Kudos to Team IR: Electronic Interlocking & massive Yard Remodeling at Dadri commissioned in record time of 150 mins

The mobility in Train Operations on the busiest route of Delhi Howrah section of Indian Railway network gets a boost with the commissioning of Electronic Interlocking & massive Yard Remodeling commissioned at Dadri.

ALLAHABAD: In a significant move for high tech infrastructure with the view to improve mobility in train operations on the busiest route of Delhi Howrah section of Indian Railway network, Electronic Interlocking & massive Yard Remodeling has been commissioned at Dadri Railway Station in Uttar Pradesh which falls under Allahabad Division of North Central Railway.

This project is part of ongoing process of modernization of Indian Railway network.

This Electronic Interlocking involves 318 routes adopting most Modern Signalling System with Centralized Operation controlling 45 Signals, 74 Points and 176 Track Circuits with massive yard remodeling.

The another significant point is that this work has been commissioned in record time of only 150 minutes on 16th April 2017.

This work has been successfully planned, executed and commissioned in the leadership and guidance of M.C. Chauhan, General Manager North Central Railway.

Dadri is a complex yard in North Central Railway spread over six kilometers on busiest route of Delhi-Howrah Section of Indian Railways and also having connectivity with National Thermal Power Corporation Power Plant and Container Depot.

With Commissioning of this, 3rd line between Aligarh-Ghaziabad section is made through Dadri Yard improving mobility in train operation which was earlier not available.

This has also facilitated extension of platform No. 1, 2 & 3 and addition of new platform No. 4 at Dadri Station.

All these four platforms have also been connected with new foot over bridge improving passenger amenity facilities at this station.

SWR undertakes Modernization & Upgradation of passenger amenities – Hubballi/Mysore tops the list of Best Stations

SWR’s Modernization and Upgradation programmes of various passenger amenities at different Railway Stations during the last financial year led to achieving major milestones in various works at not only Hubballi, but at various Railway stations on the Zone.

HUBBALLI: Hubballi Railway station has recognized as best maintained major station of South Western Railway. During the year 2016-17 the following facilities have been provided to enhance Passenger amenities at Hubballi Station for the convenience of Rail users.

  1. As a part of modernizing the stations 2 nos. of escalators in up direction have been provided one each at Platform No.2/3 & Platform No.4/5.
  2. New PRS office has been shifted from Concourse to Basement/Commercial Block of Station building to avoid congestion & crowding at concourse for purchase of unreserved tickets in the last minute. In addition to reduce overcrowding and to comply the Budget announcement ‘Operation 5 Minutes’,  2  Coin operated Ticket Vending Machines (CoTVM) & 4 Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) have been provided in concourse for quick availability of unreserved tickets to passengers.
  3. In tune with the innovative of “Digital India” free Wi-Fi connectivity has been provided for passengers with Android mobile connection at Hubbali Station.
  4. Additional cover over Platform No.1 i.e. 48 m towards Dharwad end near Foot Over Bridge and 24 m towards Gadag end near subway has been provided during this year.  With this Platform No.1 is fully covered.
  5. To improve the aesthetics of stations, Murals have been provided at lower circulating area in front of the station building.
  6. For improving landscaping around the Station premises, Tree plantation drive has been initiated and saplings planted during Swachh Bharat abhiyan.
  7. As an initiative towards Swachh Bharat, Cement Concrete Apron has been provided at Platform No.4 at a cost of Rs.1.71 Crs. Work is in progress for Cement Concrete Apron on Platform No.5 also.
  8. For the convenience of Waitlisted/RAC passengers, digital display charts have been provided at the main entrance of the Platform No.1.
  9. To facilitate purified water for passengers at comparatively cheaper rate, Water vending machines have been provided at PF/ -1, PF – 2/3 (2 Nos.) & PF – 4/5 (2 Nos.). In addition, Cool drinking water hubs has been provided by Akhil Bharatiya Shri Rajendra Jain Nav Yuvak Parishad.
  10. Railway Budget announcement “Baby Care Corner” is available at Ladies Waiting room, Upper Class Waiting Room & Sleeper Class Waiting Room for the convenience of lady passengers with infants & babies.
  11. Child Care Protection has been started at PF No.1 by Social Organisation, Belgaum Diases Social Service Society, Dharwad, 24 x 7 with toll free No.1098.
  12. Urinals have been provided on PF No.1 (Gadag end), New PRS office and Parcel Office.
  13. Cloak Room facility has been provided at PF No.1.
  14. “Higginbothams” bookstall has been reallocated to PF No.1.

The following facilities are in the pipeline & planned to be provided shortly at Hubballi Station.

  1. Battery operated ferry cars for plying senior citizens and specially abled citizens will be operational soon.
  2. Second entry to Station from Gadag road side is also being planned.

With the purpose of modernising Railway stations & providing world class facilities, escalators and lifts are being provided at important stations for the convenience of Rail users over South Western Railway.

Total 10 Nos. of Escalators  are sanctioned for South Western Railway.  Out which, 9 escalators have been commissioned and 1 escalator installation at Platform No. 9/10 at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (Bengaluru) Station is pending owing to Metro Work.  This escalator will be commissioned once the Metro Work is completed. Nine escalators which have been commissioned include Two  at Hubballi Railway Station on Platform No. 2/3 & 4/5, One at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna  (Bengaluru) Station on platform No. 2/3, Four at Yesvantpur Railway Station  in which three  on Platform No. 1 &  one on Platform No. 6 and Two at Mysuru Railway Station on platform No. 1 & 6.

Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurating the Escalator at Yeswantpur Railway Station recently. In the picture, Shri Sadananda Gowda and Anant Kumar of BJP are also seen.

Each escalator is costing Rs. 116.78 Lakhs, including civil works such as providing covered shelter and pathway for the escalators.  The escalators are of state of art technology; its safety device is fully complying with international standard EEN-115.  The escalators have nominal step width of 1000 mm with 4 Nos. of horizontal steps on top and bottom of the escalator with nominal speed of 0.5m per second, keeping in view the convenience and comfort of the passengers.  The maximum carrying capacity of the escalator is 100 passengers per minute.  The escalators are of heavy duty reversible type and capable of operating safely, smoothly and continuously in both directions for a period of not less than 20 hours a day and 7 days a week.  Each step can carry 100 Kgs. of load.  The angle of inclination is 30 degrees.  The vertical height of each escalator is 5.8m. For the convenience of the passengers, foot light at the level of the stair has been provided in these escalators.

Total 12 Nos. of Lifts are sanctioned for SWR. Out of which 6 Lifts have been commissioned.  Six Lifts which have been commissioned include One at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna  (Bengaluru) Station on platform No. 7/8,  Three at Yesvantpur on platform No. 2/3, 4/5 & 6 and Two at Mysuru Railway Station on platform No. 2/3 & 4/5.  Two Lifts at Hosapete Railway Station on Platform No. 1 & 2/3  and Two Lifts at Belagavi Railway Station on Platform No. 1 & 2/3 are  targeted to be commissioned by the end of June, 2017.  One lift at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna  (Bengaluru) Station on Platform No. 1 and One lift at Yesvantpur Railway Station on Platform No. 6 will be commissioned by the end of May, 2017.

These lifts are of 20 passengers and 1360 Kgs. carrying capacity and have been provided with State of Art Technology with VVVF Drive system incorporating all safety features such as Automatic Rescue Devices, Door Sensor, etc. It is having carriage width of 1550 mm & height of 2200 mm and is provided with hairline stainless body with LED illuminated cabins with floor-wise annunciator working at a speed of 1.25m per second.  The approximate cost of provision of each lift is Rs. 46 Lakhs, including construction of lift well, flooring, ACP works etc.

These escalators and lifts  will be of  great help to senior citizens and Divyangs.

Indian Railways is constantly working on upgradation of stations and providing high speed transport at par with the best Railway networks. ‘Customer’ is the centre of all activities of Railways and passenger amenities are being upgraded to make the journey comfortable and enjoyable.

All efforts are taken to offer state of the art amenities at important  stations by providing escalators, lifts, battery operated cars, ramps, toilets, waiting halls, parking lots etc.  Attention is also given to improvements in station buildings, circulating area.  An amount of Rs.42.6 Cr was allotted for provision of Passenger amenities over SWR .

9 station buildings have been given a facelift by improving the station building and circulating areas.

To facilitate movement between platforms, one subway has been provided at Mysuru station connection all platforms.  In addition Foot over bridges (FOB) have been provided at 05 stations including extension of FOB at Bengaluru (ext PFNo.8-10).

To provide shade and cover during rainy season to the passengers PF shelters have been provided at 88 stations.

To accommodate longer trains and easy boarding/alightingtrains the length/height of 17 stations have been extended /raised.

For passengers waiting for trains 2879 benches have been provided at 14 stations. Toilet facilities have been provided at 22 stations. E-toilet commissioned at Mysuru.  Divyang friendly toilets have been provided at 11 stations.

To facilitate cleaner tracks, Cement Concrete aprons have been commissioned at 3 platforms (one at Bengaluru Cant. & 2 at Hubballi Stn.).

As part of modernisation of stations 9 escalators [Hubballi 2 Nos, Mysuru 2 Nos, Bengaluru 1 Nos, Yesvantpur 4 Nos] and 6 lifts [Bengaluru 1 Nos, Yesvantpur 3 Nos, Mysuru 2 Nos] have been commissioned at important stations..  It is further proposed to provide escalator on PF no.9/10 at KSR Bengaluru and lifts at 2 at Hospet, 2 at Belgaum & one at Bengaluru in 2017-18.

LED lighting have been provided at 25 stations and LED based name boards at 20 stations and 03 office buildings have been provided.

GPS based Double-sided Digital Clocks: A total of 93 No.s of GPS based double sided Digital Clocks have been commissioned during 2016-17.  Also GPS based Tower Clocks have been provided at Vasco da Gama and Dharwad(UBL Div) for precise time.

So far 101 Stations out of 297 have been provided with GPS based Double-side Digital Clocks.

Public Addressing System: Public Address System is provided at various stations to announce the arrival & departure of trains and other information pertaining to passengers. Auto Announcement System has been commissioned at 13 stations (3 No.s – SBC Div, 10 No.s – MYS Div) of SW Railway.

So far 88 Stations have been provided with Auto Announcement System in SW Railway.

