Nagpur Metro’s RDSO trial on Mihan-Airport stretch in Nov 1st week

NAGPUR: The Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO) will hold the confirmatory trial of at grade (ground level) section of Nagpur Metro Rail, from Mihan depot to Airport South station, in the first week of November. RDSO is the Ministry of Railways organization, which tests new railway projects. Mahametro has already started the oscillation trial of Metro.

Mahametro has sent a communication to RDSO informing it that Nagpur Metro would be ready for trial by October 31. A two-member team of RDSO would come to Nagpur and verify the results of Mahametro’s trial. They will be here for a day or two. If they are satisfied, they will hand over an interim speed certificate.

A source in Mahametro said that the Metro agency officials were noting down the results of oscillation trial. “These results would be handed over to the RDSO officials. If they want, they can run the train and record the oscillations,” he added.

As per the earlier plan, RDSO officials were to camp here for a month and run the train themselves and record the oscillations. Now, Mahametro will hold the trials and RDSO will only verify the data thus obtained. The RDSO members would come two-to-three times in November.

Mahametro managing director Brijesh Dixit has set a target of commissioning the Nagpur Metro by December end. Once RDSO clears the Metro, Mahametro will apply to commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) for a green signal. The commercial operation of Nagpur Metro’s at grade section can begin only after CMRS gives a nod.

If Dixit’s target is to be met, then RDSO and CMRS will have to show some speed in clearing the project. RDSO was supposed to start testing Nagpur Metro by September 15 but this has been delayed by over six weeks. Mahametro, therefore, has proposed part self trial to further reduce delay.

CMRS would not only test the technical aspects of the project but also check the security arrangements and passenger amenities at Metro stations, signalling and telecommunication equipment, security arrangements in the train etc.

After the at grade section, the Hingna depot-Subhash Nagar elevated section will be commissioned. As per the communication sent to union ministry of urban development (MoUD) by Mahametro, this will happen in June 2018.

This will be followed by commissioning of Airport South to Sitabuldi stretch in November 2018. The Subhash Nagar to Sitabuldi stretch would be thrown open in June 2019, the Kamptee Road stretch in September 2019 and Central Avenue stretch in December 2019.

Railways recons PFTs on its land to reduce encroachments, to increase earnings through Licensing Fee

The Indian Railways is working on a plan to allow private freight terminals (PFTs) on railway land adjacent to stations with a view to utilising vacant land parcels better, increase public-private-partnership (PPP) investments and boost freight revenue.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is working on a plan to allow private freight terminals (PFTs) on railway land adjacent to stations with a view to utilising vacant land parcels better, increase public-private-partnership (PPP) investments and boost freight revenue. “There are chunks of land available around stations especially in areas which are mineral-rich and where loading is high. These are sparsely populated areas as well. We are seeking to permit private freight sidings on land adjacent to the railway stations,” said a railway ministry official. Commercial viability of private terminals is more near cement companies, ports and power plants which consume coal. At present, private freight terminals are built by private investors on private land and connectivity is given by the railways to the operators on lease basis. “These terminals are mostly 2-3 km away from stations and therefore huge capital is required to build warehouses, yard and railway lines which many small players are not able to do,” the official added.

The transporter reckons that PFTs on railway land would help reduce encroachment of its land apart from increasing earnings through licensing fee. According to the official, railway minister Piyush Goyal has already given his approval for the scheme under which captive warehouses will be built by investors on land adjacent to stations and railways will earn lease rentals. The transporter will also charge for the railway lines leading up to the warehouses. On average, a rake of freight earns the railways around Es 50 lakh. Sources said since commercial use of land will require Cabinet approval, Goyal has asked to consider a policy to involve Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) in the process. “RLDA will look at the availability of land and give clearance,” said the official, adding that applicants will apply at the zonal level post which a feasibility report will be made with projections of traffic before a final approval.

The government is also trying to make station redevelopment more attractive to investors by introducing single-stage bidding, 99-year lease and inclusion of residential mix in projects. The railways has around 11.4 lakh acres of land of which 1.17 lakh acres are deemed surplus. However, since most of this surplus land is in linear stretches, the scope for commercial development of vacant land is much less than what the land areas suggest. PPP investments in the railway sector has been low, even though for the last few years, the government has tried to promote private investments in peripheral areas. While expert panels had suggested allowing private train operators (by paying rentals to IR for track access), the government hasn’t acted on such proposals.

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

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

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

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

RDSO reverses ‘Ease of Doing Business’ policy of Railway Board

LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: Indian Railways, the largest civil establishment of the Government is providing due opportunities to MSME suppliers, today it procure 25% of its total purchases from micro and small enterprises.

However, down below, some of its offices are still scary of allowing supplies by MSMEs and putting hindrances in upscaling status of the MSME suppliers.

One glaring example is reintroduction of category gates for suppliers by the RDSO, which put additional procedural burden on MSMEs, even after categorisation of vendors were annulled by the Railway Board.

Railways register new suppliers after detail inspection of  manufacturing and testing facilities and all other documents.

Even after that MSMEs are registered as ‘Developmental Vendors’ with limitation on the extent of supplies they can make and other additional checks and balances.

After repeated successful supplies, these contractors have to apply again for upgradation to regular vendors and repeat the entire registration process.

With the focus of the present Government on ease of doing business, the Railway Board, the apex body of the Railways, done away with the two track registration system by an order dated 18th November, 2016.

But the bureaucracy below thought otherwise.

By an order hardly a month after, RDSO Lucknow, the authority to approve the vendors, negates the Railway Board order and reintroduced categorisation of vendors.

The MSMEs are really upset.

Commenting on the situation, Mr. Naveen Jain of Muzaffarnagar and regular supplier to Railways mentioned that this a big harassment to MSME suppliers.

He also mentioned that for new products / items Railways can term  contracts as developmental but for routine items what purpose the categorisation serve, besides creating additional hurdles for MSMEs to register as regular vendors.

The moot question here is who rules the Railways, the Board or the subordinate RDSO.

Otherwise, how an order of the board, abolishing ‘developmental’ and ‘normal’ categorisation of the vendors, were overruled by RDSO.

According to some of the observers, this is the real challenge for  ‘Make in India’ today, where the decisions of the Government to promote manufacturing are reversed by the bureaucracy.

Railway to start Online Registration for MSME Vendors: RDSO

LUCKNOW: To ease entry of more MSME vendors, India Railways is to soon start online registration. It was announced in a first of its kind major interaction of Research, Development and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Ministry of Railways  and SIDBI with industry.

The event “Indian Railways-SIDBI MSME  Vendor Meet’was organized at RDSO Complex, Lucknow, recently. SMERA was the co-organiser of the programme. FISME was lead industry partner with its state affiliate IIA.

The concept for the fast track for MSMEs participation in Railways Procurement System was laid by the  Railways Minister, Shri Suresh Prabhu in at a recent meeting with industry representatives.

Shri Md.Hussain, Director General (RDSO) and Shri J.S.Sondhi, Addl.Director General (RDSO) addressed the participants at the programme. Inviting the MSMEs to participate in rrailways procurement, they said that railways has taken initiatives for  promotion of MSMEs in Railways Procurement System and Railways is already procuring materials worth more than 25% from MSEs against mandatory target of 20% under Public Procurement Policy scheme of Ministry of MSME.

Shri Chandra Shekher Thanvi , Chief General Manager  and  Shri Arup Kumar General Manager  of SIDBI in their address invited the MSMEs to supply quality products to Railways and said that SIDBI is ready to  provide financial assistance if MSMEs are interested to purchase latest technology based machines and testing equipment to enhance the quality and production , . SEMERA is the agency for rating the MSMEs.

Shri K K Agarwal, Secretary General IIA Lucknow, appreciated the efforts made by RDSO and SIDBI for the promotion of MSMEs in Railways procurement system. He mentioned that large numbers of MSMEs members of  IIA and FISME are keen to supply the railways and they will be linked with RDSO and SIDBI for necessary support.

The programme was well attended by more than 150 MSME entrepreneurs who enthusiastically participated in the programme.

Railways and SIDBI plan to organise  more of such MSME linkage programmes all over India.

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Long-Awaited Railways Regulator Gets Department of Personnel Nod

Five months after cabinet approval, the department of personnel and training has started paving the way for setting up the Rail Development Authority.

NEW DELHI: The long-awaited regulator for Indian Railways is finally set to become a reality, with the department of personnel and training (DoPT) paving the way for selecting a chairman and four members.

The DoPT’s approval for the rail regulator, which will be known as the Rail Development Authority (RDA), was the last hurdle for setting up the body that will help the state-run transporter free itself from political pressure on fares while ensuring a level playing field for private players keen to invest in the rail sector.

While there are regulators in the insurance and telecom sectors, the RDA will be the first of its kind independent body in the railways and has been billed as a major reform-driven step. Besides taking decisions on pricing of services, it will also look into consumer interest and creation of positive environment of investment and benchmarking of service standards against international norms.

According to the terms and conditions finalised by the DoPT, the chairman will get Rs 4.5 lakh per month as consolidated salary and members will be getting Rs 4 lakh each, said a senior railway ministry official involved with the setting up of the regulatory authority.

Asked why it took so long for the DOPT to finalise it after the cabinet’s approval in April 6 this year, the official said the DoPT was working out the details in the light of the seventh pay commission recommendations, so it took some time to get the final approval. Hoping that the regulatory body will be operational by the year-end, the official said now the posts will be advertised for the search and select committee headed by cabinet secretary to select the chairman and members.

Taking political sting out of railways

The need for a regulatory body in the rail sector has been felt most urgently over the last decade, with successive railway minister refusing to revise passenger fares. This has led, inevitably, to freight revenue subsidising passenger traffic, leading to higher industry costs.

Currently the passenger business is suffering a huge loss of around Rs 34,000 crore a year and is being cross-subsidised from freight sector.

It was felt that if an independent regulator recommended a revision of fares and freight rates then the railways would have no option but to accept which would also take the political sting out of the decision. Moreover, in the era of coalition politics, the railway ministry more often than not was handed over to the ally partner of the government at the Centre.

As a result, governance when it comes to railways, has largely been with regional leaders such as Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar, Ram Vilas Paswan and Mamata Banerjee.

An attempt was made to hike fares when TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi was the railway minister. He was replaced shortlyafter that, with the hike being rolled back by his successor Mukul Roy. However, after TMC exit from UPA, Congress leader Pawan Bansal took over the ministry and raised fares in 2013 which was almost after 11 years of a no-fare increase spell.

The need for a rail regulator has been emphasised since 2001 by various committees. The first recommendation for an independent rail regulator came in 2001 when an expert group under the chairmanship of Rakesh Mohan suggested the formation of a regulatory authority to fix rail tariffs. Later, several railway committees suggested a Railway Tariff Development Authority. The most recent recommendation for RDA came through the National Transport Development Policy Committee in 2014 and Bibek Debroy’s committee in 2015.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had announced in the Rail Budget 2015-16 that for the purpose of orderly development of infrastructure enabling competition and protection of customer interest, it is important to have a regulation mechanism independent of the service provider.

“Further, it was proposed to set up a mechanism for making regulations, setting performance standards and determining tariff,” Prabhu, whose regime also witnessed merger of rail budget into main budget, said in his speech.

Aiming at changing the Indian railways landscape

According to officials, the RDA will be deciding pricing of services commensurate with costs, take decisions on enhancement of non-fare revenue, protect consumer interest by ensuring quality of service and cost competition. It will also be responsible for competition, efficiency and market development.

The regulator will also provide a framework for non-discriminatory open access to the ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor’.

The RDA chairman and members will have a fixed term of five years each. They can be removed by the central government only on certain grounds, including insolvency, conviction, misbehaviour, physical and mental incapability.

The railway regulator, however, will still work within the parameters of the Railway Act, 1989.

Central Railway ropes in RDSO to solve Monkey Hill problem

PUNE: It took two incidents of boulders falling on trains in one month, but Central Railway finally appears to have woken up to the menace of Monkey Hill.

In the wake of Monday’s incident in which three passengers of the Hubli LTT express were injured when a rock punched through the roof, officials have written to Lucknow’s Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) for help. RDSO was requested to send a team to study the ghat section between Karjat and Lonavla stations, and find a solution to prevent frequent rock falls.

Sunil Udasi, Central Railway’s chief public relations officer, told that an RDSO team is expected to inspect the area soon. “We need to find out a permanent solution to this problem. The RDSO team’s visit will help as they have the expertise to find possible solutions and advise us,” Udasi told.

The RDSO is the Indian Railways’ premier research development wing whose primary focus is the technical and infrastructural development of the railways.

“We had started pre-monsoon patrolling in the stretch. After Monday’s incident, we also ensured the section is well lit,” Udasi said, “The cliff is vertical and nearly 700m high with loose rocks. And it is a large section too. So, despite our surveillance, the risk never goes away, especially if it rains. We have issued instructions to patrol at night too.”

Falling rocks pose a perennial threat in the 28km section through which about 100 trains pass every day.

On July 18, a boulder crashed into the engine of the Mumbai-Hyderabad express, pushing it off the track. However, no one was injured in that incident.

According to a geology expert, the constant exposure to the elements is the main culprit. “This has been happening for a long time now. It is a highly-jointed area with close or widely spread joints. The rocks are mainly separate from each other. Moreover, the entire cliff, including the rocks, is always exposed to temperature variations like heat, humidity, rains and fog. This, I feel, causes rock falls. The cliffs in this stretch also don’t have too many trees or vegetation,” said Satish Thigale, a landslide expert and former head of geology at the Savitribai Phule Pune University. “We feel the RDSO team can make a big difference, even end the problem for good,” Udasi added.

Harsha Shah, president of the Railway Pravasi Group, laid the blame squarely on railway authorities. “Be it Monday’s rock fall or the Utkal Express derailment in UP, the railways authorities are solely responsible. How is it possible that, even after so many cases of boulders falling in this stretch, no action was taken? Why isn’t there a proper system in place? In the recent incidents, there easily could have been many fatalities. The railway ministry just suspends low-ranking staff when such incidents occur and then forgets about it. Why is no action taken against those who sit in their offices without chalking out any plans?” Shah said.

SIDBI–FISME to organise programmes on Make in India for Railways

FISME & SIDBI lay track to accelerate MSME procurement in Railways. RDSO will work with SIDBI and FISME to lay faster track for MSME suppliers!

NEW DELHI: Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), the nodal bank for micro, small and medium industries in India has joined hand with  FISME, the apex federation for MSMEs, to introduce MSMEs in railways supplies. Research, Development and Standards Organisation (RDSO) the premier R&D organisation of Indian Railways is working with SIDBI to facilitate supplies by MSMEs to Railways.

The first programme will be held in Lucknow on 22ndAugust, 2017 in association with RDSO, Railways. FISME, the lead federation of Indian MSMEs, will provide the back end support for the programme. The programme will be launched at the New Auditorium of RDSO at Manak Bagh, Lucknow by the senior officers of RDSO and SIDBI.

Railways, the second largest Government buyer after Ministry of Defence, procure about Rs. 80,000 crore of Goods and Services every year.

The concept for the fast track for MSME suppliers of Railways was laid by the Railways Minister, Suresh Prabhu at a meeting conducted recently.

RDSO has already taken a number of initiatives to encourage participation of MSMEs in Railways procurements. The most significant are reservation of 20% of all orders for new entrants and earmarking of development orders to MSMEs.

SIDBI on its end are offering financial package to MSMEs developing innovative solutions. Towards ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for MSMEs RDSO has already launched a single portal for all information and minimised the number of documents from 22 to 6.

Railways has also reduced the registration charges for micro and small enterprises from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 15,000 and extended the period of re-audits to 5 years.

FISME is at the fore front   for cutting a respectable share for MSMEs in the pie of the Government order of about Rs. 2 trillion rupees, annually. For this while on the one hand the FISME leadership is working with large buyers like Railways, it is also working at the policy level to ease the  procurements under compulsory ‘make in India’ accessible to MSMEs.

For the Railways, FISME will facilitate SIDBI in organising MSME suppliers’ meet with railways, at the all India level, to iron out the last mile bottlenecks.

Suggesting the measures at a meeting with Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on development of micro and small enterprises in Railways, FISME and SIDBI enlisted measures such as 100% development orders to new firms, 20% reservation of regular order to new vendors, reduction in registration fee from Rs.25000 to Rs.15000 by Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), and reduction in number of documents from 22 to 5 by RDSO.

Even a 20% share of it, as reserved by the Government for MSMEs will provide a Rs. 16,000 crore market for MSMEs!

The entire concept crystallised during a meeting taken by Suresh Prabhu, Railways Minister with the representatives of MSME bodies, recently.

At the meeting the Railways Minister directed  workable solutions for enhancing participation of MSMEs in Railways in a time bound manner.

Accordingly, SIDBI and Railways planned to organise Buy – Make in India campaign for MSMEs at all India level.

The focus of these programmes will be to make the MSMEs aware about the  special dispensations in Railways procurement for MSMEs and the items available on the table to supply.

Railways have already decided 100% development orders to new firms, which will benefit MSMEs to break the monopoly of multinationals in Railways supply.

Railways have also decided for 20% reservation of regular orders for new firms again to benefit MSMEs.

SIDBI at their end will be offering special financial package to MSME suppliers under their ‘SRIJAN’ scheme to develop innovative products for Railways.

Commenting on the development, Naveen Jain, entrepreneur from Muzaffarnagar and regular supplier to Railways mentioned that the initiative is an welcome step.

Railways should open the gate wider for MSMEs by simplifying the registration process and lower the upfront fees for registration and testing, Jain quipped.

According to Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, FISME, the multiplicity of Standards is a major barrier for MSMEs to conform and supply Railways.

Railways should review their standardisation process and minimise the number of essential standards, if they want to provide a level playing field, commented Bhardwaj.

The forthcoming programme at Lucknow may act as the curtain raiser for joining the Railways market.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RLDA and NBCC sign MoU on Redevelopment of identified Railway Stations on Indian Railways

Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), an institution under Ministry of Railways and National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), a PSU of Ministry of Urban Development sign an MoU regarding redevelopment of identified Railway Stations on Indian Railways
File Photo: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that Indian Railways has adopted multi pronged strategy to accomplish the mammoth task.

NEW DELHI: An MoU was signed today i.e. 30th June,2017 between Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), an institution under Ministry of Railways and National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), a PSU of Ministry of Urban Development for implementation of station redevelopment projects for 10 identified stations in partnership with respective Smart Cities in the gracious presence of Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways & Shri M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development, Minister of Housing & Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Shri Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Railways in New Delhi. Member Engineering, Railway Board & Ex Officio Chairman, RLDA, Sh Aditya Kumar Mittal was also present. Signatories to the MoU were Shri Rakesh Goyal, Vice Chairman, RLDA & Anoop Kumar Mittal, Chairman cum MD, NBCC. These 10 stations are – Tirupati, Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Nellore, Madgaon, Lucknow, Gomtinagar, Kota, Thane New and Ernakulam Jn.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development, Minister of Housing & Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Information & Broadcasting said that the people of the country are looking for new facilities and new changes, they expect transformations to be done expeditiously in all spheres of life. It is a very good idea to develop smart stations along with the smart cities. He said that the PSUs of his ministry will undertake stations redevelopment in a professional way.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways said that Indian Railways has taken up this ambitious program of station redevelopment in a big way and have adopted multi pronged strategy to accomplish this mammoth task. He said we have chosen PPP model and are roping in varied agencies to execute the project namely Railways’ own PSUs, other Central Government PSUs, foreign countries through Government to Government cooperation and state governments. He said that once the stations are redeveloped, the passengers will get facilities of world standard. He said that NBCC has now been given 10 stations in first phase for redevelopment and more stations would be given to them in subsequent phases.

File Photo: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in discussions with RLDA Officials at Railway Board.

RLDA and NBCC shall form a SPV in the form of a JV Company to execute the station redevelopment project. The JV shall redevelop the stations on a self-financing model. NBCC shall use its expertise in preparing DPR of the Project and business model. RLDA shall extend necessary help to NBCC in arranging all requisite data pertaining to the stations and get the vacant land entrusted from Ministry of Railway as per approved master plan of the station. The JV of NBCC and RLDA shall also enter into city support agreement with the respective Smart City Authorities and local bodies to obtain support relating to development of approach infrastructure and favorable Development Control Norms for the project.

Background 

Earlier in October 2016, the MoU was entered into between Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Urban Development for mutual cooperation between the two Ministries for integrated planning of redevelopment of railway stations in the cities included in the ‘SMART Cities’ and AMRUT schemes.The proposal was to plan the redevelopment of stations in partnership with the smart city SPVs and Urban Local Bodies so that the planning and redevelopment of the station and the city areas near the station is done in an integrated manner. This MoU between Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Urban Development

provided for formation of a JV company between NBCC and RLDA to take up the station redevelopment projects as NBCC has very wide and varied business experience in and expertise in the field of construction & real estate development and RLDA has expertise in monetization of Railway land by way of long term leasing of land.

Station Redevelopment on ‘as-is-where-is’ basis by leveraging Real Estate space at A1/A Category Stations: MOSR

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has advertised its plan to offer ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ category stations on ‘as is where is’ basis for redevelopment by inviting proposals from interested parties with their designs and business ideas. The entire cost of station redevelopment is to be met by leveraging commercial development of land and air space in and around the station.

A large number of Foreign Railways have shown keen interest in the stations redevelopment program and an agreement has been signed with the French Railway (SNCF) for joint study on Renovation Concept Design of Ambala and Ludhiana stations. Korean railway has also expressed interest in the redevelopment of New Delhi Station. Governments of Belgium, Germany, China and UK have also expressed interest in the program of station redevelopment.

No, Madam. Since Railways is taking up Station Redevelopment in a big way (about 400 ‘A-1’ & ‘A’ category stations), cooperation with foreign countries/companies does not pose any problem to indigenous companies/firms. The companies/firms can also partner with foreign companies for adapting best International practices and technology transfer. All the station redevelopment is through open bidding process only.

The facilities proposed in a redeveloped station include congestion-free non-conflicting entry/exit to the station premises, segregation of arrival/departure of passengers, adequate concourse without overcrowding, integration of both sides of the city wherever feasible, integration with other modes of transport systems e.g. Bus, Metro, etc., user friendly international signage, well illuminated circulating area and sufficient provision for drop off, pick up and parking etc.

The cost of station redevelopment is to be met by leveraging commercial development of vacant land/air space in and around the station. Therefore, railway funds are not required for station redevelopment projects. Such projects shall generally be cost neutral to Railways.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 19.07.2017 (Wednesday).

Objective underlying formation of Rail Development Authority is to make informed decisions: MOSR

NEW DELHI: Government has approved formation of a Rail Development Authority (RDA) comprising Chairman and three Members. The objective underlying RDA is to get expert advice/make informed decision on :

(i) Pricing of services commensurate with costs.

(ii) Suggest measures for enhancement of Non Fare Revenue.

(iii) Protection of consumer interests, by ensuring quality of service and cost optimization.

(iv) Promoting competition, efficiency and economy.

(v) Encouraging market development and participation of stakeholders in the rail sector and for ensuring a fair deal to the stakeholders and customers.

(vi) Creating positive environment for investment.

(vii) Promoting efficient allocation of resources in the Sector.

(viii) Benchmarking of service standards against international norms and specify and enforce standards with respect to the quality, continuity and reliability of services provided by them.

(ix) Providing framework for non-discriminatory open access to the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) infrastructure and others in future.

(x) Suggesting measures to absorb new technologies for achieving desired efficiency and performance standards.

(xi) Suggesting measures for human resource development to achieve any of its stated objectives.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 19.07.2017 (Wednesday).

World Bank to draw up a Blueprint for Indian Railways’ Rs.5 lakh Crore makeover

NEW DELHI: The World Bank will help draw up a granular makeover blueprint for the Indian Railways, which is investing Rs 5 lakh crore to transform itself from a colonial-era mass transporter into a strategic platform underpinning growth in Asia’s third-biggest economy.

The multilateral lending agency would partner the 164-year-old railroad network, the world’s fourth longest, to help the state transporter with investment and planning, digitisation and technology development, besides establishing a Railway University and the Rail Tariff Authority.

The bank, which has earlier worked with the Railways for financing the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor Project, will provide advisory services and programme management consultancy for this transformation exercise for 2-3 years.

“We needed this arrangement to build our capacity and deliver projects on a mission mode. World Bank’s expertise would be a great gain,” a top rail ministry official said.

Rail minister Suresh Prabhu has drawn up an ambitious plan to transform Railways with an investment of Rs 5 lakh crore in the next four years. For this year, the Railways would spend Rs 1.31 lakh crore to augment capacity.

On the planning front, the World Bank has proposed to set up an organisation for creating detailed forecasting models, traffic optimization and planning.

