SRT and CP Group signed PPP Agreement to develop the High-Speed Rail linking Three Airports Project

Prime Minister of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the Signing Ceremony Program of PPP for the High-speed Rail Linking 3 Airports (Don Mueang-Suvarnabhumi-U-Tapao) Project between the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) by Mr. Voravuth​ Mala, Deputy Governor of the Property Management Group and Acting Governor of the SRT, and Eastern High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Co., Ltd. (Charoen Pokphand Holding and strategic alliances) by Mr. Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of CP Group.

The High-speed Rail Linking Three Airports Project connects three important airports in Thailand. The project’s alignment starts at Don Mueang Airport, heading for Bang Sue Grand Station. Then, it passes Makkasan Station and turns into Suvarnabhumi Airport. It later continues along the eastern railway, passes the Bang Pakong River, enters Chachoengsao Station, Chon Buri Station, Si Racha Station, and Pattaya Station and terminates at U-Tapao Airport. The project covers a total distance of 220 kilometers. The train can reach a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour.

Mr. Voravuth​ Mala, Deputy Governor of the Property Management Group and Acting Governor of the SRT, stated that the signing of this agreement is another important step of Thailand’s infrastructure development under the strict supervision of the EEC Policy Committee. This is the first time the Royal Thai Government developed the high-speed rail project under the public private partnership program with PPP Net Cost of 224,544 million baht. The country will get optimal interests from the concession agreement with the budget approved by the Cabinet of 119,425 million baht (current value). As a result, the private sector proposed the budget of 117,226 million baht (current value). This helped to save expense of up to 2,200 million baht under the 50-year PPP agreement. Furthermore, all assets will be state ownership at the end of the agreement.

Mr. Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of CP Group, on behalf of CP Holding and strategic alliances, stated that he is honored and very proud to have the opportunity to invest in the development of the High-speed Rail Linked 3 Airport (Don Mueang-Suvarnabhumi-U-Tapao) Project. CP Group collaborated with joint venture partners, namely China Railway Construction Corp. Ltd. from the People’s Republic of China, Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc., Italian-Thai Development PCL, and CH Karnchang PCL to establish the “Eastern High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Co., Ltd.” as an agent to sign the PPP agreement. After signing this agreement, he will accelerate the management of Eastern High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Co., Ltd. to conduct field exploration and design, negotiate with contractors and suppliers, as well as speed up the construction plan and project implementation immediately.

“It is a historic moment in Thailand that the private sector signed the PPP Agreement with the public sector to promote this international mega construction project. I would like to thank all strategic alliances both domestically and internationally such as Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and China Development Bank (CDB), as well as the ambassadors of three countries, namely H.E.

Mr. Lyu Jian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Thailand, H.E. Mr. Shiro Sadoshima, the Japanese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, and H.E. Mr. Lorenzo Galanti, Ambassador of Italy to the Kingdom of Thailand for supporting and witnessing this global cooperation project”, said by Mr. Suphachai Chearavanont.

The High-speed Rail Linking Three Airports is expected to open for public in 2023. When the project completes, it will promote city development around the station, bring prosperity to the community, and generate income among local residents. With an economic return of approximately 650,000 million baht, it is a key to boost the Thai economy in response to the Thailand 4.0 Policy. It also results in employment during the construction period of up to 16,000 positions and employment in related businesses of more than 100,000 positions in the next five years. This also helps to expand opportunities for Thai people to learn how to work on the project with advanced technology continuously and develop them into the highly skilled and capable personnel with competitiveness at an international level.

The event also included the Signing Ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Supporting the High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Project between the Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand (EECO) by Mr. Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary General, Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand, the State Railway of Thailand by Mr. Voravuth​ Mala, Deputy Governor of the Property Management Group and Acting Governor of the SRT, and Eastern High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Co., Ltd. (Charoen Pokphand Holding and strategic alliances) by Mr. Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of CP Group.

Tiranë Airport Rail line tenders invited

ALBANIA: Prequalified bidders have been invited to tender for a contract to modernise the existing 34·5 km railway between Durrës and the Tiranë Public Transport Terminal and construct a 5 km link to the international airport at Rinas. Both routes should be equipped with ETCS Level 1, with provision for Level 2.

The project is being financed by national railway HSH using a €36·9m loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, and up to €35·5m in grants from the Western Balkan Investment Fund initiative of the EU, financial institutions and donors.

A two-stage tendering process is being used. The first stage comprises the submission by January 15 of technical proposals without prices, along with any changes from the requirements of the tender documents which the contractors suggest.

The second stage would then involve the submission of updated technical proposals revised to accommodate any changes to the requirements, along with commercial offers.

Phoenix receives $24M for Sky Harbor Airport northside Rail line expansion

Arizona senior Sen. Kyrsten Sinema helped secure $24 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the City of Phoenix to advance the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Northside Rail Expansion.

“As the Phoenix region continues to grow, Sky Harbor Airport must keep up with increased demand. Today’s funding announcement will create jobs in Phoenix, improve local infrastructure, and ensure Sky Harbor continues to be an economic driver for Arizona into the future,” said Sinema. 

“The trenching of the Union Pacific railroad track on the north side of the airport is essential to our Airport Development Plan and the expansion of the Air National Guard at Sky Harbor. Sky Harbor is an economic engine for our city and our state. We appreciate the support of our Congressional delegation and the US Department of Transportation on this project,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. 

In July, Sinema led the Arizona Congressional delegation and wrote to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging the Department of Transportion to approve the City of Phoenix’s grant application for Sky Harbor’s Northside Rail Expansion project. Today, Secrerary Chao called Sinema to announce the Department had fulfilled the City’s request. 

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is the largest economic engine in Arizona. Each year, more than 44 million passengers travel through Sky Harbor, driving $38 billion in statewide economic activity and sustaining 58,000 jobs. The Phoenix metro area is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and Sky Harbor needs to expand to accommodate increased demand. The Northside Rail Expansion project, funded today, will help address increasing passenger, cargo, military, and general aviation growth.

Stuttgart Airport Rail connection contract awarded

GERMANY: Deutsche Bahn awarded a consortium comprising Strabag subsidiary, Züblin, and Max Bögl a EUR 500 million contract for the construction of the railway link between Stuttgart airport and the Stuttgart–Ulm railway line.

The contract covers a 5.3 km section of the new railway line alongside the A8 motorway and also includes the new long-distance and regional station beneath the Stuttgart airport and trade fair centre, its connection to the new railway line through the approximately 2.1 km airport tunnel, and the partial relocation of state road 1204.

This new project section also comprises a new connection between the new railway line and the airport curve, to be built at a later date to link the existing airport/trade fair station, including a new third track, to the Stuttgart–Hattingen railway line (Gäu Railway).

The underground airport/trade fair station will have a length of 400 metres and, like the two single-track 1.8 km long tubes of the airport tunnel, will be built by conventional tunnelling. The extensive earthworks and roadworks will be performed by Strabag.

Trains on the Gäubahn line from Stuttgart to Singen will serve the airport and trade fair, calling at the airport’s existing station. Current plans envisage that 50 long-distance and 62 regional trains will stop daily at the station.

Tender for Riga International Airport Rail Baltica Station launched

LATVIA: EUROPEAN Railway Lines (EDL), the body responsible for implementing the Rail Baltica project in Latvia, has announced an international tender to construct the Rail Baltica station and related infrastructure at Riga International Airport.

The contract, which is worth between €250m and €280m, includes the station, an elevated platform, access roads, embankments, a 6km section of track and an overpass over K Ulmaņa Street.

The qualification requirements to bid for the contract include experience in constructing public buildings, railway tracks, and new roads, to ensure uninterrupted airport operations during the construction of the Rail Baltica infrastructure. An extension of the airport’s passenger terminal and the construction of a new air traffic control tower are also planned alongside the project.

The work at Riga International Airport is planned over six phases. First, the tri-level station building will be constructed, along with the elevated structure and access roads with the related infrastructure. This will be followed by the creation of a wooden building facade, respecting the traditions of wooden architecture in Latvia. The mechanical systems will then be installed, along with interior decoration.

This will be followed by a construction of an elevated section between Riga and Jaunmārupe, which the railway and station will be situated on beside the terminal. An embankment and a 113m-long overpass will also be built over K Ulmaņa Street. The final stage will be the construction of a double-track line, which will carry four Rail Baltica express services a day, supplemented by an airport express operating every 30 minutes connecting the airport and Riga Central Station with a travel time of 8min.

The line will also carry freight services, with a dedicated branch to the airport facilities.

The international tender will take place in two phases, with the first phase covering the selection of candidates, which is expected to be completed by January 2020. The second phase is the submission of proposals followed by negotiations, with the goal of signing a contract at the end of 2020 with construction works to commence in 2021.

As is standard for the full Rail Baltica project, the funding for each stage of works will be released separately, and will be requested from the European Union Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The project marks the design and construction of the first new passenger station in Latvia since 1937, along with the first railway overpass and standard-gauge line in the country.

“The Rail Baltica railway connection to Riga Airport is a modern, convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to passenger mobility,” says Latvian transport minister, Mr Tālis Linkaits. “It will expand the airport catchment area to Lithuania and Estonia. This connection is also important for traffic coming into Riga. By setting up a park & ride facility at the airport, residents will reach Riga centre by train in eight minutes.”

“The Rail Baltica station will be the first high-speed rail and air traffic connection hub in the Baltic States,” says European Railway Lines chairman, Mr Kaspars Vingris.

Rail Baltica is a joint venture for the construction of an 870 km mixed-traffic standard-gauge railway with a design speed of 240km/h from the Estonian capital Tallinn, via Riga and Riga Airport in Latvia, and Panevezys and Kaunas in Lithuania, to the Polish border, with a branch from Kaunas to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

NZ Transport Ministry mulls Auckland Light Rail

AUCKLAND: The Ministry of Transport is currently looking at two proposals to build Auckland’s light rail, one is from the Government’s Transport Agency, NZTA, the other comes from the NZ Super Fund.

Both are shrouded in secrecy, although we’ve seen early versions of NZTA’s plan and Stuff published details of an early version of the Super Fund’s plan last week.

The Ministry for Transport now has the job of looking at the two plans and deciding which one to recommend to Cabinet, which will decide which one to build.

For what promises to be one of the biggest transport projects ever built in New Zealand, very little is known for sure about the two proposals. Even the all important “requirements document”, which sets what the Government wants the two projects to deliver, is a secret.

The best way to understand what the Government wants from light rail is to look at the December 2018 proposal from the Super Fund that was leaked to Stuff and published last week. No more recent plans have been leaked or published.

The Super Fund says the plan has changed considerably since then, but leaked letters from NZTA’s former interim board chair Nick Rogers say that the agency now believes the Super Fund’s proposal is preferred by the Government, and is what its proposal will be measured against.

With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that the plans currently being looked at are some version of what the Super Fund put forward in December.

This plan promised fast, 30 minute trips between the central city and the airport, along a network that would eventually comprise 47 kilometres of track spread over two lines: the first from central Auckland to the Airport, and the second heading Northwest to Kumeu.

The Fund promised a fleet of roughly 76 cars running as two car trams. The peak-time frequency of one train every four minutes and an off-peak frequency of one train every 8 minutes.

It promised a capacity of 4500 passengers per hour per direction, which it said could be upgraded to 18,000 “without major system upgrades”.

This is impressive stuff transport-wise. Greater Auckland blog’s Matt Lowrie likened it to building the entire London Underground at once.

The Fund’s promises are achievable because of two major departures from what had previously been signalled. First, the proposal would be mainly ‘grade separated’ meaning the train carriages would not share the road with cars. Second, it would have far fewer stations than the NZTA’s plan, allowing faster journey times.

But fewer stations came at the cost of urban regeneration, one of the aims of the project. If the train stops less, fewer people will use it to commute as they’ll have to walk (or drive) further to get to a station. One of the original goals of the project was to densify the corridor down Dominion road. The Super Fund’s plan appears to put this in jeopardy.

And the cost of full grade separation is more mundane: it’s exceedingly expensive. The first proposal plans to bury two stations down Queen Street, and eventually send the cars on elevated rails, assumed to be roughly 6 metres high, over the suburbs of Auckland to the airport.

Now, that’s fast and efficient transport, but can Auckland – or the country – afford it?

NZTA’s initial plan had been for surface level light rail – more or less a tram. This was what Auckland Transport, the first organisation to begin work on light rail, wanted too. It’s a more modest plan, but it’s likely to come at a more modest cost, perhaps $4-6 billion versus the $10 billion that has been speculated as the cost of the Super Fund’s plan.

NZTA’s rail line would not be completely grade separated, meaning it would run on the road and therefore be subject to the many varied whims of traffic. It would have dedicated lanes, meaning it could avoid most traffic, and it would likely have priority signalling, which means it could get across intersections faster. But priority signalling also has the potential to cause traffic problems for cars stopped to let the light rail through.

However, this is still not quite the same as being completely grade separated. Crashes, intersections, and all manner of other traffic problems could cause delays or stoppages in the network. Advocates say it gives most of the benefits of grade separation at a fraction of the cost.

One of the most important things about both plans is how they’ll be funded. There is surprisingly little information available on this. Looking at what the Super Fund’s Canadian partner has built over there, it looks like the Government could sign up to a 99 year contract to pay the fund for operating the network, whilst also fronting up with some initial money for its construction. This would allow a more expensive network to be built initially, but cost New Zealand more over the long term.

With Government borrowing rates at record lows, critics will reasonably ask why the Government doesn’t just borrow to pay for a Super Fund-style scheme itself.

A decision is expected on which plan will get the go-ahead early next year.

CMRL mulls Chennai Airport-Kilambakkam Rail Line proposals; L&T submits Feasibility Report to expand Phase-1

Among three options presented by consultant to expand phase-1, authorities likely to favour route with 16-km alignment along GST.

CHENNAI: The first phase extension from Chennai Airport to Kilambakkam, where the new bus terminus is proposed, is likely to be a 16 km stretch along the GST road, according to Chennai Metro Rail sources. This comes after Larsen and Toubro is preparing the Feasibility Study Report for Chennai Metro Corridor 1 Extension from Chennai Airport to Kilambakkam Bus Terminal.

Sources privy to the project said that as per the inception report, Larsen and Toubro was looking at three different routes from Chennai Airport to Kilambakkam bus terminus.These include a 16km stretch along GST road, 19km stretch from GST Road till Tambaram and Mudichur Road afterwards and 20km stretch that passes from Airport-Cantonment-Pallavaram Bus Stand GST Road via Hastinapuram and Tambaram West Mudichur Road to Kilambakkam.

It is learnt that officials are favouring the first option, that is the 16km stretch along GST Road. This alignment follows the GST Road and will be fully elevated. The consultant has suggested alignment along the centre of the road if Right of Way permits along the first level and if there are existing structures then it will be along the second level. The stations will be planned integrating with Railways and Metropolitan Transport Corporation and utilizing their lands.

Sources indicated that a total of 13 stations are being proposed at a distance of 1.2km a station. Currently, there are seven suburban railway stations on this stretch. The option to have Metro rail along the GST road was preferred as the land acquisition and distance is minimal. The land acquisition required for the project will be defence lands after the airport, private lands where commercial establishments are located near Pallavaram, and near Perungulathur where elliptical road over bridge is being constructed by railways and National Highway Authority of India and private lands near Outer Ring road.

The flip side is that the metro rail will run parallel to the suburban rail network which could hit the ridership. Similarly, after Perungalathur there is no settlement on the left hand side. The biggest challenge will be the corridor will have to be taken to second level due to existing structures and proposals for elevated Expressway from Tambaram to Chengalpet. But what made this option successful is the multimodal integration with public transport besides connecting all major traffic generators.

The second option along GST Road till Tambaram and later from Mudichur Road to Kilambakkam, which increases the mass transit network coverage in the south west suburban parts of Chennai, faces challenge as there is no major traffic generator in Mudichur Road and the right of way in the road is inadequate.  The option which starts from airport via Pallavaram, Hasthinapuram, Chitalapakkam, Selaiyur, Tambaram and Tambaram West to Perangulathur, is a 20km stretch where the land acquisition will be maximum. The positive side is that it passes through highly dense residential area, sources added.

World Bank invited to join Minsk Airport Rail Line project

Direct Rail Line May Link Minsk And National Airport In 2020-2021. Belarus proposes involvement of World Bank in construction of Minsk National Airport rail link.

MINSK: The Belarusian government is inviting the World Bank to take part in a project to build a rail link between the Belarusian capital and Minsk National Airport. The project was discussed during a meeting between Belarus’ Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kukharev and World Bank Country Manager for Belarus Alex Kremer on 13 November, BelTA has learned.

State agencies have held several meetings, the source said, and came to a consensus regarding the construction of the railway. The meetings followed the May’s announcement made by President Lukashenko at the opening of the second runway at the National Airport Minsk.

Plans to connect the capital and the air hub by train also came up at the meeting between the head of state and Minks mayor in April.