Passenger Information System: Coach Guidance Boards have been commissioned at Kengeri  and Koppal during the Year 2016-17.

32 Stations are provided with Coach Guidance Boards and 29 stations are provided with Train Indication Boards out of 32 stations of Class A1, A & B of SWR.

Under the “Digital India” initiative, high speed network access has been provided at 4 stations at Bengaluru, Yesvantpur, Mysuru & Hubballi. 210 access points have been installed at these station to provided high speed  Wi-Fi to passengers.  Passengers waiting for trains can remain connected and carry on with their work.

Braille signage’s for the visually challenged passengers have been provided at Bengaluru station under Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by M/s Altius Realty.

Road Over Bridge/Road under Bridge for hassle free movement of road & rail traffic

Road Over Bridge (ROB) and Road Under Bridge (RUB) are being constructed for hassle free movement of road & rail traffic in addition to improve safety at level crossings. Accidents at unmanned Level crossing gates constitute major part of accidents in Indian Railways.   Elimination of Level Crossings by construction of ROB/RUB & LHS (Limited Height Subway) is a vital item towards “Mission Zero accident” and for improvement of overall safety.

During the financial year 2016-17, 27 level Crossings were eliminated by   construction of Road Over Bridge (12), Road under Bridge (15) and Limited Height subways by construction organization.

In addition, ROB/RUB & LHS were constructed to facilitate uninterrupted Rail & Road traffic and for safety at Level crossing.

Elimination of unmanned LC

Construction of RUB/Subway : 24

Construction of ROB : 00

By diversion : 3

By manning : 31

Closure of UNMLC (low TVU) : 7

Total : 65

Elimination of Manned LC

Construction of RUB/Subway : 34

Construction of ROB : 10

By diversion : 1

Total : 45

Construction of Subway / RUB and LROBs

Subway/RUB : 38

LROB : 1

Total : 39

Till 31.03.2017 Rs.159 cr. has been spent against allotment of Rs.157.67 cr.

Road Over Bridge/Road Under Bridge

10 realtors evince interest in Chennai Central revamp & modernisation project

CHENNAI: Around 10 real estate developers, including a Japanese company, have shown interest in the Indian Railways’ station re-development programme for Chennai Central railway station. Representatives of the companies attended a pre-bid meeting organised by Southern Railway on Friday.

The area around the station is going to be developed in sync with the Central Square which is being planned by Chennai metro rail (CMRL). The station redevelopment plan envisages tendering vacant land around stations to private developers who will be allowed to build hotels, office-space and food plazas so that the station will become the nerve centre of the city. The license fee earned from this will be used to build better passenger amenities in the station.

The companies which have shown interest include Nippon Koel India, Tata Realty, L&T, TVH, SBI Caps, Crompton Greaves, ULCCS, INKEL, EP (IL), Tech Heal, Olympia, VPS Health Care, Yes Bank, CCCL, Glency Docura consultants, CBRE, TRIL and VOYANK. Land will be given to the bidders on lease for 45years and the area should be developed in three years after a contract is awarded.

CMRL made a presentation on multi-modal transport at Central and the Central square, underground parking and their metro services to the 34 people who took part at the meeting. This is to help the developers get a better idea on the rate of return for the investment.

A senior railway official told that the meeting was to familiarise potential bidders about the scheme and discuss the nitty-gritties. “Issues and clarifications with regard to the scheme were discussed in detail so that the prospective developers will be able to submit their proposal with clarity. The general mood of the participants was encouraging,” an official statement from Southern Railway said.

A vacant plot between Nehru stadium and Moore Market Complex (MMC) is an area identified to the developers to build hotels, commercial complexes and restaurants.

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.

Take up Modernisation only after forming Railway Zone: VCCI

VISAKHAPATNAM: While welcoming the announcement to take up modernisation of the Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, and Vizianagaram railway stations in the PPP mode, Vizagapatam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has sought formation of separate railway zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam before finalising the bids.

Reacting to the invitation document issued by the East Coast Railway (ECoR), which has its head office in Bhubaneswar, VCCI president M.V. Monish Row wrote a letter to Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to insist on declaration of the new zone as promised in the AP Reorganisation Act. The East Coast Railway recently declared that the Visakhapatnam railway station would be developed on par with international standards with an investment of ₹260 crore in the PPP mode.

“The invitation also offers Visakhapatnam railway land for development along with the station. We made a demand for separate railway zone before bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. We feel that the zone should be declared immediately,” Mr. Row told. Plan to develop Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, and Srikakulam railway stations should not be allowed under the East Coast Railway with headquarters in Bhubaneswar, he said. “Public sentiment is in favour of the new zone with headquarters in the city. Hence, we appeal to the Prime Minister through our Chief Minister to concede the demand without dilly-dallying on it further,” he said.

Mr. Row said that if such railway projects come under the new zone, the entire ecosystem of the smart city, Sagarmala, PCPIR, Coastal Economic Zone, and logistics hub, could all be synchronised. Investors would also show enthusiasm in the region. Ultimately, creating more jobs for locals would be a reality under the new zone, he added.

“Visakhapatnam is the crown jewel in the entire zone, and if these projects are allowed to come under the control of ECoR with Bhubaneswar as head office, it will be a travesty of justice,” he stated.

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5 Mumbai Railway Stations to be Modernised by Private Players

NEW DELHI: The iconic Howrah station in Kolkata along with Mumbai Central and Chennai Central stations are among 23 identified for redevelopment by the private sector as the railways finally gets down to modernising the British-era facilities.

The maximum number of projects are expected to be in Mumbai where apart from Mumbai Central, Bandra, Borivli, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Kurla and Thane-which was the terminus for the first ever train in the country–are on the list.

The first private sector-driven redevelopment plan at Habibganj (near Bhopal) is expected to be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon, paving the way for the other projects. Sources said Bansal Construction, which will redevelop the station, has tied up for the funding which involves Rs 100 crore for redevelopment of the station and around Rs 300 crore for creation of other facilities. In addition, contracts for redevelopment of at least two stations in Delhi – Anand Vihar and Bijwasan – are expected to be finalised by March, sources told. Faridabad in the National Capital Region is also on the list for redevelopment.

While the government had cleared a plan to redevelop 44 stations last January , not much progress has taken place on the ground with the development of Gandhinagar having been kicked off earlier this month. But the development is not driven by the private sector and is instead through a special purpose vehicle with equity from the railways and the Gujarat government. With the railways moving slowly on getting private players, the state and the central government stepped in.

But now, officers said, things have been firmed up with the Boston Consulting Group conducting feasibility study for 55 stations and 23 are ready for award.

Sources said the cost of redevelopment is expected to be around Rs 4,000 crore and the government will earn at least Rs 4,000 crore as upfront fee from developers. Apart from modernising the railway station, the developer will also get the rights to develop surplus land near the station, including building of hotels and other facilities. The lease will be for 45 years. The overall investment is estimated to be around Rs 25,000 crore, a source said.

The idea is to get some of the stations up and running by the end of 2018 or early 2019. Indian Railways Station Development Corporation, a railways PSU, has been mandated to redevelop Surat, Chandigarh and Mohali stations.

Railway Modernisation picks up steam after pressure from Prime Minister

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a brainstorming session with railway officers next month where he will also be taking stock of various ongoing projects that which also include India’s first bullet train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Modi CabinetNew Delhi: Top railway officials to face the most difficult task in the last two years of the present government as they will be responding to some tough questions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on improving the standards of Indian Railways. Modi will hold a brainstorming session with railway officers next month where he will also be taking stock of his dream projects that include India’s first bullet train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Top sources in the Railway Ministry said the Prime Minister’s meeting will be held in the third week of November though the date will be communicated by the PMO.

This has greater significance as PM Modi has been insisting on Modernisation of the Indian Railways with focus on high-speed trains, world-class railway stations and increasing revenue without putting burden on the passengers. For the cash-strapped railways, exploring new sources of fund, especially from the foreign countries, will be a daunting task.

“The railway board officials will give a detailed representation to the Prime Minister on measures to improve the functioning of railways. For this purpose we sought suggestions from 1.3 million railway employees. We will chalk out an action plan that will be presented before PM Modi,” said a senior railway board official.

Top bureaucrats are now busy collecting minute details related to major rail projects and also the steps taken to improve railways’ functioning. “Modernisation of railways, introduction of high-speed corridors, new world-class stations, punctuality of trains and cleanliness are the focus areas. The PM will be apprised of all measures taken in the last two years by the railways,” officials said. A well-placed source said the railway ministry will also be detailing the PM on new sources of revenue and funding for its ambitious projects. While the bullet train will be funded mostly by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), there is uncertainty over funding for other high-speed corridors.

Countries like France, Spain and Korea have shown interest in taking up railways’development projects in India but there is no final word on how these projects will be funded. Indian Railways requires huge investment to execute its projects which include diamond quadrilateral high-speed corridors and over 400 railway stations.

The high-speed corridors include Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Chennai and Mumbai-Chennai among others. But the railways has been facing acute cash crunch and registering a loss of over Rs 32,000 crore annually.

Earnings fall short of target by over 11 per cent in September

To overcome its losses, the railways has also formed a directorate of non-fare revenue to mop up its revenue collection from alternative sources and tapping advertisement potential. Cutting down its expenses and commercial exploitation of railway properties is also a major concern of railway ministry. However, compounding the woes of railways, total earnings from goods and passengers fell by over 11 per cent from the target in September this year as against the last year for the same period, causing concern in the rail administration.

Railways have earned Rs 12,413.96 crore in September this year as against the target of Rs 13,961.91 crore for the month, a decrease of 11.09 per cent.  The total earnings from goods in September was Rs 7,719.52 crore as against the target of Rs 8,564.27 crore, a decline of 9.86 per cent, according to Railway Ministry data. In passenger segment also the earnings are way behind the target as railways earned Rs 3,815.43 crore as against the target of Rs 4,253.71 cr, a decrease of 10.30 per cent. Passenger bookings were also fell short of target with total 683.17 million passengers booked in September as against the target of 686.61 million.

Railways has recently rationalised the freight rate to attract more loadings and introduced flexi-fare system in premier service including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains to shore up revenue collection. Admitting decline in revenue collection, a senior Railway Ministry official said, “There is a general decline in demand and it is a cause of concern. Several steps are being initiated to perk up the earnings.”

