Vizag status as India’s Top-1 Cleanest Station does not bring any Cheer to Railway Zone protagonists

Visakhapatnam City Railway station declared the cleanest in the country but no indication for a separate Railway zone makes railway zone protagonists unhappy.

VISAKHAPATNAM: Close on the heels of Visakhapatnam being declared the third cleanest city in the country under the Swachh Survekshan- 2017 survey, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday declared the city railway station the cleanest one in the country, followed by Secunderabad and Jammu.

This has given an impetus to the long-pending demand for a separate railway zone with Vizag as headquarters, if elation in various circles is any indication.

Hailing the declaration, Visakhapatnam (North) MLA Vishnu Kumar Raju said, “The time has come to raise the pitch for our demand. ”

The MLA said the credit goes to the people of Vizag, railway officials, contract workers and the passengers who have adhered to cleanliness norms.

Anakapalle MP Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao said that the declaration had come at the right time. “We will now campaign harder for the zone and get more projects to improve connectivity to the city,” he told.

Welcoming the declaration, Ch. Narasinga Rao, CPI (M) State secretariat member, said, “We should not become complacent with the ratings and forget our main demand for the zone. Moreover, the efforts of the contract workers who toil day and night to keep the station clean should be rewarded by regularising them. The workers do not have PF, ESI and even rest rooms, they should be given minimum basic amenities.”

O. Naresh Kumar, CEO of Symbiosis Technologies, said the ranking was the first step in a journey of 1,000 miles.

“It is good that our city’s railway station is ranked number one in the country. And it should serve as a motivation to develop it on a par with the railway stations in advanced countries such as Sweden and Japan,” he said.

The survey was carried out for a total 407 stations, of which 75 are in the A1 category and the rest in the A category. Visakhapatnam topped in the A1 category.

Board will discuss the bifurcation of NFR – Separate Railway Zone for North-East likely: Railway Minister

GUWAHATI: There has been a demand to bifurcate the NFR by excluding West Bengal and Bihar to focus only the North Eastern region. The Railway Ministry may discuss and look into the issue of bifurcation of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone and creating a separate zone which will have jurisdiction solely over the seven northeastern states while the existing areas of NFR located in West Bengal and Bihar could be turned into a different zonal railway, said Railway Minister Mr.Suresh Prabhu on Saturday. “We will discuss it. We will definitely consider,” Prabhu said when asked about any plans to finalise bifurcation of NFR in the Board. “It is a broader issue of demography and other things. It takes time, but we will definitely look into it,” the Minister said.

Speaking at a press conference after participating in the commencement of the railway electrification work between Raninagar Jalpaiguri and Guwahati at Maligaon this evening, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that bifurcation or reorganisation of the NFR is part of a broader issue of development of the Northeast.

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To a question put by the media, if the Railway Minister would consider bifurcating the NFR and separating the areas of the Northeast from those of Bihar and West Bengal, the minister said, “We will discuss it. We will discuss whatever inputs we receive.”

Bifurcation of Maligaon-headquartered NFR with a separate zonal railway responsible solely for the seven northeastern states has been a long-standing demand of the people of Assam and other states of the region as well as various organisations, including the Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (APRA).

People and organisations of the Northeast have frequently alleged that most of the benefits, projects as well as railway vacancies are cornered by the NFR divisions falling in Bihar and West Bengal, while the seven states of the region remain deprived.

Earlier, Prabhu participated in a centralised event to mark the commencement of railway electrification work between Raninagar Jalpaiguri and Guwahati. The event also witnessed the commissioning of a 700-Kwp solar power plant at Guwahati Railway Station, inauguration of first class and second class waiting halls at Harmuti station, and inauguration of the RO Plant and Digital Chart Display System at the New Tinsukia station.

Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, a Mini Ratna PSU under the Ministry of Railways, has been entrusted with the task of execution of the electrification project at a total cost of Rs 655.55 crore. Under it, the 382-km route will be electrified.

Prabhu said the Railway Ministry will also consider introduction of a special train that will cover all the major holy places visited by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankaradeva during his years of wandering across the country.

Prabhu’s comments in this regard came after Governor Banwarilal Purohit, during his speech at the function, urged the Railway Minister to introduce such a train which will cover all the major religious spots visited by Srimanta Sankaradeva.

Prabhu said the Northeast is the major area of focus for the Indian Railways. He said the Centre has invested Rs 19,000 crore in the railway sector in the region during last three years and a capital expenditure target of Rs 8,000 crore has been fixed for the region during the current 2017-18 fiscal.

The minister said that projects worth Rs 13,000 crore have been sanctioned for the region in 2017-18. The gauge conversion work in the Northeast has been completed, he said, adding, a special train will be started to promote tourism in the region.

Prabhu said his ministry is also working for promotion of the handicraft industry of the region as well as for self-help groups and medium, small and micro industries of the Northeast.

He said special focus has been given to generate employment in the Northeast and as part of the new catering policy of the Indian Railways, stalls and establishments at stations will be allowed to be opened only by those who have domicile certificates.

Prabhu said such steps can go a long way in addressing the employment issue among local youths of the region.

AIRF wants Konkan Railway to be merged with Indian Railways

MARGAO: The All India Railmen Federation (AIRF) members on Monday demanded that the Konkan Railway be merged with the Indian Railways and castigated the government for its attempts to intimidate and interfere in the functioning of the railway staff and their unions.

At the AIRF meeting held in Margao, the workers unanimously demanded that the Konkan Railway be merged with the Indian Railways. The demand was earlier made on October 31, 2015 at Jodpur in the presence of the Union Railway Minister.

Speaking to media persons, AIRF president Rakhal Das Gupta said, “The merger will improve the working conditions of the Konkan Railway workers and also that of the railway system under the corporation.”

However, he dismissed the suggestion that railway stations under Konkan Railway were cleaner and better maintained than the Indian Railways. He insisted that the conditions at the Konkan Railway stations were not on par with those at the Indian Railways.

Besides, the Federation also castigated the government for its attempts to intimidate and interfere in the functioning of the railway workers’ unions.

“The government is trying to dictate to us as to who should be elected as managing committee members, which is totally unacceptable,” he said.

KRCL study tour for drivers

Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) recently organised a study tour for autorickshaw and tourist taxi drivers of Mulki to help them learn about places of interest.

It was organised by KRCL’s Mangaluru Public Relations Manager K. Sudha Krishnamurthy following an instruction from Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, a release here said.

As many as 50 drivers participated in the tour, which included Moodbidri, Karkala and surrounding places.

Take up Modernisation only after forming Railway Zone: VCCI

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

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

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

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

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

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CSEPS identifies Need for New Railway Zone for Jharkhand

Ranchi: The Centre for Socio-Economic and Parliamentary Studies (CSEPS), a civic society organization that studies socio-economic issues and aids the Government in good and effective governance with its advice and advocacy, has written to the Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking a new Railway Zone for Jharkhand and several new trains given the fact that the State has largely remained deprived despite playing very important role in Indian economy.

The oraganisation states that the Indian Railway offers very little connectivity to different districts of the State. It appears to us that Jharkhand has been converted into a state for only freight services of Indian railway. Till today districts like Gumla, Khunti and Simdega have not seen trains as Indian Railway never thought it necessary to spread itself upto these areas. It has demanded that plans be made to spread railway tracks to these districts so that people from these states get connected through railway to different parts of the country.

The letter states that Jharkhand is a high revenue earning area for India railway, but it has been divided among different zones which have their headquarters in other states. Zonal headquarters too, despite earning huge revenue from Jharkhand, rarely care for developmental works concerning Jharkhand. The organization thus demands a separate Railway zone to be curved out of areas in Jharkhand with its headquarters in Ranchi.

Also it has demanded to follow up the State supported railway lines, construction of railway over-bridges and others that have remained incomplete since years. A suggestion has also come for setting up of 100-bed hospitals in places like Ranchi, Dhanbad, Jasidih and Barkakana.

Passenger Amenities Committee confident of Rail Division at Silchar

silchar-railway-stationSilchar: If the words of Dr Rajdeep Roy, member of Passenger Amenities Committee (PAC) of the Indian Railways are to be believed, the Silchar Railway Station will soon be upgraded into a full-fledged Railway Division.

“In a recent development, the Indian Railways has decided to upgrade three railway stations into railway divisions and the Silchar Railway Station features in the list. The work to upgrade the station will soon commence,” Roy said.

He was quick to add that as a member to the PAC, he has also urged the general manager of NF Railways to start intercity express trains between Silchar to Agartala and Guwahati.

“We have received a positive nod from Chahatey Ram, General Manager of NF Railways towards introducing the two intercity express trains,” Roy informed.

Further, the Silchar Railway Station which is an ‘A’ category station, will have a host of new amenities soon. In the words of Roy, the station will have a Coach Indication Board (CIB) and Train Indication Board (TIB), which has already been sanctioned.

Moreover, besides installation of four water-vending machines, expansion of PP shed and a well-managed parking facility, there will also be a food plaza at the Silchar Railway Station, he said. It may be mentioned that around 3,935 passengers travel from Silchar every day.

On the other hand, Roy said that NF Railway has approved Hailakandi Railway Station to be a three-line crossing ‘B’ grade station. “This decision was taken on August 26 and the station is being maintained in its original position,” he informed.

The PAC member also informed that they had visited several railway stations, including Guwahati and Kamakhya and offered suggestions for improvement of passenger amenities.

Also, he said that both the Indian Railways and the Department of Tourism are focusing on development of tourism facilities at the Guwahati, Kamakhya and New Jalpaiguri railway stations within the next two years.

People from Badarpur shows resentment on the announcement of PAC

The reported decision of the Railway Ministry to set up the rail division at Silchar instead of Badarpur has evoked strong reactions in this railway town.

Last year also Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had said that the new Railway Division will be set up at Silchar, and not Badarpur. His announcement then also was strongly condemned by all sections of people of Badarpur, various political parties like the Congress, BJP, Socialist Party, SUCI, CPM, CPI (M), AIUDF as also the Railway Unions, Railway employees and the members of the Badarpur Rail Division Implementation Demand Committee unanimously.

In a strongly-worded statement, the general secretary of the Badarpur Rail Division Implementation Demand Committee (BRDIDC), Sukumar Ghosh told this mediaperson that the people of Badarpur will not tolerate the indiscreet decision of the Ministry of Railways as also the recent comments on the subject, as the demand for Badarpur Rail Division has matured into a ‘mass demand’, having been first voiced way back in 1988, from when the movement also began. Sukumar Ghosh very clearly narrated the entire picture of the importance, necessity, reasonableness as well as the logic of the Badarpur Rail Division. He warned that in support of the setting up of a full-fledged Railway Division at Badarpur, the movement will not only continue but will now be more vigorous than earlier.

Ghosh said, “since 1988, our rail division movement has been non-violent. But now, it may change, if the Railways and the Central Government deprive Badarpur of its logical as well as reasonable claim.” Ghosh said that Badarpur is the appropriate, proper and the most suitable place for setting up a full-fledged railway division and there are many reasons for the claim, which are already in the public domain. He also said that Silchar is not at all a suitable place for a rail division. The essential requirements for the rail division are not present at Silchar and it will not be profitable for the Ministry of Railways to purchase vast lands for the purpose.

Ghosh alleged that a group of people along with some politicians of Barak Valley, who don’t want a rail division be set up at Badarpur, are misguiding and misleading the Railway officials and Union Ministers by giving wrong information, regarding Badarpur Rail Division.

Meanwhile, an urgent meeting was also held at Badarpur, under the presidentship of the BRDIDC president, Chandan Sen recently, where all the representatives of the various political parties were present. All the speakers vehemently criticised the decision of the Ministry of Railways, which has not yet been withdrawn. The meeting also sent a memorandum to the Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain, mentioning the reasons in support of a full-fledged railway division at Badarpur.

No proposal to carve out separate Jammu Railway Division: DRM/FZP

Anuj Prakash DRM FZPFerozepur: There is no proposal to carve out a separate Jammu division out of the Ferozepur Railway Division, a senior official said here today.

Anuj Prakash, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Ferozepur Division of Northern Railways said there was no proposal to create the new division in reply to a query.

He said that though Ferozepur division, the largest in the country, should be shifted to Jalandhar for managing operations in better manner, there was no proposal for its relocation.

Inspecting railway infrastructure, including tracks, buildings and level crossings, Prakash said all 312 unmanned railway crossing in the division would be eliminated in a phased manner within three years.

“From 357, the number of unmanned crossings has decreased to 312 and out of these 89 will be eliminated by March 31 next”, he said.

He said there was a 2 per cent increase in freight this year compared to the previous year.

On the proposal to lay a new 25.47 km long Patti-Firozpur rail link, he said it would soon be sanctioned by the Ministry of Railways.

With this proposed track, the distance between northern states with Punjab and trade capitals of Gujarat and Maharashtra will get considerably reduced.

On the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula rail link project, he said that the work was halted because of law and order issue in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Our tracks had been damaged there and the work, which was already going behind schedule, was getting further delayed”, he said.

Separate Mangaluru Railway Division is Necessity: calls MP/Dakshin Kannada

MP at MangaloreMangaluru: On the long pending demand for a separate Mangaluru division, he said the issue has been brought to the notice of the railway minister Suresh Babu. Addressing presspersons at the inauguration of escalators at Mangaluru Central railway station on Friday, he said the Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has been requested to create a separate division for Mangaluru and the efforts are on, he explained.

Railway network in Mangaluru, which has been shared by two divisions and a railway corporation, is in need of a unified division, according to Nalin Kumar Kateel, Member of Parliament from Dakshina Kannada. “There are problems, one is that Mangaluru Central Railway functions under three dvisions – Konkan Railway (KRCL), South Western Railway (SWR) and Southern Railway.

At present, Mangaluru region is served by Southern Railway zone, South Western Railway zone and Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL).

Southern Railway (Palghat)  has a railroad length of 13 km in Mangaluru region. Since it is not possible for Railways to bring Mangaluru under KRCL due to technical reasons, the Minister has been requested to create a new division for Mangaluru under South Western Railway zone, he said. There are two options – either creation of a new division under SWR or bringing Mangaluru region under SWR.

Pressure is being put the government and efforts are on,” he explained.

Mangaluru-Bengaluru line

On improving the rail connectivity between Mangaluru and Bengaluru, Kateel said the work on the new Hassan-Bengaluru railway line, via Shravanabelagola, is in full swing. This line is expected to be completed by March. After the commissioning of this line, the travel time and distance between Mangaluru and Bengaluru will be reduced.

At present, the rail link between Mangaluru and Bengaluru is via Mysuru. This increases the journey time between two destinations.

Issues related to the acquisition of land at Solur in Ramanagara district had delayed the completion of the Hassan-Bengaluru railway line project. Stating that the issue has been sorted out now, Kateel said the work is in progress.

To a query on providing free Wi-Fi facility at Mangaluru Central railway station, Naresh Lalwani, Divisional Railway Manager, Palakkad division, said that no timeframe has been set for providing Wi-Fi at Mangaluru Central station.

He said that category ‘A’ railway stations will be provided with free Wi-Fi facility in the first phase. As a result of this, Kozhikode railway station in Palakkad division would get the Wi-Fi facility first.

MP Nalin inaugurates newly set up escalators at Mangalore Central railway station

MP Nalin Kumar Kateel on Friday July 8 inaugurated two electric escalators at Mangaluru Central Railway Station here.

After inaugurating the escalators, Nalin Kumar Kateel speaking to media persons said, “The escalators have been installed at a cost of Rs 2 crore to facilitate passengers to move from the main entrance to platform numbers 2 and 3. Several demands of Phalgat division have been met, especially the Bajal-Padil railway underbridge. Work on Jeppu-Kudpadi underbridge has begun. Railway underpass near Padil is in the completion stage.”

He further explained, “There are also demands for new trains. After the new Hassan-Bengaluru line gets commissioned, Mangaluru-Bengaluru train will pass through Shravanabelagola which will help reduce the distance. As there is demand for more trains in the coastal region, there is a track for more number of trains to operate between Mangaluru-Bengaluru via the Shiradi Ghat stretch between Kukke Subrahmanya road and Sakleshpur.”

Regarding low patronage for Mangaluru-Madgaon Intercity Express to Mumbai he said, “The issue is before the railway ministry. The ministry is thinking of rescheduling or re-routing Kasargod-Byndoor stretch. There is demand to run the service between Kukke Subrahmanya and Byndoor to facilitate pilgrims.”

Regarding electrification of the railway track, divisional railway manager, Palakkad, Naresh Lalwani said, “Inspection has been conducted upto Cheruvathur. From Cheruvathur to Mangaluru, we have set next March as the target. It is a distance of about 80 km.”

Demand for setting up Badarpur Rail Division intensifies

Badarpur JnBadarpur: The Badarpur Rail Division Implementation Demand Committee (BRDIDC) has demanded the setting up of a full-fledged railway division at Badarpur Railway Junction without any further delay. This was demanded by the BRDIDC, in a memorandum submitted to the NF Railway Area Manager of Badarpur Railway Subdivision, which was addressed to the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu recently.

Submitting the memorandum, the BRDIDC general secretary Sukumar Ghosh, president Chandan Lal Sen, Ashim Mazumder and several other members vehemently criticised the Railway Ministry and the Central Government for not yet taking any decision in regard, which is a very old demand of the people, first voiced way back in 1988. They said that the demand for Badarpur Rail Division has already become a ‘mass demand ’, and hence, cannot be ignored at all. They said, that all essential elements for a railway junction are available at the Badarpur Railway Junction and so, from this point of view, the Badarpur Railway subdivision must be converted to a railway division. “We are united for the next phase of the struggle”, they threatened.

Immediately after submitting the memorandum, the general secretary of the Badarpur Rail Division Implementation Demand Committee, Sukumar Ghosh, accompanied by the other members of the BRDIDC, while speaking to this correspondent narrated the entire picture, the necessity, reasonableness as well as the logic of the Badarpur Rail Division. Ghosh said that in support of the setting up a full-fledged rail division at Badarpur, the movement will continue and now it will be made more vigorous than earlier. In reply to a question, Ghosh said that since 1988, the movement was non-violent. But now, the contours of the movement may change, if the Railways and the Central Government continue to deprive Badarpur of its due. Programmes like protests, wearing of black badges, leaflet distribution will be taken up within a short period and a very good response is expected from every corner of Badarpur Railway town and the village areas.

Ghosh also said that ‘Badarpur’ is most suitable place for setting up of a full-fledged railway division. There are vast railway lands at Badarpur, and there is proper traffic control. Explaining the latter, he said from Badarpur to NC Hills the distance is 500 km; from Badarpur to Bhairabi: 460 km; from Badarpur to Tripura 510 km; and from Badarpur to Manipur 430 km. Due to these proper traffic controls, ‘Badarpur’ is the only ‘gateway’ to the neighbouring States of Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya, along with the entire Barak Valley. In these places, the Railway services are being controlled by Badarpur. So, in this connection, if railway communication is set up with Bangladesh in the future, then automatically for geographic reasons, ‘Badarpur’ will be the most suitable place. Ghosh also said that Badarpur Rail Sub-Divisional Head Quarter has the required staff strength and is also economically viable for the purpose of a full-fledged rail division.

The BRDIDC in its memorandum, to the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, has mentioned the reasons for the need to set up a rail division at Badarpur. It said that since the British period, this railway junction is controlling and operating the Badarpur Railway Area of Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, Greater Assam (Railway belt of Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi and the Dima Hasao districts) and Bangladesh in times of national and international necessities. Besides railway land lying vacant, uncared, unutilised and unlawfully occupied can be utilised for setting up the rail division at Badarpur. There are service-building facilities and staff-quarter facilities at Badarpur railway junction. Mechanical and signalling management for the complete sub-divisional zone are managed and controlled from this junction. All other infrastructure facilities are also available, the BRDIDC memorandum said.

It was also mentioned that during the opening ceremony of Rangiya Rail Division, former Chief Minister of Assam, Late Hiteswar Saikia and other dignitaries had agreed in their addresses and before the media, that the next rail division will be set up at Badarpur

The BRDIDC has earnestly appealed to the Railway Minister to intervene in the matter. Copies of the memorandum have been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Railway Board Chairman, GM NF Railway, State Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, all MLAs and MPs and Ministers of Barak Valley, and leaders of BJP’s Karimganj unit, the BRDIDC said.

Demand for separate Railway Division at Brahmapur kicks off ahead of Railway Budget

Brahmapur Railway StationBerhampur: Ahead of the railway budget, senior BJP leader and former deputy speaker Rama Chandra Panda has demanded a railway division office in Berhampur and direct trains from Silk City to New Delhi, Mumbai and western Odisha towns like Sambalapur and Rourkela.

He submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi recently.

Establishment of a division office in Berhampur will help expedite different railway projects in southern Odisha and introduction of long-distance direct trains from here, Panda said in the memorandum.Berhampur is now under the jurisdiction of Khorda Road division of East Coast Railway. He demanded construction of Gopalpur-Therubali via Rayagada railway line and Gopalpur-Redhakhol via Phulbani railway link. The projects will benefit Ganjam district, the senior BJP leader said.

Mumbai will continue to be Western Railway Headquarters: MOSR

western-railway-hq-churchgate-mumbai-mumbaiVadodara: Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha has said Mumbai will continue to be the headquarters of the Western Railway (WR).

Sinha, who was on a two-day tour of Vadodara division, WR, told PTI yesterday, “Mumbai will continue to be the WR headquarters and the proposal to shift it to Ahmedabad or Gandhinagar (in Gujarat) has been rejected in the past. There arises no question to deliberate on the issue again.”

Sinha said the location of railway headquarters is decided on the basis of operational and administrative requirements, consistent with the needs of economy and efficiency and not on regional considerations.

“Railways (Ministry) did not find the proposal feasible,” he added.

It may be noted that BJP MP from Ahmedabad West constituency, Kirit Solanki, last year had sent a proposal to the ministry on shifting the WR headquarters to Gujarat.

Similar demand was also made during the tenure of former state Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The proposal to shift the headquarters from Mumbai has been strongly opposed by Maharashtra ruling ally, Shiv Sena which had even alleged that such a move is a “conspiracy” to weaken Maharashtra.