“We would like to discuss our joint work on the project to build a rail link between Minsk and Minsk National Airport. This is a very important project,” Vladimir Kukharev said. The construction of the rail link will provide better connectivity between Minsk and the airport, the deputy prime minister said. Simultaneously, the airport is planning the work to build a terminal and a runway. As it has been reported, several options of the project are on the table: the construction of a new rail line along Vaupshasov Street, the construction of a rail line along M2 Highway towards the airport, reconstruction of the existing rail line which is used for freight traffic.

“They figured out that it was realistic to design and build it within two years — that is, in 2020–2021,” source said. The documentation is being prepared now, and the scheme of the route will go something like this:

According to the plan, the train will leave Minsk by the line for Moscow and then turn into a new 18-km section of the rail. The total investment into the project is estimated 200 million Belarusian rubles (~$98 million), of which 81.4 million rubles will be spent on trains.

Shuttle transfers and a canceled train

The trains from Minsk to the national airport were running from November 2014 to April 2017.

They were diesel trains that had to make a stop at Smolevichi town, located some 40 km away from the capital, because of the peculiarity of the routes. A trip by train thus took 70 minutes, and at the airport, passengers had to change to a shuttle bus.

Trains to Minsk airport were canceled due to the start of construction of the second runway.

At present, the airport is linked to the capital by a bus and mini-bus service.

Chemco Intl launches Railway Construction & Maintenance Division

SCOTLAND: Chemco has officially announced the launch of Chemco Railway Civil Construction and Maintenance. Also known as Chemco Rail, this new division of the business will provide the railway industry with high quality subcontractors to successfully build and maintain railway projects and facilities across the country.

Based out of the company’s corporate office in Nisku, Alberta, Chemco Rail will also work with clients from its regional office in Kamloops, B.C. and satellite offices in Prince George and Kitimat, B.C.

Backed by Chemco’s 50 years of experience in construction and maintenance project management, the company says Chemco Rail will have “the ability to deliver full scale civil construction projects that are varied in scope and complexity.”

“We are proud of our track record working in highly specialized verticals that supplement industrial construction,” said Todd Halina, Chemco’s COO. “We are pleased to add railway civil construction and maintenance to our stable of specialties that already include fiber optics, electrical engineering, hydrovac, horizontal drilling, and more.”

Chemco Rail will use its line of specialized equipment to assist with maintenance work including boom trucks, hytrackers, loaders and snow plow trucks. The company offers the railway industry a variety of earth moving equipment including excavators, dozers and rock trucks to support railways in quickly reopening important rail corridors.

Indian Railways to have only Highspeed and Semi-Highspeed network: CRB

Railways to implement Rs 18,000-crore project to run trains at 160 kmph. The Indian Railways has identified more routes for around 150 trains and the bidding process for selecting private train operators will begin soon, Yadav said.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is in the process of transitioning to semi-high speed and high-speed network routes only, with train speeds of 160 and 320 kilometres per hour (kmph) across its entire network, a senior official said.

“We have decided to go for only two types of speed on our network,” Once the project begins, it will take at least four years to complete, he said after inaugurating the International Rail Conference-2019 and the 13th International Railway Equipment Exhibition.

The events have been organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the Railways at Aerocity here.

“The existing network will be gradually upgraded to 160 kmph. And then we are going to have high-speed network at 320 kmph,” Yadav said. “The Mumbai-Ahmedabad work is already going on and we have already identified few more sections,” Yadav said, referring to the bullet train project.

Currently, the average maximum speed of trains on various routes is 99 kmph and the recently introduced Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express touches an average speed of 104 kmph on the Delhi-Kanpur section.

The cabinet earlier this year approved the plan for upgrading the speed on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes to 160 kmph, which would require an investment of around Rs 13,000 crores.

“Accordingly, we are positioning ourselves to manufacture coaches suitable for 160 kmph, suitable for 320 kmph for the future,” Yadav said.

“Our vision is to produce all these coaches in India, and therefore we are taking necessary steps required for modernisation of all our production units,” Yadav said.

Yadav added that the Indian Railways will look at multi-tracking on 34,000 route kilometres of high-density railway network over the next three to four years.

“We have decided we will go ahead, in a very focussed manner for multi-tracking,” Yadav said.

Apart from the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) which are to be sanctioned by December 2021, the national transporter has already began work on three more DFCs as it looks to decongest passenger train network.

Yadav said that after commissioning of DFC, Indian Railways’ existing network will be free to run passenger trains and the national transporter will be having enough capacity to introduce more passenger trains. “And therefore, we have decided and we are very soon going to start the bidding process for introduction of private train operators,” he added.

The Indian Railways has identified more routes for around 150 trains and the bidding process for selecting private train operators will begin soon, Yadav said.

The upgrade of infrastructure to operate trains at 160 kmph includes fencing, upgrade of track and signalling, and elimination of unmanned level-crossings, according to the Ministry of Railways.

The railways is in a “transformation mode” and “is in the process of modernisation”, Yadav said, adding that as part of this, the 68000-km broad-gauge track network will be electrified in the next three years.

He said at present, 28,000 km is electrified and for next year a target of 7,000 km has been set.

The railways will also implement a ‘multi-tracking’ project in the 34000 km ‘highly busy and utilised’ rail network in a phased manner. Additional tracks will be laid in these routes as nearly 96 per cent of the country’s trains ply there, the Railway Board chairman said.

On bio-toilets, Yadav said 95 per cent of rail coaches have environment-friendly washrooms and the rest will have it in the next two to three months.

Board Member (Rolling Stock) Rajesh Agarwal said 100 units of Vande Bharat Express (semi high speed inter-city electric multiple unit) will be manufactured in the next five years.

Similarly, the railways will produce more aluminium coaches. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to review the railway projects, he said.

The board’s Additional Member (Mechanical) AK Agarwal said the railways is planning to upgrade on a massive scale passenger services and amenities, production of rolling stocks and capacity building.

An MoU was signed in the event between Ghana’s Railway Development Ministry and RITES for implementing the rail projects in that country. Ghana railway development minister Joe Ghartey was present. The Rail India Technical and Economic Service or RITES is an engineering consultancy company of the Railways.

CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee highlighted the importance of the exhibition when India is in the fast track of development.

The CII’s rail transportation and equipment division chairman Anand Chidambaram said this was Asia’s largest exhibition.

Indian Railways will use Face Recognition Technology to stop crime at Stations, Trains

NEW DELHI: In a move that could potentially be considered controversial, the Indian Railways is reportedly planning to use facial recognition and artificial intelligence technology to identify and catch criminals.

The Railway Protection Force, established by the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957 which works for the protection and security of railway property, reportedly aims to link the proposed facial recognition system with existing databases. This includes, but is not limited to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS).

A Security Official told, “We are planning to connect CCTNS with our FRS database through a bridge software… With this we will have access to a huge database of criminals and our FRS software can easily be used to fetch the photos of potential criminals and match the faces. If we are able to install this across all our major stations, it will be a huge security breakthrough. This is something called preventive policing.”

However, security experts have warned that this move could potentially violate individual privacy and put the travellers’ data at risk.

The root for this proposed overhaul lies in the fact that the 26/11 attacks carried out by the terrorists included Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. That’s why RPF Director-General Arun Kumar said that they had identified 200 railway stations for a security overhaul.

To experts who have been watching government enterprises adopt emerging technologies, this news comes as no surprise. Under the leadership of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, the mass transport system has adoption of technologies like AI, ML and computer vision over the last few years. From chatbot Ustaad to using AI to serve hygienic food, the Indian Railways are on a journey of adopting technologies in all spheres.

Will It Violate Privacy Of Passengers?

If you have been following the events of Indian Railways as closely as we have, you must know the rapid train of evolution and regressions it has been travelling on. Right from redesigning whole stations, in order to ensure maximum safety and security to millions of passengers travelling through this medium, to something as basic and extremely essential as transforming the Railways into 100% green.

The piece of information that we bring today strides much more on the side of security with the help of technology. Indian Railways is planning a complete overhaul of security at railway stations, with the help of facial recognition on the basis of artificial intelligence, to identify and nab criminals.

Indian Railways’ FRS

In the month of July, Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport initiated its Face Recognition (FR) system on a trial basis for passengers. It stoked fears among human rights groups and Internet advocates, with ideas of potential privacy violations and increased surveillance.

With the help of this technology, passengers were identified by their faces, without needing boarding passes and other identity documents.

It turns out that now Indian Railways’ security arm, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is looking forward to link the facial recognition system (FRS) with existing databases such as the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) to identify criminals on railway stations.

It is no secret that railways stations have always been an easy and prime target for mishappenings, as they have easy access to crowded platforms. If the RPF manages to pull this technology off and install it across all major stations, it will be a huge security breakthrough.

RPF began comprehensively planning security tightening procedures after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. It identified 200 railway stations for a “security overhaul”. They started working on the facial recognition technology at the Bangalore station.

The Whole FRS and its Underlying Concerns

The facial recognition technology has already been manifested at the Bangalore station. However, due to fears of possible privacy violations among human rights groups and Internet advocates, seen at the launch of FRS in Hyderabad airport, the  Indian Railways are concerned such problems shall resurface.

The problem is that there is no legal authority or framework for any such projects which are being tested as well as already deployed in India, declaring it illegal for now. Such a legislative framework is absolutely necessary as per the Supreme Court’s right to privacy judgment.

India does not yet have a privacy protection law in place.

The Incredible Accuracy of Facial Recognition Systems

Railway stations are a hub of millions of people travelling each day over long distances. The RPF has alredy tested FRS at such areas.

FRS can identify single faces out of tens of thousands. A unique biometric code is made for each face captured, augmented by artificial intelligence. It can be compared to other biometrics such as fingerprints and eye iris recognition systems.

After 5 months of intensive testing in railways by RPF in Bangalore, more than 200,000 passengers were covered and our algorithm could match 32 history-sheeters against the RPF database. People wearing hood, sunglasses etc at rush hour were easily identifiable.

On an average that system is learning about 1 lakh faces daily. The AI system keeps upgrading itself. The more you experiment the more it learns and grows.

Even if a photograph on the crime database is 10 years old, the system can identify the perpetrator of the crime can be identified by the FRS if he/she enters a railway station now.

Indian Railways also aims to impart skill training to RPF personnel for behavioral profiling at train stations, i.e. skills on spotting suspicious people, by the way they behave.

RPF also formed its own commando unit, which will be known as Commandos for Railway Safety (CORAS), who have been deployed along areas affected by left-wing extremism and in Jammu & Kashmir.

Railways aims to complete 100% electrification by 2023

Indian Railways also cuts energy bill by 80% in 11 trains. Thanks to new technology.

HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways has set itself a target of 100% electrification by 2023 with 60% of railway line already electrified. While LED lighting is 100 per cent, solar panels have been provided at majority of railway stations and service buildings to draw renewable energy, said Railway Board Additional Member Manju Gupta on Wednesday.

Addressing the ‘National Green Rail Seminar’, a three-day professional training programme for railway officers from November 13 to November 15 here, she said 800 railway stations all over the nation had been provided with airport standard lighting.

SCR’s Additional General Manager B.B. Singh said several steps were being taken towards improvement of greenery, rejuvenation of old wells, water bodies etc. Indian railways stood as one of the greatest contributors of environment protection by meeting 10% of its energy requirements through renewable sources of energy.

About one crore saplings were being planted every year to improve the green cover and so far around 15,000 sq.km of land had been provided with green cover, he added. Top railway officials were present at the meet.

At a separate meeting in Nanded, SCR GM Gajanan Mallya said gauge conversion work on Akola-Akot section and electrification work on Parbhani-Mudkhed, Adilabad-Parbhani and Akola-Purna section were in progress.

The SCR had commissioned doubling work for a distance of 50 km on the Parbhani-Mudkhed section and the remaining 30 km of doubling work would be completed by February, 2020, he told a meeting of MPs of the Nanded division.

The MPs, who participated in the meeting, were Syed Imtiaz Jaleel, Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, Sanjay Jadhav, Prataprao Govindrao Patil Chikhalikar and Hemant Patil.

Indian Railways’ South Central Railway (SCR) zone in its effort to cut down on its energy bills as well as strengthening environment conservation has recently introduced the Head on Generation (HOG) technology in eleven trains.

The HOG technology has been recently introduced in trains fitted with LHB coaches and hauled by electric traction. This technology caters to the power needs of the coaches such as coach lighting, air conditioning, etc by substituting the earlier technology of having two power cars in the trains known as End on Generators (EOG).

The South Central Railway zone is expected to save around 29.3 crores per annum with the introduction of HOG technology.

In a statement issued by SCR, the fuel consumtion for these 11 trains per annum annum was around 49.7 lakh litres incurring a cost of more than 35 crores. After the introduction of HOG technology the electrical energy consumption cost for these trains will be 5.7 crore per annum.

Earlier , the Northern Railway zone of Indian Railways also converted 14 pairs of trains under the ‘Head On Generation’ (HOG) system.

How HOG technology works

The power supply tapped from power lines through pantograph to the train engine is used to run the engine and haul the coaches.

Now in this new system power supply tapped from overhead to the train engine will be distributed to the trailing coaches for power needs.

The HOG system does not require any diesel oil consumption and as such will reduce air pollution and also noise pollution. In addition, it also provides uninterrupted illumination in the coaches.

In the first phase, all but two trains (totalling 10 trains) having total LHB coaches and running end-to-end with electric traction facility have been converted to HOG technology. In addition, one more train with LHB coaches (i.e., Rayalaseema Express) running partly in diesel section has also been converted into HOG within the electrified section.

List of trains coverted to HOG system in SCR zone:

As such, the 11 trains running with HOG technology and LHB on SCR include:

  • Charminar Express (12759/12760),
  • Vikrama Simhapuri Amaravati Express (12744/12743),
  • Telangana Express (12723/12724),
  • Tirupati – JammuTawi Humsafar Express (22705/22706),
  • Double Decker Express (22708/22707),
  • Narayanadri Express (12733/12734),
  • Secunderabad – Nagpur Express (12771/12772),
  • Secunderabad – Sirpur Khagaznagar Express(12757/12758),
  • Secunderabad – Guntur (12705/12706),
  • Lingampalli – Vijayawada Intercity Express (12795/12796)
  • Rayalaseema Express (12793/12794).

Railways forms Committee to study Feasibility of creating New Railway Divisions in Jammu, Gulbarga, Silchar

The Indian Railways’ operations are currently divided in 18 zones, which are further sub-divided into divisions, each having a divisional headquarters. The committee, comprising senior railway officials, has been given the mandate to analyse and review afresh, the feasibility, financial implications, administrative issues, infrastructural availability for creating the new divisions and submit a report by month end.

NEW DELHI: Five years after new division were announced for Jammu, Gulbarga and Silchar, the Railways has formed a committee to study their feasibility, according to an official order. Currently, Jammu is under the jurisdiction of Ferozpur division of the Northern Railway zone, and if Jammu becomes a division it will be the first rail division in Jammu and Kashmir.

Gulbarga in Karnataka is in the Pallakad division of Southern Railway and Assam’s Silchar is in Lumding division of Northeast Frontier Railway.

The committee, comprising senior railway officials, has been given the mandate to analyse and review afresh, the feasibility, financial implications, administrative issues, infrastructural availability for creating the new divisions and submit a report by the month-end.

The Indian Railways’ operations are currently divided in 18 zones, which are further sub-divided into divisions, each having a divisional headquarters. There are around 70 divisions presently.

According to an internal document of the railways, the cost of infrastructure for creating a new zone is around Rs 205 crore while creating a new division will cost the national transporter around Rs 29 crore.

These figures exclude extra costs of relating to creating or upgradation of posts, transfer, posting of staff and other such expenditures.

Being a rail division would mean more employment in the region, more development and better train services.

Mott MacDonald JV wins major role on Sydney Rail project

SYDNEY: A joint venture between Mott MacDonald and SMEC (FutureRail) has been awarded the technical adviser role on a 10-year rail improvement programme in Sydney.

The contract covers the planning of future stages of the ‘More Trains, More Services’ programme by Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW).

The programme, in which $4.3bn (£2.3bn) is being invested, is intended to transform the Sydney rail network and provide more reliable and high-capacity services.

FutureRail will be tasked with assisting the delivery of the infrastructure upgrade plan through tasks such as transport modelling and planning, feasibility studies, business case support, design, procurement assistance and delivery support.

Digital systems technology being introduced as part of the programme is set to increase the capacity on each line to up to 24 trains an hour.

Mott MacDonald TfNSW key account leader Craig Burrell said: “We look forward to working with TfNSW once again on such a significant project – a programme that fundamentally changes the way Sydney-siders use the rail network to connect to their jobs, their communities and their way of life.” Transport for NSW, sometimes abbreviated to TfNSW, and pronounced as Transport for New South Wales, is a statutory authority of the New South Wales Government that was created on 1 November 2011 to manage the transport services in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

SMEC national manager for rail Ray Murphy added: “In this role, we’ll be able to work closely with TfNSW in setting the direction for future improvements to the rail network in New South Wales.

“We’ll be drawing upon our national and international expertise in transport planning and design across both SMEC and Mott MacDonald to meet the client’s ambitious objectives.”

How predictive mapping can help railways cut noise pollution

SoundPLAN uses mapping technology to reduce noise pollution.