“Further, an infrastructure plan for the next 10-15 years, after a detailed analysis on freight and passenger growth expected in India, is also envisaged to be created. The bank would be drawing that up as well,” the official said.

In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India programme, the Railways wants to roll out a ‘digital enterprise’ for which the bank will help integrate architecture and database management across its IT applications.

It would be sensible for Railways to tap multilateral funding. Resources should be leveraged from National Investment and Infrastructure Fund. The way ahead is to plan modular projects, which can generate cash reasonably quickly. IR need to keep a close tab on borrowings, given that operating ratio is in high nineties (over 90% of revenue earmarked for routine expenses). So, resource allocation and prioritising expenditure is important. Hence the rationale to access global expertise for programme management and attendant advisory services. It would optimise resource usage.

NBCC (India) and Rail Land Development Authority signs MoU for redevelopment of 10 Railway Stations

NBCC inks MoU with South Delhi Municipal Corp. to build Rs.525 Crore office building. Expect 30 more station redevelopment projects to come: NBCC

NEW DELHI: NBCC (India) and Rail Development Authority, a statutory authority under the Ministry of Railways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for re-development of 10 nos. of Railway stations i.e. Tirupati, Pudducherry, Eranakulam, Nellore, Madgaon, Thane, Lucknow, Kota, Gomati Nagar (Lucknow) and Sarai Rohilla (Delhi). The re-development of railway station would be integrated with Smart City features.

Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development, Minister of Housing & Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Information & Broadcasting said that the people of the country are looking for new facilities and new changes, they expect transformations to be done expeditiously in all spheres of life. It is a very good idea to develop smart stations along with the smart cities. He said that the PSUs of his ministry will undertake stations redevelopment in a professional way.

Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways said that Indian Railways has taken up this ambitious program of station redevelopment in a big way and have adopted multi pronged strategy to accomplish this mammoth task. He said we have chosen PPP model and are roping in varied agencies to execute the project namely Railways’ own PSUs, other Central Government PSUs, foreign countries through Government to Government cooperation and state governments. He said that once the stations are redeveloped, the passengers will get facilities of world standard. He said that NBCC has now been given 10 stations in first phase for redevelopment and more stations would be given to them in subsequent phases.

RLDA and NBCC shall form a SPV in the form of a JV Company to execute the station redevelopment project. The JV shall redevelop the stations on a self-financing model. NBCC shall use its expertise in preparing DPR of the Project and business model. RLDA shall extend necessary help to NBCC in arranging all requisite data pertaining to the stations and get the vacant land entrusted from Ministry of Railway as per approved master plan of the station. The JV of NBCC and RLDA shall also enter into city support agreement with the respective Smart City Authorities and local bodies to obtain support relating to development of approach infrastructure and favorable Development Control Norms for the project.

Background

Earlier in October 2016, the MoU was entered into between Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Urban Development for mutual cooperation between the two Ministries for integrated planning of redevelopment of railway stations in the cities included in the ‘SMART Cities’ and AMRUT schemes. The proposal was to plan the redevelopment of stations in partnership with the smart city SPVs and Urban Local Bodies so that the planning and redevelopment of the station and the city areas near the station is done in an integrated manner. This MoU between Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Urban Development provided for formation of a JV company between NBCC and RLDA to take up the station redevelopment projects as NBCC has very wide and varied business experience in and expertise in the field of construction & real estate development and RLDA has expertise in monetization of Railway land by way of long term leasing of land.

NBCC is in focus after they signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ministry of railways for redevelopment of ten railway stations.

NBCC (India) rose 2.62% to Rs 207.80 at 11:35 IST on BSE after the company signed a MoU with Rail Development Authority for re-development of 10 railway stations with Smart City features. The announcement was made after market hours on Friday, 30 June 2017.

Meanwhile, the S&P BSE Sensex was up 287.39 points, or 0.93% to 31,209. On the BSE, 1.35 lakh shares were traded in the counter so far, compared with average daily volumes of 1.92 lakh shares in the past one quarter. The stock had hit a high of Rs 209.35 and a low of Rs 203.50 so far during the day. The stock hit a record high of Rs 213.70 on 22 June 2017. The stock hit a 52-week low of Rs 126 on 1 July 2016. The stock had outperformed the market over the past one month till 30 June 2017, rising 4.92% compared with the Sensex’s 0.76% fall. The scrip had also outperformed the market over the past one quarter advancing 17.66% as against the Sensex’s 4.3% rise. The scrip had also outperformed the market over the past one year surging 57.31% as against the Sensex’s 14.53% rise.

The large-cap company has equity capital of Rs 180 crore. Face value per share is Rs 2.

The project would be developed on self sustainable finance model through commercial exploitation of vacant railways land, NBCC (India) said. Commercial built up space having Business Centre, Offices, F&B courts, Restaurants, Hotels, Retails, IT/Ites & air space over tracks shall be leased out to generate funds for development of stations, the company said.

Meanwhile in a separate announcement made during market hours today, 3 July 2017, NBCC (India) said that the company has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Delhi for planning, designing and construction of office building / SDMC headquarters near Pragati Maidan, New Delhi amounting to Rs 525 crore (approximately). In a regulatory filing, NBCC said it has “signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Government of NCT, Delhi for planning, designing and construction of office building/ SDMC headquarter near Pragati Maidan at IP Estate amounting to Rs 525 crore.”

On a consolidated basis, NBCC (India)’s net profit rose 39.03% to Rs 173.97 crore on 4.94% increase in net sales to Rs 2351.78 crore in Q4 March 2017 over Q4 March 2016.

NBCC (India), a blue-chip Government of India (GoI) Navratna enterprise under the Ministry of Urban Development, is present in three segments of operations including project management consultancy (PMC), real estate development and EPC contracting. The GoI held 75% stake in the firm (as per shareholding pattern as on 31 March 2017).

Meanwhile, in an interview, Anoop Kumar Mittal, CMD of NBCC spoke about the MoU and latest happenings in the company. “We have not worked out the actual cost and the quantum of this project but expect project cost for each station to average at Rs 500 crore”, said Mittal.

He expects all ten stations to be ready in three years time. Mittal also expect 30 more station redevelopment projects to come to NBCC. On South Delhi Municipal Corporation project front, he expects the project revenue to reflect from Q3 of FY18.

Railways, NBCC to redevelop 10 Railway stations

NEW DELHI: Rail Land Development Authority today joined hands with National Building Construction Corporation for redevelopment of 10 railway stations across the country on global standards.

The Railways has embarked on an ambitious project to redevelop 403 stations with the participation of private players, public sector and foreign agencies.

The identified stations to be taken up initially by NBCC for redevelopment are Tirupati, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Nellore, Puducherry, Madgaon, Lucknow, Gomtinagar, Kota, Thane (New), and Ernakulam.

An MoU was signed between RLDA, an arm of the Railways for commercial exploitation of rail land, and NBCC, a PSU of urban development ministry for implementation of station redevelopment projects for the 10 identified stations.

Speaking on the occasion, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that the Railways has taken up this programme of station redevelopment in a big way, adopting a multi-pronged strategy to accomplish the mammoth task.

“We have chosen PPP model and are roping in varied agencies to execute the project namely Railways’ own PSUs, other Central government PSUs, foreign countries through government-to-government cooperation and state governments”.

Urban development ministry, which had launched a mega project of developing 100 cities as smart cities, joined the Railways in redeveloping stations as smart stations.

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said “It is a very good idea to develop smart stations along with the smart cities”.

Once the stations are redeveloped, the passengers will get facilities of world standard.

NBCC has now been given 10 stations in first phase for redevelopment and more stations would be given to them in subsequent phases.

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

Earlier in October 2016, an MoU was signed between the ministries of railways and urban development for integrated planning for redevelopment of railway stations in the cities included in the Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT schemes.

CR and WR asked to give Specifications for New AC Rakes to be procured under MURP-III Project

MUMBAI: Borh Western and Central Railways have been asked to deliberate on the required specifications of the new air-conditioned (AC) rakes to be procured under Mumbai Urban Transport project (MUTP) III. The CR and WR have been asked to comment on the required compartmentalisation of rakes for different segments of commuters and other technical details.

Last month, the state and the railways had given an in-principle approval on air-conditioning of the 47 new rakes that will have automatic door closing. Officials said tenders for manufacturing the rakes could only be floated after details on specifications of the rakes were finalised.

In a meeting between the railways, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, the nodal agency for MUTP, and officials from Research Designs and Standard Organisation on Tuesday, the railways were asked for feedback. “We have received an overall consensus on air-conditioning of rakes and automatic door closure from each agency involved. The meeting was aimed at getting their feedback on other technical details. Height of rakes and absence of rooftop ventilation were issues that got immediate feedback,” an MRVC official said.

Officials aim to increase the coaches dedicated to women to three from 2.5 at present, include a separate compartment for vendors and the differently-abled. “As the rakes will have a vestibule design, compartmentalisation was an issue that will need deliberation. We asked their comments on the absence of a first or second class coach in the respective type of design. Comments on emulating the metro model of seating arrangement were also sought,” the official said.

Other technical details for the design of motor cabin coach and power coaches were also discussed. “As the deadline to finalise the specifications is July-end, we would require to submit Mumbai division’s comments to the Railway Board at the earliest. We are also expecting an official approval for air-conditioning of the rakes at the earliest,” a senior MRVC official said. Ravinder Bhakar, Chief Public Relations Officer, WR, said: “We will conduct more meetings with other departments to our give feedback.”

Train diversion plan

In an attempt to decongest Kalyan railway junction, the CR has proposed to divert few trains towards Ulhasnagar before Kalyan station after the plan of re-modelling Kalyan station yard is through. It will relieve the bottle-neck due to simultaneous halts of mail-express and suburban trains. “The plan is to divert few trains in the south-east section without waiting for longer at Kalyan,” Ravinder Goyal, Divisional Railway Manager, CR, said.

Rail Regulator to define Performance Standards – To provide guidance on Quantity & Quality of Service

NEW DELHI: India’s first rail regulator, Rail Development Authority (RDA), would not just look at tariff structures for passenger and freight operations but also set standards of performance and efficiency that would be enforceable under the Railways Act.

“RDA can define standards of performance and efficiency; such standards would be notified as rules under the Railway Act to give a binding force upon acceptance,” said a resolution dated May 5 approved by the Railways Board, inching a step closer toward setting up a rail regulator.

The regulator will set “standards for efficiency and performance for consumer satisfaction in both passenger and freight” and will also be “authorised to check for deviations and suggest remedial measures.”

“The regulator will provide guidance on quantity and quality of service provided to passengers. These may include setting standards including hours of service, frequency of trains, capacity per coach, cleanliness level, and quality of water, food, furnishing and linen,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The Union Cabinet had last month approved setting up the rail regulator responsible for recommending passenger fares, setting performance standards for rail operations and creating a level playing policy for private sector participation.

The resolution states that the regulator will be mandated to “suggest measures for absorbing new technologies for achieving desired efficiency and performance standards.”

Regulator’s structure

The Railway Board also defined the structure of the RDA with a Chairman along with three members each for tariff, public private partnership and efficiency, standards and benchmarking.

The regulator will, however, not involve itself in policy making of the Indian Railways, operations and maintenance of the rail system, financial management, setting technical standards and compliance of safety standards, the resolution said.

It clarified that the regulator would only make recommendations on tariff and not impose a tariff on the Indian Railways.

Minister of Railways inaugurates Two Day Global Technology Conference at New Delhi

Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu addresses at inauguration of Global Technology Conference in New Delhi on May 3, 2017

NEW DELHI: Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurated the two day Global Technology Conference for Leveraging World Class Technology (International Conference on Development & Adaptation of Advance Technology for Railways) here today.

Chairman, Railway Board, A.K.Mital and other Railway Board Members, DG Research Design & Standards Organization (RDSO) and GM Northern Railway Shri R. K. Kulshreshta and senior officials were also present on the occasion.

Research Design & Standards Organization (RDSO) is the nodal organization for this Conference, supported by Ministry of Railways and by Institute of Rolling Stock Engineers (IRSE) and Institution of Railway Signal & Telecommunication Engineers (IRSTE). The Conference is focusing on critical areas of Indian Railways – Reliability, Safety and Customer Service.

Speaking on the occasion, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that Railways are evolving and getting modernised all over the world. Indian Railways also need to evolve as per the technological advancement across the world. Earlier, the budget of Railways was not as per the need of Railways, in past 3 years, Railways investments have been stepped up. The Railways investment shall be increased in coming decade. The need for technological advancement is an imperative. Railways investment shall lead to spin off benefits to other sectors. India is a big market for the Global suppliers of technology at the same time it is important to understand that Make in India is one part and Develop in India is another. The focus is to co develop technology in India. India will then become the hub of technology. Railways is looking for co operation from the Global suppliers of technology and would welcome their solution if they are feasible and cost effective in Indian context.

In keeping with the unremitting agenda of the Indian Railways to augment the pace of its operational improvements through enhancing its pace of modernized technological adaptations, the Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO) of the Indian Railways is holding a two-day Global Technology Conference on 3rd & 4th May 2017 at New Delhi. The Technical Engineering Institutes of the Indian Railways viz. Institute of Rolling Stock Engineers (IRSE) and the Institution of Signal and Telecommunications Engineers (IRSTE) are the nodal bodies liaising and organizing this Conference.

With four lead thrust areas viz. Safety, Reliability, capacity enhancement and customer service, the Global Technological Conference envisages bringing in new perspectives and insights in planning for future rail transportation growth in the country and for assessing contemporary global technologies relevant to adoption on IR. The Conference is featuring technical sessions, technical presentations, and table-top exhibits, besides wide opportunities for several industries networking too.

Besides the knowledge takeaways, it is envisaged that the Conference would enable the emergence of a multi-disciplinary logistics interface and eco-systems that would enable the Indian Railways to deliver new levels of value along with modernization. Several experts from rail transportation development and allied technological industries, academia and research fraternity across the world are slated to deliver presentations and interact with experts of Indian Railways (IR)  for identification of appropriate cutting edge technologies and systems available worldwide for adaptation and deployment on IR and Public Sector Units of the IR.

The broad themes of the Conference are:
1.      Enhanced Safety
2.      Reduced In-service failures and automated Health monitoring & Inspection
3.      Capacity Enhancement and Congestion reduction
4.      Enhanced Customer Service

The RDSO has launched a dedicated conference website www.gtcir.in for disseminating information and facilitating registration of participants. The brief details are also available on a conference booklet on this website.

The Conference topics relating to the above themes on which on Indian and Foreign speakers shall be presenting are given below. More than 50 speakers are slated to hold presentations on the under-mentioned technical topics:-
●       Rail Fracture Detection System and Residual Stress Measurement of Rails
●       Automated System of NDT of Rails
●       Latest Technology for Track Formation Rehabilitation
●       Improved AT & FB Welding Techniques
●       Track Monitoring  System
●       Bridge Health Monitoring
●       Latest Methodology of Bridge Inspection (Under-Water Inspection of Bridges)
●       Online monitoring of OHE
●       Permanent Magnet Traction Motors
●       SiC Device based Traction Converters
●       Latest technology for improving Housekeeping on Trains and
●       Adoption of latest Methodology of Rolling Stock Testing
●       On Board & Wayside Condition Monitoring of Rolling Stock
●       Use of Tilting Trains and Modern Coaches
●       Latest Design Wagons
●       Fog Vision System
●       DPWCS-For Interoperability, Operational flexibility and Push-Pull operation of trains
●       Latest tools and trends in use of Data Analytics for Enhancing Safety
●       IoT for enhancement of Reliability and Safety
●       Improvement in Reliability of Signalling System
●       Continuous Automatic Train Control with Moving Block
●       Centralized Traffic Control
●       Wi-Fi on Trains, including Infotainment
●       Latest technology for Passenger Guidance at Stations and Trains
●       Latest technology for enhancing Security on Trains and at Stations
●       Train protection and warning system
●       Energy efficiency in Traction system

Brief Details are also available on the dedicated conference website www.gtcir.in

Emission standards soon for Railways – RDSO finalises draft norms for Diesel Locos

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways will soon come under emission standards, with the Engine Development Directorate of the Research Designs and Standards Organisation drawing up the draft norms for diesel locos.

The report has been made public by the Central Pollution Control Board.

Standards & protocols

The interim report – Exhaust Emission Benchmarks for Diesel Locomotives on Indian Railways – attempts to set standards and protocols for the sector to achieve the targets submitted by India under the Paris climate change agreement.

Under the Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by the country, the Indian Railways will save 3.33 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020 (80 per cent over the period 2011-12 to 2020-21) and has an energy target of saving 4.05 billion kWh by 2020.

Further, the share of Railways in total land-based transportation will be increased from 36 per cent to 45 per cent, considering the transport mode’s relatively high-energy efficiency.

CO2 emissions

The emission burden from the transport sector as a whole has risen 3.5 times since 1990 to stand at 250 million tonne CO2, or 13.5 per cent of the total emissions in 2013.

The Railways contributed 9.7 per cent of this figure (24.7 million tonne). Globally, however, only 3.5 per cent of the emissions from the transport sector are attributed to the rail sector.

“The changes in the energy sources allowed for a reduction of the share of rail transport CO2 emissions from 24 per cent in 1990 to less than 10 per cent in 2013, while rail activity doubled in the same period,” the draft report by CPCB said.

Incidentally, the railway sector in India was hitherto exempt from environmental clearances and environmental impact assessment. Consequently, the sector has remained largely unregulated in terms of measurement of emissions, leading to relatively low historical data.

3-stage tests

The proposed emission standards for the sector have two separate criteria – for EMD type HHP diesel locomotives and ALCO diesel locomotives – and would require conformance at three stages: certification, production line test and in-use test.

The report proposes to “define a compliance protocol based on the practice being followed by US railroads for diesel locomotive exhaust emissions” due to the experience in the sector.

For the over 2,000 EMD type HHP diesel locomotives, the emission standards are more lenient than those for the 3,378 ALCO diesel locomotives in the country.

Global Tech Conference: 52 Global firms to showcase expertise in Safety, Monitoring, Congestion reduction among others

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways which is trying to leverage technology to shore up its fortunes is now looking for external assistance for its drive. The national carrier’s research wing–the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) which has the mandate to develop in-house technology—is now scouting for off-the-shelf technologies from countries such as Russia, Germany, US, Italy, Japan and Spain.

As part of this strategy, Indian Railways has organized a two days ‘Global Technology Conference’ starting Wednesday, where 52 global experts from state-owned and private firms are showcasing their expertise in areas such as safety, monitoring, congestion reduction and customer service.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Shailendra Jaiswal, executive director (efficiency and research) in Railway Board said, “We wish to seek ready to use technology for Indian Railways through this conference that can be adapted quickly.”

This comes in the backdrop of Indian Railways trying to improve its freight and passenger revenue. An increase in speed will help the carrier reduce congestion on its networks, which in turn will help improve revenue from freight and passenger traffic. However, this raises safety concerns given the abysmal record of the national carrier.

RDSO is the sole research and development organization of Indian Railways and functions as the technical advisor, employing around 350 design engineers. RDSO is headed by the director general and has 32 executive directors in-charge. It is responsible for development of new and improved designs, development, adoption, absorption of new technology for use in Indian Railways, development of standards for materials and products and technical investigation, testing and consultancy services.

On the question of what technology India will showcase in this global technology conference, RDSO chief R.K. Kulshrestha said, “We are the organizers; however a presentation by RDSO will be in the form of an audio-visual describing a train collision avoidance system (TCAS) on which RDSO has been working for over four years, with field trials still going on, apart from various other initiatives Indian Railways has undertaken in the recent past to improve the Railway system. The official added, “The focus will be on technologies to reduce accidents, increase speed, anti-fog devices, etc.”

Rail Regulator to de-stress Indian Railways: Siemens India EVP Tilak Raj Seth

NEW DELHI: At a time when Indian railways is in a transformational phase through the introduction of high-speed trains, rapid electrification, doubling and the introduction of metro in multiple cities, Tilak Raj Seth, Executive Vice-President of Siemens Ltd in India speaks about the future of the sector in India. He also shares the German conglomerate’s growth roadmap in the country, covering various segments like electrification, automation and digitalisation. Edited excerpts:

Once the Rail Development Authority is in place, do you think there will be greater clarity as far as pricing and infrastructural projects of Indian railways are concerned?

We know that rail development authority will certainly contribute to easing some of the pressure that the rail sector has, and one such pressure point is that railways have a dual role of commercial enterprise as well as social responsibility. In this dual role, sometimes, one has to make compromises. When the railway development authority is in place, railways will also be a little bit de-stressed.

In fact, on March-end, railways’ revenue earnings were more as compared to the previous year, which was possible because of the discount scheme. The dynamic pricing, discounting helped to increase freight beyond one billion tonnes and also higher passenger revenue. Overall, the total revenue was more than the previous year. So, market prudence helps.

Over a few years, semi-high speed has been the focus. From your point of view, with the current infrastructure, how realistic will it be for a country like India that has very old tracks and bridges to think about a semi-high-speed route?

First of all we should understand that when the rail infrastructure was getting created the world over, it was also getting created in India at the same time. We did not lag behind in terms of the beginning of the rail infrastructure. Where, we have lagged is, over the last 5-7 decades over a country like China. China, in 1950, had 22,000 kilometres and today, they have 1,21,000 kilometres. Whereas India, in 1950, had 54,000 kilometres of rail network and in 2015, we had 66,030 kilometres. You see how much we added. Today if we are nearly 67,000-plus kilometres, it is not a small number. So, whatever we want to do, we must utilise this infrastructure. Of course, this infrastructure can’t always be used for high speed, but certainly semi-high speed. Another item that we say of course, that your high-speed corridors, your semi-high speed, the operation must be inter-operable. That means the network must be inter-operable. Very, very high-speed train should be able to pass through existing infrastructure, at naturally lower speeds but at the order of the semi-high speed.

Coming to the Siemens mobility business, as far as Indian market is concerned, what are your expectations?

We operate in all the elements of mobility and transport business now and one of them is mainline. We are everywhere in terms of propulsion equipment for locomotives, EMUs, mainline signalling, electronic interlocking, electrification components and we are very happy that Indian Railways is regularly upgrading and strengthening its network, and its rolling stock. Railways also has ambitious plans of adding more EMUs: the Kanchrapara project, and the DFCC (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation). So that’s the main line. Regarding the metros, again, we are present in everywhere. We recently got an award for the signalling and electrification of Nagpur Metro, and we are practically there in every major city. We are doing 50 per cent of Delhi Phase III, Calcutta, Chennai, Greater Noida and of course we are participating in the next bid phase of various other projects. We are also doing signalling for, as mentioned Nagpur, but also for Chennai and also one of the lines in Delhi.

India has a huge potential of Rs 8.5 lakh crore investment coming in. What are your investment plans for the country?

We are regularly investing because there are 23 factories. I don’t think that there are many people who can claim 23 factories. We are continuously investing and expanding our footprint as required in the marketplace.

You compared India to China. You were involved in the Maglev Project in China. What is your take on Maglev technology set to be introduced in India?

The Maglev technology belongs to Trans Rapid, which is a company owned by the Siemens-ThyssenKrupp group. We feel that the speed of 350 km per hour (kmph) can be managed best by rail wheel high-speed (conventional) since greater speed does not give any time advantage for rail-wheel. For, higher speed one can turn to the aviation industry. We feel that 350 kmph is the limit. While we know that the Maglev can go beyond 350 kmph, it can never reach the speed achieved by aviation. To have a speed of 400-500 kmph doesn’t really make any sense.

High Level Delegation of Indian Railways visits BHEL, Bhopal

BHOPAL: A High Level Delegation of Indian Railways led by Member (Traction) – Railway Board Ghanshyam Singh visited BHEL Bhopal on Sunday.

He was accompanied by CEE (WCR) Manju Gupta, ED (RDSO) Bhopal SK Sinha, Director (Railway Board) AK Goswami and other officers of West Central Railway (WCR) Division.

Member (Traction) along with DK Thakur, ED – Bhopal visited the Manufacturing facilities of Traction Motors, Transformers and Coil and Insulation.

He appreciated the state of art manufacturing facilities established to cater the requirements of Railways  by BHEL and gave valuable suggestions for up-gradation of existing products followed by comprehensive testing including equipments for 9000 HP Loco.

He emphasized that BHEL should aim for zero defect and also strengthen the service setups.

General Manager (Transportation) AK Varshney made a presentation of the New Products developed by BHEL and New Products under   Developments by BHEL.

He also briefed about the manufacturing capacity and Capability of BHEL in the field of Traction Motors, Alternators and Controls etc.

BHEL is expecting Orders for large quantity of Motors from CLW and DMW and this visit would provide impetus for meeting the requirements of Indian Railways by BHEL.

