India, Italy sign 6 MoUs to boost cooperation in Railways, Energy sectors

NEW DELHI: India and Italy on 30 October 2017 signed six Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to boost cooperation in various important sectors including energy and trade and railways.

The pacts were signed after detailed high-level talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. The talks mainly focused on ways to strengthen ties and countering terrorism.

A joint statement issued after the meeting read that both the Prime Ministers called upon all the countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens, their infrastructure and networks and halting cross-border movement of terrorists.

The visit is significant for both India and Italy, as the two nations will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 2018.

Following are the six MoUs signed by the two nations:

  1. Joint Declaration of Intent of Cooperation for Safety in the Railway sector between India and Italy.
  2. MoU on 70 years of diplomatic relations between Indian Council of Cultural Relations and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of Italy.
  3. MoU on cooperation in the field of Energy between India and Italy.
  4. Executive Protocol on Cultural Cooperation between India and Italy.
  5. MoU for promoting mutual investments between Italian Trade Agency and Invest India.
  6. MoU between the Training Unit of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Government of Italy and Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs, India.

India Japan Cooperation in Rail Safety makes further Headway

NEW DELHI : Japanese Railways is one of the oldest Rail system in the world. Japan is the pioneer in the High Speed Rail ‘Shinkansen’. Japanese Railways has an impeccable record with Safety. Ministry of Railways (GoI) had requested Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for technical cooperation in Rail Safety.

Responding to Ministry of Railway’s request, MLIT deputed a team of Japanese Railway experts to India to assess incidents of rail breakage and suggest measures to improve safety in train operations. The Memorandum of Cooperation on Railway safety was signed on 17.2.2017 between Ministry of Railways (GoI) and MLIT, Japan.

The MoC envisages cooperation in Rail Safety on area such as maintenance of Track (welding, rail inspection, track circuit etc.) and rolling stock maintenance. ‘Capacity Development’ has been taken as a Technical Cooperation project under the MoC to develop Indian Railways’ capacity in respect of the above identified areas. These areas have been incorporated in the Terms of Reference of cooperation.

A Mission from Japan comprising representatives of Japan’s MLIT, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and railway operators etc. are visiting India from 30.10.2017 to 2.11.2017.

On 31.10.2017, Hon’ble Railway Minister Mr Piyush Goyal along with CRB and other Board Members has met with the Japanese delegation comprising members of ToR mission and members from the rail related industries. Japanese delegation was headed by Japanese Ambassador in India H.E. Mr Kenji Hiramatsu. During this occasion, a roundtable discussion was held with the Japanese delegation. Hon’ble MR stressed on the total safety management. He also mentioned that IR is striving for ‘zero accident regime’.

Japanese Ambassador in India H.E. Mr Kenji Hiramatsu assured for full cooperation in this area based on the expertise available in Japanese Railways & Industry.

The roundtable discussion on railway safety and conventional railways was held with following agenda:
i. Accident Investigation
ii. Track
iii. Railway safety management
iv. Locomotives

Presentations were made by Japanese Industries on their capability in the field. In addition issues of Station Development, Security Systems and Modal shift from truck to rail in transporting new cars & trucks was also discussed.

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Bullet Trains will transform India in a positive manner: Hideki Asari, Minister (Political Affairs), Embassy of Japan

After a lecture about open trade between India and Japan, Hideki Asari, Minister (Political Affairs), Embassy of Japan, spoke on things that concern Japan. Below is edited excerpts.

The bullet train (Mumbai-Ahmedabad) has received criticism over the cost of the project. But what is the economic value of the project?

High speed trains have transformed Japan and it will transform India as well. However, I will leave the actual figures of job creation to the economists. But if you see there are over 13,000 Japanese companies in India and each of them creates job in India, especially the large manufacturers. These companies have been having a positive impact in Indian economy by creating huge number of direct and indirect jobs.

There were talks about taking 3 lakh Indian youth to Japan for training. How many of them will be employed there?

The schools where the youth would go for training, are operated by four major Japanese manufacturers. Each of these schools will train them; will help them develop their skills and they can find jobs in Japanese factories. Due to these skills, they will create better opportunities not just for themselves but for overall work force of India. However, I don’t have the figures.

How do you think Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) and Indo-Pacific change things in the region?

TPP is our country’s concern and we are consulting on how we carry it forward. Speaking of TPP itself, it has a very huge significance for strategic and economic implication. In the Pacific region, if you look at the size of economy of the participating countries, TPP will beneficial. This partnership will benefit India as well in lot of ways— in terms of trade and piracy issues. TPP will benefit not just participating countries but non-participating countries as well.

What will be Japan and India’s role in growth in the Pacific region?

Japan and India can collaborate not just in trade, but in investment, business collaboration, manufacturing in the quality products etc. This quality product manufacturing should not be limited towards Indian market but also outside market which will create more trade.

How will Japan help India to meet its green energy demands?

This area is important. Japan has technology and there is enough room for collaboration in this space for both countries. This area is not only promising but is also very important for the two countries to combat global warming.

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India receives first GE Locomotive under $2.5 Billion Deal

This will be the first ever Diesel-Electric Locomotive running on Indian tracks which complies with the international UIC 1 standard on emissions, the company said.

NEW DELHI: India today received first of the 1,000 high-power diesel-electric railway locomotives that are to be supplied by American industrial giant GE as part of a $2.5 billion agreement signed in 2015 aimed at modernizing the country’s ageing loco fleet.

“GE Transportation today took another important step forward in its partnership with Indian Railways when the first of 1,000 diesel-electric Evolution series locomotives arrived at India’s Mundra Port,” the company said in a statement.

This will be the first ever diesel-electric locomotive running on Indian tracks which complies with the international UIC 1 standard on emissions, the company said. The locomotive was designed at the John F Welch Technology Center in Bangalore.

This is the first of 40 locomotives which are to be imported from the U.S. The remaining 960 will be built at GE’s factory being constructed at Marhowra in Bihar, and is expected to open in 2018. The partnership is also expected to provide technical training and employment opportunities for the local community in Bihar.

“Our partnership with Indian Railways is a best-in-class bilateral example of how entities can work together to create jobs and drive economic development in a region,” said Vishal Wanchoo, President & CEO, GE South Asia. “Through this project, we’re creating a robust supply chain ecosystem in India, and will localize more than 70 percent of all content. We’re proud of the more than 6,000 jobs, that have been created by GE in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

Commenting on the development, GE Transportation’s President and CEO-International Nalin Jain said the construction of the Marhowra factory and maintenance shed in Roza is underway and the company is delivering in line with the contractual timelines.

GE Transportation is building two locomotive models for Indian Railways. The latest ES43ACmi model is a dual-cab locomotive with a 4,500-horsepower engine. The second locomotive, model ES57ACi, features a 6,000-horsepower engine. It is currently in the design phase and will begin production later this year.

Germany-India sign Agreement to study the feasibility of increasing Train Speed to 200 kmph on Chennai-Kazipet route

NEW DELHI: A Joint Declaration of Intent was signed between Ministry of Railways and Germany today i.e., 10th October, 2017 at Rail Bhavan, New Delhi in the presence of Shri Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board regarding carrying out of feasibility study on existing Chennai-Kazipet corridor of Indian Railways by German Railways for increasing the speed of passenger trains to 200 kmph on 50:50 percent cost sharing basis.

The current Joint Declaration of Intent is intended to deepen the cooperation, more specifically towards the achievement in the priority area of Semi High Speed Rail: the upgrading of current passenger services to SHS (Semi High Speed) upto 200 kmph on the Chennai-Kazipet corridor (643 km).

The Project is envisaged to consist of three phases to be carried out over a 22 month period with the objectives to provide:

Phase 1: Definition of three demand-based Upgrade scenarios for the corridor.

Phase 2: Selection of the preferred Upgrade scenario for SHS on the corridor, based on Analysis of respective operations and economic-financial impact.

Phase 3: For preferred scenario, Reference design and technical Tender document:

  • Development of Reference design for technical solution on preferred Upgrade scenario.
  • Procurement concept for Construction works and Railway Systems.
  • Concept and Requirements for construction phasing under Railway Operations.
  • Preparation of technical tender documents for preferred Scenario usable for Design & Build tendering.
  • Development of recommendations on the implications for a larger SHS program for India.
  • Possible financing options for the implementation of the corridor.

The cost of the feasibility study will be shared 50.50 percent by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India and Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The final terms and conditions of carrying out of this feasibility study shall be completed through signing a separate Agreement.

Earlier, a Protocol on cooperation in Rail sector was signed between both sides in May, 2016 in Germany, with following priority areas.

  1. Concepts for increasing the design and the actually driven speeds;
  2. Concepts for increasing the capacity of railway lines in passenger and goods transport;
  3. Concepts for improving operational safety to avoid incidents and accidents;
  4. Concepts for reducing operational costs, in particular by means of energy efficient railway Operations;
  5. Concepts for the cooperation between education and training facilities in India and Germany with the objective of enhancing the railway know how;
  6. Supporting the expansion of the high speed and semi high speed network;
  7. Joint development of user oriented standards and norms for India with the participation of the competent regulatory authorities;
  8. Concepts for speed raising on longer stretches for multiple traffic;
  9. Concepts for station redevelopment on modern lines.

Salient Features of Chennai-Kazipet Corridor

  • Route: Chennai-Gudur Jn-Nellore-Tenali Jn-Vijayawada Jn-Warangal-Kazipet Jn Total length of the corridor – 643 km (135 km in Southern Railway and 508 km in South Central Railway) and the entire corridor is electrified.
  • Divisions Involved – Chennai (135 km), Vijayawada (311 km) & Secunderabad (197 km).
  • The maximum sectional speed on the corridor is 110 kmphin Southern Railway and 120 kmph for South Central Railway.
  • There are 216 (Southern Railway-68 & South Central Railway-148) level crossings on the corridor and all are manned.
  • There are 1979 (Southern Railway-514 & South Central Railway-1465) number of bridges on this corridor.
  • There is only one direct train from Kazipet to Chennai i.e. Train No. 12760/Charminar SF Express taking 11 hours 20 minuteswith 13 stoppages at an average speed of 57 kmph.
  • Majority of the trains are from Warangal to Chennai (638 km) and the fastest train is Train no. 12433/12434Rajdhani Express taking 8 hours 29 minutes with average speed of 75.3 kmph with one stoppage at Vijayawada.
  • Details of coaching trains on the route: Garib Rath-1, Janshatabdi-1, Superfast-40, MailExpress-21 & Holiday Special-8, Total-71.
  • Total number of enroute stations – 108 (Southern Railway-28 & South Central Railway-80).
  • Total number of stations where platform is on the mainline – 29 (Southern Railway-23 & South Central Railway-06).
  • Southern Railway – Automatic/Absolute signaling, South Central Railway – Mainly absolute and MACLS.

SCR sign Energy Performance agreements with Energy Efficiency Services Limited – a JV of Power Ministry

SECUNDERABAD: South Central Railway has earned yet another distinction of being the first Zone on Indian Railways, where all the Six Divisions of the Zone viz., Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur & Nanded Divisions have signed Energy Performance Agreements with M/s. Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a Joint Venture Company of PSUs of Ministry of Power, Government of India under Energy Service Company (ESCO) model at a time. The agreement was signed today i.e., 10.10.2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad by the officials of SCR & EESL.

The agreement signed, is to implement Energy Efficiency projects at 22 selected A1 & A class stations on the Zone as per Railway Board guidelines involving provision of Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting, super energy efficient Brushless DC electric motor (BLDC) ceiling fans and super energy efficient Inverter AC’s replacing conventional lights, conventional ceiling fans & conventional Air-conditioners involving an approximate Energy Savings of 9.8 Lakh Units per annum amounting to Rs.88 Lakh.

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Germany shows interest in executing Chennai-Bengaluru Bullet Train project, funding likely the Japanese way

In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on Bilateral Cooperation in the Rail Sector. Germany likely to follow Japan in aiding India’s quest for Superfast Trains.

BANGALORE: Germany is likely to follow Japan in aiding India’s quest for superfast trains. After laying the foundations of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train with aid from Japan, Germany is evincing keen interest to finance and execute the proposed Chennai-Bengaluru high-speed rail project, which will have almost the same terms as the Japanese venture.

For the Rs.110,000-crore (Rs 1,100 billion) Mumbai-Ahmedabad project, Japan has offered a loan of Rs 88,000 crore (Rs 880 billion at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent, which can be repaid in 50 years. Germany has shown an interest in executing and giving a loan for the Chennai-Bengaluru bullet train project.

Discussions are in initial stages but they are likely to agree to the way the Japanese are doing it,” said an official close to the development.

In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on bilateral cooperation in the rail sector.

According to the pact, Germany is expected to look at the possibility of a bullet train and increasing the speed of trains on existing routes to 200 km per hour (kmph).

In order to increase the overall speed of Indian trains, the railways ministry has made a multi-pronged strategy.

“The Railway Board’s plans include running high-speed trains (with a speed of more than 300 kmph), semi high-speed trains (with a speed of 160-200 kmph), and increasing the average speed of the existing trains,” the official added.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will cover 508 km and 12 stations have been proposed on the route. This distance is likely to be covered in two hours and 58 minutes by the bullet train, travelling at 320-350 kmph.

The distance by train between Chennai and Bengaluru is around 358 km. If the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project is taken as the benchmark, the Chennai-Bengaluru route is likely to cost Rs 70,000-80,000 crore  (Rs 700-Rs 800 billion).

Many analysts, however, say that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project cost is too high compared to that offered by Chinese and some European companies.

According to sources, five planned high-speed routes – Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur, and Mumbai-Nagpur – are also in various stages of consultation.

A Chinese consultant, The Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation, is doing the feasibility study for the Delhi-Mumbai route, while a consortium led by French major Systra, RITES, and Ernst and Young are studying the Mumbai-Chennai route.

A consortium led by Spanish company Typsa is studying the feasibility of the Delhi-Kolkata route.

The feasibility for the Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur routes is being conducted by China and Spain, respectively, on a government-to-government basis.

“Our priority is completing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Chennai-Bengaluru routes. The rest of the projects will be taken up only after that,” the official added. For the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, Japanese Shinkansen technology will be used. The project will cover 155.6 km in Maharashtra, 350.5 km in Gujarat, and 2 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

An alliance on track

  • In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on bilateral cooperation in the rail sector
  • According to the pact, Germany was expected to look at the possibility of a bullet train and increasing the speed of trains on existing routes to 200 kmph
  • The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will cover 508 km and 12 stations have been proposed. This distance is likely to be covered in two hours and 58 minutes by the bullet train, travelling at 320-350 kmph

SCR enters into long term agreement with M/s Orient Cement Limited for Transport of Cement

SECUNDERABAD: In order to give long term stability and predictability to the freight tariff rates, Railways has introduced an innovative Freight tariff scheme for corporate freight customers of Indian Railways. Once a customer enters into this contract with Railways, the freight tariff rate will remain fixed for one year period. This gives predictability and stability in freight rates and helps the customers to plan their logistics for the entire year. The scheme also gives incentives to the freight customers in the form of freight discounts, if the customer exceeds the previous year’s freight contribution. It is a growth linked incentive, the higher freight the customer contributes over previous year, the higher the discount.

In a brief ceremony at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad today i.e., 28.09.2017, the Financial Adviser & Chief Accounts Officer (General) Smt.Purna M Cherla; Principal Chief Commercial Manager Shri M.G.Sekharam of South Central Railway and Shri Rahul Desmukh, Chief Operating Officer of M/s Orient Cements Limited  signed an agreement for a period   of five years. Orient Cements is the third such Cement Company to sign such agreement with South Central Railway. M/s UltraTech Cements Limited and M/s The India Cement Limited have already signed such an agreement with South Central Railway.

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Harsco’s Rail Division receives new international Orders totaling close to $25 Million

Harsco Corporation’s railway track maintenance division, Harsco Rail, announced today two orders for international delivery this year totalling close to $25 million.

The first order calls for the production of Harsco Rail’s precision rail grinding equipment for use in Saudi Arabia on the double-tracked 453 km (281 mile) high speed line being built between Mecca and Medina.  When completed, the rail line is projected to carry a maximum of as many as 166,000 passengers per day.  The Harsco-built machines will be used to maintain railhead contours for extended rail life and smoother operation, thus reducing fuel consumption, operating costs and noise.  Grinding also corrects possible surface damage that can potentially lead to rail fractures.  Harsco’s order also includes initial operator training as well as spare parts support.

Under the second order, Harsco Rail will provide two on-track measuring vehicles for the assessment of rail geometry and ballast profiling in the Republic of South Africa, working as an Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) partner in support of Transnet Freight Rail, the heavy haul railway freight system within South Africa.  Harsco will be supplying the vehicles to Molamu Majories and Thari Joint Venture (MMTR), the contractor to Transnet.

Deliveries under both orders are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Harsco Rail is a global market leader for railway track maintenance and construction, with a broad range of high quality equipment, cutting-edge technology and support to major railroads worldwide.  To learn more, visit www.harscorail.com.

Harsco Corporation (NYSE:HSC) is a diversified industrial company providing a range of onsite services and engineered products to the global steel, energy and railway sectors.  Harsco’s common stock is a component of the S&P SmallCap 600 Index and the Russell 2000 Index.  Additional information can be found at www.harsco.com.

Investor Contact
David S. Martin
717.612.5628
damartin@harsco.com

Media Contact
Kenneth D. Julian
717.730.3683
kjulian@harsco.com

China’s domestic Highspeed Rail lines continue to expand at an exponential pace

It has been recently reported that China’s high-speed railway technology has reached new heights. The high-speed link between Beijing and Shanghai has just got faster thanks to the introduction of the China Standardized EMU, otherwise known as the patented Fuxing class of trains. The maximum speed on this vital connection has been raised from 300 to 350 kilometers per hour, reducing the journey time to a little over four hours.

China’s domestic high-speed rail lines continue to expand at an exponential pace. The network is already the world’s biggest, with at least 22,000 kilometers of track already in place, and more being rapidly added. Despite some problems, as was only to be expected with such an enormous initiative, the Chinese high-speed rail project is efficient, safe, affordable, and popular with domestic passengers.

Railway construction by Chinese companies has also moved overseas in recent years, although up to now this has generally been of the conventional rather than high-speed variety. High-speed connections are hugely expensive, and so many countries, particularly those with low population densities, are reluctant to take a plunge into debt to fund them.

In Africa, China has completed conventional rail links in Angola, Algeria, Kenya and Sudan, and also between Djibouti and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Chinese rail companies are also working on railways in Guinea, Senegal, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, with some of these links being cross-border.

Outside Africa, however, the progress of overseas railway construction projects has not thus far been so rapid. There is a range of factors involved, with the wariness to allow Chinese companies into domestic and regional economies being the main one.

In Europe, for instance, the proposed Belgrade (Serbia) to Budapest (Hungary) link, which was to have been built by Chinese companies and potentially also extended through Skopje in Macedonia to Athens in Greece, was delayed by an EU decision to investigate the bidding process through which the tender was awarded. In essence, Brussels claimed that the award of the contract contravenes EU fair competition laws. This meant that a connection which would have enabled the relatively impoverished Balkan region to improve its integration with the rest of Europe was on hold due to European suspicions about Chinese motives and business practices. The construction of the project will start in November.

In Turkey, a high-speed connection between Ankara and Istanbul was built by Chinese rail companies. The project was completed in 2014. However, this is the only Chinese high-speed railway successfully completed outside China so far.

On the other hand, the project for a new high-speed link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is now open to bids and Chinese companies are involved. Only time will tell if this proves to be the stepping stone toward the rollout of Chinese high-speed rail technology across Asia.

In Indonesia, there is intense competition between China and Japan to win contracts to build new railways. Each has won one contract to connect the capital Jakarta with outlying cities, but neither project has yet been completed.

In India, Japan was recently awarded a contract to build the nation’s first high-speed rail link between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. This represents an escalation of what could unfortunately be termed Asia’s high-speed rail wars.

The Indian government appears to see China as a threat, and is therefore unwilling to engage either with the Belt and Road initiative or with investment from Chinese companies. It therefore remains to be seen how India will react to the proposed link between Tibet and Nepal through the Himalayas, which is now in the planning stages. This connection could continue into India, but that would depend on the trust shown by Indians, which thus far seems to be lacking.

Yet, as researchers Dragan Pavlicevic and Agatha Kratz have pointed out in an article in the high-impact scientific journal Pacific Review, it is unnecessary to view China’s overseas high-speed railway construction as a threat. China’s high-speed rail diplomacy, they argue, in no way represents a security threat to the countries involved.

Instead, the extension of Chinese rail projects internationally should be viewed as an opportunity for all parties to enhance connectivity and trade. Indeed, as Pavlicevic and Kratz note, it is clear that Japanese companies have only become involved in building high-speed railways around Asia as a result of Chinese companies having the vision to put such projects on the agenda in the first place. This is despite the fact that Japan has had high-speed rail technology for far longer than China.

As high-speed rail becomes an accepted and desirable transportation technology worldwide, and an increasing number of nations decide to introduce high-speed links, the expertise and cost competitiveness of Chinese companies in the marketplace is going to give them an advantage, and is also likely to showcase the advantages of cooperating with China in this and other fields.

Ultimately, China’s initiative in placing high-speed rail diplomacy at the heart of the Belt and Road initiative to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and East Africa is likely one day to be seen as a significant step forward in international transportation infrastructure, and not just for China’s interests, but for those of the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EFFICIENT, FAST, ACCIDENT-FREE

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

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

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

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

COSTLY, BUT ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAPAN

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

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

UNITED KINGDOM

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

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

UNITED STATES

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

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

EUROPEAN UNION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sanjeev Sinha, Advisor-Bullet Train Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Background:

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

Low cost of the project:

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

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

Make in India:

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

Cutting-edge versus Catch-up Technology:

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

Salient Features of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project:

Overview:

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

Key Features:

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

Low Cost, High Speed:

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

“Make in India”

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

Best tech available to India:

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

Boost to Economy & Employment

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

Ground Breaking Ceremony:

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

Project Status: Major progress made

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

Number of Rides:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Railways draw Blueprint for a Semi-highspeed Rail Corridor between Hyderabad-Nagpur

SECUNDERABAD: A rail journey between Maharashtra’s winter capital Nagpur and the city of pearls, Hyderabad, may take a mere three hours, down from the nine that most trains take now, if a plan is put into action, a senior official said.

The railways has drawn a blueprint for a semi-high speed corridor linking the two commercial hubs, the official added.

“The ministry has initiated a joint feasibility and implementation study with Russian Railways to chalk out details after which it will be sent to the Railway Board for approval,” the senior ministry official said.

The Railways planned to cash in on the fact that at present there were no direct flights between the two cities. A flight with a stopover could take four hours or more.

Currently, the 584-km stretch is covered by the Railways at an average speed of 60km/hr in a minimum of nine hours.

The railways is planning to run the trains at a speed of 160-200km/hr by strengthening the existing tracks and fencing off the route to complete the journey in less than three hours.

Semi-high speed trains can gather a maximum speed of 200 km/hr, while faster ones in the category of high-speed or bullet trains can run at 250-350 km/hr.

The Delhi-Chandigarh corridor, one of the busiest routes in north India, is slated to be the first semi-high speed project being taken up by the Railways with French help. It will enable trains to run at a maximum speed of 200km/hr.

Railways maintained little impact on Goods bound for Nepal on alternative rail routes

How Indian Railways kept supply line to Nepal alive even in the face of devastating floods

KOLKATA: One of worst instances of flooding in the region — areas in Bihar and Bengal abutting Nepal — has caused unprecedented damage to the road and rail infrastructure catering to border trade.

But this had little impact on goods bound for Nepal as the Indian Railways was quick to open alternative rail routes to cater to bilateral trade and Nepal’s third-country imports through Kolkata and Vizag ports. Credit should also go to people of Bihar for allowing rail authorities to restrict passenger train services so as to make way for goods movement.

“Goods operations were closed for only three days during August 17-19,” said Vishnu Chaudhary, CEO of CONCOR-run joint venture Himalayan Terminal (HTPL) at Nepal’s Birgunj, which borders the North Bihar town of Raxaul.

Chaudhary said the key Darbhanga-Sitamari-Raxaul rail link had snapped on August 13 and restoration is taking time as the alignment of some key bridges were affected.

Railways has managed the situation by diverting traffic through Sugauli. Passenger train services on the Muzaffarpur-Raxaul route was reduced from four to two, to create a six-hour dedicated window for goods movement to Nepal.

