Russian Railways develop Quantum Communication Roadmap

The roadmap comprises development of nine priority technologies and fifteen products by 2024 along with over 35 key performance indicators.

MOSCOW: Russian Railways has developed the Quantum Communications Development Roadmap and submitted the draft paper to the Russian Government for approval, the railway operator said. The roadmap comprises development of nine priority technologies and fifteen products by 2024 along with over 35 key performance indicators, such as production volumes and sales, length of quantum networks, technologies readiness level, provision of human resources and other parameters.

“Development of the quantum communication technology will make it possible to create comprehensive protected infrastructure of the digital economy and the public administration system, which is particularly important in view of current threats in the information security sphere,” Deputy CEO of Russian Railways Sergei Kobzev said in a comment.

First tests made on the Russian Railways’ infrastructure demonstrated the possibility of building highly protected federal and regional networks based on advance Russian technologies of quantum communication. An opportunity is explored in cooperation with partners to develop a pilot quantum mainline connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, with the total length over 800 km. Implementation of this project will enable rolling out critical services of the new generation. Following an agreement signed between the Russian government and RZD in 2019, the company created a quantum communications department, along with a steering committee which has since held its first meeting via video conference.

“The development of quantum communications technology will allow the creation of a comprehensive secure infrastructure for the digital economy, a public administration system, which is especially important given the modern threats to information security,” says RZD deputy general director and chief engineer, Mr Sergey Kobzev.

Quantum communication takes advantage of the laws of quantum physics to protect data to create ultra-secure networks. Data is transmitted using particles such as photons which cannot be replicated. RZD says the first tests on its infrastructure showed there was a possibility of building highly secure national and regional networks based on advanced Russian quantum communication technologies.

The road map is the result of joint work between RZD, centres of competence and experts in the field, as well as state authorities. The agreement includes the development of nine priority technologies and 15 products by 2024, and outlines more than 35 performance targets, including production and sales volumes, the length of quantum networks, the level of technology readiness, security frameworks and other parameters.

RZD and the Russian government are looking to develop a domestic industry, create markets for goods and services, achieve technological leadership, and form a professional community of researchers and engineers. This will involve the participation of a wide range of participants and partners in areas such as research and development, equipment manufacturing, ecosystem development and financing.

The possibility of an experimental quantum network connecting Moscow and St Petersburg, which would stretch for 800km, is currently being explored. “Russian Railways intends to involve the widest possible number of interested participants and partners in the process of developing quantum communications, and is extremely open to new joint projects,” Kobzev says.

Quantum Communications will span multiple countries by 2030. So … what’s it for?

A year ago last month, Chinese physicists launched the world’s first quantum satellite. Unlike the dishes that deliver your Howard Stern and cricket tournaments, this 1,400-pound behemoth doesn’t beam radio waves. Instead, the physicists designed it to send and receive bits of information encoded in delicate photons of infrared light. It’s a test of a budding technology known as quantum communications, which experts say could be far more secure than any existing info relay system.

They’ve kept the satellite busy. This summer, the group has published several papers in Science and Nature in which they sent so-called entangled photons between the satellite—nicknamed Micius, after an ancient Chinese philosopher—and multiple ground stations. If quantum communications were like mailing a letter, entangled photons are kind of like the envelope: They carry the message and keep it secure. Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China, who leads the research on the satellite, has said that he wants to launch more quantum satellites in the next five years. By 2030, he’s hoping that quantum communications will span multiple countries. In 13 years, you can expect quantum internet.

Which means … what exactly? In the simplest terms, it will involve multiple parties pinging information at each other in the form of quantum signals—but experts haven’t really figured out what it will do beyond that. “‘Quantum internet’ is a vague term,” says physicist Thomas Jennewein of the University of Waterloo. “People, including myself, like to use it. However, there’s no real definition of what it means.”

That’s because so much of the technology is still in its infancy. Physicists still can’t control and manipulate quantum signals very well. Pan’s quantum satellite may have been able to send and receive signals, but it can’t really store quantum information—the best quantum memories can only preserve information for less than an hour. And researchers still don’t know what material makes the best quantum memory.

They also aren’t sure how they’d transmit signals efficiently between the nodes of the future quantum web. Blanketing Earth in quantum satellites is expensive—Pan’s cost $100 million. Ground-based transmission via optical fiber isn’t perfect either: Quantum signals die out after about 60 miles of transmission. The signals can’t be amplified like an electronic signal, either. So researchers are developing special devices known as quantum repeaters that can transmit signals over long distances.

That research will take time. Even if Pan gets his international network up and running by 2030, it’s not like it’ll be handling your social media feed by then. And maybe we wouldn’t want it to, either. Just because something is “quantum” doesn’t mean it’s automatically better, says physicist Kai-Mei Fu of the University of Washington. “In many cases, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to communicate quantum mechanically,” she says. Quantum signals have weird properties like superposition, where a particle’s location is a probability distribution, and it has no precise location. Most communication between humans would still be far easier to express by encoding regular old 1’s and 0’s in blips of electricity.

So what’s the point of it? In the near future, the quantum internet could be a specialized branch of the regular internet. Research groups all over the world are currently developing chips that might allow a classical computer to connect to a quantum network. People would use classical computing most of the time and hook up to the quantum network only for specific tasks.

For example, says physicist Renato Renner of ETH Zurich, you might connect a classical personal computer to a quantum network to send a message using quantum cryptography—arguably the most mature quantum technology. In quantum cryptography, a sender uses a cryptographic key encoded in a quantum signal to encrypt a message. According to the laws of quantum mechanics, if someone tried to intercept the key, they would destroy it.

What the Russian Government is doing?

not long ago, We discussed the situation in the transport sector in General and agreed with you, I’ll see you separately to talk about the situation on Russian Railways”, started a conversation Vladimir Putin. This is a key sector for Russia given its territory, the volume of freight of importance to the economy. Special attention the President asked to be given to investment activity. After all, as the largest natural monopolies carry out the investment program depends on the health collectives and the economic condition of many industries. Two weeks ago at a meeting on transport Belozerov said that the company wants to maintain its investment at not less than 620 billion rubles, and maintain this could be due to the perpetual bonds. The government issued a decree on the placement of perpetual bonds RZD 370 billion.

Belozerov thanked for their decisions, which helped to reduce the amount of investment. JSC “RZD” – the leader in safety, energy efficiency and sustainability, is confirmed by international organizations, he said. “On security, our index is higher by 22 percent than the average, – said the head of the company. – We became winners of the competitions leaders of environmental activities”. “In March, we posted “green bonds”. This is a unique mechanism, and about the uniqueness of said rate of 0.84 for six years – 250 million Swiss francs,” said the speaker. In the past year, the net profit has tripled compared to 2018. This is due primarily to the growth of labor productivity – more than 6 percent over the past three years. “A good indicator” – he praised Putin.

For the first four months, the company invested $ 122 billion. “Our investment programme is nearly two million people working. We needed decisions in order for it to continue, and these decisions took place,” thanked Belozerov. “And we don’t leave quantum communication. In 2021, in the first quarter, we want to make a line Moscow – St.-Petersburg. Will be commissioned, we believe that this will improve reliability”, – declared the head of Russian Railways. Previously the company reported that the implementation of the project will implement the critical services of the new generation. Work continues on the unmanned “Swallow.” The Rapporteur also noted the increase in freight – especially container.

Achieved a unique result – done set by the President the task of speed of advance on the territory of Russia. “When the train is moving from China to Europe 2,5 thousand kilometers passes just two days”, – reported Belozerov. The head of Russian Railways told about the work on the Eastern polygon: “Your task we perform. Not just satisfied, but exceeded”. Recall in the East landfill includes BAM and Transsib. “East the landfill is large enough, there also there are different areas and different difficulty for each route. That’s what you think is the key?” – said Putin. “The key challenge is now the problem of Kuzbass. Following your instruction, we have been attached to the Memorandum, the volume of export and support of our colleagues, but we are trying to develop those areas to the economy of the Far East is also developing,” – said Belozerov. “Miners of Kuzbas it is necessary to help,” he said.

the Head of state returned to the subject of the investment program and specify how it will be reduced. “200 billion”, – said the interlocutor: was 820 billion, has now reached 620 billion rubles. “We primarily reduced investment, for example, in the design, which can be a little move,” – said Belozerov. “In the design process, I agree. But in the real sector is desirable all-taki to reduce to a minimum”, – said the President. “It is clear that to invest in anywhere or with big risks should not be”, he continued and asked carefully analyze the opportunities in terms of investment. “We have the option, when we can increase the volume at the expense of our means without the support of the Federal budget. We know how to do it, but we need time to prepare the material,” – said Belozerov.

Alpenglow Rail, CC&L Infrastructure acquire USA Rail Terminals

TORONTO: Alpenglow Rail, a Denver-based firm specializing in investing in, operating and growing rail businesses, partnered with Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure (CC&L Infrastructure) to acquire USA Rail Terminals from the High Roller Group and Jim Donnan Companies, both family-controlled investment companies based in Center, TX.

USA Rail consists of two terminals that provide a range of rail services, including railcar storage, switching, transloading and railcar cleaning solutions in the Gulf Coast of the United States.

USA Rail owns an 85-acre, Union Pacific Railroad served facility in Louisiana, which is located in the Port Allen and Baton Rouge industrial markets and located near companies such as ExxonMobil, Tokai Carbon, Placid Refinery and Dow Chemical. The facility stores more than 550 railcars and expects to expand its capability to store more than 2,000 railcars. The Port Allen facility switches more than 15,000 carloads per year, transloads a diverse commodity mix, and provides railcar cleaning solutions.

USA Rail also owns a 51-acre Kansas City Southern Railroad served terminal in Texas, which is located within the Port Arthur and Beaumont refinery and petrochemical corridor, in close proximity to Indorama, Exxon, Chevron, Motiva, Total and BASF. The Port Arthur facility has capacity to store more than 900 railcars and switches more than 15,000 carloads per year.

“USA Rail and the High Roller team had a lot of vision and built a great business. The facilities are state-of-the-art and built to last. The USA Rail assets are strategically located in excellent industrial markets and are well-positioned for both defensibility and growth,” Rich Montgomery, CEO of Alpenglow, said. “With our relationships, marketing capabilities and commitment to safety and customer service, we’re thrilled to work alongside the USA Rail team to continue to grow these companies, and to explore future opportunities with the High Roller team.”

“Rich and the teams at Alpenglow and CC&L Infrastructure have been great to work with,” Dustin Bailey, CEO and president of the High Roller Group, said. “They moved quickly to close the deal on a very tight timeline, they stuck to their word on price and were creative problem solvers. We were pleased to reach an agreement with Alpenglow and look forward to working with them on future opportunities.”

Alpenglow and CC&L Infrastructure also own and operate VIP Rail, a business that comprises two railcar storage, transloading, railcar cleaning and switching companies in Sarnia, Ontario served by the Canadian National and CSX Railroads.

“USA Rail is a great addition to our portfolio. VIP Rail and USA Rail serve common customers and provide similar services, which will create tremendous synergies across our businesses,” Montgomery said. “Our partner, CC&L Infrastructure, is committed to investing in assets that are resilient and have long-term viability. CC&L Infrastructure’s focus on owning and operating assets for the long-term allows us to maintain the legacy of the railroad businesses we acquire while driving value for both our customers and employees. In USA Rail, we have found an asset that accomplishes these goals.”

CC&L Infrastructure invests in middle-market infrastructure and infrastructure-like assets and is a part of Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group, a multi-boutique asset management firm whose affiliates collectively manage more than C$77 billion ($57.53 billion) in assets.

Stadler signs ETCS Retrofit Contract with Arriva

With this agreement, Arriva Nederland underlines the importance of values like safety and innovation. It is great to be a leader in this national and European program as a provider of regional public transport.

Stadler has signed a contract with Arriva for the retrofit of the ETCS train control solution GUARDIA on some of the operator’s trains.

The contract between Arriva Nederland and Stadler states that Stadler will retrofit 36 trains with the European Train Control System GUARDIA. The contract also includes the homologation of GUARDIA in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Eight of the 36 trains in the fleet have already been deployed on the international RE18 connection in Limburg. Regional train operator Arriva is the first in the Netherlands to order the system in order to prepare its fleet for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). The first of the retrofitted trains will be ready for passenger service by 2022.

The 36 trains Stadler is equipping with the GUARDIA system are of the type FLIRT. Since eight of them are intended for cross-border transport, the contract also requests homologation in Belgium and Germany as well as the Netherlands. This is the first contract for Stadler for the retrofit of trains with its own ETCS solution.

Stadler’s Service Center in the Netherlands will perform the installation of the GUARDIA system on the trains. The contract will run from 2020 to 2024.

The retrofit contract that comes with homologation in three countries is a significant milestone for Stadler in the signalling market.

ERTMS is the European standard for train control, which simplifies the harmonisation of these systems throughout the EU. ERTMS combines an on-board system (ETCS) with one in the tracks. GUARDIA consists of both hardware and software components that are used in the trains. The system allows the train driver to visualise the position of the train, its speed and further data; and all of these data are also sent to a control centre. The train can at the same time receive data about track warrants.

ERTMS implementation timetable extended by two years in Sweden

The ERTMS timetable was extended following discussions within the industry that highlighted the need for environmental investments.

StockholmSwedish infrastructure manager, Trafikverket, has approved a two year extension of the implementation of the new ERTMS signalling system in southern Sweden. Work will begin in 2023, as originally scheduled, but will now finish in 2029, rather than 2027.

A joint assessment, combined with industry discussions, concluded that prolonging the ERTMS timetable will allow for the phasing out of old vehicles and the purchase of new or renovation of current units. The extension also ensures that old rolling stock, or units that may undergo renovations, will not require advance conversion in order to operate on the lines.

Routes that will be most affected include the Stockholm-Hallsberg routes – via Katrineholm and Mjölby, down to Malmö and then on to Denmark – and the route from Trelleborg via Helsingborg and Gothenburg to the Norwegian border at Kornsjö.

Several new infrastructure projects – particularly multiple projects currently in progress at Hallsberg – will have begun or are already underway at stations that will be affected by the ERTMS implementation. An increasingly complex collaboration will be required at larger stations in order to complete infrastructure developments as well as ERTMS implementation. As a result, the timetable extension has allowed for more time to complete existing projects before beginning new ones.

Patrik Assarsjö, from the Swedish Transport Administration – whose responsibilities include the upgrading of the railroad in Sweden – said: “We have an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders in the rail industry and we take care of their input into our work. We also need to relate to other ongoing infrastructure projects in the Swedish Transport Administration.”

Indian Railways to build 44 Vande Bharat Trains in next 3 Years

File Pic: Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi flagging off the first Semi High Speed Train Vande Bharat Express, at New Delhi Railway Station on February 15, 2019.

NEW DELHI: Amid speculation that the 44 Vande Bharat trains scheduled to hit the tracks by 2022 will be delayed, the Indian Railways on Tuesday said the train sets will now be manufactured by not one but three Indian Railway manufacturing units and will be on the rail network within the next three years.

Railway Board Chairman V.K.Yadav on Tuesday said the trains will be simultaneously manufactured in three rail units – the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareilly and the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.

“A decision was taken some months back that the three manufacturing units of the Railways will manufacture these trains thereby reducing the time taken to roll them out by one-third. The 44 trains will start running in the next two to three years. Once the tender is finalised a definite timeline will be made available,” Mr Yadav said.

In a letter dated July 14, the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) which manufactured the first two Vande Bharat trains informed the Railway Board that it would take 28 months to introduce the prototype rakes into commercial service and an additional six months to start the series production, and subsequently 78 months to complete the manufacture of 44 trains, according to its estimates.

Mr Yadav, however, said these were internal communications within the Railways and since the three units are going to manufacture the rakes, the roll out would be faster.

The production of the Vande Bharat train sets or Train 18 has been mired in controversy even as the first one was rolled out by ICF in record 18 months. It was built at a cost of approximately Rs 100 crore and has been providing seamless service on two routes: Delhi-Varanasi and Delhi-Katra.

Recently, Chinese state-owned rolling stock major CRRC Corporation emerged as the only foreign player to bid for the Railways’ global tender for its ambitious semi-high speed Train 18 project.

The bid from CRRC, which has entered into a joint venture with a Gurugram-based company to place its bid under the name CRRC Pioneer Electric (India) Private Limited, is likely to be scrapped.

It is one of the six contenders for the tender for procuring propulsion systems or electric traction kits for 44 trains – to be branded as Vande Bharat Express or Train 18.

Officials said going by the cost of manufacturing the first Train 18 which was launched last year – Rs 100 crore, of which Rs 35 crore was for the propulsion system alone – the present tender for 44 such kits would be worth over Rs 1,500 crore.

This tender was floated on December 22, 2019, by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, and was opened on July 11. It is the third such tender floated for these trains.

Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18, is an Indian semi-high speed intercity electric multiple unit. It was designed and built by Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Perambur, Chennai under the Indian government’s Make in India initiative over a span of 18 months. The unit cost of the first rake was given as ₹1 billion (US$14 million), though the unit cost is expected to go down with subsequent production. At the original price, it is estimated to be 40% cheaper than a similar train imported from European Makers. The train was launched on 15 February 2019, by which date a second unit will have been produced and readied for service. The service was named ‘Vande Bharat Express’ on 27 January 2019.

Design and Development

Train 18’s exterior appearance consists of aerodynamic narrowing at each ends of the train. It has a driver coach at each end of the train, allowing for faster turnaround at each end of the line. The train has 16 passenger cars, with a seating capacity of 1,128 passengers. Two of the center compartments are first class compartments that seat 52 each, with the rest being coach compartments seating 78 each.

The train’s seats, braking system, doors, and transformers are the only elements of the train to be outsourced, with plans to make them domestically on the production of the next unit. Train 18 employs a regenerative braking system.

Another unit is planned for production over the year 2020, along with four more units in 2021, for a total of six. The Railway Board has requested that ICF complete two of the new units by May 2019. Two of those units will incorporate sleeper cars into the layout. “As per the production programme issued by the Railway Board, this includes the second train coming out after the elections and third by October this year. After October, ICF will make one train every alternate month till March 2020 and one rake every month from April 2020.”According to the Ministry of Railways earlier this year, Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli which has been a shining example of ‘Make in India’, will also manufacture more Vande Bharat Express train sets in the coming months.

Based on Vande Bharat Express, Train 19 was a proposed higher-speed, long distance electric multiple unit, manufactured by ICF. It was supposed to have sleeper coaches instead of seats, unlike Train 18.

Indian Railways and ICF are also planning the development of Train 20, another semi-high speed train that will replace the Rajdhani Express. The line is supposed to be unveiled in 2020.

Indian Railways plans to order 40 train sets of Train 18 by 2022 with modified cabin crash guard made out of aluminium.

Siemens Mobility wins Train Cab Radio contract in Norway

Siemens wins Norwegian Railway Vehicle Radio Installation Tender. 

OSLO, NORWAY: Siemens Mobility has won a six-year framework contract with the Norwegian rolling stock owner Norske tog AS to supply 570 GSM-R train cab radios.

The goal of the train cab radio upgrade is to address obsolescence issues, while keeping the risk and performance impact due to radio interference from 4G public mobile network operators at a minimum. The preliminary design work for the installation is underway.

The contract between the two parties includes an option to upgrade the existing radios to operate the 5G Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS). It is the first upgrade contract of its kind in the rail industry.

GSM-R Versus FRMCS

FRMCS technology is ultimately an important tool for digitization in the railway industry and a new generation worldwide telecommunications system for railways, which will replace GSM, which provides opportunities to enhance the passenger experience with live video entertainment, video security transmission and dynamic passenger information systems. The future FRMCS upgrade will adapt and reuse existing built-in infrastructure and minimize costs.

FRMCS will be the new standard for global telecommunications in rail and it will replace GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway). The current international wifeless communications standard for railway communications and applications is part of ERTMS and delivers signalling information directly to the train. However, GSM-R is a second-generation (2G) system, allowing data transfers at speeds of 100kbit/s. Designed more than 20 years ago, it simply cannot handle the data volumes needed for digital trains. Much of the installed GSM-R equipment already installed will reach the end of its lifespan in around 2030.

FRMCS on the other hand is a fifth-generation (5G) system and is designed to handle all of the applications that may be part of rail digitalisation.

Migrations from GSM-R to FRMCS are expected to take place between 2025 and 2035. Both systems are designed by the UIC in close co-operation with key industry stakeholders.

FRMCS will enhance features such as live video entertainment for passengers, video security transmission and dynamic passenger information systems. Fortunately, the migration to FRMCS will allow for existing on-board equipment to be adapted and re-used, which will keep costs down.

Siemens Mobility Trainborne Condition Monitoring

The contract with Norske tog AS includes a one-year trial of Siemens Mobility’s Trainborne Condition Monitoring (TBCM) application. It will allow Norske tog AS to monitor the condition of its track assets remotely. The application gathers condition data in real-time from the fleet and uses this data to generate a digital representation of the condition of the track assets. This will allow the operator to perform preventive and predictive maintenance.

Preliminary design work for the train cabin radio upgrade program is ongoing. The program is designed to provide significant benefits to passenger and freight transport and rail operators. This project will also reduce the risk and performance impact caused by radio interference from 4G mobile network operators.

5G is set to revolutionise Automatic Train Operations: Jochen Apel, VP-Transportation, Nokia

Fifth-generation (5G) wireless communications will revolutionise telecommunications generally, and for the rail industry, 5G will be at the heart of Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS), the successor to GSM-R. As Jochen Apel, Vice President-Global Transportation with Nokia Enterprise explains, 5G is also an enabler for Automatic Train Operations (ATO). 5G promise to shape the future of the railways by offering ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability. Apel talks about the digital revolution, the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) rollout and 5G projects worldwide.

For almost two decades, the rail industry has acted in unison regarding the GSM-R communications standard. It has proven to be a cross-industry success story with GSM-R now in use in 38 countries worldwide.

However, the ‘basic’ mobile technology that underpinned GSM-R’s introduction back in 2000 has moved apace, particularly regarding its ability to transport data and multimedia information.

As we have moved from generation to generation in mobile standards, asset-intensive industries such as railways are increasingly looking at the opportunities created by mobile broadband as an enabler of their digital transformation. With this goal in mind, the railway industry is now actively developing the Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS) to replace GSM-R as soon as 2025.

The proof-of-concept will test whether 5G technology is mature enough to be used as the connectivity layer for future, digitalised rail operation.

Featuring super-fast speeds, ultra-low latency and multiple simultaneous connections via Massive Mimo*, 5G is an obvious candidate to play a central role in the new standard. With the technical scope to deliver a range of efficiency, cost effectiveness, productivity and security benefits, 5G’s core attributes provide the gateway to IoT sensor technologies, CCTV, high-definition video, machine-to-machine communications and advanced train control systems. Attributes that have led the International Union of Railways (UIC) and the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) to indicate a preference for 5G as the technology underpinning FRMCS.

Nokia has been involved in the development of mobile communications for the railway industry for more than 30 years. It contributed to the GSM-R standard; so, it is a natural progression for it to become involved in the evolution of FRMCS. Central to this is ongoing work with rail operators in early trials of 5G-based FRMCS proof of concepts, trials and early implementations.

Automatic Train Operation

For example, Nokia is working with German Rail (DB) to deliver the world’s first standalone 5G system for automatic train operation in Hamburg as part of DB’s highly automated S-Bahn operation project. The proof-of-concept will test whether 5G technology is mature enough to be used as the connectivity layer for future, digitalised rail operation.

As part of the Digital S-Bahn Hamburg project, automatic train operation with train drivers onboard who maintain responsibility for safety, is expected to be operational by 2021. Part of the demonstration will include fully driverless shunting of empty trains in an area near Bergedorf station, based on the transmission of train control information over the 5G network.

In France, Nokia is collaborating with French National Railways (SNCF) to create a 5G Lab that explores a range of rail and non-rail use cases. In this project, SNCF will evaluate FRMCS applications both in the lab and in the field, which will help facilitate 5G adoption and prepare for the transition to FRMCS. France’s infrastructure manager, SNCF Network, which is responsible for signalling, has also joined forces with SNCF Innovation and Research to explore and analyse 5G’s potential.

Important work also needs to take place on frequency definition for FRMCS. To this end, Nokia has recently completed a proof of concept trial with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) carrying out LTE 1900MHz Time Division Duplex (TDD) radio frequency testing in the cantons of Fribourg and Neuchâtel. Central to SBB’s SmartRail 4.0 initiative, FRMCS will help SBB deliver new levels of productivity and service efficiency, such as improving the capacity of its existing track.

From a Nokia perspective, we will continue to participate in new initiatives with rail operators that will help to build the foundation for 5G deployment within FRMCS.

At the technical end of things, active participation in standards bodies such as 3GPP (third Generation Partnership Project), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations-Electronic Communications Committee (CEPT-ECC) and ERA is somewhat less glamorous, but an essential part of the equation to deliver a resilient, effective and future-proofed standard.

At this point, it is worth highlighting that in its own way, 5G is an evolving standard. 3GPP is the overarching body responsible for driving the 5G specification, which it does via a series of planned releases. These releases provide developers with a stable platform for the design and implementation of technical features at a given point in time, but which also allow for the addition of new functionality in subsequent releases.

FRMCS 

3GPP Release 16, which was delayed by three months due to Covid-19 and is now due in mid-2020, will address a package of technical standard specifications for mission critical communications across public safety, civil defence and, relevant here, for railways within FRMCS.

However, the road to FRMCS implementation is not without challenges.

With support for GSM-R due to cease in 2030, a 5G-based FRMCS system will need to operate with and alongside GSM-R for years. This requires deep understanding of both GSM-R and FRMCS functionality to ensure service integration and continued reliable communications.

This will create a situation where a huge variety of on-board systems are deployed simultaneously. There will be pure GSM-R, pure FRMCS and a mixture of each. And, with one eye on cost, many parts of GSM-R systems will be re-deployed within a 5G FRMCS environment.

In turn, this creates a skills availability question. Major rail operators already face challenges around sourcing the necessary skills to manage migration and run both networks in parallel. For these operators, the main priority for a smooth migration is technical capability, with an urgent need for experienced people who know GSM-R and FRMCS/5G intimately.

From a Nokia perspective, we will continue to participate in new initiatives with rail operators that will help to build the foundation for 5G deployment within FRMCS. In doing so, a range of new, innovative use cases will come onstream.

The Digital S-Bahn Hamburg project should result in ATO

These will reflect that 5G has been specifically designed to address industrial use cases, especially with a focus on automation and IoT sensors, which will comprise the focus of near horizon projects. Sensors provide embedded intelligence that will play a key role in the maintenance of trackside and rolling stock resources, creating the possibility of predictive maintenance, which will increase the availability and productivity of rail assets.

5G’s higher bandwidth will also enable greater use of high-quality video for security, enhanced communications between operating personnel, improved situational awareness during emergencies, aerial inspections, and a host of other data-hungry applications.

Beyond its obvious suitability for FRMCS, 5G will play a larger role as the connectivity platform for all aspects of rail services, as operators digitally transform and address future passenger and freight demands.
So, as we move to establish 5G within FRMCS, we can carry forward many of the lessons learned in the creation of the enduringly successful GSM-R, which was also the outcome of much industry-wide collaboration, trial and improvement.

*Massive Mimo technology is a core component of 5G and is a wireless network that allows more than one data signal to be transmitted and received simultaneously over the same radio channel. Standard Mimo networks typically use two or four antennae, while Massive Mimo has multiple antennae.

Interview with Jochen Apel, Heal-Transportation, Nokia

Jochen Apel is responsible for Nokia’s business in the transportation segment, including the development of significant business in emerging industries moving into the Industry 4.0 domain, such as rail, automotive and logistics. Apel has more than two decades of experience in the industry, having previously led Alcatel-Lucent’s CTO team for Central Europe.

RailNews: What is the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS)?

Jochen Apel: FRMCS is intended as a single global standard for railway communications. It will replace the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM-R), which will be sunset [or terminated] by 2030.

FRMCS is an umbrella standard covering all future rail use cases requiring a mobile communication system. Prominent examples include the European Rail Traffic Management System, where FRMCS will replace GSM-R, as well as internet of things (IoT) based maintenance or passenger information over the internet.

The latest thinking of the International Union of Railways and the European Railway Agency shows a clear preference towards 5G as the basis for FRMCS, a choice supported by many major European railway operators.

RailNews: What are the main challenges of upgrading GSM-R systems to 5G wireless communications?

