Can’t blame Railways for stolen luggage unless booked: NCDRC

NEW DELHI: The apex consumer commission has refused to grant relief to a woman who lost her suitcase while travelling in a train, saying the Railways is not responsible unless the luggage was booked and a receipt was issued.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) set aside the lower foras’ orders asking Railways to compensate the woman, a West Bengal resident, for the alleged theft onboard Lokmanya Tilak Shalimar Express train in 2011.

The NCDRC set aside Chhattisgarh state commission’s order that had upheld a district forum’s decision asking it to pay Rs 1.30 lakh to the passenger for the loss of luggage.

The apex consumer commission agreed to the contention of the Railways that as per Section 100 of the Railway Act, 1989, it shall not be responsible for the loss, destruction, damage, or non-delivery of any luggage, unless a railway servant has booked the luggage and given a receipt.

“We do not find any deficiency in service on the part of the Railway officials. The order passed by both the fora below clearly perverse in the eyes of law and, thus, are set aside,” a Bench headed by Presiding Member B C Gupta said.

The commission said no negligence was attributable to any specific employee. “No booking was made with the Railways and hence, the provisions of Section 100 of the Railways Act, are applicable in the matter,” it added.

According to the complaint, Mamta Agrawal was travelling in the train on September 5, 2011, with a suitcase containing articles worth Rs.3 lakh consisting of three gold chains, two diamond rings and a simple ring along with Rs 15,000 cash and clothes of children. It alleged that when the train arrived near Rourkela, some miscreants stole her luggage.

The Railways, however, contended that since the passenger was carrying the baggage with her without booking it, she herself was responsible.

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Visakhapatnam City railway station goes 100% Cashless with DigiPay

‘DigiPay’ services launched at booking counters, stalls

VISAKHAPATNAM: Divisional Railway Manager Mukul Saran Mathur has declared Visakhapatnam railway station as 100 % Digital Payment Enabled (Digi Pay) station and launched the services at the station to promote cashless transaction.

The launch of Digi Pay stations would encourage cashless transactions, the vision of Union government of ‘Digital India-Digital Railways’. Passengers can make transactions in the stations through Point of Sale (PoS) machines arranged at railway counters and e-wallets at all the stalls at the railway station.

Visakhapatnam Railway Station is a major railway station in East Coast Railway (ECoR), which handles 118 trains and receives over 60,000 footfalls a day, and more than 80,000 a day during festive seasons, generating revenue of more than ₹30 lakh a day.

Mr. Mathur said Digi Pay services were provided at the general ticket booking counters, reservation complex, water vending machines, cloak rooms, coffee, tea stalls, ATMs, parking, parcel office, book stalls, fruit juice stalls, pay and use toilets and at other points on the station premises.

Help desks

State Bank of India has also provided help desks and information booths for promotion of digital transaction among rail users. He appealed to people and rail users to use this facility for hassle-free journeys and to make dream of a Digital India- Digital Rail into a reality.

Inspection

After the official launch of the Digi-Rail campaign DRM along with branch officials inspected various stalls and railway counters to check the usage and working of digi pay services.

During this campaign, appreciation certificates will be given to the digi pay customers along with paper caps to encourage the users.

A signature campaign on ‘digital rail’ was also organised on this occasion where the participants appreciated the efforts by Waltair Division towards cashless transactions, according to Divisional Commercial Manager G. Suneel Kumar.

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Azerbaijan, Iran agree on funding for Rasht-Astara Railway construction

A multi-million dollar project on Rasht-Astara railway route, a part of the International North-South Transportation Corridor, is expected to be launched this year.

The construction of the section of Resht-Astara will cost Iran $1.1 billion. Azerbaijan will provide Iran with a loan of 500 million euros to complete the construction of the railway section.

The two countries, within the International North-South Transport Corridor [a multi-model route to link India and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe], are making efforts to connect their railways through the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara route, connecting Iran’s northern city of Astara to its namesake in the Azerbaijan.

Nourollah Beiranvand, the deputy for planning and investment at Iran Railways, told Trend that Azerbaijan agreed to allocate this fund.

“Taking into account the mutual benefit of the Rest-Astara railway for the two countries, the Azerbaijani government agreed to finance the project,” Beiranvand said.

He denied the recent rumors that Baku will fully finance the construction of the Resht-Astara, saying that half of the required amount will be provided by Azerbaijan, and other half by Iran.

“The financing will be carried out in the form of a loan. The invested amount will be later deducted from the income of the project,” he said.

Beiranvand also touched upon the construction of the Astara railway station and said that Azerbaijan agreed to invest in the construction of the station and cargo terminals.

Azerbaijan earlier agreed to provide 60 million euros for developing railway facilities in Iranian city of Astara.

“Approximately half of this amount is projected to be used to finance the construction of a 1.4-kilometer railway in Astara, as well as the station building,” Beiranvand said.

The remaining half will be spent on the construction of four terminals, according the official.

This rail road link is important as it will significantly facilitate and expedite exchange of good and trade amongst Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.

The agreement signed between Azerbaijan Railways and Iran Railways envisages that Azerbaijan rents the railway line for a period of 15 years, and terminals for 25 years.

The transport corridor “North-South” is designed to connect Northern Europe with South-East Asia, including the unification of the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the first stage, along the corridor, it is planned to transport five million tons of cargo per year, increasing later to more than 10 million tons of cargo.

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Bibek Debroy may take over as PM’s Economic Advisor

Debroy is expected to have a role and responsibility similar to the erstwhile chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council

NEW DELHI: Noted economist and NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy is expected to assume a wider role in the government. One of the options being considered is to appoint him as the economic advisor to the Prime Minister.

Debroy, who has been instrumental in bringing a transformational change in the Indian Railways during his stint as member of the Aayog, is expected to have a role and responsibility similar to the erstwhile chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC). The previous PMEAC was headed by former RBI governor C Rangarajan, before it was wound up after the NDA government took charge.

Government officials indicated a move to shift Debroy to the new position was in the offing, but did not say when the actual shift would take place. Debroy didn’t respond to queries sent to him till the time of going to press.

It was based on the Debroy Committee’s recommendations that the central government abolished the British-era legacy of a separate Railway Budget and merged it with the General Budget and embarked on a path of changing the fiscal year from April-March to January-December.

The Debroy committee on restructuring of Indian Railways recommended liberalisation of the railways to attract private sector participation for project execution and setting up an independent regulator to promote competition. Debroy has also been a long-time proponent of pruning departments in large states to 30 in order to enable better coordination, governance and efficiency. In a blog published on the NITI Aayog website, the economist said that unless departments were pruned, schemes and laws, orders and regulations could not be pruned either.

Educated at Presidency College (Calcutta), Delhi School of Economics and Trinity College (Cambridge), Debroy began his career as a teacher at his alma mater, the Presidency College, and later at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (Pune), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (Delhi), and National Council of Applied Economic Research (Delhi). He has served as a consultant to the Department of Economic Affairs under the finance ministry.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry on Thursday dismissed speculations on the resignation of Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian. “CEA will continue. Reports regarding resignation are not correct,” the finance ministry said. Sources said Subramanian might be given an extension. But, this couldn’t be independently verified.

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Alstom Madhepura Electric Locomotive plan on track

At a time when diesel locomotive factory project of General Electric at Marhowra in Bihar has been scrapped, Alstom of France is steadily moving ahead.

MADHEPURA: At a time when there are clouds over the future of General Electric’s diesel locomotive factory project at Marhowra in Bihar, another foreign multinational investor, Alstom of France, is moving ahead with its electric locomotive project.

It was in November 2015 that the railways had awarded contracts to GE and Alstom, to set up diesel and electric locomotive factories at Marhowra and Madhepura (also in Bihar), respectively. Together, these were expected to attract Rs 40,000 crore investment to the state.

A proposal to end the Marhowra project was mooted at a review meeting of the new railways minister, Piyush Goyal on September 7, citing the increased focus on electrification.

On Thursday, Alstom said the first two rail car body shells for the proposed facility had come to Haldia port. It would arrive at the Madhepura facility next week. These first two (of five) car body shells are from Belfort, France, each weighing 19 tonnes.The third shell is due to leave from France by the end of this month and would reach India by end-November.

Belfort is the site for Alstom’s Centre of Excellence for design and production of locomotives (the company made its first e-loco in 1926). Once assembled here, they’d take the form of Alstom’s PRIMA T8 range.

Jean-Francois Beaudoin, the company’s senior vice-president for the Asia-Pacific, said: “The next stage is the assembly…these e-locos consume up to 50 per cent less fuel than conventional shunting locomotives.” Named ‘WAG12’, these 12,000 Hp locos would be capable of hauling up to 9,000 tonnes of weight and run at 120 km an hour.

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Siemens to pick Alstom or Bombardier for Rail Talks within days

MUNICH: Siemens is in talks to merge its rail business with that of either Alstom or Bombardier and will pick a preferred partner within days for further negotiations; said a spokesperson.

Rail mergers have become a trend over the last few years as global companies seek to contain costs and Western ones struggle with competition from China’s state-backed CRRC.

The three main rivals to CRRC – Bombardier, Siemens and Alstom – have talked to each other about combining their businesses in various arrangements over the past years.

Sources told in July that Bombardier and Siemens were in the final stages of talks to combine their rail operations.

Under an alternative scenario involving Alstom, Siemens would transfer its rail operations to the French group and become a majority shareholder of Alstom, the source told on Thursday.

However, a person close to Alstom said that by engaging with the French group Siemens was trying to get leverage in its discussions with Bombardier.

“Bombardier is still the more likely outcome and easier to get done,” he said.

Alstom, while initially fine to stay on the sidelines of the ongoing consolidation, has since decided to at least assess its options including a deal with Siemens, the person added.

Siemens and Alstom were engaged in a bitter fight in 2014, when Siemens tried to muscle in on General Electric’s 12.4 billion euro acquisition of Alstom’s power business.

Ever since, people close to the companies have described relations as strained.

Shares in Alstom climbed as much as 2.6 percent on news of the talks, first reported by Bloomberg earlier on Thursday. Siemens was up 0.8 percent at 116.90 euros.

Siemens declined to comment and officials at Bombardier Transportation in Berlin were not immediately available for comment. An Alstom spokesman said he had no immediate comment.

Last month, Siemens and Bombardier were on the brink of sealing a deal to create two separate joint ventures for their signalling and rolling-stock divisions, but the talks hit last minute snags, sources said at the time.

According to the blueprint of that deal, Bombardier would take just over a 50 percent stake in the joint rolling stock operations, one source said. Siemens would take roughly an 80 percent stake in a joint venture in higher-margin signalling technology.

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Railways offers GE option to make Electric Locomotives

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has offered General Electric an option to manufacture electric locomotives at its upcoming factory in Marhowrah in Bihar instead of diesel engines since it no longer envisages requirement for diesel engines.

The government on Thursday told GE at a meeting of railways minister Piyush Goyal with the top brass of the American conglomerate that the railways will not require diesel locomotives in the future since it is switching fully to electric traction.

However, the government doesn’t want GE to lose any investment and so it has offered several options to the company, a senior railways ministry official said. These include manufacturing electric engines, locomotive maintenance shed or any other related facility, with the railways offering an assured contract, he said. “We don’t want to hamper the investment environment in the country. We have offered GE various options. They will work with our officials to find out the right solution. Even if they want to manufacture electric locos with some other company in a joint venture, they will be welcome to do so,” the official said.

In 2015, the railways had awarded the contract to GE to set up the factory on railways’ land. The railways would have procured 1,000 engines worth Rs 14,600 crore in 10 years from the company. The railways was offering 200 acres land as its equity in the project, which was touted as the biggest foreign direct investment in India’s rail sector.

Railways stands to save at least Rs 50,000 crore in fuel bill in the next 10 years if it runs only electric trains on its entire network, along with cutting its carbon footprint. The railways has already signed an agreement with Alstom to manufacture electric locomotives in Madhepura in Bihar. “We will procure from Alstom as per our commitment. Since we will have a 100 per cent electrified network in a few years, the demand for electric locos will also go up. Those additional engines can be procured from GE. They won’t lose any money,” the official said.

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Analysts says “Indian Railways exiting the Diesel Locomotive contract surprising”

Indian Railways’ reported move to reconsider the Marhowra diesel locomotive project, awarded to General Electric (GE) in 2015, may not spell good for the transporter, which is hinging on private investments to fund its projects, according to analysts.

Indian Railways’ reported move to reconsider the Marhowra diesel locomotive project, awarded to General Electric (GE) in 2015, may not spell good for the transporter, which is hinging on private investments to fund its projects, according to analysts. The Indian Express on Monday reported the railways is looking to wind up or exit the contract as it plans to electrify all routes. The transporter plans electrification of 24,400 km of routes by 2020-21 in a phased manner of which 4,000 km are to be electrified in 2017-18. However, according to a Railway Board member who did not want to be identified, railway minister Piyush Goyal has asked officials to double the target for the current year to 8,000 km and electrify all routes at the earliest.

Though GE confirmed to a television channel that it is implementing the plant, Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani said the issue will be studied in depth and no final decision has been taken. According to an analyst with one of the Big Four consulting firms, the news of the railways thinking of exiting the diesel locomotive contract looks a little surprising. “This will have an impact on the IR’s image as it was a global tender. It is not a good sign for the long term at time when private investment is low,” said the analyst. A former Railway Board member, however, added that every such contract has an exit clause for the parties concerned and, if at all the railways abandons the contract, it will cost the transporter. The former member added that there must be very strong reasons to quit such a project.

After almost a decade-long delay, the railways had awarded the Marhowra and Madhepura (electric locomotive factory to Alstom) projects with a foreign direct investment amounting to Rs.40,000 crore. In both cases, railways has assured initial offtake. For the Marhowra project, the Indian Railways had assured offtake of 1,000 units over a period of 11 years at a basic cost of Rs.14,656 crore and the electric locomotive project was assured offtake of 800 units at a basic cost of Rs.19,904 crore. The diesel locomotives are to be of 4,500 HP and 6,000 HP and the electric locomotives of 12,000 HP. The former railway board member said the railways will have to see how it will plus the deficit of locomotives in case it plans to phase out diesel locomotives. As per the newspaper report cited earlier, the railways may also stop fresh investment in rehabilitation of diesel locomotives.

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China restores 350 kmph Commercial Bullet Train

To ply between Beijing and Shanghai; maximum speed restored after it was reduced to 300 kmph following the July 2011 disaster that killed 40 people.

China on Thursday restored the maximum speed of bullet trains on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway line to 350 kilometres per hour, making it the fastest commercially run train, six years after it reduced the speed due to a fatal accident.

The speed was reduced to 300 kilometres per hour following the deadly accident in July 2011 that killed 40 people.

A Fuxing bullet train departed from Beijing South Railway Station at 9:00 a.m. for Shanghai. The speed hike will cut the 1,318 km journey to 4 hours 28 minutes, cutting the train time by nearly an hour.

China started to run its first 350-kilometres per hour high speed train between Beijing and Tianjin in August 2008 and opened at least three more such high-speed lines nationwide in the following years.

But it has reduced the speed to 250 kilometres per hour to 300 kilometres per hour after the accident in July 2011. Forty people were killed and over 190 injured when two high-speed trains travelling on the Yongtaiwen railway line collided on a viaduct in the suburbs of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.

The Fuxing trains were unveiled in June and are capable of top speeds of 400 kilometres per hour, state-run Xinhua news agency reported earlier.

On July 27, the Fuxing trains were tested for safety and reliability at maximum speed.

Seven trips a day

From September 21, these trains will make seven round trips each day.

The trains are entirely designed and manufactured in China, led by the China Railway Corporation. China holds complete intellectual property rights on the trains.

China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network of over 22,000 kilometers, about 60 per cent of the world’s total, the report said.

About one-third of China’s high-speed railways were designed to allow trains to run at a speed of 350 kilometres per hour, according to He Huawu of the China Academy of Engineering.

China is lobbying with India to build a high-speed train in the New Delhi-Chennai sector for which it is conducting a feasibility study.

Japan grabbed the India’s first contract to build the high-speed train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad for which the foundation stone was laid recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

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Rail works stalled over GST to take the fast track in next 6 months

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Works, including track renewal, doubling, construction of bridges and embankments, on the railway network in the State which were hit by railway contractors’ strike against the high Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates will return to the fast track only after six months.

Though the nationwide strike called by the Southern Railway Contractors’ Organisation (SRCO) and Indian Railway Infrastructure Providers Association (IRIPA), a body representing contractors working on infrastructure projects with Indian Railways has been called off, normality will be restored only by December as all ongoing and tendered works were stalled and the labourers went home.

“Though the works resumed in other States from September 2, the Bakrid-Onam season in the State delayed the commencement of works here. Urgent works on railway tracks and trains have commenced. But, normalcy and pace will be restored only in the next three months,” Alex Perumalil, SRCO president, said.

Urgent works

The urgent works on the railway network had been given priority taking into account the safety of the commuters and the trains. The other works like doubling of railway track and track renewal have commenced, Mr. Perumalil said.

The 100-odd railway contractors are up in arms against the increased tax liability on ongoing projects awarded to them before July 1 this year and under various stages of execution. The contractors are demanding more money for the contracts due to increased tax liability following the introduction of GST.

The contractors are demanding that the enhanced liability on account of GST be either borne by Railways or the contracts be closed without financial implications on either side. In Kerala alone, the contractors are executing ₹600-700 crore works awarded to them in Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad divisions before July 1.

The stir was suspended after Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani wrote to the Union Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa seeking concurrence on neutralisation on the impact of GST in the works awarded before July 1. A three-member committee of Executive Directors also favoured neutralisation. Though the contractors have resumed work, they are adopting a cautious approach as the Finance Ministry is yet to take a call.

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PayU partners with IRCTC, lends online payment services to users

NEW DELHI: Payment gateway provider PayU on Monday announced its collaborations with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to provide users a safe and secure option to pay for rail tickets booked via the IRCTC website.

PayU will now be available as a payment option under the Multiple Payment Services or MPS option on the IRCTC website at the payment stage of booking an e-ticket. Clicking on this option will enable users to make a safe and secure transaction via various payment options like internet banking, debit/credit card and e-wallet.

“Our payment gateway operates around 80 percent of the e-commerce business in India today, and this collaboration with IRCTC is aligned with our vision to simplify the payment experience for the growing digital savvy consumers as well as the merchants. Undoubtedly, this is a very large and prestigious mandate for us. IRCTC’s biggest strength, its traffic, combined with the success rate of our payment gateway, which is the best in the industry today, is a great match and has a huge potential to enhance the digital transactions landscape and contribute towards making India a cashless/less cash economy,” said Rahul Kothari, Enterprise Business Head, PayU India.

BHEL eyes rail track electrification orders

BHEL Chairman Atul Sobti writes to Ashwani Lohani, the newly- appointed chairman of the Railway Board entrusting the ‘Maharatna’ with electrifying 1,000km of tracks initially

NEW DELHI: State-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), India’s largest power equipment maker, is eyeing a major role in the Indian Railways’ track electrification programme to tide over the uncertainties of the Indian power sector.

As part of this strategy, BHEL Chairman and Managing Director Atul Sobti has written to Ashwani Lohani, the newly- appointed Chairman of the Railway Board (CRB) to entrust the Maharatna with electrifying 1,000km of tracks initially.

This follows BHEL’s strategy to pivot from the power sector to transportation as the national carrier plans to electrify 24,000km of rail tracks. The railways track electrification drive stems from its need to reduce dependence on imported fuel and rationalize the cost of energy.

According to the 1 September communication, Sobti wrote, “I understand that Indian Railways is focusing on adoption of energy efficiency measures to reduce its energy cost and greenhouse gas emission. Towards this, electrification of railway tracks has been accorded top priority with a target to electrify tracks of about 22,000km by 2021, and about 4,000km is being targeted in the current fiscal year itself.”

In January, former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had unveiled a plan to save Rs.41,000 crore over 10 years through an integrated energy management system. It was named Indian Railways’ Mission 41k initiative wherein 24,000km of rail track electrification was planned over the next five years by doubling the annual rate of electrification from 2,000km to 4,000km.

“I am confident that with the active support of Indian Railways, we shall be able to meet the electrification targets as envisaged by you in the action plan,” Sobti went on to add.

This comes in the backdrop of BHEL eyeing a major role in the marque Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed rail project, popularly called bullet train, ranging from manufacturing coaches and civil construction work to laying down rail links.

During the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week it was announced that a joint venture (JV) between BHEL and Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) will manufacture rolling stock for the bullet train project.

Experts believe that the public sector unit will have to build in-house capabilities.

“BHEL needs to build in-house focused capabilities. While tying up with a technical partner will help them secure government contracts, they will have to compete with focused and efficient businesses,” said Kaustav Mukherjee, senior partner and managing director of consulting firm BCG India.

“I think BHEL’s interest in railway track electrification builds on their growing interest in this sector. However, I must emphasize that they are entering a new area from their core power business,” said Amit Sinha, partner at consulting firm Bain and Co. Sinha, who leads its industrial goods and services practice at Bain, added “BHEL should be aggressive in building or acquiring the capabilities and technology needed to be successful in the new venture.”

BHEL’s reaching out to the national carrier comes at a time when power sector orders have dried up.

Given that India’s current installed capacity and projects under construction are expected to meet the country’s electricity demand till 2026, BHEL is left with little choice.

A BHEL spokesperson in an emailed response said, “Yes, we have written to them. Discussions are yet to be initiated on the subject.”

“We are examining their proposal,” a railway ministry spokesperson added.

BHEL’s order inflow has become a cause for concern despite its order book of Rs1 trillion. New orders for the first quarter this year amounted to Rs.1,800 crore, down 41% on a year-on-year basis. This is putting pressure on BHEL’s manufacturing capacity of 20,000MW per annum with a limited order inflow.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to flag-off Varanasi-Vadodara Mahamana Express from Varanasi

VARANASI: The Indian Railways is starting a new train from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Vadodara in his home state Gujarat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off Varanasi-Vadodara Mahamana Express on Friday, when he visits Varanasi on a two-day tour.

Railways minister Piyush Goyal will be present in Vadodara that day while junior railway minister Manoj Sinha is expected to be present in Surat, senior railway officials said on Tuesday. This is India’s third Mahamana Express.

On its maiden journey, the train will run from Vadodara (Gujarat) to Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) after the PM will launch it using a remote control, they said.

The Modi government had unveiled the first rake of the Mahamana Express as part of Railways’ Model Rake Project in 2016.

1. ‘Mahamana Express’ is named after former Hindu Mahasabha president Madan Mohan Malviya, also addressed as ‘Mahamana’.

2. Make in India initiative: The Mahamana Express comes with plush interiors. The coaches for the train had been designed by Vadodara-based firm Hindustan Fibre Glass. The model rakes that have been developed are a “refurbished and re-adapted” version of seven types of coaches which have been in use by Indian Railways for the past 10-12 years.

3. Weekly train: Like the other two sister-trains, Varanasi-Vadodara Mahamana Express is a weekly train that will run from Varanasi every Friday at 6.15am and from Vadodara every Wednesday.

4. Train halt points: Mahamana Express will cover 1,531-km journey between the two cities in 27 hours 30 minutes at an average speed of 55.7 km/hr. It has stops at Bharuch and Surat in Gujarat; Amalner and Bhusawal in Maharashtra; Itarsi, Jabalpur, Katni and Satna in Madhya Pradesh; and Chheoki in Uttar Pradesh.

5. Plush design: Some other special features of the Mahamana Express include modular panels, ergonomically designed ladders for climbing to the upper berths, aesthetically appealing toilet modules with big mirror, platform washbasin, controlled discharged water tap, odour control system, exhaust fan, LED lights and dustbin inside the toilets. The train has LED lighting across the coaches, special berth indicators-cum-night-light in reserved coaches to assist passengers boarding train at night.

6. Train coaches: This train will have 18 coaches – one AC 1st class, two 2nd class AC, eight sleeper, four general, one pantry car and two guard brake vans. There is no AC-3 tier coach in the train.

7. Fire extinguisher: Necessary facilities like fire extinguisher in all coaches, electrically operated chimney in pantry car and stainless steel panelling in luggage compartment have also been provided in the train.

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Alstom delivers first Locomotive bodyshell to India

India gets first high-power electric locomotive for freight trains from France. The Indian Railways inked a contract with the French company to manufacture 800 such train engines over the next 11 years.
Arrival of the shell of 12000 HP loco from Alstom France and its unloading at Haldia.

KOLKATA: The first bodyshell of 12000 HP loco for the fleet of 800 WAG12 twin-section electric locomotives which Alstom is to supply to Indian Railways was unloaded at Haldia in the Port of Kolkata on September 20, ready for delivery to the factory at Madhepura where the fleet will be assembled.

This first-of-its-kind high-power electric locomotive will be used to haul freight trains at twice the existing speed by next year.

In November 2015 the Ministry of Railways selected Alstom for a contract to supply the electric locomotives from a factory to be built by a joint venture of the manufacturer and Indian Railways (26%). Deliveries are scheduled for 2018-28.

This is the first major FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) project in the rail sector.

The contract allows for the first five locomotives to be imported, but the remaining 795 are to be manufactured locally in support of the government’s Make in India campaign.

The first such locomotive, estimated to cost about Rs 30 crore, will be assembled with components brought in from Alstom’s factories in France and will have its trial run by February next year.

The 9 MW locomotives with a maximum speed of 120 km/h will be a development of Alstom’s Prima family that includes locomotives supplied to Kazakhstan, with modifications to suit Indian requirements. They will be equipped with ABB transformers and Knorr-Bremse braking systems.

Indian Railways intends to use the locomotives to haul 6 000 tonne trains at 100 km/h on the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, and on other routes to raise the average speed of heavy freight trains from between 25 and 30 km/h to between 50 and 60 km/h.

The contract allows for the first five locomotives to be imported, but the remaining 795 are to be manufactured locally in support of the government’s Make in India campaign.

The total contract is worth above three billion euro. This project includes the set-up of a plant at Madhepura (Bihar state) and two maintenance depots at Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh state)and Nagpur (Maharashtra state). The delivery of the locomotives will spread between 2018 and 2028.

The locomotive will run at a speed up to 120 km/h.

The Railways is currently using 6,000HP locomotives for freight services. The increase in speed would also result in improving line capacity in the rail network, a railway official said.

As per schedule, 35 locomotives would be rolled out from the factory by 2020, 60 in 2021, followed by 100 every year till the target of 800 is completed.

Separately, GE Transportation has a similar deal to supply diesel locomotives for Indian Railways.

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Railways set to double Lease Tenure for station upgrades

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is set to more than double the lease tenure under the station redevelopment programme—raising it to 99 years from 45—in an effort to make the scheme more attractive for investors whose response has so far been only lukewarm.

A top Railway Board official told ET that the decision was taken in a recent meeting called by railway minister Piyush Goyal to review measures aimed at securing private investment in the cash-strapped national carrier.

“The long contract period will make it lucrative for private players to invest in small stations as well,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “Investors will also be allowed to commercially utilise space on the platforms.”

The railways is offering up to 400 stations to private entities in, what it has called, the biggest station redevelopment programme in the world. The scheme envisages a minimum investment of Rs 1 lakh crore.

Under the scheme, companies winning the bids will have to modernise the stations and provide world-class passenger amenities, for which they will, in return, get the ancillary land on lease for 99 years. The companies can build malls, hotels and other commercial complexes on the land to recover their investment.

It is also working on a plan to secure the infrastructure project status for station redevelopment, which will enable the developers get easy and economical loans from banks.

The stations will be awarded under the Swiss challenge method, where a proposal is invited online and rivals can offer counter-bids. The method cuts the long-drawn tendering process currently used by the railways.

An expert committee will accept the best proposal and the original proposer will get an opportunity to match it.

A senior railway official said the 99-year lease offer will make it the longest tenure for any public-private partnership project in the country.

“In the rail ministry’s consultations with stakeholders, several big infrastructure companies were willing to invest in stations in major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru,” this official said. “However, there were no takers for small stations.”

The railways is also planning to bring in a revenue sharing agreement with the concessionaire, where the latter will have to share some revenue with the railways every year.

Railways to post Station Directors at 75 major Railway Stations

The officers will be chosen from across different operational services of Railways after due screening, scrutiny and integrity.

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has decided to post station directors at 75 major (A1 category) railway stations. These officials will be young officers from Group A railway services who’ll be posted as station directors immediately after completion of their training.

“Station Directors will ensure that the stations function as Excellence Centers for the customers with the additional objective to ensure vigilant and sensitive customer service and also superior commercial sense,” as senior Railway Board official said.

They will also monitor the safety and repair works on stations and the nearby blocks. All staff at railway station including the station manager and superintendents will report to the director.

“They will also be actively involved in the process of raising revenue from non-fare box like the commercial advertisement at that station,” the official said.

The decision to post young officers as station directors was taken by rail minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday.

The officers will be chosen from across different operational services of Railways after due screening and scrutiny. Also, they would be given Special Orientation Training focussing on coordination and public dealing..

Some of the A1 Category Stations are New Delhi, Dehradun, Howrah, CST Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Mughalsarai, Agra Cantt, New Jalpaiguri, Jodhpur, Kharagpur, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai central, Bangalore City, Hyderabad among others.

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Cabinet clears PLB equivalent to 78 days Wages; move to cost Centre Rs.2,245 Crore

Railways Announces Special Trains, Employee Bonus for Festive Season. Cabinet Approves Rs 2,245 Crore Bonus for Railway Employees to Ensure Safety Records.