Shifting WR Headquarters to Ahmedabad not feasible: MOSR

New Delhi: The Ministry of Railways has once again clearly told that shifting of the Western Railway headquarters from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is not feasible. In reply to series of questions asked by Gujarat MPs that whether it is a fact that Gujarat contributes a major share in passenger and goods traffic to Western Railways and hence demand for shifting of Western Railway Headquarters to Ahmedabad from Mumbai is justifiable more so when Gujarat is not having any Zonal Railway Hqrs; and the details thereof, and the action taken thereon so far, the Minister of State for Railways Mr.Manoj Sinha stated: Representations have been received regarding locating a Zonal Railway Headquarter in Gujarat. The location of the headquarters of a Railway depends on operational & administrative requirements, consistent with the needs of economy & efficiency and not on regional considerations. The Western Railway headquarter at Mumbai is working satisfactorily and no change is considered necessary. The proposal to shift the Western Railways headquarters from Mumbai to Ahmedabad was examined in the light of the above and has not been considered feasible.

MOS (Railways) assures New Railway Division at Bhagalpur

Bhagalpur Rly Stn MOSRNew Delhi: Admitting gaffe by the Railways in ignoring Bhagalpur railway station and making Malda (West Bengal) a Railway’s Division (ostensibly due to political reasons), the Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha categorically said that injustice done in the past would be rectified and that the Railways is committed to establish its new ‘division’ at Bhagalpur.

Obstacles, if any, would be removed for establishing the new railway division at Bhagalpur, said the Minister of State for Railways adding Bhagalpur railway station is the highest revenue earner for railways under Malda railway division and it undoubtedly deserves to be upgraded to a new railway division as envisaged in the past. The railways would a made a preferred public conveyance for everyone, he added.

The Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha was here on Tuesday to review the ongoing developmental projects with the senior railway officials besides to give thrust to the future plans of railways at Bhagalpur. He also attended a private function at a relative’s place in the city.

The demand for divisional status to Bhagalpur railway station can be traced back to the establishment of Eastern Railways in 1952. Widespread perception is that railway division at Malda (West Bengal), under which Bhagalpur railway station comes, was created in 1984. The open secret is that the railway division was lugged over to Malda for political reasons at that time by the Congress regime by ignoring the criterions.

It may also be worth to mention that the Bhagalpur railway station is the highest revenue earner under Malda Railway Division. Taking the facts into consideration, then railway minister Lalu Prasad (in UPA-I government) laid foundation of railway division at Bhagalpur on March 1, 2009. Prasad had announced that the railways would spend Rs 2 crore on the project. An officer-on-special duty (OSD) was also posted thereafter to look after developmental works related to the proposed railway division, but till date it remains an illusion for the denizens of the region.

In the backdrop, the Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, in an informal meeting with media person in late evening hours on Tuesday, said that his ministry is committed towards the establishment of a new railway division at Bhagalpur and deliberations are being held at the Railway Board level.

Development of railways’ infrastructures in Bihar is in the priority list of the Railways, added Sinha saying a 5-year developmental road map has been prepared. Effort is to remove the past political injustices to the state with regard to railway projects.

Referring to the inordinate delay in the completion of the doubling of the track between Kiul and Barharwa railway section, the Minister of State for Railways said that work at major parts have been under progress. Part section between Bahaglpur to Kahalgaon and from Kahalgaon to Pirpainty and Maharajganj would be completed by 2017.

Process for electrification of the railway route between Kiul and Barharwa via Bhagalpur is also underway and the plan is to complete the electrification work in this section in next three years, said the Minister of State for Railways adding the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is very much keen in developing the railways infrastructures and it modernizations.

The railways will be investing rupees 1,10,000 crores for the developmental projects and upgrading infrastructures in view of sixteen (16) times increase in passenger volume and eight (08) times freight volume whereas the railways network grew between two and half (2.5) time only, said the Minister of State for Railways adding we are committed to make the railways a preferred public conveyance for everyone.

Sachin Tendulkar wants separate Rail Division for Mumbai Suburban Rail System

Finally, Sachin Tendulkar asks a question in Rajya Sabha

Sachin-Rajya-SabhaNew Delhi: Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkarasked his first question in the Rajya Sabha three years after being appointed to the upper house of Parliament.

According to an ABP News report, on Friday, Tendulkar raised a question on the criteria for declaring suburban railway services as a separate zone. This was in reference to the marking of Kolkata Metro services as a new zone.

The question was in written form and so was the reply.

“Will the Minister of Railways be pleased to state the rationale behind creating a new zone for Kolkata Metro and whether it can be replicated in other cities such as Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi that also have similar suburban rail services; the criteria that a suburban railway system must fulfil to enable it to be notified as a separate zone; and whether the above three cities fulfil that criteria and are eligible for being notified as separate zones?” was Tendulkar’s query.

Following this, the written reply from the railway ministry said the following:

“After taking this into consideration along with operational, administrative and other factors, the zonal railway status was granted to Metro Railway, Kolkata to, inter-alia, help this organization in its operations and in further expansion. In the Indian Railway system operational in other cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, the suburban railway traffic is run along with the mainline traffic”, the reply said.

Sachin Tendulkar is a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha since 2012. He was included in the Parliament Committee on Information Technology on September 1, 2015 despite low attendance and non-involvement in the upper house.

Bhagalpur awaits Railway Division status gift from PM

bhagalpur rsBhagalpur (BGP): For the common people, PM Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Bhagalpur to address a ‘Parivartan Rally’ on September 1 is yet another chance for the Union government to rectify the injustice done to the city long ago.

The injustice, according to people, was done in 1984 when the Union government created Malda railway division in West Bengal for political considerations and denied the rightful claim of Bhagalpur.

Since then, people of not only Bhagalpur but adjoining districts too have been demanding a railway division at Bhagalpur and now pin their hopes on PM Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Bhagalpur. The people’s representatives, cutting across party lines, expect that Modi would rectify the injustice done to the region 31 years ago at the public meeting to be held at Airport ground.

If people’s mood is taken into consideration, the upgrading of Bhagalpur railway station to a division is likely to bring accolades for BJP and NDA before the state assembly polls.

The demand for divisional status to Bhagalpur railway station can be traced back to the establishment of Eastern Railways in 1952. It may be mentioned here that the Bhagalpur railway station is the highest revenue earner under Malda railway division. In 2009, the then railway minister, Lalu Prasad (in UPA-I government), had laid the foundation of railway division at Bhagalpur on March 1. An officer-on-special duty (OSD) was also posted thereafter to look after developmental works related to the proposed railway division.

But, after the change of guard in the ministry of railways (that went to Trinamool Congress between May 2009 and September 2012 in UPA-II government), the work related to the proposed railway division at Bhagalpur came to a standstill. Hopes of the people of the region were rekindled when the minister of state for railways, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary, visited Bhagalpur in December 2012 and categorically announced that the division would become a reality.

“PM Narendra Modi should immediately take steps to rectify the injustice done to Bhagalpur and announce a railway division status for the city that fulfills the major criterion,” said social activist Zeejah Hussain.

Existing Railway Zones, Divisions addressing Operational requirements efficiently: MOSR

New Delhi: The government has said that existing railway zones and divisions are effectively addressing various factors such as size, workload, accessibility, traffic pattern and other operational/administrative requirements, consistent with the needs of economy and efficiency.

In a written reply to a question raised in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, said, “At present, there is no plan to set up new divisions on Indian Railways, except those with headquarters at Gulbarga, Jammu and Silchar, which were announced in February, 2014.”

In addition, he said that a committee of senior officers from Railways has also been constituted to examine the issue of setting up a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, in terms of Item No.8 of Schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Sinha also said that the Konkan Railway is not attached to any zonal railway. It is under the control of Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Ministry of Railways, formed with the mandate of construction and operation of Konkan Railway.

Demand for formation of Bhagalpur Railway Division flares up once again ahead of Modi’s visit

Bhagalpur stationBhagalpur (BGP): Unhappy over the inordinate delay in upgrading Bhagalpur railway station to divisional railway headquarters status, the residents of Bhagalpur now pin their hope on Narendra Modi’s first visit to Bihar on July 25 after his becoming Prime Minister. They hope the PM will undo the injustice done to the region since long by setting up a railway division in Bhagalpur during his visit to Muzaffarpur on Saturday.

The demand for divisional status to Bhagalpur railway station can be traced back to the establishment of Eastern Railways in 1952. The railway division at Malda (West Bengal), under which Bhagalpur railway station comes, was created in 1984. Bhagalpur railway station is the highest revenue earner under Malda railway division. Taking the fact into consideration, the then railway minister Lalu Prasad (in UPA-I government) had laid foundation of railway division in Bhagalpur on March 1, 2009. Prasad had announced that the railways will spend Rs 2 crore on the project. An officer-on-special duty (OSD) was also posted to look after development works related to the proposed railway division.

But, after the change of guards in the ministry of railways (that went to Trinamool Congressbetween May 2009 to September 2012 in UPA-II government), work related to the proposed railway division at Bhagalpur came to standstill.

The officials so posted were also withdrawn subsequently. Hopes of the people of the region were rekindled when the minister of state for railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary visited Bhagalpur in December 2012 and categorically pronounced that the division will become a reality as envisaged by then railway minister Lalu Prasad. Chowdhary reiterated his commitment for the same during his second official visit on November 27, 2013 but in vain.

If at all PM Narendra Modi cares enough for Bihar, he should immediately take steps to rectify the injustice done to Bhagalpur region since 1984 and announce railway division at Bhagalpur, said social activist Zeejah Hussain adding it will add to the stature of PM who appears to be development-oriented. IMA president Dr Shailesh Chandra Jha also echoed similar views. “We hope PM Modi does justice to the region by announcing divisional status to Bhagalpur railway station,” said a businessman Binod Agarwal.

BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain says the issue is pertinent for the people of this region.

Establish new Railway Zone on Vijayawada-Guntur stretch: Railway Unions

Vijayawada (BZA): While an announcement of a new Railway Zone for Andhra Pradesh is expected shortly, locals and unions have launched a movement for securing the railway zone to Vijayawada-Guntur stretch, where the new Capital Amaravathi is coming up.

Demanding that the new railway zone be established on Vijayawada-Guntur stretch, the railway unions warned that any decision to locate the railway zone at Visakhapatnam would send wrong signals to people and could cause a huge disappointment.

It might be noted that the announcement of a new railway zone for the State has been caught in a political bind with the BJP making it as a prominent electoral promise in Visakhapatnam. The locals there also expect an announcement on the new railway zone during the visit of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday.

“We urge the Union government not to pay heed to petty political considerations while announcing the location of a new railway zone. The new railway zone should be established at the capital and railway connectivity between Amaravathi and Hyderabad, the two capitals, should be improved by doubling Nallapadu-Bibinagar on a war-footing,” said Avadhunula Hari, additional secretary, Railway Mazdoor Union (RMU).

Batting for delinking politics from administration of railways, he demanded that the Union government implement promises made in Schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act-2014 within six months of the division of the State.

The new railway zone should be established in the vicinity of the proposed New Capital of Andhra Pradesh viz. Amaravathi which is geographically convenient to all wherein the two unique capitals i.e. Amaravathi and Hyderabad.  This also paves the way for doubling of Nallapadu-Bibinagar stretch on a war-footing; said Avadhunula Hari, Additional Secretary, Railway Mazdoor Union

Demand grows for Mangaluru region’s merger with Konkan Railway

Only then coastal Karnataka could see development: KCCI
G. Hanumanth Kamath from Paschima Karavali Rail Yatri Abhivriddhi Samithi submitting a memorandum to Ivan D'Souza, MLC, at the railway adalat organised by the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Mangaluru on Sunday
G. Hanumanth Kamath from Paschima Karavali Rail Yatri Abhivriddhi Samithi submitting a memorandum to Ivan D’Souza, MLC, at the railway adalat organised by the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Mangaluru on Sunday

Mangalore (MAQ): Kanara Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Sunday May 24 organized ‘Railway Adalath’ at its meeting hall here. Ironically, officials of the railway department, Konkan Railway and Palakkad division were absent.

MLC Ivan D’Souza chaired the ‘Railway Adalath’ and discussed various development works regarding railway facilities in the district.  Participants at a railway adalat organised by the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Sunday have stressed the need for merging the Mangaluru railway region with Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., for the overall development of coastal Karnataka.

While MLC and Karnataka government’s representative to Southern Railway Ivan D’Souza reiterated the wish of the people of the region, KCCI representative to Southern Railway and Konkan Railway, Mohandas Prabhu, said it was high time the original plan of KRCL was brought into action.

The detailed project report prepared by E. Sridharan, Mr. Prabhu said, had fixed the southern boundary of KRCL at Ullal and not at Thokur. “New Mangalore Port Trust alone contributes around 42 percent of the total profit of Palghat railway division. Mangaluru should come under Konkan Railway Corporation which facilitates development works. This will be helpful in materializing the dream of making Mangaluru Central a world-class railway station.  The NMPT is providing more than 80 per cent of the revenue to Southern Railway’s Palakkad division. If that region is brought under KRCL, it would have enough resources to double and electrify the Mangaluru-Mumbai (Thokur-Panvel) line thereby heralding overall economic development of the region, Mr. Prabhu said.

Udupi Railway Yatri Sangha President R.L.Dias suggested taking up new line survey between Nandikur-Karkala-Charmadi-Mudigere-Belur-Hassan so as to avoid Shiradi Ghat. Present restrictions on train operations on the ghat has been affecting introduction of new trains, he said.  “Inter-city train plying from the city should be extended till Vasco and the schedule should be changed. The train runs on loss due to shortage of passengers and its inconvenient timings,” he further added.

Activist Hanumanth Kamath urged to restore the Mahalakshmi Express train which was plying towards Meeraj. The train has been stopped presently.

Mr. D’Souza said he would strive hard to get the demands addressed at various levels of the railways and the State government. He threatened to cut basic supplies to Mangaluru Junction Railway Station if the Southern Railway did not allow setting up of a prepaid autorickshaw counter within a fortnight. Oliver D’Souza said, “If there is any inconvenience in Konkan Railways like water and food, passengers can inform about it by SMS to 9004470700. In case of emergency, passengers can contact on 9004470730.”

Referring to the absence of railway officials at the adalat, he said he would propose action against them . The government was providing free land and half the costs for new projects and the officials were accountable to State too, said. Issues such as speeding up of Karwar-Mangaluru-Bengaluru night train, introducing more trains between Mangaluru-Bengaluru and Mangaluru-Mumbai too were raised. Responding to the various issues raised during the Adalath, MLC Ivan D’Souza said that he would involve himself in implementing the projects which have been passed in the recent budget. He also said that he would raise the problems of the railways pertaining to district in the Assembly as well in Southern Railway consultative committee meetings.

Mumbain Railway Yatri Sangha Executive Secretary Oliver D’Souza, Paschima Karavali Railway Yatri Abhivriddhi Samithi President G. Hanumanth Kamath, KCCI president Nigam Vasani and Vice President Rammohan Pai Maroor and others were present.

Firm announcement on new Railway zone at Vizag sought

Visakhapatnam (VSKP): Representatives of various peoples’ organisations have demanded that the Railway Minister make a categorical announcement on formation of the new railway zone in Andhra Pradesh with headquarters in Visakhapatnam during his reported visit to the city on May 27. In a letter to the Railway Minister, former Union Secretary E.A.S. Sarma said that the new zone should not be truncated to suit the political interests of the government.

Praja Spandana president C.S. Rao also echoed similar views and wanted that a declaration made on the zone without further delay.

Reports are in the air for the last 3 days at Andhra Pradesh and New Delhi that Centre is likely to grant Railway Zone status to Vizag in Andhra Pradesh before end of this month. According to sources close to the BJP, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Andhra Pradesh BJP President Kambampati Hari Babu, who recently had a meeting with Railways Minister, were given hint about this. Railway Zone is likely to be arranged at Visakhapatnam as expected earlier.

According to sources, the BJP state wing is said to be planning to conduct a huge meeting on 26th May at Visakhapatnam, where Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu will announce this on the eve of NDA government completing one year in power.

The state BJP wing believes that it is necessary to conduct huge meeting to highlight this development to reduce the negative opinion generated against it in the people because of negative publicity by some ruling and opposition parties over NDA government’s failure to implement its promises made to the state. This may also prevent the ruling TDP leaders and Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu from claiming the full credit of this.

However, BJP may invite him and all the ministers of his government to this public meeting likely to be held at Visakhapatnam on May 26th.

Odisha insists formation of new Rourkela & Jharsuguda Rail Divisions in the event of bifurcation of ECOR

Bhubaneswar (BBS): The railway board has sought opinion of all the Odisha MPs on this issue. Earlier, it had sought the opinion of the state government, which submitted its reply to the board.

Odisha Commerce and Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi said: “The railway is getting nearly Rs 14,000 crore as revenue from ECOR and we agree that 80% of the revenue is from Visakhapatnam Division itself.  But that doesn’t mean that Odisha is left poor due to bifurcation. Although we are opposed to any such move, we want the centre should consider, in the event of Visakhapatnam division being taken away from the East Coast Railway’s jurisdiction, two or three new railway divisions set up in the state and its headquarters be located in the mineral rich belt of Jajpur-Keonjhar, and the last one either in Rourkela or Jharsuguda.  Majhi also strongly stressed that portions of South Eastern Railway should be transferred to ECOR jurisdiction”.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in his letter stated, “We have raised objections to this bifurcation, and I hope the Ministry of Railways will consider our just request to protect the interest of the backward regions of Odisha”. “There are many pockets of Odisha which are still functioning under other railway zones. The railway should initiate steps to bring back all such railway networks under the East Coast Railway,” he said.

Majhi said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had, in July 2014, written a letter to the then Union Minister for Railways opposing any such move. Sources said the Chief Minister stated that the state had a concern about creation of new zone for Andhra by bifurcating Visakhapatnam.

The East Coast Railway was created in 1996-97 out of the South-Eastern Railway Zone. Even after its creation, it took nearly eight years to become fully operational. The Waltair division was brought under the East Coast Railway in 2003, and nearly 30 stations, including those in Koraput and Raygada districts, are now under its jurisdiction.

Out of 1,106km of railway line under this zone, nearly 410km are passing through Rayagada and Koraput districts. Now, three divisions – Sambalpur, Khurda and Waltair – are functioning under the East Coast Railway.

In another development, the Samajwadi Party state unit today sent a letter to railway minister Suresh Prabhu opposing the move.

“Creating a new zone out of the East Coast Railway zone is detrimental to the growth and development of Odisha,” said its state unit chief Rabi Behera.

Sources in the East Coast Railway confirmed that such a move had been initiated at the Union ministry of railways’ level. “The process has been initiated, according to the norms following reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh. But, there is no immediate impact,” said a senior official associated with logistics of the development, adding that there was now a demand for creation of 12 zones and 28 new railway divisions across the country.

Railway Board seeks Odisha’s opinion on splitting ECoR

Bhubaneswar (BBS): There is every possibility of the bifurcation of East Coast Railway (EcoR) as the Centre has initiated efforts for formation of a new Waltair Division by withdrawing the Waltair (Vishakhapatnam) division from the ECoR jurisdiction.

The matter has gone to such an  extent that the Railway Board authorities have sought opinions from Odisha MPs in this regard.

Besides, the Board, in a letter to the chief secretary, has wanted to know the stand of the Odisha government in this regard, reliable sources said.

The sources have also said that the state government, in a letter to the Railway Board on April 18 this year, has reiterated its demand to allocate three new divisions if the Board decides to exclude Waltair division from ECoR jurisdiction.

Besides, MPs from the state have also replied in the same manner to the Board, said BJD MP Balabhadra Majhi.

It may be mentioned that with the reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh, the Railway Board has formed a committee to conduct a ground study on possible reorganisation of the railway.

The Committee has proposed bifurcation of ECoR by excluding the Waltair division from its jurisdiction and creation of a new division in Seemandhra (the residual Andhra Pradesh).

All political leaders of Andhra, including Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, and several organisations have put pressure on the Centre alleging that justice is not meted out to Waltair division, which is presently under ECoR.

Available information said a blueprint for ECoR bifurcation has already been prepared.

The decision of the Railway Board has come as a rude shock to Odisha.

It may be mentioned that the Waltair division, which was brought under ECoR jurisdiction in 2003, has over 30 railway stations in Odisha including Koraput and Rayagada. Besides, a number of industrial units also come under this division.

Out of a total of 1106 km of rail route under Waltair division, 37 percent (410 km) of rail route passes through Koraput and Rayagada.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, in a letter to the Railway Board last month, had demanded creation of three new divisions for ECoR if it takes away Waltair division from it.

He said the three new divisions should come up either at Rourkela or Jharsuguda, Jajpur-Keonjhar or Bhadrak and Rayagada for empowerment of ECoR.

He had said the proposed Rourkela or Jharsuguda division should comprise of Jareikela-Rourkela-Jharsuguda-Belpahar, Rourkela-Bandhamunda-Barsuan and Rourkela-Nuagan sections; Jajpur-Keonjhar or Bhadrak division should comprise of Jaleswar-Baleswar-Bhadrak-Jhakhapura, Jhakhapura-Bansapani-Padapahara-Gua-Barbil and Rupsa-Bangiposi sections while the Rayagada division should comprise of Nuapada-Gunupur (including the proposed Therubali-Rayagada scetion), Rayagada-Titlagarh-Khariar Road, Koraput-Jeypore-Jagdalpur, Lanjigarh-Junagarh, including the proposed rail routes in Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts.

It remains to be seen whether the Railway Board would take away Waltair division from ECoR and give emphasis on the parallel demand of Odisha

North Andhra oppose move to delink K-K, K-R Rail lines from Waltair Division

URV president S. S. Shiva Sankar addressing a press conference in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday
URV president S. S. Shiva Sankar addressing a press conference in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday

Visakhapatnam (VSKP): The proposal to de-link the KK line and KR line from Waltair Division, while creating the new railway zone, and apportioning them to East Coast Railway would be opposed tooth and nail, said Uttarandhra Rakshana Vedika (URV) President S.S.Shiva Sankar.

