings (GAD) for the bridges to be constructed at three railway stations.

The railways aims to send corrected drawings of the bridges back to the Army within this week. GADs form the earlier part of drawings which come before making the designs. The GADs for making bridges at Parel-Elphinstone Road stations, Currey Road and Ambivali stations were submitted to the railways.

“We have received their GADs. The next step would be to deliberate over the designs and suggest them corrections at certain stages. After respective officers of the division have approved the drawings, we can send the designs back to them. The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) would also approve the designs,” a senior railway official said.

According to the designs, the bridge to be made by the Army at Parel station would be at least 70 metres long, the one at Currey Road would be 30 metres long and one at Ambivali station would be 20 metres long. They would each have 3.5 metres width.

“The railways has started clearing obstacles from the premises. These obstacles were coming in the way of the bridge construction, according to the design. They should be cleared before work starts on November 25,” the official added.

The next step would be to approve final design drawings of the bridges. Approvals from the municipal corporation were also taken with respect to designs, senior railway  officials added.

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Orders from Railways helped KPTL achieve 20% y-o-y Growth Target

Good ordering in railways and L1 pipeline has helped KPTL come in striking distance of achieving the 20% y-o-y growth target for ordering in FY2018E.

Good ordering in railways and L1 pipeline has helped Kalpataru Power Transmissions Ltd (KPTL) come in striking distance of achieving the 20% y-o-y growth target for ordering in FY2018E. These non-T&D businesses have driven growth in execution in H1FY18 without diluting overall margins. Current backlog and good growth prospects put KPTL on track to reach RoCE of 20% and a debt-free balance sheet by FY2020. We revise our estimates by 2-8%, raise earnings multiple of JMC Projects to 12X and roll forward to September 2019E TP of Rs 470 (from Rs 415). KPTL reported a reasonable quarter with a 10%/9%/24% y-o-y growth in sales/EBITDA/PAT. The results suggest the levered nature of business (interest cost down 26% y-o-y) and curtailed GST-applied brakes on execution.

YTD backlog (including recent order wins) is >2X trailing 12 months revenues and should support strong rebound in execution. Composition of such backlog suggests limited reliance on PGCIL at 13% (both railways and pipeline businesses have similar share). Non-TD businesses are driving scale-up in ordering (40% share in YTD ordering) and all of the 4% y-o-y growth in H1FY18 execution. They form a reasonable share of execution (~20%) and are helping grow overall EBITDA margin. As in T&D, the company is well-placed in these segments with a 15-20% hit rate and good ordering prospects.

JMC Projects’ Q2FY18 results mirrored Q1FY18 performance with a 24%/27%/110% y-o-y growth in sales/EBITDA/PAT. EBITDA margin has reached double-digit levels. Delay in award/dropping off certain L1 orders has led to subdued ordering in H1FY18 and a still healthy order backlog at >2X FY2018E revenues. The company expects R600-700 million of support in FY2018 to its ailing BOT projects and nothing further in FY2019, has recently completed 5/25 in one stressed project and expects the same for the other stressed project over the next six months.

Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited is amongst the largest players firmly entrenched in the global power transmission and infrastructure EPC space. With proven experience and expertise spanning over three decades, KPTL today has established its footprints in over 40 countries, executing marquee projects with comprehensive capabilities that deliver complete solutions covering design, testing, fabrication, erection and construction of transmission lines, oil and gas infrastructure and railways projects on a turnkey basis.

KPTL is part of the Kalpataru Group established in 1969. It is a diversified conglomerate spanning Real Estate, Power Generation and Transmission, Construction of Roads, Factories, Buildings and Oil and Gas Infrastructure and Agri-Logistics spaces.

Over 2000 strong technical manpower of KPTL delivers compelling advantage, combining in-house research, engineering and manufacturing that ensure the highest value proposition to clients. The Company has an annual production capacity of over 180,000 MT of transmission towers at its three state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in India and an ultra-modern tower testing facility, making it amongst the global largest power transmission EPC Company. KPTL’s wide reach and presence includes international geographies like Africa, CIS countries, the Middle East, SAARC, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

In India, the Company has been partnering India’s accelerating infrastructure push by executing EPC projects in Oil & Gas infrastructure and Railways infrastructure as well as undertaking power transmission projects on Build, Operate, Own, and Transfer (BOOT) model.

KPTL’s Oil & Gas business includes providing EPC contracting services for cross-country pipelines, terminals and gas gathering stations across diverse territories. The Company provides end-to-end solutions through a well-qualified engineering and designing team for successful and timely completion of projects.

KPTL’s Railway Infrastructure EPC vertical aids in accelerating economic development in domestic and international markets by leveraging proven expertise in project management capabilities, engineering & construction experience combined with strong technical and financial support. The Company is providing railways EPC services for executing civil infrastructure, track laying, signaling & telecommunication and over-head electrification projects for railways in India.

KPTL has successfully positioned its High Voltage Substation business both in air insulated (AIS) and gas insulated (GIS) segment in domestic as well as international market.

KPTL has expanded its operations under the promising transmission line BOOT projects under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. The Company has successfully developed two projects in Jhajjar (Haryana) and Satpura-Ashta (Madhya Pradesh). Both these projects were completed ahead of schedule and are operational. KPTL is in the process of developing its third transmission line BOOT project under the SPV Alipurduar Transmission Limited.

As an integral part of its long-term asset creation goal, KPTL has expanded its scope into Civil Construction, Infrastructure Projects, Road BOOT Projects as well as Agri-Logistics through its subsidiaries JMC Projects (India) Limited and Shree Shubham Logistics Limited.

Quality, Environment and Occupational Health & Safety are at the core and fore of every KPTL project. The unwavering focus on global quality standards has ensured ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certifications.

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Centre not going to Privatize the Indian Railways: MOSR Sinha

BONGAIGAON: The 93rd annual convention of All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) started from Wednesday in Gorakhpur city of Uttar Pradesh with a two-day long programme.  The programme started with a women’s conference which had been followed by AIRF working committee meeting. A procession throughout the city was taken out which culminated in Sayed Modi Railway Stadium of Gorakhpur.

In the mass meeting, several noted persons like Manoj Sinha, Union Minister of State for Railways, Stephene Cotton, general secretary, International Transport Workers Federation, Noel Coard, Head of Inland Transport Section, ITF, Backer Kundajki, Youth  Coordinator, ITF, Rakhal Das Gupta, president AIRF, and Shib Gopal Mishra, general secretary, AIRF, were present.

Addressing the gathering, Manoj Sinha said that the government was not going to privatize the Railway department. “But we have to upgrade the department as per requirement of our consumers and hence we need the help of Railway employees,” he said. Shib Gopal Mishra said the tough times had started and hence all the labour class people should be united. Stephene Cotton also appealed to people to be united for the rights of labour class people.

More than 30,000 delegates from all over India and also from other countries are taking part in this convention. N F Railway Mazdoor Union has also taken part in this convention with more than 1,000 delegates.

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Railway equipments merit more rational rate of GST: Siemens’ Tilak Raj Seth

‘Siemens, Alstom rail business merger by December 2018’

Two arch-rivals, Siemens and Alstom, have recently announced the merger of their rail businesses to create a European transportation giant to counter Chinese competition. TILAK RAJ SETH, executive vice-president of Siemens and chief executive officer of its mobility division in India, talks about the merger, the impact of GST on the sector, and about the company’s road-ahead in India. Edited excerpts:

1) What is the status of the rail business merger between Siemens and Alstom?

Tilak Raj Seth: There is an announcement of the organisations getting together but that so-called closure is yet to happen. Further, such a closure takes time. We expect it to happen by the end of the next calendar year. It could take anything between 12 to 18 months. Naturally, there are certain steps to be completed. Until that time, both organisations continue to do their business as usual with rather fiercer competition. In other words, we remain fierce competitors.

2) Both Siemens and Alstom are in the fray for the Kanchrapara coach factory in Bengal. Will the merger announcement affect that?

Tilak Raj Seth: Kanchrapara is an iconic project. It’s a Make in India initiative in a public-private partnership setting, where the Indian Railways and the successful bidder will co-own this facility and produce modern technology coaches. This project will bring to India the EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) and MEMU (Main-line Electric Multiple Unit), in a setting that will have many advantages. It will bring technology that we don’t have. It will bring in a method of manufacturing and project execution that is of an international and global standard.

Five thousand cars are to be built over 12 years at Kanchrapara. Half of the fleet is supposed to be maintained over the next 13 years. It’s a multi-billion-dollar project. If you’re searching for a number, $5 billion is good. We qualified with Bombardier — that is a group called Siemens-Bombardier. There are two other groups – CRRC-Alstom and Medha-Stadler – that have qualified. Right now, we are in the RFP (request for proposal) phase and the submission bid is currently due in the middle of January. We are working towards this and we are hopeful that we’ll deal with this with as much responsibility, excellence, and transparency — the way we did the two local projects that were equally iconic.

Regarding the merger, as of today, we are two competing companies and will continue to be competitors. We are committed to the Kanchrapara project and to offer the best competitive bid.

3) How do you see the change in policies since Piyush Goyal has taken charge of the ministry?

Tilak Raj Seth: There’s a lot of visible positivity. The new team – minister Goyal, Indian Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, the connected Railway Board management, and, not to forget, even the general managers in various zonal railways production units – is in a rhythm, which has been set by a sense of urgency.

This sense of urgency is covering key topics. One is the safety of the Railways. The second is excellence in operations and taking them to the level of global standards. The third is enhancing throughput — we’re talking about enhancing and augmenting the speeds, removing bottlenecks in the system, and enhancing the throughput. The fourth is the pace of electrification. In a very short time, they will electrify all our tracks.

The minister has said that there is no Budget constraint on safety. Also, he has said that the respective channel managers are free to take any action that is required to enhance safety. He also mentioned that whatever governance is required from the Railway board will be done in a very defined and specified time. Now, the idea is that things can go on undisturbed, as required.

4) Even the pace of electrification has increased. What is your take on this?

Tilak Raj Seth: We were earlier talking about 4,000 km electrification per annum. Now, they’re talking about 12,000 km electrification per annum. It’s a different pace altogether. This is a very welcome step because, with this, you come to use a more environmental-friendly mode of transport — electric, no coals, EMUs, inter-city trains, all of these.

5) From an industry point of view, what should be the strategy to increase the involvement of the private sector in railway projects?

Tilak Raj Seth: We know that it is on the high-agenda list. Firstly, the investment must continue to happen unhindered. Second is that with regard to project execution, the time should be well defined. Third, the terms and conditions must be equitable. The industry and the Indian Railways have sat down and shared each other’s concerns. There is already a joint working group that is looking into this.

6) After GST was implemented, there seems to be a lot of impact on the infrastructure sector. Has it affected you?

Tilak Raj Seth: The highest slab of GST, at 28 per cent, applies on a lot of rail components — on traction converters, on signalling equipment and so on. Earlier, it was a lower slab. Since railways is the most efficient and environmental-friendly mode of transport, it certainly merits a more rational rate of GST. Further, there is an inverted GST in some transport areas, in the sense that you have five per cent GST on trains but 28 per cent GST on many components. Under these circumstances, you don’t offset the paid GST on components with the final product, which needs to be corrected.

7) Apart from Kanchrapara, what are the other projects you are more bullish on?

Tilak Raj Seth: While we are not bullish, the Railways has a lot of iconic projects going on. Apart from this, there is a project of locomotive purchase going on right now in the qualification phase. Right now, we’re quoting for the locomotive projects and for EMU components. We’re also quoting for locomotive components. Further, We’re quoting for another line of business called TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System). We’re also participating in many of them.

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NMDC Ltd spending Rs.50.36 Crore for Railway Track doubling works

HYDERABAD/RAIPUR: NMDC Ltd is making expenditure of Rs 50.37 crore to enable facilities towards doubling of railway line between Kirandul and Jagdalpur and Jagdalpur and Ambagaon required for augmentation of iron ore evacuation capacity of Bailadila sector in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

The company is also making efforts to increase iron ore evacuation capacity through doubling of Kirandul-Kothavalasa (KK) railway line, officials informed.

Notably, the company is also participating in the Rowghat-Jagdalpur Rail line project as a major stake holder with 43 per cent share along with SAIL, IRCON & Govt. of Chhattisgarh being other stake holders with 21per cent, 26per cent & 10per cent respectively.

On the other hand, Chhattisgarh government would be earmarking suitable land banks in the vicinity of Dallirajahara-Rowghat-Jagdalpur Rail Corridor for setting up of small industrial units, officials informed.

Notably, the  Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) is co-ordinating the  construction of Railay line from DaIlirajhara to Rowghat covering a distance of 95 km with Indian Railways in Chhattisgarh.

The project for doubling of Railway line between Kirandul and Jagdalpurin Chhatisgarh’s insurgency ridden  Bastar region is expected to be complete by January 2019, official sources informed.

Notably, NMDC Ltd had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Union Ministry of Railways on December 21, 2012 and the aforesaid project would be helpful in significantly augmenting evacuation capacity of NMDC’s Bailadila Sector mines by rail from the existing 28 MTPA to 40 MTPA of iron ore.

NMDC had deposited an amount of Rs  150 crores with East Coast Railway and the expenditure incurred as on March 31, 2015 was Rs  132.00 crore, sources informed.

For execution of the project, the Railways has divided the 150 km length of doubling work into three Sections namely, Jagdalpur to Silakjori 45.50 km, Kirandul to Gidam 52.23 km and Silakjori to Gidam 52.73 km.

Notably, the Rs 2000 crore Rowghat to Jagdalpur railway line would also pass through heavily insurgency infested Kondagaon and Narayanpur districts of Bastar division in Chhattisgarh, officials stated.

The project is a joint venture between Chhattisgarh government, NMDC, SAIL and IRCON.The initial stretch of the first phase of the ambitious 235-km-long Dallirajhara-Rowghat-Jagdalpur Railway line project in Bastar division of Chhattisgarh has been completed, officials stated.

In all, 17 km Rail track has been completed in the first phase and Chief Minister Raman Singh has expressed happiness over the achievement, they stated.

A successful trial run of a Railway diesel engine was also carried out earlier between Dallirajhara till Gudum village at the speed of 20 km per hour.

Notably, the development of two key Rail corridors in mineral-rich Chhattisgarh is now set to expand the Railway line network by 45 per cent in the State, officials stated.

The completion of Dallirajhara-Rowghat-Jagdalpur, East and East-WestRail corridor projects will comprise a total of 535 kilometers Railway-line during the next two to four years, they stated.

The East West Rail Corridor project is expected to get completed in 2018-19.

The corridor is to facilitate movement of about 60 million tonnes of coal to various parts of the country apart from providing passenger train facility for the local populace of the region.

The length of the rail track would be 135.30 kms.The Chhattisgarh East West Railway Ltd is the implementing agency for the project.

Notably, Coal India Ltd (CIL) is putting all its resources together to ensure its flagship subsidiary South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) is able to transport more coal easily to its customers, officials informed.

Notably, the East West Corridor project from Gevra to Pendra in Chhattisgarh with a length of about 122 kms is being executed by Chhattisgarh East West Rail Ltd (CEWRL) .

CEWRL is a joint venture company formed by South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL), IRCON and Chhattisgarh government.

The project had been undertaken for evacuation of coal from SECL’s Gevra-Korba coalfields.

The Union Ministry of Coal has ensured Coal India Ltd (CIL) for getting Mand-Raigarh railway line project expedited to facilitate growth in offtake of coal from mines under South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) in Chhattisgarh.

Notably, the  coal requirement for the proposed Super Thermal Plant of NTPC Ltd at Lara would be met from Talaipalli Coal Block of Mand in Raigarh Coalfields, officials stated.NMDC Ltd is making an expenditure of Rs 41.16 crore for enabling facilities needed for doubling of railway line between Kirandul and Jagdalpur and Jagdalpur-Ambagaon section for augmentation of iron ore evacuation from Bailadila mines in Baster region of Chhattisgarh.

The company is also going for enhancement of production capacity enhancement of iron ore from 4.2 MTPA to 6 MTPA at its Bailadila Deposit no 10 in Dantewada district of South Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, officials informed.

It has already commenced work for setting up the 2.0 MTPA Pellet Plant at Nagarnar near Jagdalpur in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, officials informed.

Notably, the company has made a capital expenditure of Rs 4.76 crore as on September 2016 for development of its Bailadila iron ore mines in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh during the last financial year, officials informed.

The company is now going for construction of the 5th iron ore screening line at its existing screening plant number 2 at Bailadila Iron Ore Mine at Kirandul complex in Dantewada district of Bastar region.

It may also be recalled that NMDC has proposed to use its mine lease area at Deposit number 4 located at Bailadila range of hills at Bhansi near Bacheli in South Bastar’s Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh for meeting the raw material requirement ‘exclusively’ for its upcoming 3 MTPA Integrated Steel Plant at Nagarnar, officials informed.

The remaining iron ore quantity after meeting the requirement of integrated steel plant at Nagarnar from  Deposit 4 will be sold to domestic customers in Chhattisgarh, they informed.

The Deposit – 4 iron ore mine will be developed as a ‘standalone project’ with an estimated investment of Rs 1899.74 crores. Notably, NMDC proposes for mining the Deposit number 4 iron ore mine with a production capacity of 7.0 MTPA in the mine lease area of 646.596 hectares.

Notably, NMDC’s iron ore requirement for the steel plant would be 5 MTPA. The exploration work was done at Bailadila Deposit No. 4 by NMDC in the year back in 1972-74. The ore reserves were proved by detailed exploration activities.

The Deposit 4 has a production capacity of 7.0 MTPA and spread in a mining lease area of 646.596 hectares.

In addition to the mining lease area, 95.13 hectares forest land is identified for development of infrastructure such as downhill conveyor, screening plant, loading plant and approach road etc.

Further, 50 hectares of non-forest land is also required for installation of railway stock yard, administrative building, loading plant (part), tailing dam, STP and township etc.

The existing iron ore production from other Bailadila mines is catering to requirements of large steel plants and also to local sponge iron / pelletplants in Chhattisgarh.

Mining plan along with progressive mine closure plan has been approved by Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), for production capacity of 7.0 MTPA vide their letter no: No 314(3)/2012-MCCM (CZ)/MP-19 dated July 26, 2013, officials informed.

NMDC is operating iron ore mines at Bailadila Complex in South Bastar Dantewada District Chhattisgarh and is having long terms commitment for supply of iron ore to major steel plants across the country. Hence, J.V. Company between NMDC and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC)  i.e NMDC-CMDC (NCL) was formed for development of a new deposit in the already prospected areas i.e Bailadila Deposit-4 with a production capacity of 7 MTPA for meeting the iron ore requirement of Steel plant of NMDC at Nagarnar, near Jagdalpur.

It is doing a complete Energy Audit for Bailadila Iron Ore Mine at Deposit 14 and 11C at Kirandul complex and Deposit 5, 10 and 11A at Bacheli Complex in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

The company is also planning to construct a ‘rapid iron ore loading system’ with a capacity of 14 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) at its Kirandul complex in Bastar, officials informed.

Adding yet another feather to its cap, NMDC’s Bailadila Iron ore Mine at Bacheli Complex in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh has bagged the prestigious ‘FIMI Golden Jubilee Award for Excellence’.

On the basis of best practices adopted, improvement over the last 10 years, excellence in environment management, social awareness, health and safety, overall mine performance and exemplary Reclamation & Rehabilitation (R&R) efforts by Bailadila Iron Ore Mine at Bacheli Complex, the Federation of Indian Mineral Industry (FIMI) has awarded NMDC’s flagship mine for this One Time Special Award, a company press release informed.

Coal India in talks with Railways to hike Rake Loading

KOLKATA: Coal India is talking to the Railways to increase rake loading from an average of 216 so far since April to 250 by the end of the fiscal year, as it seeks to meet increased demand with both power and non-power sectors facing a short-supply of the dry fuel.

At present, the state-run monopoly has been focusing on supplying coal to the power sector, which is struggling with dwindling stocks and falling generation at many plants.

“The effort to increase rakes has started to show result. This month, average loading of coal on rakes for power has been 214 (238 including to non-power sectors) while last November, 199 (235 in total) rakes were being sent to the power sector,” a senior CIL executive said on Tuesday.

“In fact, on Monday, we managed to achieve loading on 249 rakes, close to the target. Of these, 224 went to the power sector,” he said.  “However, we need to achieve loading on 250 rakes on a regular basis so that demand from both the power and non-power sector can be handled.”

Over the past few months, reduction in generation from non-thermal sources like hydel and wind resulted in increased demand for thermal power.

This led thermal power generators, which were witnessing damp demand during April and May, to ask for additional coal since they were using up stocks at a faster pace.

“Supplies could not be increased overnight as Coal India faces logistics constraints. This resulted in falling coal stocks and generation. In fact, a few generation units had to shut. In order to make sure the situation is not repeated in the future, Coal India is working hand in hand with the railways to increase rake loading to 250 on a daily basis,” the executive said.

At present, coal stocks at power plants are good for six days and 22 plants have critical stocks. Total stocks at power plants is about 8 million tonnes, compared with 18 million tonnes a year earlier when only 4 plants had critical stocks.

We do need to proactively liberalise fuel supply. Now that we have a policy on commercial mining, captive coal miners need to be encouraged to expand supply to more than one customer. It would boost economies of scale in mining and evacuation, and make sense nationally. We do need forward-looking policy so that the more efficient producers can readily seek custom.

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How ISRO is helping Indian Railways to curb accidents at Unmanned Level-crossings

NEW DELHI: A satellite-based system will now alert road users at unmanned level crossings about approaching trains and also help in tracking train movement on a real-time basis.

The space technology, adopted with the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will warn road users through hooters once a train approaches an unmanned level crossing. The railways is installing ISRO-developed integrated circuit (IC) chips on 10,000 locomotives of trains.

About 500 metres before the level crossings, the hooter will be activated through a signal from the IC chip, warning road users as well as the train drivers near the crossing.

The hooter will become louder as the level crossing nears, and will fall silent after the train has passed.

On a pilot basis, two level crossing gates in Sonepur division on the Delhi-Guwahati Rajdhani route are to be equipped with the ISRO system, to be followed by a few gates on the Delhi-Mumbai route shortly.

Trials would be conducted on these two busy rail corridors and, according to the plan, all level crossings will be equipped with the ISRO system in phases, said a senior Railway Ministry official who did not want to be named.

Besides alerting road users, the satellite-based system will also be used for tracking trains for disseminating information about their movement on a real-time basis. At present, train movement related information is maintained manually, leaving scope for inaccuracies.

The trial for real-time train information system is already being carried out on Mumbai Rajdhani and Guwahati Rajdhani services, said the official.

Safety at unmanned level crossings is a cause of serious concern for railways as these crossings witness maximum mishaps. The public transporter had explored various ways to address the issue before settling for the ISRO system.

A few locos are being equipped with the device and installation of hooters at unmanned level crossings gates on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Guwahati routes is being carried out gradually.

There are about 7,254 unmanned railway crossings in the country which account for around 40 per cent of accidents involving the railways. There are about 18,000 manned level crossings.

While the Railways had eliminated 1,148 unmanned crossings in 2014-15 and 1,253 in 2015-16, it has scaled up its target and now plans to eliminate all such crossings in the next two to three years.

Once all unmanned level crossings are eliminated, the hooter system would be shifted to manned level crossings as per the plan.

The satellite-based system will also help railways in mapping the area and the technology will come in handy at the time of accidents when it can be used to ascertain the exact location of trains and topography.

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Indian Railways to use GPS-enabled Safety Devices to help guide Trains through fog

The Railways also plan to provide sufficient walkie-talkie sets to the crew and station staff, convert the auto-signalling system to a semi-automatic mode, and impose speed restrictions when faced with intense fog situations.

NEW DELHI: Fogs in northern India are known for bringing cities and towns to a standstill when winter seeps in. This is also the time when the railway loco pilots have to be extra alert while navigating through clouded visibility.

In order to avoid delay owing to fogs and ensure trains stick to their timetable during winters, the Indian Railways is planning to incorporate GPS-enabled fog safety devices in trains to keep the pilots alert about approaching signals.

According to a railway official, over 2,400 devices have already been supplied by the national transporter in northern regions that are worst hit by extreme fogs during winter. Around 900 devices have been provided to the Delhi zone alone.

The Railways also intend to employ ‘fogmen’ who will fix detonators on tracks which will alert loco pilots about approaching signals.

Additionally, intensive night footplate inspection and track patrolling will be undertaken by railway authorities to detect cases of rail fracture, which is one of the major causes of derailment during winter.

The Railways also plan to provide sufficient walkie-talkie sets to the crew and station staff, convert the auto-signalling system to a semi-automatic mode, and impose speed restrictions when faced with intense fog situations.

Signal indication booklets are to be provided to loco pilots, who will be given special counselling sessions on working during fog.

With the onslaught of winter, the national transporter has to grapple with crises like slower mobility, shortage of crew due to longer working hours on a train, complete mishmash of timetable, non-availability of track maintenance slots and heavy crowding of waiting passengers.

With the implementation of the GPS-enabled devices, the Railways will be able to keep up with their schedule and avert accidents owing to fogs.

Indian Railways plans to issue 30 times larger Electrification Tenders

NEW DELHI: For the first time, the Indian Railways is planning to give out tenders as large as 1,500 km, up from the present average of 30-40 km, for railway electrification in order to meet its full electrification target by 2021.

The tenders issued under the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) model is expected to significantly cut down electrification costs which is now Rs 1-2 crore per km.

The railways has plans to issue tender packages ranging from 400 km to 1,500 km under the EPC contracts. Along with speeding up the electrification process, this move will be a point of departure after which all contracts would be in EPC mode, a senior railway ministry official told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.