NEW DELHI: With the festive season ahead, the Cabinet on Wednesday announced productivity-linked bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days’ wages for the Indian Railways’ 12.3 lakh non-gazetted employees. The gesture will cost the transporter Rs 2,245 crore. The Cabinet also approved transfer of three India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) hotels to the respective state governments for a total consideration of about Rs 25 crore. Among other decisions, it approved a revamped Khelo India programme to create an ecosystem for budding sportspersons at a cost of Rs 1,756 crore for three years until 2019-20. To motivate the workers of the railways, the bonus to the transporter’s staff will be released before the Dussehra holiday, beginning later this month. The decision comes at a time when the railways’ finances are in doldrums and it is going through a tough period due to multiple derailments mostly due to human errors. The wage calculation ceiling prescribed for payment of PLB is Rs 7,000 per month. “The maximum amount payable per eligible railway employee is Rs 17,951 for 78 days,” the government said in a statement.

However, the bonus will not be given to the staff of the Railway Protection Special Force and Railway Protection Force. The national transporter employs more than 13 lakh people. After taking over as the railway minister, Piyush Goyal has outlined safety as top-most priority for the railways network. As part of the disinvestment policy, the government has decided to transfer Hotel Jaipur Ashok and Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel in Mysore to the governments of Rajasthan and Karnataka, respectively. It has also decided to disinvest ITDC’s 51% equity in Donyi Polo Ashok, Itanagar, in favour of Arunachal Pradesh, finance minister Arun Jaitley said. The Khelo India initiative, which focussed on infrastructure development till now, will look to ensure all-round growth in its revamped form, sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said. To promote children from schools to Olympics, the government will offer sports scholarships to 1,000 most talented young athletes each year, who would received an annual funding of Rs.5 lakh for eight consecutive years. It will also promote 20 universities and a massive physical fitness drive to cover 20 crore children in the age group of 10-18.

The Cabinet also approved increase of cost norms for supplementary nutrition provided in anganwadis and in the scheme for adolescent girls. The government will invest an additional Rs 12,000 crore for the nutrition of pregnant and lactating women, children in the age group of 0-6 years, and out of school adolescent girls in next three years. The Cabinet also approved rationalisation of 17 government printing presses by merging them into five units for increasing efficiency and quality. Under the approval, 468 acres of land belonging to the units that are to be merged will be handed over to the land & development office of the ministry of urban development.

A1 railway stations to get ‘young’ directors To encourage the youth and bring in fresh ideas, the Indian Railways will appoint young officers as station directors at prominent railway stations. As per a railway statement on Wednesday, they will be chosen from across different operational services after screening and scrutiny, and will be trained through special orientation training to sharpen coordination and public dealing skills. The railway ministry has created the post of station directors at 75 A1 category stations. These directors will be helped by a cross-functional team in order to improve traffic facility and passenger amenities. They will also be actively involved in the process of raising revenue from non fare box.

Piyush Goyal is the 8th Railway Minister in past ten years and the third in a little more than three years of the current government’s regime.

Suffering from poor infrastructure, the railways is currently witnessing derailments on a regular basis, besides a slowdown in loadings and drop in number of passengers making short journeys. However, the All-India Railwaymen’s Federation general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said the bonus is expected to motivate employees to improve the financial position of the public transporter.

Whether the productivity linked bonus will improve the Railways’ safety record needs to be seen. Suresh Prabhu had initiated some changes, such as replacing old coaches with newer, safer ones and hiring more trackmen to manually patrol the tracks. However, many maladies, such as trackmen serving as domestic help in the houses of senior Railway officers, still persist.

While, Railway Ministers, in the past, have offered sops to their electorate in the form of new trains, these bonanzas meant that routine maintenance and track renewal – an essential part of safety – was compromised upon. While Prabhu had ordered the replacement of old ICF Coaches with newer LHB Coaches, experts believe it will take anywhere between 25-40 years for them to be totally replaced.

The pace of modernisation and reforms within the railways will be another major challenge. The Bibek Debroy Committee, E Sreedharan Committee, Anil Kakodkar Committee and Sam Pitroda Committee have suggested sweeping changes in the Indian Railways. For the new minister, the speedy implementation of these reforms will be key to really improve safety and reliability of the Indian Railways.

Collision Avoidance System Market Foreseen to Grow exponentially over 2016–2026

Increasing number of severe accidents had elevated the need of a system to avoid collisions. The collision avoidance system is helpful to avoid imminent collisions amongst objects such as automobiles, aircrafts, railways, marine and others. The increasing application of collision avoidance system in construction and mining industries are boosting the global collision avoidance system market.  Based upon its applications there are various collision avoidance system such as airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS), traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), ground proximity warning system (GPWS), obstacle collision avoidance system.

Collision avoidance system works on the principle of avoiding the collision by warning the operator of the threat or by taking an autonomous avoidance movement. The automobile giants such as Fusion, General Motors and Ford Explorer are having a pre-collision system installed in their cars. These pre-collision system uses radar to detect the approaching obstacles and alerts the drivers accordingly, or even the system will brake the vehicle. Currently the global collision avoidance system market is in billions and is anticipated to witness a modest CAGR growth in the forecasted period.

Portable Collision Avoidance System (PCAS),Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS),FLARM, Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS).,Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS),Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS),On the basis of Product Type, the collision avoidance system market can be segmented as follows:

Collision Avoidance System Market: Segmentation. Drivers and Restraints, Region Wise Outlook, Key Players:

The expensive nature of collision avoidance system restricts its usage in the middle level and lower level segment vehicles. In some cases the collision avoidance system only warns the drivers and does not perform any autonomous avoidance movement, and ignorance of drivers might lead to the collision. The above factors can slowdown the global collision avoidance system market.

Automotive industry is having the largest share in the global collision avoidance market and due to the increasing concern of travellers and vehicle safety the global collision avoidance system market is anticipated to boost in the forecasted period. Further, stringent government regulations, and lower insurance premium of vehicles with collision avoidance system is driving the global collision avoidance system market. Increased awareness amongst governments of different regions is leading to the installation of collision avoidance system in railways, aircrafts and submarines, resulting in the growth of global collision avoidance system market.

Increasing number of severe accidents had elevated the need of a system to avoid collisions. The collision avoidance system is helpful to avoid imminent collisions amongst objects such as automobiles, aircrafts, railways, marine and others. The increasing application of collision avoidance system in construction and mining industries are boosting the global collision avoidance system market.  Based upon its applications there are various collision avoidance system such as airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS), traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), ground proximity warning system (GPWS), obstacle collision avoidance system. Collision avoidance system works on the principle of avoiding the collision by warning the operator of the threat or by taking an autonomous avoidance movement. The automobile giants such as Fusion, General Motors and Ford Explorer are having a pre-collision system installed in their cars. These pre-collision system uses radar to detect the approaching obstacles and alerts the drivers accordingly, or even the system will brake the vehicle. Currently the global collision avoidance system market is in billions and is anticipated to witness a modest CAGR growth in the forecasted period.

Synthetic Vision, Obstacle Collision Avoidance System. On the basis of Functionality, the collision avoidance system market can be segmented as follows: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC),Blind Spot Detection (BSD),Forward Collision Warning (FCW),Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS).On the basis of Applications, the collision avoidance system market can be segmented as follows: Automotive, Marine, Aerospace, Railways, Others (Construction and Mining).

The global collision avoidance system market can be divided into seven regions, namely North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Japan and Middle East and Africa .Europe is the leader in terms of market share in global collision avoidance system market owing to the flourishing automotive sector in this region. Also in this region there are stringent government regulations for installing some basic systems such as tire pressure monitoring system in automotive and ACAS system in aircrafts for seating capacity above a specific number. North America is another significant contributor in global collision avoidance system market due to its increasing construction, railways and mining sectors.

Asia Pacific is anticipated to be a potential market in the global collision avoidance system market in near future. India and China are the countries that would witness a decent growth in the construction and mining, automotive sectors. Latin America and Japan are at a nascent stage in the global collision avoidance system market. Middle East and Africa are anticipated to have a slowdown collision avoidance system market in the forecasted period.

Some of the key players in global collision avoidance system market are as follows: Delphi Automotive LLP,Robert Bosch GmbH, DENSO CORPORATION, Autoliv Inc, Becker Mining Systems AG, Wabtec Corporation, Siemens AG, Rockwell Collins, ALSTOM, GENERAL ELECTRIC,Honeywell International Inc, Saab AB.

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Alstom appoints Julien Naudy as General Director for EKZ JV in Astana

ASTANA: Alstom has appointed Julien Naudy as General Director for EKZ JV, based in Astana, Kazakhstan. Julien was previously Industrial Director at EKZ.

Julien Naudy started with Alstom more than 11 years ago and has an extensive experience across the rail industry and other industry sectors. He first worked as Workshop Manager in Villeurbanne where he was in charge of the traction modules ‘Agate’ assembly during 2 years. Then he moved to La Rochelle and worked in Supply Chain and Industrial departments during 2 years to support the development of the AGV and RGV production lines. Next 2 years he leaded the fitting production line of trams of La Rochelle. Before moving to Kazakhstan, Julien was responsible for the construction of a new plant for tramways based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

Up until now Julien has been Project Operational Manager and Industrial Director for EKZ and has been involved in the general development of EKZ since 2014. Julien has contributed to the implementation and the optimization of assembly locomotives lines and transformers assembly workshop, he has secured the operational customer satisfaction.

“I am incredibly excited to take the lead of EKZ, which addresses huge national needs and contributes to the country’s rail industry revitalization. We are growing fast and planning to expand our activities at EKZ, such as start of the assembling passenger locomotives early 2018 and production of onboard transformers. Additionally EKZ will deliver the first export freight locomotive to Azerbaijan and will increase its localization level. Alstom is a global player and brings its innovative technologies to Kazakhstan to develop railway industry in the region. I am extremely delighted to be leading us into this new period. ” said Julien Naudy, General Director for EKZ JV.

EKZ employs 420 people and is working on supplying and maintaining the Prima electric locomotives ordered by KTZ for 2020. Today, 44 KZ8A freight locomotives and 20 KZ4AT passenger locomotives are already in commercial operation on Kazakhstan’s rail lines. In 2015, Alstom and EKZ were awarded by Azerbaijan Railways a contract to deliver 50 locomotives to Azerbaijan.

“This is a perfect time for Julien Naudy to become General Director of EKZ JV and I am sure that his deep knowledge of railways industry will take Alstom and EKZ to a new level[i].” [/i]said Bernard Peille, Alstom Managing Director for South CIS Cluster.

Alstom is present in Kazakhstan with more than 600 people, two Joint Ventures and two plants, one in Astana for locomotives manufacturing and maintenance; and KazElectroPrivod in Almaty for the production of point machines. Alstom is the only manufacturer of electric locomotives and point machines in the Central Asian and Caucasian region and a major contributor to the revitalisation of its rail industry and the development of its economy.

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SWR’s RPF Team averts Train Mishap while on track-patrol duty, mishap averted

BANGALORE: During track patrol duty to prevent theft of passenger belonging offences on 19.09.2017, Shri R.S. Sundo, constable of Railway Protection Special Force; Shri Chandramani, constable of Railway Protection Special Force and Shri Thirumalesha, Head Constable of Bengaluru Cantonment, noticed Rail fracture near Bengaluru Cantonment Railway Station at about 08:50 hrs. at KM 352/400-500 between Bengaluru Cantonment and KSR Bengaluru.  Immediately, the information was disseminated to all concerned officials for taking necessary action.

Inspector of Railway Protection Force, Bengaluru Cantonment along with Senior Section Engineer, Permanent Way and Station Master of Bengaluru Cantonment rushed to the spot.

In the meantime T.No.56507, Marikuppam-KSR Bengaluru Passenger had arrived at Bengaluru Cantonment station. The train was detained at Bengaluru Cantonment for 36 minutes and departed from the station at 09:26 hours after restoration/clearance from the Engineering Department.

The timely action taken by the RPF patrolling party averted a mishap. A.K.Gupta, General Manager of South Western Railway announced Rs.5000/- cash award to these RPF staff for their commendable work.

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Stop Train Mishap, get out-of-turn Promotion: Piyush Goyal to Railway Staff

Terming the recent train accidents as ‘unfortunate’, Goyal called upon the railway staff to work diligently

BANGALORE: In the wake of a series of recent train accidents in the country, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has suggested out-of-turn promotions for those railway employees who take timely action to avert mishaps.

Speaking at a review meeting with senior officials of the South Western Railway, he asserted that such schemes will boost the morale of the staff.

Terming the recent train accidents as “unfortunate”, Goyal called upon the railway staff to work diligently for ensuring complete safety in running trains, a release by the South Western Railway said.

“The minister suggested various schemes such as granting out-of-turn promotion for the staff who take timely action to avert accidents. He said such schemes will go a longway in boosting the morale of the staff,” it said.

The Railway Minister emphasised that safety shall be given top most priority and track renewal works be taken up expeditiously.

He also asked the Railways to develop an action plan for eliminating unmanned level crossing gates in a year’s time, instead of 2019-20 as planned earlier.

Railways to introduce new, faster Rajdhani train on Mumbai-Delhi route

MUMBAI: The railways is planning to introduce a brand new and faster Rajdhani Express on the Mumbai-Delhi line, the third Rajdhani train on the route, in the next few months, senior officials said.

The new train, likely to be launched by the Diwali this year, will cover the distance between Bandra (in Mumbai) to Nizamuddin station (in Delhi) in 13 hours, officials said.

Presently, the route is served by two Rajdhani Express trains — the August Kranti Rajdhani and the Mumbai Central-New Delhi Rajdhani.

Both of them take more than 15 hours to cover the distance between the national capital and the financial capital of the country.

While the August Kranti Rajdhani takes around 17 hours 05 minutes to travel a distance of 1,377 km at an average speed of 80 kmph, the Mumbai Central-New Delhi (or just Mumbai Rajdhani, as it is often called) train takes around 15 hours 35 minutes, at an average speed of 89 kmph, to travel 1386 km.

Neither of the two halts at Bandra.

“The trial run (for the new train) will start in a couple of days. We are using the existing 24-coach Mumbai Rajdhani with two engines to see if we can make the journey shorter by a few hours. We are using Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches,” said a senior official.

Alternatively, sources indicate, the railways could introduce the new Rajdhani with 14 coaches and one engine to ramp up the speed, and then determine which of the two is the better option.

LHB coaches are of a superior design that reduces the chance of derailment and mitigates the possibility of grievous injury or death in case of accidents. These coaches have anti-climbing features and provision of superior braking.

The Mumbai Rajdhani as of now has a sanctioned speed of 130 kmph. However, because of the numerous curves and speed restrictions on the route, its average speed comes down to about 89 kmph.

The railways is hoping to increase it to 90-95 kmph, sources said.

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Piyush Goyal bats for switching over to Electric Vehicles

MUMBAI: The Union Minister of Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal, has said that India would have to ‘leapfrog into electric vehicle age.’

Speaking at the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IAAC) Annual Convention in Mumbai, the minister said that “it (electric vehicles) is something that’s in the interest of the people of India,” further asking “till when we are going to have our personal interest or corporate interest over country’s interest.”

Goyal’s comments come days after the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, said that the carmakers producing vehicles that run on traditional fuel, need to go for an alternative source of energy.

Goyal, terming the switch over to electric vehicles as a ‘game changer’, urged, “We don’t have to continue to be indifferent and after 30 years, when the world has already become efficient, then India wakes up and starts planning for efficiency.”

The government aims to have an all-EV (Electric Vehicles) fleet on Indian roads by 2030 and has thereby, recently announced that the cabinet note on the EVs is ready.

Even as the car ownership across the country is set to grow, the vehicular pollution is on the rise in several Indian cities.

Besides pollution, cars running on traditional petrol and diesel cause huge dent into India’s oil import bill, which was pegged at Rs. 4.7 lakh crore in 2016-17, that’s the 3 per cent of the GDP.

The EVs, besides checking pollution, are expected to ease off the burden of oil import.

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Maintain all Assets in Perfect Condition to ensure Safety: GM,SCR

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway stressed upon according top priority to ensure safety by perfect maintenance of the assets and plan in advance to make them fit to ensure safety. He conducted detailed review meeting on Safety and Punctuality today i.e., 15th September, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Senior Divisional Operations Managers (Sr.DOMs) of all six Divisions i.e., Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded attended the meeting.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, held a review of all the safety aspects on the zone including the bottle necks in train operations. He advised the officials to meticulously plan the track maintenance works coordinating with other departments over the zone.  Vinod Kumar Yadav instructed the officials to sensitize the safety staff on regular basis by conducting the safety seminars, habit of reading safety literature on regular basis etc. He advised the staff to follow speed restrictions and called for immediate remedial measures to arrest any such failures. Vinod Kumar Yadav reviewed the Monsoon readiness drill including patrolling, monitoring of water levels of tanks etc., and instructed them to concentrate on vulnerable locations. Speaking on the Punctuality Vinod Kumar Yadav stated that the punctuality also should be accorded priority.

Speaking on the staff welfare measures, Vinod Kumar Yadav advised the officials to change organization working culture to create tension free atmosphere, so that the staff can work in quite atmosphere to increase the output and perfection.

K.V.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Arjun Mundiya, Chief Mechanical Engineer; V.M.Srivastava, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; A.A.Phadke, Chief Electrical Engineerwere amongst the officials present.

Railways to run 4,000 Special Trains this Festive Season: Manoj Sinha

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways would run 4,000 special trains for the upcoming festival season, minister of state, railways, Manoj Sinha said here on Tuesday.

“In the next 40 days, we will celebrate the Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and Chhath. So, we are introducing additional trains to facilitate holiday travelling between October 15 and October 30,” he said.

Last year, the railways had run 3,800 special trains during the festival season.

Sinha said the ministry was also considering cancelling the leave of all the staff to deal with the holiday rush.

“The railways will run special trains from different places to popular destinations and also add additional coaches to the existing trains. For Chhath, special services will be introduced from Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Surat, Vadodara, Ahmedabad to eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” he added.

The railways said some of the special trains would be run from the sub-stations in big cities.

For example, it said, some of the trains from Delhi to the eastern states would originate from Anand Vihar.

Sinha said the ministry had planned a range of facilities for the passengers during the festive season such as pandals at major stations, clean toilets etc.

He added that it had also been decided to stop selling platform tickets in case there was a massive rush.

Additional reservation windows would also be opened, the MoS said.

“Extra security teams will be deployed at the stations to keep a check on the illegal agents and vendors,” he added.

Last year, the railways had registered 1,654 cases during the festive season and taken disciplinary action against 693 of its staffers.

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CRS submits Preliminary Report on Derailment Accident of Train No.18477 Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express

NEW DELHI: Shailesh Kumar Pathak, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Northern Circle, held a statutory inquiry into the accident of Derailment of train no.18477 Puri- Haridwar Utkal Express at km.101/3-4 between Khatauli-Mansurpur stations of Delhi Saharanpur section, Broad Guage, Single Line, Electrified section of Delhi Division of Northern Railway on 19.08.2017. As a result of the accident, 22 persons were killed, 40 persons were grievously injured and 66 persons sustained simple injuries.

According to provisional findings of the Commissioner appended with his preliminary report, the accident occurred due to “Failure of Railway Staff”.

These findings are under the consideration of the Government. This press release is based on the information made available by the Office of Commission of Railway Safety, Northern Circle, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India.

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Railways to Stop pasting Reservation Charts on Coaches

Indian Railways will put an end to pasting reservation charts on reserved coaches of all trains originating from selected stations, on an experimental basis for a duration of three months.

NEW DELHI: Remember rushing to reserved coaches on platforms to check if the lengthy lists on the outside of the bogie bore your berth details on a long distance journey?

But you have to that on a few selected routes, at least for the next three months!

Before you ask us why, let us put it out there – This is the Indian Railway Ministry’s bid to save paper!

The Railways will put an end to pasting reservation charts on reserved coaches of all trains originating from selected stations, on an experimental basis for a duration of three months.

The selected stations include New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Mumbai Central, Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Chennai Central, Howrah, and Sealdah.

The Ministry issued a circular to Railway Zones to spread the word and necessary instructions to everyone concerned.

Only after strict monitoring and honest feedback for two months, will the Ministry make the final decision on scaling up the move.

The inspiration behind the move is the green initiative by South Western Railways’ Bengaluru Division (SBC). Starting November 8, 2016, SBC discontinued pasting charts on reserved coaches of all trains from Bengaluru City and Yeshwantpur Railway Stations. The move helped save over Rs 60 lakh spent on paper.

The decision was based not only due to availability of other options to confirm berth details, but also save substantial money to the national exchequer, reported the Railways spokesperson.

Tejas loses its shine for passengers, demand dips

In the routing checking of the seat availability for the coming days, it was found there are at least 675-700 available seats in AC coaches and 30-35 in the executive AC coach, right till December.

In May, the Central Railway authorities were excited about launching the premier Mumbai-Goa Tejas Express in the hope that it would be their gravy train, but the country’s first semi-high speed train seems to have quickly run out of steam. It has been running empty for days now, at what should be a peak time, and hasn’t seen many reservations even for the year-end months.

Almost 90 per cent of seats in the 13-coach train, which has two power cars and an engine, were vacant for its past many runs, CR sources said. “During monsoons, trains are less crowded. But it is surprising that even in the months of October to December, full of festivals, the train hasn’t seen many bookings,” said a CR official on condition of anonymity. Besides, now is the time when Konkan region is said to be scenic and receive visitors, he said.

When randomly checked seat availability for the coming days, we found there are at least 675-700 available seats in AC coaches and 30-35 in the executive AC coach, right till December. An executive-class coach in Tejas has 42 seats while each AC coach has 65 seats.

CR officials, concerned about the drop in demand, complained that when quality services are provided at a slightly steeper cost, people shun them. “It feels futile to improve the condition of services, accessories and food quality inside premier trains,” an official said.

In the month that Tejas Express was flagged off by former railway minister Suresh Prabhu, the train was running to capacity each way. But then, in June, demand from Mumbaikars heading for Goa dropped to 67 per cent, and further to 23 per cent in July, before picking up, at about 55 per cent, in August.

Railway officials claim that demand during monsoon is normally low, be it railways or airways, but in this case, even the festive months of November and December haven’t seen holiday-goers line up for bookings.

Built in the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, the train is capable of running at 200 kmph, but usually runs at 160-180 kmph due to track constraints.

CSMT-Karmali Tejas Express: Reservations

May 24-31: 100 per cent
June: 66.57 per cent
July: 23.15 per cent
August: 55.08 per cent

Karmali-CSMT

May: 100 per cent
June: 69.47 per cent
July: 24.74 per cent
Aug: 33.9 per cent

Features :

– Touchless water taps, soap dispenser, marble finish anti-graffiti coat, hand dryers
– Vinyl-wrapped exteriors, secured gangways to reduce sound levels, dirt, water ingress
– Electro-pneumatic air brakes, fire and smoke suppression system
– CCTV cameras, GPS based public address system
– Call bell integrated with berth reading light, digital destination boards
– TV with touch control
– Local cuisine and celebrity-chef menu

Rationalising Train Schedules may be the Best Choice for Railways under the current constraints to ensure Safety

Within three days of taking over as the new railway minister, Piyush Goyal had to grapple with three derailments, that too in a span of 12 hours. Frequent rail accidents and causalities have eroded the public perception of train travel being safe, and unlike his predecessor Suresh Prabhu, Goel has about one and half years to achieve whatever is expected of him. Given the run-up to general elections 2019, the expectation from the railway minister is to make train travel safe, no more and no less.

This is not to say that Goel should abandon the visionary transformation initiatives of Prabhu, such as the establishment of non-fare box directorate, mobility directorate, world class station development through public private partnership, establishment of Rail Transport University, halting the production of ICF coaches once for all, retrofitting the existing ICF coaches with the safety features of LHB coaches to reduce fatalities during accidents, Mission Raftar for Delhi–Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, Talgo trains, to name a few. He should take these initiatives forward to its logical conclusion.

But it would take more time to fructify and outcomes could be seen only during 2019-24 or beyond, So, the immediate task before Goel is to bring back public confidence in safe train travel. But is he going to ensure that?

A daunting task

The Modi government in 2014 inherited a dilapidated railway infrastructure from the previous governments and it would take even two decades to fix it completely. But, after being in power for three years, blaming the previous regimes for the sorry state affairs of Indian Railways (IR) cannot hold water with the electorate. In fact, what causes accidents and how they should be reduced have been elaborated in various reports, papers and articles. From this, one can conclude that there are at least two dimensions to accidents and fatalities. The first dimension is to avoid accidents altogether.

In the discussion note on Fund Deployment Framework for Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), it was estimated that IR requires ₹1.54 lakh crore to carry out inter-departmental safety works, whereas RRSK funding provides ₹20,000 crore per year, which includes the budgetary support of ₹5,000 crore. At this rate, IR would take at least eight years to complete the inter-departmental safety works. Even if the entire ₹1.54 lakh crore is made available, the safety works cannot be completed in a year.

Reducing pain

The second dimension to safety is to reduce the casualties and injuries, once the accident has occurred. In November 2016, IR decided to stop manufacturing ICF coaches, which tends to raise casualities and injuries, by 2017.

However, the issue is much larger. About 50,000 passenger coaches of IR are ICF coaches, which constituted more than 95 per cent of the total coaches in IR. The Railways also made plans to retrofit all the ICF coaches with the safety provisions of LHB coaches.

However, the retrofitting would take years. Safe train travel and reduced casualties cannot wait till both these safety concerns are addressed by IR.

The maximum number of trains that can be run in a section depends on line capacity, the efficiency of signalling system, the speed of trains in that block.

However, about 65 per cent of the total railway network has been accommodating trains beyond their capacity. As a result, the maintenance staff does not get even two to three hours of uninterrupted window every day to carry out the maintenance work.

As a stop-gap arrangement, the NITI Aayog asked the Railways to redesign the time table in a manner that at least two to three hours of uninterrupted time is available for the maintenance staff to carry out safety checks for every block.

This includes combining few trains, increasing coaches or wagons and rationalising stops across all trains. However, a deeper understanding of how rail infrastructure is utilised by passenger and freight trains and how patronage for diverse types of passenger trains has been changing over the years would help here. It would throw light on how to rationalise the train time table.

Passenger trains (both ordinary trains and non-ordinary trains) and freight trains load rail infrastructure to the extent of about 67 per cent and 33 per cent respectively. IR ply about 2,800 non-ordinary trains (Express/Mail) with an average speed of about 56 kmph, which includes premium trains such as Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi.

Most of the Mail/Express trains include overnight travel as they are meant for medium to long distance travel. In addition, IR ply about 2500 ordinary trains, which are essentially day trains of short to medium distance with an average speed of about 35 kmph.

An ordinary problem

The analysis of rail travel data shows that share of ordinary trains in passenger transport measured in Passenger Kilometer (PKM) decreased from 37.50 per cent in 2005-06 to 26.20 per cent in 2015-16. The North Central Railway and East Central Railway covering UP and Bihar witnessed a decline of 22.5 per cent and 18.5 per cent respectively in ordinary train travel between 2012-13 and 2015-16.

Given their average slow speed due to so many stoppages, ordinary trains load the rail network more than the passenger transport they carry.

The railway lines connecting Delhi and Howrah passing through the states of UP and Bihar are the most congested sections of IR. A substantial reduction in number of ordinary trains either by reducing the frequency or phasing out ordinary trains in this route would ease congestion. This would give an uninterrupted window between dawn to dusk for the maintenance staff. The same logic should be applied to other congested routes of IR in other zones.

The new railway minister does not have too many options to improve the safety of rail travel, given the time and fund constraints. Rationalising the schedule of ordinary trains on war footing may be the best choice for Goel under the current constraints to ensure safe train travel.

Indian Railways to get Rs.6,000 crore loan from Japan for 200 Electric Locomotives for Freight Corridor

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) says it will extend a Rs.6,000 crore loan to India for procuring 200 electric locomotives for Western Dedicated Freight Corridor.

NEW DELHI: Japanese government’s official lending arm Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on Friday said it will extend a Rs6,000 crore loan to India for procuring 200 electric locomotives for Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC).

“Japan International Cooperation Agency signed an agreement with the government of India to provide official development assistance (ODA) loan of 108,456 million Japanese yen (approximately Rs6,000 crores) for procurement of 200 electric locomotives for the WDFC Project,” JICA said in a statement.

“The ODA loan’s conditions are very concessional, i.e. JPY LIBOR + 10 basis points interest rate (Japanese yen London inter-bank offered rate + 0.1%) for project activities and 30 years of repayment period (including 10 years of grace period),” according to the statement.

JICA is currently supporting the construction of civil and track works, electrification, including signalling and telecommunication system for WDFC between Delhi and Mumbai.

JICA-assisted WDFC project aims to cope with the increase of freight transport demand in India, thereby promoting comprehensive regional economic development along the freight corridor, JICA said. Inter-modal logistic handling systems are expected to improve and modernise through WDFC.

The new locomotives together with the dedicated railways, will enhance current freight capacity, catering increase in container traffic between the international container ports on the western coast and inland demand areas, it said.

The loan will also support the construction of a depot at Rewari, Haryana, for maintenance of the locomotives. The supplier of the locomotives is also expected to provide transfer of technology for indigenisation.

The ODA loan agreement was signed between Takema Sakamoto, chief representative, JICA India office and S Selvakumar, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance.

Speaking on the occasion, Sakamoto said, “JICA is fully committed towards the construction and completion of this initial logistical infrastructure of the DMIC (Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor). The DFC project will enhance freight capacity, making it a revolution for the industrial corridor”.

“JICA will continue to play an important role in the development of WDFC and will provide necessary assistance in the near future as well,” he added.