The results are visible. In July, the terminal handled 2,250 TEU (twenty feet equivalent unit) of containerised third-country cargo. In August, in spite of the devastating flood, 2,080 TEUs were unloaded.

Supply of steel, fertiliser, cement from India also went on full steam. In July, the terminal handled 31 rakes, each loaded with 2,500 tonne of steel cargo. The traffic was 25 rakes in August.

“The operations were challenging due to limited window for rake unloading,” Chaudhary reminded.

It means his team had to unload faster than the normal average of 2.2 rakes a day, failing which the entire traffic would be chocked. HTPL ended up unloading up to five rakes a day in August.

Chaudhary expects overall Nepal trade to gain momentum in the coming months, particularly with the restoration of road connectivity. Road movement is still slow. The 30-km link between Sugauli and Raxaul needs urgent repair.

Vizag cargo rising

Meanwhile, Nepalese importers are showing increasing interest to source third-country cargo through the Vizag sea port. While cargo activity stood at 50 TEUs in June, the monthly average rose to 78 TEUs in August.

According to Chaudhary, it may increase to 180 TEUs in September as two fully-loaded rakes (with 90 TEUs each) are about to depart from Vizag.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies sign MOU with Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board

File Pic: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu meeting with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Chairman and Co-Founder Mr. Bibop G. Gresta at Davos in January 2017. Theirs is a very good alternative to high speed rail and their technology is superior to bullet train or speed rail, in terms of energy consumption, and costs, he said earlier. Mr. Bibop mentioned that Hyperloop is now looking for collaborations in India

AMARAVATI (VIJAYAWADA): Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), an American research firm formed using crowd collaboration to develop ultra-high-speed transportation system based on Hyperloop concept, has agreed to build India’s first Hyperloop, connecting Andhra Pradesh’s proposed Greenfield capital city Amaravati and Vijayawada.

HTT has on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB), marking it first such agreement in India for the new transportation system.

Andhra Pradesh is India’s seventh largest state with a population of over 50 million.

The public private partnership (PPP) model, with funding primarily from private investors, will potentially turn a trip of more than an hour into a 5-minute ride between Amaravati and Vijayawada.

HTT said it will conduct a six-month feasibility study commencing in October during first phase.

“The project will involve little over $200 million of investment and take a year or so to complete it once all the approvals and Right of Way were in place,” Krishna Kishore, Chief Executive of APEDB, told.

“We are extremely delighted to have entered into a MoU with the government of Andhra Pradesh to bring the HTT Hyperloop to India,” said Bibop Gresta, Chairman and co-founder of HTT, in a statement. “In partnering with Andhra Pradesh, HTT will work with local stakeholders to build the regulatory standards necessary for safe and efficient operation.”

HTT said it will conduct a six-month feasibility study commencing in October during first phase. Working with partners in the public and private sector, HTT proposes to analyse the surrounding cityscapes to create the best route between the two cities while identifying all pertinent stakeholders in the region. After completing the feasibility, HTT in the second phase of the project proposes to construct and build its first Hyperloop in India.

“By collaborating with Hyperloop, Amravati is embracing a prototype for the mobility of tomorrow,” said Krishna Kishore of APEDB in a statement.

“India is entering into a new era in terms of technology and our goal is to put India on the global map by developing and implementing green technologies, the first Hyperloop in Amravati,” said Aviruk Chakraborty, advisor to APEDB.

It’s a good place to begin building a Hyperloop, with the distance between the two cities only being around 27-miles. Journey times right now are around the 70 minute mark, but the company claims that it can shrink that to just six minutes when finished.

The deal is structured as a public-private partnership, although nobody’s revealing just how much cash (and concessions) Andhra Pradesh is offering. The release does mention, explicitly, that the majority of the money will come “primarily from private investors,” although these things have a habit of costing the taxpayer in the end.

If completed, however, it would serve as a big win for India to boast that it has the world’s first operating Hyperloop and should provide an economic boon to the region. It will also provide a useful proving ground for a country that has its own deep attachment to the railway and its future.

Ministry of Railways Signs two MoUs with Swiss Confederation (Switzerland)

India and Switzerland signed two MoUs for exchanging technical cooperation in Railways.

NEW DELHI: Two MoUs have been signed in the course of the visit of President of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs. Doris Leuthard to India on today i.e.31.8.2017 between Ministry of Railways and Swiss Confederation.

The first MoU is between Ministry of Railways and Federal Department of the Environment, Transport and Communications of the Swiss Confederation for technical cooperation in Rail Sector. This was signed in the presence of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and President of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs. Doris Leuthard by Shri Ashwani Lohani, Chairman Railway Board and Dr. Andreas Baum, Swiss Ambassador to India.

The MoU is a follow up on bilateral cooperation in Rail sector discussed in the meeting held between Minister of Railways Mr. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu and Swiss Ambassador in July 2016.

The MoU aims at cooperation in the areas of:
a. Traction Rolling stock
b. EMU and Train sets
c. Traction Propulsion Equipments
d. Freight and Passenger Cars
e. Tilting Trains
f. Railway Electrification Equipments
g. Train scheduling and operation improvement
h. Railway Station modernization
i. Multimodal transport
j. Tunneling technology

The second MoU is between Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. This was signed by Shri Sanjay Gupta, CMD/KRCL and Prof. Sarah Springman, Rector, ETH Zurich. This will help Konkan Railway in establishing the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology (GFITT) at Goa especially for assimilation and dissemination of knowledge in the field of tunneling. GFITT aims to not only train KRCL’s own manpower for its Tunneling Projects but also wishes to generate qualified and trained personnel for the benefit of other Government organisations, private sector and even foreign organisations to bridge the huge gap in levels of knowledge and qualified manpower required to meet the key segment of infrastructure development in India.

SAIL inks Long Term Tariff Contract with Indian Railways

KOLKATA: Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) and Indian Railways have entered into a strategic agreement on Long Term Tariff Contract (LTTC). The agreement will involve fifteen of the sixteen zones under Indian Railways for transportation of iron & steel and other related commodities. In terms of benchmark gross freight revenue and tonnage it poised to be the highest tariff contract of Indian Railways.

As part of the agreement, which will come into effect from September 1, 2017 and will be valid for a period of three years, SAIL is committed to generate a benchmark Gross Freight Revenue (BGFR) of Rs 3,418 crore with corresponding tonnage of 19.3 million tonne.

SAIL is one of the largest customers of Indian Railways, having a rail coefficient of over 95%. This agreement will be for loading and unloading terminals, with different commodities applicable to long term tariff contract like, iron & steel, pig iron, slag, limestone, dolomite, manganese ore etc.

The objectives notified in the Railways’ policy include long term freight revenue commitments from customers, while customers are ensured of stability and certainty of freight rates and assured supply of wagons. While it aims at generation of additional traffic volumes and revenues for railways, there is freight rebate on incremental as well as retention of traffic to customers. In any given contractual year, Railways also guarantees protection from freight escalation.

SAIL is on the verge of completion of a major modernisation program at its different steel plants that will substantially increase its production capacity. The company said it expects infrastructural improvement at loading and unloading areas will reduce the detention and thereby improve the overall turn-around time of railway wagons in the future.

The agreement was signed on Tuesday (August 29, 2017) by Kaushik Mukhopadhyay, Chief Commercial Manager, South Eastern Railway, which is headquartered at Kolkata and Debabrata Maiti, General Manager (Rail Movement) on behalf of SAIL.

JSW Steel Ltd enters into Long Term Tariff Contract with South Western Railway

MOU was signed between SWR and JSW Steel Ltd. at Rail Soudha, Hubballi on 21.08.2017. Shri A.K. Gupta, General Manager, Shri K. Shivaprasad, Chief Commercial Manager of South Western Railway and Shri Susheel Nowal, Vice President of JSW Steel Ltd. are seen in the picture (From Left to Right).

HUBLI: South Western Railway and M/s.JSW Steel Ltd., Toranagallu signed Long Term Tariff Contract Agreement on 21.08.2017 for a period of 3 years by which Railways will retain the existing traffic of M/s.JSW Steel Ltd, Toranagallu besides encouraging them to load incremental traffic on cumulative basis during the contract period and also strive to divert the traffic from road to rail thereby increase the rail coefficient.

K.Shivaprasad, Chief Commercial Manager of South Western Railway and Susheel Nowal, Vice President of JSW Steel Ltd signed the MOU in presence of A.K.Gupta, General Manager and B.B.Singh, Additional General Manager, G.J.Prasad, Chief Operations Manager and A.K. Singh, Principal Finance Advisor & Chief Accounts Officer of South Western Railway.

M/s JSW Steel Ltd, Toranagallu will be eligible for rebate accrued in a year under this scheme as refund within 45 days after completion of each year for the traffic offered from all the three (03) plants viz., M/s. JSW Steel Ltd/Toranagallu, (JSWT/SWR), M/s. JSW Steel Ltd., Dolvi (JSWD/CR) and M/s. JSW steel Ltd, Salem (MCSI/SR).

The Inward commodities loaded will be Lime Stone, Dolomite, Steel Angle, Bentonite, Quartz and Clinker; outward commodities will be Steel, Slag and Cement.

Meeting over Indo-Bangla Railway Project on Aug 28

West Tripura district administration is planning to handover required land to the NFR by early next month to undertake ground work

DHAKA: A high-level bilateral meeting is scheduled to be held in Dhaka on August 28 regarding the progress of the Indo-Bangla railway project, in order to push the Indo-Bangla railway project, official sources confirmed here on Saturday. The meeting will be held at the Tripura Secretariat said.

Officials from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), North East Frontier Railway (NFR) and Tripura’s Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik are likely to attend the meeting.

On Bangladesh side, officers from Bangladesh Railways and Ministry of External Affairs will join the meeting. In the meeting, the progress of 15-km stretch of railway link between Agartala and Gangasagar (Bangladesh) will be reviewed.

Sources said land acquisition process has already begun in Bangladesh side, while the same process has gained ground on the Indian side too. According to latest inputs, West Tripura district administration is planning to hand over required land to the NFR by early next month to undertake ground work.

According to latest inputs, West Tripura district administration is planning to hand over required land to the NFR by early next month to undertake ground work.

According to the report, Ircon has been assigned to execute the railway link on both sides and India’s Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has already released fund to the tune of Rs98 crore to expedite land acquisition process. IRCON has been assigned to execute the 15-km railway link on both sides and the DoNER has already released fund to the tune of Rs. 98 crore to expedite land acquisition process.

“Once the required land is provided to us, the NFR will undertake construction of railway track on elevated corridor within a month,” said an official of the NFR here. The entire project cost would be borne by the Centre.

New Delhi is keen to establish the rail link as it would connect West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh. During the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in January 2010, India and Bangladesh had agreed to lay the tracks between Gangasagar (Bangladesh) and Agartala. The 15-km-long Agartala-Gangasagar railway route will connect Indian Railways with the Bangladesh Railways through the North-east which would improve connectivity and boost trade between the countries.

The 1,700 km distance between Agartala and Kolkata through chicken neck near Siliguri would be reduced to only 350 km if passengers from here could move through Bangladesh soil, according to sources.

The NFR will undertake construction of railway track on elevated corridor within a month once the land is provided.

During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in 2010, both counties had agreed to lay the tracks between Bangladesh’s Gangasagar and Agartala.

The railway route will connect Indian Railways with the Bangladesh Railways through the north-east which would improve connectivity and boost trade between the countries

Israel commissions Kishon Port Rail Link at the eastern end of Haifa Port

ISRAEL: A rail connection to the Kishon area at the eastern end of Haifa Port of Israel was inaugurated on August 17, enabling freight trains to run directly to destinations across the Israel Railway network.

The 2km link was built in around a year as part of a programme of co-operation between the port authority and the national railway. This has included the extension of tracks to accommodate container trains.

‘It is not a huge infrastructure project, but its contribution will be of significant economic value’, said Haifa Port Co Deputy General Manager, Operations, David Cohen at the inauguration ceremony.

One of the first uses for the new link will be the delivery of Bombardier Transportation Traxx electric locomotives and double-deck push-pull coaches, the first of which are scheduled to arrive from Germany shortly.

Speaking at the inauguration of the link, ISR General Manager Shahar Ayalon said transport was a ‘national challenge’ which required co-operation between different organisations. He said ISR’s rail freight activities now generated US$110m a year, and the company’s vision was to be able to offer ‘a door-to-door service from the port to factories and back’.

‘Co-operation between the port and the railways is constantly accelerating’, added ISR Deputy General Manager, Freight, Uri Sharir. ‘The results can be seen all over Israel in siding extensions as well as in the increased number of freight trains.’

Port of Haifa

The Port of Haifa (Hebrew: נמל חיפה‎‎) is the largest of Israel’s three major international seaports, which include the Port of Ashdod, and the Port of Eilat. It has a natural deep water harbor which operates all year long, and serves both passenger and merchant ships. It is one of the largest ports in the eastern Mediterranean in terms of freight volume and handles about 26 million tons of cargo a year. The port employs over 1,000 people, with the number rising to 5,000 when cruise ships dock in Haifa. The Port of Haifa lies to the north of Haifa’s downtown quarter on the Mediterranean, and stretches to some 3 kilometers along the city’s central shore with activities ranging from military, industrial and commercial next to a nowadays-smaller passenger cruising facility.

Facilities:

The Port of Haifa contains many cargo terminals, and is capable of servicing many ships at once. A railroad freight terminal is inside the port and is used for transporting goods across the country. The port also features a passenger terminal, fishing wharf, yacht club, sports marina, and chemical terminal. In 2013, the port processed about 26 million tons of cargo including 1.36 million TEUs, as well as 253,524 passengers. The port opened the first phase in the “Carmel Port” expansion program in 2010 that involved the construction of a new cargo terminal which includes a 700m long wharf capable of handling 9,200 TEU container ships (of up to 15.5 metres (51 ft) draft) as well as the opening of a secondary 250 metres (820 ft) wharf plus adjacent support and storage areas. The new facilities will expand the port’s annual container handling capacity by 500,000 TEU. Construction of this new terminal cost NIS1.8 billion (appx. US$500 million) and took five years to complete.

The Port maintains facilities for the United States Sixth Fleet.

On 4 January 2013, the MSC Chicago docked at the port’s Carmel terminal, making it the largest container ship ever to visit Haifa. MSC Chicago has a capacity of 9,200 containers. The previous record ship visit was the MSC Maeva (capacity of 8040 containers) which had visited two months before.

Israel Shipyards is nearby the port and provides heavy ship repair facilities. The company also operates a private port on its premises which in 2013 handled approximately 1.7 million tons of cargo.

Passenger Terminal

The port contains a modern passenger terminal serving cruise and ferry passengers. The terminal offers a waiting area, duty-free shop, souvenir shop, cafeteria, VAT reimbursement counter, currency exchange, free wireless internet, parking, as well as other services to travelers.

The area near the terminal also offers excellent public transit connections for passengers. The Haifa Center Railway Station is adjacent to the terminal and is served by nearly 200 passenger trains 24 hours a day on weekdays to the Haifa region and beyond. Additional public transit connections are available by bus or taxi at the railway station or on Ha’Azmaut Road, the main thoroughfare in downtown Haifa which is located in front of the station. The Carmelit’s Kikar Paris subway station is also within walking distance and allows convenient access to the top of Mount Carmel.

Odisha CS writes to Railways to expedite Jeypore–Malkangiri Rail line Project

Netas bicker over Jeypore-Malkangiri rail project. Delay over commencement of work on the 130km Jeypore-Malkangirirail line has triggered a war of words between political parties. 

BHUBANESWAR: Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi in a letter to the Railway Board Chairman expressed discontent over the Indian Railways’ demand that the State government provide 100 percent land acquisition cost for the Jeypore – Malkangiri Railway Line Project.

Delay over commencement of work on the 130km Jeypore-Malkangirirail line has triggered a war of words between political parties. The project is expected to benefit tribal-dominated areas but is yet to take off despite being announced in the 2016-17 Rail Budget.

As part of the MoU signed by Odisha and the railways, the state government would bear 25% cost of the project and an equal proportion of the cost of the land. The railways has now requested the state to bear full cost of the land for the project.

The development of railways is the duty of the Centre, but the State Government provided financial support to expedite the project work. It does not mean that Odisha will provide funds for all projects, Padhi mentioned in his letter.

The State Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with East Coast Railway (ECoR) in October last year in which the former had agreed to provide 25 percent project construction cost and 25 percent land acquisition cost. But now the Indian Railways is demanding that the State should provide 100 percent funds for land acquisition on grounds of loss in revenue due to decline in mining and transportation.

The State Government has termed it as an open defiance of the MoU.

Addressing the Chairman of Railway Board AK Mittal, Padhi wrote, “I would request you to instruct your officials to honour the MoU signed between both the Governments and expedite work for this project in the overall interest of the country.”

Talking to media persons, Padhi said, “They wrote to us in June saying that Odisha Government should bear complete land acquisition cost. Therefore we requested that as an MoU was signed in presence of Odisha CM and Railway Minister, they should stick to it.”

A broad gauge rail line of 130 kilometres from Jeypore to Malkangiri will be set up under the project. The main intention behind it was socio-economic development of the backward and Maoists affected zone.

An outlay of Rs 79 crore for the project had been made in the Railway Budget 2016-17. But it is pending since last one year due to the confrontation between the State and Indian Railways.

Andhra to establish AP Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.

AMARAVATI: Chandrababu Naidu led AP State government has decided to establish Andhra Pradesh Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (APRIDCL) under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary with the organisational structure proposed by railway authorities.

The decision has been taken in line with a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) signed between the state government and Railway Ministry on December 30, 2016 to develop railway infrastructure in Andhra Pradesh through Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways requested the state government to partner with Indian Railways in its endeavor to develop railway network in the country and for consent of the state government to form SPV for raising of funds for development of network in AP.

As per the agreement, the state government will incorporate a Joint Venture Corporation (JVC) as a public company under the Act to carry the business.

The railway ministry will give active representation to states in planning, development, financing and implementation of railway projects as per state’s priority through the State Joint Venture Company (State JVC), which will mutually identify railway projects, undertake survey, prepare Detailed Project Report (DPR) and arrange statutory approvals and sanction.

The shareholding pattern of the company will be 49 per cent (Rs 49 crore) to railway ministry and 51 per cent (Rs 51 crore) to state government.

The JVC will be incorporated in Amaravati, Vijayawada in the name of Andhra Pradesh Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. Both railway ministry and state government will nominate board of directors to the JVC.

MoU signed between RLDA & IRCON International for Redevelopment of Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station

1st phase of Redevelopment of Safdarjung Railway Station by 2019.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu witnessed signing of MoU between RLDA and IRCON for Re-development of Delhi Safdarjung Station

NEW DELHI: Ministry of Railways has entrusted the work of redevelopment of Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station to IRCON along with RLDA by leveraging the commercial potential of the railway land around the station including RLDA’s office as well as air space above the railway station.

In the gracious presence of Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways, Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), a Statutory Authority under Ministry of Railways, Government of India signed an MoU for this purpose with IRCON International Limited, a Public Sector Undertaking under Ministry of Railways.

Shri Rakesh Goyal, Vice Chairman RLDA and Shri S. K. Chaudhary, CMD IRCON signed the MOU. Delhi Safdarjung station is proposed to be developed on self-financing model for which finance will be raised through marketing of the commercial built-up area that will be developed on the surplus railway land and air space as part of the Station development project. The land and the constructed buildings will continue to remain under the ownership and control of RLDA and only the commercial built-up area will be leased for upto 45 years by RLDA, the statement said.

IRCON will carry out design, construction and marketing of the project. The Phase-I of the project will come up on the Moti Bagh side of the Station and is targeted for completion by January 2019.

They are expected to leverage the commercial potential of the railway land around the station as well as the air space above it. The station is proposed to be developed on a self- financing model for which finance will be raised through marketing of the commercial built-up area that will be developed on the surplus railway land and air space as part of the station development project.

Rail project to connect India and Bangladesh begins; land acquisition notices served to 257 families

AGARTALA: Land acquisition for the 15 km long Agartala-Akhaura rail project to link Indian Railways with Bangladesh Railways, has started, officials said on Sunday.

“We have served notices to 257 families to acquire 66 acres of land for the rail project and the land would be handed over to the railways by August end”, West Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Milind Ramteke told reporters.

He said, the Central government has already released Rs 97.63 crore to acquire the land.

The process of laying the 15 km long railway tracks to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh will be completed in two and half years time after laying of tracks begin.

Out of the 15 km track, 5 km would be on Indian side and the rest in Bangladesh.

Ramteke said that the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is the nodal agency for implementation of the project in Indian side.

Bangladesh government has also started acquiring around 70 acres of land for the project, NFR officials said.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu and his Bangladesh counterpart, Majibul Haque had jointly laid the foundation stone here on 31 July 2016.

A flyover of 3.7 km would be constructed on the Indian side to save cultivable lands and the entire project cost would be borne by the government, he said.

New Delhi is keen to establish the rail link as it would connect West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh.

During Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi, the two neighbours had agreed to lay the tracks between Akhaura and Agartala.

The Agartala-Akhaura railway route would connect Indian Railways with Bangladesh Railways which would improve connectivity and boost trade between the two countries.

The 1,700 km distance between Agartala and Kolkata which goes through the ‘chicken’s neck’ in Siliguri would be reduced by 350 km if passengers could move through Bangladesh, officials said.

Land acquisition for Indo-Bangla Rail project begins in Tripura

7 years on, land acquisition begins for India-Bangladesh rail line in both countries!

AGARTALA: Land acquisition for a 15 km India-Bangladesh railway line has finally begun in both countries – more than seven-and-a-half-years after the Rs 963 crore ($145 million) project was finalised and a year after the ground-breaking ceremony was performed, an official said here.

The Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway line would facilitate carriage of goods to and from both the countries and greatly benefit India’s land-locked northeastern states. Also, the journey time between Agartala and Kolkata, via Bangladesh, would be reduced by a third, from 1,613-km through mountainous terrain to a mere 514 km.

“We have started the land acquisition process this week for the railway project. We have targeted to hand over the required land to the railways by August 31,” West Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Milind Ramteke told.

Notice has been served on 257 families to acquire 66 acres of land, five acres of which belongs to the government and the remaining is privately-owned.

The process is being conducted under The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which was enacted by the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government during its second stint in office.

State Government of Tripura has issued a notification for acquisition of land for the proposed Indo-Bangla railway project, official sources said here on Friday. “As per preliminary reports, altogether 257 land owners are supposed to get compensation against the land acquisition”, said an official of District Magistrate (DM), West Tripura office. The entire process is scheduled to be completed by August 15.

The Centre has already released Rs 97.63 crore for land acquisition for the proposed rail project connecting Agartala railway station to Bangladesh’s Gangasagar station.

The project was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met her then Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Majibul Haque, jointly laid its foundation stone here on July 31 last year.
“After the Revenue Department of the Tripura government issued a notification last week, our officials have quickly started the actual work of land acquisition,” the District Magistrate said.

Ramteke said that the Union government had released Rs 97.63 crore to acquire the land for the project, for which the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is the nodal agency. An NFR official said that the Bangladesh government also started acquiring around 70 acres of land for the project.

“After the actual work starts, the project would be completed within 30 months,” the NFR official told IANS, preferring anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The government-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the five km track on the Indian side while the remaining 10 km would be laid by the Bangladesh railways.

However, IRCON would be the project management consultant of the Bangladesh Railway Board.

The Indian government would bear the entire cost of the project, which also figured during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Sheikh Hasina during his visit to Dhaka in June 2015.

The Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Ministry would bear the cost of the project on the Indian side while the External Affairs Ministry would bear the cost of the project on the Bangladesh side.

The Agartala-Akhaura project, which was sanctioned in the 2012-13 railway budget, would be part of the Trans-Asian Railway Network and provide much shorter connectivity from northeastern states to Kolkata via Bangladesh.

The existing railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district (in central Assam) and southern Assam connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of the country.

In October 2008, with the extension of the metre gauge track up to Agartala through southern Assam, Tripura became the first state capital in the northeast to be brought on India’s rail map after the country’s independence. Subsequently, the metre gauge was converted into broad gauge.

Currently, India and Bangladesh have four rail links with West Bengal.

Reports from across the border indicate, land acquisition process has already begun in Bangladesh side. Of the total 15-km length railway project, around 10 km rail track will fall in Bangladesh side while remaining part falls in Indian side.

In Indian side, a major portion will be elevated corridor to save land and this has reduced the land acquisition process for the railway project.

The IRCON has been tasked to execute the 15 km ambitious project amounting to Rs 967.85 crore. IRCON is expected to start the work at the earliest.