Last month, Railway minister Piyush Goyal had said that the ministry were to issue larger electrification tender to speed up the process. He said that instead of the railways issuing tenders for only 30-40 km, it would start giving tenders for minimum of 500 km of track, according to another report.

Additionally, the railways has uploaded a model EPC Agreement, model request for qualification (RFQ) and model request for proposal (RFP) and opened it for public feedback till November 16. This initiative was taken for the advancement of the electrification initiatives.

As per the Mint report, the railways plans to electrify 24,400 km of railway tracks within 2021 while incurring a total cost of Rs 35,000 crore. Several companies, including the public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), are eyeing the electrification contracts that are on the card.

A second railway official confirmed the development to the newspaper and said that the railways has only completed electrifying 40 percent of its existing 66,000 km till now and falling behind schedule.

He also said that big tenders are likely to attract bigger players as contractors who would be better equipped to finish the work faster and with more efficiency. He added that the EPC contracts would also be open for global companies.

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Indian Railways to increase efficiency via skill-based training in core sectors

Railway Board chief designs plan for employees’ Skill Training, Learning & Development. In the exercise various Departments/Institutes of Indian Railways are involved apart from Principles Manufacturers!

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has decided to send its staff members for “skill-based training” to enhance their productivity and efficiency levels.

Under the direction of Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal, a comprehensive plan for imparting training to all employees of Indian Railways is being prepared with a view to upgrade skill & knowledge. This comprehensive training programme named as Project Saksham will help boost productivity and efficiency.

The massive exercise for all its employees – Project Saksham – will continue for the next one year. Employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area.

In a letter to the zonal General Managers on October 30, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani emphasised that “there is a need to do a concentrated capsule of training for all employees in a short period of time to boost their efficiency”.

Under this plan, all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area over next one year. A communication to this effect from Chairman Railway Board, Shri Ashwani Lohani, has been sent to all General Managers of zonal railways and railways production unit.

With the growing rail network, new trains, different high-quality services, the growing expectation of passengers for better amenities and services – and the promise of the government to deliver superior and safe rail travel — there is a need to rise to the occasion to deliver the promise, Lohani said.

“While continuous learning and educational training has been an integral philosophy and approach of the Railways, there is need to do a concentrated capsule of training for all employees in a short period of time to boost their productivity and efficiency.

“So it has been decided that all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area over next one year,” Lohani said.

He also asked the General Managers to ensure that the training requirement is quickly identified for each category of employee in their specific zones and asked them to formulate a schedule by December 31, 2017.

“The training shall be a five-day-on-the-job or classroom training in railway training centres depending on the nature of the training,” he said.

Lohani also asked the General Managers to ensure that the reporting managers of all employees are actively involved in the training processes and the focus should be on “making a difference” on the job.

He instructed the General Managers to complete the training within nine months and asked them to personally monitor progress by devising metrics to ascertain the impact of the Project Saksham.

Following the stampede at the Elphinstone Station in Mumbai on September 29, in which 23 people were killed and over 150 injured, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced a series of steps, including decentralisation of power, to carry out safety-related work.

On October 25, the Railways said that General Managers had been given full powers to sanction out-of-turn safety-related work without any ceiling “within the financial limit set out by Ministry of Finance”.

The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) and Chief Workshop Managers can now re-engage retired railway employees up to 62 years to take care of safety and maintenance related work wherever there are vacancies.

Enhanced powers for repairs of track machines were also given to the field officers for faster track safety work.

The Railways had substantially simplified the procedures for procurement of material like spare parts for locomotives, coaches and the like.

Junior field officers and supervisors in charge have been provided multi-utility vehicles and may hire vehicles for up to Rs.5,000 per case for rushing to breakdown sites without loss of time. This will lead to faster restoration of train services and improve punctuality/safety of trains.

DRMs were also given full powers to undertake projects on Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) basis like setting up of laundries and to enter into Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMCs) for critical equipment with the OEMs to ensure uninterrupted services.

Meanwhile, Station Directors in large stations had been given the powers of the Branch Officers in the divisions to enable them to take decisions for smooth operations. Instructions were issued to post young and dynamic officers as Station Directors at 75 important stations.

Jeypore-Malkangiri Railway line project still hangs in balance

NABARANGPUR: After much anticipation, the land acquisition for the 38 km-long broad gauge railway link between Nabarangpur and Jeypore has finally started. However, the fate of much-awaited project Jeypore-Malkangiri railway link still hangs in balance as Centre and State are now at logger heads over cost sharing.

A broad gauge rail line of 130 kilometres from Jeypore to Malkangiri will be set up under the project that aims at socio-economic development and put Malkangiri on the railway map.

A special land acquisition officer has been appointed to oversee the affairs of Nabarangpur-Jeypore and Jeypore-Malkangiri projects.

As per the detailed project report, land acquisition for Nabarangpur-Jeypore railway project will be carried out in 29 villages, official sources said.

On the other hand, uncertainty looms over the new railway link between Jeypore and Malkangiri as the project remains a non-starter due to Centre-State fight over land cost bearing for the project.

According to reports, the state government had initially offered to bear 25 percent of the land cost on sharing basis for the 130 km long railway line and had signed a MoU in 2016.

Even though the project was slated to be completed within six years of the signing of the link and an outlay of Rs 79 crore was made in the railway budget of 2016-17, the East Coast Railway (ECoR) had raised doubts over the viability of the project running through the red corridor.

As per the MoU, the state government had agreed to bear 25 per cent cost of project and land as well while the rest was to be borne by the Centre. But a letter from the ECoR to bear 100 per cent of the land cost had created controversy later.

After meeting with the state government in this regard this August, 2017 the ECoR had proposed the Niti Ayog to review the project.

Nabarangpur MP and Railway standing committee member Balabhadra Majhi has said that the move is against the spirit of the MoU.

“Once the government has sanctioned to move forward with the project after proposing to provide 25 percent of the land cost, the recent developments are unwarranted and have led to loss of valuable time,”

“We have received the go-ahead for the project and presently land for the project will be acquired at four villages which included Sindhiguda, Kenduguda, and Pujariguda,” Special Land Acquisition Officer Bhim Manseth said.

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Bullet train project part of India’s developmental plans: Piyush Goyal

Goyal, who has an active presence on social media, gave a 884-word defence of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR), popularly known as the ‘Bullet Train’.

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today defended the Centre’s decision to launch bullet train project in India, stating that it was part of the country’s developmental plans.

He was replying to a query on Quora, a website where users ask questions and invite answers from the online community – “Does India actually need a bullet train”?

Goyal, who has an active presence on social media, gave a 884-word defence of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR), popularly known as the ‘Bullet Train’. He also included several graphics with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to illustrate his point.

“India is a rapidly developing economy with numerous developmental needs. A major component of India’s developmental plan is the upgradation of current rail networks as well as the development of new high speed rail corridors popularly known as bullet trains.

“The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project is a visionary project by the NDA government which will herald a new era of safety, speed and service for the people, and help the Indian Railways become an international leader in scale, speed and skill,” Goyal said.

He said although introduction of a technology is often met with resistance but it eventually goes on to usher in change.

“New technology has not always been adopted easily, and has at most times seen resistance. However, history shows us that new technology and advancements are highly beneficial for the country,” he said.

The railway minister cited the example of the start of the Rajdhani Trains in 1968 which was opposed by many including the chairman of the railway board.

“Such things keep India backward. But today, they are the trains that everyone wishes to travel in,” the minister said.

Giving another example, Goyal argued that many thought India was not ready for new technology like mobile phones, but today India is the second largest market for such phones in the world with almost every Indian owning a mobile phone set.

“Similarly, the bullet train project will also help railways revolutionise every passenger’s journey,” he said.

Goyal also gave a detailed report of how bullet train is a “low-cost project”, how it will promote Modi’s ‘Make in India’ doctrine, work with cutting edge Japanese technology and usher in economic growth by creating thousands of jobs.

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New Railway projects to boost SECL’s Coal loading exercise: opines B R Reddy, CMD/SECL

RAIPUR: Union Minister for Coal and Railways Piyush Goyal chaired a high-level meeting of the officials of South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) and South East Central Railway (SECR) in Raipur on Monday.

SECL CMD B R Reddy in the meeting informed that the company has targetted to produce 153.8 million tonnes of coal during 2017-18 with the target to take coal production to 239.6 million tonnes in 2019-20.

He also informed that SECL’s coal loading exercise would be greatly benefitted with completion of East Corridor Phase-I and II and East-West corridor.

Reddy said that since August 1, 2017 till date, the company has supplied additional 500 rakes of coal to Non Power Sector consumers.

He said that besides power plants in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, SECL has provided additional coal to power plants in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, SECL had approved Rs  11.24 crores for building a total of four student hostels at Bijapur and Bhairamgarh in Chhattisgarh.

Two hostels each will be built at Bijapur and Bhairamgarh, officials informed. Notably, Coal India Ltd (CIL) recorded offtake of 10.13 million tonnes (MT) of coal from its flagship subsidiary SECL against the target of 10.60 MT during September this year.

The offtake of coal by Coal India Ltd from SECL had seen 15.8 per cent jump (provisional) at 60.99 million tonnes (MT) during April-August 2017, officials informed.

The coal offtake target during the period was 58.79 MT.

SECL achieved total production of 28.178 million tonnes (MT) of coal from its open cast (OC) mines during April-June period of the current financial year.

SECL also excavated 125.45 million tonnes (MT) of coal from its mines during the last five year period (2012-13 to 2016-17) from its Open Cast mines, the latest SECL data has revealed.

Notably, CIL had recorded offtake of coal from its largest subsidiary SECL at 124.34 million tonnes between April2015 to February2016. This was against the target of 123.89 million tonnes (MT) which was a growth of 11.1 per cent.

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CCTV Cameras in Locomotives to track Loco Pilots

CHENNAI: For the first time ever, Southern Railway has installed CCTV cameras in a WAP 7 locomotive to monitor loco pilots during train operation. Highly placed sources told that as a pilot project, two CCTV cameras and voice recorders have been installed on a WAP 7, a third generation passenger locomotive, a month ago at Royapuram AC Electric Loco shed.

“Initially, the surveillance cameras will record the tracks and a portion of the cabin. A voice recorder has also been installed in the loco cabin. The loco will be monitored closely for three months on parameters such as loco pilot behaviour, difficulties in navigating the operating tools and troubleshooting process. If it works well, it would be replicated in more locomotives. Passenger train locos will be given top priority,” said an official.

Sources said installing CCTV cams were part of the recommendations made by a task force in June this year. The panel was constituted to improve the safety of train operation in the wake of repeated rail accidents.

“Monitoring the loco pilots is essential for safe operation of trains. It has been found that a majority of safety violations, including signal jumping, derailment and non-adherence to speed restrictions happen mostly when drivers are taking calls on their mobile phones. Now, they will exercise more vigil while on duty,” the official said.

Predictably, the loco pilots association is upset. The cams, it said, would only put the loco pilots under pressure and not improve rail safety.

All India Loco Running Staff Association general secretary V Balachandran said removing loco pilots from service for jumping the red light has not reduced train accidents in any part of the country. “Railways should install cell phone jammer at loco cabins, besides providing train protection warning system, a technology that stops the train automatically if the loco crosses the red light. Also, the location of brakes, accelerator and monitoring screen should be standardised and kept in the same location in all types of locomotives,” he said.

At least 10 drivers have been removed from service in Southern Railway in the last two years for jumping red lights. There are about 4,600 drivers working in six divisions of Southern Railway. Of them, more than 15 percent of loco pilots were involved in safety violations, said sources. The railway passengers association welcomed the move and urged railways to install CCTVs in all locos as early as possible.

T Mohammed Mubeen, a member of the divisional rail users consultative committee (DRUCC), Chennai division, said unlike buses, flights and trucks, trains carry more than 2,500 passengers in one go. “Hence, it is essential to monitor loco pilots for the safety of passengers. Railways should install CCTV cameras at the earliest,” he said.

According to official records, Arakkonam AC electrical loco shed is one of oldest loco sheds in the country housing about 130 freight electrical locos, while Erode and Royapuram totally hold about 270 passenger locomotives of several types including WAP 4 and WAP 7.

Tiruchy Diesel Loco Shed, one of the premier sheds of Southern Railway accommodates around 130 locomotives of different types. Around 350 locomotives are maintained at Tondairpet, Erode and Ernakulam Diesel Loco Sheds.

In August 2017, Vellore JM Court awarded 10 years imprisonment and imposed penalty on a 47-year-old motorman for causing an accident near Arakkonam in 2011 in which 12 passengers died and 86 were injured. He was found guilty of talking over mobile phone when the tragedy occurred.

Pilots want sound-proof, air-conditioned cabins

The All India Loco Running Staff Association has urged the Railways to fulfil their long-pending demands, including sound-proof, air-conditioned cabins and toilets for pilots

In a memorandum sent to the Railway Board, the association said high noise levels inside the cabins had caused hearing loss to thousands of loco pilots and assistant loco pilots after retirement. “Hearing level of many loco pilots has come down even before the age of 45,” alleged the association’s south zone general secretary V Balachandran.

The control cabinets of the LHB power generator are noise proof and such provision should also be made for locomotives, he said.

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China-Laos Railway on track as project set to be completed in 2021 despite challenges

BEIJING: Construction of the China-Laos railway is underway and the line will go into operation by the end of December 2021, a leader of the project told on Sunday.

The 414-kilometer railway will link Kunming, capital of Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, and Vientiane, capital of Laos. It is also part of the Trans-Asian Railway, a project designed as an integrated freight railway network across Europe and Asia.

Since a groundbreaking ceremony for the railway was held in December 2015, concrete progress has been made in Laos in the past two years, Huang Hong, head of China-Laos railway commanding department under China Railway Group Ltd, told the Global Times.

China Railway Group, along with its subsidiaries and other affiliates such as China Railway No.5 Group and China Railway International Group, are working on different parts of the railway.

“The total length of our construction tender is 244.5 kilometers, including 45 tunnels and 99 bridges. As of mid-October, we’ve completed 14,925 meters in the channel excavation work,” Huang said.

Under a franchise agreement signed between China and Laos, the Laotian government provides policy support for the project while Chinese companies are responsible for 90 percent of the total construction work, Huang noted. “And the remaining 10 percent will be carried out by Laotian workers, in order to create more local jobs,” he said.

The investment in the project is about 40 billion yuan ($5.8 billion), 70 percent of which comes from Chinese investment and the rest from Laos, the Xinhua News Agency reported in August.

Laos has been stepping up efforts to improve its infrastructure, as it is the only inland country in Southeast Asia and it still has limited transport options, noted a Chinese business representative in Laos.

“The China-Laos railway will fix this problem and help lower logistics costs,” said Chen Cuiying, general manager of a Laos-based subsidiary of Yunnan State Farms Group Co.

For example, it costs about 900 yuan to transport 1,000 tons of rubber from Vientiane to Yunnan during the peak season for rubber production, which runs from July to December, Chen noted.

“Though it remains unclear how the operator of the China-Laos railway will price cargo, it will cost 50 to 60 percent less to transport cargo by rail than by road,” she told the on Monday.

Joint efforts

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May provided new impetus for the China-Laos rail project, as a slew of concrete construction plans were advanced, Xu Liping, an expert with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

“However, it remains a project between two nations, and has not been considered as an intercontinental project extended to Thailand,” he said.

Huang, the chief commander, also noted that there is no timeline for the overall Trans-Asian Railway project.

The integration of the China-Laos railway into the Trans-Asian Railway will certainly play a role in generating profits for countries along the route, but the countries involved have not yet started any talks on the matter, he said.

Difficulties remain

Despite the progress, the China-Laos rail project still faces some difficulties. For example, funds are not always allocated on time, and Laos lacks some of the needed construction materials like cement, Huang noted.

“The poor transport conditions in the country also increase risks for the on-site work,” he said.

Given these challenges, the Laotian government should adopt some temporary policies to facilitate imports of related products, Xu noted.

In addition, as Chinese workers are usually more efficient, it’s necessary to provide some training programs for their Laotian co-workers to make sure both sides complete the project at the same time, he said.

“Still, the project will play an exemplary role in the Belt and Road initiative and will showcase the enhanced connectivity among Southeast Asian countries, as well as bringing business benefits for local communities,” he remarked.

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Greens up in arms against Mysuru-Madikeri and Mysuru-Thalassery rail line projects

Greens Cry Foul over Railway Line cutting through Kodagu, fear destruction of Forests

MYSORE: Activism is building up in Kodagu with local environmentalists campaigning hard against any new railway proposals on the grounds that it is inimical to the ecology of the district.

This includes the Mysuru-Madikeri railway line for which the survey work has already been completed. The other project is the Mysuru-Thalassery railway line, the survey of which was approved in the general budget for 2017-18.

The Mysuru-Madikeri railway line was listed in the Railway Budget 2016-17 under “new line” category at an estimated cost of ₹667 crore and the techno-economic survey was completed. But the project — originally mooted over 100 years ago — did not gain further traction. The funding was to be made under the extra budgetary allocation, but it is stuck in the maze of bureaucracy.

Similarly, the Mysuru-Thalassery railway line was mooted almost 60 years ago but it remained on paper. However, there is fresh traction for a new survey reckoned to have a new alignment so as to bypass the forestland, national parks and so on and avoid eco-sensitive zones.

But a senior official in the Forest Department told that the proposal was still in a “very preliminary stage” and it was too premature to comment on its likelihood of securing environmental clearance. However, the project has political support in Kerala as it reduces the travel time between North Kerala and Bengaluru, he added.

Meanwhile, C.P. Muthanna of Coorg Wildlife Society (CWS), said that they have already expressed their opposition to railway lines to Kodagu. “The State government has been apprised of the negative environmental fallout of railway projects passing through Kodagu as a whole and district in-charge Minister M.R. Seetharaman has agreed to write to the Centre opposing it,” said Mr. Muthanna.

Besides, Kodagu is already saddled with high human-elephant conflict and such projects would dismember or disturb the habitat further and accentuate the conflict, according to CWS.

The organisation recently conducted a Save Cauvery rally expressing fears over the environmental implications of major infrastructure projects that could cut through the forest area of the district and erode its green cover.

The Mysuru-Talassery railway line passes through Piriyapattana-Thithimathi-Balele-Kutta-Manandavadi-Kootuparambu-Talassery.

Environmentalists fear the destruction of vast area of forest if the railway line passes through Kodagu district.

It was Suresh Prabhu as a Railway Minister who gave green signal for the railwayline between Mysuru-Kushalnagar, covering a distance of 84 km. In the first phase, the government had even earmarked Rs 667 crore.

The railways had carried out survey of the route twice in the past. The work on land acquisition and laying of tracks are pending. There is also a proposal before the Centre to extend the route to Madikeri.

Environmentalists state, “If railway connectivity has to be provided to Kodagu district then restrict it to Kushalnagar. If it is extended to Madikeri, then there is a possibility of destruction of Aanekadu reserve forest, thousands of acres of coffee estates near Kedakal and Suntikoppa. The felling of thousands of trees will directly affect the rain pattern the region.”

The demand for railway connectivity to Kodagu was raised when R Gundurao was the Chief Minister. Those who have been supporting the project have been submitting petitions demanding railway connectivity for the last three decades.

Those who are supporting the project feel that the railway connectivity will promote tourism in the district. Without railway connectivity, the farm produce cannot be transported to Mumbai and Kolkatta.

Sources said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has shown keen interest in Mysuru-Talassery railway line. He has held talks with the Railway Board and has asked them to prepare a proposal on land acquisition and estimate for the project.

MLA K G Bopaiah said “In the backdrop of stiff opposition to the project, it is not right on the part of the bureaucrats of both the states to hold a discussion on the same. The project should be stalled.”

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GE looks to sell rail business

USA: General Electric expects to dispose of its Transportation business unit over the next two years, along with its Industrial Solutions and Lighting activities, new CEO John Flannery confirmed on November 13.

Presenting his reshaping programme to investors, Flannery indicated that he was looking to ‘focus the portfolio’ around the power, aviation and healthcare markets, plus additive manufacturing, as he battles to turn around a business that has seen its stock market value fall by 35% this year, or more than US$100bn. Other changes include reducing the company board from 18 to 12 members and reducing dividend payments to around $1 from a target of $2 per share, the first reduction since 2009.

GE had indicated in October that it was exploring options to dispose of business activities valued at around US$20bn over the next two years, with GE Transportation thought to be on the list. The company had already sold off most of its consumer and finance operations. In his presentation, Flannery indicated that more than 10 business units were expected to go.

Insisting that GE Transportation was a ‘global market leader’ with a premier offering and strong digital business that was ‘close to key customers’, the group said the recent downturn in the North American locomotive market had been partly offset by international growth and a strong backlog in the services business. ‘Adapting to realities’ had included base cost reductions through ‘rigorous supply chain management’ and a focus on capital investment to optimise working capital requirements.

Nevertheless, there were ‘continued market challenges’ in Q4 and the business would still be under pressure in 2018-19. Predicting a ‘soft’ market for 2018, GE expects Transportation revenues to be down by 15% and profits by 25%.

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Railways using ISRO Tech to avoid accidents at unmanned crossings

NEW DELHI: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is helping the Indian Railways use its satellite-based system to check accidents at unmanned railway crossings and track train movements on a real-time basis.

Working on a pilot project with Isro, the railways has installed space agency-developed integrated circuit (IC) chips on some train engines. The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (or NaVIC) will be used to warn road users of approaching trains through hooters installed at unmanned road crossings.

Tapan Misra, director of Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC), confirmed that “ISRO and the Indian Railways have been working together on this pilot project since June”. Explaining the functioning of the satellite-based system, Misra said, “A hooter will be activated as soon as it gets signal from the IC chip installed on a train when its engine is at a distance of 500 metres to 4 km from the crossing. The hooter, linked to the navigation system, will thus warn road users about the approaching train. It will become louder as the train comes near the crossing and will fall silent after the train has passed.”

The SAC director said, “Under the pilot project, IC chips have been installed on five engines of trains on different routes. The testing on the satellite-based hooter system has been going on since June to check if it is reliable and can function under different climatic conditions.”

He said, “ISRO is using its constellation of seven navigation satellites (IRNSS or NaVIC) for the railway safety system as the technology, once the pilot project is over successfully, will be installed on all trains across the country in phased manner.”

Misra said, “The satellite-based system will also be used for tracking trains for disseminating information about their movement on a real-time basis.” He said, “The system will also help the railways map the area covered by trains. The technology will come in handy at the time of a railway accident when it can be used to ascertain the exact location of a train.”

The push for using the space technology for the railway safety system came after PM Narendra Modi, during a national meet on September 7, 2015, asked all central ministries and state governments to make the most of the ISRO technology to provide good governance.

Safety at unmanned level crossings is a cause for concern for the railways as these crossings witness maximum accidents. The national transporter had explored various ways to address the issue before settling for the Isro system. There are about 7,254 unmanned railway crossings in the country which account for around 40% of accidents involving the railways. There are about 18,000 manned level crossings.

Germany’s future trains have Digital Cars with Game Consoles

The impending era of driverless rides could prove disruptive for traditional modes of public transport. But, Germany’s state-owned railway company thinks it has a solution, and it sounds like a lot of fun — especially for gamers. It just unveiled plans for a new train complete with a digital coach that packs TVs and game consoles. Deutsche Bahn’s “Ideenzug” (“Idea Train”) will also boast gym equipment and a play area for kids. The railway firm envisions the project as a way to keep pace with, and even overtake, self-driving cars. (If it thinks autonomous vehicles are a scary prospect, wait till it learns of the Hyperloop).

For people turned off by backward-facing chairs, the train will boast swivelling seats (some of which will also come with bulges on either side for added privacy). Deutsche Bahn is currently showing off a replica of the project. But, making it a reality could prove a tricky prospect, with some claiming that it may not pass security regulations, as reported by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The sticking point seems to be the gym equipment, so gaming will likely still be on the cards.

Railway travel is changing elsewhere too, but these modifications have hinged on green energy and faster journeys. India, for example, recently debuted a solar-powered train, while Japan is known for its high-speed bullet trains. But, Deutsche Bahn’s project seems retrofitted to accommodate the modern-day traveller. Someone who wants to get in a workout, catch up on work, and indulge in some multiplayer action en route to their destination. All that’s missing is Netflix.

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Indian Railways to use GPS-enabled fog Safety Devices

NEW DELHI: In a bid to ensure timely running of trains during winter, the Railways has planned to use GPS-enabled fog safety devices in the trains to alert the loco pilot about approaching signals.

A railway official told that plans were afoot to use the GPS-based devices in trains that would provide advance warning.

The official said that the Railways has provided about 2,400 of these devices in northern India where trains are worst-hit by intense fog during winter.

He said 900 of these GPS devices have been given to the Delhi zone.

Besides, the Railways will also deploy fogmen to place detonators on the tracks to alert the loco pilots about approaching signals.

Officials will undertake intensive night foot plate inspection and track patrolling to detect cases of rail fracture, a major cause of derailment during winter.

The auto signalling system will also be converted to semi-automatic and speed restrictions will be imposed during an intense fog situation.

The Railways is also planning to provide sufficient walkie-talkie sets to the crew and station staff. They will also provide signal indication booklet to loco pilots, and carry out counselling on working during fog.

During intense fog situations the Railways faces problems like shortage of crew due to longer working hours on a train due to slower mobility, complete disorientation of timetable, heavy crowding of waiting passengers and non-availability of track maintenance slots due to reduced capacity.