The ministry of railways would be responsible for procurement and maintenance of these electric locomotives, while Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp. of India Ltd (DFCCIL) would be responsible for operating them, the statement said.

JICA has so far extended concessional ODA loans of ¥443 billion (approximately Rs26,000 crore) for development of the western DFC project in India.

The project will focus on constructing about 1,500 kms track of the western corridor between Delhi and Mumbai, connecting major cities in the Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, as well as introducing new electric locomotives capable of high-speed, high-capacity transportation.

Indian Railways to start its biggest Track Renewal Exercise

AHMEDABAD: Indian Railways will undertake its largest track renewal exercise in the next three months to reduce train derailments. New railway minister Piyush Goyal has asked the Railway Board to identify stretches where tracks have either completed their lifespan or carry heavy traffic and change them all within the stipulated timeline.

The national transporter is expected to renew almost 2,000 km of track by the end of this calendar year, officials said. Goyal has instructed the board to use the available rails for renewals. However, the target for the current financial year for laying of new rails will remain the same and the railways will place fresh orders for tracks. “The minister is of the view that we should get safety in place first and then focus on laying fresh routes or doubling and tripling of lines.

The track renewals would have to be completed by December,” a top rail official said. “However, it doesn’t mean that we won’t meet the target of laying 3,000 km of new track routes. That would be completed as well. This would be a challenge for the zonal railways — to complete both things in record time.”

Goyal has also told the board that he’s not looking at raising passenger fares or levying any kind of safety cess on rail tickets to raise more resources for maintenance, the officials said. Instead, the focus is on weeding out inefficiency and raising revenue through non-fare avenues.

The minister has also instructed the timely completion of the 3,300 km long dedicated freight corridors by 2019. The corridors will reduce traffic on the existing rail network, giving the railways more resources for better maintenance of rail routes.

India has been hit by several rail accidents in the past few months. At least 200 people have died in 340 small and big accident since 2014.

Eye on Electrification, Indian Railways looks at winding up Bihar diesel project

The Railway Board is also working on a plan to immediately halt the rehabilitation of diesel locomotives, and ensure that no new investments are made on infrastructure to maintain stocks.

NEW DELHI: Given that electrification is the roadmap for the future, the Railways is considering the possibility of exiting or winding up the Marhowra diesel locomotive factory being set up in Bihar’s Saran in partnership with General Electric, two years after the project was awarded.

This possibility was discussed during a review meeting of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal with members of the Railway Board on September 7, according to internal communications issued a day later.

The reason for the proposed move is that diesel will no longer be used by the Railways, which is expeditiously implementing the near-total electrification of its network with the aim of moving to a cheaper and cleaner source of energy.

Following the discussions, the Railway Board is required to move the matter on files “on top priority”, according to the communications. However, any move to exit or wind up the project would require a formal mandate from the Union Cabinet

When contacted, Ashwani Lohani, chairman, Railway Board, told “All aspects of the matter are being examined right now. It is too early to comment on the modalities.”

When asked to comment on the proposal to exit the project, a GE spokesperson responded with an emailed statement on behalf of the company. “We are on track and actively fulfilling our contract with Indian Railways to develop and supply 1,000 fuel-efficient diesel-electric Evolution Series locomotives, bringing modern rail infrastructure and new high-skills jobs to the country. Two locomotives have been built and tested. The first locomotive has been shipped and will arrive in India on October 10 for IREE (International Railway Equipment Exhibition),” it said.

“The construction of our Brilliant Factory in Marhaura, Bihar and maintenance shed in Roza, UP are well underway and expected to be completed on time. The project creates a robust supply chain ecosystem in India, constituting 60 new local suppliers and 10 global suppliers to achieve over 70% localisation. Roughly 1,000 direct and indirect roles have been hired to support these efforts in the region,” it said.

Railways officials said that all pros and cons will be taken into consideration, keeping in mind the interests of all stakeholders, before a final decision is taken.

The Railway Board is also working on a plan to immediately halt the rehabilitation of diesel locomotives, and ensure that no new investments are made on infrastructure to maintain stocks.
The decision to go for all-electric traction was taken during the tenure of Goyal’s predecessor Suresh Prabhu last year, and formalised earlier this year, sources said. Goyal took charge of the ministry following the Cabinet reshuffle early this month.

The Railways had awarded contracts for the Madhepura electric and Marhowra diesel locomotive factories in Bihar to Alstom and GE, respectively, in 2015, in a function attended by a number of Union ministers, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who described the twin projects as a “win-win situation” for all stakeholders.

The Marhowra and Madhepura projects were billed as the biggest FDI in the rail sector, together representing around Rs 40,000 crore of investment, according to statements issued by the government.

For both factories, the Railways has committed an assured offtake — in other words, a commitment that it would consume the supplies. But the latest line of thinking within the ministry is that there will be no need for new high-horsepower diesel locomotives, and that the current stock would hold good for the next two to three decades.

Officials said that work on the Marhowra project is proceeding on schedule. According to the timeline, the construction of the main shed was to be completed this year, they said.

“Over 67 acres of land were given by Railways to the project. Work is on in full swing. The contract has a complicated exit clause whose financial implication will now be worked out,” said an official.

The twin projects were former railway minister Lalu Prasad’s “gift” to Bihar, and announced in his Rail Budget speech a decade ago. The latest move may turn out to be a contentious one because the BJP is now part of the JD(U)-led government in Bihar, and the Opposition, led by RJD, can be expected to protest the loss of an industrial project of this size.

“These factories would have led to the substantial development of ancillary manufacturing units, generation of direct and indirect employment, and substantial development in the region,” said an official, referring to an official briefing on the project two years ago.

The previous UPA government had put both projects in cold storage because the assured offtake model was deemed controversial, and linked to possible loss to the exchequer.

The Marhowra project was expected to manufacture and supply modern diesel electric locomotives of 4,500 HP and 6,000 HP — in combination, they could operate as 9,000 HP and 12,000 HP multiple units. Madhepura, on the other hand, would manufacture and supply modern electric locomotives of 12,000 HP.

Under the agreements, 1,000 diesel locomotives were to be manufactured over 11 years at a basic cost of Rs 14,656 crore, and 800 electric units over the same period at a basic cost of Rs 19,904 crore.

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Railways cuts down sleeping hours for passengers by an hour

NEW DELHI: The Railways is trying to put an end to those tiresome quarrels that break out due to oversleeping passengers on the middle and lower berths by reducing official sleeping hours.

According to a circular issued by the railway board, the passengers in the reserved coaches can only sleep between 10 pm and 6 am to allow others to sit on the seats for the rest of the time.

Until the circular was issued, the existing permissible time for sleeping was between 9 pm and 6 am.

“Sleeping accommodation between 2200 hours and 0600 hours and sitting accommodation for the rest of the period is provided for the passengers in the reserved coaches having sleeping accommodation,” said the circular, dated August 31.

The circular, however, makes an exception for certain passengers.

“Passengers are, however, requested to cooperate with the sick, persons with disability, and pregnant ladies in case they want to sleep beyond permissible limits,” it says.

The new provision replaces paragraph 652 in the Indian Railways Commercial Manual, Volume I, which provides for sleeping accommodation between 9 pm and 6 am.

“We had received feedback from officials regarding issues between passengers over sleeping arrangements. We already have a rule in place. However, we wanted to clarify it and ensure it is followed,” said ministry spokesperson Anil Saxena.

This provision is applicable to all reserved coaches with sleeping accommodation, he said.

Another railway official said the sleeping time was reduced by an hour because there were times when passengers went to sleep as soon as they boarded the train — day or night — leaving the co-travellers on the upper and middle berths high and dry.

Conversely, officials said problems also arise when passengers on the middle berths refuse to get up so that those on the lower berths could sit comfortably.

“It is a regular bone of contention among passengers. Once, there was a passenger on the lower berth who slept all through the journey from Kolkata to Delhi, while the man on the upper berth had to remain there and others on the middle berth sat perched in one corner of the lower berth through the trip.

“All through the journey, they kept taking digs at the sleeping man and even poking him. This happens all the time on trains,” said Sachin Singh, a businessman, who travels frequently between Delhi and Kolkata for meetings.

Officials said that the problem is more acute for side berths. The circular has clarified that a person booked on side upper berth will not have any claim of seat on the lower berth between 10 pm and 6 am.

Ministry officials said the new directive will help Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) to resolve such disputes on board by preventing anyone from taking catnaps beyond the permissible time.

SCR plan to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings within One Year: says GM/SCR

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway instructed the officials to eliminate all Un Manned Level Crossing (UMLCs) Gates by next year. He conducted a detailed review meeting on Safety and Punctuality today i.e., 18th September, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) of all six Divisions i.e., Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded participated through video conference.

Vinod Kumar Yadav informed that the Hon’ble Minister of Railways complimented the Zone regarding eliminations of level crossings which is increasing the responsibility of the Zone. The General Manager instructed that Employee Charter should be implemented properly in all Divisions and genuine grievances by the employees should be sorted out immediately. Speaking on the welfare activities of the women employees the General Manager instructed the DRMs to give priority on their grievances. He also instructed the officials to make an action plan to provide all stations and offices with LED lighting by the end of this financial year.

The General Manager speaking on the safety, instructed the officials to intensify field level checks, track maintenance works and address the problems on top priority. He reviewed the all unsafe working activities on the Zone and advised the officials to take preventive measures to arrest any such incidents. Vinod Kumar Yadav reviewed the Monsoon readiness drill including patrolling, monitoring of water levels of tanks etc., and instructed them to concentrate on vulnerable locations.

John Thomas, Additional General Manager; K.V.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; N. Madhusudhana Rao, Principal Chief Operations Manager; Arjun Mundiya, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer; Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan,  Principal Financial Advisor; M.G.Sekharam, Principal Chief Commercial Manager; Vinay Mohan Shrivastava, Principal Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; Vijay Agrawal, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction); D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; P.K.Sangewar, Principal Chief Material Manager; N.V. Ramana Reddy, Principal Chief Personnel Officer; Dr. K.H.K.Dora, Principal Chief Medical Director were also present during the meeting.

Saudi Arabia to Seek Bidders for 1,000-Mile Red Sea-Gulf Railway

New Saudi Railway Expected To Reduce Dependence On Crude Oil

Saudi Arabia plans to seek bidders for the construction of a 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) railroad linking the Red Sea with the Persian Gulf as early as the end of this year, signaling the go ahead for a long-delayed project seen as vital to reducing the economy’s dependence on oil.

Saudi Arabia has been planning the 1,000-mile Red Sea-Persian Gulf link—Land Bridge—since 2008, but tabled it after Saudi Arabia and private companies failed to initially agree on the financial terms of a deal.

The Saudis are now “moving ahead to implement the project” after Saudi Railway saw an encouraging response from the private sector to an invitation for expressions of interest, Al Malik told

The so-called Land Bridge line will shave around three days off the current five-day journey time for shipping seaborne freight around the Saudi coast, while improving links to Riyadh, and Jeddah, the nation’s two biggest cities.

Contract tenders will be issued at the end of 2017 or early in 2018 following an encouraging response to an invitation for expressions of interest, Saudi Railway Co. Chief Executive Officer Bashar Al Malik said in an interview.

Saudi Arabia first awarded contracts for a privately funded coast-to-coast line in 2008 in an effort to accelerate the transit of goods around a country a fifth the size of the U.S., but put the project on hold after financial terms couldn’t be agreed. It’s now “moving ahead to implement the project” after an encouraging response from the private sector, Al Malik said.

The cost of the Land Bridge line will depend on the exact route chosen and the location of the Red Sea terminus, with bidding for contracts likely to include local and international engineering companies and financial institutions, according to Al Malik, who has been CEO of Saudi Railway since March.

Heavy transport of minerals, oil, and petrochemicals is the largest source of income among Saudi Railway’s service lines, according to the company website. SAR expects to boost in the future its minerals and oils freight services to cover minerals, petroleum products, and petrochemicals via agreements signed with companies such as Aramco, SABIC, and Sadara

Diversification Drive

Saudi Arabia allocated 52 billion riyals ($14 billion) to infrastructure and transportation this year, up from 38 billion riyals in 2016, according to the Ministry of Finance’s 2017 budget report. The investment is aimed at advancing moves to wean the Arab world’s biggest economy off oil as part of the Vision 2030 plan led by the heir to the Saudi throne, Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Railway is separately targeting increased freight shipments on the country’s Northern Line, including minerals transported for Saudi Arabian Mining Co., also known as Maaden. Phosphate volumes should rise to 5 million tons this year from 4.4 million in 2016, while bauxite carriage may improve to 4 million tons from 3.3 million, Al Malik said.

The railway company is evaluating its ability to boost capacity as Maaden and its partners Mosaic Co. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. expand production at Waad al-Shamal in the far north of the country, he said.

Saudi Railway is also looking at expanding rail links to better serve energy giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco. which has bulk plants in Tabuk, Turaif and the Al Jouf region close to the Jordanian border for the distribution of gasoline, diesel fuel and other liquid products.

Other opportunities for increased freight haulage center on agricultural production in the Busaita area of Al Jouf which hasn’t yet utilized rail infrastructure, Al Malik said. The zone has some of Saudi Arabia’s largest farms, including Al Jouf Agricultural Development Co.’s 60,000 hectares of wheat, barley, maize and other crops.

 

India’s High-speed Rail project to bring a sea change in the Speed and Safety of Rail Travel

On 14 September, the foundation stone was laid for the first high-speed rail (HSR) project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The project is big in terms of size and scale with an estimated cost of $17-18 b, out of which 81 per cent is funded by Japan through a soft loan. It involves the creation of 508 kms of standard gauge rail line, with an elevated corridor of 405 kms, 21 kms of an undersea line and around 5 kms of mountain tunnels.

It is an engineering behemoth that could catalyse the Indian engineering skills. Indian industry hopes this project would open new opportunities for its own development and offer new business in such areas as construction, supply and manufacture of parts, materials and so on. The Railways and Indian companies engaged in the railways, logistics and communication fields have acquired new capabilities. There is now evidence of their ability to partner Japanese hi-tech companies in the MAHSR project. It would be pertinent that Japanese industry explore collaboration possibilities early on so that the criticism against the project does not snowball.

This is in continuation of the financial support pledged by Japan on 12 December 2015, committing about 85% of the total cost of the project as loan with an interest rate of 0.1% and a moratorium of 15 years and repayment period of 50 years. In this backdrop, the question of the tax payers’ money wasted for the bullet train project does not hold water.

Given the track record of accidents in Indian Railways (IR), a pertinent question is whether IR will be able to operate HSR at a maximum speed of 320 kilometres per hour (kmph) without accidents, whereas our conventional trains operate at a maximum speed of 160 kmph or less. First, the guided transportation systems such as air and rail are generally safer than the unguided transportation system like road. A guided transport system is assigned a clear right of way, unlike the unguided transportation system, and thereby provide safer transport. The guided transport system is steered and controlled by very few who are well-trained in operating these modes and when they make mistakes do accidents usually occur. That is why in India and all over the world, air and rail have remained safer transport modes compared to road.

The important question then is if rail is a guided transport system, why are accidents happening regularly. Although rail carries about 10% of the passenger traffic against about 88% by road and 35% of freight traffic against about 65% by road, even after taking these frequent rail accidents into consideration, the number of accidents by rail is relatively low compared to road. However, it was reported that between 2011-12 and 2016-17, 50% of the accidents occurred due to derailments and 40% occurred due to collisions at level crossings and 10% due to other reasons. It is now well established that the conventional rail system suffers from overloading of tracks and the maintenance staff do not even get 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time for the upkeep of rail infrastructure. The non-availability of time to maintain tracks has been resulting in derailments in IR. In the case of HSR, the trains normally run between 06.00 hours and 23.30 hours and the time window between 00.00 hours and 05.00 hours is exclusively allotted to maintenance work. With no seclusion for railway lines and thousands of manned and unmanned level crossings at road junctions, the right of way of conventional rail network is very much restricted in practice. The HSR between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is to be constructed on an elevated corridor for the most part and underground in some urban areas. So, the right of way for HSR will be absolute and leave no scope for collision with any other transport mode; hence HSR will be much safer.

IR inherited the archaic railway system of the 19th century. Its efforts in the upgrade of conventional rail have just been incremental as all the changes had to be carried out in the rail system which is under operations. Although IR has improved its signalling system enormously, it still uses a spatial signalling system, whereas developed countries have adopted in-cab signalling and automatic train stop systems. The spatial signalling system is prone to human error and reduces the throughput of the rail network as only one train in one direction can run in a block (of, say, 15km). The in-cab signalling and automatic train stop systems which are employed in HSR are relatively insulated from human errors. Further trains can also run even with a headway of 3-4 minutes with no scope for collision. As a result, HSR provides at least five times the running capacity as that of conventional rail. HSR is a two-line system (one for each direction) with no crossings or minimal crossings between the lines. Hence the question of collision of trains coming in the opposite directions also does not arise in HSR.

When most of the developed countries moved towards train sets, due to legacy issues, IR has been manufacturing ICF (at the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai) coaches. Although ICF coaches kill and maim passengers enormously when accidents occur compared to the German technology-based LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches, IR did not stop manufacturing ICF coaches till Suresh Prabhu, the then railway minister, passed an order in November 2016. Prabhu’s order to stop manufacturing ICF coaches and retrofit the safety features of LHB coaches in ICF coaches was aimed at ensuring reduced fatalities and injuries in accidents. In HSR, train sets are used, which are much safer than LHB coaches.

Even if conventional rail is given a perfect right of way by fencing and removing all the level crossings with ROB/RUB (road over-bridges/under-bridges), to acquire speeds like that of HSR, the conventional rail lines should be aligned in straight line. To achieve this, the entire anatomy of the rail network would have to be changed. Upgrading tracks, signalling system or coaches of conventional rail to the level of HSR is akin to replacing every module of a personal computer from the 1980s with the latest modules of a laptop. Apart from serious compatibility issues, the upgraded PC will never be as compact, sleek, portable or give the same quality of service as a latest laptop. HSR is a wonderful opportunity for IR to move multiple levels in technology in one go and thereby bring a sea change in the speed and safety of rail travel and create a new benchmark for quality of service.

It costs about Rs1 trillion for constructing 500km of HSR system, averaging to Rs2 billion per kilometre. Even Metro rail systems cost about Rs3-4 billion per kilometre. Any modern rail system with state-of-the-art features would cost much more than the archaic conventional rail system. The cost of HSR is not just for the construction of tracks but for building HSR stations, high-end rolling stock and signalling system, maintenance depots and workshops, training of personnel, etc. Peevish remarks questioning the wisdom of India going for HSR when we are unable to run conventional train services properly are detrimental to efforts to modernize rail transport, which is long overdue.

Bangladesh Railways inks pact with Indonesian rolling stock supplier PT Inka for 200 Coaches

DHAKA: Bangladesh Railways (BR) signed a Taka 5.79bn ($US 71m) contract with Indonesian rolling stock supplier PT Inka in Dhaka on September 14 for 200 metre-gauge coaches.

Delivery of the stainless-steel-bodied air-conditioned coaches will begin within 20 months and the final vehicles will arrive in Bangladesh within 33 months.

The order is being funded by the Bangladeshi government and the Asian Development Bank.

In April BR awarded PT Inka a contract to supply 50 metre-gauge coaches.

PT Inka has already supplied 100 metre-gauge and 50 broad-gauge coaches to BR under a contract signed in April 2016.

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CRB holds Meeting with General Managers of Indian Railways

Chairman of the Railway Board has made it clear to the ministry officials that ‘VIP culture’ must be stopped to bring about a substantial change in the system

NEW DELHI: The new boss of Indian Railways, Ashwani Lohani, has taken the unconventional route to discipline its workforce in order to improve functioning of the railway ministry. Lohani, the chairman of the Railway Board (CRB), has made it clear to the ministry officials that ‘VIP culture’ must be stopped to bring about a substantial change in the system. There will now be a strict prohibition on accepting gifts for all railway officers and they have also been told to give up unnecessary protocols.

Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board (CRB), New Delhi stressed on according top priority to Safety on Indian Railways. He was addressing a high level performance review meeting of General Managers (GMs) of all the Zonal Railways including Production units on the aspect of Safety, Punctuality, Loading and Works in progress today i.e., 16th September, 2017 from Railway Board, New through video conference.

Interacting with the General Managers, Ashwani Lohani stated that Safety is the prime concern for Indian Railways in the changing times. He advised the General Managers and other senior officials to interact more with the field and monitor the implementation of rules formulated for the improvement of systems for ensuring safety. He emphasized on Cleanliness at the stations, trains and work places also. He instructed on focus to be given to elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings, provision of Gate Mitras, Construction of Limited Height Subways to eliminate Level Crossings as per the target fixed. He also stressed upon welfare of the workforce to achieve optimum productivity in train operations.

Further, he instructed to focus on the Cleanliness Drive being taken up Nationwide “Swachhta hi Sewa” which commenced on 15th September, 2017 and will continue upto 2nd October, 2017 which will be observed Swachh Bharat Diwas.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR appraised on the Safety Performance of the Zone. He stated that Zone is focusing on track maintenance and elimination of all the 268 UMLCs which are presently manned by Gate Mithras. He informed that the asset reliability on the Zone has been significantly improved and Cleanliness has been accorded top priority. The Zone has initiated several Staff Welfare measures to resolve grievances of the employees.

An Employees’ Charter has been prepared and being implemented at Headquarters and Divisions to facilitate employee needs. SCR bagged several awards and Green Co Certificates for Workshops and Service Buildings for green initiatives.

John Thomas, Additional General Manager; Shri K.V.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; Shri Arjun Mundiya, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer; Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan, Principal Financial Advisor; Shri M.G.Sekharam, Principal Chief Commercial Manager; Shri Vinay Mohan Shrivastava, Principal Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; Shri Vijay Agrawal, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction); Shri S.K.Agarwal, Chief Electrical General Engineer; Shri D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; Shri P.K.Sangewar, Principal Chief Material Manager; Shri N.V. Ramana Reddy, Principal Chief Personnel Officer; Dr. K.H.K.Dora, Principal Chief Medical Director; Shri Sanjay Sankrityayan, Chief Security Commissioner were also present during the meeting.

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BHEL shares surge over 10% on Rolling Stock order win for Bullet Train

BHEL and Kawasaki Heavy Industries will collaborate to make rolling stock for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed bullet train project, said Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. BHEL stock touched a high of Rs145.80 a share and gained as much as 10.1%, its maximum advance since 7 September 2016

MUMBAI: Shares of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) on Thursday surged over 10%, its biggest gains in one year, on reports that the company will make rolling stock for bullet trains. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of India’s first bullet train project, a high-speed rail link to Mumbai, in Ahmedabad earlier on Thursday.

The stock touched a high of Rs145.80 a share and gained as much as 10.1%, its maximum advance since 7 September 2016. At 11.11am, BHEL was trading at Rs.143.75 on the BSE, up 8.5% from its previous close. The stock gained for the fourth session and rose 15% in this period. Year to date, it has gained nearly 20%.

“Bharat Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to collaborate for making rolling stock for bullet train project,” quoted Abe in Ahmedabad.

The 534-km Rs1 trillion high-speed rail project that will operate trains with average speeds of 200-250kmph will be a game-changer in terms of inter-urban connectivity and establish India as a market for such technologies. The bullet train, which has a capacity to accommodate 750 people, is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities from seven to three hours.

BHEL shares closed Rs.4.85, or 3.66%, higher at Rs.137.40, while Sensex rose by 56 points, or 0.17%, to close at 32,242.

On June 29, 2017 the state-owned BHEL had entered into a technology collaboration agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, (KHI), Japan for the manufacture of stainless steel coaches for metros.

KHI is a manufacturer of heavy equipment and its rolling stock company has supplied EMU trainsets to various countries like the US, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, alongside Japan, the statement said. KHI is also the manufacturer and supplier of the Shinkansen High Speed Bullet Trains, proposed to be introduced in India on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor. The pact will enable BHEL to produce stainless steel coaches indigenously, it added.

The Technology Collaboration Agreement covers establishing a state-of-the-art design, engineering and manufacturing facilities at BHEL, India using Japanese technology, a company statement said.

The pact will also entitle BHEL for all technology advances and upgrades. BHEL has been supplying the Indian Railways both electric and diesel locomotives, EMUs, and propulsion system sets and drives for the same. Kolkata Metro, the first metro project in India, is equipped with BHEL made propulsion system.

Meanwhile, in past four trading sessions, the stock rallied 14% after the BHEL has fixed September 30, 2017 as the record date for the purpose of issuance of bonus shares of the company in the ratio of 1 (One) new equity bonus share Rs 2 each for every 2 (Two) existing equity shares of Rs 2 each.

Indian Railways’ Freight Loading up 5% in April-Aug 2017

Coal accounts for 48% of the Railways traffic and 44% of its earnings profile. The demand for rakes from the domestic coal sector is way below the projected targets. However Rail freight, container volumes indicate significant rebound in trade in August: reports PhillipCapital India

KOLKATA: The Railways has seen nearly 5 per cent year-on-year increase in freight loading for the first five months of this fiscal (April to August) riding on growing volumes of cement, steel and iron ore traffic.

Steel cargo increased by 22.27 per cent to 22.62 million tonnes (mt) during April-August 2017 over the same period last year.

Iron ore loading saw a near 13 per cent y-o-y increase to 59.23 mt, while cement cargo grew by 12.60 per cent to 47.53 mt. Loading of foodgrains and containers has also gone up. The improved showing, however, came despite a 0.3 per cent drop in coal cargo to 215.86 mt, owing to reduced imports.

No growth in coal

Coal accounts for 48 per cent of the Railways traffic and 44 per cent of its earnings profile. According to Bajwa, while the loading of imported coal dropped, domestic coal loading increased. The demand for rakes from the domestic coal sector, however, is way below the projected targets. As against 238 rakes a day, Coal India Ltd is loading only 214 rakes a day, he said. “We hope the coal loading numbers will improve and we will be able to achieve the set target of 555 million tonnes this fiscal,” Bajwa told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the ‘mjunction’ organised coal markets conference. Fertiliser was the other major category that saw around four per cent decline in traffic, during this period, to 20.29 mt due to “less imports.”

The Railways invests nearly ₹131,000 crore to ramp up rolling stock (wagons), expanding track capacity through line doubling and improving the signalling system. According to Bajwa, by the end of 2018-19, the rolling stock (wagon) availability will increase by 10 per cent.

Container volumes at major ports increased 8.4% in August over a year ago, indicating a significant recovery in trade

Container volumes at major ports (in terms of 20-foot equivalent units) increased 8.4% in August over a year ago, indicating a significant recovery in trade. Due to the initial disruption caused by the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), container traffic growth had slowed to around 2-5% in the earlier two months. Encouragingly, volumes at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), India’s largest container port, remained strong, clocking a growth of 9.1%, data compiled by PhillipCapital (India) Pvt. Ltd shows.

The Indian Railways freight traffic data also indicates a rebound in trade, though it is helped by a favourable base. Traffic in terms of originating tonnes expanded 7.7% last month, the fastest growth so far this fiscal year. The export-import (Exim) container traffic in terms of tonnage is up 19.5%. Domestic container traffic is up 16%, which is a positive surprise.

An analyst with a domestic broking firm says the data indicates continued market share gains by the railways. The recent rise in diesel prices may have helped tilt the cost curve in favour of the railways.

Nevertheless, these numbers should bode well for the national carrier and container train operators. Traffic not only gained momentum in August but growth so far this fiscal is also better than the year-ago period. Compared to 4.3% growth a year ago, container volume at major ports is up 6.4% so far this fiscal. Similarly, total rail freight volume is up 4.9% so far this fiscal, compared to a 1.4% drop in the year ago. Growth in container traffic on the Indian Railways is also significantly better than for the year-ago period.

India’s Bullet Train project to obtain the most Modern Technologies; to up the Innovation in Transportation

While European countries like Germany and Italy had been researching and experimenting on high speed rail network since as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, it was Japan which made the breakthrough in this race for the fastest rail technology with innovation.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid down the ceremonial first stone of India’s first high-speed rail line at the Athletic Stadium near the Sabarmati Railway Station in Gujarat, it showcased India’s entry from the smoke-billowing ‘chhuk-chhuk’ train, started under the British Raj some 164 years ago, to the league of those nations equipped with a high-speed ultra-modern rail network. Not only that, it is a back-to-back answer to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. A bullet train on Indian soil, under the government’s ambitious plan to modernise rail infrastructure after decades of underinvestment, is a proud moment as it indicates that Indian Railways would be obtaining the most modern technologies matching that of the developed countries.

EFFICIENT, FAST, ACCIDENT-FREE

The ultra-efficient Shinkansen train network connects cities along the length and breadth of the country. Till 2011, it also had the highest ridership annually before giving up the title to its rival China.

The trains, which run every three minute, attain the maximum speed of 320km. They are operated by companies of the Japanese Railways Group and are known for their punctuality and safety record. Sample this: crew members of the Shinkansen trains are asked to give an explanation if the train arrives a minute late to its destination.

The network boasts of zero accident fatalities in its 53-year-journey, although Japan is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes. A Google search about Shinkansen accidents streams an incident of self immolation in the train and a minor derailment due to earthquake.

The system has become synonymous with efficiency. A video on YouTube titled ‘The 7-Minute Miracle Of Japanese Train System’ was shared widely on social media websites. The clip showed crew members respectfully bowing as a Shinkansen entering the station, waiting for passengers to disembark and swiftly cleaning every car of the super speed train in seven minutes.