Jochen Apel: There are three main hurdles. The first involves phased transition. The new FRMCS/5G system will need to work with, and alongside, GSM-R for several years. This requires deep understanding of the functionality of GSM-R as well as new FRMCS systems to ensure continued smooth operations.

Second is the huge variety of onboard systems. Technologies deployed will be pure GSM-R, pure FRMCS/5G, and a mixture of both. All need to be supported, and Nokia has developed its FRMCS/5G systems to support both. In doing so, we are taking into account that a significant part of modern GSM-R systems can be reused in the 5G world.

Finally, there is the skills issue. The main priority for a smooth migration is technical capability, with an urgent need for experienced people who know GSM-R and FRMCS/5G intimately. Already, major rail operators face challenges around sourcing the necessary skills to manage migration and run both networks in parallel.

We anticipate that skills are a key priority needed for the next three to ten years and through our services capability, we are already providing expertise to deliver proof of concepts and network planning to rail operators worldwide.

RailNews: What specific advantages will 5G technology offer the railways and passengers?

Jochen Apel: 5G opens up a huge variety of use cases. With new spectrum available for rail, both operators and customers will benefit from its low-latency and high bandwidth. Most importantly though, passengers will benefit from a much higher quality of service within the rail system.

Of course, today’s and tomorrow’s railway passengers expect to be connected at all times. 5G will provide a quantum leap forward in infotainment services such as multimedia passenger information systems and streaming services.

The new technology will also allow passengers to use apps that integrate onboard video content that provides real-time situational awareness. For example, real-time video of train station locations or rail carriage occupation levels.

Ultimately though, 5G is about delivering a more reliable service, at reduced cost and better safety. For example, benefits to commuters and freight operators also include automated train operations, potentially removing all signals along the track and driving higher utilisation of assets.

RailNews: How will 5G help the railways to improve services, as well as maintenance and safety procedures?

Jochen Apel: 5G is not just about providing more bandwidth to users – it is also designed for industrial uses, especially automation and sensor communications.

Sensors will be employed for monitoring tracks, rolling stock, power systems and environmental conditions. 5G will enable all this data to be connected in real-time. When combined with software analytics and machine learning, this will enable railway operators to carry out preventative maintenance, predict failures, and anticipate floods and other events that could interrupt services.

The higher bandwidth made possible with 5G will allow much greater usage of high-quality video for security, communications between operational personnel, improved situational awareness during emergency events, drone inspections, and a host of other applications that generate video and/or high amounts of data.

Using IoT data to predict maintenance requirements will increase the availability and productivity of rail assets, as well as [facilitate] higher standards of protection, not only from cybersecurity attacks but also physical threats.

For example, 5G will enable analytics that identifies potential incidents at rail crossings before they happen. Nokia is doing this in collaboration with Odakyu Electric Railway in Japan, using Scene Analytics to identify obstacles and potential events to enhance safety at rail crossings. This helps Odakyu to protect its track [and] rolling stock and safeguard citizens.

RailNews: What other key 5G projects is Nokia working on railways worldwide?

Jochen Apel: In December 2019, Nokia announced it had been selected by Deutsche Bahn to deliver and test the world’s first 5G-based network for automated rail operation.

The proof-of-concept will test if 5G technology is mature enough to be used as the connectivity layer for future, digitalised rail operations. It is a first of a kind worldwide and will help validate important use cases for the FRMCS standard as well as progressing standardisation and early development.

As part of the Digitale S-Bahn Hamburg project, highly automated trains – with onboard drivers responsible for safety – are expected to operate on a 23km section of the S-Bahn Line 21 by 2021.

Nokia is also working elsewhere on evolving FRMCS standardisation, trials and proof of concepts. In the cantons of Fribourg and Neuchâtel, Switzerland Nokia and SBB recently carried out LTE 1900MHz Time Division Duplex (TDD) radio frequency testing to help define frequency for the new standard.

In France, Nokia has established a 5G Lab with SNCF to explore rail and non-rail use cases that prepare the transition from GSM-R to FRMCS.

RailNews:  Has China stolen a march on the rest of the world when it comes to implementing 5G throughout the transport network?

Jochen Apel: It is true that China was quick to adopt 5G in the consumer market. However, to date, Chinese authorities have not yet publicly announced which technology will succeed GSM-R locally.

RailNews: Are commuter apps keeping pace with the rapid development of 5G, and what innovations do you see emerging in the 5G transport space?

Jochen Apel: Commuter apps will leverage 5G once it becomes broadly available on devices in the consumer space. Railway operators will be able to model in software across almost all of their operations from end to end.

This will lead to a cascade of new applications that build on top of this digital platform. It is hard to predict what innovative applications will ultimately be developed, but easy to predict that there will be huge advances in the digital transformation of the transportation sector.

Can 5G development boost Cellular connectivity on trains?

In February 2020, the UK government forged a 5G partnership with Chinese firm Huawei, which is expected to bolster the cyber infrastructure. While many continue to debate the risks, the UK rail industry is expecting to reap the benefits!

LONDON: The recent announcement that the British government will push forward with HS2 has led to renewed calls for improved connectivity on the railways. Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated the need for the high-speed railway’s connection to northern England, with the updated infrastructure expected to cost between £62 billion and £69 billion.

As many experts claim that the British rail network is living in the Dark Ages on cellular connectivity compared to their European counterparts, just what tactics can be used to enhance our railways?

Will 5G provide the breakthrough the rail industry needs?

5G will make a massive difference to passengers across the country, but a much bigger development could come through the rollout of a trackside network.

In a recent blog post, Jeremy Haskey, Chief Architect at Nomad Digital, explored the trackside network and its importance in offsetting the high costs that are associated with Mobile Network Operator (MNO) data costs.

After researching train-to-ground data supplies, he called for more to be done to support the needs of the rail environment and its future, with an argument that the rail sector’s needs differ vastly from its smartphone-carrying passengers.

While Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks are optimised on the downlink for smartphone users, operational train data – including real-time CCTV images – has a priority for the use of uplinks.

Trackside networks

While 5G is going to be all the rage in 2020, experts are already concerned it won’t do enough to sustain the future demand on cellular connectivity – a 2019 report from Deutsche Bahn found that the projected data demand was not likely to sufficiently support the demand for 27GHz.

And that’s where the development of trackside networks come into play, with their very high bandwidth connectivity and low latency. With spiralling mobile data costs and an insufficient Wi-Fi network in place, the new technology is expected to improve cellular connectivity across the country.

The passenger and fleet connectivity solutions firm identified a need for a private trackside train-to-ground network, which will afford consumers a faster Wi-Fi experience. The push for high-quality connectivity will be boosted through the network, with router-style boxes being installed along train routes to ensure your passengers stay connected as trains go through tunnels.

Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS)

A model that will be used to carry the rail network forward is the Future Rail Mobile Communication Systems (FRMCS), which is expected to replace the industry standard wireless connectivity GSM-R technology. FRMCS is expected to utilise 5G mobile technology and will have the ability to transmit, receive and use increasing volumes of data, all geared around sustainable transport.

GSM-R equipment is fast approaching the end of its shelf life and is expected to become obsolete by 2030. The International Union of Railways (UIC) sees FRMCS as the key element to support the digitalisation of railways, while cellular services will maintain their role in connecting the train to the wayside. The technology is currently being finalised and is due for its first trials in 2023, with the wider migration of the service targeted between 2025 and 2035.

All in all, the introduction of 5G will be of huge benefit to the future of British railways. Not only will it provide smartphone users with faster and more reliable connectivity on trains, but it will help the government’s transformation of the infrastructure that will support future generational developments too.

An improvement to end-to-end latency and coverage is just the start though, with the operations around the networks being boosted by real-time developments. Queues at ticket machines can be monitored live, while traffic forecasting through artificial intelligence, marketing customisation and even the wear and tear of axles and technical components will be more easily managed through the technology.

Now really is time to jump on board the 5G wagon and get set for a train revolution.

Intel alerts on malware attack, Indian Railways says it updates Firewalls

NEW DELHI: At a time when the country is yet to recover from the shock of losing 20 Indian soldiers in a violent clash with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, another shocker has come to light with news coming of a malware hitting the Indian Railways network and snooping its data for foreign countries, including train movements, sources in the intelligence agencies said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Railways Board Chairman V.K. Yadav said that the national transporter keeps on receiving malware security threats and the engineers in the railways keep on taking all precautions and keeps on updating the firewalls to prevent data theft.

The news comes a day after the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation Limited (DFCCIL) decided to terminate the 417-km signalling project worth Rs 471 crore with Chinese firm Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signal and Communication Group Company Limited (BNRRDISC) due to non-performance.

According to intelligence agency sources, the system of the Railways has been hit by the APT 36 Malware campaign. The source said that the intel agencies have also alerted the Railway Board to instantly disconnect the system with the Internet and change the password immediately.

The source said the APT 36 Malware is connected to Pakistan, which is a close ally of China. The source further said that following the red flag from the intel agencies, the system of a senior Principal Executive Director of the Railways, working in its vigilance department, has been taken for cleaning the malware threat.

As per the source, through the APT 36 Malware campaign, data stored in the Indian Railways systems were being stolen and stored in foreign locations, including the movement of the trains.

He further claimed that the APT 36 Malware also tried to take defence movement data.

The source said the APT 36 Malware effect was reported from at least four systems of the Indian Railways.

Responding to queries, the Railways Board Chairman said: “Whether it is our systems or the IRCTC, we continuosly update it with firewalls, and it is an ongoing process we get the updates.”

Yadav said that our system is updated time to time. “We get malware threat on a regular basis. And we look at it continuously,” he said.

When pressed further about the malware threat in four railways systems, he said: “It has not come to our notice that some information has been leaked. Our systems are secure and our engineers keep on working on it.”

According to intel sources, besides Railways, there was also malware threat in the defence, Central Police Organisations, education and healthcare sectors, the source said.

In view of the threat, the intel agencies have asked the departments concerned to change the passwords of emails and online services from secure computers, format the hard-disk of the affected computers after taking back-up and re-install the operating systems and other softwares.

Sources in the Railways had said on Thursday that DFFCIL, which is looking after the work of the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project, has decided to terminate the tender with BNRRDISC.

A source in the Railway Ministry said that its has informed the Railway Board and the World Bank to take the final decision in the matter.

The source said the project was awarded to the Chinese firm in 2016 for signalling and telecommunication work in the 417-km Kanpur-Deen Dayal Upadhyaya section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC).

The source disclosed that the contract was awarded to the Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute in June 2016. The source further said that even after four years, the progress in the project was only 20 per cent. The issues that led to the termination of the project are reluctance by the company to furnish technical documents, as per the contract agreement, such as logic design of electronic interlocking.

The source further said that other issues like non-availability of their engineers and authorised personnel on site was a serious constraint. Even physical work could not progress as they have no tie-up with local agencies.

The 3,373-km DFC, a flagship project of the Railways, aims to augment rail transport capacity to meet the growing requirement of movement of goods by segregating freight from passenger traffic.

Alstom obtains certification for ETCS Baseline 3 Release 2 system

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Inspection and certification body Belgorail has certified Alstom to implement its data fusion algorithms, which use both satellite navigation and inertial movement to accurately and safely measure the location and speed of trains, into its ETCS Baseline 3 Release 2 system.

The ETCS system has also received ISA and NoBo certification.

Ahead of the large-scale rollout of the solution in Norway, Alstom has also been certified by Belgorail to implement its world-first data fusion algorithms using both satellite navigation and inertial movement to accurately and safely measure the location and speed of trains.

Initially created to enable a standardised European cross-border rail traffic, the use of ETCS is set to safely increase speed, reliability, and capacity. ETCS includes continuous radio-based automatic train protection, thus optimising higher-speed operation and supporting network interoperability, while reducing maintenance costs for the operator. The latest standard includes higher radio capacity and other evolutions to better address railways needs.

The new odometry system, which is based on data fusion, can be installed on all train types and in all environments, including harsh weather conditions.

“In a decisive move towards digitalisation in rail, Norway has chosen to equip the whole country with the latest version of the European interoperability standard, demonstrating the country’s leading strategy for a greener future. We are immensely proud to be participating in this, and even more so with a world-first technology for which we have just obtained certification,” says Rob Whyte, Managing Director Alstom Nordics.

Alstom says the data fusion innovation obviates the need for the external radar components currently used to measure location and speed.

Data fusion is the process of aggregating multiple data sources to produce more consistent, accurate, and useful information than that provided by an individual data source. Alstom’s system is built as a hybrid, including both inertial and satellite sensors for the first time, with this equipment installed within the train where it is unaffected by weather conditions. The algorithms can also maintain precise measurements in covered areas such as tunnels.

Alstom will equip 450 trains in Norway with the new standard by 2026, and testing of the first locomotive beginning this month. Infrastructure manager Bane Nor awarded the company contracts worth NKr 1.8bn ($US 184.9m) in June 2018 to equip the country’s entire mainline train fleet of 467 trains of 55 different types with ERTMS and maintain their systems for up to 25 years. Tests for the first locomotive equipped with the new solution will begin in June this year.

Indian Railways Builds World’s First Electrified Tunnel Capable Of Running Double-Stack Container Trains

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is in the process of building the world’s first electrified tunnel which is capable of running double stacked container trains.

The tunnel when complete will be around 1 kilometre long and is situated near Rewari and Dadri in Haryana. The tunnel will also navigate a steep gradient on both the uphill and downhill slope of the Aravalli range.

The tunnel will be constructed with a cross-sectional area of 150 square metres to leave enough space for the movement of double stack containers. It is one of the biggest tunnels in the country if one considers the cross-sectional area.

This tunnel will be part of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) and is expected to be completed in the next 12 months.

“This will be the world’s first electrified rail tunnel fit to run double-stack containers. The last blasting of the tunnel, which is situated on the Rewari-Dadri section, was done on 24 July. This work has been completed in less than a year’s time”, said a statement by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL).

The tunnel will house two broad gauge lines and is 10-12.5 metres high to leave enough space for the movement of Double Decker container trains which will be able to run at a speed of 100 kmph.

Hitachi Rail STS to equip VR Finland’s locomotives with ERTMS

HELSINKI: Hitachi Rail STS has signed a contract to equip VR Finland’s newly ordered fleet of diesel locomotives with European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) technology.

The company secured the order from Stadler Rail Valencia, which is delivering 60 locomotives to the Finnish railway firm.

Compatible with ERTMS Baseline 3.6 and the Finnish JKV-STM train control system, the on-board ERTMS system will help in improving interoperability and availability of the trains.

The contract also includes the option of further deliveries up to 2030.

With this new order, Hitachi Rail aims to improve its position as an on-board ERTMS system supplier to Nordic train operators.

Hitachi Rail Nordics region vice-president Eric Morand said: “Over the last few years, we have experienced an unprecedented increase in the Nordic ERTMS on-board market, both for the upgrade of existing fleets and equipping brand new trains.

“This latest order confirms not only Hitachi’s leading position in the ERTMS on-board Nordic market, providing the highest standards of quality, safety and reliability, but also underlines our long-standing relationship with Stadler following the recent entry into passenger service of their KISS / DOSTO trains, utilising our ERTMS technology, on the Mälab regional network.”

In April, VR ordered 60 diesel-electric locomotives from Stadler. The new trains will help VR to improve operational efficiency on non-electrified lines, in marshalling yards and freight terminals.

The contract included an option for the delivery of up to 100 further locomotives.

Indian Railways could drop Chinese bid for 44 Vande Bharat Trains under Rs.1500 Crore project

The CRRC, which emerged the lone contender for the bid, could get dropped in light of the diplomatic tensions between India and China.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways might not consider the bid of CRRC Corporation, the Chinese state-owned company that is the lone foreign player in the tender for the semi-high speed indigenous Train 18 project.

The CRRC has emerged as the only foreign company to bid for the global tender worth around Rs 1,500 crore for manufacturing 44 of the trains dubbed ‘Vande Bharat Express’. The bid for the tender that was floated in December last year by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, which manufactures the locomotive, opened last week.

The other contenders include Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Hyderabad-based Medha Group, Electrowaves Electronic Pvt Ltd and Mumbai-based Powernetics Equipments Pvt Ltd.

“The bid (of the CRRC) may not be considered or even be eliminated due to the Make in India and Vocal for Local policies of the government,” a highly placed source said. “Under the principle of reciprocity, India can restrict investment by foreign companies if Indian companies face restrictions in applying for contracts there,” the official said.

“Naturally, after the Indian government has said they will promote the Atmanirbhar mission, the Railways will also comply with that.”

Train 18 is the country’s first engine-less train and has been manufactured by Integral Coach Factory. At one point, it was touted as India’s fastest train when it hit speeds of over 180 kmph during a trial run. The first Train 18 was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2019.

However, the ambitious project has been embroiled in controversy for months now, with a turf war breaking out between the mechanical and electrical engineering departments over ownership of the train.

Indian Railways to get Regulator as it starts process of allowing Private Operators

The private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising of RFQ and Request for Proposal (RFP).

NEW DELHI: Ministry of Railways recently invited Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for private companies to operate passenger train services over 109 Origin-Destination (OD) pairs of routes through 151 trains. Note that these 151 trains to be run by private operators once the selection process is over, would be over and above the already existing trains.

As the national transporter readies for allowing private operators to run passenger train services, Railway Board chairman V.K.Yadav told that the national transporter will get a regulator.

Note that the private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a two-stage competitive bidding process comprising of RFQ and Request for Proposal (RFP). RFQ process will be for pre-qualification and shortlisting of the bidders based on their financial capacity, who will be required to share Gross Revenue at RFP stage for undertaking the project

While this reform will attract private sector investment, Railways has decided not to outsource the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and its hospitals even as it considers getting out of running schools. Yadav earlier told the publication that there was a proposal to set up a Rail Development Authority, they are now reviewing its terms of reference.

The Railway Board Chairman was quoted in the national daily report saying, “We want to review that proposal in the current situation because when it was formulated there was no discussion about private sector participation in passenger train operation. We will have to go for some sort of RDA”.

It is worth mentioning that in 2017 as well, the department of personnel and train had finalised the process of selecting a regulator. However, it did not materialize. With private operation of trains, the role of the regulator has become all the more important in order to ensure the protection of consumer interests.

This is the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains over the Indian Railways network and the project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore. The private entity selected, will pay to Indian Railways fixed haulage charges, energy charges as per actual consumption and a share in gross revenue determined through a transparent bidding process.

Guntur Divison of SCR sends Special Parcel Train to Bangladesh loaded with Red Chillies

The cost per tonne for carrying by special parcel express was Rs.4,608 and which is very cheap and economical as compared to road transport which will cost up to Rs.7,000 per tonne. One Special Parcel Express train consisting of 16 Parcel Van moved to Benapole in Bangladesh. Each Parcel Van was loaded with 466 Dry Chillies bags, weighing around 19.9 tonnes.

GUNTUR: For the first time, the Indian Railways loaded special parcel train beyond the country borders to Benapole in Bangladesh with dry chillies from Reddipalem in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh.

Guntur and its surrounding areas in the state of Andhra Pradesh are well known for Chillies cultivation. The quality of this farm produce is internationally renowned for its uniqueness in taste and brand. Chilies have various colors and flavors because of the level of Capsaicin in them. They are renowned globally and exported to Asia, Canada, and Europe. Guntur district is the main producer and exporter of most varieties of Chillies and chilli powder from India to countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Middle East, South Korea, U.K. and USA & Latin America.

Earlier, the farmers and merchants in and around Guntur area have been transporting dry chillies by road to Bangladesh in small quantities and that was costing around Rs 7,000 per tonne. During the lockdown period, they could not move this essential commodity by Road. Then Railway staff and Officials approached the consignors and explained the facilities to transport by rail.

Accordingly, they have moved the dry chillies by Rail in bulk through goods trains. But for moving the consignment by Goods trains, it is mandatory for the farmers and merchants to mobilise the quantity in bulk i.e. at least over 1,500 tonnes in each trip.

In order to mitigate this problem and to facilitate the Rail users to move their quantities in smalls i.e., up to a maximum of 500 tonnes in each trip, Guntur Division of South Central Railway took the initiative and moved the Special Parcel Express to Bangladesh. This has helped the farmers and merchants of Guntur to market their farm produce beyond the country border by transporting the Dry Chillies in small quantities through Special Parcel Express.

Accordingly, one Special Parcel Express train consisting of 16 Parcel Van moved to Benapole in Bangladesh. Each Parcel Van was loaded with 466 Dry Chillies bags, weighing around 19.9 tonnes and the total weight carried by the Special Parcel Express is around 384 Tonnes. The cost per tonne for carrying by Special Parcel Express is Rs 4,608 and which is very cheap and economical as compared to Road transport which is amounting to Rs 7,000 per tonne.

It may be noted that Indian Railways has taken a series of steps to boost parcel train traffic during the Covid period. Transportation of essential items like medical supplies, medical equipment, food, etc in small parcel sizes are very important items that needed for business as well as consumption purposes.

In order to fill in this vital need, Railways has made railway parcel vans available for quick mass transportation by e-commerce entities and other customers including State governments. Railways has been running time-tabled Parcel Special trains on select routes, to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential items. The total of 4,434 parcel trains have run from March 22, 2020, till July 11, 2020, out of which 4,304 have been time-tabled trains.

Strong metro rail order book, indigenisation initiatives bode well for BEML

New project wins and other segments will strengthen the already strong revenue visibility of 3.5 years.

BANGALORE: Shares of BEML are up a good 60 per cent from their March lows. While there are some near-term concerns on new order flows and project execution due to lockdowns, the existing order book of Rs 9,800 crore as on end-March 2020 provides good revenue visibility.

Primarily driven by metro rail coach orders, the share of mining and construction equipment is also decent in the order book. While BEML had won the order for supply of additional metro coaches for Mumbai worth Rs 834 crore, it also bagged orders worth Rs 730 crore from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) during FY20.  BEML Limited has bagged another large Rolling Stock deal worth Rs. 729 crore from DMRC. The order is for RS15 – design, manufacture, supply, testing and Commissioning of 80 numbers broad gauge intermediate cars compatible with existing RS1 type trains for the conversion of the 6-car train set to the 8-car train set which is running in Delhi Metro’s line 1, Line 2 and Line 3.

BEML operates in a highly competitive business environment. The competitive advantage of an organization is defined by how well it manages its People; how well Human Resources Management is incorporated into Business Strategy. The greater reliance on intellectual capabilities for success in business, therefore calls for dedicated, suitably skilled and prudently deployed workforce.

In 2002 BEML and Hyundai Rotem collaborated and signed the agreement for Delhi Metro Phase-1. BEML became the first to indigenously manufacture Metro Cars for RS1 contract of DMRC and developed 220 metro coaches. In September 2019, BEML Ltd has supplied the first mock coach of Mumbai Metro to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on September 7, 2019. Till date, BEML Ltd has supplied over 1100 Metro Coaches for various MRTS projects in India.

On 27 May 2020, the Board of BEML has approved for signing a Memorardum of Understanding with M/s MELCO to study and decide on the possbility of setting up a Joint Venture Company between BEML and MELCO, for manufacture of certain propulsion systems and other railway electrical equipment utilized for Electric Multiple Units for Indian Metro Rail Projects, Indian Railway Projects and other products as well. “We wish to inform that the Board of Directors in its 362nd meeting held on 27.05.2020 approved for signing a Memorandum of Understanding with M/s MELCO to study and decide on the possibility of setting up a Joint Venture Company between BEML and MELCO, for the manufacture of certain propulsion systems and other railways electrical equipment utilized for Electric Multiple Units for Indian Metro Rail Projects, Indian Railway Projects, and other products as well,” said BEML in a statutory ling to BSE.

It is pertinent to mention here that the BEML on 6th May 2020 has called the expression of interests (EoI) from reputed private manufactures for manufacturing and technology partnerships with reputed OEMs looking to establish and/or expand their supply chains/manufacturing base in India for the manufacture of various goods and/or service business in the areas of Defence & Aerospace, Rail & Metro, Mining & Construction, Engines and aggregates with the overarching objective of “Make in India” and enhancing self-reliance in line with the vision of the Prime Minister of India’s Make in India mission.

Apart from mining and defense business units, the company has sought EOIs for manufacturing partership for Metrolite/LRT/LRV, Medium Speed EMV rolling stock including Aluminium Car body technology, Maintenance of Rolling Stock with measurement and monitoring technologies (for track and OHE), Bogie Design and Manufacturing for various Rolling Stocks including Propulsion, Brake System, Interior Panels, PAPIS, Door Systems etc under its Rail & Metro Business. BEML Ltd. is engaged in the business of Integral Rail Coaches, Overhead Inspection Cars, AC/DC Electrical Multiple Units, Stainless steel EMUs, Utility vehicles, Track Laying Equipment, Broad-gauge Railbus, Treasury Vans, Spoil Disposal Units to the Indian and other Railways.

BEML Ltd has also successfully diversified into manufacturing state-of-the-art technology stainless steel Metro Cars for various urban Metro Corporations and enjoys a dominant market share in this segment.  According to data shared by BEML, the company has manufactured & supplied over 17,000+ mainline passenger coaches of various types for long-distance mainline routes of Indian Railways as on date. In addition, BEML has manufactured and supplied over 800 Nos. of Electrical Multiple Units (EMUs) to Indian Railways for use in its sub-urban and mainline routes.

Gurgaon Metro likely to have Station near proposed Ikea store, plan sent for nod

GURGAON: To attract more ridership when the city metro starts its journey around 2025, Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority has tweaked the proposed route and sent the detailed project report to the state finance department for approval. A station is now expected to come near the upcoming Ikea store in Sector 47.

Talking about the status of the metro project, GMDA chief VS Kundu said, “We have made changes in the location of the metro station proposed in Sector 47. It was earlier coming in a residential area and it has been changed to be near the proposed Ikea store. The final DPR has been sent to the state finance department for approval.”

He added that the Swedish retailer —Ikea — has taken up a major land parcel and once functional, it will see a large number of people visiting the area and hence it made sense to have a metro station nearby. In 2017, Ikea had brought 10 acres in Sector 47 at Rs 842 crore.

Once the DPR has been approved by the finance department, it will be sent to the cabinet and then will be sent for Centre’s approval. The project is being executed by Haryana Mass Rapid Transport Corporation (HMRTC) and GMDA is one of the major stakeholders in the project.

This change in route is one of many other changes that have been incorporated in the DPR over the past 18 months. HMRTC first extended the metro route by taking a spur from Sector 9A towards Dwarka Expressway. Then, they decided to extend the metro line from Sector 23 to Cyber city via Udyog Vihar.

Eventually a spur was approved from Sector 23 till the Blue Line metro station in Dwarka.

In May last year, Khattar had given an in-principle approval to the DPR. Changes including the metro station in Sector 47 were taken at a meeting held in January this year. Kundu, however, said that the project will most likely begin early next year.

BMRCL floats tender for KR Puram-Bengaluru Airport Metro corridor

Tenders called for three packages for Metro’s Airport Line. Two tenders had already been called for from Central Silk Board to KR Puram and the contractors are yet to be finalized.

BENGALURU: Setting the stage for the much-awaited airport-Metro corridor, BMRCL on Tuesday floated a civil work tender for the 36km KR Puram-Kempegowda International Airport line.

The move is expected to benefit thousands of airport-bound passengers and staff, who now rely on private cabs and BMTC Vayu Vajra buses to commute.

BMRCL floated the airport corridor civil work tender in three packages — 639.9 crore, Rs 645.3 crore and Rs 620.9 crore, respectively. Officials said they received NoC from Asian Development Bank, which is funding the airport line.

The first package will have eight stations: Kasturinagar, Horamavu, HRBR Layout, Kalyan Nagar, HBR Layout, Nagawara, Veerannapalya and Kempapura. The second will have Hebbal, Kodigehalli, Jakkur Cross, Yelahanka and Bagalur Cross. The third package is between Bettahalasuru and Doddajala near Yelahanka Air Force Station which will be constructed underground to not disrupt air base operations. Bangalore International Airport Limited will build the two proposed Airport City station and KIA Terminal on the airport premises; a separate tender will be floated.

However, the Centre is yet to approve the corridor project, though has given in-principle permission to seek loan funding from ADB and JICA.

Two tenders had already been called for from Central Silk Board to KR Puram and the contractors are yet to be finalized.  The sale of tender documents commenced on Tuesday for the three packages and the tender will be finalized on September 4.