Rail is widely acknowledged to be the transport mode with the lowest environmental impact. However, noise and vibration remain an important issue that must be addressed. Varsha Saraogi explores the potential of mapping technology to predict noise patterns.

Increasing freight and passenger traffic has caused a surge in noise emissions. Trains often produce noise when entering or leaving stations and tunnels which poses health risks for those living and working in the vicinity.

Given that being exposed to noise above 85 decibels (dB(A)) for a continuous period can put one at the risk of permanent hearing damage according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a number of international standards and regulations in place which require rail companies to control the noise generated for the safety of workers and those in the vicinity.

In Europe, for example, a framework called Common Noise Assessment Methods in Europe for strategic noise mapping has been introduced in accordance with the Environmental Noise Directive which requires strategic noise maps to be created for main rail lines and EU-wide carriageways.

SoundPLAN uses Predictive Technology to reduce noise pollution.

While there are a number of mitigation measures available that can be applied to railway tracks, the effectiveness of these measures can differ as it often involves a large degree of uncertainty due to factors such as disturbances in surroundings.

To tackle this issue, German company SoundPLAN GmPH have created a software called SoundPLAN which is in accordance with all international standards and is used to identify the cause, location and propagation of sound. Based on these calculations railway companies can then assess the best options to reduce excessive noise.

Managing director of SoundPLAN GmPH Jochen Schaal puts it in simple words: “The core of our business is the prediction of noise in the environment.”

How does the technology map noise?

The software works by collating information based on types of rail and rolling stock, as well as frequency, size and speed. The mapping software then produces graphical representations of the noise using colours to depict the different levels. This enables laypeople as well as scientists and engineers to read the reports.

Schaal says that SoundPLAN’s railway noise mapping module consists of two parts – emission and propagation calculation. “Information relating to the number of trains, type and length, speed, and details of the rail surfaces are fed into a calculation that determines the emission level,” he says.

He adds that should conditions change in traffic speed, volume or surface type and the noise is accentuated, “a new emission value is computed”.

Reliability allows for more careful planning

Schaal says that by leveraging the software to calculate noise propagation, rail companies can focus on the practical part of noise planning, present the software-generated calculation and research to municipalities, environmental administrations and government bodies who can then plan mitigation processes.

Schaal adds that SoundPLAN’s noise maps are more reliable than manual measurements as it can automatically identify individual sources of noise emissions in a location and the direction the noise is travelling.

In addition, the software-generated maps include animation features that can predict the progress of a train along its route and identify the noisiest areas which might be influenced by topography and obstacles such as cuttings, embankments, tunnels and noise protection walls.

“Mapping software can not only show the most cost-effective measures, but it can also help with risk assessments, to show where a company should focus its attention,” Schaal declares.

Having debuted in 1986, the software solution was developed by an interdisciplinary team consisting of engineers, geographers, physicists and computer science specialists, he says.

Calculating noise levels for the Eisenbahn-Bundesamt

According to the EU environmental noise regulations, Germany’s Federal Railway Authority the Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (EBA), is required to create noise maps for German railway lines every five years.

The EBA has now completed the third round of noise mapping for all urban areas with more than 100,000 residents and for main lines with over 30,000 trains per year.

Schaal details that for the project, SoundPLAN calculated the results based on a database which forms the basis for the sound propagation calculations, and automatically created isophones, along with required statistics, for each municipality.

Following the completion of all the calculations, the results, in the form of nationwide grid noise maps, facade noise maps and various tables, were prepared for the final publication and on-schedule delivery to the EBA.

An almost impossible, but worthwhile job

While noise mitigation is essential, Schaal declares that attempting to cut noise from railways “may seem like an impossible job – or a vastly expensive one at best.”

However, he adds that using the technology can help companies as well as governments across the globe to control emissions as well as calculate the costs involved. “By using the software it is possible to assess the cost of each and every noise reduction initiative before the project even begins.

“This means it is possible to work out how much it would cost to raise a noise barrier by an extra metre and how that would affect nearby premises. It may show that’s it’s cheaper to retrofit property than build a high barrier,” Schaal concludes.

Southern Railway to enhance services in Malabar region

KOZHIKODE: The railway authorities have announced several initiatives in a bid to curb challenges faced by the passengers in the Malabar region which include launching of Kozhikode-Bengaluru Intercity Express  via Salem, Memu service , Pit lines and extending the service of Kannur-Kozhikkode Passenger to Shoranur. All the passenger trains will  also  run during night.

Southern Railway Principal Chief Operations Manager S. Anantharaman who  held a meeting with MP M. K. Raghavan, gave the nod for four projects. It is reported that the Railway Board is likely to give final approval to these projects.

Ananthakumar has also agreed to the MP’s demand to increase the parcel load time by five minutes and to increase number of  coaches in Parasuram Express.

The Manager has said that there is non availability  of land for the development of Kozhikode station. Responding  to this, the MP  maintained that the Railway station has 38 acres in its domain.

The suggestions taken 

The state Govt would acquire the land for the development of West hill substation. Feroke station is the nearest station to the airport and the Calicut university. Therefore, these two stations should be developed along with the Kozhikode railway station.

Pit lines would be constructed in Kozhikode and Palakkad districts. The Memu service will be launched in Kozhikode and Palakkad railway divisions respectively.,

The decision to launch the train service was taken when the MP pointed out that there was an increase in passenger traffic to Bengaluru and with the night traffic ban in the Bandipur stretch of NH- 766, more people are depending on the train service.

Though there was a demand for more services of Rajdhani train in the state, the PCOM did not give any positive response. MP Raghavan  refuted the stance that Kozhikode would  benefit from the developments of Kannur and Shornur railway stations. Raghavan  also added that 20-acre land was available for development of Payyanur railway station.

Though the survey for the Kozhikode-Malappuram-Angadipuram route was completed, no initiatives to launch any developmental projects were taken by the officials.

Currently there is no train service after 5.45 pm to the southern districts of Kerala from Kozhikode. Therefore, It was  decided in the meeting that the passenger train service would be extended to Shornur.

Decmil Group wins Adani Mining’s Carmichael Rail Network worth more than A$40 million

Adani partners with DECMIL in another win for regional Queensland!

BRISBANE: Adani Mining’s Carmichael coal project has signed another multi-million dollar contract that will deliver jobs and opportunities to Rockhampton and regional Queensland (Australia).

The contract with Australian contractor Decmil for the design and construction of three temporary accommodation camps for construction workers on the Carmichael Rail Network project will be delivered from Adani’s new Rockhampton office.

Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow said the more than AUS$40 million contract with Decmil was another win for regional Queensland.

“This contract means more jobs and economic activity for Rockhampton and regional Queensland. The Decmil team will move in to our Rockhampton office along with Martinus, our track laying contractor,” he said.

“This announcement brings the total value of contracts awarded for the Carmichael project to date to more than AUS$500 million.

“The operations of the rail camps will be based in Collinsville, earthworks and civil works are coming from Townsville and Rockhampton, fuel supply is from Townsville, telecommunications is from Mackay, and many other regional businesses across regional Queensland are also getting involved,” he said.

Decmil will design and build three 400-bed temporary accommodation camps along the Carmichael Rail Network corridor.

“Our rail construction crews will live in these camps while they build our 200 km long railway line that will link the Carmichael mine with the existing rail network,” Dow said.

“The camps will be designed to maximise our teams’ well-being with air-conditioned rooms, dining messes, gyms and recreation areas. They will also comply with the high standards of environmental regulation that have been set for our project.”

Decmil has also been awarded a AUS$1.4 million Early Contractor Services (ECS) contract to scope the bulk earthworks required along the primary freight rail alignment. Should the ECS be successfully completed it is anticipated that Decmil will enter into a contract for the construction works.

Dow said people and businesses interested in working on the Carmichael project can register their interest online.

“We strongly encourage jobseekers and suppliers from Rockhampton and other areas of Regional Queensland to register their details via Adani’s website,” Dow said.

“Through our employment and supplier portals people can also see Adani’s, and our contractors’, jobs and work packages being advertised as we progress with delivery of the Carmichael project.

“We are getting on with the job of delivering our mine and rail project for the benefit of all Queenslanders and in particular people in regional Queensland.”

The proposed Carmichael Rail Network will be constructed to transport coal from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point Port near Bowen.

About the Project

The narrow gauge rail line will be approximately 200km long and will connect the Carmichael mine to the port using existing rail infrastructure.

The company had previously planned to build a 388km standard gauge railway between the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point Port but will instead leverage existing rail infrastructure. This new design was announced September 2018.

By connecting to the existing network we can fast-track project delivery, reduce capital expenditure and deliver coal more quickly to countries in Asia with growing energy demand.

Location

The Carmichael Rail Network would be approximately 200km long and will connect the Carmichael mine with existing rail network. The Carmichael Mine is 160km north-west of Clermont and Abbot Point Port is 25km north of Bowen.

The narrow gauge rail will follow the same route as previously contemplated and the initial design capacity of 40 million tonnes per annum, ensuring capability to manage the Carmichael mine’s 10 million tonne yearly production rate.

BG Rail line soon be extended up to Talwara from Daulatpur Chowk

UNA: Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur led a padyatra from Kaloh to Ambota village falling under his constituency.

During the interactions with the local public, the Union minister said the broad gauge rail line had been extended till Daulatpur Chowk in Una district, falling under Ambala Division of Northern Railway, will soon be extended up to Talwara.

Daulatpur Chowk is the last station in Una district on the 83 km-long Nangal to Talwara broad gauge line. An eight kilometer track from Daulatpur Chowk to Talwara in Punjab is still under construction which would be extended till Mukerian in Punjab.

One of the busiest shrines in north India, the Chintpurni temple in Himachal Pradesh’s Una district was connected by a rail line recently. The rail line, which has 16 major bridges and two stations, was laid with an outlay of Rs 335 crore.

A station on this rail line at Kuneran village has been named as Chintpurni Marg as it is close to the Chintpurni temple, one of the most venerated shrines that gets a majority of pilgrims from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The temple can be reached by road and is located 25 km from the railway station.

Technical humps on Katra-Banihal Railway Line fast being overcome!

SRINAGAR: With a vision and not a mere dream to see trains directly chugging from New Delhi right up to Kashmir, entire Jammu and Kashmir was destined to be actively connected with rest of the country through a well designed rail link. Fewer occasions have been such when Prime Minister of the country has been seen so deeply interested in the development of Jammu and Kashmir especially through a network of railways. Udhampur -Srinagar-Baramulla rail link, the prestigious project must be completed at the earliest possible is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not only desired but directed as well. Besides providing employment to hundreds of people engaged in the project, the ancillary areas like material and equipment chains too would get a boost in their business in respect of building up this important project. On the other hand, giving fillip to the economy of the Union Territory was its immediate very positive effect.

Taking a feel of the levels of the developmental works of 16 states including the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, Modi had a detailed meeting via video conferencing with their respective Chief Secretaries and the recent one was the 31st such ‘Pragati Video Conference’. It may be recalled that due to various rather unavoidable reasons, the impressive project of Udhampur – Srinagar-Baramulla rail link missed several deadlines but the Prime Minister gave clear cut instructions to speed up the work on the said rail link. As on date, trains from other parts of the country reach up to the Holy town of Katra from the Jammu side and up to Banihal from Baramulla from Kashmir valley thus the link between Banihal and Udhampur needs to be set up which, however, is facing certain technical humps which are fast being overcome.

Beyond Katra, several bridges nearly more than 27 over river Chenab including the one having the distinction of being the highest arch railway bridge with 350 metre height are being built. Needless to add, this bridge was going to have one more distinction in that it would be higher than the Eiffel Tower of France. While that tower was built to commemorate and make celebrations of the French Revolution and industrial expertise of France, Chenab steel arch bridge, on completion, will be a living testimony of the engineering prowess of those Indians who conceived, designed and built it and undoubtedly, this bridge would become in itself a centre of attraction and a tourist spot . The only thing to do further was providing other logistics and infrastructure to make it a centre of tourist attraction which it rightly deserves.

However, while the highest bridge over Chenab was to have been completed by 2007 as the timeline fixed for taking train to the Kashmir valley by late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was set at the same year, yet that type of a timeline would be mere utopianism as in the concerned region, even regular vehicular traffic (by road) would get disrupted during inclement weathers and for establishing the rail link, ravines, gorges and barren mountainous regions had to be tapped and connected to lay the railway line which definitely is nothing less than engineering marvel and technical feats.

It may be noted that a 136 kilometre railway line between Udhampur – Banihal where presently the work is in progress, has the distinction of being one of the most difficult and sensitive yet important railway tracks in the world. This precisely is what vital infrastructural development in real sense would be defined like and how development for this region reigned supreme in the priorities of the Central Government.

Building too many tunnels to cover hard core track of 97 kilometres on the said track constitutes the most important task of the project, the progress as on date, being completion of as much as 67 kilometres indicates that the optimism about the entire project getting completed by the end of next year was based on realism looking to the hard work and dedication put in the project by the concerned railway personnel. The Prime Minister is well acquainted with the stages of work on this railway line as he keeps himself updated about the progress of this mega railway project but has effectively pointed out that long pending projects needed to be expedited and in this connection, he has instructed for submission of regular progress reports of such projects direct to his office. In other words, he conveyed the importance of regular monitoring and follow up in order to ensure that projects were completed within fixed timelines.

Alstom-Railways JV struggles to meet Locomotive target

The Electric Locomotive Factory at Madhepura in Bihar was one of the two major locomotive projects awarded in 2015 as part of the Make in India initiative, the second being a joint venture with GE. The Rs 10,000 crore Marhowra facility, the joint venture with GE, will make 1,000 diesel locomotives in 11 years.

NEW DELHI: Alstom SA’s joint venture with the Indian Railways, which has to supply 35 electric locomotives to the national transporter in the current financial year, is struggling to meet deadlines and could be at risk of cancellation, said officials with knowledge of the matter.

Alstom hasn’t been able to supply any engines yet, with the locomotives having failed multiple trial runs, they said. “Prima facie, if a design condition is not met and a period (specified for delivery) expires, contract cancellation becomes the automatic route,” said one of the officials, who described the venture as a “failure.”

The Electric Locomotive Factory at Madhepura in Bihar was one of the two major locomotive projects awarded in 2015 as part of the Make in India initiative, the second being a joint venture with General Electric (GE). The Rs 20,000 crore Madhepura project was tasked with manufacturing 800 high-powered locomotives in 11years. The joint venture is the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Railway sector.

The Rs 10,000 crore Marhowra facility, the joint venture with GE, will make 1,000 diesel locomotives in 11years. Indian Railways owns a 26% stake in both, with the overseas partner holding the rest. The French company didn’t respond to queries and neither did Indian Railways. Calls and messages to Railway Board chairman VK Yadav were unanswered. The French company said in March last year that the plant was on schedule.

“Alstom announced the completion of its first all-electric locomotive from its state-of-theart locomotive facility at Madhepura in the state of Bihar, on schedule,” it had said in a statement. The locomotive that had been manufactured at the Alstom plant and inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “gathering dust,” said one of the officials. The company is still in the process of making changes to the specifications of the locomotive, said one of the officials cited above. The Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), part of the railway ministry, conducted two trials of the WAG12 locomotive, according to an official status report—the first on July 23-25 last year and the second on April 10-12 this year.

“In both trials, the loco could not pass the laid down criteria,” the report said. “Further modifications in bogie and suspension of loco are also parallely (sic) being done.” One official cast doubt on the Alstom’s expertise. “This is a new design they are working on,” the person said. “I am not sure they (Alstom) have the capability in bogie design.”

Indian Railways lays Foundation Stone for Camp Office at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh

Northeast Frontier Railway lays foundation stone for its camp office, rest house in district headquarters; proposed rail link to popular hill station gets a major boost.
Laying of foundation stone of camp office-cum-rest house at Tawang

ITANAGAR: The proposed rail link to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh got a major boost on Friday with Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) general manager (construction) N K Prasad laying the foundation stone for the NFR’s camp office and rest house in the district headquarters.

In a historic development, General Manager (Construction) Northeast Frontier Railways N.K.Prasad in presence of Choiki Dondup, EAC (LM&Jud) Tawang, M.S.Chauhan, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), S.P.Singh, Chief Engineer (Construction) N.F.Railway and executive members of Shartso Committee (Land owners) laid the foundation stone of North east frontier railways camp office cum rest house at Tawang.

Situated at a height of around 10,000 feet along the India-China border, Tawang is of immense strategic importance to India. China has repeatedly been claiming Arunachal Pradesh, especially Tawang, as part of Tibet and routinely objects to any visit by top Indian and foreign leaders, officials and diplomats to the area.

It was also one of the regions where the Indian Army had come under attack from China in the 1962 war.

Going by the importance of the project, chief minister Pema Khandu had in September said, “Railways reaching Tawang would be befitting reply to China.”

Besides being a popular hill station, Tawang is also a place held sacred by the Buddhists. It is home to the 17th-century Tawang Monastery and also the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama.

