Railways and Environment ministries differ on slowing trains in Tiger Reserve area

After a tiger died on being run over by a passenger train on the Gondia-Chandrapur track in the recent past, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has said that it has been decided to restrict the speed of trains to 40 kmph on this route. However, the railways say that the drivers will take extra care to spot wildlife movement and react, though the trains would travel at the regular speed.

A tiger being hit by a train is considered a rarest of rare incident, and the first one in this area. Normally, elephants are prone to be involved in train mishaps. But forest department sources say they are not taking any chances.
imagesSoon after the mishap, minister of environment and forest Jayanthi Natrajan held a meeting with railway board officials. A communique followed, saying it has been decided to restrict the speed at 40 kmph on the route. Other steps announced were tracking tiger movement through thermal imaging, camera traps and keeping the railways informed through wireless.

SL Verma, Divisional Railway Manager for SECR, said drivers have been issued instructions to be on the look out for big cats trying to cross the tracks. “If spotted in time, a mishap can be prevented. Emergency brakes can bring trains to a stop in 400-500 meters, as soon as an animal is sighted. We are committed to tiger conservation and enough care will be taken,” he said.

Verma said some 15 trains run on the track, including 5-6 express trains, which have an average speed of 100kmph. The passenger train which hit the tiger was reported to be running at a speed of 80kmph.

Even as Verma evaded a direct reply on reducing the speed of trains, sources said there are several technical aspects related to controlling the speed. “For example, a specific speed has to be maintained when a train is running on a curve as against straight tracks,” a source said.

Verma said it is the 23km stretch between Kelzar and Chanda fort is the risk area. This is also because there are a few water holes along the tracks, which attract animals.

Principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) AK Joshi said it is upon the railways to control the speed of trains. “Of course, other steps such as not littering tracks with food can also help prevent wildlife movement. Food articles strewn along the tracks attract small animals, which in turn brings the predators,” he said. Joshi also admitted the waterhole theory too could be right.

Reliance Metro Rail to exit from Delhi Airport Metro deal from June 30

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation rejects notice, says it will operate line

Anil Ambani Group company Reliance Infra has stated that it will stop operating the Delhi Airport Metro from midnight on June 30. The metro line links Delhi’s international airport with central Delhi.

The public private partnership project is operated by Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL), a special purpose vehicle promoted by Ambani’s Reliance Infra. The company has been battling mounting losses, which are nearing the Rs 300-crore-mark.

Long-running saga

This is not the first time that the operator has issued such a termination notice to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). The DMRC Board, which met on Friday to consider the issue, rejected the termination notice, stating that it was against the contract.

DMRC also added that it would operate the project if Reliance stepped out.

After a meeting of the Delhi Metro Board, Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, Urban Development Ministry, stated: “The notice (by Reliance Infra) is in violation of the concession agreement and the ongoing arbitration proceedings. The Board decided to reject the notice and call upon them to continue operations. If, however, they do not do so, DMRC shall step in and operate the line in the larger public interest.”

Meanwhile, arbitration proceedings, over who was responsible for the metro link’s closure for almost six months last year, continue. Insiders say that the operator is maintaining that the reason for the termination notice is not financial but breach of contract by Delhi Metro.

After getting the termination notice, Delhi Metro had pointed out there are three options: First, the line remains closed; second, lenders, led by Axis Bank, bring back DAMEPL or substitute the developer; and third, Delhi Metro starts operations and maintenance of the project, including absorbing the staff of DAMEPL for the time being.

Debt Repayment

However, in case the concession agreement is terminated, and DMRC has to manage the entire debt of about Rs 2,000 crore, then DMRC wants the Central Government and Delhi Government to arrange the money.

The stance of the Centre and Delhi Government on this issue is not yet clear. One view is that Delhi Metro should itself arrange for funds to operate the line and also come up with a viable plan for the line.

While Delhi Metro had projected that the line would have a daily ridership of 40,000 people, actual ridership is about a fourth of that, at around 10,000, said an official source.

Vacancies in Railway Board and Zonal Railways to be filled only after CVC clearance

Officers getting CVC clearances will be handed charge against the vacant posts in the Railway Board. The new arrangements will shortly be made – Mallikarjun Kharge, Railways Minister

Even as railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge reiterated on Friday that filling up top posts was high on his list of priorities, the public transporter is heading for a situation of having a headless and a much curtailed Railway Board from July 1.  Of a total of seven members, the Railways will have just three full-time members from Monday. Of these three, Member (Electrical) Kulbhushan has been named as an accused by the CBI in its Preliminary Enquiry (PE).  While posts of Member (Traffic) and Member (Staff) at Railway Board have been lying vacant for nearly two months, the posts of Chairman Railway Board and Financial Commissioner will also fall vacant on June 30.

At present, Mahesh Kumar, who became Railway Board Member (Staff) two months back, is in jail following his arrest in the alleged cash-for-post scam.

Besides the Board vacancies, there will be five vacancies of General Managers on July 1. Vacancies in South East Central Railway, Western Railway and Central Railway already exist. There will be two more vacancies in South Eastern Railway, Kolkata, and Integral Coach Factory, Perambur on June 30.

Asked whether the new Chairman Railway Board will take over before June 31, Kharge said, “whatever arrangements will be made, it will be done only after the retirement and immediately the next day, also stating that the Railways have sent names to the Cabinet Committee on Appointment for filling up these senior posts, “Whoever gets CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) clearances, those members will be given charge accordingly,” Kharge said.