The three contracts are as follows: (1) Eight elevated Metro stations covering 11 kms at a cost of Rs 639.95 croreand a 650 m link line to Baiyappanahalli. Kasturi Nagar, Horamavuk, HRBR Layout, Kalyan Nagar, HBR Layout, Nagawara, Veeranaplaya and Kempapura are the stations. (2): 11.67 km line covering five elevated stations of Hebbal, Kodigehalli Jakkur Cross, Yelahanka and Bagalur Cross along with a 250 m pocket track at an estimated cost of Rs 645.3 crore and (3)Rs 620 crore contract 15 km of Metro Line comprising two stations, Bettahalasuru and Doddajala. It will also include 718 m cut and cover portion in front of Yelahanka Air Force station, road widening and all other allied works of Phase-2.  The completion deadline is 27 months for the first one and 24 months for the second and third.

Tenders are yet to be called for three portions: Airport Depot at Trumpet Interchange, augmentation of Baiyappanahalli depot and construction of sky garden and KIA terminal stations.

Ajay Seth, Managing Director, BMRCL, told TNIE, “The land acquisition for the three packages is expected to be completed by September this year. We hope to complete this procurement process by December so that work can begin on the line in the first quarter of 2021.”

The Airport Line has a deadline of mid-2025. “When completed, the Silk Board-KIA line  will be longest metro line in Bangalore with provision for seamless connectivity to Outer Ring Road West also.”

SNC-Lavalin awarded design consultancy contract for Tung Chung Line Extension in Hong Kong

HONG KONG / MONTREALSNC-Lavalin announced that its Atkins business in joint venture with Arup has been awarded a design consultancy contract by MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) for the Tung Chung Line Extension in Hong Kong.

The project involves a 1.3km underground extension of the Tung Chung Line to a new terminus station in Tung Chung West. An additional above ground station will also be provided between Sunny Bay and Tung Chung stations to serve the new development area in Tung Chung East on Lantau Island and strengthen the overall MTR network across Hong Kong.

The JV will be responsible for the detailed planning and design of the scheme as well as the preparation for tendering of the project, which includes complex interfaces with the existing operating railway.

“Having worked alongside MTRCL for over 40 years, Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway is very much part of our heritage in the region as we’ve grown alongside what is one of the world’s best metro systems,” said Philip Hoare, President of SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business.  We now look forward to utilising the very latest in digital design, engineering and modern methods of construction to develop a critical line extension which will serve communities across North Lantau.”

The Tung Chung Line extension to Tung Chung West and the new station at Tung Chung East will be constructed while the existing Tung Chung Line remains operational. Minimising any disruption for the rail service during the construction of the extension is a key challenge to the project. Sustainability of the design of the stations will also be a key area of focus while ensuring that they are fully integrated with the surrounding communities they are planned to serve.

The project ground breaking is expected to commence in 2023.

About SNC-Lavalin
Founded in 1911, SNC-Lavalin is a fully integrated professional services and project management company with offices around the world. SNC-Lavalin connects people, technology and data to help shape and deliver world-leading concepts and projects, while offering comprehensive innovative solutions across the asset lifecycle. Our expertise is wide-ranging — consulting & advisory, intelligent networks & cybersecurity, design & engineering, procurement, project & construction management, operations & maintenance, decommissioning and sustaining capital – and delivered to clients in four strategic sectors: EDPM (engineering, design and project management), Infrastructure, Nuclear and Resources, supported by Capital. People. Drive. Results.

Indian Railways set to increase freight loading, BD Unit set up in Vijayawada

VIJAYAWADA: The Indian Railways has established a Business Development Unit (BDU) to improve the freight loading from the division. The BDU has been set up as per the directions of the Railway Board to enhance the freight business.

“The focus of the newly set-up unit is to double the freight carried by the railways by 2024, with particular focus on strengthening the railway’s share in the existing traffic,” said Vijayawada Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) P. Srinivas.

Senior Divisional Operations Manager V. Anjaneyulu would act as a coordinator of the divisional-level multi-disciplinary BDU and Senior Divisional Commercial Manager P. Bhaskar Reddy, Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer K. Srinivas and Senior Divisional Finance Manager Chandrasekhar would be the members of the unit, the DRM said.

“We conducted a virtual meeting with major customers recently. Officials of Krishnapatnam Port Company Limited (KPCL), Kakinada Port, Vimla Siding, Ramco Cements, Andrew Minerals and other companies and the customers expressed happiness over the development,” Mr. Srinivas said.

The railway authorities explained about different policies on rail booking, especially the new ‘round trip tariff’ policy which was being availed of by Bharathi Cements and Jindal Steels from KPCL siding to their units. The customers assured the railways of extending their support in increasing the freight loading, he said.

“We loaded 24 million tonnes of freight and generated ₹2,600 crore revenue last year. KPCL and Kakinada Port are the major contributors of freight business in railways. We are loading coal, cement, granite, foodgrains, fertilizers and other goods to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other States,” the DRM told on Wednesday.

South Central Railway (SCR) General Manager Gajanan Mallya said the railway officials would hold frequent interactions with the traders to explain to them about the existing pattern of goods transportation and explore the possibility of attracting more freight traffic.

Indian Railways has been taking many policy initiatives for the benefit of the freight customers and the officials should ensure that the new policies should reach the trade and industry. The newly set-up Business Development Unit would serve as a nodal point for speedy operation of the new traffic proposals, the GM said.

Indian Railways on mission mode for becoming ‘Green Railway’ by 2030

IR has completed electrification of more than 40,000 RKM (63% of BG routes). 18,605 km electrification work has been done during 2014-20 compared to 3,835 km in 2009-14.

NEW DELHI: Ministry of Railways, with a goal of transforming Indian Railways into Green Railways by 2030 has taken a number of major initiatives towards mitigation of global warming and combating climate change. Railway Electrification, improving the energy efficiency of locomotives & trains and fixed installations, green certification for installations/stations, fitting bio-toilets in coaches and switching to renewable sources of energy are parts of its strategy of achieving net-zero carbon emission.

The Indian railway in a statement today highlighted that it has completed electrification of more than 40,000 Route km (RKM) (63% of BG routes) in which 18,605 km electrification work has been done during 2014-20. Previously, only 3,835 km electrification work was completed during the period 2009-14. Indian Railways has fixed a target of electrification of 7000 RKM for the year 2020-21. All routes on BG network have been planned to be electrified by December 2023.

Indian Railways is focusing on electrification of last-mile connectivity & missing links. With this in mind, 365 km major connectivity work has been commissioned during COVID period. Indian Railways has also taken a number of initiatives to promote solar energy. Indian Railways is working to harness the potential of 500 Mega Watt (MW) energy through rooftop Solar panels (Developer model).

Till date, 100 Mega Watt (MW) of solar plants have been commissioned on roof-tops of various buildings including 900 stations. Solar plants with a combined capacity of 400 MW are under different stages of execution. Tenders are already awarded for 245 MW and target for completion of these plants is December 2022.

Besides this, Indian Railways is trying to produce power from land Based Solar installations for running trains. Indian Railway has 51,000 hectares of the land potential of installing 20 GW land-based solar plants.

Railways rolls out specially designed Train Coaches for post-Covid travel

The post-Covid coach of the Indian Railways has copper-coated handrails, latches, plasma air purification and titanium di-oxide coating.

KAPURTHALA: In continuation with its efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Indian Railways has now rolled out specially designed coaches for post-Covid travel.

The train coach manufacturing factory of Indian Railways, Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala, is launching post Covid-19 coaches, the release stated.

“Sustaining the ruthless fight against Covid-19, Indian Railways’ production unit, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, has developed a Post Covid Coach to fight Covid 19. This post Covid coach has design improvements in the coach like hands-free amenities, copper-coated handrails & latches, plasma air purification and titanium di-oxide coating for Covid free passenger journey,” the Indian Railways said in a press release on Tuesday.

On the salient features of the post-Covid coach, the Indian Railways said, “The post-Covid coach has hands-free amenities like foot operated water tap & soap dispenser, foot operated lavatory door (outside), foot operated flush valve, foot operated latches in lavatory door, outside washbasin with foot operated water tap and soap dispenser and forearm operated handle on compartment door.”

The coaches will be equipped with copper-coated handrails and latches. “Copper has anti microbial properties. When virus lands on copper, Ion blasts pathogen and destroy the DNA and RNA inside the virus,” the Indian Railways said.

The post-Covid coach has a provision of plasma air equipment in AC duct. “This plasma air equipment will sterilise the air and surfaces inside the AC coach using ionised air to make the coach Covid-19 and particulate matter resistant, the railways said.

The coach has having titanium di-oxide coating in the coach. “This is aeco-friendly water-based coating that kills viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality. This coating applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats & berths, snack table, glass window, floor, virtually every surface that comes in human contact. Effective life of this coating is 12 months.”

Kochi Metro awards Phase-1B (Petta-Tripunithura) PMC contract to Aarvee Associates

KOCHI: Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) awarded the Project Management Consultant (PMC) contract of Phase-1B (2.95 km extension from Petta to Tripunithura through 2 stations at Vadakkekotta and SN Junction) of Kochi Metro Rail Project to Hyderabad based M/s.Aarvee Associates Architects Engineers & Consultants Pvt Ltd.

KMRL invited tenders for the same last year in which M/s Feedback Infra stood L-1, however it was cancelled due to change/enhancement of scope of work of the alignment. Once the administrative and financial approvals for the enhanced portion of work was obtained, a new tender was floated on February 11, 2020 for the above contract with a submission deadline of May 26, in which bidders like Aarvee Associates, Feedback Infra, Consulting Engineers Group, RITES, Colliers International, RINA India Pvt Ltd, Padeco, BDO India Ltd, Nippon Koei, BARSYL, KITCO Ltd have evinced their interest for participation.

The Technical Bid Score of May 29, 2020 for the PMC Contract is as under:

Bidder Name Score
Aarvee Associates Architects Engineers & Consultants Pvt Ltd 88
Feedback Infra Pvt Ltd 77
Rina Consulting SpA 64 (disqualified)
Padeco India Pvt Ltd 62 (disqualified)

The Financial Bid Values of June 23, 2020 of PMC Contract  is as under:

Bidder Values
Aarvee Associates Architects Engineers & Consultants Pvt Ltd Rs. 17.59 crore
Feedback Infra Pvt Ltd Rs. 20.18 crore

The Quality-cum-Cost-Based-Selection (QCBS) method used to select Aarvee Associates, in which proposals remained ranked and scored, according to their combined technical and financial score. Aarvee Associates scored the highest technical score and also placed the lowest bid.

Project Management Consultant (PMC) of phase-1 extension of Kochi Metro Rail Project from Petta to Tripunithura terminal covering a distance of 3 km including Panamkutty River Bridge is the scope of work of the said contract.

The current status of Kochi Metro Phase 1B 2 civil sections is going on in a phased manner. Petta–SN Junction (1.79 km) under construction by KEC International & China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (KEC-CCECC) JV through a Rs.265 crore contract it won in June 2019.

As regards the SN Junction–Tripunithura (1.163 km) section, KMRL invited bids for this section’s civil construction earlier in May. The last date to submit bids is July 14. The Detailed Design Consultancy contract was awarded to LKT Engineering Consultants on May 18.

Aarvee is a 31 year old multi-disciplinary/multi-sectoral Engineering Consultancy Services company engaged in Railways/Metro Rail systems/Highspeed Rail Systems/Semi-HSR Rail systems/Light Metros/Suburban Rail Systems/Private Rail/Port Rail Sectors/Highways/Roadways/Ropeways/Seaways/Airports/Airways/Bridges/Smart Cities/Urban Development/Urban Infrastructure/Real Estates/Hydro Power/Irrigation/Water Resources/Architecture & Design/Urban Plan/Design/Geo-spatial/Environment/Power sectors in India. Aarvee has its presence in 18 countries in the world under different engagements.

With the healthy financial turnover and continued engagement in the exemplary projects across the world with largest pool of qualified & experienced manpower, Aarvee has wide range of offerings encompassing Project Consultancy, Design, Planning & Architecture, Construction Services, Construction Management, Project Management and Project Audit in the Multi-disciplinary Engineering portfolio services that includes Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering, Telecommunications, Signalling, Mechanical, Electrical, Electrical Traction and IT & Software domains in Multi-Sectoral environments. Aarvee have also worked on various projects funded by international agencies viz. World Bank, ADB, JICA, DFID etc.

Were Hedge Funds Right About Shunning Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP)?

OTTAWA: We know that hedge funds generate strong, risk-adjusted returns over the long run, which is why imitating the picks that they are collectively bullish on can be a profitable strategy for retail investors. With billions of dollars in assets, professional investors have to conduct complex analyses, spend many resources and use tools that are not always available for the general crowd. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have occasional colossal losses; they do. However, it is still a good idea to keep an eye on hedge fund activity. With this in mind, let’s examine the smart money sentiment towards Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (NYSE:CP) and determine whether hedge funds skillfully traded this stock.

Canadian Pacific Railway Limited has seen an increase in activity from the world’s largest hedge funds in recent months. CP was in 32 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of March. There were 29 hedge funds in our database with CP positions at the end of the previous quarter. Our calculations also showed that CP isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds.

Hedge funds’ reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn’t keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Our research has shown that hedge funds’ small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of out-performance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 58 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that under-performed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of under-performance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017.

At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. There is a lot of volatility in the markets and this presents amazing investment opportunities from time to time. For example, this trader claims to deliver juiced up returns with one trade a week, so we are checking out his highest conviction idea. A second trader claims to score lucrative profits by utilizing a “weekend trading strategy”, so we look into his strategy’s picks. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. We recently recommended several stocks partly inspired by legendary Bill Miller’s investor letter. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when the S&P 500 was trading at 3150 in February after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. Keeping this in mind let’s take a gander at the key hedge fund action surrounding Canadian Pacific Railway Limited.

What have hedge funds been doing with Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (NYSE:CP)?

At the end of the first quarter, a total of 32 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a change of 10% from the fourth quarter of 2019. On the other hand, there were a total of 30 hedge funds with a bullish position in CP a year ago. With the smart money’s sentiment swirling, there exists an “upper tier” of noteworthy hedge fund managers who were adding to their stakes considerably (or already accumulated large positions).

Union Pacific says it will end some support to Metra operations

Union Pacific would stop operating trains in 90 days if it wins suit!

Omaha, NE: Union Pacific says it will stop providing some support services for Metra at the end of August and would stop operating trains for the commuter railroad within 90 days if it wins its current lawsuit against the Chicago agency. Crain’s Chicago Business reports in a paywalled article that the railroad said in a statement that it is providing advance notice so Metra can plan accordingly. The railroad said that as of Aug. 31, it would begin to discontinue support services including mechanical work, and clerical and legal support. Metra responded that such decisions must be made through mutual agreements or legal proceedings, and that it is continuing good-faith negotiations with UP. UP is currently paid about $100 million a year to operate trains for Metra on three routes — the North line to Kenosha, Wis., the northwest to Harvard and McHenry, Ill., and the West line to Elburn — it inherited when it acquired the Chicago & North Western in 1995. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, those three lines accounted for 194 trains on weekdays. UP has said it wants to end responsibility for operating the commuter trains while continuing to “manage train movement across its lines.” The railroad filed suit in December as part of its effort to exit the commuter business; at the time, both UP and Metra said there would be no disruption of commuter operations.

White House warns Railroad Retirement Board about Chinese investments

The White House has warned the head of the Railroad Retirement Board that the agency’s investments in China are endangering U.S. national security and exposing investors to undue economic risk. The news website Axios reports the July 7 letter from two advisors to President Donald Trump wants to know within a week whether the agency administering rail workers’ retirement benefits will end these investments, and suggests the investments may be illegal. A spokesman for the board said the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust manages most railroad retirement funds, rather than the board, but the two organizations would discuss the issue.

Work begins on business park next to BNSF intermodal facility in Texas

Construction is beginning on a three-building, 1.4-million-square-foot business park adjacent to BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility in Haslet, Texas, north of Fort Worth. The Dallas Morning News reports the 50-acre project, a partnership of real Gruene Real Estate Parners and Weber & Co., will open next July. Access to Interstate 35W is also nearby.

CP Railway returning to Atlantic Canada

Saint John, NB, Canada: Canadian Pacific Railway is coming back to Atlantic Canada. Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Nadeem Velani, detailed the company’s return as he delivered the keynote address during the Saint John Region Chamber’s annual general meeting held virtually on Tuesday.

CP acquired the Central Maine and Quebec Railway, adding nearly 800 kilometres of rail lines and port access in Saint John and Searsport, Maine.

Velani said the company’s planned investments include spending $90-million over three years to improve CMQ’s track infrastructure in Maine and Quebec.

“Track updates are underway as we speak. By the fourth quarter, we’ll be able to offer 24-hour service between Saint John and Montreal” Velani said, “CP is committed to spending $1.6 billion on capital [spending] system-wide this year and we remain committed to our spending despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19.”

Velani said Canadian Pacific Railway, New Brunswick Southern Railway and Eastern Maine Railway routing in this corridor is 200 miles shorter than what their competitors can offer.

“It’s a compelling advantage. It means customers that might not have considered rail in the past have good reason to take another look,” Velani said.

When it comes to Port Saint John, Velani said CP thinks they found a “true diamond in the rough” with a deep water congestion-free Atlantic Ocean port who has a top-notch operator in DP World.

Canada’s two largest Railways move record grain in June, second quarter

OTTAWA:  Canada’s two largest railways moved record quantities of grain in the second quarter after benefiting from another strong month in June.

Canadian National Railway said it is on pace for record shipments of grain this crop year after record movements of Canadian grain last month and the quarter as a whole contributed to its best performance in the first half-year.

The Montreal-based railway said it has moved 26.9 million tonnes so far this crop year that ends July 31, up from 26.5 million tonnes at the same point last year.

In addition, CN has moved more than one million tonnes of Canadian grain from the Prairies crop year to-date via container, contributing to CN’s record pace of Canadian grain intermodal shipments.

CN Rail said it moved 15 million tonnes from January to June, 8.15 million tonnes in the second quarter and 2.7 million tonnes in June, its fourth consecutive monthly high.

The record shipments despite challenges earlier in the crop year demonstrate that the country’s largest railway has been able to meet continued strong global demand for grain, said James Cairns, senior vice-president rail centric supply chain.

“CN’s fourth consecutive record month of grain movement and record total tonnage crop-year-to-date demonstrates the continued positive impacts of CN’s capital investments on increased network capacity and resiliency,” he said in a news release.

Canadian Pacific Railway said it moved a record 8.41 million tonnes last quarter after shipping 2.76 million tonnes of grain and grain products in June.

The Calgary-based railway said it was the best three-month stretch since the 7.9 million tonnes moved in the fourth quarter and best June in six years when 2.4 million tonnes was moved.

“The collaborative relationships CP has built with its customers, combined with responsive rail service, have contributed to another quarter of record-breaking grain movements,” said Joan Hardy, CP Rail’s vice-president sales and marketing grain and fertilizers.

The country’s railways have ramped up shipments of Western grain by using larger hopper cars and trains while customers have been investing in elevator networks to accommodate 8,500-foot trains.

CP Rail said its longer trains can carry in excess of 40 per cent more grain than the 7,000-foot train model when combined with the extra capacity of new hopper cars. More than 2,700 of these high-capacity cars are now in service. They can carry 15 per cent more volume and 10 per cent more weight compared with the older models.

General Consultancy contract of Kanpur & Agra Metro Rail awarded

LUCKNOW: A joint venture of Technica Y Projectos, S.A. – Italferr S.P.A emerged as the lowest bidder for giving the General Consultancy services for the execution of Phase 1 of Kanpur & Agra Metro Rail projects in UP.

The UP Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (UPMRC) presented the financial bids. Only 2 bidders have proposed their bids & found technically qualified. Technica Y Projectos, S.A. – Italferr S.P.A JV – Rs 260,62,51,052.00, AECOM Asia – Egis Rail – Aarvee Associates – Egis Consulting Engineers JV – Rs 241,27,12,500.00.

Based on the terms of the tender, the bidders were chosen by Quality cum Cost Based Selection process and the technical score taken via each bidder is as under, Technica Y Projectos, S.A. – Italferr S.P.A JV – 7547.84 points, AECOM Asia – Egis Rail – Aarvee Associates – Egis Consulting Engineers JV – 6497.90 points.

UPMRC had called a request for offers (RFP) (Contract UPMRC/KNPAGGC-01) for the terms of general consultancy services for the Kanpur & Agra Metro projects on 12 Dec 2019. Technical bids were opened on 13 March 2020.

According to the tender notification declared by UPMRC, the plans of this contract is to get General Consultancy services for planning, design, procurement, project execution, testing & commissioning of the Kanpur & Agra Metro Projects.

The Consultants will also prepare, proof checks the design also support in construction work supervision and contract management of Depot & OCC wherever so requested by UPMRC.

Supervision & contract management of the civil construction work of elevated stations and viaducts will be the duty of UPMRC. General Consultant shall. However, be responsible for safety, quality & environmental compliance for all the elevated structures.

Vossloh to supply Rail Fastening systems to Uruguay Central Railroad

BERLIN: Germany-based rail technology company Vossloh has received a contract to deliver rail fastenings for Uruguay Central Railroad.

This contract follows Uruguay Central Railroad’s plans to boost the rail freight traffic and improve the inland connections with Montevideo.

It has started the work for the modernisation of railway bridges and stations, along with other infrastructure.

The Uruguay Central Railroad project includes the rehabilitation and construction of 273km of a railway line connecting Uruguayan capital Montevideo and the city of Paso de los Toros.

Vossloh has completed the production of the first two delivery lots of the W 21 rail fastening system, which is ready to be shipped.

The W system is designed for concrete sleepers on ballasted track and said to offer flexibility to accommodate demands that are specific to the project.

Made of cellentic, the elastic can absorb the force and ensures stable rail subsidence.

In a statement, Vossloh said: “With its optimised geometry and water repellent material, the screw-dowel combination NG ensures an excellent transfer of the loads into the concrete sleeper.

“It is not only able to withstand extreme loads but also has the additional benefit that its production causes fewer carbon emissions.”

Vossloh recently completed the sale of its locomotive business to Chinese rolling stock manufacturer CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive. The deal came in effect on 31 May.

Last year, the Sacyr-led Grupo Vía Central consortium (GVC) raised a senior loan of $855m to finance the Uruguay Central Railroad project.

USDOT FRA to provide $291.4m for Rail projects

WASHINGTON: The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has launched a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for grant funds worth $291.4m.

The funds are provided under the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program (Partnership Program) and will aid in the repair and rehabilitation of intercity passenger railroad assets.

US Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao said: “This Administration has continuously emphasized the importance of investing in the safety and efficiency of our Nation’s rail infrastructure and these federal dollars will help make grade crossings safer and enhance service reliability.”

The FY20 Partnership Program and remaining FY19 funding will aid capital projects to repair, replace, or rehabilitate qualified railroad assets, which will reduce the backlog of state of good repair and boost intercity passenger rail performance.

Projects that deal with railroad infrastructure, equipment, or facility assets that include track, ballast, switches and interlockings, bridges and communication among other aspects are eligible for funding.

FRA Administrator Ronald L Batory added: “All eligible parties should take full advantage of this opportunity to leverage private, state, and local investments that boost capital projects, including those that enhance safety in track and equipment and improve safety at highway-rail grade crossings or otherwise grade-separate rail intersections.”

The Partnership Program grants are intended to benefit publicly or Amtrak-owned or -controlled passenger rail infrastructure, equipment, and facilities.

The FRA will grant funding on a competitive basis. Projects will be considered on different aspects before funding is provided.

FRA will give preference to projects where the non-federal share is made up of more than one funding source. Additionally, the projected federal share of total costs is less than 80%.

Last month, FRA announced grant funds worth $302m for 12 railroad projects spread across nine states.

Pakistan approves $7.2bn Karachi-Peshawar Rail line project

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has given its approval for the $7.2bn project to upgrade the railway between Karachi and Peshawar.

The approval was given by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP).

This 1,872km-long rail line is a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will link Kashgar, China, with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.

CPEC Authority chairman Asim Saleem Bajwa said that this approval is a major milestone in the CPEC phase two.

The modernisation of the rail line is expected to boost the speed of the passenger trains to 160km/h from 110km/h.

With this approval, Pakistan will undertake negotiations with China for the project finances and inform the International Monetary Fund regarding the loan.

The CPEC is a $60bn project under China’s President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative to connect Asia, Africa and Europe with a network of highways, rail lines and sea lanes.

In April 2019, Malaysia and China signed a revised agreement to resume construction of the suspended East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

As part of Belt and Road initiative, the ECRL project will connect Port Klang on the Straits of Malacca to Pengkalan Kubor in north-east peninsular Malaysia.

In March, Nepal decided to use the Chinese track gauge standard for its railway system in a bid to reduce costs.

In October 2018, China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group and Myanma Railways signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to carry out a feasibility study of the 431km Muse-Mandalay railway line.

Siemens CEOs buoyant on Rail’s prospects post COVID-19

While Siemens train division suffered a more than 30% drop in orders in the first quarter, Siemens Mobility reported resilient performance in the second quarter of fiscal 2020 in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, Joint CEOs, Ms Sabrina Soussan and Mr Michael Peter, revealed in an online press briefing held on June 15.

BERLIN: The company increased quarterly revenue by 6% year-on-year to €2.3bn, and reported orders worth €2.4bn with a book-to-bill ratio of 1.05. The adjusted Ebitda margin of 9.3% is within the target range of 9-12%. The company had an order backlog of €32bn in March 2020, a situation which leaves Siemens in a “sound and positive position,” according to Peter.

Soussan would not comment on prospects for performance in the third quarter or the remainder of fiscal 2020.

The CEOs revealed some of the measures taken by the company to help combat the Covid-19 crisis and keep operations running. Peter said Siemens’ first and primary focus was on maintaining the health and safety of employees with the company quick to institute social distancing measures and other practices to guarantee safety.

There was also emphasis on maintaining production. Siemens’ factories remained at 81% of production capacity during the crisis with none closing. Second shifts were introduced at many sites to maintain output. Home working was also introduced across the company, with the supplier able to harness its sophisticated IT systems to support people working from home.

The CEOs emphasised Siemens’ support for the supply chain during the crisis, with Soussan revealing steps taken in Italy. With all industries shutdown, Soussan said a letter from Siemens to the relevant authorities helped these companies to reopen and prevent any disruption to Siemens’ production.

Notable successes during the period include certification of Mireo EMUs for Germany’s Rhine Valley in 38 months, down from the typical 44-month process; certification of seven-car ICE sets; and the commissioning of an extension to the Blue Line in Bangkok.

“We never thought that we could achieve what we did in the time that was available,” Soussan said. “People thought it would be impossible to do commissioning of trains remotely, but we did it and this will help us in the future to be more efficient. Why we were able to be so efficient and resilient is because we reacted very fast. The people who could work from home, we sent home to protect those who couldn’t, such as people working in the factories.”

Despite the pandemic and associated lockdowns causing up to 80% reductions in rail services in March and April, Soussan said Siemens is optimistic about the future because of two macro-trends – urbanisation and climate change – which have not gone away.

Soussan said that the company remains committed to the long-term and she believes pre-Covid-19 traffic levels will return to their previous levels of growth in the second half of 2021.

Soussan said that mass transit by rail remains the only way to bring large quantities of people into urban areas, while the prospects for long distance travel by train, which is a sustainable transport alternative to air, may increase after the crisis. This was emphasised by the French government’s insistence that Air France stop competing with TGV as part of its coronavirus aid package. She was also encouraged by financial support measures introduced that are set to benefit rail, such as the German government’s €130bn stimulus package, which includes €5bn for German Rail (DB) and €2.5bn for urban public transport, and the European Union’s €750bn Next Generation EU stimulus package.

“Both are committed to sustainable agendas,” Soussan said. Soussan added that new demands from instituting social distancing present opportunities for further digitalisation of railway infrastructure, whether through the increased roll out of automated rail services which increase capacity to run more trains on urban networks, or the use of contactless ticketing technologies. Mass Rail Commuting will remain backbone of cities, she added.

Looking at the prospects for the market by region, in Europe, Peter said that in addition to stimulus projects, Siemens is particularly buoyed by anticipated opportunities in digital railway programmes, which emphasise operating more trains. While the United States freight market is governed by economic trends, Peter said the company similarly sees opportunities here for automated operation and some acceleration towards digital solutions. There may also be further opportunities in mass transit at the local level.