Railways has announced many ambitious projects including massive expansion and modernisation of rail network and the shortfall in earnings could cause problem in its future plan. However, the official said railways expect the volume of loadings to increase in coming months with the rationalisation of freight rate.

PPP Model would be applied in Gwalior Railway Station Modernization

gwalior-railway-stationGwalior: Under the smart station project of railway Ministry, Gwalior railway station is being considered in the list. To make the Gwalior station smart, shops of station Bajariya will be removed and some constructed buildings can be remove.

On the smart station project railway DRM, Gwalior Collector Sanjay Goyal, Gwalior SP Harinarayn Chari Mishra, Gwalior Commissioner SN Rupla along with other officers was present in the meeting.

In the meeting it has been decided that for the modernisation and the development in technology, modernisation will be done with the cooperation of public private partnership.

This work will be done with the cooperation of IRSDC, Municipal Corporation, Gwalior Development Authority, Gwalior Trade Fair, Madhya Pradesh Road Transport Corporation. Gwalior Commissioner SN Rupla has conducted meeting to implement the plan with the Gwalior Collector Goyal, Indian Station Development Corporation Director Anil Kumar, Municipal Corporation Commissioner Anay Dwivedi and also the Pre-feasibility plan will be prepared by IRSDC and Municipal Commissioner.

Besides, he has said that Municipal Corporation can appoint the consultant for it and the expenses will be borne by IRSDC and Municipal Corporation. Further Gwalior Commissioner Rupla instructed to prepare the pre-feasibility plan which should cover all the benefit points and it should not face any hindrance when it will finally go for approval. In the meeting, it was decided that while shifting the housing board shops of Station Bajariya and housing board, officers will convened a meeting.

It is yet to be decided as where the shops and building would be shifted from Station Bajariya area. Apart from Gwalior, Railway Board has considered Jaipur, Gandhipur, Amritsar, Nagpur, Bayyappanahalli (Bangalore) Railway stations have been selected for Smart Station Project.

IRSDC signs Agreement with Bansal Group for Redevelopment and Modernization Of Habibganj Railway Station

IRSDC Ltd MOUIn the august presence of Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu in a programme held today at Rail Bhawan today i.e. 14th July, 2016 an agreement was signed between Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited and Bansal Group for the redevelopment and modernization of Habibganj Railway Station located in Bhopal, M.P.

The Habibganj station would now be the first station to be redevelopment and this station is one of the eight such railway stations which have been allocated to IRSDC by the Ministry of Railways.  Minister of State for Railways & Minister of State for Communication (Independent Charge) Manoj Sinha was specially present to grace the occasion. Chairman, Railway Board, A. K. Mital, Member Engineer A.K.Mittal and other Railway Board Members, several other dignitaries and senior officials were among those present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that this is a historic moment for the Indian Railways to witness this ceremony as it is a result of persistent hard work of the Railway Officers. He said that these days Indian Railways is in real need of revenue as the two source of revenue i.e. passenger fares and freight are not sufficient. He said that today’s agreement will also improve the economic condition of the railway as commercial space available on the modernized station will bring revenue for the Railways. He said that many more stations redevelopment are in pipeline such as Surat, Gandhinagar (Gujarat) and Bijwasan & Anand Vihar (Delhi) in collaboration with the State Governments. He said that revamped railway stations will make the people of this country proud as well as it will generate revenue for the Railways.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railways & Minister of State for Communication (Independent Charge) Manoj Sinha said that railway is an organization which first has to earn to provide facilities to its passengers. He said that Railways has given directions to complete the station redevelopment work as soon as possible so that the passengers can avail world class facilities. He said that a passenger’s travel experience right from the beginning of purchasing tickets and getting out of the railways station needs to be development. In a few months Railway is planning to have 20-30 such agreements.

Salient Features of the Agreement

The Indian Railways Station Development Corporation (IRSDC), which has been entrusted to execute the ambitious Railway Station development/redevelopment projects of the Ministry of Railways (MoR), has made a swift progress in processing the appointment of a Developer for the modernization of Habibganj Railway Station, located in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh.IRSDC issued the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) on 7.06.2016 to the selected bidder, a consortium of M/s Bansal Construction Works Pvt. Ltd and M/s Prakash Asphalting & Toll Highways (India) Ltd. The consortium has formed a Special Purpose Company named M/s Bansal Pathways Habibganj Pvt Ltd which will implement this project. The Habibganj station development project is one of the eight such railway stations, which have been allocated to IRSDC by the MoR.

Prime Minister and the Minster of Railways have time and again highlighted the need to redevelop and modernize Railway Station infrastructure across the country. To achieve this objective, the Ministry of Railways have assigned Chandigarh,Shivaji Nagar (Pune), Bijwasan (New Delhi), Anand Vihar (New Delhi), Surat (Gujrat), SAS Nagar (Mohali) and Gandhi Nagar (Gujrat) Railway stations to IRSDC for development/redevelopment.It is expected that some additional stations will be entrusted to IRSDC in the current financial year 2016-17.

Habibganj Railway station, is the first station to be redeveloped through Public Private Partnership (PPP) route under the station redevelopment program of Indian Railways.The total estimated cost of station redevelopment is Rs. 100 Crores, whereas the estimated cost of commercial development is approximately, Rs. 350 Crores. IRSDC has hired the services of leading legal, financial and architectural consultants to operationalize this project.

Leading Law Firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co are the legal consultants, Global Advisory Firm Ernst & Young LLP are the financial consultants and Transaction Advisors, whereas Consortium of M/s GMP International GmbH – Germany + Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt. Ltd –India are the technical and architectural consultants for this project. Extensive project development activities, involving all the stakeholders have been carried out by IRSDC. All the necessary and required approvals such as, planning & development authorities, environment & forest, airport authority, mining, railways, traffic, utilities provider etc are in place. The Govt of Madhya Pradesh has been very supportive in facilitating all clearances which has made Habibganj as the first station in the country to reach this stage.This has given the much needed confidence to the private sector to undertake first such station redevelopment work in the country.

The Developer is mandated to complete the construction of Railway station within three years and after the redevelopment there will be dedicated approach roads along-with municipal roads to ensure easy ingress/exit along with convenient parking provisions, without any traffic congestion in the city roads. It is planned that analogous to the modern airports, Habibganj Railway station will have dedicated pick up and drop off parking facilities for station users. To avoid any congestion or confusion, there will be complete segregation between arriving and departing passengers.  The station also will be easily accessible to differently abled passengers. Safety of passengers and other users of the station have also been kept in mind. The station will comply with NFPA (National Fire Protection Act) to mitigate any such fire mishap at a public place.In case of an emergency, the station premises is planned to be evacuated within 4 minutes and passengers can reach the respective designated points of safety in 6 minutes. The station will also promote the use of environment friendly practices. To ensure cleaner energy from renewable and non-conventional energy, provisions for solar energy generation will be provided in the station premises. Enough catering/food stalls and public conveniences at affordable rates are designed to be at places easily accessible to both on-board and travelling passengers.

The development of the Habibganj railway station into a world class railway station will act as a boost tothe process of overhauling the Railway station infrastructure across the country via PPP route. This will also provide the much needed impetus for accelerating private sector participation in development of railway infrastructure in the country. Successful planning and implementation of this project will go a long way in realising the Hon’ble PM’s vision of revamping the country’s infrastructure and changing the Indian Railways landscape in the country forever.

After the station is redeveloped the following additional amenities would beprovided.

  1. Lifts: 6 nos.
  2. Escalators: 11 nos.
  3. Travellators: 3 nos.
  4. Pedestrian Subway
    (i) Parcel Corridor: 1 no.
    (ii) Subways: 2 nos.(66 Mx4 M)
  1. Surface Parking: 14037 Sqm (Parking for 284 Cars, 839 Two Wheelers & 5 Buses)
  2. Landscaping: 6778 Sqm
  3. Concourse: 84m X 36m=3024 Sqm.
  4. Walkway: 47 M x15M=705 Sqm.

IRCTC eager to invest in Stations’ modernisation projects

New Delhi: The Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is looking into the possibility of investing in the state and city’s station development projects. Officials from IRCTC have asked officials of both the bodies to include them in plans of utilising the stations commercially, especially those in the Kalyan-Dombivali section. The IRCTC has already looked into similar projects at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.

According to sources, the proposal was made by the IRCTC but the state officials did not seem enthusiastic about the idea but have promised to think over it. “The IRCTC is primarily a ticketing service provider but has begun their foray into providing high end services like making luxury trains more affordable for the common man. The proposal was made with the intention of combining IRCTC’s skills like their experience in hospitality with the state’s ability to plan and provide high-end services to commuters,” said an official under the condition of anonymity.

The Indian Railways has announced that 400 stations would be developed throughout the country including city stations like CST and Mumbai Central.

Officials also said that they are considering Kalyan-Dombivali stations as they have a large number of footfall and would be a good financial decision due to the revenue expected out of it. “The IRCTC sees potential in these areas as their footfall now is more than even the stations in South Mumbai like CST or Mumbai Central,” the official said.

Nearly 1,000 railway stations across the country have been developed as ‘Adarsh’ stations having facilities such as toilets, drinking water, catering services and waiting rooms, by the Indian Railways. Also, progress for development of stations under ‘Adarsh’ station scheme is monitored regularly at various levels viz. zonal railway level and Railway Board level. The expenditure on development of stations under Adarsh Station Scheme is generally funded under Plan Head – ‘Passenger Amenities’.

NTPC augments Rail Infra for handling Coal in high speed ‘BoxN’ wagons

NTPC SipatSipat: NTPC Ltd is going for augmentation of Rail Infrastructure for handling of coal received in high speed ‘BoxN’ wagons at Sipat Thermal Power Station  here, officials stated.

Overall, NTPC Ltd – India’s largest power utility has recorded highest ever Annual Generation of  241.98 BUs (excluding JVs) in the financial year 2015-16.

The company exceeded its capacity addition target by adding 2255 MW taking NTPC Group’s total installed capacity to 46653 MW as on  March 31, 2016 , a NTPC press release had informed.

NTPC’s solar stations achieved highest ever generation of 160.8 MUs at a CUF of 16.64 %. Four coal power stations of the company were amongst the top 5 in the country in terms of PLF during the period.