 

Tata Steel inks Long-term Tariff Contract with Indian Railways

LTTC has been introduced by Indian Railways to establish long-term contracts with customers.
The contract can be for a duration of 3-5 years. The main objectives of LTTC include long-term revenue commitment from customers, preferential treatment to customer for supply of wagons, generation of additional traffic volumes and revenues for Railways, freight escalation protection i.e freight increase mid-year will not be passed on to the customer and freight concession on retention of traffic as well as on incremental traffic.

NEW DELHI: Tata Steel on Friday said it has entered into long-term tariff contract with railways, becoming the first company in the steel sector to sign such pact.

“Tata Steel became the first steel company to enter into a long-term tariff contract (LTTC) with Indian railways here today,” the company said in a statement.

LTTC has been introduced by Indian Railways to establish long-term contracts with customers with guaranteed incremental revenue for Indian Railways, the statement said, adding that the contract can be for a duration of three to five years.

The main objectives of LTTC includes long-term revenue commitment from customers, preferential treatment to customer for supply of wagons, generation of additional traffic volumes and revenues for railways and freight concession on retention of traffic as well as on incremental traffic.

The long-term contract also aims at freight escalation protection i.e. Freight increase mid-year will not be passed on to the customer.

The steel maker which is the first steel company to sign the contract claimed that it has invested heavily in improving its rail infrastructure and material handling system. This has helped in reducing detention of railway rakes and bringing down the wagon turnaround time.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, senior officials of the Railway Board and the company’s Vice President, Steel Manufacturing, Sudhansu Pathak among others were present at the contract signing ceremony held at the Rail Bhawan in New Delhi.

Chinese CRRC sets up JV in Russia to produce High-speed Railway Trains

Sinara Group, a Russian investment company with holdings in the property development, transport and financial services sectors, has agreed with the Chinese corporation CRRC on the establishment of a joint venture in the territory of Russia.

The new JV, „SINARA-CRRC Rail Transport” is intended to ensure the localization of the train production for high-speed railways. The corresponding document was signed following the results of negotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

Apart from the production of high-speed trains, the enterprise will engage in the assembly of other kinds of railway technics as well.

At present, Sinara Group and Siemens company, jointly with Chinese CRRC, are already cooperating in the project for the creation of a freight train, able to transport goods at a speed of 400 km/h. A number of companies are working on the project, including Sinara, Siemens and CRRC.

One of the lines that the train will use is the USD 16.9bn high-speed link between Moscow and Kazan, which is due to be completed in 2022. The aim is to extend this 770km line to China, creating the first high-speed standard gauge link between the two countries.

A year ago, the two parties have agreed on the implementation of the project on joint production in Russia railway equipment, including various types of rolling stock railway transport, both passenger and freight, including the production of high-speed trains, capable of speeds over 300 km/h.

BHEL signs Metro Rail Rolling Stock agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd

BHEL and Kawasaki Heavy Industries signed a technology collaboration agreement on June 29 covering the manufacture of stainless steel metro cars and bogies

NEW DELHI: State-run engineering firm BHEL partners Kawasaki to manufacture coaches for metros. BHEL said that it has entered into an agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (KHI), Japan, to produce stainless steel coaches and bogies for metro rail. The pact will entitle BHEL for all technology advances and upgrades. It has been supplying Railways both electric and diesel locomotives

“To this effect, the Technology Collaboration Agreement was signed by Amitabh Mathur, Director (IS&P), BHEL and Makoto Ogawara, Senior Vice President, KHI in the presence of Atul Sobti, Chairman and Managing Director, BHEL and Yoshinori Kanehana, President, KHI,” BHEL said in a statement.

According to the statement, the agreement covers establishing state-of-the-art design, engineering and manufacturing facilities at BHEL, India, using Japanese technology.

It will also entitle BHEL for technology advances and upgrades.

BHEL has been a steady partner in the growth of Indian Railways for over 50 years by supplying electric as well as diesel locomotives, EMUs, and propulsion system sets and drives for the same. Kolkata Metro, the first metro in India, is equipped with BHEL-made propulsion system.

KHI is a leading manufacturer of heavy equipment/products and its Rolling Stock Company has supplied EMU (Metro/Commuter) trainsets to various countries like USA, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc., besides Japan.

BHEL says that the agreement is part of a move to expand the company’s presence in urban transport, and will enable it to take advantage of the opportunities offered through the government’s Make in India programme.

KHI, is also the manufacturer and supplier of Shinkansen High Speed Bullet Trains, proposed to be introduced in India on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor.

Adventz Group signs USD 2 Billion Pact with Israeli firm

Advertz’s Texmaco Rail & Engineering enters into MoU with Lesico Group. Becomes first Indian firm to participate in Tel Aviv’s mass-transit projects

India-based conglomerate Adventz Group on Tuesday said it has signed a $2 billion plus memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel’s Lesico Group to collaborate in the light rail transit (LRT) projects in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The announcement came against the backdrop of a top-level Indian political and business delegation led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Israel.

“The MoU between Lesico with Adventz Group will be a first for an Indian conglomerate with group company Texmaco Rail & Engineering Limited, which will lend its exeprtise in building the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area Mass-Transit System,” the company said in a statement. Texmaco’s role involves laying of tracks, installation of signaling, electrification, power sub-stations, and command, control & communication equipment, it added.

Adventz Group, is a USD 3-billion India-based conglomerate and comprises 26 companies. The Group serves across sectors including fertilisers and chemicals, engineering & infrastructure, emerging lifestyles, and financial & management services.

Adventz Group Chairman Saroj Kumar Poddar said: “We are delighted to sign this memorandum, which will enable India and Israel to deepen their cooperation on issues of common interest, improve opportunities and economic development. The Texmaco-Lesico partnership is a milestone and has widespread ramification for the future. The MoU showcases Indian companies’ ability to not just serve the nation but also take their expertise elsewhere in the world. We thank PM Modi’s thrust on showcasing the ability of Indian companies on the global stage. The MoU epitomises the efforts under the government’s Make in India initiative.”

According to the MoU, Texmaco’s expertise is being sought in track-related works for the Tel-Aviv Red-Line and Jerusalem Green-Line LRT projects. The Tel-Aviv red line will be the first section of Light rail system in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and the line will run in the northeast part of the Capital city with a significant portion of it underground. The total cost of the red line is estimated at $3 billion. The 19.6-km Jerusalem Green line will link the two campuses of the Hebrew University and continue towards South of the Holy City. There would be 36 stops in the Green Line, and is predicted to be used by 200,000 passengers per day.

Lesico Group co-founder & chairman Jechiel Leshman said: “We will continue to operate in accordance with our values and organisational culture; we hope to play an exclusive role in growing ties between the two nations. The success of the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area Mass-Transit System will lie in as much as it will touch every citizen’s daily life. The Texmaco-Lesico collaboration goes beyond our joint capabilities; we are building for our future. The partnership will prove a catalyst in furthering business ties with India.”

9 countries in the race for Stations Redevelopment program

South Korea, Germany, UK, France, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Canada and Belgium are the nine countries which have shown interest in joining the Indian Railways’ ambitious station redevelopment programme across the country.

Railways have earmarked about 400-plus major stations for redevelopment to provide world-class passenger amenities involving investment of more than Rs 1 lakh crore in PPP model.

There has been immense interest globally in the station redevelopment plan and many countries have expressed keenness to join the programme, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved in the redevelopment project.

The redevelopment of stations envisage commercial exploitation of vacant land and air space in and around stations.

There would be malls, hotels, multiplex, parking lots, eateries and other business activities on rail premises while at the same time many passenger-related facilities at stations would be upgraded.

The financial model for redevelopment work across stations has been devised in a way that the government doesn’t incur any expenditure as the developer would be rebuilding the railway stations and maintaining it for 15 years.

In return, the developer would be granted 45 years’ leasing rights for the commercial properties developed at these stations.

While China is keen to develop Jhansi and Agra stations, South Korea has expressed interest in making New Delhi station a world class station.

France has agreed to redevelop Ludhiana and Ambala stations on Delhi-Chandigarh route.

Canada has shown interest in upgrading a few stations in Mumbai while Malaysia is keen to develop Howrah, Secunderabad, Udaipur, Faridabad, Indore and Pune stations.

The entire cost of station redevelopment is to be met by leveraging commercial development of vacant separable land and air space in and around the station.

Railways, which has not seen any major infrastructure development for long, have finalised plans for investment of at least Rs 8 lakh crore in the next five years to modernise the public transporter which still moved the bulk of the output from coal pits, cement silos, and steel factories.

For the current financial year, railways have earmarked Rs 1.31 lakh crore for capital expenditure.

Siemens, Bombardier said to explore two Rail JVs for their Rolling Stock operations in Europe

The companies are making progress on one JV for their rolling stock operations, which would be controlled by Bombardier, and another for signalling, in which Siemens would have a majority

London/Frankfurt/Montreal: Siemens AG and Bombardier Inc. are exploring options including two rail joint ventures as part of their planned train-equipment tie up, according to people familiar with the matter.

The companies are making progress on one joint venture for their rolling stock operations, which would be controlled by Montreal-based Bombardier, and another for signalling, in which Siemens would have a majority, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. A deal could be reached in the coming months, they said.

No final decisions have been made and any combination would require political backing, clearance from antitrust authorities and face potential opposition from unions, they said. Representatives for Siemens, which has headquarters in Munich, and Bombardier declined to comment.

Siemens shares were unchanged at €123.15 at 10:05am in Frankfurt. Bombardier shares closed 1.2% higher at C$2.44 in Toronto on Wednesday.

The talks for a tie up come as both companies, along with France’s Alstom SA, are facing increased competition from industry leader CRRC Corp. of China, formed from a 2015 merger of the country’s two main regional train makers. Siemens and Bombardier’s rail operations have significant overlap in Europe, especially Germany, raising the likelihood of asset sales to allay regulatory concerns, and job overlaps.

Siemens outlined plans in May to cut 300 rail operation positions in the western German town of Krefeld. Bombardier’s rail unit, which makes subways, tramways and high-speed trains, plans to slash 5,000 positions globally, with about half in Germany, German daily Handelsblatt reported Tuesday, citing company sources.

Scrutiny

Both companies have rail operations in Germany’s capital, Berlin, which would likely serve to intensify scrutiny of any deal from politicians and unions.

Siemens earned €7.8 billion ($8.8 billion) in sales from its so-called mobility unit in the last fiscal year, more than the $7.6 billion recorded by Bombardier’s transportation division. While Bombardier dwarfs Siemens in rolling stock revenue, Siemens makes almost double that of Bombardier in signalling, according to Barclays analysts.

Talks between Bombardier and Siemens, which started earlier this year, were first reported in April.

“It’s obvious there’s a lot of consolidation going on,” Siemens chief financial officer Ralf Thomas said in an interview in May, calling talk of a tie up with Bombardier “rumors.” Alstom chief executive officer Henri Poupart-Lafarge said “a certain consolidation” is “probably necessary in Europe” while Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare said 11 May the company was “going to look at the entire industry and industry consolidation, and take a proactive approach.”

Bombardier sold a 30% stake in its Berlin-based train business to fund manager Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec last year, valuing the unit at $5 billion. Siemens makes the ICE high-speed train as well as diesel and electric locomotives, city trams and signalling equipment.

Siemens CEO says rail partnerships possible alternative to M&A. The chief executive of Siemens (SIEGn.DE) said partnerships on major rail contracts were a possible alternative to mergers, when asked about progress on reported talks for a rail tie-up with Canada’s Bombardier. “You can work together like that too, it doesn’t always have to be a huge M&A issue,” Joe Kaeser told journalists on the sidelines of an event on Monday, declining to comment directly on talks with Bombardier.

Sources had told in April that talks about uniting the rail operations of Siemens and Bombardier were being complicated by the desire of both companies to keep control of a merged business. Kaeser said rail technology companies had to consider how to respond to fierce competition in the sector but said neither Siemens nor its peers were under immediate pressure to act.

Germany to conduct Feasibility Study on Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru rail route

NEW DELHI: Known for its expertise in the high-speed rail sector, Germany will conduct a feasibility study for running trains at a speed of about 300 kmph on the 450-km-long Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route.

Germany has appointed a consortium of consultants comprising DB E&C, Intraplan Consult and Ingenieurbng to carry out the study in the southern region.
Year-long study

Germany will bear the cost of the year-long study involving exact location, ridership, opportunities, and challenges among other issues and submit the report.

A pre-feasibility study of this section was completed by the German side in 2016 and now they are keen to do a feasibility study, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the high-speed rail project.

India had signed a joint declaration of intent in October 2015 on the development of cooperation in rail sector between German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and the Indian Railways during the visit of the German Chancellor to India.

The German side had indicated willingness for a feasibility study on high-speed rail (HSR) in India in the joint declaration.

Protocol inked

During the visit of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to Germany in April 2016, a protocol was signed with German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to intensify cooperation in rail sector. One of the areas mentioned in the protocol is high-speed rail.

It was decided during the bilateral meeting that Germany will conduct the feasibility study for high-speed rail of Chennai- Bengaluru-Mysuru section with their finances.

Ministerial visit

The German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Alexander Dobrindt visited India last October. He and Prabhu agreed to work expeditiously on the feasibility study for HSR of Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route, the official said.

In order to carry out the study, workshops have been organised by consultants at Chennai and Bengaluru this month to interact with zonal authorities and to understand regional requirements.

As part of the study, a workshop is scheduled to be organised tomorrow where consultants will interact with officials of the Railway Ministry.

Germany lobbying for Indian Railway projects

Germany is lobbying for its firms to win business revamping India’s railway network, including two key railway links in south India.

NEW DELHI: Germany is lobbying for German firms to win business revamping India’s creaking railway network, one of several countries attracted by the scale of New Delhi’s transport needs and which are campaigning to export their technology.

The economy ministry said on Friday it had agreed to finance a government feasibility study into a high-speed rail link between Chennai and Mysore, and had discussed a project to modernise the Chennai-Hyderabad route.

“The government is conducting talks…with the Indian government about two railway projects in which German companies are interested,” it said in a statement, confirming an earlier report in German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche.

It said the projects had been a topic of conversation during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Berlin in May.

The ministry did not name any companies but industrial group Siemens would be most likely to benefit from any business. Siemens declined to comment.

Under Modi, India has been talking up the appeal of bullet trains as the main rail network, slow and saturated, struggles.

India appointed Chinese, French and Spanish firms in 2015 to conduct studies into building three high-speed rail lines linking its major cities.

However, aside from one line awarded to the Japanese, Modi’s government has not said how it would pay for high-speed lines if they eventually get the green light.

Railways to offer 20 Stations to Malaysia for Redevelopment

A long term partnership will be forged with Malaysia on a government-to-government basis for offering about 20 stations to the southeast country, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is firming up plans to join hands with Malaysia to redevelop about 20 stations in Tier-II cities across the country.

Aimed at attracting nearly Rs 1 lakh crore private investment, the station redevelopment project envisages infrastructure revamp at platforms and circulating areas.

It also entails commercial exploitation of station areas for constructing hotels, eateries, multiplexes, shopping malls and office complex among others for the use of developers for a period of 45 years.

For facilitating growth of Tier II cities, the Centre, state and local governments provide a lot of support to transform these not so big cities into business havens and making them India’s fastest growing cities.

While cities like Delhi and Mumbai are in Tier-I category, cities such as Faridabad, Cuttack, Amritsar, Jamshedpur, Kochi, Jammu, and Bikaner are considered Tier-II cities.

A long term partnership will be forged with Malaysia on a government-to-government basis for offering about 20 stations to the southeast country, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Railways have already launched the ambitious project offering about 400 stations to be redeveloped in PPP model envisaging investment of about Rs 1 lakh crore.

In the first phase, 23 railway stations including the iconic Howrah station, Mumbai Central and Chennai Central have been selected for the project which aims to make the best use of the assets of the stations.

A meeting was recently held with Malaysian officials where they showed keen interest in the station redevelopment project.

While Malaysia is participating in the bidding process for 23 stations, the railways are mulling to offer about 20 stations separately involving about Rs 10,000 crore investment on a government-to-government partnership basis, the official added.

The long term partnership scheme in station redevelopment project with Malaysia will be launched after getting Cabinet approval.

Other stations being modernised in the first phase include Pune, Thane, Visakhapatnam, Kamakhya, Jammu Tawi, Udaipur City, Secunderabad, Vijaywada, Ranchi, Kozhikode, Yesvantpur, Bangalore Cantt, Bhopal, Bandra Terminus, Borivali and Indore.

Bhopal station has already been awarded to a developer for redevelopment.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the start of the work at an estimated cost of Rs 450 crore involving construction of hotel, hospital, parking lot, office and restaurant at the station premises.

The developer will hold the rights for commercial exploitation of the land for a period of 45 years, while ownership of the land would remain with the railways.

Tripura CM stresses for speedy completion of Rail links in the North-East Region

New Delhi/Agartala: Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on Monday urged the Centre for increased railway connectivity of India’s northeast, including through Bangladesh and Myanmar, for the region’s development.

“Early completion of the proposed 15-km Agartala-Akhaura rail link and rail connectivity with Bangladesh needs to be expedited,” Sarkar said at the 66th plenary meeting of the North Eastern Council (NEC) in New Delhi.

He said: “Access to Chittagong port in Bangladesh via Tripura’s border town of Sabroom – a distance of only 75 km – needs to be ensured as early as possible. The survey and execution of rail link between Agartala and Kalay in Myanmar also needs to be taken up with all seriousness.”

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mazibul Hoque jointly laid the foundation stone for the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project here on July 31 last year.

The project was finalised in January 2010 during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s meeting with her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. Land acquisition is now underway in Tripura for the project.

The Tripura Chief Minister said that the per-capita income in the northeastern states is low as compared to the national level. There is low production and productivity in agriculture and allied sectors, which are the primary source of income and occupation in the region.

Bid to keep Darjeeling Himalayan Railways alive as functioning Heritage Site: NFR signs MOU with HECL

NFR signs MoU with HECL for supply of spare parts for steam engine!

DARJEELING: Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd (HECL), a Government of India enterprise under the Department of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, under which HECL has agreed to manufacture and develop items and equipment for the world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR).

The MoU is for a period of five years for supply of items including spares of Narrow Gauge Steam locomotives and development of steam boiler for Narrow Gauge Steam locomotives to NFR. The MoU can be extended after completion of five years.

The MoU was signed by HECL Chairman-cum-Managing Director Avijit Ghosh and NFR Chief Mechanical Engineer (O&F) Boniface Lakra at N F Railway Headquarters here in the presence of Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain, NFR General Manager Chahatey Ram, General Manager – Construction Organization H K Jaggi and other senior officials.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had declared DHR as a World Heritage Site in 1999. DHR comes under NFR.

Speaking on the occasion, Gohain said that the MoU will help in keeping alive the DHR as a “functioning heritage site”. He said that spare parts for steam locomotives are very rare to come by the MoU will ensure that such spare parts are made available to NFR by a public sector firm.
Ram, in his speech, described DHR as a “jewel” for NFR and added that it is the only working heritage railway in the world.

HECL would supply 41 critical spare components for the available steam locomotives and thus they would remain ever operational, Gohain said.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was bestowed with World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 1999 for “bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty”, an N F Railway spokesman said.

Stating the UNESCO had observed that DHR “retains most of its original features intact”, the spokesman said the mission of N F Railway is to conserve the DHR Heritage by keeping steam traction alive for people to get a feel of the glorious past.

Since inception, the small Steam Locomotives, known as “B” class engines have been the mainstay of DHR and are also major tourist attractions, he said.

“NFR is lucky to have this asset and it is our responsibility to keep it running. The last steam locomotives were made in 1925 and the challenge is to keep them operating. So we approached HECL to save this pride of our nation and to ensure regular supply of spare parts for DHR,” Ram said.

The NFR GM added that earnings from DHR touched Rs 7.6 crore in the 2016-17 fiscal as against Rs 5 crore in 2015-16 and the target for the current financial year in Rs 10 crore. “Our aim is to make DHR financially viable by March 2020,” Ram said.

He added that NFR will start receiving parts from HECL within six months. “Within the next one week we also expect to introduce daily service from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling under DHR,” Ram said.

HECL’s Ghosh said that the PSU will soon send its design team to NFR to figure out the designs and requirements for DHR and ensured that a time bound action plan will be put in place.

“We are committed to meet the requirement of NFR,” Ghosh said.

There are 13 ‘B’ class steam locomotives available in DHR at present and majority of them are over a hundred years old. “Keeping them operational and keeping the original features of the locos intact pose a big challenge for DHR as most of the original manufacturers no longer produce such locos or spare. The mission of NFR is to conserve the DHR heritage by keeping the steam traction alive for people to get a feel of the glorious past,” said an NFR official.

As a solution HECL has agreed to manufacture/develop items/equipment for the steam locomotives of DHR in the following areas (1) Spares of Narrow Gauge Steam locomotives (2) Development of Steam boiler for Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotives, and accordingly has decided to enter into an MoU with N F Railway for supply of the two items for five years.

The signing of MoU today will ensure steady supply of spares for the steam locomotive fleets of DHR, which in turn will ensure optimum and efficient utilization of the locomotives for sustainability of DHR, he said.

It will go a long way in turning around DHR towards making it commercially viable, the spokesman added.

DLW/Varanasi to export 18 modern Diesel Locomotives to Myanmar

VARANASI: The Indian Railways will export 18 modern diesel locomotives to Myanmar soon. The engines worth about Rs 200 crore are manufactured at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi. The first lot of six locomotives are ready for shipment by next month, while the rest will be delivered by December this year.

A high-level team of Myanmar Railways led by the chief of its mechanical and electrical department had recently inspected the locomotives that are equipped with latest features.

The state-of-the-art DLW has been exporting locos to many countries, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

The export orders are executed by RITES, the export arm of the Indian Railways. RITES has exported over 60 locomotives, besides various other rolling stock and machinery, to Myanmar in the past 18 years.

The DLW-build locomotives are preferred in Mynamar due to their good hauling capacity and easy maintenance, said a senior RITES official.

These locos will be operational with better optimisation of power transfer to wheel.

The locos have many other features such as roof-mounted dynamic brake grids, panel-mounted brake system, fabricated bogies, and higher rating traction motors with speed sensing mechanism.

HEC signs MOU with NFR for manufacturing & supply of Components for Darjeeling Himalayan Toy Train

GUWAHATI: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Friday by the Northeast Frontier Railway with Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited (HECL) for supply of spare parts for century-old steam locomotives of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).

The MoU was signed by HECL Chairman-cum-Managing Director Avijit Ghosh and NFR Chief Mechanical Engineer (O&F) Boniface Lakra at N F Railway Headquarters in Guwahati, Assam in the presence of Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain, NFR General Manager Chahatey Ram, General Manager – Construction Organization H K Jaggi and other senior officials.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajen Gohain said today is an important day in conservation history of Railways as the signing of MoU would ensure that the Heritage-era steam locomotives would never die out. HECL would supply 41 critical spare components for the available steam locomotives and thus they would remain ever operational, Gohain said.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was bestowed with World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 1999 for “bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty”, an N F Railway spokesman said.

Stating the UNESCO had observed that DHR “retains most of its original features intact”, the spokesman said the mission of N F Railway is to conserve the DHR Heritage by keeping steam traction alive for people to get a feel of the glorious past. Since inception, the small Steam Locomotives, known as “B” class engines have been the mainstay of DHR and are also major tourist attractions, he said.

Stating there are 13 “B” class steam locomotives available in DHR at present and majority of them are more than 100 years old, he said keeping them operational and retaining the original features of the locos intact pose a big challenge for DHR as most of original manufacturer no longer produce such locos or spares.

As a solution HECL has agreed to manufacture/develop items/equipment for the steam locomotives of DHR in the following areas (1) Spares of Narrow Gauge Steam locomotives (2) Development of Steam boiler for Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotives, and accordingly has decided to enter into an MoU with N F Railway for supply of the two items for five years.

The signing of MoU will ensure steady supply of spares for the steam locomotive fleets of DHR, which in turn will ensure optimum and efficient utilization of the locomotives for sustainability of DHR, he said. It will go a long way in turning around DHR towards making it commercially viable, the spokesman added.