COSTLY, BUT ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY

An undated report of the Japan Railway & Transport Review said the Shinkansen project has tried to minimise noise pollution because it passes through high population density areas. Compared to other means of transport, the Shinkansen hardly emits any carbon dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide and other harmful gases. “If the Tokaido Shinkansen had not been constructed, about 15,000 tons more CO2 would have been emitted in 1985. This corresponds to the annual amount of CO2 emitted by industry in and around Tokyo,” it read.

The fares for Shinkansen were, however, costly. Former member of the railway board, RC Acharya, wrote in an article for HT in 2015 that a Shinkansen trip from Tokyo to Kyoto (514 km) costs Rs 7,700. It isn’t surprising too that the estimate fares for the proposed Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train is estimated to range between Rs.3,000 – Rs.5,000.

This new High-Speed Rail (HSR) line which would run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, cutting the travel time down from eight hours to two or three hours for a 508-kilometers’distance is aimed to become a part of ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, its scheduled completion date has been moved up by one year to August 15, 2022. The total cost of this project had been approximated at 17 billion USD, of which Japan would provide a friendly loan for over 80 per cent of the value.

The Japanese government would charge interest at 0.1 per cent, over a 50-year repayment cycle along with a grace period of 15 years. Japan would also provide the HSR technology making India a potential developer of it. With an aim to unleash the unexploited potential of Asia’s two largest democracies, India and Japan had formed a ‘special strategic and global partnership’ in 2011. And, incidentally this Mumbai–Ahmedabad Shinkansen line has come within months after the announcement of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, which is a joint effort by both Japan and India to strengthen transportation infrastructure and development across Asia and Africa.

As China and Japan are the global giants competing for contracts to build new HSR lines and supply the rolling stock all over Asia and even in Europe, Beijing may also be eyeing the other two HSR projects in India waiting in the wings, including the proposals to construct HSR lines from Delhi to Nagpur and Delhi to Chennai. However, another reason for preferring Japan over China is that Japan does not have a history of accidents on their bullet train network. On the other hand, there remain many unanswered questions regarding the timely completion of the Mumbai–Ahmedabad Shinkansen line project. Maintaining a balance in providing better connectivity while managing costs due to the demands of the land, may escalate to become a big source of worry for the authorities. The government might face a hard time explaining even the fares – which is expected to be higher than the flight tickets between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

With train tickets costlier than flight tickets, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project would have to cater to at least 1.5 crore passengers a year to earn enough and repay the loans with interest on time. Acquiring 825 hectares of land for this project would be the toughest task as it covers more than 163 villages in eight districts of Gujarat and 44 villages in three districts of Maharashtra, affecting as many as 2,761 families. Besides, the safety issues for bullet trains will also be a matter of concern as it would be running at 320 kmph. Not to forget, Narendra Modi is a Prime Minister who is gradually gaining accolades for his particular brand of big stick politics – aimed to push his country into a full rebuild. Asserting that India is willing to jump on the ride to see where it goes, he said that this ambitious project would bring pace to development in the country and no country can grow if they don’t dream big. “It is a new India which has to fly high. To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strengths that would be required to achieve that,” the Prime Minister said in his address at Sabarmati Ashram.

Only time can spell out the success of the much-hyped Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, but right now, it seems that India is aiming to become a high-speed rail powerhouse, resulting in a proper upgradation of its 164-year-old conventional transportation system on the tracks. And, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line is the first step towards this ambition.

How the Railway systems around the world raced to get their fastest trains

The quest for the fastest possible rail network had been on the agenda of countries across the world throughout the twentieth century. The concept of high speed train is used to designate any railway system that has a speed above 250 kph. While European countries like Germany and Italy had been researching and experimenting on high speed rail network since as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, it was Japan which made the breakthrough in this race for the fastest rail technology.

Japan’s headway in high speed rail technology was soon followed by France, Germany, Spain United Kingdom, United States, China, Italy, Korea and Taiwan. “This transformation of ground transportation infrastructure has become the symbol of modernity in many countries, and, from the financial perspective, high speed rail lines have become the most important projects in those countries where this innovation has been implemented,” write economists Daniel Albalate and Germa Bel in their work on the economics and politics of high speed railways.

While the government of these countries have often justified the technology in terms of commercial gains to be made and environmental benefits, they have also come under criticism regarding the economic and social burden the fast train projects might lead to. Whatever be the highs and lows of high speed rail technology, its association with modernity has made the idea of ‘fast trains’ a near necessity for any country desiring to be labeled as ‘developed’.

On Thursday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, inaugurated the first high speed rail service in India, or what is popularly called the bullet train, the Indian rail industry took a leap in the direction of modern locomotives. Here is a look at few other countries who have been ahead in this race.

JAPAN

In the period following the end of the Second World War, Japan made several astounding economic gains as it benefited from Cold War politics. A product of this economic boom and the necessity of the post-war demographic situation in Japan led the country to discover high speed locomotive technology. Subsequently, the country made a breakthrough in high speed railways in 1964 with the Shinkansen or the bullet train network. At its inception, the network extended from Tokyo to Osaka. Over time it has extended to cover 2,764.6 km, linking most of the major cities in the country.

The bullet train technology inaugurated by India and Japan in Ahmedabad on Thursday rests on the same technology that made Japan the first country to successfully introduce high speed railways.

UNITED KINGDOM

On January 10, 2012, the Secretary of Transportation of the British government announced the building of a high-speed railway line between London and Birmingham, with an extension to Manchester and Leeds. Despite criticism against the project regarding the high costs it would accrue, the British government maintained that the benefits to be gained from the rail network would be much higher than the costs. The project has come under strong criticism from organisations like the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute. The media too has been critical of the project. In 2011 an article on the high speed rail project published in the weekly publication, The Economist, came out with the title “The great train robbery”.

The British government, however, had been consistent in their confidence on the project. A report on the rail network presented by the government to the Parliament stated that “the Government believes strongly that the time has come to act with the same boldness as our Victorian predecessors”.

UNITED STATES

While research and tests for high speed rail in the United States had been ongoing since the early decades of the 20th century, one of the first substantial projects date back to the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965. Despite being one of the first countries to introduce high speed rail networks, it could barely spread with the same agility. A more recent development in the process has been the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act in 1991. The Act mandated the Federal Railroad Administration to identify five corridors for high speed rail network. Over time the number of such corridors identified have increased.

In April 2009, the Obama administration presented a blueprint for a national network of high speed passenger rail lines. “The purpose of the plan, as the president stated is to reduce traffic congestion, cut dependence on foreign oil, and foster livable urban and rural communities,” wrote Albalate and Bel. While the cost of the network has come under heavy criticism, a major point in support of the railways made by the government is that of environmental benefits to be made, particularly those related to energy efficiency and cutting down of air pollution.

EUROPEAN UNION

The first high speed rail line arrived in Europe in 1981 with the Train Grande Vitesse line between Paris and Lyon. The process of opening high speed rails in Europe accelerated in the late 1980s with lines opening in Germany and Spain and later in Italy. The development of high speed rail network in European countries depended on a variety of factors including the specific socio-economic and territorial needs of the states, the condition of the rail companies and the strategies adopted by the individual governments.

While high speed rail network developed at a fast pace in almost all European countries, the French and the German models gained an upper hand over all others. Developed in the 1980s and 90s, the two models became a source of inspiration for most other European countries who wished to develop fast trains strategy, this was particularly the case for Italy and Spain.

In the early 1990s, the European Union launched an ambitious plan for an integrated European high-speed network. One of the first steps taken by the Union in the process of railway reorganisation was the liberalisation of the rail economy. As of 1994, nine projects were selected for building high speed rail lines. With the enlargement of the European Union, however, the number of projects also increased over time.

MEMU Coach Maintenance Unit to come up at Godhni near Nagpur

NAGPUR: In a big boost to development and employment in the region, Godhni, near Nagpur, under Central Railway will soon get a mega depot to maintain Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) coaches.

Nagpur, which is centrally located, is among three cities, after Jaipur in Rajasthan and Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, where such depots will be set up. “The Railway Board has already given a green signal to set up the unit in Godhni, where huge railway land is available,” said Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Brijesh Kumar Gupta.

Gupta said Railways have invited financial bids worth over Rs.20,000 crore for manufacturing around 5,000 MEMU coaches at the Kanchrapara rail factory in West Bengal. “The modern and well equipped depot at Godhni will maintain at least 750 MEMU coaches. Earlier, there was a plan to set up the project at Bhusawal but Railway Board decided to go for Nagpur,” said Gupta.

The DRM said it will be a joint venture project and entire tendering process is being handled by the Railway Board. As per the policy decision, there are plans to reduce passenger trains and pitch in MEMU trains. at some locations

“These coaches will be equipped with modern facilities like automatic doors, forced ventilation, bio-toilets, regenerative braking, and better interior design. The stainless steel coaches will run faster than the existing coaches,” said Gupta.

Central Railway sources said that in June last year, railways had sought requests for qualification (RFQ) for manufacturing 5,000 modern EMU/MEMU coaches over the next 10 years in a joint venture model.

The RFQ got good response as Bombardier (Canada), Siemens Consortium (Germany), Alstom (France), CRRC Corporation Consortium (China), Stadler (Switzerland), Medha Consortium (India) and BHEL, an Indian PSU, qualified for financial bidding. Railways will have a 26% stake in the joint venture project.

Sources said last month a section of officials from Siemens and its consultant visited Godhni. They visited the proposed site, a kilometre away from Godhni railway station. The Siemens officials also conducted a soil survey. “Though modalities are still being worked out, the project is likely to be set up over 1 lakh sq feet area,” they said.

Though MEMUs have been deployed across all railway divisions, Nagpur and its suburbs, which are growing manifold, have still been deprived of these fast trains. With the setting up of Godhni depot, Nagpur will now get MEMU trains.

Sources said there were 4-5 services operated from Nagpur to places like Bhusawal, Amravati, Amla, Itarsi, and Kazipet, which could be run using MEMUs. Those coaches could then be utilized to clear waiting list of passengers in other mail/express trains.

Railway officials said EMU/MEMU is the most successful and cost-effective option with adoption of few more technologies to match the transport challenge of suburban network all around metropolitan cities. They are popular trains for suburban travel. This configuration of the train is popular not only among commuters but also as a feeder train to main line trains.

Highways & transport minister Nitin Gadkari had proposed MEMUs for Nagpur in 2012. However, after he became minister, the proposal was sent again to the Railway Board. State power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule too had last year pushed for a local train for daily commuters between Kanhan-Kamptee-Butibori.

Weekly Special Trains/Temporary Augmentations/Partial Cancellations/Stoppage of Train Services on various routes

Trains short-originated due to Floods and Breaches on ECR, Trains on CR rescheduled due to Late Running of Trains

I. Due to heavy floods and breaches in Samastipur division of East Central Railway, the following trains are Short originated as detailed below:-

Change of Originating Station:

1)    Train no. 07006 Raxaul-Hyderabad Special Trains scheduled to depart Raxaul at 01.30 hrs on 17th September, 2017 will depart from Darbhanga instead of Raxaul.

2)    Train no. 07092 Raxaul-Secunderabad Special Train scheduled to depart Raxaul at 01.30 hrs on 15th September, 2017 will depart from Barauni instead of Raxaul.

­­­­IIDue to late running of trains in Central Railway, the following trains are rescheduled on 14.09.2017.

Trains Rescheduled:

1)        Train No.11028 Chennai Central–Mumbai CSMT Mail scheduled to depart Chennai Central at 23:55 hrs on 14th   September, 2017 is rescheduled to depart at 05.00 hrs on 15th September,2017 due to late running of its pairing train.

2)        Train No. 11014 Coimbatore–Lokamanya Tilak Terminal Express scheduled to depart Coimbatore at 08:55 hrs on 14th  September, 2017 is rescheduled to depart at 11.45 hrs on the same day due to late running of its pairing train.

Weekly Special Trains between Yesvantpur–Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra

In order to clear extra rush of passengers, 8 suvidha weekly special trains between Yesvantpur–Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra will be run as detailed below:

Accordingly, Train No. 82651 Yesvantpur-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Suvidha Weekly Special Train will depart Yesvantpur at 11:30 hrs on 7th, 14th, 21st & 28th October, 2017 (Saturdays), arrive/depart Secunderabad at 04:00 / 04:10 hrs on the next day and arrive Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra at 20:25 hrs on Mondays.

In the return direction, Train No.82652 Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-Yesvantpur Suvidha Weekly Special Train will depart Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra at 05:40 hrs on 10th, 17th, 24th & 31st October, 2017 (Tuesdays), arrive/depart Secunderabad at 19:25 / 19:35 hrs on the next day and arrive Yesvantpur at 15:00 hrs on Thursdays.

Enroute these special trains will also stop at Tumakuru, Arsikere, Chikjajur, Chitradurga, Ballari, Guntakal, Mantralayam Rd, Raichur, Yadgir, Kazipet, Balharshah, Nagpur, Habibgunj, Jhansi, New Delhi, Ambala, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi stations in both the directions.

Special Trains between Thiruvanantapuram and Howrah

In order to clear extra rush of passengers, two special fare trains will be run between Thiruvanantapuram-Howrah as detailed below:

Accordingly, Train No. 06515 Thiruvanantapuram–Howrah special fare train will depart Thiruvanantapuram at 12:40 hrs on 17th September, 2017 (Sunday ) and arrive Howrah at 10:55 hrs on Tuesday.

In return direction, Train No. 06516 Howrah–Thiruvanantapuram special fare train will depart Howrah at 01:05 hrs on 21st September, 2017 (Thursday) and arrive Thiruvanantapuram at 22:35 hrs on Friday.

Enroute, these special trains stop at Chennai Central and Visakhapatnam stations.

These trains will have AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper Class and General Second Class Coaches.

Restoration of KSR Bengaluru – New Tinsukia Jn Superfast Express
  1. Train No. 22501, KSR Bengaluru-New Tinsukia Jn. Superfast Express Journey commencing on 19th September, 2017 is restored.

Cancellation of Trains

  1. Train No. 06531/06532, Bengaluru Cantt.-Howrah Jn.-Bengaluru Cantt. Superfast AC Express Special on special fare leaving Bengaluru Cantt. on 14th September, 2017 and Howrah Jn. on 18th September, 2017 is cancelled.
  2. Train No. 11014 Coimbatore-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express Journey commencing on 15th September, 2017 from Coimbatore is cancelled for want of rake.
Due to delay in restoration work in flood affected sections over North Frontier Railway up to 25.09.2017, the following trains are cancelled:
  1. Train No. 12552, Kamakhya-Yesvantpur AC Superfast Express Journey commencing on 20th September, 2017 from Kamakhya is cancelled.
  2. Train No. 12551, Yesvantpur-Kamakhya AC Superfast Express Journey commencing on 23rd September, 2017 from Yesvantpur is cancelled.
  3. Train No. 12509, Bengaluru Cantt.-Guwahati Express Journey commencing on 20th, to 22nd September, 2017 from Bengaluru Cantt. is cancelled.
Running of Yesvantpur-Belagavi-Yesvantpur Special Train on Special Fare

Railways has decided to run Train No. 06581/06582 Yesvantpur-Belagavi-Yesvantpur Special Train on special fare to clear extra rush during Dasara festival and long week-end.

Train No. 06581, Yesvantpur-Belagavi Special Train on special fare departs Yesvantpur at 20:15 hrs. on 28th September, 2017 (Thursday) and reaches Belagavi at 08:10 hrs. on next day.   Enroute, the train arrives/departs Tumakuru at 21:20/21:22 Hrs., Arsikere at 23:10/23:15 Hrs.,  Birur at 23:57/23.59 Hrs.,  on  Friday arrives/departs Davangere at 02:20/02:22 Hrs., Harihar at 02:43/02:45 Hrs., Haveri at 03:50/03:52 Hrs., Hubballi at 05:00/05:15 Hrs., Dharwad at 05:50/05:52 Hrs., Londa at 07:05/07:08 Hrs.

Train No. 06582, Belagavi-Yesvantpur Special Train on special fare departs Belagavi at 19:10 hrs. on 02nd October, 2017 (Monday) and reaches Yesvantpur at 06:20 hrs. on next day.   Enroute, the train arrives/departs Londa at 20:00/20:02 Hrs. Dharwad at 21:38/21:40 Hrs., Hubballi at 22:15/22:25 Hrs., Haveri at 23:45/23:47 Hrs., on  Tuesday arrives/departs Harihar at 00:30/00:32 Hrs., Davangere at 00:55/00:57 Hrs., Birur at 02:08/02.10 Hrs.,  Arsikere at 03:05/03:10 Hrs.,  Tumakuru at 04:43/04:45 Hrs.

The Train Composition will have 22 coaches comprising of Two AC 3-tier Coaches, Eighteen Second Class Sleeper Coaches and Two Luggage cum Break-van.

Train No. 02502 Howrah-KSR Bengaluru City superfast special fare train will depart Howrah at 01:05 hrs on 17th September, 2017 (Sunday) and arrive KSR Bengaluru City at 11:50 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, this special train will stop at Khargpur, Balasore, Cuttack, Bhabaneswar, Khurda Rd, Berhampur, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada, Ongole, Nellore, Perambur, Katpadi, Jolarpettai, Krishnarajapuram and Bengaluru Cantt stations.

This train consists of AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper Class and General Second Class coaches

56 Special Trains between various destinations on South Central Railway

In order to clear extra rush of passengers, 56 Special trains will run between Visakhapatnam–Secunderabad, Visakhapatnam–Tirupati, Kacheguda–Kakinada Port and Kacheguda- Krishnarajapuram as per the following schedule:-

Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam Weekly Special Trains (18 services):

Train No.08501 Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad Weekly Special Train will depart Visakhapatnam at 23:00 hrs on 03rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st October, 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th November, 2017 (Tuesdays) and arrive Secunderabad at 12:00 hrs on the next day.

In the return direction, Train No.08502 Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam Weekly Special Train will depart Secunderabad at 16:30 hrs on 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th October, 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th November, 2017 (Wednesdays) and arrive Visakhapatnam at 04:50 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, these Weekly Special trains will stop at Duvvada, Anakapalli, Tuni, Samalkot, Rajahmundry, Tadepalligudem, Eluru, Vijayawada, Khammam, Warangal and Kazipet stations in both directions.

These Special trains will consist of AC II Tier,  AC III Tier,  Sleeper Class and General Second Class coaches.

Visakhapatnam-Tirupati-Visakhapatnam Weekly Special Trains (18 services):

Train No.08573 Visakhapatnam-Tirupati Weekly Special Train will depart Visakhapatnam at 22:55 hrs on  2nd,9th,16th,23rd, 30th October, 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th November, 2017 (Mondays) and arrive Tirupati at 13:25 hrs on the next day.

In the return direction, Train No.08574 Tirupati-Visakhapatnam Weekly Special Train will depart Tirupati at 15:30 hrs on 03rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st October, 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th November, 2017  (Tuesdays) and arrive Visakhapatnam at 06:50 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, these Weekly Special trains will stop at Duvvada, Ankapalli, Samalkot, Rajahmundry, Eluru, Vijayawada, New Guntur, Tenali, Ongole, Nellore, Gudur, Sri Kalahasti and Renigunta stations in both directions.

These Special trains will consist of AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper Class and General Second Class Coaches.

Kacheguda-Kakinada Port-Kacheguda Special Trains (10 services):

Train No. 07425 Kacheguda-Kakinada Port Special Train will depart Kacheguda at 18:45 hrs on 29th September, 6th, 13th, 20th and  27th October, 2017 (Fridays) and arrive Kakinada Port at 06:00 hrs on the next day.

In the return direction, Train No. 07426 Kakinada Port-Kacheguda Special Train will depart Kakinada Port at 17:50 hrs on 30th September, 7th, 14th, 21st and  28th October, 2017 (Saturdays) and arrive Kacheguda at 05:10 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, these special trains will stop at Malkajgiri, Cherlapalli, Nalgonda, Miryalaguda, Piduguralla, Sattenapalli, Guntur, Vijayawada, Eluru, Tadepalligudem, Rajahmundry, Samalkot and Kakinada Town stations in both the directions.

These special trains will have AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper Class and General Second Class Coaches.

Kacheguda-Krishnarajapuram-Kacheguda Special Trains (10 services):

Train No. 07603 Kacheguda-Krishnarajapuram Special Train will depart Kacheguda at 18:00 hrs on 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th October, 2017 (Sundays) and arrive Krishnarajapuram at 06:00 hrs on the next day.

In the return direction, Train No. 07604 Krishnarajapuram-Kacheguda Special Train will depart Krishnarajapuram at 15.25 hrs on 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th October, 2017 (Mondays) and arrive Kacheguda at 06.55 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, these special trains will stop at Jadcherla, Mahabubnagar, Gadwal, Kurnool Town, Dhone, Gooty, Anantapur, Dharmavaram, Satya Sai Prashanthi Nilayam, Penukonda, Hindupur and Yelahanka stations in both the directions.

These special trains will have AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper Class and  General Second Class Coaches.

Special Train between Sirsa-Nokha on North Western Railway

The North Western Railway will run a special train between Haryana’s Sirsa and Rajasthan’s Nokha on September 18 for the pilgrims visiting Guru Jambheshwar Maharaj MukamDham fair in the desert state, an official said.

Mukam Dham is the worship place for Bishnoi community.

Ajay Gautam, traffic incharge of the railway, said the Sirsa-Nokha-Sirsa special train number 04782 will depart from Sirsa on September 18 at 6 pm and will reach Nokha railway station at 4 am the next day.

Similarly, train number 04781 will depart from Nokha at 6 pm on September 20 to reach Sirsa at 3.20 am the next day, he said.

The train will have stoppages at Ding, Bhattu, Adampur, Jakhod Khera, Hisar, Chirod, Siwani, Jhumpa, Sadalpur, Churu, Ratangarh, Bikaner and Nokha railway stations.

This special train will have 13 boggies, he said.

Siemens bags contract to supply 30 Vectron Electric Locomotives to full-service leasing Co., Mitsui Rail Capital Europe

A contract to supply full-service leasing company Mitsui Rail Capital Europe with 30 Vectron electric locomotives was announced by Siemens on September 14.

The order includes 10 multisystem locomotives rated at 6·4 MW for cross-border operation in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and 20 DC locomotives rated at 5·2 MW for use in Italy. Both versions will be equipped with national train control systems, and the Vectron MS locomotives will also be fitted with ETCS.

Deliveries are scheduled to begin in January 2018, and there is an option for a further 20 locomotives.

‘With this new order, our Vectron fleet will grow to a total of 111 locomotives’, said MRCE Chief Executive Junichi Kondo. ‘Our customers throughout Europe value the reliability and flexibility of the Siemens locomotive.’

‘With its fleet of DC, AC and MS locomotives, MRCE can now offer all electric versions of the Vectron’, added Jochen Eickholt, CEO of Siemens’ Mobility Division.

Bhubaneswar Railway Station to get iconic heritage look

BHUBANESWAR: The state government and the East Coast Railway (ECoR) on Thursday discussed the proposed draft for a memorandum of understanding (MoU), which they will sign very soon to redesign and redevelop the city railway station.

The multimodal hub project will come up on the railway station and its circulating area. It will have an iconic seven-storeyed building at the entrance of the station. Besides, it will have state-of-the-art amenities, commercial complexes, parking, rainwater harvesting system, firefighting facility with pump rooms, well maintained internal roads and attractive green landscape.

The Bhubaneswar development authority (BDA) will supervise the station development work. As the station comes under the smart city district, the work will be integrated in the smart city project. Budget amount for the redevelopment work will be increased beyond Rs 60 crore which was estimated earlier, said a senior BDA official.

“It is a joint project of the Railways and the state government. The multi-storeyed building will be used by both the government agencies. We will use some floors for operational purpose and the state will take the rest for their use. But the state government will develop the building,” said Brijmohan Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager.

The state government has authorized the BDA to prepare design of the hub. Design will be prepared through a noted agency. “We have floated tender for preparation of the design of the multi modal hub. We hope the final design will come by February next year,” said Krishan Kumar, vice chairman of the BDA.

Manoj Kumar Mishra, commissioner of rail coordination and special secretary, said they have discussed the draft MoU prepared by the railway in the presence of chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi. “We agreed with 99 per cent of the draft proposal and some small issues related to execution and monitoring were resolved,” he added.

The earlier design was put on hold. Even the project’s executive agency, Works department, has been changed. Sources said the existing building with passenger reservation system (PRS) and booking counter will be demolished for the project. Even PRS and booking counter have been shifted to a temporary building near RMS office in the circulating area of the station in November last year.

India’s Prime Minister Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly launch India’s 1st Bullet Train project

AHMEDABAD: The foundation stone-laying ceremony at the Sabarmati Railway Station jointly by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe official commenced with a grand reception today. The two leaders have been together in all the informal settings for the bullet train function.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe speaking at the launch of the bullet train project, starts his address with a “Namaskar”.

“I’m grateful that Japan got the opportunity to build the first Bullet Train in India. It’s a historic day, a beginning of new chapter. I am extremely happy. Two years ago a decision was taken for this project. India and Japan are key partners,” Abe says.

He speaks about how Japan decided to start a high-speed rail and how the project changed Japan in various ways. More than 100 Japanese engineers are in India for success of this high speed railway project.

He ends his speech saying, “I wish that when I come here next I come with PM Modi in a Shinkansen (Bullet Train).” He ends his speech with a Jai India, Jai Japan.

The two leaders are at the venue where the Bhoomi Puja is being conducted to lay the foundation stone of the project which is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 1.10 lakh crore. The train would cover the distance of over 500 km in around two hours. Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by PM Modi.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis at the venue. Fadnavis says he is proud that India’s first bullet train will connect Mumbai with Ahmedabad. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Prime Minister Modi wants the Bullet Train to start a year ahead of schedule – on 15 August 2022 – when India completes 75 years of independence.

Of the 508-km stretch, 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent through a tunnel and the rest on the ground. The high speed train will pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under sea.

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India moves towards Highspeed Rail systems – Foundation Stone for Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train project today

‘The bullet train can be Modi’s legacy’ says Analysts. With the laying of foundation for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train and MoU-signing ceremony attracting investments of around Rs.5 Lakh Crore, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to have an eventful Thursday.

AHMEDABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who arrived in India on Wednesday, will together launch the work for India’s first bullet train, which will connect Mumbai to Ahmedabad on Thursday in Ahmedabad. The project is likely to change the way people undertake the 508 km long journey between the two major cities.

The two leaders will hold the 12th Indo-Japan annual Summit meeting at Gandhinagar followed by the exchange of agreements. An India-Japan business plenary meeting will be held after that.

With the participation of more than 100 Japanese corporates and envoys, the Gujarat government is viewing the annual meet as a modified version of ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’. There are at least four Japanese corporate giants which are going to make an investments of Rs 1 lakh crore each.

The bullet train is expected to reduce the travelling time between the cities up to less than half, from the current six and a half hours (by train) to about two hours fifty minutes.  Many traders who frequently make trips between the two cities feel that this will be a boon for conducting their business and don’t mind spending Rs.3,000 for a one-way ticket during their weekly trips.

The rolling stock (carriages) of the ‘Tokaido Shinkansen’ series bullet trains has an impeccable safety record of 50 years with no case of derailment in Japan. Ironically, this launch comes at a time when the Indian Railways is being jolted time and again with cases of derailments across country due to antiquated rail system built over 160 years. Just this month, the railways saw five mishaps in a span of 24 hours.

In 1964, just before the Tokyo Olympics, Japan launched its first bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. Fifty-three years later, in 2017, India’s Prime Minister Narendra D Modi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will inaugurate India’s first bullet train project. The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad Rail Project will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 110,000 crore (Rs 1.1 trillion). Japan will lend Rs 88,000 crore (Rs 880 billion) to this project at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent, which has to repaid in 50 years, with a 15-year grace period.

The Indian Railways has a huge problem with safety and maintenance. But this challenge also is an opportunity. It is an inflection point for the railways, where the railways can peter out from a public sector undertaking with huge State patronage, where express trains run at 70km/hour and passenger trains at 35km/hour, to a modern economic and technological power house. One way of looking at this issue is that we can be incremental – on speed, maintenance and passenger friendliness. The other way is to take a quantum leap. A country like India cannot do away with passenger trains, but a country like India, at her current state of development, cannot shy away from bullet trains either. If you want to take a quantum leap, there will be risks and this is a risk worth taking.

Amit Shah, a diamond trader based in Charni Road said that he often carries products worth lakhs of rupees while travelling and the option of commuting in a bullet train will give him the much needed sense of security. He said, “I have heard that a one-way ticket might cost us around Rs.3,000 and our diamond merchant community will be more than happy to pay that amount as we will reach Surat in the same time it takes to go there by a flight.”

However, on the other hand railway officials are happy with the choice of rolling stock because of its safety track record since it was launched in Japan in 1964. A railway official said, “the technology in the Tokaido Shinkansen series is a tested one, the train has not seen even one derailment in the last 50 years. This is a very big plus for us as the recent spate of derailments have damaged the railway’s image to a great extent.”

One of the reasons behind this clean record is probably the fact that not just the train carriages but also the technology that will is used to run the train.

 

Japan’s Shinkansen has a Fabulous Record of Zero Accidents in its Operations over more than 50 years: Sanjeev Sinha

Sanjeev Sinha, Advisor-Bullet Train Project

AHMEDABAD: Becoming Japan’s advisor for the bullet train project is certainly fulfilling for Sanjeev Sinha, the first IIT-ian of Barmer, Rajasthan, who has a niece in Ahmedabad and a brother living in Surat. Sinha will be acting primarily as the main interface between the governments of Japan and India to make the bullet train project a reality.