The company met its capex target of Rs.25000 crore during the year and also achieved  100 % realization of the dues. Coal Mining activities shall also commence at its Pakri Barwadih Mine soon.

Company reduced its imported coal consumption by 42.19% during the year to 9.47MMT from 16.38% during last year.

NTPC’s efforts during second half of FY 16, as a result of rationalization of coal linkages, reduction in imported coal consumption, enforcement of third party sampling of coal and other measures led to reduction in energy charges of coal stations by nearly 20%.

NTPC shall endeavour to  bring down the energy charges  further to help the Discoms, it stated.

With capacity addition of 9550 MW during the current plan, NTPC is all geared up to achieve the target of 11920 MW for the 12th five year plan ending 2016-17.

NTPC commissioned  Unit 3 and 4  at  Koldam  – 400 MW  in Himachal , Bongaigaon unit 1-250 MW in Assam, Vindhyachal unit 13 – 500MW in Madhya Pradesh, BRBCL Nabinagar unit 1 – 250 MW in Bihar, Kanti unit 3 – 195 MW in Bihar, Mouda unit 3-660 MW in Maharashtra during the year.

Under its CSR activities, company shall continue to provide safe drinking water and focus on training and skill development of people in the vicinity of its projects and stations.

The options of installing water ATMs and opening of generic medicine shops to provide access to low cost medicines for them is also being explored.

NTPC  presently has 18 coal based, 7 gas based, 8 solar PV, one Hydro and 8 Subsidiaries / Joint Venture power stations.  Company has a capacity of over 24,000 MW under different phases of completion .

It may be recalled that NTPC’s upcoming 1600 MW Lara Super Thermal Power Project in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh has acquired all necessary clearances from the Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change for the project, officials stated.

The Lara plant of NTPC would be utilising super critical technology for power generation.

Modernised Rail Network in India is Socialy Desirable: Simon Giovanazzi, ED/DB Intl.

Simon Giovanazzi, Executive Director Asia Pacific, DB International
Simon Giovanazzi, Executive Director Asia Pacific, DB International

Kochi: For a company which is based in a country that has the largest rail network in Europe, India,  whose extensive rail network stands sixth in the world, has always been a major market. DB International GmbH, a consultant company and subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, which is at present engaged with Kochi Metro Project, views High Speed Rail as an area of huge potential in India. This also includes the Kerala High Speed Rail project, which is expected to be launched soon.

Simon Giovanazzi, Executive Director-Asia Pacific, DB International, was recently in the capital city, to part in talks regarding the firm’s future projects in the state.

“High speed rails in just in its infancy in the country with the Ahmedabad-Mumbai line announced recently,” says Simon, who spoke about the growth possibilities in this particular area. He added that urban transit is another major area of focus the company is looking at, as passenger rail is not a huge market potential in the country.

Speaking about its activities in Kerala, Simon says, “Though not the only one, we are concentrating on, Kerala as one of our major points of focus. Looking at the rail system in the state, so much requires to be done. Local transport is congested, and therefore, we feel that a light rail transport system needs to be set in place.”

Talking about the rail transport system in the country, Simon said, “India is already a rail nation. But it needs to be developed to have a more competitive system.”

Registered as a company in India just recently, the German-based company sees Indian cities as its next big market for popularising the high speed rail transport system.

“This is my first visit to the state’s capital city,” says Simon. He adds,”The company, which has a design team in Bangalore, is also involved with rail projects across different countries which include the high speed network in China, Light rail project in Canberra, Australia, metro project in Doha and more.”

Rs.35 Crore announced for Ashokapura Railway Workshop for Modernisation

Ashokapura Railway Workshop
Ashokapura Railway Workshop

Ashokapura: n the Railway Budget-2016 announced on Thursday, Central Railway Workshop (CRW) at Ashokapura here was sanctioned Rs 35 crore for its modernization.

For the past many years, CRW authorities had been sending the proposal for the modernization of workshop. However, there had been no response for over a decade. But on Thursday, railway minister Suresh Prabhu announced the sanctioning of Rs 35 crore for the modernization of the workshop.

Once it is done, the workshop will increase the number of periodic overhauling of broadgauge coaches from 70 to 80 per month. To accommodate 10 more coaches in the workshop, it needs a holding facility to keep equipment like two big cranes, inter-linking track and more manpower.

Subba Rao of CRW said: “For the past three years, we had been sending the proposal. It has become a reality now. In 6-8 months, the tender process will start. In three years’ time, the project will become a reality.”
The workshop was established as a base workshop of Mysuru State Railway in 1924. It was expanded to the present facility in 1938 to maintain the metre gauge rolling stock. With the formation of integrated Southern Railway in 1951, the workshop became a part of Southern Railway. It was converted to broadhgauge coach periodic overhauling workshop in 1993. It also started overhauling broadguage coaches in August 1994. The workshop became a part of South Western Railway on April 1, 2003. Ever since, it’s been mainly dealing with the periodic overhauling of broadgauge coaches. Over 2,200 employees are working in the workshop.

Centre likely to Spend more to Modernise Indian Railways

Prime Minister Modi asks States to revamp Railway stations into icons

New Delhi: The centre is likely to increase its investment in the modernisation of railways by 20 percent to 30 percent in the upcoming railway budget, apart from “rationalising” freight tariffs in the wake of falling revenue from goods transportation.

The government may also increase the planned outlay for the next fiscal year, but the rise is expected to be lower than the 52 percent increase for the current fiscal year. Despite an allocation of nearly Rs one lakh crore towards plan outlay for 2015-2016, the spending may end the year at around Rs 90,000 crore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held meeting with the secretaries of all Central ministries and asked the states to redevelop at least one railway station under their jurisdiction and make it an iconic structure and a centre of economic activity. The PM also met his Cabinet colleagues and reviewed functioning of their ministries.

Last month, in a meeting of the council of ministers, the PM had said that on every fourth Wednesday of the month he would be holding such review meetings.

During the meeting with all the secretaries and chief secretaries via video conferencing (known as Pragati meeting), Mr Modi also directed the states to work towards speedy implementation of solar power projects in their respective jurisdiction.

Further, the PM reviewed the programme for elimination of Kala Azar, and called for all efforts to eradicate the disease. He also directed officials to address related public grievances to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Progress of vital infrastructure projects in the road, railway, coal, power and renewable energy sectors, spread over several states were also reviewed by him, official sources said.

“Today’s PRAGATI session was extensive. We discussed infra projects, Mission Indradhanush, upgradation of NIFT campuses & other issues,” Mr Modi later tweeted.

Taking stock of the comprehensive re-development projects of railway stations, he suggested to all Chief Secretaries to work towards at least one such re-development project in each state, a PMO statement said.

Modi said such re-developed railway stations would become iconic structures and centres of economic activity, it added.

Reviewing the Char-Dham road connectivity improvement project in Uttarakhand, the Prime Minister called for expediting the work at the earliest.

“Also called for expediting work on the Char-Dham road connectivity improvement project in Uttarakhand,” he said in another tweet.

Railways’ expenditure on construction of new lines, doubling and gauge conversion has gone up significantly in recent years. The upcoming budget may lay more emphasis on generating more revenue from freight traffic, given the slowing growth in the segment.

The railways may cut freight tariffs for commodities, including coal, iron ore, cement, steel, fertilisers, foodgrains and container traffic.

“The target is to increase freight volume by 50 million tonnes through tariff cuts,” said a source. The transporter is also hopeful of raising income from transportation of petroleum products.

The railways is estimated to see about one percent growth in freight business in the current fiscal year. So, it is planning to revise its strategy by initiating tariff reductions on transports of commodities like cement and steel.

Though it may miss the freight target of 1.2 billion tonnes set for 2015-2016 by 75-80 MT, said an official.

Last week, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had said the government would continue with the initiatives taken in the previous Budget for the development of Indian Railways.

The total income of the Indian Railways went up by 12.16 percent to Rs 1.58 lakh crore in the last fiscal year ending March 2015, compared to Rs 1.41 lakh crore in the previous year.

Soon, Bids for Modernisation of Railway Stations: Arun Jaitley

Arun JaitleyNew Delhi:  Eyeing more investment from private players in infrastructure space, the government is considering allowing them to manage smaller airports while railways will soon invite bids for modernisation of 400 stations, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.

The proposal for allowing management participation of the private sector in some mid-sized and smaller airports is aimed at improving their managerial efficiency, he said.

Addressing the foundation day of India Infrastructure Finance Company (IIFCL), Jaitley said the government has set up the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and was in touch with global sovereign and pension funds to become partners.

Stressing that railways have raised money through issuance of bonds, he said, they also intend to mobilise international investment.

“The railways has now come on to directionally the right track. We are inviting the private sector including foreign investment into infrastructure… very shortly, the railways is going to come up with its proposed bids for development of 400 railway stations in the country,” he said.

As regards airports, Jaitley said the Ministry of Civil Aviation has worked on improving the mid and smaller level.

“They probably need managerial efficiency and therefore management participation of the private sector in some of these airports is a proposal, which they have been considering. I think the government is very clear with regard to the direction in which it wants to move,” he said.

Reiterating that the government will continue with its thrust on public spending, he said: “The public investment has been stepped up in the last year and it will continue to remain stepped up, and therefore when you fight a global slowdown, public investment has to lead the way.”

Jaitley said his ministry is in touch with a large number of international sovereign and pension funds to become partners in NIIF for funding infrastructure projects.

“The years and months to come will be those where we will be seriously investing in infrastructure. We should be able to show much more positive result as far as Indian economy is concerned making it a stable force, which we have become even in the midst of a crisis like situation across the world,” he said.

Modernisation Works in 29 Rolling Stock Railway Workshops sanctioned

railway workshopNew Delhi: The railways have sanctioned modernisation works in 29 rolling stock workshops in 14 zones across the country, Lok Sabha was informed today.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said during Question Hour that the railways are modernising rolling stock workshops and inducting new technologies, including use of robotic welding, laser cutting and welding.

Some other new technological induction were – CNC machine centre to equip workshops for repair and production of modern stainless steel wagons and augmentation of capacities of existing workshops to meet the requirements of increasing population of such wagons.

“The Indian Railways are regularly upgrading and modernising their workshops to enable them to cater to maintenance and manufacture of modern design coaches, wagons, locomotives and equipments being inducted from time to time as well as to augment facilities for increased workloads,” he said.