SWR to run Bengaluru-Karwar/Kannur-Bengaluru Train Via.Shravanabelagola New Line

HUBBALLI:  After commissioning of Bengaluru-Hassan New Railway Line, there was a persistent demand from the public to run combined train No. 16517/16518, KSR Bengaluru-Kannur- KSR Bengaluru and Train No. 16523/16524, KSR Bengaluru-Karwar – KSR Bengaluru train via the new line as it is the shorter route to reach Mangaluru compared to that via Mysuru. To fulfil their demand and also keeping in mind the need of passengers travelling to Mangaluru from Mysuru, Railway has decided to divert KSR Bengaluru- Kannur /Karwar –KSR Bengaluru train to run via Shravanabelagola route for 4 days in a Week duly changing Train Numbers, Days of services and timings. For the remaining 3 days the train will run via Mysuru without any change in existing timings.

Accordingly, the diverted combined Train No. 16511/16513, KSR Bengaluru-Kannur /Karwar Express via Shravanabelagola will leave KSR Bengaluru at 19:15 hours on every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with effect from 10th February, 2018 and reaches Mangalore Central at 06:20 hours next day. Enroute, the train arrives/departs Yesvanpur at 19:28/19:30hrs., Kunigal at 20:44/20:45 hrs., B.G.Nagar at 21:15/21:16 hrs., Shravanabelagola at 21:51/21:52 hrs., Channarayapatna at 22:01/22:02 hrs., Hassan at 23:05/23:10 hrs., Sakleshpur at 00:05/00:15 hrs., Subhramanya Road at 03:30/03:35 hrs., Yedamangala at 03:50/03:52 hrs., Kabakaputtur at 04:18/04:20 hrs., Bantawal at 04:58/05:00 hrs. and Mangalore Junction at 05:58/06:00 hrs. In this route, the travelling time between KSR Bengaluru and Mangalore Central will reduce by 45 minutes. From Mangalore Central, Train No. 16511, KSR Bengaluru-Kannur Express departs at 06:40 hrs. to reach Kannur at 10:00 hrs. Enroute the train arrives/departs Kasargod at 07:28/07:30 hrs., Kanhangad at 07:53/07:55 hrs., Payyanur at 09:08/09:10 hrs. From Mangalore Central, Train No. 16513, KSR Bengaluru- Karwar Express departs at 07:00 hrs. to reach Karwar at 12:30 hrs. Enroute, the train arrives/departs Suratkal at 07:51/07:52 hrs., Mulki at 08:03/08:04 hrs., Udupi at 08:29/08:30 hrs., Barkur at 08:45/08:46 hrs., Kundapur at 09:04/09:05 hrs., Mookambika Road Byndoor at 09:40/09:41 hrs., Bhatkal at 09:57/09:58 hrs., Murdeshwar at 10:19/10:20 hrs., Honnavar at 10:49/10:50 hrs. (experimental halt), Kumta at 11:03/11:04 hrs., Gokarna Road at 11:23/11:24 hrs. and Ankola at 11:35/11:36 hrs. In return direction, the diverted combined Train No. 16512/16514, Kannur/Karwar-KSR Bengaluru Express via Shravanabelagola will run on every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with effect from 11th February, 2018 with no change in timings from Kannur/Karwar upto Hassan. From Hassan the train departs at 02:50 hrs. to reach KSR Bengaluru at 06:55 hrs. Enroute, the train arrives/ departs Channarayapatna at 03:39/03:40 hrs., Shravanabelagola at 03:50/03:51 hrs., B.G. Nagar at 04:25/04:26hrs., Kunigal at 04:59/05:00hrs. and Yesvantpur at 06:38/06:40 hrs. In this route, the travelling time between Mangalore Central and KSR Bengaluru will reduce by 1hour 25 minutes. Days of service from Bengaluru have been made as Wednesday to Saturday for facilitating passengers travelling from Bengaluru to their native towns in coastal region for weekends. Similarly, days of service from Mangalore have been chosen as Sunday to Wednesday to facilitate passengers of coastal region visiting Bengaluru to attend office work.

Combined Tri-Weekly Train No. 16517/16523, KSR Bengaluru-Kannur/Karwar Express via Mysuru will run on every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with effect from 11th February, 2018 without any change in existing timings. In return direction Train No. 16518/16524, Kannur/Karwar-KSR Bengaluru Tri-weekly Express via Mysuru will run on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday with effect from 15th February, 2018 without any change in existing timings.

SER cancels several Winter Special Trains via Tatanagar due to maintenance work

JAMHSHEDPUR: The South Eastern Railway on Monday announced the cancellation of several winter special trains. Several of these trains including those passing through Tatanagar and various other railway stations under Chakradharpur Railway Division have been cancelled.

The circular issued by Garden Reach, the Kolkata-based headquarters of South Eastern Railway said that the 02822 Santragachi-Pune Special leaving Santragachi on November 18, the 02834 Santragachi-Rajkot Special leaving Santragachi on November 17, 08093 Shalimar-Bhanjpur Special leaving Shalimar on November 17 and 02833 Rajkot-Santragachi Special leaving Rajkot on November 19 will remain cancelled.

The 02822 Santragachi-Pune Special train reaches Tatanagar on Saturdays at 10 pm while the 02834Santragachi-Rajkot Special reaches here at 12.50 pm on Friday. The 08093 Shalimar-Bhanjpur Special reaches here around midnight of every Friday while the 02833 Rajkot-Santragachi Special reaches here on every Tuesday at 12.45 pm.

A SER spokesperson said, ” We have cancelled all 16 special trains between November 17 and 19 for installation work of new electronic interlocking system and remodelling of railway yard at the Kharagpur railway station. Of 16, four special trains travel via Tatanagar and other railway stations on the Howrah-Mumbai route.”

Two other special trains 08628 Ranchi-Howrah Special leaving Ranchi on November 19 and 08627 Howrah-Ranchi Special leaving Howrah on November 19 would also remain cancelled because of the track work at Kharagpur junction.

On the other hand Its seems there are no end to the woes of passengers as fog in the northern parts of the country, particularly the national capital New Delhi, has taken a toll on train schedules.

As many as four trains — New Delhi – Puri Neelanchal Express, New Delhi- Bhubaneshwar SamparkKranti Express, Bhubaneshwar- New Delhi Rajdhani Express and Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Superfast Express are getting delayed at Tatanagar from past one week.

Railway officials said that dense fog in the northern parts of the country is taking a toll on movement of passenger trains. ” We have opened an extra counter at the railway station for refund of tickets and also to inform the passengers about the latest status of trains,” said an official.

Officials at the ticket booking counter said that several passengers are opting for cancellation of tickets due to delayed running of the train. 

HIMA Group pioneers in Commercial-Off-the-Shelf Safety Controllers for the Railway Industry

HIMA is a leading independent provider of smart safety solutions for railway applications. The company’s rail safety controllers use modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, which are widely used in the process and factory automation industries.

HIMA’s COTS components ensure reliable and uninterrupted operation of safety-critical railway applications, including electronic interlockings, level crossings, sensor-monitored door systems, electronically controlled anti-slip systems, dead-man’s vigilance devices, remote control capabilities, and safe train movement.

Flexible COTS safety controllers for Railway Applications

HIMA’s safety controllers HIMax and HIMatrix are manufactured and sold in large volumes as standard components.

Featuring CENELEC SIL4 approval, open interfaces and a standard operating system, the systems can be flexibly deployed in the railway industry.

System integrators, rolling stock manufacturers and railway operators can also use HIMA’s COTS controllers to economically, easily and quickly implement their safety solutions for railway applications.

The vibration and shock-resistant HIMax and HIMatrix safety controllers are available for a range of operating temperatures, and fulfil the requirements of EN 61373 Category 1 Class B.

In accordance with CENELEC standards EN 50126, EN 50128 and EN 50129, both systems are certified by TÜV for deployment up to the highest safety level SIL 4.

Cost-effective, customisable Safety Controllers

Since HIMA COTS controllers use standard components, they are significantly cheaper than proprietary systems, while still meeting the railway industry’s safety standards.

The controllers’ standard operating system provides interfaces for all major communication protocols, including Ethernet TCP/UDP, RS486, RS422, RS232 and controller area networks (CAN).

Communication is based on user-created or industry protocols, including a safe ethernet protocol developed by HIMA in 1997.

HIMA controllers feature dedicated operating systems that are specifically developed for safety-oriented applications, but are based on industry-standard programming language that can be customised by users.

The systems only include all functions necessary for safety programmable logic controller (PLCs) so they are not vulnerable to typical attacks on IT systems.

Safety Controllers for preventing Cyber attacks

From the initial development stage, the operating systems of the HIMatrix and HIMax COTS controllers have been tested to evaluate their resistance to cyber attacks, eliminating the need for recurrent software updates.

Increasingly vital control processes are being implemented as cloud or internet-based solutions. With the rising degree of automation and increasing relocation of functions to the cloud, there is a growing risk of cyber attacks.

Effective security enhancement measures in this situation consist of restricted options for human access and setting up autonomous, self-contained security systems.

HIMA controllers have separate processors for system functions and communication to ensure high operational reliability, even in the event of a cyber attack on the communication processor. In addition, several physically separate networks can operate on a single communication processor module.

In addition, unused interfaces can be disabled individually to limit the safety controllers to only feature necessary communication functions.

About HIMA

Having installed more than 35,000 TÜV-certified safety systems worldwide, HIMA is a leading technology provider in the rail sector.

In the global rail industry, HIMA’s CENELEC-certified SIL4 safety controllers offer increased safety, security and profitability.

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Railways cuts Coal Rates by 25% as Track Completion cuts out Sea Route

NEW DELHI: The completion of additional train tracks in stretches along the eastern coast has enabled the Railways to lower by 25 per cent the rates for transportation of coal. It will use the all-rail route instead of the rail-cum-sea route.

Earlier, the Railways had set a cap on the quantity of coal to be transported due to capacity crunch, and urged its customers to ship a part of their coal cargo.

The move also helped the Railways garner longer distance traffic.

Long-distance traffic

As a result, coal to be moved from Talcher fields to power stations in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu partly by the rail-cum-sea route. “The Railways a few years back permitted only 50 per cent of coal through the all-rail route from Odisha to the southern States while the remaining 50 per cent had to be necessarily shipped by the coastal route.

“In the last few years we commissioned some of the doubling and other capacity augmentation works enabling the all-rail route,” Railways’ Member Traffic, Mohammad Jamshed, told.

After completing the project, the Railways wrote to States’ Chief Secretaries urging them to move the coal via the rail route.

Lower freight cost

“The freight charges from Talcher to southern power utilities worked out to be about 25 per cent lower compared to the rail-cum-sea route with multiple handling costs,” he said, adding that as a result of this drop in transportation cost, the per unit electricity cost could come down.

The move has also helped the Railways garner extra, longer distance traffic.

Coal loading up

In October, the total coal loaded by the East Coast Railway, was one million tonne, a 36 per cent jump against the same period last fiscal, according to Railway data.

The Talcher power facility is located in the East Coast Railway zone.

In April-October 2017, the total coal loaded from the zone surged eight million tonnes, reflecting a 52 per cent jump over the corresponding period of the last fiscal.

Railways orders Enquiry in Rivalry leading to Train Delays

Due to rivalry between the two railway zones to maintain a better punctuality record, half a dozen express trains were kept waiting for the green signal on the outer circle of Palwal, 85km from New Delhi, on the Nizamuddin-Agra route from 4:15pm to 5:30pm.  Two organisations — All India Train Controllers’ Associations and Indian Railway Loco Running Men Organisation — confirmed that trains are halted at interchanging points between two zones due to such rivalries.

NEW DELHI: The Railway Board has asked senior officials of the two zones, Northern Railway (NR) and North Central Railway (NCR), to investigate and find out officers responsible for halting more than half a dozen trains on November 8 at the outer circle of Palwal Railway Station.

Due to rivalry between the two railway zones in order to maintain a better punctuality record, half a dozen express trains were kept waiting for the green signal on the outer circle of Palwal, 85km from New Delhi, on the Nizamuddin-Agra route from 4:15pm to 5: 30pm.

“The Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal, viewed the incident as a serious one and asked for an urgent report,” said a close source in the Railway Board.

Railway sources had informed that NR’s Delhi division deliberately halted trains under the NCR zones to dent its punctuality record.

Two organisations — All India Train Controllers’ Associations and Indian Railway Loco Running Men Organisation — confirmed that trains are halted at interchanging points between two zones due to such rivalries.

In another case, a goods train, the SBLT Special – running between Jhansi and Jodhpur — was halted for 11 hours on November 8 from 10.15 on Wednesday night to 9am on Thursday, at Utawar station near Alwar as NWR allegedly refused to enter the train in its zone due to a similar reason.

In 2002, former railway minister Nitish Kumar had increased the number of zones from nine to 16 to strengthen railway operations and administrative control.

“Interchange punctuality is a good initiative towards operational efficiency but the purpose seems partially defeated if ego or inter zone competition become unhealthy and starts affecting overall efficiency, like incidents in Palwal or Utawar,” said Sanjay Pandhi, working president, Indian Railway Loco Running Men Organisation.

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No hospitality by Private Firms to Government Officials, says Finance Ministry

NEW DELHI: Red flagging hospitality by private firms to government officials, the Ministry of Finance has pulled up the Ministry of Railways on certain contract clauses with a private firm where it is mentioned in the contract that the firm will ensure travel, food, stay and hospitality of inspecting team. The finance ministry said that such clauses compromise independent inspection and should be discouraged.

The directions has been issued by the Department of Expenditure under the finance ministry categorically highlighting that it has noticed some hospitality clauses in the contracts signed with suppliers by some ministries, including railways.

“It has been brought to the notice of this Department that in the contracts signed with suppliers by some of the ministries have clauses of pre-inspection at the firm’s premises, where there is a provision that the suppliers or the vendors will pay for the travel, stay, hospitality and other expenses of the inspecting officials,” said the directions issued by the ministry.

“This is not in keeping with need to safeguard the independence of the inspecting teams. Such provisions in contracts need to be discouraged, so that inspections are not compromised. Necessary steps may be taken to strictly avoid such provisions in the contracts with suppliers/vendors,” it further added.

After the directions, the Ministry of Railways has issued directives to all 17 Zonal Railways, Railways public sector undertakings to ensure compliance of the directions issued by the finance ministry. Railway is one of the key central ministries that deals with private firms for purchasing materials used in workshops for production of coaches, engines and rails. It also gives maintenance and other works to private firms on contract.

“This is a move to check corruption and will pave for independent inspections. Doing away with hospitality clause will ensure that decision of inspection team is not influenced,” said a railway ministry official.

Former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in parliament had admitted prevalence of corruption in railways, especially in award of contracts and employment. To weed out corruption, railways is in the process of putting details of all tenders on website, stores procurement through e-tendering and reverse auctions.

After 11-yr struggle, Sunam Railway Station named after Udham Singh

SUNAM: After a struggle of 11 years, Sunam residents have succeeded in getting their railway station renamed to Sunam Udham Singh Wala. Railway authorities issued a notification in this regard two days back.

The then state government had issued a notification on January 25, 2006 to change the name of the town to Sunam Udham Singh Wala, but did not follow up the matter with the Railways properly, causing considerable delay.

The name was changed to pay respect to martyr Udham Singh who belonged to the town.

But when the state authorities failed to take up the matter with the Railways, residents started efforts for it in 2006.

When repeated requests of residents fell on deaf ears, Jatinder Jain, a local RTI activist, requested Punjab and Haryana High Court advocate HC Arora to file a PIL in November 2014.

Jain said, “Arora sent a legal notice to the Railway Ministry for the delay in the matter on December 12, 2014.

“The ministry replied that it did not have any problem with the name change, but it had not received the mandatory proposal and documents from the state government. All steps had only been taken verbally. It made things clear to all that the state government was at fault, not the Railways.”

Jain said Arora again filed a PIL in 2016 and in December, the Punjab Government informed that it had sent a proper proposal to the Union Home Ministry to change the name of the railway station.

“Since December, we have been regularly following up the matter with the Railways,” said Jain.

Dalip Yadav, commercial inspector of Railways posted at Sangrur, confirmed that Railways had issued a notification to change the name of the railway station and they have started the process.

“We will change the board and other material of Sunam station to Sunam Udham Singh Wala on Monday,” said Yadav.

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NFR aims to make Northeast Frontier Railway stand tall, literally

GUWAHATI: Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) seems determined to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of making the Northeast a link between mainland India and Southeast Asia a reality.

After making the Northeast host India’s longest river bridge – Bhupen Hazarika Setu over Lohit river linking Dhola with Sadiya in Tinsukia district of Assam that was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in May this year –NFR is now set to make the region even prouder by making it host the world’s highest bridge.

The Railways is now coming up with the world’s tallest rail girder bridge over river Irang near Imphal on the new Jiribam-Imphal broad gauge (BG) line in Manipur. To measure 141 metres in height, it will eclipse the current world record holder Mala-Rijeka viaduct in Montenegro in Europe (139 metres) when completed.

To measure 602 metres in length, the bridge is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 290 crore. Already 80% of pile foundation work is complete. And two firms – Simplex Infrastructures Ltd and Braithwaite Burn & Jessop Construction Company Limited – have been engaged by NFR to execute the project.

The Railways is also mulling to develop the bridge site as a tourist spot in co-ordination with Manipur government due to its scenic location and tall piers. And what will make the entire project a real treat to watch is the panoramic view that it promises to offer to railway travellers. For, after meandering its way through a mountain, the line will pass over the tallest bridge before entering an 11.5-km tunnel immediately at the other end and then reach Tupul railway station.

And according to sources, not just the bridge (codenamed bridge no. 164), the entire 111-km Jiribam-Imphal BG rail line will test to the limit the technical prowess of NFR. The new railway line will have 37 tunnels with a total length of 56 km, besides 22 big bridges.

The location of the bridge is in a very high seismic zone and heavy wind speeds have required adoption of state-of-the-art design and construction techniques. Site specific earthquake studies have been conducted and detailed model studies in wind tunnels have been performed to ensure a safe and sustainable design.

The total estimated cost of the entire Jiribam-Imphal BG rail line is Rs 9,657 crore. NFR has set a target of 2020 for completion of the project.

NFR’s Chief Engineer (Construction) A. Saibaba told that the project is very challenging, but added that when completed it will be one of the most challenging projects undertaken by Indian Railways.

He said NFR is trying to meet the target of 2020 for completing the project and that 11 km of the 111-km line has already been completed.

MMRDA to hold contest to finalise design of Integrated Ticketing System cards

Meanwhile, the MMRDA is still awaiting a written confirmation from the Railways regarding their integration in the single ticketing system.

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) plans to organise a competition to finalise the design of the card for the proposed Integrated Ticketing System (ITS). With ITS, all transportation corridors within the city will be integrated and commuters can use a single smart card- based ticket to travel in all modes of transport, including suburban railway system, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, the monorail and the existing and upcoming metro corridors.

“We will soon come up with a request to the public for the design of the card with regard to the logo, name and other details. The competition will be open to everybody,” said Sanjay Khandare, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.

“We will soon come up with a request to the public for the design of the card with regard to the logo, name and other details. The competition will be open to everybody,” said Sanjay Khandare, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.

The Consultants, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), have prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and MMRDA now proposes to invite bids for the vendor.  “The DPR for the project is almost finalised and the steering committee has approved it. We should be inviting bids for the vendors in December,” added Khandare.

While Mumbai is expected to be the first city in the country to experience integrated transport, it proposes to integrate it with the National Common Mobility Card in the future. Meanwhile, the MMRDA is still awaiting a written confirmation from the Railways regarding their integration in the single ticketing system.

“The Railways have appointed Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) as the nodal agency for the integration. While they are on board we have not received in writing that they are going to be a part of it. However, that will happen in the due course of time,” he said.

According to MMRDA officials, PwC will continue to help them through the bidding process to finalise a vendor, which is likely to take another eight months. MMRDA had earlier launched a competition for coming up with design ideas for the makeover of the Maharashtra Nature Park in Mahim and more recently for designing the stations of the Dahisar East-Andheri East Metro 7 corridor.

 

With CRB’s in-principle approval for Rs.25000-Cr. prioritised projects, KRDCL to submit DPRs by Dec end

TIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani giving in-principle approval for the Rs. 25,000-crore prioritised projects of the State, Kerala Railway Development Corporation Ltd (KRDCL) is gearing up to submit the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for key projects by December end.

The move by the KRDCL, a special purpose vehicle between the State and Railways to execute viable railway projects on a 51:49 cost-sharing basis, within days of the in-principle nod is aimed at securing allocation for the projects in the coming Union Budget.

The KRDCL has already roped in Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd to prepare and submit the DPR for the 247-km Thalassery-Mysuru railway line, estimated to cost Rs. 3,209 crore, before December 31.

The KRDCL has held discussions with RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Services) for studying the feasibility of laying the third and fourth line along the 575-km rail corridor from Thiruvananthapuram Central to Kasaragod. The corridor will cost Rs. 16,600 crore and the priority is for laying third and fourth lines along the 125-km line up to Chengannur to operate the RRTS (Regional Rapid Transit System) for short-distance commuters.

RITES will be asked to submit the DPR at the earliest. The report for the initial 125 km, estimated to cost Rs. 1,943 crore, has been prepared by the KRDCL, sources said.

The DPR for a rail corridor to Vizhinjam seaport from Balaramapuram is with Railways.

Railway hub

The DPR will also be worked out in two months for the railway hub proposed on 47 acres at the old railway station in Ernakulam. The aim is to operate north-bound trains from this hub, sources said.

The KRDCL is also trying to prepare DPRs for the 65-km Erumely-Punalur line, estimated to cost Rs. 1,600 crore, and the 15-km Ettumanur-Pala line as part of the Angamaly-Sabari line to get budgetary support, sources said.

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Transportation between India and Bangladesh – The Lifeline, so near, so far

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off Bandhan Express in New Delhi on Thursday. Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee join via video conferencing.

DHAKA/KOLKATA: Last week, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, flagged off the Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express, to follow in the tracks of the erstwhile Barisal Express, which was stopped during the 1965 war with Pakistan. The weekly service, which will start rolling on Thursday, will cross the international border at Petrapol outside Bongaon in North 24-Parganas district, and will be the second train to Bangladesh after the Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express. Given how they are juxtaposed geographically and culturally, the two countries, and especially India’s Northeast, stand to gain enormously from closer road and rail links. Efforts have, however, progressed slowly.

Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata, 910 km

Service on the 490 km Agartala-Dhaka route began in September 2003, and ran irregularly until January 2015, when it was stopped for security reasons. Service was restarted in May 2015 on an extended Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata route (910 km). The Tripura Road Transport Corporation, Shyamali Paribahan Ltd of Bangladesh, and West Bengal Road Transport Corporation ran two weekly trips each, making it a daily service barring Sunday. But this service, too, has become irregular.

Guwahati-Shillong-Dhaka, 450 km

Formally inaugurated in December 2015, but service did not continue.

TRAIN Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express

In 2008, rail links disrupted by hostility with erstwhile East Pakistan were reestablished, the 375 km route crossing the border at Gede on the Indian side and Darshana on the Bangladesh side. The Maitree Express runs six days a week, and was, until the November 9 inauguration of the Bandhan Express, the only rail link with Bangladesh.

Agartala-Dhaka service

No seamless service between Agartala and Dhaka, but people from Tripura cross the border at the Integrated Check Post on Agartala’s outskirts and take a tempo or taxi to the railway station at Akhaura in Bangladesh to catch a train to Dhaka. A 15-km line between Agartala and Akhaura being built by the Indian Railways is set for completion by the end of 2018. Agartala has recently got a direct train to Sealdah (Kolkata) via Badarpur, Haflong, Lumding, Guwahati and New Jalpaiguri, a 37-hour journey that an Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata train can cover in less than a third of this time.

Siliguri-Parbatipur link

A line links Siliguri in North Bengal to Parbatipur in northern Bangladesh, by which India sent a 42-wagon consignment of high speed diesel manufactured by Numaligarh Refinery in Assam in March 2017. But there is no regular goods train movement on this route, and passenger services are unlikely soon, given trans-border crimes and infiltration in the North Bengal sector.

BOAT

Kolkata-Dibrugarh waterway through Dhaka and Guwahati, started in 1844 by the East India Company and shut after the 1965 war, was recently reopened. Cargo vessels have been occasionally plying through Bangladesh under a Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade. Heavy machinery and equipment for the Numaligarh refinery and Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh have been transported by this route.

In 2011, heavy over-dimensional consignments of turbines and other machinery for the Palatana power project in Tripura were shipped through Ashuganj port in Bangladesh. When the Lumding-Badarpur railway was shut for gauge conversion last year, India moved foodgrains to Tripura by waterways through Bangladesh, saving on both time and transportation costs.

ROAD TRANSPORT

Kolkata-Dhaka-Northeast seamless cargo

In November 2015, seamless road cargo transport between Kolkata and Agartala through Bangladesh was tried out successfully under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for Regulation of Passenger, Personnel and Cargo Vehicular Traffic, signed by these countries in June that year. Regular services are yet to start.

NORTHEAST, THE BIGGEST BENEFICIARY

The creation of East Pakistan — and subsequently, Bangladesh — significantly increased the distance between the Northeast and the Indian mainland. Until 1947, a train to Guwahati from Kolkata took hardly 12 hours. Today, despite increased speeds, the journey takes at least 18 hours by the fastest train, while a normal train — such as the Kamrup Express — takes almost 24 hours through Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri.

Before Partition, people travelled from Guwahati to Kolkata via Lalmonirhat, in the Bangladesh district close to where the Brahmaputra crosses the border. Trains between Assam and Kolkata through East Pakistan stopped in 1947; trains between West Bengal and East Pakistan stopped after the 1965 war.