No existing railway Division was bifurcated at the time of creating new zones in the past. Waltair Division, which is among the top five revenue earning divisions in the country, if bifurcated, would make the new zone financially unviable. The MPs from Andhra Pradesh should exert pressure on the Railway Ministry to prevent further split of Waltair Division, he told a media conference here on Tuesday.

Waltair Division MapThe jurisdiction of Waltair Division extends over 1,105 route km. covering AP, Odisha and Chhattisgarh States. The four main arteries of the Division are: Duvvada-Visakhapatnam-Palasa – 213 RKM, Vizianagaram-Singapur Road – 137 RKM, Kottavalasa-Kirandul (KK Line) 446 RKM, Koraput-Rayagada – 164 RKM, Kottavalasa-Simahachalam – 22 RKM, Bobbili-Salur 18 RKM, miscellaneous Goods routes – 37 km. and Naupada – Gunupur – 91 km. (total 1105 km).

URV President Shiva Sankar told that in majority of these sections which forms part of Waltair Division has Telugu speaking population who has more business to do with Visakhapatnam than any other adjoining towns/cities.  Mr.Shiva Sankar also said that Waltair Division poses a great heritage being an old Division, which has over 700 acres of railway land, various railway establishments like the largest Diesel Loco Shed in Indian Railways and an Electric Loco Shed. KK line and KR lines are the major earning lines in the Division as they carry freight for various industries.

The KK line, which comes under a single section, would pose operational problems, if bifurcated. The control of two different zonal railways on a single section would also result in administrative problems, he added.

Replying to a query, he said that a memorandum was being sent to the Railway Minister not to allow bifurcation of Waltair Division.

Rail staff & industry bodies of Guntur, Guntakal and Vijayawada Divisions oppose Vizag as new Rail Zone HQ

Vijayawada (BZA): Although an expert committee report on the issue of creation of new Railway Zone for andhra has not supported the creation of a new zone as the East Coast Railway zone headquartered at Bhubaneswar is unwilling to part with the Visakhapatnam Railway division, which is the top revenue generating division on East Coast Railway.  However, being a political decision, it is being pushed forward and currently all political talks are hinting at Visakhapatnam being the preferred choice of headquarters.
With the Union Railway minister stating that the announcement for a separate zone for Andhra Pradesh will be made by this month-end, South Central Railway employees who are unwilling to shift have started petitioning the authorities. With creation of a separate zone, the over 1 lakh sanctioned strength of railway employees will be divided between the two zones and many will have to relocate to either Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam.
The strong political need for a new zone was felt for providing a rail link in the bifurcated states. Also the fact that every zone is informally identifiable with a state, had heightened the need of the new zone. The existing South Central Railway has 6,000 km route length.
According to the expert committee, as Visakhapatnam is the big revenue generating division due to port connectivity and a slew of projects in the offing, the East Coast Railway does not want to give it away. “It will adversely affect the East Coast Railway zone if Visakhapatnam is taken away from it,” as per the committee report.
“The new zone is expected to see port-oriented growth as it will have the benefit of four existing ports and two more in the process.
Meanwhile, the service contract of railway employees mandates that they should shift to wherever they are posted within their appointed zone. But with the zone being split into two, the employees now have to shift as per the requirements of the new zone. Employees say that they should be consulted before deciding on headquarters. Employees are not willing to shift base as most prefer Hyderabad with its social and educational amenities. There is also uncertainty over whether the new zone will be headquartered at Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam.Railway employees, worried over the impending bifurcation of the zone, have started making representations and are writing appeal letters, asking to be given a choice of location, say insiders.
“A number of requests from employees are already coming in to consider them for certain locations, as most are worried that their opinion will not be sought,” said a highly placed source.
“Since the division of the zone is likely to affect half of the workforce in the South Central Zone, each person should be given a choice. It will be better if the administrative office is separated and operated from Hyderabad itself as it’s the administrative staff which is required to run the new zone,” said Subaiah Rao, an administrative officer with SCR.  In fact, on several occasions in the past, GM of SCR P. Srivastava has pointed out that the division of the zone is unnecessary and it will be an administrative hurdle.
“As Vijayawada and Guntur are both major junctions and have all supporting infrastructure, they were short-listed for the headquarters of the new zone earlier, but now it looks like Vizag is the choice. The increased connectivity of Vijayawada with other places can improve the development of ports,” said Ratnakar Reddy, a member of the East Godavari District and Cocanada Town Passengers Association.
railway zoneIn a surprise move, many employees from Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada Divisions of South Central Railway are not in favour of making Visakhapatnam as the Headquarter of new Railway Zone as it would make the things even more worse than being with Secunderabad. Employees from these divisions observe that Secunderabad is ideal for them to travel for any work pertaining to headquarters, and are more comfortable to it.  if Visakhapatnam is made a Headquarter for new railway zone, then it would not only become difficult for many people to commute, but also increase the hassles of travel time, leave alone the untold administrative bottlenecks  and functionsing difficulties.  They also allege that Visakhapatnam itself struggle with highest freight, port and passenger traffic and and land availability is also difficult there currently.  It would make things difficult for many in that case.  Hence all the three divisions and various Chamber of Commerce and Industry bodies from various districts urge Railways to declare Vijayawada as the headquarter of new Railway zone so that the headquarters of the newly formed zone will be centrally located to Visakhapatnam, Guntakal and Guntur.
Currently, the South Central Railway has five divisions, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded. As per ongoing talks, the new railway zone will either be headquartered at Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam. In the latter case, the entire Visakhapatnam division will have to be shifted to the new Zone from the current East Cost Zone.
“In case of a straight split without clubbing Visakhapatnam division, the promotion prospects of the employees of the new zone will lessen. In case Visakhapatnam is clubbed with the new zone, it will become a good zone in terms of profits. Employees are not in favour of shifting to Visakhapatnam although 70 per cent may favour Vijayawada.
“Given the first choice, none of the employees want to shift out of Hyderabad/ Secunderabad due to the established lifestyle and social infrastructure,” said general secretary of Railway Mazdoor Union Shankar Rao.

Andhra MP demand separate Rail Line between Tuni-Kothavalasa via Narsipatnam, Madugula and Devarapalle

Visakhapatnam (VSKP): Anakapalle MP Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao sought the laying of separate railway lines between Tuni and Kothavalasa junction via Narsipatnam, Madugula and Devarapalle to provide rail connectivity to the remote villages of Anakapalle constituency.

Discussion on Rail Budget

In the discussion on the railway budget in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Mr. Srinivasa Rao while supporting the Railway Budget 2015, noted that Andhra Pradesh was disappointed over the railway budget as the Railway Minister has neither sanctioned any new project nor has allocated funds to complete the pending projects.

“I was expecting an announcement on separate zone and clubbing of Waltair Division in it. But, this had not happened,” he said .

Several works including the Vijayawada-Nidadavole-Jaggayyapet-Vishnupuram and Kakinada-Pithapuram lines have not found a mention in the Railway Minister’s speech though the State Government had agreed to bear 50 per cent of the cost.

Mr. Srinivasa Rao, however, welcomed the announcement on making the A-1 grade Visakhapatnam Railway Station WiFi-enabled and the development of satellite railway stations at Anakapalle, Duvvada, Simhachalam and Pendurthy.

Policy Change

The policy change on ‘private sidings’ would help development of Visakhapatnam city as a logistics hub with speedier evacuation from the sea port.

New Zone

He sought among other things: stoppage of all super fast trains at Anakapalle, stoppage of Mumbai LTT Express at Duvvada, provision of passenger amenities at Anakapalle, Elamanchili, Narsipatnam Road and Duvvada Railway Stations.

Mr. Srinivasa Rao appealed to the Railway Minister to expedite the process of creation of the new zone as it was promised in the AP Reorganisation Act.

welcomed the announcement on making the A-1 grade Visakhapatnam Railway Station WiFi-enabled

Panel constituted to examine feasibility for new Rail Zone to meet Key Stakeholders: MOSR

New Delhi: The committee constituted by the Ministry of Railways to examine the feasibility of creation of a new railway zone has been asked to consult various stakeholders, including MPs and the State governments, before a final decision is taken on the issue.

This was stated by Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha in the Lok Sabha on Monday, in response to questions raised by MPs — Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao (Anakapalle), Kothapalli Geetha (Araku), Malyadri Sriram (Bapatla), and Nandi Yellaiah (Nagarkurnool).

Mr. Sinha noted that as per Item 8 of Schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Indian Railways was required to examine the possibility of establishing a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, and take an expeditious decision thereon.

Proposals

He noted that the Railway Ministry had received proposals from different sources suggesting various locations, including Visakhapatnam, as headquarters of the new railway zone.

Post bifurcation of State, residual Andhra keeps High Expectations on Railway Budget 2015

विजयवाडा Vijayawada (BZA): The reorganised state of Andhra Pradesh has high expectations from the railway budget of Narendra Modi’s government, as the railway connectivity is vital for some of the ambitious plans of TDP government in the state for development of the state as logistic hub.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is very much keen on developing the state as port of call for the trade and commerce from South East Asian countries and railway connectivity from the proposed ports to the hinter-lands and rest of the state is essential for it to become as reality.

Separate Railway Zone to be named as South East Coast Railway for the state has been the foremost demand for the state and expectations are high from the Railway budget in that regard. However, sources in railways say that it is unlikely to materialise in the budget and the central government would only try to appease the state by promising to consider it in next railway budget. State Government is also expecting the state to provide a major share of budgetary allocation for the completion of the pending railway projects including doubling and new-lines in the state.

Some of those pending works include Vijayawada-Bheemavaram-Nidadavolu, Yerragunta-Nandyala-Jaggayyapet-Vishnupuram, Kakinada-Pithapuram. Though state-government had agreed during previous budgets to bear 50 percent of the costs for the development of Obulavaripalli-Krishnapatnam railway line for the doubling works for Guntur-Tenali, there has been not much progress till date. State government expects more funds allocated to those projects on priority basis.

The long pending Kadapa-Bangalore new railway line works ares not progressing as expected with no encouraging budgetary allocations since last couple of years, though the project was given green signal in 2008-09 railway budget. As far as doubling works are concerned, the works are under progress, but would require substantial funding for them to be put on fast track for earlier completion,’ a senior railway official told.

Andhra Pradesh has mainly two railway zones – South Central Railway (SCR) and East Coast Railways – operating in the state. Though there is a long standing demand for merger of Waltair division, currently under East Coast Railways with SCR, it has not be considered in any railway budgets till date. Now expectations are that a new zone would be created into which Waltair division will merge.

Though there has been a demand for Kotipalli- Narasapuram railway line, given the high cost, the proposal was set aside in the previous budget. People of Godavari districts are hoping it be considered this time. Another proposed new-line Srikalahasti-Nadikudi is still under survey. If it materialises, Rayalaseema and Andhra regions in the state will have a better railway connectivity and the pressure on the mainline between Nellore and Vijayawada will be decreased.

Though a wagon workshop in Khazipet was proposed, it had not materialised, neither did a medical college at Secunderabad in the last budget. Rail Neer project at Vijaywada was proposed and even 3 acres of land at Krishna canal was identified for the purpose, but the project was not given the sanction. Will it get the sanction this railway budget? people of the new capital region of the state hope so.

Development of Tirupati and Secunderabad as the world class railway stations proposed more than five years ago, though it was sanctioned, is yet to materialise. People of Tirupati, one of the most visited pilgrimage centres in the country, hope so.

In general, people of the state are expecting more compartments, which are convenient and safe, as the waiting list for almost all the trains either originating or passing through is always long now a days. Another issue they want resolved on priority is availability of quality food and water. In recent times there has been several complaints in regard to those two issues.

YSR Congress Party to hold maha-dharna on 24th for separate SECoR zone at Vizag

विसाखपट्नम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): Activists of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) plan to stage a maha dharna in front of the Waltair divisional railway manager’s (DRM) office on February 24 demanding a separate railway zone with headquarters at Vizag.

District YSRCP president Gudiwada Amarnath alleged that the ruling TDP government in the state and the BJP government at the Centre have failed to fulfill the longstanding demand of the people of north Andhra for a separate railway zone.

Pointing out that the Waltair division, with annual revenue of around Rs.6,000 crore, is one of the highest revenue earners among all railway divisions in the country, he said a separate railway zone will not only pave the way for the development of north Andhra districts but also both the Godavari districts and will create jobs for the unemployed youth of the region.

Speaking to mediapersons at the party office at Jagadamba Junction here on Saturday, Amarnath said that as per the AP Reorganisation Act, the Centre should have sanctioned a separate railway zone for AP but it has done nothing even nine months after coming to power.

“Both the TDP and BJP governments have been cheating the people. The TDP and BJP MPs such as K Hari Babu, Kothapalli Geetha, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, K Rammohan and Avanthi Srinivas are not putting forth the issue forcefully enough before the central government at a time when it is preparing the railway and Union budgets,” he alleged.

He also accused Vijayawada and Guntur MPs of conspiring to get the new zone for their region.

Former MLA Tynala Vijayakumar said the Waltair division has 750 acres land, which is sufficient for a separate zone. Former MLAs T Gurumurthy Reddy, Karanam Dharmasri, Karri Seetaram were present at the meet.

Delay in announcement of SECoR Zone may cost Andhra youth dearly

Their job prospects will be marred if a new RRB is not set up

विजयवाडा Vijayawada (BZA): The undue delay in the announcement of the new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh is not only leading to avoidable speculation on location of the headquarters but also marring the job prospects of unemployed youth from the State!

There are 21 Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) in the country, one for each railway zone and two each in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which are responsible for recruitment for Group C posts.

Of the four railway divisions in Andhra Pradesh, Waltair (Visakhapatnam) is under the Bhubaneswar headquartered East Coast Railway (ECoR) and other three divisions Guntur, Vijayawada and Guntakal are under the Telangana headquartered South Central Railway (SCR).

Following harassment of Telugu candidates in Odisha and prolonged agitation the recruitment of candidates for Waltair Division was entrusted to RRB Secunderabad in 1994.

The recruitment for Guntur, Vijayawada and Guntakal Divisions is also done through RRB, Secunderabad, which is now in Telangana State.

“The passions whipped up by politicians in the two States following bifurcation is likely to result in the youth from AP getting a raw deal in Telangana. Similar to the situation faced by candidates from Visakhapatnam who were ill-treated in Odisha when they appeared for the RRB examination,” fears president of East Coast Railway Shramik Union Chalasani Gandhi.

Group-D selections are made once in two years and Group-C selections are done as and when the vacancies arise.

There is a likelihood of large number of vacancies being announced in the next two years and unless a new RRB is established immediately, youth from AP are likely to be the losers.

Mr. Gandhi, who is also the assistant general secretary of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation, said the union has already submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Railways at New Delhi seeking establishment of an RRB and one Railway Recruitment Cell in AP on par with other States.

Passions whipped up by politicians following bifurcation are likely to result in the youth from A.P. getting a raw deal in Telangana.

Clarity on new SECoR Zone likely in Rail Budget: SCR GM

Secunderabad (SC): South Central Railway (SCR) General Manager P.K. Srivastava said that the high-level committee set up by the Railway Board was in the process of ‘conceptualising whether the special railway zone’ was required for Andhra Pradesh. “Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Railway Minister had a detailed discussion on the proposal recently and some reports have been submitted. The entire magic box is likely to be opened in the budget,” he observed.

Addressing media persons here after a day-long inspection in Tenali-Gudur section on Friday, Mr. Srivastava said the issue of location of headquarters of the proposed zone, in Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam would arise after the committee arrives at a conclusion on the need for special zone for A.P.

Speculation over decision on new rail zone continues

While undue delay in the announcement of the new Railway Zone for Andhra Pradesh is not only leading to unnecessary speculation but also robbing Waltair Division of its chances of getting new trains.

While Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has categorically stated on more than one occasion that the headquarters of the new Railway Zone in Andhra Pradesh should be in Visakhapatnam, contradictory statements by various groups are creating confusion.

The latest statement of the SCR General Manager that the issue of location of the headquarters of the proposed new zone in Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam would arise only after the Railway Board took a decision on whether the special railway zone was required for AP, is once again giving rise to speculation.

Mr. Haribabu, who is also State BJP president, had said at public meetings in the past that the headquarters should be located in Visakhapatnam as Vijayawada was chosen as the capital and the Chief Minister was also in favour of decentralised development.

“The Chief Minister and I told Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu that both the TDP and the BJP want the headquarters of the new zone in Visakhapatnam, when he sought our opinion on the issue. Irrespective of what the committee, set up by the Railway Board says, establishing a new zone is a ‘political decision’ and I am confident that the zone headquarters will be in Visakhapatnam,” Mr. Haribabu told on Sunday.

It should be noted that Chattisgarh is the capital of Raipur while Bilaspur is the headquarters of South East Central Railway (SECR) and Bengaluru is the capital of Karnataka while Hubli is the headquarters of South Western Railway (SWR). These show that the railway zone headquarters and the State capital need not be located at the same place.

Meanwhile, it’s learnt that the East Coast Railway headquarters in Bhubaneswar has not proposed any new train from Visakhapatnam at the recent IRTTC meeting in New Delhi.

The ECoR headquarters reportedly turned down the proposal of the SWR to run a direct train from Bengaluru to Visakhapatnam, though a proposal was sent by Anakapalle MP Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao. ECoR is said to be planning to run another train from Bhubaneswar to Bengaluru.

New SECoR Zone for Andhra likely to be announced in Railway Budget

विसाखपटनम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): The decades of Dream is turning into reality this year. The govt of India informed the confirmation of Visakhapatnam as a new railway zone. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu conveyed this to district collectors in a meeting and said that this will be announced officially in the railway budget 2015 in a month.

People of Visakhapatnam have been fighting for a special railway zone for decades as Visakhapatnam station has always been neglected inspite of its high share in revenue to which ever railway zone it belongs to for the high good handling activity from port and the iron ore mines in the region. Trains were bypassed from Duvvada, which is a 25 kms away from the city with no facilities to hold the traffic of Vizag travelling on trains. The other issue which always made it hot was every train being sanctioned to Vizag were extended to Bhubaneshwar decreasing the number of seats available for passengers from Vizag.

Every member of Parliament has Railway Zone for Vizag as one of their Election Promises. The AP reorganization bill has a new railway zone promised for Andhra Pradesh, but the location was finalized by the government of Andhra Pradesh as Visakhapatnam in respect to the long term demand for a Special Railway Zone to Visakhapatnam. The new railway zone will have the divisions of Andhra Pradesh including the Andhra Pradesh Capital’s largest railway junction of south India Vijayawada Junction and the No.1 Pilgrim Destination of India Tirupati making it one of the profitable railway zones also bring the most awaited loop track to Visakahapatnam which will decrease the amount of time that trains have to spend at the railway station for the change of engine as the track further the railways station ends at the Visakhapatnam Port.

Railway Minister initiates move to ‘right-size’ Railway Board

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has kicked off the restructuring of railway board with a direction for pruning additional officers in the powerful but ‘top-heavy’ board.

A senior railways official said that the minister has asked senior officials to submit a list of unproductive staff in each department.

At present, railways works on a top-down hierarchical model — a six-member railway board creates, implements and monitors policies and takes all key decisions.

Apart from Chairman, Railway Board, there are six members—Member (Electrical), Member (Engineering), Member (Traffic), Member (Staff), Member (Mechanical) and Financial Commissioner. The members, including CRB enjoy the rank of secretary.

The railways is divided into 16 geographical zones employing about 14 lakh people. The national transporter operates on a cadre-based system (mechanical, engineering, electrical, traffic departments, etc), with neither any separation between policy making and implementation nor between passenger and freight businesses.

A senior official said that the move is aimed at right-sizing the all powerful board, housed in Rail Bhawan with around 3,000 people working of which around 270-300 are officials.

The decision is the second major initiative taken by Prabhu after he dissociated the minister from the tendering process to bring transparency and speed up decision-making while delegating powers to zonal railways and heads of production units.

“There are around 130 officials which are working at the rank of executive director and above in railway board,” he said, adding that its surprising that there are 24 officials from civil engineering department and 25 belonging to traffic services in the board.

He added, “If we include director rank officials also, the figure goes to around 250-270 senior official working in the board.”

Another official said that the board has become a kind of resting ground as posts are being created for “connected” officials who want to stay in Delhi.

Many committees and experts have advised for more than a decade now to restructure the railway board to cater to the changing realities but nothing has changed.

The Rakesh Mohan Committee of 2001 sought corporatization of the railways, with separate freight and passenger operations. The Sam Pitroda Committee of 2012 sought reorganization of the railway board, with separate members for passenger, freight, technology and business development. The panel called for scrapping the position of chairman of the railway board and replacing it with a chief executive officer while suggesting appointment of an ombudsman for all private-public partnership projects.

Railway Minister is seeking suggestions for Railway Budget 2015, but the website link is not working!

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has asked people for suggestions to improve train services but thanks to an error your inputs won’t reach him.

The BJP government is all set with its budget in February and to strengthen the railway budget and make sure amenities which people want be part of it, Suresh Prabhu had asked people to give their inputs on the Indian Railway’s website under ‘suggestion for rail budget 2015’. However, the link on the website is not working!

The idea was by clicking on this link any person can give any railway-related suggestions along with his name and contact number.  However, after typing in all the details, users are not able to submit the inputs because of an error.

Many Mumbai residents tried to put in their suggestions but faced this problem.

After the recent protest at Diva station over delay in train services, the railway minister had travelled in the local trains of Mumbai and spoke to people regarding the various issues they face while travelling. “We will figure long-term solutions for the less number of local trains in Mumbai compared to the high density of people. We will talk to commuters and will try and know their problems,” Prabhu had said. However, the error has stopped any suggestions from coming in.

Prashant Dhanapgol, who uses Mumbai local train for his daily commute, said, “For years we wanted to make sure the government hears what people want and need. This time when I heard about this suggestion link I was really looking forward to write about my grievances and suggestion. I did try to put in my suggestions but couldn’t. So much happened at Diva the other day. The Mumbai Central train comes late every day. Had thought of writing something about that. The 15-bogey train haven’t yet come. Thought will write about it.”

Railway officials in Mumbai refused to comment on this glitch and said the matter is under the jurisdiction of Delhi.