Prabhu said special committees have been formed to provide focused attention in the areas of upgradation and induction of technology and leveraging ‘Make in India’ for the railways, upgradation of technical capabilities of workshops and streamlining of business processes for induction of new technology and innovation council for incubation of innovative ideas, among others.

IR embarks on an ambitious path for Total Modernisation in Operation & Station Development

IR Modernisation suresh prabhuNew Delhi: With foreign collaborations in place, the Railways is embarking on an ambitious path for total modernisation in operation and station development. While France will develop Ludhiana and Ambala stations, which figure on the upcoming New Delhi-Chandigarh semi-high speed route, Japan’s assistance will be taken for solutions for critical technological challenges of the Railways, including running trains in times of fog.

“France has expertise in station development and accordingly we have assigned them the two stations of Ludhiyana and Ambala to develop in a manner that they become major hub and attractions. Japan is also going to help the Railways tap the land value capture in a manner that it becomes a major source of revenue,” said a senior official of the Railway Board.

Incidentally, the Railways has roped in France for the “speed enhancement” on New Delhi-Chandigarh to run 200 kmph trains. “France is conducting an execution study, which is a step ahead of feasibility study, and we actually are looking to unveil the semi-high speed mode on New Delhi-Chandigarh in a year’s time,” said the official.

The Railways is also undertaking trials of the LHB coaches being manufactured at the rail coach factury at Kapurthala to meet the 200 kmph requirements.

“We already have the LHB coaches being manufactured in the country in Kapurthala and Rai Bareli, which are designed to clock the speed of 180 kmph. With a few changes, we are seeking if they could clock the 200 kmph speed,” added the official.

Besides, the premier research and design operation (RDSO) of the Railways will partner with its Japanese counterparts to develop cutting-edge technologies in signalling, operation and maintenance.

“With Japan, we are looking at the possibility of their model to have electric sub-stations at 110 km stretch against our current practice of 30 km distance. Also, Japan cleans a train in flat nine minutes that we will seek to replicate,” added the official.

Japan offers Loan to India’s $15 billion Bullet Train in edge over China

Japan likely to win India’s Bullet Train project

Japan to fund 80 per cent of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bull train project cost
Japan to fund 80 per cent of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bull train project cost

Japan has offered to finance India’s first bullet train, estimated to cost $15 billion, at an interest rate of less than 1 percent, officials said, stealing a march on China, which is bidding for other projects on the world’s fourth-largest network.

Tokyo was picked to assess the feasibility of building the 505-kilometre corridor linking Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, and concluded it would be technically and financially viable.

The project to build and supply the route will be put out to tender, but offering finance makes Japan the clear front runner.

Last month China won the contract to assess the feasibility of a high-speed train between Delhi and Mumbai, a 1,200-km route estimated to cost twice as much. No loan has yet been offered.

Japan’s decision to give virtually free finance for Modi’s pet programme is part of its broader push back against China’s involvement in infrastructure development in South Asia over the past several years. Tokyo’s push in India comes just weeks after it lost out to China on the contract to build Indonesia’s first fast-train link.

Beijing offered $5 billion in loans without asking for guarantees, an Indonesian official said, ending a months-long battle to build the line linking Jakarta with the textile hub of Bandung.

India’s cabinet will take a decision on the Japanese proposal over the next few weeks, an Indian railway official said

“There are several (players) offering the high-speed technology. But technology and funding together, we only have one offer. That is the Japanese,” said A.K.Mital, the Chairman of the Indian Railway Board, which manages the network.

The two projects are part of a ‘Diamond Qaudrilateral’ of high speed trains over 10,000 km of track that India wants to set up connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

Japan has offered to meet 80 percent of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project cost, on condition that India buys 30 percent of equipment including the coaches and locomotives from Japanese firms, officials said.

Japan’s International Cooperation Agency, which led the feasibility survey, said the journey time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad would be cut to two hours from seven. The route will require 11 new tunnels including one undersea near Mumbai.

“What complicates the process is Japanese linking funding to use of their technology. There must be tech transfer,” said Mital.

JICA declined to comment on the details of its offer. “The report has already been handed over to India, and the Indian government is now in the process of making a consideration,” a spokeswoman said.

Toshihiro Yamakoshi, counsellor in the economic section of the Japanese embassy, said Japanese companies were keen to collaborate with their Indian counterparts on the rail project as part of Modi’s Make-in-India programme. He said it was too early to provide details of the cooperation.

Tokyo’s push in India comes just weeks after it lost out to China on the contract to build Indonesia’s first fast-train link.

Beijing offered $5 billion in loans without asking for guarantees, an Indonesian official said, ending a months-long battle to build the line linking Jakarta with the textile hub of Bandung.

Japan’s NHK broadcaster quoted Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii as saying that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had instructed him to step up exports of transport systems to India and Southeast Asia.

“It is very regrettable that a high-speed railway project in Indonesia was awarded to China,” he said.

China won the Delhi-Mumbai survey after securing clearance from Indian security agencies long worried about China’s involvement in Indian infrastructure.

The two neighbours fought a war in 1962 over a border dispute that remains unresolved, though trade between them is booming.

India’s cabinet will take a decision on the Japanese proposal over the next few weeks, an Indian railway official said. He said there were lingering concerns about whether the billions of dollars required for high-speed rail might be more usefully spent in modernising the railway system.

“There is a lot of money involved in this. The different departments are weighing the implications. Should we be committing all our resources to a single high-speed line,” the railway official said on condition of anonymity.”

“The railways have not attempted anything as big as this before in terms of costs,” the official said.

India’s rickety state-controlled rail system, which moves 23 million people a day, has a poor safety record and is in desperate need of funds to modernise it.

The average speed of trains is 54km/hour, and rail experts have argued that the priority ought to be to improve the speed and safety on existing trains and routes.

Investment is the only way-out for Modernisation & Resource Mobilisation on IR

Suresh Prabhu Union RMJodhpur: Investment is the only way out to address the paucity of resources in Indian Railways, which has been “plaguing” the much needed modernisation of the rail service, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said here.

In the city to address the 91st Annual General Meeting of All India Railway Men’s Federation, the minister said that the Indian Railways has been functioning with limited resources and the government has been working hard to arrange finance for its modernisation.

He said that although the modernisation of the Indian Railways has already been affected but it has not been progressing in the “desired manner and with desired pace” for want of funds, route development, signal development, bullet trains etc.

“We are compelled to run 150 trains against the capacity of 100. We are not able to meet the freight load. All these are clear indicators of the railway being heavily under-resourced,” he said.

The Railway Minister noted that Indian Life Insurance Corporation has agreed to lend Rs 1.5 lakh crore for the rail service, with the Reserve Bank of India agreeing to cut the interest on loan by half per cent.

Identifying the development of Indian Railways with the development of the nation, Prabhu called upon the employees, who had assembled to attend the conference, to address the issue of corruption.

He said that the practise of travelling without tickets was eroding the revenue of the Indian Railways and the ministry had launched a campaign to discourage the practise in order to plug the revenue leak.

Referring to rail safety, Prabhu called upon the railway employees to work in unison to ensure safety and informed that a safety drive would be launched.

Rail Pollution: NGT directs IR’s Environment Directorate to file a reply on direct discharge through toilets on Railway lines

NGT Green Rail conceptPune: The National Green Tribunal (West Zone) has directed the environment directorate of the railway ministry to file a reply on the issue of direct discharge through toilets on the Indian Railways system which leads to massive pollution, an activist said on Tuesday.

“The NGT has taken serious cognizance of our environment interest litigation (EIL) which points out how nearly 4,000 tonnes of human waste is dumped daily through the ‘open discharge system’ used on Indian Railways,” said lawyer Asim Sarode.

The NGT recently asked the railway ministry to file its reply and remain present before the tribunal on Octpber 1, in the EIL filed through NGO Sahyog Trust’s socio-legal analyst Rama Sarode and her team comprising Mukta Sathe, Tushar Wayal, Sanjay Jadhav and Shreyas Atre.

The petition demanded that the existing toilet systems must be replaced with eco-friendly alternatives like bio-toilets.

The EIL said pollution was not limited only to railway tracks, but surroundings like water bodies, rivers, atmosphere when faecal matter discharged causes severe pollution and health hazards.

“In fact, the toilets in the Indian Railway systems have become the biggest mobile source of environmental pollution with this daily hazard dumped all over the country where thousands of trains ply,” Sarode said.

Citing a CAG report, Sarode said that despite two decades of conducting trials with different models of ‘green toilets’, the Indian Railways have failed to finalise the suitable technology and implement it, though the deadline was 2007.

Even the installation of bio-toilets, which converts excreta into neutral water using a form of bacteria has been dissatisfactory with only 10 percent work completed so far, he added.

Besides stopping the present form of direct discharge, the EIL urged the railway ministry to appoint only those coach manufacturers who can incorporate eco-friendly toilets into the coach design, and cover all water bodies on which railway tracks pass to prevent the discharge of human waste into the fresh water below.

Going paperless will cost Indian Railways over INR 1000 Crore

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Going paperless may not come cheap for the Indian Railways as it could cost about INR 1,000 crore to INR 1,300 crore to begin with. In fact, it may require another INR 300 crore to INR 400 crore as recurring cost every year.

At present, the Railways spend about INR 60 crore and consume an estimated 6,000 tonne of paper every year.

The official said that “We started collecting the data on paper consumption while studying the costs and benefits of having a paperless office. The consumption data is according to initial estimates.”

The break-up of annual paper consumption includes about 600 tonnes used for the Passenger Reservation System and Unreserved Ticketing System, 500 tonnes for computer stationery and 4,000 tonne for books and forms.

PRS, issuing reserved tickets, is used primarily for long-distance trains and UTS, which issues unreserved tickets, is for shorter distance trains.

In the last budget, the Railways had announced that it would have a paperless office in five years.

Another official said that “We have already lowered our paper consumption in the last few years, with introduction of e-tickets. The consumption is further expected to come down as more and more people migrate to using SMS as tickets in both the reserved and unreserved segment.”

The Railways book over 15.5 crore e-tickets a year.

At present, the reserved train travel segment allows passengers to use SMS as a ticket along with an identity proof. One of the steps that the Railways are working on involves allowing text messages as tickets in the UTS. But given the varied crowd in the unreserved segment, it is difficult to expect everybody to have an identity proof.