In Asia, the company is encouraged by the speed at which operation has resumed in China and the overall response of the region to containing the pandemic. However, in Latin America, where the infection rate is high, Peter said the company does anticipate a slowdown in demand. Brazil in particular is expected to suffer because many of its infrastructure projects are financed through public-private partnerships (PPPs) and may struggle to resume.

Siemens also used the online event to launch a new vision for the company, and a new motto, Moving Beyond, which the company says provides clear and common direction to lead the mobility industry into the future.

Siemens’ train division suffered a more than 30% drop in orders in the first quarter

K-Rail flags off fund drive for Silver Line, ₹66,000 crore ambitious Silver Line semi-HSR project approved

K-Rail to raise ₹33,700 crore from external funding agencies as loan for semi-high speed rail corridor.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd. (K-Rail), the joint venture of Railways and the State, has initiated steps to mobilise ₹33,700 crore from international financial institutions as loan for the Kochuveli-Kasaragod semi-high speed rail corridor, Silver Line, estimated to cost ₹63,941 crore.

The Kerala government on Wednesday said it has approved an ambitious 66,000 cr semi-high speed rail project, called ‘Silver Line’, seen as a game-changer project to recast infrastructure and economic development. The long-pending project could cut down travel time from its northern tip, Kasargod district, to the southernmost district Thiruvananthapuram, to just 4 hours from 12 hours using the existing Indian Railway trains.

The State has approached the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), German Development Bank KfW, and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for mobilising the loan. The project is the biggest one the communist government has announced in its term, nearing end next year, and is brought to life a decade long discussions about it in the state. In the backdrop of financial fallout for states after covid-19 pandemic, the development also assumes significance that it signals Kerala is going for expansionary spending, in sharp contrast with several other state governments and the central government have tightened their purse on spending. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said through a Facebook post that the cabinet has approved a detailed project report and alignment for the project. The state will approach financial institutions and nationalised banks to raise funds for the project’s land procurement, he said. Loans will be also made through Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), German state-owned bank KfW Group, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), he said.

The detailed project report (DPR) prepared by the Paris-based consulting firm Systra, the general consultant of K-Rail, has been forwarded to these institutions.

K-Rail has also given the proposals and feasibility report to these institutions through the Department of Economic Affairs.

The Cabinet had given its the nod for K-Rail to hold consultations with the ADB, JICA, KfW, and AIIB for securing the loan. Already, Railways had given “in-principle approval” for pre-investment activities for the 529.45-km corridor.

“As the government order had been received, the DPR and alignment of Silver Line will be forwarded to the Ministry of Railways on Monday for further clearances,” Managing Director, K-Rail, V. Ajith Kumar said.

The cash-strapped Railways will have to provide ₹3,125 crore (4.89%) of the estimated cost and the State ₹3,253 crore (5.09%). Private equity of 6.65% is expected to mobilise ₹4,252 crore. The State will also have to bear the cost of acquiring 1,226.45 ha of land for laying the line in 11 districts, estimated at ₹11,837 crore (18.51%).

The subordinated debt (GST) of the Centre will come to ₹3,189 crore (4.99%) and that of the State ₹2,896 crore, which will be 4.53% of the estimated project cost.

Floating green bonds is also under consideration. Green cess and value capture financing, a mode of public financing that acts as a tax collection mechanism and aims to recover part or full of the value that public infrastructure generates for private landowners, are the other options.

Private equity, especially from Non-Resident Keralties, is being looked into based on the inflow of investments that has poured in for the Cochin and Kannur airports.

“The path will be built in a 531 km distance between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod. Thr trains could train would run as faster as 180-200 kilometers per hour. One could reach Ernakulam in one and half hours (which takes five hours now) and Kasargod in four hours (which takes 12 hours now) from Thiruvananthapuram. There will be nine bogies, which can carry 645 passengers at a time. There will be two kind of classes, business and standard. We expect the project to finish by 2025. Including Kochi airport, there will be 11 stations,” said Vijayan.

Kerala Rail Development Corporation (KRDCL), the implementing agency for double-line project, had recently obtained permission for the proposal to the Ministry of Railways for building third and fourth lines between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod. According to the proposal, it will be a joint venture of the Kerala government and the Ministry of Railways. During implementation, the project is expected to create 50,000 jobs and employment for 11,000 on completion. The trains will be passing through 11 of the total 14 districts.

Indian Railways develops RAIL-BOT robot to assist Hospital Staff in COVID-19 patient care

The robot is being used to provide medical accessories or equipment, medicines as well as to serve food to patients in the hospital, without any need for physical contact. With the help of this Robot, doctors, nurses and other medical staff are able to stay away from the risks of contacting novel coronavirus infection.

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways develops robot to assist hospital staff! In the light of COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Railways develops a Robot to assist the management of medical wards in serving medicine and food to patients! The Robot named RAIL BOT (R-BOT) has been developed by the South Central Railway to assist in hospital management functions towards patient care.

According to a press release issued by the zone, before being deployed for use in Central Railway Hospital, Lallaguda, Secunderabad, the R-BOT underwent extensive trials and demonstrations. The robot is being used to provide medical accessories or equipment, medicines as well as to serve food to patients in the hospital, without any need for physical contact.

With the help of this Robot, doctors, nurses and other medical staff are able to stay away from the risks of contacting novel coronavirus infection. According to the zone, the R-BOT is operated through a unique mobile app that has been developed as part of the innovation, supported by the WiFi facility. The R-BOT supports sensor-based features, which are capable to read patients’ body temperature and transmit the same for display o­n the mobile phone. In case of any abnormal high-temperature reading, the R-BOT is capable of raising an alarm so as to alert the medics attending to the patients.

Some of the salient features of R-BOT are as follows:

  • It enables real-time video camera facility with Pan and Tilt functions.
  • The Robot acts as two-way audio and video communication with recording. This feature allows for smooth interaction between doctors and patients.
  • To enable communication in complete darkness, it uses infra-red technology with emergency night lamp and night vision.
  • Also, to circumvent any foreign object in its way, the Robot holds 08 direction motion control with observation avoidance sensors as well as motion detection.
  • It can read the body temperature remotely and transmit the same o­n app, also serving as an alert mechanism for cautioning o­n patients’ high temperatures.
  • It boasts a speed of 1 Km per hour with a load-carrying capacity of 80 kg.
  • It is also capable of functioning o­n a single charge of battery continuously for six hours.
  • It can be operated by using Android mobile app as well as Radio Frequency remote controller.

K-Rail revises alignment of section

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail) has revised the alignment for the 57.5-km Vadakara-Thalassery stretch of the 530.6-km semi-high-speed rail corridor from Kochuveli to Kasaragod.

In order to reduce displacement and avoid bifurcating Mahe, as directed by the government, two railway bypasses — Vadakara bypass (from Koyilandy to Mahe) and Thalassery bypass (from Mahe to Chala) — have been proposed by K-Rail.

Of the 31-km Vadakara rail bypass, 23.27 km will be parallel to the existing track and 7.72 km away from the track. Four landlocked locations to the extent of 103.07 ha and 448 houses will be affected. There will be four road and rail crossings on the stretch.

On the 25.5-km Thalassery rail bypass, 11.17 km will be parallel to the existing railway track and 14.33 km away from the track.

Nine landlocked locations (226.01 ha) and 509 houses will be affected and there will be nine rail and road crossings.

“The number of houses to be affected has come down from 1,201 to 957 in the stretch and the cost for the project is almost the same even after the changes,” V. Ajith Kumar, Managing Director, K-Rail, told.

The new lines between Kochuveli, near Thiruvananthapuram, and Tirur will be greenfield corridors and the remaining, between Tirur and Kasaragod, will be parallel to the existing line as per the DPR prepared by Paris-based Systra. The DPR was approved by the K-Rail director board in April and changes in the alignment was mooted when it was awaiting the nod of the government.

The DPR, along with the revised alignment for the Thalassery-Vadakara corridor, will come up before the Cabinet soon for clearance. Once cleared, it will be submitted to Railways.

The approval of the NITI Aayog and the Union Cabinet is needed as the project is to be taken up as a joint venture between the State and Railways.

Trains will run at 200 km per hour and Ernakulam can be reached in one-and-a-half hours and Kasaragod in four hours from the State capital once the Silver Line becomes operational.

Indian Railways develops Rail Milk Tank Van with big capacity

The new Rail Milk Tank will facilitate safe, economic as well as quick transportation of milk. The newly developed Rail Milk Tank Van has a carrying capacity of 44,660 litres of milk, which is almost 12 per cent more than the earlier van.

NEW DELHI: Big step by Indian Railways! With the entire country still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the movement of essential supplies and goods has become a big challenge. However, to enable better transportation of milk, Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has developed a new Rail Milk Tank Van!

According to the Railway Minister, the newly developed Rail Milk Tank Van has a carrying capacity of 44,660 litres of milk, which is almost 12 per cent more than the earlier van. It has been indigenously manufactured to run at speeds of up to 110 km per hour and has a special stainless steel interior. The new Rail Milk Tank will facilitate safe, economic as well as quick transportation of milk, the minister said.

According to the Railway Ministry, even in this lockdown period due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Indian Railways is running uninterrupted 24X7 freight train operations. From 24 March 2020 to 22 May 2020, more than 23.2 lakh wagons have been moved. Out of these 23.2 lakh wagons, more than 13.5 lakh wagons carried essential supplies such as milk, food grains, salt, sugar, edible oil, etc. Moreover, from 1 April 2020 to 22 May 2020, Indian Railways carried 9.7 Million Ton food grain compared to 4.6 Million Ton last year.

Besides, the national transporter has produced various kinds of medical items to support the government in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown period, Indian Railways manufactured 1.2 lakh coveralls of PPEs, 1.4 lakh litres sanitizer, 20 lakhs reusable face mask/covers. The coverall PPE has been designed and developed in-house by Railway Workshops and cleared by DRDO.

Last month, it was reported that the national transporter, transported skimmed camel milk from Ajmer to Mumbai for an autistic child by a Parcel train service. Also, Indian Railways transported medicines for another autistic child from Ahmedabad to Ajmer by a parcel train.

₹16,039-crore Pune-Nashik semi-high speed rail line project gets nod

The Pune-Nashik rail line project is going to be the world’s first semi high-speed corridor over broad gauge, MRIDC claimed.

MUMBAI: The railway ministry has approved the semi-high-speed railway corridor between Pune and Nashik, the authorities of the Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited said on Thursday. “The semi-high-speed double line will provide direct connectivity between Pune and Nashik. The journey between the two cities will be completed in an hour and 45 minutes,” Kumar Jaiswal, MahaRail MD, said.

The detailed project report (DPR) for the high-speed rail corridor was completed by the state-run Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (MRIDC) in February and sent for approval by the Railway Board and Maharashtra government.

The entire cost of the project has been pegged at Rs16,039 crore. The total length of the corridor will be around 235.15km.

The project will not only attract goods trains but also high-speed trains. It would be the first semi-high-speed railway corridor on a broad-gauge line, the official said.

“The MRIDC will buy some high-speed trains for plying them on the corridor, along with regular mail/express and passenger trains. A new station in Pune will be developed and trains will be going to Hadapsar on an elevated deck. From Hadapsar to Nashik, the train will run on the ground and will go up to Nashik Road station.,” the official said.

The project will open new revenue streams for industries by fast-tracking movement. Important MIDC areas such as Chakan, Sinnar and Satpur will be directly connected by this line. There will be a provision for EMU shuttle also to run on this corridor.

The corridor will pass through Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik, providing seamless connectivity to industrial zones of Pune and Nashik.

All you need to know about Pune-Nashik rail line project:

  1. MRIDC or MahaRail will be implementing the ‘semi-high-speed double line’ project which aims to bring the travel time between Pune and Nashik down to two hours. The upcoming semi-high speed corridor comprising double railway broad gauge lines between Pune to Nasik will enable the trains to run at a speed of upto 250 kmph in the future. This project is going to be the world’s first semi high speed corridor over broad gauge, Maharail claimed.
  2. “MRIDC has planned and designed to run the Pune-Nashik broad gauge rail line with the commercial speed of 200km/hr with future increment up to 250 km/hr,” the corporation said in a release. Currently, there is not direct rail link between the two cities
  3. Pune and Nasik both are fastest growing cities of Maharashtra and collectively constituting 18% of the population of the state and contributing 19% Gross Value Added to the state. A sharp rise in the volume of movement of goods between Pune to Nashik route has occurred over the past few years.
  4. The Pune to Nasik region has also the important tourism locations like Shirdi Sai temple, Trimbakeshwar temple, Bhimashankar Temple, Alandi etc. which reconcile a potential amount of tourist movements throughout the year.
  5. The Railway line will pass through three districts of Maharashtra – Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik – providing seamless connectivity to industrial zones of Pune and Nashik such as Alandi, Chakan, Khed, Manchar, Narayangaon, Sinnar and Satpur, said the release.

Right frequency vital for achieving reliable connectivity on rail networks: Ondas Networks Co-founder & CEO Stewart Kantor

“Today’s moving block technology actually allows the trains to be closer together but still at a safe distance.”

Sunnyvale, CA: With rail operators introducing more sensors and remote devices into their networks, reliable connectivity is crucial. Getting the best out of existing radio frequencies can create higher-capacity networks, as Ondas Networks co-founder and CEO Stewart Kantor explains.

In their bid for automation and greater efficiency, rail operators are always looking to implement more advanced technologies on their fleets.

But for smart trains to truly work, this requires industrial-strength connectivity, enabling reliable communications between the likes of sensors and other remote devices on the network.

Take, for instance, positive train control (PTC), the advanced safety system designed to automatically apply the brakes on a train to prevent accidents, such as collisions and derailments. In recent years, PTC has attracted increasing interest across the rail industry – particularly in the US – as it seeks to better monitor and control operations.

Comprising of numerous technologies, including global positioning system (GPS), onboard computers and digital communications, PTC systems are reliant on wireless networks to transmit information between all of these different components. In the US, such systems tend to use a licensed radio frequency band of around 200 megahertz (MHz).

“Secure and reliable connectivity is critical for providers when it comes to communication with sensors and other remote devices,” says Stewart Kantor, CEO and co-founder of Ondas Networks, a Silicon Valley-based wireless networking group.

“It’s a particular priority in the class I railroad market [railroads in the US are classified as either I, II and III according to size. Being the biggest bracket, I includes the likes of Amtrak and the Union Pacific Railroad]. They see it as a means of ironing out efficiencies and lowering costs.”

A gap in the market: Ondas’s networks and moving blocks

Although Ondas was founded in 2006, the group only started working with the rail industry in “mid-2018”, when it spotted a gap in the market to help operators better utilise existing spectrum to create higher-capacity networks, capable of supporting IoT operations. In addition to PTC, Ondas’s networks can be applied to line-condition monitoring, rail crossing and station automation.

Another area Ondas is particularly interested in is moving block, a radio-based signalling system whereby trains are controlled and kept a braking distance apart using blocks defined in real time by computers as safe zones around each train. As well as introducing greater safety on the tracks, the system is also recognised as a means of bolstering a line’s capacity.

“For obvious safety reasons, there has always been a need to create enough space between trains,” says Kantor. “But with additional sensor-type data along the tracks and along the train, today’s moving block technology actually allows the trains to be closer together but still at a safe distance. Basically, you are creating one long, just-in-time train on the track. The efficiencies go way up.”

Radio silence: how operators can do better with their licensed spectrum

One market trend Ondas has identified and is looking to exploit is that while rail operators in the US have their own licensed spectrum – from very high frequency (VHF) to ultra high frequency (UHF) – capable of establishing secure networks, modernisation still appears to be wanting.

“I’d say that one of the reasons that the industry has embraced our technologies is that we’re taking frequencies that have been allocated to them and are making them more efficient,” explains Kantor.

“Historically, rail providers have introduced single-purpose networks over time, but what our technology allows them to do is take these various frequency bands and use them more efficiently, with a higher capacity. This allows them to carry more data traffic.”

The pre-existing issue for rail providers in the US, says Kantor, is that the spectra they use are disparate and often based on legacy technology, which “breaks bands into small channels without getting a lot of efficiency”.

“The reason they are turning to technology like ours is that we allow them to use all these bands, from 160MHz to 900MHz, within a single radio architecture, allowing them to get more capacity. This also enables them to transition away from the voice-centric technology of the past to a more data-centric technology.”

The next frontier: challenges around 5G and a new global standard

According to Kantor, there has been a spike in demand for these bands – licensed out by the US Federal Communications Commissions, the agency in charge of regulating radio frequency use – as they are typically of a lower frequency and can transmit at a much longer range.

But what about the impact of 5G – the next frontier in wireless communications? While its rollout in the US has been fragmented, as it has been across much of the globe, how big a consideration is it for communications-focused rail providers? There are issues that still need to be ironed out, says Kantor.

“One of the problems with 5G, just as there was with upgrades to 4G and 3G, is that the coverage is much smaller,” he explains. “There are also different requirements to consider for rail, compared to consumer-grade networks.

“The move to 5G means more tower sites and higher infrastructure costs in order to create coverage. The big challenge is not necessarily capacity – it’s also about maintaining critical coverage.”

Crucially for Ondas’ customers from the rail industry, the group’s technology is compliant with IEEE 802.16s, the new global standard for private licensed wide area industrial networks introduced in 2018.

“The new standard is focused heavily on the critical aspects of rail, which includes rail-side monitoring, moving block and signalling,” says Kantor. “We are happy to be working with it.”

High Court moved against Hubballi-Ankola Railway line project

The project was cleared by State government in March

HUBBALLI: Environmentalists have approached the High Court of Karnataka to stall the controversial Hubballi-Ankola railway line project, which was cleared by the State government in March.

Sources said the petitioners have questioned the legality and the manner in which the project was pushed through in the State Board for Wildlife despite opposition to it, apart from underlining the environmental ramifications of the project.

The petitioners will underline the fact that the project was rejected repeatedly by the State Board for Wildlife and expert committees, constituted by the Central Board for Wildlife, the sources added.

The Forest Department too had rejected the project earlier on the grounds that it was environmentally disastrous.

It will also result in the felling of nearly 3 lakh trees, according to environmentalists.

An expert committee report, commissioned by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), had also rejected the project and questioned its economic and commercial viability.

This was in the light of the decline in mining activities and the presence of an alternative railway line that already links the mining areas to the ports on both the west and east coasts.

The project was first mooted in 1998, and in 2002 the Forest Department rejected the proposal as it entailed diversion of 1.3 lakh hectares of forest land in Uttara Kannada district.

Between 2002 and 2014, the project was deliberated at various forum in the Forest Department, by the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court and was rejected.

It was rejected by the National Board for Wildlife on two occasions and faced opposition in the State Board for Wildlife when it came up for deliberations again.

However, political leaders across party lines have backed the project brushing aside environmental considerations.

The railway line alignment cuts through the wildlife habitat that is rich in highly endangered species, including tigers, elephants, lion-tailed macaques, gaurs, sloth bears, sambars, chitals, mouse deers, common giant flying squirrels, striped hyenas, jackals, common wolf, Indian fox, Indian porcupines, common mongoose, small Indian mongoose, hare, common langur, Indian pangolin, wild pig, chowsingha, black buck, toddy cat, jungle cat, bonnet macaque, among others.

The ecosystem also harbours 650 tree species of which 352 are endemic, 157 species of reptiles, of which 62% are endemic. and 219 species of fish of which 53% per cent are endemic.

Karnataka’s Hubballi to get World’s Longest Railway platform

Karnataka’s Hubballi Railway Station is set to get the world’s longest railway platform with dimensions of 1,400 metres length and 10 metres width.

HUBBALLI: Karnataka’s Hubballi railway station is set to get the world’s longest railway platform with dimensions of 1,400 metres length and 10 metres width. Confirming the same, South Western Railway (SWR) officials told that the extension work in Platform number 1 of the Hubballi Junction is underway.

While the existing platform is 550-metres long, it will be extended to 1,400 metres in a year, SWR officials said. “The work is done spending Rs 90 crore for remodelling of wards, building work, signalling, third entrance construction, electrical and other related works. The work is underway and will be completed in a year,” SWR Chief Public Relations Officer E Vijaya said.

The extension is being done as part of doubling between Hubballi and Bengaluru, which is underway since November 2019. The railway station will also get three more platforms at the end of the ongoing project, taking the total number of platforms to 8.

“This includes the inspection carriage line used at present also getting converted to a full platform. With the new platforms, trains can be dispatched to both directions at once. Remodelling of Hubli yard is also in progress.” Vijaya added.

While the railway station has two entry/exit gates at present — one at the main entrance and another on Gadag Road, a third entry is also being constructed now.

Indian railway platforms dominate the list of longest platforms at present as well. While Gorakhpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh has the longest platform (1366 m) operational now, the second on the list is Kollam Junction (1180 m) in Kerala.

Myanma Railways invites Bids for Phase-II Yangon-Mandalay Railway Improvement Project

NAY PYI TAW: The Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has received ODA loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) towards the cost of the Yangon-Mandalay Railway Improvement Project (Phase II) vide Loan Agreement No: MY-P26 dated 29th March 2018. Accordingly, The Myanma Railways, Ministry of Transport and Communications now invites sealed Bids from eligible Bidders for design, manufacture, supply, installation, delivery, testing and commissioning of works as described above (“the Works”). International Competitive Bidding will be conducted in accordance with JICA’s Single-Stage (Two Envelopes) Bidding Procedure.

Bid are invited from the eligible Bidders for Design, manufacture, supply, installation, delivery, testing and commissioning of each contract package for the Yangon-Mandalay Railway Improvement project (phase-II), that comprises of Civil and Track Works, and Signalling and Telecommunication Works between Taungoo and Ywadaw; Nay Pyi Taw Depot, Civil and Track Works, and Signalling and Telecommunication Works between Ywadaw and Ingyinkan; Civil and Track Works, and Signalling and Telecommunication Works between Ingyinkan and Kume Road (and) Myohaung Depot, Civil and Track Works, and Signalling and Telecommunication Works between Kume Road and Mandalay.

Bidding will be conducted through procedures in accordance with the applicable Guidelines for Procurement under Japanese ODA Loan, and are open to all Bidders from eligible source countries, as defined in the Loan Agreement.

The Eligible Nationality of the Contractor(s) shall be Japan in case of the prime Contractor.

In case where the prime Contractor is a joint venture, such joint venture will be eligible provided that the nationality of the lead partner is Japan, that the nationality of the other partners is Japan and/or the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and that the total share of work of Japanese partners in the joint venture is more than fifty percent (50%) of the contract amount.

A complete set of the Bidding Documents may be purchased and inspected by interested eligible Bidders upon submission of a written application to the address below during office hours from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m on Monday to Friday (except public holidays of Myanmar).

Bids must be submitted to the address below on or before date & time described in above table and must be accompanied by a Bid security as mentioned in Bidding Documents for each Package.

Bids should be addressed to:

The Managing Director
Myanma Railways
Head Office of Myanma Railways.
Nay Pyi Taw Railway Station Compound, Pobba Thiri Township, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
Telephone: +95-67 77024, Facsimile number: +95-67 677164

NTPC to augment Rail Line to its Rihand Plant – invites Consultants for Detailed Engineering & PMC Services

RIHAND: NTPC/Rihand is a coal based power station with installed capacity of 1000 MW (Stage-I) and 2000 MW (Stage-II) located near Sonebhadra in Uttar Pradesh.

The coal source for the NTPC/Rihand plant comes from the Amlori Mines, Dudhichua Mines and Amloric Expansion Mines and the water is sourced from the Rihand Reservoir.

The beneficiary states are Uttar Pradesh, Uttranchal, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh.

Rail Line project: NTPC now intends to to augment the Railway line to NTPC/Rihand plant and had invited Consultancy Services for detailed survey, detailed engineering and Project Management Services from the reputed consultants from the Railway industry. The Railway line needs to be augmented to any of the nearest/feasible railway stations viz.

  • Shakti Nagar Railway station which is located at 13.2 Kms distance.
  • Krishnashilla Railway STation which is located at 13.81 Kms.
  • Anpara Railway Station which is located at 21.53 Kms (or)
  • Singrauli Railway Station which is located at 24.58 kms distance.

All the above Railway stations are falling under the Dhanbad Division of East Central Railway zonal jurisdiction.

The scope of the work to be rendered by the PMC/PMEC for “Preparation of Detailed Project Report, Detailed Engineering and Project Management Consultancy services for Augmentation of Rail infrastructure for connection with the New Ash Silo location of Rihand STPP, Stage-III” is as under:

  • Detailed Engineering, i.e., Preparation of plans, detailed design and drawings, detailed estimates and schedule of quantities.
  • Preparation of tender documents, issue, receipt, pre bid discussions, resolution of bidder’s queries and evaluation of tenders. Submission of Bid Evaluation Report.
  • Finalization and award of contracts to agencies for works and supply including the preparation of Letter of Award.
  • Monitoring and Supervision of various activities related to supply and construction.
  • Commissioning of rail transportation system.

The activities to be done include BG Main Rail Track, yards, bridges, culverts, P-way etc as per approved drawings and Technical Specifications. The detailed scope of work is as follows:

  • Ascertain the ‘NTPC’s requirements carry out detailed survey of the area and make out conceptual plans for various alternatives as required by the NTPC, keeping in view the topographical features and functional needs of the location with respect to the buildings if any already existing at site, utilities etc.
  • To make out preliminary estimates for the various alternatives based on plinth area rate or other acceptable basis of the rates.
  • Freeze the conceptual plan as finally decided by the NTPC and obtain Administrative approval and Expenditure Sanction from the NTPC for the Estimated Cost of the works and PMC/PMEC ’s fee, with Goods & Service Tax payable thereon at the stage of preparation of Detailed Estimates based on Detailed Designs and Drawings.
  • Carry out detailed Soil testing including Geo-technical investigation to ascertain the safe bearing capacity for design of foundation of embankment, bridges, buildings and other structures.
  • Carry out architectural design of the buildings keeping in view the need to harmonise with the landscape and other architectural features of the buildings, if any, already existing in the area.
  • Carry out Detailed Designs and Drawings for actual execution of the Work and obtain the approval of the NTPC.
  • Prepare a Detailed Estimate with items based to the extent possible on Standard Schedule of Rates such as that of CPWD duly escalated by Cost Index to reflect the current day cost and balance as Non Scheduled items. The Estimate will cover Civil Engineering Works, Electrical Engineering Works, S&T Engineering works, other Engineering Works and Special installation like lifts generator and other equipments.
  • Detailed Estimate shall be prepared to reflect the likely Current Cost of the complete works and NTPCs approval taken for the same which includes preparation of detailed specifications, tender schedule & tender documents for Civil, Electrical, S&T, other Engineering and Specialized works. The Bill of Quantities shall be based on the Detailed Estimates as approved by the NTPC. Wherever required by the NTPC, Prequalification of Tenderers shall be done. Otherwise, two Packet system shall be adopted with evaluation of Technical Bid including Check of Satisfaction of Qualification Criteria done first and Financial Bids of only those Tenderers whose Technical Bids are considered acceptable opened. In all cases, NTPC’s approval for Tender Documents shall be obtained by the PMC/PMEC .

NTPC shall finalize the Tender adopting ‘RITES’ procedure, after determining the reasonable cost of works based on market rate analysis of major items, duly associating a representative of the NTPC as a member of the Tender Committee. Take the approval of the NTPC for engagement of the selected Contractor and the Contract Documents to be adopted. Take Revised Sanction for Expenditure from the NTPC if the Contract Value along with RITES’ Fees including Service Tax, all enhanced by 10%, exceeds the Sanction for Expenditures taken under Article 2.5.

The consultants are required to take single point responsibility for supervision in and execution of the proposed works by deployment of adequate technical and supporting staff at various sites of works apart from liaisoning with Local Authorities/departments/Railways for approval of plan/drawings and services and for issue of “Completion” / No-objection” Certificate for occupation of the works on completion, if required also Assist the NTPC in obtaining the necessary clearance from the Agencies/Departments/Local Bodies concerned for the occupation of the Completed works, and eventually submit the periodic Progress Reports in the format and periodicity as stipulated by the NTPC. Assessing, planning and arranging to procure materials, if required as per the works Contract Conditions.