Set up Rail Wagon or Locomotive factory at Kantabanji: urges Odisha’s Oppn.Leader

BHUBANESWAR: Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Narasingha Mishra on Sunday warned that if a rail locomotive or wagon industry at Kantabanji in Balangir district is not set up, the dissatisfaction and wrath of the people may lead to an explosive situation in near future.

In a statement, Mishra said, “Balangir is a very backward and underdeveloped district in Odisha.

Lack of job opportunities push lakhs of people of the district to migrate every year to the brick kilns and construction sites of developed States as seasonal workers.

Because of this, a proposal was placed for the setting up of a rail locomotive or wagon industry at Kantabarij, the epicentre of seasonal migration, where a huge patch of around 700 acres of land was identified for the purpose.”

“Setting up of the industry will definitely lead to absorption of the unemployed of the region and minimise migration.

In case the genuine demand of the people of this region is suppressed or overlooked on one plea or other, the dissatisfaction and wrath of the people may lead to an explosive situation in near future.”

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Pune Metro: Geological Survey in Bopodi, Khadki for Metro Rail commences

PUNE: Maha-Metro has started a geological exploration survey of Bopodi-Khadki stretch for the construction of an elevated portion of Pimpri-Swargate route.

People may have to face severe traffic congestion on this narrow stretch in December if the defence land is not acquired for widening of the highway.

MahaMetro is constructing Pimpri-Swargate Metro route, having a total length of 16.589 km, for connecting the twin cities of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. Out of this, 11.57-km stretch is elevated while the remaining 5-km stretch is underground. Around 8 km-long elevated stretch from Pimpri to Harris bridge (Dapodi) lies in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation limits.

MahaMetro has completed construction of the first pier at Vallabhnagar. The work of construction of piers is progressing at various stages from Kharalwadi to Nashik Phata in the median of the grade separator. Construction is also in progress from Atlas Copco to College of Military Engineering (CME) chowk. One lane of the grade separator, on both sides, is closed for Metro construction.

An official said, “The two-year contract for construction of piers was awarded in May 2017, wherein a total of 322 piers will be constructed. Construction of first pier has been completed. Construction of another five piers up to the first level has been completed. The foundation of 35 piers has been completed. Construction of seven piers will start in December.”

The official said that three elevated Metro stations will be built on the stretch from Harris Bridge to Range Hills.

These would be near Bopodi Police Chowkey and Khadki Railway Station along the highway. The Metro, after crossing the railway tracks, will go parallel to the railway tracks along the existing road in defence areas.

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Six Village Councils on NFR reiterates their collective decision to prevent construction works for Dimapur-Zubza rail line

DIMAPUR: Six village councils – Dhansiripar, Zutovi, Pimla, Khemnok, Razaphe Basa and Shokhuvi – have reiterated their collective decision to prevent construction works for “Nagaland rail project” (Dimapur-Zubza railway connection).

The councils issued a joint press release on Sunday informing that even as the “complete stoppage of works of the Nagaland rail project” by the six villages in their respective jurisdiction enters the 12th day, the state government has remained silent.

The silence of the authorities, they stated, was ‘becoming a big question’. according to the statement, several attempts by the councils to meet the chief minister as well as the chief secretary have not been successful till date.

“It was either denial or suppression of the demand for review of the discrepancy in the payment of land compensation. Mention may be made that the Railway authority through a written (sic) stated to have paid Rs. 25/-psf and the state govt. release Rs. 3.75 p over and above 25/- which is intriguing.

Despite having already a rate fixed by the cabinet the six villages were paid the lowest rate…therefore the stoppage of ongoing rail project works would be continued indefinitely as resolved which should not be considered as against the rail connectivity process”.

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Nepal Investment Board wants to construct two Railway lines in Kathmandu by 2021

KHATMANDU: The Investment Board Nepal, after conducting a feasibility study on the construction of railways in Kathmandu, has suggested that two railways be constructed in the Valley within next four years.

Its implementation, however, is under question as no preparations have been made for it.

The Board has also estimated that constructing the two routes will cost Rs 316 billion.

Earlier, the Board had formed a high-level committee for the feasibility study. The committee had National Planning Commission’s Hirendra Man Pradhan, Board’s Madhu Sudan Bhetwal, Ministry of Finance’s Baikuntha Aryal, Ministry of Transport Management’s Ananta Acharya and Department of Railway’s Bishnu Om Bade as members.

The Board’s spokesperson Uttam Bhakta Wagle says the first proposed route stretches from Naagdhunga of Kathmandu to Dhulikhel of Kavre. It will be 54 kilometres.

Likewise, the second proposed route connects Budhanilakantha of Kathmandu to the beginning point of Kathmandu-Tarai fast track in Lalitpur. It will be 25 kilometres.

The Board says the first route should be prioritised.

Detailed project reports are yet to be prepared for both the routes. It is said that 35 megawatt power is needed to operate each of the systems.

Around four million people commute in the valley everyday. Transport engineers say other means except the railway cannot bear the pressure of passengers if a city has more than three million regular commuters.

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Northeast Frontier Railway to standardise Rakes to ease operational constraint

GUWAHATI: To ease the operational constraints and ensure better availability of rakes for the running of trains on time, the NF Railway is going for standardisation of rakes, informed CPRO/NF Railway Pranav Jyoti Sharma in a press note.

“By this, any train can be made ready for departure even when its incoming link rake is delayed for some reason or the other. Every incoming rake requires a time of at least 7 hours for thorough inspection and cleaning of the pit line. If the incoming rake is late, an identical rake of the same composition can be used to run the service. Thus punctuality can be ensured” detailed the press note received here.

For the interest of rail users as well as for maintaining punctuality of trains, six rakes of train no.15960/15969 Dibrugarh-Howrah Express, 12526-12525 Dibrugarh-Coimbatore Express and 15906-15905 Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Express with composition of 2 nos.SLR, 5 nos. General second class, 1 no.AC two tier, 3 nos. AC three tier, 11 nos. Sleeper class and 1 no. pantry car coaches; while four rakes of train no. 15903-15904 Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express,15930-15929 Dibrugarh-Madras Express and 15933-15934 Dibrugarh-Amritsar Express with the composition of 2 nos. SLR, 2 nos. General second class, 1 no.AC two tier, 4 nos. AC three tier, 13 nos. sleeper class and 1 no. pantry car coaches, Dibrugarh based trains have already been standardised.

Four rakes of Guwahati-based train no. 15648/15647 Guwahati-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express, 15630/15629 Guwahati-Madras Express and 15646-15645 Guwahati- Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express with the composition of 2 nos.SLR, 2 nos. General second class, 1 no.AC two tier, 4 nos. AC three tier, 13 nos. sleeper class and 1 no. Pantry car coaches as well as two rakes of train no.15624/15623 Kamakhya-Bhagat ki kothi Express and 15655/15656 Kamakhya- Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Express with the composition of 2 nos.Chair car, 6 nos.General second class, 6 nos.Sleeper class , 2nos. AC two tier , 4 nos. AC three tier coaches; along with 15620/1519 Kamakhya-Gaya and 15621/15622 Kamakhya-Anand Vihar Expresswith the composition of 2 nos. SLR, 2 nos.General second class , 1 no.AC two tier , 2 nos.AC three tier and 8 nos. Sleeper class coaches have been standardised.

In the next phase it has been notified to standardise six rakes of Guwahati-based train no. 12505/12506 Guwahati-Anand Vihar Express, 15651-15652, 15653/15654 Guwahati-Jammu Tawi Express with the composition of 2 nos. SLR, 2nos. general second class, 1 no. AC two tier,2 nos. AC three tier , 8 nos. Sleeper class coaches together with four rakes of train no. 12508/12507, 12516/12515 Guwahati-Trivandrum Express, 15636/15635 Guwahati-Okha Express and 12514/12513 Guwahati-Secunderabad Express with the composition of 2 nos.SLR, 2 nos.General second class, 1 no.AC two tier, 4 nos. AC three tier, 13 nos. sleeper class and 1 no. Pantry car coaches.

In addition to these, the press note stated that Kamakhya-based two rakes of train no. 15668/15667 Kamakhya-Gandhidham Express, 22512/22513 Kamakhya- Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express have been notified for standardisation with composition of 2 nos.SLR, 2 nos.General second class , 1no. AC two tier , 4 nos.AC three tier ,10 nos. sleeper class and 1 no.Pantry car coaches. Similarly, two rakes of train no. 15640/15643 Kamakhya-Puri Express and 82506/82505 Kamakhya-Pune Express are also notified for standardisation with the composition of 2 nos.SLR, 4 nos. General second class , 1 no.AC two tier , 2 n AC three tier and 8 nos. sleeper class coaches.

Khulna-Kolkata Railway Service launched – Modi, Hasina inaugurate Bandhan Express Rail service

The train would start ferrying passengers from November 16. It would leave Kolkata at 11 am (Indian time) and reach Khulna after four-and-a-half hours.

NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina will jointly launch a cross-country passenger train service today.

The Khulna-Kolkata train service opens two bridges on railway routes connecting Dhaka with Sylhet and Chittagong.

Bangladesh government officials said the two premiers would inaugurate the projects through a video conferencing from New Delhi and Dhaka. They would also launch an ‘end-to-end’ immigration facility to ease Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree train services.

Railway officials said the two new bridges have been built on the Bhairab and Titas rivers for the second track for simultaneous operation of up and down train services from Dhaka to Chittagong and Sylhet.

“We will call the new structures as the second Bhairab Bridge and second Titas bridge,” a railway official familiar with the process said.

The train, which will operate on the 117-km-long Khulna-Kolkata route, would be dubbed as ‘Bandhan Express’.

It would start ferrying passengers from November 16 and according to the schedule, it would leave Kolkata at 11 am (Indian time) and reach Khulna after four-and-a-half hours.

The 984-meter long and 7-metre wide Bhairab Railway Bridge was built at a cost of 567 crore Taka. Its construction work began on December 25, 2013 and ended last month.

Under an agreement with Bangladesh government, India’s Ircon-Afcons JV constructed the bridge having both dual gauge and broad-gauge facilities.

The new Titas Bridge is 218-metre long and 7-metre wide and was built at a cost of 161.36 crore Taka by another Indian company called Gannon-Flcl Consortium under a nearly identical agreement with the government.

The construction work of the second Titas Bridge started on January 27, 2014 and ended last month.

Bangladesh Railway’s eastern zone general manager and project director of the two bridges Md Abdul Hai told media that the up train from Dhaka would move through one bridge, while the down one would use the other bridge. The trains connecting Dhaka with the major two cities could ply without any crossing at Bhairab and Akhaura stations.

“The bridges will reduce travel time between Dhaka and Chittagong and Dhaka and Sylhet. We will be able to run the dual gauge and broad gauge trains at 100-km and 120-km per hour respectively,” the official said.

Hai said Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) of Bangladesh had approved the initiative on November 9, 2010 to smoothen the Dhaka-Chittagong double line train services.

The British era train service on the route was suspended in 1965 when Indian and Pakistan was in a war with Bangladesh was eastern wing of Pakistan. Bangladesh fought a war six year later and liberated from Pakistan in 1971.

The resumption of the train connection was among the 22 agreements Bangladesh and Indian signed in April this year to improve people-to people contact between the two next-door neighbours.

Bangladesh and India has earlier launched a number of bus and train services.

On Thursday, Hasina and Modi also inaugurated two new railway bridges over the rivers Bhairab and Titas in north-eastern Bangladesh. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was connected through video conferencing at the flag-off event in Kolkata.

This train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border, said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“We want to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating an area of peace in South Asia,” she said.

Bangladesh values such engagements so “we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for the benefit of our people”.

Indian Prime Minister Modi said, India takes pride in being a reliable partner in Bangladesh’s development.

He said development and connectivity are linked with each other and the ties between India and Bangladesh, particularly between West Bengal and Bangladesh, are decades old.

Remove hawkers near Railway Stations : Petition in Bombay HC

Says Municipal Corporation should use home guards to remove hawkers

MUMBAI: A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court against the illegal hawkers near the railway stations in the city and the municipal regions. The petition has sought the removal of all the illegal hawkers as well as action against the civic and police officers who shelter these hawkers by taking bribes from them. The petition has been filed by journalist Ketan Tirodkar and is likely to be heard on Friday.

The petitioner has stated in the petition that he has himself visited the railways stations and the region that comes under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), after coming to know about the practice of civic authorities, the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel collecting ‘haftas’ from the hawkers to allow them to set up their stalls in the premises.

The petitioner also gave the example of `8 lakh being collected every month from the Kurla railway station and the nearby areas.

The petitioner has alleged that the overall collection of ‘haftas’ by the RPF and the GRP as well as the civil police and civic body officials is to the tune of `2,000 crore per month in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, spanning over Mumbai, Thane, and Palghar and Raigad districts. This includes both civil areas as well as railway premises.

The petitioner further states that the civic bodies like BMC, Thane Municipal Corporation and the likes cite reasons like being short-staffed for being unsuccessful in dealing with illegal hawkers. He states that the Maharashtra state has a security corporation and home guards with strength of thousands of personnel, which can be used to remove these hawkers. He also states that the government does not pay the home guards properly, and the civic bodies can bridge the gap by paying them for taking their help in removing the hawkers.

The Thane Municipal Corporation and Mumbai Metro Rail authority too have been availing the services of the state security corporation for regular functioning. Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation has been using services of private bouncers for erasing illegal construction and the removal of hawkers.

Titagarh to drive in automated rail track checking vehicles

To manufacture technology-driven track diagnostic vehicles in JV with Mermec SpA of Italy.

KOLKATA: At a time when Indian Railways is besieged by accidents, Titagarh Wagons is set to introduce technology-driven track diagnostic vehicles, which would be manufactured by its joint venture (JV) with Mermec SpA of Italy.

These automated vehicles would be replacing the century-old system of linesmen manually checking the tracks by hitting them with iron rods.

“This is company which is a world leader in diagnostics with presence in signalling, with 80% of its 1,000 staff into designing. We would finalise the joint venture soon and manufacturing would happen in Uttarpara (West Bengal) by next year. To head the JV, we have brought in Lalit Tejwani, who was responsible for ABB’s railway business in the Middle East, Africa and India,” Umesh Chowdhary, vice chairman and managing director of Titagarh Wagons, told.

The JV, to be named Devadoot, was signed during Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni’s visit to India and will design and manufacture cost-effective track-side signaling systems and also high-tech systems and measuring trains for the safety of the railway lines and trains.

“The accessible market for the venture is around €1.5 billion,” a statement issued by industry body Ficci during Gentiloni’s visit on October 31 said.

Titagarh has been looking at opportunities within and outside the country by either acquiring foreign technology-led companies or forming JVs with them.

Its maiden acquisition was French wagon maker Arbel Fauvet Rail in 2010.

The wagon maker is now strategising to turn its domestic units into manufacturing bases for its foreign units.

“It’s not that we are closing down manufacturing there. We had acquired stressed assets having very high technology expertise and in the first phase we are turning them around, a process which is complete for our French unit. The second step involves lowering the costs for these overseas units by manufacturing the basic units in India and finishing them and putting some value-addition there,” Umesh said on the sidelines of a CII-organised event on doing business with the Railways.

“We are doing it in a subtle manner but in a solid way,” he added.

For the French unit, all required approvals are in place and Titagarh is currently exporting wagons designed and finished in France but manufactured in India.

Railways target completing Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project by August 2022

NEW DELHI: Unfazed by opposition criticism, Indian Railways is working overtime to push ahead with the much-talked about the “Bullet Train” project, aiming to complete it ahead of the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who has a reputation of a turnaround man, has taken up the task of monitoring and chairing the periodic review meetings of the project that is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore ($15 billion).

Lohani held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Central government officials, Principal Secretary-rank officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra, officials of NHSRCL (National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited), officials of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the General Manager of Western Railway.

A senior railway board member, requesting anonymity, told IANS, “The railways is in no mood to delay the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project. Lohani will now hold a review meeting once every three months… And even on weekly basis, if required.”

Emphasising on the government’s intention, the official said, “The attendance of the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, the Japanese Ambassador and the CRB in the review meeting is a clear signal that the government is taking the project seriously and there is no scope for any delay.”

“The CRB wants Indian Railway officials to take lessons from their Japanese counterparts about meeting deadlines,” he said.

The opposition has attacked the government for taking up a project at a huge cost instead of focusing on safety, a dire need of the time, and on schemes to improve passenger amenities.

The official said it was also decided at the meeting that “a road map for consultancy and civil engineering works will be prepared by January 2018”.

A ministry official associated with the Bullet Train project said a report on the signalling system and electrical reports would be ready by April 2018. According to him, the tracks and most of the signalling system would be brought from Japan.

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14.

Of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. And the repayment will begin only after 15 years.

The railway official said that to encourage the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme, “an appeal will be made to Indian and Japanese companies to make use the opportunity to work together”.

Meanwhile, the officials of the government of Maharashtra and Gujarat assured the railways of their help in land acquisition and smooth shifting of raw materials to construction venues.

A three-level monitoring committee was also constituted, including the Vice Chairman of Niti Ayog and Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister.

A working group led by Managing Director of NHSRCL Achal Khare and consisting of representatives of the ministries concerned, and the representative of JICA, has been formed. Besides the two committees, a technical expert committee led by the Managing Director of NHSRCL has also been formed.

Of the 508 km stretch, 92 per cent (468 km) of the route will be elevated, six per cent (27 km) will be in tunnels and the remaining two per cent (13 km) will be on the ground . The high-speed train would also pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea. Twelve stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati. The distance will be covered in two hours and seven minutes if the train stops at four stations — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai. If the train stops at all 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

According to Railway Ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train would be 320 kmph and the maximum speed would be 350 kmph

Road Ministry offers Right of Way to Indian Railways for the Bullet Train project

NEW DELHI: In a move that could reduce costs and quicken construction of the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, the road transport and highways ministry offered right of way to the railways to build part of the project alongside the upcoming 380-km Vadodara-Mumbai expressway.

The road ministry has already acquired almost 3,200 hectares of land for the expressway and has offered right of way to the Indian Railways along the entire corridor between Vadodara and Mumbai for the bullet train project. Vadodara is 110 km from Ahmedabad and is a major trade centre along with Surat on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor.

“The total project cost of the expressway is around Rs 40,000 crore and majority of it consists of the land value that we have acquired between the two cities for constructing the six-lane highway. The alignment of both rail and road corridor is almost the same between Mumbai and Vadodara,” a government official said.

The Indian Railways is yet to acquire land for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore bullet train project. The government aims to complete the Japanese International Cooperation Agency funded project by August 2022.

According to the official, the move could save Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 12,000 crore for both the road and railway ministries and save the railways the task of acquiring land for the 380-km route. The total length of the bullet train project is 508 km. If the bullet train is aligned with the expressway, the railways would only need to acquire land between Ahmedabad and Vadodara.

“The right of way offered to railways could remove all land acquisition hassles for the national transporter along with reducing the cost of acquisition, especially in parts of Maharashtra such as Thane and other nearby Mumbai cities where land acquisition is nearly impossible now,” the official added.

The road ministry is of the view that a rail-and-road corridor would be complementary, with bullet train carrying only passengers and the expressway used mostly for freight and by short-distance travellers.

A top railway ministry official said the proposal is being considered by the Railway Board. The bullet train project, launched in September by PM Narendra Modi and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, will cut travel time between the two cities to less than three hours.

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Mithila Artists transform Madhubani Railway Station with tradional Madhubani art

MADHUBANI: The Madhubani Railway station, in Bihar just got a make over. One of the oldest rail stations in India near Patna is now attracting tourists after hundreds of local Mithila artists adorned the walls of the station with world-famous Madhubani paintings. The excruciating work was undertaken as a Swachh Bharat mission and has been done free of cost as ‘Shramdaan’ in an attempt to promote the traditional art form. At least 7,000 sqft area at this Bihar station under the East Central Railway (ECR) has been decked up.

The first of its kind in Bihar, the officials of the Samastipur division say that this is the ‘largest’ depiction of Mithila artwork in the world and could even break any previous Guinness World Record.

The project started on October 2 with the aim not only as a beautification and cleanliness project but also to highlight the skill of the town’s artists. According to media reports, as the local artists did not take any money for their work, the colours, painting brushes and refreshments were provided by railway authorities. After the completion of the work, they were felicitated. The traditional Mithila artwork that originated in Nepal, uses the art to depict scenes from mythological texts and folklore.

Railways start putting up barbed wires to stop Mumbai commuters from crossing tracks

Mumbai suburban trains serve 8 million passengers daily. As part of various safety measures, Railways are sealing illegal entries and exits to reduce track deaths, as was recommended after safety audits at stations following the Elphinstone Road stampede. However, reducing the Dangerous Crowding on Mumbai’s Trains will take more than Increased Capacity

MUMBAI: For the first time ever, the Railways have started installing sharp, barbed metal wires – called concertina wires – to seal illegal entry and exit points on railway premises across Mumbai and dissuade people from crossing tracks.

Every year, around 3,000 people lose their lives on the local railway network. Of these, most people die while crossing tracks. To deter people, the Railways have, in the past, built cement-concrete walls along tracks, but there are many spots where the walls have been damaged or broken deliberately to allow illegal entries and exits.

On September 29, the Mumbai suburban train services saw one of the worst catastrophes in its history when 23 commuters lost their lives in a stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station. An enquiry committee of the highest level was formed, and the entire railway system is mobilizing to review and rework the way it provides passenger amenities and safety facilities.

Officials hope the wire fences will help reduce the number of track deaths.

The Railways have already started identifying vulnerable spots on the local suburban network and installing these spiked fences. Central Railway (CR) officials said they have fitted them along the tracks on the Thane-Airoli, Currey Road-Chinchpokli and Parel-Dadar stretches. “We are fixing wires at stretches commonly used to cross tracks,” said SK Jain, DRM.

The audit teams formed after the Elphinstone Road station stampede on September 29, to arrive at both short- and long-term measures to prevent a repetition of the incident that claimed 23 lives, recommended that a 17.5km-long concrete wall be built to seal railway boundaries.

Previously, the Railways have installed iron barricades between tracks at railway stations as people would hop across tracks to change platforms instead of using the foot over-bridges. These barricades have proved quite useful in stopping such trespasses at stations.

But this incident was about more than overcrowding a narrow foot bridge. It should compel policymakers to rethink transportation integration at a larger level.

Much of the focus after the deadly accident has been on adding more capacity. But if adding more train service was such an easy solution, then the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transportation Project (MUTP), which has cumulatively invested more than $1.4 billion to upgrade and enhance suburban railway infrastructure, would have had a bigger impact by now. Instead, despite more than 2,800 suburban train services a day reaching some 8 million Mumbaikers, the average commuter still faces “super-dense crushed load” conditions, with up to 16 hapless commuters per square meter of train space.

In initiatives like MUTP, it is frequently assumed that new capacity will bring more comfort to riders. The first phase of MUTP aimed to bring down the number of passengers per train on the Western Railway during peak periods from 4,500 to 3,600, but could only achieve 4,016. The next phase started from a baseline of 5,400 peak hour passengers per train on the Western Railway route and set a more realistic target of 4,000, but could only achieve 5,257.

And herein lies the reason why project after project has failed to decongest Mumbai’s notorious rail system. Commuters are like water, always flowing through the path of least resistance. As long as the rail system is the only option for many people, more capacity will simply be filled with more demand. In the case of Mumbai suburban, the extra capacity created during peak hours was easily occupied by those who previously used other modes of public transport, private vehicles or previously traveled during non-peak hours. Indeed, after phase two of the MUTP, the World Bank’s independent evaluation group acknowledged that “better services increased demand more than had been expected.”

Yet, some policymakers have yet to learn these lessons. The third phase of MUTP is currently focused on quadrupling the length of track and adding additional train services.

To truly reduce congestion on suburban trains in the medium to long term, planning must take into account the bigger picture and become much more integrated.

Some 22 percent of commuters on Mumbai suburban trains travel less than 10 kilometers. Many could easily be shifted to non-motorized transport modes, like walking and cycling, if they had access to adequate and safe infrastructure. The example of congestion at Elphinstone Road is pertinent here. A large chunk of Central Railway route passengers get down at Dadar to catch the slow local to the next two stations, Elphinstone Road and Lower Parel. If there was well-developed cycling infrastructure integrated with the railway system, many commuters could easily cycle the 2.5-kilometer distance from Dadar to these stations instead.

It would take just a fraction of the $1.4 billion invested in MUTP projects to date to develop robust, sustainable cycling and walking infrastructure. Such changes would decongest trains far more effectively than adding more service. If needed, further mode shifts could be encouraged through fare changes to balance congestion and encourage healthy, sustainable modes of transport.

Why hasn’t this been done already? Fault lies with the institutional structure of the transport sector. India is the only country among the top 100 economies of the world where responsibility for transportation is segregated by mode across multiple government agencies. There is the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Shipping, and Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. Each handles some aspect of transport policy, but barely talks to the others. Add in the various state governments and you have a complex labyrinth of departments with virtually no convergence. There could be millions invested in a project within one ministry, but when an issue requires inter-departmental or inter-ministerial coordination, then no matter how beneficial the resolution might be for citizens, departmentalism makes it difficult to achieve. The case of universal ticketing for trains in Mumbai is a glaring example. After more than two years of futile attempts by the railways, Maharashtra Government and Mumbai Metro, there is nothing to show.

What Mumbai needs is not just more foot bridges, escalators and trains but a more mature and nuanced treatment of the transport policy landscape. Developing multiple modes of citizen-centric, integrated transport, with a focus on cheap and sustainable options, would go much farther toward preventing the next Elphinstone Road disaster than more tracks and more trains.