ED BHEL Bhopal DK Thakur assured that BHEL would ensure supply of products which are trouble free and meet the delivery commitment given to Customer.

The meeting was attended by General Managers Sanjeev Gupta, M Halder and AK Das and other senior officials of the BHEL.

Can the Railway Development Authority exercise Statutory Powers or remain an Advisory Body?

If one considers a critical infrastructure sector populated by multiple service providers from the private and/or the public sector, one can see the need for a state regulator to set broad policy directions, oversee performance, regulate pricing and generally look after public interest. As things stand, the Rail Development Authority does not have statutory powers. This means it will remain an Advisory Body and can only recommend changes to the existing tariff, while the ministry will still take the final call.

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet earlier this week cleared what is perhaps the biggest reform for the Indian Railways when it approved the creation of an independent regulator – Railway Development Authority (RDA) – that will among other things determine tariffs.

Politics has often come in the way of fare hikes, and train ticket prices for long have been out of sync with other modes of transport. With the Railways losing Rs 30,000 crore a year on average in the passenger segments – which accounts for 30 percent of its revenue – setting up a regulator that can operate free of political interference was seen as a welcome step for modernisation and improving safety standards.

“The authority would be free to recommend fares and freight rates,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said after the proposal was cleared.

He added the regulator would rationalise the entire fare structure and keep rationalising fare as per market demand.

But there is a catch.

As things stand, the regulator does not have statutory powers. This means it will remain an advisory body and can only recommend changes to the existing tariff. It will make its suggestions on a quarterly basis or ahead of the Budget, but the ministry will still take the final call.

A Railway Board member told that a legislation to grant the RDA regulatory powers may not be tabled in Parliament this year. However, an executive order could still be passed to allow regulator to take decisions.

The Board member said a clear process will be evolved over time.

The Railways expects the RDA to functional by August 1. It will have a chairman and three other members, who need not be from the Railways. The RDA is also allowed to consult external experts.

The proposal to set up a regulator was 16 years in the making. It was first proposed in 2001 but remained in cold storage for several years. The Railway Ministry under Dinesh Trivedi proposed setting up a tariff regulator in 2012, but no progress was made as he was forced to resign after announcing a fare hike in his Budget that year, which was later rolled back.

In 2014, the National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) Report proposed a Railway Tariff Authority with a mandate to become the overall regulator of the sector.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu in his rail budget speech for 2015-16 had said for “orderly development of infrastructure services, enabling competition and protection of customer interest, it is important to have a regulation mechanism independent of the service provider.”

And later, the Bibek Debroy Committee report made similar recommendations to grant the body overarching functions. However, the Cabinet order earlier this week does not grant the RDA these powers.

Setting up of Rail Development Authority may lead to more Orders: Titagarh Wagons

Railway related companies are buzzing in trade today after the government approved setting up of Rail Development Authority.

Railway related companies are buzzing in trade today after the government approved setting up of Rail Development Authority.

In an interview, Umesh Chowdhary, VC & MD of Titagarh Wagons said that he is still to understand the details of Rail Development Authority.

However, “With this independent regulatory authority or rail development authority coming in, I presume that the business of the rail operators, the third party logistic operators on rail will increase and will be much better and that would directly mean more wagon orders,” said Chowdhary.

He said, so far the railways have concentrated on creating capacity and now the focus should be on utilising that capacity. Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview.

Q: Eventually how would you be a potential beneficiary because this particular Rail Development Authority (RDA) is going to focus on regulation of tariffs which eventually would improve the financials and hopefully there would be more wagon orders for you all. What is your thought?

A: We have not been able to understand exactly the details of what this Rail Development Authority will do but we understand is that it is basically the regulator that has been spoken to by every government or every ministry in the last almost 17 years and if you know that Rakesh Mohan Committee in 2001 had actually recommended that there needs to be a regulator for allowing open access, for setting up of the tariffs, for reducing the cross-subsidisation, for making the freight loading more market oriented rather than regulation oriented and that is what this RDA is supposed to do.

Therefore, if my assumption is correct then this is going to be a game changer for the railways because I have always been saying that the railways have concentrated in the last two-two and a half years fantastically in creating capacity and now the focus needs to be in utilising capacity.

Utilising capacity by railways themselves is not going to be feasible enough; they need to have private participation and for that there needs to be an independent level playing field. So, if you really put all the entire pieces of the puzzle together, it is going to be very interesting thing and something that the industry has been waiting for 17 years.

Q: How does it link back to you as a company, I mean to wagon ordering, tendering etc.

A: It is actually directly linking to us because in Titagarh itself, in our best period we had between 2007 and 2010-2011 almost 60-70 percent of our total wagon orders were coming from private sector. That had completely dried down because railways on one side a facility provider or infrastructure provider to the private operators and we know the conditions of these container train operators that they had to go through so much of issues and on the other side they were also competitors.

So, with this independent regulatory authority or rail development authority coming in, I presume that the business of the rail operators, the third party logistic operators on rail will increase and will be much better and that would directly mean more wagon orders.

Q: Right now how much is yours total order book, how much is from the railways because last time we spoke to you I think the total order book was Rs 2,700 and railways was only around Rs 100 crore?

A: That is absolutely right; the order book really doesn’t change too much. In January what we had announced, I can’t give you the update but based on the last announced order book it was around Rs 2,700-3,000 crore but bulk of it was coming from the passengers segment, from the overseas subsidiaries etc, and Indian railway orders were not very large. So we were expecting that on one side the Indian railways will start buying wagons but what will happen with this RDA is that the private sector buying will improve a lot.

RDA to enable Railways garner more Money to spend on Safety and Capex

Indian Railways have to get back in the high value freight game and charge halfway rational prices for passenger services, and stop wasting whatever resources they have if they are to survive. Hope RDA shall emerge as the biggest game changer. However, it should not be forgotten for a dispensation that promised ‘minimum government and maximum governance’; more government and more confusion in governance should not arise at any cost!

NEW DELHI: One of the biggest reforms in the history of Indian Railways was on Wednesday quietly cleared by the Cabinet to create an independent railway regulator called Rail Development Authority (RDA), with an initial corpus of Rs 50 crore.

The need for a regulatory authority has been long felt and was first proposed by the Rakesh Mohan Committee in 2001. But the credit for implementing it has to be given to the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who was willing to release the Railways from political shackles.

Prabhu had earlier let go of the privilege of announcing a railway budget in Parliament by asking the finance minister to merge it with the regular budget, and now he has taken the politics out of deciding rail fares.

The reason for the pathetic state of the Railways is that it does not have the money to spend on safety and upgradation. This is because fares for the passenger segment have been increased just twice in the past decade-and-a-half. Passenger traffic accounts for nearly 30 percent of the revenue but absorbs a large portion of the expenses.

In order to cross-subsidise passenger fares, the Railways ended up charging extra for commercial freight. This resulted in freight traffic moving away from Railways to roadways. The only way the catch-22 situation could be avoided was to increase passenger fares. This was a tricky subject and one that is considered a political hot potato. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee made her party colleague Dinesh Trivedi resign from the post of Railway Minister when he increased passenger fares.

However, the present government decided to use the route which it had implemented in the oil sector. Earlier, the government used to set prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene, LPG and aviation fuel. But within months of taking office, the Narendra Modi government freed control on these prices and allowed market forces to decide the price. All increases and decreases in prices from thereon in were decided by oil refiners and the matter was out of the political purview.

In a similar move, the Railways have passed on the decision-making on fares to the RDA. Apart from fixing tariff, RDA will also be responsible for protecting consumer interests, enhancing non-fare revenue, promoting private sector participation, suggesting measures for absorption of new technologies and developing human resource. The RDA will be an independent body with a separate budget.

The Railways under Prabhu has created new records. In FY17 it has touched a record revenue at Rs 1.68 lakh crore, with passenger revenue contributing Rs 48,000 crore and freight at Rs 1.09 lakh crore. Railways hauled a record 1.107 billion tonnes of goods despite losing 20 million tonnes in coal due to low demand.

What is creditable is that the above revenue has been achieved with an operating ratio of 95 percent as compared to 94 percent last year. Though this numbers look bad, it needs to be pointed out that the above numbers have been achieved absorbing higher employee costs on account of implementation of the seventh Pay Commission. Retirement benefits comprise nearly one-third of total expense for Railways.

The only way to reduce the impact of high employee cost was to increase revenue and this could only be done in the freight segment. Recognising this, Prabhu reduced tariff rates for commercial freight and realigned commodity rates. This resulted in a sharp jump in commercial freight in the last quarter. This year, freight numbers are expected to be much better.

While the banking system is flush with funds, the Railways has been crying out for more. As compared to an average historic expenditure of Rs 30,000 crore, Prabhu has been spending Rs 1 lakh crore and the only thing preventing him from spending more is a lack of funds and not ideas.

By giving Railways the freedom to fix fares, it will now be able to garner more money to spend on much-needed safety measures and capital expenditure. Prabhu has presented an Rs 8.56 lakh crore five-year capital expenditure plan to the government. By freeing the political control on fares, the government has given him a new canvas on which to paint.

This should be positive for companies catering to Railways like Texmaco Rail, BEML, Titagarh Wagons, Simplex Casting, Kernex Micro and Stone India in the medium to long term.

However, if one considers a critical infrastructure sector populated by multiple service providers from the private and/or the public sector, it can be seen the need for a state regulator to set broad policy directions, oversee performance, regulate pricing and generally look after public interest.

The telecom sector, as it has evolved in India, comes immediately to mind in this context, but a state monopoly like IR does not. Let’s reiterate the obvious, because it appears to have been forgotten: IR is owned and operated by the Government of India and regulated by a ministry headed by a minister of cabinet rank. The system is huge and complex and one more advisory body to ‘recommend’ pricing policy and set performance benchmarks appears redundant at best. And if the powers-that-be are visualising a Thatcherite transformation of IR, a very different sort of regulator will be called for and the proposed RDA would be grossly inadequate.

The functioning of IR has been governed by a fundamental contradiction – the need to be a ‘commercially viable’ provider of transport services, and simultaneously bear the burden of ‘social costs’ in the form of subsidised ‘below cost’ passenger fares and financially unviable but politically ‘required’ investments in new lines and other infrastructure.

Short-term political compulsions have always won the day, and the natural result has been a distorted fare and freight structure, gross undercapitalisation, inadequate capacity creation and a stressed system in danger of being marginalised in the economically most significant area of its functioning – the movement of freight over long distances, especially high value freight traffic.

The problem has been and remains fundamentally one of policy being determined by populist politics, where short-term political gains outweigh the requirements of long-term development of a viable transport infrastructure.

The spectre of global warming only adds to the pressing need for a strong high capacity rail network for long distance haulage of people and goods, and road for short distance movements.

Furthermore, transport networks have to be geared to actual traffic requirements, not to the requirements of constituency building.

The problem of the Railways being a milch cow for a short sighted and needy political establishment is not a new one, and therein lies the tragedy.

Over decades, limited resources, wasteful use of a great deal of available resources, unviable passenger fares, distorted freight rates, inadequate financial support from governments and political establishments that expect ‘expedient’ pricing but are not prepared to pay for it, and the resulting resource crunch have become a vicious circle that has crippled railway finances.

Spreading resources thin – also politically motivated – aggravates the impact of resource scarcity and negatively affects returns on investment, where these are otherwise positive. Market borrowings are no solution either, as loans are at market rates but rail pricing is not, and no amount of rational advice from a regulator – assuming such advice is at all forthcoming – can overcome the ultimately political determination of pricing and investment decisions.

A quick look at IR revenues is revealing – approximately 92% of revenue comes from freight (65.6%) and passenger (26.1%) traffic, but public pronouncements dismiss the declining trend in incremental freight loading, and talk about new sources of revenue like monetising land resources.

Exploiting railway land has been on the agenda for years, but there has been little to show for it, despite all the brave words. When we remember that railway revenues are in the neighborhood of Rs 1.6 lakh crore (INR 1,57,071 crore in 2014-15), any new source of revenue will have to show very large numbers to make a serious contribution to IR finances. And that hasn’t happened yet. The railways have to focus on their basics – everything else can, at best, be the cherry on the cake.

One response to harsh realities is to hide one’s head in the sand and descend into dreamland, but that doesn’t help when the lion is coming at you. The railways have to get back in the high value freight game and charge halfway rational prices for passenger services, and stop wasting whatever resources they have if they are to survive.

The problems facing IR are critical, and an ‘advisory’ regulator, while certainly creating additional posts and perhaps providing more high level post-retirement employment opportunities for superannuating bureaucrats, will do little to help the railways dig themselves out of the black hole they are descending into.

Biggest Reform: Cabinet approves setting up of Rail Development Authority

New Rail Regulator to decide on tariff, ease investment process, draw future roadmap of Indian Railways with an eye on Policy, Projects, Planning and Polity aspects.

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Wednesday initiated a major reform by approving the setting up of a regulator called the Rail Development Authority (RDA). Sources said the ministry of railways would issue a notification in this regard within a week and a search-and-selection committee would be convened soon.

Setting up of RDA is one of the biggest reform in the rail sector. The move of the Government will improve the services offered to passengers, provide comfort to investors in Rail sector and will enhance transparency and accountability.

The need of having a Rail Regulator has been emphasised by various Committees for past many years since 2001. This includes Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. Rakesh Mohan in 2001, the National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) in 2014 and Dr. Bibek Debroy’s Committee in 2015.

In the Railway Budget 2015-16, Union Minister for Railways had announced that for the purpose of orderly development of infrastructure enabling competition and protection of customer interest, it is important to have a regulation mechanism independent of the service provider. Further, it was proposed to set up a mechanism for making regulations, setting performance standards and determining tariff.

As a demonstration of true participative governance, Ministry of Railways had prepared a Concept Paper of rail regulator named Rail Development Authority of India (RDA) in December 2015 and sought comments from all industry and passenger bodies. It was also put on Indian Railways website for comments from general public. The comments received were analyzed and subsequently Cabinet Note was finalised after inter ministerial consultation.

Cabinet’s approval of proposal of Ministry of Railways for setting up a Rail Development Authority (RDA) as an independent regulatory body in New Delhi through an Executive Order of the Central Government represents one of the biggest policy reform in Railway sector.

RDA will help Government to take appropriate decisions on pricing of services commensurate with costs, suggest measures for enhancement of non-fare revenue, protection of consumer interests, promote competition, encourage market development, create positive environment for investment, promote efficient resource allocation, benchmarking of service standards, suggest measures for absorption of new technologies and human resource development and provide framework for non-discriminatory open access to the Dedicated Freight Corridor infrastructure.

The RDA will act within the parameters of the Railway Act, 1989 and undertake the following broad functions:

  • Tariff determination – Framing principles, recommendations of tariff setting, principles for classification of commodities, framing principles for social service obligation and guidelines for track access charge.
  • Ensuring fair play and level playing field for stakeholder investment in Railways – Propose modifications and send suggestions/Advisory Notes on reference made by Ministry of Railways, make suggestions regarding policies for private investment, to ensure reasonable safeguards to PPP investors and to resolve dispute regarding future Concession Agreements.
  • Setting efficiency and performance standards.
  • Dissemination of information – Global best practices and benchmarking.

The Authority will have a Chairman and 3 Members and can engage experts from relevant areas. The Chairman and the Members of RDA will have term of five years. An initial corpus of Rs.50 (fifty) crores will be provided for setting up the organization.

The RDA will be an independent body with separate budget. The independence is ensured through separate budget, appointment and removal process. The appointment of the Chairman and Members will be done by the Central Government from the panel of names recommended by the Search and Selection Committee consisting of Cabinet Secretary as Chairman, Chairman Railway Board, Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training, and Chairman of any Regulatory Body of Central Government nominated by Cabinet Secretary.

The Chairman and Members will have tenure of five years and can be removed by the Central Government on certain grounds like insolvency, conviction, misbehaviour, physical and mental incapability etc.

RDSO successfully completes Oscillation Trials for Lucknow Metro

LUCKNOW: RDSO (Research Design and Standards Organisation) announced to have successfully completed oscillation trials for Lucknow Metro on March 9, 2017. These trials were completed ahead of scheduled date of completion of trials which was scheduled till March 21 including the holidays of Holi and Mahashivaratri.

As per existing procedure for approval of opening of a metro, approval of railway ministry is required based on successful completion of oscillation trials by RDSO and subsequent safety inspection by the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety. Lucknow Metro officials said that metro train in Lucknow can be open for public use only after railway safety commissioner gives his nod to it. “His approval will depend on RDSO’s certificate obtained after from reports of testing and also largely on his own inspection during full speed trials”, they said.

These tests were conducted at design speed of trains which is 90 km per hour. The test was conducted with empty trains without any passenger load and with passenger load equivalent to crush loading of 8 passengers per square meter. To simulate passenger load, huge numbers of sand bags equivalent to about 80 tones per train were loaded in train.

During the oscillation test different parameters for safe running of trains including behavior of bogie on curve, braking characteristics were tested. Different mechanical parameters to test comfortable ride were also examined by the RDSO during trials.

Earlier RDSO has given design approval of metro trains while giving speed certificate to conduct oscillation trials up to 90 km per hour. After completion of trials on line, test results are cross examined by RDSO before forwarding it to the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS).

Officials said, “Complete test reports along with detailed safety examination report based on separately conducted inspection on site by CMRS are then forwarded to Ministry of Railway for approval.”

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.

Centre may opt Legislative route on Rail Development Authority

NEW DELHI: The government is likely to adopt the legislative route to set up an independent Rail Development Authority (RDA) that will be responsible for fixing passenger fares and freight charges, among many other things.

Although the Indian Railways wanted RDA to be set up through an executive order, the NITI Aayog had pitched for legislative route to ensure independence of the authority.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to sources, has given his consent for a legislation-backed RDA on the lines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

“A joint presentation by NITI Aayog and Railways were made before the Prime Minister and the PM expressed satisfaction,” he said.

Besides, fixing the fare and freight and fare charges, the authority would also be responsible for protecting the interest of consumers, ensuring quality of service, promoting competition, encouraging market development, efficient allocation of resources, provide non-discriminatory open access specially on DFC and to benchmark service levels for ensuring quality, continuity and reliability of service.

RDA may be also entrusted with the task of regulating private investment in railways and resolving commercial disputes.

National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) Report of 2014 had recommended that a Rail Tariff Authority should be set up which should become the overall regulator.

Later Bibek Debroy Committee Report had also recommended a regulator with overarching functions.

Many of the countries like the UK, Russia, the US, Australia and Germany have regulatory structure in some form or the other.

Lucknow Metro gets Maximum Speed Certificate of 90 Kmph

LUCKNOW: Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) achieved significant milestone by getting the speed certificate from RDSO after going through the detailed design of Lucknow Metro train on February 14. With this speed certificate metro can conduct the trial of trains at maximum designed speed of 90 kmph on the priority section on Kanpur Road.

LMRC managing director, Kumar Keshav has assured earlier that he would try to get speed certificate from RDSO in early February to be able to run commercial operation of train by March 26, 2017. His team followed the orders and achieved certificate from RDSO within deadline.

In continuation with the ongoing trials, metro train on February 14 ran in the morning at 11:30 am at a higher speed of 60 kmph from Transport Nagar to Mawaiya metro station. The train had run all the day with all safety parameters being successfully evaluated and achieved during this high speed trial, said LMRC officials.

LMRC said that few of prerequisite tests of train have already been completed at test-track and ramp within depot. “All efforts are being made by LMRC to complete the testing and commissioning of trains within the time-frame”, said officials. The state government has instructed LMRC to begin commercial operation of metro from March 26, 2017.

A metro train goes through different types of testing before beginning its actual passengers’ operations. It would also have to go through load tests where artificial loads equivalent to crush loading of 8 passengers per square meters would be put on train. To achieve this, huge number of sand bags would be used in the train.

LMRC said that European experts are continuously monitoring the systems and trains and ensuring best technical support to the metro’s technical team. “LMRC is taking all initiative to ensure that the metro train is ready for public operation by the end of the March, 2017”, it added.

Railways to induct 8 wheeled New Diesel Electric OHE Inspection and Maintenance Cars

NEW DELHI: With a view to take inspection of electrical over head equipment to a more modern level for ensuring safe rail operation, Indian Railways has decided to introduce 8 Wheeled Diesel Electric Over Head Equipment (OHE) inspection and maintenance Car on Railway Network. With the introduction of these OHE maintenance and inspection cars, the reliability and safety of OHE equipment on Indian Railway will be increased.

Research Design Standard Organisation (RDSO), the research arm of Ministry of Railways has already finalized the specifications for the prototype of these cars. Under the first phase, Indian Railways will be procuring 45 nos. 8-Wheeler OHE Inspection & Maintenance Cars for operation on Broad Gauge electrified routes on 25kV AC.

The Ministry of Railway has already placed contract with two firms namely M/s Bharat Earth Movers Limited, Bangalore and M/s Phooltas Transrail Limited, Patna for submitting designs.

This inspection car is a self-propelled vehicle and is used not only for periodical inspection, patrolling and maintenance of traction overhead equipment (OHE) but also used for attending to sites of breakdown, restoration and damaged OHE. These are specially used during night for electric current collection tests in order to ascertain the safe contact between pantograph of electric locomotive and contact wire of the OHE. The 8-W Inspection & Maintenance OHE Car uses the power generated by the diesel alternator set provided in the OHE car for propulsion. It has maximum operating speed of 110km/hour.

The Diesel Electric type OHE cars are being procured as per latest specification of Research Design Standard Organisation (RDSO) for which design is to be done by firms, and finally approved by RDSO. The design of these vehicles is likely to be approved by RDSO by March 2017 and prototype shall be approved by November 2017. Thereafter supplies of these OHE cars will start from February 2018 and is likely to be completed by June 2019, In Phase – II another tender for 53 nos. of such vehicles (8-W DETC) is also under finalisation and the contract shall be awarded soon.

Driverless Train sets may be a reality in Kolkata Metro Rail post 2018

KOLKATA: Driverless Metro trains may soon be a reality in Kolkata, Indian Railways Director Yatish Kumar said here on Saturday.

“Driverless trains based on Grade of Automation 3 (GoA 3) is not a dream now in Kolkata. There is a target that all the new metro rakes in city from March 2018 would be GoA 3 grade driverless rakes,” Director, Research Design and Standards Organisations of Indian Railways, Yatish Kumar said.

Mumbai’s first Air-Conditioned Rake trials caught between Central Railway, BHEL, RDSO

According to CR officials, it got postponed at the last moment after the BHEL team cited unavailability of engineers from Netherlands-based Strukton Rail

MUMBAI: The trial and field testing of Mumbai’s first air-conditioned local is getting delayed due to lack of coordination between the officials of the Research Design Standards Organisation, the Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited-Strukton Rail combine, and Central Railway.

It was supposed to start in the wee hours of Wednesday but, according to CR officials, it got postponed at the last moment after the BHEL team cited unavailability of engineers from Netherlands-based Strukton Rail. The electrical systems and the Train Control and Management System of the train has been jointly built by BHEL and Strukton under a transfer of technology arrangement the former has with the Dutch firm.

However a top BHEL official told that it wasn’t the case. He said that the Strukton engineer was available for trials. “The test procedure and day-wise schedule are under discussion with RDSO,” he said in reply to a query.

When queries on the schedule of testing was put forward to a senior official of the Power Supply and Electrical Multiple Unit directorate of the RDSO, the official said that there was some time before the AC rake could be tested on the field.

“The two main field trials of the rake are the oscillation trial and the performance trial. Only after everything goes right with the oscillations trial can we move to the performance trial. Currently we working out a schedule but it might take time,” said the RDSO official. Oscillation trials are carried out for assessing the speed potential, the riding quality and stability at different speeds on straight and curved tracks of concerned sections.

Officials involved with the testing of the rake are now of the view that commissioning the rake for public service might not be possible this financial year that ends on March 31, 2017. “It might take a minimum of 16 weeks and a lot more if small discrepancies or anomalies are found during testing,” said the official.

The rake was supposed to cost Rs 43 crores when the layout was approved by the railway ministry in March 2014. It was finally finished in March 2016- two years later- at a cost of Rs 54 crores. The Rs 54 crore tag is a sizable 25 per cent increase in construction cost. It arrived in Mumbai on April 5 and has since been stabled at the Kurla carshed.

Railways allows 80 year Lease Plan for Bandra Plot

The move is expected to add value to several railway plots in the city and also give an impetus to the move by IRSDC to redevelop some of the major stations in the city by leveraging money gained from such land development

MUMBAI: In a major policy shift, the railway ministry and the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) have decided to allot a 43,000-sq.m Bandra plot for commercial development on a lease period of 80 years. The previous land lease period of 45 years had put a dampener on the realtors and had led to the lease tenders of this land failing four times since May 2014.