The scope of work of the Consultants also include coordinating with main and sub-contractors and rendering technical advice, Holding periodic Progress Meetings and sorting out problems arising if any due to action or inaction of the NTPC and/or the PMC/PMEC, provide adequate supervising personnel in the field to coordinate, control, supervise, inspect, liaise and report on the works at site, keeping a close watch on Deviations by way of Extra items, Substituted items and Deviations in quantities of Schedule items. Fixation of Rates for items/quantities covered by Deviation orders adopting RITES procedure. NTPC to be kept advised of the Deviation orders and rates as fixed. In cases where the NTPC desires omission or substitution of any Bill of Quantity item, check if this is likely to lead to vitiation of Contract and if so draw the attention of the NTPC to the same and take his specific approval for the omissions/substitutions. NTPCs Revised Expenditure Sanction to be taken by the PMC/PMEC whenever found necessary, and ensure that the construction is being carried out in accordance with the approved working designs, drawings and specifications and as per programme laid down in the works contract Agreement.

The Consultant shall also ensure quality control of the Work including materials and workmanship, certify measurement of work executed, and make progressive payments based on physical realization/completion of works, as per approved procedure and schedule of payments to Contractors, sanction of Extension of Time to the Contractor for completion of Works, with or without Liquidated Damages, subject to keeping the NTPC advised of the same with full details including the effect on ‘completion cost of works, if any and the Credit to the Cost of the Works all Liquidated and other damages levied on the Works Contractors.

Consultant is reponsible for Complete administration and management of Contract with the Works Contractor till expiry of the maintenance period and payment of final dues to the Contractor including collect and deliver to the NTPC, Guarantee Bonds executed by the Contractor for Specialized items of Works such as Waterproofing of structures, Termite Proofing of Structures etc which involve maintenance period extending well beyond the normal maintenance period of structures. Collect and deliver to the NTPC, Insurance Policies, if any, of Works still current at the time of handing over of works and getting defects if any rectified by the contractor during the ‘Defect Liability Period’. which shall be 12 months from the date of work completion.

The estimated cost towards construction of the above scope of work is Rs.5.502 Crore the break up of which is as under:

  • Earthwork in formation: Rs.1,37,50,000/-
  • Bridge Work, Drain work and Protection Work: Rs.2,30,00,000/-
  • P-Way Work except supply of Rails and PSC sleeper: Rs.1,52,70,000/-
  • S&T Works: Rs.30,00,000/-

PMC/PMEC’s Remuneration: PMC/PMEC ’s remuneration would be at 8.5% for PMC on the total of the final Built up cost fully to be borne by the NTPC. The fee payable will be initially calculated on the basis of the Cost of Work as per Detailed Estimate as sanctioned. Later on it shall be adjusted on the basis of Works Contract Cost.

Rs.5.502 Crore Built-up cost of the project includes the cost of following:-

Civil works: Earthwork in formation, Bridgework, Drain Work, Concreting for Ballast less track, Protection and Misc Work. Permanent-way work (Excluding the cost of Rails & PSC Sleepers), S&T Work etc.

PROJECT PLANNING AND MONITORING & PROGRESS REPORTING

The PMC/PMEC shall submit an overall Project Schedule in the form of a Network on time scale highlighting all major milestones of the Project. This shall be approved by the NTPC and would form the basis for monitoring as well as dovetailing function schedules. The PMC/PMEC shall update this document once in every quarter and submit to the NTPC.

Monthly reports will be sent by the PMC/PMEC to the NTPC so as to reach him by seventh of the next month as per format to be mutually agreed to.

Review meetings to be organized by the NTPC will be held every month either at site or at the NTPC’s office as decided by the NTPC and the PMC/PMEC.

TENDERING PROCEDURE FOR WORKS

The PMC/PMEC shall follow the Tendering Procedure including Calling of Tenders, Tender Documentation, Evaluation and execution of Contract Agreement with the successful Tenderer, adopting that laid down by the PMC/PMEC for similar works, as approved by the NTPC, with or without modifications as decided jointly by the NTPC and the PMC/PMEC .

The PMC/PMEC shall be responsible for due compliance of all procedural requirements as advised by the NTPC.

TIME SCHEDULE

The PMC/PMEC shall complete all items of work within 15 months from the date the NTPC intimates, in writing, the availability of land free from encroachments and Local Bodies approval for the use of the land for the purpose proposed by the NTPC.

The PMC/PMEC shall furnish to the NTPC a detailed time-schedule for getting the works executed, after finalization of the Detailed Estimate based on Detailed Designs and Drawings.

The PMC/PMEC shall make all efforts to get the works executed as per the time schedule finalized in Consultation with the NTPC.

RESPONSIBILITY OF PMC/PMEC:

The PMC/PMEC s shall be liable for consequences of errors and omissions arising out of gross negligence on their part or on the part of their employees and shall take necessary action to remedy the defects and deficiencies arising from said negligence.

The PMC/PMEC shall discharge their obligations under this Agreement in accordance with the agreed time schedule and with due care, diligence and competence generally as stipulated under “Scope of Work”.

PAYMENT TERMS: NTPC shall release interest free advances @ 10% of the fees Payable towards mobilization of resources at site on fulfillment of following conditions:

Unconditional acceptance of letter of award.

Submission of unconditional Bank Guarantees of equivalent amount initially valid up to 3 months after the completion period from NTPC listed bank which shall be extended by PMC from time to time as required by NTPC. The bank guarantee so submitted shall be reduced proportionate to the advance recovered from their fees once in every six months. The advance will be recovered @ 10% of amount due as fee from their fee bills submitted to NTPC till such time the advance stands fully recovered.

Submission of detailed Project Schedule (PERT) conforming to the completion schedule as brought out at para 10.0 (b) later & its approval by NTPC.

In addition to above, NTPC shall release following advance to PMC for the Direct Cost portion:

Monthly advance towards cost of execution of work and procurement of materials in accordance with the agreed fund flow chart. This advance shall be released against furnishing an Indemnity Bond by PMC/PMEC. The advance for procurement of materials shall be released to PMC/PMEC in stages depending upon the procurement schedule along with submission of demand after order finalization on the suppliers/Contractors.

The first installment shall be released against PMC/PMEC’s requisition. However, the subsequent amounts shall be released against submission of statement of accounts for expenses incurred from the advance amount released in the previous months supported by trial balance for the month, certified copies of relevant documents in support of expenses incurred by PMC/PMEC in that month.

In addition, PMC/PMEC shall arrange to furnish indemnity bond through the deployed contractors against owner issue materials, if any, in a proforma acceptable to NTPC.

Terms of payment for direct cost & Fees:

All materials to be used for works under contract shall be procured and paid by PMC/PMEC on behalf of NTPC, out of the advance amounts received by them as brought out above.

Any payment to the Contractors shall be released by PMC/PMEC directly. For this purpose PMC/PMEC shall furnish work execution statement to the Engineer-in charge. The Owner (Engineer-in-charge) reserves the right of periodical checks/audit of bills (quarterly) and in case discrepancies/deficiencies, if any, are identified by the Owner, PMC/PMEC shall make good the same under advice to the Owner. However, in case of final payment, all regularization/reconciliation shall be done prior to release of payment.

All claims towards direct costs shall be made by PMC/PMEC on the basis of actual payments made by them towards procurement of materials and execution of work.

On completion of works, materials charged to the direct cost but not consumed for the works, whether serviceable or unserviceable or scrap or surplus shall be handed over to NTPC or disposed off in consultation with NTPC and necessary credit shall be given to NTPC.

At the end of each month from the date of award of contract, PMC/PMEC shall submit a statement of accounts in formats to be approved by NTPC, setting forth therein all costs incurred by them during that month for procurement of materials and execution of work. Along with the above statements, PMC/PMEC shall also submit the invoice for fee. The fees shall be released by NTPC upon certification by Engineer-in-charge.

From every invoice/bill of PMC/PMEC, claiming fees NTPC shall withhold 10% of the amount of fees claimed as Retention Money. This retention money shall become due and payable to the PMC/PMEC on the expiry of 15 months after completion of works at site in all respects (including removal of construction sheds etc.) and after obtaining the completion certificate from NTPC’s Engineer-in-charge. However, if PMC desires, retention money shall be released on half-yearly basis against submission of a bank guarantee of equivalent amount as per the format prescribed by NTPC valid till 15 months beyond completion of entire works under the contract.

All the statements of accounts and invoice / bills shall be submitted by the PMC in ‘triplicate’ to the respective Engineer-in-charge at site and same shall be supported by relevant documents/vouchers etc.

RECORD OF ACCOUNTS

PMC/PMEC shall maintain regular records and accounts of all expenses incurred by him with respect to the direct cost of works under award. All these accounts shall be maintained in formats acceptable to NTPC and shall be subject to inspection and admittance by the engineer-in-charge and his duly appointed finance representatives. PMC/PMEC shall depute their own internal auditors from their head office to audit these accounts, at their own expenses, at regular intervals of time and shall also arrange for audit by the statutory auditing authorities.

On successful completion of work at the site and on physical handing over of the Railway Siding System to NTPC, PMC/PMEC shall prepare and submit to NTPC the closing accounts duly approved by NTPC and other concerned authorities.

Metro Rail connectivity to Hyderabad airport to take shape soon

HMRL proposing plans to reduce congestion by increasing the speed of metro trains and adding short-loop trips with extra trains.

HYDERABAD: HYDERABAD:  City commuters would soon get a 62-km-long metro route that would connect different parts of the city with Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) if the State government approves the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Phase II submitted by the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited. However, the Old City has not yet found a spot in the proposed Phase II project.

The Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) has also been proposing plans to reduce congestion by increasing the speed of metro trains and adding short-loop trips with extra trains. The HMRL also wants to make travel outside the metro women-friendly, and therefore would soon launch free lounges near metro stations.

Speaking to mediapersons here on Tuesday, HMRL managing director NVS Reddy said, “The Hyderabad Metro is recording over four lakh passenger trips every day. As many as 1,000 trips are completed by 55 of the three coached trains. If the government approves the DPR that has been submitted to it, then three lines will be a part of this phase.”

Short-looped trains to be added

Elaborating on Phase II work, Reddy said,“The first line will connect Raidurg station with RGIA via Nanakramguda. This will be a 31 km stretch. The second line will connect Miyapur to BHEL via Mehdipatnam and Hafeezpet. This stretch will be close to 26 km. The last line will be a 5 km stretch connecting Nagole to LB Nagar.”

Regarding the much-requested Metro line to cover Old City, the MD chose to stay tight-lipped. “The Chief Minister definitely wants to connect the Old City with Metro. However, we are yet to figure out the route as there are religious structures on the route that is making this a sensitive matter,” he said.

On the rising congestion in Metro trains, Reddy said, “We have noticed that the station from Ameerpet to Raidurg has the heaviest congestion. Therefore, we will increase the speed of the trains beyond Jubilee Hills Road No 5 station. As the route has multiple curves, we have sought permission from the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS) for the same, which we should get soon. The speed will be increased by the end of August this year and we will also add short-loop trains.”

When asked about the HMRL using space on the sidewalks for building commercial kiosks near Hitec City Metro station, Reddy said, “The sidewalks were built by the HMRL in the first place. We are building free lounges so that encroachment of the sidewalks does not happen. We will soon inaugurate these free lounges. This will be a place for people to rest and use facilities like WiFi. We are creating this especially for women, to make travel safe for them in the city.”

Demand for Nagole-LB Nagar-Karmanghat-Balapur-Pahadi Shareef-RGIA Airport gaining momendum

While the on going talks and proposals for Metro Rail line extension from Raidurg to Shamshabad are in the stages of approvals, there is also a persistent demand that Metro Rail line from Nagole needs to be extended to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport via LB Nagar-Karmanghat-Balapur-Pahadi Shareef. There is a good justification for this demand since the traffic on this route towards Airport had gone up in the recent past via Nagole/LB Nagar/Balapur, with more than 1800 Cabs plying to Airport on daily basis. Ola and Uber operators confirmed that the demand is increasing at the rate of 18% every month on these routes.

Nagole-RGIA Metro Rail line Sadhana Samithi was recently formed to fight for the cause of achieving Metro Rail to Airport with more than 28,000 members registering for the demand of new Metro Rail line to Airport from Nagole via. LB Nagar-Balapur. In fact, in the recent past, the population influx towards Nagole, LB Nagar, Karmanghat, Balapur, Badangpet and beyond have drastically seen upward trend and the real estate business in these localities have picked up sharply with heavy demand. Apart from the same, it is also pertinent to mention that more than 1,28,000 passengers travel to Andhra Pradesh from L.B.Nagar on daily basis.

Need to see whether the concerned authorities will take stock of the demand and call for the feasibility study, alignment design and detailed project report for the same for the financial modelling of the metro rail on this stretch.

109-year-old Nanpara-Mailani Railway line in UP to shut down

This is being done after a high court order on the conservation of wild animals and the forest. The 171-km rail route between Nanpara and Mailani will be closed after the Lakhimpur-Mailani broad gauge route is opened later this month.

LAKHIMPUR: The 109-year-old railway line that passes through the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is going to be shut down, said a railway official.

The 171-km rail route between Nanpara and Mailani that takes passengers through the forests and agricultural fields will be closed after the Lakhimpur-Mailani broad gauge route is opened later this month.

This is being done after a high court order on the conservation of wild animals and the forest. The railways are now planning to conserve the meter gauge line as a heritage one. “We may start a toy train for Dudhwa visitors — one that will not harm the animals,” said an official.

Sanjay Pathak, director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, said that in the past 20 years more than 100 animals had been killed in the train accidents. These include spotted deer, tigers, elephants, crocodiles, rhinos and sloth bears.

Meanwhile, more than 30 lakh people living in hundreds of cluster villages between Nanpara and Mailani will be affected by the shutting of the rail section.

For these villagers, the railway line is their only lifeline that connects them to the outside world.

North Eastern Railway chief public relations officer (CPRO) Pankaj Singh said that the route through Dudhwa was completed in parts.

“The Gonda-Mailani rail route via Bahraich was inaugurated in 1911. Before that, the Mailani-Sharda section was completed in 1892. The Sharda-Sohela section and the Sohela-Sonaripur section were completed in 1894. Nanpara-Mihinpurwa route was completed in 1896 and Mihinpurwa-Katarnia Ghat route was completed in 1898.

“Thereafter, Sonaripur-Kodiyalaghat was completed in 1911, but the Katarnia Ghat and Kodiayala Ghat section was completed after 1943. Before that, railways used to provide a ferry service between the two Ghats,” said Singh.

Sivok-Rangpo Rail Project: Locals angry with Railway line construction work

SILIGURI: The construction work of the railway line at Sivok-Rangpo by the Railway Department under the Sivok-Rangpo rail project has commenced. However, the railway project has angered some local NGOs along with the local people of Gram Panchayat 1 and 2 of the Kalimpong block.

It has been alleged that trees and soil are being removed illegally under the project, in which, the GTA administration is involved along with the Central and the State Government. The locals and the members of the NGOs have alleged that the railway is conducting the construction work by violating the rules of the forest department. To stop the construction work of the Railways, a complaint has been lodged at the Kolkata High Court Circuit Bench by the locals and the NGOs.

It has been reported that the residents of 24 villages have been facing problems due to the construction work of the railways. The locals believe that the railway is conducting such works to remove the local people from the area. The local people have demanded that the Railway Department should conduct its work under the rules of the Forest Department rules so that the common people face no problem. The complaint lodged at the Kolkata Circuit Bench is to be heard on March 2. The locals are hoping that the court will give a verdict in this regard then.

Jiribam-Tupal-Imphal Rail line – Environmental Activists takes the Ejei River case to the NGT

As a Railway Line grows, a River in Manipur is fighting for Survival.

IMPHAL: Over the last eight years, 44-year-old Pamei Tingenlung has witnessed the gradual depletion of a variety of fish in the Ejei river that flows through his place of birth: Longjang village in west Manipur’s Noney district.

Ejei – also spelt ‘Ijei’ and ‘Ijai’ – is one of the main tributaries of the Irang, which flows into the Naga-inhabited Senapati, Tamenglong and Noney districts of Manipur. It eventually joins the Barak river in the south.

The Ejei is a source of life and livelihood for the 1.4 lakh inhabitants of Noney, Rangkhung, Luangchum, Taobam, Makhuam, Nungtex, Khumji, Tupul and Namdonjang villages in Noney district. Residents in these villages largely belong to the Zeliangrong Naga tribe, constitutionally recognised as one of the Scheduled Tribes entitled to benefits of reservation, and special protection of private and community land under Sixth Schedule of the Indian constitution. However, land acquisition under national interest remains exempted from these protections.

As part of the Central government’s Act East Policy, the first broad gauge railway line in Manipur for freight and passenger transport – through a total length of 111 km – will connect India’s Northeast to ASEAN countries. The construction of tunnels and bridges began in 2012; this brought in construction companies, their heavy machinery that began excavations, and the constant sound of concrete construction work in these otherwise sleepy hills.

This heightened activity has polluted the Ejei and has severely affected livelihood of communities that depend on it. Tingenlung has been organising the villagers to protest against this ecological loss, and holding the North East Frontier Railways (NFR) accountable for this. “Species of tasty fish like Khaschun (a family of the carp Rohu), KhanuaKhagwa and Tapampui have just disappeared,” Tingenlung said.

In the first phase of the project, the upcoming 111-km-long railway line will originate from Jiribam (Tamenglong district) and go on eastward up to Tupul (Noney district). In the second phase, it will wind further east into the valley towards the capital city of Imphal.

Land for the project was acquired without any environmental impact assessment (EIA): quoting a 2006 EIA notification, the deputy conservator of forests, western forests division-Tamenglong had noted in April 2014 that the EIA was not a necessity. This was despite a notification from the Ministry of Environment and Forests in September 2006 which mandated environmental clearance for new projects.

Still, raising awareness and bringing people together to make demands for environmental restoration has not been easy for Tingenlung. Although an Ejei River Development Committee was formed by a few concerned citizens from 10 adjoining villages in 2015, their meeting place in Noney town looked deserted as of November 2018.

Chamrei Kamei, the chairperson of the Ejei River Development Committee and secretary of the Noney Bazar Board (a consumer welfare regulatory body along Ejei river settlements), attributes this inability to mobilise to the tussle among inhabitants of the affected villages over land disputes and fair compensation for the lands that had been acquired for the railway project.

The project’s progress has been intermittent; it was derailed several times by frequent curfews called by insurgent groups and civil society organisations, and economic blockades.

Authorities deny responsibility

Tingenlung and Kamei raised the issue of increasing water pollution with the construction companies, the Manipur State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) and the NFR. When they were met with silence, they turned to the Eastern Zone (Kolkata) bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in February 2017 and filed a case against the NFR, the Ministry of Railways, the Municipal Corporation of Imphal, the MSPCB, the Manipur government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). In the petition, they annexed photographs from Duidai Pangthak and Khiangthuak villages, where waste water discharge from the construction sites flowed into freshwater streams.

In the petition, they contended that the Ejei was undergoing “severe environmental and ecological damage due to the illegal discharge of dangerous untreated effluents and pollutants”. This, they alleged in the petition, violated the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981, and the Code of Practice for Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) Plants.

Kamei claimed that the Ejei was once so pure that it was fit for drinking. Their petition mentions that chemicals are mixed with cement for the construction of the tunnels, and the waste for this flows right into the freshwater streams.

“All the streams, rivulets and paddy fields have been polluted and agricultural yield has gone down,” Kamei says. Data on district-wise area and production from Manipur’s Agriculture Department shows the total paddy yield (the main crop grown primarily for self sustenance) in Tamenglong and Noney districts had dropped to 1.08 metric tonnes per hectare in 2017-18, from 1.51 metric tonnes per hectare in 2016-17.

However, the MSPCB, NFR and the Ministry of Railways have denied the allegations. The MSPCB stated in an affidavit that it regularly monitors the water quality of the Ejei at its Water Quality Monitoring Station near Noney Bazaar. In response to a RTI query filed by Tingenlung previously, the MSPCB did not have information about air pollution due to the operation of RMC plants.

According to one test carried out in April 2016, the MSPCB found that the water quality was “within Indian standard”: the water turbidity was recorded at 100 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Unit) upstream and 3.4 NTU downstream. However, as per the 1993 Indian Standard Specifications for Drinking Water, the desirable limit for turbidity was at 10 NTU, which could be relaxed up to 25 NTU.

The difference in the water turbidity upstream and downstream, as MSPCB stated in response to Tingenlung’s RTI query, was because it did not have any information on water treatment plants near the RMC plants close to the tunnel construction. Moreover, it noted that it was the “responsibility of the construction agencies to dispose off the cement and concrete bags as per rules”.

In 2017, when MSPCB failed to submit a response to the NGT based on the allegations of the petition, Judge S.P. Wangdi explicitly directed the MSPCB to conduct an inspection by collecting “samples of water from different stretches before and after the affected portion, at least three times, at an interval of three days”. MSPCB was also asked to ensure the presence of the petitioners at the time of the sample collection.

The inspection was conducted on three days, in three different areas, in early 2018. But each of the three times, the MSPCB  collected samples only once each day, instead of three different times of the day. J. Hillson Angam, who works at the Manipur chapter of the non-profit Human Rights Law Network, had joined Tingenlung and members of the MSPCB during a field inspection on February 13, 2018 at the railway construction site along the Ejei near Noney town.

The water quality monitoring report stated that “hazardous liquid waste from the railways construction site is simply discharged into the river through a canal laid on both sides of the tunnel”. The highest turbidity was recorded at 162 in the central stretch of the river, and the lowest at 42 upstream at Noney Bazaar.

Similarly, the Ministry of Railways responded that there was very little quantity of waste water, and that is filtered in the course of the flow. Their affidavit stated: “Generally all tunnel work sites are more than 1 km away from Ejei river [….] the main cause of pollution of river is due to rain/cut and erosion of hill soil which met in to the river during the rainy season (sic).”

Disturbance to local ecology

The construction has also had more visible consequences. In July 2018, Rhema Public Academy in the town of Khumji in Noney district was overrun by loose soil sediments that had flowed into a stream, from the tunnel. “Our campus, where 200 students are also residing, was severely flooded. We had to shut for a week,” Lily Phaomei, principal and founder of the school, said.

That same month, the school sent a letter to Onycon T-23 B, one the companies contracted by the railways for the construction of the tunnel. The school threatened to agitate if the company failed to take any action: Phaomei alleged that the school property had been destroyed consecutively for three years previously. However, despite an on-site inspection by the deputy commissioner of Noney district and engineers from Onycon, Phaomei said no remedial steps had been taken.

“We spent Rs 4 lakh building a 100-feet-long and nine-feet-tall concrete wall to secure our campus. But even that was destroyed in October 2018. Onycon says it is out of their jurisdiction. But it is an indirect effect of their construction work,” said Lani Phaomei, Lily’s husband, who runs the school with her. He added that they have also not received any relief funds from the Noney district collector.

A geotechnical assessment of landslides along the Jiribam-Imphal Broad Gauge Line, between Barak and Tupul, was undertaken by the Geological Survey of India, North East Region. In their report, they noted: “The unauthorised and unscientific dumping of excavated earth and disposal of chemical and solid wastes must be strictly checked in the proximity of the villages to avoid loss of property and life including aquatic life in future.”

The assessment report further stated that uncontrolled sudden increase in the discharge of major rivers – including Ejei – had caused severe erosion of the rivers and their tributaries, which would pose a danger to nearby villages. “Change in existing land use, uncontrolled cutting and excavation of critical slopes during construction of new approach road, particularly close to habituation, makes the area vulnerable to landslides.”

Unchecked human toll

Fishing and cultivation along the river banks is nearly absent in the villages along the Ejei. Most people in the region have had to move away from their main source of livelihood – fishing – and have instead taken up masonry or started small businesses.

On the other hand, Marangjing resident Guangchalung Gangmei allege that at least 10 cows died from drinking the river water and several people have fallen sick. Kamei added that residents of Noney town, who do their laundry and bathe in the river, complain of rashes. Edwin Golmei, the chief medical officer at Noney district, confirmed that several residents from nearby villages had reported skin rashes because of their contact with water from the river. “Most of the complaints were brought to us at the medical camp we had organised in 2018,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tingenlung and Kamei’s petition in the NGT has not been heard after October 2017. The NFR, the Railways, MSPCB, Manipur Directorate of Environment and MOEFCC had each requested for more time to file their responses. The scheduled hearing in December 2017 did not take place since the vacancy for judges in the Eastern bench had not been filled.

Despite peoples effort to hold the government accountable, the damage caused by the project has received very little attention from the local and national news media. Instead, much of the local media’s focus has been on the construction of bridge 164, which, at a proposed height of 141 metres, is touted to be the tallest girder bridge in the world and a potential tourist attraction.

In the three years since Tingenlung took on the fight to save the river of his childhood, he relocated to Imphal. He hopes that the NGT case is transferred to the principal bench in New Delhi. Tingelung’s lawyer Aindreela Chakraborty says that she had been struggling – with no success – to get the Kolkata bench to schedule a hearing via video conferencing with the principal bench in New Delhi, which hears zonal cases on an ad hoc basis.

Today, with no Eastern bench appointed and the case marked “disposed” on the NGT’s website, the last door for environmental accountability and justice certainly appears to be shut for the Ejei river.

Citizens dissent over poor compensation and loss of crops

The banana farms were gone. And so were the paddy fields. And to the residents of Marangjing in west Manipur’s Noney district, this was an irreparable cost that had come in the process of wanting development – a necessary railway project. So one afternoon last September, Marangjing residents made their way through a muddy path to protest at the site of the broad gauge line, which had been under construction for nearly a decade.

Since 2017, the residents have protested against the poor compensation that they have received from the North East Frontier Railways (NFR), which is constructing the railway line, for their farmland and their subsequent displacement from their homes. In March 2018, they burnt an effigy of Tamenglong district deputy commissioner Armstrong Pame in the village for his alleged role in siphoning the compensation money to two former residents of the village, who claim to be private owners of community-owned land.

Pame had shot to fame in 2012 when he raised Rs 40 lakh via Facebook to build a 100-km road in Tamenglong, to connect Assam and Manipur. However, following protests against him in Marangjing, Pame was transferred out. He returned to his office in Tamenglong in 2019, drawing the ire of Marangjing residents once again, as they still await proper compensation for the land they have lost, and with it, their traditional livelihood.

Like Marangjing, several families in the villages of Kambiron, Noney and Khumji in Manipur’s Noney district have been displaced without any resettlement or rehabilitation packages. While some in Maranging got entangled in litigation over competing claims in privately-owned versus community-owned land, others have gone to court over allegations of corruption in granting compensatory funds. Local livelihoods have taken a severe beating with the loss of arable land.

Noney was carved out as a new district from Tamenglong only in 2016, hence the matter of land acquisition and compensation continues to be handled by Pame. In 2018, the railway project was interrupted for a whole month due to protests. Such delays have been interrupting the progress of the northeast India’s third longest and most ambitious broad gauge railway line, construction of which has also overlooked the forest and environment laws.

As part of the Central government’s ‘Act East’ policy, the broad gauge railway line for freight and passenger transport would pass through 46 tunnels, and 22 major and 129 minor bridges. In its first phase, the broad gauge line in Manipur starts from Jiribam in Tamenglong district (connecting with Silchar in Assam), running 84 km east till Tupul in Noney district. In the second phase the line will extend another 27 km east to the state capital of Imphal. In the third phase, the line will run eastward to Moreh in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district, eventually going into Tamu in Myanmar, as a part of the Trans Asian Railway network to connect South Asia with Southeast Asia.

Even though connectivity has expanded significantly across the country, the transportation network remains scant in the northeast region. In the late 1990s, a project to connect India’s mainland with the northeast was conceived; former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone in 2004. Subsequently, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government has been aggressively pursuing its ‘vikaas’ agenda for northeast India. At a diaspora event in Bangkok in November 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that plans were on to establish “seamless connectivity between Thailand, Myanmar and India’s Northeast”.

Violations in the NFR rail construction

In November 2018, even though the BJP-led government in Manipur announced 2020 as the deadline for the completion of the project within the state, it blamed violent interruptions by armed groups for the delay in the construction work. In January 2020, Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh told reporters that even though the construction was only “half-complete”, the railway track would reach Kaimai in Tamenglong district before April 2020, and Imphal by 2022.

As per NFR’s quarterly report in November 2019, the anticipated cost of the project is currently pegged at Rs 12,524 crore, which has more than doubled in five years; an additional Rs 400 crore has been requested from the Ministry of Railways to meet the targets.

Moreover, government documents show that the construction of the railway line began in 2010 without forest clearance, even though it is required under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had issued a notification in September 2006 deeming environmental clearance necessary for construction of new projects or expansion of existing projects. But the deputy conservator of forests of the western forests division-Tamenglong noted in April 2014 that such a clearance was not required.