Nirmala Sitharaman pays visit to Railway Coach Factory in Italy acquired by Titagarh Wagons in 2015

After Nirmala Sitharaman visit, Italy evinces interest in Railways, Make in India, Startup India, Digital India. The bilateral relationship between two countries is witnessing significant changes, with a large Italian business delegation visiting India in the last week of April and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman just concluding her trip to Rome.
Nirmala Seetharaman, Minister of State for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry addressing the staff of the Caserta, unit of the Titagarh Fremata-Adler coach factory after her test drive of the coach. One in green is a double-decker.

NEW DELHI:  The bilateral relationship between India and Italy is witnessing significant changes, with a large Italian business delegation visiting India in the last week of April and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman just concluding her trip to Rome.

Sitharaman, accompanied by senior officials from the Department of Commerce and DIPP, had gone to Rome to participate in the 19th Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation (JCEC) from May 10-12, which happened after a gap of eight years. The minister had held discussions with her counterpart Carlo Calenda and both sides vowed to improve the bilateral relationship including trade and commerce.

Nirmala Sitharaman drives a Titagarh FeramJa-Adler coach at Caserta, in Campania region in Italy during her official visit there

Indian ambassador to Italy, Anil Wadhwa, said: “During the official-level meeting, both countries agreed to promote trade, commerce and investment. Italy expressed its interest to invest in ‘Make in India’ projects, Digital India, Startup India plans and in sectors such as auto components, automobiles, textiles, machinery, renewable energy, smart cities, railways, food processing etc.”

According to Wadhwa, Sitharaman also paid a visit to an railway coach factory in Caserta city (south Italy) which had been acquired by Titagarh Wagons in 2015.

In a business meeting organised by the Indian embassy and attended by about 80 CEOs of top Italian companies like Ducati, Enel, Ferrero, Fiat and others, Sitharaman urged Italian companies to invest in India.

Nirmala Seetharaman with His Excellency The Prime Minister of Italy Mr.Paolo Gentiloni.

Italy will soon provide India a draft action plan containing business and investment proposals. The previous JCEC meeting with Italy was held in New Delhi in 2009. The visit by Sitharaman immediately after the Italian business delegation visited India signifies New Delhi’s intent to revive the relationship stalled due to the marine issue.

India’s trade with Italy during 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 was $9.32 billion, $8.28 billion and $8.80 billion, respectively.

Union Cabinet approves Cooperation between Indian and Japan on Railway Safety

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the signing the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Japan on Railway Safety. The MoC has already been signed in February, 2017.

The signing of MoC will enable cooperation in the following areas:

i. Track Safety (e.g. rail welding, rail inspection, track circuit etc.) ii. Latest technology related to railway track safety (automatic inspection technology etc.)
iii. Rolling stock safety (e.g. maintenance etc.)

iv. Any other relevant railway safety matter jointly determined by both the sides within the scope of this MoC with consideration for major railway accident preventions based on the analysis of accident causes.

The MoC would provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest development and knowledge in the railway sector. The cooperation under this MoC will involve:

a. Dispatch of experts.
b. Training of core staff in Japan.
c. Sharing of information and best practices.
d. Facilitating the participation of other institutions, organization and ministries, including contribution of National Traffic Safety and Environmental Laboratory of Japan to Research Design and Standards Organisation, Ministry of Railway, Government of India (RDSO), subject to their respective national laws and regulations where appropriate and possible.

DMRC signs 3 Power Purchase Agreements & Coordination MOU for a period of 25 years on RESCO basis with RUMSL

The 750 Mega-Watt solar project, which is being set up at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, will be one of the largest solar plants in the world and is likely to be operational from June, 2018.
Phase-III of Delhi Metro is going to be fully solar powered. Three Power Purchase Agreements and a unique Co-ordination Scheduling Agreement, for a period of 25 years, were signed in this regard on Monday. “DMRC has become the first Metro to procure Solar Power on RESCO basis as Inter State Open Access Consumer,” read the corporation’s statement.

NEW DELHI: Delhi Metro is all set to run on the cheapest solar power produced in one of the Asia’s biggest solar power project in Vindhya region of Madhya Pradesh. A power purchase agreement between Rewa Ultra Mega Solar and the DMRC was signed here on Monday in presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The project, already on its final stages of completion, will start supplying power to the DMRC from September this year. IFC, a member of World Bank group, is financially supporting the project as one of its partner.

The agreement was signed with Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited – joint venture of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Government of Madhya Pradesh–, Solar Power Developers (Mahindra, ACME Solar and Solenergi) and MPPMCL, in the presence of Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The project in the eastern Madhya Pradesh is one of the “world’s largest single-site solar project”. The 750 MW solar park was in news recently for producing cheapest solar power in the country at the rate of just Rs 2.97 per unit.

The project recently completed its first phase where three companies — Mahindra Renewables, ACME Solar Holdings and Solengeri Power—successfully bid three units of 250 Mw each at Rs 2.979, Rs 2.97 and Rs 2.974 tariff for the first year. The 750 Mega-Watt solar project being set up at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, will be one of the largest solar plants in the world and is likely to be operational from June, 2018.

“The DMRC will source 345 MUs annually from this project, effectively the entire energy requirement of Phase–III of Delhi Metro project, and this would mean substantial savings in energy cost for Delhi Metro,” the statement read.

The DMRC has been involved in this mega solar project since April, 2016 and has played a crucial role in drafting project documents. It also has a target of commissioning 20 MWp rooftop solar plants by the end of 2017 on its premises and has successfully commissioned 16 MWp capacity till date and already signed the Power Purchase Agreements for 31.50 MWp.

The event witnessed the presence of senior officers from DMRC, including Anoop Kumar Gupta, Director, who has been instrumental in the effort for use of solar power, to reduce the impact of increasing energy tariff and to mitigate environment depletion.

Iran, Russia Sign contract to manufacture 500 Wagons

Held back by an underdeveloped wagon manufacturing industry, Iran is opting for joint venture deals with international companies to upgrade technology and boost capacity, while reducing reliance on imports
The contract stipulates attracting investment and using up-to-date technology in the domestic manufacture of freight and passenger cars.

TEHRAN: The Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO) has signed a joint venture contract with Russia’s CJSC Transmashholding to manufacture 500 wagons in Iran.

An IDRO press release published on Wednesday quoted the Iranian company’s deputy for expansion of industrial investment, Fardad Daliri, as saying that the contract stipulates “attracting investment and using up-to-date technology in the domestic manufacture of freight and passenger cars”.

“In the first phase, only passenger cars will be produced,” Daliri added, without elaborating on the details of the contract, including its estimate value.

A conglomerate affiliated with the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade, IDRO is active in a variety of fields, notably auto production, oil and gas as well as wagon manufacturing.

CJSC Transmashholding is known as the largest manufacturer of locomotives and rail equipment in Russia. It is the biggest supplier of rolling stock to JSC Russian Railways. The enterprise was established in April 2002. Dutch firm Breakers Investments BV and Alstom Transport, French engineering group, are among the company’s stakeholders.

Transmashholding has major customers in Bulgaria, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Serbia. The company manufactures and sells subway cars, passenger diesel locomotives, diesel engines, freight cars, flat cars and diesel trains.

Held back by an underdeveloped wagon manufacturing industry, Iran is opting for joint venture deals with international companies to upgrade technology and boost capacity, while reducing reliance on imports.

Iranian Rail Industries Development Company and Chinese rolling stock manufacturer Nanjing Puzhen Co. LTD. signed an agreement in October to jointly manufacture 215 wagons for subways trains across Iran.

Based on the agreement, IRIDC will be in charge of manufacturing the wagons.

Germany’s Siemens also agreed in October to supply components for 50 diesel-electric locomotives to Iran’s MAPNA Group. Another agreement was also signed between the two companies to jointly manufacture 70 electric locomotives to be used in the 926-km Tehran-Mashhad railroads, which is being electrified.

In January, Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and German conglomerate Siemens transportation subsidiary, Siemens Mobility, signed several memoranda of understanding in Tehran to develop Iran’s railroads. The agreements concern electrification of Tehran-Mashhad railroad and Tehran-Isfahan high-speed train, supply of 500 wagons, development of Iran’s railroad infrastructure and provision of consultation and technology.

Between 2,000 and 2,500 wagons currently in use in Iran should double by 2025, as per the 20-Year Vision Plan.

The government of President Hassan Rouhani plans to reduce the country’s high fleet age to 15 years to increase the efficiency of trains. There is also massive demand for new wagons as several railroads are being built across the country.

By 2025, existing lines should be electrified and double-tracked and about 12,000 km of new lines are planned to nearly double the network’s size.

Major rail projects are currently under construction, including the electrification of the Tehran-Mashhad line, a high-speed train connecting Tehran to Isfahan and connectivity projects with Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.

The government is keen to curb imports to help Iranian companies meet most of the wagon demand domestically. Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh has said his ministry is against importing wagons, as local companies are capable of meeting domestic demand.

Iran’s rail industry is in immediate need of some 1,500 wagons, experts believe, while merely a third of that figure has so far been produced domestically.

Allcargo Logistics Pvt Ltd inks pact with CONCOR for Rail Connectivity

MUMBAI: Integrated logistics solutions providers Allcargo Logistics has inked a pact with Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) in a bid to ensure faster transportation and enhance service offerings to customers by rail for EXIM trade.

“This partnership entails Allcargo to transport its containers on CONCOR rakes between JNPT to TIHI (Indore),” Allcargo Logistics said in a statement.

The initiative armed with the objective of promoting EXIM trade and providing better services to customers has kick- started its inaugural train from JNPT.

The two logistics giants have come together with an aim to contribute to the Prime Minister’s vision of ease of doing business by shifting emphasis from road to rail, thereby easing congestion and pressure on road transportation, the company said.

Transporting cargo through rail is safer and best suited for carrying heavy cargo over long distance, leading to optimum utilisation of capital for trade.

The statement said it also helps the organisations earn their share of carbon credits as railway transport causes less pollution as compared to road transport.

Commenting on this partnership, Adarsh Hegde, Joint Managing Director, Allcargo Logistics, said, “Partnership with Concor will ensure safe and faster transportation of containers thereby enhancing our service offerings to customers by road and rail for EXIM trade.” Allcargo Logistics, part of The Avvashya Group, offers specialised logistics services across multimodal transport operations, container freight station operations, coastal Shipping services with fleet of ships owned and operated ships and Project and Engineering Solutions.

About AllCargo Logistics:

Allcargo Logistics Ltd, part of the Avvashya Group, is a logistics firm headquartered in India. Its services comprise global multimodal transport operations (non-vessel-operating common carrier, less than container load, and full container load), pan India container freight stations, inland container depots, third-party logistics, warehousing, ship owning and chartering. The company operates across 90 countries through 200 offices. As one of India’s largest publicly listed logistics companies, Allcargo Logistics has a consolidated turnover of INR 56.18 billion (approx USD 900 million) as of March 2015.

History:

In 1993, Chairman of Allcargo Logistics Mr. Shashi Kiran Shetty founded Allcargo Logistics as a cargo handling operator at Mumbai port. Initially Allcargo Logistics was a shipping agency house and provided freight forwarding services.

In 1995, ECU Line, an Antwerp-based non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), appointed Allcargo as their India agent. In 2003, the company started its first container freight station (CFS) at the largest Indian port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai. In 2007, it started two new CFSs at Chennai (in Tamil Nadu) and Mundra (in Gujarat) ports followed by a second CFS at JNPT in the year 2012. In 2006, private equity firm New Vernon Capital Fund acquired 6.42% stake in Allcargo. In 2008, Blackstone GPV Capital Partners picked up a 6% stake in the company which was later increased to 14.99% in September 2009 by converting warrants worth USD 23 million which the global private equity fund subscribed in February 2008.

Acquisitions

ECU Line (2005–06): Allcargo’s first acquisition was of the Belgium-based ECU Line, spanning three stages from 2005-06. Allcargo acquired 33.8% stake in ECU Line in June 2005, increased its stake to 49.9% in Jan 2006 with an option to increase the stake further, and acquired the remainder in Jun 2006, making Allcargo Logistics one of the largest NVOCC in the world. ECU Line’s revenues at the time of the acquisition were 4.3 times the revenues of Allcargo Logistics.

Hindustan Cargo Ltd. (2006): A former subsidiary of travel and forex major Thomas Cook, Hindustan Cargo is predominantly engaged in air freight forwarding and custom clearance. The company was acquired by Allcargo Logistics in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.

Hong Kong-based Companies (2010):Allcargo acquired two Hong Kong-based companies with operations in China (one in Shanghai with 75% stake and the other in Ningbo with 100% stake) for USD 22 million.

MHTC Logistics Pvt. Ltd (2012): Allcargo acquired 100% equity in MHTC Logistics Private Limited, engaged in project logistics and freight forwarding.

Econocaribe Consolidators(2013): Allcargo through its wholly owned subsidiary, ECU-LINE acquired Econocaribe Consolidators, a US based logistics company. Econocaribe specializes in freight consolidation and FCL services to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It also offers import LCL/FCL transportation services from around the world to the United States and Puerto Rico.

FCL Marine Agencies(2013): Allcargo Logistics through its step down wholly owned subsidiary company Ecuhold NV acquired majority stake in FCL Marine Agencies Rotterdam, a Netherlands-based Logistics company.

Services

Multimodal Transport Operations (MTO): Allcargo’s MTO service comprises NVOCC operations related to LCL consolidation and FCL activities globally, through its wholly owned subsidiary ECU Line (based in Belgium). Initially Allcargo entered the business of LCL consolidation as agents of ECU Line. With an international network across 89 countries and 189 own offices, the division provides direct export/import and multicity consolidation services.

Container Freight Stations(CFS) and Inland Container Depots (ICD): Allcargo commenced CFS operations in 2003 at JNPT (near Mumbai). At present it operates in all four CFSs (two at JNPT and one each in Chennai and Mundra-Gujarat). In 2009 Allcargo entered the business of Inland Container Depots (ICD)s. Its first ICD was at Kheda-Pithampur near Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in a joint venture with Hind Terminals (part of the Samsara Group), with Allcargo’s stake at 51%. Its second ICD was started at Dadri in the national capital region, in a joint venture) with Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), with Allcargo’s stake at 51%. Its services comprise export/import handling, LCL shipments, bonded/open warehousing, first/last mile transportation, maintenance and repair of dry container, reefer monitoring and hazardous material handling. The total installed capacity across its CFSs and ICDs is around 441,000 TEUs per annum.

Project and Engineering: Specializes in managing end-to-end project logistics, from planning to movement of project cargo, out of gauge / over dimensional cargo, over-weight consignments on turnkey and door-to-door basis, route surveys and multimodal/location transportation. The service also includes a fleet of over 1,000 equipment and specialized vehicles. Complete range of cranes (crawler, telescopic, truck lattice and all-terrain), hydraulic axles and self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs), strand jacks, trailers (low bed, semi low bed and high bed), fork-lifts and reach stackers.

Ship owning and chartering: The firm owns three ships:, all registered in India.

  • Allcargo Laxmi, 4186 Gross Tonnage
  • Allcargo Arathi, 4897 Gross Tonnage
  • Allcargo Susheela, 6204 Gross Tonnage.

Third-party logistics (3PL) and warehousing: Allcargo operates customized warehousing and supply through its own warehouses at Goa, Pithampur (near Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh), Hosur (in the state of Tamil Nadu) and Bhiwandi (near Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra state). It has land banks in Nagpur, Indore, Hyderabad and Bengaluru of nearly 200 acres.

Global strategic tie-ups:

Mammoet: A privately held Dutch company founded in 1973 specializing in the hoisting and transportation of heavy objects over water and roads, Mammoet currently has approximately 3,200 employees worldwide, of which over 850 are employed in The Netherlands. Allcargo Logistics Ltd has a strategic tie up with Mammoet in India for providing cranes above 750 Tons and self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs).

Hansa Heavy Lift GmbH: The German, Hamburg headquartered, global specialist in transport of heavy-lift, project and break-bulk cargoes through oceans, Hansa Heavy Lift GmbH, currently operates 21 multipurpose heavy-lift freighters – the largest fleet in the heavy-lift and project market globally. Allcargo Logistics Ltd represents Hansa Heavy Lift as their exclusive agent across India.

Current shareholding

As on 31 March 2013, promoter and promoter group hold nearly 72.1% of the company’s shares. Private equity firms Blackstone, New Vernon and Acacia Partners hold approximately 14.4%, 3.0% and 6.0% of the company’s shares respectively. The rest is held by a mix of foreign corporate bodies, domestic corporate bodies and general public.

Awards and Recognition

  • 2015 – Samudra Manthan Award- Logistics Company of the Year, 2015 from Bhandarkar Group of Publications
  • 2013 – Global Indian Maritime Personalityaward from Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (MACCIA)
  • 2013 – Leadership and Innovation award from International Women Leadership Forum (IWLF)
  • 2012 – News Maker of the Year award from Maritime and Logistics Awards (MALA 2012)
  • 2012 – Heavylift Mover of the Year award from MALA 2011
  • 2012 – Outstanding Contribution Award from Port of Antwerp
  • 2011 – LCL Consolidator of the Year award from 3rd South East CEO Conclave and Awards
  • 2011 – Indian Freight Forwarder of the Year award from 1st Northern India Multimodal Logistics Awards
  • 2010 – Logistics Company of the Year award from MALA 2010
  • 2010 – Private Container Freight Stations (CFS) Operator in India award from Maritime Gateway Award
  • 2009 – Logistics Company of the Year award from NDTV Profit
  • 2008 – Best Logistics Company award from Indian Maritime Gateway Awards
  • 2007 – Deal of the Year (for the acquisition of ECU LINE business) award from Seatrade

Japan logistics major enters Indian container business via JV with ACTL

Joint venture Co to invest Rs 100 crore initially for licence procurement, buying container trains

NEW DELHI: The Indian container train sector is set to get a Japanese touch soon, with  logistics major Konoike Transport today announcing the forming of a joint venture with New Delhi-based Associated Container Terminals Ltd (ACTL).

The JV company, called Joshi Konoike Transport and Infrastructure, will invest at least Rs 100 crore in the initial stage for licence procurement and to buy container trains.

Currently, the major private players in India’s private container business include Adani Logistics Ltd, Gateway Rail Freight Limited, Hind Terminals Ltd, India Infrastructure and Logistics Ltd. Konoike Trasport is a leading logistics major in Japan as well as countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“We already have licence to run container trains from National Capital region to West Coast ports like Mundra and Pipavav. In addition to this, we already have a terminal at Faridabad. We expect the Japanese tie up to bring in expertise and innovation in the sector,” said R R Joshi, chairman of ACTL.

“With India growing fast, we see great opportunities in the field of railways to expand. We have proven track record in various countries in this sector and want to replicate that in India,” said Takashi Tsuji, chairman, Konoike Trasport.

CONCOR signs pact for Indo-Bangla container train services

NEW DELHI: Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) recently announced it has inked a pact with CCBL of Bangladesh for container train services between the nations.

“CONCOR and Container Company of Bangladesh Ltd (CCBL) under the Ministry of Railways … has signed a memorandum of understanding on April 10, 2017 for introduction of container train services between India and Bangladesh,” CONCOR said in a filing to the BSE.

The pact is to facilitate international and domestic trade, it said.

“CONCOR will also provide technical, managerial, capacity building, training and other required support system to CCBL for the development and operations of container trains and inland container deports,” it said.

Joint Press Release on Railways cooperation between India and France

NEW DELHI: On April 13th of 2017, , Minister for Railways Mr Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, held meeting with , Minister of State for Transport, Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of France, Mr Alain Vidalies . They were accompanied by their respective delegation.

On the occasion of this bilateral meeting, both sides  exchanged views,  recalled the long standing technical cooperation between French National Railways and the Indian Railways (IR) and   reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening their cooperation in the field of Railways.

India and France are committed to develop this cooperation under the aegis of the Memorandum of understanding signed in 2013 between the Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India and the French National Railways (SNCF). This   Bilateral Meeting is intended to build upon and deepen the mutual cooperation already existing between the  two countries.

India has over  66600 km of railways and over  7000 stations. It focuses its action in particular on  priorities :  safety  speed upgradation, renovation and improvement of stations,  passenger amenities,  freight transport and network decongestion.

France has 30 000 km of railways, more than 2000 km of High Speed tracks and about 3000 stations. The High Speed network is still expanding. A global reflection on the place and purpose of stations in the city has been carried out recently and led to major renovation works in France. The security and improvement of the facilities is of course a constant concern in France.

In this context, both leaders desired for regular sharing of  experience  in order to address the common challenges.  Both sides agreed that  mutual collaboration and exchange of expertise will benefit the stakeholders in the two countries.

This collaboration between the two countries will in particular focus on the following:

  • High speed and semi-high speed rail ;
  • Modernisation of current operations and infrastructure ;
  • Station renovation and operations ;
  • Suburban trains ;
  • Safety systems, operations and Security.

On Semi High Speed, the  two sides have decided in 2015 to carry out a technical and execution study for upgrading the speed of passengers trains on the current rail corridor between Delhi and Chandigarh (244 km) up to 200 kmph. The study is likely to be completed by Sep’2017.

The relevant partners, including government entities, agencies and companies, scientific and technical research bodies and private companies, will be invited to join the cooperation, when appropriate, and under the umbrella Cooperation program of two sides.

Maitree Express-II chugged across India, Bangladesh border amid cheers, applause

India-Bangladesh ties: Indian railways to restore Kolkata –Khulna passenger train service

PETRAPOLE, Sealdah Division: Nine years after the inauguration of the Maitree (friendship) Express passenger train service between Kolkata and Dhaka, the first Khulna-Kolkata train chugged in to the Petrapole Railway station On the India-Bangladesh border on Saturday.

This will be the second passenger service between the two countries. The first such service ‘Maitree Express’ was flagged off between Kolkata and Dhaka Cantonment stations in April 2008. After the passage of nine years, there is growing demand for more railway connections between Indian and Bangladesh.

Repeatedly sounding its hooter, the five-coach diesel-hauled Maitree Express-II stopped at the railway station on the Indian side of the border at about 1.40 pm to loud cheers and applause. On a trial run, it carried a 43-member Bangladesh delegation, who were warmly greeted and received with bouquets and garlands by Indian Railway officials.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his visiting Bangladesh counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, inaugurated the trial run through a video link from New Delhi.

Resplendent in green and saffron border on white base, the Maitree Express II set off from Khulna at 8.15 a.m. and entered India through Benapole from the Bangladesh side.

The 176-km journey includes 96 km on the Bangladesh side. Railway officials said the regular passenger train services are expected to begin from July.

“The services are expected to kick off from July this year from Kolkata to Khulna through Petrapole- Benapole (on the Bangladesh side). The fare and the frequency of the services are yet to be decided,” said Basudev Panda, Divisional Railway Manager, Sealdah, Eastern Railway.

On Saturday S N Agrawal, General Manager, Eastern & South Eastern Railways, Satish Kumar, Addl. General Manager, Eastern Railway, Basudev Panda, Divisional Railway Manager, Sealdah, Eastern Railway will be present at Petrapole (on the Indian side) to receive senior railway officials from Bangladesh.

Interestingly, much before an international border came up and political realignments changed the landscape of the two Bengals, regular passenger services connected Sealdah to Khulna and Jessore through the Petrapole-Benapole route.

Bangladesh Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer (West) Md. Iftikar Hossain said: “The train will have the air-conditioned and non air-conditioned compartments along with medical facilities. The fare will be at par with the fares of Maitree I. The number of air-conditioned and non ac and non air-conditioned compartments will depend on the number of passengers.”

“The Maitree I which runs twice a week has about 450 seats. We see on an average 80 per cent of seats are always booked,” Panda said.

Panda said the two countries would initiateAthe process of establishing immigration and customs facilities at the terminal destinations so that no change-over is required in between.

“The new passenger service will give a momemtum to collaboration between the two countries. People from the southern part of Bangladesh will benefit from the new service,” said Syed Salma Jafreen, Deputy Secretary, Bangladesh Ministry of Home Affairs.

Regular passenger services connected Sealdah to Khulna and Jessore through the route, much before the partition of India in 1947.

Passenger train services between the two countries were suspended after the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, when the territory now known as Bangladesh comprised the Pakistan’s eastern province.

East Pakistan later became independent Bangladesh in 1971.

Nearly 30 years after Bangladesh’s independence, the Indo-Bangla Petrapole-Benapole rail corridor was re-opened in January 2001 for goods traffic.

According to officials, these trains are now running on a regular basis.

On April 14, 2008, the passenger train service between Dhaka and Kolkata — the Maitree Express — was launched.

Cabinet approves MoU on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector with Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane SPA

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane S.P.A. of the Republic of Italy on January 31, on technical cooperation in railway sector.