The move is expected to add value to several railway plots in the city and also give an impetus to the move by Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDC)—a joint venture company of IRCON International Ltd (Ministry of Railways PSU) and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA)—to redevelop some of the major stations in the city by leveraging money gained from such land development.

The financing of the Bandra-Virar elevated corridor which the government and the railway ministry want to build under the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) also depends heavily on the leveraging of vacant land.

As per the latest RLDA directive, bidders have been invited for the ‘grant of lease for commercial development for 80 years’ of the Bandra plot. The pre-bid meeting will take place on February 2 and the bids will be opened on March 22.

The money that will come in from the sale-lease of the Bandra plot will be used in three parts – one for a railway project in Mumbai, the other for a rail project in the state and the third part for a rail project anywhere in India.

With ticket revenues and advertisements unable to bring in the desired revenue, land development is the big idea that Railways believes will bring in the much needed funds.

RLDA to earn Rs 8000 Crore from 49 sites

Indian Railways remains one of the largest owners of land in the country along with the defence services and the port trusts.

New Delhi: Aiming to increase revenue, Railways has firmed up plans to generate Rs 8000 crores through commercial development of rail land across the country.

There are many areas near railway stations, workshops, colonies which are lying unused and as per plan, these sites would be commercially developed, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Railways has formed Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) to commercially exploit these sites.

Currently, 49 sites measuring 497.21 hectares have been entrusted to Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) for commercial development, the official said.

He said the extent of revenue likley to be earned from these sites will be Rs 7000 crore to Rs 8000 crore.

Besides these 49 sites, some more sites have also been identified for commercial use subject to their amenability for commercial development.

RLDA selects the developers through transparent and competitive bidding has been selected. At present developer for only one site, Vishakhapatnam has been selected. This site will earn revenue of Rs 12.10 cr for a lease period of 30 years.

Railways has no policy regarding provision for hospitals and hotel facilities near all busy and major railway junctions. However, at some locations where it is feasible and due to the demand, multi-functional complexes are being constructed which also have the provision of hotel.

Railways will redevelop stations by leveraging the commercial development on rail land and air space for which 28 major stations have been identified as on date.

It may be noteworthy to mention here that realty firm Parsvnath Developers earlier paid Rs 500.86 crore installment to the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) against the 38 acres of rail land that it had bought for Rs 1,651 crore located at Sarai Rohilla- Kishanganj in the national capital, from RLDA in 2010 through an auction. In May last year, a development agreement was executed between RLDA and Parsvnath Rail Land Project, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) incorporated for implementing this project wherein the company will develop luxury apartments, commercial/ shopping areas, railway housing, railway service building & common facilities, Hospital/School and other amenities.

Parsvnath has appointed Callison LLC of USA as architect for the project in co-ordination with architect Sikka & Associates and the company will develop this project in partnership with private equity firm Red Fort Capital.

IIT-Kharagpur develops Tool to prevent Train Collision

The tool has already been successfully tested in several railway yards!

train-collision-avoidance-system-iit-kharagpurKharagpur: Train journeys could soon be safer as scientists of IIT Kharagpur have successfully tested a new tool for electronic railway interlocking system which prevents trains from colliding into each other.

The tool suite is developed by the Computer Science and Engineering Department of the institute in collaboration with Research, Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) and Service Improvement Group (SIG) of the Indian Railways.

Prof Pallab Dasgupta, lead researcher of the project, said since errors in the application logic of interlocking systems may have catastrophic consequences, this development has potential to minimise the chance of such errors.

“In the proposed approach, the yard layout is used as a reference for automatically generating a list of safety properties, which are then proven on the application logic using back-end model checking tools. The generation of the formal properties is specifically tailored to the combination of relays used in that yard,” he said.

The tool has already been successfully tested in several railway yards, Dasgupta claimed.

The Indian Institute of Technology researchers said this project has the potential to be further extended to study and develop optimum traffic operation plans, alternative plans for emergencies.

The Indian Railways, through RDSO, has awarded 12 research projects to IIT Kharagpur’s Centre for Railway Research in the area of analysis and design of rolling stock, infrastructure, operations and maintenance.

Several of the products and technologies are being field tested at various facilities of Indian Railways apart from lab testing at IIT Kharagpur.

The next step would be to further develop the products and technologies with an industrial partner for production, the experts said.

Explaining the technology, Dasgupta said they have leveraged analytical tools used for verification of VLSI (very large scale integration) circuits to develop formal verification logic for railway interlocking systems.

Railway interlocking is a critical signalling system that prevents trains from conflicting movements by only allowing one train to take a particular route which has been locked for it.

RDSO provides break-up of money spent on Talgo trial runs

Talgo Train in Izzatnagar WorkshopLucknow: The railways would be spending upwards of Rs.5 crore to test the Spanish-built Talgo rakes. In reply to a Right To Information (RTI), the Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) provided the break-up of the money spent during the first three phases of the trial. It further stated that as the timing trials were in progress, it was unable to give a final figure spent on testing. A few officials, however, said it might cost as much as Rs.5 crore.

According to the RDSO, the riding, safety and stability trial that took place between Bareilly, Moradabad and Saharanpur at a maximum speed of 115 kmph cost the railways Rs.1.07 crore. The second phase of the trial, which was conducted at a maximum speed of 180kmph between Mathura and Palwal stations, cost the railways Rs.1.2 crore. The third phase, to test the train’s Emergency Braking Distance (EBD), cost Rs.28.77 lakh. The total cost for these three phases came to be around Rs.2.56 crore.

Meanwhile, Talgo has had six timing trials between Mumbai and Delhi, the last of which was completed on September 10-11. The train reached Mumbai Central at 2:33am on September 11, completing the Delhi-Mumbai stretch in 11 hours and 48 minutes, at an average speed of 117.5km per hour.

The officials whom dna spoke to maintained that the train that was tested was not conducive for running on Indian Railways under current conditions as the rake was slimmer and lower than what is ideal for platforms in India.

“The width of long-distance trains in India is 3,250mm and suburban trains running in Mumbai have a width of 3,660mm. The Talgo Avril at 3,200mm might be something that is close to what India railway conditions warrant but it is very early to say anything. It is not even clear if the railways would place an order in the first place,” said an official.

As reported earlier, the Talgo testing comes with no pre-condition and the railways may choose not to purchase any rakes from the Spanish manufacturer.

GM/SCR reviews Railway Land Developmental Plans on SCR

RLDA Meeting SCRSecunderabad: Ravindra Gupta, General Manager, South Central Railway reviewed Railway land developmental proposals with Rakesh Goyal, Vice Chairman and team of officers from Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), New Delhi today i.e. on 18th July, 2016 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. The meeting was attended by S.N. Singh, Principal Chief Engineer, P. Ganeshwara Rao, Chief Commercial Manager, Ashesh Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Secunderabad Division and Aruna Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division.

RLDA PPT on SCRRavindra Gupta advised the RLDA team to conduct detailed market survey on several pockets of open land available for commercial usage. He reviewed the proposal submitted by RLDA for locations which includes pockets of rail lands available nearer to Sangeet ‘X’ Roads, Secunderabad, Chilkalguda, Mettuguda, Tarnaka, Kacheguda and Begumpet Railway Stations. The RLDA also submitted proposals of potential commercial projects in the vicinity of MMTS Stations at Sanjeevaiah Park, Necklace Road, Khairtabad and Lakdikapul. General Manager also directed RLDA authorities to prepare detailed action plan for development of Secunderabad Railway Station as World Class Station.

Rakesh, Goyal, Vice Chairman, RLDA made a power point presentation on the potential sites identified by them for commercial usage. He informed that a good amount of revenue is expected to generate for the Railways by Open Space Development plans in tune with the policies.

Southern Railway ropes in IIT-M for Fracture Detection System

Safety first:The objective is to put in place an automatic rail fracture detection system
Safety first:The objective is to put in place an automatic rail fracture detection system

Chennai: With increasing number of rail fractures posing a threat to safety of train operations, the Southern Railway has roped in Indian Institute of Technology-Madras to develop a new mechanism to detect cracks on tracks.

As of now, there is no automatic system to help detect a fracture on rail track caused by extreme weather conditions or otherwise. The system mostly depends on engineers who use ultrasonic testing once in two months to check cracks. At times, engine drivers also inform of abnormal noise on the tracks while the train is in motion.

“Rail fractures indeed pose a threat to safety as there have been several derailments in the past. We are working with the IIT-M to improve upon the analogue ultrasonic testing system and develop a foolproof mechanism,” a senior railway official told on Monday. The objective is to put in place an automatic rail fracture detection system. Simultaneous efforts are on in consultation with the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) to introduce broken rail warning system in Northern Railway as a pilot project, the official said.

Going by the latest data, Southern Railway has topped others in rail fractures. Quoting recommendations made in the disaster management plan, the official said increasing fracture toughness, ductility and corrosion-resistant properties of rails would help in reducing sudden cracks. A joint study involving railway and Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) engineers was on in this direction.

“In the fist phase, we plan to lay the specially designed rails along high-density routes by the end of this year. Longer and stronger rails are being manufactured in the Bhilai Steel Plant, while we hope to digitise the ultrasonic fracture detection system in association with the IIT-M,” he said.

IR plans ‘Mission 350 Plus’ to build Bullet Train coaches, MagLev trains

Indian Railways is planning various Bullet Trains coaches and MegLev Trains across the country, apart from the Mumbai-Ahmedabad one

Representational Image only - Siemens Russia MegLev in the Workshop
Representational Image only – Siemens Russia MegLev in the Workshop

Mumbai: In the biggest scale-up of its ambitions so far, the Indian Railways has set up two committees – one to shepherd its plans to build bullet train coaches capable of running at speeds higher than 350 km per hour, and the second to explore the feasibility of running trains based on magnetic levitation or MagLev trains, as they are known worldwide.

The bullet train coach plan, christened Mission 350 Plus, will be headed by Inderjeet Singh, Executive Director (Carriage) at the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the railway’s apex technical body. The MagLev exploration committee will be headed by Nitin Chowdhary, currently Executive Director, Mechanical Engineering (Development) at the Railway Board. Both the committees have been given two months to submit their reports. The two plans were discussed extensively under the ‘future readiness’ module of the Indian Railways’ Chief Mechanical Engineers Conference held at Ooty in Tamil Nadu recently.

Over 45 of the Railways’ top mechanical engineering officers, led by member (mechanical), Hemant Kumar, attended the conference. The move comes in the backdrop of the Railways firming up studies for various bullet train routes across the country, apart from the Mumbai-Ahmedabad one.

These routes include Delhi-Chennai, Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata and Mumbai-Chennai, all part of the Railways’ High Speed Diamond Quadrilateral as well as routes like Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna, Hyderabad-Chennai and Chennai-Bengaluru- Thiruvanathapuram.

“A High Speed Rail Network (railway lingo for bullet trains) takes almost half a decade to go from the drawing board to the first pile on the ground. It could be a decade before work starts on any of these projects. Preparing to have some kind of homegrown expertise to build such coaches, rather than just looking to import, is a good move,” said a railway official.

The MagLev, currently in operation in China and Japan, is a much more expensive proposition though speeds touched by these trains are in excess of what some bullet trains can achieve. Recently, Japan managed to run a MagLev train at over 600 kmph during a test, which is a world record for a train’s speed.

Talgo Highspeed Train trials on Mathura-Palwal route for speeds upto 180 kmph

Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways is conducting trial runs with Talgo train coaches, which the Spanish company claims can help Railways attain higher speeds, even on the existing tracks. Talgo’s coaches are all set to begin speed trials from July 7, a development that takes India closer to its dreams of having semi-high speed and high speed trains

Talgo TrialsNew Delhi: Talgo’s coaches are all set to begin speed trials from July 7, a development that takes India closer to its dreams of having semi-high speed and high speed trains. Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways is conducting trial runs with Talgo train coaches, which the Spanish company claims can help Railways attain higher speeds, even on the existing tracks.

Sources told that the coaches will be tried for speeds up to 180 kmph. “The speed trials which will begin on July 7, will continue till the end of July,” sources added. The trial will take place on the Mathura-Palwal route.

Indian Railways’ Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO) has already been testing the coaches for safety and stability. Asked about whether the initial trials have been successful, an RDSO official told, “The report is under preparation with analysis of various technical data and technical aspects. The preliminary results appear OK. However, it would be inappropriate to comment anything on the results till the report is final.”

Talgo trains from Spain successfully completed the first set-up trial run between Izzatnagar and Bhojipura stations on the Bareilly-Moradabad rail route during May, where the luxury coaches were pulled by an Indian engine and were tested for sensors and derailment. The nine coaches of the train were run for around three hours at a speed of 50-km per hour. The speed trial of the coaches at a speed of 115 km per hour on the the 90-km long rail section between Bareilly and Moradabad also held for two weeks later. After the Bareilly and Moradabad route trial, the train will now be test-run on the route between Mathura and Palwal for 40 days with speed up to 180 km per hour!

The nine-coach Talgo train consists of two Executive Class cars, four Chair Cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end coach for staff and equipment.

Talgo’s coaches are said to weigh much less than an average Indian Railways coach, and that is what the company claims will help it run trains at a higher speed. They also consume 30% less energy, the Spanish company says.

India’s bullet train dreams seem to be on a fast track to being realised in some years. If a feasibility study, conducted by a Spanish firm, is anything to go by, then the travel time between Delhi and Kolkata may actually come down to less than five hours!

Multiple reports suggest that the feasibility study, which is being undertaken for the 1513 km long Delhi-Kolkata high speed corridor along with two other routes of the Diamond Quadrilateral project, has projected the travel time between Delhi and Kolkata to be as less as five hours.

Not only that, the train travel time between Delhi and Varanasi will be reduced to as little as 2 hours 45 minutes, suggest reports about the study.

Meanwhile, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that setting up of a high speed railway line on the Delhi-Chandigarh is in “preliminary-planning”. “Mumbai-Ahmedabad will be the first in the series. Later on Delhi to Chennai HSR, we want to take up. We had talks with a foreign company for this route, on which work would first be taken up on Delhi-Nagpur and then Nagpur to Chennai stretch,” Prabhu said.

Railways is set to make the PPP terms more attractive for Investors’

With the potential investors’ initial response to the public-private partnership (PPP) model for railway stations’ redevelopment being lukewarm, the government is set to make the terms more attractive for them to power up PPPs

Railways PPP ModelNew Delhi: With the potential investors’ initial response to the public-private partnership (PPP) model for railway stations’ redevelopment being lukewarm, the government is set to make the terms more attractive for them.

An extension of the land lease period from 45 years now to at least 70 years and supporting these ventures with viability gap funding are under active consideration, according to official sources. These apart, it is also likely that the model concession agreements (MCAs) will be reinforced with limited assured sources of revenue to investors to reduce their risks, the sources added.

While the Modi government has lined up plans to revamp 400 railway stations in the country by roping in private investors, only 15-20 projects will be up for grabs in the first phase. The bidding is being carried out under the so-called Swiss challenge method, where an eligible player submits a development proposal to the government, including the premium he is willing to pay the government. Once this proposal is made and due diligence is done, the government would accept counter-proposals from other eligible entities, while the entity which made the first proposal will enjoy the right of first refusal.

According to a senior railway official, private infrastructure players have asked for the lease period of the land to be extended from 45 years to 70-90 years. They have also asked for assured sources of revenue with rights to parking ticketing, platform ticketing and some catering rights.

Even though the ministry of railways is going all out to make the station development plan a success, market sources believe that lack of clarity on certain issues, persisting doubts about the feasibility of the projects and encroachment of land parcels at many major stations have kept investors wary.

“There is still no clarity over how the railway ministry is planning to take the development of these projects ahead. Not all stations have surplus land available to be given for commercial development. The government also need to assure the investors are encroached lands will be taken back and provided for development,” a senior executive from an infrastructure firm told FE.

According to official data, 21 of 85 A1 railway stations have encroached land and 35 such stations have no land available for commercial exploitation.

“The government is talking about commercial, residential and retail development. However, most of the stations that will come up for redevelopment are in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, where a revenue structure based on monetisation of land by way of creating office space and building residential projects, malls etc may not be viable in all cases.

“We would ideally like to see if there is any plan to develop logistics parks or hubs around these stations, which

will make more sense given the cargo volumes that railways carry, and will make for more commercial viability for the developer as well,” said an official from another infrastructure company. “Plus the onus of getting all the clearances from the local authorities lies with the developer; the whole process could potentially get very cumbersome, he added.

“We are addressing the concerns in the market.. we have a provision for compensating the developers who lose out in the bidding process for the expenses incurred by them to prepare the detailed project reports. As for local clearances, we have started forming joint ventures with different states so that the approvals come without costly delays,” a senior railway official mentioned told FE.

The ministry of railways has already signed MOUs in pursuance to forming joint ventures(JV) with nine states and is looking at signing MOUs with seven more states in the future for upgrading the railway infrastructure.

“Railways should first focus on creating a few success stories in terms of station re-development. Creating success stories is very important for investor confidence. Planning and design of the station should be done by the transporter as opposed to the private developer,” Abhay Krishna Agarwal, Partner infrastructure & PPP at E&Y said.

Market sources also state that as balance sheets of most of the private infrastructure companies like GMR, HCC, GVK, Jaypee and Gammon are stretched, many of them could be chary about taking up capital-intensive projects like railway station development.

Bullet Train project set to begin in 2018

SPV on Bullet Train to finalise Technical Details

The ambitious bullet (high-speed) train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai will kick-start from 2018 after the conclusion of discussions at various levels between railway officials and representatives of Japan. While the initial cost was pegged at Rs 98,000 crores for the project, the government is now keen on an elevated corridor, which will add another Rs 10,000 crore to the overall project cost.

“We have covered a lot of grounds in the last three months, which involved discussions at various levels to get the project started. A joint working group which was constituted by the Prime Minister’s Office will be going to Japan for two days next month to hold further discussions on the loan negotiation,” said a senior official, adding that the government has now decided to go for an elevated corridor.

The Indian delegation will engage its Japanese counterparts in giving a major thrust to the “Make in India” initiative and also ensure larger involvement of Indian companies in the civil work of the project.

“The final location survey is now to be commissioned, which will examine the geological and hydrological aspects of the project. It will also look into the 21-km-long undersea tunnel portion of the project as well. The study will be fully funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency,” the official said.

The high-speed corridor project is being funded with a soft loan by Japan of Rs 80,000 crores, while the railways and the state governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra will share the remaining cost of Rs 20,000 crores.

Technical experts of the railways and Japan have also held discussions on the design and certification of the high-speed corridor project. “The Japanese experts have stated that the elevated corridor will be fenced and, unlike Delhi Metro, there could not be movement of vehicles underneath,” said the official.

It has also emerged that not more than 20 per cent of the project cost would be spent on direct procurement from Japan, which will mostly be on train sets.

With the aim of launching the first high speed train in the country between and Ahmedabad, has stepped up ground work for starting construction work of the Rs 98,000 crore project in 2017.

“Our aim is to start the work at the earliest. It would take about seven years after the awarding of the contract for the project to be completed as a lot of new technologies would be used to construct the high-speed corridor,” said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the bullet train project.

The special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to implement the Mumbai-high speed bullet train project, is meeting tomorrow to finalise the technical details including standardization process for construction of tunneling, pillars, fencing and other requirement of the mega project.

The SPV has been named National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited comprising senior railway officials and the national transporter is in the process of appointing a CEO for the job.

Maharashtra and Gujarat will have equity of 25 per cent each, while the Railways will have 50 per cent in the SPV.

The bullet train is expected to cover 508 km between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph.

At present, Duronto Express takes about seven hours to cover the distance between the two financial centres.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties.

It is a soft loan for 50 years at 0.1 per cent annual interest with 15 years’ moratorium, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

For timely completion of the project, a joint committee has been formed under the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog with the secretaries of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Departments of Economic Affairs and Foreign Ministry as its members along with the Railway Board Chairman.

Indian Railways completes Digitization of Land Records

Mapping of all fixed assets including land on GIS of Indian Railways also started

Indian Railways Digital IndiaNew Delhi: Indian Railways has completed most of the work related to digitization of land record i.e. maintaining land data (details of acquisition/area/usages and land plans) in digital form, for this purpose a web based application called Land Management Module integrated with Track Management System (TMS) of Indian Railways has been developed.

Indian Railways have also digitized details of vacant plots of land measuring more than one acre to chalk out the blue print for monetization of its vacant land.

Indian Railway has also started mapping of all fixed Railway assets including land on Geographical Information System (GIS) of Bhuvan Satellite Imagery of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) integrated with Track Management System (TMS) of Indian Railways. This system would provide the status of Railway land whether encroached or not and thus would be helpful in tackling the menace of encroachment.

Pilot of GIS mapping of IR network and land parcel has already been started on Delhi division of Northern railway. After successful implementation of the same, it will be extended to whole Indian Railways network.

Aiming at commercial exploitation of surplus land, the Railways has undertaken digitisation of records related to vacant plots owned by it across the country. Land which is not required for operational purposes in the foreseeable future is being identified by all railways zones as vacant land, said a senior Railway Ministry official. Railways has approximately 43,000 hectares of vacant land which can be exploited commercially.

Railways begins process to build Fire Exit Doors for Trains

Fire and smoke detection system in 2750 coaches. Pilot project will choose 10 Coaches and Rs 30 Lakh will be spent on each of them

New Delhi: In its endeavour to prevent fire mishaps on trains, the Railways has undertaken steps to equip over 2,500 coaches with state-of-the-art fire and smoke detection system. The railway ministry for the first time has begun the process of having fire exit doors for train coaches to help passengers escape in case of a fire incident and also to allow train staff to evacuate passengers quickly. The railway ministry will be picking up 10 coaches for this pilot project and will be spending Rs 30 lakh on each of these coaches to build these fire exit doors.

The thought of having fire exit doors in trains came up as part of a high-power study and research into train fires conducted last March by the railways’ Centre for Advanced Maintenance Technology (Camtech) headquartered in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. It was one of the recommendations of the study apart from having bigger emergency windows for non-air conditioned coaches and also to have vestibules to connect general coaches so that people can move from one coach to another in case of a fire.

According to officials, the fire exit door is a good progress in a railway system that for several years now has had nothing to show as part of its fire-fighting mechanism apart from red-grilled emergency windows in general coaches. In fact, it is just of late that the railways has been toying with the idea of having thermal insulating material for latches and handles of doors so that passengers can hold them and open doors to escape a fire. The latter is also one of the recommendations made to the railways by the Camtech study.

“It is a good start because the railways safety record when it comes to fires is poor. Moreover, passengers also travel dangerously by sometimes smoking near the toilets and vestibules. There are also instances of people carrying liquor in trains. The railways should be severe on such passengers,” said Bhandup-resident Manish Chaturvedi.

Why train fire is dangerous

1) A train consists of long, narrow vehicles with limited exits coupled with each other

2) High traveling speeds prevent quick escape and assist the rapid spread of fire

3) Wide range of track conditions, including confined sections such as bridges, tunnels, ghats, etc., make it difficult for passengers to get off the vehicle easily in times of emergency

4) Restriction in movement of passengers and fast spread of fire aggravates the situation

5) A large number of passengers traveling on trains are attended to by a small team of train crew

Railway Board in 1987 set up an institute known as CAMTECH to undertake studies and evolve strategies for maintenance of all types of assets. Accordingly CAMTECH started functioning from 1991 onwards at Gwalior under the administrative control of Director General, RDSO, Lucknow with a main objective of   Upgrading maintenance Technologies & Methodologies and achieve improvement in productivity and performance of all Railway assets and Manpower. This covers reliability, availability, utilisation and efficiency. CAMTECH is headed by Executive Director who is assisted by four Directors – one each of Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and S&T, apart from Staff. The present incumbents:

Camtech study recommendations

1) Fire extinguishers should be provided in all coaches, i.e., also in general second class coaches, non-AC 3 tier coaches and non-AC chair cars etc.

2) The size of emergency exit windows in General Coaches/3-tier sleeper coaches/non-AC chair car shall be of larger size as in case of AC coaches so that it can be identified easily and easy to exit as these coaches are highly occupied

3) Vestibuling in the general coaches may be explored, this will help in evacuating passengers in case of any disaster/emergency

5) Authority to be given to AC mechanic to ask passengers to not to smoke

6) Overhead water tanks of toilets may be provided with fusible drain plug. In case of fire this fusible drain plug will melt due to high temperature and water will spill out in door way area which may reduce the intensity of fire.

Download/Read RDSO’s Handbook on Fire Causes & preventive Measures in Railway Coaches, here!

Besides, fire extinguishers are being provided in all AC coaches, second class-cum-guard and luggage vans and pantry cars. Water mist type fire suppression system is also being provided on power cars.