In 2014, Tamenglong’s district collector had formed a committee comprising officials from several departments to collect data for initiating the acquisition of 137.09 acres of land in three villages, as per the amended Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013. A few months later, the revenue department issued a notification, specifying the needs to acquire more land for the project and conduct a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study – a requirement under the 2013 Land Acquisition Act.

The SIA report that was submitted to the district commissioner in 2015 only makes reference to the  acquired land and standing crops, trees and buildings, missing crucial details of loss of livelihood and rehabilitation. Even though a date for a public hearing was advertised in the local newspapers, it did not take place.

In July 2016, the district commissioner’s office issued a certificate stating that “the scheme of rehabilitation and resettlement under the 2013 Act is not applicable and therefore, may be exempted in this particular sense of land acquisition”. No explanation for the exemption was offered.

In June 2019, when the writer emailed Pame, he replied, “It was not during my period, so I don’t have any response.” His office did not respond to right to information applications seeking certified copies of sale deeds of private and community land and compensation beneficiaries list in the affected villages of Marangjing, Kambiron, Khumji and Noney.

In Khumji, where the Tupul train station is being built, 29 families were displaced out of their homes in 2015 immediately after the compensation was paid. However, the Manipur government submitted claims that no families were displaced, hence, formulated no plan for rehabilitation of the families. In a consent of undertaking that was signed in June 2014 by six affected villages and land owners, the district forest official had said that 23 houses at Khumji village will be affected by the project.

“The first land survey was conducted in 1998 and a resurvey done in 2009 but the compensation was only given in 2015,” said K. Athuipou , the chairman (modern title for chieftain) of Khumji-2 village. He added  that “the compensation ranged from seventy thousand rupees to five lakhs”. Poupanlung Kamei, who lost about 200×150 square feet of land after he and his family were displaced from Khumji-2, said that they had not been compensated sufficiently. He said that it took time and money to rebuild their lives and the compensation money was just not enough.

“Then, another 10-20% for the Lambu (an old system from the colonial times, when a runner or representative of a village clan negotiated with the administration) and 20-30% cut for underground groups in the area,” he added. Prominent among them are the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), Zeliangrong United Front, Kuki Revolutionary Army and Kuki National Front.

Moreover, laws are not uniform across districts in Manipur, where land ownership widely differs from the valley and the hill districts, and a diversity of tribes and sub-tribes have their own customary laws and practices. This further complicates the process of consultation for land acquisition, and subsequent compensation and rehabilitation, for the villages affected by the project.

Complex land ownership patterns and irregular compensation

Most of Manipur is home to constitutionally-recognised Scheduled Tribes, but the state is not covered by the Sixth Schedule of the Indian constitution. The Sixth Schedule safeguards the rights of tribal populations through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC), which represent certain districts with varying degrees of autonomy, in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. It provides special provisions, including the sale and purchase of land limited to the residing communities native to the place.

However, the hill districts of Manipur – through which the railway line will pass – are precariously positioned because the land comes under under the 1971 Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act passed in parliament, which led to the insertion of Article 371C as a constitutional safeguard. This article essentially ensures that the state governor accommodates the interests of the hill tribal areas in the day-to-day administration of the state. Unlike the Sixth Schedule, the hill districts have ‘Hill Areas Committees’ (HAC), which are referred to as ADCs.

Kham Khan Suan Hausing, a political science professor at the University of Hyderabad, however contends that the Fifth Schedule provision in Manipur’s hill districts is actually a misnomer. “The original Act under which these councils have been made does not mention ‘autonomous’ and it’s a recent coinage by the government, even though the kind of constitutional provisions that the HACs enjoy is totally different from the Sixth Schedule ADCs,” he said.

“Moreover,” Hausing added, the combination of disparate legal and institutional structures in the hill districts of Manipur leave them with a kind of protection on land and resources which is at best described as ‘tenuous’.

Among the Rongmeis – a Naga tribe that predominantly lives in Noney and Tamenglong districts – community-owned land is treated as village ‘commons’ for structures like schools and churches. The system of village chieftainship is key here as most of the private land is owned by the village’s ancestral owner called Khunbu. The village chief, called Khullakpa, is considered the founding member of the village and holds the deed for the community land.

“Landless farmers cultivate and take the entire produce for themselves. They are not paid wages for their labour, as is normally seen in plain areas,” says Gailinpou Gonmei, a small business owner in Marangjing. Farmers working on the land would pay ancestral land owners two tins of the yield (approximately 10 kg rice) every seven years, as a token. In effect, land owners do not derive any profit because the traditional system accommodated the landless. The Khunbu and Khullakpa bear the social responsibility of maintaining such a system to provide for the residents of the village.

However, the compensation money order for Marangjing village offers a different explanation. The order says that although the traditional land ownership system is legally recognised, “the provision of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, 1960 is not applicable to the Hill areas of Manipur including Tamenglong district”. No reasons were given alongside this explanation. The claim of land ownership by the community was not accepted and so the compensation was made only to individual land owners.

As a result of that, in 2014 Gaimanlung Gangmei, a farmer in Marangjing, received Rs 2.4 lakh as compensation from the Manipur government when he and his family were displaced from their 5,000 square feet house. He said that he had lost three banana farms measuring about 1.5 acres after the project acquired it from Houngamlung Gangmei and Gaigonglung – both were the Khunbu of the village. “I used to earn as much as Rs 50,000 every year from selling my produce. I was expecting about Rs 2 lakh in compensation for my crops. But all Houngamlung gave me was Rs 3,000 as a ‘consolation gift’ for the standing crops during Christmas, in 2014,” he said.

Gaimanlung now lives in a 600-square-feet house that he built alongside a row of houses in which 90 other displaced farmers live. They have been pushed to take up masonry.

As per court documents, the now deceased Houngamlung Gangmei received nearly Rs 1.4 crore from the state government for 95.682 acres of land in 2011. He died in 2016 after a year of battling liver cancer. His wife Namdunlu Gangmei said that contrary to the perception of everyone in Marangjing, the family did not earn a profit. “Firstly, we didn’t get a significant amount. Secondly, we had to give nearly 5% to underground groups, as well as compensation to the farmers for their standing crops on the land.”

In a case filed in 2011 in the civil court of Tamenglong, Houngamlung was one of the defendants along with Thuankulung Gangmei against the Gondalmei clan in Marangjing who claimed the ancestral titles of Khunbu and Khullakpa of the village. As per court records, the plaintiff, the Gondalmeis, argued that “there’s no separate individual land ownership system in the village”, and that defendants of other clans were only allowed to stay by their ancestors. However, Houngamlung won the title suit in 2012.

After the court verdict, Namdunlu said that allegations of her family claiming extra land emerged and the village residents demanded Rs 40 lakh as compensation from them. Such land disputes have strained the social fabric of the community.

‘Temporary’ occupation of land

Over the years, the number of construction firms associated with the railway project has gone up to nine. In Kambiron, another village in Noney district, 260 families have been affected by the construction of a tunnel and a railway station. Residents allege that Bhartiya Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd, one of the contractors hired by NFR to build two tunnels, has encroached upon their farmland to build a six-km approach road to reach the construction site from the highway, NH-37.

Documents show that approximately 211 acres of land in Kambiron were acquired by NFR in 2012 for the railway project, for which over Rs 4.14 crore was paid in compensation. An additional 5.18 acres were acquired in 2018.

While that part of the farmland, upon which the approach road was constructed, has not been formally acquired, Gainsing Liangmei, a social activist in Kambiron, said that from 2015 onwards, Bharatiya Infrastructure had begun to pay an annual rent of Rs 15,000 per km to 160 land owners.

According to Gainsing, the companies’ rationale for not acquiring the land is that it acts as an inter-village road. He argued that the locals have never felt the need for such a road.

The 2013 Land Acquisition Act permits “temporary occupation and use of any waste or arable land needed for public purpose” for a period that shall not exceed “more than three years from the commencement of occupation”. The Act stipulates that such compensation may be paid as a gross sum or periodically.

Gainsing pointed that even though 160 land owners have been receiving the rent from Bharatiya Infrastructure, they have lost their plantations of orange, banana, betelnut and timber, as well as land where they would cultivate vegetables and paddy for sustenance.

Moreover, documents obtained under the RTI Act showed that a reassessment of the value of the land acquired led to a lesser compensation being rewarded in 2019. In Kambiron, the value of the 5.18 acres of land that was acquired in mid-2018 was assessed to be close to Rs 4.6 crore. Within less than a year, its value was found to have depreciated to Rs 3.34 crore, as assessed by a new district collector. In this new assessment, the land rate was valued at Rs 10 per square feet, in reference to a 2007 government order. This was in contrast to a subsequent government order of 2010 wherein the same land was valued at Rs 23 per square feet.

Further documents revealed that Rs 1.2 lakh was paid by NFR to the Manipur state director of the Social Environment Unit in 2015 to conduct an SIA for the construction of the tunnel. However, it is not clear whether or not an SIA was done. When reached out to the NFR asking about the SIA report, it couldn’t confirm whether an SIA was done.

Kambiron village chairman Dinrei Gangmei, who heads the Railway Affected Villages Association, said that they had submitted memorandums to the district commissioner of Tamenglong and the general manager of NFR, for the resettlement of villages. “If we don’t hear back soon, we may have to forcibly halt the construction work,” he said. The Association has been campaigning in 24 villages across Noney district to throw light on the impact of the railways, while also working towards securing alternative means of livelihood.

Despite the promise of employment, local residents have gained only short-term employment from the construction companies. An assessment report by Recognise Rise and Empower Association revealed that the railways brought in 10-20 short term jobs per village, whose average population is 2,500. These jobs included sourcing and transporting locally available raw materials like stones and timber, and safeguarding construction sites at night in areas like Noney, which is known for the presence of insurgent groups.

The 2007 report on the ‘Initial Assessment of Trans Asian Railway in Manipur’ by the Imphal-based non-profit Forum for Indigenous Perspectives and Action had projected that technical jobs for the railway project were likely to be sourced primarily from outside.

An engineer working in one of the private companies who did not want to be identified said that the contractors arranged to hire labourers from West Bengal, Assam and the Hindi heartland. “The resources required are mostly semi-skilled or technically skilled, which are readily available with the contractors handling these projects,” he said.

Moreover, the engineer added, language becomes a major barrier for the locals to be employed in the core construction work. “The communication with the site engineers and managers happens in Hindi, which the locals are not fluent in.”

Dinrei eyes the future of his community with fear.

New Jiribam-Imphal Rail line project set for completion soon in Northeast India

The rail line project is being developed at a cost of Rs 12,524 crore and it is targeted for completion in March 2022.

LUMDING: Railways network in North-East region set for a massive boost with Jiribam-Imphal Rail Line project! Recently, VK Yadav, Chairman Railway Board inspected the progress of the upcoming 110-km long Jiribam-Imphal railway line project. The crucial infrastructure project will provide railway connectivity to Imphal, the capital of Manipur and boost the state’s economy. According to details shared by the Railway Ministry, the rail line project is being developed at a cost of Rs 12,524 crore and it is targeted for completion in March 2022. The rail line includes 62 km of tunnels and as many as 139 bridges!

A few days ago, it was reported that the last Open Web Girder of Bridge Number 44 was launched successfully on 14 February 2020, which is the first-ever over 100 metres tall Pier Bridge of Jiribam-Imphal new line on Indian Railways network. The rail line will connect the state of Manipur to the rest of the country through the Indian Railways network. The rail line, which has been declared as a national project was taken up in 2008.

A part of the Jiribam-Imphal railway line, bridge number 164 of the project will be the tallest girder railway bridge of the Indian Railways network. The girder bridge twill have a pier height almost twice as high as Qutub Minar- 141 metres. Also, three IITs of the country – Roorkee, Guwahati, and Kanpur are associated with the Jiribam-Imphal rail line project in terms of technical support and proof-checking of designs to make the bridge sustainable as well as cost-efficient.

Meanwhile, Railway Board Chairman also inspected the 51.38 km long Bairabi-Sairang new rail line project. The project is being executed at a cost of around Rs 5,021.45 crore. Once completed, the rail line will provide Indian Railways connectivity as well as boost the economy of Mizoram. Yadav also inspected Tunnel Number 20.

New Bairabi-Sairang Rail line project all set to give a massive boost to Rail connectivity in the NE

Bairabi-Sairang new rail line will link Mizoram on Rail network up to Bairabi railway station, which is the gateway to the state.

AIZAWL: Bairabi-Sairang new rail line project in North-East: Indian Railways is implementing various projects to improve its network across North-East India! One of the major railway projects – Bairabi-Sairang new rail line project is all set to give a massive boost to the rail connectivity in the region, as it will connect Mizoram to Indian Railways network up to Bairabi railway station, which is the gateway to the state. Recently, Railway Board Chairman, Vinod Kumar Yadav visited the site and inspected the 51.38 km long Bairabi-Sairang new rail line project. He also inspected tunnel number 20. Once completed, the project will provide rail connectivity and boost the economy of the state.

According to details shared by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone, the Government had sanctioned the new line from Bairabi to Sairang, to connect the capital city of Mizoram – Aizawl. The rail line has been declared as a national project and it is being monitored closely by Prime Minister’s Office.

The new rail line project includes as many as 32 underground tunnels, 55 major bridges, 87 minor bridges, 16 cut and cover tunnels, 5 Road Under Bridges (RUB) and 5 Road Over Bridges (ROB). A whopping amount of Rs 5,021.45 crore is being invested on this project, out of which Rs 3,265 crore has already been spent. The line will cover four railway stations namely Hortoki, Kawnpui, Mualkhang and Sairang stations.

According to NFR, there are as many as six tall bridges whose pier heights are over 70 m, maximum height being 117 m. Being located in seismic zone V, all the structures have been designed by reputed consultants accordingly as well as proof checked by institutions like IIT Guwahati and IIT Kanpur.

Due to poor geology, deep gorges, high hills and prolonged rainfall leaving less working period, the challenges in the construction of this project are immense. Slope stabilisation is another challenge due to alternate band of very weak strata of sand stone, silt and shale.

Also, construction material such as coarse and fine aggregates as well as other quarry products are not available locally so that is being transported from other states, as far as from Pakur in Jharkhand. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Railways, FCI partnership for storage space for food grains

NEW DELHI: Railways advised all the General Mangers to identify suitable space at all the designated locations to meet the demands of huge storage facilities in anticipation of heavy procurement of food grain by FCI in the upcoming procuring season.

Indian Railways and FCI have partnered to identify storage space within railways to accommodate buffer stocks of food grain.

Accordingly, zonal railways held various meeting with the General Managers of FCI units across the country in the last 3 months and issued instructions to jointly identify the sparable covered and uncovered storage space for stocking of food grain. Joint teams of FCI and Railways surveyed the vacant Railway Sheds and submitted a report so as to be well prepared for the procuring season.

The scope of work shall include systematic maintenance of FCI sidings at FSDs include:

Systematic Track Maintenance carried out round the year as per the practice followed on the Indian Railways and as per the specifications. The track fittings except Rails, Sleepers, Fish plates, Fish bolts, and points & crossings as per actual requirement is to be supplied by the contractor free of charge, for replacement of recoupment.

Emergency Works: Attending to emergency work such as Accidents, Washouts and rectification of damaged track, rerailment of wagons etc. as and when needed.

Special works: Deep Screening of track ballast, Rehabilitation of track, Sleeper Renewal, Rail Renewals, Earth work in formation, Repairs to banks and cuttings, Ballasting, Renewal of points & crossings.

Supply of P.Way Materials: If required by Engineer – In – Charge, the contractor shall arrange supply of following P.Way materials (other than rail), as per IRS specifications and at locations viz. Sleepers and fittings, Fish plates, Fish bolts, Stone Ballast etc.

Supply of extra manpower: If required for specified needs connected with the works of the Railway Siding in case of emergency or otherwise.

Food Corporation of India shall provide all permanent way materials like Rails, Sleepers, Points and Crossings with their fittings required for the works involved of the scope of work free of cost from their store. The contractor will make his own arrangements for drawl of materials from the stores of FCI, transporting to the contractors store and to site for renewals and transporting back the
released materials to FCI stores to be handed over with due accountable.

Through packing of Track shall consist of the following operations in sequence not more of the track on any day being opened put than can be efficiently repacked before closing of the work (for this purpose, the yard stick to be followed 1 & 12 sleepers per man per day. Accordingly the total number of sleepers tackled will be dependent upon the number of gang men present on the day) viz. Opening of road, Examination of rails, sleepers and fastenings, Squaring of sleepers, Slewing of sleepers, Guaging, Packing of sleepers, Repacking of joint sleepers and other inadequately packed sleepers, Boxing of ballast section and tidying, Through packing will be done from one end of a gang length towards the other continuously.

CRRC bags Bangalore Metro Phase-2 project for supply of 216 Coach Rolling Stock

BENGALURU: Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) has awarded a contract to China’s CRRC Corporation Ltd to provide 216 coaches.

BMRCL officials said CRRC’s subsidiary, CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Co Ltd, received the contract to supply rolling stock for Metro’s Phase 2 project. “CRRC is setting up a plant in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh. They have committed to manufacture 34 (204 coaches) out of 36 (216 coaches) train sets in India. The awarded cost is almost Rs 235 crore less than that of L2 (second lowest tender) cost. The supplies will start in the third quarter of 2021,” BMRCL managing director Ajay Seth told TOI.

BMRCL had set deadlines for completion of the upcoming lines: Yelachenahalli-Anjanapura Township in August 2020, Mysuru Road-Kengeri in October 2020, Byappanahalli-Whitefield in August 2021 and Nagasandra-BIEC in January 2022. Standalone lines RV Road-Bommasandra and Gottigere-Nagawara are expected to be ready in November 2021 and June 2024, respectively.

The 216 coaches include 126 coaches (21 six-car trains) for Purple and Green Lines and remaining 90 coaches (15 six-car trains) for Yellow Line (R V Road-Bommasandra). “These coaches are mainly needed in Whitefield and BIEC corridors on Purple and Green Lines” said a senior BMRCL official.

“The 90 coaches procured for the Yellow Line will be Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) enabled coaches”. CBTC-equipped Yellow line’s automation systems will meet GOA4 standards enabling trains to operate without drivers with better frequency.

CRRC also suppled rolling stock to Metro systems in Mumbai, Gurgaon, Navi Mumbai, Kolkata, Noida and Nagpur. In March 2017, BEML received the contract to supply 150 coaches to convert 50 3-coach trains on both the Purple and Green Lines to 6-coach trains.

In fact, L&T, the contractor for the Vellara Junction-Pottery Town Metro stretch, is procuring tunnel boring machines (TBMs), made by China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Corporation Limited. Two TBMs have already reached Chennai port. The other two are in transit and are likely to arrive in the city in March.

This is the second of three rolling stock contracts the BMRCL plans to sign in Phase 2. Details:-

• 1st order – Won by BEML in March 2017 for 150 coaches to convert the Purple Line and Green Line’s 50 3-coach train-sets into 6-coach train-sets.

• 2nd order – Won by CRRC for 216 coaches (this post) for 21 additional 6 coach train-sets on the Purple Line and Green Line, and 15 new 6-coach train-sets for the Yellow Line.

• 3rd order – Tenders / Bids are yet to be invited for the 21.386 km km Pink Line’s rolling stock, most likely for 96 new coaches as disclosed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) in 2017.

This is CRRC’s 7th and largest order for a metro project in India. Recap –

• Mumbai – 16 train-sets of 4 coaches for Line-1

• Gurgaon – 12 train-sets of 3 coaches for Line-1

• Navi Mumbai – 8 train-sets of 3 coaches for Line-1

• Kolkata – 14 train-sets of 8 coaches for Line-1, Line-4 & Line-6

• Noida – 19 train-sets of 4 coaches for Line-1

• Nagpur – 33 train-sets of 3 coaches for Line-1 and Line-2

Earlier in January 2020, CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Co. Ltd declared that it will invest Rs 400 cr in Dholera to set up a Metro Rail Rolling Stocks manufacturing facility. To this effect, an MOU was signed between Dholera Industrial City Development Limited (DICDL) and the CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Co. Ltd during the Vibrant Gujarat 2019 summit in Gandhinagar. DICDL had been in discussion with CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Co. Ltd to understand and assess the business of manufacturing of Metro Rolling Stocks that it manufactures. DICDL and CRRC will work together to identify the availability of land in Dholera SIR for construction and erection facility of CRRC Rolling Stone manufacturing plant related to metro and the association may also be extendable to other allied manufacturing facilities in future, it was announced. The new facility promises to generate employment for 450 people.

Stadler-Siemens consortium to supply Trains and CBTC to Lisboa Metro

PORTUGAL: Metropolitano de Lisboa selected a consortium of Stadler Valencia and Siemens Mobility Unipessoal to provide rolling stock and signalling equipment under contracts worth €114m.

Stadler will supply 14 three-car metro trainsets, while Siemens’ CBTC is to be installed on the Blue, Yellow, and Green lines, replacing legacy equipment dating from the 1970s. This will enable services to be automated in the future. The offer from Siemens and Stadler was chosen ahead of a rival bid from CRRC and Thales.

The contract includes preventive and corrective maintenance of all equipment for a period of three years, which can be extended for another two years after the acceptance of the trains and signalling equipment.

According to the operator, the new rolling stock will increase passenger comfort and accessibility while also providing enhanced communications, security, and video surveillance systems.

The investment programme is intended to sustain the strong growth across the network, which saw a 9% year-on-year increase in ridership in 2018-19.

Key Jharkhand Rail Link lies almost idle as CIL fails to implement peripheral projects

Lack of rapid loading system leaves 1,500-crore Tori-Shivpur rail link under-utilised!

RANCHI: For decades, Coal India Ltd (CIL) officials blamed the Railways for not laying a key rail link in Jharkhand that could help unlock the country’s richest coal reserves. The Railways and Coal sectors had initiated the work in 2005, but the progress remained in paper.

The Narendra Modi government gave it a push. The 44-km Tori-Shivpur electrified double-line on the Dhanbad Division of was completed more than a year ago, at roughly 1,500 crore, to facilitate two mega mines — Magadh and Amrapali — which can together produce up to 100 million tonnes (mt) of coal. But the coal is not moving.

Barely half-a-dozen or fewer rakes, capable of moving 6-7 mt annually, are despatched everyday via this line. This is because state-owned CIL’s subsidiary Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL) failed to ensure the construction of the necessary rapid loading system, which includes a U-shaped loop line connecting the mine head and two mechanised loaders.

What a rapid loader does

The rapid loader ensures that a rake never stops. It branches out of the main track, loaded through silo-operations in 90 minutes flat, and reaches the main track through the loop to head for its destination.

Constructing a rapid loading system encircling barely 20 km of a coalfield might look easier than constructing the Tori-Shivpur rail line that crosses at least half-a-dozen major bridges; but it didn’t happen. A CCL official said the construction was held up for want of forest clearance. According to users, even the 22-km road connecting the railhead with the mine is in bad shape.

A Railway official confirmed that the line is grossly underutilised. According to a 2018 Railway Ministry communique, CIL made a proposal to despatch 80 rakes a day through this line. The existing line capacity is 40 rakes a day. A provision is being created quickly for a third line to step up the carrying capacity of the track.

More key links

The Modi government completed two more key links to ensure the optimal utilisation of domestic reserves. The 53-km single-track Sardega-Barpali-Jharsuguda rail link was rolled out in September 2018 for the evacuation of 20-25 mt of coal annually from the resource-rich Ib Valley area in Odisha.

Per project estimates, the 1,000-crore rail-link was expected to boost production from the Basundhara and Siarmal project areas of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), a Sambalpur-based subsidiary of CIL, by over three times, from 10 mt to 34 mt.

As of December 2019, the line was underutilised with barely six rakes (approximately 8.5 mt) moving daily. This is largely due to a delay in implementing a mega project, with a peak capacity of 75 mt a year, at Siarmal.

On the brighter side, production from Basundhara is fast rising. As of last month, three mines of the project produced 19 mt of fuel, nearly 86 per cent more than the same period last year. The Coal Ministry is pushing a proposal to double the capacity of the Sardega-Barpali-Jharsuguda link.

Third critical project

The third critical rail project, from Kharsia to Dharamjaygarh in Chhattisgarh, which will unlock new areas of the Korba reserves, is half way through. The 44-km line between Kharsia and Korichapar was opened for commercial use last October.

The rail link will help evacuate coal from the vast Mand Raigarh fields. The project is implemented by East Rail Corridor, a special purpose vehicle of CIL’s Bilaspur-based subsidiary South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (64 per cent), the Chhattisgarh government (10 per cent) and IRCON (26 per cent).

Rail Baltica awards contract for new 93.5km-long rail line

Riga, LV: RB Rail has awarded a contract to an association of two companies to construct a new line from as a part of the upcoming Rail Baltica rail project.

The design and design services proposal submitted by the German company Obermeyer Planen + Beraten and the Spanish firm Prointec proved the most economically beneficial.

RB Rail values the contract at €10.77m.

The 93.5km-long rail line will run between Pärnu and the Estonian–Latvian border. It will feature nine railway bridges, 15 road viaducts, seven railway viaducts and eleven ecoducts.

The companies carry out geotechnical investigations, value engineering and master design preparation.

They will also submit the technical design to build the railway track substructure, superstructure and other civil structures.

RB Rail expects the submission of a comprehensive technical design from the two companies in 27 months. Obermeyer Planen + Beratan and Prointec will also supervise the construction of the rail line.

The European Union is funding construction of the rail line in Estonia and will cover 85% of the cost. Estonia will cover the remaining 15%.

RB Rail interim CEO Agnis Driksna said: “We have reached yet another important milestone in Estonia. Once the contract is signed in the upcoming weeks, all 213 kilometres of the Rail Baltica line in Estonia will be in the design process.

“In addition to the steady progress with the main line, the first construction activity in Estonia has started with several more to follow throughout the year. Importantly, design of the international Rail Baltica passenger terminals in Tallinn and Pärnu has also been started.”

In November, Estonia officially began works to build its portion of the upcoming Rail Baltica.

Serbia to sign MoU on Belgrade-Bar rail line revamp with RZD in April

BELGRADE – Serbia will sign a memorandum of understanding with Russian railway infrastructure engineering company RZD International for the reconstruction of a section of the railroad linking Belgrade to the Montenegrin port of Bar in April, infrastructure minister Zorana Mihajlovic has said.

The MoU for the overhaul of the Valjevo-Vrbnica section of the railway line will be signed during the visit of the RZD director general to Serbia in April when the company will start the construction of an Integrated Traffic Control Center (ITTC) in the country, Mihajlovic said in a statement on Thursday after a meeting with the deputy director general of the Russian group, Sergey Pavlov, in Belgrade.

“In addition to current projects, today we also discussed new activities, first of all the Bar railway line and the dispatch center. We have 1,500 workers at construction sites in Serbia and we are happy to share our knowledge and experience with our Serbian colleagues,” Pavlov said.

In January 2019, Serbia’s state-owned railway infrastructure company Infrastruktura Zeleznice Srbije signed a 230 million euro ($249.4 million) agreement with RZD International for expansion and modernisation of the railway network.

The deal between Infrastruktura Zeleznice Srbije and the Russian company envisages the design and implementation of three projects – electrification of the Stara Pazova – Novi Sad railway section, ITTC construction, as well as continuing with the overhaul of the Belgrade-Bar railway.

BPCL to appoint Consultant for Feasibility Study and DPR for private Rail Siding to BPCL Oil Depot at Paradip

PARADIP: As the demand for Petroleum Products in India grows steadily, Petroleum pipeline, Private Railway line and Private Railway siding networks play a key role in placing these products in environment friendly manner across the country, in large volume, safely and economically. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL)  is planning to construct a private Railway Siding for its BPCL Oil Depot at Paradip. To this effect, BPCL had floated a tender for consultancy services for preparation of Feasibility Study Report and Detailed Project Report with Financial Modelling, for construction of a private Railway Siding for BPCL Oil Depot at Paradip.

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is a fortune 500 oil refining, exploration and marketing PSU with Navratna status. BPCL has multiple refinery units in Mumbai, Kochi, Numaligarh and Bina. Bharat Petroleum’s Mumbai Refinery is one of the most versatile Refineries in India. With successful implementation of various projects and de-bottlenecking, Refineries currently process about 12 Million Metric Tons of crude oil per annum.

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., a major Public Sector Oil Company under overall administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Govt. of India, owns a petroleum oil depot at Sambalpur & Paradeep, Balasore & Beherampur to cater the customers in the State of Odisha.