The MoU will provide a platform to Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector to promote safety, efficiency and sustainability.

The MoU will also facilitate exchange of information, experts meetings, seminars, technical visits and implementation of jointly agreed cooperation, projects.

The objective of this MoU is to develop technical cooperation activities in the railway sector to promote safety, efficiency and sustainability, to their mutual benefit. It will enable technical cooperation in the following areas:-

A. Safety audit of Indian Railways and measures required for enhancing safety in train operation;
B. Assessment and certification of advanced technology based safety products and systems to Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL4);
C. Training and competency development with focus on safety including in areas of advanced signaling and train control systems;
D. Modern trends in Maintenance and diagnostic;
E. Any other area jointly identified by the participants.

The Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane Group (FS Group) is an industrial holding managing the Italian Railways sector through its companies focused on railway related businesses, the main ones are: Trenitalia – rail transport Rete Ferroviaria Italiana ? railway infrastructure manager, Italferr – engineering company, Italcerifer – notified body certifying railway systems and components.

The FS group is fully owned by Government and is under Ministry of Treasury, Italy.

Ministry of Railways have signed MQUs for technical cooperation with the Rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways.

The identified areas of cooperation include high speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure, etc.

The cooperation is achieved through exchange of Information on developments in areas of railways, technology and operations, knowledge sharing, technical visits, training and seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.

The MoUs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector.

The MoUs facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.

Deutsche Bahn, Indian Port Rail Corp may form Joint Venture in India

Germany’s Deutsche Bahn and India’s Indian Port Rail Corporation Ltd are in talks to develop rail connectivity for Indian ports
(Representational Image)

New Delhi: Germany’s Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting is in talks with Indian Port Rail Corporation Ltd (IPRCL) to from a joint venture (JV) to develop rail connectivity for Indian ports.

Minister for road transport and highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari said in October that India and Germany were working together on projects worth Rs.1 trillion being implemented by IPRCL.

India has envisaged Rs8 trillion of investment until 2035 under the Sagarmala programme, which involves the construction of new ports to harness the country’s 7,517km coastline and setting up of as many as 142 cargo terminals at major ports.

“Indian ports have enough funds. The idea is to set up a JV with Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting for setting up railway port connectivity projects. This will be a PSU (public sector unit) to PSU arrangement. Deutsche Bahn will bring in the latest technology,” said a person aware of the JV plans, requesting anonymity.

IPRCL and Deutsche Bahn signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on modernization of rail port connectivity and port rail facilities of Indian ports during the Maritime India Summit last year.

“Basically in railways there is always a lot of scope. So this particular German government company and they have signed an MoU for mutual cooperation…Now, as far as I believe, they have had a few rounds of discussions regarding where there could be synergies between the two,” shipping secretary Rajive Kumar said.

“This will improve the port hinterland connections to the railway network of Indian Railways. The MoU foresees comprehensive cooperation for designing the connection projects, drawing up the operations plan, and carrying out the engineering design and project management through to delivery to the port authority,” a spokesperson for Deutsche Bahn said, adding that negotiations are still in progress with IPRCL.

Queries emailed to IPRCL remained unanswered.

India will invest as much as Rs3.9 trillion for creating and upgrading infrastructure in the next fiscal year. Of this, the government has made an allocation of Rs2.4 trillion for roads, railways and ports in 2017-18. Projects worth Rs1 trillion are in various stages of implementation under the Sagarmala programme.

“The Budget has also made a proposal to enhance coastal connectivity through construction of 2,000 km of roads. Such projects over the medium term would provide construction opportunities of over Rs20,000 crore,” rating company ICRA Ltd wrote in a 3 March report. IPRCL was set up by the ministry of shipping for better cargo handling and to reduce the cost of logistics. Deutsche Bahn has been active in India, providing consultancy services to Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp. of India Ltd for the new freight transport line between Sahnewal and Pikhani that is part of the Eastern Corridor.

India has firmed up the contours of its ambitious multi-modal programme to reduce logistics costs and make the economy competitive. The strategy involves a reset of India’s logistics sector from a “point-to-point” model to a “hub-and-spoke” model and involves railways, highways, inland waterways and airports to put in place an effective transportation grid. India loses $6.6 billion every year in transportation delays for freight, says a comparison study of the survey data for the calendar years 2008-09, 2011-12 and 2014-15 by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta. These delays cost $14 billion per year on account of fuel consumption.

India to conduct Survey for new Rail Line with Bangladesh

Tripura-Bangladesh rail links to improve connectivity for NE. Plans to connect Tripura with Bangladesh from three sides, MOS (Railways) Gohain said.

AGARTALA: New Delhi will carry out a survey to lay one more new railway line between India and Bangladesh to access the Chittagong international sea port and ease connectivity with the landlocked northeast region, a minister said here on Thursday.

“Indian railway would soon conduct a survey to obtain basic details to lay a 125-km new railway line from southern Tripura’s border town Belonia to Chittagong international sea port in (southeast) Bangladesh,” Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain told reporters.

The Railways Ministry is now exploring the possibility of connecting Tripura with Bangladesh in three sides to remove communication bottleneck of the entire Northeastern region, said Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain.

““We have already sanctioned a project to connect Agartala with Gangasagar in Bangladesh. We are now exploring the possibility of connecting Belonia, the southernmost town of Tripura with Chittagong Port of Bangladesh through Feni district of the neighbouring country. Another route will connect Sabroom with Chittagong Port”, Gohain told reporters here on Thursday.

Of the 125-km line, five km falls in India and the rest in Bangladesh. The proposed railway line via (Bangladesh’s) Feni town aims to access the Chittagong international sea port for the benefit of the mountainous northeast India,” Gohain said.

After meeting Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, the minister said New Delhi is now in consultation with Bangladesh to finalise the modalities of the survey.

The Belonia-Chittagong proposed railway line would be the second railway project in northeast India connecting Bangladesh after the Agartala-Akhaura railway line.

The minister, who came here on Wednesday and visited various under-construction railway projects in Tripura, said the actual work for the 15-km-long Agartala-Akhaura railway line would start from May this year and would be completed within 30 months.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Bangladesh Rail Minister Majibul Haque jointly laid the foundation stone here on July 31 last year for the Rs 973-crore Agartala-Akhaura railway project, adding the Indian side was being funded by Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) while Ministry of External Affairs is financing the Bangladesh portion.

Gohain said the government-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay he 5-km railway track on the Indian side (in Tripura) while the remaining 10 km on the Bangladesh side would be laid by the Bangladesh railway.

However, IRCON would be project management consultant of the Bangladesh railway board.

The minister said the 1,613-km mountainous distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Guwahati-New Jalpaiguri-Kishanganj (Bihar)-Malda would be reduced to 514 km through Bangladesh once the Agartala-Akhaura rail track is established. Currently, India and Bangladesh have four rail links with West Bengal.

According to the official, 123.5 acres of land, including 56.5 acres in India, will be acquired to execute the project to facilitate carriage of goods to and from both countries.

The Agartala-Akhaura railway project, which was sanctioned in the 2012-13 railway budget, would be part of the Trans-Asian Railway network and provide a much shorter connectivity from northeastern states to Kolkata via Bangladesh.

The Indian government would bear the entire expenditure of the project, which also figured during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina during his visit to Dhaka in June 2015.

Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) General Manager (Construction) H.K. Jaggi said the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Ministry has released funds to the Tripura government to acquire land in Tripura and the land acquisition would be completed by April.

“The land acquisition would also be completed in Bangladesh by July this year,” said Jaggi, who accompanied the minister. The existing railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district (in central Assam) and southern Assam connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of the country.

“India and Bangladesh which are strategically vital nations in terms of commercial and economic importance in the Asia-Pacific region and hence establishing rail links between the two countries assumes highest importance so that the people in both the countries gets benefited with increased economic activity that empowers the societies in different geographies on both the sides”, he added.

17 States have agreed to form Joint Ventures with Railways: Suresh Prabhu

NEW DELHI: Seventeen states have agreed to form joint ventures with the Railways to fast track infrastructure projects, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said by entering into a joint venture, the states will have ownership over projects and ensure that the infrastructure develops at a faster pace.

Responding to supplementary during Question Hour, he said a new scheme will be launched soon, under which people with waitlisted tickets will be able to get berths in other trains going to the same destination, in case it is not confirmed on the train they had originally opted for.

Passengers with ordinary tickets will be able to travel on trains such as Rajdhani if their waitlisted ticket is not confirmed on other trains.

He said once approved by the Parliament Secretariat, MPs can book and cancel their tickets online using a unique identity.

Chintamani Malviya and Ravindra Ray (both BJP) told the Speaker that their questions on Railways were “twisted” and what has appeared in the question list is different from what they had originally asked.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would look into the matter.

Australia’s Monash University Institute of Railway Technology enters into agreement with Indian Railways

Australia enters into agreement with Indian Railways. Representatives from Monash University Institute of Railway Technology (IRT) and Indian Ministry of Railways corporation DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited) signed an agreement yesterday in New Delhi.

A Railway research centre in Australia has entered into an agreement with the Indian Railways to support future research and technology development, related to critical infrastructure in India.

Representatives from Monash University Institute of Railway Technology (IRT) and Indian Ministry of Railways corporation DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited) signed an agreement yesterday in New Delhi.

IRT with partners – Balaji Railroad Systems Ltd (BARSYL), leading railway consultants in India, PwC, and Indian Institute of Bombay (IITB) were selected as the preferred supplier from a competitive global selection process.

They will provide guidance on the establishment of a new applied research and development institute in India known as SRESTHA (Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement).

SRESTHA will be locally engaged, but have a global reach with the aim to become a world leader in the advancement of rail.

Significantly, the project will provide guidance to the Indian Railways on international models that will be adapted to the Indian railway environment.

IRT Director Ravi Ravitharan said the partnership will help advance railway technology both in India and around the world.

“I am extremely pleased to be invited with our partners to assist with this significant project, which will support future research and technology development related to critical infrastructure for India. Indian Railways is one of the largest employers in the world and this is a very important project not only for IRT but also for Victoria and Australia,” Ravitharan said.

IRT is the premier track and vehicle railway research centre in Australia.

Indian Railways explores Transcontinental Freight Service with Iran and Turkey to boost Growth

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways along with seven other countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will explore the possibility of a transcontinental rail freight service connecting India with Iran and Turkey on Wednesday.

Besides the three countries, high-level delegations comprising railway and custom officials from Russian Federation, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar will attend the two-day meet beginning here tomorrow.

While China has already run a freight train connecting Europe and attempts are being made to run a demonstrative run from Dhaka to Istanbul connecting Howrah, Delhi, Lahore and Tehran.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will address the conference tomorrow highlighting the need for such rail connectivity for the development of the region, according to railways.

Considered to be a major boost for trade and economic development of the Asia Pacific region, a trans-container goods train from Dhaka to Istanbul covering Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey is being considered to establish rail connectivity.

Organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in coordination with the Railways Ministry, the meeting will take forward the proposed railway transport connectivity in South and South-West Asia.

The meeting will seek to review and identify innovative measures to strengthen cross-border railway transport within South and South-West Asia; which is one of the least connected and integrated sub-regions in the world despite its vast contiguous landmass.

Strengthening railway connectivity is central to boosting economic growth, enhancing trade and transport connectivity and improving lives in the sub-region.

The meeting will bring together government officials and policy makers from nine countries in South Asia and South-West Asia and Central Asia, along with representatives from various international and regional organizations, railway and connectivity experts and academia, as well as the private sector.

Railways sign Letters of Intent (LOI) with UNEP on Environment Initiatives

Indian Railways highlights its Mission to produce 1000 MW Solar Energy and to reduce water consumption by 20%. UN body aims to concretise an Action Plan for development of green technology and also to set up waste management centres at all major railway stations in India

NEW DELHI: In the august presence of Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Officials at the Ministry of Railways yesterday signed a LETTER OF INTENT (LOI) with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to formalise the joint cooperation in the area of environmental conservation today i.e. 9th March 2017 at Rail Bhavan. Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain specially graced the occasion. Chairman, Railway Board, A. K. Mital, Member (Rolling Stock), Railway Board, Ravindra Gupta, other Railway Board Members and senior officials were also present on the occasion. Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director UNEP (and Under Secretary General, UN) from Head office, Nairobi, Kenya was also present. Representatives of Indian Railways and UNEP signed and exchanged Letters of Intent for exploring the opportunity and Developing a Joint cooperation mechanism in the field of Environment& Sustainability

The focussed areas identified for joint activities would be to;

  1. Collaborate in Formulating Specific Roadmap for achieving 20% reduction in Water consumption at Railway establishments.
  2. Collaborate in the development of a Draft action plan for establishing waste management centres at major stations on Indian Railways.
  3. Collaborate in the development of a Draft action plan for Indian Railways on sustainable public procurement for green technology.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that Indian Railways welcomes this partnership. The priority in Railways is to reduce the carbon footprints which will help public at large. After this partnership, opportunities are large to work for environment conservation in collaboration with UNEP. Railway is already taking several green initiatives and is going to produce 1000MW solar energy. This joint co-operation will help Indian Railways in its green objectives.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr.Erik Solheim, Executive Director UNEP said that Indian Railways is an iconic organization which provides environment friendly transport. The focus of this partnership is on three main areas: waste management which is important for community, reduction in water consumption which is core of environment issues and sustainable public procurement. Indian Railways is a major procurement agency. The focus should be to move towards a greener state. Indian Railways under the reformist leadership of Minister of Railways will sure move towards greener and efficient transport system.

Backgrounder:-

Indian Railways, the lifeline of the country, with carrying 23 million passengers every day is the largest passenger carrying system in the world.  It is also the largest consumer of water as well as electricity and major contributor to green environment due to reduced GHG emissions. Indian Railways have been taking a number of steps towards Water Management, Energy Conservation, Solid Waste Management and Green buildings. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is the leading organization within the United Nations system in the field of environment and has as a major area of focus of its global mandate, the conservation, protection, enhancement and support of nature and natural resources worldwide.

As the UNEP and Ministry of Railways share common objectives with regard to the coherent implementation of the environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and wish to collaborate to further these common goals and objectives within their respective mandates and governing rules and regulations; both organisations today signed and exchanged Letters of Intent for exploring the opportunity and Developing a Joint cooperation mechanism in the field of Environment& Sustainability.

Railway Ministry invites UAE investment for modernising Indian Railways

India’s Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu says that he will be seeking ‘several tens of billions of dollars’ from UAE sovereign wealth funds for development of Railways Networks

DUBAI: India will invest $140 billion in its rail network over the next five years, according to the Indian Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu, speaking in an interview with local media outlets.

The minister also revealed that his office has been in talks with UAE-based sovereign wealth funds this week, around the Middle East Rail event that began on Tuesday.

“We have requested that the government of the UAE look at the huge potential for investment that lies in Indian infrastructure, particularly in the railways. They are very keen to know more about this.”

“We’ve had good meetings with Mubadala and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA),” Prabhu said, adding that he hoped these issues would progress over the course of 2017.

When asked what amount he was seeking from the funds, Prabhu replied that his ministry had an appetite for “several tens of billions of dollars,” stating that whatever was made available, India would take.

ADIA is the third largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, holding approximately $792 billion in assets.

File Photo: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu meeting with Dr.Ahmed Albanna, Ambassador of UAE to India during February

In January 2017, Prime Minster Narendra Modi said that his government was in “mission mode” when it came to rejuvenating the railways in India.

The Minister of Railways noted that Modi had previously described the railways as “the growth engine of tomorrow’s India”.

“Of the $140 billion we will be investing over the next five years, the majority will go towards India’s modernisation efforts, the introduction of new technologies, and increasing capacities,” he said.

Prabhu confirmed that the government of India has already raised as much as $65 billion, to be spent over the next two years.

He went on to state that India has allocated as much as $16 billion for safety measures, and $7 billion for energy efficiency.

New projects in the pipeline for the country also include a high-speed railway from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, in collaboration with the Japanese government, the conversion of two of India’s busiest routes, Mumbai to Dehli and Mumbai to Calcutta, in to medium-speed corridors, and an increase in the electrification of the country’s tracks “by more in the next five years than the last few decades combined,” Prabhu said.

Speaking on India’s relationship with the UAE, the minister remarked that “our Prime Minister attaches a great importance to this bilateral relationship with the UAE”.

“It’s been a very good visit to the UAE, and I’ve had interesting, fruitful meetings with the leaders of this country,” he said.

In January 2017, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, conducted a state visit to India, where he was Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations.

Habibganj becomes the First Railway Station on Indian Railways to be Fully Managed by a Private Party

Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, CEO of Indian Railways Stations Development Corp. declares Habibganj as their First Railway Station on IR to be fully managed by Private Player

BHOPAL: Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, CEO of IRSDC announced that the Station management of Habibganj Railway Station has been fully taken over by M/s. Bansal Pathways Ltd – an SPV of Bansal Construction Works and Prakash Asphalting and Toll Highways (India).  The firm has taken over the management of the station as per station facility management agreement w.e.f. 1st March, 2017 – thus making Habibganj emerging as the first Railway station on Indian Railways to be managed by a private party, and marking it as the historic day for station redevelopment programme of Indian Railways.

After financial closure and novation of contracts, appointed date for Habibganj station development project achieved on 1/3/17 with both sides meeting the conditions precedent and developer M/s Bansal Pathways Ltd fully gearing up to take over the the management of station as per station facility management agreement w.e.f 1/3/17.  Sanjeev Lohia said that this milestone would not have been achieved by the organisation unless the great contribution and support rendered by the DRM Bhopal, ADRM Bhopal and all the Branch Officers of Bhopal division, WCR HQ officers, Railway Board, team IRSDC, Developer, Lending Banks and consultants.

This important milestone strikingly coincides with the Indian Railways eyeing fancy makeover for Habibganj Railway Station in Bhopal with a a huge make over, with a lot of station improvement programmes, erection of glass dome-like structure serving as the entrance for passengers and various passenger amenities to contribute for Smart City Bhopal. The programme envisages for large scale developments – once inside, passengers can avail the services of cafeterias and food plazas and wait for trains at a lounge. There would also be holding areas for passengers at every platform and an exit underpass for passengers de-boarding trains to ease congestion on platforms. Habibganj would also offer travellers the first experience of the Indian Railways’ touted station redevelopment programme. The transporter had selected 400 stations for redevelopment, at an expenditure of Rs 96,000 crore by private developers. From the list, a detailed study was conducted for 50 stations with 28 of them being priotitised.

However, core operations such as signalling, track maintenance and running of trains will be undertaken by the railways.

The plan for station redevelopment extends beyond 400 stations though. “Another 300 stations will be redeveloped as we plan to partner with the Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, and Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana,” says Rajiv Chaudhry, adviser-station redevelopment, Railway Board.

In July 2016, the Comptroller and Auditor General had said the railways’ station modernisation plan was progressing at a slow pace, pulling up the transporter for “improper and inadequate maintenance of passenger amenities”. Things have got moving since then, what with work at the Habibganj station expected to start soon and another 23 stations likely to be put up for bids. Habibganj station will be redeveloped by M/s Bansal Pathways Habibganj, an SPV of Bansal Construction Works and Prakash Asphalting and Toll Highways (India). The estimated cost of station redevelopment is Rs.100 crore and that of commercial redevelopment around Rs.350 crore.

Under the new model, the railways will monetise surplus railway land —which could be in the vicinity of the station or elsewhere in the city—by leasing it out for 45 years to developers who in turn will redevelop stations. The developer would earn revenue from the commerical establishments on the land, as also non-fare revenue streams at the station such as publicity and parkings. The developer would maintain the station for 15 years, after which the maintenance contract would come up for rebidding. Core operations at the station like track maintenance and train running would continue to be handled by the transporter.

To return to Habibganj station, it would have more to offer to travellers besides its refurbished interiors; outside, on its western side, would lie commercial establishments, a bus terminal, office lobbies and service apartments, while the eastern side would have hospitals, hotels, convention centre, and spas. That might change the way passengers visualise train travel, once it is functional in three years’ time.

According to the official quoted above, the total redevelopment work will take around two years. The official added that the Habibganj project is relatively easier to be executed compared with others in the pipeline given it witnesses around 25,500 passengers daily which is expected to go up to approximately 80,700. “There are few trains that stop here and given that the construction will happen while operations are on, it is a simpler project,” said the official. The stations which will be put up for tender through the Swiss Challenge method include Pune, Howrah, Kanpur Central, Chennai Central and Bandra Terminus, among others.

CPEC exploits Kashmir, creates no job avenues, industry for locals: claim locals

Even as Baloch, Sindhi activists hold anti-CPEC protest outside Chinese embassy in London, Kashmiris living in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir are also opposing the project, as Pakistan is forcing people to leave their homes. Both the countries are ignoring the environmental and social impacts in various regions too.

A sharp criticism and opposition is rising among Kashmiris in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) as Pakistan and China are constructing a multi-layered infrastructure project, which passes through Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a 51.5 billion dollar project that aims to connect Kashgar, in China’s western province of Xinjiang, with the port of Gwadar in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.

The road and rail network under the project traverses through Gilgit Baltistan.

While CPEC is being touted as a ‘game changer’ by the leaders, the people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan claim the project is another attempt to further make them slaves. The project brings no industry and fails to create jobs for the locals.

China will use CPEC to loot Gilgit Baltistan, POK and Balochistan and gain access to global market, says leading Pakistani daily ‘Express Tribune’. China using Pakistan to loot and plunder the people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan and simultaneously gain access to global markets, says Pakistan Daily.

Mohd. Ali Shafa, an academician and human rights activist in Gilgit said, “Our educated youth is roaming without any jobs. The SHO, Chief Secretary, IGP, SSP or any other good government post, people from Punjab have been appointed at all these places.”

“In the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), our people are not hired as they do not have any government backing. There is no one to raise our point at the assembly or in the senate. There are no jobs, no opportunities and no business,” said Shafa.

The CPEC enters Pakistan from China through the Karakoram Highway.

Though Gilgit Baltistan plays a key role in the CPEC project and all roads and pipelines crossing into China from Pakistan will run through this mountainous region, there are no plans for any special economic packages to support the people of Gilgit.

CPEC is actually designed by China, for China. It will use Pakistan as a pathway to increase its access to global markets. Local entrepreneurs do not stand a chance at competing with an economy-of-scale manufacturer like China. With CPEC, China can access all of Pakistan, resulting in Chinese goods becoming even cheaper. CPEC is a trade route. If trade routes can turn the tables for nations, Egypt would have been the world’s biggest power as it controls the Suez Canal which alone generates billions of dollars in revenue. The world is run by those who use that route – not by those who collect the toll tax,” a senior Pakistani energy sector analyst, Mr Abdullah Ansari.

As per BHRO report, approximately 3000 families displaced in Balochistan to make way for CPEC forcefully. The people have been forced to leave their homes in Hoshab, Awaran, Jhalawan and Koh-e-Suleman and move to Karachi, Turbat, Hub Chowki and other areas without any assurance on accommodation, education, health, income earning or even ex-gratia for the families vacated. A total of 850 people have been killed in Balochistan to make the way for CPEC in 2016 alone and 250 of these were unidentified bodies. In the same year, some 40000 people have been abducted by Pakistan Government agencies and have gone missing and BHRO has managed to collect details of only 1,809 of them.

The locals, as stakeholders in the project, have been demanding that the Pakistani government shares details of the project with them, failing which they would consider the project, being constructed through an area contested by India, as illegal.

Nasir Aziz Khan, spokesperson of United Kashmir People?s National Party (UKPNP), said, “Pakistan has allowed China to get access into the PoK and Gilgit Baltistan and is signing new pacts without the consultation of locals. The local population has not received any benefit. The CPEC has no mention of the PoK and Gilgit. All benefits will go to Pakistan and China and they will use the land of Kashmir and exploit its natural resources.”

As a largely remote area with a delicate eco-system, Gilgit has been grappling with the problem of ecological imbalance due to uncontrolled deforestation.

Now, with the CPEC project planning to upgrade the Karakoram highway and build a rail network in the region, there are concerns that the project will displace thousands of locals and render them homeless, and also disturb the fragile ecology of the region.

Water pollution, desertification, soil erosion, water logging and salinity, solid waste management and deforestation are some of the major environmental issues for Gilgit Baltistan in future because of CPEC. Industrial and Transportation pollution’ though not too high at the moment but may get worse if this project goes which is designed without any concrete sustainable developmental policies.
 