A pilot project for provision of Comprehensive Fire and Smoke Detection System has been taken up in New Delhi- Bhubaneswar Rajdhani, New Delhi-Jammu Tawi Rajdhani and in the AC Double Decker running between Kachiguda-Tirupati/Guntur, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

He said railways has now sanctioned extended field trials of the fire detection system in 2,750 coaches based on the feedback from earlier trials.

As per corporate safety plan (2003-2013), target was to reduce fire accidents on the trains significantly by the year 2012-13.

In 2012-13, nine fire accidents took place on trains and in the current year till January 31, 2016 there has not been a single such case on trains, the official said.

In order to enhance fire safety, Railways has made mandatory the use of fire retardant furnishing materials in all coaches.

Specifications for such furnishing materials have been periodically reviewed to incorporate fire retardant parameters in line with UIC (International Union of Railways) and other international norms.

He said all new manufacture of coaches/periodical overhauling of existing coaches is being carried out factoring in fire retardant specifications of the furnishing materials.

Steps are also being taken for the use of improved materials for electrical fittings and fixtures, light fittings, terminal boards, connectors to prevent short circuit.

Detailed instructions have been issued to all zones for observance of safe practices in handling of pantry cars and for ensuring periodical inspection of electrical and LPG fittings in the pantry cars.

Intensive drives are being carried out regularly to prevent passengers from carrying inflammable goods.

Railways to set up Special Wing of Scientists and Railway Experts

The new research unit will be headed by a reputed scientist, who will report directly to the Chairman, Railway Board, said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding “the need for such a wing was felt for long”.

Railways Centre of ExcellenceTechnology seems to be the latest mantra in the Indian Railway, with the national transporter set to create a special unit for conducting in-house research. Named SRESHTA (Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology and Holistic Advancement), the new entity will comprise mostly scientists and railway experts.

Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), railways’ current research arm, will focus only on day-to-day issues, while SRESTHA will be responsible for long-term research for improving the functioning of the public sector behemoth.

The new research unit will be headed by a reputed scientist, who will report directly to the Chairman, Railway Board, said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding “the need for such a wing was felt for long”.

Though RDSO was meant to conduct research, it could hardly undertake any. “Most of the time RDSO is involved in finalising the standards and specifications for the new equipment to be acquired by the public transporter. As a result it is left with hardly any time for research work,” said the official.

Currently new technology is imported by railways as the RDSO has not been able to do in-house research work on various technologies required for upgradation in signalling and telecommunication system, track designing, improvement in rolling stock and many such areas.

However, despite the constraints, RDSO is credited for developing of pre-stressed concrete sleepers used for laying tracks and the newly designed double decker coaches.

The official said, “There is a huge requirement for introducing latest technology in rail sector to bring it at par with other developed railways in the world.”Use of latest technology in improving passenger amenities is a key area where the new body will focus, he added.

Besides, a dedicated cross functional team called Special Unit for Transportation Research and Analytics (SUTRA) would be set up for carrying out detailed analysis for optimal investment decisions and operations.

The team would comprise professional analysts and have best in class decision support systems and optimization engines. It is a well-established fact that data backed decision making is the hallmark of great institutions and SUTRA is being set up for this purpose only, the official said.

Rail Development Authority will be Independent

New Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday said the government will have the draft bill ready for setting up an independent Rail Development Authority to govern the rail tariff and other aspects.

Presenting the railway budget for 2016-17 Prabhu said: “We hope to have the draft bill ready after holding extensive stake holder consultations.”

He said the independence of the proposed institution will be ensured through arms length relationship with the railway ministry and transparent selection process of the people.

The government had proposed setting up of Rail Development Authority last year.

In January 2016, the ministry came out with its concept paper on the regulatory authority for railways.

As per the concept paper the authority will undertake four key functions: fixing tariff, ensuring fair and level playing field for private investment in railways, determination of efficiency and performance standards and dissemination of information.

The 14th Finance Commission in its report had endorsed the railway’s initiative to set up a tariff authority through necessary amendments to the Railways Act, 1989.

IR to manufacture Dual-mode Locos that run on Diesel, Electricity

(Representational Image): Bombardier's dual mode Locomotive ALP-45DP at the Innotrans convention in Berlin
(Representational Image): Bombardier’s dual mode Locomotive ALP-45DP at the Innotrans convention in Berlin

New Delhi: In a first for Indian Railways, diesel locomotives will soon haul trains by drawing power through overhead wires on an electrified route, with the public transporter embarking upon manufacturing dual-mode engines.

“We will be manufacturing dual-mode locomotives to run trains on diesel and also by drawing power through overhead wire on electrified route,” said a senior railway ministry official involved in the project.

Railways will manufacture five dual-mode locomotives of 4500 horse power (HP) capacity each at Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi as a pilot project. Though similar locomotives are operational in the US and South Africa, it will be a first in India, the official said.

Currently, 52 per cent of total trains are on diesel traction. Diesel locomotives are generally replaced by electric engines on electrified route causing delays. “However, with the acquisition of dual-mode locos, there will be no need for changing the locomotive for electric traction as the same diesel engine will be utilized on electrified route,” he said.

A dual-mode locomotive is estimated to cost about Rs 18 crore, while a 4500 HP diesel locomotive costs about Rs 13 crore. The proposal has been forwarded to the Research Design and Standard Design (RDSO), the research wing of Indian Railway, to finalize specifications. “After the RDSO approval, DLW will be manufacturing five such locos on a pilot basis. The locos will be pressed into service on certain electrified routes on a trial basis,” said the official.

The dual-mode locomotive will be heavier than the diesel locomotive and is expected to run at a maximum speed of 135 km per hour. A diesel locomotive is a type of railway locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, while in an electric locomotive, the engine moves on power drawn through a pantograph mounted on the roof of the train. Pantograph is an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train, tram or electric bus to collect power through contact with an overhead wire.

With modern electronics, it is much easier to construct (or adapt) an electro-diesel locomotive or multiple-unit which is equally at home running at high speeds both “under the wires” and under diesel power (e.g. SNCF Class B 82500). These will normally operate under pure electric traction where possible, and use the diesel engines to extend the journeys along non-electrified sections which would not be cost effective to electrify. They may also be used on long cross-country routes to take advantage of shorter sections of electrified main lines.

Rail Development Authority takes Shape, albeit with less Teeth

Railways comes out with concept paper on Rail Development Authority (RDA) according to which the proposed body will be an independent and quasi-judicial one with four key functions… The Concept Note on the proposed regulator for the Railway sector drafted with key roles on determining tariff, setting efficiency and performance standards and ensuring a level playing field to attract private investment. The concept note specifically stated that the regulator would not be involved in policy making and financial expenditure management.

Indian Rail Development AuthorityNew Delhi: A year after it was approved by Cabinet, the proposal for an independent authority for India’s rail sector got a boost in a new avatar on Monday, albeit with somewhat less teeth in terms of fixing tariffs.

The government today released a concept paper for the proposed Rail Development Authority of India, which may be set up as early as this year through an executive fiat and later empowered by a bill.

Earlier named Rail Tariff Authority, the newly proposed ‘Rail Development Authority’, will not be able to compel the Railways to revise fares or freight but can only “recommend” passenger and freight tariffs considering the cost structure

The regulator would initially address issues relating to joint ventures and special purpose vehicles such as those for the dedicated freight corridors.

It would supervise private parties such as container train operators and those with whom the railways have signed licence agreements, such as vendors.

“Streamlining the tariff determination mechanism and fixing tariffs rationally, based both on the cost recovery principle and what the traffic can bear, is an absolute necessity for the railways. This will help reduce cross-subsidy and can improve the market share in freight,” according to the note.

It added that the authority would recommend passenger and freight tariffs considering the cost structure, including all direct and indirect costs such as pension liabilities, debt servicing, replacements and renewals, productivity parameters, market-driven demand and supply forces and future investments.

Ultimately, the rail development authority will undertake four functions: fix tariff; ensure fair play and a level-playing field for private investment; set standards of efficiency and performance; and disseminate information. The concept paper said the authority would recommend passenger and freight tariffs.

“In cases where the government does not accept the suggested tariffs, Indian Railways would need to be compensated appropriately perhaps through increased allocations in the Gross Budgetary Support or through a suitable mechanism,” says the concept note on the Authority released on Monday for public comments. The Authority, a statutory body to be set up by amending Railways Act, will also not deal with setting technical standards.

Besides, this will reduce tinkering with passenger fares, which have been kept low for political considerations rather than sound economic principles. The cross-subsidisation by freight has resulted in the railways losing market share to road.

Officials said the authority would consist of the chairman and four other members specialising in railways, infrastructure, finance, law, management and consumer affairs.

The government has invited comments on the paper till the end of this month, while the setting up of the authority may be announced during the railway budget in February.

The officials said the setting up of the authority would not lead to an immediate privatisation of the railways. However, it will ensure fair play between the competing parties working for the railways.

“New joint ventures are being set up with mining companies, state governments to set up special railway lines and services and it was necessary to have an independent regulator,” said officials.

IR looks to Revamp R&D wing, induct new tech

RDSO LucknowNew Delhi: Railways has constituted a committee to review and streamline induction of new technologies and redefine the role of its R&D wing – Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO).

Apart from suggesting ways to upgrade the technical capability of railway workshops and production units, the panel will recommend creating a mechanism for incubation of innovative ideas and product development and also address issues related to intellectual property rights.

The committee, comprising railways officers, will also have Niti Aayog member V K Saraswat as a special invitee.

RDSO, IIT-K to work together for Indian Railways

Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with premier institute IIT, Kanpur last fortnight to carry out collaborative research work of the interest of the Railways. For doing the collaborative research, a Centre For Railway Research (CRR) will be set up by Ministry of Railways on the campus of IIT-Kanpur. The centre is expected to start working before the closure of the ongoing financial year.

Railway Development Authority likely soon for Indian Railways

In line with Railway reforms, regulatory authority to gain additional powers. There is a proposal to change the nomenclature from Railway Regulatory Authority to Railway Development Authority and make it broad-based, a senior Railway Ministry official said. Proposed Independent Regulatory Authority will “besides fixing fares” also “set efficiency parameters”. However, experts say – “Don’t Fleece Peter, Don’t Pamper Paul“..

IR Development AuthorityNew Delhi: The Railway Regulatory Authority is likley to be rechristened as Railway Development Authority and would undertake various developmental activities besides fixing freight rates and passenger fares.

An independent rail regulator has been recommended by most committees that have looked into railway reforms for over a decade.

Finally, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has set the ball rolling to turn it into reality and has suggested that the regulator’s functions should include laying down the framework for monitoring of passenger and freight tariffs, Public Private Partnership projects and efficiency.

There is a proposal to change the nomenclature from Railway Regulatory Authority to Railway Development Authority and make it broadbased, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

The setting up of the authority is crucial for attracting private investment in railways as to ensure fair play for entities. The railways will seek suggestions from all stakeholders, including the public, on constitution as well as broad-basing the functioning of the authority.

The official said the draft of regulatory authority is ready and it will be circulated soon to seek views from all concerned. Though the task of suggesting freight and passenger fares will remain to be vested in the authority, there will be additional responsibilities as well, he added.

At present, fixing tariffs is the Railway Board’s job. Historically, political dispensations have prevailed over the Board to stall moves for tariff revision fearing political backlash. As per the plan, public transporter will constitute the authority as an independent body, to decide passenger fares and freight rate, as a shift of regulatory responsibility from the government to an independent regulator is required to attract private sector investments.

“Besides fixing fares, it will also have efficiency parameters. The finalised draft will be tabled in Parliament to get lawmakers approval,” he said. Indian Railway is currently under strain because of lack of investment in critical areas and a decline in passenger bookings. Besides, the 7th Pay Commission recommendations has also added a significant burden on its finances. Railways will seek the help of Finance Ministry to address the issue of pay panel burden.

Railway ministry officials said the regulator will also be tasked with setting benchmarks for the railways for passenger amenities and have an operational efficiency matrix in place.

However, safety audit will not be under the purview of this regulator. “The mechanism of Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) seems to be functioning well. It is already independent as it works under civil aviation ministry,” one official said.

Officials underscored the importance of setting up an independent regulator to attract muchneeded private investment into the railways sector. “Since railways want to encourage and promote private investments, resolution of disputes will be a crucial role of the regulator. The fact that railways have a dominant monopoly has been a constant source of disputes and complaints in PPP (public private partnership) projects. Private investors are wary of investing in the sector. This will be taken care of,” another senior official explained. Independent experts too said that a regulator was a must for the railways.

“It has to ensure that a proper risk allocation matrix is put in place for PPP projects. Suburban traffic must also come under regulator’s purview and it has to ensure that railways do not abuse their dominance in terms of providing basic amenities like cleanliness and security to passengers,” said Vinayak Chatterjee of consulting firm Feedback Infrastructure.

It is a good idea to set up an independent tariff and freight regulator for the railways. This will reduce the scope of the railways being used as a political tool by giving benefits that are financially and commercially unviable. It will end the practice of freight and upper class passengers subsidising lower-class fares, and tariffs will reflect actual costs. More important, realistic tariffs will help revitalise freight transport by rail. This has the added benefit of lowering emissions from the transport sector, and affecting a reduction in the country’s oil consumption, most of which is imported.

Good Luck Steel gets Approval from RDSO (Ministry of Railways)

This is a major boost for company’s structure division and justify ongoing capex of Rs. 30 cr. Railway is one of the key focus sector of Good luck’s future vision, M C Garg said

GoodLuck Industries LtdLucknow: In line with Company’s growth strategy, Good Luck has achieved another milestone with the approval of RDSO (Research Design & Standards Organization), Ministry of Railway, India for fabrication and supply of Steel Bridge Griders.

Indian Railway, one of the world’s largest network, is in big ticket expansion mode with planned Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) of approx. 6200 kms and upgrade feeder route to DFCs of approx. 6000kms.

Further, Railway plan to convert all railway crossings to Railway Over bridges (ROBs) is offering approx. 3mn. metric ton capacity of fabricated bridge.

M C Garg, Chairman said, “This is a major boost for company’s structure division and justify ongoing capex of Rs.30 cr. Railway is one of the key focus sector of Good luck’s future vision. This approval is likely to give wings to achieve our target.”

As part of their expansion projects, like developing railway crossings and dedicated freight corridor, there is likely to be demand for at least 3 million tonnes of steel fabrication, which will provide good business opportunity for the company, says Ram Agarwal, CEO of GoodLuck Steel Tubes.

The Company is visualizing a huge scope of its products such as CDW tubes, forging, structure fabricated items in the Expansion of Railway Infrastructure. The Company is eying a good amount of share from different railway projects. Good Luck has already got entry in LHB coach parts & HTM, motor shaft in Electric loco engines.

Expect Rs 40-50cr railways order in FY17: GoodLuck Steel

The approval from Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Ministry of Railway, India for fabrication and supply of steel bridge girders will lead to increased business from railways over next two years, says  Ram Agarwal, CEO of GoodLuck Steel Tubes.

Goodluck Steel Tubes Ltd is currently trading at Rs.100, up by Rs. 3.7 or 3.84% from its previous closing of Rs. 96.3 on the BSE.

The scrip opened at Rs.96.1 and has touched a high and low of Rs.101 and Rs.96 respectively. So far 208081 (NSE+BSE) shares were traded on the counter. The current market cap of the company is Rs. 211.92 crore.

The BSE group ‘B’ stock of face value Rs. 2 has touched a 52 week high of Rs. 117.85 on 15-Jul-2015 and a 52 week low of Rs. 64.9 on 24-Dec-2014. Last one week high and low of the scrip stood at Rs. 98.8 and Rs. 92.6 respectively.

The promoters holding in the company stood at 60.46 % while Institutions and Non-Institutions held 0.17 % and 39.37 % respectively.

The stock is currently trading below its 50 DMA.

ram agarwal goodluck steel“Currently, contribution from railways business to our revenue is miniscule. However, we expect the share to increase to 5-7 percent over the next couple of years”, Agarwal says, adding that next year the company is likely to bag orders from railways worth around Rs 40- 50 crore. Railways are in a rapid expansion mode and as part of the development of railway crossings and dedicated freight corridor, there is likely to be demand for at least 3 million tonnes of steel fabrication, which will provide good business opportunity for the company, Agarwal says. He also pointed that the margins from railway’s orders is reasonably good at 15-18 percent. Below is the verbatim transcript of Ram Agarwal’s interview:

Q: The approval that you have got from the Research Department of railways, what is the order opportunity for a company?

A: This will convert into a big order for us.

Q: What is the expected size?

A: The expected size of order should be around Rs 40 crore to Rs 50 crore next year. However, they are more to be done but initially I look forward for Rs 40 crore to Rs 50 crore next year because there are 11,500 crossings, which are to be covered by Supreme Court orders. There is 6,200 km freight corridor to come. So 3 million tonne steel fabrication has to come and even if I get half percent of this, it will be a big gain for the company.

Q: You have some approvals for Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches as well as electric engines and stuffs. Have any orders come in from those segments?

A: We are executing development order for LHB coaches and we have come to P2 stage for HTM, motor shafts.

Q: How big are those orders?

A: These orders are on the development stage. These orders are only Rs 3-4 crore, because in railways first year is only development mode, second year is 25 percent order and third year it is a full-fledged order. We are in the first order, so in next two years we can expect. We can get good business in those areas also.

Q: What is the current order book of the company on a consolidated basis?

A: This order book, I am having around nine months. Mangalam: What is the proportion of revenues coming in from the railways already to the company? A: It is very minuscule from railways but in the next financial year it should be around 5-8 percent from railways.

Q: What are the margins that you enjoy on orders from the Indian Railways?

A: Normally Indian Railway is giving an EBITDA margin of 15-18 percent in the product line that we are in, but it is to be seen how the orders come but I am looking a rosy picture for that because government is in development mode on railways and railways and solar are engines of growth for Good Luck to take us forward. Good Luck Steel stock price On December 21, 2015, Good Luck Steel Tube closed at Rs 99.90, up Rs 3.60, or 3.74 percent. The 52-week high of the share was Rs 117.85 and the 52-week low was Rs 64.90. The company’s trailing 12-month (TTM) EPS was at Rs 15.73 per share as per the quarter ended September 2015. The stock’s price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio was 6.35. The latest book value of the company is Rs 82.24 per share. At current value, the price-to-book value of the company is 1.21.

Railways to seek suggestion on Regulator draft

Suresh Prabhu at FICCINew Delhi: Railways will seek suggestions from all stakeholders including public on constitution of a regulatory authority to suggest freight rates and passenger fares.

The draft of regulatory authority is ready and we will soon circulate it seeking views from all concerned, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said at the FICCI meeting here.

As per the plan, public transporter will constitute Railway Regulatory Authority of India, an independent body, to decide passenger fares and freight rate, a shift of regulatory responsibility from the government to an independent regulator is required to attract private sector.

He said the regulator will fix fares for passengers and freight.

“Besides fixing fares, regulator will also have efficiency parameters. We will take the finalised draft to Parliament,” Prabhu said.

In an apparent dig at the previous regime, Prabhu said “railways is under strain because of the lack of investment in critical areas. We inherited several challenges from the past including freight and passenger operation.”

Referring to the 7th Pay Commission recommendations as “unbearable burden on railways finances”, he said, “The Pay Commission reports will have a significant impact on finances and it will also impact the operating ratio. We will see what to do.”

Describing railways as an “engine of growth”, he said railways will present its vision for 2030.

“We are working on it to present new vision 2030,” Prabhu said.

Outlining future plan, he said “We presented Rail Budget for a year and perspective plan for five years last year. We intend to invest Rs 8.5 lakh crore in the next five years.”

He said the focus is on doubling and trebling instead of constructing new lines and also improving passengers amenities like better catering service, new interior, redeveloped stations.

Prabhu said “there is a need for business-friendly approach in railways. Instead of just delivering the goods from one station to another we should think how to offer end-to-end solution through multi-modal transportation system involving other mode of transportation.

Railways in talks with World Bank: says Adviser (Finance)

The Railways is in talks with World Bank to set up a Rail India Development Fund (RIDF) in order to finance projects, PV Vaidialingam, Adviser (Finance), Railway Board, said at a FICCI conference. The Railways has already spent ₹22,000 crore of the ₹40,000 crore gross budgetary support in the current fiscal, he added.

Indian Railways to Monetise Land Holdings

New Delhi: The cash-strapped Indian Railways, that has proposed an ambitious Rs.8.56 lakh crore investment plan for the next five years, is working on a blueprint to monetise its vast land holdings, the government said.

The Railways owns about 4.62 lakh hectares of land across the country, of which nearly 4.15 lakh of those hectares are utilised for its operations. The Indian Railways has digitised most of its land records, said Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha, in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

The vacant land of about 46,333 hectares, some of which is not required by Railways for its immediate operational needs, is utilized in the interim period for commercial development through Rail Land Development Authority wherever feasible, in order to mobilise additional financial resources.

“Indian Railways have also digitised details of vacant plots of land measuring more than one acre to chalk out the blue print for monetisation of its vacant land,” Mr. Sinha said.

International Technical Conference on “Rail Coach Interiors, Innovation, Safety, Comfort” held

IRSE ConferenceNew Delhi: With Guidance and support from Indian Railways and Railway PSU “Rail India Technical and Economic Service” (RITES), “Institute of Rolling Stock Engineers” (IRSE) and “Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers Association” (IRSMEA), are organizing an international technical conference on “ Rail Coach Interiors: Innovation, Safety, Comfort” at New Delhi on 09th and 10thOctober, 2015.

China, Japan, Italy, Spain, Austria, England, Germany, France and Australia are likely to attend the conference. Themes and sub-themes for the conference are as follows:

  1. Ergonomic Rail Coach layouts and amenities
  • Seating and Berthing systems
  • Case studies: space optimization
  • Paneling of walls, partitions and cellings
  • Colour schemes: Interiors and Exteriors
  • Flooring systems
  1. Passenger Safety, Security and Accessibility systems
  • Vestibules and gangways
  • CCTV system for rail transport applications
  • Provision of Automatic Entrance and Interior Doors
  • Window systems
  • Ladder arrangements for climbing on coaches and berths
  • Signages on coaches
  • Facilities for differently abled persons
  1. Air-conditioning & train lighting system
  • Air conditioning system, Ducting
  • Modern Train lighting system
  • Passenger information display system
  1. Hygiene friendly coach toilets and amenities
  • Coach toilets with optimized space and modern fittings
  • Pest and Rodent control measures
  • Dustbins and garbage storage and disposal system
  1. Innovative materials for interior furnishing and coatings
  • Light weight shell and furnishing materials
  • Maintenance free/friendly furnishing materials
  • Cost effective, aesthetically pleasing and safe materials
  • Interior Noise and Dust reduction measures
  1. Tourist, Service Coaches and equipments
  • Luxury coach designs
  • Pantry/Hot Buffet cars and equipments
  • Water/Coffee vending machines
  1. Financing Models for interior upgradation of coaches

Backgrounder:

Indian Railways have a total fleet of 62000 coaches (approx.) running in around 12600 trains and carries over 25 million passengers daily. To meet growing expectations of the passengers for comfort and safety, there is need to upgrade interiors of Indian Railway (IR) coaches for better comfort and safety through use of innovative materials and designs. Majority fleet on Indian Railway coaches is non-air-conditioned which poses different challenges in their interior designs. These coaches traverse the length and breadth of the country with varying climatic conditions. This would require adaptation of proven products and technologies under IR operating conditions. New ideas and concepts also need to be tried out.

Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) is the R & D arm of Indian Railways located at Lucknow responsible for R and D works in all railway related disciplines and leads the process of technology induction. Working directly under Ministry of Railways, it is also responsible for standardization of all railway systems on Indian Railways.

RITES Ltd. is a Government of India Enterprise under the aegis of Indian Railways. An ISO 9001-2008 company, RITES is a multi-disciplinary consultancy organization in the field of transport, infrastructure and related technologies.

For more information about the conference website: www.ric.irse.co.in. can be referred.

Railways to set up Panel to re-evaluate Bandra land’s worth, auction again soon

The 43,000 SqMt Railway Land in Bandra put up for lease by Railways
The 43,000 SqMt Railway Land in Bandra put up for lease by Railways

Mumbai Bandra (BA): A 43,000 square metre of railway land close to the in Bandra (East) station, which has seen three failed tenders for commercial development since May last year, is being readied again for commercial development. The railways is setting up a panel to re-valuate the land’s worth. However, the bad news for the construction industry is that the railway ministry has told Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) that the lease period of the land would be 45 years and not anything longer as building firms in the city had demanded.