“We are very soon going to connect Tawang with railways. The railway line from Bhalukpong to Tawang will be of 198 km, out of which 177 kms will be under tunnels with very little disturbance to the ecology,” Prasad said.

Prasad said the ambitious railway line is also meant to cut down the travel time as the existing road distance from Bhalukpong to Tawang is around 300 km.

The road distance between Tawang and Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, is around 447 km while that from Guwahati is 462 km via National Highway 13. “The proposed 27-km railway tunnel crossing Sela pass, once completed, will be one of the longest tunnels in the country,” said Prasad.

Tawang extra assistant commissioner Choiki Dondup said “the distant dream of the locals to have Tawang connected with railways is now going to be achieved in reality.”

Congratulating the senior Indian railways officers, Dondup at the same time, also expressed his gratitude to the land owners of Shartso Committee for leasing out the land for the NFR’s camp office initially for a period of three years which can extended or acquired if needed in the future.

To expand railway connectivity and provide a thrust to the strategic state from the security point of view, the ministry of railways had in February 2017, announced to connect Tawang with train communication.

NFR chief administrative officer (construction) M S Chauhan, chief engineer S P Singh and executive members of Shartso committee (land owners) were also present to witness the foundation stone laying ceremony.

Railways to conduct Trial Run on Banihal and Baramulla section ahead of resuming services

The security and railway officials will be present during the trial run. “No mischievous element can stop this trial run. Keeping security arrangements in mind, the exact route of train between Banihal and Baramulla section has been not disclosed.

JAMMU: Indian Railways will on Monday start a trial run of a train service between Banihal and Baramulla. The services in the region were stopped soon after the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

“On November 11, there will be train trial run in the Valley for resuming the train services between Banihal to Baramulla,” railways officials told ANI.

The security and railway officials will be present during the trial run. “No mischievous element can stop this trial run. Keeping security arrangements in mind, the exact route of train between Banihal and Baramulla section has been not disclosed. So that everything goes smoothly,” the Railways officials said.

“If everything goes well, the train services can be restored in the Valley from November 12,” the officials informed.

The move from the Indian Railways is coming over three months after it was suspended in view of the abrogation of Article 370 which had accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh came into existence on October 31.

The railway official added that even though train services from Srinagar to Baramulla have resumed today, services till Banihal will be started at a later stage. The track inspection and the trial runs till the Banihal route will be conducted later.

According to the Railway Ministry, the details of train numbers and timings of services between Srinagar-Baramulla starting from November 12, 2019 are as follows:

  • Train number 74619 will depart from Srinagar from 10:05 AM and will arrive Baramulla at 11:45 AM
  • Train number 74618 will depart from Baramulla at 11:55 AM, and will arrive Srinagar at 1:40 PM
  • Train number 74637 will depart from Srinagar at 11:10 AM and will arrive Baramulla at 12:55 PM
  • Train number 74640 will depart from Baramulla at 1:05 PM and will arrive Srinagar at 2:45 PM

An official spokesperson was quoted in a recent PTI report saying that the railway authorities had been directed by the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan to conduct railway track inspection within this week. According to the report, the train service from Baramulla in north Kashmir to Banihal in south Kashmir was suspended on August 5, 2019.

Silver Line work on Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi HSR project may get a flying start

The Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited, the agency which implements the semi high-speed rail project Silver Line, will submit the Detailed Project Report to the Railway Ministry by December.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The work on the state’s ambitious semi high-speed rail project, ‘Silver Line,’ between Thiruvananthapuram and  Kasaragod may get a flying start. The Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), the agency which is implementing the project, will submit the Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Ministry of Railways by December. The 531.45-km-long railway line that will reduce the travel time to four hours had recently received approval from the Ministry of Defence and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for conducting an aerial survey to finalise the alignment.

“The DPR is being formulated now. We have completed the traffic survey and the environmental and social impact studies are also underway. The KRDCL has entrusted French consultant Systra with the DPR and we will complete it by December,” said V Ajith Kumar, Managing Director, KRDCL. The project fully adheres to the green protocol and is expected to be commissioned by 2024.

“We have received all the approvals, including from the Defence Ministry and DGCA, for conducting an aerial survey with a helicopter. With the completion of the survey, we will chalk out the final alignment of the ‘Silver Line.’ The same agencies are inspecting the aircraft in Delhi and they will also look into other equipment as well,” said Kumar.

The KRDCL has awarded the contract to a Hyderabad-based firmto conduct the survey. The company, which handled various surveys for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Rail Line, will bear the expenses of the aircraft. “The flying will take about a week to complete. Thereafter, the three-dimension images and data collected will be processed in a month,” he added.

The aircraft, installed with laser scanners and sensors, will land at different locations throughout the state with permission from the district collectors concerned. The agency has already marked ground-points and central points every 25 km for the survey.

Earlier, the agency had decided to build an integrated station at Kakkanad with the second phase of Kochi Metro Rail. Besides, Cochin International Airport and Trivandrum International Airport will be connected through feeder stations. Along with the passenger trains, RoRo (Roll on Roll off) services will be made available for transporting consignments through the new railway line.

KRDCL dismisses as baseless over taking final decision on alignment of SHSR Rail Corridor

KRDCL) on Thursday dismissed as ‘baseless’ and ‘misleading’ the impression sought to be created by certain quarters that it has taken a final decision on the alignment of the proposed 532-km double-line Kasaragod-Thiruvananthapuram Semi High Speed Rail (SHSR) rail corridor.

It is absolutely misleading and baseless to suggest that KRDCL has taken a final decision on the proposed SHSR Rail Corridor,” a top official of the Corporation clarified.

The work currently in progress is that of marking the ground-points for conduct of the aerial survey. The ground-points are being marked at a distance of every 25 km and with as much width, the official pointed out.

“This work has been misunderstood by some as that of marking the alignment of the ambitious rail project. The alignment will be finalised only with the approval of the state government and after completion of the aerial survey and further studies,” he said.

The process of land acquisition for the green field project will start only after the finalisation of the alignment, that too with the government approval.

A joint venture of the Kerala Government and the Ministry of Railways, the state Cabinet gave its go-ahead to SHSR after thoroughly considering the feasibility study that has fully taken into account every minute aspect of the project, including the passenger potential and financial viability.

Dehradun Railway Station to be shut for next 3 months

The station will remain shut to carry out maintenance and renovation work.

DEHRADUN: Dehradun railway station has been shut for next three months starting Sunday to carry out maintenance and renovation work at the station. All trains operating from Dehradun station will now start from and end at other nearby stations such as Haridwar and Harrawala.

According to railway officials, the two superfast trains going to New Delhi — Shatabdi and Nandadevi Express — will run from Harrawala railway station, while other trains will either terminate at Haridwar railway station or have been cancelled till further notice. The train services are expected to resume from February 7 next year.

After the Dehradun-New Delhi Jan Shatabdi Express and Indore Express departed on Sunday, the station wore a deserted look as all the shops on platforms and outside were closed. The hustle and bustle of autos and tempos outside the railway station was also missing. Neither coolie not officials were seen at the railway station of the capital city.

On the other hand, the Harrawala railway station, some 12 km from the city, which hardly got any passengers till now, is being given a facelift as two important trains, Shatabdi and Nandadevi Express, will run from here for next 45 days — till December 24, 2019. The next 45 days, starting from December 25 till February 7, these two trains will start and terminate at Haridwar.

Besides these two, as many as 16 trains (up and down) will culminate at Haridwar or other railway stations. While the New Delhi- Dehradun Jan Shatabdi will remain cancelled from November 11, the Link Express that comes to Dehradun from Prayahraj will terminate at Aligarh from November 10. Similarly, train from Muzaffarpur to Dehradun will terminate at Najibabad.

Trains like Varanasi-Dehradun, Indore-Dehradun, Okha-Dehradun, Mussorrie Express, Ujjain-Dehradun and many others will remain suspended for next three months.

The tourism industry in Uttarakhand fears loss of revenue as Indian Railways announced halting rail movements to (and from) Dehradun at the peak season when large number of tourists visit places like Mussorrie, Dhanaulti, Chakrata during new year and snowfall.

“Usually tourists come to the state capital, spend a day or two here, and then go to hill stations like Mussoorie, Dhanaulti and Chakrata. But now, Dehradun is likely to witness a dip in tourist footfall,” said Sandeep Sahni, the president of Uttarakhand Hotel and Restaurant Association. He added that halting train movement for three months during peak tourist season would hurt the state’s economy badly. “We understand that the project will be beneficial for the state in the long-term, but undertaking the project during this time of the year could have been avoided,” Sahni further said.

Lack of facilities at Harrawala railway station is also a worrying factor. “The railway station doesn’t have a single vendor who can at least sell water to the passengers. The worst part is the conveyance facility. I am taking Shatabdi, so have hired a cab to take me to Harrawala. But I am worried how will I reach home when I come back as am taking Nandadevi on Tuesday which would arrive here around 5 am and there is no local conveyance available,” said Arun Gautam, a local businessman.

The problem of unavailability of public transport at the Harrawala railway station was shared by Tanvi and Prafful Kumar, too, who were travelling to Mussorrie for the weekend and were returning back on Sunday. “This place is the outskirts and passengers travelling in the night should be cautious,” said Prafful.

The shutting down of Dehradun railway station has affected the reservations of Shatabdi Express as most of passengers avoided catching the train from Harrawala and hence the train went almost empty from here. “Maximum reservations are done from Roorkee and Haridwar while earlier, the train used to run almost full from Dehradun itself. Awareness should be spread in this regards that people can take this train from Harrawala too,” said the TT of Shatabdi train who didn’t wish to be named.

To recall, Indian Railways, earlier this month has announced that train services to and from Dehradun railway station will be halted between November 10, 2019, and February 7, 2020, due to renovation work being undertaken at the city station.

Dhaka Metro Mass Rapid Transit System taking a shape

Dhaka Metro Mass Rapid Transit System is part of the Government’s urban development strategy to reduce traffic congestion. MRT Line-6 is the first line being developed under the project.Dhaka Metro MRT project includes a total of five lines.MRT Line-6 is a 20km elevated line.

DHAKA: The Dhaka Metro Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is a new metro rail system being developed by the Dhaka Mass Transit Company (DMTC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The public transport system will aid in the economic and social development of the greater Dhaka area, which is facing traffic congestion and pollution issues.

A total of five lines, MRT Lines 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6, have been proposed for the project. MRT Line-6 is the first line to be approved under the project and is estimated to cost $2.82bn.

Construction of the A trial operation of the route extending to Agargaon is expected to be conducted towards the end of 2019.

Feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments for the MRT Lines 1 and 5 have been completed.

Dhaka Metro development history

The Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) created a 20-year strategic transport plan (STP) in 2005 to transform and develop a more integrated transit system for the rapidly growing capital.

The Dhaka Metro MRT system was conceived subsequently to provide more transport options. The project is proposed to be combined with the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) projects.

The Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Survey (DHUTS 1) funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assessed Dhaka’s STP and selected the first MRT Line-6 from Uttara, a northern suburb to Motijheel, for development. The design work on the project was started in 2014.

Details of MRT Line-6

MRT Line-6 is a 20km-long line extending from Uttara in the north to Motijheel in the south. The line runs parallel to the Turag River in the west of Dhaka and curves as it moves south-east following the path of the Buriganga River.

The line will be a standard gauge track, including a total of 16 elevated stations crossing busy areas such as Pallabhi and Mirpur. The travel time from north to south Dhaka will be approximately 35 minutes.

Construction of the line has been divided into eight packages.

Rolling stock and infrastructure details for MRT Line-6

The MRT Line-6 will feature 24 six-car train sets made of lightweight and highly durable stainless-steel. The commuter cars will measure 19.8m long, 2.95m wide, and 4.1m high. The maximum speed of the train is expected to be 100km/h.

CCTV cameras will be deployed inside and outside of the commuter cars to ensure the safety of passengers. Additionally, each car will have two air-conditioning units to beat the high temperatures and humidity in Dhaka. Each car will have four doors on each side.

The line-6 infrastructure includes automatic fare collection systems, platform screen doors, staircases, elevators, and escalators. The length of each platform is expected to be approximately 180m.

Financing for MRT Line-6

JICA is providing approximately 75% or $2.13bn of the estimated investment of Line-6, while the Government of Bangladesh is funding the remaining 25%, which amounts to $690m. Other forms of grants for training and preparing studies are also being provided by JICA.

MRT Line-1 details

MRT Line-1 will be 30.6km long, including an 18.8km underground section and an 11.8km viaduct section that will cover 19 stations. The line comprises two routes, the Airport Line and the Purbachal Line.

The Airport line will connect the Kamalapur station with the Dhaka International Airport. It will include 12 stations, running through an underground tunnel starting from Kamalapur, Rampura DIT, and Pragati Sharani Road, crossing the Kuril flyover, and continuing under the New Airport Road to the airport. The expected travel time in the route is 24 minutes and 40 seconds.

The Airport Line will branch out to the Purbachal Line at the Notun Bazar station, which will include seven stations. It will include underground and elevated sections and run from Kamalapur to Purbachal New Town, the biggest planned township in the country. The expected travel time in the route is 36 minutes and ten seconds.

Dhaka Metro Line-5 details

The MRT Line 5 will have two routes, northern and southern. MRT Line-5 northern route will be 20km long, extending from Hemayetpur to Vatara. It will include a 13.5km underground stretch to cover high-density areas from Gabtoli to Notun Bazar.

The line will also include a 6.5km viaduct running between Hemayetpur and Amin Bazar and from Notun Bazar to Vatara. It will cover 14 stations, including Gabtoli, Dar-us-salam, Mirpur1, Mirpur10, Mirpur14, Kochunkhet, Banani, Gulshan2 and Notun Bazar.

The Line-5 will connect with MRT Line-6 at Mirpur and Line-1 at Notun Bazar. The expected travel time in the route is 30 minutes and 30 seconds.

The southern route of MRT Line-5 is proposed to be an underground route running from Gabtoli through Adabor, Mohammadpur, Kalabagan, Karwan Bazar, Hatirjheel, and South Badda to Aftab Nagar.

Contractors involved

A joint venture of Marubeni and L&T was awarded a contract valued $510m by DMTC to provide electrical and mechanical rail systems for the Line-6 in June 2018.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and Mitsubishi Corporation were awarded a $368m contract by DMTC in August 2017 for supplying rolling stock and maintenance equipment for MRT Line-6.

Pandrol, a rail infrastructure solutions provider, was sub-contracted by L&T to provide rail fastening solutions for MRT Line-6 in May 2019, while Himachal Futuristic Communications, a telecom infrastructure company based in India, was sub-contracted to implement telecommunication systems.

Sinohydro Corporation, an engineering and construction company based in China, and Italian-Thai Development Public Company, a construction company based in Thailand, were contracted to perform civil constructions for the MRT Line-6 in May 2017.

The preparatory study for the project was carried out by JICA, Almec Corporation, Oriental Consultants Global, and Nippon Koei. The environmental impact assessment was prepared by the NKDM Association comprising Nippon Koei, Katahira & Engineers International, Oriental Consultants, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (India), Nippon Koei India, Mott MacDonald, and Development Design Consultants.

Shah Cement, Sarens, Systra, and Amir Group are the other contractors involved in the project.

New proposal for 53km Whitefield-Kolar Railway Line

BENGALURU: The state government will send a revised proposal to the Ministry of Railways to complete land acquisition for the 53-km Whitefield-Kolar railway line.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, addressing a review meeting of railway projects in Karnataka with Union Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi, said that the revised proposal would address the problems caused by high land acquisition costs of the project.

The government would extend all support to complete the ongoing and pending railway projects at the earliest, he said, assuring quick land acquisition for these projects. The total area of non-forest land required for these projects is 12,780.97 acres, according to a release.

Private Operator to operate Bangalore Suburban Rail

The suburban rail project will have a 148-km network in the city with 57 stations.

BANGALORE: The suburban rail project may see trains being operated through a private party after the suggestion made it to the revised detailed project report. As per the plan, the suburban rail project will have a 148-km network in the city with 57 stations. Nearly 50 trains, each having six coaches, will be operated and each coach will have a capacity of 300 passengers.

Amit Garg, who heads Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprises (K-RIDE), a special purpose vehicle for the project, said: “Our consultant has suggested a public-private partnership (PPP) model for running the trains on the lines of the Delhi Metro. In many parts of the world, in projects involving huge infrastructure, governments provide civil infrastructure and the operations are done through a private party. As per the estimation done, the cost of procuring the trains is around ₹2,000 crore. A final decision on whether operations of trains will be done through a private player will happen after we complete the civil infrastructure.”

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has announced that it is is contemplating roping in private operators to run metro trains in phase II of the Namma Metro project, while Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has already taken a decision to lease electric buses through a private operator under FAME II scheme.

Mr. Garg said that as per the DPR, fares for travelling in trains under the suburban project are likely to be lesser than Namma Metro fares, but higher than BMTC.

In April, while asking the K-RIDE to revise the DPR, the Union government had suggested that the fare box revenue should be planned in a manner that it would meet operations and maintenance cost of the project, duly considering the fare prevalent in other modes of transport.