The Angul – Dhenkanal region has experienced considerable industrial growth including that of petroleum products in the recent years and the same high trend is continuing. To serve the state of Odisha in this region at present, BPCL does not have any Depot, and also the Paradip-Ranchi product pipeline passing through Dhenkanal and Anugul district, close to Meramundali.

Meramundali Depot will be a tap-off point (TOP) on IOCL’s Paradeep – Ranchi pipeline from Paradeep refinery with Railway siding.

Minimum inter-tank distance will be 15 Mtr. The product will be received through the Pipeline and additionally there will be a provision for receipt through tank wagons through the Railway siding proposed. Tankage calculations have been considered for all the three oil companies for the projected volume of 2026-27. Total Proposed Tankage: 78, 200 KL.

Land Requirement: 3,64,217 m² of land situated at Meramundali close to Sadashibpur Railway Station on E.Co Railway, Bhubaneswar-Sambalpur Route is acquired for the proposed project.

1. Area required for construction of tanks: 80937 Area (m²) – 22.2 %
2. Full length tank wagon siding: 48562.3 Area (m²) – 13.3%
3. Tank Lorry Filling area: 32374.9 Area (m²) – 9%
4. TT Parking Area ( 200 TTs): 40468.6 Area (m²) – 11.1%
5. Pipeline receipt and pumping station: 20234.3 Area (m²) – 5.5%
6. Administrative Facilities: 12140.6 Area (m²) – 3.3%
7. Other Plant Facilities: 20234.3 Area (m²) – 5.5%
8. Green belt area: 80937 Area (m²) – 22.2%
9. Bio- Fuel and other future expansion: 28328 Area (m²) – 7.8%
Total Area 3,64,217 Area (m²) – 100%

Portion of under-construction rail line of Paradip-Haridaspur project caves in

Panic struck among the villagers of Goseinbandh village under Marshaghai police limit after a portion of under-construction railway line of Paradip-Haridaspur railway project caved in last night.

Though no casualties or injuries were reported, a couple of families were affected as cracks were developed in their concrete buildings.

Rabindra Das, whose house was affected said last night, they heard a big sound .. Later, a portion of the under-construction rail line caved in.

The intensity was so high that some of the buildings were half-buried. The inmates of the house could not come out. The roads developed cracks at several places.

The local fire brigade rushed to the spot and managed to rescue the family members, Marshaghai police too rushed to the spot to conduct an inquiry.

Locals alleged that the railway line caved in due to substandard work.

The officials of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited visited the spot today to take stock of the situation. The RVNL authorities provided Rs 5000 as relief to the two affected families.

The affected families also demanded compensation. “we assured to provide compensation, after the RSVL receive the RI inquiry report of the affected buildings”, said Umashankar Sahu, one of the engineers of RVNL.

Meanwhile, stone pilling is going to be made in the collapsed portion of the rail line, soon, RVNL Engineer said.

Notably, the 82-km railway line from Haridaspur to the port town of Paradip covering Jajpur, Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur districts, is likely to be completed in March this year. The first goods train is likely to roll out on the line in March.

Meanwhile, around 95 per cent work has been completed and the rest will be over by March. Signboards and telecommunication systems have been installed and work on level crossing completed. As many as 31 bridges and 171 minor bridges have been constructed over rivers, canals and other water bodies for the project.

The project, sanctioned in 1996-97, aims to facilitate the movement of freight, export of finished products of steel plants and imported coking coal from Paradip to industries.

The then Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar had laid the foundation stone of the project near Marshaghai on April 4, 1999, and promised to complete it by 2004.

In November last year, the State Government had directed officials concerned to complete the project within the extended deadline of March 2020.

The project has been considerably delayed in the past leading to escalation of the cost. The Union Government has recently allotted Rs 100 crore for the project.

Tripura-Bangladesh Rail line possible by 2021, land acquisition completed: Officials

The 15.6 km-long railway link connects Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India (10.6 km) and from Nischintapur to Agartala railway station (5.46 km).

AGARTALA: The railway line between Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh will be completed by September 2021 and the land acquisition for the same has been completed, officials said on Thursday.

The 15.6 km-long railway link connects Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India (10.6 km) and from Nischintapur to Agartala railway station (5.46 km).

The cost of laying the 5.46-km track is being borne by the DoNER ministry on the Indian side while the 10.6-km long track on the other side of the border is being laid by the ministry of external affairs.

The project is being executed by IRCON and the approximate cost of the project is Rs 580 crore.

A district magistrate-level meeting of three districts of Bangladesh and Tripura have reviewed the progress of the railway line on Wednesday. A 3.1 km long viaduct would be constructed to save the land and curtail expenses, IRCON officials said adding around 600 skilled workers under the supervision of 30 engineers are working round the clock to complete works.

Officials said Nischintapur will have a transhipment yard, and the passengers and goods coming from Bangladesh will be off boarded there.

European Rail Freight Association calls for EC to adopt ambitious Rail Freight approach

In order to ensure the growth of the rail freight industry, ERFA has stressed the need for regulation revisions and a more ambitious approach from the EC.

BRUSSELS – BELGIUM: The European Rail Freight Association (ERFA) has called for revisions to be made to the Rail Freight Corridors Regulation (2010/913), following the public consultation on the European rail freight network, as well as the effectiveness of the Regulation. Additionally, ERFA has emphasised the need for the European Commission (EC) to consider and adopt a more ambitious approach to rail freight that meets the needs of the industry.

In order for the rail freight industry to grow, ERFA stresses that the sector needs a strong Rail Freight Corridors Regulation – one that ensures rail freight companies have access to a sufficient level and quality of capacity along corridors. Under the current regulation, capacity allocation is not meeting the needs of international rail freight due to the fragmented approach.

Dirk Stahl, President of ERFA, said: “We need to get to the stage where organising and operating an international freight train across borders is as straight forward as organising and operating road freight on European motorways. Rail freight companies are currently faced with significant operational and administrative burdens which creates an unlevel playing field with other modes of transport. The revision of the Rail Freight Corridors Regulation must serve as the moment to level the playing field for rail freight.”

Due to most rail traffic – in particular, passenger traffic – being national, infrastructure allocation is subsequently managed at a national level. As rail freight is usually an international issue, an international approach to capacity allocation is, therefore, required. As a result of this, the revision of Regulation 2010/913 has a crucial role to play in bridging the national approach of capacity allocation and the international needs of freight transportation.

The demands of the ERFA are as follows:

  • Improve the quality of paths for freight trains
  • Give equal priority in slot allocation
  • Make sure that operational rules are internationally secured and harmonised
  • Introduce a supranational traffic management
  • Empower corridor organisation.

Secretary General of ERFA, Conor Feighan, added: “ERFA has contributed to the public consultation and looks forward to engaging with the European Commission and other stakeholders in the next steps of the process. ERFA strongly believes that the needs of the rail freight industry must be central to the revision process and that it is crucial for Europe’s modal shift objectives that this opportunity is not lost.”

15 ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE TRANSPORT SECTOR CALL FOR A BOLD AND REALISTIC EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL

The EU transport sector must continue to be a key enabler of sustainable trade and economic growth. It should therefore be supported in its effort to face the energy transition and remain a key priority for policy makers and Member States. The success of the Green Deal will depend on the regulatory framework and financial instruments that will be mobilized to support innovation and the implementation of the proposed actions. Legal certainty for private investments as well as a financial stimulation of “first movers” will be an important cornerstone for the ultimate success of the Green Deal.

Israel to build a Rail line from Ben-Gurion Airport to the Western Wall

Trains that run from Beersheba through Lod to Tel Aviv will resume operation, including on motzei Shabbat and weeknights.

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Transportation Ministry advanced plans on Monday to build a new train station that would directly connect Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The project, an extension of recently opened Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed line, will include a new 1.8 mile-long tunnel under downtown Jerusalem and the Old City, i24news reported.
This kind of construction in the Old City of Jerusalem is controversial. Palestinians object to Israel gaining more of a foothold in the city that they claim as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and archeologists object to the possible disturbing of artifacts in the area.
The project was initiated by former Transportation Minister Israel Katz, who now serves as foreign minister. The current transportation minister is Bezalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home Party, who is running for the next Israeli parliament as part of the far-right Yamina alliance.

In addition, it was announced Tuesday, that certain trains that run from Beersheba through Lod to Tel Aviv will resume operation, including on motzei Shabbat and weeknights, according to Channel 12. The trains had ceased operating due to construction.

Guntakal-Kalluru rail line opens to traffic after electrification, doubling

Passenger trains with electric traction can ply at 100 kmph on the 41-km route.

GUNTAKAL: The doubling of the rail line between Guntakal and Kalluru (41 km) has been completed in all aspects, along with electrification. and the speed at which the passenger trains can run on this section has been enhanced from 70 kmph to 100 kmph.

According to a release from the Indian Railways on Friday, Commissioner, Railway Safety inspected the electrified portion and certified it as fit to run passenger train services with immediate effect. About 20 curves have been straightened to enhance the strength of the track. This will enable all types of passenger services with electric traction on this line, which acts as a bypass line for south-bound trains and vice-versa.

Trains from Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad travel towards Bengaluru along this section, which was earlier a single line with trains running on diesel traction. Work on electrifing the route was sanctioned in 2015-16 at a cost of ₹357 crore. The project was completed in different phases beginning with doubling of the section between Khadarpet-Gullapalyamu, electrification of the entire single line, doubling between Guntakal-Gullapalyamu, doubling between Khadarpet-Kalluru and finally electrification of the second line.

With this, one more significant step has been taken towards fulfilling the dreams of Rayalaseema people to have better rail connectivity and more number of trains, the release said.

Iron ore and other bulk commodities such as cement and steel are transported along this route.

SCR General Manager Gajanan Mallya congratulated the officials of Guntakal division and the construction department for playing a key role in the successful completion of the project.

Nadikudi-Srikalahasti Rail Line set to take off as SCR allocated funds

Nadikudi – Srikalahasti railway line, which is a boon for upland mandals, is going to be a reality soon as the South Central Railway (SCR) has been sanctioned a total of Rs 6,846 crore for 2020-21.

NELLORE: Nadikudi – Srikalahasti railway line, which is a boon for upland mandals, is going to be a reality soon as the South Central Railway (SCR) has been sanctioned a total of Rs 6,846 crore for 2020-21.

A new railway line between Nadikudi and Srikalahasti had been proposed with an outlay of Rs 1,314 crore as per estimates in 2010 for promoting cement and granite exports from the region. Majority of the upland areas in Nellore district will benefit from the new line as there is no rail connectivity to them till now. Also, the State government has come forward to provide land free of cost and bear 50 per cent of the cost of the proposed 308 km broad gauge railway line between Nadikudi and Srikalahasti.

People in the upland areas such as Udayagiri, Venkatagiri, Dakkili, Seetharamapuram, Rapur, Balayapalli, Kaluvoya, Chejarla, Atmakur, Vinjamur, Marripadu, Duttalur, Varikuntapadu mandals will benefit from the Nadikudi – Srikalahasti railway line. Meanwhile, the railway line will help reduce the cost of transportation for farmers, who export their produce to other parts of the State and country only by roadways.

Upland areas in the district harvest horticulture crops such as lemon, citrus, mango, guava, papaya, green and red chilli and tobacco. The total length of the railway line in the district will be around 150 km, according to sources. The new railway line will connect Srikalahasti, Venkatagiri, Rapur, Obulayapalli, Podili, Darsi, Gundlakamma, Vinukonda, Rompicherla, Nakerakal and Nadikudi. Even farmers of Kadapa district will benefit from this railway line. “The railway freight charges are less compared to the roadways. The new railway line will also reduce the distance between places in the region by 50 to 70 km. It will be helpful to the farmers for exporting and importing crops,” said V Subba Reddy, a farmer.

RailTel to continue free WiFi service at Railway Stations after Google exit from Project Station

  • Google claimed that there’s a growing availability of 4G connectivity and the prices are much lower.
  • Google was responsible for the technology support and provided Radio Access Network.

NEW DELHI: Google has announced that they will be pulling down the ‘Station’ project all over the world. Under this project, the tech giant provided internet to around 415 railway stations in India. While this may seem disheartening for internet users in India, the technology company was only responsible to provide connectivity for a fraction of Indian railway stations.

RailTel, a PSU under the Ministry of Railways, had partnered with Google for five years to provide free WiFi in 415 A1, A, C category stations. Google was responsible for the technology support and provided Radio Access Network (RAN) while RailTel provided the physical infrastructure and the ISP connection as well. RailTel was working with other providers for the other 5190 B, C, D stations. RailTel assured that despite Google’s contract coming to an end, their company will continue to provide WiFi on these 415 railway stations.

Google had taken up the contract to expand internet reach in India. The Station project was also available in Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Thailand, Phillipines, Mexico, Indonesia and Vietnam. The company is withdrawing support from all these countries. Google has also assured transition support to its partners for the locations where they provided technology.

In a response, Google claimed that there’s a growing availability of 4G connectivity in a lot of these countries and the data prices have also gone down. This has brought down the requirement for such projects.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet is also working on a unique project called Loon, to expand the reach of internet in remote areas. Internet providers are not able to yield enough revenue from remote areas due to a low population density. Project Loon tries to tackle it by sending stratospheric helium powered balloons in these remote areas.

Google to shut down free WiFi at railway stations in India

NEW DELHI: Tech giant Google on Monday said it has decided to wind down its ‘Station’ programme globally through 2020, including in India, given that going online has become much easier and cheaper over the last five years.

The US-based company said it is working with its partners to transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community.

Google had launched ‘Station’ in India in 2015 in partnership with Indian Railways and Railtel to bring fast, free public WiFi to over 400 railway stations in the country by mid-2020.

“But we crossed that number by June 2018 and implemented Station in thousands of other locations around the country in partnership with telecommunications companies, ISPs and local authorities. Over time, partners in other countries asked for Station too and we responded accordingly,” Google Vice President (Payments and Next Billion Users) Caesar Sengupta said in a blogpost.

He added that since then, getting online has become much simpler and cheaper and that mobile data plans have become more affordable and mobile connectivity is improving globally.

Apart from India, Station is available in Nigeria, Thailand, Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa.

Sengupta cited the example of India, where mobile data per GB is among the cheapest in the world. He cited reports that state mobile data prices have reduced by 95 per cent in the last 5 years and Indian users consume close to 10 GB of data, each month on an average.

“And similar to what the Indian government did, several governments and local entities have kicked off their own initiatives to provide easier, cost-effective access to the internet for everyone.

In addition to this changed context, the challenge of varying technical requirements and infrastructure among our partners across countries has also made it difficult for Station to scale and be sustainable, especially for our partners,” Sengupta noted.

He added that the company sees greater need and bigger opportunities in making products and features tailored to work better for the next billion user markets.

“Therefore, we’ve made the decision to gradually wind down the Station programme globally, through 2020. We are working with our partners to transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community,” he said.

Under its Next Billion Users initiative, Google has built lite apps (YouTube Go, Google Go and more), offline features (such as YouTube and Maps Offline), as well as country-specific products like Tez (now Google Pay India) and platforms like Android Go to bring lower-cost devices to customers.

“Our commitment to supporting the next billion users remains stronger than ever, from continuing our efforts to make the internet work for more people…,” Sengupta said.

MRVC to deploy Communication Based Train Control on Mumbai Suburban Rail Network

MUMBAI:  Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd (MRVC) to finalise the Consulting Services firm for preparation of technical specification & Bid Management for “ Implementation of CBTC (Communication Based Train Control) system to enhance safety and to achieve improved headway on Mumbai Suburban Railway network of Western & Central Railways” under the  Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-3A.

The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has started preliminary work towards the implementation of the CBTC system on the Mumbai suburban network. The CBTC is a state-of-the-art signalling system, which will improve the efficiency and safety of operations. The project is part of the ₹33,690 crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3A (MUTP 3A).

The MRVC has proposed to implement the project on the slow and fast corridors on the Western Railway between Churchgate and Virar, on the slow and fast corridors between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Kalyan, and on the Harbour and Trans-Harbour Lines.

The project aims to improve the frequency, thereby reducing overcrowding on trains. At present, trains on an average run at a peak frequency of around 3.5 minutes, which MRVC officials said, will be brought down to around 2.5 minutes after the project is implemented.

The CBTC consulting services focus on the following requirements:-

  1. Study of the existing technical system and thereafter modifications required to existing technical system covering every technical aspect such as signalling, communication, power supply, rolling stock etc for implementation & operation of CBTC.
  2. Operational Requirement for implementation & operation of CBTC. This covers Inter-operability requirements, Migration strategy, mixed train operation, Fall Back System, Interface requirements with EMU Rolling Stock Systems, ETCS, PF screen door etc.
  3. Technical Specifications. This covers designing of System specification, Grade of operation, Performance & functional requirements , Interlocking System, Communication System, rolling stocks, traction current etc.
  4. Study of the existing system of train operation and thereafter suggest measures/modifications required to existing operating procedures such as operating manuals, Station working rules etc to migrate over CBTC.
  5. Bid Management. This includes bid preparation, bid processing and bid evaluation.
  6. Training, Workshop & Seminars.

CBTC Greenfield project shall be considered as “the CBTC work for new lines/Metros where tracks and other systems are new and on which there is no train /revenue services in operation.

Consultants may associate with other firms in the form of a joint venture or a sub consultancy to enhance their qualifications. A Consultant will be selected in accordance with the QCBS method.

“By increasing the frequency between trains we should be able to run more services every hour, which will ease the strain on the existing infrastructure,” an MRVC official said.

At present, there are 15-17 services during peak hours, which officials said, will increase to 20-22 after the CBTC comes into effect. The system can also potentially allow driverless operations of local trains. The signalling technology is currently being implemented across all Metro corridors in the country. The key difference in implementing the project as opposed to the Metro is it would be a brownfield project, which means the system would need to be implemented on the existing infrastructure.

“On Metro corridors, the CBTC system is implemented at the time of construction. This project will be a challenge to implement on the suburban railway network as it will need to be executed while operations are under way. Moreover, new solutions should be found as long-distance trains and goods trains run on the same tracks along with suburban trains,” an MRVC official said, adding in all likelihood, the Harbour and Trans-Harbour Lines will be undertaken first for implementation as there are no long-distance passenger trains or goods trains sharing space with local trains on those corridors.

The MRVC last week floated tenders to appoint general consultants for the ₹5,900 crore project, who will assist the MRVC in selecting the contractor.

What is CBTC?

In a CBTC system, all trains within a railway network are connected and communicate with each other using radio frequencies. The system moves away from traditional fixed signalling, where trains stop or slow down depending on the colour on the signal, and adjusts the speed of trains dynamically. The location of each train is communicated to the train behind it to maintain a safe braking distance at all times.

Complete land acquisition for Kothapalli-Manoharabad Railway line: KRT instructs officials

SIRSILLA: Telangana Minister for IT and Municipal Administration K.T. Rama Rao instructed the authorities concerned to complete the process of land acquisition for the ambitious Kothapalli-Manoharabad railway line by May 2021 and ensure that the train services are operated by the year, 2022, in the district.

The Minister visited the district on Monday and held a review meeting on various developmental works with the district officials at Narmala (Upper Manair Dam) guesthouse in Ghambiraopeta mandal.

On the occasion, Mr. Rao wanted the authorities to accord priority for acquiring 845 acres of land for the railway line project in the district and hand over the same to the railway authorities for its execution.

Stating that the completion of the railway line would change the face of the newly formed district, he said that the operation of train services would open more developmental works and help people of the district to travel to Hyderabad in train at a cheaper rate. He instructed the authorities to ensure that the proposed Thangallapalli railway station has cargo facilities and aqua hub for the transportation of fish from the district.

Mr. Rao wanted the officials to prepare a project report for the construction of rail-cum-road bridge on the backwaters of Mid Manair Dam on the outskirts of Sircilla textile town. He also said that the completion of the railway line would result in more pilgrims coming to Vemulawada temple shrine.

With regard to the Upper Manair Dam, which is only one-and-a-half hour journey from Hyderabad , he instructed the authorities to develop tourism at the project site by constructing more cottages and provide boating facilities. He wanted the authorities to modernise the existing guesthouse at a cost of ₹ 2 crore immediately, and instructed them to start works for the start of food processing unit at Narmala.

Mr. Rao also reviewed the progress of Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project in the district. He informed the authorities concerned to expedite the Malkapet reservoir works at the earlier so that the MMD waters would be lifted and from there into the UMD. He also informed the authorities to take all measures for the construction of check dams from UMD to MMD.

Mr. Rao also directed the officials to take all measures for celebrating Telangana Formation Day on a grand scale on June 2 at the new Collectorate complex building.

He wanted the authorities to take measures for hoisting of the huge national flag on the Collectorate premises. He also wanted the authorities to take measures for the setting up of mini-zoo in Sircilla town.

Hitachi Rail STS to equip VR Finland’s Locomotives with ERTMS

HELSINKI: Hitachi Rail STS has signed a contract to equip VR Finland’s newly ordered fleet of diesel locomotives with European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) technology.

The company secured the order from Stadler Rail Valencia, which is delivering 60 locomotives to the Finnish railway firm.

Compatible with ERTMS Baseline 3.6 and the Finnish JKV-STM train control system, the on-board ERTMS system will help in improving interoperability and availability of the trains.

The contract also includes the option of further deliveries up to 2030.

With this new order, Hitachi Rail aims to improve its position as an on-board ERTMS system supplier to Nordic train operators.

Hitachi Rail Nordics region vice-president Eric Morand said: “Over the last few years, we have experienced an unprecedented increase in the Nordic ERTMS on-board market, both for the upgrade of existing fleets and equipping brand new trains.

“This latest order confirms not only Hitachi’s leading position in the ERTMS on-board Nordic market, providing the highest standards of quality, safety and reliability, but also underlines our long-standing relationship with Stadler following the recent entry into passenger service of their KISS / DOSTO trains, utilising our ERTMS technology, on the Mälab regional network.”

In April, VR ordered 60 diesel-electric locomotives from Stadler. The new trains will help VR to improve operational efficiency on non-electrified lines, in marshalling yards and freight terminals.

The contract included an option for the delivery of up to 100 further locomotives.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Rail Advisory Group launches Transload Platform

FLORIDA: The Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) Rail Advisory Group is launching the C&W Transload Network, a platform for transload sites. The startup consists of 16 sites in Florida and Georgia, each of which are capable of facilitating transload of various commodities and volumes via ocean vessel, barge, rail and truck.

“What makes this platform unique is the flexibility it provides,” says C&W Rail Advisory Group Director Michael Flynn. “A few sites have hundreds of acres and hundreds of rail spots available. Each of the sites is unique and can support a myriad of uses.”

“Companies, third-party transloaders who do not have a facility in a market where they need to provide service for a client, as well as many other situations supporting transload need can originate or terminate at sites within the C&W Transload Network with total flexibility,” Flynn notes. “We are launching this platform to fill a recognized need within the rail industry, and we will continue to grow the network across the country as we bring new sites on line.”

Meagre allocation of funds may delay Kothapalli-Manoharabad Rail line

Only ₹235 crore sanctioned by the Union government for the project as against Rs.1500 Crore!

HYDERABAD: The ambitious Kothapalli-Manoharabad railway line — the only railway line to connect Karimnagar district headquarters to Secunderabad — is likely to be delayed further if one goes by the meagre allocation in the Railway Budget by the Union government.

Only ₹235 crore was allocated for the project in Budget for 2020-21. With this, the project cost, which was estimated at ₹1,160 crore, has jumped to ₹1,500 crore.

KCR’s ambitious project

It may be recalled that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had proposed the ambitious Kothapalli-Manoharabad railway line connecting the temple towns of Vemulawada and Komuravelli, and Sircilla, Siddipet and Gajwel towns, when he was the Karimnagar MP in 2004.

Following the Chief Minister’s request, the government had allocated ₹10 crore to conduct a survey in 2006. Then, the project cost was estimated at ₹1,160 crore to lay the 151-km line.

Later, the Railways informed that the project was not feasible.

But the Chief Minister assured to bear one-third of the project cost, and give land free of cost to the Railways. When the Railways told him about incurring losses, Mr. KCR consented for annuity payment for the first five years after the completion of the project.

Chugging along

After so many assurances from the State government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the project in August 2016 and the Railways had allocated ₹350 crore in the 2017-18 Budget, and ₹150 crore in 2018-19, ₹200 crore in 2019-20, and ₹235 crore in 2020-21.

The first phase of the railway line measuring 32 km from Manoharabad to Gajwel was completed. The second phase from Gajwel to Siddipet was progressing after completion of land acquisition.

The third phase from Siddipet to Sircilla should be taken up after completion of land acquisition.

Now, in Sircilla town, the Railways needs to construct a huge bridge like the Rajahmundry Bridge across the Godavari on the Mid Manair Dam reservoir following the backwaters touching the textile town.

160 more bridges

The railway line requires another 160 bridges, seven road-over-bridges, 49 road-under-bridges and 13 railway stations. These include Nacharam, Iranagaram, Gajwel, Kodakandla, Lakhadaram, Duddeda, Siddipet, Gurralagondi, Chinnalingapur, Sircilla, Vemulawada, Boinpalli and Vedira.

Meanwhile, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) district unit leaders flayed the Railways for meagre allocation to the Kothapalli-Manoharabad railway line when it was making huge profits from Karimnagar railway station following transportation of granite, and farm produce to other parts of the country.

ADVA demos Europe’s first 5G Rail Deployment

5G-PICTURE project achieves seamless multi-Gbit/s connectivity to trains traveling at speed in a fully operational environment

BARCELONA, Spain: ADVA today announced that it has successfully demonstrated Europe’s first 5G rail deployment in an operational environment. Using a combined optical and microwave transport solution, the demo succeeded in delivering multi-Gbit/s connectivity to fast-moving trains. Until now, supporting the handovers required for consistent broadband connectivity on trains traveling at speed was a major challenge. Built on ADVA’s G.metro passive optical technology and FSP 150 edge aggregation solution, the joint trial featured an integrated architecture for all train communication applications. Millimeter wave (mmWave) access points (APs) were used to maintain track-to-train connectivity as well as programmable mobility functions for seamless onboard services. Part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 5G-PICTURE project, the demo was conducted by ADVA, Blu Wireless Technology, CNIT, COMSA Industrial and the local railway operator and infrastructure manager, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC).

“With this demo, we’ve presented the blueprints for the future of rail telecommunication networks. We’ve shown how a combined optical and microwave 5G architecture can carry both critical and non-critical communications, dramatically simplifying deployments and delivering significant cost reduction,” said Jim Zou, senior engineer, advanced technology, ADVA. “Unlike traditional railway telecommunication networks that rely on separate infrastructures, what we’ve proposed with this demo is a unified, automated network able to support every application and prevent service interruptions. It delivers high-bandwidth internet access to passengers on the move, while also providing train operators with driver-to-control connectivity, access to surveillance cameras and mission-critical onboard applications. Now a single 5G network can provide all telco services for train companies, freight operators and passengers.”

Deployed across three stations of the FGC network in Barcelona, the 5G-PICTURE railway testbed interconnected a variety of end-user devices and compute resources using the most advanced optical and wireless network technologies. For the first time in Europe in a live operational scenario, the demo proved that a single integrated infrastructure can deliver safe, secure and reliable connectivity for all three categories of train line services: critical, performance and business. Along the track, it leveraged mmWave links that intelligently steered beams to the train’s rooftop antennae for optimal backhaul and access connectivity. These were connected to passive WDM add/drop nodes built with ADVA’s low-latency G.metro system and each mmWave AP was capable of dedicated 10Gbit/s connectivity. All the traffic from the trackside was further aggregated to the railway operator’s core network based on ADVA’s 100Gbit/s Ethernet aggregation technology.

“At FGC, we understand the value of leveraging emerging technology to achieve maximum efficiency and provide our passengers with the best available services. That’s why we’re so excited by the possibilities that this demo presents. It showed how we can harness an intelligent, open and scalable 5G network for everything from surveillance to passenger communications to mission-critical operational data transport,” commented Carles Terés Casals, director, R&D, FGC. “Train passengers are heavy users of mobile data. Whether it’s video streaming, replying to emails and social media or planning the next stage of their journey, they expect always-on access to advanced services. Providing ultra-reliable high-speed mobility on a virtual infrastructure shared with all other applications offers a way to meet that demand while removing complexity and saving significant cost.”