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Railway Passenger Amenities Committee inspects Railway Stations on SCR

During the course of the inspection, the Committee checked waiting halls, dormitories, retiring rooms, drinking water facility, lifts, escalators, station circulating area, Security Surveillance System and so on.

SECUNDERABAD: Members of Passenger Amenities Committee on Indian Railways visited Tirupati, Kacheguda, Hyderabad and Secunderabad Railway Stations of South Central Railway to undertake inspection of the quality of passenger amenities being maintained at these stations.

The Committee comprised of Shri Ladharam H. Nagwani; Shri B. Rajavardhan Reddy; Shri Lakshmi Prasad Jayaswal; Ms. Manisha Chatterjee; Shri Ramdheen Singh and Shri Prabhunath Chauhan.

The Committee inspected Hyderabad and Kacheguda Railway Stations on 8th November, 2017 and had a detailed inspection of Secunderabad Railway Station today i.e., 9th November, 2017. Prior to this, the Committee undertook inspection of Tirupati Railway Station.

During the course of their extensive inspection of these stations, the Committee checked various passenger amenities provided for passengers such as waiting halls, dormitories, retiring rooms, drinking water facility, lifts, escalators, station circulating area, Security Surveillance System (CCTV’s) etc.,

Later, during their interaction with Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR at Rail Nilayam, the Committee members complimented the Zone for best upkeep of cleanliness standards at Stations and fool proof Security arrangements put in place for meeting the needs of passengers, with use of advanced technology.

The Committee opined that the practices and procedures adopted at Secunderabad Railway Station are excellent and can be taken as a Model Railway Station on entire Indian Railways.  The committee members also interacted with passengers and took feedback on facilities available at Stations.

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Safety Audit: NGO to identify issues at Mumbai Suburban Railway Stations

A safety sprawl will be conducted by ‘Safecity’ to understand issues with sexual harassment, infrastructure.

MUMBAI: Commuters travelling in local trains and crowded railway stations have been facing harassment issues every day. Recently there have been instances where women commuters had come forward to report about the harassment they faced while commuting at the railway stations.

In order to check how safe the railway stations in the city are, a group of activists along with citizens will be conducting a social audit called the ‘safety audit’ at three railway stations on the Western line.

While the first safety audit was conducted on November 8, Wednesday at Goregaon railway station, the other two social audits will be conducted in the afternoon at Andheri station on Thursday and Borivali railway stations on Friday.

The safety audit is organised by the NGO Safecity to evaluate and improve the safety of citizens by identifying problems and reporting it to the concern authorities.

As per the organisers, the objective of the safety audits is to assess the railway stations from the angle of safety and existing infrastructure. The organiser, said, “We will be communicating with commuters of all genders at the stations to understand the occurrence of sexual harassment at these stations. We are building an understanding of the needs of people and infrastructure for safer public transport (railways) and look forward to your suggestions.”

Other commuters who want to report any sexual harassment at stations can report it online at safecity.in.

A few years ago, as per a study conducted by another NGO revealed that many women have a tendency to not report instances of sexual harassment.

They have ignored sexual harassment faced by them or others out of fear of the consequences. It was also found that overcrowded trains, congested platforms, narrow footbridges make train travel more dangerous for women.

 

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Railways owes Rs.366 Crore to BMC in Water Bills

The Railways owes over Rs 366 crore to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) towards water supply bills, reply to an RTI query has revealed.

MUMBAI: The Railways owes over Rs 366 crore to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) towards water supply bills, reply to an RTI query has revealed.

While the Western Railway is yet to pay Rs 205.74 crore to the civic body till date from 2001, the Central Railway’s outstanding bill amount is Rs 161.04 crore during the same period.

Activist Samir Jhaveri had sought to know the total bill amount that is pending and yet to be received from the railway authorities towards water supply made by the BMC.

In its reply, the hydraulic department of the municipal corporation said, “Payment of water bills worth Rs 205.74 crore is pending with the Western Railway, while the Central Railway’s outstanding amount from the year 2001 to November 3, 2017, is Rs 161.04 crore.”

Jhaveri said, “While on the one hand, the BMC paid Rs 26 crore to the railway authorities for construction, repair and maintenance of the foot over bridges (FOBs) at railway stations in Mumbai, on the other hand, the transporter is defaulting on this huge amount to the civic body. The BMC could have adjusted this outstanding amount with the payment it made to the railways.”

“I requested the BMC Commissioner to invoke stringent rules and act accordingly to recover the outstanding amount within a stipulated time,” the activist added.

When asked, chief spokesperson for the Western Railway, Ravinder Bhakar, attributed this outstanding amount to “unresolved policy issues” with the BMC.

“We have been regularly paying water bills to the civic body. But earlier, the BMC levied sewerage charges as well, which is not in our policy to pay.

This amount has swelled up owing to the compound interest year on year. The actual amount is not so much.”

According to Bhakar, a meeting with senior officials of the WR and BMC is scheduled to take place this month.

“Both the sides hope that the old issue would be sorted out,” he added.

RTI queries filed by other activists in the past had revealed that apart from railways, other government agencies and departments are also in the defaulters’ list of the BMC for the non-payment of water bills.

“We have been sending several reminders and notices to recover the pending bills. We have even brought amnesty scheme. However, a few agencies came forward to pay, while few others still continue to be in the defaulters’ list,” a senior civic official said.

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Innanje to get a full-fledged Railway Station by November next

Part of the Konkan Railway’s drive to provide better facilities to the people of the region.

INNANJE, UDUPI: A new railway station with modern facilities along with a 1.1-km loop-line (railway track) would be commissioned here by the end of next year as part of the Konkan Railway’s drive to provide better facilities to the people of the region.

The commissioning of the new railway station, where only two trains halt at present at a small railway station, the size of a room, will serve the people of villages such as Shankarpura, Subashnagar, Katapady, Manchakal, Paniyur, Manjedy, Pangala, Bantakal and Shriva. A lot of people from these places travel to Mumbai and Bengaluru and are employed across the country and abroad. At present, people have to travel about 12 km by road to Udupi to catch an express train. The work on this new station started in April 2017.

Briefing presspersons here on Wednesday, Vijay Kumar, Assistant Executive Engineer, Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., said that the new platform would be 560 m long. It will be a high-level platform with a full-fledged railway station, which is being constructed at a cost of ₹ 6.78 crore.

This station is equidistant (nine kilometres on either side) to the two railway stations — Udupi in the North and Padubidri in the South. “The construction of the station will also help in facilitating train crossings because of the loop line. Hence, it will be converted from a block station to a crossing station,” he said.

Earthwork by March

The earthwork for the station would be completed by March 2018, while the railway station, platform and staff quarters would be completed by June 2018. The commissioning of the station would be done in November 2018.

The railway station will have waiting rooms, station master’s room, signal room, electrical room, relay room, generator room, and toilet facility. “After the commissioning of this station, more trains will be able to stop here. But this will also depend on public demand,” said Sudha Krishnamurthy, Public Relations Officer.

A full-fledged crossing railway station is being constructed at Mirjan between Kumta and Gokarn in Uttara Kannada district. It would be completed in December 2018 at a cost of ₹ 7.12 crore.

One more platform and railway track would be laid and a foot overbridge connecting the two platforms would be constructed at the railway station in Murdeshwar by March 2018 at a cost of ₹ 5.89 crore, Mr. Kumar said.

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Delhi Pollution: EPCA Directions are mandatory, legally mandated for DMRC: says Sunita Narain, Member/EPCA

NEW DELHI: The Environment Pollution Control Authority’s (EPCA) directions to “immediately” slash metro fares and hike parking fees today put authorities in Delhi in a spot, but the law is clear that the Supreme Court-appointed body’s orders are binding.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said it was yet to take a decision on slashing fares temporarily, while municipal bodies argued their standing committees will have to clear the decision on enhancing parking fees first.

When contacted, Sunita Narain, Member, EPCA and Director General, Centre for Science & Environment told that the orders are legally mandated. The decisions have been conveyed to the chief secretaries of the states who will in turn ensure their implementation, she said.

“All these measures are part of the GRAP. These are legally mandated and will not have to be cleared by any standing committee,” she said.

In fact, it was the Environment Ministry which empowered the EPCA through a gazette notification to enforce the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to combat air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region.

“In pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), the central government hereby assigns the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan to the EPCA…” the January 12 notification read.

The decision to hike parking fees, augment metro services and introduce differential rates are part of measures under the GRAP’s ‘severe’ category action plan, which was cleared by the Supreme Court last year.

However, Preeti Agarwal, North MCD mayor said: “The matter (to enhance parking fees) will be first brought to the House (of the corporation). Unless it is cleared, we cannot implement it.”

NDMC officials said they cannot immediately comment on implementation of the directive on hiking parking fees.

“The plan will have to be placed before the council which will deliberate on its feasibility. Then only we will be able to comment on the issue,” a senior NDMC official said.

Officially, the Delhi Metro remained mum on its future course of action. Metro fares were increased on October 10, following a bitter tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government.

The Delhi government had opposed the fare hike but the Centre had refused to back down saying the increase was as per the recommendations of a fare fixation panel (FFC), which cannot be tampered with.

During the tussle, the DMRC had written to the Urban Development Ministry that “the FFC’s recommendations are binding on the Metro Rail administration as per provisions of Section-37 of this Act (Metro Act).”

“Neither the central government nor the state government or even the board of the company has legal power to change the recommendations made by the FFC,” it had said.

The DMRC is run as per the provisions of the Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002.

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Quality Warehousing Services got boost with major Infrastructure Push in Railways: says Nilesh Karkhanis, Milestone Capital

Institutional interest in Logistics, Warehousing to grow in the backdrop of expected manifold rise in activity levels in warehousing segment with several institutional players are keenly eying the opportunity. We are expecting government’s infra push to drive demands.

MUMBAI: With government’s recent policies including Make in India, Bharatmala project and most importantly implementation of the Goods & Services Tax, we are seeing increased activity in the warehousing and logistics space. In the backdrop of expected manifold rise in activity levels in this segment going forward, several institutional players are keenly eying the opportunity. Milestone Capital Advisors, a homegrown real estate fund, is one of the few institutional players to have already funded and participated in warehousing segment. Nilesh Karkhanis, Partner – Milestone Capital shares his views on the outlook for this sector.

In the current real estate scenario, which segments are institutional investors keen to participate in?

The institutional realty investor continues to explore new horizons against the backdrop of positive tail winds in Indian industry and trade. A slowing sales volume and high unsold inventory has impacted the residential segment and private equity investors are spreading their real estate exposure in multiple asset classes.

We have seen renewed interest in pre-leased offices due to attractive capital values and stabilized rental yields. Strong demand for Grade-A office space especially in CBD areas, low vacancy levels and limited supply of offices has brought this segment back in favor for the investors. We have seen the share of offices in overall investments rising from 18% to 35% in just two years. With not much supply expected, the demand supply mismatch will fuel growth in capital values of Grade-A office assets.

Another upward swing is noticed in urban infringes. There is sustained escalation in land prices in these areas. As more and more infringes are brought under Development Plans and Regional Plans for organized urban growth and industrial promotion, the land prices are bound to steadily increase. However, mere land aggregation and speculation will not give double digit returns and liquidating raw land continues to be a challenge, especially for institutional buyers. Investment opportunities in urban infringes will primarily be in affordable housing and logistics & warehousing parks.

What do you see as key demand drivers for warehousing?

There are definite statutory initiatives of central and state governments to attract investments in warehousing and logistics, both directly and indirectly through policy framework. As mentioned above, new urban infringes growth centres are being planned with specific land use demarcation for logistics and warehousing. This zoning is coupled with supporting industrial zones and transport networks. This shall be further accentuated by the recently announced Bharatmala Pariyojana that includes 50 new national corridors and multi modal logistics parks across the country.

With the advent of GST, certain sectors have become poised for speedy growth. Logistics and warehousing is such a sector. Arguably, no other industry has benefitted more by GST than the warehousing and logistics industry. Since the advent of GST, the warehouse selection has become agnostic to location. Warehouse parks can now be developed in tax neutral environment and their setting up will be governed primarily by land cost and connectivity. With one nation one tax, locations are being selected by end users on the basis of optimum logistics route and availability of quality warehouses in such locations. We shall see a significant change in the logistics and supply network including moving towards hub and spoke model thus creating a demand for large centralized warehouses and distribution centres. However, these can only be delivered through integrated logistics parks developed through an organized platform.

Further, we are seeing significant investments in infrastructure with focus on adherence to project timelines. This $100 billion infrastructure push in roadways, railways, ports, air cargo terminals etc., has provided a boost to the demand for quality warehousing services. The Make in India initiative, though in an early stage currently, is another big driver for warehousing and logistics demand. Though a lot remains to be achieved in these areas, the sentiment is positive.

With these fundamental changes being effected, there is an opportunity for institutional developers and institutional investors to develop large format warehouses.

As warehousing industry has mainly been on an unorganized platform, how do you see an institutional player leverage this opportunity in warehousing?

According to various industry reports, the warehousing industry is slated to grow at 8% to 10% per annum for the next few years. But the fine print of all the available data and our firsthand information indicates that this growth will not be uniform across geographies and segments. There is a clear cut focus of FMCG, e – commerce and electronics industry players to move towards consolidation. Other growing industries continue to depend on third party logistic players, who in turn are trying to build long term relationships for de-risking their business model. Additionally, more warehouse users are seeking integration of leasing with added support services. This means investment in warehousing development shall be done keeping in mind the long term business requirements of users.

Though there is an opportunity for sustained returns, offshore and domestic investors will need experienced partners and asset managers in warehousing.

What is your strategy for new warehousing investments vis-a-vis location and other factors?

I see that land parcels as far as 15 to 30 kms from urban boundaries can now be developed into logistics parks as long as they enjoy proximity to highways and rail networks. With GST in place, the logistics and supply chain expense will be regarded as “value add” and the manufacturers, distributors and retailers will get tax credit for such services availed. This makes development of warehouses in newer hubs away from prime urban localities an attractive proposition. Large land parcels are available at competitive rates 15 to 30 kms from urban boundaries. The capex incurred in land aggregation can now be limited to about INR 6 to 12 million per acre. The aggregation of large land parcels however needs some expertise but certain niche players and fund houses such as ours have demonstrated their track record in doing so and can be relied upon to close transactions with agility.

Other important factors for selecting a warehouse include quality and ability of the developer to deliver customized specifications. The advent of institutional funding backed companies in sectors such as e-commerce, FMCG, 3PLs and machine tools and their foray into manufacturing and trade has led to demand for quality and consistency all over. The warehouse developers that cater to these high standards are able to forge long lasting relationships.

The higher specifications requirement means that organized and established vendors are now part of the development process of warehouses. This has resulted in greater transparency in the whole process, which is working in favor of institutional investors and institutional end users alike. Corporate developers backed by institutional capital will find more takers than individual standalone land lords.

What sort of returns can an investor expect from a warehousing investment?

Warehouse as an asset class offers natural downside protection to the capital since demand is increasing and established warehouse locations will always be the first to get absorbed . Another factor contributing to stability in yields is that institutional end users and large third party logistics companies are more inclined to offer longer leases. These tenants generally bear fairly large amounts of capex for establishing their consolidated warehousing hubs and distribution centers.

With high quality tenants signing up long term leases, the business offers stabilized yields over investment horizons of four to six years. With standard escalations it is safe to assume that 8% to 11% entry yields will consistently grow to 12% to 14% over four to six years.

Importantly, warehouse development offers the inherent upside of land value appreciation. With warehouses continuing to be developed on the borders of urban areas, and industrial and urban footprint increasing over the years, the present day warehouse locations will see multifold appreciation in capital values of underlying land. In the past, our own investments have seen such capital appreciation over five to six years on account of our logistics parks being included under newly formed urban centers. As a combination of growing average yields of 10% to 13% and capital appreciation of 5% to 7 % per annum, it is possible to achieve ROIs of 18% to 20% over five to seven years of investment cycle.

How is Milestone looking to leverage this story?

The future definitely looks promising for warehousing as an asset class and hence we should be seeing institutional players such as Milestone participate actively in this space. Going forward, we shall continue to grow our exposure in this asset class. Given the success of our earlier ventures, Milestone has chalked out details for a niche warehousing focused fund and has begun lining up investments, which will not only offer downside protected high yield opportunity but also allow exit options through a REIT of the portfolio in future.

Marathwada Rail activists fume over continuing ignorance of their demands

AURANGABAD: Railway activists are up in arms against the authorities concerned for continuing to ignore their demands such as better connectivity and infrastructure, special trains during vacations and new rail lines.

Although their demands have fallen on deaf ears, the activists are optimistic that Marathwada in particular and Aurangabad in general will get a better deal during the next railway budget.

Omprakash Varma of Marathwada Railway Vikas Samiti said the South Central Railway (SCR) authorities have been ignoring the demand for better connectivity mainly because of lack of political will.

“Constant pressure from public representatives can only ensure that the demand for new trains will be met. Otherwise, Aurangabad, which is the tourists capital of Maharashtra and a major industrial hub, will have to suffer continuously due to poor connectivity,” he said.

Senior authorities from the SCR had in March this year informally announced a new train to Mumbai via Aurangabad, followed by a hint from the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu during his Marathwada visit in June.

While no plans of new train to Mumbai could materialise for several weeks following the promises, SCR general manager Vinod Kumar Yadav on September 28 announced extension to Manmad-Mumbai superfast train up to Nanded via Aurangabad in a bid to increase train frequency to the state capital.

Known as Rajya Rani Superfast Express, the train (22101/22102), however, continues to run on weekdays on its old route between Manmad and Mumbai with no desired extension given despite lapse of more than a month.

Aurangabad currently has only one daily train to Nagpur and many passengers find its timing inconvenient. The demand for new train starting from Aurangabad at 8 pm and reaching Nagpur in12 hours has been also been ignored. Similarly, the demand for a new train to Pune has not been getting official attention for years now.

Rajkumar Somani of Marathwada Railway Pravasi Sena said that even if there is a big demand for a daily train to Pune from Aurangabad, no new train gets pressed into service.

“Over 500 buses, including private vehicles, ply between Aurangabad and Pune daily. Such huge number of private buses underlines the need for need for a new train service. Similar is the case with Nagpur as considerable number of private buses ply between Aurangabad and that city every day,” he said.

A survey for rail line on Rotegaon-Kopargaon, Aurangabad-Sillod-Ajintha, Ambejogai-Kaij-Kalamb-Yermala and Pathri-Manwat-Sonpeth has been repeatedly demanded by railway activists.

As regards to infrastructure, official work has not yet started on the proposed pit-line at Chikalthana, while the demand for coach factory at Purna in Parbhani district has been ignored so far.

Increasing the frequency of Kolhapur-Dhanbad Deekshabhoomi Express passing via Aurangabad, Hyderabad- Jaipur and Chennai-Nagarsol among other long-distance trains is also yet to be done.

Eight out of 11 MPs had turned their back on crucial railway meet organised by the SCR to discuss the rail connectivity needs of Marathwada on May 12

Officials from the Traffic and Operating Departments of Nanded Division of SCR said the SCR and other Zonal Railways always focus on passenger-centric functioning. Capacity constraints in Mumbai CST & Churchgate could be the reason for not able to run additional trains between Aurangabad and Mumbai, which could be resolved over a period of time.

“Concerned Divisions of CR & WR in Mumbai are taking necessary steps to increase the line capacities in Mumbai which could turn around the situation in the days to come,” they added.

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Railways, Coal, Power officials team up to mitigate Coal Shortage faced by Thermal power plants

Captive power plants are running plants with reduced power generation rendering operations economically nonviable with huge risk of plant closure!

NEW DELHI: The ‘supply constraint’ has become a common talking point among industries dependent on coal. The worst affected are thermal power plants, which are facing severe coal shortage and are running at less than half-a-day’s stocks.

The Indian Captive Power Producers Association (ICCPA) has written to Coal India Chairman Gopal Singh stating that with severe coal shortage, captive power plants (CPP) face the risk of closure. “CPP-based industries are getting 15 per cent to 50 per cent coal against secured linkages and Annual Contracted Quantity (ACQ).”

Thermal power steps in

An official from the Ministry of Coal told that the fuel requirement of thermal power plants has suddenly increased due to a reduction in hydro, nuclear, and wind power generation.

During September, nuclear power generation was 25 per cent lower than the planned generation at 2,671.45 MW. According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), nuclear energy was to generate 3,548 MW of power.

Hydro-power generation, too, was 17.16 per cent lower than projections in September, according to the CEA. So the demand shifted to thermal, which stood at 99.49 per cent of the planned generation during the month.

The plant load factor — capacity utilisation at power plants — of thermal units during September stood at 60.54 per cent, higher than the 58.81 per cent planned for the month. The dip in nuclear power generation was also reflected in the PLFs. The actual PLF stood at 54.72 per cent, against the planned PLF of 73.77 per cent.

To counter the supply constraint faced by the industry, a coal augmentation plan was formulated in consultation with States and a decision made to supply additional stocks to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and the CIL pitheads, the ministry official said.

Standard practice

Whenever power plants face acute dwindling of coal stock, efforts are being made to supply as much coal as possible to them, the official said, adding that: “We have prepared a special accelerated supply plan for these States.” Also, to ease the supply disruptions, Member (Traffic) Railway Board, Secretaries of Power and Coal meet every week to monitor the situation.

In addition, joint secretary-level officers meet twice every week. These three ministries have been working in coordination to meet the supply constraints, another official said.

The Coal Secretary has also written to States urging State generation companies to build up coal stock at thermal power plants. CEA norms stipulate that coal stock for 20-30 days has to be maintained by non-pithead plants and for 15 days by pithead plants, he added.

ICPPA has said that more than 800 rakes are pending for coal materialisation for CPP-based industries affecting production.

The association has also said that port-based/coastal power plants to should be fed on imported coal to make domestic fuel available for inland power plants, thereby increasing rakes availability and de-congestion of Railway network.

Aluminium’s woes

Another industry crying foul is aluminium. In a letter to the Prime Minister’s office, the Aluminium Association of India said investments of ₹1.2-lakh crore in the sector are at a critical situation. These investments are holding a debt of ₹70,000 crore, the letter added.

Haryana asks for Report on Gurgaon-Faridabad Metro Link via Gwalpahari

GURUGRAM: The Haryana Mass Rapid Transport Corporation (HMRTC) has been asked to prepare a feasibility report on a proposed Metro route between Sector 45 in Gurgaon and Bata Chowk in Faridabad via Gwalpahari.

The instruction was passed on during a high-level meeting chaired by chief secretary DS Dhesi in Chandigarh on Tuesday, in keeping with chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s announcement earlier.

During the meeting, another proposed route to connect Rapid Metro’s Section 55-56 station with Dwarka Expressway via SPR also came up for talks.

Talking about the proposed Gurgaon-Faridabad route, officials, privy to the minutes of the meeting, said the proposed route would start at Sector 45 in Gurgaon, run along Gurgaon-Faridabad road via Gwalpahari and culminate at Bata Chowk in Faridabad.

“Initially, we had thought of connecting the two cities via Tughlakabad. Accordingly, last June, we had asked the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to conduct a feasibility test. But, in its report, DMRC had claimed that the existing Violet line (line 6) was running almost parallel to the one being planned and therefore, there was no point constructing one more route. Now, we are considering an alternative route via Gwalpahari and HMRTC has been asked to look into its feasibility,” said a senior official.

“However, the exorbitant cost that would be required to connect the two cities of Haryana remains a matter of huge concern. Besides, there may not be enough commuters as major parts along the proposed route have very less population. So, we want to get a feasibility study done before finalising the route,” he said.

The second proposed route, which was discussed, would start at the existing Rapid Metro station at Sector 55-56, stretch along the Southern Peripheral Road, cross NH-8 and then move along the Dwarka Expressway. This line may also be linked with the proposed Yellow line extension at Gurgaon railway station. However, a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken.

Last month, DMRC submitted reports on the feasibility of two possible routes for the proposed Yellow line extension. While one is a 12km route from Huda City Centre, currently the terminal station on the Yellow line, to Gurgaon railway station, the other is a full-length corridor right up to Dwarka Sector 21, where DMRC’s Blue and Airport Express lines converge.

The second one is a 27km route that also starts at Huda City Centre, turns into the expressway at Hero Honda Chowk via Subhash Chowk, heads towards the Gurgaon railway station and goes up to Dwarka.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the officials also discussed the Metro route from Huda City Centre to Manesar, passing through the SEZ at Garhi Harsaru. According to officials, this route is at an advanced stage. In the next phase, this line will be extended up to Bawal.

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4 sub-stations put Hyderabad Metro on track for uninterrupted run ahead of PM’s inauguration

HYDERABAD: To ensure uninterrupted power supply both for railway traction and auxiliary services of the Hyderabad Metro Rail Project, the Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (TSSPDCL) has set up four dedicated sub-stations for all the three corridors of the project covering 72km.

The four receiving sub stations (RSS) are located at Uppal, Miyapur, Yousufguda and Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS).

Power consumption has two major components. One is train services (traction purpose) and the other being auxiliary services (at stations, depots, and other commercial purposes like malls, restaurants and offices) being provided by project developer L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad.

“For the 30-km stretch from Nagole to Miyapur, that is likely to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 28, the power requirement is 60 megawatt (MW) a day,” Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) managing director NVS Reddy told on Tuesday. Officials said the project is equipped with a 25-kilovolt AC electrical system and is fed by a 133-KV incoming power line from the Telangana Grid that caters to all the four RSS. Trains will be run on a 25-KV AC single phase Supply. Each metro rail station is equip ped with an auxiliary substation built as per international standards with state-of-the-art technology and quality electrical equipment, they said.