The Centre had also suggested to explore the PPP model in implementing the project and revise the DPR in such way that suburban rail alignment must not clash with Namma Metro alignments.

On Monday, the Bengaluru Division of South Western Railway (SWR) held a meeting with MPs and they asked the officials to expedite the pending project.

Mr. Garg said, “In August, the Karnataka government approved the revised DPR. In September, the Ministry of Railways approved it. Now, the DPR has to be approved by the Expanded Board of Railways (EBR) in which the NITI Aayog is the member. We expect the EBR to approve the project in a week or 10 days. Then it goes to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. It is a major investment decision. We are hoping we will get final approval by November .”

The entire project is estimated to cost ₹ 15,990 crore.

Patna Metro to make change in alignment of North-South corridor

PATNA: The Patna Metro Rail Corporation (PMRC) has directed Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to make some changes in the alignment of the North-South corridor of the Patna Metro rail project.

According to the detailed project report (DPR) prepared by RITES, the elevated track was proposed to build between PMCH to Patna Railway Junction. But due to some roadblocks in the section such as non-availability of land in Fraser Raod, high population density, presence of sensitive stations (Radio and Doordarshan Kendra), the PMRC directed DMRC to prepare revised DPR with the provision of underground metro stations. PMRC will take the final decision after the revised report submitted by DMRC.

After revision in the plan, the metro rail between Patna Junction to Gandhi Maidan will pass through the underground section. Due to dense population and two sharp turns near the radio station, the construction of this section of about two and a half kilometers will also be made underground.

Presently, the proposed 14.45 km long North-South Corridor from Patna Junction to New ISBT is planned to build elevated. The stations planned on this route are Patna Junction, Akashvani, Gandhi Maidan, PMCH, Patna University, Premchand Rangshala, Rajendra Nagar Stadium, Malahi Pakri, Khemnichak, Bhootnath Road, Zero Mile, New ISBT.

Terminal station to be built near Rajendra Nagar Stadium plans to be ready by 2022. Meanwhile, the location of the proposed station at Rajendra Nagar Terminal on the same corridor will also be changed. PMRC has proposed to make this station near Rajendra Nagar Stadium. This corridor of the metro will go from Malahi Pakri to Khemnichak and Bhoothnath Road, Zero Mile to New ISBT. The route has been changed as Kumharrar has an ASI site.

The PMRC has identified the section between Rajendra Nagar Terminal to ISBT as a priority corridor. This section will be elevated, for which there will be no land acquisition. The construction of this section is planned to be completed by 2022. The DMRC has started soil testing for this section, which will complete in three months.

Bangladesh bulldozes Rail line through Chittagong Forests

Thousands to be displaced displaced, ecology ruined in a plan is to extend the line to Myanmar.  Currently, the rail line in Bangladesh’s eastern region ends here– a small town called Dohazari, some 46 kilometer south-east from the port city of Chittagong.

DHAKA: As part of the Trans-Asia Railway Network to boost regional trade, the Asian Development Bank is building a railway corridor through the last remaining tropical hills forest and wildlife sanctuaries along the Bay of Bengal coast in Bangladesh. The railway will eventually extend to Myanmar and establish rail-freight connectivity among India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China. One of the future loops will extend to a planned deep-sea port off Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar coast.

The bank itself categorized the 1.8 billion USD mega-construction project in ecologically critical areas of Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar region as having the most severe impact on people and the environment. As per ADB’s environmental impact categorisation, the project had an “A” listing in the severity of impact in both the environmental and involuntary resettlement categories. This means that the project will have severe and irreversible impacts. The region is already heavily deforested due to the expansion of industries, power plants, other mega-infrastructure projects, and lately sheltering Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

Independent experts and activists say that Asian Development Bank is taking advantage of Bangladesh’s weakening democracy to circumvent due process. However, former senior forest department officials are hopeful that if the ADB and Bangladesh Railway heed the advice of the experts and allocate more resources for mitigation and restoration, damages to the ecosystems and biodiversity can still be minimised.

Many conservationists, researchers, and officials declined to comment on the project on the record, a pattern familiar in recent years in Bangladesh. Only those senior enough not to fear retaliation were willing to speak. “Global organisations are taking advantage of the absence of democracy and the culture of suppressing critical opinion in Bangladesh. The Asian Development Bank is no exception,” said noted attorney and environmentalist Syeda Rizwana Hasan.

She said that several ADB funded projects have been stalled in Bangladesh in recent years because of lack of participation by local communities and in many cases, people actively opposed such projects. This project had been in the pipeline for many years before the financier started moving quickly in 2013. “Everything is done very quietly and the Bank is talking only with the Bangladesh Railway and related authorities,” said Hasan.

Threatening aquatic ecosystems

The existing railway network in Bangladesh ends at the country’s east end in Dohazari – a small town on the bank of the Sangu River, 46 km south of the port city of Chittagong. Now a further 102 km from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar is under construction. The plan is to then take it further to the sleepy border post Gundum on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Authorities expect to complete the stretch between Dohazari and Cox’s Bazar within the next three years. Walking along the tracks being laid, one could see big bridges over rivers like the Sangu under construction, and many smaller streams filled with earth. Many streams are now allowed to barely run through pipes much narrower than their original courses. Hillsides are being cut and culverts are being built.

The project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) report states that the railway will have to cross rivers, streams or inlets of the sea at 177 places. These include three large rivers – Sangu, Matamuhuri, and Bakkhali.

Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmed, a former Chief Conservator of Forests and earlier the representative of Bangladesh to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said that every stream in the hill forest region is home to a highly biodiverse ecosystem. “This whole area is either protected forests or wildlife sanctuaries. It is safe to assume that such construction of structures will do serious damage to both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. There should be a large-scale biological survey before taking up such mega-construction projects.”

Yunus Ali, another recently retired Chief Conservator of Forests, pointed out that these streams are the main sources of water for drinking, domestic use and irrigation for local communities. “Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong regions have the highest dependency on surface water irrigation,” said Ali.

“Not only the wildlife, but life and livelihoods of millions of people are intertwined with these streams and waterfalls,” stressed Pavel Partha, an ecologist and coordinator of an indigenous research and conservation group – Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge. “If the aquatic ecosystem here becomes endangered, life will be very difficult. We don’t have the ability or capacity to mitigate damages to these delicate streams and water sources in the hills.”

Cutting through elephant corridors

Parallel to the national highway connecting the eastern regions, the rail line passes through three protected areas – the Chunati Wildlife Sanctuary, the Fasiakhali Wildlife Sanctuary and the Medhakatchapia National Park. “The major portion of evergreen and semi-evergreen tropical forests of Bangladesh is located in this region where dominant species are dipterocarps and associated flora and fauna; there are many unique wildlife species here,” said Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmed.

According to him not only the under-construction railway, but the larger coastal development schemes in the Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar region will pose a huge threat to forests if business goes on as usual. “You have a lot of activities going on here that are directly related to regional connectivity for trade. A large number of coal-based power plants, LPG terminals and ports; a lot of disturbance is going on in this sensitive ecosystem.”

Most important, in terms of wildlife, said Ali, “This is the last remaining habitat of Asian elephants in our country. We have just a handful of them.” The EIA done by Bangladesh Railway determines that the rail line will cross five active elephant travel routes and six seasonal routes.” Ali thinks the railway is not doing enough to protect the elephants. He said that in addition to cutting through specific migratory routes, the whole rail line and associated infrastructure are encroaching upon the dwindling habitats of Asian elephants.

“This is the feeding and foraging area of wild elephants, and god forbid there will be sad accidents, big mishaps when elephants will be run over by trains,” he said. There have been such elephant deaths within ostensibly protected forests in neighbouring India.

The least the railway authorities can do to protect the migratory corridors of elephants is to “either elevate the railway or go underground while crossing protected areas and sanctuaries,” Ali said. During his stint as chief conservation of forests when the project was planned and evaluated, he had suggested that the rail line should go underground in protected areas and elephant corridors.

The EIA report by Bangladesh Railway has recommended building “possibly up to five elephant crossing structures”, namely “overpasses”, at the “active elephant crossing points”. Its EIA report says USD 3 million has been allocated to build each overpass.

Ahmed pointed out that wild elephants do not confine themselves in legally protected areas. Elephants in this region are already in crisis due to the loss of habitat and lack of food due to deforestation. “Deforestation is no longer limited to economic expansion; due to the recent surge of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, the deforestation crisis is turning more severe and both the people and elephants are already suffering from conflict,” he said. “Whatever is needed, elevating the railway and letting the elephants pass through normally or taking the rail line underground, should be done. But at least the natural state of migratory corridors of the wild elephants should not be altered.”

Railroading consent

Asian Development Bank acknowledges the overall ecological risks, as its own report shows. The same goes for Bangladesh Railway. Still, the project goes on.

Local researchers allege that the mandatory consultation process during the preparation of the EIA report was inadequate. Only a handful of people were hurriedly invited, most of them government officials or leaders of the country’s ruling party, they say. No environmental group was represented in any of the six public consultation meetings. The EIA report shows that no forest department official attended the meetings. The report lists only one local resident as having attended any of the meetings.

Displacing people

The railway will displace over 2,000 families, more than half of them categorised as vulnerable. Local NGOs fear that many families will not receive any compensation because they do not have legal titles to the land they till for their livelihoods. Many families have lived for generations on the outskirts of protected forests following customary land rights that may not be legally acknowledged.

“Local people were informed one day ahead of the consultation through the local body representative, UNO and local newspaper,” said the Bangladesh Railway in its EIA report. Observers allege that such EIAs, consultations and mitigation plans are not enough, and in this case is a “farce”.

Pavel Partha said, “The Asian Development Bank has the finest guidelines accepted by many in the world. Especially their guidelines about Environmental Impact Assessment are taken very seriously and widely used by many. But there are serious questions here about the process of doing assessments, about how they are collecting data from the field and how their guidelines are being implemented.”

Ignoring UN principles

Partha added that the region is home to many indigenous people who were not consulted before the construction, thus violating UN principles of free prior and informed consent by indigenous communities to any such projects. “We have important farmlands, water streams, waterfalls, rivers, and rich hill forest here. Why do we need such a mega-construction project in such a highly bio-diverse and ecologically sensitive region?” he asked. Partha thinks that neither the ADB nor the Bangladesh Railway is prepared to mitigate the damages that will be done here.

The project has allocated just over USD 1.5 million for planting trees.

Restoration demanded

Syeda Rizwana Hasan said that a railway is not an indicator of development. “If that was the case, the British already made us so-called developed, they set up extensive rail lines long ago. You can’t sustain development by destroying the ecological balance.” The Asian Development Bank and Bangladesh Railway should have conducted nationwide consultations before finalising such a project, she said.

Hasan said that the kind of mitigation measures recommended by ADB and Bangladesh Railway are just “greenwashing” attempts. They will not be enough to offset the actual harm to the ecosystems or to the people forcibly removed from their land. “As democratic spaces are shrinking in Bangladesh, scope for expressing a dissenting opinion is shrinking. As a result, opportunities for agencies like Asian Development Bank to greenwash is increasing.”

Some former forest department officials are demanding the allocation of more resources to mitigate ecological damages and restore forest and aquatic ecosystems already lost due to the railway construction project.

Bangladesh should not accept any investment that is “ecologically reckless”, said Ali. “We, of course, should welcome foreign investments and loans. But if you look into such practices in many other countries, they have a lower growth rate than us, but they don’t accept such reckless investment.”

He said the impacts will not be reversible in most cases. “If you destroy a hill, and expect to retain same old ecosystem services, that’s very impractical.”

Ahmed said, “Asian Development Bank is a big agency, they work in a coordinated way with other multinational donor agencies. So, I think they can encourage other donor agencies to take up ecological restoration in this region. If habitat restoration goes hand in hand with railway construction, then hopefully it will be possible to strike a balance.”

Meeting on DPR for Kathmandu-Kyirong Railway Line to be held in December

An MOU to construct the project has already been inked between the two countries, so the major agenda of the meeting will be the DPR.

KHATMANDU: A team comprising of senior Chinese government officials will be arriving in the capital in December to hold discussions on the detailed project report (DPR) of the much-hyped 75-kilometre-long Trans Himalayan Kathmandu-Kyirong railway with Nepali government officials.

As per Balaram Mishra, director general of the Department of Railways (DoRW), secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and vice-chairman of National Railways Administration of China will be leading the respective delegations in the meeting.

Mishra informed that the meeting will particularly focus on preparing the DPR of the project. “A memorandum of understanding to construct the project has already been inked between the two countries, so the major agenda of the meeting will be the DPR.”

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Nepal earlier this month, both the governments had inked the MoU on Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network with the view of contributing to Nepal’s development, including cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to enhance connectivity.

An agreement had also been signed on June 21 last year to conduct the feasibility study of the Kathmandu-Kyirong cross-border railway.

In June, the fourth meeting of the Joint Steering Committee was held in Beijing.

During President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s state visit to China in the last week of April to attend the second Belt and Road Forum, the Chinese government listed the cross-border Trans Himalayan railway among the projects to be built under the BRI.

“We are preparing our agendas for the meeting and the December meeting will pave the way to conduct the DPR and other necessary studies of the project,” said Mishra.

In the previous meeting, both the governments had agreed to simultaneously accelerate works on the detailed feasibility study (DFS) and DPR of the railway project.

China had conducted a pre-feasibility study at its own cost and submitted the report to Nepal in August last year. The study had concluded that the project was feasible and would cost around Rs 257 billion.

DGCA gives Nod for Aerial LiDAR Survey of Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi High Speed Rail Project

NEW DELHI/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd (KRDCL) has received the clearance of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the conduct of the aerial survey of the proposed Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Semi High-Speed Rail (SHSR) line.

The Ministry of Defence had already given its go-ahead for the survey by deploying helicopters, based on strict standard stipulations such as skipping photography of specified strategically significant sites and installations.

The survey marks the prelude to deciding the alignment of the ambitious project Silver Line, to be executed by KRDCL a joint venture of the State Government and the Ministry of Railways.

The exact alignment of the Silver Line will be finalised based on the Aerial survey and the boundaries for the line on both sides will be determined only with the approval of the State Government. The process of land acquisition for the greenfield project will start only after that.

The Defence Ministry’s clearance is mandatory for the survey as certain strategically significant sites fall within the ambit of the area to be covered, said Mr Ajith Kumar.

KRDCL has chosen the Hyderabad-based Geokno India Private Ltd to carry out the survey through the bidding process. It will be completed within a week after getting off the ground. GeoKno had conducted similar surveys for Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Rail Line.

The survey will yield a wide range of three-dimension images and data of the ground it covers such as Digital Elevation Model, Digital Terrain Model, Digital Surface Model, L-sections and Contour, Topographical Mapping, volumetric calculation of the river cross sections, quantity calculation of the earth works etc. These are required for the engineering design of the line.

As part of the work, helicopters installed with laser scanners and sensors will have to land at different sites across the state, for which permission will be sought from the district collectors concerned.

The work of marking the ground-points and central points for the survey has already been completed. The ground-points are being marked at a distance of every 25 km and with as much width.

The State Cabinet has given green signal for SHSR after thoroughly considering the feasibility study that has fully taken into account every minute aspect of the project including the passenger potential and financial viability.

This study, which has found that the social, economic and environmental benefits to be derived from the project are substantial, is under consideration of the Ministry of Railways. After further studies, the Detailed Project Report of the project will be drawn up.

Seen as a game-changer in Kerala’s infrastructure and economic development, SHSR is to be implemented with minimum possible land acquisition. Besides drastically cutting short the travel time, SHSR will go a long way in reducing atmospheric pollution caused by road traffic besides bringing down road mishaps.

Trains on the track, which cuts through 11 districts, will run at a speed of 200 km per hour, covering the distance between the state capital and up north Kasaragod by four hours.

Thailand and a consortium sign deal for US$7.4b Rail project

BANGKOK: Thailand’s government and a consortium led by Charoen Pokphand Group signed a contract for one of the nation’s biggest-ever rail projects.

The two sides signed a 225 billion-baht (US$7.4 billion) public-private partnership deal on Thursday to build high-speed rail links between three international airports.

Earlier this year, Thailand awarded the project to the consortium put together by CP Group, which is controlled by the billionaire Chearavanont family. But talks dragged on over the final contract, prompting the administration to set a deadline of Oct 25.

Construction will start in 12 to 24 months and be completed within five years, CP Group Chairman Suphachai Chearavanont said after the deal was inked in Bangkok.

The project will:

  • Involve a rail network spanning 220 kilometers (137 miles)
  • Have trains running at a maximum 250 kilometers per hour
  • Connect the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in Bangkok and the U-Tapao airport in Rayong province.

Supachai also said a complex including a train station, mall, hotel, convention center and rail research center will be developed in downtown Bangkok at a cost of about 140 billion baht.

Kanit Sangsubhan, one of the government officials who helps to oversee the rail project, said it could in time be listed on the stock market.