Air pollution is endemic because of a surge in automobiles, insufficient emission standards and in the absence of exective law enforcement in implementing with CPEC are also major cause of concerns.
Land degradation is a serious problem both in irrigated and barani areas due to excessive mining, erosion and deforestation.
The inability to address the situation in CPEC will result in extremely high costs in the future and it is therefore not a tenable project.
Without any environmental planning and progressive development of sustainable development in CPEC project, the result will be multiple on fragile ecosystems, rural life, livelihood and infrastructure, losses of species destruction, death of habitat, decrease pasture lands, animals life, growth of different kinds of diseases, droughts, heavy rain falls, heavy snow falls, lake outbursts, floods’ flash floods etc in future resulting in massive social imbalance and environmental impact in the Kashmir region.
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China Railway Rolling Stock Corp (CRRC) on track for UK Business

China’s top rail manufacturer enters European market. CRRC is aggressively working with leading academics and manufacturers in an ambitious bid to create the train technology of the future

BEIJING: China’s biggest railway vehicle and equipment maker, China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, is fast expanding into the UK, competing on the back of its decades of experience in making safe, reliable and sustainable trains.

After establishing a UK research and development center in 2015 to collaborate with three British universities on pioneering train technology, CRRC has more recently teamed up with local train suppliers to jointly bid for new projects.

“We have enormous experience building trains for China’s domestic market and other international markets, and are keen to work with local UK partners to accommodate the needs of the UK market,” says Ding Biao, general manager of CRRC UK. “In addition to revenue CRRC can derive from new contracts in the UK, we can also benefit from building trains to satisfy the UK’s high train standards, and can use this experience elsewhere in the world.”

With roots extending back to 1881, CRRC has been at the forefront of the development of China’s railway industry. CRRC was incorporated in its current form in 2015 through the merger of two former rivals, CSR Corp and CNR Corp. At the time, CRRC not only had a firm domestic footing but also had exported to some international markets, mostly in Africa and the Middle East and in the developed markets of Australia and the United States.

In 2015, its overseas sales reached 26.6 billion yuan ($3.86 billion; 3.6 billion euros; 3.1 billion), accounting for 7 percent of its total sales. The company has a strategy to boost the level of its overseas sales to 35 percent by 2025.

Globally, CRRC employs 190,000 people in 430 subsidiaries, including five listed companies. As of the end of 2016, CRRC had shipped and deployed its railway vehicles, parts, signaling systems, maintenance and other service businesses to markets in 102 countries and regions, accounting for 83 percent of countries that operate railway services globally.

CRRC’s UK expansion comes as the UK implements its Control Period 5 plan for infrastructure upgrades, which will include the allocation of 38 billion for network rail contracts between 2014 and 19.

The expansion also builds on an agreement between the UK and China’s rail industries to work together to boost economic growth, jobs and skills. The deal was signed by former British prime minister David Cameron and Premier Li Keqiang in 2014.

As a continuation of the agreement, a China-UK railway working group was established to help China and the UK export railway technology to each other. Ding is a member of this group.

“The UK market is of paramount importance because of its historically recognized standards and its scale of opportunities,” says Ding, who added that Brexit uncertainties will not change CRRC’s commitment to the UK.

He draws on the British government’s approval of Chinese investment in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station as an example of an open attitude toward foreign investment. The deal, which was approved in September, will see China General Nuclear invest 6 billion into the EDF-led nuclear power station that will be built in the UK. The deal is seen by infrastructure sector insiders as a major endorsement of the UK’s open-for-business attitude.

Ding says it will be crucial to work with local partners to be successful in the UK.

“We can incorporate them into our international supply chain, but also with their help we can understand more about standards and practices in the UK market.”

It is an attitude that has been warmly welcomed by British rail supply chain companies, one of which – PriestmanGoode – began collaborating with CRRC subsidiary CSR Sifang in 2008. The companies have been working to improve train designs, with ideas including aesthetic aspects, such as the use of colors and the luxury feel of the interior, as well as such functions as hot water dispensers and allowing the seats to swivel so travelers do not have to face backward.

Paul Priestman, director of PriestmanGoode, says Chinese trains are “hugely competitive”, with their scale of manufacturing capabilities a great advantage.

“I also think that we can learn a lot from their design process, which is a much more multitrack approach than we operate in the West. They develop many solutions simultaneously and pick the best option once they are quite far developed,” Priestman says.

Meanwhile, CRRC is working hard to gain trust from the British government and industry partners. To develop that level of confidence, CRRC is working to improve and localize its technology through the establishment of a UK rail research center in partnerships with universities including Imperial College London, the University of Southampton and Birmingham University.

“These universities work with us on R&D, and help us to improve our technology, increase reliability and create products specifically suited to the needs of the UK market,” Ding says.

In addition, CRRC is hosting conferences and seminars about the train sector to clearly communicate its message to the industry. It also invites UK partners to visit its headquarters and factory in China so they can develop a greater understanding of CRRC’s capabilities, Ding adds.

Academics collaborating with CRRC on R&D express excitement about the partnerships.

Qiu Yi, an associate professor at the University of Southampton, said his team’s collaboration with CRRC on improving active noise and improving the experience can help CRRC’s expansion in Europe, a market attuned to train comfort.

“Although Chinese trains are very much on par with global standards for their hardware, there is still room to improve in areas such as safety and comfort,” Qiu says. “Software competency will be very important in determining whether Chinese train companies can actually win projects in Europe.”

Qiu’s excitement about working with CRRC is echoed by Roderick Smith, a research professor at the Future Rail Research Centre at Imperial College London. CRRC and the college are jointly researching modern manufacturing processes for high-speed trains, with the intent to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Smith says some of this R&D work could incorporate innovative modern manufacturing methods, including new methods of forming metals that can cope with the complex shapes of trains. The collaboration may also explore automated manufacturing methods that have advantages for mechanical behavior and aerodynamics, he said.

Meanwhile, CRRC has made many overseas acquisitions with the goal of gaining niche technology. In the UK, for example, it acquired a majority stake in the semiconductor maker Dynex in 2008 through its subsidiary Zhuzhou CSR. In 2015, CRRC acquired the deep-sea equipment company SMD.

Fresh investments from CRRC in acquired targets aided growth. For example, Dynex’s R&D team increased from 12 at the time of its acquisition to about 40 today. Overall staff grew from fewer than 250 to about 300.

Dynex, a leading maker of insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) semiconductors, has helped Zhuzhou CSR build a new IGBT manufacturing facility in China that will focus on the large-scale production of low-voltage IGBT semiconductors, while production of high-voltage IGBT semiconductors remains with Dynex in the UK.

Through this arrangement, Dynex is able maintain job opportunities in the UK while helping its parent company leverage its expertise in China. Dynex’s sales in China have also grown as Zhuzhou CSR became a distributor for Dynex’s products for the Chinese market after the acquisition.

Looking to the future, Ding said his team would like to work more closely with local partners to create products that are specifically suited to UK customers’ needs.

India signs Memorandum of Cooperation for Rail Safety with Japan

NEW DELHI: India signed an agreement with Japan last week on enhancing railway safety in the Indian Railways with focus on railway track and rolling stock safety, a press statement said on Tuesday.

The Memorandum of Cooperation was signed here on February 17 between Railway Board Chairman A.K.Mittal and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan Vice-Minister Hiroshi Tabata.

The areas of cooperation include rail inspection, rail wielding and providing automatic railway track safety inspection, maintenance of rolling stock and “any other relevant railway safety matters jointly determined by both sides” with the aim to prevent major rail accidents.

The agreement with Japan comes at a time when the train derailments are on the rise. In 2016-17, the number of consequential train accidents remained the same level as last year at 95 while derailments rose from 56 to 74. Unmanned level crossing accidents fell.

Service tax waived for cargo bound for Nepal

Decision to boost ferrying goods to Himalayan country from Visakhapatnam port

VISAKHAPATNAM: The decision to scrap 4.5% service tax on ocean freight for consignments transshipped from Visakhapatnam and Kolkata ports as the third country imports to Nepal will benefit the trading community of the Himalayan country.

Alternative EXIM port

The service tax imposed in June last year was withdrawn vide the Ministry of Finance TRU Circular No.204/2/2017 dated February 16 with immediate effect on goods intended for transshipment to any country outside India.

Trading community of Nepal has hailed the initiative after Nepal Commerce Minister Gauchan Thakali and others pleaded strongly with their counterparts in India that the imposition of service tax on cargo bound to their country would negate the letter and spirit of free trade agreement signed by them.

The contention of the traders as well as the Nepali authorities was that the collection of service tax by cargo handling agents in India would ultimately pass on to the importers making the ferrying of goods very expensive.

The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association have been demanding several initiatives to make Visakhapatnam an alternative port to Kolkata for them.

Following problems faced for shipment of cargo from Kolkata Port, on a request by Nepal, the Ministry of Commerce declared Visakhapatnam Port as an alternative Exim port last year following which the Visakhapatnam Port has been trying to create the required ecosystem to facilitate movement of cargo.

Related Article: http://www.railnews.in/nepal-asks-india-to-remove-service-tax-on-the-ocean-freight/

Fertilizers, coal, project cargo and garments are expected to be moved from Visakhapatnam to Nepal via Birgunj. Several high-level delegations from Nepal frequented Visakhapatnam and inspected the facilities on rake availability with the railways and Container Corporation of India (CONCOR).

Visakha Container Terminal Private Ltd, a BOT operator of Visakhapatnam Port, has developed a 24×7 all-weather facility here with deep draft to handle large shipping lines including those belonging to Maersk.

Visakhapatnam Port Deputy Chairman P.L. Haranadh told that they were expecting trade to Nepal to pick up shortly with talks in progress to introduce a box train to Birgunj Inland Container Depot.

Government-owned Nepal Transit and Warehousing Company has also been offered land for building a warehouse after the Nepal Rastra Bank has already issued a notification for payments. A proposal to open the Nepal’s Consulate General Office in Visakhapatnam is also under consideration to facilitate speedy clearances instead of depending on the consul officials in New Delhi.

India keen on Rail Link connecting Kathmandu to Delhi, Kolkata to strengthen cross-border connectivity: Suresh Prabhu

KHATMANDU: India today said it was keen on linking Nepal’s capital with New Delhi and Kolkata through a railway network in a bid to strengthen cross-border connectivity amid China’s strategic push into the landlocked Himalayan nation.

“We need to build the railway tracks connecting Kathmandu with Delhi and Kolkata as soon as possible,” Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

“If we could build these two railway tracks soon it would increase Nepal’s connectivity with India,” Prabhu said while addressing the ‘Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017’, which concluded in Kathmandu today.

“I will give priority to building such networks soon,” he said.

Prabhu’s remarks came amid China’s investment push into Nepal with rail and road connectivity through Tibet.

Noting that infrastructure was a prerequisite for attaining higher economic growth, Prabhu called the Nepal government and private sector to ramp up investment in construction of physical infrastructure.

“If you invest in infrastructure in a country with wide infrastructure gap, you will get good return on investment.

Also, economic growth triggered by infrastructural development will provide additional benefits to investors,” he said.

He added that India was ready to share its drone technology and experience with Nepal for monitoring the project.

According to experts, this move a counter to China’s bid to expand its rail network towards Lumbini via Kathmandu.

Prabhu held separate meetings with Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari,Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak, Civil Aviation, Culture and Tourism Minister Jiwan Bahadur Shahi and Energy Minister Janardan Sharma.

He also met Nepalese business leaders, political leaders, industry heads, with whom discussed a wide range of infrastructure development issues.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in Nepal to attend Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017

Prabhu arrived here to attend the ‘Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017’, organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) in association with the Nepal government and Youth Community for Nepalese Contractors (YCNC) to be held between February 19-20. Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae was also present at the occasion.

NEW DELHI/KHATMANDU: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has arrived in Nepal for a three-day visit during which he will attend an infrastructure summit which he said was crucial for accelerating the Himalayan nation’s economic growth.

Prabhu arrived here yesterday to attend the ‘Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017’, organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) in association with the Nepal government and Youth Community for Nepalese Contractors (YCNC) to be held between February 19-20.

The minister, who is the guest of honour and keynote speaker at the summit said, the infrastructure summit would be pivotal for accelerating economic growth of Nepal at a time when the country is striving to graduate to the league of developing nations.

Confederation of Nepalese Industries give Momento to Union Railway Minister.

Welcoming Prabhu at a reception to honour him yesterday, CNP president Haribhakta Sharma said the minister’s visit will be a good opportunity for sharing ideas and experiences of Indian model of infrastructure development, where involvement of the private sector has become one of the key drivers in accelerating steady rate of economic growth.

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae was also present at the occasion. During his stay in Nepal, Prabhu will pay a courtesy call to President Bidha Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.

He will also hold meetings with Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak and other senior government officials as well as private sector representatives.

In a statement, CNI said the minister’s visit will be instrumental in strengthening Nepal-India ties for socio-economic development of both countries.

The Summit is organized with an objective of helping in the economic development of the country by attracting huge investments from the private sector, strengthening regional connection and partnership by realizing the rationale of investment in infrastructure sector.

The summit which is jointly organized by the Government of Nepal and the Youth Community for Nepalese Contractors (YCNC) is focusing on private sector for indispensable partnership.

Similarly, more than 30 experts from industry sector, ministers from the government, policy makers and development partners will be participating in the programme. According to the organizers, former PM Baburam Bhattarai, former finance ministers and ministers of Nepal, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Department for International Development (DFID) (UK), International Finance Corporation (IFC), officials from diplomatic missions and representatives will also be participating in the programme.

Warm welcome in Kathmandu to Indian Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu by Infra Summit organizing committee of Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017

The Summit will discuss among other things, the possibility of public-private partnership (PPP), successful model of  regional and international level of partnership, the state of infrastructure development, essential environment for growth of investment, infrastructure market, value proposition, flexible financial system and green infrastructure.

Likewise, this Summit will also include ‘infrastructure idea hunt’ as a new subject. People with new ideas in infrastructure development area of the country can present their ideas in the summit. For the purpose, the organizers have already selected 10 ideas in co-work with the Idea Solution.

EXIM Bank team visits Sri Lanka to monitor India-funded projects

COLOMBO: A team from EXIM Bank has visited Sri Lanka this week to monitor the progress of projects funded by India mainly in the railway sector.

Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM) team visited sites of the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project, including Kankasanthurai Railway Line, Omanthai – Pallai railway line, Thalaimannar – Madhu Road Railway Line, Medawachchiya – Madhu Road railway line from February 13-16, the Colombo Page reported.

It may be recalled that Government of India has provided concessionary credit facilities amounting to about US$ 800 million to the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project. IRCON International implemented the project, including track upgradation and setting up of signalling and communication infrastructure.

They also evaluated the signaling and telecommunication system installed under the Lines of Credit (LoC).

IRCON International implemented the project, including track upgradation and setting up of signaling and communication infrastructure.

The team also called on Sri Lanka Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Nimal Siripala De Silva and senior railway officials.

“India remains committed to strengthening its bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka, including through closer economic ties, enhancing connectivity and other linkages, and continued development partnership,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a statement.

Indian Railways inks pact with ICAI for Accrual-based Financial System

ICAI’s Accounting Research Foundation signs pact with Railways. Railways will seek to introduce accrual accounting at 17 Railway zones

NEW DELHI: Chartered accountants’ apex body ICAI today signed an agreement with the Indian Railways for moving its accounting system to the accrual format.

“Accrual based financial statement will support Indian Railways in better utilisation of available resources, estimation of future liabilities and prioritisation of spending.

“It will also pave way for best financial management practices to be introduced in Indian Railways,” ICAI said in a release.

The pact is for “introducing the accrual-based financial statement as an additional set of accounts to existing cash-based government accounts”.

It has been entered into between ICAI Accounting Research Foundation (ICAI ARF) and the Indian Railways. The foundation is the research arm of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

Accrual system of accounting would provide a better picture of the particular entity’s financial position.

A pilot project for introduction of accrual-based financial statement as an additional set of accounts at North Western Railway at Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala (Punjab) was successfully implemented by ICAI ARF, the release said.

Now, the agreement signed by ARF with Railways will seek to introduce accrual accounting at 17 Railway zones and 8 production units across the country, sources said. The agreement will be valid for 18 months. The agreement was signed by V. Sagar, Director, ICAI ARF and Secretary, ICAI and Sanjeev Sharma, Deputy Chief Project Manager (Accounting Reforms), Northern Railway in the presence of Shahzad Shah, Financial Commissioner, Indian Railways and Nilesh Shivji Vikamsey, Chairman, ICAI ARF and President, ICAI.

The interesting aspect is that accrual based financial statements will serve as an additional set of accounts to existing cash based accounting.

Accrual based financial statement will support Indian Railways in better utilisation of available resources, estimation of future liabilities and prioritisation of spending. It will also pave way for best financial management practices to be introduced in Indian Railways.

This agreement follows implementation of the pilot project for introduction of the Accrual based Financial Statement as an additional set of Accounts at North Western Railway at Jaipur and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala by ICAI ARF.

The CA Institute’s ARF will not be implementing this on a pro-bono basis, sources said.

Kerala-Karnataka to hold discussions on Nilambur-Nanjangud Rail Line – keen to form Tripartite JV with Railways

KOZHIKODE/BANGALORE: A delegation comprising people’s representatives from Kerala would hold talks with Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on February 12 to seek support for realisation of the Nilambur- Nanjangud rail line.  They are also keen to study modalities for formation of a Tripartite Joint Venture comprising of Indian Railways, Karnataka and Kerala.

The meeting will be held at Gundlupet, office bearers of the coordination committee formed for implementation of the rail project in Wayanad said. Coordination committee leaders, Wayanad MP, M I Shanavas and Kalpetta MLA C K Saseendran will participate in the meeting.

Heads of civic bodies from Gundlupet had participated in the people’s convention held for expediting the rail project at Kalpetta in Wayanad on Sunday. Inaugurating the convention, Kerala public works minister G Sudhakaran said that the state government would hold talks with the union railways minister to expedite the Nilambur-Nanjangud rail line project.

The state government had signed an MoU with the Railways to implement the project on a cost sharing basis and the government had earmarked Rs 5 crore for preliminary works in the 2014-15 budget.

The last rail budget presented by railway minister Suresh Prabhu had proposed to implement the rail line at a cost of Rs 6000 crore by raising funds through extra budgetary resources (EBR). The decades- old proposal for the rail line is billed as the shortest rail line from Kerala to Karnataka.

Railways to form JV with Meghalaya to develop Rail Network in the State: MOSR Rajen Gohain

As on date, 16 States in the country have entered into JV with Indian Railways to jointly speed up rail projects. Many JV Cos are being established – nearly a dozen proposals were received at MOCA for approvals.

SHILLONG: Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain today said that talks are on with the Meghalaya government so that Railways development works are accelerated in the State.

Reacting to queries regarding opposition in certain quarters fearing influx due to rail network, Gohain said talks are being held regularly between the ministry and the State government on this issue. Two projects have been proposed in the State by the Railways – the 22-km Tetelia-Byrnihat tracks and the 108-km Byrnihat-Shillong line.

However, these projects have faced roadblocks from the Khasi Students’ Union, Gohain has informed the Parliament recently.

The Tetelia-Byrnihat project will be implemented at a cost of Rs 496 crore. Till March last year, Rs 235 crore was incurred on the project that included earthwork, building bridges and tunnels. An allocation of Rs 150 crore had been made in 2015-16 and Rs 160 crore for 2016-17. Proposal of Rs 5,308 crore has been made to complete the Byrnihat-Shillong track. Survey work for 104 out of the 108 km of the project has been completed. An expenditure of Rs 21 crore was incurred on the project till March last year and an outlay of Rs 300 crore was provided for 2016-17.

However, due to opposition, work is not proceeding at the required pace. The KSU is opposing the railway line in Khasi-Jaintia Hills apprehending influx. Gohain said he has today spoken on the issue to Ampareen Lyngdoh, a senior Cabinet Minister in the State government, who has assured of all possible cooperation in this regard.

“We want the State government to complete the process of land acquisition for the projects to move ahead… We shouldn’t stop development, as the Northeast has to catch up with the rest of the country in terms of infrastructure development,” Gohain said.

Gohain said that Meghalaya is a Sixth Scheduled State and people cannot settle here permanently. “Tourists are coming everyday; this is not influx,” he added.

Citing the example of a village in Nagaland where “Bangladeshis” have entered into matrimonial alliances with the locals, Gohain said, under such circumstances things could be different.

Meghalaya’s only railway line connects Dudnoi in Assam with Mendipathar in North Garo Hills. The 19.75km-long line was inaugurated in November 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On budgetary allocation towards railway projects in the Northeast, he said that an annual outlay of Rs 15,000 crore was proposed for the region in this year’s budget.

“Survey work for the Chaparmukh (Assam) to Jowai (Jaintia Hills) line is going on. There are also other projects, such as connecting the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of the country,” he added.

Nepal asks India to remove Service Tax on the Ocean Freight

Delivery of Nepal-bound containers stuck at India’s Kolkata Port for over a week!
KHATMANDU: Nepal has urged India to remove the service tax on ocean freight, saying it goes against the bilateral transit treaty.

On January 16, the Container Corporation of India Limited (CONCOR) – a Ministry of Railways PSU that handles Nepal’s Railway freight from Kolkata Port, had informed Nepal about the decision and had been levying the 4.5 percent service tax since then.

Nepal has made a formal request to India to scrap a 4.5 per cent service tax on ocean freight costs which was imposed in accordance with a notice issued by the Revenue Department of India on January 12, the Kathmandu Post reported on Friday.

Officials at the Nepal Embassy in New Delhi said they have asked the Indian government to remove the tax as soon as possible because it goes against the spirit of the transit treaty signed between the two countries.

Although the tax had been introduced for Indian importers, Nepali traders are having to pay it too as they fully rely on Indian clearing agents to handle shipments from third countries unloaded at Indian ports, the report said.

These agents have been passing on the additional charge to Nepali importers, making third-country imports shipped through Indian ports costlier.

Ocean freight costs vary depending on the distance of the port where the shipment originates. Ocean freight costs from China to Kolkata for a 20-foot container ranges from $600 to $1,600, according to Nepali importers. Charges range from $3,700 to $4,500 for a 20-foot container originating in the US.

Since taxes are imposed on the freight costs, Nepal-bound goods unloaded at Indian ports have become costlier. “We have made a formal request to India, and they have assured us that they will address the issue as soon as possible,” said Krishna Hari Pushkar, Economic Minister at the Nepal Embassy in Delhi. He added that efforts were being made at multiple levels to resolve the problem.

Commerce Minister Romi Gauchan Thakali had also raised the issue with the Indian side during his visit to Delhi last week. This tax issue had emerged in 2005 too, and it was resolved after bilateral talks, the Post said.

Nepal has also requested India to remove the anti-dumping duty imposed on Nepali jute and jute products. India started levying an anti-dumping duty of $6.30 to $351.72 per tonne on jute and jute products imported from Nepal in the first week of January. The duty is valid for five years, the report said. The import-restrictive levy has been imposed on jute yarn and twine, Hessian fabric and jute sacking bags in ‘all forms and specifications’.

Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat had asked India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitly to resolve the problem when he was in Delhi two weeks ago.

Birgunj Chamber of Commerce & Industry points out delay in Delivery of Nepal-bound containers

Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has said around 1,000 Nepal-bound cargo containers have been stuck at India’s Kolkata Port for over a week.

Earlier, the Kolkata Port authority had informed Nepali importers that loading of Nepal-bound containers, which was halted due to congestion, would resume by last Monday. However, the work has yet to restart, forcing the importers to pay high detention charges to shipping  companies.

“Traders have been forced to pay around Rs10 million per day in detention charges,” said BCCI President Pradeep Kedia.

If an importer fails to send back the containers to Kolkata within 14 days of the shipment, the trader has to pay $35-60 a day in demurrage fees to shipping companies.

About 36,000 cargo containers come to Nepal from third countries through the Kolkata port every year on an average. Half of them enter the country through the Birgunj dry port, while the rest come through Bhairahawa, Biragnagar and Kakarvitta.

A team of Nepali businessmen are scheduled to visit Kolkata to hold talks with shipping agents on demurrage and detention charges. “We have plans to hold a meeting with shipping agents on December 20,” said Rajan Sharma, president of Nepal Freight Forwarders Association (NEFFA).

The team is led by Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Vice-president Dinesh Shrestha and represented by Birgunj Chambers, Biratnagar Chambers, and Neffa. Kedia said during their India trip, they would hold “serious” talks with officials of Indian customs in Kolkata.

Although shipments from Kolkata had increased after India relaxed its embargo on Nepal, the shipments have once again been halted for the past week.