Speaking to dna, YP Singh, vice-chairman of RLDA, said, “The ministry has said that the lease would be of 45 years. Of course, the system is such that after expiry of 45 years, the entity which got the lease will have the right to first refusal.

It means that after 45 years when the land is put up for bidding again, the firm holding the lease will be asked to match the highest bid that we get. In case he does, the entity gets lease of the land for another term. Or else, the highest bidder in the bid gets the land. We believe this is good enough and will attract firms as and when the land is put up for bidding.”

Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation had asked RLDA to go for a longer lease to attract the city’s construction industry.

Singh said that the revaluation of the land is mandated by the law if more than three years have passed since the last valuation. “This process of valuating the land will take 3-4 months. After this groundwork bidding would take another couple of months. We believe that we can put up the land for bidding for commercial development in 6 months,” said Singh.

The plot of land has been one of the most vexed and long-running land dispute between the state and the Central government — represented by Western Railway in this case — with the fight going back almost a decade. It started way back in September 2008, when the RLDA moved to auction the plot to garner revenue. The matter soon landed in court after the state claimed that the land belonged to it rather than the railways. The matter played out at the Suburban Collector’s office as well the office of the Divisional Commissioner of Konkan before the state revenue minister gave his order on December 2012 adjudicating that the plot belonged to the railways.

In November last year, WR applied for a property card for the land.

The plot sale is crucial for the finance of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project’s (MUPT) phase II works and not being able to commercially exploit it would jeopardise several railway projects. Under railway rules, one-third of the proceeds will be used for a railway project in Mumbai, one-third for a railway project in Maharashtra (outside Mumbai) and the rest for a railway project anywhere in India.

RLDA to meet Mumbai MPs to speed up Land Development

Mumbai: The Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) – the arm of the Indian Railways entrusted with commercially developing railway lands – will be meeting local Members of Parliament of areas under the jurisdiction of Central and Western Railways over Thursday and Friday to discuss ways to speed up ways to monetize surplus land parcels owned by the railways.

Y.P. Singh, Vice-Chairman, Rail Land Development Authority
Y.P. Singh, Vice-Chairman, Rail Land Development Authority

The team, led by its Vice-Chairman Y.P.Singh, will be giving the MPs a lowdown on the steps taken so far to develop vacant plots of land and the hurdles that are coming up along the way.

There is a glut in the market and commercial development of several plots has not got off the way we would have liked. This meeting is a way to ensure that this process can be quickened, said Mr.Singh.

Despite being a state that has had a very robust construction industry and the huge potential for land parcels in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and some other cities, the railways has so far drawn a mixed bag when it comes to land development in Maharashtra.

It was earlier highlighted how the four plots of land that the railways had earmarked for development were all lying defunct due to a multitude of problems.

This includes a 43000 square metre plot of land Bandra east, an 8900 square meter plot of land along the eastern fringe of Thane station,a 28600 square metre plot in Mulund – near the railway goods shed- and a 38600 square metre plot along the eastern boundary of Bhandup station. The Bandra plot is facing an issue of lease period. While the railways stipulate that its maximum lease would be for 45 years, the construction industry in Mumbai believes that the ideal lease would be anything above 80 years.

The Bhandup plot was rejected by the state government as the supporting infrastructure- like roads, sewarage – around the plot are not developed enough to take the load of a huge commercial complex there. The Mulund plot is also lying dormant because of the general downturn in commercial real estate in the Mulund area.

Dull real-estate scene shatters Railways’ Rs.10000 Crore dream

RAIL RealtyMumbai: The much-hyped commercial development of railway land in Mumbai is just refusing to take off. All the four railway plots – at Thane, Bandra, Mulund and Bhandup – have got stuck in various issues, putting paid to railways’ hopes of reaping upwards of Rs 10,000 crore to invest in the creaking railway infrastructure. The biggest of them all – a 43,000 sq m plot in land Bandra (E) has already seen two failed tenders, in May-July 2014, and now city-based railway officials say it could work, only if major changes are made to the tender requirements.

“The railway’s rule that land will be leased only for 45 years is proving a hurdle in Mumbai. Real-estate firms want a longer lease. Secondly, there is a demand for residential property in the city but the railways is not keen to give its land for residential purposes as it would mean losing the plot forever,” said a top railway official.

An 8,900 sq m plot of land along the eastern fringe of Thane station, which the railways wants to convert into a ground parking plus two-floor commercial complex, has now got stuck as well.

“The state government had agreed to a Floor Space Index of 3 for the plot and traffic issues had been sorted out. However, with Thane being chosen as one of the 400 stations to be redeveloped under the Swiss Challenge method, this plot of land will have to be kept untouched to fit in with this new plan,” said the official.

The other plots that have got stuck are a 28,600 sq m one in Mulund, near the railway goods shed, and a 38,600 sq m plot along the eastern boundary of the Bhandup station. “The Bhandup plan has been rejected by the state government as it believes there is no supporting infrastructure like roads and water supply, among other things, in case the plot has to be commercially developed,” said the official.

The plot at Mulund is not getting positive vibes, said officials, because of the overall slump in the commercial property scene. “There is a shortage of buyers for commercial space in complexes along LBS Road, Mulund’s most developed spine. Malls there are shutting shop to convert into residential enclaves. Under such circumstances, expecting buyers for a plot of land much farther away from LBS Road is too optimistic,” said the official.

Prabhat Sahai, CMD, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, said: “We will have to take a pragmatic case-by-case approach for commercial development of railway land in Mumbai rather than the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ method. At the same time, there has to be 100% transparency in all deals. Hopefully, commercial development of railway land in Mumbai will take off soon.” MRVC has been entrusted with developing the four plots.

With no proper Revenue Targets and Business Plan in place, investments in MFCs to prove dearer for IR

Indian Railways is actually not a revenue deficient entity… rather it is being pushed towards Bankruptcy – says an Observer.  So, who is pushing it towards bankruptcy?… they are none other than those lethargic officials with low quality-conscious mindset.  One such classic example added is the case of MFCs built by RLDA and IRCON at various Railway Stations in India deteriorating day by day due to low incumbency factor, poor maintenance, lack of revenues targets, coupled with unprofessional approach towards such assets by IR.  The key reason for such a failure of these costly new assets is purely due to lack of professional approach in business and poor revenue planning

Madurai (MDU): This is one of the classic example on how Railway revenues are being wasted by IR and its various entities in the form of different mega projects.  Most often, such facilities are being viewed as the best Publicity Stunts by IR Officials and can be the matter to fill their ACRs in the achievement column.  However many such lavish assets are proved to be unsuccessful adventures on Indian Railways.  Munti-Functional Complexes are the ones being built by IR across the country but without professional approach on how to create and generate revenues from such assets.  More surprising is that there is no proper maintain atleast for such costly infrastructure/assets across the country.

The Multi-Functional Complex (MFC) project at Madurai has been carried out by Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) with the intention of utilising the unused land on the railway premises for some constructive purposes. The construction work was carried out by IRCON and was completed with underground car parking facility in 2012.

Constructed at a cost of Rs 7.2 crore, the two-storeyed complex has 40 additional rooms to accommodate the passengers and the rooms are of three-star quality and there are also few suites among them for the ones seeking more luxury. There are two conference rooms accommodating 300 to 350 and 100 to 150 people respectively with a pantry facility in the first floor. The ground floor was designed to have a restaurant, coffee shop, utility shops, ATMs, information centre and leisure room for the passengers.

Though it was expected in August, 2012 that RLDA would float tenders from interested people to run the complex, it never materialised. In spite of having state-of-the-art facility, there were no bidders and it was alleged the clauses in the contract were unrealistic.

What should have been a wonderful place to hang out during train journeys has become a den of anti-social elements, according to rail users. “When the railways was talking so much to utilise its resources, the multifunctional complex is decaying with time without seeing the light,” said member of Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee and president of Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, N Jegatheesan.

Under these circumstances, Southern Railway general manager, Vashishta Johri who inspected the Madurai division on Thursday said that they are looking at utilizing such buildings. “Many such buildings in zonal railways are underutilized due to various factors and we are fixing them one by one,” he said.  Three years after the Multifunctional Complex was constructed at the Madurai Junction railway station and left to deteriorate, the facility may begin functioning from August – according to Additional Divisional Railway Manager, R V B Babu.  The railways has identified a new agency to operate the complex and would start functioning from there shortly, he added.

RDSO to expedite Anti-Collision System

Lucknow: Railway Board chairman AK Mittal on Friday directed Research Designs and Standards Organization to give top priority to the Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). Mittal was in the city for governing council meeting at RDSO.

Trains run inordinately delayed during fog. “At present, drivers have no technical assistance available to safely operate the trains during such conditions. TCAS will fill in the gap,” he said. The trail is underway for last one year in Secunderabad division of South Central Railway.

TCAS will upgrade level of safety by several notches if implemented all over Indian Railways because it generates derailment alerts and apply emergency brakes in critical situations like two trains coming on the same track.

Since TCAS works on both signaling and non-signaling technology, it can control ‘human error’ too. At present, trial for TCAS is on in 250km section with onboard equipment in 40 locomotives.

It is a train control system with additional features like generating SOS alerts, applying emergency brakes, controlling over-speed, cab signaling, preventing driver from jumping red signal and ensuring safety in fog when visibility is reduced by several meters.

Polo Towers Group ties up with IRCON ISL; sets up Hotel in MFC Allahabad

Allahabad (ALD): Shillong based Hotel Polo Towers Group has launched Hotel Polo Max and Food Court in Allahabad railway station compound. The group has entered into a PPP with IRCON Infrastructure & Services (IRCON ISL) under ministry of railways, GoI to set up the hotel in Allahabad. IRCON ISL is developing Multi-Functional Complexes (MFCs) in identified stations for providing rail users facilities like shopping, book-shops, medicine, variety stores, food plazas, budget hotels, underground parking facilities, etc.

Out of the 50 identified stations for the development of MFCs, the Railway Board has proposed to take up work at 24 railway station premises in phases serving places of pilgrimage, industry and tourist interest through IRCON ISL and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA). Land on long term lease basis is arranged by RLDA.

The Allahabad hotel was recently inaugurated by Suresh Prabhu, Union railway minister. “Our commitment is to create world-class hospitality and dining facilities for the people,” said Deval Tibrewalla, CEO & Director, Hotel Polo Towers Group. Apart from the hotel facilities, the complex features a food court. The highlights of the food court include large screens for sporting events, a variety of cuisines from all over the world, and music. Polo Food Court Allahabad will soon feature real-time train information for the convenience of travellers.

The group currently owns hotels and resorts in Shillong, Cherrapunjee and Tura in Meghalaya. Commenting on the group’s immediate future plans, Tibrewalla said, “We aim to launch 50 such properties. The next is similar kind of a project within the Jabalpur railway station compound in Madhya Pradesh, which will be launched shortly.”

The chain will soon introduce app based check-in using near field communications thereby making the room key redundant for its guests. Additions such as room service ordering through the app and settling of bills on the mobile phone are in the pipeline.

UIC and Japan Railways organizes “9th World Congress on High Speed Rail” between 7-10 July 2015 at Tokyo

The 9th World Congress on High Speed Rail “UIC HIGHSPEED 2015” will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all professionals worldwide to review the past half century and to envision the next half century

Paris: UIC alongwith East Japan Railway Company is co-organising 9th World Congress on High Speed Rail “UIC HIGHSPEED 2015. It is the largest international congress and exhibition devoted to High Speed Rail in the world, which has been initiated by UIC and gathered 1,000 to 2,000 professionals once every few years since 1992, will finally come back to the birth place of High Speed Rail, Japan.

The Congress is being coordinated by East Japan Railway Company in collaboration with all parties involved in high speed rail in Japan, and more generally with all UIC member railways. This is the world’s most important meeting for high-speed rail, and is expected to attract more than 1,000 attendees from across the globe to exchange views on the development and achievements of high-speed rail worldwide. The World Congress will feature international rail experts on transportation policy and technology. It will bring the public and private sectors together to provide insight and identify best practices for implementing high-speed rail projects at every stage – from planning, financing, and construction, to operations and management. Also, the Congress will feature an exhibit showcasing high-speed rail products and services.

This edition of UIC HIGHSPEED Congress 2015 in Tokyo will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all High Speed Rail professionals including decision makers, authorities, railway industry, railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, research institutes, universities and others to review the past half century and to envision the next half century of high speed train operations worldwide.
UIC Highspeed Rail Conference 2015

Congress overview and 50-50 concept

The 9th UIC HIGHSPEED World Congress in Tokyo will coincide with the 50th anniversary of high speed train operations worldwide. Indeed, since 1964, many different countries and regions worldwide have opened and developed their own high speed system. 15 billion passengers have travelled at global level – twice the world’s population – for the past half century. Nowadays there are nearly 23,000 km of dedicated high speed lines operating in the world. In 20 years, this figure will double.

The Congress will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all professionals worldwide to review the past half century and to envision the next half century. Therefore, unlike past congresses, the 9th UIC HIGHSPEED Congress will embrace the “50-50 concept” which will create a temporal dynamism throughout the congress. That is, the first half of the congress will focus on challenges already raised and the lessons drawn from experience over the past 50 years, and the last half will focus on the new challenges to face and the opportunities to take over the next 50 years.

In addition to the above-mentioned temporal “50-50 concept”, the congress will embrace the concept of the topics to be presented and discussed. That is, half of the topics will focus on political, managerial and administrative issues, and the other half will focus on technological issues, because both are essential to review and envision High Speed Rail. Therefore the congress will have and revolve around the 5 parallel sessions with the 5 streams:

  • Infrastructure and other fixed installations
  • Rolling Stock
  • Management
  • Customers
  • Culture and Society.

The 9th UIC HIGHSPEED World Congress will reflect the temporal and topical 50-50 concept on its programme and will be structured:
UIC Highspeed Rail Congress 2015 Agenda

  • Trade exhibition to illustrate the latest development of products and services in the field of High Speed. The exhibition will be held in the same resort as the congress sessions.
  • Technical visits with 8 courses including rides on Shinkansen trains running at a maximum speed of 320km/h and varieties of Shinkansen related facilities.

This UIC HIGHSPEED 2015 World Congress will be held at Tokyo International Forum, located in the middle of the Marunouchi business district, between Tokyo Station and Yùrakuchò Station.

Website: http://www.uic-highspeed2015.com
Time-to-Time Programme : 
http://www.uic-highspeed2015.com/programme/index.html

Contacts:
UIC Media: Maguelonne de Cossart, decossart@uic.org
UIC Communications Department : com@uic.org
UIC Congress Secretariat: uic2015-reg@congre.co.jp
UIC Organisation: Hervé Aubert, aubert@uicorg

Download: [UIC HighSpeed 2015 Brochure] [Registration for UIC HighSpeed 2015]

About UIC (International Union of Railways)

The UIC (Union internationale des chemins de fer) or International Union of Railways, is an international rail transport industry body. The UIC’s mission is “to promote rail transport at world level and meet the challenges of mobility and sustainable development. As on date there are 202 members in the UIC across all 5 continents with 78 active members (including the railways from Europe, Russia, the Middle East, North Africa, South Africa, India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Korea, Kazakhstan, and companies operating worldwide such as Veolia Transport), 51 associate members (including railways from Asia, Africa, America and Australia), 72 affiliate members (related or ancillary rail transport businesses or services).

Rail Wheel Factory/Yalahanka factory-test LHB Wheels at 160 Kmph speed

Yelahanka (YNK): The wheels of the high speed Indian trains like Shatabdi and Duronto expresses which are currently being imported from Europe are all set to sport the “Made in India“ tag. The Yelahanka based Rail Wheel Factory (RWF) is testing the indigenously manufactured wheels that can clock speeds up to 160 kmph. Currently, RWF is manufacturing wheels that are run at speeds of only up to 120 kmph.

The new wheel, called the LHB wheel, will be fit on the air-conditioned stainless steel coaches that are manufactured using the design by Linke Hofmann Busch (hence called LHB wheels).

Currently, the LHB wheels being used by the Indian Railways are imported. In April this year, when Indian Railways faced a shortage of LHB wheels, it asked RWF and the Lucknow based Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) to speed up the process of developing LHB wheels in India itself.

An RWF technical staff member said, “The newly developed LHB Wheels have a larger diameter.When the diameter is more the area covered and speed automatically increases.The outer ring of the wheel is also made thicker so as to be able to bare the load even when it reaches its maximum speed. These wheels cannot be used for non-LHB coaches.“

RWF had submitted its designs for the LHB wheels earlier this year. The designs were tested by RDSO on a software called the Finite Element Analysis Software. The measurement of the wheels are fed into the software and the capacity of thermal load, impact load, speed load are calculated and checked and RDSO then gave the go-ahead signal to RWF/Yelahanka to manufacture the first set of wheels. The first set of wheels are put on physical checks for three years.

Another technical staff member of RWF said, “The wheels have to be checked on various railway tracks across India. Sometimes the tracks are loose in some places; tracks may be wider is some areas, there are some specific turns where if the wheels are not aligned properly it could lead to major accidents. Then the sand density is checked in various areas. The sand density check is the second most important aspect to be considered in terms of rail wheels. This whole process takes three years. Once testing period is over and the wheels are used on regular basis they need to be changed after completion of one lakh kilometres.“

During the testing period the wheels are attached to empty trains. The development of the LHB wheels was taken up after the LHB coaches began to be manufactured in India.

Railway has squatters on Rs.5000 Crore land in Bandra, Khar

Mumbai: The eastern stretch of Bandra and Khar might be among the worst hit in the country as far as encroachment on railway land is concerned with statistics showing that the area has a whopping 46,220 square metres of railway land overrun by 3,935 shanty units. The cost of these land parcels could be at least Rs.5,000 Crore if real estate rates in the area are anything to go by, said officials.

Incidentally a 43,000 square metre plot of railway land, less than a kilometre away from these land parcels, has been put up for sale by the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) and officials estimate the sale price of that land- as and when it happens, to be in the region of around Rs 5000 crore.

A group called the Navpada Kabrastan Rasta Bachao Andolan has already started sending out messages about carrying out a signature campaign in Bandra East opposing the fifth line

Railways, NID go back to the drawing board to improve efficiency

Ahmedabad (ADI): On board an intercity train called EMU (electrical multiple unit), how important is it to hold on to the grab handle so that one does not fall on some other person or in a long-distance train, to get on to the upper berth without having to go through the embarrassment of losing one’s balance?

These are some of the 50 areas identified for innovative design changes, where the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design will work with the Indian Railways.

“We ourselves have the capability to redesign but our responses are conditioned so we thought there is no harm in getting fresh inputs,” Hemant Kumar, member (mechanical), Railway Board, told.

The design for the ladder was specifically mentioned by Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu when the areas for design changes were being identified, said Kumar.

Earlier, ladders in passenger coaches had just two steps with the first step being too high, but then three steps were created. Initially, there was use of steel pipe but to make it injury friendly, PU cover was being used.

“Now we are studying whether a fourth step can be added. But, the biggest challenge is to climb the side upper berth where you climb in one direction but have to suddenly turn,” he said. The climbing device could be in conjunction with something else like a hand holder.

Initially, ladders, toilets and colour schemes have been identified as possible areas for redesigning. The design for toilets, for instance, has to be such that from operational and cleanability point of view, it is an improvement over the existing design. The design also has to ensure to a large extent that the toilet remains clean during the journey.

In the normal course, layout and design of trains and their coaches is worked out by the Railways’ Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), which after being approved by the Railway Board, undergoes detailed designing by the production units like Rail Coach Factory and Integrated Coach Factory. The new initiative with NID is, however, for out of the box thinking.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed between the Railways and NID last month, an offsite facility of NID would be created within the RDSO campus. Some of the design ideas relating to station architecture, coach interiors, platforms and circulating areas could be physically exhibited at Manaknagar station which serves RDSO.

The Railways has created a corpus of Rs 10 crore with interest on this amount funding some of these redesigning activities. Monitoring would be done by a committee though the shortlisted designs would be tested and report on them would be studied by the respective directorates in the Railways.

Another important experiment with regard to design is to prevent dustbins from overflowing during journeys.

“The focus is to increase the capacity of dustbins, so we are trying out the concept of a compactor. Initial design has been tried out in one coach in the Central railway,” said Kumar. “By trial, we have seen that the capacity of dustbins increases by five to six times.”

The existing capacity of dustbins is 20 litre of garbage. The Railways are trying to bring in special bins that can carry 35 litres and then add compactor to it.

“We are seeing whether existing dustbins can be retrofitted or new ones will be required. The issue of safety needs to be resolved so that a user’s hand does not get injured in the compactor,” said Kumar.

HOTEL LOAD CONCEPT

From cost efficiency point of view, the Railways is also trying a completely new model of powering coaches. The concept of hotel load has been tried on five trains.

Power to coaches is conventionally supplied from power cars which make a lot of noise. These cars have diesel gensets mounted on them to meet the entire power requirement of air-conditioning, lighting and fan which is called hotel load.

The new idea is based on the concept that diesel locomotives are also power houses on wheels and can generate power. So, two locomotives are attached to either side of the train, and instead of the power cars, two additional coaches are attached to the rake.

Since diesel is used more efficiently by a locomotive because it has a far more efficient engine compared to diesel gensets, the total diesel utilisation would come down. Power acceleration would be doubled. With less fuel, it can generate same power. If hotel load requirement is less at a given point of time, then the balance power can be used for traction. Since more passengers can be carried in less time, the line capacity also increases. Coupler force, too, gets reduced because there is push and pull force working from back and front.

Hotel load has been tried out in the Ajmer-Rewari train set.

“We can start regular service with passenger trains during peak summer. The cost of laying extra line is Rs 8-9 crore per kilometre but if the throughput can increase through this, then it is worth it even if it means more locomotives.”

Govt in discussions with World Bank and ADB for a funding mechanism to fast track Rail projects

New Delhi; With capacity expansion a priority for Indian Railways (IR), the government is in discussion with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for a funding mechanism to fast track railway projects.

IR, senior officials told, could form a company or float a fund. “Discussion is on but we aim to get the funds flowing this year,” said one.

Last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said India’s partnership with ADB should move to a higher level. At the first business session of its 48th annual meet, at Baku in Azerbaijan, he sought its “deeper engagement” for developing smart cities, industrial corridors and railways, as part of the government’s flagship initiatives such as ‘Make In India’ and ‘Skill India’.IR says it has a shelf of pending projects originally estimated to cost Rs 491,510 crore. Of these, priorities such as doubling, new lines, gauge conversion, traffic facilities and electrification is estimated at Rs 208,054 crore. Officials said such prioritization can ensure a sustained flow of funds and focused attention given for completion. These will have a direct bearing on line capacity, ensuring higher earning and asset utilisation.

IR has identified 77 projects worth around Rs 1 lakh crore for being taken up in the first instance. Most of these are line doubling projects, where utilisation is more than 100 per cent of capacity. “One round of meeting with railway public sector units (PSUs) has already happened,” said an official.

Suresh Prabhu, the minister, had in his budget speech this February said IR would spend Rs 8.5 lakh crore over five years. “Around Rs 2.5 lakh crore of this would be raised as debt. This includes rolling stock financing through IRFC (the rail finance corporation). As the ministry cannot borrow, we are arranging debt either through IRFC or PSUs,” the official said. Lending from multilateral agencies would come through gross budgetary support from the ministry of finance, he added.Freight corridor

The World Bank, it has already been decided, is to fund a stretch of the 1,800-km eastern arm of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project. The money is being planned in three tranches, for the stretches of Khurja-Kanpur, Kanpur-Mughalsarai and Khurja-Ludhiana.

Financing for the 725 km section between Ludhiana and Mughalsarai will be undertaken over three phases by the Bank. The first tranche of this loan, aggregating to $975 million (Rs 6,250 crore), has been signed.Another multilateral lending agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), is funding the western corridor of DFC.

It is providing ¥677 billion (Rs 36,200 crore) as a loan to finance both construction and procurement of locomotives, on soft terms, for 40 years, with a payment moratorium of 10 years. The agreement for a first tranche of ¥90.2 bn for construction between Rewari and Vadodara and funding for Phase-II (Vadodara-Navi Mumbai port) for ¥266 bn has been signed.

New Delhi’s First Driverless Metro Line will be Equipped with Frauscher Axle Counting System

New Delhi: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRC) awarded Japan-based Nippon Signal Co. Ltd. with a contract to supply communications-based train control (CBTC) system for Line 8 – the capital city’s first driverless metro line, which is currently under construction. Nippon has chosen Frauscher Sensor Technology India Pvt Ltd as a partner for supply of axle counters for this project.

Axle Counter as fall back arrangement in CBTC system

In a CBTC system, as a fall back arrangement, axle counters are used as track vacancy detection system to locate the train in case of failure of primary radio communication. In order to facilitate this requirement, Nippon has chosen RDSO-approved Frauscher-make Axle Counter System ACS2000. The contract awarded to the company involves approximately 300 track sections and about 312 counting heads.