In November last year, CP Group said the rail consortium contained 12 other members:

  • China Railway Construction Corp
  • Bangkok Expressway & Metro Pcl
  • Italian-Thai Development Pcl
  • CH. Karnchang Pcl
  • Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corp for Transport & Urban Development
  • CITIC Group
  • China Resources (Holdings) Co
  • Siemens AG
  • Hyundai
  • Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA
  • CRRC-Sifang
  • Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

The rail network is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor initiative, a 1.7 trillion-baht plan to build infrastructure and develop advanced industries along the country’s eastern coast.

Malaysian Railways Mentakab-Port Klang Rail alignment finalised

PORT KLANG: Alignment for the proposed 640km East Coast Rail Link’s (ECRL) section C, which links Mentakab in Pahang to Port Klang in Selangor, has been finalised.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said he will approve the alignment in the next few days.

“The proposal for final alignment has been finalised. It will come to my desk, in fact, I think it’s already there, and I will sign it in the next few days,” Loke told reporters here today after launching the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) Masterplan.

“PKFZ will continue to be given attention by the government and that is why alignment of the ECRL must be connected to Port Klang,” he said.

Loke said that after he approves the alignment, the proposal will go through a public display for three months before construction begins.

“The proposal will go through public display for the next few months and the new ECRL alignment will change the landscape of Port Klang and PKFZ,” he said.

According to ECRL project and asset owner Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd’s website, the 640km ECRL will link Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang to Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Putrajaya to spur growth of the corridor along the alignment.

“The passenger trains will travel at 160km/h, cutting travel time from Kota Bharu to Putrajaya (to) approximately 4 hours, allowing for a more comfortable yet convenient travelling experience between the east and west coasts. The ECRL project is expected to be completed by end of 2026,” Malaysia Rail Link said.

Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port to be connected to the national Railway network

The rail terminal capacity at Khalifa Port is expected to be the largest of its kind within the UAE.

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port will soon be connected to the UAE’s national railway network under a new agreement signed between Etihad Rail and Abu Dhabi Ports.

The rail terminal capacity at Khalifa Port is expected to be the largest of its kind within the UAE, accommodating 2.4 million containers yearly.

The agreement will help facilitate the transport of containers and various types of goods in a “safe, efficient environment-friendly way”, a statement said.

It is part of efforts to support the diversification of the UAE economy by strengthening the transport infrastructure, the statement added.

Etihad Rail chairman Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed Al Nahyan said: “The Etihad Rail facility at Khalifa Port will enhance the efficiency of its infrastructure as well as the ability to increase its capacity in a more economical and reliable way.

“One train will have the ability to carry the load of 300 trucks. That is why it will be capable of providing competitive services and will create opportunities for businesses to gain an edge in key markets.”

He added: “With more than half of the cargo going to and from the GCC entering and exiting through UAE ports, the link will significantly enhance the capacity of the port and strengthen the UAE’s position as a leading global logistics and commercial hub.”

Etihad Rail recently revealed a new strategy as part of which it signed a series of land lease agreements throughout the UAE to secure the rail network’s transport corridors in all the emirates.

The rail operator also received financing approval for stage two of the UAE’s national rail network, with a five-year contract awarded to PMC & Engineering Contracts.

The 605 km phase will stretch from Ghuweifat on the Saudi border in the west to the UAE’s Port of Fujairah on the east coast through Khalifa Port, Jebel Ali and Khor Fakkan, to be followed by further route additions.

Stage one of the project, which extends 264 km, became operational in 2016, linking the Shah and Habshan gas fields in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi to the port of Ruwais on the Arabian Gulf, with the capacity of transferring 22,000 tons of sulfur granules daily.

DFCCIL inks MOU with CRWC for upgrading/creating Multi-Modal Logistics Parks and Integrated Warehousing Complexes

Seen in the Picture are Shri Anurag Sachan, MD/DFCCIL and Narinder Kumar Grover, MD/CRWC along with other senior officers from both the organisations during the MOU signing.

NEW DELHI: Having begun trial runs on the part of Eastern DFC, DFCCIL is gearing itself for creation of upgradation of terminal facilities along its route which is to be commissioned in totality by December 2021. In this regard, an MoU was signed between DFCCIL and CRWC (Central Railside Warehouse Company Ltd) for utilizing the services of the latter for upgrading and creating Multi-Modal Logistics Parks and Integrated Warehousing Complexes along or near DFCCIL rail network.

CRWC is already operating 19 rail side warehouse complexes across the country with a capacity of 3.5 lakh tonnes. This synergy between DFCCIL and CRWC is expected to give a boost to traffic to be carried over through DFCCIL by making the transport over DFCCIL complete and integrated with warehousing, and last-mile connectivity being provided in a seamless manner. This is bound to reduce logistics costs and thereby attract more traffic from other modes.

CRWC, a PSU under the Ministry of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution is facilitating faster unloading/loading of cargo and turn around of rolling stock beside safe storage of cargo.

The MoU was signed on 21/10/2019 by Shri Anurag Kumar Sachan, Managing Director, DFCCIL and Shri Narinder Kumar Grover, Managing Director, CRWC when Shri Arun Kumar Shrivastava, Managing Director, Central Warehousing Corporation was also present.

44km Kharsia-Korichapar Rail Line paves the way for better Coal evacuation

SECL – a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL) eyes better coal evacuation with new 44-km-long new railway line in from Kharsia to Korichapar under the Bilaspur Division of SECR. Chattisgarh East Railway, an SPV floated by SECL completed Kharsia, Korichapar, Dharamjaygarh and Korba lines enabling coal evacuation from two large coalfields at Mand-Raigarh and Korba.

RAIPUR: Coal evacuation from two large coalfields — Mand-Raigarh and Korba — which fall under CIL’s largest coal producing subsidiary, SECL, will help push up coal supplies to the power stations of Maharashtra and Gujarat, said a press statement issued by CIL.

SECL is expected to play a lead role in CIL’s 1 billion tonne coal production target by 2025-26 with a contribution of around 26 per cent at 262 million tonnes.

Chattisgarh East Railway Ltd (CERL), a Special Purpose Vehicle of SECL, the Chattisgarh government and IRCON International Ltd, is developing the 136 km East Rail Corridor at an estimated investment of 3,055 crore. The rail line will connect Kharsia – Korichapar – Dharamjaygarh – Korba.

While SECL holds a 64 per cent stake in the SPV, the Chattisgarh government and IRCON hold 10 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.

“SECL has started loading two rakes of coal per day from Bijari, Baroud and Jampalimines of Mand-Raigarph, which will increase further to five-to-six rakes per day, pushing up coal supplies to power stations in Maharashtra and Gujarat,” the press release said.

The addition of more loading points in the line will take loading to higher levels, the release added.

Evacuation outlet

With Kharsia-Korichaparline opening up, the Mand-Raigarh coalfield of SECL, which is endowed with vast resources, will have an evacuation outlet for the transportation of coal.

The availability of transportation facility further unlocks the production potential of these coalfields for supply of coal to power houses, the release said.

SECL has started loading two rakes of coal per day from Bijari, Baroud and Jampali mines of Mand-Raigarh which will increase further five to six rakes per day pushing up coal supplies to power stations in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Plans include adding more loading points on the track to increase loading quantities.

With Kharsia-Korichapar line opening up, Mand-Raigarh coalfields, endowed with large coal resources will have an evacuation outlet.

Availability of transport facility further unlocks the production potential of these coalfields. “As the work progresses and infrastructure is developed we shall start loading more coal” said the stated official.

SECL is expected to play a lead role in Coal India’s one billion tonne coal production aspiration by 2025-26 with a contribution of around 26% at 262 Million Tonnes. The next leg of the 30 Km line between Korichapar and Dharamjaygarh is likely to come up by the middle of 2020. Later, with Dharamjaygarh finally getting connected to Korba – a stretch of 62 kilometres – CERL will see its conclusion of 136 Km rail line.

All the three important rail lines that Coal India has been persistently pursuing have now materialized. These are Jharsuguda-Sardega under MCL in Odisha, Tori-Shivpur under CCL in Jharkhand and Kharsia-Korichapar under SECL in Chattisgarh. These are coalfields that have large coal reserves and production potential which will contribute to higher coal production of CIL in future.

Adani awards Rail contract to support Carmichael project

The project is slated to produce 8-10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year!

MELBOURNE: Adani Enterprises has awarded a contract to an Australian rail company as the conglomerate steps up infrastructure spending to support its new thermal coal mine in Queensland state.

The A$100 million ($68.30 million) contract was awarded to privately held Martinus Rail, based in the regional city of Rockhampton, Adani said in a statement on Friday.

Adani Mining Chief Executive Lucas Dow said more than A$450 million worth of contracts had already been awarded on the Carmichael Project, the majority to regional Queensland areas.

“Construction on the Carmichael mine and rail project is well and truly underway on site, and our big contracts are now also lined up as we ramp up activity,” he said.

The Carmichael mine has been a lightning rod for climate change concerns in Australia and was seen as a factor in the surprise return to power of the conservative Liberal/National coalition in a national election in May because of the jobs it promised.

First acquired by Adani in 2010, the project is slated to produce 8 million-10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year initially and cost up to $1.5 billion.

Konkan Railway route to get 10 more Stations by March 2020

MUMBAI: Konkan Railway Corporation (KRCL), which celebrated its 29th Foundation Day on October 15, said in a statement that work on the construction of 10 new stations ― Indapur, Goregoan Road, Sape Wamane, Kalbani, Kadwai, Verawali, Kharepatan, Achirne, Mirjan and Innanje ― and eight loop lines is in progress and is likely to be completed by March 2020.

Apart from this, five additional loop lines at Anjani, Sawarda, Rajapur Road, Vaibhavwadi Road and Murdeshwar stations have already been commissioned.

It said that the electrification of the entire Konkan Railway route will be completed by March 2021. This project is estimated to cost around 1,100 crore.

Work on the doubling of the 46-km stretch between Roha and Veer section is in progress and will be completed by March 2020.

During 2018-19, Konkan Railway achieved a net profit of 102 crore. The turnover of the company was 2,898 crore during 2018-19. This included the project turnover of 1,561 crore, and operating turnover of 1,264 crore.

It said that Konkan Railway has bagged the contract for conducting engineering survey of the proposed railway line between Raxaul in Bihar and Kathmandu in Nepal. The survey has been completed and submitted to Nepal through the Union External Affairs Ministry.

KRCL said that work is in progress for the 53.6-km stretch of Udampur Srinagar Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project. Excavation work for the 10.26-km tunnel has been completed.  Work on the bridges over Anji and Chenab rivers is in progress.

Apart from this, KRCL has constructed an 11-km new railway line at NTPC Gadarwara project. This railway line includes a 366-metre-long bridge on Shakkar river, it said.

India’s Act East policy hit by poor Train connectivity in the Northeast

NEW DELHI: Act East’ & ‘Act Fast’ are not merely a branding (phrase) but something in which India believes in,” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted on September 16, to emphasise India’s growing engagement with its neighbours.

Though India remains committed to expanding relations with its neighbours on trade, tourism and diplomacy as part of the Act East policy, a lot remains to be desired in developing rail links. Among the six neighbouring countries with which India has land connectivity — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, China and Pakistan — the only one with which it has a passenger train connection is Bangladesh.

Train services to Pakistan were halted in February due to worsening political developments. Freight train services exist with Nepal. With Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar, at least 15 projects have been going on for about eight years. They are now at various levels of progress. Some others have not seen forward movement at all.

As India strives to emerge as a strong regional power and to counter China’s rising dominance in the region, the need for railway links with its neighbours can hardly be overemphasised. Lets take a look at the work in progress on railway links with neighbours and the reasons for the delay:

INDIA-NEPAL Himalayan Task: Land Acquisition

About 110 freight trains run from Raxaul in Bihar to Birgunj in Nepal every month. But no passenger train is operational on the 10 km route. A 200 km passenger train link from Raxaul to Kathmandu was proposed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal in May 2019. A Railway Ministry official involved with the project says: “Four alternatives with various lengths and costs have been shared with the government of Nepal in May. We are yet to hear from them. Even if we finance the project, land is a sentimental issue in Nepal. So land acquisition is extremely slow.”

This project is aimed at countering China’s plan plans to build a strategic railway network with our neighbour in an effort to reduce Nepal’s dependence on India. In October, China signed a deal with Nepal to construct a rail link from Lhasa till Kathmandu — seen as Beijing’s move to curtail Kathmandu’s trade dependence on Delhi.

India has it task cut out, especially as China has convinced Nepal to adopt their gauge standard and is spending billions on its massive Belt and Road Initiative.

Work on a 34 km Jaynagar (Bihar)-Kurtha (Nepal) passenger line was completed in 2018. But operations are yet to begin. The MEA is bearing the cost for both the projects.

Among the nine rail projects proposed with Nepal, only Jogbani (Bihar)-Biratnagar and Jaynagar (Bihar)-Barbidas are under execution. Both are expected to be completed by 2020. The Indian Railways says the neighbouring country has not cooperated well. “Actual work starts only when a survey is done and routes are finalised,” adds a Railway Board official. Nepal is yet to acquire land and respond to the other project proposals.

Railway Ministry sources say connectivity with China is cheaper for Nepal. “Every time we make an offer for passenger rail connectivity, China make a counteroffer. So Nepal gets bargaining power. Also, judicial activism is taking shape in a big way there. For example, land could not be acquired for a section of the Biratnagar track due to an appeal in their Supreme Court for higher compensation. But the Indian government is reviewing these projects at the highest level; the PM himself is reviewing them every three months,” adds the railway official.

LINE & LENGTH
Rail connectivity with Nepal now: Freight trains ply on Raxaul-Birgunj route but there are no passenger trains yet

Under Execution

JOGBANI-BIRATNAGAR Length: 18.6 km new line Estimated cost: Rs 374 cr JAYNAGAR-BARDIBAS Length: 51.5 km guage conversion; 16.5 km new line Estimated cost: Rs 786 cr.

BABAGANJ-NEPALGANJ Length: 12 km new line Estimated cost: Rs 650 cr NAUTANWA-BHAIRAWA Length: 25.1 km new line Estimated cost: Rs 599 cr NEW JALPAIGURIKAKARBHITTA Length: 30 km gauge conversion; 15.8 km new line Estimated cost: Rs 627 cr

RAXAUL-KATHMANDU Length: 200 km new line BARHNI-KATHMANDU Length: 359 km new line KUSHINAGAR-KAPILVASTU Length: 160 km new line.

INDIA-BHUTAN Viable Offer, Vague Reply

There is no rail connectivity to the Himalayan nation. The five feasible rail routes with Bhutan are a 57 km line from Kokhrajhar (Assam) to Gelephu, a 51.15 km line from Pathsala (Assam) to Nanglam, a 48 km line from Rangiya (Assam) to Samdrup Jongkhar, a 23 km line between West Bengal’s Banarhat to Samtse and a 17.52 km line between Hasimara in West Bengal to Phuentsholing.

“Feasibility studies were carried out at five locations and the report submitted to the MEA around a year ago. Bhutan is yet to respond,” a railway official says. “Bhutan does not want to take a loan for the project. Naturally, no progress has yet been made.” To expedite the projects, the MEA has agreed to bear the cost for the neighbour’s stretch also. “Still many of the projects are languishing due to non-cooperation from Bhutan and possible interference from China,” adds an official involved in the project.

LINE & LENGTH

INDIA-BHUTAN

Rail connectivity with Bhutan now: None

Planning stage

HASIMARAPHUENTSHOLING Length: 18 km RANGIA-SAMDRUP JONGKHAR Length: 48 km Estimated cost: Rs 901 cr

KOKRAJHAR–GELEPHU Length: 58 km Estimated cost: Rs 554 cr

BANARHAT-SAMTSE Length: 23 km Estimated cost: Rs 423 cr

PATHHALA-NANGLAM Length: 51 km Estimated cost: Rs 1,015 cr

INDIA-BANGLADESH Friendly Nations, Unfriendly Terrain

The Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express, launched in 2008, runs four days a week, while the Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express, launched in 2017, runs once a week. The average daily ridership for Maitree is 411 passengers from Dhaka and 396 from Kolkata as of August 2019, according to the Railway Ministry. The ridership for Bandhan is only 74 from Kolkata and 197 from Khulna.

On the freight side, the average traffic to Bangladesh is 55,645 tonnes a month, says the ministry. “With friendly diplomatic relations with Bangladesh, we have been able to make much headway,” says a railway ministry official involved in the project. But this only the Indian side of the story.

A 15 km (6 km on Indian side) link connecting Akhaura in Bangladesh with Agartala was conceived in 2010 and expected to be finished in three years. A line is already operational from Akhaura to Kolkata.

“The Akhaura-Agartala line is arguably the slowest among all the projects with our neighbours,” says another railway official. As of date, 30% of earthwork, which involves creating a foundation for tracks, has been completed on the Indian side. Bangladesh is yet to start work. “The main problems in Bangladesh is the difficult terrain and heavy rains. Besides, Bangladesh does not keep pace with us even as the entire cost of `887 crore is being borne by the MEA,” says a Railway Board official.

The MEA says work is under progress. “Work started only in 2017 due to changes in design and routes. All impediments are being worked out. This project is strategically important and is being monitored at the highest level. It should be completed by 2020,” says Hitesh J Rajpal, director-Bangladesh division, MEA.