Sinha, who has been appointed by Japan Railways as advisor for the project, has a personal reason to inspire him in actualizing the Rs 1.08 lakh-crore project of Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail. He recalls his childhood days in Barmer, Rajasthan, when his mother had to travel long hours in trains to reach her workplace.

“My mother was a teacher in a village near Barmer. She had to get up early to catch the 5am train to reach the school. It was a two-hour journey, though the place was not so far. Had there been speedy transportation, she could have spent more time with us,” he told, explaining why he was especially interested in this high-speed rail project.

Sinha studied at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. He is a resident of Japan for 21 years and worked there for various firms. His wife is Japanese. He often comes to India and visits Gujarat too, as his brother lives in Surat.

Given the safety issues of Indian Railways, Sinha said that Indians can learn from Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Train), “which has a fabulous record of zero fatal accidents in its operations over more than 50 years, despite very intricate passenger friendly operations amid earthquakes, typhoons and the difficult hilly terrain of Japan”.

For Sinha, a bullet train in India is a challenging task, but he believes that it has to be completed. To support the huge technology collaboration efforts, Sinha is also setting up an India-Japan Technology Collaboration Fund as President of Research Institute of Next Generation AI in Tokyo.

He also plans to start a centre for learning Japanese language and culture for Indian youths. He sees plenty of opportunities for Indian youths in Japan’s corporate sector and industries. “Indians have got good skills of marketing and language. Their strength lies in the existing diversity in India which makes them able to adjust anywhere in the world,” he said.

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With connected energy solutions, ABB fast-pace Solarization of Indian Railways in Tropical North India

ABB recently reached a milestone of 5 GW of solar inverters installed, supplying some 40 percent of India’s solar power at approximately 13 GW.

NEW DELHI: ABB is in the process of providing solar inverters to 750 Railway stations in north India to reduce dependence on traditional sources of energy. Indian Railways, which runs one of the largest railway networks in the world, carries more than 8 billion passengers annually.

The 750 stations are located in the busy northern Indian part of the network, one of the most used railway corridors in the world. ABB recently reached a milestone of 5 GW of solar inverters installed, supplying some 40 percent of India’s solar power at approximately 13 GW.

ABB solar inverters for this project – TRIO and PVI series – vary between 5kW to 50kW in power depending on the size of the station and as part of the ABB AbilityTM of connected solutions, the customer can ensure uptime through remote management services. They will be part of the solar installations being set up by Azure Power. ABB set up its solar inverter manufacturing facility in India in 2012 and contributes to approximately 40 percent of the country’s solar installations. ABB solar inverters have been widely used in the transportation sector, deployed, for instance, in the world’s first fully solar powered airport in Kochi.

Tropical northern India is blessed with abundant sunlight with 300 sunny days, and solar power is a natural alternative to conventional electricity, much of which is generated using coal.

Indian Railways moves more than 12,500 trains and 23 million passengers daily, equivalent to the population of Australia. The company operates more than 8,000 stations across the country and is looking at building solar plants to supply clean power for their operations. In the second stage the objective is a net zero energy concept wherein power is generated and consumed within the operations. As per reports, the Indian Railways has a current renewable energy generation capacity of 36 MW and plans to ramp it up to 1,000 MW.

ABB is a global supplier of solar photovoltaic (PV) inverters. ABB’s solar inverter product portfolio ranges from 1.2 kW to 2.3 MW; 1.2 kW to 120 kW are string inverters optimized for residential, commercial and industrial rooftop and ground-mounted usages and central inverters up to 2.3 MW are ideal for cost-efficient multi-megawatt power plants. Plant management solutions including environmental management, software tools and lifetime support are also part of the portfolio.

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Political Control should be Intense & Vigilant as IR is under the ruling Political Party first time in the last 20 Years

It is a well warranted fact that Railways have run the Governments in the past but in contemporary India, it is a challenge for the Government to run it! In the wake of High Speed Railway systems taking shape, the successive governments should be more vigilant and be intense in proper governance.

After a gap of more than two decades, Indian Railways came directly under the ruling political party of India with the Union Minister of Railways now belonging to ruling BJP at the Centre, and not from any of its allies. This development is after a gap of more than 20 years, as Railways is now under the ruling political party and not under the portfolio of the allies supporting the government. Government should hence bear complete accountability for it. Importantly, political control should be more intense and vigilant as all eyes are now on the duo of Piyush Goyal, who did an appreciable job as the Minister of New and Renewable Energy, has recently sworn in as the new Minister of Railways and Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani who served in diversified fields being the lien with parent Railways. Let us hope that things fall in their respective places in their leadership.

It is a well warranted fact that railways have run the Governments in the past but in contemporary India, it is a challenge for the Government to run it. Since 1997, Railway Ministry was used as a bargain or barter for support of allies in formations of Govt. It was used as a tool to bribe regional partners though it reflected promising signs in the initial stages. Later on, the government in power was confined to start new trains and took populist’s decision for their political gains.

Railway tracks laid by the British were totally neglected. Neither officials nor political leaders felt the need to keep them in good shape, maintenance; a subject of prime importance was grossly ignored. In due course of time commensurate to the ever increasing population the demand of more trains was felt. And it indeed was fulfilled and the number of trains operating on tracks scaled up. Consequently the load was increased on these age-old tracks which made the situation more vulnerable

This sheer ignorance has now taken form of disasters on tracks which were not foreseen by our concerned authorities. Recently, the ministry is more active on social media instead of maneuvering and being vigilant of the ground reality. To brush the issue aside the officials in the ministry delegated everything to the concerned departments. It is hard to imagine how arm-chair managing can help solve the problems instead of focusing on the ground situation. All what seems to take place in the industry is passing of buck from one tier to another.

There are ‘real’ problems in the ministry and the Govt. of India instead of addressing them has taken one step in the direction of creating chaos in the ministry by augmenting its budget with the Finance Ministry. Officer’s cartelization and internal bureaucracy is always at loggerheads for their personal and professional growth.

Currently, railways as a body, is not managed on ethical principles. It’s a stockpile of adversaries. Infighting between IRTS and IRAS who monitor operations and commercials. Engineering services, Signals, Stores of Irrational stores, they all behave and work as if they are autonomous bodies. There is an extreme lack of coordination and teamwork in the railways. In the name of building a team, there is only inbreeding unlike other ministries. They have got experts coming in and out. But here it is inbreeding of combatant railway officers.

Bright & honest officers are feeling suffocated in their own railway department which they regard as their second home. Ashwani Lohani, who was a railway officer, was transferred to tourism department of Madhya Pradesh where he was recognized for his agility and commitment. From there he was commissioned for a distinct assignment of Air India, there also he proved his abilities. It is disheartening to see that such committed officers are terminated from the railways.

There is big challenge for it to invite or begin importing officers like other ministries have done successfully to improve the bureaucratic efficiency and accountability.

Now since that India is progressing towards High Speed Rail systems which will gradually leave aside the antiquated British era Railway lines, those who oppose the high-speed rail corridor project citing poverty and the extravagant cost of the project should realise that it is a long-term dream scheme that a nation like India deserves, being funded at a meagre interest rate of 0.1%. High Speed Railways will create thousands of employment opportunities, directly and indirectly, in the long run. The Bullet Train is an endeavour to bring in economic growth and prosperity by adopting the most modern technology from a leading nation, Japan. We are living in a world where technology is the need of the hour and India cannot afford to miss out on such projects. It was once argued by the Left that information technology was a bane but it was subsequently proven that India is a world leader in this area. Likewise, High Speed Railway systems!

Hence the Government in Power at the Centre should be highly vigilant and sensitive to good governance practices right from the start. Political control should be intense & vigilant as Indian Railways had come under the ruling Political Party for the first time in 20 Years and it is an opportunity to transform for the good of the nation.

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Maharashtra State Govt approves cost-sharing of Nagpur-Nagbhir Gauge Conversion project – to allocate Rs.354 Crore

MUMBAI: Putting the 107km Nagpur-Nagbhir narrow gauge railway line conversion on the right track, the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra cabinet on Tuesday approved over Rs.354 crore for the project. Of the 628km narrow gauge network under Nagpur division South East Central Railway (SECR), only Nagpur-Nagbhir is pending for conversion. The decision on Nagpur-Nagbhir gauge conversion was announced in 2013-14 railway budget at an estimated cost of Rs.401 crore.

The project was to go ahead with necessary approvals. In 2013, the state had agreed to share Rs.188.11 crore of the tentative cost of Rs.376.21 crore by the railways. However, as per the Railway Board’s advise the abstract cost of the project was revised to Rs.708.11 crore based on the project’s terms of reference (TOR) which included additional cost of gradients, bridges, signalling, mechanical, electrification etc.

According to Nagpur Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Amit Kumar Agarwal, SECR general manager had sent the revised project proposal to the Railway Board for approval on May 6, 2015.”The above work is to be executed on 50:50 sharing basis between the state and railways. In April 2017, we had submitted revised estimates for consent of the state government. Now that the Maharashtra government has approved its 50% share, the project will get a big boost,” said Agarwal.

The state will start allocating money for the project in phases from 2018-19 budget. According to railway officials though Maharashtra has agreed to share 50% cost, it will need to send a formal approval letter to be forwarded to the Railway Board.

They added the project at present doesn’t have NITI Aayog permission. Now getting Aayog’s nod will be a mere formality. It will include all clearances.

As the sanction is to be communicated, railways too has not spent any money on the project. The broad gauge will mostly boost freight and passenger traffic. There are many coal mines in this section and railways will tend to benefit from transportation of coal.

The project was to go ahead with necessary approvals. In 2013, the state had agreed to share Rs.188.11 crore of the tentative cost of Rs.376.21 crore by the railways. Now that the Maharashtra government has approved its 50% share, the project will get a big boost,” said Agarwal.

The state will start allocating money for the project in phases from 2018-19 budget. “The above work is to be executed on 50:50 sharing basis between the state and railways. It will include all clearances. As the sanction is to be communicated, railways too has not spent any money on the project. In April 2017, we had submitted revised estimates for consent of the state government.

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‘Pleased’ at Indo-Japan high speed rail cooperation, says China

China currently has the world’s longest high-speed rail network. It has connected most of its cities with high speed trains reducing the travel time drastically.

NEW DELHI: As New Delhi  and Tokyo prepare to begin the construction work on India’s first bullet train corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, China today said that Beijing is pleased to see the infrastructure among the regional countries including the high-speed railway.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang further said that Beijing is ready to promote cooperation with India and other countries for regional development. He also expressed interest in reviving Beijing’s proposal to build high speed railway projects in India.

China has been aggressively marketing its high-speed rail technology abroad and in the past lobbied hard to get the first contract in India. It had taken up a feasibility study for the New Delhi-Chennai corridor but no headway has been made in this regard so far. The Chinese side showed interest in the projects in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe prepared to lay the foundation for India’s first bullet train project.

“As to the railway cooperation, it is part of the practical cooperation between India and China. We have reached important consensus in this regard. Relevant competent authorities between the two countries maintained communication and increasing speed of railway in the current projects,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

India and China have worked out a number of cooperative agreements for the development of railways under which the Indian Railways engineers are getting trained in China in heavy hauling.

China is also cooperating with India to set up a rail university. It has also undertaken work to renovate some of the railway stations in India.

China currently has the world’s longest high-speed rail network. It has connected most of its cities with high speed trains reducing the travel time drastically.

The Indian government is confident of starting the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train on August 15, 2022 to commemorate the 75th year of India’s Independence, a year ahead of its schedule.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has recently said that PM Modi Modi believes that Indian engineers have the capability and our workers have the efficiency to complete it a year earlier.

PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who arrived here on a two-day visit, will on Wednesday lay the foundation stone for the project.

The 508-km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed rail Project (Standard Gauge) is estimated to cost Rs 1,10,000 crore on completion. Out of the Rs 1,10,000 crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore. The interest on this loan is minimal at 0.1 per cent and it is to be repaid in 50 years, with a grace period of 15 years.

The project is expected to provide 12-15 lakh jobs. Around 20,000 in construction, 4,000 direct jobs for running the system and around 20,000 indirect jobs.

While covering the 508-km stretch between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, the train will stop at 10 stations – Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand and Sabarmati. The train would take 2 hours and 58 minutes to cover the distance if it took 10 halts, adding that with two halts – at Surat and Vadodara — the travelling time would come down to two hours and seven minutes.

The bullet train will run at an average speed of 320 km per hour with a maximum speed of 350 km per hour.

Catch 22 situation: Railways and Maharashtra continue to be at loggerheads over the implementation of MUTP-2

State, Rlys fail to agree on MUTP-2. Govt demands explanation on project status, increase in cost.

MUMBAI: Indian Railways and state government continue to be at loggerheads over the implementation of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) phase 2.

On September 4, the Urban Development department had sent a letter to the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) asking them to give detailed explanation on the increase in cost of MUTP-2, status of the projects under it and status of the land next to Bandra railway station. The government has stated that they shall make the payments for MUTP-2 once they get the reply.

As per understanding, the World Bank will pay 50 per cent of the cost and the remaining 50 per cent will be equally shared by the Railways and state. The cost of MUTP-2 has risen from Rs 5,400 crore to nearly Rs 8,000 crore now. Sources said that they have already sent a reply to the state government.

The railways downplayed the matter by saying that there was no issue with the funding from the state, and that as of now they have received around Rs 2,000 crore.

Meanwhile, the MRVC is struggling to get bidders for its prime plot at Bandra (E), worth over Rs 4,500 crore and the railways want to commercially exploit it.

The projects under MUTP-2 are yet to be fully completed as they are yet to construct 5-6 lines between Kurla-CSMT, Thane-Diva, Borivli-Mumbai Central 6th line and extension of Harbour line till Goregaon station. The MRVC sends the bills to the state government for reimbursements depending on the projects that are completed.

New platforms with increased height over Neemcuh-Dahod, Ratlam-Khandwa, Mhow-Khandwa, Dahod-Indore sections

RATLAM: The height of platforms, where doubling and gauge conversion projects are in progress in Ratlam division will be increased. Platform height refers to the height of a railway platform ‘above top of rail’ (ATR) line.

A circular in this regard has been issued by the railways mentioning that the new platforms associated with the doubling and gauge conversion projects going on in Ratlam division will be constructed to ‘high level’.

Earlier, the railways had instructed to construct the platforms at medium level, but as a part of minimum essential amenities to rail passengers the railways has decide to raise pre-decided height of new platforms to 760mm above rail level and 840mm above rail level in case of suburban stations and stations in cutting

The new platforms will be constructed at Neemcuh-Dahod, Ratlam-Khandwa, Mhow-Khandwa, Dahod-Indore rail lines.

“All new platforms, which will be constructed with the ongoing rail line doubling or gauge conversion projects, will be raised to high level,” said railway officials, adding that passengers will be benefited with the move.

It will improve passengers’ safety since it would be convenient for them to board trains from the new platforms.

An official spokesman with Ratlam division of the western railways said that the move is aimed at reducing unexpected accidents due to human error during maintenance of railway coaches and tracks.

Southern Railway announces Tambaram–Sengottai Special Trains again

CHENNAI/MADURAI: After announcing and cancelling number 06069 / 06070 Tambaram-Sengottai-Tambaram special fare special trains (via Chidambaram, Mayiladuthurai) due to operational constraints, Southern Railways on Wednesday announced the special trains again, this time on the chord line (via Vriddhachalam and Trichy).

In a statement, Southern Railway said the Tambaram-Sengottai-Tambaram special trains will be run via Vriddhachalam and Trichy to meet the demands of the travelling public and pilgrims during the Cauvery Pushkaram – 2017.

As per the new schedule, number 06071 Tambaram – Sengottai special fare special train will leave Tambaram at 5am on September 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28 and 29.

The train will reach Sengottai at 5.15pm the same day.

Number 06072 Sengottai – Tambaram special fare special train will leave Sengottai at 6.15am on September 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29 and 30.

The train will reach Tambaram at 6.30pm the same day.

These trains will have one AC chair car, six second class chair car, seven general second class and two luggage-cum-brake van coaches.

They will stop at Changalpet, Melmaruvathur, Villupuram, Vriddhachalam, Ariyalur, Srirangam, Trichy, Pudukottai, Karaikkudi, Manamadurai, Aruppukkottai, Virudhunagar, Sivakasi, Srivilliputtur, Rajapalayam, Sankarankovil and Tenkasi.

Advance reservations for the above trains will commence at 8am on September 14.

Indian Railways permits m-Aadhaar as ID proof for Travellers

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Railways said today it has decided to allow m- Aadhaar, a digital version of the Aadhaar card, as proof of identity for travellers in any reserved class.

The m- Aadhaar is a mobile app launched by the Unique Identification Authority of India on which a person can download his/her Aadhaar card.

It can, however, be downloaded only on the mobile number to which Aadhaar has been linked.

To show Aadhaar, a passenger has to open the app and enter his/her password.

“m- Aadhaar when shown by the passenger on his/her mobile after entering the password should be accepted as a proof of identity for undertaking journey in any reserved class over Indian Railways,” the ministry said in a statement.

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Pit-line facility at Chikalthana over Nagarsol better due to availability of water

AURANGABAD: The demand for commissioning of pit-line for coach maintenance at Chikalthana near Aurangabad was raised before the Passenger Amenities Committee (PAC) of Railways during its visit to Aurangabad railway station, on Tuesday.

PAC team arrived here in the morning to listen to the demands of experts and activists who highlighted a range of issues related to Aurangabad and a few other important stations in the region.

“The construction of pit-line would enhance rail connectivity to Aurangabad and the entire region. The South Central Railway (SCR) authorities have already announced that they have chosen Chikalthana over Nagarsol for commissioning of pit-line due to better water availability. The pit-line would enable running of more number of long-distance trains originating from Aurangabad,” Railway activist, Rajkumar Somani said.

Considered to have great impact on junction’s ability of handling trains, pit-line is a facility that provides space and expertise for carrying out inspection and routine maintenance work of carriage parts of railway.

The activists also demanded starting a train to Bikaner, Rajasthan. “To begin with the train to Bikaner can be started as bi-weekly and later can run be run on daily basis. The train is bound to witness very good occupancy and fetch revenue for the SCR,” Somani said.

Among other demands, railway activists have pressed for starting the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train on Igatpuri-Manmad-Aurangabad route.

Meanwhile, The PAC committee members, who travelled here by Dadar-Jalna Janshatabdi Express, reportedly had to wait for around half an hour at Manmad station as the train could not receive signal due to railway crossing.

“The incident speaks volume and the PAC members had first-hand experience of ordeal faced by passengers on daily basis,” railway activists said.

Maharashtra clear decks for allotment of 0.9 hectare land at BKC for Bullet Train project

85 per cent land survey for Bullet Train project completed. The survey for land in areas of Vasai and Palghar is currently going on.

MUMBAI: Two days before the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, lays the foundation stone for India’s Rs 1.08 lakh-crore bullet train project, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday cleared the decks for the construction of the train’s most crucial station — Mumbai.

The Devendra Fadnavis government — which had initially opposed the Union Railway Ministry’s plan to construct the Mumbai station at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) — on Tuesday approved the allotment of 0.9 hectare of land in the G-text block at the BKC for the station. The railways has plans to utilise 4.5 hectare space underneath the same land parcel for the bullet train station. It had approached the government for allotment of the 0.9 hectare on the surface to make arrangements for the commuters to move in and out of the station.

The state government had earlier expressed strong reservation over the proposal of building a station in the heart of its most decorated central business district. During official meetings with the Railways, it had also expressed apprehensions that allowing the underground station to come up in BKC will hamper construction of its International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) proposed on the same surface, citing construction restrictions that may be imposed around the railway corridor.

Of the 508 kilometre rail corridor connecting Ahmedabad to Mumbai, only 120 kilometre falls in Maharashtra. Four of the 12 proposed stations are to come up in the state, while the rest would be built in Gujarat.

BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, a partner in the Maharashtra government, had also raised strong opposition to the project. Incidentally, it was the Shiv Sena-controlled Maharashtra Transport department, which issued a notification on Tuesday, for the allotment of the land.

Senior Maharashtra government sources said that the state government had secured a written assurance from the Railways that there won’t be any restrictions on the construction activity for the IFSC on account of the bullet train station. Further, in compensation for the allotment of the land, the Centre has agreed to the state’s condition that land’s market value will be considered towards the state’s capital contribution for the project. While the Railways will bear 50 per cent cost of the rail project, both the Maharashtra and the Gujarat state government are to each bear 25 per cent cost.

Clearing the decks for the project, a Maharashtra cabinet sub-committee, headed by Fadnavis, and comprising Shiv Sena’s Transport Minister Diwakar Roate, and BJP’s Girish Mahajan and Vinod Tawde had approved the allotment of the land. Besides the land allotment, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday also approved the proposal for contributing Rs 5000 crore towards its capital investment in the special purpose vehicle to be floated for the bullet train work.

While the Railways have turned down the option of an alternate site for the station in Dharavi, senior sources said that the state government has also proposed an alternate land parcel for the project in BKC itself, which is being considered.

Meanwhile as part of the negotiations, sources said the Maharashtra government managed to get an assurance from the Centre for fast-tracking the Mumbai-Nagpur High Speed Train. The Central government has delegated the task of preparing a detailed project report in this regard to a Spanish corporation. The Central government has reportedly assured that it would bear a sizeable share of the capital cost for this project.

The bullet train is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project. Japan is providing 81 per cent of the funding for the project, through a 50-year loan at 0.1 per cent annual interest. Fadnavis is expected to remain present for the foundation stone laying ceremony in Gujarat on September 14.

Almost 80 per cent of the survey for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train has been completed and the remaining tenders are expected to be out by March next year, said railway sources. The survey for land in areas of Vasai and Palghar is currently being conducted. Railway minister Piyush Goyal had on Monday said that the deadline for the bullet train corridors has now been moved forward by a year to 2022.

Railway officials have said that the land acquisition in the area had been an issue but has since been resolved between the state government and the railway ministry. They have been working overtime to ensure that a sizeable chunk of the work is completed before the stone-laying ceremony takes place on September 14 at Gandhinagar.

“Until now, there were a lot of issues in land acquisition in Vasai, Virar and Palghar because of severe local opposition. But political parties both at the state and the centre ensured that these issues were resolved before the announcement was made on Monday,” said an official. The official added, “Only one tender has been removed for the related works but the entire package of tenders will be released by March of next year and not late next year, which was the previous deadline.”  After the survey of the land, a detailed Project Report (DPR) will be made by the railways, on the basis of which the tenders will be released said officials. The survey includes the identification of the exact land needed, its physical measurement and a decision on the alignment of the tracks, whether they will be laid underground or not.

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NMDC speed-up efforts to increase Iron Ore evacuation capacity through Kirandul-Kothavalasa Rail Line doubling

HYDERABAD: NMDC Ltd is making efforts to increase iron ore evacuation capacity through doubling of Kirandul-Kothavalasa (KK) railway line, officials informed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The project is a joint venture between Chhattisgarh government, NMDC, SAIL and IRCON.

The initial stretch of the first phase of the ambitious 235-km-long Dallirajhara-Rowghat-Jagdalpur Railway line project in Bastar division of Chhattisgarh has been completed, officials stated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notably, the  coal requirement for the proposed Super Thermal Plant of NTPC Ltd at Lara would be met from Talaipalli Coal Block of Mand in Raigarh Coalfields, officials stated.

NMDC Ltd is making an expenditure of Rs 41.16 crore for enabling facilities needed for doubling of railway line between Kirandul and Jagdalpur and Jagdalpur-Ambagaon section for augmentation of iron ore evacuation from Bailadila mines in Baster region of Chhattisgarh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Deposit – 4 iron ore mine will be developed as a ‘standalone project’ with an estimated investment of Rs 1899.74 crores.

Notably, NMDC proposes for mining the Deposit number 4 iron ore mine with a production capacity of 7.0 MTPA in the mine lease area of 646.596 hectares.

Notably, NMDC’s  iron ore requirement for the steel plant would be 5 MTPA.

The exploration work was done at Bailadila Deposit No. 4 by NMDC in the year back in 1972-74. The ore reserves were proved by detailed exploration activities.

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

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

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

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

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

NMDC is operating iron ore mines at Bailadila Complex in South Bastar Dantewada District Chhattisgarh and is having long terms commitment for supply of iron ore to major steel plants across the country.

Hence, J.V. Company between NMDC and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC)  i.e NMDC-CMDC (NCL) was formed for development of a new deposit in the already prospected areas i.e Bailadila Deposit-4 with a production capacity of 7 MTPA for meeting the iron ore requirement of Steel plant of NMDC at Nagarnar, near Jagdalpur.

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

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

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

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

RLDA, NBCC to form a SPV in the form of a JV Company to execute Station Redevelopment project

NEW DELHI: Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) has signed a MoU with National Building Construction Corporation for redevelopment of 10 railway stations across the country at par with international standards. The Railways has embarked on this ambitious project to redevelop 403 stations on PPP mode with the participation of private players, public sector and with the assistance of foreign funding.

The identified stations to be taken up initially by NBCC for redevelopment are Tirupati, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Nellore, Puducherry, Madgao, Lucknow, Gomtinagar, Kota, Thane (New) and Ernakulam. NBCC has been given 10 stations in first phase for redevelopment and more stations would be given to them in subsequent phases.

RLDA and NBCC shall form a Special Purpose Vehicle in the form of a joint venture company to execute the station redevelopment project. The JV shall redevelop the stations on a self-financing model. These stations would be developed as smart railway stations.

CCEA approves Doubling of Daund-Manmad Railway Line

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the doubling of 247.5 Km long Railway line from Daund (Solapur Division of CR)  to Manmad (Bhusawal Division of CR) to ease movement of passengers and goods across Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik in Maharashtra.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave the approval at an estimated cost of Rs 2,081.27 crore and expected completion cost of Rs 2330.51 crore.

The 247.5 km long railway line is expected to be completed in five years.

“Doubling of the line will greatly ease the ever increasing passenger and freight traffic on Daund-Manmad route, thereby increasing the revenue of Railways,” the rail ministry said in a statement.

“Besides passengers, industries in and around Daund- Manmad route will have additional transport capacity to meet their requirements. The districts of Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik in Maharashtra will be benefited by this project,” it said.

At present the Railways is working on the Mumbai-Chennai route by doubling the Bhigwan-Mohol and Hotgi-Gulbarga sections.

Work on a new line on the Lonand-Phaltan-Baramati route in Maharashtra is also in progress.

“Once these works are completed, there will be tremendous increase in traffic over the Daund-Manmad section and existing single line will not be in a position to deal with the increased traffic,” the ministry statement said, emphasising the need for doubling.

SAILs Bhilai unit bags 12 LT Rail order from Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: State-run SAILs Bhilai plant has received an order for 12 lakh tonne (LT) rails from the Indian Railways for the current fiscal, Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma said yesterday.

She was replying to a question asked by an industry member at KATM conference on raw materials for steel and power here.

“Railways is on an expansion mode creating new railway lines. Is is not that the railways is not procuring new rails. Railways has already placed a confirmed rail order of 12 lakh tonnes with Bhilai in this financial year,” Sharma said.

Bhilai Steel Plant is the flagship unit of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). It produces high strength rails, heavy structurals, wide and heavy steel plates of different grades, merchant products, wire rods etc.

The unit became the first integrated steel plant in the country to surpass the 5 MT mark in crude production in the year 2005-06.

The plant has unique distinction of producing cleanest rail in the world.

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Railways to Opt for Reverse Bidding to Reduce Procurement Expenditure

While an e-procurement process was already in place, ministry officials feel that it hasn’t brought down expenses enough.

NEW DELHI: Aiming at increasing competition and reducing expenditure on procurement, the Indian Railways will adopt a reverse bidding process for high-value items like rolling stock parts, track equipment and cement among other purchases.

Reverse auction is an online bidding process that allows vendors to submit multiple bids on time scale and then compete online with each other by offering lowest acceptable bids.

Currently several ministries, including the power ministry, and public sector undertakings are using the reverse auction process to procure supplies at competitive prices. Though the railways has introduced the e-procurement system, which has helped to bring down corruption, officials say that procurement rates are still too high.

The railways purchases about Rs 60,000-crore worth of materials, including track items and items for the production and maintenance of locomotives and coaches, in a year.

“We aim to reduce the procurement expenditure substantially through reverse bidding method,” said a senior railway ministry official.

The railways, therefore, is in the process of developing a software for the reverse bidding purpose. “First we will try the system as a pilot project involving limited items.Then it will extended to all type of high value purchases.”

The Indian Railways will also be launching a system of digitisation of its entire supply chain across all zones, which also aims at improving the ease of doing business and transparency.

Digital contract, as it will be called, will be a seamlessly integrated digital supply chain. It envisages involving stakeholders including industries, financial institutions, internal customers of railways and inspecting agencies to create an efficient, responsive and transparent system.

“With 100% e-tenders and e-auctions already assimilated into the system, we are further planning to build on these initiatives to achieve seamless flow of material, finances and information,” the official said.

The system includes digitisation of processes like bill submission, inspection, dispatches, receipt, bill passing and bill payments, warranty monitoring and enabling use of analytics for increasing supply chain efficiencies in real time.

The railways have about 52,000 registered vendors for supplies and the vast supply chain also handles more than 2,664 registered bidders for the sale of scrap material.

Tenders and auction process are already on e-platform in railways.

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CBI files FIR against Railway officials and a Private Co for cheating Railways

The Pir Panjal tunnel, linking Qazigund and Banihal, is India’s longest railway tunnel. The CBI has found that the firm maintaining the 11.2-km long Pirpanjal Tunnel billed the government for 87 employees but deployed only 35 people on an average, as against the contractual terms.