Ideal choice for DMRC metro project

“We are glad to be a part of the upcoming metro project of the country’s capital. Track vacancy detection forms an essential element for confirming track availability and conducting safe operations.

“Tested and proven Frauscher ACS2000 used along with Wheel Sensor RSR180 can be customised to suit unique requirements. Also, in case of mass transit applications, it is preferred not to drill holes on the track to fix axle counter wheel sensors.

“All Frauscher wheel sensors can be mounted on track using the patented rail claw without drilling. The absence of any electronics on the trackside location boxes, the quick installation process, and the product’s ability to function under extreme environmental influences, makes ACS2000 an ideal choice for this project”, said Alok Sinha, Managing Director, Frauscher Sensor Technology India Private Limited.

First driverless train in Delhi

The Line 8 ambitious project of DMRC is the first driverless train operation system in Delhi. The project will be spread across 36.4km line, which will follow the outer ring road south of the city from Janakpuri West to Hauz, Khas, Kalindj Kunj, and botanical garden in Noida. The Line 8 will have 26 stations, 12 of them underground, and 19km of the route will be elevated or at grade with the remaining 17.3km in tunnels. The new line is a much anticipated solution for traffic congestion on roads, due to rapis increase of vehicles.

The first phase of Line 8 will open in June 2015 and services will be operated by six-car trains with peak headways of 2 minute 15 seconds, with a commercial speed of around 35km/h, and the hourly capacity being higher than existing Metro lines of DMRC.

Privatisation: Allow private players to do business directly with public only after Rail Regulator in place

Over the past few decades the railways has been losing share both in freight and passenger traffic. Hence it’s time to take a relook at the behemoth.

The Bibek Debroy-headed committee outlined a seven-year plan for transforming the transport monolith into a “government-owned Special Purpose Vehicle”.

It said the Railway Board should be overhauled to permit the entry of private stakeholders, but refrained from recommending full privatisation of the railways.

The committee called for bifurcation of the railways to separate the functions of track and infrastructure development from the business of operating trains and suggested setting up of an infrastructure corporation to undertake track and signalling work.

Citing examples of railways around the world, the panel recommended creation of an independent Railway Regulator of India to oversee the function of the commissioner of railway safety.

The report made a strong case for transparency and efficiency to attract public-private and foreign investment as the world’s fifth largest rail network suffers from chronic underinvestment.

The upshot of the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy committee is that the Indian Railways is reaching a point where it needs investment which is something Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had also acknowledged in his budget speech.

The idea of attracting investment in rolling stock is praiseworthy and it can be executed in two ways – One, by allowing private firms to establish their units and then sell to the railways, although this may take a little more time; and two, by privatising the units under the Indian Railways, but this may face political opposition. But the devil is always in the detail. When it comes to the rolling stock, the question will remain as to whether the private initiative will be in just the supply of the stock and accepting a one-time payment, or giving the stock on lease to the Indian Railways.

The more difficult part is the laying down and maintenance of tracks, and how to put a mark-up on the maintenance part. Given the difficulties in land acquisition, will any private party be interested in track laying? The same goes for signalling.

Also the suggestion of the panel that there should be a Railway Regulatory Authority has to be handled deftly so that it does not encroach upon the powers of the Railway Board. This fits in well with the E Sreedharan committee’s suggestion to decentralise procurement to prevent losses due to cartelisation.

What is most prescient is the panel’s suggestion that the railway establishment should be unbundled into two entities, one running freight and passenger trains and the other handling infrastructural work. This will mean the virtual corporatisation of the railway system.

But what is premature is allowing private firms to directly provide the freight and passenger service because the private parties are bound to ask for a free hand in setting rates, and the whole matter may land in the lap of the regulator. Allowing private players to do business directly with the public should perhaps be deliberated on at greater length before a decision is taken.

TD Power Systems stocks rallies on the Order win for supply of Traction Alternators to DLW/Varanasi

The stock rallied 10% to Rs 377 after the company received order from DLW to supply 10 traction alternators.

Dobbaspet (DBS), Bangalore Rural: TD Power Systems has rallied 10% to Rs 377 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) after thecompany said that it has received order from Diesel Locomotive Works to supply 10 traction alternators.

Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) is a production unit owned by Indian Railways and the largest diesel-electric locomotive manufacturer in India. These Traction alternators are mounted on EDM locomotives manufactured by DLW in India.

“The order is based on a provisional approval consequent to an RDSO capability audit of the Company. The Journey commenced in March 2013 culminating into this trial order,” TD Power Systems said in a press release.

After acceptance of the generators by DLW, the Company stands to be eligible for significant orders especially with the massive capex plan that the Indian Railways announced in the recent Union budget, it added.

The stock opened at Rs 369 and hit a high of Rs 382 on the NSE. A combined 147,445 shares changed hands on the counter till 0952 hours on the NSE and BSE.

Kochi Metro signs Agreement for additional Term Loan of Rs.366 Crore with Coop Bank

Kochi: Kochi Metro Rail Limited signed an agreement for additional term loan of Rs 366 crore with the Ernakulam District Cooperative Bank for funding land acquisition requirements for the ongoing Metro Rail project here.

The Ernakulam District Cooperative Bank had earlier sanctioned Rs.470 crore for KMRL.

“However, since the amount of Rs 104 Crore, which will be required for widening of Vyttila- Petta road, needs cabinet approval, KMRL and DCB signed agreement only for Rs 366 crore as the first tranche,” a KMRL statement said here.

The cabinet approval on this is expected in a month’s time and the agreement for the rest of the amount will be signed separately after this, it said.

KMRL also decided to explore the possibility of obtaining a supplementary loan for land acquisition as the Kerala government was unable to release sufficient funds as required to complete the land acquisition.

“This loan will be subject to repayment by the Government of Kerala from their annual budgetary provisions over a period of 12 years.

“The loan will be available for a floating interest rate of 9.95 per cent, which is linked to SBI’s base rate of interest and with no attached charges including processing fee,” the statement added.

The first phase of the Kochi Metro project is expected to be set up at an estimated cost of Rs 5,181 crore. It is expected to be completed by mid-2016.

SC sends material used in Rail Coaches for Toxicity Test

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sent the material used in the flooring and seats in railway coaches for tests to reputed chemical laboratories to verify allegations about their toxicity.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu asked additional solicitor general Neeraj Kishan Kaul to send in 10 days the material listed by the court for toxicity test to FRLS Laboratory in Central Power Research Institute, Bangalore and Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad.

The samples of material used in coaches — polyester fibre block used for cushioning in seats and berths, PVC sheets used for flooring, PVC coated fibre glass used as top cover for berths, and textile fabric used as curtains in coaches – were brought to the court by Kaul in compliance with the its November 18 order.

Petitioner Abhay Singh requested the court to include fire safety testing of these material. However, Kaul pointed out that in the PIL, the petitioner had sought only toxicity test of these material samples.

Singh requested the court to appoint an independent expert who would supervise testing of these material in the two reputed laboratories. However, the court said, “Let us have faith in the system and get the samples tested.” The court asked for the test reports in six weeks.

The petitioner had alleged use of sub-standard material for furnishing interiors of coaches, which had caused asphyxiation deaths due to inhalation of toxic gases by passengers during fire accidents.

“Unfortunately, the standards fixed by the Railway Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO) are not being followed in letter and spirit. The material used in the railway coaches emit toxic gases much beyond the permissible limit. The officials of the railways are apparently aware of this basic flaw in the material being purchased and used in the passenger coaches,” the petitioner had said and alleged that there was a nexus between officers responsible for purchase of these material and the suppliers.

Bombardier rake finally takes off in Mumbai

Finally, ‘user-friendly’ Bombardier rake makes debut run at 80 kmph

22TrainMumbai: The city got its newest make of rakes when the Integral Coach Factory Chennai built and Bombardier powered rake motored out of Churchgate station at 11:32 a.m. on Wednesday. The new age Bombardier rake, brought to Mumbai in October 2013 but not inducted into the Western Railway (WR) fleet, was finally flagged off on Wednesday after approval from the Railway Board.  This rake along with the white and purple Siemens rakes will be the staple of Mumbai’s suburban fleet over the next couple of decades.

319590-bombardierThe inauguration marked the end of possibly the most delayed episode in train trials and tests in the history of Indian railways.

The debut train left the Churchgate Railway Station at 11.32 am from platform number 2 for Borivali, at an average speed of 80 kmph on the slow lines.

The Bombardier rake, built in Chennai, arrived in the city in October 2013 and since then had been undergoing tests. The rake will be seen running along with white and purple Siemens rakes fleet in Mumbai’s suburban section.

Inexplicably, it got stalled in the fag end of last year after the railway safety experts in the Railway Safety Commissionerate realised that the new rake was not adhering to standard railway dimensions.

The Railways’ apex technical authority- Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO)- was investigating the occurrence of grazing marks on the side-wall of the double-decker coaches being tested in the jurisdiction of Eastern Railway in 2013.  The RDSO, in order to mitigate the problem, came up with a new design specification (called CG-10115) with coaches having a width of 3050 mm below platform level.

It was this width that the Bombardier rake was not confirming to, said city-based railway officials.  Unfortunately, it took all this while for the city-based railway officials to convince the railway board and safety commissionerate that the Bombardier rake had been built before this new specification was brought in.

It made a total of eight trips on Wednesday, including two on the fast track. “The Railways now plan to run the Bombardier rake train at a speed of 110 kmph,” said an official.

The rake has one-of-its-kind coaches with stainless steel sidewalls, along with the same material in fluted panels for the roof. It has aluminum composite interior panelling for inside walls and roof. It also has a roof-mounted forced ventilation system which will supply 16,000 cubic m/hr fresh air.

Prabhat Sahai, the Managing Director and Chairman of Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), who was present during the debut run of the rake, said, “The Bombardier rake is designed by keeping in mind its user-friendly aspects. It ensures comfortable commuting for passengers.

Although it does not have the Automatic Sliding Door (ASD) provision, its doors are of straight sidewalls, which can be easily slided. It is light in weight, bearing user-friendly locks, latches and maintenance-free rollers.”

“We will improve it further based on the feedback we receive from commuters. People can send their feedback directly to us via email,” added Sahai. Dasika Samal (20), a student, said, “I am happy to board the Bombardier train. The seats are quite comfortable. I am glad to see the technological improvements made by the Indian Railways.”

Jagruti Rahate (34), a home-maker who used the train on Wednesday, said the grab poles were better than the ones in the regular locals.”

Railways to blend 5 per cent Bio-diesel on Diesel Locomotives based on Advice from RDSO and IROAF

New Delhi: Based on expert advice from Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) and Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF), it was decided to blend 5 per cent Bio-diesel on diesel locomotives. Dual fuel engines with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and diesel have been introduced on Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMUs). Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) is fitted on diesel locomotives to reduce fuel consumption during idling by shutting down main engine. multigenset locomotives, designed to have more than one engine on board, with number of engines working in relation to train load and shutting down on reduced train loads and duty cycles, have been introduced.

Central Electricity authority (CEA) was appointed by Railways for preparing “Energy plan for Indian Railways” and suggesting ways to optimize the cost of buying power for the Railways.

Salient recommendations in CEA Report are as follows:

  1. Indian Railways to migrate part of existing traction loads from DISCOMs in a phased manner and procure the same from Generating companies (GENCO) through tariff based bidding/ bilateral arrangements.
  2. Indian Railways to explore constructing Railways Transmission line for direct connection to Inter-state Transmission Line for direct connection to Inter-state Transmission System (ISTS)
  3. Carry out detailed energy audits.

Zonal Railways have been advised to procure Bio-diesel for use on diesel locomotives. DEMU train sets have been introduced in service with dual fuel CNG/ diesel engines. 100 diesel locomotives are fitted with APUs. Two multigenset locomotives are introduced on line.

 The steps taken by Railways to bring down expenditure on electricity are:

Setting up of captive power plant at Nabinagar in Joint Venture (JV) with NTPC, construction of transmission lines, getting power at economic tariff through bilateral arrangements with Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and other Generating Companies (GENCOS) progressively and auditing of major electrical installations.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Railways likely to get Rs.15000-20000 Crore investment from LIC India for Capacity Augmentation at low interest rate

Railways in talks with LIC and Ministry of Finance on funding pact. Railway Minister expected to sign a deal in two weeks by which insurer will invest surplus funds in rail infrastructure

New Delhi: To finance its ambitious plans of massive capacity augmentation works, the Railways is all set to get fresh infusion of funds from the country’s largest insurer, LIC of India, as unveiled in by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the Rail Budget on Thursday.

Railway Board sources said the matter looks ready to be formalised within a fortnight. An amount of Rs 15,000-20,000 crore for this year and years thereafter has been discussed with the company in meetings anchored at times by the Finance Ministry. This paves the way for a new kind of financing for the funds-starved transport behemoth.

LIC sources confirmed that the move is at an advanced stage and modalities are being finalised. A formal announcement is expected shortly.

Railway Board Chairman A K Mital said the talks were on. “We have spoken to LIC… We are looking for a longterm relationship with them. Obviously when we take money, we will look at competitive rates (of interest),” Mital told to media persons.

Prabhu’s budget calculations, which projected a plan size of Rs 1 lakh crore for the next fiscal year, had a gaping hole of Rs 17,136 crore — money that Prabhu said he would raise by institutional financing. Since past efforts to get funds from outside parked into railway projects have met with little success, there was concern about Prabhu’s claims.

The mode through which LIC can channel the funds to Railways is being discussed. There is no mechanism which allows direct transfer of funds to Railways. Involving its arms like RVNL or IRFC or even the Finance Ministry is under discussion. Funds from LIC, to be taken as investment under the head of Extra Budgetary Resources (Institutional Finance), will be at cheaper-than-market rates. Sources indicated rates between 7 and 9 per cent.

A generous helping from the Finance Ministry is being believed to have resulted in Railways’ entreaties meeting with success. LIC gets around Rs 2 lakh crore per year in collection of premiums. It parks 25 per cent of that or around Rs 50,000 crore into equity markets.

But the remaining money is always channeled into risk-averse investments, like government bonds and suchlike. The investment into railways is supposed to be from this chunk of the funds.

Railway officials said it was a win-win situation for both the parties. Even if Railways matches the rate of return that traditional government bonds and such instruments offer, it would be paying less interest than its market other borrowings.

Prabhu’s budget document had made the assertion that depending on the success of the funds infusion from external sources, the plan size might actually increase.

Finding funds to transform the nation’s decrepit railway network into an efficient and modern freight transporter is critical to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of making India a manufacturing hub and speeding up economic growth. The reluctance of successive governments to raise passenger fares has left the railways with little money to spend on upgrading its network. Traditionally, it has increased freight rates to keep passenger fares low, losing market share to road transport. Across the world, infrastructure is supported by long-term funds such as pension, insurance and provident funds, said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman and managing director, Feedback Infra Pvt. Ltd, an infrastructure consultancy. “These funds involve the life savings of people and so are mostly invested in projects with assured cash flows and low risk.

Indian Railways is a public entity with a monopoly and a large amount of assured cash flows. Its engagement with LIC, the country’s insurance behemoth, to raise funds is very much in order,” Chatterjee added.

Indian Railways is estimated to generate a surplus of Rs.7,278.46 crore in the year to 31 March and expects to nearly double that to Rs.14,265.71 crore in the following year. A white paper released by the railway ministry on 26 February estimated that pending projects alone require Rs.2 trillion to complete.

In December, LIC said that it planned to invest Rs.3 trillion in the year ending 31 March, half of which will be in government bonds. It added that the infrastructure and real estate sectors would be its primary focus. LIC, India’s largest money manager, has total assets worth at least Rs.20 trillion.

Speaking at a Confederation of Indian Industry conference in New Delhi on Sunday, the Railway Minister said he was soon going to announce an agreement with a financial institution to tie up funds for investment, without naming the institution. “May be in the another 10-12 days’ time…we’ll sign an agreement with financial institutions to get more than what has been budgeted in my proceeds for this year as the money that is available for financing of the railways, in fact much more than that,” Prabhu said.

For the five years ending 31 March 2019, railways has planned investments in a dedicated freight corridor, high-speed rail and elevated corridor (Mumbai), rolling stock production, station development and logistics parks, among others. The government doubled the plan size for railways by earmarking Rs.1 trillion for the fiscal year 2015-16. Out of its own coffers, the government will provide Rs.40,000 crore as budgetary support, Rs.10,050 crore higher than the current fiscal, in line with its thrust on boosting infrastructure.

The railways expects to raise Rs.40,000 crore from extra budgetary resources in the next fiscal year. It plans to approach financial institutions, public sector units and multilateral development agencies to raise the funds. Prabhu said on Sunday that railways is also keen to sell tax-free bonds for raising funds. Further, he expects a significant proportion of funds raised by the proposed National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to be allocated to the railways.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley announced the formation of an investment and infrastructure fund, and tax-free bonds for raising funds for investment in rail, roads and irrigation in his budget speech.

Centre to raise Funds via Infra Bonds for Railways

New Delhi: The government has proposed to raise funds for railways, roads and irrigation sectors by issuing tax-free infrastructure bonds.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his maiden full-year budget presentation said: “I intend to permit tax-free infrastructure bonds for the projects in the rail, road and irrigation sectors.”

Jaitley also said the government will establish a National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and ensure an annual flow of Rs 20,000 crore to it.

“This will enable … Raise debt, and in turn, invest as equity, in infrastructure finance companies, such as the IRFC (Indian Railway Finance Corporation) and NHB (National Horticulture Board),” he said.

The government also proposed to revisit the PPP (public private partnership) model.

Jaitley in his Budget speech announced investments to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore in the infrastructure space.

The Budget increased outlays on both the roads and the gross budgetary support to the Railways, by Rs 14,031 crore and Rs 10,050 crore, respectively.

Rlys launch Online System for Rolling Stock, Locos, S&T Equipment & Track components

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive to simplify the clearance procedures, the Ministry of Railways has launched an online approval and monitoring system for rolling stock, locomotives, signalling and telecommunication equipment and track components acquired from vendors.

The Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the research and development organisation of the public sector giant, has started an online system for vendor approval, product inspection monitoring system and wagon production monitoring system to ensure transparency.

“The vendor approval procedure, which was tedious and varied from Directorate to Directorate, has now been redefined and made uniform for all the directorates. The registration charges are also uniform for all items in all the Directorates and monitoring has now been made simpler,” said a ministry official.

Vendor approval in RDSO is jointly granted by Design Directorates and Quality Assurance Directorates.

The Prime Minister had asked all the Union Ministries to start online approvals and clearances for projects so that they could be cleared in a time bound manner. The Project Monitoring Group (PMG) under the Cabinet Secretariat has been working to start a single window clearance system for clearances to all projects so that they are not unnecessarily delayed.

The RDSO also inspects critical and safety items of rolling stock, locomotives, signalling and telecommunication equipment and track components. To simplify the inspection method and reduce the paper work, the inspection work has been made online.

“Online system is capable of registering inspection request by manufacturer, nominating inspectors, monitoring the status of inspection by RDSO as well as vendor. The purchaser and user would know the status of inspection,” said the official. The method of pasting hologram instead of the old practice of stamping has been introduced and it has been found to be effective in eliminating duplicate stamping and avoiding intermixing of materials. It has also improved traceability.

The RDSO looks after development, adoption, absorption of new technology for use on Railways, development of standards for materials and products specially needed by Railways and technical investigation, statutory clearances, testing and providing consultancy services among others.

Modi’s interest in rail – Pointer to New Economy for junking reform

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The economic agenda of prime minister Narendra Modi is getting clearer but it needs a holistic look. His averment on railways not being privatized and the economic advisor saying the public sector would get a better role in the ‘make in India’ and development sound reassuring to a country where the private sector though prospering has lived in a cocoon for having more profits and subsidies (incentives).

Modi has to evolve a new economy. So far the economic debate veers round what is euphemistically called “poverty management programme” (PMP). The prime minister is obviously under pressure of looking for funds to pep up the economy. So an obsession with foreign investment or for that matter any kind of investment is natural.

That is where the government needs caution. The 23 years of Manmohanomics has emphasized on private corporate growth, shrinking government, higher cost, tax on tax, cess on cess and toll on toll. A free moving country finds too many brakes. It resulted in increased rich-poor gap and heightened poverty. Slow growth and loss of jobs are natural.

The new government has to have a new economic vision combining agriculture, farm land, growing urbanization, road construction, low power-energy cost, industrialization and rising taxes. Today VAT is to be replaced with GST. The VAT is 25 per cent of the price of a product. The proposed GST may be pegged around 27 per cent. It does not hurt the industry. It hurts the government, the largest consumer, and the common man who bear the brunt of industrial profits. The latest proposal of the road transport ministry to increase road cess on petrol is a classic way of stating that Manmohonomics is not dead yet. Even now one pays Rs 2 per litre as cess and that should have built up over Rs 60,000 crore corpus. The principle of fleecing the people as in Manmohanomics must not be the base of the new economy.

No country goes on building roads in perpetuity. The “connectivity” is meaningless if people cannot travel on it. When people are paying high cess, road tax, city toll – none of which are to be subsumed by GST – why should they pay toll on highways or expressways built with their money? It only fattens the pocket of the so-called developer, who thrives on public money.

As a first the NDA government should allow toll-free movement of all private vehicles, taxis and farm goods. Lowering of toll, if at all to be levied, for larger commercial vehicles also has to be considered.

The levy for any stretch should not exceed 30 months, the period which gives back the investment made by anyone. The 30-year lease to a concessionaire, mostly large houses, only makes the people and economy poorer.

In such scenario, Modi’s renewed fancy for the railways raises new hopes. It is nice to learn that it would be the central focus of development and would not be a minister-centric activity that has been the bane of railways.

Each minister over the past many decades used the railways to “develop” their own constituencies, take political mileage and increase popularity by introducing trains that lose sheen no sooner a new minister takes over.  The prime minister wants it and the postal services to be developed as the crucial infrastructure. It is the right approach.
But it is also true that an ordinary post now does not reach the destination. Most of it goes into “raddi”. The private courier does not take mail to hinterland, as it is unprofitable. A vital communication link built by the colonial rulers and thriving till about two decades ago is in a mess jeopardizing growth. Postal communication and telephony costs are becoming exorbitant. It hurts the poor, farmers and those in remote rural areas.

The new government would earn kudos if the credibility of the postal services and railways are brought back. Contrary to the views of the “experts” none of the two need heavy investments. They need to get back their old management culture that functioned efficiently enough. The new management concept that any improvement (often called reform) needs investment – because it increases profits or commissions of some – is a misnomer.  The railways despite many problems remains one of the better-managed institutions.  Spick and span trains emanating from Varanasi like Shiv Ganga express or ViswaBharati fast passenger from Shantiniketan could be cited as instances of the capability of the railways. These have the cleanest toilets and cheapest food.

True, railways functions against many odds. Its prioritization of trains has to change. An older train may be a Janata, Lal Qila or Gomati have to be restored their original speed of 1950s or 1970s, when these were introduced, if these cannot be speeded up. The reservation system has to improve and must do away with Tatkal, as suggested by the parliamentary standing committee.

The speed of goods train at 20 km an hour, as pointed out by CAG, has to increase. The simple steps do no cost a penny. It only needs a change in attitude of looking down upon heritage.

Yes, it needs plan investment of Rs 63,000 crore for quadrupling of tracks and some other improvements. But if the railways could be slightly put back in time to restore its basic management culture, upkeep and schedule much of it could be reduced too.

Similar is the situation with the postal department. It needs infusion of manpower to keep it the most efficient communication network. It suffers from what could be termed as the “blueline bus” syndrome. The private courier services are sabotaging it. It requires minimum investment – not the huge one that is often projected as prohibitive.

Modi has raised hopes. He has to fulfill the promises made by ensuring low-cost- high governance syndrome. The budget is not far away. It is difficult to do all. If he can start with railways and postal services and branch on to other areas for improving it – no reform is needed – it would be a new beginning. The nation can have a new economy if the public sector is allowed to take the centre stage. The private sector can always help and coexist.

Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) invites applications for various posts

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) is a statutory Authority, under the Ministry of Railways, set-up for development of vacant railway land for commercial use for the purpose of generating revenue by non-tariff measures. RLDA provides attractive house lease, medical & other facilities to its officers & staff.

Applications are invited from dynamic, experienced and motivated persons working in Central Govt. / State Government/ Indian Railways / Central & State Public sector undertakings (PSUs) / Statutory Authorities for various posts on deputation basis.