The track will open a trade route to Chittagong port from Tripura, he adds. “It will help reduce the transit time dramatically between Kolkata and Agartala as we can avoid Chicken’s Neck to reach Bangladesh.” The line is expected to cut the Agartala-Kolkata distance to 350 km from 1,700 km.

On the positive side, the 112 km Agartala-Sabroom (south Tripura) broad gauge line — commissioned in 2008-09 for `3,407 crore — has been completed. So is the survey for a line connecting Haldibari in West Bengal to Chilahati, sanctioned in 2016-17 with an estimated cost of `69 crore. “Any rail project is a function of political relationship. With Bangladesh, we are also working to restore all pre-1965 rail links damaged during the war with Pakistan,” says V Doraiswami , joint secretary (Bangladesh-Myammar & Indo-Pacific), MEA.

Rail connectivity with Bangladesh now:

.. Gede-Darshana.. Singhabad-Rohanpur.. Petrapole-Benapole.. Radhikapur-Birol.. Kolkata-Dhaka.. Kolkata-Khulna.

Under execution AGARTALA-AKHAURA Estimated cost: Rs 569 cr (India); Rs318 cr (Bangladesh)

HALDIBARI-CHILAHATI Length: 3 km Estimated cost: Rs 69 cr AGARTALA-SABROOM Length: 112 km Estimated cost: Rs 3,407 crore

INDIA-MYANMAR Great Wall of China in the Way

There is no rail link between India and Myanmar. All roads and routes to Myanmar pass through China — that is the saying in Naypyitaw owing to the nations’ longstanding ties with Beijing, says a Railway Board official. “Chinese influence is the greatest inhibiting factor.” Naturally, India has not been able to make much progress.

Rail connectivity exists till Jiribam in Manipur. The 125 km Jiribam-Imphal broad gauge project was sanctioned in 2003-04. Even though the project will be on the Indian side, an engineer involved in the project says: “It will strengthen trade relations among Asean countries, help in military operations and also promote tourism.”

About two-thirds work has been completed for the Rs 13,809 crore project started in 2003-04. A railway official says: “The link that will have 52 tunnels, 149 bridges, the world’s tallest girder railway bridge and India’s longest tunnel.” Two other projects — Imphal to Moreh and Moreh to Tamu-Kalay — are at the proposal stage. “Our work is not showing results because of lack of interest from their side.”

Other common hurdles are gauge conversion, land acquisition, difficult terrain and heavy monsoons. Despite several challenges, there is something India can emulate from China — which in 2017 started a 12,000 km freight train service from Yiwu to London, covering seven countries and establishing a “modern-day Silk Road”. “We must accept that we are late starters.

China’s infrastructure and manufacturing capacity is much higher than ours,” adds the railway official. “We must also invest heavily in these sectors.”

LINE & LENGTH INDIA-MYANMAR

Rail connectivity with Myanmar now: None Under execution or planning stage JIRIBAM-IMPHAL (within India)

Length: 125 km Estimated cost: Rs 9,658 cr IMPHAL-MOREH (within India) Length: 111.2 km Estimated cost: Rs 5,428 cr MOREH-TAMU-KALAY Length: 128 km

The Imphal-Moreh and Moreh-Tamu-Kalay lines are in the proposal stage.

IRCTC’s first Private Train violates Railway Tariff law!

The train service flagged off between Lucknow-Delhi-Lucknow route charges a higher fare than the existing Shatabdi Express and other trains on the same route.

NEW DELHI: The country’s first private train has contravened the Railways Act, 1989, since the Central government is the competent authority to decide on tariff and not the IRCTC, say top railway officials.

The much-publicised train service flagged off on the Lucknow-Delhi-Lucknow corridor on October 4 charges a higher fare than the existing Shatabdi Express and other trains on the same route.

The issue is being closely watched in the context of the move to run 150 more trains in private mode.

The Indian Railways had entrusted IRCTC, its commercial tourism and catering arm, with the task of operating two premium trains using the fully air-conditioned rakes of the semi-high speed Tejas Express. The second private train will soon be run on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Mumbai sector.

While the first corporate-run train has received good feedback from passengers. who compared its amenities and on-board service favourably with global standards, senior railway officials say the tariff fixed is apparently in violation of the Railways Act. The fares are higher and there is hardly any change in the running time.

The Delhi-Lucknow Private Train No 82502, IRCTC Tejas Express takes 6 hours and 30 minutes to cover the 511 km distance with stops at Ghaziabad (two minutes) and Kanpur Central (five minutes). The train charges Rs 2,450 for AC Executive Class and Rs 1,565 for the AC Chair Car including GST and catering.

On the other hand, Train No 12004 Delhi-Lucknow Shatabdi Express takes 6 hours 35 minutes to cover the same distance but with five stops – Ghaziabad, Aligarh, Tundla, Etawah (two minutes each) and Kanpur Central (five minutes). This train charges Rs.1855 for AC Executive Class and Rs 1,165 for the AC Chair Car including GST, Super Fast and reservation charges. The tariff for AC Chair Car for the Suhaildev Super Fast Express and Garib Rath Express on the same sector is Rs 645 and Rs 480 respectively.

Railway officials say the IRCTC is not empowered to fix the tariff.

Section 30(1) of the Railways Act which deals with the power to fix rates says “The Central Government may, from time to time, by general or special order fix, for the carriage of passengers and goods, rates for the whole or any part of the railway and different rates may be fixed for different classes of goods and specify in such order the conditions subject to which such rates shall apply.”

Also Section 50(2) of the Act says “Every railway administration shall display the hours during which booking windows at a station shall be kept open for the issue of tickets to passengers.”

Violation of these rules by a non-Governmental railway, like the private train, would attract penalty. Section 169 of the Act says “If a non-Government railway fails to comply with, any requisition made, decision or direction given, by the Central Government, under any of the provisions of this Act, or otherwise contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, it shall be open to the Central Government, by order, to levy a penalty not exceeding two hundred and fifty rupees and a further penalty not exceeding one hundred and fifty rupees for every day during which the contravention continues…”

According to a senior railway official, the Railways Act had clearly laid down that rates for carriage of passenger and goods would be decided by the Central Government. “Though the Act does not recognise a privately operated railway, the rates are to be decided by the Central Government. But no such order was issued authorising the private train authorities to decide on its tariff. If IRCTC decides on the fares, it is violation of law and invites a penalty…” the official who declined to be quoted, said.

On sale of tickets online, the official said besides its own website, IRCTC had also made tickets available through online partners like Paytm, Ixigo, PhonePe, Make My Trip etc. “There can’t be a 100% sale online. The Act says that there has to be a counter at the railway station with working hours displayed.”

IRCTC says on its website that though there will be no concession tickets in the train, children below 5 years of age were exempted from fare and would be booked with their parents. Children aged above 5 years would be booked at full fare and given a seat.

It also said that the train fare would be dynamic, keeping in view the prevailing bus, taxi, rail and airfares. The train would have different series of fares for lean, busy and festive seasons. February, March and August months would be lean season. Fares will be on point-to-point basis.

The issue has surfaced at a time when the Ministry of Railways has formed an Empowered Group of Secretaries led by the Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog “for development of 50 railway stations to world class standards and permit private passenger train operators to operate 150 trains with world class technology over Indian Railway network.”

Railway officials said the most important Railway asset is its path, or train route. “By running a private train for the business class, we have blocked the path during peak hours during which a regular train could be operated for the common passenger. It is not clear whether the haulage charges for this private train were fixed taking into consideration the usage of railway infrastructure like stations, electricity, water and path,” another railway official said.

Indian Railways find the path the biggest constraint today as all trunk routes are saturated, running at over 100% capacity. Since new trains cannot be added, existing trains would have to be handed over to private players. “This will mean higher fare paying passengers will displace the poorer sections. This can be addressed if private players are asked to run trains with mixed composition, AC and non-AC as well as unreserved classes”.

Siemens receives 1 Bn Euro deal from Russian Railways

FRANKFURT: Siemens on Friday said RZD Russian Railways had placed an order for 13 high-speed Velaro trains under a contract worth 1.1 billion euros.

The deal between Siemens Mobility and Ural Locomotives, a joint venture of Sinara Group and Siemens AG, is for trains operating on a 650 kilometer line between Moscow and St. Petersburg and includes a 30 years maintenance deal, Siemens said.

Mitsubishi sells Australian iron ore, rail project to Chinese firm ‘Sinosteel’

TOKYO/MELBOURNE:  Mitsubishi Corp has handed over the full ownership of an iron ore expansion and rail and port infrastructure project in Western Australia to China’s state-owned Sinosteel that has been slated to cost A$10 billion ($6.86 billion) to develop, the Japanese conglomerate said on Monday.

The Japanese trading house divested all of subsidiary Crosslands Resources shares to Sinosteel unit Sinosteel Ocean Capital for an undisclosed sum, according to a statement from Mitsubishi. The shares were transferred on Friday, according to the statement.

The project, which includes the mothballed Jack Hills iron ore mine, expansion project as well as a proposed rail and port facility, was once considered Australia’s next big prospect for iron ore riches outside of the Pilbara, now the world’s biggest export hub for iron ore.

Mitsubishi paid $A150 million for its initial 50% stake in Crosslands in 2007 and a further A$325 million for the rest in 2012, before it placed the mine on care and maintenance the following year as iron ore prices tanked.

The Japanese group agreed to exit the project considering its own divestment strategy and “the environment surrounding the project,” it said in the statement.

The mine has iron ore resources that are costly to develop because they require added processing. Sinosteel had been set to be a major customer of the port and rail infrastructure because of its nearby deposits.

Crossland Resources has a capital of A$548 million, according to the document, while Sinosteel Ocean is capitalised at A$1 million, the statement said.

IRCON eyes Railway projects in Malaysia, Bangladesh

The engineering & construction company under the Ministry of Railways recently bagged a project for upgradation of Railways in Sri Lanka.

NEW DELHI: State-owned Ircon International is looking to expand its footprint in Malaysia and Bangladesh and eyeing a revenue growth of 30%, its chairman, SK Chaudhary, told.

The engineering and construction company under the railway ministry recently bagged a project for upgradation of railways in Sri Lanka, and is expecting railway projects to materialise in Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Chaudhary said he expects Ircon to bag new projects in these three countries, which along with the ongoing rail projects in Bangladesh and Myanmar, could boost revenue growth to 30% year-on-year. The company had registered 20% growth in revenue in 2018-19.

“Overseas business is our main focus. Profits come from there. In most of the projects in India, quality is compromised in getting bids at the lowest price. That must change,” Chaudhary said. “Track record of a company is a must in winning projects.”

Overseas business currently accounts for 13% of Ircon’s overall portfolio. The company expects it to grow to 25-30% in FY20, said Mukesh Kumar Singh, director of finance at Ircon.

In 2013-14, overseas projects accounted for 49% of the company’s business. The decline in overseas business came due to administrative reasons.

“We had some difficulty in appointing the JV partners and agents who were locally required to be appointed in a foreign country. We have now formulated new guidelines which are in the process of approval,” Singh said.

In Malaysia, the company is close to finalising a rail project while a railways and roads project is also coming up in Sri Lanka, Singh said.

The company expects to gain from the renewed infrastructure push of the new government.

“Railways will be the biggest chunk of the Rs 100 lakh crore investment because a lot of doubling, tripling (of railway lines), electrification, even signalling changes will take place. So things are looking positive on increasing our order book as well as turnover,” Chaudhary said, adding he expects investment of Rs 12-15 lakh crore in the railway sector alone over the next five years.

IRCON, a PSU tasked with construction of railway tracks, expects orders worth Rs 10,000 crore from the government in the current financial year, Chaudhary said. The company is also looking to bid for key infrastructure projects in the country, including the Gujarat-Maharashtra bullet train corridor and the Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir, he said.

GC works on Madurai-Bodinaickanur MG section to begin shortly

The section was closed in December 2011 for gauge conversion work.

CHENNAI: The New Year 2020 will witness resumption of train services on Madurai-Bodinaickanur section after a gap of nine long years. After the section was closed in December 2011 for conversion of the metre gauge section for 90 km, the work had been going on at a snail’s pace much to the chagrin of the people of Theni district and rail passengers.

However, with the Railway Construction Wing planning to complete the conversion work on Madurai-Usilampatti section by December, Madurai Division of Southern Railway has taken up Madurai yard modification work to provide link to the newly-laid Bodinaickanur BG line with Madurai junction.

The physical work of constructing eight major bridges on the section on the entire stretch and several minor bridges on Usilampatti section has been completed. The earth work and track laying work too have been completed. “We need to move the heavy machines on the tracks to pack the ballast to make the track worthy of operating trains. With the Madurai-Usilampatti section being an island without connectivity to Madurai, we need to connect it first, before taking up ballast packing machines,” a railway official said.

The work of providing link is laborious considering that a portion of BG railway track on the southern side of Madurai junction needs to be removed temporarily to connect the new track.

Madurai-Virudhunagar-Tirunelveli section is one of the major rail routes on which several trains are operated every day. “We need to do all engineering and signalling works with major trains running to their schedule both in the mornings and evenings. Hence, we have provided four hours of power block/line block each day for 10 days when these works have to be carried out,” a senior railway official said.

With 25KV overhead power cable running, it would become very risky to operate heavy machineries. Hence, power block was required. As preparatory work, three OHE posts were re-located to enable the new line converge with the two BG lines — the mainline and a shunting line. Besides, two points and crossings on the existing BG lines had to be relocated. The Railway Construction Wing has kept ready points and crossings assembly to save time.

“Every second is precious as the work has to be carried out in the limited period of line/power block,” another official said. A 70-member-strong trained work force with small machinery and heavy equipment like cranes and earth movers are kept ready.

After the Chennai-bound Guruvayur Express passed through the spot (near Ellis Nagar Bridge) on Monday, some 30 metres of railway track on the shunting line was removed within minutes as the men and machinery worked swiftly in tandem.

Besides cancelling several trains, the Southern Railway has partially cancelled many trains. While some trains were regulated, others were diverted through Manamadurai-Karaikudi-Tiruchi section.

“We know it would cause a lot of inconvenience to passengers. But, this is inevitable, for the work is only to bring additional train services on an additional route,” the engineer explained.

Railway officials have a plan of action to be carried out each day. “After the engineering work — like laying the track, points and crossings — the signal department will take up providing electronic signals, so that safe running of trains is ensured,” the engineer said.

Divisional Railway Manager V.R. Lenin said that two points and crossings on Madurai-Virudhunagar mainline and a shunting line required to be relocated to enable the linking of Bodi railway line. Besides, a new points and crossing assembly needed to be inserted to link the new line.

Along with this work, the Railway Division has taken up a task of replacing signal equipment that were six years old with a newer technology at a cost of ₹1.5 crore. “What we now have is linked with copper cables. This type of signals face higher rate of failures, especially due to lightning. We are replacing them with equipment that would be linked with optic fibre cables,” Mr. Lenin said. The new signalling system would ensure more reliability, he added. This would also take care of the doubling project under way between Madurai and Tirunelveli.

Mr. Lenin said that the Railway Division was yet to take a final call on the number of services to be provided on Madurai-Usilampatti section and further on Madurai-Bodi section. “It will be based on the patronage and demand,” he said.

According to a railway official Madurai yard will require a similar modification when the Madurai-Virudhunagar doubling work is completed. Besides, the yard needs a re-modelling to ensure simultaneous reception of trains from both Dindigul and Virudhunagar ends. Platform Number 6, which is shorter and has a deep curve, needs to be straightened and its length increased.

“As of now, it can only hold up to 18 coaches. Upon increasing the platform length, trains with 24 coaches can be run from that platform,” he added.

Doubling of 100km Kayamkulam-Alappuzha-Ernakulam coastal rail corridor stalled as Railways insist 50% cost sharing

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The much-needed doubling of the 100 km Kayamkulam-Alappuzha-Ernakulam coastal rail corridor has been stalled with the cash-strapped Railways insisting on 50% cost sharing with the State for three corridors.

The bone of contention between the State and Railways is on the 7.7 km Ernakulam-Kumbalam sanctioned by Railways in 2010-11, the 15.59 Kumbalam-Turavur patch doubling approved in 2011-12 and the 45.9 km Turavur-Ambalapuzha line sanctioned in 2015-16.

Works have been stalled with the Ministry of Railways asking the zonal railways — Southern Railway — to keep the three projects in ‘abeyance’ and not to ‘infuse fresh funds till further orders’.

Decision of the Ministry after a review of the projects has come at a time when sanction for the three doubling projects is awaited.

According to the Railways, the estimate for Ernakulam-Kumbalam stretch has touched ₹189.24 crore as per the current rates of the construction materials, ₹253 crore for the Kumbalam-Tharavur patch doubling and ₹625.50 crore for the Turavur-Ambalapuzha corridor.

A top Southern Railway official told that the chances of the revival of the doubling works of the three stretches are possible by the Railways only if the State agrees to share 50% of the estimated cost. The State has to take a call as the Railways is cash-strapped and political lobbying will not yield results.