NEW DELHI: A private company that won the contract to maintain crucial facilities for India’s longest railway tunnel deployed less than half the staff it was required to and lied to the government about it, the CBI alleged while opening an investigation.

The Central Bureau of Investigation filed an FIR against six people — four Railways officials and two from Sarvonik Sistem India Private Limited — for criminal conspiracy and cheating since the private firm billed the Railways for 87 employees while engaging only 35 people on an average.

The company has been responsible for the ventilation, electro-mechanical works and telecommunications inside the 11.2-kilometre long tunnel connecting Qazigund and Banihal in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pir Panjal range.

The contract was given to Sarvonik for Rs 5.34 crore in 2015. The following year, the contract was extended for 12 more months.

“As per the contract agreement, 87 employees were required on ground for round the clock operation and maintenance of Pir Panjal Railway tunnel,” according to the CBI FIR.

“The actual attendance register also shows that less number of employees (were) deployed on ground (and) as such huge loss was caused to the government exchequer.”

Further, according to the FIR, the contract provided for registration of 87 employees for provident fund (PF) but only 22 employees were registered for the PF.

Identity cards were issued to all 87 employees, but only 38 of them got I-cards for 2016-17.

“In this way, (the) accused persons entered into criminal conspiracy and cheated the railway department by abusing their official position by authenticating the fake employees and raised the inflated bills as per the contract agreement, thus caused a wrongful loss to the government of India,” the FIR concluded.

Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) has constructed the 11 km long Pir Panjal Railway tunnel, the longest transportation tunnel in India, which has been successfully commissioned by Indian Railways. IRCON is the executioner of the Project.

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SCR appeals to Rail Passengers to help maintain Cleanliness at Railway Stations and Trains

SECUNDERABAD: In a move towards upkeep of Cleanliness in Trains and Station premises, South Central Railway has initiated continious drives to keep a check on rail users indulging in activities by way of littering / dirtying Railway station premises and Trains. Also, rail users are being involved as important stake holders along with Railways, to ensure rail journey clean and comfortable.

In this connection, it is reiterated that one of the foremost area of concern, impacting Cleanliness on Trains and at Stations pertains to proper use of Toilets on-board the Trains. Rail Passengers are reqested not to use Toilets of the train while the train is halted at the Railway Stations, which will lead to very unhygenic, dirty and smelly ambiance at Railway Station Platforms, thereby causing inconvenience to scores of rail passengers waiting at the platforms.

It is also to caution rail users that any act of dirtying / littering of Railway Station premises and inside trains is also an offence and is punishable under the Railways Act of 1989.

Railways to install GPS Trackers in Push Trolleys to monitor Tracks

Installation of the GPS will ensure proper Monitoring of the Track Inspection by Section Engineers as well as by Trackmen

BANGALORE: With repeated derailments mostly due to defective tracks, the railway ministry has decided to install GPS trackers in all hand-pushed trolleys used to inspect the tracks.

“The board has decided that all push trolleys should be numbered and installed with GPS trackers for effective monitoring of safety inspections of track and that the installation should be completed within one month period,” said a railway board letter to zonal railways.

The letter also stated that a computer, dedicated to keeping a record of the tracking system, will be installed at divisional engineering controls.

Installation of the GPS will ensure proper monitoring of the track inspection by sector engineering as well as by trackmen.

Physical track maintenance involved around two lakh trackmen and gangmen who carry 15 kg of equipment and walk along tracks checking for defects.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who chaired a high-level meeting on Thursday, also decided to replace all defective tracks on a priority basis.

Minister of Railways briefs Media about India’s High Speed Train Project ahead of Japanese Premier’s state visit

In the presence of Prime Minister of  India, Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Japan, Shri Shinzo Abe, Ceremony for Commencement of Work for First High Speed Train Project (popularly referred as Bullet Train) between Mumbai Ahmedabad to take place on 14th September 2017. The bullet train project will generate nearly 15 lakh jobs in India, says the Railway Ministry. 

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal briefed media about Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Train Project (popularly referred to as Bullet Train project) in Rail Bhavan i.e. 11th September 2017. Minister of State for Railways & Minister of Communication (I/c), Shri Manoj Sinha was also present to brief the media. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Ashwani Lohani and other board members were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal said, “The commencement of work on the Country’s First High Speed (Bullet train) will begin on 14th September, 2017 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The groundbreaking ceremony shall be held in the presence of Prime Minister of  India Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Japan, Shri Shinzo Abe. This would be a historic moment as India will gets it first bullet train.

It was envisioned by Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi to take Indian Railways towards most modern technologies like developed countries. This bullet train is an endeavour to bring economic growth & prosperity in the country with the growth of  Indian Railways adopting most modern technologies. New Shinkansen Technology by the Japanese shall ensure more growth opportunities. The cost will go down further as the technology will grow massively and it will be developed under Make in India. The financial assistance given by Japan is at a minimal interest and will not be a burden as it will be paid after 50 years at a minimal interest. This technology will revolutionize and transform the transport sector of India. This is an occasion to celebrate the advent of the most modern technology in India. It shall also benefit the farmers for transportation of agricultural produce in a fast mode.”

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Background:

This Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project (popularly known as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train) is a  visionary project which will herald a new era of safety, speed and service for the people and help Indian Railways become an international leader in scale, speed and skill.

Low cost of the project:

The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project would be made in an estimated cost of Rs 1,10,000 crore with a loan of Rs 88,000 crore from Japan. The interest on this loan would be as low as 0.1%.  The loan would be given back within 50 years. Piyush Goyal told reporters that the grace period of another 15 years has also been given by Japan.

  • Major portions of large scale infrastructure projects are financed by debt, and the cost of debt is a significant portion of the total costs. As a part of cooperation agreement between India and Japan, Government of Japan will provide a soft loan of about Rs. 88,000 crore at miniscule interest rate of 0.1%. The repayment period of the loan is 50 years.Repayment of loan is to begin after 15 years of receiving the loan, making it practically free since, this loan interest works out to roughly Rs. 7-8 crore per month.
  • Generally, any such loan even from World Bank or such other agencies costs about 5-7% with a repayment period of 25-35 years, thus India is getting loan for the High-Speed Rail Project at almost zero cost without putting any strain on existing financial resources available with the country, as more than 80% of the project cost is being funded by Government of Japan. Clearly Peter is not paying for Paul.
  • It is for the first time in the history of the country that an infrastructure project is being funded on such favourable terms.

Make in India:

  • One of the prime objectives of the project is “Make in India”, which is to be realized before commissioning of the project.
  • As per the agreement between Governments, the MAHSR Project has “Make in India” & “Transfer of technology” objectives.Under the guidance of task force (DIPP and Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO)), action is being taken as per accepted concept paper guidelines.
  • Four sub-groups with representatives from Indian industry, Japanese industry, DIPP, NHSRCL & JETRO to identify potential items & sub-systems for make in India.
  • Active interactions are already taking place between the industries of India and Japan. It is expected that many joint ventures will be formed in the time to come to take up manufacturing of various components including rolling stock. This will not only benefit the Indian Industry with new technology but will also create several job opportunities within the country.
  • The Make in India objective will also ensure that most of the amount invested in this project would be spent and utilized within India.
  • The construction sector in India will also get a big boost not only in terms of investment but also with respect to new technology and work culture.
  • This project is likely to generate employment for about 20,000 workers during the construction phase, who will be trained specially to take up construction of such projects in India. Some of the new areas where construction skills would be developed are ballast-less track, under sea tunnel etc.
  • A dedicated High Speed Rail Training Institute is being developed at Vadodara. This institute will be fully equipped with equipment and facilities such as simulator etc. as are existing in the training institute at Japan. This institute will be functional by the end of 2020.The facilities at this institute will be utilized to train about 4,000 staff in next three years, who will then be utilised for operation and maintenance ensuring that this work is through skilled people in India rather than foreign dependent. They will also serve as a backbone for future development of other High Speed Corridors in India.
  • In addition, 300 young officials of Indian Railways are being trained in Japan to give them exposure in high Speed Track Technology.
  • Keeping in view the long-term plan for human resource development, Government of Japan has also offered 20 seats per year for Master’s course from the universities of Japan, for serving Indian Railway officials. This programme is fully funded by Government of Japan.

Cutting-edge versus Catch-up Technology:

  • Unlike other areas,for high speed, country is getting a cutting-edge technology in totality. The Shinkansen Technology is known for its reliability and safety and is proven for more than 50 years. The train delay record of Shinkansen is less than a minute with zero fatality.
  • Thus,the project is set to provide reliable and comfortable service with high standards of safety. The technology regarding disaster predictions and preventions will also be acquired as a part of the project. Such safety systems ensure that the train operation safety is maintained in case of any natural calamity such as earthquake etc.
  • With the presence and availability of this technology, India will be leapfrog to the cutting edge of latest train developments with passengers able to reach their destination in 2 hours as against the current 7-8 hours by train.
  • As the engineering staff learns the latest technology it will also help in developing the same in India
  • Keeping this scale-up in mind, there are other high speed corridors which are being reviewed –  Delhi Kolkata, Delhi Mumbai, Mumbai Chennai, Delhi-Chandigarh, Mumbai-Nagpur, Delhi- Nagpur. All these corridors will also be able to operate high speed trains in the future. For this, the Ministry of Railways has constituted the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, which is also implementing this MAHSR project.

Salient Features of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project:

Overview:

  • HSR: Defined as Railway Systems Running Trains at Speeds in excess of 250 kmph. Presently, available in 15 countries
  • India was a lone exception among major passenger railway systems not to have one
  • Feasibility study undertaken by Japanese Consultants in December 2013 and report submitted in July 2015
  • Recommendation of Empowered Committee for Innovative Collaborations (Chaired by Vice Chairman,NITI Aayog) and sanction by Cabinet in December, 2015.
  • Planned completion by December 2023
  • All-out efforts will be made to complete it by 15th August 2022

Key Features:

  • Length 508 KMs (approx.), doubleline through two states, Maharashtra (156 KMs) and Gujarat (351 KMs) and UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (2 KMs).
  • Longest tunnel 21 KM switch 7 KMs undersea (Thane Creek).
  • 12 stations: Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara,Anand, Ahmedabad,Sabarmati. Underground station Mumbai, all others elevated.
  • Maximum Design Speed – 350 kmph;
  • Maximum Operating speed of 320 kmph.
  • Journey Time: 2.07 Hrs (limited stops), 2.58hrs (stopping at stations) vis-à-vis existing train travel time of 7-8 hours

Low Cost, High Speed:

  • Cost estimated at Rs.1,08,000 crore-entire corridor elevated for safety and land economy.
  • 81% of the project cost by Japanese soft loan at 0.1%per annum with repayment period 50 years–including grace period of 15 years.
  • Project funded by a loan on terms which tantamount to a grant.
  • First time in India that an infrastructure project is being funded under such favourable terms

“Make in India”

  • As per the agreement between Governments,the MAHAR Project has “Make in India” & “Transfer of technology” objectives.
  • Under The Guidance Of Taskforce (DIPP and JETRO), accepted concept paper action is being taken as per guidelines
  • Four Sub-groups with representatives from Indian industry, Japanese Industry, DIPP, NHSRCL, JETRO to identify potential items /subsystems / activities for make in India.
  • Four Subgroups-Track,Civil,Rolling Stock,Electrical and S&T

Best tech available to India:

  • Will launch Indian Railways to be select club of countries having the state of the art technology.
  • Shinkansen Technology Known for reliability and safety with proven track record of more than 50 years
  • Punctuality record is less than a minute with zero fatality
  • Reliable and comfortable services
  • Project Comes with technical support and handholding of the Japanese–will ensure complete transfer of know-how to Indians for future projects
  • High Speed Rail Training Institute at Vadodara to train 4,000 staff for operations and maintenance

Boost to Economy & Employment

  • 20,000 construction jobs
  • 4,000direct employment for operations and 20,000 indirect jobs too
  • Boost To Urban And Industrial Development Along The corridor
  • Ease Of Travel Between Cities And Enormous Capacity for commuting
  • Capacity building for other high speed projects

Ground Breaking Ceremony:

  • Project Commencement function is Sabarmati on 14.09.2017 by Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister and H.E. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
  • Will mark the commencement of the Project and laying of foundation stone for the High Speed training Institute at Vadodara

Project Status: Major progress made

  • National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, incorporated with equity by Ministry of Railways, Governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra in February 2016.
  • General Consultant (GC) & Environment Consultant appointed.
  • Schedule of Dimensions (SOD) and Manual of Standards and Specifications for track, tunnels, bridges, Signalling, Telecom and OCC finalised.
  • Ground Survey completed using Aerial LiDAR Technique.
  • Geotechnical Investigations substantially completed.
  • Social Impact Assessment (SIA) consultant for Gujarat and Maharashtra appointed.
  • Land acquisition- ROW requirement is under finalisation.

Number of Rides:

The train will make 70 Ahmedabad-Mumbai rides. Reportedly, a total of 24 high-speed trains will be imported from Japan and then rest of the rakes will be manufactured in India. Also, the officials stated that the reason behind giving this project to Japan is that the nations has been running the trains since many years without a single accident that ever happened on its bulet trains.

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SCR to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings by 2018

SECUNDERABAD: Elimination of all Unmanned Level Crossings on Zone to be completed by September, 2018 stated Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway at a review meeting held i.e., 11th September, 2017 at SCR Headquarters, Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. The review meeting was attended by Principal Heads of Departments and the Divisional Railway Managers of Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Nanded, Guntakal and Guntur Divisions took part through Video Conferencing.

General Manager instructed Engineering and Operating Department Officials to co-ordinate and plan meticulously to finalize and start works pertaining to elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) by construction of Limited Height Subways (LHS) / Road Over Bridges (ROBs) / manning of gates etc., on the Zone.

The meeting which had elaborate discussions on Safety aspects focused on the need of the hour i.e., the track maintenance works to be carried out to prevent untoward incidents. Vinod Kumar Yadav instructed all the Divisional Railway Managers to carry out Safety drives in the Divisions and identify areas concerning immediate attention for undertaking track renewal works. He also reiterated for periodical Training Module implementation for Control, field Staff for understanding and mitigating the difficulties faced while carrying out the work. He stressed upon to carry out all the preventive maintenance works with top priority and attention. He also held a detailed reviewed of Punctuality status of the Zone and suggested to improve the same. He also discussed Division wise Loading Performance status and expressed satisfaction over the current trend. He emphasized on new avenues to improve the loading and earnings.

D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; N.Madusudhana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Vijay Agarwal, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction); K. Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer, M.G.Sekharam, Chief Commercial Manager, Smt Padmini Radhakrishnan, Principal Financial Advisor, A.A.Padhke, Chief Electrical Engineer, V.M.Shrivastava, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer, N.V.Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer, SCR and Senior Officials were present during the meeting.

Focus on  Improvement of  Safety Systems To Ensure Safe Conditions: tells Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM,SCR to Safety Staff

Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway stressed upon according top priority to ensure safety by implementing system improvements meticulously. He conducted intensive review meeting on Safety, Punctuality and Passenger Amenities i.e., 04th September, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) of all six Divisions i.e. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded attended the meeting through video conference.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, held a detailed review of all the safety aspects on the Zone including minor incidents of unusual  happenings like weld failures, rail fractures and  human failures etc.,  He advised the staff to follow speed restrictions and called for immediate remedial measures to arrest any such failures. General Manager instructed the Officials to conduct vigorous inspections to identify the short falls which may lead to unusual incidents and advised to take pro active measures in all aspects to avoid hazardous situations. He instructed the officials to strictly adhere to the safety rules in implementing the system improvements to avoid unsafe situations. Speaking on the Punctuality Vinod Kumar Yadav stated that the punctuality also should be accorded priority.

He also took stock of Linen supply and cleanliness of bed rolls over the Zone and instructed Divisional Railway Managers & Officials to undertake special drives to check on proper supply of Linen.  Speaking on the staff welfare measures, he ordered the officials to inspect Hospitals, Holiday Homes and Rest houses to improve the infrastructure and facilities. Further, Vinod Kumar Yadav instructed the Officials to inspect the pantry cars regularly to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene. He instructed the officials to ensure the considerable improvement regarding cleanliness in all important stations over SCR.

Earlier, Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway  presented “Man of the Month” safety awards to fifteen employees for showing alertness in the duty and taking timely action to prevent unsafe conditions.

John Thomas, Additional General Manger; K.V.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan,  Principal Financial Advisor (PFA); M.G.Sekharam, Chief Commercial Manager; Arjun Mundiya, Chief Mechanical Engineer; D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; Vijay Agrawal, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction); V.M.Srivastava, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; A.A.Phadke, Chief Electrical Engineer; N.V. Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer; K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Director and Ashesh Agarwal, Sr. Deputy General Manager were amongst the officials present.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project ready for takeoff; Modi, Shinzo Abe to lay foundation on Sept 14

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation stone for the India’s first bullet train project connecting Ahmedabad to Mumbai on Thursday. The high speed train will cut travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad by at least five hours.

MUMBAI: India’s ambitious High Speed Rail (HSR) project is now at the take-off stage, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the 508-km long Mumbai-Ahmadabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) on September 14 in Ahmedabad.

Once complete (scheduled in December 2023, but commencement date sought to be advanced to August 2022), the train which will have a top speed of 350 km per hour will reduce travel time between the two cities to around 2 hours from the existing 7-8 hours.

“The project will integrate the Indian Railways to the global transportation technology and will help rewrite India’s transport infrastructure narrative,” railways minister Piyush Goyal said at a press conference.

“Unfortunately, Indian railways have not graduated from the colonial-era technologies and practices in past four or five decades. Exposure to the high speed technology (popularly called the bullet trains) will enable rail engineers in India to innovate and modernize systems and practices,” Goyal said.

He emphasized that the project funding had come from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at a low rate of interest of 0.1% per annum. “The project will also enable creation of around 15 lakh jobs,” the minister said, adding that passenger fares on the premium train were likely to be lower than the air fares between the two cities.

“This bullet train is an endeavour to bring economic growth and prosperity in the country with the growth of Indian railways adopting most modern technologies. New Shinkansen Technology by the Japanese shall ensure more growth opportunities. The cost will go down further as the technology will grow massively and it will be developed under Make in India programme. This is an occasion to celebrate the advent of the most modern technology in India. It shall also benefit the farmers for transportation of agricultural produce in a fast mode,” the minister said.

Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said, “The Modi government’s astuteness in securing favorable deals through deft diplomacy, innovative financing, and efficient implementation indeed stands out in this case. The bullet train will come to India almost for free.”

Speaking about plans to set up a High Speed Rail Training Institute at Vadodara, Lohani said the centre would provide equipment, ancillary facilities, and trained personnel, emulating the training institute at Japan.

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“The setting up of the institute signifies the government’s intent and commitment towards creating a suitable indigenous workforce for this as well as future bullet trains. The Japanese government while taking consideration of India’s long-term plan for human resource development has also offered training of Indian railways officials in Japan besides reserving fully funded seats for the Master’s course in the universities of Japan for serving Indian railways officials,” Lohani added.

While assuring the transportation revolution, which the new Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train will bring, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, on Monday, drew parallel to the criticism Suzuki faced when Maruti was brought in 30 years ago. When we partnered, lots of people criticized, he said.

“I’d like to draw a parallel to Maruti Suzuki. When we partnered with Suzuki to bring in Maruti, a lot of people criticised the move. Can we imagine now that those two models, which isn’t even made anymore, changed the way we travel,” he said.

Goyal further said that Maruti Suzuki paved the way for a change in the transportation sector, with a hope that the Bullet Train will bring about a similar change in the country.

He said, “It was a matter of 30 years. The old technology became redundant and the whole country is travelling in new cars. I am sure that the bullet train will transform the transportation sector of India in future.”

He quelled the fear of the “naysayers”, saying that the people with optimistic thinking will help India move ahead.

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe will also be visiting India to attend the `Bhoomi Pooja` and foundation stone laying ceremony of the Rs. 97,636-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail link, using Japanese bullet-train technology.

During the visit, Prime Minister Abe will also hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi and is expected to serve as the “top salesman” for the adoption of the Shinkansen technology by other Indian railway systems, with China also aiming to win orders for the projects, the Japan Times had reported, earlier in August.

The 500-km railway will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad in Western India, with services planned to commence in 2023. This train is based on Japanese high-speed technology called Shinkansen, known for its safety and comfort.

India has pledged to build high-speed railways, focused on the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

When Prime Minister Modi went to Japan last November, he travelled by Shinkansen with his Japanese counterpart from Tokyo to Kobe to visit a bullet-train plant of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., a maker of Shinkansen cars.

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CSIR Lab develops smart device to monitor, detect Cracks on Bridges

CHENNAI: A smart device will now help structural engineers detect cracks on large structures and bridges before it is too late — all from the comforts of their office. Scientists from CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, have developed a portable device that will monitor weak structures and send alerts whenever a crack is observed.

The device called the ‘Triboluminescence (TL) Camera uses a light emitting compound and a smart camera that allows detection of cracks — invisible to the naked eye — on structures made of concrete, metal and fibre-reinforced plastic.

The compound when coated on a surface will emit light due to excessive pressure and the smart camera is programmed to capture it. The images can be shared through cloud storage or a mobile app, web browser or Bluetooth.

The TL camera device was among the many technologies developed by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory and on display at an industrial conclave in the city recently.

Scientist R Monika, who demonstrated the technology to visitors at the conclave, said the chemical compound used in the device is in the form of a coarse powder. When it is coated on the surface of a structure, it has the capability to emit red light when rubbed, scratched, pulled or ripped.

“In the case of a bridge or a flyover, its central portion and beams are considered the weaker parts. These areas can be coated with the compound. When vehicles move on the structure and these portions come under pressure, a red light is emitted wherever there are cracks. These cracks may otherwise not be visible to the naked eye,” she explained. “At present, structural engineers have to physically check for the smallest of cracks.”

To keep a record of the detected cracks, scientists have developed a smart camera that is programmed with an image sensor analysis software. The camera identifies the light emitted by the compound and captures an image. “The images can be accessed with details like date and time and width of the crack,” said the scientist.

The technology could come in for departments like the railways where there are several old bridges. Former railway officer R Ramanathan said railway bridges were once inspected by engineers with hand-held lenses that helped them check stability of the structures. Now, there are various modern hand-held devices like X-ray equipment and laser doppler vibrometer that are used to inspect minor cracks and measure strength of structures. “Unlike flyovers and bridges on city roads, almost all railway bridges in the country are about a century old. Indian Railways maintains a bridge register where all details of inspections and maintenance conducted over the years have been recorded. These come handy during future inspections,” he explained. CSIR-CECRI helps the railways in checking corrosion levels of Pamban bridge and provides remedial measures.

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North India’s nuisance: IR spending Rs.100 Crore a month to scrub Paan Stains at Railway Stations and Trains

Who Is Responsible For Unclean Railway Stations in India? In the National Capital Region (New Delhi) and also the Country’s Financial Capital (Mumbai), and many more cities, Paan and Gutkha stains on the walls of Railway Stations are like Public Art! Thanks to those shameless societies taming such a nasty culture!

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The virtues of the famous paan were extolled by an actor in a hit song from a 1978 Bollywood Hindi film. But 39 years later, the various Railway administrations in the North India are worried that its spittle ruining city-scapes leave alone the historical Railway Stations. The cities of North India are facing a major problem now a days with a social menace – betel nut chewing and spitting on the walls of adorable Railway stations of India.

The situation is so alarming that the menace is spreading so fast to the other parts of the country. Not only Cities of tourism and business importance of North India like – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Varanasi, Patna, Raipur, Kanpur, Agra etc are reeling under major societal nuisance, but also many rural areas are now addicting to this nasty culture. Social Psychologists says that even if a normal individual encounters a person chewing betel nut with profuse spitting habit, then such a normal person will also feels to spit instantly as his stomach cannot bear the irritation emanating by seeing such persons.

Recently Varanasi Municipality started imposing fine up to Rs.500 on people for each paan spit and Rs 100 for littering public space with wrappers after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanadh ordered stringent actions against those errants. If they succeed, they will achieve a feat that the strictest civic agencies across the world had failed to.

Sprays of betel and tobacco juice embellish urban landscapes across India. According to a report, catch a spitter in action and the pet refrain will be how it is the most Indian thing to do. In the national capital, the paan and gutkha stains are like public art.

You can see the spittle trails on the exteriors of stately government buildings, the snow white walls of Connaught Place, railings of elevated roads and flyovers, the boundaries of expensive hotels and even in car parks. The Kolkata Port Trust has been complaining about how the city’s iconic Howrah Bridge that it maintains has lost half its protective metal casing to the acids contained in paan. Last year, the central and western railways declared that they were spending Rs 3 crore a month to scrub paan stains out of Mumbai’s local trains. We have also carried the tradition abroad.

Many of the labour class citizens from North India are migrating to South Indian cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Mysore, Thiruvananthapuram etc., for various jobs in the infrastructure sectors. These labourers who has the habit of chewing ghutka and betel nut are posing serious harm to the south India too.

Medical analysts says that this menace is viral and spreads so fast. If someone is seen spitting profusely, the other with no such habit also feels to spit since the opposite person’s behavious causes whirlwind in his stomach and he also starts spitting.  This is really a big menace, said the medical practitioners.

Stain on Mumbai’s conscience – Railway Stations is now twice as horrible

Here’s an ugly stain on Mumbaikars’s conscience – despite several attempts to keep the city’s stations clean, data from the railways show that spitting and littering has doubled since last year. Figures from Western Railway (WR) shows that as many as 6,870 people were littering and spitting in March alone – more than twice the number caught in March 2016 (3,069).

In 2016-17, total number of spitting and littering cases registered under Section 198 of the Railways Act went up to 89,378 – nearly double the figures from the previous year, when 45,009 were registered.

Nothing has worked: Last month, a front-page story in mid-day highlighted how this menace continued to plague railway stations, despite efforts to beautify the premises with art. In fact, artists took offence to citizens spitting on their work and announced that they would no longer participate in the beautification project (Mu­­mbai says Aakh thoo to pretty railway stations’, April 17). Railway authorities conducted many clean-up drives and also raised the pen­alty for defiling station premises from Rs.100 to Rs.200 in October 2016. Despite this, the filthy practice shows no sign of abating.

DRM/Mumbai said, “Though we cannot assign officials at every spot to catch people spitting and spreading dirt, we are trying our best to maintain station hygiene. However, the condition is poor at every public place because people are not ready to change their attitude. According to the data, since the past two years, spitting has only increased at railway stations. This is why we increased the penalty for it, but despite this the figures have more than doubled in March 2017.” Jain added, “From Western Railway, Andheri station is where the largest number of people are caught spitting. On a daily basis, around eight cases of spitting are registered at this station alone.”

Double at CR too: When approached Central Railway for information on such cases, officials stated that they wouldn’t be able to provide the data. However chief spokesperson Narendra Patil admitted that they had also witnessed a significant increase in offences. “The railway authorities are trying all possible means to keep our stations clean. Our figures of spitting and littering have also doubled, but this is only because we have started strict patrolling at the railway stations in the past year.”

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Railways’ indifference to preserve Antiques: Vintage Weighing Scales of British era go missing at Railway Stations

CHENNAI: For years, these vintage weighing scales remained in a state of neglect. Now, the British-era machines have become a classic example of the railways’ indifference to preserve antiques. Two such weighing scales at the Guindy and Saidapet railway stations were removed recently to be sold as scrap, say sources.

Since the pieces were not brought to the Regional Rail Museum at the Integrated Coach Factory, sources said the artifacts were likely to be junked as scrap. “It was removed by a salvage team six months ago,” a railway official said. Imported from the UK, the scales were used to check excess luggage. Enquiries revealed the commercial department had return ed the weighing scales to the stores depot. Sources at the stores department said departments that consider an article unusable write to them.

“The objects are inspected and auctioned,” said the official. When the heritage value of the machines were pointed out, the official did not seem to know about it.

The Regional Rail Museum, which preserves antique pieces, said they had not received any weighing scale in the past year. R Elangovan, vice-president of the Dakshin Railways Employees Union said the railways should have taken efforts to preserve at least one scale.

Likewise, a heavy Cash Chest in a locked condition belonging to British era containing old British logos embedded on it was lying on Platform No.1 of Cumbum Railway Station of Guntur Division on South Central Railway unnoticed for decades.

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Railways’ April-August Coal Movement falls marginally on year

NEW DELHI: State-run carrier Indian Railways carried 215.86 million mt coal over April-August, down marginally by 0.3% from the same period a year ago, according to the latest data from the Directorate of Statistics and Economics.

Of the total quantity transported by Indian Railways in the first five months of the current fiscal year 2017-18, 179.89 million mt was domestic coal, down 0.6% year on year, while 35.97 million mt consisted of imported coal, up almost 1% from the year-ago period.

Domestic coal shipments transported to thermal power houses fell 32% to 89.56 million mt during April-August while imported coal shipments stood at 6.95 million mt, up 69% year on year, the data showed.

Domestic coal supply to steel mills during the period under review was at 6.71 million mt, down 6% from a year ago, while imported coal volumes grew 23% to 15.82 million mt.

The data showed domestic coal deliveries to other users jumping 107% to 83.50 million mt while imported coal deliveries fell 29% year on year to 13.20 million mt.

Coal contributes to around 50% share in the overall freight traffic of Indian Railways.

On a monthly basis, the railways carried 42.07 million mt of coal during August, up 6% from the same month a year ago.