The normal tenure of deputation is three years, extendable up to five years

Posts
No. Of Posts
General Manager – 10
Secretary – 07

Eligibility
General Manager
SAG/SG Officers with a minimum of 17 years of Group ‘A’ service in the IRAS Cadre of Indian Railways.
Secretary
07 years or senior scale / JAG Officer / RBSS Officer with a minimum of 13 years approved cumulative service in Gazetted Cadre.

Pay Scale
General Manager
Rs. 37400 – 67000 with grade pay Rs. 10000/- (RP)
Secretary
Rs. 15600-39100 with grade pay Rs. 7600/- (RP)

Important Dates
Last Date of Application: February 9, 2015

Railways to Undertake 102 Sites for Commercial Development

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) of Indian Railways has been set up for commercial development of vacant railway land which is not required by Railways for its immediate future operational need.

102 sites measuring 916 hectare of Railway land has been entrusted to Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) for commercial development.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.

Bihar Agriculture Minister oppose commercial exploitation of surplus Railway lands

पटना Patna (PNBE): Bihar’s Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh has hit out at the Centre for its decision of providing railway land to private business firms for commercial use.

Singh, the minister in charge of Bhagalpur district, lambasted the Union government’s decision during his visit to the silk town last night.

He also threatened to organise mass movement across the country against the Centre’s decision to lease out surplus railway land to corporate houses and business establishments for opening hotels and other commercial uses.

“The railways have surplus land from what was acquired from farmers for extension of several projects. In many places in the country, the railways have started utilising these surplus plots for new tracks to meet the demand for more passenger and goods trains. Many more passenger-friendly facilities should be started,” he said.

He said according to a railways provision, if the railway failed to utilise the land for its own projects, it had to return the surplus plots to the farmers. “If the government does not rectify its stand, a massive movement would be launched across the country,” he added.

Moving over to other issues such as the BJP’s criticism of the report card released by chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Singh lashed out at his party’s former ally. He said: “BJP wale sisha ka chasma pahan rakha hai, is liye unhey kuch nahi dekhai deta hain. Unko power wala chasma pehanna chahiye, tab unhe aspas mein vikash dekhai dega (The BJP leaders cannot see anything as they have spectacles made of simple glass on. They should get proper spectacles with which they can see the development).”

Frauscher India gets RDSO approval for ACS2000

Bangalore (SBC): Frauscher Sensor Technology India Private Limited, the Indian subsidiary of Frauscher Sensor Technology Austria has received the RDSO (Research Designs and Standards Organisation) approval for the Axle Counting System ACS2000.

The approval was granted based on the existing CENELEC assessment, many years of very successful operations in different countries, and demonstration of operational functionality and reliability under Indian conditions through trials conducted on-site.

With the attainment of RDSO approval, Frauscher India will now be able to supply Axle Counting System ACS2000 to the Indian railway.

Frauscher offers a unique portfolio of products, with the flexibility of customization to suit customer requirement for the Indian market. The Indian subsidiary, located in Bangalore, is equipped with key functions from R&D, Sales & Business Development, Marketing, Application Engineering, Manufacturing, Testing, Installation and Testing & Commissioning.

RDSO’s Carriage Directorate gives its ‘final Nod’ to run Double-decker trains

लखनऊ Lucknow (LKO): The carriage directorate of RDSO has sent the final report of the double-decker’s safety trial run to the railways.

Sources in Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO) said the report was sent to Northern Railway and North Eastern Railway on Wednesday. The trial has been successful, they said.

It’s now for the railways to plan the train’s schedule once the sanction from the Commissioner, Railway Safety, comes. The safety trial run was between Lucknow Junction and Anand Vihar terminal on October 17 and 18.

The train will run from Lucknow via Moradabad. It has 12 coaches and every coach has a seating capacity of 110 passengers. The train, meant to run on the 500km Lucknow-New Delhi route, was stationed at Gomtinagar station for about five months.

A double-decker needs route-specific clearance while a regular coach is given clearance once after which it can ply on any route. Due to its height, a double-decker train oscillates while moving and has to be given clearance for every route before it gets to run. Its lower window is at the level of the platform.

RLDA to revamp Sanchi Railway Station into a Multi-Functional Complex

Sanchi Railway stationसांची Sanchi (SCI): Sanchi railway station in the near future will be equipped with various amenities for passengers.

The station will be developed by Indian railways as a multi-functional complex (MFC).

The railways will develop multi-functional complexes at 21 railway stations across the country with an eye on earning more revenue from its vast vacant plots of land. Sanchi in Bhopal railway division is among them.

Rewa railway station is another station that will be developed as a MFC in the state. Both come under West Central Railway (WCR) zone. Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), a wing of the ministry of railways, will develop MFCs.

They will include facilities such as shops, food stalls, restaurants, book stalls, ATMs, pharmacies, phone-booths, variety stores, budget hotels and vehicle parking.

RLDA has also invited bids for construction of MFCs. Last date for bidding for Sanchi and Rewa stations is November 13. The land is being offered for commercial development for 45 years.

Public relations officer (PRO) Bhopal division KK Dubey said railways was keen on putting vast expanse at and near railway stations to commercial use for better revenue.

Other surplus railway land for commercial development will also be offered for bidding for leasing up to 30 to 45 years by the railways.

Rlys to give brief PPT for 25-odd interested parties on Redevelopment of Bhopal Rly Station

भोपाल Bhopal (BPL): Bhopal railway division officials will meet builders and developers in the city on October 20, Monday to discuss new design for upgradation and beautification of Habibganj station. The master plan for the project had been designed and developed by Indian Railway Station Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDCL).

Railway officials will give a presentation on the proposed master plan of the redevelopment of Habibganj station on Monday.

Bhopal divisional railway manager (DRM) Rajiv Chaudhary told, “Monday’s meeting would be like sort of a roadshow just for publicity purpose for 25-odd interested parties.

The pre-bid meeting would then be held for November 10 and after about a month tenders for redevelopment plan would be finalised. Also, the qualification for project is already there on the IRSDCL site.”

Habibganj is among five stations that have been identified for re-development involving modernisation and upgradation of passenger amenities. The others are Chandigarh, Anand Vihar and Brijwasan (both in Delhi), and Shivaji Nagar (Pune). The announcement for the same was made in Union rail budget previously.

Development and upgradation of railway stations across the country has been taken up under an agreement between Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) with IRSDCL.

IRSDCL will carry out re-development work by raising finances through commercial development of railway land and air space at these stations. It is a joint venture company consisting of RLDA with 49 % stake and Ircon with 51% stake, respectively.

IRSDCL has already finalised master plans for all five stations, including Habibganj and is in process of getting approvals and clearances from railway and state authorities which will be followed by invitation of bids for appointment of developers around December.

General manager (GM) Western Central Railway (WCR) Ramesh Chandra had also undertaken review of station in January.

CR conversion plan almost complete, claims Railway

मुंबई Mumbai: One of the railway’s most important projects — to change its obsolete electricity systems which started way back in 1996 — is finally reaching the business end of things. Top railway officials said that the conversion of CR’s electric traction between Thane and CST is ’99 per cent’ complete and should be over by the December 31 deadline.

The project was one of those listed as important and in urgent need of completion in the list made to commemorate 100 days of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. While the 100-day commemoration was in August, railway officials said the project, despite not being completed by then, got a major fillip after being included in the list.

“It is the work that took place at breakneck speed between July and August which has now given us this 99 per cent complete status. Now permissions from the railway board, the Commissioner of Railway Safety and the Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) are left and that should take a couple of months more. We are well within the December 31 deadline,” said a top railway official.

The other big issue, the need for rakes that can run on AC traction after the conversion, is also in control with CR officials saying that around 10 such rakes would be needed to service the CST-Thane section.

“We use around 75 rakes to service the CST-Thane section every day. Some 52 are Siemens, around 9 are BHEL ones and some 8 rakes are retrofitted ones. We would require about 10 AC traction rakes which should not be a problem,” said an official.

The project would allow CR to deploy Alternating Current suburban locals which could run at 100 kilometres per hour, thus allowing train-runners to squeeze in more trains into the timetable. It will also give almost 33 per cent energy savings and power bill savings of anything between Rs.50-80 crore annually, said officials.

At a cost of Rs.1299 crore, the plan was to change the lines from DC to AC from Igatpuri and Pune towards CST. The project has progressed till Thane at a cost of Rs.910 crore and on the 5th and 6th lines — used by long-distance trains-between Thane and Kurla LTT. The lines left to be converted from DC to AC are Thane to CST and the Harbour line. The deadline to complete all these lines — except Harbour line — was March 2014 which was then pushed back first to August and then to December.

Indigenous Ultra Sonic Flaw Detector Automation System for inspecting tracks on the move

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS):  In a country where railway tracks run over thousands of kilometres, the Railways continues to use an outdated technology for inspecting them.

The Indian Railways has now proposed to modernise the track inspection system, and has roped in a team from IIT-Madras for the purpose. Krishnan Balasubramaniam, dean of Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research (ICSR), recently unveiled the indigenously developed ultra sonic flaw detector (USFD) automation system, which, he says, has many advantages over the incumbent system.

Mr. Balasubramaniam, outlining the positive aspects of the new technology, said that fish plate joints, wear and tear, and the welding strength of tracks could be inspected much quicker without blocking any trains, which is the case with the system that is currently in use.

“The computerised track verification machine could carry out inspection of the double track for a length of 10 km per hour with the maximum speed fixed at 20 km, as against the verification of single track done by the current one.”

The USFD machine could even detect corrosion in the bottom of the tracks and the size of a crack, with the data recorded on a computer for future use.

Mr. Balasubramiam said the new technology had already been tested on a distance of for more than 1,000 km by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the research arm of the Railways. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, he added.

The USFD automation project was developed for a few lakhs, whereas foreign technology would cost a minimum of Rs. 2 crore, he said.

Railways to use Simulation Software for Fire Safety on Running Trains

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS):  All on-board carriage and wagon staff should be given preliminary fire-fighting training such as the use of fire extinguishers, the Railway Board has said.

Under a memorandum of understanding between the Railway Ministry and the French National Railways, fire simulation software had been created recently at the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow. It was now being utilised for further study of the fire behaviour of materials under various conditions.

These steps taken by the Railways, as part of their efforts to ensure fire safety on trains, have been listed in an affidavit counter to a public interest litigation petition.

The petitioner, R.Kannan Govindarajulu of Kilmaruvathur in Kancheepuram district, an ex-serviceman, said fire accidents on running trains had become frequent. They occurred in remote areas, making access to rescue teams difficult. Many passengers died of heavy bleeding. Hence, effective fire-fighting and first aid methods were required.

The counter, filed by T.Venkatasubramanian, Chief Rolling Stock Engineer, Mechanical Department, Southern Railway, detailed the steps taken for fire-safety, including fire-retardant furnishing material in coaches.

The Railways submitted that for improving evacuation from air-conditioned compartments in case of a fire, the board had recently said AC compartments with doors that could be opened from both sides could be developed. At present, the doors opened only inside the compartment. A fire test lab was also being set up at the RDSO to have a better understanding of the fire-worthiness of various materials that go in coach-furnishing.

Two different committees had been constituted for a comprehensive fire safety audit of materials used in coach construction and its maintenance, system of checking for carrying inflammable materials on trains, availability of fire extinguishers and training of staff in handling fire and fire-safety equipment.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice S.K.Kaul and Justice M.Sathyanarayanan, treated the petition as closed.

CR increases length of short-distance services to Optimize use of Main Line Rakes

मुंबई Mumbai:  Central Railway has proposed changes in its time-table that will ensure longer distance and more punctual trains, thus reducing over-crowding on the suburban network. The changes will be achieved without introducing rakes or curtailing services.

A CR official said, “We have decided to extend short-distance services to benefit more passengers. We have designed the time-table so that services will run 648 rake-km more as against the existing 44,500 rake-km.” It will be equivalent to the introduction of an additional rake or 12 services between CST-Kalyan, a distance of 55 km.

For instance, the official said CST-Kurla services are skipped by those who stay north of Vidyavihar, resulting in over-crowding in trains that follow. Similarly, a Kalyan-CST train caters to fewer stations compared to an Ambernath-CST service. “We have identified 15 services whose distance can be extended either north of Kurla, Thane, Kalyan or Dombivli. Five new services have been introduced, of which two are between Dadar-Kalyan.”

The changes were made possible as CR set up a stabling yard facility at Vangani, near Badlapur. Currently, trains are stabled at Kurla or Sanpada. The official said, “Many trains were run up to Kurla just because they had to be stabled in the yard at this station.”

Railways to hike passenger carrying capacity

The Railways is working on augmenting passenger carrying capacity of trains with existing infrastructure.

The strategy is to have 4-tier coaches, double decker trains and additional coaches on important trains.

“It is clear that we do not have resources to increase the number of tracks, so we are left with no option other than to concentrate on low-cost solutions to augment passenger carrying capacity of trains with the existing infrastructure,” a senior official told.

The official says that one of the options is to have four-tier coaches.

The Railway Board, just two days ago, had organised a presentation of various designs to select relevant and suitable one which can be easily used.

According to the officials, many lucrative designs have come up, and the Research and Design Standard Organisation, the research wing of the Railways, is expected to modify and finalise it to be used by coach factories.

Indian Railways to use Geosynthetics to improve Speed of Trains

अहमदाबाद Ahmedabad (ADI): Indian Railways have imposed speed restrictions on over 2500 kilometers of railway tracks that pass through inhospitable and difficult terrain and now Indian Railways is considering using geosynthetics on a large scale to improve the speed of the trains on these corridors. “There are over 2500 kilometers of the railway that have speed restrictions in the country, of which 2000 kilometer of tracks have restrictions only during the monsoon.

However, we are now looking at using the geosynthetics technology to improve speed of trains on these corridors,” said Brijesh Kumar, Executive Director (Geotechnical Engineering Division) of Lucknow-based Research Design & Standards Organisation (RDSO), an R&D body under the Ministry of Railways.

geosynthetics

“Most of these railway corridors fall in the Konkan belt, South and Eastern parts of the country and face problems of poor soil or rocky terrain,” said Kumar who was here in Ahmedabad on Saturday to attend a Global Geosynthetics Summit.

Some of the high-speed trains corridors to run trains between 160-200 kilometers per hour will not be successful without the use of geosynthetics that are generally polymeric products that are used to solve civil engineering problems like soil erosion, embankment protection, stablisation of roads and pavements and for rock fall protection works.”For instance, the corridor between Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai and the Nagpur-Secundarabad have a lot of formation problems that affect the speed of the trains. The use of geosynthetics becomes inevitable in such cases,” Prasad added.

geosynthetics railtrack

According to the RDSO official, the usage of the geosynthetics within Indian Railways was “sparse”. He however, raised queries regarding the service-life of these Geosynthetic products which was an important element for the Indian Railways.

India relies heavily on rail for the transportation of bulk commodities and passenger services, and introduced faster and heavier trains in recent years due to a growing demand. Large cyclic loading from heavy haul and passenger trains often leads to progressive deterioration of the track. The excessive deformations and degradations of the ballast layer and unacceptable differential settlement or pumping of underlying soft and compressible subgrade soils necessitate frequent costly track maintenance works. A proper understanding of load transfer mechanisms and their effects on track deformations are essential prerequisites for minimising maintenance costs. The reinforcement of the track by means of geosynthetics leads to significant reduction in the downward propagation of stresses and assures more resilient long-term performance. The geocomposite serves the functions of reinforcement, drainage and separation, thereby reducing the vertical and lateral deformations. Stabilization of soft subgrade soils by using prefabricated vertical drains (PVDs) is also essential for improving the overall stability of track and to reduce the differential settlement during the operation of trains. The effectiveness of using geocomposite geosynthetic and PVDs has been observed through field measurements and finite element analyses and it was very encouraging to see the field observations matching the numerical predictions, he added.

MRVC seeks residential category for Railway Land; bats for longer lease

मुंबई Mumbai:  Taking a huge initiative to streamline the railway development policy in the city, the Mumbai Vikas Railway Corporation (MRVC) has written to the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) to change the stipulation which states that the maximum lease period of land being given out for development must be for only 45 years. The RLDA is the statutory body set up by the railway ministry to commercially develop railway land.

Why the need for a longer lease?

Rakesh Saksena, CMD/MRVC confirming the move said, “We have written a letter in connection to the 45,000 sq mt land at Bandra East which has been unable to get a buyer despite being put on the block two times. This demand for enhancing the lease period was arrived at during talks between MRVC and different stake-holders in the land development policy”.

While the Bandra east land is being readied for development by RLDA, three major land parcels in Bhandup, Mahalaxmi and Wadala have been handed over to MRVC.

Is the residential sector a better bet?

Saksena said that residential development of railway plots must also be considered since the commercial sector is facing a glut, especially in Mumbai. “The ultimate aim of land development is optimum monetisation of the land, so why should residential development be excluded,” asked Saksena.

Senior MRVC officials agree to the above point. The three plots that they have been provided for development – at Bhandup, Wadala and Mahalxmi – are such that expecting commercial development from them might be a tough ask. The Bandra land, these officials say, is however best suited for a commercial complex than a residential colony.

“These three plots might fetch huge amounts if they are allowed to be developed as residential enclaves. Infact, areas like Mahalaxmi and Wadala are seeing a tremendous boom in the construction of upscale residential colonies. These plots, close to the railway stations, could fetch handsome a price,” said officials. “However residential development would mean long lease periods like 80 years or 99 years. No one will line up for a 45 year lease to build a residential colony,” said a senior MRVC official

Why land development is so important?

MRVC officials agreed that land development might be the single-biggest money-spinner for the railways in the city as other forms of revenue – tickets or advertisements- are not enough to power the projects that the railways has been planning in order to increase the capacity of the suburban system.

The failure of the Bandra land development plan has already got the MREVC shooting off a letter to the railway ministry saying that its projects as well loan repayment schedules would get affected if the money from the Bandra plot does not materialize soon. MRVC is expecting around Rs 2,400 crores as its share form the land sale.

It was earlier highlighted how real estate developers are of the view that the railway’s 45-year lease policy is a major dampener since the high land costs in Mumbai combined with the short lease would make any project unviable.

Which places could hold the key for Mumbai?

Currently, the RLDA is thinking of residential or mixed-use development for four of its plots but the length of lease period is still to be decided by the railway board. These plots are at Ashok Vihar in Delhi, Nirala Nagar in Kanpur, Aisha Bagh in Lucknow and Kanchrapara in West Bengal.

RDSO officials applaud Quality and Safety measures adopted in Kochi Metro Rail project

Mr.Rajesh Kumar, Executive Director, Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), who is heading the Urban Transport and High Speed Directorate, is in Kochi for a three-day visit to check the quality adopted for Metro construction, inspected the Kochi Metro Rail project on Thursday and expressed satisfaction on the quality and safety measures adopted for establishing the project.

“Kochi Metro is a good blend of energy, ideas and experience. It is going to be one of the most modern metros in the country,” the official told media persons, adding that RDSO was more concerned about the timely certification of the project. Holding that the RDSO did not want any technical errors to delay the project, he said the agency would be exchanging ideas with the Kochi Metro team to improve aspects of its construction.

As part of the site inspection, the official supervised the launching of a U-girder at Pulinchodu near Aluva on Wednesday night. Following it, he also held discussions with Kochi Metro Rail Limited officials on various aspects of its safety certification.

As per Metro Railway Act 2009, Indian Railways have been given the responsibility of technical planning and safety to Metro System being implemented in India. Being the Technical Wing of Ministry of Railways, all the Safety Certification and Technical Clearance is done by RDSO.

Planning Commission clears Nagpur Metro Rail project

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Public Investment Board (PIB) of Planning Commission cleared the Nagpur Metro railway proposal on Wednesday and is likely to be tabled before the Union Cabinet on Thursday.

Pravin Darade, Chairman of Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT), and Superintending Engineer Sunil Gujjelwar are staying back in New Delhi for that.

Darade gave a presentation before the PIB on Wednesday. Other than central government officers, state’s urban development secretary Manukumar Srivastav too was present. The minutes of PIB’s meeting will be prepared and the proposal will be tabled before the union cabinet along with PIB recommendations.

The “Bhoomipuja” for the Nagpur Metro Rail project is slated to be held on August 21. Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi is expected to attend, but confirmation of his visit is yet to be received. Modi is slated to attend several other functions in Vidarbha.

The cost of the metro rail project has increased by around Rs.2000 crore since 2012. NIT has said that the hike will not present any problems for it, but Narendra Borkar, Chairman of Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC’s) standing committee, had said that the civic body won’t able to bear the increased cost. The state government has, however, approved the increased cost.

Security beefed up at Nagpur for Narendra Mod’s proposed visit

Advanced Security and Surveillance arrangements have been beefed up in Nagpur town and in the neighbouring areas in view of the proposed visit of Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi on August 21. Police have intensified the vigil and will be holding a series of fortress checks in the city and its suburbs.

Rlys to fund Infra Plans under BOT Annuity Model: Invite open Bidding to Rail PSUs

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The ministry of railways is close to finalizing a scheme to utilize the cash surplus of the public sector units (PSUs) working under it for railway infrastructure projects, a ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

Under this scheme, the railways will open the bidding for the projects only to the railway PSUs under the build-operate-transfer annuity model for public–private partnership (PPP).

The scheme is expected to be ready in a month’s time, the official said.

“Railways is short of funds for investment in its infrastructure. The idea is to bring the surplus with railway PSUs in the circuit through this scheme and channelize it for infrastructure creation,” the official said.

Railway minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had announced in his railway budget speech on 8 July that railways was working on alternative ways of resource mobilization and was keen to tap the cash surplus of railway PSUs for infrastructure projects. “Railway PSUs have done very well and are financially sound. I propose to launch a scheme to bring in investible surplus funds of railway PSUs in infrastructure projects of railways, which can generate attractive returns for PSUs,” he said.

There are 16 PSUs and other organizations functioning under the railway ministry. These include Container Corp. of India Ltd (CONCOR), Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), IRCON International Ltd, RailTel Corporation of India Ltd (RailTel) and Indian Railway Finance Corp. Ltd (IRFC), among the others.

In the year ended 31 March 2013, CONCOR reported a surplus of Rs.6,151 crore, IRCON Rs.2,280 crore and RITES Rs.1,095 crore.

“Any company can do projects three times the surplus it has,” the official cited earlier said.

The railways had announced a policy framework for private participation in rail connectivity and capacity augmentation projects in November 2012.

The policy provided for five models for PPP investment: non-governmental railway, joint venture with equity participation by railways, capacity augmentation through funding by customers, build-operate-transfer (BOT) and BOT annuity.

The ministry is in the process of preparing the model concession agreements for these models.

“This scheme would also allow us to experiment with the annuity model for PPP with our own PSUs who are not that profit conscious. We have held extensive consultations with the PSUs,” the official said.

“This model will have a very beneficial impact. The railways PSUs will construct these projects at a reasonable cost per kilometre, which will set the benchmark subsequently for the private sector as railways slowly opens up for private sector investment. This is a good step,” said R. Sivadasan, former financial commissioner, ministry of railways.

Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman of Feedback Infrastructure Services, an infrastructure services company, said, “This moderated and gradual approaching to opening the railway sector is good. Annuity is an excellent model for the railway PSUs to start with. It removes traffic risk and brings in external sources of capital and expertise.”

Urban Development Ministry to relax Population Norms for Metro Rail projects

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that keeping in view the growing popularity of and demand for Metro Rail services, government is considering reducing the population norm for financing metro rail projects. He said at present, central government is financing Metro Projects in towns or cities with a population of 20 lakh and above, and this norm is proposed to be reduced to 10 lakh.

He also emphasised the need for ‘smart infrastructure’ in urban areas after dedicating to the nation the 500 MWp (megawatt peak) Solar Power Plant of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in Delhi in the presence of Union Minister for Power and New and Renewal Energy Piyush Goyal. The solar power plant, meant to meet part power needs of Dwarka Sector-21 Metro Station was switched on remotely using web link at Metro Bhawan.

Naidu further said that National Urban Transport Policy, 2006 is under review keeping in view the imperative need for improving public transport services in urban areas in the context of growing urbanisation and attendant challenges. Underlining the need for ensuring ‘energy security’ of the country through reduced dependence on oil imports, both the Ministers referred to the need to scale up speedily renewable energy use through promotion of appropriate technologies based on Prime Minister’s dictum of ‘Speed, Scale and Skill’.

The Ministers unveiled DMRC’s Solar Power Policy which seeks to reach a level of renewable energy use of 20 MW in the next three years. Piyush Goyal said that keeping in view the need and ability of DMRC, this goal be reached in one year. Naidu who travelled by Airport Metro Rail Line this morning, complimented DMRC for increasing the ridership on this line by over 30% per month besides reducing operational losses since it took over the line in July 2013.

He said he has been regularly using this line as it affords ‘no stress, no tension’ travel.