Creation of new SECoR Rail zone report is under consideration

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The report given by the Committee, which was constituted to study the feasibility of creation of a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, has submitted its report and the same is under consideration of the Ministry of Railways.

This was the reply given by Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha in the Lok Sabha on Thursday to the question raised by Visakhapatnam MP Kambhampati Haribabu on the floor of the House.

Mr. Haribabu had sought to know the status of the new railway zone as envisaged in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. The Act stipulates that the Indian Railways shall, within six months of the appointed day (June 2), examine the establishment of a new railway zone in the successor state of AP and take an expeditious decision thereon.

Mr.Haribabu has been insisting on creation of the new railway zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam for a long time based on the aspirations of the people of the region. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had also wanted establishment of the new zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam during his meeting with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi recently.

Left parties flay Committee’s recommendation on continuance of Waltair Division under ECoR

विसाखपट्नम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): The Left parties have flayed reported recommendation of the Committee appointed to recommend a new railway zone in Andhra Pradesh that a new zone could be formed with Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal Divisions and continuation of Waltair Division in East Coast Railway (ECoR).

Any such move to leave out Waltair Division from the proposed new zone would spark widespread resentment and agitation from the people of north Andhra region.

The recommendation also speaks volumes for the indifference of the ruling party leaders from the region in meeting the aspirations of the people, CPI and CPI(M) leaders felt.

CPI(M) State secretariat member Ch. Narasinga Rao said the committee report made a ‘mockery’ of the promises made by Telugu Desam and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders that the new zone would be established with headquarters here. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Visakhapatnam MP K. Haribabu had declared that Visakhapatnam would be made headquarters of the new railway zone as part of the decentralised development of the State.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared that Visakhapatnam would be made a ‘Smart City’ but had failed to even meet the long-pending demand to make Visakhapatnam headquarters of the new railway zone, which was an indication of the ‘hollowness’ of his promise, he said.

“Lack of political will is coming in the way of achieving the railway zone headquarters in Visakhapatnam. The Chief Minister should meet the Prime Minister along with MPs of all political parties in the state and convey the aspirations of the people. Mr. Haribabu should continually pursue the matter,” said Railway Zone Saadhana Samithi convener and CPI state assistant secretary JV Satyanarayana Murthy.

“There are two ports and industry majors like Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and HPCL which require rakes to carry raw materials and send finished products. Their needs would be addressed only if the rail zone headquarters is here,” he added.

All Assam Students’ Union demands separate zone for NE candidates

गुवाहाटी Guwahati (GWH): The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has called for re-drawing of the zones under the Indian Railways and for the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to be only in charge of the North Eastern states.

This follows the controversy generated over the alleged deprivation of youths from Assam and the North East during a recent examination by the Indian Railways to recruit 18,000 personnel in the Railway Police Force (RPF).

There have been reports that not even a single person from the North East was recruited during the drive for filling up posts of 1,000 sub-inspectors and 17,000 constables.

The AASU has demanded that recruitment for C and D category jobs in the Indian Railways be held zone-wise and the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) should be bifurcated with the areas falling in Bihar and West Bengal being made a separate zone, with the NFR being left only in charge of the seven North Eastern states.

Senior Railway sources said that while they did not have the complete data about the candidates selected from various zones, the recruitment for RPF was done at a national level following centralized advertisement by the Indian Railways.

“The nodal coordinator for this round of recruitment test was the Chief Security Commissioner of Gorakhpur-headquartered North East Railway (NER). The exams were held on an all-India basis and there is no separate quota for any zone including the NFR,” said an official.

He said that the Railway Board selects one zonal railway for coordinating one such all-India basis recruitment.

“NFR had been selected as the coordinator many times earlier for various rounds of recruitment. However, selection of successful candidates is done on a national level and based on their performance,” the official said, adding that for the 18,000 youths selected this time the pre-joining training will commence on November 1.

Bibek Debroy to head new High-level Panel on Railway Restructuring

Bibek Debroy
Bibek Debroy is an Indian economist. Since March 2007, he has been professor at Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

New Delhi: The railway ministry took its biggest step by forming a committee on Monday to restructure the cash-strapped transport behemoth. The seven-member committee, with a term of one-year, will be chaired by renowned economist Dr Bibek Debroy and will have among its members former cabinet secretary K.M.Chandrashekar. The seven-member panel will be headed by economist Bibek Debroy and include former cabinet secretary K.M.Chandrashekhar, former CMD of Procter and Gamble Gurcharan Das, senior fellow of Centre for Policy Research Prof.Partha Mukhopadhyay, former Managing Director of National Stock Exchange Ravi Narain, former Financial Commissioner of Railway Board Rajendra Kashyap, and a nominee from the department of economic affairs, who is yet to be named.

Sanjay Chadha, currently serving as the Executive Director (Mechanical) of the Railway Board will be the Secretary to the Committee, the Ministry’s circular states.

The onus of the committee would be ‘reorganizing and restructuring the Railway Board and subsequently the department so that policy making and operations are separated, the department does not work in silos, policy making focuses on long-term and medium-term planning issues and operations focuses on day-to-day functioning of the organization.’

The other important aspects for the committee would be to work out ways to ‘promote exchange of officers between the railways and other departments.’ In a bid to boost the balances of a railway system that ends up spending almost 94 per cent of what it earns, the committee will have to estimate financial needs of the railways and ensure policies to raise resources from within and outside the government.

The committee has also been tasked with giving recommendations on the existing Rail Tariff Authority, the circular states. The committee would be headquartered at New Delhi and the Infrastructure Directorate of the Railway Board would be the nodal body that will coordinate the working of the committee.

The committee comes on the back of railway minister V Sadananda Gowda’s July 8 railway budget speech where he laid out one of the most depressing assessment of railway accounts in recent times. The Railways, Gowda told Parliament, earned Rs.139558 crore, of which it spent Rs.130321 crore as working expenses in the financial year 2013-14. The bleeding is compounded by the fact that thanks to low fares for the past few years, loss per kilometre per passenger has increased from 10 paise in 2000-01 to 23 paise in 2012-13.

Mega railway dreams like the Diamond Quadrilateral Network- to connect metros with high-speed trains- and the 350kmph bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will require the kind of money the railways just cannot imagine, The Diamond Quadrilateral would require Rs.9 lakh crore, while the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train would require Rs.60000 crore at current prices. Add to that another Rs.5 lakh crore over the next 10 years just to complete ongoing projects.

In a railway system where safety isn’t anything to write home about, the railways will be needing Rs.40000 crores for track renewals, elimination of unmanned level crossings, building road-overbridges and road-underbridges.

It has also been asked to look into promoting exchange of officers between railways and other government ministries and departments.

The present system of organising Railways along departmental lines – electrical, mechanical, traffic, engineering, finance – is being considered an anathema in the changed economic environment.

Officials within railways and several committees have noted that the turf war between departments is affecting the modernization agenda. “The present organizational set-up on departmental lines is very conservative and lacks dynamism needed in a transport organization of the stature of Indian Railways. Such a set-up also gives rise to inter-departmental rivalry losing sight of the overall organizational goals including safety,” noted the Anil Kakodkar panel which had E Sridharan as one its members.

The Modi government’s first rail budget had announced that the railway board would be restructured.

About Bibek Debroy

Bibek Debroy (born 25 January 1955) is an Indian economist. Since March 2007, he has been professor at Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He has also been Visiting Honorary Senior Research Fellow for Institute for South Asian Studies in National University of Singapore from May 2009.

Debroy studied at Ramakrishna Mission Narendrapur, Presidency College of the University of Calcutta, Delhi School of Economics and Trinity College, Cambridge.

His past positions include the Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, Consultant to the Department of Economic Affairs of Finance Ministry (Government of India), Secretary General of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Director of the project LARGE (Legal Adjustments and Reforms for Globalising the Economy), set up by the Finance Ministry and UNDP for examining legal reforms in India. Between December 2006 and July 2007, he was the rapporteur[clarification needed] for implementation in the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. Debroy has authored several books, papers and popular articles, has been the Consulting Editor of Indian financial and other newspapers. He has been a member of the National Manufacturing Competitive Council from November 2004 to December 2009.

In the past Debroy has taught at Presidency College, Calcutta, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and the National Council of Applied Economic Research.

In 2010, he started authoring a ten-volume unabridged English translation of the Hindu epic The Mahabharata.

Will honour promises of UPA Govt: Gowda

FDI is welcome, though not in core operational areas, says the Union Minister of Railways. Decision on new zone for Andhra after October 14

D. V. Sadananda Gowda releasing logo of Special Cleanliness Campaign
Railway Minister Mr.D.V.Sadananda Gowda releasing logo of Special Cleanliness Campaign during his visit to South Central Railway, Secunderabad.  In the picture seen is Mr.P.K.Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway along with the Railway Minister and other officials of SCR

Secunderabad (SC):  The new government will honour all commitments made by the earlier regime pertaining to development and expansion works of the Indian Railways, Minister of Railways D.V. Sadananda Gowda categorically stated here.

Minister of state for Railways D. V. Sadananda Gowda during the release Special Cleanliness Campaign logo from 2nd October at Secunderabad, Telangana“However, we will review all of them and take every project, after duly prioritising the works based on the government’s current focus on improving safety of passengers, especially women and children, security of railway installations and improved services,” he told a press conference here on Friday afternoon. On the pending projects, he said it would take a whopping Rs. 5,00,000 crore to complete them.

“We gross about Rs. 30,000 crore as operational revenues and get another Rs. 30,000 crore from budgetary support, annually,” he said. Private sector participation is necessary if the Indian Railways is to be taken to the next level. He said foreign direct investment is welcome, though not in core operational areas. “We only need the ground to run our trains, so we have no objections if a private player wants to use the space above, to build a shopping mall or a multiplex after taking it on lease for 30 or 35 years. We have received good response,” he said.

Earlier, he inspected an impressive Passing-Out Parade of the 53 batch of 421 Cadet Sub-Inspectors (SIs), including the 2 batch of 42 women SIs at the Railway Protection Force Zonal Training Centre (ZTC) in Moula Ali. He said proposals for the ZTC to be upgraded as a Centre of Excellence are under active consideration because the RPF urgently needs a national-level training institution, considering the Railways focus on ensuring safety and security.

Minister of state for Railways D. V. Sadananda Gowda during the release Special Cleanliness Campaign logo from 2nd October at Secunderabad, TelanganaVery soon, 17,200 personnel, including 4,000 women officers, would be recruited and all vacancies would be filled across all departments, he said. Earlier, Director-General, RPF, Krishna Chaudhary, appraised the Minister of the initiatives being taken by the force to enhance security levels across the length and breadth of the vast network of the Indian Railways.

Because RPF personnel work in naxalite-affected areas and also because of the increasing crime on board trains, they need to be equipped with firearms. Jaya Singh Chauhan,, Secretary of the Jagjivan Ram Training Centre, Lucknow, presented the training report, and others present were General Manager of South Central Railway (SCR) P.K. Srivastava, Chief Security Commissioner, RPF-SCR, S.C. Parhi, and Principal of the Training Centre, G.M. Eswara Rao.

Union Minister of Railways D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Friday said that only after October 14, when the Experts Committee looking into all aspects concerned with the Railways submits its report pertaining to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, would the details of the new zone be firmed up.

“Every detail spelt out in the States Reorganisation Act and everything that I said on the Floor of the House will be implemented,” he said, adding that every project sanctioned by the previous Government would also be considered. He cited as examples, the Coach Factory at Kazipet with an installed capacity of 1,200 wagons – general and tanker type and the Mid-Life Coach Factory proposed near Kurnool and explained that once Government clears the allocation of land, work would start in right earnest.

The Minister declined to divulge details and said that they were waiting for the report to be submitted by the committee.

No going back on Railway Divisional HQ for Gulbarga, says Sadananda Gowda

गुलबर्गा Gulbarga (GR):  Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda has clarified that there is no going back on the commitment made by the previous UPA government on establishing the Divisional Headquarters of the South Western Railways (SWR) in Gulbarga. Necessary funds would be provided once the Railway Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) comes out with the Detailed Project Report (DPR) with the estimated cost, he said.

“I want to make it clear once and for all the Divisional Headquarters in Gulbarga is here to stay.I will come to Gulbarga after a month to review the progress of several railway works taken up during my predecessor Mallikarjun Kharge and also bring the RVNL officials to finalise the proposal for taking up the construction work of the divisional headquarters,” he said.

Addressing a press conference in Gulbarga after inaugurating the new wing of S. Nijalingappa Institute of Dental Sciences and Research here on Wednesday, Mr. Gowda said a sum of Rs. 5 crore has been released to RVNL already. “Mr. Kharge has spoken to me on the need to allocate more funds for the works of the divisional headquarters. I have assured him the Railways was committed to provide the required funds to the project”.

On the directions of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Railway Ministry to prepare a detailed report on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Railways, Mr. Gowda said that already the note issued by the Commerce Ministry in this regard was discussed in the cabinet and the areas where the FDI would be allowed has also been finalised. He said many countries including china, Japan, France and others expressed their keen interest in investing in the Railways.

However, Mr. Gowda was categorical in limiting the FDI to the infrastructure development of the Railways. It would not be extended to operational area of the Railways, he said.

Mr. Gowda said that he had once again pleaded with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to meet the commitment made on the cost sharing projects so as to complete them at the earliest.

The State government had earlier its inability to fund these projects.

Demand for New Railway Zone in Andhra gets louder

Vijayawada (BZA):  The demand for setting up a new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh near the capital region around Vijayawada is becoming louder, ever since the government announced the location for the capital last week.

A new railway zone for AP has been proposed in the AP Reorganisation Act-2014 and the Indian Railways has constituted a committee comprising senior officers to examine the feasibility of the proposal and submit a report within three months.

Avagahana, an intellectual forum, initiated a discussion on the issue recently and demanded that new railway zone be announced without delay. Forum secretary Konda Sivarami Reddy said that the headquarters of the new railway zone should be located near the capital city to ensure better coordination with the State government and local administration.

Additional secretary of Rail Mazdoor Union (RMU) said that Vijayawada-Guntur region was the most suited locations for setting up of a new railway zone, considering the fact that the Railway was a complex techno-administrative organisation, adding that the decision over the issue should not be based on political considerations. Former MLA L. Eswara Rao suggested that development of Nadikudi-Srikalahasti railway line should be taken up as a special project, as it was recommended by Sivaramakrishnan Committee, and it would be a parallel line to the existing Secunderbad-Vijayawada-Gudur railway line.

Pending project

Zonal Rail User Committee member P.S Murthy said that without proper rail connectivity, projects like Metro Rail and high speed trains would come to naught.

New SECoR Zone to be headquarted at Vizag: Chandrababu Naidu

विजयवाड़ा Vijayawada (BZA): The people of the largest city in Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation – Visakhapatnam – need not despair about the city losing out to Vijayawada as the capital of the new state.  Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu has struck to his promise of decentralised development and seems committed to the integrated development of the new state in the statement he made in Assembly on Thursday.

The biggest boon to Vizag is that it is destined to become Headquarters of the new railway zone SECoR. In fact, it is one of the 12 projects listed out by him for Visakhapatnam district.  It will be developed as a mega city besides being developed as a mega IT hub. Besides Visakhapatnam, he also showered boons on Srikakulam and Vizianagaram, which can spur the growth of north Andhra region. The proposed new Greenfield International Airport, which is likely to be set up at Bhogapuram in Vizianagaram district, can meet the long-term expansion needs of Visakhapatnam International Airport. The Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, which has already been announced by the Centre, will spur industrial growth. The talks with representatives of MNCs are in an advanced stage and are expected to attract huge investments, Mr.Naidu said. The other proposals which can put Vizag on the fast track mode of development include: metro rail, mega IT hub, electronics manufacturing centre.

On the contrary, Railwaymen and public representatives from Vijayawada have expressed shock of the announcement.  The hopes of having the headquarters of the proposed South East Coast Railway (SECoR) Zone in Vijayawada have been dashed, with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu deciding to set it up in Visakhapatnam, they said.

Vijayawada Division was viewed by Railway employees’ unions and passengers as the most suitable for setting up the HQ of the proposed zone but the government thought otherwise.

There was speculation that Vijayawada would be chosen for the zonal HQ amidst contradictory reports that it (Vijayawada) might be ruled out as an option. The latter has finally come true for reasons which appear to be more commercial than logistical. Incidentally, the annual revenue of the Visakhapatnam Division, which is situated in Bhubaneswar-based East Coast Railway, is more than double that of the Vijayawada division.

Coming to logistics, Visakhapatnam is no match to Vijayawada division. The number of trains (both passenger and freight) that pass through Vijayawada station is a staggering 300-plus in a day. But this was ignored for various other reasons on which clarity is likely to emerge in the due course.

Divisional Railway Manager Pradeep Kumar denied having any information about the location of the new zone’s HQ except that he came to know of the speculation through the media. Reports in a section of the media, he said, said from day one that the zone HQ would be located in Visakhapatnam, as the capital was destined to be set up around Vijayawada, whereas a number of issues were to be sorted out by the Ministry of Railways to carve out a new zone.

Kannada MPs suggest separate SWCoR Zone carved out of Southern & Konkan Railways

मंगलूर Mangalore (MAQ): Mangalore-the second largest city in the state of Karnataka, the educational and commercial hub, undoubtedly has a place of prominence, but nevertheless has suffered injustice despite its significant contributions to the ex-chequer. When it comes to the Railways, the region has bountiful of woes to pour in, even as the state has seen eight Railway Ministers over the years, including the present incumbent of the plump portfolio, a Dakshin Kannada man DV Sadananda Gowda. Local MPs allege that it’s nothing but sheer tragedy that a railway station in such a prominent city comes under the Palghat Division in Kerala and the Southern Railways headquartered in Chennai, another neighbouring state.

The one major railway grievance the Mangalore region geographically facing since decades has been that of railway needs and demands always being neglected, despite being a major Railway station on the West Coast of India. Ironically, Mangalore region, in railway’s parlance, has been overshadowed by the Palakkad Division (a Malayalam speaking region) and more interestingly by the Southern Railway HQ with Tamil influence – thus adding more ‘confusion’ among the Kannada speaking public of Mangalore region, allege the MPs from Dakshin Kannada. Coupled with this, the region has always meted out with a step-motherly treatment, as they say, and that the only way out is to press for the formation of a separate Railway Zone with Mangalore as the Headquarters by merging some portions of Palakkad Division from SR, Mysore Division from SWR and the Konkan Railway. Local Railway User Associations, peoples’ representatives, student communities, office goers strongly now started demanding creation of a separate Railway Zone instead of Division. But can the formation of a Railway Zone be an Answer to all the existing problems? MPs opines that creation of a separate Railway Division carved out of the existing Palakkad Division of Southern Railway will not do any justice to the neglected Mangalore region and hence want to push for a separate Zonal Railway headquarters at Mangalore which in all probabilities can solve most of the problems faced by the region.

CR, WR and Konkan Railway systems – all three at Mumbai:

Dakshin Kannada MPs suggest scrapping of Konkan Railway for creation of South West Coast Railway (SWCoR) Zone with Mangalore as Zonal Headquarters.  They even suggest relocation of Western Railway Zonal HQ to Ahmedabad, citing this will decongest Mumbai and can contribute towards creation of so called “Smart Cities” evenly spread on the West Coast of India.

While the historic Mangalore Railway Station (Now Mangalore Central) which is over a century old, has nothing much to boast of, over the years, it had to struggle for every bit of facility at the station and also for new train services, as it was and is still at the mercy of the Palakkad Division, which otherwise is more dependent on its Zonal HQ at Chennai in Tamil Nadu.

Ironically, While some parts of the region are governed by the SWR’s Mysore Division towards East and Konkan Railway towards the North making passengers, industry bodies, students, tourists, general public and people representatives often gets confused as to whom to approach for resolving various issues for betterment of Railway services in and around Mangalore area. One classic example is decade a long struggle that had gone in to see the much awaited Mangalore-Bangalore train service chugged off. During the unification of Karnataka, though the undivided Dakshina Kannada, then in the Madras state, merged with Karnataka, the railway station however could not come out of the administration of Southern Railway headquartered in Chennai. The only difference was that Mangalore railway station which was then in Olavakkot Division is now in Palghat Division.

The Railway network in and around Mangalore in Dakshin Kannada district is torn between many players. The 12-km stretch between Talapady and Mangalore Central, the 11-km stretch from Talapady to Mangalore Junction, the six-kilometre stretch from Mangalore Central to Mangalore Junction Stations and the 19-km stretch between Mangalore Junction and Panambur Yard come under the Southern Railway. Northwards from Thokur belongs to the Konkan Railway, eastwards from Padil on the Bangalore-Mangalore route is part of the South-Western Railway’s Mysore Division and western side belongs to the Southern Railway. Though South-Western Railway had constructed the Padil Station, it was handed over to the Southern Railways to do away with the administrative hassles.

Thus the railway network at a radial distance of just 20 kilometres is torn between three authorities, the majority being with the Southern Railway. Hence, people here are forced to turn to the Palakkad Division for any developmental work despite sufficient revenue generated in the region. Being geographically at the frontier-end of the Palakkad division, Mangalore has not been getting it’s due share since long. Nonetheless, the very survival of Palakkad division relies on the freight charges through MRPL and NMPT. Needless to mention that the loading from Panambur area alone accounted to approx.91.2% of the overall loading of Palakkad Division during the year 2012-13. Still, the neglect of Mangalore division over the years has sparked the demand for a separate Mangalore Railway Division to be carved out of Palakkad division coming under Southern Railway headquartered in Chennai. Naturally, the grouse that a raw deal has been meted out to Mangalore, cannot be undermined by any extent.

Palakkad Division too is not free from problems and has its own share of woes. Carving out the Salem division in November 2007 out of the Palakkad Division was a big loss to Kerala as the division lost Ooty and Erode. The Kerala division in turn lost 623 kilometres of it’s area in Tamil Nadu including Coimbatore and a sizable part of its revenues. The Rs.550 crore Coach Factory at Kanjikode in Palakkad announced in 2008-09 railway budget presented by the then Union Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Railway Zone promised for Kerala then as a compensatory measure, have still failed to materialise.