Sharma said he had held talks with the officials of Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR), the firm that handles railway freight to Nepal, and a director of Indian customs in Kolkata and requested them to resolve the problems at the earliest. “We are told the shipments would begin on January 11,” he said.

He said Nepali importers had been suffering due to “mismanagement of the railway service from both the CONCOR and Himalayan Terminal that operates the Birgunj dry port”. CONCOR is one of the shareholders of Himalayan Terminal.

As per the Railway Service Agreement between Nepal and India, CONCOR will handle Nepal-bound cargo through the Indian Railway.

Some railway racks carrying bulk cargo of MS billet, cooking oil, corn, and fly ash have arrived at the Dry Port, but containers have not come, said Kedia.

Administrative officer of Himalayan Terminal Ram Babu Sah claimed the shipments of Nepal-bound containers were affected by overcrowding at Kolkata port. “Containers of those who have paid the charges are coming to Nepal,” he said, claiming only 535 containers were stuck in Kolkata.

According to Laxman Basnet, executive director of Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board, he was informed shipments of containers containing other goods had been delayed due to increased inflow of bulk cargo carrying fly ash, which is used in cement manufacturing.

Payra Port Development will enhance India-Bangladesh ties – Analysis

NEW DELHI: In its efforts to further strengthen India-Bangladesh friendship, New Delhi is eager to develop the neighbouring country’s proposed Payra sea\port. Recent reports suggest that the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh is also likely to award some segments of the Payra Port Project in south-western Patuakhali district to India.

India Ports Global, a joint venture between state-run Mumbai-based Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Gujarat-based Kandla Port Trust for overseas ports, is the front runner for the contract. It has agreed to design, fund and build Bangladesh’s first deep-sea port at Payra on its own. The initiative by India, if it materialises, will take bilateral ties between the two neighbours to a new high.

Bangladesh’s international trade is carried out mostly through the sea route but the country has not developed a new sea port since its independence in 1971. Bangladesh immediately needs a deep-sea port as its two ports of Chittagong and Mongla are too shallow for handling large container ships. The capacity of the country’s busiest Chittagong port is reported to be almost exhausted. The maximum draft available at the port is 9.2 metres, which cannot handle bigger ships.

As part of its policy to develop a blue economy in Bangladesh, the Awami League (AL) government has attached priority to harnessing the country’s vast marine resources following the peaceful settlement of maritime boundary disputes with Myanmar and India.

The idea of the proposed Payra port was first conceived in 2013. The Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) passed the Payra Sea Port Authority Act on November 3, 2013. A fortnight later, Prime Minister Hasina formally opened the work of the Payra Sea Port at Ramnabad Channel of Kalapaara Upazila (sub-district) in Patuakhali district on November 19.

The construction work at the Payra port gained momentum since 2014 when a Payra Sea Port Authority was established under the Chittagong administrative authority. In November 2015, the AL government sanctioned Taka 1,128 crore ($143.37 million) to begin construction of the port.

Soon after the approval, India expressed its intent on developing the port under a government-to-government (G-to-G) deal. Since the Payra sea port is a strategically important project, India does not want its adversary China to build a maritime infrastructure just next to the country’s coastline. Reports say New Delhi is ready to take up the project though it may not be financially viable.

The AL government is funding primary infrastructure at the Payra port to enhance Bangladesh’s international trade as the two other sea ports are facing numerous problems in coping with the growing volumes of exports and imports. According to local reports, supporting infrastructures, including the most modern container carrier and a jetty, have already been installed and the building of additional structures is underway.

The Bangladesh government wants to gradually transform the Payra port into a deep sea port. It is expected to handle 75, 000 containers a year when it becomes fully operational. This capacity is five times more than the existing sea ports.

Experts opine that in order to maintain required draft for heavy vessels at the Payra port, a massive amount of dredging would be needed. Bangladesh’s Panning Minister A.H.M. Mustafa Kamal said 94 lakh cubic metre dredging would be carried out to sustain navigability of the port. British firm HR Wallingford, appointed by the AL government in January 2015 to conduct the feasibility study, noted in its draft report that about 35 per cent of the estimated $20 billion would be needed to be spent for dredging only. Dhaka’s media reports say the government has already engaged Jan De Nul, a Belgian dredging company, for the feasibility study on the Payra port.

To bring about all-round development of the Payra port region, the AL government has drawn a master plan. Reports indicate that the government has initiated the process of acquiring land for the port, five power plants, a land-based liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC), an oil refinery, an airport and a naval base around the port. Besides, the port will be connected to a dual-gauge rail line and four-lane highway within the next three years.

In an important development on December 21, 2016, the United Kingdom’s (UK) DK Rail inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh Railway for the building of the proposed 240-km Dhaka-Payra rail link. This rail connectivity is crucial as the government seeks to build the Payra port as the main sea port of the country by 2023. The Payra port became functional on a limited scale in August 2016 after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Hasina.

It is also planned to develop a link between the Payra port and India’s isolated North East. Once it becomes operational, the Payra port could easily be used by the north-eastern states and the landlocked Himalayan nations such as Nepal and Bhutan. Bangladesh may earn much needed foreign exchange by allowing these countries to use the port facilities. There is also enough scope for making the Payra port a centre of the proposed Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC). Thus the development of a deep seaport at Payra has the potential to turn Bangladesh into a regional hub of trade, transit and connectivity.

In the recent months, India and Bangladesh have been engaged in hectic negotiations over the Payra Port Project. According to reports, Bangladesh’s shipping ministry has agreed to award the contract to India under a G-to-G deal during the bilateral Shipping Secretary-level talks held in January 2016. India’s Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said on April 11, 2016 that his ministry has been working on the details of the project with its Bangladeshi counterpart and there is a strong possibility that India Ports Global would be selected to develop the port. Reports suggest that India has already sent a team to Bangladesh to conduct a study on the proposed port.

India is making serious attempts to clinch the deal as access to another seaport will significantly reduce the north-eastern states’ dependence on the narrow Siliguri Corridor for transportation of goods. The Payra port, which is located in the south-western corner of Bangladesh, is also much closer to the Indian coastline.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landmark visit to Dhaka in June 2015, India signed a coastal shipping agreement with Bangladesh. Since 2009, Bangladesh under Hasina has been receptive to India’s vital connectivity needs and security concerns and the progress on the Payra project talks reflects the growing understanding between the political leadership of the two neighbouring countries.

However, the other regional powers, including China, have also stepped up their efforts to get a toehold in the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh, which is centrally positioned in the area, to advance their geopolitical and economic interests. China is equally interested to build the Payra port and is ready to invest in the project in collaboration with any country. In a major development in Dhaka on December 8, 2016, Bangladesh signed two MoUs worth $600 million with two Chinese companies for setting up two of the 19 components of the Payra Port Project.

According to reports, China Harbour Engineering Company is to build the core port infrastructure, while China State Construction Engineering Corporation is to execute riparian liabilities and build housing, healthcare and education facilities in the Payra port. This new development assumes significance as it indicates that Dhaka will do a balancing act while awarding the contract of building the Payra port to foreign countries. At this point, there is no official confirmation regarding the volume of India’s share in the remaining 17 components of Bangladesh’s first deep seaport project at Payra.

During the last one year, India and Bangladesh have been working closely to enhance maritime cooperation and the conclusion of the Payra deal will add further impetus to it, especially in the domain of maritime security and disaster management.

The Bangladesh government plans to make the Payra port a centre for disaster preparedness and maritime surveillance ensuring security to the country’s southern coast, including the Sunderbans. India could assist Bangladesh in such capacity-building efforts.

Acquisition of Land for Rail Link between Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh all set to start

AGARTALA: Acquisition of land for a rail link between Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh is all set to start, following the commencement of the Agartala-Udaipur railway connectivity last week.

The railway and DoNER ministries have taken a major initiative for early completion of the 15km Agartala-Akhaura link.

This connectivity between Agartala and Akhaura railway junction in Brahmanbari district, 9km west of Agartala town, was mooted during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Bangladesh in June 2015.

It was decided that the Centre would finance the entire Rs 252-crore project. But as it got bogged down in land acquisition problems on both sides, the estimated cost escalated considerably.

But, as promised by railway minister Suresh Prabhu last Tuesday, the work is all set to start on the project through land acquisition on the Indian side.

Official sources here said the DoNER ministry has sanctioned Rs 100 crore for land acquisition of 67 acres along the 5km line within Indian territory from Agartala station to Gangasagar station near the border. The Centre will reimburse the cost of land acquisition and other collateral expenses for the project.

“The office of the district magistrate, West Tripura, has already received Rs 100 crore to meet the expenses. The land has been identified and owners have been served notices,” said N.C. Das, additional deputy magistrate (West Tripura). He said “pillaring” of the land has been completed and the entire process is expected to be done by the end of March.

On the 5km stretch of the Indian territory there will be three stations – Matripalli, Siddhi Ashram and Mishchindipur – and the first station in Bangladesh will be Gangasagar.

“Of the 5km of railway line, 3.7km will be overhead across high bridges while the remaining portion will be on the ground. On completion of the land acquisition, it will be handed over to the NFR authorities and laying of tracks and related works like construction of small bridges, stations and crossings can be undertaken by the first week of April,” Das said.

A major parallel road will also be built alongside the 15km railway tracks up to Akhaura. NFR sources here said the viability of the railway connectivity up to Akhaura is still open to question as currently those travelling to Bangladesh cross overthrough the checkpost and then go by rickshaw to the railway junction at Akhaura to board trains for their journey.

“Whether people will give up the present advantage to go by rail is doubtful but the new connectivity will help us in transportation of goods from Bangladesh to Tripura via Gangasagar station,” said J.K. Roy, an authority on Tripura’s history.

Maharashtra, Railways form New Firm for State Railway projects

The Maharashtra Railway Infrastructure Development Company Limited (MRIDC) will have a mandate of working on railway projects

MUMBAI: The state government on Tuesday passed a government resolution declaring the formation of the Maharashtra Railway Infrastructure Development Company Limited (MRIDC) as a joint partnership between the state government and the railway ministry.

The MRIDC will have a mandate of working on railway projects in the state though projects in Mumbai- most of them under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)- will be out of the purview of the newly-formed firm. According to officials, the MRIDC will be a key move considering that Maharashtra has got Rs 4767 crores for rail projects this year, a 206 percent increase from the average of Rs 1171.4 crores received by the state between 2009-14.

According to railway officials, the SPV or JV will streamline the construction of rail infrastructure in the state as a dedicated team would work to carry out various legal processes to kickstart a project. “It would be like the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), a SPV between the state and the railways, that has been overseeing Mumbai’s rail projects and has been acting as bridge between the state, the railway ministry, Western and Central railways and the World Bank. It has increased the pace of work since the early 2000s,” explained an official.

Earlier, in a statement released on November 30 this year, the railway ministry had said five state governments- Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala and Odisha- had formed joint venture firms with the railways. A total of 16 states have decided to share costs in 43 projects, the total cost of the projects at current prices being Rs 62,379 crores.

Russian Railways suggests Noise Shields for Tracks near Residential Areas

With Russia’s help, India to increase train speed to 200 kmph

New Delhi: Russian Railways is helping India’s national transporter increase the speed of its passenger trains up to 200 km per hour.

Russian Railways is at present collaborating with Indian Railways on a 575-km stretch between Nagpur and Secunderabad and submitted a preliminary report last week.

To reach the desired speed limit, Russian Railways has proposed several technical and technological solutions, including reconstruction of railway alignment as well as treating the earth bed where there are speed restrictions.

Since Indian Railways doesn’t have coaches that can move with a speed of 200 km per hour, a new type of passenger cars needs to be approved as well.

It has, however, expressed concern over “a number of large bridges with speed limits” on this particular stretch and has recommended a detailed survey of all these structures on the basis of which measures for reconstruction/repair will be taken up.

It has also been pointed out that railroad switches, which enables trains to shift from one track to another, at stations on this stretch are not suitable for a speed of 200 km per hour and a different type of switch has been recommended.

A digital technological communication network for the entire section, instead of the existing radio communication, was also proposed.

A high-speed rail network will also require safety measures for pedestrians and motor vehicles at rail crossings. Keeping this in mind, overpasses, anti-collision and anti-ram barriers as well as automatic alarm systems have been suggested.

A protective fencing along the length of the rail track was mooted in order to prevent accidents with people and animals on the track.

The Russian Railways also suggested noise shields for tracks near residential areas.

A protocol for this project was signed between the railway ministries of the two countries in October last year.

The high-speed project will be jointly financed and the cost will be split equally between the two countries.

Currently, the fastest train in India is Gatimaan Express with top speed of 160 km per hour.

Indian Railways advances on the proposals of linking neighbouring countries with Rail Networks

Darjeeling: The Centre is mulling linking neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal through the railways. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced the plan in Darjeeling at a programme where an agreement was signed between the Indian Railways and UNESCO.

This was announced here today by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at a programme where an agreement was signed between the Indian Railways and UNESCO. “We have neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal. We have a very cordial relationship with them. We want to increase railway connectivity with these countries. We are trying to develop it,” Prabhu told reporters.

“If a circuit can be made connecting these neighbouring countries, it will increase interaction, tourism, trade, employment and connectivity,” he added. Prabhu said work was on to connect all the eight state capitals of the north-east, so that the tourism potential of the region gets a boost. Horticulture, floriculture, handicraft of the region would get a bigger market after the state capitals are connected with the rest of the country, the railway minister said, adding that he would visit Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the next two days. Prabhu said investments of Rs 3-3.5 lakh crore would be made in the railways while the amount had been Rs 35,000-40,000 crore a year earlier. This will bring development in the functioning of the railways, he added.

Agartala-Udaipur Railway Line to be Inaugurated on Jan 24

Railway Minister-Tripura CM to inaugurate new rail line. Suresh Prabhu says that this new Rail line would not only strengthen the trade and commerce between India and Bangladesh, but also uplift the economy of people on both the sides.

AGARTALA: The Railway Minister and the Tripura Chief Minister will jointly inaugurate a new railway line beyond the state capital Agartala — up to the state’s southern temple city Udaipur — on January 24, an official said here on Wednesday.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar met Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday in New Delhi and discussed the expansion of railway lines in the northeastern state.

“The Railway Minister told the Tripura Chief Minister that they would jointly inaugurate the 44.76-km new railway line up to Udaipur (district headquarters of Gomati district) from state capital Agartala on January 24,” a Tripura government release said.

Prabhu also assured Sarkar that the Agartala-Udaipur railway track, which is being extended up to Sabroom, the southernmost town of the state near Bangladesh, would be completed by 2019.

Sabroom is just 75 kms from the Chittagong international sea port in Bangladesh.

 “The railway station at Sabroom border town would be made of international standard, as this would be a new gateway for the northeastern states of India,” the release said.

“Prabhu, with regard to the Tripura government’s long pending demand to set up a railway division in the state, told Sarkar that it would not be a tangible benefit, rather it would only add to administrative costs to set up a new railway division.

“A nodal officer of the Railway Board would be appointed in Tripura soon to coordinate with the state government to expedite the ongoing works of the railways,” it added.

Meanwhile, according to Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Engineer Harpal Singh, the NFR has invested over Rs 1,000 crore to extend the 44.76-km railway line up to Udaipur, southern Tripura’s main commercial city.

“We have completed laying of railway tracks up to Udaipur before schedule of March 2017,” Singh told IANS over phone from Guwahati.

He said: “The railway line would be extended up to South Tripura’s district headquarters Belonia by this year-end or early next year. By March 2019, southern Tripura’s last border town Sabroom would be connected by railway network.”

The government has been extending railway line up to Sabroom to ferry goods using Bangladesh’s international Chittagong sea port, which is barely 75 km from Sabroom.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said: “After the Indian Railways extends its rail line up to Sabroom, it would be very easy to connect with the Chittagong international sea port in southeast Bangladesh.”

“After extending the railway line to Sabroom, Tripura and the entire northeast India would be linked with southeast Asia very easily,” Sarkar told IANS.

The extension of the erstwhile metre-gauge track up to Agartala brought Tripura’s capital city on India’s rail map in October 2008. Subsequently, the metre-gauge track was converted into broad-gauge track.

Meanwhile, the NFR has already undertaken work to lay a 15-km rail track to connect Agartala with Bangladesh’s Akhaura railway station, an important rail junction there.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Bangladesh’s Rail Minister Majibul Haque jointly laid the foundation stone here on July 31 last year for Agartala-Akhaura railway project.

2281 MT High Speed Diesel sent to Bangladesh from Numaligarh Refinery

Guwahati: A railway rake containing 2,281 Metric Tonne of High Speed Diesel (HSD) has been dispatched from Numaligarh Refinery Limited’s Marketing Terminal in Siliguri to Parbatipur Depot of Bangladesh Petroleum.

The consignment containing 42 wagons will travel over 516 kms (253 km in India and 263 km in Bangladesh) on the existing railway line via Rangapani, Singabad, Rohanpur to reach Parbatipur in Bangladesh, a NRL press release said.

Railway Ministry, Karnataka sign MoU for Suburban Railway System

BENGALURU: The Karnataka government and the Railways Ministry today signed a memorandum of understanding in what is seen as a step towards realising the city’s long standing demand for a suburban railway system to address its notorious traffic congestion.

The MoU for the development of suburban railway system in Bengaluru was released by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at a function here.

Counting on the credentials of Bengaluru as a global city and technology capital of the country, Prabhu said it is the duty of the government, at the Centre and the state, that transportation needs of the people are taken care of.

With this in mind, a decision has been taken to start suburban railway system for the city, he said.

A special company would be set up for the project and it will be financed through an “innovative” way, Prabhu said.

“It is no longer possible for either the state government or the central government to find money for the budget from their normal revenue source to finance entire infrastructure needs…. so we have to find an innovative way,” he said, adding it would not come into the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of the state government .

Pointing out that there were equity related concerns raised by the state government, Prabhu said they would be looked into.

Siddaramaiah, who expressed reservation over the Centre’s draft suburban rail policy’s financing pattern, said “the Minister (Prabhu) has now spoken about adopting innovative ways of funding for which the state government will provide its fullest cooperation. We are also fine with involving of the private partners.”

Pointing out that the draft mentions financing pattern as 20 per cent by central government and 80 per cent by the state government, he said it would be burden on Karnataka.

He proposed a 50:50 financing pattern, and requested that the Centre should share the land cost also.

At the function organised by the South Western Railway, Prabhu and Siddaramaiah unveiled the plaque for laying of foundation stone for new coaching terminal at Baiyyappanahalli aimed at decongesting other terminals in the city.

They also flagged off KSR Bengaluru/Yesvantpur-Shivamogga train and MEMU train between KSR Bengaluru and Ramanagara.

Promising that Bengaluru-Mysuru track doubling would be commissioned before March-end, Prabhu also sought the state government’s cooperation in quadrupling of the line between Bengaluru to Whitefield as it will help in easing the traffic congestion.

Citizens’ pressure for Bengaluru Suburban Rail System finally works!

A suburban rail network in Bengaluru will offer an affordable and swifter mode of commuting in a city in which vehicles move an average 10 kmph on clogged roads

A decade-long fight by Bengaluru citizens to use the railway lines that circle India’s tech hub to create a suburban train system for the city is finally taking off.On Monday, the Indian Railways signed a pact with the Karnataka government to set up a company to run and manage the suburban rail network, offering affordable and faster ways for commuters to travel across Bengaluru, where vehicles move an average of 10 kmph on the city’s clogged roads.

Karnataka will contribute 80 per cent of the Rs 360 crore needed to convert 15 trains to electric commuter trains, with the remaining amount coming from the Railways. The first commuter train or (MEMU) was flagged off to Ramanagara, a district 35 km west of Bengaluru.

“We see the signing of the MoU as a good step. However, we really want this to translate into real work and see results,” said Sanjeev Dyamannavar, founder of Praja Raaj, who has spearheaded the campaign for a suburban rail network for over a decade. “We also want the infrastructure to be provided by the state government, for which we will continue to follow up.”

The city, home to over 11 million people, had 6.59 million vehicles as on October, according to statistics on Karnataka’s transport department site. With slightly over one vehicle for every two people, Bengaluru has among the highest concentrations of private vehicles that drive at speeds of less than 10 kmph on most arterial roads.

At the same time, public transport has struggled to scale. The first phase of the 32-km Metro, one decade in making, is expected to be ready by April. Plans are on to build the second and third phase, to be completed by 2025. Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has a fleet of 6,186 buses, but this is not enough to take private vehicles off the roads. The BMTC fleet size was reduced from 6,775 to the curren level in 2012-2013. While it plans to add 1,600 buses by March this year, 554 buses were scrapped. BMTC did not procure a single new bus in 2015.

Today, it takes around two to two-and-a-half hours by road from the city railway station to WhiteField, as against 45 minutes on a train.

In 2013, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah committed funds for the suburban rail system in his budget presentation, and Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu committed the Centre’s contribution in the 2016 rail budget.

“I hope the state government provides land to the railways. This will benefit more than 40 lakh (four million) people on an immediate basis and make the city more liveable,” says Mahesh Mahadevan, Head HR for Makino India Private Limited as well as part of the citizens activists group fighting for the Suburban Railways. “Rail connectivity is already available across the city, it is just about making it work.”

J M Chandra Kisen, Chairman for Center for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP), a research group at the Indian Institute of Science says that the suburban railway system is a much needed transportation support for the city.

“A large railway network is already existing across the city. Hence, the suburban railway is a project that can be executed quickly without much infrastructure requirements. It will surely reduce the traffic, pollution and travel time for the people. It will ease the traffic from the roads,” said Kisen.

Conflicts with China forces Indonesia to engage with Japan on Jakarta-Surabaya Rail line project

BOGOR (Indonesia) — Indonesia and Japan have agreed to an initial discussion for a railway project connecting the South-east Asian nation’s capital and its second-biggest city, said Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday.

Both countries also plan to develop the Masela gas block in Indonesia’s Maluku province and Patimban port in West Java, said Mr Widodo after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Indonesia’s presidential palace in Bogor.

The increase in Japanese investment in Indonesia has been “very significant”, said Mr Widodo, pointing out that it more than doubled to US$4.5 billion (S$6.4 billion) in January-September of last year.

Mr Abe’s visit to Indonesia is the latest stop on a four-nation tour since Thursday that has already taken him to the Philippines and Australia. He flies to Vietnam today.

Indonesia’s Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi told Reuters in October that the government had invited Japan to submit proposals to work on a railway line connecting Jakarta to Surabaya. The project aimed to slash journey times by more than half, to about five hours on the roughly 600km route.

Japan has historically been one of Indonesia’s biggest investors, but was dealt a blow in 2015 when the South-east Asian nation awarded China a US$5.5 billion high-speed train project linking Jakarta with Bandung.

Both Mr Abe and Mr Widodo yesterday agreed to work closely with United States President-elect Donald Trump to ensure stability in Asia.

Mr Abe said it is important to solve the South China Sea conflict peacefully and Japan will advance cooperation in strengthening Indonesia’s maritime security.

“About the South China Sea conflict; we assert the importance of the principle of solving a dispute peacefully as per international laws and we will not allow any country to breach the laws without the consent of member nations,” said Mr Abe and Mr.Widodo jointly.

Japan is not a claimant to the disputed waterway although it is involved in a dispute with China over a set of islands in the East China Sea, known in Japan as the Senkaku and in China as the Diaoyu.

China has laid claim to almost the entire South China Sea, a vital trade route and a lucrative fishing area. This has led to tensions with Asian neighbours and Washington, which has vowed to uphold the rule of law and freedom of navigation.

Indonesia is also not a claimant to the South China Sea, but China’s assertions to territory have drifted into Indonesia’s Natuna Islands area, raising the potential for dispute.

In March last year, a Chinese coast guard vessel collided with a Chinese fishing boat suspected of illegal fishing as it was being towed by the Indonesian authorities, setting off terse public exchanges between the countries. Three months later, Indonesia’s navy detained a Chinese vessel off the Natunas and arrested seven fishermen

Suresh Prabhu to sign MoU with Karnataka on Monday for Bangalore Suburban Rail

The long-pending demand for a suburban train system in Bengaluru will take baby steps with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and the Ministry of Railways on Monday. However, differences over funding pattern may delay Bengaluru suburban rail project

BANGALORE: The much-delayed suburban rail project for Bengaluru has finally reached a decisive stage. The state government and Railways are expected to strike a cost-sharing deal next week to build the necessary infrastructure. Also on the agenda is a special project vehicle, likely to be named as the Bengaluru Railway Infrastructure Development Corporation.