In case there is a power failure from the main line, alternative arrangements will be provided from other receiving sub stations, TSSPDCL officials said.

“The power supply will be monitored by Discom officials through the remote control from Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system at Ope rations Control Center (OCC) located at Uppal de pot,” TSSDPCL director (operations) G Srinivas Reddy told.

HMR officials estimate that each metro train will consume 450 kilowatt hours (units) per trip in Corridor-I (Miyapur-L B Nagar) and Corridor-III (Nagole-Shilparamam), whereas it will consume about 300 Kwhrs (units) per trip for Corridor II (JBS-Falaknuma), as it is shorter. The total maximum power demand requirement will work out to 125 megawatts (MW) after the entire 72km becomes operational.

TSSDPCL will charge Rs.3.95 per unit from L&T metro rail for supplying power.

Last year, it was decided to collect Rs. 7 per unit by creating a separate category in its annual revenue requirement submitted to the Telangana State Electricity Regulatory Commission.But after the tariff was opposed by the project developer and taking the metro power charges in other cities into consideration, it was revised to Rs.3.95 per unit, officials said.

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DMRC completes 30km-long Noida Metro Elevated Corridor

NOIDA: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Tuesday erected the last girder of the Noida-Greater Noida Aqua line. With the elevation of this girder, the viaduct of this nearly 30km-long corridor has been completed in a record 22 months.

The last U-girder was launched between Sector 143 and Sector 144 Metro stations of the corridor along the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway in the presence of Mangu Singh, MD, DMRC; Alok Tandon, MD, Noida Metro Rail Corporation and chairperson and CEO of Noida Authority.

According to Singh, over 50% of the track has been put into place and 90% of electrical masts have been erected with about 1,250 electrical poles in place of the total 1,400. The DMRC chief said, “About 35 km stretch of rail track of the total 60 km has been laid until now. Structural work of all 21 stations along the corridor including platforms have been completed in a record time of 20 months. All stations along the corridor are likely to be ready by March 2018. Finishing of all Metro stations is underway.”

Singh further told that with the first set of trains having left China last week, trials are likely to take off sometime towards the last week of December. “The first train is expected to arrive at the Greater Noida Depot by mid – December, following which we will start trials. The trains are undergoing vigorous quality control measures by a German company to ensure the safety of commuters. The Metro is likely to roll by April 2018. However, this is dependent on the trials and railway safety commissioner’s go ahead thereafter,” he added.

According to DMRC, civil work on the corridor began in May 2015 and the first girder was launched in December 2015. “Today we have completed the civil work within 22 months,” Singh said during the uploading of the girder. “A total of 2,830 girders (2035 U- girders and 795 I – girders) have been erected along the viaduct. We have installed 100 girders per month along the corridor,” he said.

In May 2016, DMRC successfully executed the task of erecting 200 U-Girders on the Noida-Greater Noida corridor in one month.

This is the maximum number of U-girders ever launched in any Metro corridor in India within a month. On March 2 this year, DMRC entered the Limca book of records for this feat.

The last girder for the Noida-Greater Noida track took less than half an hour to lift into place by two hydraulic cranes of capacity 350 tonnes, each. About 30 engineers and supervisors carried out a smooth operation. “The main challenge of girders is precision in casting as well as launching which required specialised cranes,” said Singh. “However, specialised trailers were mobilised for transporting these girders. All the girders were pre-fabricated at two casting yards located in Noida’s Sector 149 and Depot Station in Greater Noida, and each weighed more than 150 tonnes,” he added.

Alok Tandon said, “Completing of the viaduct is good news as connectivity of NCR is set to get enhanced with the Aqua line. The Noida-Greater Noida Metro is running on schedule and we expect it to roll as per target.”
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Union Minister for Shipping suggests Liquid Cargo movement by Railways, to reduce traffic congestion and pollution

MARGAO: Minister for shipping Nitin Gadkari, on Tuesday said the focus of the government would be on transporting liquid cargo such as LNG, LPG, methanol, CNG and edible oils by Railways and waterways instead of roads, in a bid to reduce pollution and traffic congestion.

He also said that all ports would be turned into green ports.

The minister further said the Centre would fund the setting up of a centre of excellence at IIT-Chennai to provide technical support for cost-effective dredging at all ports and to study and advise the ministry on marine engineering-related matters. He also said logistic parks would be developed in Paradip, Chennai and Vizag to handle freight.

“We are trying to bring this cost down to around 12 per cent which would make Indian goods more competitive in the international market,” Gadkari said, adding that the government was prioritising coastal transport and inland waterways compared to road and rail mode as costs were significantly lower for the former.

“For every Rs 10 of transportation cost by road, it is Rs 6 for railways and only Rs 1 for waterways. That means you would be able to transport goods spending only 10 per cent of the current cost,” said Gadkari, who is also the Road Transport and Highways Minister.

“There are 111 rivers which we have decided to develop as inland waterways. Out of these, work has already started on 10 rivers,” he said. “These waterways will significantly reduce logistics cost.”

Even as the government was focusing on developing waterways, work was simultaneously being done at a fast pace to bring down logistics cost on roads as well, the minister said.

“We are going for electronic toll collection. Currently, Delhi to Mumbai takes 28 hours but soon, it will take only 18 hours because we are abolishing all state barriers. Now we will have e-toll collection and no one will be stopped for paying the toll tax, which will be charged automatically.

“This will lead to saving of 8-10 hours between Delhi and Mumbai,” Gadkari said.

“Our focus is also on logistics parks. We have already acquired land for 32 such parks and all major cities will have them,” he said.

Gadkari added that all logistics parks would be located outside the city where big trucks would arrive with goods, after which smaller vehicles would take those goods to different parts of the city based on requirement.

He said in the road sector alone, his target was to bring in investment worth Rs 25 lakh-crore during his tenure.

“We have already signed contracts worth over Rs 6 lakh-crore in road sector. Under Bharatmala project, we are expecting Rs 8-lakh-crore investment.

Central Railway to roll-in 13 new 12-car Local Train sets developed by Medha Group, on Harbour Line

Earlier in February, the Medha Train sets has undergone stationary trials in Virar and Mumbai Central and successfully run trials on the Kasara section. The Central Railway (CR) is also considering procuring the Medha trains for upcoming Seawoods-Uran section, that is slated to be operationally by 2018.

MUMBAI: For the first time in five years, Central Railway will induct 13 brand new local trains in Mumbai. The first of these already reached Mumbai from Chennai’s Integral Coach Factory of Indian Railways on Monday. Most likely, the new trains will ply on Harbour line.

All 72 trains procured in last five years under the second phase of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-II) were given to Western Railway.

Commuters on the Harbour line travel on old dual current (AC-DC) locals which are suffocating as they have very poor illumination and ventilation.

Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation spokesperson quoted in the report said that new locals are procured under nine-coach to 12-coach extension project and all new trains are expected to be delivered by March next year.

Popularly known as Medha local as the electric control system in the trains are developed by Medha Servo Drives in Hyderabad, they cost Rs 42 crore each and can run at the speed of 110 kmph.

Visually, Medha locals are similar to the trains procured from Bombardier and are equally advanced as other MUTP I and MUTP II locals. The only difference is the electric system that includes traction motors and train control system fit in the rakes.

The 12-car train will carry 33 percent more load on the Harbour line than the existing trains. All 13 trains have cost the Railways Rs 714.1 crore. Presently, total 51 old local trains run in Mumbai, 41 on Central Railway and 10 on Western Railway.

The report also says that these trains will replace the existing rakes instead of being introduced as new trains in addition. The officials are also considering running the new trains on the main line and trans-harbour line.

Central Railway runs the main line (CST to Karjat, Kasara and Khopoli), Harbour line (CST to Panvel) and trans-harbour line (Thane to Navi Mumbai).

In September, Rail Minister Piyush Goyal had said that in next three years, the number of trains running on the suburban network will be doubled.

He also unveiled a roadmap for 100 new services in next four months for the commuters of local trains in Mumbai.

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Central Railway to raze illegal structures near stations in Mumbai

MUMBAI: To facilitate passengers, the Central Railway (CR) has decided to demolish over 3,000 unauthorised structures located on railway’s land, including 63 religious structures with the help of local authorities.

After the stampede at Elphinstone Road station, in a joint meeting headed by minister of railways Piyush Goyal held at Churchgate, several multi-disciplinary teams were formed, which audited the stations on the city’s suburban network and submitted a report.

“During the audits of the station premises, many unauthorised structures were found which were creating inconvenience for the passengers,” said a railways officer, who was also a part of the disciplinary team.

In all, 63 religious structures such as, a Ganesh Mandir at GTB Nagar and Matunga stations; Saibaba Mandir at GTB Nagar, Sion, and Dadar stations; Hanuman Mandir at Dadar station; Mahadev Mandir at Dadar station, Datta Mandir at CSMT, and Masjid/Dargah at CSMT have been shortlisted for demolition by the railway officials. Officials also added that they do not want to hurt religious sentiments, and are only trying to safeguard the Railway safety and commuters’ lives.

Railways, BMC evict squatters from Elphinstone, Parel stations

The railways and BMC have finally decided to make peace with each other over whose responsibility it was to remove the encroachments near the foot overbridge (FOB) of Elphinstone Road and Parel stations. A week after reports in the media highlighted that nothing had changed since the stampede took place, teams of the Central Railway, civic body, Railway Protection Force and Mumbai Police demolished the hutments lining the approach road to the FOB.

Sunil Udasi, CPRO/Central Railway, said, “It was a special drive conducted by the Mumbai division. About 33 hutments were removed from the Parel side. The space will now be protected so that the structures don’t come up again.”

Sources said that though the FOB on the western side of the Elphinstone Road-Parel station, where the stampede had taken place, has been opened up after removing the panels on the side; the authorities concerned are planning to widen the staircase.

The encroachments that had come up in the area had narrowed down the approach road to the station and was also making it difficult for commuters to move about freely. Sources said that once all the encroachments, including an illegal temple, are removed, there would be a lot of space for free movement.

BMC chalks ‘laxman rekha’ outside Mumbai’s local railway stations to fend off hawkers

Saint Valmiki in the ancient Indian poem ‘Ramayana’ mentioned the ‘Laxman Rekha’ as an imaginary line that was drawn to ward off evil spirits and keep Sita safe.

As part of their drive to make railway surroundings and premises safer for commuters, India’s richest civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with the Railways has decided to adopt a similar concept in keeping hawkers stationed outside railway stations from entering the premises or vending in restricted zones.

Demarcation lines marking 150-metre zones to restrict hawkers from vending in the restricted areas were drawn by the civic body on Monday outside Mahim, Matunga, Dadar and Sion railway stations to ward off the ‘nuisance’ of hawkers.

The move comes in the wake of Bombay High Court’s order banning hawkers from vending on foot overbridges and near railway stations.

We have drawn lines indicating a 150-metre perimeter around railway stations. We have deployed a special team comprising senior inspectors and four workers with a van to monitor hawker encroachment. Currently, they work two shifts. But these nuisance detectors will work for 24 hours. We will also demarcate zones outside schools and religious places, assistant commissioner G (north) ward Ramakant Biradar told.

This move by the civic body has affected the daily livelihoods of hawkers pushing their trades near local railway stations. The BMC has become strict but we want to see how long this lasts, said one of the affected hawkers.

A major stampede at the Elphinstone Road station that claimed 23 lives on September 29 can clearly be noted as the reason behind the crackdown on hawkers vending outside and around local railway stations in Mumbai.

A list of habitual offenders who move around from one spot to the other near various stations is also being prepared and additional security personnel have been deployed to monitor the situation, said a spokesperson with the Railways.

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Value Addition can be a Game Changer, says SAIL Chairman

As the Indian Railways move in replacing its conventional coaches with German technology carriages in the next few years, wheels for new LHB Railway Coaches are in advanced stages of validation at SAIL’s Durgapur plant. The metallurgical testing of the wheels has already been completed; he said.

DURGAPUR: SAIL’s Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP), Chairman, PK Singh has laid emphasis on giving value addition to its products and tailoring the product quality rather than focusing only on the volume aspect.

He said the DSP’s modern 1MTPA (million tonne per annum) capacity medium structural mill (MSM) is capable of producing world-class structural steel products, having a high demand for various on-going and upcoming infra and construction projects in India.

Singh also said with the Railways replacing its conventional coaches with German technology carriages in the next few years, wheels for new LHB Railway Coaches are in advanced stages of validation at Durgapur plant. The metallurgical testing of the wheels has already been completed.

He said that DSP is a plant designed to produce 7.5 lakh tonnes of semis (type of steel product), where SAIL-DSP in association with Centre for Engineering & Technology (CET) will tap the huge market for special grade semis. The semis would also explore possibilities in transmission line towers (TLT) and forging areas.

At DSP, the mill is producing parallel flange beams, joists, channels and angles, which are primarily used by infrastructure and construction segments. There is an increased demand of these products in the sectors like infrastructure, metro and construction, he said.

While expressing displeasure over tardy progress in critical areas of strategic importance, he said “SAIL must ramp up production from New Rail Mill in Bhilai without wasting any more time, and meet all the requirements of its major customers. Company should chalk-out a time bound action plan to cater to the Indian Railways’ increasing demand. SAIL must take its joint ventures at international level to logical conclusion at the earliest. Company must leverage its position in the industry, instead of not being able to fulfill its commitments and agreements.”

In October, the Minister for Steel Mr.Birendra Singh also directed to the company management to submit quarterly plans and targets, which will be reviewed after every three months. Steel Minister will also be meeting CEOs and EDs of Steel plants next month, to get direct feedback about constraints, bottlenecks and issues of concern.

The CEOs have to understand their direct accountability and responsibility for performance of the Unit under their charge, the Minister added. Mr.Singh emphasised that accidents in the Plants must be curtailed and highest safety standards must be adhered to in all Units. Safety should be a prime focus of all the plant heads and stress should be given on repair and regular maintenance to avoid unforeseen breakdowns, downtime and resulting loss of production. SAIL should focus on ensuring raw material security to avoid the vagaries of coal supplies currently afflicting the company, he added.

Birendra Singh said that SAIL should explore possibilities for developing new markets by adopting new technology and adding value added products to its basket, like non corrosive steel products for construction in coastal areas. SAIL should also focus on product differentiation to create value for the shareholders, thereby creating an exclusive space for the company. Efficiency improvement and product quality improvement at individual plant level should be focused upon to meet the customer requirements and to improve the financial performance of the company.

In the meeting, SAIL’s overall performance as well as that of individual Integrated Steel Plants (ISPs) on critical techno-commercial parameters were reviewed. Chairman/SAIL Mr.P. K. Singh made a presentation on action taken on the recommendations by Group of Experts appointed by Ministry of Steel.

The meeting was attended by the Minister of State for Steel, Vishnu Deo Sai, the Secretary Steel Dr. Aruna Sharma, senior officials from Ministry and SAIL including CEOs of SAIL Steel Plants.

BMRCL yet to release Rs.90 Lakh for construction of FOB between Bengaluru City station and KSR Metro station

BANGALORE: Work on the proposed Foot Over Bridge (FOB) between Platform number 10 of Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (Bengaluru City) Railway station and the KSR Metro station via M G Railway Colony Road came to a halt three months ago. The reason — BMRCL is yet to release Rs.90 lakh sought by Bangalore Railway Division to complete the work.

The bridge is meant to ensure that both Metro and Rail passengers can easily commute between the two transportation modes. This FOB will be connected with the railway bridge in KSR station which connects all platforms from Platform 10.

As per the agreement entered between the two agencies, Railways will do the construction work while BMRCL will fund it. The FOB has missed two deadlines given by top railway officials — March and July.

According to Senior Divisional Engineer, Co-ordination, Bengaluru Railway Division, R K Singh, the FOB was initially estimated to cost Rs.93.48 lakh in 2013 when the proposal was made. “The cost was revised to Rs.188 lakh, with a maintenance cost of 30 per cent that Railways will incur along with other charges,” he told.

A letter written by a top BMRCL official to Railways last month requesting to waive off the maintenance charges as it was not listed in the initial estimate. The letter states that Railways needs to bear the maintenance charges. However, Railways insists that BMRCL bear the full cost. Asked about the reasons for the FOB showing no signs of completion, Divisional Railway Manager R S S Saxena said, “Work relating to the covering shelter and landing facilities for the bridge have not been completed due to paucity of funds. The moment they release it, we can restart the work.”

The DRM also said that in a meeting held with BMRCL officials on November 5, “The Metro MD promised to release funds within a week’s time.”Singh said the contractor carrying out the work for Railways is yet to be paid his dues of Rs.30 lakh. “If BMRCL releases Rs.99.29 lakh, the FOB will be ready for use by February 2018.

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Locomotive moves on its own without Train Pilot at Wadi Jn.

WADI Jn.: A diesel locomotive train engine moved a couple of kilometres without a pilot from Wadi Junction in Kalaburagi district on Wednesday afternoon. However, no untoward incident was reported as the railway staff followed it on motorcycles along the trackside and stopped the engine and brought it back to Wadi.

As per sources in the South Central Railway, the diesel locomotive was supposed to take the Chennai-Mumbai Mail (11028) from Wadi Junction at 3 p.m. towards Mumbai on the non-electrified section of the track. However, when the staff were engaged in engine-changing, the diesel locomotive began to move in the opposite direction (towards Nalwar) on its own without a pilot. The exact cause was yet to be ascertained.

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Two coaches of Amrapali Express gutted in Railway Yard in Bihar

KATIHAR: A fire broke out in the railway yard here yesterday evening in which two coaches of a stationary train were gutted and as many damaged, a railway official said.

A general and a sleeper coach of the Amrapali Express, which was scheduled to leave late tonight for Amritsar, was destroyed while two other coaches were damaged by the blaze.

No casualties have been reported yet, officials said, adding that the reason behind the fire is yet to be ascertained.

“The fire has been brought under control. Fire brigade personnel and engineers are on the spot. An inquiry will be ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire,” Additional Divisional Railway Manager, Katihar, D L Meena, said.

The fire was noticed at around 6 pm by railway personnel engaged in the yard who informed the RPF and the fire brigade was called subsequently.

By the time flames were extinguished, a general and a sleeper coach were gutted and two other coaches were badly damaged.

Railway officials said the train would run as scheduled with fresh coaches attached to it in place of the affected ones.

Amrapali Express (15707/15708) runs between Katihar and Amritsar. It operates as train number 15707 in Up direction from Katihar Junction of North east Frontier railway to Amritsar of Northern Railway and as train number 15708 in the reverse direction.

Amrapali Express covers the distance of 1799-km between Katihar and Amritsar in 37 hours. As the average speed of the train is below 55 km/hr, its fare does not include a Superfast surcharge.

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Railways announces running of Special Trains on various Routes

SECUNDERABAD: In order to clear extra rush of passengers, the following Special Trains will run between Tirupati – Dharmavaram – Tirupati as detailed below:-

Train No. 07402/07401 Tirupati–Dharmavaram–Tirupati Special Trains:

Train No. 07402 Tirupati – Dharmavaram Special train will depart Tirupati at 05:00 hrs from 8th November to 14th November 2017 and arrive Dharmavaram at 10:40 hrs on the same day.

In the return direction, Train No. 07401 Dharmavaram – Tirupati Special train will depart Dharmavaram at 13:00 hrs from 8th November to 14th November 2017 and arrive Tirupati at 19:10 hrs on the same day.

Enroute, these special trains will stop at Pakala, Piler, Madanapalle Road and Kadiri stations in both the directions.

These trains will comprise of one AC II Tier, two AC III Tier, ten Sleeper Class and four General Second class Coaches.

Special Trains between Kakinada Port- Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam 

In order to clear extra rush of Passengers during spiritual festivities of  Bhagawan Sri Satya Sai  Baba from 12th to 26th November, 2017  at Puttaparthi, SCR will run four special trains between Kakinada Port – Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam – Kakinada Port  as detailed below:-

Tr.no. 07248/07245  Kakinada Port – Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam – Vijayawada Special Trains (2 Services):

Train No. 07248 Kakinada Port – Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam special train will depart Kakinada Port at 14:30 hrs on 18th November, 2017 and arrive Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam at 06:25 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, this special train will also stop at Kakinada Town, Samalkot, Rajahmundry, Nidadavolu, Eluru, Vijayawada, Guntur, Narsaraopet, Donakonda, Markapuram Road, Giddalur, Nandyal, Betamcharla, Dhone, Gooty, Anantapur and Dharmavaram stations.

In opposite direction, Train No. 07245 Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam – Vijayawada special train will depart Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam at 17:45 hrs on 19th November, 2017 and arrive Vijayawada at 05:15 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, this special train will also stop at Dharmavaram,  Anantapur,  Gooty, Dhone, Betamcharla, Nandyal, Giddalur, Markapuram Road, Donakonda, Narsaraopet and Guntur stations.

Tr.no. 07246/07249  Vijayawada – Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam – Kakinada Port Special Trains (2 Services):

Train No. 07246 Vijayawada – Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam special train will depart Vijayawada at 23:10 hrs on 23rd November, 2017 and arrive Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam at 11:30 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, this special train will also stop at Guntur, Narsaraopet, Donakonda, Markapuram Road, Giddalur, Nandyal, Betamcharla, Dhone, Gooty, Anantapur and Dharmavaram stations.

In opposite direction, Train No. 07249 Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam – Kakinada Port special train will depart Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam at 16:20 hrs on 24th November, 2017 and arrive Kakinada Port at 09:30 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, this special train will also stop at Dharmavaram,  Anantapur,  Gooty, Dhone, Betamcharla, Nandyal, Giddalur, Markapuram Road, Donakonda, Narsaraopet,  Guntur, Vijayawada, Eluru, Nidadavolu, Rajahmundry, Samalkot and  Kakinada Town  stations

*These special trains will have AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper Class and General Second class coaches.

Train No. 04428/04427 New Delhi – Kochuveli – New Delhi Superfast Special Trains via Warangal, Vijayawada (2 Services):

 Train No. 04428 New Delhi – Kochuveli superfast Special Train will depart New Delhi 11:50 hrs on 8th November, 2017 (Wednesday) arrive/depart Warangal at 12:20/12:25 hrs, Vijayawada at 15:5/15:50 hrs on the next day and arrive Kochuveli at 15:45 hrs on Friday.

In the return direction, Train No. 04427 Kochuveli – New Delhi superfast Special Train will depart Kochuveli at 23:00 hrs 12th November, 2017 (Sunday) arrive/depart Vijayawada at 21:00/21:15 hrs, Warangal at 23:40/23:45 hrs on the next day and arrive New Delhi at 04:00 hrs on Wednesday.

Enroute, these superfast special trains will stop at Gwalior, Jhansi, Bhopal, Itarsi, Nagpur, Balharshah, Warangal, Vijayawada, Renigunta, Jolarpettai, Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Thrisur and Ernakulam Town stations in both the directions.

These trains will have AC III tier, Sleeper Class, Second General and Brake Luggage cum Generator Car Coaches.

Train No. 07230/07229 Hyderabad – Kochuveli – Hyderabad Special Trains (2 Services):

Train No. 07230 Hyderabad – Kochuveli Special Train will depart Hyderabad at 21.00 hrs on 09th November, 2017 (Thursday) and arrive Kochuveli at 03.20 hrs on Saturday.

In the return direction, Train No. 07229 Kochuveli – Hyderabad Special Train will depart Kochuveli at 20:00 hrs on 11th  November, 2017 (Saturday) and arrive Hyderabad at 03:40 hrs on Monday.

Enroute, these special trains will stop at Secunderabad, Kazipet, Warangal, Mahabubabad, Khammam, Vijayawada, Tenali, Ongole, Nellore, Gudur, Renigunta, Tirupati, Chittoor,  Katpadi, Ambur, Vaniyambadi,  Jolarpettai, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Ottapalem, Thrisur, Aluva, Ernakulam Town, Kottayam, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, Kayankulam and Kollam stations in both the directions.

These trains will have  AC II tier, AC III tier , Sleeper Class and Luggage cum Brakevan  Coaches.

Additional Stoppage to Guwahati – Kochuveli – Guwahati Special Trains at Kishanganj Railway Station

With the view to facilitate the passengers, additional stoppage for five minutes is provided for Train No. 05616/05615 Guwahati – Kochuveli – Guwahati Special Trains at Kishanganj Railway Station as detailed below:-

  1. Train No. 05616 Guwahati – Kochuveli Special Trainwill arrive / depart Kishanganj station at 17:00/17:05 hrs.
  2. Train No. 05615 Kochuveli – Guwahati special Train will arrive / depart Kishanganj station at 22:03/22:08 hrs.

Meanwhile, Railway had issued a press release on the diversion / cancellation of certain trains.

Trains Diverted­­­­ With Additional Stoppage Provided at Hijli

In order to facilitate infrastructure development works at Kharagpur Station in South Eastern Railway a line block is imposed, consequently the following trains are diverted to run without touching Kharagpur Station and with provision of additional stoppage at Hijli Railway Station on the following dates.

1)     Train No.22603 Kharagpur – Villupuram Bi- weekly Express Train scheduled to depart Kharagpur on 17th November, 2017 will arrive/depart Hijili 14.12/14.17 hrs.

2)     Train No.12514 Guwahati – Secunderabad Express Train scheduled to depart Guwahati on 16th November, 2017 will arrive/depart Hijili at 03.00/03.05 hrs.

3)     Train No.22604 Villupuram – Kharagpur Bi- weekly Express Train scheduled to depart Villupuram on 16th November, 2017 will arrive/depart Hijili at 19.05/19.10 hrs.