The official said that “The key challenge is to ensure the security feature on SMS. The fear is what if people forward the SMS and use it repeatedly? To tackle that, one option is to have a QR code in the SMS and make the sender a part of the security check.”

The official added that “On the freight side, the Railways is already working on a project to have electronic revenue receipts, and start issuing these to petroleum product traffic from companies, such as IOC, BPCL and HPCL.”

Centre’s push for Railways’ Modernisation harbours immense Potential for Reform

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The government’s push for modernisation of this sector harbours immense potential for reform.  For India to grow at 10%, the railway network needs to grow at 15-20% annually. A single 200 km high-speed rail route can add $20 billion to India’s economy annually. By linking producers and consumers across the nation, it can leverage geographical advantage, creating an efficient division of production and providing the means to expand economics of scale and scope. To ‘Make in India’, efficient rail transport becomes necessary, raising growth in poor and isolated districts. By making inter-city travel economical, the railways helps lay a foundation for service industries and tourism. Every kilometre of new railway track can create a hundred jobs.  The railway minister’s empowerment of zonal railway heads should be utilised for furthering operational and financial goals, while bolstering accountability.

A comparison helps. By 2014, China had completed constructing a high-speed rail network of about 11,000 route-km, far exceeding the high-speed railway network in any other country. All this has been built at a typical infrastructure unit cost of about $17-21m/km, compared to $25-39m/km in Europe. China’s accomplishment relied on clear lines of responsibility, a strong technical capacity and large economies of scale, while incurring high railway debt. Clearly, thinking on a large scale helps.

With a worsening operating ratio (93.5%), slowing revenue growth (compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at 2.8%) and rising costs (CAGR at 10.9%), the railways finds itself fiscally constrained in making necessary investments. Of nearly 340 capacity enhancement and modernisation projects worth Rs 172,934 crore of investment (61% are uneconomic), we allocate just Rs 10,000 crore of funds each year.

A three-pronged approach is needed. First, a massive reconstruction programme needs to be launched to incorporate new lines, high-speed rail and freight corridors, separating long haul and suburban networks. Second, railway finances need to be fixed through public investment, market borrowings and private investments. Third, the railways need to be restructured from the bottom-up, improving investment planning and project execution, while ramping up safety.

Consider India’s railway map. Traffic flows on these routes are highly uneven and imbalanced. Lines connecting the four major metros constitute less than 16% of the total route but account for the majority of the passenger and freight traffic, with most lines having crossed 100% utilisation. We need to create capacity ahead of demand.

Construction in this railway network needs to be jumpstarted. There are several projects, including doubling of lines, gauge conversion and new lines that can be prioritised and constructed through ring-fenced turnkey projects. High-speed rail needs to be given a push, with the recent Delhi-Agra trail run a welcome success.

Public-private partnerships (PPP) could be offered on new lines to the private sector, with the government providing viability gap funding using existing schemes and adding sops, like the development of real estate and railway stations, and conversion of spare land into commercial developments. The private sector can help redevelop up to 50 railway stations through projects worth Rs 50,000 crore over the next three years.

The railways should also allow private inter-city trains to operate. With capital and operational expenditure borne by private operators, pre-determined paths and time-slots could be used to add capacity, while preventing cannibalisation of the railways’ revenues. A focus on axle loads, increasing trailing loads and running longer trains could help in the short run. Currently dedicated freight corridors are being partly financed through the World Bank. Such corridors can be bid out on a PPP basis, with up to 20% project cost available as viability gap funding. The railways could guarantee minimum traffic and pay access charges for freight movement.

The Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) has limited its mandate to leasing rolling stock; it needs to focus on railway electrification and signalling. About 14,000 km of network can be electrified over the next five years, through turnkey projects. The IRFC could fund this through market borrowings and the current allocation. Joint ventures with state governments, PSUs, port companies and the private sector can help construct railway line projects on a build, operate and maintain basis, with the railways paying a negotiated access charge.

Providing world-class signalling and train protection systems would go a long way in increasing throughput and improving safety. Investing in Automatic Block Signalling and using GSM-based mobile train control communication systems would lead to a line capacity increase of 30% for a cost of Rs 25,000 crore, with improved revenue generation paying for the expenditure.

This organisation needs reformation. It all begins with investment planning and good project execution — sharply focused towards capacity creation. An archaic structure, focused on engineering lines, should be reorganised on business lines such as freight transport, passenger transport and infrastructure management. Such creation of profit centres would help bring railway accounts in line with global accountancy standards.

An institutional separation of roles is much called for. Focusing on policy, the government could help define a consistent vision for the railways as an entity that focuses on both passenger and freight traffic. This should be institutionalised by the creation of the Indian Rail Regulatory Authority (IRRA) and the Indian Railways Executive Board (IREB), focusing on the regulatory and management divisions of the railways respectively. The IRRA should focus on protecting consumer interest, fix tariffs and subsidies, and introduce competition into the network. The IREB should implement the restructuring and reorganise the regional organisations. Only then can it power forward to pull India’s economy along.

National Institute of Design to work on new designs of Engines, Coaches and Monorail

अहमदाबाद Ahmedabad (ADI): Indian Railways is planning to rope-in city-based NID to re-design the train coaches with an aim to provide comfortable journey to passengers.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu informed that his ministry will soon rope in National Institute of Design (NID) for the purpose.

“We are in talks with the NID for improving internal design of railway coaches. This will provide a comfortable journey to our passengers,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said here today.

“We met Railway Minister here and had a discussion with him. We will work out the plan and NID will be soon start working on re-designing the coaches,” NID, Ahmedabad, Director Pradyumna Vyas said.

“An MoU (Memorandum of understanding) will soon be signed between the NID and the Indian Railways,” Vyas said adding that time-limit of the project has not yet been fixed, but it is “on track” now.

The NID is working on several projects of Railways, including new designs of engines, coaches and mono-rail, he said.

When asked about installation of user-friendly dustbins inside the railway coaches, Vyas said the NID is in process for providing a solution to it.

According to railway sources, the ministry is in talks with the NID to have user-friendly dustbins designed in all coaches to keep its premises clean, in line with the government’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign.

The Railways have launched a cleanliness campaign across the country to keep platforms, stations and trains clean. The Ministry has also outsourced cleaning operations at 50 stations as a pilot project.

50 Shortlisted Railway Stations across the country to get ‘Five Star’ Status

मुंबई Mumbai: As part of the railway’s new cleanliness drive, 50 shortlisted railway stations across the country will boast a five-star hotel look with CST and Mumbai Central billed to be among the chosen ones, according to sources.

Railway Board Member (Traffic) D.B.Pande met 11 private firms with a turnover of more than 160 crore, including Eureka Forbes and Knight Frank with a view to roping them in on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis. These companies are leaders in facility management, that is coordination of space, infrastructure and people and will implement these concepts at select railway stations.

Mr Pande said the railways had assured the corporates of unlimited funding for this purpose. “We will initially try to get these corporates on a PPP basis but if that doesn’t work, we have assured them that there will be no shortage of funds and we will fully fund the project if the need arises,” he said.

“We are reviewing the existing cleanliness contracts at stations and will give preference to those stations whose contracts are either ending or do not exist,” he added. Sources said Mr Pande had asked CST and Mumbai Central to be included in the list.

A railway official on condition of anonymity said, “21stations will be A1-grade i.e. those that earn the railway a revenue of above Rs 60 crore and 29 will be A-grade which earn a revenue of between Rs 8 and Rs 60 crore,” the official added.

Government rolls out plans, gears up to overhaul India’s sprawling rail network

Prime Minister Modi and Team tries to get Railways back on track

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  India’s new government will next week roll out plans to overhaul its sprawling rail network, dubbed the “lifeline of the nation”, which analysts say needs hundreds of billions of dollars of investment.

Two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new administration presents its first budget, a separate rail finance bill will be presented to parliament on Tuesday next following a controversial recent fares hike.

The country’s railway system is one of the biggest in the world, stretching from the foothills of the Himalayas to the southern beaches.

But observers say it has been neglected by successive governments over the past three decades of rapid economic growth during which car ownership has surged and low-cost airlines have mushroomed.

“I’m very glad the government is addressing the chronic logistics problem,” said Arvind Mahajan, an infrastructure specialist at KPMG. “It has a lot of work to cover.” Still the main form of long-distance travel for most of India’s 1.2 billion population, around 23 million people travel by train every day.

But some services are booked up for weeks in advance and overcrowding – especially in lower-class carriages which lack air-conditioning — means rail travel is often a miserable experience.

The network has a dreadful safety record with a government report in 2012 putting the number of deaths each year at nearly 15,000.

Many are killed falling off overcrowded trains or crossing the tracks. Others are charred to death while perched on coach roofs as high-voltage electricity courses through overhead wires.

As for freight, endemic delays make it sometimes impossible for businesses to predict when their goods will arrive.

Under the previous centre-left coalition, the main governing Congress party was happy to leave the railways ministry in the hands of a junior partner which showed little inclination to push reforms.

While fares remained low, the ministry’s losses grew ever higher and it was hemorrhaging some $150 million or Rs. 900 crore ($1 = Rs. 60) a month by the time Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trounced Congress in May’s general election.

In a speech last month outlining the government’s priorities, President Pranab Mukerjee said “modernisation and revamping of railways is on top of the infrastructure agenda”.

Echoing similar pledges in the BJP manifesto, the speech included promises to improve safety, expand services in the remote northeast and build a network of freight corridors for farm produce.

Ramshackle Network

The government then hiked passenger fares 14.2 per cent and freight rates 6.5 per cent — the steepest rise in 15 years.

Although there was a subsequent partial climb down, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said India “must decide whether it wants a world-class railway or a ramshackled one”.

Mr Mahajan said reducing government subsidies on the railways would help it meet inflation reduction targets.

“The government now needs to educate people … that subsidies will not help bring prices down, but rather shoot them up,” he said.

D. H. Pai Panandiker, who heads the Delhi-based RPG Goenka Foundation think-tank, said PM Modi — who as a boy helped his father sell tea on a platform — wanted the railways to stop being a strain on resources.

“Modi sees the railways network as a commercial enterprise and he realises that it must make both ends meet and can’t remain subsidised forever,” he told AFP.