A sum of ₹1,000 crore was needed from the State as its share of the estimated cost, the official said. Going by the financial crisis faced by the State exchequer and the priorities, the Railways are of the view that it is unlikely in the near future.

For the State and the Railways, the completion of the doubling of the coastal line via Alappuzha is vital for the further development of the railway network and to bring more long distance mail and express trains to the State capital. A coastal line with two tracks will also come in handy once the railway line from Ernakulam to Kayamkulam via Kottayam gets disrupted. At present, the 13 km from Kayamkulam to Haripad has a double line. The work to lay the double in the next 18 km from Haripad to Ambalappuzha is on and the railways has fixed May 2020 as the target for comissioning the project.

CMRS inspection stalls Kolkata Metro East West Line inauguration again

The scheduled start of commercial operation on the first 5.7km stretch of Kolkata’s East West metro Line 2 connecting Sector V with Salt Lake Stadium has again been delayed.

KOLKATAPrime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, was reportedly scheduled to inaugurate the first phase of the East West corridor on October 24. However, this has been cancelled following objections by the Commissioner of Rail Safety (CRS) on passenger safety, a senior Ministry of Railways official said.

After an earlier inspection on the first leg of the section in July, CRS flagged concerns on the “defective bearings” on the piers, while instructing the authorities to undertake a software upgrade on the train control and management system. Official’s claims about the issues having been fixed were belied following a second CRS survey that was completed on Thursday. “The CRS report is in the process of getting prepared. As of now, there are no plans to start commercial operations on the stretch,” a Ministry of Railways official said.

Major uncertainties persist on whether work will restart on the unfinished 10.8km underground section of the line. Construction of the unfinished section of the line was halted in August following the collapse of approximately 100 old buildings in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar area after the earth caved in during tunnelling work in the neighbourhood, forcing residents to evacuate.

Indian Railways (IR), the implementing agency, has solicited international tunnelling experts including Mr Paul Vireli of South Africa, Mr Guy Bridges from Hong Kong and geotechnical engineer Mr John Endocott from Singapore.

The East West line, originally slated to open in 2012, is designed to connect the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah. Of the 16.6km, 5.8km will be elevated and 10.8km will run underground. Twin 520m-long tunnels under the Hooghly River are planned as part of the underground section.

With a project cost of Rs 48.7bn ($US 684.5m) the East West Line was originally conceived as a 14.67km line. After a major realignment in 2016, the length was increased to 16.55km. Following delays including foreign currency losses, project cost have increased approximately 80% to nearly Rs 90bn.

The 27.22km Line 1 from Noapara to Kavi Subhash is currently Kolkata’s only operational metro line, while three new lines are in various stages of construction.

CEG Group bags Geotechnical Investigation works for Patna Metro Phase-I Project

PATNA: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) issued the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) to Consulting Engineers Group Limited (CEG Group) for conducting geotechnical investigation works for Corridor II of Phase I the Patna Metro Rail Project. The LoA was issued on October 15, 2019. The total value of this contract is Rs.80,77,169.00.

Similarly, CEG Test House and Research Centre Private Limited emerged as the lowest bidder (L1) for another contract for conducting geotechnical investigation works for Corridor I of Phase I of Patna Metro Rail Project. The letter of acceptance (LoA) was issued by the DMRC on October 16, 2019. The total value of this contract is Rs.1,09,03,765.00.

Tenders for conducting geotechnical investigation work for Corridor I and II of Phase I of Patna Metro Rail Project were floated in the second week of last month. Technical bids were opened on September 27.

The geotechnical work on Corridor I of the first phase of the Patna Metro Rail project will be carried out from Danapur to Mithapur and similarly the geotechnical work on Corridor II of the first phase will be carried out from Patna Railway Station to New Inter-State Bus Terminal (ISBT).

Consulting Engineers Group Limited (CEG Group) is a Jaipur based international major infrastructure consulting organization providing services for Highways, Bridges, Rail, Metro, Tunnels, Buildings, Water Resources, Urban Development & Geotechnical Investigation over the last three decades.

CEG Test House And Research Centre Pvt. Ltd. (CEGTH) is a part of Consulting Engineers Group Limited (CEG Group) and a leading testing laboratory in India, providing laboratory services in the field of building material testing, food testing, agriculture testing, environmental testing and monitoring, geotechnical investigation, nondestructive testing etc.

Fugro contracted for LiDAR scanning of Banedanmark’s Railway Network

Unlocking insights from Geo-data, for a safe and liveable world, Fugro’s data acquisition, analytics and advice help Railway industry make informed decisions, and facilitate and de-risk complex and technically demanding projects.
LiDAR Technology for surveying the new Railway lines which is one of the most advanced technologies used by Railways

Copenhagen: Fugro has been selected by Banedanmark to provide its train-borne lidar scanning technology for digital survey of the Danish railway network.

The company has entered a four-year framework agreement to enable lidar scanning of Banedanmark’s infrastructure for safe network operations.

Banedanmark is responsible for the management of Denmark’s public railway infrastructure. The matters within the company’s purview include maintenance, traffic control and development of the railway network. The company manages a network of more than 3,000km of track.

The firm is looking to create a ‘digital twin’ of the infrastructure to maintain accurate data concerning the track and any objects on the rail corridor.

This is intended to improve safety and timeliness.

The RILA train-borne survey technology will allow Banedanmark to acquire lidar data and imagery of both the track and surroundings at the same time.

The digital twin will provide an accurate and ‘information-rich’ model of Denmark’s railway infrastructure, Fugro said in a statement.

It will detect objects in conflict with the railway infrastructure clearance profile.

In addition, Banedanmark will be able to conduct clearance gauge mapping using the digital twin.

Fugro Rail global director Jeroen Huiskamp said: “This is the first time that Banedanmark has used train-borne lidar technology on large extents of the network and we are proud that they have chosen our RILA solution. The operational flexibility, improved safety levels, highly accurate data and attractive costing set it apart from other survey methods.”

Using the RILA technology will reduce the need for on-track surveyors, the company added.

Banedanmark project manager Charlotte Lomholt said: “We look forward to an ongoing cooperation with Fugro to survey the Danish rail network. With 190 million passengers and 3000 trains passing through Denmark, safety is a major driver.

“The data that Fugro delivers will enable our teams to supervise the structure gauge and improve infrastructure maintenance predictions. All in all, it will help create the railway of the future.”

Fugro noted that data collection using the techonology will start later this year. From next year, the companies will work on a full network capture.

Users will be able to access the Fugro’s RILA Portal, which will feature datasets collected under the agreement.

The data will deliver benefits to track maintenance, asset management, landscaping and detailed design.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DFCC’s Freight Train Control Room ready in Prayagraj

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bids invited from Advisers for Strategic Disinvestment of 3 PSUs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAT re-tender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hitachi Rail unveils concepts for ‘Train Station of Future’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shares of IRCTC jump twofold on debut

BENGALURU: Shares of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp Ltd (IRCTC) more than doubled their value on market debut on Monday, after the state-run company saw a bumper initial public offering (IPO) that was subscribed nearly 112 times.

Shares opened at 626 rupees before rising as high as 698 rupees each, as of 0434 GMT, 118.13% higher than their issue price of 320 rupees.

The overwhelming response comes amid slowing growth in Asia’s third-largest economy, which has hit sales of everything from cars to cookies, prompting the government to step in with deep cuts in corporate taxes and a raft of other measures to revive growth.

The IPO was issued to raise 6.45 billion rupees ($91.09 million), with the Indian government retaining a 87.4% stake in the company.

IRCTC has the sole authority to sell railway tickets online, offer catering service and exclusively manufacture and supply packaged drinking water at railway stations and on trains in India.

The company operates in four business segments and also offers e-catering services to passengers via a mobile phone application.

120-year journey to build Australia’s 3000km Adelaide-Darwin Railway line

Australia would approach the task of building The Ghan, an almost 3000 km rail line stretching through the nation’s centre, very differently if construction began today.

Few engineers argue that the Ghan was a case of perfect project management.

After all, in the first 12 months of actual construction, less than two kilometres of track was laid.

But in its defence, the massive undertaking was actually a combination of a number of smaller projects, the first of which began in the mid-1880s.

The Ghan as we know it today — a 2979 km freight and passenger line stretching from Darwin to Adelaide — was not completed until 2004, almost 120 years after it began.

It’s a far cry from the rampant pace of today’s rail industry — in China, around 19,000 km of high-speed line have been laid in just nine years — and the processes and technologies were worlds away from those that would be applied today.

For a form of transport that is often considered to be traditional, rail has come a very long way.

The most surprising Ghan fact for rail engineers in today’s environment is that very little was done in the way of surveying and gathering geological and hydrological data prior to tracks being put down.

“There are a few essential steps that we’d take prior to a rail project,” said Nicole Waterman, Design and Engineering Manager at Laing O’Rourke.

“We’d begin with an aerial LIDAR survey using a rotary drone. That would enable us to choose the alignment, and then we would do a feasibility study on the alignment. After that, the geotechnical investigation begins.”

The geotechnical survey, Waterman said, would likely begin with boreholes at 50 m intervals.

“If we were designing a road or even rail through a metropolitan area, we would bring the boreholes much closer together,” she said.

“Because Australian geology is now much better known and that stretch between Adelaide and Darwin is quite inert, the centres of those boreholes could move a little further apart as you begin to get predictability. But you would certainly start with a steady rhythm of borehole logging.”

Riding the rails

The lack of survey data was acceptable at the time for another important reason, said Buddhima Indraratna, Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Wollongong.

The trains were much smaller, lighter and slower — as are the trains that still use the Ghan line.

“THAT STRETCH BETWEEN ADELAIDE AND DARWIN IS QUITE INERT; THE CENTRE OF THOSE BOREHOLES COULD MOVE A LITTLE FURTHER APART.” – Nicole Waterman

That means they had a reduced impact on the rails, the ballast — the track-bed upon which rail ties are laid — and the ground below, known in rail-speak as the ‘subgrade’.

“The average length of Ghan trains is probably 750 to 800 m,” said Indraratna, who is also the Founding Director of the Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering.

“But modern trains are up to two-and-a-half times heavier and the length of some trains, particularly coal trains, can be up to 4 km. They might be carrying 70,000 t of weight and moving at an average speed exceeding 60 to 70 km per hour on some resilient routes. Some rail authorities in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have been talking about elevated speeds up to 80 to 100 km/h.”

This length, weight and speed differential introduces a number of new challenges for the rail engineer. Instead of 40 light carriages moving at a gentle pace, there may be 350 extremely heavy carriages moving fast.

Instead of an axle load of 15 t, modern heavy haul trains can have axle loads bearing 35 to 40 t. As a result, everything below the train itself is put through far greater stress.

Not too hard, not too soft

Consider, Indraratna said, that a 4 km train might have its engine in one town, its rear carriage in another town and its middle on a bridge as the train moves at 100 km per hour.

Along the entire length of the train, enormous forces are being concentrated on the ballast and the subgrade.

If the subgrade is not of a high quality — that is, if it is soft, wet and weak — this dynamic load can cause a phenomenon known as ‘mud pumping’.

This means a hydraulic gradient is created within the soft soil, forcing the soil to flow or slurry, and then pump upwards into the ballast and to the top of track.

The track will be unusable until the polluted ballast is completely replaced and the mud holes are removed.

“This didn’t happen in the past because the trains were not heavy and fast enough,” Indraratna said.

“Now it’s a problem. Some train drivers may practically refuse to drive over certain types of boggy soils because, they say, it feels as if the train is travelling over a wet sponge. The driver can actually feel as if the wheels are losing proper contact.”

In any areas of poor-quality soft subgrade, the ballast layer has to be built much higher than usual — sometimes up to 2 to 3 m high as embankments — to prevent load transferring to the soft soil, thus reducing the risk of this phenomenon.

And the problem of laying rail over a surface of hard rock is just as challenging for these very heavy and long trains, but for a different reason.

“If you are laying railway on rock, your ballast will break very quickly,” Indraratna said.

“Because rock is a very hard subgrade, the reaction to the axle load is very high, so the rock particles or ballast can be destroyed, at times pulverised.”

Indraratna and his team at the Centre for Geotechnical and Railway Engineering have developed a solution for this, which also happens to help solve an environmental problem.

A modern approach

If the Ghan were being commenced today, Waterman said, once the aerial and ground surveys were complete, 3D models would be developed to assist the design and construction process. Then time would be added in, to create 4D sequences.

Virtual time in 4D modelling allows project managers to test the sequencing of the construction, which would be particularly important on a railway project that is not only evolving over a period of time, but which also covers a large area geographically.

“The complexity is managed by breaking up the build into packages, and how you supply and contract out each of those packages,” Waterman said.

“You might separate such a project into 100 km sections and manage logistics by strategically placing your camp between two sections, then leapfrog as each is completed.”

Finally, Waterman said, the other major difference in modern construction is the likely inclusion of technology for driverless trains.

Unlike autonomous cars, which are still a largely futuristic idea, driverless trains are a reality around the globe.

Rio Tinto runs an autonomous train to haul iron ore, remotely controlled from 1500 km away. And trams and metro trains have been running driverless for many years in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, the US, the UK and Europe.

Sydney commuters got to ride the city’s first driverless train when the Northwest Metro line opened to the public on 26 May this year.

“MODERN TRAINS ARE UP TO TWO-AND-A-HALF TIMES HEAVIER AND THE LENGTH OF SOME TRAINS CAN BE UP TO FOUR KILOMETRES.” – Buddhima Indraratna

Construction additions to allow for driverless technology would include screens on platforms to ensure passengers cannot fall on to the tracks, an energy system that involves power to drive the train being delivered through the rails, and various other safety and security measures, including the ability to monitor and control the entire system remotely.

“There is some fantastic technology involved in rail today,” Waterman said.

“It’s what continues to bring young engineers into this field. For a traditional mode of transport, it’s a very fast-paced and high-tech arena.”

Tyre tracks

According to Waste Management Review, more than 50 million used tyres are generated in Australia every year, of which fewer than five per cent are recycled locally.

Around 32 per cent are shipped to Asia for recycling, using more fuel and producing more carbon. The rest, the magazine said, are “either landfilled, stockpiled, illegally dumped or ‘lost’”.

Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna and his team of researchers at the Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering at the University of Wollongong have found a railway solution that may just kill two birds with one stone.

They have developed a way to recycle tyres into rubber mats that can be laid, like carpet, between hard surfaces such as rock and railway ballast.

“Some companies make these brand new and they are very expensive, but we can make them from discarded rubber tyres,” Indraratna explains.

“We call it 2-REAL, which stands for Recycled Rubber Energy Absorbing Layer.

“The problem of instability for long, heavy trains is a serious one, particularly when various parts of the train are experiencing different ground conditions. Using materials made from recycled rubber, we can create an energy-absorbing reservoir to create consistent track conditions and also to prevent track damage.”

Indraratna, with EcoFlex International, also has a pending patent for a method of laying whole tyres down, beneath the ballast, in a honeycomb pattern.

“So, you have several rings of old rubber tyres placed together, like a beehive when you look from the top,” he said.

“Then you fill the cavities with recycled rubber crumbs and other waste materials like discarded ballast and coal wash. The tyres are heavy and highly frictional, so they don’t move. Then you run the normal ballast and track over this tyre assembly, and it absorbs the energy from the fast-moving, heavy trains.”

These new methods, which solve problems in railway engineering as well as recycling, are already finding their way into modern railway construction.

What stops Private Trains from running on Indian Railway tracks?

Private Trains can put Railways on the right track! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

India among Top-7 Nations that produce own Train Sets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Railways to use ISS system to detect Terrorists: DG RPF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indian Railways provisionally selects 50 routes for private operators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Questions on Private Trains

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

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

IRCTC IPO: Railways Public Offering Oversubscribed 111 Times

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is the railways planning to bring in private trains?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the International Railway Summit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SCoR operations likely to start by April next year from Visakhapatnam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ECOR to lose Rs 3,000 crore

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

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

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

Role of external financing in Indian Railways

Chitresh Shrivastva, Railway Policy Analyst

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indian Railways to adopt HOG system to save Power cost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

75% land acquisition process completed in Hinjewadi by Pune Metro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This section is expected to be commissioned in December 2019.

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

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

Crisis looms large on Kolkarta East-West Metro first phase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Platform screen door

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

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

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

Signalling system

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

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

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

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

Automated gates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bangalore Metro considers increasing outsourcing manpower for Phase-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Industrial Policy

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

Investment Opportunities

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

Key factors

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

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

Public Infrastructure Project

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

Virgin Hyperloop One-DP World JV

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

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

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

Request For Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gurgaon Rapid Metro losing steam?

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

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

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

On shaky ground

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

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

Non-fare revenue

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

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

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

‘Poor management’

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

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

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

Financial troubles

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

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

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

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

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

Hitachi Rail MD Karen Boswell OBE to step down!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 stations are proposed

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

Project cost will be Rs 5,125 crore

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

Metro will connect old and new Gurugram

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

GMDA will get the report in four days

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

Centre’s approval will be taken by December

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

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

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

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

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

Mumbai Metro Line 4A

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

Mumbai Metro Line 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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