4)     Train No.12508 Guwahati – Thiruvantapuram Express Train scheduled to depart Guwahati on 17th November, 2017 will arrive/depart Hijili at 03.00/03.05 hrs.

5)     Train No.22502 New Tinsukia – KSR Bengaluru Express Train scheduled to depart New Tinsukia on 17th November, 2017 will arrive/depart Hijili at 03.00/03.05 hrs.

6)     Train No.12509 Bengaluru Cantt – Guwahati Express Train scheduled to depart Bengaluru Cantt on 15th November, 2017 will arrive/depart  Hijili at 07.45/07.50 hrs.

7)     Train No.12253 Yesvantapur – Bhagalpur Express Train scheduled to depart Yeshvantapur on 18th November, 2017 will arrive/depart Hijili at 19.50/19.55 hrs.

Train No.15227 Yesvantpur – Muzaffurpur Express Train scheduled to depart Yesvantpur on 15th November, 2017 will arrive/depart Hijili at 10.50/10.55 hrs.

Trains Diverted due to recent floods in Samastipur Division of East Coast Rly

1)      Train No. 07091 Secunderabad – Raxaul Special train which has left Secunderabad on 7th November, 2017 is diverted via  Samastipur, Muzaffarpur, Sagauli and Raxaul instead of  Samastipur, Darbhanga , Sitamarhi and Raxaul stations.

2)      Train No. 07092 Raxaul – Secunderabad Special Train scheduled to depart Raxaul at 12.45hrs  on  10th November, 2017 is diverted via Raxaul, Sagauli, Muzaffarpur and Samastipur instead of  Raxaul, Sitamarhi, Darbhanga and Samastipur Stations.

Trains Cancelled due to Sudden Foggy Weather in Northern Railway ­­­

1)      Train No. 04426 Nizamuddin – Kochuveli Special Train  is cancelled on 11th , 18th and 25th November,2017.

2)      Train No. 04425 Kochuveli – Nizamuddin  Special Train  is cancelled on 13th , 20th and 27th November,2017.

EXTENSION OF TEMPORARY DIVERSION OF TRAIN

Train No. 22691/22692, KSR Bengaluru – Hazrat Nizamuddin – KSR Bengaluru Rajdhani Express will continue to run via diverted route, Gooty – Kalluru till 31st March, 2018 for operational reasons.

CANCELLATION OF TRAINS

1.    Train No. 12245, Howarah – Yesvantpur Duranto Express journey commencing on 19th November, 2017 is cancelled.

2.    Train No. 12246, Yesvantpur – Howarah Duranto Express journey commencing on 21st November, 2017 will remain cancelled for want of rake. 

TEMPORARY DIVERSION OF TRAINS

Train No. 12509, Bengaluru Cantt. – Guwahati journey commencing on 15th, 16th & 17th November, 2017; Train No. 15227, Yesvantpur – Mujaffarpur journey commencing on 15th November, 2017; Train No. 12503, Bengaluru Cantt. – Kamakhya journey commencing on 17th November, 2017; Train No. 12253, Yesvantpur – Bhagalpur journey commencing on 18th November, 2017 will be diverted via Hijilli, Nigatpur, Asansol instead of Kharagpur, Howrah.  

Train No. 22502, New Tinsukiya – KSR Bengaluru journey commencing on 17th November, 2017 will be diverted via Asansol, Nigatpur, Hijilli instead of Howrah, Kharagpur.

 

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Digital Adoption: Railways’ revenue through Digital Payment up 12%

NEW DELHI: The Indian railways on Tuesday reported a rise of over 12 per cent in its cashless revenue stream generated from the reserved segment of e-tickets till August, 2017 from the period of 2016-17.

The massive rise in cashless revenue stream from the reserved segment category was attributed to various steps initiated by the railways, a railway ministry official said.

“The cashless revenue from reserved segment (e-ticket) has increased from 62.55 per cent in 2015-16 and 64.76 per cent in 2016-17 to around 76 per cent till August 28, 2017,” a railway ministry official said.

“The online booked ticket constitute to about 64.5 per cent of total tickets (till August 28, 2017).”

According to the railways, about 13 lakh tickets are booked every day against a reserved accommodation of 10.5 lakh berths across all classes.

The official added that even in the unreserved tickets segment the income through digital payment has gone up by two per cent.

“The railways sold about 6.5 per cent unreserved tickets by August 2016, which has now gone up to 8.99 per cent till September 30, 2017,” he said.

Even in the freight segment, the revenue from cashless mode increased from 97 per cent to 99.8 per cent.

Digital payment in booking tickets in railways was promoted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 last year announced to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to curb “black money and corruption”.

In a slew of measures to promote digital payment, the railways had on November 23, 2016 withdrawn the service charges from tickets booked through the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

The railway official also said the service has been extended till March 31, 2018.

After demonetisation, the railways had withdrawn the service charge of Rs 30 applicable on transactions against credit or debit cards at the reservation counters.

To promote digital payment, Indian Railways also provided a discount of 0.5 per cent on season tickets purchased digitally.

Beside these, the railways also provided a discount of five per cent on payment made online for opting services like ordering food, booking retiring room.

The railways and the IRCTC also slashed all additional charges being levied either by the Indian Railways or IRCTC on e-tickets.

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Indian Railways and Chhattisgarh Govt JV to build Rs.10,000 Crore worth Rail corridors

Chhattisgarh State Govt and the Indian Railways will build two fully electrified rail corridors—the Katghora-Dongargarh and Kharsia-Naya Raipur to cater to the coal and cement belts of Korba and Raigarh. The projects would be undertaken by the Chhattisgarh Railway Corporation Limited, a JV between Railways and Chhattisgarh Govt.

RAIPUR: In a potential boost to industrial infrastructure in Chhattisgarh, the state government, in a joint venture with Indian Railways, has decided to build two fully electrified rail corridors worth Rs.10,000 crore.

The Katghora-Dongargarh and Kharsia-Naya Raipur corridors will cater to the coal and cement belts of Korba and Raigarh and have been put before Indian Railways for in-principle clearance to start with land acquisition and other pre-construction activities.

The projects would be undertaken by the Chhattisgarh Railway Corporation Limited (CRCL), a joint venture between Indian Railways and Chhattisgarh government. The national transporters has a 41% stake in the venture with the rest owned by the state government.

“Land identification is already on and acquisition will be started as soon as railways gives its in-principle nod,” CRCL Managing Director Sanjay Rastogi said.

Rastogi said some passenger trains would also be allowed to run on the corridors, but the rail lines will primarily cater to freight.

The Katghora-Dongargarh rail corridor would be 294 km long and will cost Rs.4,820 crore; the 260-km Kharsia-Naya Raipur corridor will cost Rs4,900 crore. The two rail corridors will be ready in five years.

“We plan four corridors. Two have been submitted; the other two are Parsa-Surajpur and Ambikapur-Barwadih. They will not only boost infrastructure, but provide employment and strengthen environment for investment in the state,” a senior Chhattisgarh government official said on condition of anonymity. He declined to give more details.

The project is a part of the Indian Railways 2016 scheme under which the national carrier had announced joint ventures with state governments, empowering the latter to decide and formulate railway infrastructure in their regions by sharing costs. The project was former railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s idea of promoting cooperative federalism through Indian Railways.

According to the arrangement worked out between Indian Railways and Chhattisgarh, CRCL would be responsible for identifying, planning and preparing the rail corridors in the state. Once the projects are approved by the union cabinet, special purpose vehicles (SPVs) would be formed to implement the projects.

Indian Railways Executive Director (Joint Venture) Rajesh Aggarwal said: “The JV arrangement is gaining momentum. Seven states have formed joint-venture companies. These include Gujarat, Kerala, Harayana and Jharkhand.”

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Steel and Rail Ministries at Loggerheads over IR’s proposal to buy rails from overseas

NEW DELHI: India’s steel and rail ministries are at loggerheads over the state-run network’s proposal to buy much-needed rails from overseas, a move that would undermine Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build key infrastructure in India.

India’s Ministry of Railways, which manages the world’s fourth-largest rail network, has grappled with a spate of accidents. Modi’s government wants to overhaul the country’s ageing tracks, but shortages of steel produced by state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) have slowed progress.

The clash highlights the dilemma the government faces as it tries to promote local production through the “Make in India” campaign at the same time it faces resistance from some state buyers who need to procure goods as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Indian Railways issued a tender seeking 717,000 tonnes of steel rails on Oct. 18, which was the first time the state-run railroad operator sought overseas rails. The tender could be worth an estimated 30 billion rupees ($464 million) for global steel majors such as ArcelorMittal and Thyssenkrupp .

That amount will make up SAIL’s shortfall for the next two financial years.

For the financial year for 2017/18, SAIL is expected to supply 920,000 tonnes, only 65 percent of the target, according to a letter sent by Indian Railways to the Steel Ministry dated Oct. 18 and reviewed by Reuters.

In 2018/19, SAIL is expected to supply 1.3 million tonnes, falling short of 1.5 million tonnes sought by the railways, the letter showed.

“We require rails. SAIL is not able to deliver the rails. That’s it,” said Ashwani Lohani, the chairman of the Railway Board which manages Indian Railways for the Ministry of Railways.

He said Indian Railways had “no intention to change the tender”, which is the first time the company ever sought overseas rails.

SAIL did not respond to requests for comment.

India’s Ministry of Steel urged Indian Railways not to violate the “Make in India” policy that requires all infrastructure projects worth more than 500 million rupees to use locally-made steel.

In a meeting on Friday, Steel Ministry officials asked the railways to abide by procurement rules that require steel for major infrastructure projects to come from domestic producers, three people who attended the meeting said.

EXEMPTION SOUGHT

Indian Railways maintains that passenger safety justifies an exemption to the “Make in India” policy. The government could allow an exception if there are shortages or specific grades of steel are unavailable.

In a letter to Lohani from Aruna Sharma, the secretary at the Steel Ministry, dated Oct. 23 and reviewed by Reuters, the ministry urged the railways “to follow the procedure” on steel procurement, but said it would examine the need for a waiver.

In September, Modi named a new railways minister to oversee a $130 billion, five-year modernisation programme and to replace some of the 92,000 km of tracks operated by Indian Railways.

The railways are a lifeline for the more than 20 million mostly poorer people who use it every day. In February, the government launched a $15 billion fund dedicated to ending the rising number of train accidents caused by track defects.

India’s state-owned companies such as SAIL maintain large roles in key industries and infrastructure projects, despite struggling with inefficiencies.

Reuters has previously reported that the railways this year considered ending SAIL’s decades-long monopoly supplying steel.

Private firm Jindal Steel and Power, the only domestic alternative, pitched its services at the Friday meeting, the three people attending said, but railway officials raised concerns that it lacks experience building rails.

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REC may fund Indian Railways’ drive to Electrify entire Rail Network

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways may rope in state-owned Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) to fund its ambitious plan to electrify the entire network by 2021-22. The corporation is likely to lend the railways the entire project cost of around Rs 30,000 crore, spanning over four-five years, at an annual interest rate of 9% for a lending period of 8-10 years, a top railway ministry official said.

The railways will be spending almost Rs 8,000 crore every year towards electrification for the next four years. Railway minister Piyush Goyal recently met top REC officials and discussed the funding for the electrification project, the official added.

“The railways has prepared a Rs 35,000-crore plan to electrify its remaining 33,000 km network in another four years. However, the minister is of the view that we can reduce the cost by 20-25% by giving out large contract sizes and standardising the designs. He has already instructed officials to work on it,” the official said.

The cost of electrification works out to slightly more than Rs 1 crore a km. By going fully electric, the national transporter will save Rs 10,500 crore every year on account of fuel. The railways currently has an energy bill of Rs 26,500 crore.

“We will easily be able to pay off the entire loan within a period of 8-10 years from our savings. For REC also, it will be a good investment as these are all high traction projects. As soon as a line becomes operational, the savings would start immediately,” the official said.

REC is a public sector undertaking under the power ministry, which was earlier helmed by Piyush Goyal. The corporation, with a net worth of Rs 33,326 crore, finances projects in the complete power sector value chain including power generation, transmission and distribution.

The railways has already tied up with state-run Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to fund its capacity expansion projects. In the current financial year, LIC is likely to lend the railways almost Rs 20,000 crore. The railways consumes about 15.6 billion units of electricity every year and foots a power bill of Rs 9,500 crore. It pays nearly Rs 17,000 crore a year in diesel bill.

Nearly half of the railway tracks in the country have been electrified so far. But these tracks account for 55% coaches and 65% freight traffic at just about 35% of the total fuel bill of the railways. The railways will also involve other state-run organisations such as IRCON, RITES and PGCIL, along with several private companies, to implement the 100% electrification plan.

To further bring down its energy bill, the railways plans to start procuring power directly from producers instead of distribution companies. This will help the national transporter save an additional Rs 2,500 crore a year.

The move makes perfect sense. The railways needs to innovatively step up resource allocation for electrification. Fast forwarding the phase-out of diesel locomotives would be climate-friendly. It would also make it possible for the railways to take advantage of rapid advances in electric motor technology to boost efficiency and rationalise fuel costs. In tandem, the railways must focus and scale up its plan for solar power plants in 200 railway stations and 2,000 level-crossing gates. It would boost synergy.

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Assam yet to respond to Railways proposal

GUWAHATI: The Indian Railways has proposed to jointly work with the Assam government to increase inflow of tourists to the State by operating special tourist trains.“The Railway Board has proposed to operate tourist trains in the pattern of Astha trains in the northeastern region by the Northeast Frontier Railway as per itinerary to be fixed in consultation with the Assam State Tourism Corporation (ATDC),” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), told.

He said that the railway authorities have held consultations with senior ATDC officials, including the corporation’s managing director in this regard. “It was decided that the ATDC will take up the responsibilities of marketing the off-board facilities. The final response from the ATDC is awaited. Once the issue is finalised, such type of trains can be made operational,” Sharma said.

Recently, the NFR received an offer from the ATDC for providing accommodation in trains of some identified routes. “The railway authorities have appreciated the plan and agreed to provide accommodation in trains subject to the Railways’ terms and conditions,” Sharma said.

However, sources in the Indian Railways said that a lot more could be done to tap the resources of the Indian Railways, the largest public carrier of the country, to boost inward tourist flow into the State.

Some officials said on the condition of anonymity that while the ATDC and the tourism department have made some efforts to tie up with the Railways to send tourists from the State to other regions of India, not much has been done with regard to bringing tourists from other parts of the country to Assam.

“The Indian Railways by itself cannot do much until and unless some concrete proposals come from the ATDC or the State tourism department. There is potential for inbound tourist flow. The Railways is more than willing to explore any proposals coming from the State tourism department in this regard,” said an official.

He added that the Railways and the IRCTC, on their own, have operated a number of Bharat Darshan special tourist trains to Guwahati from other parts of the country. “There is big demand to visit sites like Kamakhya and Kaziranga,” the official added.

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When a gamla helped book a rail ticket: Reminiscences of Sanjoy Mookerjee, Retd.FC

KOLKATA: November 7 marks the 30th year of the digitisation of railway ticket reservation in the Calcutta area by the Indian Railways. The decision to digitise the ticketing process, the most important step taken by the railways in recent history, led to the development of one of the largest commercial networks of computer hardware, software and databases the modern world has ever seen.

SANJOY MOOKERJEE, retired Financial Commissioner, Railway Board, who was part of the project, remembers.

On July 17, 1986, I joined the Passenger Reservation System (PRS) project in Calcutta as system manager (operation). I was given a hero’s welcome and realised that my joining the project had enabled the Eastern Railway to convince the Railway Board that this pet project of then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and the minister of state for railways, independent charge, Madhavrao Scindia, had finally taken off at Calcutta.

Only one other officer had been posted to the project. We began to take the first faltering steps towards developing one of the largest commercial networks of computer hardware, software and databases the modern world has ever seen. Very soon, other senior officials and staff members joined this elite project.

Today, after three decades, when the Passenger Reservation System has evolved into the Unified Ticketing Network, the Indian Railways handles 2.2 crore passengers every day — the population of Australia! The network is accessible through the web from all corners of the globe.

The first challenge

The first challenge was to draw up the cost estimate and the technical specifications for a global tender. We needed a system to handle a minimum of 200 networked terminals with an assured response time of 3 to 5 seconds for every hit. The minimum clock speed of the CPU needed to be stipulated in the tender papers.

It was 1986. The team was hardly equipped with technical knowledge. We didn’t have the benefit of the Internet; nor the versatility of MS-Office. We toiled through literature from various software houses such as IBM, HP and ICL, and from CSI (Computer Society of India), to compute that magic figure.

Working late into the night, sometimes by candlelight (those were the days of “load-shedding” in Calcutta), we finally “cracked the code” — the minimum clock speed of the CPU would be of 4 million instructions per second.

The global tender of Rs 20 crore was floated and awarded to M/S CMC Ltd, a PSU, in a record two months.

Metamorphosis

The infrastructure of the computer centre, the six main reservation offices and six satellite offices were built at breakneck speed. Over 7,000 programs in FORTRAN 77 were to be written and the database of hundreds of thousands of commercial data, rules and regulations were to be populated. A tall order!

It was at that juncture that we first heard the word PNR (Passenger Name Record) Number, the unique identity for each reservation transaction. Today, this is a household word.

A team of motivated officers and officials from Eastern and South Eastern railways worked day and night to ensure the live run of the system on June 30, 1987.

‘Firing’ by night

Every evening, as soon as the reservation offices in Calcutta shut, began the nocturnal uploading of reservation data into the computer system. Our target would be to “fire” (the jargon used for uploading into the database) at least one new train a day (rather night), till 6am, irrespective of duty hours. This went on for over nine months, by which time all the originating trains of Eastern and South Eastern Railway were loaded onto the PRS and manual reservation was fully eliminated.

Launch & a gamla

Naturally, we were hoping for a grand inauguration. But alas, due to the busy schedule of the minister of state for railways, computerised reservation started at Calcutta without any formal programme. Everyone was disappointed.

Later, however, Madhavrao Scindia was to formally inaugurate the Calcutta project on November 7, 1987. Elaborate arrangements were made at the newly renovated reservation office at the New Koilaghat Building.

But at the last moment the minister, because of paucity of time, decided to inaugurate the system at Howrah station and proceed to New Delhi by the Rajdhani Express.

The project team was struck by lightning. There was no facility for data connectivity to Howrah then. The venue was the site of the new Howrah station building, under construction and with no roof.

Temporary reservation counters got built at breakneck speed, but our greatest hurdle was to provide data communication across the river Hooghly between Calcutta and Howrah. The imported antennae for digital communication in PRS were yet to arrive; there were no spare antennae with Eastern Railway.

It was time to innovate. One of the signal and telecommunication engineers procured a gamla (a dish-shaped aluminium bowl) and reengineered it to form an antenna. This dish was fixed on the roof of the Howrah divisional office and, after strenuous efforts, effective line-of-site data transmission was made possible.

The minister would never know that he purchased his ticket for the Rajdhani Express with the help of an aluminium gamla that cost less than Rs 10.

Refurbished Delhi-Kathgodam Shatabdi Exp to commence service

NEW DELHI: Under Project Swarna, the Railways has upgraded the Delhi-Kathgodam Shatabdi Express keeping in mind passenger comfort, hygiene and value-added features.

The maiden service of the refurbished train, with new look, feel and experience features will commence its services tomorrow.

General Manager, Northern Railway Vishwesh Chaubey and Divisional Railway Manager RN Singh on Monday inspected the refurbished train at the Safdarjung yard here.

The interiors have been redone with vibrant vinyl wrappings in doorways, gangways and luggage rack panels.

The compartment aisle has been earmarked with fluorescent strips for guidance of passengers. Anti-graffiti coating on exteriors and an all now anti-abrasion permanent coating for the polished look of coach flooring.

Besides, toilets will have additional features such as dustbins, personal seat covers, automatic odour and hygiene control system in all coaches and disposable head rest covers in the executive class.

Scraper matting with better durability and suited to heavy traffic has been provided in toilets, so that dirty water is not carried over to the sitting areas.

During the travel passenger would enjoy HD streaming of entertainment through WiFi hotspot over their smart phones.

Tabs and laptops, which covers the entire gamut including movies, cartoon movies, e-magazines and government programmes like ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat’.

All coaches have been provided with integrated Braille signages. The Northern Railway also plans to provide CCTV and GPS-based passenger information system in all these coaches. It has planned to progressively upgrade all Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains of similar or higher standards by March, 2018.

Routine Overhaul Depot to come up at Maneswar in Sambalpur: DRM/Sambalpur

SAMBALPUR: A Routine Overhaul (ROH) Depot of the Railways will come up at Maneswar area in Sambalpur city at an estimated cost of Rs 49.16 crore.

The drawing for the ROH has already been prepared and it is at the approval stage, said Divisional Railway Manager, Sambalpur Railway Division, Jaideep Gupta.

Gupta said land for the project has already been identified, and the tender will be floated after the design is approved.

The proposed ROH Depot here will have a capacity to overhaul 100 wagons in one month.

The wagons require complete overhauling in 18 months to ensure safe. The refurbishing work of the wagons will be carried out here after the ROH Depot is commissioned, he said.

Gupta said a Periodical Overhaul (POH) Workshop will also be set up at Narla road under the Sambalpur Railway Division at an estimated cost of 186.37 crore.

Work on a Road Over Bridge (ROB) with Foot Over Bridge (FOB) to mitigate the traffic problem at Khetrajpur area will be completed within 18 months after the work order is handed over, he added.

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Karnataka explores new Rail Line from Yesvantpur to Bengaluru Airport

BENGALURU:  The Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), an arm of the state government, has engaged RITES, a Government of India entity, to prepare a feasibility report on upgrading rail infrastructure between the Kempegowda international airport (KIA) and the Yesvantpur railway station.

This is one of the many options the government is looking at to ease the pressure off the Ballari Road and improve connectivity from other directions to the airport.

The study would look into the ways to improve existing infrastructure by building a new line and electrification of the entire stretch. “We have asked RITES to do the study and give us the report in 10 weeks,” DULT Commissioner Darpan Jain told.

In the map of Bengaluru’s suburban railway network, the stretch up to the airport is one of the most neglected railway lines along with the Yesvantpur-Hosur line via Hebbal.Both are single lines and not electrified despite several demands to upgrade them. Although the Yesvantpur-Yelahanka line (roughly about 14 km) is doubled and electrified, it is congested. The stretch from Yelahanka to the trumpet flyover near the airport and Devanahalli is a single line and not electrified.

“The feasibility report will study the best options to improve airport connectivity . It includes building a third line up to Yelahanka either elevated or at surface level, depending on the availability of space. The report will also survey the passenger demand and future requirement of train services,” Jain explained.

“There is no plan to divert from the existing line as it is close to the airport. We will integrate stations with another public mode of transport wherever possible, including with the Metro at Yesvantpur railway station,” he said.

Mahendra Jain, additional chief secretary, Urban Development Department, said the project would be implemented through the special purpose vehicle as mandated by the Indian Railways in the suburban railway policy. “The state has given priority to upgrade railway connectivity to the airport. We will examine ways to fund the project,” said.

According to the policy, the state and the Union governments should share 20% each of the project cost while the remaining 60% should be raised through borrowings.

Commuter rail activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said the purpose of building a suburban rail system would be meaningless if the new line is not brought close to the airport. “The existing line is away from the airport. The feasibility study should look at the possibility of diverting the line after Doddajala and bring it close to the terminal before connecting it to the Devanahalli railway station,” he said.

The Route to Airport

Yeshwanthpur, Lottegollahalli, Kodigehalli, Yelahanka, Kenchanahalli East MVIT, Ganganahalli, Bethalsoor, Doddajala, NH-7 BIAL trumpet interchange, Kempegowda international airport, Devanahalli RITES Limited.

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Mumbai Suburban Rail Network to get 30 FOBs

MUMBAI: The Railway Board has sanctioned 30 foot overbridges for the Mumbai suburban section on an out-of-turn basis. Of this, 14 FOBs will be built on the CR suburban section, and 16 under the jurisdiction of the WR.

Also, wherever space permits, most of these FOBs will also be fitted with escalators, railway officials said.

According to a letter written by Ashish Kumar, Director, Railway Board, to the General Managers of WR and CR, on November 3, 2017, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd (MRVC) assigned construction work on 30 FOBs in the suburban section of the city. Mirror has the copy of the letter.

When contacted Sanjay Singh, Executive Director (planning), MRVC, he said, “We received the letter of the Railway Board, and are now planning to construct these FOBs at the earliest.”

In the last three years, MRVC has constructed 27 FOBs in the city suburban network, which is why they have been handed this responsibility. When as

ked about the timeframe, Singh said, “Generally, we need around one year to complete the construction of FOBs, but now we have decided to take help from experts in the construction field to minimise the timeframe.”

However, a senior Indian Railways officer said that Piyush Goyal, central minister of railways, wants to complete the construction work on new FOBs within a year. “That’s why the Railway Board has decided to assign construction work of 30 FOBs to the MRVC,” the officer said.

“We are going to organise an open interactive session on November 10. All technical experts in the construction field are invited to attend it,” said an MRVC officer. “The purpose of the session is to find new techniques to minimise the timeframe.” Apart from these, MRVC will also build around 20 more FOBs under MUTP.

Hyderabad Metro Rail powered for 30 km, final trials soon

Safety Clearances obtained for Nagole to Begumpet and Miypur to S.R. Nagar routes. However, Metro won’t work unless integrated with other public transport!

HYDERABAD: L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad (L&TMRH) has announced that trial runs between Begumpet to S.R. Nagar via the Ameerpet interchange station are now ready to commence with the Government of India’s Chief Electrical Inspector D.V.S. Raju according sanction for energisation of Overhead Electric Traction System (OETS).