“This project is about completely transforming on-train connectivity for the digitalization strategy of the railway sector. It’s about providing massive high-quality wireless capacity to trains to enable cloud-based applications that improve performance and security in the railway sector. It’s also about being able to support new business and passenger applications,” said Manuel Alfageme, head of smart systems innovation, COMSA Industrial. “At COMSA, we have a formidable record of leading the way with rail innovation. By jointly demonstrating the technical and commercial viability of this technology in a live operational environment, we’re showing train operators and railway infrastructure managers that open, scalable and agile 5G networks are now possible in the railway vertical. The time has come for a new generation of integrated railway infrastructure.”


About ADVA
ADVA is a company founded on innovation and focused on helping our customers succeed. Our technology forms the building blocks of a shared digital future and empowers networks across the globe. We’re continually developing breakthrough hardware and software that leads the networking industry and creates new business opportunities. It’s these open connectivity solutions that enable our customers to deliver the cloud and mobile services that are vital to today’s society and for imagining new tomorrows. Together, we’re building a truly connected and sustainable future. For more information on how we can help you, please visit us at www.adva.com.

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ADVA Optical Networking SE, Munich, Germany
www.adva.com

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California Bullet Train Authority approves $1.6B RFP

CALIFORNIA: The California High-Speed Rail Authority is moving forward with a potential $1.6 billion Request for Proposals process for a 30-year track and systems contract for the beleaguered and scaled-back Northern-to-Southern California bullet train project, despite objections from the Federal Railroad Administration.

The authority issued the RFP to three design-build groups Dec. 19, one day after CHRSA CEO Brian Kelly said it received the FRA’s letter stating it would not approve the RFP as written. The administration raised several objections to the authority’s plans to issue such a large contract when it was still, according to the FRA, still struggling with delays related to ongoing construction and had failed to demonstrate funding commitments for the new work.

Kelly told the board members that the authority would reach out to the FRA to address its concerns and discuss potential RFP modifications, which primarily pertained to technical elements.

The total cost for the Northern-to-Southern California bullet train route most recently was pegged at $77 billion. Nevertheless, soon after Gov. Gavin Newsom took office last year, he temporarily shelved all but the 119-mile, $10.6 billion part of the route between Bakersfield and Merced.

The work in the design-build-maintain contract now moving forward will cover “design and construction of trackwork, railway systems, and electrification, as well as testing and commissioning, maintenance of the underlying civil works and the track and systems work, and construction of necessary maintenance facilities” in the first of five segments between Bakersfield and San Jose, far beyond the Bakersfield-Merced route.

The groups in the running for the project are:

  • Bombardier-Salcef-Weitz Consortium — Bombardier Transportation (Holdings) USA Inc., Salcef S.p.A., The Weitz Company LLC and Bombardier Transportation (Global Holding) UK Limited.
  • California High-Speed Rail Constructors — Fluor Enterprises Inc., Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., AECOM, SYSTRA and Egis Rail.
    Hitachi Acciona Copasa California Rail Partners — Hitachi Rail STS USA Inc., Acciona Construction USA Corp., S.A. de Obras y Servicios, COPASA, Hatch Associates Consultants Inc., Typsa; Colas Rail, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane S.p.A., Hitachi Rail STS S.p.A. and Acciona Construccion S.A.
  • Staff members, responding to concerns on the part of board member Daniel Curtin, said the decision to let out all segments to the same consortium will help to ensure continuity when the complete San Jose-Bakersfield line is built, and that the authority is using the “building block” approach, releasing each segment as funding becomes available. It is only the first segment that is $1.6 billion, and the maintenance portion contains escalation clauses to account for cost increases in the next 30 years.

Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, libertarian think tank, told Construction Dive that one of the reasons the authority is so persistent at taking such big steps could be that it’s trying to run out the clock on the Trump administration, hoping that a Democrat in the White House might be more sympathetic to its mission.

In May, the FRA put the authority on notice that it intended to terminate a $928.6 million grant because the Merced-Bakersfield segment had not made enough progress and would likely not meet agreed-upon deadlines by Dec. 31, 2022. In addition, the FRA threatened to take back $2.5 billion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The authority is suing the FRA and the USDOT in an effort to stop the cancellation of the grant.

Even if a Democrat is elected president, O’Toole said the authority might not have to repay the FRA. He added he doubts the money will be available to pay for the rest of the bullet train construction and other high-speed projects favored in a potential Green New Deal, a resolution introduced by House and Senate Democrats that lays out a plan for tackling climate change.

“It is clear,” O’Toole said, “that the CHSRA is operating under the assumption that it will get the funding to finish the project. No one else thinks that. It really ought to operate under the assumption that it won’t get that funding and figure out how most productively to use the resources it has left without hanging a giant millstone on future generations.”

Curtin also mentioned during the December board meeting the CHSRA Peer Review Group’s suggestion that the authority wait to pursue the work outlined in the RFP and explain it more fully in the next business plan, which must be submitted to the state legislature by May 1. In that plan, the authority must include its most recent ridership and revenue projections, a progress report for the prior two-year period and challenges facing the bullet train project.​

LSI Financial Services to study impact of NHSRCL’s HSR on industrial assets in Gujarat

NEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD: The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), which is implementing the country’s first ever high speed rail project connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad has selected an independent consultancy, LSI Financial Services to conduct a study for Impact Assessment on various industrial assets due to the high speed rail alignment in Gujarat.

For this purpose, NHSRCL had floated a tender on the Central Public Procurement Portal and the assignment was finally awarded to LSI Financial Services among other participants, after technical and financial due diligence.

“Our work involves impact assessment of various industries in the way of the alignment. We will have to analyse the hit that the industries are likely to take and then monetise it. Based on a consensual approach between NHSRCL and the industry, we will submit a final report to the NHSRCL,” an official of LSI Financial Services said.

NHSRCL has been modelled as a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ in the joint sector, with equity participation from the Railways and the state governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra.It has invited various tenders for design and construction of seperate parts of the high speed rail project including tunnels, elevated stations, depots, etc., covering 348 km or roughly around 69% of the 508-km project which is likely to be launched in 2023.

While the total land required for the project is 1165 hectares, more than 66% of the land has been acquired. One of the challenges in land acquistion is that there are various industries that set up on the land required. Based on the study being conducted by LSI Financial Services, NHSRCL will acquire the balance land.

UPMRC invites consultancy bids for Kanpur and Agra Metro Project

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited (UPMRC) invited request for proposal (RFP) from the eligible and experienced bidders for providing general consultancy services (GCS) for Kanpur and Agra Metro Rail projects in Uttar Pradesh State

Important information

  • Tender Notice No.: UPMRC/KNPAGGC-01
  • Date of Issue: December 12, 2019,
  • Scope of work: General Consultancy services for Kanpur and Agra Metro Rail projects.
  • Contract Period: 5 years
  • Estimated Cost of Work: Refer tender document
  • Security Money Deposit: INR 2,00,00,000.00
  • Tender Document Cost: INR 100,000 or USD 1450
  • Sale of Tender Documents: 13.12.2019 to 23.01.2020
  • Pre-bid Meeting: 03.02.2020 at 11.00 hrs
  • Last date for submission of Bids: 02.03.2020 till 15.00 hrs
  • Opening date of Technical Bids: 02.03.2020 at 15.30 hrs

Eligibility Criteria

Work Experience:

The Applicants must be having prior experience of working as General Consultant/Project Management Consultant/Detailed Design and Construction Supervision Consultant for an MRTS/High-Speed Rail Projects involving the work of framing specifications, drawing up contract documents, checking designs, Project management and Supervision including inspection, safety, quality, testing & commissioning.

The Bidder should have completed during the last 07 (seven) years:

  • Single similar work costing not less than INR 3000 million (USD 42 million) or
  • Two similar works costing not less than INR 1850 million (USD 26 million) each.
  • Three similar works costing not less than INR 1500 (USD 21 million) each.

Financial Eligibility Criteria

  • Average Annual Turnover: Minimum average annual turnover of INR 1600 million (USD 2.23 million)
  • Net Worth: Net Worth of minimum INR 160 million (USD 0.23 million) in the last audited Financial year.

Pre-Bid Meeting Venue/Contact Point

The Chief Engineer/Contract
Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited,
Administrative Building, Vipin Khand,
Gomtinagar, Lucknow,
Uttar Pradesh 226010, India
E-mail: cecontractlmrc@gmail.com
Office No.: 0522-2304014

State Railway of Thailand sets timetable for B200bn projects next year

Thailand to fast track $6.6bn in rail projects in 2020. The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) plans to tender rail schemes next year worth more than $6.6bn, including high-speed train and double-track rail projects.

BANGKOK: The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will call bids for rail construction projects worth more than 200 billion baht, including high-speed train and double-track rail projects, next year.

Acting SRT governor Worawut Mala said the SRT will speed up the bidding for the remaining five construction contracts worth 50 billion baht for the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima in the first and second quarters of next year.

There are a total of 14 contracts involved in construction of the 179-billion-baht, 253-kilometre rail route from the capital to Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast.

Construction is under way on a 3.5km section from Klang Dong to Pang Asok in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district, under the first contract worth 425 million baht. The work began in December 2017 and is nearly complete, Mr Worawut said.

He added that the next bidding will be for construction of the Don Muang-Bang Sue section of the project.

Sorapong Paitoonphong, acting director-general of the Department of Rail Transport, said a meeting on Nov 26 concluded that a forward rate will be fixed when “Contract 2.3” is signed to ensure fairness for Thailand and Chinese investors.

The matter will be raised at the 28th meeting of the Thai-Chinese joint committee on rail cooperation this month.

The committee will choose which currency will be used and set the date for the signing of the contract, Mr Sorapong said.

“Contract 2.3”, worth about 50.6 billion baht, involves the cost of purchasing tracks, electricity systems and machinery, as well as procurement of train carriages and training.

The high-speed train project’s second phase, which will cost 200 billion baht to build, will run 355km from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai and the Lao border, forming part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Regarding the double-track rail construction projects, Mr Worawut said the SRT will next year seek cabinet approval for the bidding for a 26-billion-baht double-track rail project linking Khon Kaen and Nong Khai, a 36-billion-baht double-track rail project from Thanon Jira junction in Nakhon Ratchasima to Ubon Ratchathani, a 56-billion-baht double-track route from Pak Nam Pho in Nakhon Sawan to Den Chai district of Phrae, and a 23-billion-baht double-track project from Chumphon to Surat Thani.

An SRT source said it expects to open the bidding for the three extensions to its Red Line in January or February next year.

They are the 10.2-billion-baht Taling Chan-Salaya section, the 6.57-billion-baht Rangsit-Thammasat extension, and the 7.46-billion-baht Taling Chan-Siriraj stretch.

The Red Line is part of the SRT’s major project to create an expansive network of urban trains, including the BTS Skytrain and the MRT that link the inner city with surrounding areas of Bangkok.

The most famous Red Line train is the Airport Rail Link that connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to the Phayathai area in downtown Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Sunday he has instructed the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand to examine the financial standing of all Thai airlines which have received Air Operator Certificates, particularly those in dire financial straits.

Mr Saksayam said loss-ridden airlines must improve their business operations to meet the criteria and ensure passenger safety as they ply their trade.

Any airlines that fail to improve will have their certificates revoked so should start making plans for any changes now, he said.

The certificates are issued by a country’s main civil aviation authority and allow aircraft operators to use aircraft for commercial purposes.

Yangon circular railway upgrades to finish in May 2020

YANGON, MYANMAR: The upgrading process of Yangon circular railways will be finished in May 2020, sources said.

“Danyinkone-Paywatsakekone section of the Yangon circular railways, which is divided into eastern and western parts, is nearly finished. Danyinkone-Insein and Insein-Kyinmyindine sections from the western part are finished and Kyinmyindine-Bayarlan section will be finished at the end of December. Four out of five sections of the circular railways will be finished at the end of December. The eastern part will be finalized in May 2020,” said Manager Kyaw Myo Lwin of Myanma Railways (MR).

Each circular train will run ten to twelve minutes at peak hour after the upgrades and can reduce travel time to one hour and 50 minutes each run. The circular train services can carry about 240,000 commuters, according to the MR.

The upgrading processes, including the building of concrete ditch between train tracks and level crossings, will be developed with the union budget and the installation of signal system and the buying of new train carriages will be implemented using US$107 million loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

About 80,000 commuters are using the Yangon circular train services daily with each train running 15 to 45 minutes between them at 2 hours and 50 minutes each run.

Although the Yangon circular railways services, which was established in 1958, has been running for about 60 years now, major repairs and upgrades started only this year. The upgrading process will be implemented with US$207 million loan from JICA and US$94 million of state budget, announced the MR.

“If the upgrading process is done, we will run with DEMU train carriages bought from Japan. All upgrading process will be finished in 2022,” said an official from the MR.

About 90,000 commuters are using the circular services daily and the number of daily commuters will be increased to about 300,000 after the upgrading process is finished.

SNCF and Nokia to develop a 5G Lab to prepare for transition from GSM-R to FRMCS

PARIS: FRENCH National Railways (SNCF) has signed an agreement with Nokia to develop a 5G laboratory for rail and non-rail uses and to prepare for the switch from GSM-R to the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) in the mid-2020s.

FRMCS, which is being developed by a team led by the International Union of Railways (UIC), will be designed for 5G, which is starting to roll-out. 5G offers reliable, high-speed, low-latency performance and much greater capacity than GSM-R to improve existing telecommunications services and allow the development of new ones for railways.

SNCF and Nokia will evaluate FRMCS applications in the laboratory and out in the field. Infrastructure manager SNCF Network and SNCF’s innovation and research department will be closely involved in the project.

“SNCF’s ambition is to create a universal telecommunications system capable of meeting the needs of the rail system in the future,” says Ms Carole Desnost, director SNCF innovation and research.

“This collaboration highlights the full potential of 5G to address industrial use cases where current technologies are reaching their limits,” says Mr Matthieu Bourguignon, vice-president, Europe, with Nokia Enterprise.

It may not be out of place to mention here that to rollout 5G, telcos need to have accurate, detailed and up-to-date mapping of the markets they serve.

By using aerial imagery, LiDAR, and object-based image analysis technology, producing both 3D building and tree vectors and 1-meter resolution land-cover classifications of metropolitan areas is quite possible. With this telecom-tailored information, companies can accurately analyze urban & residential areas to determine the optimal locations for 5G sensors so their signals reach the highest number of users, helping them remain strong contenders in the race for a future that is predicted to be lightning fast.

Critical infra needed to enable the next wave of tech advancements in IoT, Smart Cities, VR & autonomous vehicles comes with the combination of 5G supported by LiDAR datasets, customized mapping of select Areas of Interest, 3D models of Areas of Interest with layered views of 3D building footprints, classified land cover/tree contours and their heights – all become part of critical information to analyze Line of Sight potential for 5G sensors to determine best strategy for the Telecos.

5G is the culmination of the process that will take us on a new trajectory of technological innovation, with the help of new framework that merges Cloud, Big Data, IoT, automation and AI to gain insights generated from billions of connected devices. Due to the extensive technological sophistication of 5G, selecting a site for 5G cells requires certain is more complex than selecting a site for 3G or 4G.

5G need minimum 50 times more antenna locations than 3G or 4G. Also, 5G signals are more powerful but they are unable to travel far and wide like its previous incarnations.

The main advantage of 5G is that of one cell site is not working; the other site would cater to customer demands. Instead of concentrating a large number of cells at a single location, 5G cells are spread at different locations so that in case of a network breakdown issues, users can continue to get efficient services. 5G’s higher frequencies which is needed to carry huge amounts of data have a very short range which can be impacted by smallest of the obstructions. The signal is so sensitive that it can be blocked by the palm of your hand, or even a raindrop.

5G will also require denser telecom network more towers placed selectively and strategically. Therefore, accurate, authoritative geospatial data is fundamental here to plan network towers.

Since the 5G network cells would be evenly distributed in a large area, it is important to select a location. As such, 5G and geospatial will together power future cities.

The solution includes machine learning and a service delivery framework, expertise in RF and C-RAN design from Shields and large, precise, 3D datasets derived from terrestrial/aerial LiDAR and other remote sensed content.

Parliamentary Consultative Committee of MPs and Ministry of Railways meeting held

Elected representatives convey the sentiments of the people who are major stakeholders of the services provided by the railways said Piyush Goyal

NEW DELHI: Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal has said that any organisation to do good work must respond to the feedback from all its stakeholders. Presiding over the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of MPs of the Ministry of Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal expressed gratitude to the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for ensuring availability of adequate funding for railway projects. He said that improvement in the system is a continuous process. He pointed out that improvements in the safety, cleanliness, punctuality and infrastructure development of Railways has been quite spectacular in the last five years. Work on all projects has progressed at a very fast pace, including improvement in facilities for passengers at railway stations and in the trains. Shri Piyush Goyal appreciated the change in the mindset and reorientation of work culture in the Railways and said that this drastic change would not have been possible without the whole-hearted contribution and involvement of the railway personnel who are working with passion and compassion.

Referring to the recently held two-day conference “Parivartan Sangoshthi” of senior railway officers, the Minister said that a large number of innovative ideas were discussed with approximately 300 officers who participated in New Delhi and with more than 1000 who participated via video conferencing. More than 2300 suggestions were received from about 430 officers which will help in laying out a roadmap for the future development of Railways in India. He said that the mission of the Railways is to increase the freight and passenger traffic and increase the revenue earnings of Railways. Expressing his appreciation for the suggestions put forward by the MPs participating in the meeting, the Minister said that the elected representatives convey the sentiments of the people who are major stakeholders of the services provided by the railways. Shri Piyush Goyal talked about a more rational approach for creating new halts/stoppages of the trains.

Earlier, Minister of State of Railways, Shri Suresh C. Angadi said that Railways are the lifeline of the country’s economy. He said that the cooperation of the State Governments is very essential in the completion of the projects. He said that there should be no compromise on matters like safety, cleanliness and punctuality. Emphasising on the complexity of the railway operations, Shri Angadi said that the Indian Railways carries about 2.3 crore passengers everyday which is almost equal to the total population of Australia. The vision of the railways must be very clear that it has to serve the people of India.

The Members of Parliament participating in the meeting highlighted various issues like the construction of over and under bridges, doubling of railway lines, the facilities being provided to passengers at railway stations and in the trains, additional connectivity of backward areas by introducing new trains or extending the existing ones, fast-tracking of works already sanctioned, medical facilities for passengers, proper utilization of railway land and use of solar power for locomotives. Some members appreciated the tremendous progress made by the Railways over the last five years and said that railways are next only to the defence forces in providing service with dedication to the people. Some other suggestions made by members included rationalization of train fares, improvement of punctuality of goods trains and printing of price of food items.

Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, all other Members of the Railway Board and Senior Officers of the railways were also present in the meeting. A presentation titled “Indian Railways : Lifeline of the Nation” was made before the Members of the Consultative Committee in which all relevant details like modernisation of infrastructure, railway assets and operations, earnings and expenditure, key issues like financing of plan outlay, capital expenditure and prioritisation of projects, enhancing safety and digital transformation of the railways were included.

China’s Bullet Train network will expand to 35000 Km of Trackwork by 2020

The world’s longest High Speed Railway Network is set to extend even further by the end of 2019.

BEIJING: China’s high-speed railway network will stretch to an estimated length of 35,000 kilometres by the end of this year.

The country’s current network of high-speed railways currently extends to 31,043 kilometres, according to data produced by the International Union of Railways (UIC), and operates with trains capable of reaching speeds of 350 kilometres per hour, on lines operating between Beijing–Shanghai, and Beijing–Hong Kong, among others.

According to UIC, China had 26,869 kilometres of high-speed lines in operation at the beginning of June, 2018, marking an expansion from 25,000 kilometres of track work laid by the end of 2017. Since then, thousands of kilometres more have been laid.

But the country has big plans ahead for the expansion of new networks, and bold plans to expand the length of its networks even further, with more than 7,000 kilometres of further track work under construction. UIC predicts that by 2030 to 2035, China’s high-speed rail network could cover more than 80,000 kilometres, representing “an important challenge for operators, industry” and “authorities”.

China continues work on overseas railways, including the Beijing–Laos railway, which Xinhua reported are making “solid headway” and “garnering global prestige” for China’s railways.

According to China’s Ministry of Transport, a total of 3.13 billion passenger rail trips were made between January and October, representing an 8.9 per cent year on year increase. The Ministry has predicted China’s railways, covering some 150,000 kilometres of tracks, will record 3.6 billion passenger trips by the end of the year – up 92 per cent from 2012.

Bullet trains specifically, which can take travellers from Beijing to Shanghai (more than 1,000 kilometres) in under five hours, are expected to handle 2.31 billion passenger trips, this year, representing a reported 3.4-fold increase from 2012 levels, according Xinhua.

And while China’s current high-speed trains travel at speeds between 250– and 350 kilometres per hour, Japan has begun testing shinkansen capable of surpassing these speeds.

In May, the East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) revealed it plans to operate a new shinkansen (called the Alfa-X) at 360 kilometres per hour – 10 kilometres faster than China’s Fuxing Hao, which links Beijing and Shanghai and has the same top speed.

Production of the shinkansen finished in early May at a reported cost of 10 billion yen ($131 million).

However, if current projections prove correct, Beijing could quickly reclaim the mantle for the fastest trains in the world. China has reportedly begun testing a “super magnetic levitation” train that could hit astonishing speeds of up to 600 kilometres per hour, with a prototype reportedly set to hit tracks by 2020.

Railways to float Global Tender for Train-18 – Siemens, BHEL, Alstom, Bombardier & CAF part of bidding!

NEW DELHI: The ambitious Train 18 project is likely to get a fresh impetus soon with the government planning to float a fresh global tender for 30 to 40 trains.

This comes amid controversies looming over the decision by the railways to stop production of Train 18 rakes at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai and initiating probe against top nine officials of India’s first semi-high speed train, also known as Vande Bharat Express.

A major reason why the railways had called for production to be stopped at the ICF was because of the heavy rakes, which resulted in higher energy consumption.

“We are going for fresh global tenders of Train 18 now. This is after the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the research arm of the railways, changed the criteria for the trainset,” said a senior railways official.

According to industry experts, major global players that are likely to be a part of the bidding include Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier and Spanish major CAF. Indian companies like Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), too, may join the fray.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had touted it as an iconic Make-in-India initiative on February 15, launching the first Vande Bharat train from New Delhi to Varanasi.

“If a new company is coming to make the train through a fresh tendering process, it will take an additional two-and-a-half years for the next Train 18 to see light of the day,” said a former railways official.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had informed the Lok Sabha on November 27 that the plan is to produce 160 coaches in 2019-20, 240 coaches in 2020-21 and 240 coaches in 2021-22 at the ICF.

This was after the cancellation of two bulk tenders for propulsion systems of Train 18 earlier this year. A first one for the 43 propulsion systems and a second tender for 37 systems got cancelled due to lack of interest.

Around 35 per cent of the cost of the train is because of its propulsion system. Before the initial launch, the train was certified by RDSO after safety oscillation trials and the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) had also cleared the train for commercial operations.

“When the train had gone through the entire clearance process, a change in criteria will only delay the launch of new trains,” said a person close to the development.

Based on comparative data available with industry sources, the energy consumption of Rajdhani trains was seen at 10,340 kwh for 447 km. For the Shatabdi, it is 8,396 kwh and Train 18 it is 8,983 kwh for the same distance.

However, in terms of energy regeneration, Train 18 has an edge with the coaches regenerating 12.9 per cent of the total energy consumed, compared to 12.3 per cent by the Rajdhanis and 11 per cent by the Shatabdis. Regeneration is the power to send energy back to the grid, when the train is in braking mode.

Bids invited for supply of 22,000 MT Rails for Delhi-Meerut RRTS project

NEW DELHI: The National Capital Region Transport Corporation Limited (NCRTC) invites online bids on open competitive bidding (OCB) basis from the eligible manufacture or supplier of head hardened rails for Delhi-Meerut RRTS project.

Scope of Work

Manufacture, Supply, transportation and delivery of 22,000 MT of UIC 60/60E1/60KG 1080 Grade Head Hardened Rails Class-A conforming to IRS T-12-2009 (latest amendment) for DelhiGhaziabadMeerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) Corridor in India.

Key information

  • Tender No. : 2019_ADBNC_37190_1
  • Estimated Tender Value: Confidential
  • Security Money: Confidential
  • Tender document cost: NIL
  • Delivery period: 24 months
  • Availability of Tender documents: 4th December 2019 to 16th January 2020
  • Last date for submission of Bids: 16th January 2020 up to 1500 hrs.
  • Opening date of Technical bids: 16th January 2020 at 1700 hrs.
  • Pre-bid Meeting: 23rd December 2019 at 1100 hrs.

Eligibility

  • The Bidder must have a minimum average annual turnover of INR 1650 Million or equivalent calculated as total payments received by the Bidder for Supply contracts completed or under execution over the last 5 years.
  • The Bidder must demonstrate that it has Successful completion as the main supplier after 1st January 2014 of supply of at least 80,000 MT of Rails.
  • The Bidder shall demonstrate that the UIC 60/60E1/ 60 Kg 1080 Grade Head Hardened Rails have been in production for at least 5 years, and been sold a minimum of 40000 MT of UIC 60/60E1/60kg 1080 Grade Head Hardened Rails over the last 3 years. A total of 5000 MT of Rails out of the quantity mentioned above should have been in satisfactory use in mainline in passenger traffic/mixed traffic carrying Railway/Metro/High Speed/RRTS Commuter systems in operation for a minimum of 3 years.
  • The Bidder shall demonstrate the availability of or access to liquid assets, lines of credit, and other finances sufficient to meet cash flow requirement which is INR 400 Million or Equivalent.

Contact Point and Pre-bid Meeting Venue

The Managing Director
National Capital Region Transport Corporation
7/6, Siri Fort Institutional Area,
August Kranti Marg,
New Delhi – 110049

UIC Annual Report shows Railway Safety at Record High in 2018

Accidents and numbers of victims has decreased by almost 17 per cent between 2013 and 2018, with a two per cent improvement from 2017, according to UIC.

PARIS: The worldwide railway organisation, the International Union of Railways (UIC), has published its annual report on railway accidents, showing its findings that railways achieved the highest safety rate in 2018.

Between 2013 and 2018, accidents and the number of victims decreased by almost 17 per cent, a two per cent improvement compared to 2017, due to the efforts of the rail community to work to improve safety in the sector. A total of 1,746 significant accidents were recorded in 2018, the lowest number since data collection began in 2006.

UIC found that 74 per cent of accidents were caused by trespassing on railway infrastructure. The remaining causes of accidents included: 15 per cent at level crossings; seven per cent attributed to internal causes such as technical or organisational failures or human factors; two per cent caused by weather and environmental conditions; and no more than one per cent involved people being hit on a platform, or falling from a train or platform.

The railway is vulnerable to the behaviour of people outside of the system, with third parties representing 97 per cent of the fatalities recorded in 2018.

There were 123 collisions and derailments recorded in 2018, only slightly above 2016’s historic recorded low. Only 12 accidents resulted in fatalities, with three serious accidents accounting for 82 per cent of the 118 victims.

The International Union of Railways’ safety database has been collecting data since 2001 – currently covering 27 UIC members in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East – and is managed by the organisation’s Safety Unit. The database serves as a depository for statistical information on accidents, but also offers extensive insight into the causes, circumstances, and consequences of accidents – aligning with the classifications and definitions used within European regulations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tiranë Airport Rail line tenders invited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stuttgart Airport Rail connection contract awarded

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

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

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

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

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

Tender for Riga International Airport Rail Baltica Station launched

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NZ Transport Ministry mulls Auckland Light Rail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Bank invited to join Minsk Airport Rail Line project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shuttle transfers and a canceled train

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

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

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

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

Chemco Intl launches Railway Construction & Maintenance Division

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will It Violate Privacy Of Passengers?

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

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

Indian Railways’ FRS

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

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

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

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

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

The Whole FRS and its Underlying Concerns

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

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

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

The Incredible Accuracy of Facial Recognition Systems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Railways aims to complete 100% electrification by 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How HOG technology works

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

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

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

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

List of trains coverted to HOG system in SCR zone:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mott MacDonald JV wins major role on Sydney Rail project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How predictive mapping can help railways cut noise pollution

SoundPLAN uses mapping technology to reduce noise pollution.

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

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

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

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

SoundPLAN uses Predictive Technology to reduce noise pollution.

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

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

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

How does the technology map noise?

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

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

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

Reliability allows for more careful planning

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

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

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

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

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

Calculating noise levels for the Eisenbahn-Bundesamt

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

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

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

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

An almost impossible, but worthwhile job

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

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

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