Even if Railways decides to form a Mangalore Division under the South-Western zone, it is likely to prove a death knell to Palakkad considered as one of the oldest railway divisions of Southern Railway and the second among the five highest revenue earning divisions. Given that Mangalore becomes a Division, Palakkad would not only lose 95 per cent of its revenue which it earns through Mangalore, but probably its very existence!

Even Kerala’s demand for a zone headquartered at Trivandrum has been longstanding as the Southern Railways headquartered at Chennai does not want to let go off high revenue yielding ports of Mangalore and Kochi.

Though the maiden budget of Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda had kindled aspirations, it spoke nothing about any new division. It is being viewed that the track doubling of Surathkal-Mangalore-Ullal and the announcement of the Byndoor-Kasargod passenger service were an attempt to loosen the grips of Palakkad over Mangalore.

Here it is worth mentioning that a high-level panel in the Railway Ministry had opposed creating any new zones or divisions, including the proposed Mangalore and Gulbarga divisions citing financial burden on the national transporter.

A panel comprising senior officials of the Railways said in its report that as Railways “is already facing several financial problems,” creating new zones or divisions would result in further deterioration of the situation.

A year ago, the Ministry of Railways had constituted a panel and referred to all the requests of setting up new zones and divisions. Since 1991, the Railways received requests to set up 32 new zones, including Kerala, and 42 new divisions in various places in the country.

The panel, which studied each request, said setting up new zones or divisions would not serve any purpose. Moreover, existing divisions are good enough to meet the growing demand in terms of passengers or freight transport.

It is a fact that various Railway User’s Organisations, elected representatives including Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel and not to forget the present Union Railway Minister, a man from the district D.V.Sadananda Gowda are batting for a separate railway division in Mangalore. In fact M.P. Nalin soon after his election had said “Setting up a separate Mangalore Railway Division would be on top of my agenda.” Even Union Railway Minister who has the track record of fighting for the cause on earlier occasions, has said he was committed to form a Division, but at the same time has been quite guarded when he said one should not expect it to be an immediate reality.

But, is the demand for a separate Railway Zone or Division for Mangalore practical? As per the Railway rules, a minimum of 600 kms of track is required for the formation of any new division. However with the track distance between Palakkad and Mangalore being just 331 kms, a new Railway Division is said to be impractical. In reality, the distance between Thokur (from where the Konkan Railway Line starts)-Palakkad and Salem is around 600 kms.

Merging of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd with the Indian Railways will solve the problem

This being the case, Railway Zone can be a reality only if the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd is merged with the Indian Railways. The KRCL though was supposed to be merged with the Indian Railways in 2005 itself, as per the original contract, that has not taken case until now. Even in case KRC agrees to merge with the Indian Railways, provided Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda makes up his mind, and a new Mangalore Railway Division is constituted, there would arise many technical glitches. Firstly, there would be problems with regard to gradation of employees. As most of the employees of Mangalore Railway Station presently coming under Palakkad Division are appointed prior to 1996 and as the Konkan Railway Corporation was formed only in 1996, a new Mangalore Railway Division would mean demotion for most of the KRCL employees (considering their years of service) compared to the service period of the Railway Department staff in Mangalore. And this may not be acceptable for KRCL employees in turn leading to some tangle.

Though under the Palakkad division, Mangalore station has got not many new trains with Mangalore as a starting point, at least four to five trains have Palakkad as its starting point. Secondly, Palakkad Division too is not bereft of problems. There is a grouse that the Division is also not enjoying its due benefits as in most cases it is overlapped by Thiruvananthapuram Division.

Secondly, there has been a complaint since long that passengers from Mangalore and Suratkal were not getting their due seat quota in the trains to Bangalore and much of the seats go to Kerala passengers. This complaint stands no ground as presently with the online booking facility, anyone can book a train ticket from any part of the nation. But, the only question is that of the Emergency or VIP Quota in trains. In this case too, most of the times the benefit of the quota is enjoyed by the relatives of VIPs or politicians and it is only in this case that one need to approach the Palakkad authorities for confirmation of a waitlisted ticket. Even in case Mangalore Division is formed, it is believed, the only ones who may benefit from it are the VIPs to avail the quota as they no longer need to approach Palakkad as is the case now.

Under the Palakkad division, the stations that have seen development are Calicut, Salem and Cannanore, while the reason cited as far as Mangalore is the problem in land acquisition, with Palakkad coming under Southern Railway Headquartered in Chennai. Yet another grouse is that no sufficient land is available for development in the vicinity of Mangalore Central station.

Ultimately, if Mangalore Division has to be a reality, the KRCL needs to be merged with the Indian Railways and that is impossible at the moment, say sources. Some other sources also indicate that the fear that the KRCL may be merged with the Indian Railways was one reason that has prompted the Konkan Railway Corporation to show losses, while actually it was reportedly running in profits. In reality, it was only during the times of Dr.E.Sridharan as its Managing Director that the Konkan Railway Corporation showed profits. Moreover, with influential Mumbai men at the helm of KRCL, its merger with the Indian Railways may not be feasible, reveal sources.

While a railway division is not entitled for any funds on its own, the funds are sanctioned and developmental works are initiated at the Zonal level. A division is not empowered to start any new passenger train while it is just an implementing agency. The actual power and decision making factor is vested with a Zone. Also, a demand for a railway division would merely serve the prestige of the VIPs for the sake of quota (as mentioned earlier) and nothing else.

Where lies the solution to this problem? If the opinion of subject-matter experts is taken into consideration, people here, including the elected representatives should actually push for a Zonal Railway status for Mangalore as the headquarters. Elected representatives have even put forward naming of the new Railway Zone as the South West Coast Railway Zone (SWCoR). Just as there was a West Coast Zone decades ago and a East Coast Railway Zone in Bhubaneshwar, experts say presently one can put forth a demand for a SWCoR Zone headquartered in Mangalore. As a railway zone requires a minimum three divisions – Trivendrum to Shornur, Palakkad to Thokur and Konkan Railway region from Thokur to Ratnagiri in Goa could be made railway divisions to form a separate Zone with Mangalore as its headquarters.

How will SWCoR Zone benefit Mangalore?

  • Firstly, a railway zone gets budgetary allocation of funds, has recruitment powers and also can propose new trains.
  • Secondly, in case a new Zone with headquarters in Mangalore is formed, employees of the KRCL willing for a transfer to Mangalore or elsewhere can do so at their option to suit their convenience.
  • Thirdly, as the Konkan Railway Contract period has expired in 2005 itself, there would be no roadblocks for the Indian Railways to take over the Konkan Railway Corporation and merge it.
  • The decision making power in case of a Zone will rest in the Zonal headquarters with the highest authorities positioned here, in contrary to the present case wherein the power is concentrated in Southern Railway headquarters at Chennai and South West Railways headquarters at Hubli.
  • And most importantly, with NMPT being the highest revenue yielder to Palakkad division at present, in case of the formation of a new zone, the entire chunk of revenue would go to the new zone.
  • Further with DV Sadananda Gowda at the helm of affairs as Union Railway Minister, the only thing required of him is to make up his mind.
  • A Zonal Railway on the Western Coast of India covering three the states of Goa, Karnataka and Kerala from the centrally located Mangalore City.
  • Finally, a Zonal Railway Hqrs in the very vicinity of Kerala unlike Chennai on the Eastern Coast.

Given the above factors, the best and viable option is to press for the formation of a new Railway Zone headquartered in Mangalore, which is not impossible if the son of the soil Mr.D.V.Sadananda Gowda takes up the cause. What is required of him is a strong determination, commitment and will power. If Sadananda Gowda could make the vision a reality during his term as Union Railway Minister, then it can be a befitting gift which he can ever give to his home district and home state. Given his previous track record, will he be able to convert this idea into a reality. Well, Mangalore Today has placed forth an idea and suggestion. It is now up to the leaders, the elected representatives, social organisations as well as trade bodies of the region, to consider this issue and press for the formation of a separate zone with Mangalore as its headquarters rather than a separate Mangalore Division, as a Zone would go great lengths in speeding up the railway developmental projects of the region as well as boost the economic and social development of not only Mangalore but the entire West coast. Will they take up the cause?

Since long the grouse has been that Mangalore has been meted out a raw deal, with the division located in Keala and Zonal headquarters at Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Moreover most trains that pass through the station, intend to benefit the Malabar region. One classic case is that of the Yeshwanthpur – Kannur express. It was only after much struggle that it was decided to run a portion of that train from Mangalore to Karwar which too was in bad need of rail connectivity to the state capital. It is being said Mangalore was used just as a pawn mainly owing to limited facilities like pit line and maintenance facilities in Kozhikode, Kannur etc. The net result is that the Mangalore – Hassan line is mostly used for freight movement except for a few passenger trains via Puttur and Subrahmanya. Moreover, Mangalore has also no rail link to other places in Karnataka including Hubli, the headquarters of South West Railways, Bijapur, Raichur, Bidar and Gulbarga.

Mangalore – a Historic, but neglected Station

The Mangalore Railway Station presently known as Mangalore Central, had celebrated a quiet centenary in 2007. Though there are no exact records to prove that the railway station was opened in 1907 and the first train services commenced the same year, if one goes by the foundation stone on a quaint little guard house at the northern-end of the railway bridge across the Netravathi which says “The last rivet was put in position and the bridge formally declared completed by H.E.H. Sir Arthur Lawley. KCMG, GCIE, Governor of Madras on the 4th November 1907,” one can conclude that the train services commenced somewhere around this time.

Though some records say that the first train that chugged on the newly constructed Netravathi bridge on November 4, 1907 came from Kallikote in Kerala, records with the Southern Railways say that the first train to be introduced in the zone, train number-1, ran its maiden journey between erstwhile Madras and Mangalore port in 1914, reducing the voyage of 1024 nautical miles via Cape Comorin to 550 miles.

This broad gauge railway route was formed mainly for the transportation of world famous Mangalore tiles to Madras Harbour to be exported by ships. Thus the same train returned after one week as train No.2. containing 3 compartments with Mangalore tiles and the fourth one with passengers and postal mailbags. The same train is the present No.6001/6002 Chennai Central-Mangalore Mail. The Mangalore Railway Station used to be the last station connecting Mangalore to the state of Kerala in the south and to the rest of the country. No doubt, the first train services in the region opened a new chapter in the history of the area and paved way for much progress. Mangalore was then in the Madras province under the British rule. The construction of the Netravathi Bridge in Ullal using 16 spans of 150 feet length each was taken up around this time. A few years later, in 1929, the Grand Trunk Express was introduced that ran for 104 hours through the length of the west coast, from Mangalore to Peshawar in Pakistan. In those days, it was the longest rail route in the country. In 1930, Mangalore was made a permanent station from a trial station. A glance at the railway history of the nation will make anyone outrightly conclude that Mangalore railway station has been a much neglected station over the years. If train services in the nation commenced in 1853, in Mangalore it arrived 55 years later. Now though it is over hundred years since the railway station was established, we see not much progress except a few changes. The old building was renovated just over a decade ago. Except for some developmental work there has been not much of a progress to boast of.

It was during T.A.Pai’s tenure as Railway Minister in 1971 that the first direct link train No. 131/132 Jayanthi Janatha Express from Mangalore to Delhi commenced with the Mangalore Railway Station as the starting point. Apart from the Konkan Railway, even the Mangalore-Jammu Tavi Navyug Express is George Fernandes’s gift to his hometown Mangalore.

Konkan Railway Corporation – the key Player

The Konkan Railway Project, the 760-km broad-gauge railway line from Roha in Maharashtra to Mangalore in Dakshin Kannada, the brain child of the visionary leader George Fernandes, touching four States became a reality in the late 1990s was indeed a landmark. With 1800 bridges and 88 tunnels, including a tunnel as long as 6.5 km it has been hailed as the project of the century and its completion in 1997 was a fitting tribute to the Golden Jubilee anniversary of the India’s Independence.  Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) was incorporated on 19.07.1990 pursuant to an Agreement between Government of India acting through Ministry of Railways and the Governments of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala and obtained Certificate of Commencement of Business on 20.08.1990 for construction and operation of the Konkan Railway, a Broad Gauge Railway Line along the west coast of India connecting Roha (in Maharashtra, near Mumbai) in the North to Mangalore in the South and for raising the necessary finance for the project from the market. The Project was envisaged under the BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) concept for the first time in India where KRCL shall build the Railway Line, Operate the same and Transfer the Railway Line to the Indian Railways after discharging the liabilities. The line was commissioned on 26.01.1998.

The commencement of the Konkan Railway Services between Mumbai and Mangalore also created a revolution of sorts, giving much more prominence to the Mangalore railway station, connecting various places in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. There was no railway link between Mangalore and Udupi earlier and it became a reality only with the commencement of the Konkan railway services which paved away for the setting up of stations in Kankanady, Suratkal, Bantwal, Puttur, Ullal, Mulki, Padubidri and Kundapur. While the Mangalore-Puttur line was declared open on December 2003, the Puttur-Subrahmanya line was opened on July 2005, providing the much need link from Mangalore to Puttur and the pilgrim centre Subrahmanya.

Konkan Railway with its headquarters at Belapur (Navi Mumbai):

The Konkan Railway has two regions with headquarters at Ratnagiri and Karwar. The Ratnagiri region extends from Roha to Sawantwadi, while the Karwar region extends from Pernem to Thokur.  Years ago when there was a proposal to include Mangalore Central Railway Station with KRCL, the Konkan Railway Corporation laid track from Mangalore Central to Mangalore Junction at a cost of Rs 12.2 crore. But the Keralite lobby worked against this, as they did not want to lose the goose that lays the golden egg. Then the founder chairman of the KRC E Shridharan had sent a proposal to merge Mangalore Central and NMPT route with KRC. However, bowing to the Keralite lobby, the Railway Board merged these two revenue-generating spots with the Southern Railway and fixed the Konkan route from Thokur in Mangalore.

When the KRC was formed it had eyed the freight through Panambur hoping that the revenue would make up for the huge investment in laying tracks. But the Corporation had to be satisfied with its starting point from Thokur as the Southern Railway could not let go off this profitable line from its hands. The Railway ministry has the major share of 51 per cent in KRC, followed by Maharastra-22 per cent, Karnataka-15 per cent and Kerala and Goa, six per cent each.

World Class Mangalore Station – Waiting to be a reality

There was some sort of excitement in the air almost four years ago when the then Union Railway Minister Mamatha Banerjee announced the upgradation of the Mangalore Railway Station into a World Class Station (WCS) in the railway budget presented on June 3, 2009. Almost four years down the line, the project is in the limbo with uncertainty still prevailing. Moreover no one is sure as to whether the Mangalore Central or Mangalore Junction station would be developed into a WCS.
The one major stumbling block is said to be the availability of land in the vicinity of Mangalore Central station. Even Mangalore Junction at Kankanady which is 10km away from the heart of the city, does not have enough land at disposal for a WCS. Though there was a proposal to consider Yekkur for the development of WCS, even that was dropped as levelling of land here itself would cost upto several crores of rupees.

For a World Class Station to be a reality, a minimum of 50 acres of land is required. Still, Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim, during a review meeting held recently, said that land available on the Mangalore Central Railway Station premises was insufficient to upgrade the station to world-class standards. Instead, Mangalore Junction could be developed to world-class standards as the administration was willing to acquire about 60 acres of land in exchange for 30 acres of Railway land at the Goods Shed.

However, social activist and Paschima Karavali Railway Abhivriddhi Samithi President G. Hanumanth Kamath has something else to say. He points out that the Railways had abundant land available around the Mangalore Central station. He suggests that some unused buildings in the vicinity may be shifted to make the WCS a reality. At the same time the move to upgrade the Mangalore Central railway station has caused concern among many who feel the heritage structure of the station has to be preserved so that the old-world charm of the frontage of the Mangalore Central Station is intact even while developing the Station into World Class standards.

The plan is to have a WCS through Public Private Partnership (PPP). A year ago, the then Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge who was in Mangalore to flag off three new trains viz Mangalore Central – Madgaon Inter-city Express, Mangalore-Kachiguda biweekly Express, and Mangalore-Bhatkal DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) had said the survey work for such upgrading is already over in Mangalore , and the proposal has been sent to the railway board for approval. But over a year since then, no ground work has been done even though Palakkad Division maintains that the project is still there.

All eyes on DVS: He is the eighth leader from the State who has got the honour of handling the prestigious and plump Railways Portfolio. DV Sadananda Gowda’s appointment as the Union Railway Minister is certainly a matter of pride for the state, for the Bangalore North constituency which he is representing in the Praliament, and his home district Dakshina Kannada. But will his beign the Railway Minister serve the railway interests of the state, or cause disappointment as during the tenure of the previous railway ministers.

However, his predecessor Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress has been given credit of delivering a lot in his short stint. Kharge during his short stint had introduced six new trains that were not announced in the budget presented by his predecessor. He also announced the Gulbarga Railway Division and rail coach factories at Kolar adn Yadgir. Similarly, people want Gowda to take a cue from Kharge and contribute something to his home district as well as constituency while protecting the railway interests of the state.

Incidentlly, of the 40 leaders who held the railways portfolio, eight were from the state, but still Karnataka has poor track record in railways with several projects needing to be undertaken to take the railway sector in the state on fast track.

North Andhra MP’s pitch for SECoR

विसाखपटनम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): Three north Andhra politicians of different political parties in a united display of unconditional support to making Vizag as headquarters of the proposed new SECoR railway zone of Andhra Pradesh came together on Saturday. Vizag BJP MP K. Hari Babu, Anakapalle TD MP Muttamsetti Srinivas and Araku YSRC MP K. Geetha organised a public meeting of various union leaders and former employees of the East Coast Railway and general public at Visakha Public Library.

The meeting was organised to gather issues that ECoR has been facing directly from the people so that the three MPs along with Srikakulam MP, Rammohan Naidu, can list these in their meeting with ECoR General Manager at Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC) meeting at Bubhaneshwar on September 2. Vizag MP Hari Babu, along with the other two MPs said that it is not necessary that headquarters of the proposed new railway zone should be in the capital city and that wherever the capital is the headquarters should be only in Vizag. ECoR Shramik Union general secretary C.S. Gandhi said at the meeting,

“Many new trains were introduced from Bubhaneshwar since the headquarters of ECoR was established there. Vizag will face many issues in future with increasing number of people travelling from and to Vizag, AP’s largest city if headquarters is not established here. It will just keep getting special trains on temporary basis but no regular trains.” The measures the three MPs decided to propose to ECoR, GM at the ZRUCC meeting include development of satellite stations in Pendurthi and Duvvada, doubledecker trains between Vizag and Vijayawada/Guntur, glass top tourist train to Araku, etc.

Vijayawada ideal for new SECoR Zone Headquarters, say commuters

According to rail users, the Vijayawada station is centrally located and has requisite volumes of freight and passenger traffic

विजयवाडा Vijayawada (BZA): As speculation over the likelihood of location of the new capital in the vicinity of Vijayawada and Guntur intensified, the demand for establishment of headquarters of the proposed South East Coastal Railway (SECoR) Zone in Vijayawada city is fast catching up with people.

They are firm that Vijayawada city will be an ideal destination for the new railway zone irrespective of whether the capital is located here or not. Vijayawada Railway Station Users’ Consultative Committee sent a memorandum to Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda recently seeking steps for giving Vijayawada due recognition in the form of the zone headquarters, committee member Naraharisetti Srihari said.

He added that Vijayawada station was centrally located and had requisite volumes of freight and passenger traffic. Besides, the zone HQ is also essential from the viewpoint of development of seaports, particularly the Machilipatnam port, to which the government has committed itself.

Those demanding the Railway zone HQ in the city cite the scope for expansion of the existing station, which has 10 platforms accommodating more than 300 pass-through (both passenger and goods) trains everyday.

The Electric Traction Training Centre at Satyanarayanapuram is a major facility imparting practical lessons to loco pilots from across the country. It is the only training institute of its kind in the State. The electric loco shed and wagon workshop at Rayanapadu have few parallels in the country in terms of performance and the scale of operations.

These and other facilities work in favour of Vijayawada, Mr. Srihari asserted. He added that a high-level committee of the Railway Board comprising top officials of the South Central Railway (SCR) were seized of the matter.

The recommendations of the committee are eagerly awaited while an equally strong demand for the new zone HQ emerged from Visakhapatnam. They sent memorandum to Railway Minister in this regard.

Announcement of New SECoR Zone likely on July 9 during Railway Budget

The New SECoR zone is expected to be in the vicinity of its erstwhile capital ‘Hyderabad’ to ensure better transit oriented transformation of New Capital and the new Railway Zone.  SECoR will specially focus on Port-oriented growth as Vizag, Kakinada, Krishnapatnam, Gangavaram to contribute for new revenue streams in tax free Andhra Pradesh while Machilipatnam, Vodarevu, Duggirajapatnam Greenfield Port development being set up to boost major exports and imports

New Delhi: The new South East Coast Railway (SECoR) Zone is likely to be announced in the upcoming Railway Budget Session on July 9. The Narendra Modi government is likely to present its maiden General Budget on July 11 while the Railway Budget is likely to be presented on July 9, according to sources. The Budget session is likely to begin on July 7 and end on August 25.

Both the ruling and Opposition parties showed their inclination to the new zone before the elections.  With most political parties having promised the new railway zone for Andhra there is no going back on the promise.

Insiders indicate division process is almost over and the new headquarters will be setup in either in Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada.

Interestingly, there is likely to be only one new appointment for the new Railway zone, that of the General Manager for the new SECoR zone. The administrative staff will be divided among the two zones, while field staff and district level staff will continue as before.  The need for a new zone is being felt even more strongly to provide a rail link between the bifurcated states. Also, the fact that every zone is informally identifiable with a state, the need of the new zone has been heightened further. “With a public commitment having been made there is no looking back”.

“Although the Railway Board has not been particularly in favour of a new zone, it is not the final authority and Narendra Modi led government most likely to announce the new railway zone during the railway budget,” said a senior official. The proposed railway zone will be of 3,500 route kilometers with four divisions viz. Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal.

According to the senior official, Vijayawada and Guntur are both major junctions, well connected and having all supporting infrastructure, the headquarters for the new zone is likely to be set up in either of these. However, redefining boundaries of the South Central Zone as well as that of the East Coast Zone is likely to bring Vishakhapatnam division to the new zone.