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Raju conducted the statutory inspection of the overhead power systems where electricity is drawn from the 132/25Kv receiving station at the Uppal depot. The incoming supply to this is from the 220/132Kv main substation of TS Transco.

“Energising the traction system will help in commissioning the entire 30 km stretch from Nagole to Miyapur. This will also enable testing of other systems of metro rail,” he said. Trains can now be run from Nagole to Ameerpet to SR Nagar and also from Ameerpet to Miyapur with interchange station at Ameerpet.

Trail runs were completed and safety certification obtained for Nagole to Begumpet and Miypur to S.R. Nagar. Ameerpet station has also got power supply connection last week and it has led to the illumination and functioning of lifts and escalators at the interchange station.

L&TMRH MD and CEO Shivanand Nimbargi has informed that all the statutory requirements will be completed by November 20 to make the system ready for commissioning and inauguration while pointing out that the tests will conclude with the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) inspections and clearances.

He, along with Anil Kumar Saini, Head, Railway systems of L&TMRH were with Mr. Raju during his inspection along with officials from the Independent Engineer Louie Berger and HMR.

The differentiators

Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) will certainly stand out when compared to the other metro projects commissioned or under construction in other cities across the country because it has been laying much emphasis on the facilities down below the stations for convenience of the commuters and pedestrians, affirmed MD N.V.S. Reddy on Monday.

“We are concentrating on improving the road and street infrastructure under the stations so that the contrast of ‘palaces’ built overhead is not too much. We are working on signages, putting railings for the entire station stretch to prevent spillover onto the main thoroughfare, service roads, earmarking of parking space based on vehicles priority starting with public transport buses, electric vehicles, etc.,” he informed.

Mr. Reddy was speaking at the ongoing Urban Mobility conference in the presence of transportation experts and other metro rail MDs when doubts were expressed about how the prevailing traffic chaos on the roads can be contained once the metro becomes operational.

Street furniture and pedestrian circulation areas near some stations where there was sufficient spaces for citizens to move around and relax were also some of the unique features of the project here. Footpaths of widths ranging from 15 ft to 50 ft are being provided at different stretches on both sides of the road, he added.

Integrated Transport System needed

Sajeesh Kumar, Director, Smart Cities Mission, Government of India, and (right) Pedro Ortiz, Senior Urban Planner, World Bank, at a plenary session on smart city and mobility in Hyderabad on Sunday

Just having an elevated metro rail project will prove of no help in improving urban mobility in Hyderabad, unless the government develops widespread rail connectivity across the city along with Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), said Pedro Ortiz, renowned urban planning expert and senior urban consultant with World Bank.

Ortiz was speaking at a plenary session on ‘Smart City and Urban Mobility’ at the tenth Urban Mobility India conference being conducted along with CODATU-17 conference in Hyderabad. At the session, he said that the existing network of railways in Hyderabad (refering to the network of MMTS), is very basic which does not work for a metropolis like Hyderabad.

Ortiz said, “Hyderabad has a commuter train system but you are not using entire potential of the commuter train. It just goes through center(of the city), from one side to the other. There are many more things to do in Hyderabad to integrate the metropolitan transport system as a whole. You are building Hyderabad metro, that is great but when I superimpose the two elements (metro and commuter rail system), I don’t see an interconnection, an intermodality between train and the metro. The metro stations do not go into train stations. You have to get down of the train and get the metro.”

Ortiz further said that commuter railway network plays an extremely strategic role in a metro like Hyderabad and gave examples of metros like London and Stockholm which have a widespread and efficient network of railways, necessary for people to travel large distances in a metro.

It may be mentioned here that the MMTS network in Hyderabad has a length of just 47 kilometers and is inefficient with trains running late most of the times with less frequency.

Ortiz also stressed on the importance of developing bus feeder services for the metro rail simultaneously with construction of metro rail infrastructure and not after the metro is constructed.

However, the current situation is such that there are not enough number of buses with good frequency even on most of the regularly used routes in the city.  He said that all the modes of transport need to be developed simultaneously and that these transport systems will not prove helpful unless they are efficiently integrated.

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Commissioner of Railway Safety completes Track Inspection of stretch near Srirangapatna

SRIRANGAPATNA: The statutory inspection of the pending 1.5 km stretch of railway line near Srirangapatna – taken up as part of track doubling work between Mysuru and Bengaluru – was completed by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) on Monday.

Though originally scheduled to be held on Saturday, the authorities conducted a spot visit besides the track inspection, complete with speed trials and inspection of the two new railway bridges, across the Cauvery, on Monday.

Sources said the CRS inspection covered all technical issues besides observation of the curvature, points and crossings and no major lacunae have been found. All things being satisfactory, the authorisation for operationalising the track may be issued within a week.

The inspection team comprised Manoharan, (CRS) Southern Region; Ashok Gupta, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), South Western Railways; A.K. Garg, Chief Bridge Engineer, SWR, Hubballi; S.K. Jain, Chief Engineer, (Construction); and R.S. Saxena, DRM, Bengaluru Division. Consequent to the CRS approval for operationalising the track, the running time between Naganahalli and Pandavpura is expected to further reduce by about 7 to 10 minutes.

The CRS inspection also draws the track doubling work between Mysuru and Bengaluru to a close. While the Bengaluru-Ramanagaram section had been doubled earlier, the Ramanagaram-Mysuru section received administrative clearance in 2007 and the authorities took more than 11 years to complete the doubling work on the 93 km stretch.

Though doubling work along the entire section was completed in 2014, work on the 1.5 km stretch was pending owing to the 18th Century armoury belonging to the era of Tipu Sultan which was located along the alignment of the new track, causing the work to be stalled.

Following permission from the Archaeological Survey of India, the monument was translocated in one piece with expertise from the U.S. in March this year, paving the way for completion of the second track as well.

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Chinese team in Nepal for talks on $4 billion Rail lines

KHATMANDU: A high-level Chinese team arrived in Kathmandu on Monday for talks with Nepalese authorities on the possibility of extending proposed cross-border railway links, part of efforts to expand connectivity with Nepal.

A Chinese firm has conducted a feasibility study for cross-border railway lines that will link Kerung or Gyirong in the Tibet Autonomous Region to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha near the border with India.

China’s efforts to build railway links to Nepal are part of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a flagship project being pushed by President Xi Jinping.

“After holding talks, the Nepali and Chinese teams will leave for a field visit to the border near Keyrung on Tuesday,” said a Nepalese official who participated in the talks.

A vice minister from China’s National Railway Administration is leading the 23-member Chinese delegation.

Transport infrastructure at Kerung was recently upgraded by the Chinese in order to make inroads into South Asia through Nepal under the BRI.

The feasibility study carried out by the Chinese firm in 2016, which was accessed by Hindustan Times, states that three railway lines will be built between China and Nepal. The total investment is estimated to be around $4 billion.

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202 Railway projects report cost overrun of Rs 1.5 Lakh crore

NEW DELHI: Railway projects account for over 60 per cent of the 331 central sector projects that are facing cost overrun of Rs 1.5 lakh crore due to various reasons.

A total 202 projects of railways are facing total cost overrun of Rs 1.5 lakh crore, as per the flash report of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for July, 2017.

The statistics ministry monitors central sector projects envisaging an expenditure of Rs 150 crore and above each on regular basis.

According to the report, the total original cost of these 202 projects was Rs 1,05,424.13 crore. The total anticipated cost of these projects is estimated at Rs 2,55,634.29 crore which indicates overall cost escalation by 142.48 per cent.

The ministry monitored 350 projects of Indian Railways in July this year.

The study stated that as many as 33 projects of Railways out of the monitored 350 projects reported time overrun or delay of 12 months to 261 months.

After railways, power sector reported second highest incidence of overall cost overrun. Out of the 125 projects monitored by Statistics Ministry in the power sector, 43 reported cost overrun of Rs 52,933.93 crore.

The total original cost of these 43 projects was Rs 89,432.27 crore which escalated to total anticipated cost of Rs 1,42,366.20 crore.

The report stated that out of the 125 power sector projects, 59 reported time overrun (delay) of 5 months to 134 months.

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NLC India Ltd to set up Solar plants for Indian Railways

Coal Company to set up Solar Power Projects for Indian Railways!

NEW DELHI: NLC India Ltd (formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd) has been tasked with covering vacant land of the Railways with solar power generation set-ups.

As absurd as the headline of this article may sound, it is true and is a direct result of the Indian government’s push for public sector companies to invest heavily in renewable energy technologies, especially solar power.

Addressing the World Mining Congress, Minister for Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal said, “The Railways are going to tie up with NLC and have them put up solar power generation equipment at their investment. The Railways will buy the power out of that.”

Pact to be inked

While the agreement for this deal has not yet been signed, Goyal said the broad framework for the same had already been prepared. He said: “Wherever we have railway land, I want NLC to put up the solar plants so that I can save them from encroachers.”

Enumerating the terms of the agreement to be signed between the two, Goyal said: “We have existing platforms that need to be expanding on both sides because we are going in for longer rakes. NLC will do the same, create a roof over the platform extension, and we will have a different rate of power for the investment they will be doing for that”

“The third thing we have agreed upon is that whenever we need the land, NLC will shift the equipment somewhere else. If it is during the payback period, NLC can shift it at the cost of the Railways,” he added.

NLC expansion

NLC India’s website says that the company had moved from an only lignite mining and power generation company to become an energy company. The company currently has a total power generation capacity (including joint ventures) of 4,301 MW.

The company aims to have a generation capacity of 16,673 MW with 3,990 MW coming from solar energy.

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IR notch-up seven-year high in Freight Loading between April and October 2017

Indian Railways claws back freight share from roads, waterways. Loaded 30 mt extra in Apr-Oct 2017 to touch a 7-year high.

NEW DELHI: The challenges of demonetisation notwithstanding, Indian Railways has notched up a seven-year high in freight loading between April and October, carrying an extra 30 million tonnes (mt) during the first seven months of the current fiscal.

The increase has come courtesy the concessions being extended to industries from last year with a strategy to attract freight. The Railways has won back a chunk of this business from roads, and to some extent from waterways.

The measures undertaken included doing away with port congestion surcharges, dual iron ore charges and providing empty flow direction concessions.

It also permitted goods such as coal and iron ore to be moved through all rail routes instead of the rail-cum-sea route, which it had to resort to in the past due to lack of capacity. Additionally, the Railways has allowed long-term agreements, which its customers seem to prefer. These policies were brought in last year after detailed discussions with stakeholders across sectors, who had promised to return to rail if their concerns were addressed.

The growth was also sharpened due to a low base effect. “Major tariff rationalisation initiatives have yielded expected results in terms of retaining and regaining freight traffic by Railways. The highest loading for month on month has resulted in 30 mt of incremental loading against negative growth last year during this period,” Mohammed Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board told.

“…we are at 653.21 mt, up to October 2017. We are also above the target(for this period),” added an official.

The additional loading was driven by coal, raw materials to steel plants, cement, steel, iron ore, food grains, petroleum products and a set of new commodity groups. Only fertilisers saw a drop, but with a surge in demand, the Railways expects to see growth there, too, in the coming months.

Foodgrains, which had taken a hit in previous years, has grown 1.2 per cent despite the North-East being cut off for nearly 15 days due to floods. Petroleum products also — after tepid growth in previous years — has seen a 1.8 per cent growth. Other goods – the new group of 70-odd commodities where railways had introduced a large number of concessions — has seen robust growth of over nine per cent.

The container segment, after suffering two successive years of slow growth, has clocked a growth of 13.3 per cent in the period. During FY17, when the Railways carried 1109 mt of cargo, the transporter had incrementally loaded goods of five million tonnes compared to the previous year.

The result of the concessions had begun reflecting in the last quarter of the previous financial year. “During January-March 2017, we saw good growth,” said a government official.

The railways is hoping to achieve its yearly target this year after many years of misses. But that would still need the transporter to carry another 25 mt of goods in the remaining five months.

No new projects without completion of Land Acquisition: Railways

NEW DELHI: For the first time, no new rail lines will be built without completion of land acquisition to ensure that work does not get stuck midway because of non- availability of land, Railways has said.

Under a new policy, the national transporter has virtually forbidden the issuance of tenders or start of work on any new project without land in hand or a written assurance from the state government guaranteeing land to the railways within a specific time frame.

“The (Railway) Board has decided that issue of tenders or commencement of physical work for new line projects shall be taken up only after completion of land acquisition,” the new policy says.

Currently, only 70 per cent of the land needed to be acquired to start a project, which often led to stoppages and delays because of non-availably of land or earmarked land being caught in litigation.

Officials said that the existing policy did not define that the acquired line needed to be linear, so problems arose when projects would start having issues when part work begins and the next section of land was not available.

“This new policy also puts the onus on state governments to ensure that land is made available to the Railways if they want a new railway line. We end up losing on investments if land is not available,” said an official.

An official gave the examples of the new line between Tindivanam and Nagari in Andhra Pradesh (179.2 km) sanctioned in 2006, and the 36-km-long route from Morappur to Dharmapuri, sanctioned at a cost of Rs 134 crore which have seen very poor progress primarily because of non-availability of land.

Officials said that there is cost escalation of around 10-15 per cent, every year due to such delays.

However, the policy makes certain concessions for the general managers and given them some discretionary powers. The policy says that the GMs may invite tenders if they are reasonably certain of the possibility of land acquisition in a reasonable time frame.

“A written assurance from the state government in this regard can be considered by the GM.

“Large projects can be divided into phases by GMs, however, after ensuring that each phase on completion yields commercial returns for railways,” the policy stated.

This means that the GMs have the discretion of starting a project if a stretch of land is available in a commercially viable section of the entire project so that railway does not lose out on revenue.

The policy also said that projects where local support or state support is not forthcoming resulting in poor or no progress as well as old projects that have not made any headway to projects that are unlikely to give any tangible benefits to the railways would need to be continuously reviewed.

The board has said that this new policy shall be followed in case of new projects or old projects where tenders have not yet been finalised.

CEO of Bhilai Steel Plant interacts with Officers for supply of enhanced quantity of world class rails to Railways

M.Ravi and the Members of Bhilai Steel Plant collectively take the Integrity Pledge on 1st day of Vigilance Week.

BHILAI: In order to bolster the spirit of Team Bhilai and personally convey the challenge of supplying enhanced quantity of world class rails to Indian Railways, CEO Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), the flagship unit of the public sector SAIL, M Ravi took the initiative of interacting with cross section of executives of RSM, URM, RTS and RCL departments at BTI Assembly Hall, where inspection officials of RITES were also present.

The interactions were organised on Friday and Saturday and at the end of each of the three shift, thus CEO met the officers and executives.

During these synergy sessions, Ravi informed the participants that the Railways have forecast a huge requirement of rails, for further developing the infrastructure of rail transport in India as well as for increasing passenger safety and comfort.

As such, in order to keep any competition at bay, the plant needs to immediately augment the quantity of rails being supplied to the Indian Railways at least to the extent of 90,000T per month, in order to meet the Railways enhanced requirement.

CEO further stated that although Bhilai Steel Plant is committed to meet the complete requirement of rails of Indian Railways, during financial year 2017-18, the plant has been lagging behind in fulfilling commitment of rail supplies, mainly because of low productivity at the newly commissioned URM.

Ravi, however, appreciated that stabilization of new mill takes some time, meanwhile the performance at URM has gradually improved enabling enhancement of supply level from 4,000 tonnes in April 2017 to 20,000 tonnes in October 2017.

The mill has also overcome all the problems which have come in the way, be it the problem of stamping machine or collaring in BD-2 stand. CEO desired that the new technology at URM should be quickly grasped by the mill personnel so that the mill can steadily achieve higher goals.

CEO also noted that RSM has been producing consistently at a level of around 60000 tonnes per month and needs to further enhance performance both in terms of quality and tonnage. Performance of RSM did suffer during October 2017 due to short supply of blooms, it will be however ensured that availability of blooms doesn’t become a constraint for production of higher quantum of rails from RSM.

Ravi took the opportunity to praise the efforts put by the entire team involved in production of rails including the RITES inspectors who ensure the quality of each and every rail so that it does not fail in its entire service life.

He further emphasised that each and every individual concerned needs to give his 100 percent in maximizing production both from RSM & URM immediately, as the present  situation demands a “now or never” approach from Team Bhilai.

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Laying of concrete filled steel arches begins over Chenab Railway Bridge

JAMMU: The Indian Railways has undertaken a mega project of construction of a new Railway line in J&K state from Udhampur to Baramulla, which has been declared a national project. The alignment is a culmination of large number of Tunnels and Bridges, which are to be implemented in highly rugged and mountainous terrain with most difficult Himalayan Geology.

The alignment crosses deep gorges of Chenab River near Salal Hydro Power Dam, which necessitates construction of long span bridges. The configurations of steel arches have been selected on account of aesthetics, economy, and availability of local expertise and construction materials.

The Chenab Bridge, 359 m above river bed, will be the highest bridge in the world, and longest span for BG Rail line with arch span of 467 m.  Indian Railways has completed over 70 per cent of work on the 359 meters world’s highest railway bridge over River Chenab in Kauri area of Reasi district.

The project has been declared as a Project of National Importance. Jammu- Udhampur- Katra- Quazigund- Baramulla Railway line is the biggest project in the construction of a mountain railway since independence. From Jammu to Baramulla, length of the new rail line is 326 Km. It passes through the young Himalayas, tectonics thrust and faults. The work is in various stages of progress in the balance length from Katra to Banihal (111 Km). The railway authorities are looking forward to provide direct connectivity to the Kashmir Valley, latest by 2020 after completing railway bridge by June 2019.

With this it would be easier for the Indian army to rush its supplies and men via rail route to the Valley besides promoting tourism in the region.

To achieve timely completion of the Chenab Railway Bridge, top officials of the Railway Ministry on Sunday launched the construction work of the main arch of the iconic bridge. This is the most crucial leg of the construction. It is for the first time in India that concrete filled steel arch is being used in the main arch bridge, spanning at a height of 359 meters above river bed.

The launch of the main arch commenced after traditional prayers were offered by M. K Gupta, Member Engineering, Railway Board and AK Sachan, Chief Administrative officer, Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project at the Chenab construction site.

With this the railway engineers would begin the job of carrying heavy segments from the two ends of the bridge viz. Kauri end and Bakkal end and includes categorically the world’s longest cable crane arrangement.

Senior officers of KRCL and Northern Railway along with construction partners were present on this historic occasion.

It may be mentioned that the Chenab Bridge on Katra- Banihal section of USBRL project is the world’s highest Railway Arch bridge at 359 meters height.

World renowned national & international consultants have been engaged during various stages of project.

Detailed geo-physical studies, seismic studies, slope stability studies have been included.

According to Chief Public Relations Officer of Indian Railways, “Chenab Bridge has been designed for blast load in consultation with DRDO”.

He said, the erection of the bridge is a project in itself.

To achieve this, pylons were erected on either side of the river, and two auxiliary self-propelled cable cranes were used to tow temporary auxiliary ropes across these pylons.

The ropes were used to support the partly finished arch parts.

The launching is typically performed in a series of increments so that additional sections can be added to the rear of the superstructure unit prior to subsequent launches.

The bridge is envisaged to create its own benchmarks in construction engineering and unparalleled records.

Three massive workshops for undertaking fabrication of steel structure has been commissioned at Srinagar end of bridge and one at Katra end of the bridge. For launching purpose, arrangements in the form of pylons with cable cranes spanning the entire gorge have been completed successfully. The cable crane assembly, including pylons at span of 915 meters is the longest in the world . For the first time on Indian Railways viaduct was launched on curve of 2.74 degree.

Salient Features of Chenab Bridge:

1. Total length of the Bridge 1315 meters
2. Contract amount Rs.5120 millions
3. Design life of the bridge 120 years
4. Design speed 100 kmph
5. Height of Bridge (river bed to formation)      359m
6. Main Arch Span 467 meters
7. Total No of Spans 17 Nos.
8. Deck Width  
Viaduct Portion 13.50 meters
Arch Portion 17.00 meters
9. Max. Ht. of Steel Pier 133.734 meters
10. Max. Ht. of Concrete Pier 49.343 meters
11. Max. Size of Foundation  
Viaduct Portion 18 x 15 x 4.15 meters
Arch Portion 50 x 30 meters
12. Total Steel Fabrication 25,000 MT
13. Seismic zone Zone V
14. Design Wind Velocity 266 kmph (at deck level)
15. Geology of terrain  
16. Slope along  
Katra side bank (South) +35 to 50 degrees
Qazigund side bank vertical to sub-vertical

Major Quantities (BOQ)

1. Concrete Quantity 42639Cum
2. Reinforcement Steel    3179 MT
3. Excavation 510000 Cum
4. Grouting 1300 MT.
5. Drilling 53400 Rmt.
6. Structural Steel Work 13930MT
Kauri End Structural Steel          
7. Structural Steel Work 11470MT
Bakkal End Structural steel   

Sections Completed

  1. The work on Jammu-Udhampur section (55 Km) has been completed and opened to public by Hon’ble Prime Minister in Apr’05.
  2. The work on Quazigund – Baramulla section (118 Km) has also been completed and section has been opened to public in three phases. The section from Anantnag to Mazhom (68 KM) was opened to the public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 11/10/08. The section from Mazhom to Baramulla (32 KM) was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation on 14.02.09.The section from Quazigund to Anantnag (18 km) was opened to the public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 28/10/09.
  3. The section from Quazigund to Banihal (18 Km) involving Pir Panjal Tunnel, the longest transportation tunnel in India of total 11.215 Km length has also been opened to the Public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 26.06.2013. The block section from Quazigund to Banihal is a part of Katra-Quazigund section of the project, wherein the alignment passes through the world’s most difficult terrain, both in terms of logistic and geological strata.
  4. Udhampur – Katra which is 25 Km long has been opened to traffic by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 4th July 2014.

 

Ferozepur-Amritsar Rail line: Railways ask State Govt to expedite Land acquisition to start work on the line

FEROZPUR: Uncertainty looms large over the much-needed “crucial” Ferozepur-Amritsar rail link, which has the potential to shorten the distance between the northern states, including Punjab, to trade capitals of Gujarat and Maharastra to large extent.

When constructed, it will also reduce the distance between two border districts of Ferozepur and Amritsar from the present 118 km to 86 km. The distance between Amritsar and Mumbai will be cut down by over 200 km. However, the project has been hanging fire due to red-tape for the last several years.

The rail link between Majha and Malwa was earlier snapped at the time of Partition when the province of Punjab was divided and some part of Ganda Singh Wala (now in Kasur) fell into the share of Pakistan for which now an alternative broad-gauge link between Ferozepur and Patti needs to be constructed.

Though the link was given “green signal” in the rail budget during 2013 and subsequently the go-ahead by the ministry and ratification by Niti Aayog, the matter is still hanging in the balance.

Last month, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had also written to the Railway Ministry to expedite the process for the construction of this broad-gauge link between Gharyala on the Amritsar-Khemkaran line and Mallanwala on the Ferozepur-Jalandhar line as it will give a major fillip to trade and industry in the border region.

Earlier also, the matter had been taken up by Rajya Sabha MP Shwet Malik and dozens of representations had been sent to the Railways, but nothing tangible has come out yet.

Railway officials had maintained that since the Internal Rate of Return (IPP) was negative for the project, the ministry had asked the state to provide 50 per cent of the funds besides the land for the project. However, the “cash- strapped” state government was reluctant to foot the bill for the project, which also included two bridges across the Sutlej and Beas, on which an amount of Rs 300 crore was likely to be incurred.

Social worker Ranjan Sharma said, “This rail link is extremely vital to join the two strategically located border districts of Ferozepur and Amritsar, besides connecting them to Rajasthan, Maharastra and Gujarat to boost their economy.” “It will be a boon for the farmers who will be able to send vegetables and fruits to the markets in Mumbai and other areas within 2-3 days,” he added.

Kulbhushan Gautam, president, Bharat Vikas Parishad, said the project would not only benefit the people from Punjab, but also a number of other states, including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and those of south India.

When contacted, Vivek Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Ferozepur Division, said the process for acquiring land for the project had been initiated by the state government. “Once the land is provided, we will immediately start work on the line, for which funds are no constraint,” he added.

Will reduce Amritsar-Mumbai route by 200 km 

  • When constructed, it will reduce the distance between two border districts of Ferozepur and Amritsar from the present 118 km to 86 km.
  • The distance between Amritsar and Mumbai will be cut down by over 200 km.

Una-Hamirpur Railway line soon, says Railway Minister

SHIMLA: Railways minister Piyush Goyal said here on Sunday that his ministry had approved a budget for a new rail line between Una-Hamirpur Railway Line (50 Kms).

He said Rs.10,200 crore would be spent on laying 254km rail line in Himachal Pradesh. “Also, four other railway projects would be started in the state soon; their detailed project reports are being prepared,” he said.

The Union minister also attacked the Congress’s state leadership, saying that it was engulfed in corruption and had been divided. “Its state government could not live up to the expectations of people,” he said. “If elected to power, the new government under Prem Kumar Dhumal will speed up development.” Goyal said Himachal Pradesh had immense potential for tourism-related activities and a BJP victory was certain in the state.

Apart from the above, projects like Amb-Andaura to Daulatpur Chowk (16 kms), is also being considered for expediting.

The Defence Ministry has declared four railway lines of National Strategic Importance including Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Beri-Manali-Leh broad gauge line.

During the year 2013-14, the then Railway Minister had announced that a railway station will be established at Basal in Una district but the announcement never saw the light of the day, he said and requested the minister to provide sufficient funds for the these projects.

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