Railways Minister, Suresh Prabhu, who is launching a slew of railway-related projects in the city during his visit, is expected to release the MoU which will set up a Special Purpose Vehicle. “This will be under the State Urban Development Department, which can then decide projects to be undertaken to set up a suburban rail system,” said Sanjiv Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore Division of the South Western Railway here on Saturday.

Mr. Prabhu is also scheduled to signal the start of the Rs.130 crore project for the expansion of the Baiyappanahalli Railway Station, which would make it the third terminal in the city. With the two current terminals at KSR Railway Station (Bengaluru City) and Yeshvanthpur reaching saturation point, the new coaching terminal would help in decongesting the railway infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the Bangalore Division said proposals had been sent to the Centre for projects that would increase the line capacity of lines across the city. These include, a Rs. 480 crore project to double the line between Banaswadi to Hosur; Rs. 200-crore line doubling between Lottegollahalli to Baiyappanahalli; reviving the nearly-decade-old proposal to add an additional line between KSR Railway Station and the IT hub of Whitefield.

However, Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan told that the state government wasn’t keen on taking ownership of the project. “The railways is responsible for operating freight trains, and long distance passenger trains. Suburban rail network is a state subject. But, the Karnataka government is not taking any initiative to set the ball rolling,” Mohan said.

Pointing out that the state was willing to spend Rs 2,100 crore on the steel flyover that would connect a small stretch, Mohan added: “The RITES study reveals that the suburban rail network can provide transportation to 25 lakh people daily. A flyover is a short-term fix. Suburban railway is a more sustainable solution.”

Mohan said that George was constantly maintaining that the state government must not spend its money for the suburban rail network. “Bengaluru South MP and Union minister Ananth Kumar also suggested to Siddaramaiah that the state cabinet ministers should meet their central counterparts and lobby strongly for the project. But they seem uninterested,” Mohan added.

Meanwhile, officials in the South Western Railway told on Saturday that the joint venture between the two stakeholders is going to be on the formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to execute the suburban rail project.

“The joint venture is the first step to set up a body that will add projects needed to develop the suburban rail infrastructure and work on the lines of the urban development department of state government. The draft policy is on funding of the project which can be discussed later,” said SS Soin, additional general manager of SWR.

Rs 360 crore spent on replacing diesel coaches

The Karnataka government has agreed to replace 15 pairs of diesel multiple unit (DEMU) rakes with mainline electric multiple unit (MEMU) coaches, at the cost of Rs 360 crore, in what is the first step towards improving suburban rail connectivity in the city.

South Western Railway (SWR) has also augmented one train from Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna station (KSR) that will have three services to Whitefield during the morning peak hours. It has also introduced a rail bus – a small bus-like coach from Yeshwantpur to Nelamangala. SWR will also run long-distance trains from Mandya and Ramanagara, which will be linked to the Kengeri Metro Station, which will be developed in the second phase of the Namma Metro.

Land acquisition remains an issue in state

While the state is seeing railway projects worth Rs. 28,000 crore under process, land acquisition remains a major concern, said Ashok Gupta, Chief Administration Officer (Construction).

Of the 21,000 acres of land to be acquired by the state government for various railway works — primarily commissioning of new lines — just around 20 per cent of the land has so far been acquired. Nearly 771 km of new lines have been stalled, including key stretches of the Whitefield to Kolar new line, 200-km from Tumakuru to Chitradurga; and Chikmagalur to Saklespur.

“For the past two years, land acquisition had stopped because of Rules of the new land acquisition act was yet to be notified. It was done only last year, and we expect optimistically that the first acquisitions will start in 1.5 years time. We have had discussions with the state government to bring out guidelines to expedite processes such as Social Impact Assessment,” he said.

But Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), a collective spearheading the commuter rail campaign, has a key demand: Let there be a proper strategy, so that the suburban rail network connects the top 10 economic hubs in and around the city including Electronics City, Whitefield, Sarjapur Road, Malur, Bidadi and Devanahalli. Another demand is to allocate budget for each of these links spread over the next two years.

These demands will be placed before Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu right after he kicks off the new MEMU train from Ramanagaram to Whitefield on Monday. CfB also wants the Railways to work with the state government with clear timeframes to commission these links.

Letter to minister

A letter addressed to the minister, signed by over 21,000 citizens, reiterates the city’s three-decades old demand for a suburban train system. “Unfortunately, due to lack of strong political will, it never materialised. A full-fledged suburban train system can take out 50% of cars and motrocycles off the streets and have a tremendous positive impact on us and our children,” it reads.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated projects worth Rs 45,000 crore for the suburban railways in Mumbai. The letter makes a stinging reference to this, juxtaposing Bengaluru’s long-pending demand. It says, “We know that your special love for Mumbai has resulted in a generous sanction of thousands of crores for expanding Mumbai suburban rail. We request a place in your heart for Bengaluru and some space in the budget for our commuter rail.”

MoU implications

If Suresh Prabhu inks a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state government, it could hasten the creation of the necessary infrastructure. The Centre’s draft Suburban Rail policy had put the onus of acquiring land on the respective governments. In its 2012 report, consultancy firm RITES had indicated the state’s key role in creation of the required infrastructure.

A special purpose vehicle is expected to enable local railway officials to work closely with the state government on the suburban rail project. The state is also likely to fund the cost of rakes and automatic signalling between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield. An upgrade of the MEMU maintenance shed in Banaswadi is also on the agenda.

DP Rail signs MoU to design, finance, build, operate and maintain Bangladesh’s new 240km Dhaka-Payra Rail line

Dhaka: British company DP Rail has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Bangladesh / Bangladesh Railway, in the presence of Her Excellency Alison Blake, the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, and UK’s Trade Envoy for Bangladesh Rt Hon Rushanara Ali MP, for the development of the proposed 240km Dhaka – Payra railway.

The MOU was signed during a ceremony on 20th December 2016 at the Ministry of Railways in Dhaka hosted by Md. Mazibul Hoque MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Railways.

Under the terms of this MOU, DP Rail has the exclusive right to develop plans to design, finance, build and operate the railway. The MOU enables DP Rail to proceed with the detailed planning of the railway and to enter into detailed discussions with Payra Port and the users of the port and railway.

DP Rail is working with China Railway Construction Corporation (International) Ltd as its principal civil engineering contractor. Present at the ceremony today to witness the signing were senior representatives from CRCC including Vice President Huang Jianmin.

DP Rail and CRCC have an agreement whereby CRCC will be its partner to undertake the civil engineering construction works for the railway.

The new railway forms a vital part of the Payra Port project, which is designed to provide a new deep water port at the top end of the Bay of Bengal, capable of handling large container ships of 8,000 containers capacity or 120,000 tonnes of cargo.

The British High Commissioner, HE Alison Blake said: “Ms Ali, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy, and I are delighted to be here for the signing of the MOU between the Govt of Bangladesh and DP Rail. This is a great example of British business expertise supporting the development of Bangladesh infrastructure and future economic development.”

UK Trade Envoy Ms Rushanara Ali MP said: “This is a project of vital national importance to Bangladesh and I welcome the fact that this project has been proposed as a “best of British” railway, representing a substantial export opportunity for the UK railway supply chain. I know from my discussions here that the project also enjoys the unequivocal backing of the Government of Bangladesh, the UK Government, as well as the full support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China through the involvement of DP Rail’s partners, China Railway Construction Corporation. I am looking forward to seeing the benefits that this project will bring to the people and businesses of Dhaka, and to Bangladesh in general.”

Chief Executive of DP Rail, Ian Derbyshire, commented: “Today, we put on record our grateful thanks to the staff of the British High Commission here in Dhaka and to the Department of International Trade in London, as well as to our hosts, the Ministry of Railways. Without all their support this project would not have been possible. Our experienced and knowledgeable team is now ready to put every effort into bringing this exciting and game-changing project to fruition.”

Assam Refinery dispatches 2,281 tonnes HSD containing 42 wagons to Bangladesh

Guwahati: A Railway rake containing 2,281 tonnes of High Speed Diesel (HSD) has been to dispatched from NRL’s Marketing Terminal in Siliguri to Parbitipur Depot of Bangladesh Petroleum on Thursday.

The consignment containing 42 wagons will travel over 516 km including 253 km in India and 263 km in Bangladesh on the existing railway line through Rangapani, Singabad and Rohanpur to reach Parbatipur in Bangladesh.

It may be mentioned here that India and Bangladesh had last year entered a new era of petroleum trade with a goodwill train flagged off by Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on March 17 last year from Numaligarh Refinery Limited’s Siliguri Marketing Terminal to the neighbouring country.

Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) have signed a Sale-Purchase Agreement which includes joint initiative for construction of a 131-km pipeline, with a capacity of 1 million metric ton per annum (MMTPA) from Siliguri to Parbatipur.

Prior to the construction of the pipeline, the rail rake mode of transportation of product from Siliguri to Parbatipur is also an effective mode of transport with minimum loss and pollution.

Gujarat Govt. signs INR 77000 Crore MoU with Railways for Bullet Train

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Government today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) worth INR 77,000 crore with the Ministry of Railways for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train project.

The MoU was signed during the ongoing Vibrant Gujarat Summit at Mahatma Mandir here today in the presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.

Out of the total cost of INR 1.10 lakh crore for the high-speed Bullet train project, Gujarat government would get 70% share, the state government said in a release.

The agreement was signed between Gujarat government and the High Speed Rail Corporation (HSRC), which falls under the Railway Ministry.

Rupani said that “Under this agreement, INR 77,000 crore will be invested in Gujarat for the Bullet train project. We have signed an MoU today in this regard with the Ministry of Railways.” The Railways will also set up a container depot in Rajkot to boost exports from the Saurashtra region. “This will cost about Rs. 100 crore,” Rupani said.

The high speed Bullet train is expected to cover 508 kilometer (km) between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph. The project is expected to be completed by the 2023.

According to the detailed project report proposed by Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA), while most part of the corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track, there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar, which will run under the sea.

Rolling stock and other equipment like signalling and power system will be imported from Japan as per the loan agreement.

Railways has already allotted INR 200 crore for the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), in which Maharashtra and Gujarat will have equity of 25% each and the Indian Railways will have 50%.

The release said that “Another MoU was signed to set up a training centre at Gandhinagar to impart training to engineers and employees associated with the Bullet train project.”

Indo-Bangla Rail: Delay in Land Acquisition may push target timelines further

Agartala: The ambitious Indo-Bangla railway project connecting Agartala with Bangladesh’s Gangasagar might get delayed due to an impasse in land acquisition process.

As per the plan, land measuring 66 acres was supposed to be handed over to IRCON by January this year for construction of the 15-km railway track.

The West district administration had issued a notification for acquisition of land for the railway project. Even if the administration speeds up the process, it will take at least six months to acquire the land for the project after fulfilling all official formalities.

Work for the Indo-Bangla railway project was supposed to begin in the first part of 2016 but now the work may start only by middle of this year, according to sources in the IRCON. In that case, the Rs 500 crore project can get completed by 2020.

As per the DPR, there will be four railway stations in the 15 km long Indo-Bangla railway link. One part of the project is the elevated corridor from Agartala railway station to Nishchintapur, a border area of Tripura. The move to construct elevated corridor was proposed to save land which will reduce the project cost substantially.

The DoNER Ministry has already sanctioned Rs 97 crore for land acquisition but due to lackadaisical attitude of the district administration the process is yet to get momentum. When contacted, a senior official of the district administration on Monday said, “We can’t explain the reasons behind the delay as District Magistrate Dr Milind Ramteke is on leave. However, the process for land acquisition is a priority for the government”, he added.

Meanwhile, passenger train service up to Udaipur is expected to kick start shortly as CRS inspection has been done successfully. Now, the NFR is focusing on completion of railway extension line up to Sabroom, State’s southernmost border subdivision.

IRCTC ties up with GSAs of Bangladesh

Buoyed with the success of internet ticketing and tourism verticals, IRCTC has recently tied up with the General Sales Agents (GSAs) of Bangladesh.

The GSA scheme for registration of travel agents from outside India will facilitate booking of e-tickets of Indian Railways through IRCTC’s website www.irctc.co.in to the customers of the concerned countries.

Apart from the internet ticket, the GSA agents will also have the facility to book the attractive tour packages of IRCTC.

This initiative envisages facilitating inbound foreign tourists and maintaining good relationships with foreign countries particularly the bordering and South Asian countries.

The General Sales Agents scheme was initially launched by IRCTC way back in 2006 with the approval of Ministry of Railways. IRCTC has registered GSAs in the neighbouring countries to promote regional tourism of India.

Currently, IRCTC has 11 working GSAs in Nepal, London, Kuwait and UAE. Registration of 3 GSAs of Srilanka is also in pipeline.

“The GSA scheme will greatly enrich inbound tourists’ experiences visiting India and will help to get acquainted with the cultural heritage of India. This will also facilitate the strong bonding with the neighbouring countries” said Dr. Arun Kumar Manocha, CMD, IRCTC.

IR signs long-term deal with Petronet LNG to run Trains on LNG

Passengers to brace for a pollution-free train ride soon on Indian Railways!  This agreement will help Indian Railways cut Diesel Costs by 20%

New Delhi: Indian Railways has decided to move towards using Liquefied Natural Gas, commonly called LNG, to run its passenger trains, converting all its exiting locomotives into dual-fuel based.

The driving power cars, which so far have been using diesel as its fuel, would now be retro-fitted to use LNG as well, for the first time, sources said.

The aim is to cut down on diesel consumption by 20%. To achieve this, the locomotives have to be overhauled with enhanced safety features as LNG is a hazardous inflammable fuel, sources in Railway Board said.

The development comes at a time when petroleum prices are now on an uptrend with most oil marketing companies raising retail prices of diesel by as much as Rs 1.80 a litre beginning this week.

In contrast, use of LNG would mean significant savings for the Railways as the country has recently renegotiated a long-term deal with Petronet LNG Ltd in December reworking a 25-year contract with Qatar’s RasGas Co, resulting in prices dropping by almost half. Petronet – India’s largest LNG importer as on date, to revise the 7.5 mtpa LNG import deal terms significantly cutting the price accordingly.

Under the initial deal signed in 1999, Petronet agreed to pay about US$13 per million British thermal units, while the revised price is reduced to around US$6 to US$7, according to India’s minister for petroleum and natural gas, Dharmendra Pradhan.

The two companies said in a joint statement last week that the revised price will be linked to the oil index that closely reflects the prevailing oil prices.

Additionally, Petronet has avoided paying the US$1.5 billion penalty for taking less LNG than it contracted for 2015, but under the new agreement, it will have to take and pay for all of the volumes it has not taken in 2015 during the remaining term of the 25-year SPA.

Petronet also agreed to buy additional 1 mtpa of LNG from RasGas for further sale to Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, GAIL and Gujarat State Petroleum, with the delivery starting in 2016.

Indian Railways has firmed up the plan under which it would convert existing and new driving power cars of diesel-run trains, called DEMUs into dual-fuel system.

Initially, all Cummins 1400 HP engines would be taken up for conversion, which are either new or freshly-overhauled engines done after 18,000 hours of run.

Since LNG is seen as a highly hazardous material, safety has to be uppermost in the mind of the manufacturers, sources said.

The converted driving power cars should have safety and protection features for engines and manufacturers should demonstrate its safe and trouble-free field operation.

The system offered should also have suitable safety devices for the safe operation of LNG storage, which can only be sourced from manufacturers having a minimum three years’ experience in manufacturing and supply of such LNG tank systems.

Retro-fitting the LNG tank has to be carefully done as it has to be mounted on a moving platform moving at high speed, needing automatic safety system and alarm with manual override systems, Indian Railways documents mentioned.

Indian Railways have been toying with the idea of using alternative environment-friendly fuel to partially replace diesel that runs its locomotives.

Use of Compressed Natural Gas as an alternate fuel has been experimented upon on DEMU engines to see the environmental impact and studies by Research Design and Standard Organisation, the R&D wing of the Railways, showed 30% savings in operation and maintenance cost of about Rs 27 lakh per engine per year. However, using LNG is more economical for commercial operations.

Railways, MUD sign MOU for Integrated Smart Railway Stations Plan

New Delhi: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been entered into between Ministry of Railways (MOR) and Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD) for integrated planning of railway stations in the cities included in the ‘SMART Cities’ and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. This would lead to an integrated public transit hub around the railway stations and encourage Transit Oriented Development.

Each Smart City has incorporated a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to execute the Smart City Plan. The SPV may form a joint venture company with an MOR-designated entity to implement railway station redevelopment projects in that city and in its suburbs.

Another form of joint venture could be between the MOR designated entity, the Smart City SPV and the National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC), a Public Sector Undertaking under MOUD.

Besides above two models, MOUD and MOR may decide jointly about any other mutually agreed model if considered necessary.

Railway has also advertised its plan to offer ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ category stations for redevelopment on ‘as is where is basis’ by inviting open bids from interested parties with their designs and business ideas.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on 16.12.2016 (Friday).

Steel Ministry sign Way-Leave Agreement with Railways; transport costs of slurry to fall

A slurry pipeline is intended for transportation of iron ore fines subsequent to its conversion to iron ore concentrate in the slurry form. Indian Railways, Steel Ministry ink unique deal under which slurry pipelines will be laid alongside railway tracks.

New Delhi: The steel ministry has signed a unique way-leave agreement with the railways under which slurry pipelines will be laid alongside railway tracks, a move which will bring raw material transportation costs down by 20-35% for pellet manufacturers. It will also reduce pressure on the railway infrastructure and environmental degradation.

A slurry pipeline is intended for transportation of iron ore fines subsequent to its conversion to iron ore concentrate in the slurry form. The transpiration of iron ore lump and fines to iron making units and ports is now done mostly through the railways from their respective linked sources. This puts pressure on the railway infrastructure.

The situation is expected to aggravate considering the fact that India is looking at ramping up its installed steel capacity to 300 MT in the next 14-15 years.

Pellet manufacturing clusters are spread across mineral bearing states such as Odisha, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Goa. While it takes Rs.4 for every tonne of fines transportation by road and R2.5 by the railways, it would be just 75 paisa per tonne for carrying fines through slurry pipelines.

“The railways has given us permission for the first time to lay slurry pipelines across the rail lines. Fines will be carried through slurry pipelines. This will reduce the transportation cost by 1/3-1/5th of the pellet industry. This is being done to ensure that they don’t pay the transportation cost of finished products,” steel secretary Aruna Sharma told.

Following repeated representation from pellet manufacturers on the merits of the laying of the slurry pipeline along the existing railway lines, the steel ministry had asked state-run consultancy firm Mecon to assess the feasibility of setting up pipelines across the railway lines.

Mecon suggested that the slurry transportation mode of iron ore concentrate through the pipeline will eliminate dependency on the railways and reduce the transportation cost of iron ore.

Considering on-going and probable slurry pipeline projects constituting 100 MT of material transportation, extra load on the railway can be reduced to the tune of 200 rakes (100 inward and 100 outward) per day. In addition, there will be no need for special wagons required to transport such ultra fine concentrate and environmental degradation would also be eliminated.

The steel secretary said with hardly any inhibition, laying of slurry pipelines across the railway lines is easier compared with the national highways. The railways and state-run miner NMDC have evinced interests to put up the pipelines, which might entail around Rs.2,000 crore of investment in the initial phase.

RITES to supply Locomotives to Sri Lanka

New Delhi: Indian Railways has got the export order of supplying 10 Locomotives and six DMU train sets to Sri Lanka. The total size of the order is Rs 700 crore.

Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), the subsidiary of Indian railways, which has already been working as a Consultant in Sri Lanka Railways has got the order.

Indian Railways has already provided locomotives and train set to Sri Lanka and has also undertaken construction of rail lines in Sri Lanka.

India’s national transporter has also been supplying rail coaches and locomotives to the neighboring Bangladesh. Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu wants that India should become a major rail technology supplier to other countries.

Adani’s Australia Coal Mine project gets Final Nod for permanent Rail line

Adani Group gets the nod for construction of about 31.5km of permanent track, as well as a temporary 300-bed camp

Melbourne: Indian mining giant Adani’s plan to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia got a major boost on Monday as it secured the final approval for a permanent rail line and a temporary construction camp for the $21.7 billion controversy-hit project despite protests.

Queensland’s Coordinator-General has given “the latest, and final, secondary approval” for about 31.5km of permanent track, as well as the 300-bed camp. The rail section approved will form part of the 389km heavy haul railway line from the mine in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point port.

State development minister Anthony said the approval was another milestone for the project. “Adani has confirmed it will start construction next year,” Lynham said. “North Queensland is about to see a new horizon, because these big projects will be a huge economic stimulus for the north,” he said.

Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is expected to meet Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during his visit to Australia this week. The company is also expected to announce its project headquarters Tuesday. Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it would be a huge win for the region.

The coal mine will consist of six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, and will supply Indian power plants with enough coal to generate electricity for up to 100 million people. “We’ve got one of the highest unemployment rates in Australia,” she said. “These are the sort of projects that can support 2,000 to 3,000 jobs, not to mention the other jobs that come from the fact that so many people are employed,” Hill said.

The mine will consist of six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, and will supply Indian power plants with enough coal to generate electricity for up to 100 million people. The controversial project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed off on land. Meanwhile, over 200 people here gathered to protest, demanding that the project be stopped. Australian Conservation Foundation’s Paul Sinclair said the project could still be stopped.

“Every day that we stop Adani digging that coal is a day this planet is free from its pollution,” he said. Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council also issued a statement saying that they are opposed the project. W&J Council, leading Aboriginal rights advocate, spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said, “The Queensland and Federal governments have knowingly overlooked that we stand in the way of this mine and when we say ‘no’ we mean no. Through our legal actions we are intent on stopping this massive and destructive project from moving forward.” The project has faced a protracted battle. (PTI)

16 States respond to Rs.60000 Crore cost-sharing for Rail projects

State Govts to share 25% to 66% cost of the projects. Five states have signed JV agreements with Railways so far; two others have agreed to collaborate. Extra budgetary resources from financial institutions was arranged by Railways which has also signed an MoU with LIC for a loan of Rs.1,50,000 crore receivable over a period of five years for funding capacity enhancement projects!

New Delhi: As many as 16 states have responded till now to Railways’ offer of sharing cost of about 40 projects worth over Rs 60,000 crore for speed implementation of laying new lines and development of stations among others.

Railways has undertaken the steps to mobilise resources over and above the available budgetary resources to fast track execution of projects.

“Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had written to all states for becoming partners in rail projects. So far, 16 states have come forward to share cost of 43 projects worth Rs 62,379 crore,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding “state governments are sharing 25 per cent to 66 per cent cost of the projects.”

The extent of implementation of projects depends upon the response of the state government as some states are also giving land free for the projects.

Besides strengthening connectivity by laying new lines and doubling, Railways is focusing on station development programmes for enhancement of passenger amenities.

The aim is to provide better facilities at stations and states like Odisha, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh are keen on developing stations at world class level in their respective states, he said.

Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala and Odisha governments have signed the joint venture agreement to create state specific joint ventures companies to undertake project development, resource mobilisation and monitoring of mutually identified rail infrastructure projects with equity participation of Railways limited to maximum 50 per cent.

Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra governments have also agreed to form joint venture companies, the official said.

The Joint Venture Company can form Project Specific Subsidiary Company (Project SPV) which may have equity holding by other stakeholders like banks, PSUs, ports and mining companies  for implementation.

Railways has arranged extra budgetary resources from financial institutions for which Railway Ministry has signed an MoU with LIC for a loan of 1,50,000 crore to be received over a period of five years, for funding capacity enhancement projects.

Maharashtra to share cost of proposed Kalyan-Murbad-Ahmednagar rail line

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said his government would share 50 per cent cost of the proposed Kalyan-Murbad-Ahmednagar rail link.

Referring to the demand by earlier speakers relating to the long pending issue of the rail connectivity to Murbad, Fadnavis said he would meet Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in this regard.

“Let the cost be anything, the state government would share 50 per cent of the burden,” he declared.

The Chief Minister also said Prabhu and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who were from Maharashtra had a soft corner for the state and they always had a positive approach towards the needs of the state.

He speaking at an event at Murbad in the district.

Fadnavis also inaugurated the new administrative building of the Murbad tehasil office.

Fadnavis appealed to people to support the Prime Minister on demonetisation.

“This is like world war and its benefits can be reaped for the next 50 years,” he added.

He also said the collection in the banks by way of deposit of demonetised currency notes would go to the ‘Garib Kalyan Kosh’ to be utilised for the public welfare.