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.

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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www.adva.com

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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.

Southern Railway to enhance services in Malabar region

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

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

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

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

The suggestions taken 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adani partners with DECMIL in another win for regional Queensland!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Project

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

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

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

Location

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alstom-Railways JV struggles to meet Locomotive target

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dehradun Railway Station to be shut for next 3 months

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dhaka Metro Mass Rapid Transit System taking a shape

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dhaka Metro development history

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

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

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

Details of MRT Line-6

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

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

Construction of the line has been divided into eight packages.

Rolling stock and infrastructure details for MRT Line-6

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

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

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

Financing for MRT Line-6

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

MRT Line-1 details

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

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

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

Dhaka Metro Line-5 details

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

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

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

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

Contractors involved

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

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

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

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

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

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

New proposal for 53km Whitefield-Kolar Railway Line

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

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

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

Private Operator to operate Bangalore Suburban Rail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bangladesh bulldozes Rail line through Chittagong Forests

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

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

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

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

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

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

Threatening aquatic ecosystems

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cutting through elephant corridors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Railroading consent

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

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

Displacing people

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

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

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

Ignoring UN principles

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

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

Restoration demanded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The project will:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malaysian Railways Mentakab-Port Klang Rail alignment finalised

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evacuation outlet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adani awards Rail contract to support Carmichael project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Konkan Railway route to get 10 more Stations by March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INDIA-NEPAL Himalayan Task: Land Acquisition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under Execution

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

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

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

INDIA-BHUTAN Viable Offer, Vague Reply

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

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

LINE & LENGTH

INDIA-BHUTAN

Rail connectivity with Bhutan now: None

Planning stage

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

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

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

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

INDIA-BANGLADESH Friendly Nations, Unfriendly Terrain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rail connectivity with Bangladesh now:

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

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

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

INDIA-MYANMAR Great Wall of China in the Way

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

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

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

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

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

LINE & LENGTH INDIA-MYANMAR

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

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

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

IRCTC’s first Private Train violates Railway Tariff law!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Siemens receives 1 Bn Euro deal from Russian Railways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IRCON eyes Railway projects in Malaysia, Bangladesh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GC works on Madurai-Bodinaickanur MG section to begin shortly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CMRS inspection stalls Kolkata Metro East West Line inauguration again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fugro contracted for LiDAR scanning of Banedanmark’s Railway Network

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

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

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

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

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

This is intended to improve safety and timeliness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DFCC’s Freight Train Control Room ready in Prayagraj

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bids invited from Advisers for Strategic Disinvestment of 3 PSUs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAT re-tender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hitachi Rail unveils concepts for ‘Train Station of Future’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shares of IRCTC jump twofold on debut

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

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

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

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

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

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