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Indian Railways will switch to LHB Coaches, reduce casualty rate by 25 times

CHENNAI: If a fast-moving train with Integral Coach Factory (ICF)-designed coaches derails, the deaths and injuries will be 25 times higher as compared to a train composed of LHB coaches.

This statistic, brought out in a recent audit report of Indian Railways, is a key reason why the railways will stop manufacturing the ICF coaches and switch over completely to the German-technology Linke Hoffman Busche (LHB) coaches.

Extracts from the report show that for 2014, 2016, 17 trains with ICF coaches which met with accidents, resulted in 431 deaths and injury of 866 people. In comparison, the three derailments that LHB coaches met with, killed only four people and injured eight. “This proves the superiority of LHB coaches over ICF coaches’. The latter is not safe for operational speeds of 100120 kmph with trailing loads of 2024 coaches,” the report noted.

On August 19, 13 ICF coaches of the Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh, killing more than 20.On August 29, nine LHB coaches of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed, but there were no casualties.

“This is attributed to the anti-climbing/anti-piercing  features of LHB coaches due to vertically interlocked centre buffer couplers that prevent the coaches from capsizing in a derailment. None of the LHB coaches of Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express turned turtle despite a derailment in 2014,” the audit report noted.

ICF, Chennai, will completely switch-over to LHB coaches in a few weeks time, an official said.

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RDSO reverses ‘Ease of Doing Business’ policy of Railway Board

LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: Indian Railways, the largest civil establishment of the Government is providing due opportunities to MSME suppliers, today it procure 25% of its total purchases from micro and small enterprises.

However, down below, some of its offices are still scary of allowing supplies by MSMEs and putting hindrances in upscaling status of the MSME suppliers.

One glaring example is reintroduction of category gates for suppliers by the RDSO, which put additional procedural burden on MSMEs, even after categorisation of vendors were annulled by the Railway Board.

Railways register new suppliers after detail inspection of  manufacturing and testing facilities and all other documents.

Even after that MSMEs are registered as ‘Developmental Vendors’ with limitation on the extent of supplies they can make and other additional checks and balances.

After repeated successful supplies, these contractors have to apply again for upgradation to regular vendors and repeat the entire registration process.

With the focus of the present Government on ease of doing business, the Railway Board, the apex body of the Railways, done away with the two track registration system by an order dated 18th November, 2016.

But the bureaucracy below thought otherwise.

By an order hardly a month after, RDSO Lucknow, the authority to approve the vendors, negates the Railway Board order and reintroduced categorisation of vendors.

The MSMEs are really upset.

Commenting on the situation, Mr. Naveen Jain of Muzaffarnagar and regular supplier to Railways mentioned that this a big harassment to MSME suppliers.

He also mentioned that for new products / items Railways can term  contracts as developmental but for routine items what purpose the categorisation serve, besides creating additional hurdles for MSMEs to register as regular vendors.

The moot question here is who rules the Railways, the Board or the subordinate RDSO.

Otherwise, how an order of the board, abolishing ‘developmental’ and ‘normal’ categorisation of the vendors, were overruled by RDSO.

According to some of the observers, this is the real challenge for  ‘Make in India’ today, where the decisions of the Government to promote manufacturing are reversed by the bureaucracy.

India’s Train Accidents are not even accidents, but High-probability Events caused by Systemic Problems!

The Dear Lives India lost in Rail Mishaps is a matter of Serious Concern – Can new Rail Minister has guts to shake the System to bring about a change?

India has had four train derailment accidents in the last few weeks. One of the accidents, in Uttar Pradesh on August 19, killed 23 people and injured more than 150 people. This series of serious accidents led to the resignations of Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu and Chairman of the Railway Board A.K. Mittal.

Since last many decades railway up-gradation was not keeping pace with time technology. Unions in railways rule the roots, efficiency and safety are the last things on their mind. Accountability is passing the buck and generally the blame is put on human error. However, we are supposed to follow rules. Shoddy maintenance of railways across India is the main cause for major accidents – particularly on the Northern India. Railways are also looting passengers by imposing safety surcharge. People started thinking that all the false promises were given from behind the veils of power mongers. God knows how the tough rakes are maintained or not but prone to more major mishaps.

India was one of the first countries in the world to build a large railway system. Its 21-mile railway from Mumbai to Tana was built in 1853, under British colonial rule. At the time of independence in 1947, the Indian railway network covered more than 55,000 kilometers, behind only the US, the former Soviet Union and Canada. The surge in India’s population and its rapid urbanization meant that the trains, which were relatively affordable, became the most important means of transport for most people. But the explosion in passenger numbers severely burdened the aging railway system, which had been constructed to a fairly low standard. As a result, accidents have not been uncommon.

As in the past the blame on the derailment near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh is caused by negligence and the blame is passed on human error. The locals in UP expose lapses and it is very clear that accident could have been averted. The victims narrate their ordeal and that is pathetic.  Just by giving compensation we will not be able to make up the human loss. Eyewitnesses recount the horror and how the victims were struggling for help. Medical facilities reached the accident spot late and that shows the apathy and the lethargic approach of the officials.

By suspending or by transferring officials is not the solution.  More and more care should be taken on passenger safety and the railway budget should allot more funds to reduce the accident cases to a negligible level. The approach after the tragedy by the government does not augur well and the railway passengers are feeling lack of relief during such major accidents. It should not be out of context to mention here that the system is controlled by the Railway Ministry through the state-owned Indian Railways having more than 1.5 million employees and is India’s largest state-owned enterprise too. However, it is also probably the most inefficient Company in the world, in the state sector. Coupled with the government’s policy of low-cost train transport and high salaries for railway employees, the Indian Railways simply cannot accumulate enough funds to update its railway system.

The train accident near Khatauli saw tragedy struck killing of more than 23 people and injuring over 100 and that jolts the nation. It could have been averted if the track fractures had been taken care in time and a close watch carried on the train tracks. The derailment created fear among the passengers. Strange are the ways of train accidents in the Indian history. In the past we heard about bomb blasts, head on collision, wrong signal, smoke inside coaches and snatching of fish plates caused trouble and discomfiture to the travellers and caused major causalities at late night. A panel will be set up for a probe. But the dear lives were lost in a major mishap. Time tested methods are to be carried out regularly on all rail routes periodically.

The past governments have not given enough attention to vital infrastructure like railways. At the same time, India’s domestic manufacturing industry has fallen behind, unable to provide technical and equipment support for railway upgrading.

It could be said that India’s train accidents are not even accidents, but high-probability events caused by systemic problems. For decades, the situation has not improved. According to the statistics, in 2016 more than 500 train accidents took place in India. This problem cannot be solved by the resignation of the minister of railways. The minister himself to be serious on various corrupt practices in Railway system right from the Railway Board level to the Zonal and Divisional levels in the Engineering, Safety, Operations, Electrical, Signal & Telecom wings. Most of the Indian Railway officials are corrupt and past Governments have not taken sufficient steps to correct the system. Atleast Suresh Prabhu, former Railway Minister was too serious on such malpractices, as he has taken aggressive stand on corruption under the Prime Minister Mr.Modi’s regime.

The slow speed and frequent accidents on India’s railways have become symbolic of the backwardness of the country’s infrastructure. In the international media coverage of India, the train-related problems also give a negative impression of the country to the international community. Not only do foreign tourists feel insecure about traveling there, but foreign investors also have little confidence in India’s infrastructure, which has hindered the development of India’s economy and modernization.

Over the past decade, the government has recognized the importance of railways for economic development and it has proposed a series of railway construction plans. After Modi came to power, he expressed ambitions not only to reconstruct the original railways but also to form a “diamond quadrilateral” of railways connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta, the Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway corridor and the Mysore-Bangalore Chennai high-speed rail lines. At the same time, India also become more welcoming to the participation of foreign funds and enterprises. In September 2014, when Chinese leaders visited India, the two countries signed an agreement to invite Chinese enterprises to participate in a project to upgrade the railway from Bangalore to Mysore. India also announced in 2015 that it would invest more than $13 billion over five years to modernize and expand the railway system. In February 2016, India and Japan signed a $12 billion agreement to build a high-speed railway from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

The Modi government’s railway construction plan is exciting, but will not be easy to achieve. First, the huge funds required have not yet been mobilized, partly because private capital hasn’t been properly involved, but also because there are still concerns regarding foreign investment. Second, long-term constraints in the institutional infrastructure in India have not been resolved, such as problems related to land expropriation.

Even if Modi can create a miracle and successfully complete his plan, it only involves the enhancement of the main Indian Railways, which account for just a small part of the entire Indian railway system. A comprehensive upgrade of the whole system will need a huge amount of money, and will take several decades to achieve. Therefore, news about Indian train accidents is not likely to fade away.

Railways Multi-purpose Stalls satisfy travelling needs of the Passengers under one roof

NEW DELHI: In a bid to facilitate passengers, now there will be multi-purpose stalls (MPS) at railway stations. These stalls will have miscellaneous items that will satisfy travelling needs of the people, under one roof.

Pursuant to announcement made in 2016-17 budget, the Railway Board announced the policy on September 5, directing all general managers to ask divisional railway managers (DRMs) to prepare a blueprint of the total requirement of MPS platforms and stations.

Such multi-purpose stalls will first come up at A1, A, B and C category stations on priority. The policy will be applicable to existing stalls also but if they don’t want to opt for it, such stalls will be allowed to continue till their agreement term period with railway divisions ends.

“The railway divisions have been asked not to make any new allotment or give extension to any existing stalls or trolleys. All these stalls will be converted into MPS in phased manner. The basic idea is to mop up additional revenue by the railways,” said senior officials.

They added one of the objectives of the new policy is to decongest railway stations by optimum utilization of space on platforms. “Too many stalls at platforms also prove to be hurdle in smooth flow of passengers. MPS will not only solve the purpose to great extent but will also benefit passengers by one-stop purchases,” said officials.

The MPS will include artifacts and items of local and regional importance. It will also include existing items like packaged drinking water, magazines, newspapers, chemist stall items, milk powder and food items.

It shall be mandatory for these stalls to sell books pertaining to Indian culture, values, morals and history. The MPS will also have to sell zonal railway timetable and trains at a glance and other official publications.

Official sources said a blueprint will be prepared with approval of DRM and it will be forwarded to chief commercial managers (CCMs) prior to invitation of bids. Retailers, individuals and self-help groups (SHGs), registered firms will be eligible for bids.

With digitization, the railways have made it mandatory now for the stall owners to keep swipe machines for acceptance of debit and credit cards without charging any additional transaction charge for sale above Rs 100.

Sources said, a committee of CCMs of four zones — Southern Railway, Northern Railway, Eastern Railway, and Western Railway — will prepare a tender document to be executed by all zonal railways and licensees after Railway Board approves it.

Salient Features of The Policy
* Multi-purpose stalls to have all items under one roof.
* DRMs told to prepare blueprint of the MPS and submit proposal to CCMs before bids.
* Retailers, individuals, SHGs, registered firms allowed to be part of the MPS.
* Bids to be invited through e-tendering process only.
* Three-member panel at division level to deal with tendering process.
* The MPS allotment will be for five years only.
* 25% reservation for MPS will be for all reserved categories at A1, A, B & C category stations and 49.50% at D, E, F category stations.
* The policy will be for existing stalls only.

Perform or Perish: Piyush Goyal pulls socks up to begin Reforms to keep Railways on Right Track

NEW DELHI: In what could be termed as the first major step towards organisational structural reforms in the Indian Railways, newly-appointed Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has effected certain administrative changes that are being seen as a curtailment of the powers of the Chairman of the Railway Board (CRB). Decentralisation is the buzzword in the change process.

Goyal has directed that the number of officers reporting directly to the CRB must be reduced. A few top-level posts have been thus redesignated. The officers on such posts will now report to the respective Members of the Railway Board and not the CRB. The changes have been made in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice to the Railway Ministry for necessary structural changes, sources said.

Both Goyal and the new CRB Ashwani Lohani were handpicked by the Prime Minister recently in the backdrop of a spate of train mishaps that cost many lives and led to the exit of erstwhile Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and the then CRB AK Mital.

While Prabhu was moved to take over as Commerce Minister in the Cabinet reshuffle, Lohani was brought back to Railways from Air India where he served as its Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) for two years.

Goyal recently chaired the first full railway board meeting where he took to task railway officers through a message, ‘perform or perish’. Following the meeting, the five Members of the Railway Board were empowered with certain functions.

A committee has also been formed to suggest ways to streamline the system of file movements and devise a mechanism for clearance of files in the shortest time. Further, all the Advisers of the Railway Board have now been re-designated as Principal Executive Directors (PED) with full powers to take decisions and execute rather than remain as mere advisors.

“The decades-old multi-layered file movement system which caused inordinate delays will come to an end. In maximum number of cases, files remained static even as Governments changed and rail ministers came and went. This would be a good move and projects will be put on fast track,” said a senior railway official.

He said the Minister and CRB at the meeting also discussed the Railway Board’s restructuring to make its functioning smooth and seamless and to avoid overlapping and confrontation between departments which have been creating hindrances for the holistic development of Indian Railways.

Prabhu had initiated the steps for restructuring the railway board, including redistribution of work allocation to board members and the creation of new post of Advisor for Resource Mobilisation for the national transporter.

 The Advisor has hence been re-designated by Goyal as PEDs who are also expected to provide a momentum for resource mobilisation for the development and modernisation initiatives of the Indian rail system.

With a view to reorganising the Railway Board on functional lines, the policy involves redesignation of the posts and accordingly Member Engineering will be Member Infrastructure with additional responsibility of signal and telecom departments (S&T). Till now, S&T was with the Member Electrical. Railways have already re-designated Board Member (Mechanical) and Member (Electrical) as Member (Rolling Stock) and Member (Traction), respectively, while redistributing the works.

Now, Member (Traction) owes the responsibility of all locomotives – diesel and electric, while Member (Rolling Stock) is responsible for all coaches, including Trainsets and electrical maintenance of entire coaching stock.  Member (Traction) has also been given fuel management, including all forms of conventional and non-conventional energy generation.

Shortage of Coal Rakes may hit Power Generation in Tamil Nadu

With wind season coming to an end in a few days, Tangedco will have to depend only on its thermal units for power generation. But the present stock of coal will suffice only for six days.

CHENNAI: Shortage of coalrail rakes is threatening to derail power generation in Tamil Nadu. With wind season coming to an end in a few days, Tangedco will have to depend only on its thermal units for power generation. But the present stock of coal will suffice only for six days.

State power minister P Thangamani as well as chief secretary Girija Vidyanathan have written letters to Union Coal and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal as well as Railway Board Chairman and Union Coal Secretary respectively seeking their intervention to get rakes for Tangedco.

“Normally, at any given point in time, we used to have coal inventory for not less than 2 weeks. But now, stocks in our thermal units have dwindled. While Tangedco is able to manage as we have wind power, NTPC units in Vallur and NTPL units in Tuticorin are hit because of coal shortage due to lack of rail rakes,” a senior Tangedco official told.

Tangedco gets 75,000 tonnes of coal from Talcher and Ib Valley in Odisha, and Ranigunj and Singareni in Andhra Pradesh. “Movement of coal from the mines to the thermal units is becoming a major issue. We have stopped import of coal. Domestic coal is just not moving as planned due to shortage of rakes,” said the official. From Ib valley, Tangedco gets coal in the form of boulders. It has to be crushed before it is sent to the thermal units.

Last week, Thangamani wrote a letter to the Union minister asking for more rakes. “While the minister asked for improvement in railway movement, the chief secretary wanted the railway board chairman and coal secretary to help Tangedco get more rakes,” he said.

Two Tangedco teams are camping in Talcher to coordinate with coal and railway officials to ensure that the state discom gets coal in time. “We only hope the problems are solved before the end of the year because in the coming months power demand will be lower due to cool weather. But from January, the demand will start increasing,” said the official.

Railway officials said due to south east monsoon, coal from most of the mines in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh could not be evacuated. “Coal India seems to have taken it easy due to heavy rain. Their production was low. Now the coal evacuation has re-started, but railways is not able to cope with the demand,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity.

Apart from the government-owned thermal units, many private units in north and central India are also facing coal shortage due to non-availability of rail rakes.

Sanjeev Sinha named Adviser for Rs.1.1 Lakh Crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train Project

The development comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese premier Shinzo Abe to kick-start India’s first bullet train project on Sept 14, 2017.

MUMBAI: Sanjeev Sinha, former Tata executive in Tokyo and the first IIT-ian from Barmer, Rajasthan, has been appointed as adviser for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail project by Japan Railways.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the project, estimated to cost about Rs 1 lakh crore, is planned in Ahmedabad on September 14 in the presence of Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi.

The project, largely funded by low-cost financing from Japan, is planned to be built based on Japanese technology by a consortium of six rail companies under the aegis of Japan International Consultants or Japan Railways Group, along with the National High Speed Rail Corporation, a three-way alliance between the Gujarat and Maharashtra state governments and the urban development ministry.

Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks, and its Shinkansen bullet train is among the fastest in the world. Japan will provide 85 percent of the total project cost of $19 billion in soft loans. The train will reduce the travel time between the two cities from eight to three-3.5 hours, and is expected to complete by December 2023. It will have a capacity of 750 passengers.

With an interest rate of a negligible 0.1% over an exceptionally long 50-year term and repayment moratorium for the first 15 years, the funding from Japan for the High Speed Rail, called Shinkansen in Japan, is almost like a grant based on standard financial valuation calculations.

“I will be the interface between the two governments. This is a prestigious project but extremely complex. Converting the political will into actual execution will take a lot of effort,” Sinha said in a phone interview from his Tokyo home on Sunday, a day before flying out to Hyderabad.

The Indian government expects the 508-km project that will connect Sabarmati, Surat and Vadodara, among other places, to be completed by May 2023. Twothirds of the project will be within Gujarat, Modi’s home state.

“The Japanese agencies have largely worked within the country except for the Taiwan bullet train project. They want to understand the complexities of Indian regulation, the federal structure and how that impacts key issues of land acquisition, tax and fiscal structures and railways. For some of them, even English-speaking human resources is a major challenge. Then comes the massive civil engineering issues,” Sinha added.

Born in 1973 in Rajasthan, Sinha graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1995 after a five-year Integrated MSc course in physics. After working with Indian conglomerate Godrej, he went to Japan to join GenTech Corp. for R&D in Artificial Intelligence in 1996, leading to some of the key technologies for current automated driving systems.

While acquiring another masters in finance, Sinha built a career working with Goldman Sachs, Mizuho Securities and UBS. He then became the chief country representative for Tata Asset Management and Tata Realty and Infrastructure, before becoming a consultant with PwC.

“I plan to meet the new railways minister in the coming weeks… I have been interacting with Suresh Prabhu for a long time. He came to Japan many times and had implemented key takeaways from here, like the privatisation of railway platforms,” said Sinha, who first organised a conference on bullet trains for both sides in Tokyo in 2013. To support the huge technology collaboration efforts, Sinha is setting up an India Japan Technology Collaboration Fund for partnerships on AI initiatives, nicknamed RingAI.jp.

RingAI.jp is co-organising a startup Master Class boot camp with the IIT Kanpur Alumni Association of Pune on September 16 to award breakthrough projects in the field. The event is likely to be attended by Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Baba Kalyani, Chairman of Bharat Forge and a member of the board of Hitachi, a major conglomerate of Japan involved in the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Shinkansen project. The winners will be flown into Japan for an investment road show later this year. Concerned about the spate of recent railway accidents in India and the loss of lives, Sinha said safety is paramount and the Japanese government is already helping its Indian counterparts with a blueprint.

“I believe Japan International Cooperation Agency that is already involved with Mumbai and Delhi metro projects have been assigned to study safety measures,” he said.

Sinha argues bullet trains, with speeds of 285 km per hour, can’t be built overnight and need “meticulous planning.” He is confident that the railways can work along with the new hi-tech projects and learn best practices.

“India’s rail network is vast but behind several developing nations. I hope the Japanese Shinkansen with a fabulous record of zero fatal accidents in its operations over more than 50 years despite very intricate passenger friendly operations amidst earthquakes, typhoons and a very difficult hilly terrain of Japan, acts as a benchmark. We can’t wait any further.” For over two decades, Sinha has been promoting interaction among industrialists, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and academicians between the two countries with specific work on the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Andhra Pradesh’s new capital project and Japanese financing of about $400 million for IIT Hyderabad, among others.

Piyush Goyal holds High-level Meeting on Safety with Railway Board officials

Comprehensive review of Safety undertaken. Minister emphasizes on according top most priority to Safety. 5 immediate measures to address the problem of Unmanned Level Crossings & Derailments. All Unmanned level crossings to be eliminated within a year

NEW DELHI: Minister for Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal held a high level Safety review meeting on 7th September, 2017 at New Delhi. The marathon meeting of the Hon’ble Minister with Chairman, Railway Board; all Railway Board Members & the Safety Directorate of Railway Board comprehensively reviewed the Safety measures for Train Operations. A detailed presentation on Safety was made at the meeting. There was threadbare discussion on the subject and the root cause of repeated cases of train accidents in recent past was thoroughly analyzed. In the meeting, the Hon’ble Minister emphasized that the safety is paramount and there cannot & should not be any compromise on this front.

Two major causes leading to accidents were identified as:

a)      Unmanned Level Crossings accounted for 34% of accidents in 2016-17
b)      Derailments due to defects in tracks

The special focus of the meeting was to identify measures to reduce accidents due to derailments which has emerged as one of the major causes of Train accidents.

The Minister for Railways gave following directions to the Railway Board to ensure Safety:

  1. All unmanned level crossings should be eliminated expeditiously on the entire Indian Railway network in a year’s time from now. The earlier target was to eliminate these in 3 years but by using Transformative mantra of “Speed, Skill and Scale” this target has been expedited to less than 1 year now.
  2. Track Replacement/renewal should be accorded Priority & the tracks (rails) earmarked for use for constructing new lines should be diverted to places/ stretches which are prone to accidents & where replacement is due.
  3. The procurement of new rails should be expedited on a large scale with a view to complete construction of new lines in time.
  4. The manufacturing of conventional ICF design coaches should be stopped forthwith & new design LHB coaches only should be manufactured.
  5. Anti-Fog LED lights should be installed in Locomotives so that unhindered safe train operations can be ensured during fog season.

The Hon’ble Minister has directed the Railway Board to monitor implementations of this action plan on a regular basis.

Railway Minister gives 48-hour Deadline for Railway Staff to stop overcharging, seeking tips

Piyush Goyal writes letter to all Zonal Railways across India, asking them to make sure that the new rules are followed strictly.

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has ordered that the practice of Railways staff seeking tips from passengers and overcharging for food should be stopped within 48 hours.

Letters have been sent out to all zonal railways across India, asking them to make sure that the new rules are followed.

The Railway authorities have earlier tried to do away with the practice of the catering staff overcharging the passengers, by giving a strict deadline. Giving tips, however, has never before figured in policy intervention.

After the directive, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) immediately contacted its catering contractors to convey an ultimatum.

Railways’ catering inspectors will check from Monday across trains to check if the old practices are still being followed. Social media platforms will be checked to see if passengers are complaining of being overcharging or about the staff asking for tips.

For overcharging of meals, most passengers are unaware of the actual rates and end up spending extra for a meal.

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Railways draw Blueprint for a Semi-highspeed Rail Corridor between Hyderabad-Nagpur

SECUNDERABAD: A rail journey between Maharashtra’s winter capital Nagpur and the city of pearls, Hyderabad, may take a mere three hours, down from the nine that most trains take now, if a plan is put into action, a senior official said.

The railways has drawn a blueprint for a semi-high speed corridor linking the two commercial hubs, the official added.

“The ministry has initiated a joint feasibility and implementation study with Russian Railways to chalk out details after which it will be sent to the Railway Board for approval,” the senior ministry official said.

The Railways planned to cash in on the fact that at present there were no direct flights between the two cities. A flight with a stopover could take four hours or more.

Currently, the 584-km stretch is covered by the Railways at an average speed of 60km/hr in a minimum of nine hours.

The railways is planning to run the trains at a speed of 160-200km/hr by strengthening the existing tracks and fencing off the route to complete the journey in less than three hours.

Semi-high speed trains can gather a maximum speed of 200 km/hr, while faster ones in the category of high-speed or bullet trains can run at 250-350 km/hr.

The Delhi-Chandigarh corridor, one of the busiest routes in north India, is slated to be the first semi-high speed project being taken up by the Railways with French help. It will enable trains to run at a maximum speed of 200km/hr.

Railways maintained little impact on Goods bound for Nepal on alternative rail routes

How Indian Railways kept supply line to Nepal alive even in the face of devastating floods

KOLKATA: One of worst instances of flooding in the region — areas in Bihar and Bengal abutting Nepal — has caused unprecedented damage to the road and rail infrastructure catering to border trade.

But this had little impact on goods bound for Nepal as the Indian Railways was quick to open alternative rail routes to cater to bilateral trade and Nepal’s third-country imports through Kolkata and Vizag ports. Credit should also go to people of Bihar for allowing rail authorities to restrict passenger train services so as to make way for goods movement.

“Goods operations were closed for only three days during August 17-19,” said Vishnu Chaudhary, CEO of CONCOR-run joint venture Himalayan Terminal (HTPL) at Nepal’s Birgunj, which borders the North Bihar town of Raxaul.

Chaudhary said the key Darbhanga-Sitamari-Raxaul rail link had snapped on August 13 and restoration is taking time as the alignment of some key bridges were affected.

Railways has managed the situation by diverting traffic through Sugauli. Passenger train services on the Muzaffarpur-Raxaul route was reduced from four to two, to create a six-hour dedicated window for goods movement to Nepal.

The results are visible. In July, the terminal handled 2,250 TEU (twenty feet equivalent unit) of containerised third-country cargo. In August, in spite of the devastating flood, 2,080 TEUs were unloaded.

Supply of steel, fertiliser, cement from India also went on full steam. In July, the terminal handled 31 rakes, each loaded with 2,500 tonne of steel cargo. The traffic was 25 rakes in August.

“The operations were challenging due to limited window for rake unloading,” Chaudhary reminded.

It means his team had to unload faster than the normal average of 2.2 rakes a day, failing which the entire traffic would be chocked. HTPL ended up unloading up to five rakes a day in August.

Chaudhary expects overall Nepal trade to gain momentum in the coming months, particularly with the restoration of road connectivity. Road movement is still slow. The 30-km link between Sugauli and Raxaul needs urgent repair.

Vizag cargo rising

Meanwhile, Nepalese importers are showing increasing interest to source third-country cargo through the Vizag sea port. While cargo activity stood at 50 TEUs in June, the monthly average rose to 78 TEUs in August.

According to Chaudhary, it may increase to 180 TEUs in September as two fully-loaded rakes (with 90 TEUs each) are about to depart from Vizag.

Titagarh Group prospects Investments Opportunities in Morocco’s Rail Sector

KOLKATA: A delegation of India’s Titagarh Group is on a visit to Morocco to explore investments opportunities in the North African country’s expanding rail sector.

Led by the Group CEO Umesh Choxdhary, the Titagarh delegation held talks with Moroccan officials including Morocco’s Transport, Logistics and Water Minister Abdelkader Amara.

The Moroccan ministry announced in a statement that Titagarh officials expressed interest in investing in Morocco’s railways.

The Indian delegation also met with officials from Morocco’s state-owned rail transport company (ONCF) and visited the site of the high-speed railway in Tangiers.

Titagarh operates in manufacturing heavy engineering equipment ranging from wagons, electric propulsion equipment including traction motors, to vehicle control systems.

The Group also designs and manufactures wagons such as container flats, grain hoppers, cement wagons, clinker wagons, tank wagons under the French brand Arbel Fauvet Rail or “AFR”, which has existed for more than a century.

Railway Services suspended in Kashmir Valley for Security Reasons

SRINAGAR:  All trains that run in the Kashmir valley have been suspended for security reasons today, when separatists had called for a general strike against the visit of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here.

“There will be no train running on Srinagar-Badgam in central Kashmir to Baramulla in north route,” a railway official said.

He said therefore train service will also remain suspended on Srinagar-Anantnag-Qazigund in south Kashmir to Banihal in Jammu region for security reasons.

Train service have been suspended following advisory from state administration and police, he said.

Both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference (HC) and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), spearheading the agitation demanding right to self determination, have called for a general strike today against the visit of Mr Singh, who arrived here yesterday on a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

However, chairmen of both the factions of the HC Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq had been put under house arrest while JKLF chief Mohammad Yaseen Malik has been arrested and lodged in Central Jail, Srinagar.

Train service was being suspended on the advice of police to prevent any damage to railway property and safety of passengers.

Rail service was also suspended on September 8 when separatists had called for protests after Friday prayers to express solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims.

However, trains chug on all routes yesterday though the service was affected for about two hours on Srinagar-Banihal track after some problem in engine of one of the trains.

Train service has become most popular mode of transport which is being considered safe, cheap and fast in the valley, where traffic jam has become a daily routine and cost of hiding other mode of transport, including cab because of no fixed rate.

Railways has suffered heavy losses after the train service remained suspended for about six months in the valley during summer unrest. Last month also the trains remained suspended for a number of days for security reasons, particularly in south Kashmir.

Delay in Doubling of Shoranur-Palakkad and Shoranur-Thrissur stretch hampers smooth operation of trains

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Delay in doubling the 1-km railway line from Shoranur Junction to Palakkad Junction and another 1.2-km stretch from Shoranur Junction to the Thrissur station is hampering smooth train operations in the railway network of the State.

Because of the single line, trains from Malabar to Thrissur and Palakkad Junction are being stopped by Railways at Shoranur Junction to give way.