“All this hue and cry over the hike is politics and the common man knows this.”

But allied to the fares increase, analysts say federal and state governments must be prepared to invest vast sums.

“To expand, modernise and improve safety, the total bill could come to a staggering … $400 billion over just the next 10 years,” Ajay Dua, a former top civil servant, wrote in a local newspaper.

“Currently, China invests $90 billion every year in its rail system compared to our paltry $10 billion. All those funds may not come from commuters and other users.”

Mr Mahajan said the government would have to invest “somewhere around $300-$500 billion” in the next decade.

Travellers acknowledge the need for investment but are reluctant to pay.

“It’s a wreck,” said Hari Sah as he waited for a train at Delhi’s main station to take him back to his family in the northern state of Bihar.

“But I also need to see my family from time to time,” said Hari, who earns $160 (Rs. 9,600) a month driving an auto-rickshaw in the capital and whose ticket cost $25 (Rs. 1,500).

“If I spend on travel, rent, food and send money back home then what will I save?”

One of the big questions will be if Modi can develop a high-speed rail network, with China having offered its expertise

Indian Railways need Qualitative Revival than Quantitative Revival

After a long time the country appears to have got an effective railway minister in DV Sadananda Gowda. He has come with a positive reputation and lived up to it with a quick decision to hike passenger fare and freight rates as also his initial comments on the task ahead and how he wishes to fulfil it.

New Delhi railway station’s escalators continue to remain shut for over a few months now. The reasons may be anything, from shoddy manufacturing to callous maintenance, but definitely it is a glaring case of bad governance. The station managers seem to be ignorant about the word quality.

Not this alone, most important railway stations in the country are perfect models of sloppy governance. When the least important ones do not have any prioritised agenda to service people, the most important ones falter in almost all parameters of world-class quality.

Seldom a railway station gets a ramp to enable the physically challenged or the elderly cross platforms, especially in tensed times when a train reaches its platform or is about to whistle off. None has an elevator of any standard, what to think of ones that we find in metro stations in Delhi.

Even as the railways and their peripheries are the areas where three ‘C’s – Crime, Corruption & Coercion – and one ‘T’ (Terrorism) rule, there is another which works as an umbrella cover to the CCTV. It is vox populi or ‘V’. The inefficient workers in the railways, and around in the local civic system get political support to carry out shady activities, thus keeping the railway stations perfect bastions of trouble-spots. Everywhere there are signs of decadence, callousness, and crimes protected by the vox populi of the time. India Shining wanted to get away from all these delinquencies, and failed. India Growing needs to address all this now. And are we talking about quality here?

We lacked the sense of quality always. We tended to, or chose to, lack in the expected quality. Everywhere it had been the ceremony of innocence which was drowned as the best lacked all conviction, and the worst were full of passionate intensity. With the absolute majority in Parliament and a clear make-over in popular mindset in states all around – thanks to the fact that the parties SP, JD(U), BSP, RJD and Left have been virtually swept out of the arena of decision-making for good governance – will the party in power address the core issues about railway matters now?

If it does, the first stage of quality at governance in Railways would need to be addressed. For Railways are not alone the trains on rails and the stations, it also symbolises a society living in current times.

Indeed we can improve upon these situations. We can solve half these problems by training our daily wagers through sops at community colleges, vocational institutes at remote areas, villages, tehsils, district towns, small towns and in cities, which would also mean training the staff required for good governance in railways.

There can be incentives like better wages after getting free training at vocational colleges for masonry, electrician’s fundamentals, plumbing, wood crafting, carpentry, ironwork, gilding, welding, etc. Prime Minister’s Rojgar Yojna or 100-days’ work policy can be freed from real-politick, replaced by compulsory simultaneous education in vocational training institutes in remote areas, or even reformed or scrapped.

The idea should eventually be readdressed to empower even the remotest citizenry, forest-dwelling tribal communities, who would join the government’s drives to stop foreign agents from poaching Indian fauna or smuggling out Indian flora.

Where is the Money? We have the money. A few lakh crores of rupees in forms of 2 per cent funds saved annually from the PATs (profit after taxes) by the PSUs for various Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR). Most of the CSR savings in the public sector companies go unspent or might have indeed been spent without transparency.

The nation has a few lakh crore rupees in the coffers of the seven Maharatna PSUs (BHEL, Coal India, GAIL India, Indian Oil, NTPC, ONGC and SAIL).

It is interesting to note that the most of these Maharatnas regularly hit the worldwide Fortune 500 lists of great companies. The foursome indeed pursue the basic tenets of the six sigma module of ASQ, one of which is ‘Social Responsibility.’ But strangely, large areas of concerns – like the problems of the old and physically challenged people in crossing railway platforms, or of villagers who have to ferry a river everyday for going to schools, offices, vegetable market-places, or creating new forests through botanical afforestation to compensate the loss of flora and fauna at project sites – do not strike their imagination.

Where are the CSR monies to be spent other than meeting the basic needs of people? We have plenty on hands to do, such as infrastructure creation at railways stations, setting up skills institutes across the length and breadth of rural India, medical colleges and hospitals in small towns, crafting afforestations after pristine forests are cut due to necessary mining for development and many necessities like all this. A nation is grown, if it underbelly is healthy and well harnessed. The underbelly of India is the remote areas, where fruits of development do not reach.

Similar CSR funds could also be created through private sector corporations, even as some private corporation like the Tatas have already gone ahead for decades with the CSR innovation around their plants’ sites. Probably Tatas cannot be competed in its unique social connections all over, even the NTPC remains far behind the Tatas’ CSR schemes.

Other private corporations like those by the Reliance Group, Adanis, Birlas, Infosys, etc. are yet to catch up with the pragmatic imagination of CSR. When people do not know exactly how much is saved in the public sector on the CSR accounts and spent, it is also unknown whether or not there is any possibility to institute a culture of CSR in the private sector corporations.

Gowda, known for his clean image, briefly became chief minister of Karnataka when BS Yeddyurappa, the first BJP chief minister in the south, had to resign following the Karnataka lokayukta moving against him. One of Gowda’s key acts as chief minister was to introduce the Sakala scheme, which promised time-bound delivery of government services. But Gowda’s tenure as chief minister was shortlived as Yeddyurappa was able to get the national leadership of the BJP to oust him as he was not doing the bidding of the discredited former chief minister.

The clear-headed efficiency that Gowda may bring to his job is apparent from his sense of priorities. His first concerns are safety, security and service and then, only then, speed. This rather downgrades the pet project of the BJP — a high-speed rail network — though he has separately plugged for it in line with the party’s thinking. My guess is that by the time he gets a handle on the monumental threesome, it will be time to go to polls again.

In his first weeks in office, the railway minister has also done one right thing and expressed one positive thought. He has had a meeting with the iconic E Sreedharan, who has delivered the Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro. If Sreedharan were younger and put in charge of the special purpose vehicle for bringing in the high-speed network then it would in all probability have taken off speedily. The issue of funding could also be resolved as Gowda appears to be very open to ideas of public-private partnership and foreign direct investment.

Global high-speed railway equipment manufacturers will be happy to take a stake in the project to secure large orders. Equity via the FDI route for such a long-gestation project will be difficult to come by but long-term concessional finance, which will also serves the purpose, can come from development agencies like the Japanese one already engaged with the dedicated freight corridor.

But there is one problem in all this. If Sreedharan starts a massive operation to create the high-speed network he will invariably poach some of the most capable railway officials from the railways proper. Now the supply of these is not just finite but fairly limited. This will denude the parent of the best skills currently available with it and amount to a setback. This is particularly so because the recent spate of accidents, some through fires on running trains, indicates the organisation is in a state of crisis. At such times, if you want to dramatically turn things around, you need all capable hands on deck.

Gowda has also correctly highlighted the critical state of railway finances and pondered how they will fund all the investments needed for the projects already announced and launched. His observation that at current rates of funding, some of these projects will take 30-50 years to complete is telling.

The one weapon he has availed of, which was studiously sidestepped by most of his predecessors, raising passenger fares, will not be enough. But if fares still have some leeway, the case of freight is different. Raising these rates significantly (that’s where the big money is) will be counterproductive, leading to further surrender of market share to road transport.

Since budgetary support will be severely limited where does Gowda go from here? Unfortunately, he has chosen not to dwell on one major way of making ends meet — by tackling head on the issue of corruption. It is as layered as it is endemic in the railways. A recent study available to the railways points out that in three years the railways spent on repair and maintenance of capital assets as much as it takes to acquire them in the first place.

Corruption in tendering for repair and maintenance, and a lot else, is entrenched. Gowda has lamented that no more than Rs.25,000-30,000 crore is available yearly as investible surplus to the railways. If by addressing the corruption in tendering the railways can save a few thousand crores a year, that will be a significant additionality.

But there may be a reason why a practical politician like Gowda is not banking much on cutting down corruption. That is not a key agenda of the BJP, as it is of the Aam Aadmi Party. The BJP wants to get things done and not acquire a corrupt image like the Congress. It will take pains to ensure this and not allow entrenched negative practices to get in its way and certainly distance itself from those party men who come under a cloud.

How significant corruption is in the railways can be gauged from the fact that fires in running trains have spread quickly, turning them into major accidents with high fatalities, because the railways’ declared policy of using flame-retardant material for passenger coaches did not deliver. If the enquiry reports finally bear this out then it will point to corruption, compromising the tendering process for material used in a unit like the Integral Coach Factory in Perambur.

So the railways will probably run a bit better but not overmuch so and in significant ways it will be business as usual.

Indeed comprehensive Quality education in the country is not possible unless the ‘Social Responsibility’ concept is understood well without selfishness. Ideally, for a sensible democratic country, the resources have to be pooled in every year through joint public and private participation. This is the perfect approach to nation-building.

Extra Professional Consultancy help must in Railways restructuring move

India need to have extra professional help in restructuring the railways, by laying extra tracks, getting bigger capacity wagons and locomotives to move them, and make the freight attractive enough

It may be recalled that, in the interim budget, Railway Minister, Mallikarjun Kharge outlined plans to start 72 new train services, which include 17 premium and 38 express trains. In a year from now, a Railway Tariff Authority is also expected to be set up, which will advise the government on fixing fares and freight rates. It will also have a say in development matters relating to this huge enterprise, which has, at the moment, 35,000 Kms rails, which also carries a substantial quantum of cargo within the country.