The new zone is expected to see port-oriented growth as it will have the advantage of four existing ports and two more in the process. Seeemandhra region has the benefit of Vishkapatnam, Gangavaram, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam ports, setting up of Machlipatnam and Duggirajapatnam ports are underway.

Being a social economic requirement of the new region, the new zone is likely to fulfill several demands of enhanced connectivity of the new capital of the new state with Hyderabad.

Where to locate it? Speculation on creation of new SECoR Zone continues

Both Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada in the race. The idea is to merge Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions in SCR and Waltair division to form the South Coastal Railway Zone but the location of its headquarters has become a topic of intense debate for obvious reasons

विजयवाड़ा Vijayawada (BZA): Both Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada in the race. The idea is to merge Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions in SCR and Waltair division to form the South East Coast Railway (SECoR) Zone but the location of its headquarters has become a topic of intense debate for obvious reasons.

Uncertainty prevails over the Railway Board’s choice of headquarters for the proposed South East Coast Railway (SECoR) Zone while speculation is rife that Visakhapatnam has been found to be the ideal location instead of Vijayawada which was considered the front-runner.

Locating the new zone’s HQ in Visakhapatnam is being opposed by Vijayawada division branches of South Central Railway Mazdoor Union and (SCRMU) and SCR Employees’ Sangh (SCRES) which assert that Vijayawada is most suitable due to its predominant position as South India’s busiest railway station whereas Visakhapatnam is a terminal station (located in Bhubaneswar based East Coast Railway).

A high-level committee consisting of officials of the Railway Board and representatives of SCR is expected to submit its report on time for Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to raise the subject during his upcoming visit to New Delhi.

The status of Railway projects in the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh has already been taken to his notice by SCR General Manager P.K. Srivastava a couple of days ago and the new Zone issue was also reportedly discussed.

It may be noted that the Central Government has provided for establishment of the new Railway zone in Successor State of Andhra Pradesh under Schedule 13 of the A.P Reorganization Act and wanted the proposal to be examined within six months from the Appointed Day (June 2) and an expeditious decision taken thereon.

The idea is to merge Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions in SCR and Waltair division to form the South East Coas Railway (SECoR) Zone but the location of its headquarters has become a topic of intense debate for obvious reasons.

SCRMU Divisional secretary G.N. Srinivasa Rao said it would be disadvantageous to set up the new zone HQ at Visakhapatnam as resource mobilization takes long time during emergencies compared to the logistical advantage that Vijayawada has by virtue of its convenient location between Secunderabad and Chennai.

Vijayawada Divisional Railway Manager Pradeep Kumar had earlier told that Vijayawada stood a bright chance of being made headquarters of the zone but a lot of issues have to be looked into before reaching a conclusion.

Both Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada in the race. The idea is to merge Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions in SCR and Waltair division to form the South Coastal Railway Zone but the location of its headquarters has become a topic of intense debate for obvious reasons.

Developments in Andhra, Odisha and Centre indicate Vizag likely to be new railway zone

Hopes rise of Vizag being new railway zone headquarters in Andhra Pradesh

विसाखपट्‌नम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): The recent developments in Andhra Pradesh, neighbouring Odisha and the Centre indicate that the Port City is likely to be the headquarters of a new railway zone.

Presently, Vizag is headquarters of the Waltair division of the Bhubaneswar-based East Coast Railway. Now, Vizag is expected to become the headquarters of a new railway zone as promised by the Centre as part of the reorganization of AP.

“The developments in the last week has fueled the hopes of Vizagites that Vizag will have better chances for getting the status of the headquarters of a new railway zone,” Vizag MP Kambhampati Haribabu told.

Apart from several top leaders, even Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu was keen on making Vizag the headquarters of the new railway zone as part of the commitment for decentralized development, Haribabu said.

“In the recent meeting with South Central Railway (SCR) general manger PK Srivastava, Naidu and some other key ministers urged the railway officials to go ahead on Vizag as the zonal headquarters,” said Haribabu, who also participated in the meet.

Naidu is set to discuss with the railway ministry officials and Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the importance of the demand for a railway zone and Vizag as its headquarters, which has been pending for the last two decades, according to a senior SCR official and senior Telugu Desam Party leader.

“A detailed report on the railway zone issue has also been prepared in line with Naidu’s request. The report will be submitted to the Union government on the railway needs of Andhra Pradesh during his scheduled official visit to New Delhi on June 25 and 26,” said the SCR official.

Railway officials and elected representatives of neighbouring Odisha had earlier taken the stand that Waltair division, which is headquartered at Vizag, should not be separated from the Bhubaneswar-based East Coast Railway (ECoR) zone. They are now reciting a new mantra of special funds for ECoR if Waltair is separated from the zone as part of the creation of new railway zone in Andhra Pradesh.

“More than 50% of the revenue of the entire zone comes from Vizag-based Waltair division and we had made all efforts to ensure that the zone does not lose Waltair division. However, things have changed because of the efforts of the people of Andhra Pradesh who are pressing for a new railway zone headquartered in Vizag, So, we are now asking the state as well as the Centre to allocate special funds for ECoR for its development, including creation of another railway division in place of Waltair, if this is separated from the zone,” said a senior Congress leader from Bhubaneswar.

Telugu Desam Party submits Memorandum to Railway Minister seeking SECoR Zone

TDP Partyहैदराबाद Hyderabad (HYD):  Demanding creation of South Central Railway Zone in Visakhapatnam, Telugu Desam Party MPs on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda.

The TDP MPs – Kesineni Srinivasa, Maganti Muralimohan and Avanthi Srinivasa told to the Minister that Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal, Visakhapatnam divisions could be brought together to form the new railway zone. They discussed the various issues pertaining to Andhra Pradesh apart from this demand. They told the Union Minister to take up doubling of the Vijayawada-Kurnool line immediately and also wanted step to run an inter-city train between Vijayawada and Kurnool.

BJP leader Cheruvu Ramakotaiah said that the agitations for creation of a separate Railway Zone is on for the last one decade. He said that a Railway Zone Sadana Committee that has been formed a couple of years ago had no meaning if the issue is not taken to the streets of Delhi. He said that the people had high hopes on Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu Governments on the issue.

South Coast Railway or South East Coast Railway?

It was also urged by TDP MPs that instead of naming the new zone as South Coast Railway, it can be examined to name it as South East Coast Railway.  They claimed that South Coast Railway may not be a suitable name since Southern Railway is also operational from Chennai and beyond deep south and it will also conflict with the already existing SCR zone in the abbreviation.  MPs urged that the new name for the Railway Zone can be declared as South East Coast Railway (SECoR).

VIZAG AS A SECoR Zone – Plus Points:

The plus points of Visakhapatnam is that the availability of 782 acres of railway land as against less than 190 acres available in Vijayawada and Guntur divisions. It is the fourth highest revenue earner among all the 70 divisions in the country and a major railway junction can be developed on the lines of Chennai and Kolkata. The earnings is Rs.6,200 crore for the last financial years as against Rs.3,200 crores for Vijayawada and Rs.500 crores of Guntur divisions.

New SECoR Zone with Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal and Vizag Divisions soon

The new zone will have Guntakal, Guntur, Vijayawada and Vizag divisions

As June 2, the appointed day for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh nears, proposals for carving out a new South East Coast Railway Railway (SECoR) zone – the 18th in Indian Railways, are being firmed up.

Indian Railways had only nine zones till 2003 and later seven more – Hubli, Jaipur, Bilaspur, Bhubaneswar, Hajipur, Jabalpur and Allahabad – were added.  More recently, the Metro Rail in Kolkata was made a zone and the new zone under active consideration now will be the 18th.

While the South Central Railway (SCR), that now has six divisions, will be left with big three viz. Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded and probably the Gulbarga Division will also be added to South Central Railway, the new South East Coast Railway (SECoR) zone will have Guntakal, Guntur, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam (that will be detached from East Coast Railway).

“In the creation of a new zone, it is but natural for the adjoining zones to be reorganised and while we send out proposals, it is for the Railway Board and Union Government to take a final call. In this case, the inclusion of Visakhapatnam into the new territory is necessary,” said a senior SCR official. SCR now has about 6,000 km length of track and the proposed new zone is expected to get approximately 3,500 km. Paperwork for allocation of the 93,000-odd existing employees (sanctioned strength is 1.03 lakh) in the SCR is already said to be done.

It will have Guntakal, Guntur, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam divisions

New South East Coast Railway Zone likely by June end for residual Andhra

सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): The new railway zone (South Coastal Zone) is likely to be announced in the upcoming Budget Session at the end of June. With most political parties having promised the new railway zone, there is no going back on the promise.

Both the ruling and Opposition parties showed their inclination to the new zone before the elections. Insiders indicate division process is underway and the new headquarters will be setup in either in Vijayawada or Guntur, although the demand for Vishakhapatnam has been long pending.

Interestingly, there is expected to be only one new appointment for the new division, that of the general manager for the new zone. The administrative staff will be divided among the two zones, while field staff and district level staff will continue as before.

The need for a new zone is being felt even more strongly to provide a rail link between the bifurcated states. Also, the fact that every zone is informally identifiable with a state, the need of the new zone has been heightened further.

A senior official said that “Although the Railway Board has not been particularly in favour of a new zone, it is not the final authority. It is most likely that the new zone will be directly announced in the budget.”

Vijayawada and Guntur are both major junctions, well connected and having all supporting infrastructure, the headquarters for the new zone is likely to be set up in either of these. However, redefining boundaries of the South Central Zone as well as that of the East Coast Zone is likely to bring Vishakhapatnam division to the new zone, according to the senior official.

The new zone is expected to see port-oriented growth as it will have the advantage of four existing ports and two more in the process. Seeemandhra region has the benefit of Vishkapatnam, Gangavaram, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam ports, setting up of Machlipatnam and Duggirajapatnam ports are underway.

Being a social economic requirement of the new region, the new zone is likely to fulfill several demands of enhanced connectivity of the new capital of the new state with Hyderabad.

JD Seelam to pursue Railway Zone for AP

Headquarters may be located at either Vijayawada or Vizag, he says

Visakhapatnam विशाखापट्टनम (VSKP):  Union Minister of State for Revenue JD Seelam has said the Congress rule has not been exemplary, but then all the benefits that the poor are enjoying are a result of schemes that have been formulated and implemented by different Congress regimes. Addressing a media conference here on Sunday before leaving for Paderu the Union Minister said the sporadic incidents of violence against Dalits and tribal people cannot take away the credit from the Congress as it was the only party which was committed to serving the poor.

He lashed out at non-Congress political leaders of the State for trying to push the blame of bifurcation on the Congress and said AICC president Sonia Gandhi with a painful heart took the decision to divide the State and in the same breath welcomed bifurcation terming it as beneficial to the people of AP.

He came down heavily on the political leaders who quit the Congress after the bifurcation and were now trying to paint the party with a tar brush.

Referring to reports that the Railway Board had turned down the decision on formation of a new Railway Zone in AP, he said he would call for the file and study the grounds on which the officials of the Railway Board had reached a conclusion. There was no way the officials can turn down the directive of the government, he said and added that he would send a letter to the board along with the relevant provisions in the Reorganisation of AP Act 2014, which would have to be honoured.

The headquarters of the new Railway Zone could be either Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam, he said.

No Railway Zone for Residual Andhra; No Coach Factory for Telangana: Railway Board

Hyderabad हैदराबाद (HYB):The railway ministry has dashed the hopes of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh by informing the state government that it is not possible to establish a new railway zone exclusively for AP and that “it is not needed to set up a rail coach factory in Telangana”. A communication to this effect was also submitted to the Union home ministry, which is overseeing the division process and compliance of the promises made during the passage of the AP Reorganisation Act in Parliament.

In the 13th schedule of the Act, it was assured that the Centre will examine the proposal of a new railway zone in residuary Andhra Pradesh and the feasibility of a rail coach factory in Telangana. But the railway ministry, four days ago, made it clear that a rail coach factory in Telangana is “not needed as the existing capacity and planned capacity is sufficient to meet future needs”. With regard to the new railway zone, the ministry said “the proposal is not justified due to financial, geographical and other reasons.” People had hoped that the railway zone would boost transport facilities and exports.

The ministry’s stance has taken the state government aback. “It is mere reiteration of their old stance on both the issues. A separate railway zone and inclusion of Waltair division in the South Central Railway zone are pending for long. The railway ministry has refused to meet the demand based on a financial viability report,” said a source in the government.

Meanwhile, in more bad news for Telangana, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) informed the state government and the Centre that it has no new coal linkage to take up the 4,000 MW thermal power plant for the state. NTPC also informed the Centre that without new coal linkage, it could not take up such a massive thermal project.

“NTPC has been asked to re-prioritize its present coal allocations. However, it has not shown interest and has instead asked the state government to provide land and water first,” said a source.

With no coal, power sector officials said it is next to impossible to set up the thermal unit, which needs more than 10 lakh tonnes of high calorie coal supply every month.

Chief secretary PK Mohanty held talks with the cabinet secretary and officials of 18 ministries in New Delhi on Thursday to update them on the progress made on the division process.

Demand for South East Coast Railway: Vijayawada to be Strong Contender for Zonal Hqrs

Vijayawada-railway-stationVijayawada (BZA):  Vijayawada which is the busiest railway junction in South India, stands a bright chance of becoming headquarters of the separate South East Coast Railway Zone (SECR) proposed for Seemandhra in the wake of bifurcation of the State.  It certainly has a very strong contender in Visakhapatnam which is far ahead in terms of revenue but basically being a terminal station, it may in all probability lose the race.

Reluctant to forego

Another thing that’s bound to spoil the chances of Visakhapatnam is its location in Bhubaneswar-based East Coast Railway, which will obviously not be prepared to forego the substantial revenue contributed by it (Visakhapatnam).

Logistical advantage

What is most likely to tilt the scales in favour of Vijayawada is its predominant logistical advantage of being a major junction through which 300-plus trains (express, passenger and freight carriers) pass every day at over 12 per hour round-the-clock.

Revenue-wise, Visakhapatnam is of course the front-runner with an annual turnover of nearly Rs 5,000 crore recorded in 2012-13 and it is just about Rs 2,300 crore for Vijayawada.

Visakhapatnam draws its revenue primarily from coal which is moved to all parts of south India from Bailadila mines in Chhattisgarh and on a similar plane Vijayawada gets nearly 60 per cent of its revenue from Krishnapatnam and Kakinada ports. It also has a very big source of income in mangoes which are exported to far off places like New Delhi.

From the overall perspective, Vijayawada has the clear edge over Visakhapatnam, says Cocanada Chamber of Commerce President Dantu Surya Rao, who is a member of Vijayawada Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee.

He said that Vijayawada would straight away be suitable for establishment of the new zone by virtue of its location and also its history. It is busier than the South Central Railway (SCR) Zone headquarters Secunderabad.

The SCR zone was formed in October 1966 by merging Vijayawada and Hubli divisions of Southern Railway and Secunderabad and Sholapur from Central Railway. And the point that SCR headquarters is situated in Telangana is not to be missed.

Silchar Railway Division evokes resentment in Tripura

Agartala (AGTL): Left front government in Tripura has expressed serious resentment over the decision of setting up of separate railway division in Silchar, ignoring the long standing demand of Tripura. Transport Minister Manik Dey told media here today after introduction of regular train service between Lumding and Agartala in October 2008, the state government had raised the issue of separate railway division and railway recruitment centre in Tripura at least for five times.

The issue has been discussed with Railway minister and Prime Minister several times besides, Railway Board but it was turned down on the ground that railway-fleet, passenger movement and administrative set up did not permit separate railway division for the state.

“About 398 kilometres distance between Lumding and Agartala has a pair of passenger train on regular basis besides service with Silchar and Dharmanagar, north-eastern end of Tripura; moreover, the state is sharing international border situating at the corner, which substantiate the demand of separate railway division,” Mr Dey argued. He however, pointed out that the separate railway division and recruitment centre for Tripura is necessary because Agartala is soon connected with Akhaura of Bangladesh and southern entry point of Bangladesh at Feni and people are solely dependent on railway.

“The country is having 68 railway divisions and northeast has 5 divisions and all are in Assam. We are not objecting the decision of Silchar Railway Division but reiterating the claim for a separate division in Tripura considering it’s locations and communication bottleneck,” Mr Dey added. He further alleged with the latest decision, it is clear that the Congress led UPA government has been disrespecting the people of Tripura on political choice keeping aside the welfare norms.

New Railway Zone for Andhra, Metro for Vizag and Vijayawada-Guntur: Jairam Ramesh

Guntur (GNT):  “A new railway zone will also be set up in the region and there will be a metro rail project for Visakhapatnam, also known as Vizag, and another project connecting Vijayawada and Guntur”, said the Union Minister for Rural Development Mr.Jairam Ramesh, on Tuesday here.  He said that the proposed industrial corridor between Visakhapatnam and Chennai is likely to attract an investment of Rs.1 lakh crore in 10 to 15 years.  The corridor, on the lines of the Delhi-Mumbai corridor, is one of the several sops offered by the Central Government to Seemandhra to protect its interests following the formation of separate Telangana state.

Ramesh told reporters here that the corridor is one of the key components of the special package for Seemandhra included in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganistaion Act apart from New Railway Zone and Metro Rail systems for Vizag and Vijayawada-Guntur.

The successor state of Andhra Pradesh will comprise Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions or Seemandhra, as they are together called.

A petroleum refinery and a petrochemical complex in Seemandhra will be established.

Ramesh said the Centre would establish one IIT, one IIM, one central university, one agriculture university, one tribal university and one super specialty health complex in Seemandhra.

The central minister is on a visit to Seemandhra to explain to people the measures taken by the Central Government to protect their interests in the wake of bifurcation.

He said under a special development package of Rs.10,000 crore for four districts of Rayalaseema and three districts of north coastal Andhra, measures would be taken for development of agriculture, irrigation, drinking water supply, education and health over the next seven years.

Rayalaseema and Telangana will get tax incentives for 10 years to attract new investment.

He said Seemandhra would become the 12th state in the country to get special category status. “The state will get a minimum Rs.50,000 crore from the centre over the next five years,” he added.

He pointed out that the central government has also given commitment to execute the Polavaram multi—purpose project, which is estimated to cost Rs.20,000 crore. The centre will contribute 90 percent of the funds for the project which will ensure drinking water to Vizag, irrigation in Godavari basin, transfer water from Godavari to Krishna and generate electricity.

He said the Act provide for two boards for distribution of water from Krishna and Godavari rivers to address the concerns of both the states. The boards will ensure implementation of existing awards. The central government will appoint the chairmen of the two boards. While the Godavari board will be based in Telangana, the Krishna board will operate from Seemandhra.

The minister said since almost all educational institutions are located in Hyderabad, the students of Seemandhra will be protected by continuing the existing entrance examinations and the quota in admissions for 10 years.

He said work had already started for bifurcation of 84,000 state employees between the two states. He clarified that employees would be bifurcated according to their option.

He also assured that two high courts and two public service commissions would be in place in the next three to four months.

Kharge to lay Foundation Stone for Divisional Hqrs at Gulbarga on February 28

Work to begin on setting up Railway divisional HQ

Gulbarga (GR): Railway Minister M.Mallikarjun Kharge has said that the work on the proposed establishment of new Divisional Railway Headquarters at Gulbarga will be formally inaugurated on February 28, with the laying of the foundation stone for its administrative office.

In a brief chat with presspersons on the sidelines of the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Rs.180-crore MSME Technology Centre at Shahbad in Chittapur taluk of Gulbarga district on Tuesday, Mr.Kharge said the work would be inaugurated at a function for laying the foundation stone for the proposed Wadi-Gadag new railway line by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and himself on February 28.

To a question, Mr.Kharge said that official orders for establishing the Railway Divisional Headquarters at Gulbarga in Karnataka, Silchar in Assam and Udampur in Jammu and Kashmir would be issued in a day or two.

Taking a dig at his detractors, Mr. Kharge said it was strange that some people take pleasure in criticising even the good work done by the government.“For whatever contributions made in the past nine months as Railway Minster and bringing morerailway projects to Karnataka, worth several thousands of crores, there are people criticising me for bringing so many projects only to Karnataka,” he said.

As a matter of fact, Karnataka had not witnessed such a fast-paced development in Railways in the past and whatever had been done to improve the railway network was for the entire country and not restricted to any single region, he said.

Board to release Orders for creation of New Divisions at Gulbarga, Silchar & Udampur by Feb 28

New Delhi:  Official Orders for establishment of new Railway Divisions at Gulbarga, Silchar and Udampur are likely to be released by the Railway Board in a day or two.

To a question, Union Railway Minister Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge said that relevant files for the proposed creation of new divisional railway headquarters at Gulbarga in Karnataka, Silchar in Assam and Udampur in Jammu and Kashmir are in the movement and Orders from Railway Board would be issued in a day or two.  With this, the much anticipated formation of new railway divisions for the administrative convenience will be met, he said, stating that this decision will also meet the long pending public demands for the new railway divisions.

Residual Andhra demands new Railway Zone

Visakhapatnam (VSKP): A new railway zone for Seemandhra was announced when the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill was presented in the Rajya Sabha. It’s high time that the peoples’ representatives of the region took up the cause of achieving the long-pending demand for making Visakhapatnam headquarters of the proposed new railway zone.  A separate railway zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam, and the addition of Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions, was needed to undo the injustice done to Visakhapatnam region by the ECoR headquarters during the last 10 years, said Uttarandhra Rakshana Vedika (URV) president S.S. Shiva Shankar and KNR Foundation president K. Narasinga Rao.

Establish Mangalore Division, Oscar’s plea to Kharge

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes has urged Union Minister for Railways Mallikarjuna Kharge to establish Mangalore Division. 

In a letter to the Minister dated February 10, he said that the establishment of Mangalore division will provide more facilities and benefits to the passengers and good traffic and will boost the economic social development of Mangalore as well as the entire West Coast. The establishment of Mangalore division will bring together the existing area of Mangalore Central, Mangalore Junction and New Mangalore Port and Konkan Railway jurisdiction.