Trains from Thrissur to the Malabar region are being stopped at the Vallathol Nagar station and those to Palakkad Junction at the Mannanur railway station.

As the trains are being held up in the adjacent railway stations, commuters moving through the busy corridor are affected.

Trains held up

Trains are being held up to even 30 minutes and train timings are charted taking into account the delay. The single line is also giving headache to the operations wing of the Palakkad railway division under which the corridor falls.

This single line is affecting the smooth flow of rail traffic not only through Shoranur Junction, but the entire State.

“We were hoping that Railways would take up the works along with the 2.3-km doubling from the Netravathi bridge in Mangaluru to the Central station,” says P. Krishna Kumar, general secretary, Thrissur Railway Passengers Association.

While the doubling up to Mangaluru Central would benefit a few trains commenced recently, Mr. Krishnakumar said Railways ignored the doubling of the 2.2-km Shoranur line that would have speeded up more trains running via Shoranur Junction.

Area of concern

The bottleneck is the one km from Cabin A towards Palakkad Junction and 1.2 km from Cabin B towards Thrissur. The first bridge across the Bharathapuzha absorbs 75% load of trains moving from Thrissur to Shoranur and from Thrissur to Palakkad Junction while the second bridge takes load of trains from Palakkad Junction to Thrissur.

The 2.2-km single line was ignored when the Coimbatore-Palakkad-Ernakulam and the Shoranur-Mangaluru corridors were doubled. Mr. Krishnakumar said division authorities should follow the path of Thiruvananthapuram division in doubling the small stretch from Ernakulam Town to Kottayam to end commuters’ misery.

Even if Railways decide to build on the shunting path towards Palakkad, a decision has to be be taken on constructing a third bridge across the Bharathapuzha.

Piyush Goyal bans production of conventional ICF Coaches that topples over other in case of derailments

Railway Minister took serious note of the Utkal Express derailment that highlighted severe neglect on the part of the local authorities — both maintenance (Engineering) and station (Operating) staff — in reacting to a broken track.

On Thursday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has not only ordered the elimination of all unmanned level crossings within a year, advancing the deadline by two years. He told officials that the focus should be on replacing tracks prone to accidents immediately instead of laying new lines and asked the Board to expedite the procurement of new tracks on a large scale.

Importantly, he also directed the Board to stop the production of conventional Integral Coach Factory coaches that topple over one another in case of derailments.

The accidents last month led to a top-level rejig in the Railway Ministry, with the resignation of Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mital and Mr. Prabhu owning moral responsibility for the derailments. For the first time in decades, a Railway Board member was sent on leave, having been held responsible for the Utkal Express accident. Former Air India chief Ashwani Lohani has taken charge as the Railway Board Chairman. Mr. Goyal has made it clear that safety will be his top priority.

A string of derailments in the last couple of weeks has put the spotlight on rail safety. On August 19, thirteen coaches of the Haridwar-bound Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express went off the tracks near the Khatauli railway station in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, claiming at least 21 lives and injuring more than 90. This was followed by the derailment of 10 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh four days later, after it collided with a dumper, injuring around 100 passengers. This was followed by the collision of a train with a lorry at an unmanned level crossing in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram region on the same day.

The saga didn’t end there with three trains — two carrying passengers and one goods — jumping off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Maharashtra within a span of nine hours on Thursday. Two more accidents were averted – one in Uttar Pradesh and the other in Mumbai when rail fracture was detected by the patrolling staff on Thursday.

Although the total serious train accidents declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 104 in 2016-17, the derailments went up from 63 to 78 during the same period. The share of derailments in total accidents has soared from 46.7% in 2014-15 to 75% in 2016-17. Till August 20 this year, 85% of the total rail accidents happened due to derailments, raising the alarm among authorities.

In a safety review meeting chaired by the new Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday, two major causes of accidents were identified: unmanned level crossings and derailments due to track defects. According to official figures, track defects had the highest share of around 44% in train derailments between 2012-13 and 2016-17. Derailments can also happen because of the failure of wheel and other train components. In 2016-17, 61.5% of the accidents happened because of the failure of railway staff against 37.7% in 2012-13. The Utkal Express derailment highlighted severe neglect on the part of the local authorities — both maintenance and station teams — in reacting to a broken track. While the track defect was detected early in the day, the maintenance team temporarily joined the tracks while waiting for a nod from the station authorities to get block time to fix it. Soon, the Utkal Express arrived at a speed of 105 km per hour, ran over the track and derailed.

In 2016-17, the total number of casualties in train accidents was at a two-year high of 238, mainly due to the derailment of the Indore-Rajendranagar Express near Kanpur, one of the worst accidents in over a decade, killing 152 passengers and injuring 183. In 2015-16, 122 people died in rail accidents compared with 292 in 2014-15 and 152 in 2013-14. The former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced a ‘Mission Zero Accident’ while presenting his last budget of 2016-17 before the rail and general budgets were merged. With a slew of accidents still taking place, it seems to be a distant goal.

Finding a Solution to the Increasing Number of Rail Disasters in India

India’s overstretched railway network is in urgent need of rehabilitation if it is to keep up with its passenger volume and improve safety standards.

After three derailments in less than a month, the standard of routine track maintenance on India’s rail network is under the spotlight once again. Of the three derailments, one occurred after heavy rains and landslides washed away the railway track in Thane district in Maharashtra. In this mishap, the Indian Railways itself was a victim of natural disaster.

The derailment of the Kaifiat Express at Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, happened when a dumper truck trespassed onto the track at midnight and hit the locomotive of a passenger train. Though everyone feels concerned about the 70 passengers who were injured, it must be admitted that the railways too deserve some sympathy for the random behaviour of irresponsible trespassers.

However, the derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express at Khatauli appears to raise multiple alarms. The fears are about track renewal standards and track maintenance practices followed by the Railways, and the stubborn refusal to accept the need for upgrading track standards despite heavy increase in freight and passenger throughput since the last national-scale track rehabilitation initiated by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2002-03.

In a statement to the media, a railways spokesperson said that the prima facie cause of the Utkal Express derailment appeared to be a partially finished emergency track. The train crew were not aware of the track repair work, possibly because no traffic block (possession of track to rectify defects or faults noticed on the track) was granted for the repair work on that day. Since there was no speed restriction imposed on the track stretch where defects were being attended to, the train was running at normal permitted speeds and got derailed.

What ails Indian railways?

Several questions suddenly arose due to the unusual nature of the cause of the derailment. Doubts were expressed about the abilities of the railways’ track possession management (TPM) when attending to track defects. Is there a disconnect between operational performance achievement targets and track maintenance protocols as well as rolling stock safety and performance standards? Has the engineering member on the railway board abdicated his control over TPM for emergency repairs on track? Or is it being unauthorisedly controlled by some other board member who is not being held accountable? Does the same anarchy percolate down to zonal and divisional levels where railway managers are encouraged to emulate the work culture of the commercially-greedy train operating companies of Britain and adopt a bellicose attitude towards track possession for safety repairs? Are the traffic blocks being routinely refused by the divisional railway managers (DRMs) and general managers (GMs) and forcing track engineers to delay or defer attending track defects?

A ‘zero tolerance on punctuality loss’ is needed to assure passenger satisfaction and also to keep up the brand image of the railways. But should this be achieved by denying traffic blocks for urgently demanded track work and endangering the lives of passengers? DRMs and GMs are already under pressure to achieve their freight and passenger traffic targets and earnings management. One can understand their anxiety about not having enough social and bulk goods to carry. Even though the Indian economy is poised to grow at 7-7.5%, it, as of now, does not have much domestic coal or minerals to offer to the railways. However, the railways’ commercial fortunes are tied to these bulk goods. In the passenger business too, if we look at the passenger kilometres in the last five years, what is available for sale and what is actually sold have not seen much growth.

In a business environment driven by heightened commercial expectations and railways intercity transport brand image, the DRMs are tempted to often take risks by not reporting such defects and unsafe track conditions. The restrictions on gaining access to tracks for emergency repair works, due to denial of maintenance blocks, can drive track engineers to risky adventures. And there is reason to suspect that it was one such adventure that was enacted at Khatauli.

The harsh punishments that the railway administration might invoke to deal with human failures associated with rail disasters, could help in controlling mishaps to some extent. More urgently, the Indian raliways needs to worry about systemic issues.

The frequency of mishaps tied to broken rails and other track defects is an unmistakable symptom of a highly stressed-out track network that needs more than just track renewals. It actually demands need-based upgradations of track standards too.

India inherited rail tracks laid by the colonial government, mostly for military logistics purposes and as such, the track standards had generally been kept to a bare minimum. The truth is, that as much as 50,000 km of the present 66,000-km rail route was built by the colonial government as per standards meant for colonial natives. Not much has changed except converting the metre gauge into broad gauge, with hardly any track standard upgrades suitable to carry higher axle load freight vehicles and faster trains.

In India, Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the modernisation of trains. Subsequent prime ministers did not dwell much on the rail industry development or technology acquisition or modernisation till Vajpayee decided to make substantial investments in the renewal and rehabilitation of India’s fatigued track system and aged bridge structures on a national scale. The massive renewal and rehabilitation, planned and successfully implemented in 30 months between 2002-2005, is now more than a decade old.

With a substantial increase in freight and passenger throughput, the track network urgently needs a massive dose of rehabilitation layered with need-based upgradation of track standards, if we want to prevent any further deterioration in track conditions. There was some talk about the rehabilitation of tracks for some time but the kind of high impact improvements visible in 2003-05 and beyond are missing now. Let there be no mistake, all that can be done on the existing permanent way, through rehabilitation with existing track standards, can only improve safety. It may also help in achieving marginally higher track speeds. However, such moderate investments in improving track standards can only result in incremental improvements, which will have limitations. In other words, it might not help much in running faster passenger trains with speed potential above 160 kmph and 25 tonne axle loads freight trains together on the same track system. Mixing 25 T-axle-load freight trains with passenger trains above 160 kmph can be open invitation to disasters.

The consequences of the tragic Khatauli accident have not been good for the country in general and the railways in particular. Non-compliance with even routine maintenance processes are causing accidents, particularly due to human failure, at almost all levels. Somewhere in the midst of this are two serious issues.

Are the methods of excessive monitoring of punctuality drives, clubbed with cleanliness drives, passenger amenities drives and every possible social media drive, spreading the system’s physical resources too thin? The second is the manner in which safety is monitored. Emphasis seems to be on spruced up repair statistics. Defects in track are identified. But is the pressure to report expeditious repairs leading to misreporting? Field inspections and accountability at appropriate levels are the only way out. If track repairs need time and resources, it must be stated upfront. The same must apply to rolling stock. I had earlier commented on the tendency of railway coaches to jack-knife in such incidents. The same has been repeated. Little appears to have been done on fundamental changes in coupling arrangements and coach designs.

Bold initiatives to enable passengers to directly complain or take grievances, 24×7, were a roaring success. However, has this not pushed the understaffed establishment a bit too much, to instantaneously respond to hundreds of passenger complaints daily and consequently distracted the attention of officials from their safety-related core duties? Has the railway board made ministers aware that the Indian Railways is not adequately staffed to man safety category jobs? Many senior railwaymen do misguide their railway ministers by loose talk that Railways are an overstaffed organisation. Loose talk that rests on complete absence of meaningful analytics of the performance statistics.

The Indian railways transports 1,100 million tonnes of freight – which is huge. In addition to freight, it handles 8,300 million passengers annually, which is the largest in the world. It takes a lot of staff to manage the world’s largest rail passenger volumes. There is one railway employee per 17 passengers. In the Western Railway, which is the busiest zone, the number of passengers handled by an average employee per day is as high as 40.

Lessons from the world

Let us look at any country in the world. Only India dares mix the world’s fourth largest freight volume with the world’s largest passenger volume on the same network by over-stretching its capacity utilisation. The more we allow this misadventure to linger, the more we are exposing customers to avoidable risks. The government has done it’s best to provide resources for completing the two legs of dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) for accelerated completion. The DFC project, which was launched in 2006, is now overdue for commissioning. DFCs will facilitate separation of rail freight business from passenger business and will provide a lot relief to the railway network .

Amtrak, the US’s passenger railway corporation, is like the Indian railways. It is directly managed under US government’s federal railway authority. Amtrak has 20,000 employees, with each handling 4.2 passengers per day. After outsourcing all maintenance work to private contracting companies, the privatised UK rail train operating companies and network rail deal with only 51 passengers per employee per day (British Rail hardly carry much freight), which is marginally better than the Indian railway’s western line. For the French railways, the national average is 19.7 passengers per employee per day, almost at par with India. A German railway employee handles 18.7 passengers per day, again at par with India. A China railway employee handles fewer passengers per day than in the US. These statistical comparisons only drive home the point that a reduction in staff numbers can affect safety. A better option will be to improve output per employee per day.

Considering the limitations involved in running speedy intercity passenger trains on a completely “at-grade track network” such as India’s, where roads and highways intersect railways on an average of every two kilometres of route length is also going to be risky. More and more state highways, and rural and urban roads are being built every year in India. It means more roads will keep intersecting tracks .

To ensure safety, upgrading track standards would certainly help. However, it is also true that a substantial portion of the colonial-era railway system cannot take track upgrades beyond a limit. Therefore, the only alternative for India is to follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a ‘diamond corridor’, which was included in the BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. The railway ministry, which was given the task of developing the high-speed rail (HSR) corridor, reneged from the prime minister’s vision to float a parallel programme to operate 180-200 kmph semi-HSR on the existing at-grade embankments, which will be a disaster. Running such fast trains over at-grade track will kill more people. The modernisation of the railways with improved safety can be achieved only through the ‘diamond corridor’ if we want to connect more than 60 very big cities with the about one million passenger population and another 100 big cities with passenger population between 300,000 to one million, with a view to converting these cities into high growth centres. Regional airports and airlines alone cannot provide the kind of multiple intercity connectivity that a single HSR train is capable of providing. From the way in which the successful Rail Vikas Shivir was organised last year with the prime minister’s participation, it appears that a perfectly achievable vision for a modernised and absolutely safe rail network is the prime minister’s alone.

A Railway Line up to Leh could be a reality in the next few years

LEH: At Upshi, 50 km south of Leh, a tiny hillock poses a big challenge to a team of railway survey men. A 16-member squad, comprising experienced railway engineers, geologists, bridge specialists and avalanche experts, tosses various options to negotiate the roadblock —from engineering a deep vertical cut to pushing the track towards the existing motor road. A senior geologist in the team is blunt: there’s no way we can have a tunnel below this heap of withered granite. There’s one more problem, points out another expert. The hillock is too short for a tunnel. So, what’s the way out? After some discord, a consensus is arrived at: let the project consultant RITES, whose survey experts did six recces of the terrain in the past, come up with two alternative solutions and freeze the matter, for good.

If the Government of India has its way, a railway line up to Leh — a district in Ladakhsandwiched between Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the west and China in the north and east — will be a reality in the next few years. The survey for a 498-km-long strategic railway line from Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) to Manali (HP) to Leh ( J&K) began in September last year. The Ministry of Defence has earmarked Rs 158 crore to the Indian Railways for the survey, with Rs 40 crore released in 2016-17. Depending on the gradients and the alignment, the route length could go up to 650 km, almost the same as the distance by road. But the big picture is this: strategically important Leh — just 250 km from the China border — will finally be connected to Delhi by an all-weather, 1,100-km-long rail route. Though defence requirements are the basic rationale for conceiving a railway line passing through a difficult terrain and high passes — 17,480-ft-high Taglang La is one of the four passes on the way — the people living in Mandi, Manali, Tandi, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi, Karu, among other towns and villages, will find rail connectivity closer to their homes.

The cost? The survey men are tight-lipped; a tentative cost will be known by the end of next year when the second phase of the three-phase survey is completed. “Don’t be surprised if the project cost is Rs 1 lakh crore,” exclaims one of the survey men, with a disclaimer that he does not have all the requisite statistics — route length, total size of the tunnels and bridges and the like to do a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

A team of survey men for a stretch of 70 km from Leh to Lato, both in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir were contacted by media.

Strategic Line

The entire survey is expected to take at least two more years. When it’s time for the government to take a call on its implementation, the recent tensions with China and the eventuality of future skirmishes may well determine whether it’s executed or not. After all, the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line will go. It will also be the most challenging project the Railways has ever embarked upon since it involves constructions in huge mountains and avalanche-prone sections.

And it’s not the only line that’s planned near this critical India-China boundary. Final location surveys are also being conducted on the eastern front for three other stretches — a 378-km Missamari (Assam)-Tenga (Arunachal Pradesh)-Tawang (Arunachal) track, a 227-km-long track from Pasighat (Arunachal) to Tezu (Arunachal) to Rupai (Assam) and a 249-km route from North Lakhimpur (Assam) to Bame (in Along, Arunachal) to Silapathar (Assam). This information was in a written reply by MoS for Railways Rajen Gohain to Parliament in November last year. He added that Rs 345 crore was earmarked for surveys for the four lines, with the ministry of defence releasing Rs 87.18 crore for 2016-17.

These blueprints are on the drawing board at a time when China is aggressively pushing its railway network deep into Tibet; the Indian government was jolted in 2006 when the 1,142-km-long Qinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR) became operational, bringing the railway track up to Lhasa, some 1,500 km from India. The Lhasa-Shigatse railway line was subsequently constructed, and will soon be extended to Dromo near Sikkim and Nyingtri (Nyingchi in Chinese) in north Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian state often claimed by China as its own. In fact, Dromo is close to Doklam, where India and China have just managed to end a 73-day-long standoff triggered by the intrusion of Chinese soldiers into Bhutanese territory for constructing a road project (Bhutan is a protected state of India). Despite mounting pressure from China, India did manage to hold its ground till both the countries agreed that its troops would step back by 150 m on each side.

On Thursday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a press conference in Beijing said that while the Doklam standoff with India had “not derailed” ties, they were “damaged and affected” during those 73 days. This message came a day after Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat reckoned that the crisis still lingers. While addressing a gathering at a seminar organised by Centre for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi on Wednesday, the general cited how China “flexes its muscles” to take over “territory in a very gradual manner”.

On the same day, two of India’s former foreign secretaries — Shivshankar Menon and Shyam Saran — had an hour-long conversation at a book launch. Both diplomats spent some quality time to address one question: Why is China in a tearing hurry to exert its military influence in the region? They suspect it to be the fallout of China’s perception that the US under Donald Trump is on the decline, thereby giving a window of opportunity for China to gain more power. Clearly, there’s little room for India to slack off and if China is making tracks into Tibet, and towards the border, India too should be getting its act together to create similar infrastructure in the region. It won’t be easy, though.

Toughest Track

Railway officers point out that if the track to Leh gets the green signal, it will be more ambitious and grandiose than the engineering marvel that is the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link, with 11.2-km-long Pir Panjal railway tunnel. Only a part of that project is operational now. “The Bilaspur-Leh line will pass through four high passes, the most challenging being Taglang La (17,480 ft). The temperature variation from minus 30 degree Celsius to plus 30 degree Celsius is a big challenge. Then, there are avalanche-prone areas on the way. The proposed line falls in Seismic Zones 4 and 5.

In fact, 11% of our proposed track falls in Zone 5 (the most vulnerable to earthquakes)” says Desh Ratan Gupta, the chief engineer in-charge of construction and survey for Northern Railways. “Also, the sub-zero conditions of this magnitude do not exist in the Udhampur-Baramulla project.”

Sunil Bharadwaj from the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) pinpoints the challenges. “Between Kothi and Sissu (both in Himachal Pradesh), the line will pass through some of the most avalanche-prone pockets. That 70-km stretch will be a big challenge,” he says. SASE is a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that forecasts avalanches, apart from undertaking their mitigation measures —both temporary (like artificial triggering) and permanent (like constructing snow galleries).

For New Delhi, junking the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh project because of the rough terrain may not be an option. From 1947, the Railways has been shying away from constructing new hill rail tracks — the toy trains of Darjeeling, Shimla and Ooty were built in the British era. The only headway made in the recent past has been the construction of rail tracks to connect seven capital cities of the northeastern states (barring Sikkim) and then the Udhampur-Baramulla rail line in Kashmir; both are incomplete.

In Leh, people are not perturbed by the recent military standoff between India and China in Doklam near Sikkim and in Pangong in Ladakh.

Sonam Angchuk, 61, a personal assistant to Shey monastery’s chief monk, is hopeful that the rail line to Ladakh will become a reality. “Can you imagine that a dozen bananas cost Rs 100 in Leh? It’s all because of transportation costs. Many commodities are bought either from Srinagar or Himachal Pradesh. The rail line will be a game-changer,” he says. Skal Zang Dolma, a former school teacher, spells out the downside. “If the railways come here, prices of goods will come down, but we don’t want Leh to turn into a dirty, low-budget tourist spot,” says Dolma, a resident of Stok, a village where Leh’s royal family resides.

For the 16-member survey team comprising railway engineers, geologists, avalanche specialists and a plainclothes colonel, the first stop in the morning is a barren piece of land by the side of the Indus river. The team is well aware of the site as most team members had visited the location in the past.

It’s one of the two proposed sites for the Leh railway station where trains from the rest of India will terminate. A couple of geologists immediately give a green signal; the colonel seems satisfied with the location, but there’s a little confusion: is the Indus river bed, which saw a massive flood in 2010, too close to the site? The team members with geological maps and handheld GPS devices take measurements before proceeding to the next destination: a large area below a hillock. A representative from the Geological Survey of India argues why he prefers the location to be on the other side of the river; but then there will be issues regarding acquisition of defence land, which may delay the project.

At many locations, there’s no dispute, thereby fast-tracking the survey. It is called a ground-proving survey as it tallies the maps with actual locations. It’s part of the final location survey, which may continue till 2019. The consultants from RITES, the rail PSU, have visited the area at least six times, and they are aware of each hillock, monastery, habitation and the like. Then there are sites where defence requirements are of utmost importance.

The survey men also try to figure out probable names for the stations, keeping in mind the local cultural ethos and heritage. One suggestion, for instance, was to name a station Hemis, after the famous monastery nearby, instead of a village called Karu.

The survey slows down after lunch at a roadside dhaba at Upshi, about 50 km south of Leh; it is faster till then because it is a repeat survey. Between Upshi and Lato, the men debate at every junction — should there be a longer tunnel; what if a deep vertical open cut is engineered in a hill for the track?

When a geologist raises objections about a location, citing poor quality rocks, it’s time for some humour, too. “Fine, fine. Should we change the alignment altogether for one hillock? Hey, let’s find a mitigation mechanism,” quips the supervising engineer.

The next morning, the survey continues, further south of Lato….

Ponying Up
Ravi Shankar Kandari, a civil engineer with RITES, has been surveying railway tracks in difficult areas for the last 20 years. He has many a story to tell — how to manage STD calls in army camps in South Kashmir and how best to woo villagers with ponies in the Reasi area of the Jammu region.

Kandari surveyed a major part of the Udhampur-Baramulla project, with a posting first in the Kashmir Valley (2001-03) and then in Jammu region till 2005. “Ponies are so well trained that even if you lose the GPS device in the hills, the animal will take you back through the same route,” he says. “Ponies are GPS machines.”

There were times when Kandari and other survey men used to stay with villagers at night by paying a nominal fee for home stays. “We used to pay Rs 250 for a pony per day. Now if you hire a pony for a day, it will cost no less than Rs 1,000,” he adds.

Once the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh survey enters Phase II in the next two months or so, and when more detailing will be required, Kandari and a few other survey men are expected to take help from villagers to understand the terrain better. “My pony rides will begin soon,” he quips.

Solar Power Plant helps Mysore Railway Workshop save money

MYSORE: The grid-connected photo-voltaic (PV) facility power project commissioned at Mysuru Central Railway Workshop is said to be first of its kind in Indian Railways. The installation of 500 KWp solar rooftop system at the workshop of South Western Railway (SWR) not only saves energy, but also money.

In 2015, the then railway minister had outlined a road map for reducing the use of fossil fuels and switching over to non-conventional energy in a phased manner to reduce the workshop’s carbon footprint and to improve financial efficiency. Accordingly, the workshop was given a target of installing 500 KWp solar power systems over the roof of its different sections.

The project was taken up on Design-Build-Finance-Operate-and-Transfer (DBFOT) basis. The project has been implemented by a private player from whom the railways buys power for a period of 25 years under a power-purchase agreement that specifies a constant tariff. At the end of 25th year, the solar power plant will be transferred to the railways.

Neeraj Jain, Chief Workshop Manager, Central Workshop/Mysore/SWR said, “The plant has been set up over 3,218 sqm area covering rooftops of different sections of the workshop. It consists of 1,562 solar PV modules that collectively produce 500 KWp of energy. This caters to the energy needs of the workshop. Excess power is fed to the grid operated by Cesc under a power purchase agreement.”

Explaining the savings, the manager said the plant helps them save about Rs 15 lakh in the first year, and the figures will improve over the subsequent years. “The green energy generated and exported to the grid reduces energy consumption and carbon footprint,” he added.

Railways starts Operations on Loop Line at Binjana Railway Station on Ratlam Division

BINJANA: The railways on Sunday started train operations on a newly-laid ‘loop rail line’ at Binjana Railway station which falls on the Ratlam Division of Western Railway. This second rail line is expected to reduce the waiting time for trains coming from Dewas to Indore as it will allow trains to cross without taking a halt. Rail traffic began at around 4:00am on this newly laid rail line at the station but it affected train movement by a few minutes as trains were allowed to cross the line at a certain speed limit.

Binjana railway station near Dewas is next to Kshipra and is identified as a D-category station. Though there is only one platform at the station, this new line will be used as a loop line at the time when two trains have to cross this station at a time.

The railways had been taking power blocks for doubling project, and this affected the arrival of trains mainly Amritsar-Indore Express (19326), Bhopal-Indore Express (19304), Avantika Superfast Express (12961), Delhi Sarairohilla-Indore Superfast Intercity Express (12416) and Rewa – Dr Ambedkar Nagar (11703). On Sunday also, Bhind Express, Dehradun Express and Avanitka Express were delayed due to the restricted speed of trains along this newly developed rail section.

Railway officials said that trains coming from Barlai to Dewas will no more have to wait at Dewas railway station for trains coming from the opposite direction. “This new loop line was needed as the train coming from Barlai had to wait for at least 15-20 minutes for other trains to cross by,” said a spokesman with Ratlam division of the western railways. He added that the restriction of speed for trains on this line will be removed soon.

Nearly 70 trains that start or operate via Indore railway station have to pass through Binjana railway station. In the absence of a separate line they have to wait 20 to 30 minutes at Dewas or Birlai railway stations.

Railway Board says no to Gohpur-Numaligarh Railway bridge on Rangiya Division

GUWAHATI: A railway bridge is not required at the proposed four-lane bridge to be constructed by the NHIDCL over the Brahmaputra between Gohpur and Numaligarh on the Rangiya Division of Northeast Frontier Railway, the Railway Board has said, citing proposals of two other railway bridges on the river – one between Silghat and Tezpur and another on the Jorhat-Gogamukh new line.The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways had sent an inception report of the Gohpur-Numaligarh four-lane bridge project to the Railways to explore the possibility of constructing a rail-cum-road bridge in the site as “an integrated structure”.

In a letter to the NHIDCL, the Railway Board said the Tezpur-Silghat new line has been sanctioned in the Pink Book (which details all the budgetary allotment in railway projects) of 2017-18, which includes a railway bridge on the Brahmaputra. “The NHIDCL’s Numaligarh-Gohpur bridge is 93 km upstream and therefore, it would not be desirable to modify the alignment of the Tezpur-Silghat line,” the board noted.

Moreover, the reconnaissance engineering-cum-survey (RET) has been sanctioned for the new Gogamukh-Jorhat line to connect Majuli and the Numaligarh-Gohpur bridge is 45 km downstream of the proposed railway bridge at the river island.

“Shifting of the alignment of the Rail Bridge to proposed location of Road Bridge across Brahmaputra will defeat the very purpose of the RET survey – connectivity of Majuli Island with Jorhat via a short route,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, NHIDCL sources said once the State government gives the go-ahead after studying the inception report (the broad outline of the project), Louis Berger will start the work of preparing the DPR of the Numaligarh-Gohpur bridge. The four-lane bridge will be around 9-km long, with 10 km of approach roads on both sides.

Railways to unveil ultra-luxury Anubhuti Coaches for Shatabdi Trains

NEW DELHI: Plush upholstery, designer toilets, diffused lighting, better ergonomics, LCD screens, personalised pantry — welcome to the world of ‘Anubhuti’, an ambitious initiative by the railways to target the fast-growing affluent class by offering comforts and amenities never experienced before on Indian tracks.

Anubhuti, which in English means an experience, promises to deliver more than what the Railways currently offers even on executive and first-class coaches that are attached to trains like Shatabdi and Rajdhani.

The name, Anubhuti, was chosen over words like ‘Super Deluxe’ and other such terms to convey a “personal Indianised touch” to the experience.

The railways plan to attach an Anubhuti coach on select routes of the Shatabdi and the Rajdhani. Railways will look at Shatabdi routes like Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Jaipur.

Anubhuti coaches are designed to offer more leg space to passengers. Hence, these coaches will have a maximum seating capacity of 56 passengers.

While fares for Anubhuti coaches are yet to be worked out, officials indicated that they may be higher by 20-25% to the current fares charged for executive and first-class travel.

A coach of the Anubhuti will cost the Railways an additional Rs 30-35 lakh more for adding luxury fitments. A normal coach without the plush features currently costs around Rs 2.5 crore.