Recent development plans to upgrade the railway network has been projected to cost Rs.2000 crore and the target for 2014-15 has been fixed at 1,101 million tonnes of freight. The share of rail in freight is reported to be about 25% compared to 50% in the case of both China and USA. This, one can see, is insufficient utilisation of the cheapest form of transportation available in the country, for which, thankfully, the main fuel element of coal is available in the country, except that, it needs to be mined and evacuated rapidly from pit heads!

Among the many plans that Railway ministry has had, they now plan to push through three crucial railway link projects by 2016 that will facilitate evacuation and delivery of 300 million tonnes of coal annually from mines in Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Odisha. These projects were actually started in 1999, and the corridors covered are: Tori-Shivpuri-Kathotia in Jharkhand; Bhudeopur-Korichhaapar in Chhatisgarh and Barpali-Jharasaguda in Odisha.

The new Railway minister, on taking over responsibility, needs to expedite these pending projects rather than spend time to apportion blame for the delays.

Although Japan has been a pioneer in building high speed rail lines, it is China, in a short space of time, laid 13,000 Kms of high speed rail network, laying new tracks on elevated rails, thus avoiding and or by use of minim farm land. In fact, China has been keen to get involved in India in setting up high speed rails. but for a number of reasons, India has not shown keen interest, at this point of time. They would rather secure Chinese expertise in raising the speed in selected corridors. Chinese experts have claimed that they would be able to raise the speed from current 130 Kms per hour to 160 Kms or up 200 Kms, if an opportunity was given to them.

It may be recalled that both India and China have been carrying on a dialogue under the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) to discuss and formulate plans for economic development. The third such meeting was held recently, when Planning Commission Vice Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia met the Chinese Premier Li Kiqiang. It is reported that India would seek their expertise in heavy haul and raising the speed on its existing rail network which would possibly require realigning track and strengthening of bridges. At the moment, India is not keen to get the Chinese high speed rails!

Recently, the Chairman of Japan Railway Central, Yoshiyuki Kasai was in the country He has been keen watching the developments in India, particularly the contract that Japan was awarded to carry out a detailed project report into the feasibility of a Mumbai-Vadodara high speed rail line.

He is reported to have indicated that JRC was not looking to invest in high speed rail systems in India, because, first, it needs the Indian government to fund a large part of the infrastructure required before such a scheme can become a reality.

The Chairman of Indian Railways, Arunendra Kumar, appears to have hinted that it would be an expensive proposition, at least for the time being, to think of building such tracks. Unlike China, which has no serious problems in acquiring the needed land, land acquisition in India is a laborious process, where a disgruntled or a greedy politician can start an agitation to stop the process in no time. We have hundreds of cases where work could not proceed due to these “instigated” public protests and agitations.

Chairman Kasai has observed, while meeting the press persons, that it would be good idea for the Railways to actually use the existing tracks for movement of freight and then, simultaneously, start planning and laying high speed rails to move passengers This suggestion, by him, is worth not only noting but the Ministry must try to act on the same.

We need to have extra professional help in restructuring our railways, by laying extra tracks, getting bigger capacity wagons and locomotives to move them, and make the freight attractive enough so that the freight from road transport, which guzzles millions of litres of fossil fuel, is reduced.

So far, the captive coal mines have been given to power plants so as to ensure continuity of generation and supply; why have captive coal mines not been allocated for exclusive use by Railways?

(A.K.Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the Ministry of Commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US)

Railway engines to get National Institute of Design makeover

AHMEDABAD: Driving trains will soon become a comparatively cushy job in the near future. For the first time, diesel engines are set to get a complete makeover in terms of aesthetics and ergonomics. The National Institute of Design (NID) in collaboration with Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), Varanasi, is redesigning the interior and exterior of the engines from the drivers’ perspective.

The changes aim to make train driving a cool affair. For the first time in the history of Indian Railways, the drivers’ cabins will be air-conditioned and kept warm during winters with heaters. “Loco pilots operate in extreme conditions and through new design, we intend to provide them comfortable working conditions ,” said Praveen Nahar, senior faculty , NID.

The focus will be on providing better visibility to the drivers and better inner ambiance. “Visibility is the most important factor. We aim to minimize visual obstructions and increase leg space,” added Nahar.

The engines will also get brighter colours , new toilet design and windshield. “Providing better working environment and a new colour scheme are among the main changes,” said Balaji Rangarajan, faculty, NID and head of the project.

It was fatigue among the drivers that prompted DLW to go for complete renovation . “Sometimes, loco pilots work under very stressful conditions. They have to deal with vibration, noise, heat…” said Amit Kumar Agarwal, chief designer , DLW. “I have been a driver myself. The decision for a makeover was taken after many consultations with loco pilots.”

Every year, DLW manufactures 150 WDG 4 engines (diesel engines). Currently , there are 800 of these on the tracks and over 20,000 loco pilots operate them. With the new design, DLW also aims to attract customers from different countries and expand their export market.

Alot of research for the project has also been carried out at Drivers Training institute in Sabarmati.

ICF Perumbur signs MOU with National Institute of Design to redesign coaches

AHMEDABAD: After successfully designing the blue colour scheme coaches for Mumbai local trains, National Institute of Design (NID) is set to redesign mainstream Indian Railway coaches as well.

NID has signed an MoU with the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Chennai to redesign sleeper, II AC and AC chair car coaches. From interior panels to lighting to toilets, all the elements will be redesigned to cater to the changing needs of passengers with special focus on safety.

“With changing times, passenger requirements have changed. There are a whole lot of things that people want in the journey. We want to cater to their needs”, says S Srinivas, Chief Design Engineer, ICF.

“Our aim is to design coaches which are a mix of aesthetics, functionality and technology. We have done it in Mumbai before”, said NID director Pradyumna Vyas. The project will also look into the passenger amenities for disabled people. The project will include colour schemes, interior and exterior signages.

“In a country like ours, we need rugged structures, the designs will be prepared keeping in mind the longevity factor”, says Vyas. “We are looking for design changes which are easy to manufacture, easy to maintain and can survive the strain because we have large number of long-distance trains”, adds Srinivas.

ICF is the premier production unit of Indian railways at Chennai manufacturing 1,600 railway passenger coaches every year.

IR changing tracks to a faster railway

India should be looking at high-speed trains as a mass transport solution and focussing on urban rail networks


China opens about 15 Metro rail lines a year and is building expertise in operating high-speed trains, while India is only slowly warming up to mass transport solutions.

This is the contrast that France is highlighting, as its companies compete to supply a range of transport technologies and services to India. The public sector French train operator, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), is emphatic that the possibility of using high-speed trains as mass carriers should not be neglected.

The competition for high-speed rail also involves Korea, China, and Spain which have operational technologies. Brazil is also looking to implement high-speed rail, but has specified that only accident-free systems can submit tenders, reducing China’s prospects.

The focal point of the Indian effort is the Mumbai-Ahmedabad section, for which SNCF is conducting a feasibility study, and for which the French government has contributed €600,000 out of the estimated total cost of €1 million; there is no charge to the Indian Railways.

The study, begun in January, is expected to go on for a year and define high-speed for India (which in France is 320 km per hour for TGV trains); what kind of fares people can be charged; benchmarking of finance practices including public private partnerships; and the roadmap for manpower training.

On what separates the French high-speed train technology from the Japanese, who pioneered the system, Philippe Dumont, in-charge of issues related to transport in the Directorate of European and International Affairs, Government of France, told visiting journalists that TGV trains could be operated at a normal speed (160 kmph), and on special sections, shifted to peak speeds. This made it possible to integrate them easily with the existing railways. Costs are high for such systems, at €20 million per kilometre in normal terrain, going up to €50 million to cover tunnels, viaducts and so on. But Indian labour costs would make construction cheaper.

Operationally, high-speed trains can optimally connect cities 500 to 1,000 km apart, and in one of the best-known sectors, Paris-Lyon, the peak capacity is 12,000 passengers per hour at 1,000 people per train, providing service once in four minutes. TGV fares are not subsidised.

Six per cent of the world’s transport is on high-speed trains, and France operates 600 trains against about 100 in Japan, meeting the 300 km-plus per hour standard and remaining accident-free over a 30-year period. The Japanese rails are installed on concrete slabs, requiring higher maintenance, while the French use ballasts. Ride quality is better on the Japanese trains, however.

Mr. Dumont candidly pointed out that domestic growth prospects for rail were limited, and there was considerable interest in countries like India.

Urban rail

Alstom, the French engineering group, is firmly in place with its Rs.1,500-crore order to supply 168 coaches by 2015 and six additional cars for the Chennai Metro. It has built a Metro rolling stock factory at Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, to cater to Indian demand and will participate actively in future projects. The company competes with Bombardier, Siemens, and General Electric, among others, in Indian railway expansion projects.

On modernisation of the Indian railway system to improve service, passenger comfort and capacity, Jojo Alexander, vice-president for Strategy, Alstom, said there had to be a radical change in approach on the part of agencies such as the Research Designs and Standards Organisation of the Indian Railways. The opening of the electric locomotive tender (to international competition for supply of 1,000 locomotives) represented the first big change.

Bangalore’s model of levying a cess on petrol and diesel to raise funds for its Namma Metro Phase I was encouraging. Such internal funding was important to expand urban rail systems in India, said Sunand Sharma, president, Alstom International, India and South Asia.

The urban rail story in France is centred on improvements to quality and introduction of new options. One component is the renaissance of the tramway system. In the 1960s, all but three cities in the country — Lille, Marseille and Saint-Etienne — had done away with tram tracks to make way for cars. But in the 1970s, the oil shock and car dominance issues helped to change policy, and led to the introduction of a tax on companies to fund public transport. Tramways were reintroduced, and a recent survey showed modern trams capable of carrying over 3,000 passengers per hour per direction, cater to between 33 and 75 per cent of passenger journeys on public transport (bus, Metro and high-service bus representing the rest) outside the Paris region.

An even cheaper alternative, in service in France’s second city Lyon, is the trolley bus that uses overhead traction on the road and is similar to the conventional articulated bus. On a per kilometre basis, a tram costs a fifth of a Metro, while a trolleybus with dedicated corridor costs a fourth of a tram system, based on French costs.

(This writer was part of a group of Indian journalists invited by the Government of France.)