Oscar said that the Railway Board in its letter dated November 24, 1991 had fixed the jurisdiction of Konkan Railway with the Southern Railways on Mangalore side of Mangalore Junction. However, later, it was decided that the jurisdiction of Konkan Railway will be upto Thokur.

“People in Mangalore are against the Palakkad division for neglecting the demands including more trains and better passenger amenities and infrastructure to Mangalore. As a result, Mangalore has been deprived of better connectivity with the rest of India, inspite of the Konkan railway line. The extension of Mumbai-Mangalore train from Mangalore Junction to Mangalore Central, proposed DMU service between Thokur and Bhatkal to be extended to Mangalore Central, introduction of new trains from Mangalore to east, west and north part of India has not been fulfilled. People have been demanding that Mangalore will get due benefit only with the establishment of Mangalore division,” Oscar said in the letter.

He said that at present, Mangalore is connected with two nearest divisions namely Palakkad to the south, which is 351 km away and Hubli to the north which is also 351 km away. Inspite of Konkan railway line passing through the region, only one train is originating from Mangalore Central to Mumbai. There is no single train connecting Mangalore to the east, west or northern parts of Inda. At the same time, Ro-Ro service introduced by the Konkan railways can be extended to Mangalore from Surathkal if Mangalore division is set up.

On the other hand, MP Jayaprakash Hegde in a separate letter to Kharge has urged to separate Mangalore Central, Mangalore Junction and Panambur from Southern Railway and attach it to Konkan railway jurisdiction as per earlier Railway Bord order.

“With the exclusion of Mangalore-Thokur section under Konkan Railway, the accumulated loss of Konkan Railways as on March 31, 2013 is Rs 3,158 crore. At present, on an average, 54 trains run everyday on a single line of Konkan railway. The track utilisation rate has already reached 160 per cent in between Madgaon and Mumbai. The section of Konkan Railway is already saturated and there is no possibility of introduction of additional train service on the route without taking up patch doubling, increasing number of stations.

The fuel bill is presently amounts to Rs 200 crore annually. If railway line is electrified, then the fuel bill can be reduced to Rs 100 crore. Therefore, doubling and electrification of Konkan Railway line is imperative. The financial restructuring of KRCL will not help the corporation to become financially productive. The corporation on part with other zonal railways should have passenger coaching terminal facility and port handling facility in its jurisdiction for its growth in the long run,”  the letter said.

New Railway Divn for Gulbarga – hopes pinned on Kharge ahead of Vote-on-Account on Feb 12

Gulbarga (GR):  Ahead of the Vote-on-Account slated for February 12, people of the State have pinned their hopes on Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge to announce the creation of a new railway division in Gulbarga and bring it under the South Western Railway (SWR).

The demand for a railway division in Gulbarga, one of the major freight-intensive locations of the Railways, has been pending for over four decades. Even the H.C. Sareen Committee appointed by the Railway Ministry (1984) had recommended the creation of a new division as it is the most backward region in the State.

In a recent letter to Mr. Kharge, Prakash Mandoth, member of South Western Railway Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, said that what was needed was political will for the creation of the new division. He gave the example of the creation of the Salem division in 2008 by the then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad following pressure mounted by the United Progressive Alliance partner, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Tremendous growth

As a revenue division of the State, Gulbarga has been witnessing tremendous growth in the past decade, he said. Gulbarga also has a permanent Bench of the High Court of Karnataka. A Greenfield airport is coming up and information technology and textile parks have been proposed. The region has nine mega cement plants besides the proposed thermal power plants of NTPC at Bijapur.

Mr. Kharge’s announcement on the administrative office of the Sholapur division of the Central Railway (CR) in Gulbarga is not enough. It should culminate in a full-fledged division, he said. Important railway stations of the region — Raichur, Halkatta, Yadgir, Wadi, Shahabad, Gulbarga, Sedam, Chittapur, Tandur and Bidar are divided among the Central Railway, Mumbai, and South Central Railway (SCR), Secundrabad. People in Karnataka have to approach either Sholapur and Nanded or Secundrabad and Guntakal of the South Central Railway for grievance redressal or to get new trains, Mr. Mandoth said.

While about Rs. 2,000 crore revenue is generated by the Railways in the region, it is essential to create the division to fulfil the aspirations of the people, he said. Mr. Mandoth urged the Minister to take the same initiative he had taken to get special status to Hyderabad Karnataka region under Article 371 J, to create the new division too. The new division may include Hotgi-Indi Road; Hotgi-Mantralayam Road; Gulbarga-Bidar new line; Bidar-Latur Road; Gadag-Wadi new line and Koppal-Raichur new line.

Gulbarga to emerge as Sub-divisional Unit of Sholapur Division, Rail Steel Coach Plant at Yadgir

Minister for Railways Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday announced that Gulbarga will soon become railway sub-divisional unit of Sholapur Division. An international standard railway steel coach manufacturing unit will be set up in Yadgir District.

Briefing reporters, after inspecting the Rail Wheel factory in City, Kharge said in order to bring better co-ordination among various railway divisions, Gulbarga will be converted into a sub-division and have an administrative officer of Sholapur Division as head.

Kharge said Gulbarga has railway lines of various divisions and there is a need of better co-ordination of railways in Gulbarga.  An administrative officer to be appointed will be assigned with maintenence of tracks and construction of new lines, he added.

Kharge also announced that Yadgir District will have a Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB) coaches factory, which can be used in high speed railways. The factory, to be set up at a cost of Rs 75 crore, will come up on 150 acre plot granted by the State government. “It will be funded by the Centre and within five years it will be increased to Rs 700 crore,” he added.

The factory will be manufacturing 300 coaches annually and be ready before February 2014 and supplement factories set by the railways at Rae Bareli and Kapurthala. Kharge further announced that work on Gulbarga- Bidar railway lines was in full swing and Wadi- Gadag railway line work was also on.

Will Seemandhra get own South Coast Railway zone?

Visakhapatnam (VSKP): With the bifurcation process gathering momentum, the proposal for a separate railway zone for Seemandhra too is picking up pace with various parties already urging the Group of Ministers (GoM) to consider a separate zone with Vizag as its headquarters.

In the light of these developments, even the authorities concerned are reportedly busy assessing the pros and cons of having a new railway zone. As per the assessments of Indian Railways and experts, the new zone will most likely comprise the Waltair Division of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) as well as Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions of South Central Railway and is likely to be named South Coast Railway.

According to sources, Vizag is most suitable as the South Coast Railway headquarters as Waltair Division is the fourth highest revenue earner among the 70 Indian Railways divisions. Moreover, Vizag is the only city in Seemandhra region housing major industrial as well as commercial establishments and offers healthy industrial relations compared to Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal. Vizag is also a busy railway junction in terms of passenger and freight traffic and has a huge land bank of over 1,000 acres for future development, a source explained.

However, railways experts feel that Waltair division should be taken up as it is, because additions or deletions in any division to be merged with South Coast Railways may lead to operational problems.

CPI district secretary JV Satyanarayana Murthy said that the region between Kakinada and Srikakulam has been neglected all these years because it lies on the fringes of ECoR and SCR.

Many railway employees also accused ECoR of giving more importance to Khurda and Sambalpur divisions despite being smaller than Waltair division. There is also a feeling that ECoR has been meting out a step brotherly treatment to Andhra region under its purview as it has been extending Vizag-bound trains up to Odisha even as several trains bypass Vizag station despite widespread public outcry. They also alleged that ECoR has been blatantly partial while proposing or introducing new trains in Waltair division.

Uttarandhra Political JAC convener JT Rama Rao alleged that while the AP region under ECoR got only nine trains in the last decade, of which two have been announced but not yet started, Odisha region got 59 various trains in the same duration. Even the nearly 646.23 km lines under construction are being laid in Odisha. As far as doubling works of around 1,178 km go, AP region has only 37.204 km projects in the pipeline while 878 km are in Odisha and the rest in Chhattisgarh.

While concerns have been expressed about the viability of ECoR after Waltair division is detached from it, railway union leaders say there is no question of non-viability because all zones function under the Railway Board. Indian Railways works as a single unit and revenues and expenditures of various zones are accounted for through the Consolidated Fund of India. Many zones like NFR, NER, NWR, NCR and ECR have negative operational ratios and are still operational, so ECoR will also remain functional after Waltair division is hived off, they argued.

There is buzz that after detaching Waltair division, ECoR will have Khurda and Sambalpur divisions and can form a Jajpur-Keonjhar division with a 714 km route. Likewise, South Central Railways will survive without Guntur, Vijayawada and Guntakal as it will have Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Nanded divisions with a 2,911 km route track and Telangana region too will see the fulfillment of its long pending demand of Kazipet division that can be hived off from Secunderabad division.

Supporting the proposal, ECoR Shramik Congress president KS Murthy said if the bifurcation is inevitable, then Seemandhra state should have a separate zone with headquarter selected based on geographical features, availability of land, convenience and other issues.

Minister responded positively on Railway Zone for Andhra, says UJF

Visakhapatnam (VSKP):  Uttarandhra Journalists’ Front (UJF) has succeeded in taking the issues concerning the north Andhra and the need to create a new railway zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam, according to UJF president M.R.N. Varma and general secretary N. Nageswara Rao.

A delegation of journalists from the city took the issues to the notice of Railway Minister Mallikharjun Kharge, Minister of State Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, Union Ministers Killi Kruparani, D. Purandeswari and J.D. Seelam and a host of leaders of the Opposition parties.

Addressing a media conference, they said the Railway Minister had promised to look into issues like Waltair Division getting a raw deal from the East Coast Railway headquarters.

New Railway Zone at Vizag or Vijayawada possible based on proper justification; Kharge

‘MPs should bring their demands with proper justification to Centre and Railway Board to achieve the demand, Kharge’

Visakhapatnam:  Railway Minister Mallikharjun Kharge has announced that a supplementary budget will be presented during the winter session of Parliament, beginning on December 5. Our MPs can take up the injustice meted out to Waltair Division during the last one decade under the East Coast Railway (ECoR) dispensation and ensure that a new railway zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam is established at the earliest. The imminent bifurcation of the State makes this decade-long demand ‘possible’ as the Zones Reorganisation Committee has already recommended setting up of one zone in each State.

A number of organisations such as Praja Spandana, Uttarandhra Rakshana Vedika, individuals and Railway union leaders have already suggested de-linking of Waltair Division from ECoR and setting up of a new zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam by merging Waltair, Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal Divisions.

CII Vizag Zone Chairman G. Sambasiva Rao has submitted a memorandum to Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D. Purandeswari seeking her intervention in achieving the rightful demand of the people.

The huge freight and tourist potential of Visakhapatnam make it the ideal choice to set up the headquarters of the new zone.

Major revenue earner

Waltair Division, earned a gross revenue of Rs.5,642 crore during 2012-13 as against the gross revenue of Vijayawada Division (South Central Railway) at Rs.2,933 crore and the gross revenue of Guntur Division (SCR) at Rs.468.46 crore during the same period.

Rajya Sabha Member T. Subbarami Reddy has submitted memoranda to the Prime Minister, the Railway Minister and the Railway Board Chairman seeking creation of a new zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam. But, simply meeting those in power and issuing statements are not enough to achieve the just demands of the people.

The MPs must bring pressure to ensure that the demands are fulfilled so that they can approach them for votes in the next election, said Praja Spandana president C.S. Rao.

Demand for new SECoR Zone emerging out of continued Socio-Economic & Political neglect

Analysts say that Andhra was the region which has contributed for the overall resurgence and re-designing of Hyderabad as one of the global headquarter for IT and Software industry.  Contribution of individuals belonging to Andhra region changed the face of old Hyderabad City into HITEC City.  People of Andhra have immensely contributed in bringing major MNCs like Google, Facebook, CA Technologies, Microsoft, D E Shaw, JDA, Mylan to Hyderabad and have contributed in shaping the current day global hub in HITEC City.  People from Andhra have also played a pivotal role in creation of a strong Pharma base at Hyderabad. Likewise Andhra NRIs working for Global Research firms like Gartner, McKinsey, KPMG, Ernst & Young, PWG in US and European regions have actually driven the move towards Hyderabad as the Next Destination in many of their Vision Documents and indicated it as one of the future destination for creation of National Financial District of India at Gatchibowli in Cyberabad.  It was the people from Andhra who have suggested for relocation of many of the Data Centres and DRs of various Banking and Financial sector institutions to Hyderabad that which have brought the DR and DCs of ICICI, SBI, Andhra Bank, Central Bank of India, Bank of Baroda etc locate at Hyderabad. Andhra people not only contributed for the above NexGen Sectors in Hyderabad, they have actually also contributed for its success, says one of the Director at CtrlS who also said that Intelli Group which was one of the largest Software and IT company and was takenover by NTT Group in the recent past is the contribution of Andhra people.  Likewise Dr.Reddy’s Labs, Satyam (now Mahindra Satyam) etc are factored. Many analysts have also cited creation of a massive Film industry equivalent to Bollywood has contributed for the overall development of Hyderabad and adjoining regions as one of the strongest economic corridors of the country.

However, with the demand for creation of a separate Telangana state, the people of Andhra who have immensely contributed for the development of Telangana and Hyderabad region in particular since last 50 years are heavily developing fear factor of loosing their hardwork of Hyderabad to Telangana. As a result, out of many other socio-political demands, creation of a new railway zone at Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada and a Division in Tirupati are also gaining momentum on the reasons that sociologists ascribing it to continued the economic and socio-political neglect faced by the people there.

The Waltair division of the East Coast Railway (ECOR), headquartered in Visakhapatnam, and spread over Odisha and Chhattisgarh, is the biggest contributing division of ECOR. It earns around Rs.5000 crore in revenue, of which a major portion of Rs.4,300 crore comes from freight earnings, fueled by transport of minerals.  The demand for creation of a new zone in Visakhapatnam has been around for nearly two decades and has gained momentum now with the proposed bifurcation of the state. The proposed new zone for Visakhapatnam has now broadened to include the Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions of South Central Railway (SCR) as well. Those demanding for a separate zone in Visakhapatnam say the new zone would benefit from the ports in Coastal Andhra and the major ports here would fuel trade and bring revenue. Vijayawada division is a major hub bringing in millions of passengers,” said Y D Rama Rao, member of Railway Users Committee based in Kakinada.

Likewise, demands from coastal Andhra for formation of a new Railway Zone as South East Coast Railway (SECoR) with Vijayawada as its Headquarters had gained a rapid momentum due to political drama of formation of separate Telangana carved out of Andhra.  Vijayawada Division is a major contributor of revenue on SCR Zone.  People are demanding a separate Zonal Railway status given to Andhra region with the Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Guntakal divisions merged under SECoR. There is also a strong demand for formation of a new Railway Division at Tirupati under the SECoR.

Railway Divisional Headquarters in Gulbarga soon, says MLC Allam Prabhu Patil

Gulbarga: Senior Congress leader, Allam Prabhu Patil claimed on Saturday that Union Railway Minister, Mallikjarjun Kharge, had done the ground work for establishing a new railway divisional headquarters at Gulbarga and was waiting for an “appropriate time” to make the announcement.

The MLC made his claim while laying the foundation stone for a new railway over-bridge and pit here. Kharge had repeatedly demanded establishment of a railway headquarters in Gulbarga for development of the region’s railway network before he became railway minister.

While the Sarin Committee had supported the idea in its report in 1984, a recent committee vetoed it saying that establishing railway divisions in Gulbarga and Mangalore did not seem viable in terms of finance and infrastructure.

Kharge had however assured that his ministry had not given up the idea nevertheless and the issue was still under the consideration of the government. What could prod things along is the move to establish a railway pit line at Gulbarga, which is scheduled to be completed in six months at an estimated cost of Rs 8 crore.

The establishment of the pit line, regarded as a “railway garage” could allow starting of new train services from Gulbarga as it can service or repair 24 railway coaches at a time.

Andhra Chamber of Commerce demands South East Coast Railway –

‘In the event of bifurcation, it will augment development of this region’

Andhra Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has demanded formation of South East Coast Railway combining Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal and Visakhapatnam Railway Divisions, in the event of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

It will augment development of this region by connecting the cities, ports, the Petroleum Corridor planned between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada and facilitating movement of agricultural products, minerals and, more importantl,y the burgeoning number of passengers.

This will happen even if State is not divided and a separate zone is formed, it said.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday,

Andhra Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Muthavarapu Muralikrishna and secretary Chukkapalli Prasad stated that coastal Andhra Pradesh with its abundant natural resources and ports would immensely benefit from the proposed zone.

In the event of bifurcation, it was appropriate to create the new zone for development of the region, which will generate large-scale employment against the backdrop of the prospect of losing jobs due to ‘loss of Hyderabad to Telangana’.

The South East Coast Railway zone could be considered under the Eastern Industrial Corridor Project which is funded by Japan.

GoM meet to set up new Railway Zone for Andhra – Telugu Desam party stayed away

Hyderabad: The Group of Ministers met with the higher officials of the Railway Board on Thursday on the proposed new “South East Coast Railway” Zone with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam.

Passengers’ associations in the region had been demanding the new zone for a while and with the creation of a new state, the zonal division is now a certainty.

Minister of State for Railways Mr.Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy also justified the formation of the new zone for Andhra with a separate General Manager once the state is bifurcated.

The proposed new zone will have the benefit of the four existing ports while two more are in the process. While the Seemandhra region already has the Visakhapatnam, Gangawaram, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam ports, the Machlipatnam and Duggarajapatnam ports are also underway.

Being a social economic requirement of the new region, the new zone can take up several demands of enhanced connectivity with the new capital of the separate state with Hyderabad.

As per demands of the passengers’ associations, the districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam needs to be delinked from East Coast Railway and brought under the new zone with headquarters at Visakhapatnam.

The coastal areas of AP, with all its natural resources of gas, oil, minerals, land and several major, medium as well as minor ports and industries, have the potential to make the new ‘South Coastal Zone’ the best railway zone.

“The new zone will augment development of the region with fast transport infrastructure development by connecting all cities, ports and petro corridor and enable movement of mineral and agriculture products,” stated a letter written by the East Godavari District and Cocanada Town Passengers Association.

Ironically The Telugu Desam stayed away from the meeting.

GoM ends parleys with 8 AP parties

The Group of Ministers (GoM), entrusted with the task of preparing the Telangana Bill, will conclude their consultations and be ready with the Bill by November 20. On Wedn-esday, the GoM concluded its two-day interactions with eight political party leaders.

South East Coast Railway (SECoR) for residual Andhra; Vijayawada to be Zonal HQ

13DCVJRAILVijayawada: The local Railway officials are hoping that the Vijayawada which is currently one of the biggest Railway division under South Central Railway, may get Zonal Railway status under the new South East Coast Railway (SECoR), after reports that the Group of Ministers is of the view that a new Railway Zone may be needed for the residual state of Andhra Pradesh.

If one goes by the priorities of the railway, Vijayawada division has the best chance to get zonal status, compared to the other railway divisions in the state.

The division already has a significant presence in the Indian Railway, with the city railway station being the second busiest railway junction after Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

Every day, about 1.4 lakh passengers travel through the city railway station. Apart from this, the junction is said to be connection between North and South India.

Vijayawada railway division extends from Duvvada of East Godavari district to Guduru of Nellore district. Its annual income crosses Rs.2,000 crore and it has nearly 22,000 employees.

At present, the Indian Railway functions in a zonal system. The Vijayawada division falls under SCR/Secunderabad zone along with Guntur, Guntakal, Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Nanded divisions.

On the other hand, the area bordering Duvvada to Ichapuram falls under the limits of Waltair division, and under the East Coast Railway zone of Odisha state.  Geographically, it is on the edge of the state limits.  In this backdrop, public representatives from Visakhapatnam railway divisional jurisdiction have been long demanding that the Waltair division be attached to the SCR.

As per railway norms, the railway board generally upgrades or establishes divisions as new zones after considering  the existing income, importance and connectivity to divisions and zones of other states.

The railway management also takes steps to upgrade considering the passenger flow and potential of the area, and also its proximity to the state’s capital.

The Vijayawada division has all the necessary advantages than any other divisions of the state and speculation is that the city may be selected as the New Capital for residual state of AP.

Railway officials and unions have already submitted their representations to the GoM. Most of the employees requested the GoM to upgrade the Vijayawada Railway Division to a new zone and Waltair Division (Visakhapatnam) be attached to new zone alongwith Guntur, Guntakal merged under a new zonal railway name viz. South East Coast Railway (SECoR).  There is also a persistent demand that a new Divisional Railway system be carved out of Tirupati, to be attached to SECoR.

Political Parties, NRIs, Industrialists, Students, Public and the Government Employees have planned to chalk out a plan of action to structurise their demand in association with Railway officials and employee unions. SCR Mazdoor Union Zonal leader Ch. Shankar Rao opined that there was a good chance of the division being upgraded and many representations are being received now and then to carve out a new zonal railway for Andhra

Proposals for New Zones and Divisions unviable at this juncture, tells Kharge

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said on Thursday that there are proposals before the Railway Ministry to create new zones or divisions in the country.  Though the ministry has received number of representations to create separate zones and divisions, at this juncture, the ministry has decided to reject all demands citing financial constraints.

Speaking to reporters he said the ministry also rejected the demand of creating new divisions at Gulbarga and Mangalore also. A committee comprising officials of the Railway Board, which studied the demands for creating new divisions and zones, has submitted a report rejecting creating any new zones or divisions in the country.

He added that there should be a sufficient number of railways lines required for creating separate divisions for a particular area. In both Gulbarga and Mangalore, the number of railway lines are also less than the required, he said. When asked about the merger of Mangalore with Konkan Railway, the Minister said the issue is pending as elected representatives of Kerala are opposed to separating Mangalore from Palakkad Division of Southern Railway.

On the issue of sharing costs by Karnataka for building pending railway projects in the state, he said that the Railway has kept Rs 650 crore for the pending projects in Karnataka in the current financial year, of which Rs 310 crore spent so far. However, Karnataka has released only Rs 50 crore so far from its share in this fiscal.

On the long pending Bangalore–Mysore railway line doubling works, the Minister said the government should take immediate steps to acquire required land near Maddur and shifting of Tippu Sultan armory near Srirangapatna, he said.

Mangalore to be declared as a New Railway Division shortly: Oscar Fernandes

It has been a long pending demand of coastal people, says Oscar Fernandes

Mangalore: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes has said that talks are on with the railway minister to grant a railway division to Mangalore.

He was speaking at a programme to discuss about the development of roads and implementation of programmes in coastal Karnataka, organised by Rachana – Catholic Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Bishop House on Sunday. He said it has been a long pending demand of coastal people to get a railway division to Mangalore. “I have discussed about it with Railway Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge and is hopeful of getting the work done.”

Expressing displeasure over the trouble faced by passengers on Mangalore-Bangalore train due to the long journey, he said the railway minister has agreed to introduce a direct day train between Mangalore and Bangalore everyday. “But, as there is also a need to introduce a direct night train on this track, the issue will be discussed and I assure it will happen,” Oscar promised. He also stressed on the need to bring in more IT, service sector and pollution free industries to Mangalore, to develop the city and overcome unemployment problem.

On the proposed Nanthoor flyover project, he said the project has been sanctioned and the work would begin once the cable and water pipelines are shifted from the spot.

Assuring that he would put his maximum efforts to meet at least some of the demands of the coastal people, the Minister said that he would appoint an assistant personal secretary to exclusively monitor the progress of development works in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts.

Later, answering to reporters’ queries on Niddodi project, Oscar Fernandes said that the project would not be implemented in case of people’s opposition. The amended land acquisition act has made the land acquisition process more difficult. The agriculture land can not be acquired for any projects, if 80 per cent of the local public oppose the project, he clarified.

Demands

Rachana members and Mangalore South MLA J R Lobo submitted two separate memorandums to Oscar Fernandes placing forth a few demands for the coastal region.

Some of the demands placed forth by Lobo include development of Mangalore-Bangalore highway on the lines of Mumbai-Pune road, extension of airport runway, upgrade NIT(K) as IIT, sanction central institutes, integrated tourism development plan for Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, Mono-rail or metro train from Konaje to Manipal, develop an international sports city in Mangalore outskirts to mention a few.

Mangalore Bishop Rev Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Rachana President Ivan D’Souza and others were present.

Deo again bats for a separate Railway Zone in Visakhapatnam

v-kishore-chandra-deoThe Minister makes the proposal in his letter to Antony panel again!

The establishment of railway zonal headquarters in Visakhapatnam is a must to ensure equitable socio-economic and industrial development of the region, says Union Minister of Tribal Affairs and Panchayat Raj Shri Vyricherla Kishore Chandra Suryanarayana Deo.

His proposal for relocation of South Eastern Railway (SER) zone headquarters in Bhubaneswar and shifting of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) zone headquarters from Bhubaneswar to Visakhapatnam is seen as a viable solution to end the decade-long injustice suffered by Waltair Division under the ECoR dispensation.

While the proposal is being hailed by the people in Visakhapatnam region, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has raked up an ‘unnecessary controversy’ saying that Odisha would not allow shifting of the headquarters. Kolkata is the headquarters for both Eastern Railway (ER) zone and SER. Kolkata is situated in the North-Eastern part of the country and cannot claim to be a part of South Eastern Railway Zone and the South Eastern Region. The reshuffling and re-organisation of Zonal Railway systems will ensure equitable growth of both Andhra and Orissa.

“Vishakhapatnam is situated at the centre of the East Coast between Kolkata and Chennai.  The ECoR headquarters, which should have been located in Vishakhapatnam, was unfortunately established in Bhubaneswar. The SER headquarters should be shifted to Bhubaneswar with the Khurda Division attached to it and ECoR headquarters must be shifted to Visakhapatnam with the addition of Vijayawada Division in lieu of Khurda Division,” Mr. Deo has written to the Antony Committee.

“If they (Odisha leaders) are so attached to the name (ECoR) let them retain it. Waltair Division must be de-linked from ECoR and a new zone can be formed with headquarters in Visakhapatnam, with the addition of Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions to it,” Mr. Deo has told.

Several proposals related to Visakhapatnam that have already been announced in the successive railway budgets have not materialised so far.

Vizag hails Deo’s proposal on relocation of Railway Headquarters

Visakhapatnam:  Union Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo’s suggestion to relocate the headquarters of East Coast Railway Zone from Bhubaneswar to Visakhapatnam is the best solution to end the decade-long injustice to the areas under the Visakhapatnam Division and ensure progress of the region, according to Praja Spandana president C.S. Rao.

Hailing the suggestion of Mr. Deo, the Praja Spandana president noted in a statement on Monday that the move would not affect Odisha as the Minister had also suggested relocation of South Eastern Railway Headquarters from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar.

West Bengal on the other hand has two Zones and the SER has hardly any relevance to it, as West Bengal was located in the Eastern region. Mr. Rao said that Waltair Division with a revenue of Rs.5,200 crore was earning more than the combined revenue of Khurda and Sambalpur divisions.

Despite earning the highest revenue, Waltair Division was being neglected and the revenue generated was being used to develop the regions in Odisha, he alleged.

Mr. Rao also flayed Union Minister D. Purandeswari for failing to keep her promise of fighting for creation of a new zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam.

BJD to hold dharna at all Rly Stations in Odisha over Deo’s idea to shift ECoR Hq to Vizag

43932Bhubaneshwar:  Ruling BJD to start 1-hr dharna at railway stations across Odisha from Sept 12 to 14 protesting against Union minister V Kishore Deo’s demand for shifting of ECoR office to Vizag. This was informed by the BJD Youth Wing President Sanjay Dasverma at Bhubaneswar today.

“We condemn the proposal of the Union minister. We would stage one-hour peaceful protest at all the railway stations for three days starting tomorrow,” said BJD’s youth wing head Sanjay Dasburma.  He urged the Pradesh Congress Committee chief Jayadev Jena and opposition leader Bhupinder Singh to draw attention of the Prime Minister on the issue and said the Prime minister should ask Deo to seek apology from people of Odisha. Union minister of state for Chemical and Fertilizers abd Balasore MP Srikant Jena should also resign from central ministry protesting the proposal of his colleague, he added.

It may be noted that Deo has sent a letter to the Antony Committee, constituted by the Central government to assess the situation resulted from the announcement to form separate Telangana state, arguing, “Vishakhapatnam is situated at the centre of the east coast between Kolkata and Chennai, the East Coast Railways Headquarters which should have been located at Vishakhapatnam is unfortunately established at Bhubaneswar.”

The Union minister had also stated, “The South Eastern Zonal Railway Headquarters (currently in Kolkata) may be shifted to Bhubaneswar with the Khurda division attached to it and the East Coast Zonal Headquarters must be shifted to Vishakhapatnam with the addition of Vijayawada Division in the lieu of Khurda Division.”

Deo suggested that the South Eastern Zonal Railway Headquarters should be shifted from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar as “by no stretch of imagination can Kolkata be said to be any part of the South Eastern region.”

Minister urge Vizag as ECOR Hq, SER Hq shift to Bhubaneswar, demands Metro Rail

Visakhapatnam:  Seeking equitable development of all regions of the State, Member of Parliament from Kurupam and Union Minister of Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj V. Kishore Chandra Deo outlined a number of issues that would have to be addressed in the event of bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh State.

In a letter to the Antony Committee, which he handed over during his meeting along with other Union Ministers from Seemandhra Region at New Delhi on Tuesday, he demanded that the headquarters of East Coast Railways be re-located to Visakhapatnam with Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions added to it, and the South Eastern Railway Headquarters be shifted to Bhubhaneswar as it was unrealistic to have two Zonal Railways in the already high density of rail industry almost choked in Kolkata, which also have Eastern Railways headquarters.

“Vishakhapatnam is situated at the centre of the East Coast of India between Kolkata and Chennai. The East Coast Railways Headquarters which should have been located at Vishakhapatnam is unfortunately established at Bhubaneswar.  Kolkata has two zonal headquarters – Eastern Railways and South Eastern Railways.  While Kolkata is in the eastern part of the country, by no stretch of imagination can Kolkata be said to be any part of the South Eastern Region. The South Eastern Railway Headquarters may be shifted to Bhubaneswar with the Khurda Division attached to it and the East Coast Zonal Headquarters must be shifted to Vishakhapatnam with the addition of Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions carved out of South Central Railway” he wrote.

He sought creation of infrastructure at Visakhapatnam and stressed on facilities like information technology park, AIIMS, IIT, IIM and a Metro Rail service. He wanted a Maritime Research Institute, a Central University for specialised PG courses including Anthropology.

Creation of Gulbarga and Mangalore Divisions a financial burden, says Panel

New Delhi: High-level panel constituted by the Railway Ministry to study the increasing demands for re-organisation of Zonal and Divisional Railways virtually rejected the proposal for creating new zones or divisions, including the proposed Railway divisions in Gulbarga and Mangalore, citing financial burden, leading to Railway Minister Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge falling in a dilemma, for whom creation of a new railway division in Gulbarga was on the top of the agenda its Lok Sabha constituency.

This is not the first time that the proposal has been rejected. A few years ago, an official committee rejected the proposal stating that it was not economically viable and the latest official committee has opposed the creation of the zone on the plea that the Railways was facing a financial crunch.

“The Railways is facing financial problems and the creation of new zones or divisions would result in further deterioration of the situation,” it has said.

It was the Sarin Committee that had given a favourable report in 1984 for the establishment of the Railway divisional headquarters in Gulbarga for the development of railway network in the region. However, the recommendations were not implemented then, and later an official committee was constituted to go into the demand.

The recent official committee report also states that establishing divisions in Gulbarga and Mangalore were not viable both in terms of finance and infrastructure. While Mangalore comes under the Palakkad division of the Southern Railway, Gulbarga is served by Central Railways, the South Central Railways and the South Western Railways.

Both Mangalore and Gulbarga provide good financial earnings to the Palakkad division of Southern Railway, the Central Railways and the South Central Railways through freight movement.

Mr. Kharge in a chat with presspersons here on Sunday said that though the official committee report had rejected the proposal for establishing the divisional headquarters in Gulbarga and Mangalore, the Railway Ministry had not given up the idea and the issue was still under the consideration of the government.

Panel opposes Creation of New Railway Divisions in Mangalore, Gulbarga

New Delhi: A high-level panel in the Railway Ministry has opposed creating any new zones or divisions, including the proposed Mangalore and Gulbarga divisions, citing financial burden on the national transporter.

A panel comprising senior officials of the Railways said in its report that as Railways “is already facing several financial problems,” creating new zones or divisions would result in further deterioration of the situation.

A year ago, the Ministry of Railways had constituted a panel and referred to all the requests of setting up new zones and divisions. Since 1991, the Railways received requests to set up 32 new zones, including Kerala, and 42 new divisions in various places in the country.

The panel, which studied each request, said setting up new zones or divisions would not serve any purpose. Moreover, existing divisions are good enough to meet the growing demand in terms of passengers or freight transport. Now, the railways has 17 zones and 68 divisions.

On the demand of creating separate divisions at Mangalore and Gulbarga, the panel reportedly said it “is not viable” both in terms of finance and infrastructure. Currently, Mangalore comes under Palghat Division of Southern Railway while Gulbarga falls under Secunderabad headquartered South Central Railway Zone.

People in Dakshina Kannada have been demanding the separation of Mangalore from the Palghat division and merging it with Hubli headquarters of South Western Zone. Mangalore MP Nalin Kumar Katil and Udupi MP Jayaprakash Hegde on Thursday met Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and requested to create a separate Mangalore division.

However, elected representatives from Kerala have been opposing the move saying it will harm the Palghat division financially. The Palghat division earns 98 per cent revenue from Mangalore due to freight transportation to Mangalore port, they said. Recently, Kerala MPs have met Kharge and requested him to create a separate railway zone for Kerala.

Chamber of Commerce & Industry and other groups seek new Railway Division at Mangalore

22MN_TRAIN_1559170fA meeting of Railway Yatri Sangha and the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) advocates a West Coast Zone or, at the least, a Mangalore Division of the Indian Railways.

With the railway network being under-developed in coastal Karnataka, there is a need for a West Coast Zone or, at the least, a Mangalore Division of the Indian Railways, a meeting of railway enthusiasts and the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) decided here on Wednesday.

The meeting was held by KCCI and Railway Yatri Sangha, Udupi and involved activists and commuters, to identify problems and chalk out solutions for better rail connectivity. The eight-point resolution would be carried forward by the KCCI and members who represent the region in the Railway Users Consultative Committees at the Divisional level (DRUCC) of Palakkad divisions and Konkan Railways (scheduled for September 20 in Mumbai).

Chairperson of the KCCI Sub-committee on Railways G.G. Mohandas Prabhu said that as 75 per cent of Palakkad division’s revenue came from goods movement from the New Mangalore Port, the division hesitated to form a new division for Mangalore.

He proposed that the Mangalore, Palakkad and Trivandrum divisions should be clubbed under the West Coast Zone of the Railways, and be based here.

Another resolution that received much support was the improvement of the connectivity of the port city with the state capital.

RAIL LINE

Presenting his survey of the Nandikur to Moodigere railway line, via Karkala and Ujire (Charmadi Ghats), president of the Sangha R.L. Dias, said the line will provide an alternative to the problem-ridden Mangalore-Bangalore line via Sakleshpur.

“Most of the land in Charmadi is under private ownership, though the British had already built a road through some sections of the Ghats. Only around four tunnels are needed on this line to assuage environmental concerns…With trains now taking 2.5 hours to traverse 55 kms of Sakleshpur ghats, this alternative line would boost rail connectivity to the capital,” he said.

He also demanded an additional express train on the Sakeshpur line.

Among the other resolutions of the meeting was to introduce a Vasco-Da-Gama passenger train to Mangalore, additional stops on the Mangalore-Madgaon train, making the tri-weekly Yesvanthpur-Karwar train a daily train, and the extension of the Bhatkal-Thokur DEMU (Diesel-electric Multiple Unit) train to Karwar.

Kerala user groups and activists demands for a new Railway Zone

Thiruvananthapuram:  Various Railway user groups and activists also comprising of ZRUCC and DRUCC members from Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Mangalore from Kerala are pulling up socks to urge for formation of South West Coast Railway (SWCoR) zone bringing Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Mangalore divisions into one zonal structure with Thiruvananthapuram as its Zonal Headquarter.  The demand for separate Railway zone is growing eversince the demand for formation of a new Mangalore Division has picked up, particularly after Railway Minister Mr.Kharge announced formation of Gulbarga Division recently.

Few of the members have planned to meet A.K. Antony, Minister of Defence at his official residence at 9, Krishna, Menon Marg, New Delhi, and also at his hometown residence ‘Anjanam’, Easwara Vilasam Road, Thiruvananthapuram for putting pressure on the UPA Led government and Ministry of Railways for creation of a new Zonal Railway carved out of the Southern and South Western Railway systems.  User groups and activists have submitted a draft memorandum in this regard, yesterday.

New Mangalore Railway Division – a Consensus in the Pipeline

Mangalore:  If Kerala gets zonal tag, Port City demand will get boost without hurdles from Karnataka.  As the pressure for a separate railway division for Mangalore has been gaining momentum despite the strong protest from Kerala, a consensus between the two states is slowly being evolved behind the curtains. Railway sources in Palakkad railways and Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) confided that if a separate zone for Kerala is allowed, which has been a long pending demand, Mangalore’s division demand will get a boost without any objection from the neighbouring state.

A separate division with Mangalore as headquarters is a long pending demand raised by different organisations and people of the Port City. The Coastal city is literally sandwiched between Palakkad (Southern Railway), Mysore (South Western Railway) and Konkan Railway Corporation. While Konkan railway starts from Thokur, Mysore division has it’s border after Mangalore Junction station. Being the tail of Palakkad division, Mangalore has not been getting it’s due since long. At the same time, Palakkad division’s survival itself is from the freight charges through MRPL and NMPT. In this financial year (2012 -13), the loading from Panambur area alone was 6.495 MT, which contributed for 91.2 per cent of overall loading of the division. Nonetheless Mangalore is the supporting pillar of the division, however, it is by and large neglected in terms of development.

Railway officials say that the major stumbling block for Mangalore division is not Kerala’s objection, but the demand is not strongly being pushed by Karnataka itself. “The division demand is heard in Mangalore only. When it reaches New Delhi, the name of Gulbarga is being heard now more than Mangalore,” told an official.

Southern, South Western or Konkan?

Though the moves for carving out of Mangalore division is going on, sources said that the authorities concerned are yet to decide on where should Mangalore division be included. If KRCL is the option, then problems are plenty. KRCL is not a part of Indian Railway but a separate Railway entity started in 1998. It was running at a loss of more than Rs 10,000 crore and the Central Government is now not in a position to incur the loss by merging the KRCL in Indian Railways.

Kerala’s demand

Kerala is the only Indian state having a major place in rail map of India without a zone headquartered in its territory. A separate zone means the state’s projects and new train services will come directly from the Centre and not via Southern Railway. For a zone, three divisions under it is mandatory. If Mangalore division is allowed, then including that, Kerala can fulfill it’s zonal ambition with other two divisions, Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram. Thus the state is willing to form Mangalore division provided it’s zonal demand should be allowed with new division coming under it.

But this unofficial idea among top railway officers and politicians from Kerala is yet to reach Union Railway Minister’s office. Kerala is also skeptical about how Karnataka will react to this proposal as Karnataka is for a division which comes exclusively under a zone which is within it’s borders.

Palakkad’s ill-fate

When Salem division was carved out of Palakkad in October 2007, the Kerala division lost 623 kilometre of it’s area in Tamil Nadu including Coimbatore and a sizable part of the revenue. At that time, Kerala has been promised with a railway zone and a rail coach manufacturing factory in Palakkad as a compensatory measure. But both the projects are still in paper only. If Mangalore also goes from Palakkad, then it’s better to close down the division, told a railway official to DH.

The Rs 550 crore coach factory at Kanjikode in Palakkad was annouced in 2008-09 rail budget presented by the then Union Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. Other than handing over 92.04 hectares of land to Railway, nothing has progressed in Kanjikode. At the same time, the Raebareli Coach factory which was announced along with Kanjikode factory has commenced operation.

Telangana Aftershocks: now Andhra wants creation of new South East Coast Railway (SECR)

Andhra Parirakshana Samithi urges formation of South East Coast Railway zone by bringing Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur and, a new Division with Tirupati as headquarter be formed to form SECoR.

As the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre prepares ground for creation of a new state Telangana – carved out of Andhra Pradesh, the aftershocks had the tremors in Railways too, with Seemandhra leaders and various activists demanding for creation of a separate Railway Zone for Seemandhra with Vijayawada as the Zonal Railway Head quarters of the proposed South East Coast Railway zone by merging Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur Divisions into the new zone.  The leaders also demanded that a new railway division be carved out of existing Guntakal division with Tirupati as the Divisional Headquarters.  They demanded that a new Zonal Railway be named as South East Coast Railway (SECoR) with Zonal headquarters either at Vizag or Vijayawada.

There is also a persistent demand to rename the currently run East Coast Railway as the Bhubaneshwar headquartered ECOR does not logically deserve the name of East Coast Railway since the east coast of India is stretched from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu, whereas the currently run ECOR zonal limits are well within the Orissa state and partially small portion of Andhra through Visakhapatnam Division under ECOR.  Hence it is worth to rename ECOR as Central East Coast Railway (CECoR) and the new Railway Zone for Andhra to be South East Coast Railway (SECoR), said President of Andhra Parirakshana Samithi, Mr.Venkataratnam Naidu from Vijayawada.

The heat is on the Railway Board now, to create a separate Zonal Railway out of South Central and East Coast Railway zones.  Seemandhra leaders are now planning to meet Minister of Railways Mr.Kharge and Minister of State for Railways Mr.Kotla for separate Zonal Railway demand carved out of South Central and East Coast Railway systems.  The issue of creating separate Railway Zone has taken a new dimension with the announcement for creation of Telangana as a separate state.  An all-party bandh in Seemandhra demanding for separate Zonal Railway is being planned, sources said.

Waltair Division (Visakhapatnam) is very famous of many industries, with rich in minerals, coal, forests and mountains, and is the largest revenue earning Division on East Coast Railway.  This region has been underdeveloped and has been witnessing a partiality treatment from Bubaneshwar eversince the East Coast Railway has been formed, the leaders said.  Likewise, Vijayawada and Guntur Division have been depending upon Secunderabad decisions although the Vijayawada division contributes to 35% of the overall revenues of SCR.  Most of the earnings from Vijayawada Division have been allocated to Nanded, Hyderabad and Secunderabad Division whereas the Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions have been witnessing persistent less treatment from SCR, he added.  The elected political representatives had been fooling the public of Andhra in particular and many organisations like Praja Spandana etc have been fighting for a separate Railway Zone right from the beginning eversince the Waltair Division was tagged on to East Coast mini Railway Zone functioning from Bhubaneswar in Odisha with effect from April 1, 2003.  “We have nothing against our neighbours but Andhra is virtually being treated as a milch cow and thrown after use.  These Divisions are almost feeding the other two Zonal Railway systems viz. ECOR and SCR with an annual income of Rs.12,000 crore,” President, Praja Spandana movement Mr.C.S.Rao said.  The people of Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada had expected a lot from the former MP N. Janardhan Reddy earlier and the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D. Purandeswari had given a categorical assurance immediately after the elections in 2009 that formation of a separate zone was her top priority earlier.  But in the wake of announcement of a separate state for Telangana, the movement had taken a new dimension.  It’s possible to form a separate zone with Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore and Chittor Districts and it will change the face of the backward Andhra region. Mr.C.S.Rao called upon the people, political representatives and leaders to launch a massive protest to ensure that a new zone by name South East Coast Railway was formed with headquarters either in Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam.

The intervention of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy is needed for the formation of a separate Railway Zone with headquarters in either Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam, C.S.Rao, President of Praja Spandana, said.

It is understood that Railway Board may take a decision in this regard.  Board official, when contacted, with a request for anonymity said creation of a new zone with Visakhapatam as Zonal Hq may not be a viable option as it is geographically not a suitable one due to its proximity to Bhubaneshwar in administrative angle.  “However Vijayawada may be a better option for a Zonal Railway Headquarters of South East Coast Railway”, he added.