Apart from Board Members and General Managers, 21 new DRMs (Divisional Railway Managers) will also be selected in July.

However, as the Railways have not obtained the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) approvals for filling up the vacancies, these positions will remain vacant for some more time.  The Railways were required to have forwarded a panel of names for ACC approval three months in advance to the date of vacancy. By oversight or by design, this did not happen.  “The process was further delayed because the Railways sought vigilance clearances in installments – forwarding a list of five names; followed by two other lists to the CVC,” sources said

UP Chief Minister meets Japanese delegation to explore funding for Lucknow Metro

The state government has begun considering loan options for Lucknow Metro rail project after giving green signal to its first phase. On Friday, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav held a closed door meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s India chief, Shinya Ejima and deputy chief representative of India, Ichiguchi Tomohide along with other senior officials of the international agency on Friday.

The agency has a rich expertise in funding metro projects of cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. Though it was a preliminary round of talks between the government and the funding agency, sources said in all likelihood, JICA would be chosen as the international funding agency for the Metro rail project. Officials have already stated that they are looking for an agency which is able to sanction loan in a timely manner and has rich experience in funding mega projects. JICA comes across as the most suitable option to fulfill these terms and conditions of the government. Since it was the first visit of JICA’s India chief to Lucknow, it shows the agency’s keenness to fund the Metro project.

The meeting which was attended by Madhukar Jetley, advisor to externally aided projects department, and Rakesh Garg, principal secretary to the CM along with other officials. They discussed the best possible loan options for the state. “The terms and conditions have to be in the best interest of the state for providing a world class Metro service to the citizens of Lucknow,” said an official.

The delegates will further meet the government, once the proposal of obtaining loan from the international agency, is sent to the ministry of urban development and the department of economic affairs, GOI over next few days.

On Thursday, the state cabinet had approved construction of the first phase of metro rail — North-South corridor — in Lucknow, a 23-km stretch from Amausi airport to Munshipulia. It would be built at a cost between Rs 7,000-8,000 crore.

The DPR (Detailed Project Report) has been prepared by DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) which has tried to reduce the underground stretch from the earlier proposed 7 km to 3 km underground track from Charbgah upto Hazratganj, which would bring down the construction cost by about Rs 1,000 crore. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) – Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation – is also to be formed in due course of time to execute the project in a time-bound manner.

Lucknow’s population has been rapidly growing over the past few years because of the migration of population from suburban areas to avail better facilities. A mass rapid transit system is, therefore, integral to a growing city like Lucknow to decrease the traffic pressure on roads. Besides solving traffic issues, Metro rail is also expected to reduce road risks and bring down air and noise pollution levels considerably, thereby improving city’s environment.

The ground work for Metro will most likely begin by year-end. Officials claim that the first phase would be completed in about 3-4 years (by 2016) if everything works according to the plan. A formal proposal on inclusion of Lucknow metro in ‘The Metro Railways (Construction of Works) and Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Acts would soon be sent to the Centre- a mandatory step to get the necessary legal backing to beginning the work.

Railways seeks views on Rail Tariff Authority

New Delhi:  Railways has moved the proposal for setting up Rail Tariff Authority to different ministries including Finance seeking their views on the authority before submitting it to the Cabinet for approval.

A meeting was held by the Prime Minister to finalise infrastructure targets for 2013-14 which was attended by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Chairman Railway Board Vinay Mittal besides Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia among others.

The RTA, a regulatory body which is the first of its kind for Railways, will suggest the level of tariff for both the freight and passenger fares from time to time taking into account the input cost (diesel and electricity) and volatile market conditions.

The RTA is perceived to be the first major step towards delinking Railways financial health from politics.

“The Railways is floating a note which is very important to set up a tariff regulatory authority. They have circulated the note, we have seen it. And we hope this will also come quickly in the cabinet to get approved,” Ahluwalia said after the meeting.

According to sources, RTA will be a five-member body headed by its chairman. While a retired Railway Board Member is being tipped to head the regulatory body, four other members from outside of Railways are being shortlisted.

The RTA, mooted by former Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi in his Rail Budget 2012-13, was pursued by his successors Pawan Kumar Bansal and C P Joshi.

It was decided at the meeting that the proposal for creating RTA will be accelerated and brought to Cabinet soon.

The flagship projects of railways such as the two Loco Manufacturing Projects, Elevated Rail Corridor, the Dedicated Freight Corridor and station redevelopment will be closely monitored for award in the next six months.

An Inter-Ministerial Group of Railways, Finance and Planning will be formed with the task of coming up with a creative financing-cum-implementation mechanism in two months for clearing the large backlog of sanctioned projects of over Rs 200,000 crores in a prioritised and time-bound manner.

Soil Erosion between Saharsa-Mansi Rail section on Samastipur Division poses great threat

kosiSaharsa: Railway authorities are deeply concerned as with the monsoon getting vigorous day by day, the rail track near Fango railway halt on Saharsa-Mansi section under Samastipur division of East Central Railway (ECR) faces great erosion threat, which could snap the lifeline of the vast Kosi division.  The threat of erosion at 6,7,8 and 16th km of the rail track near Fango railway halt is steadily increasing keeping the railway authorities on their tenterhooks. As the water level of river Kosi, dubbed as the sorrow of Bihar, are showing an upward trend, the threat perception too has heightened, according to railway sources.
539wDRM/Samastipur Mr.Arun Malik on Friday, said, “I am very much concerned about the rail track between Saharsa and Mansi, which is a true lifeline to the vast swathe of Kosi region.” Though at the moment, the situation is “not very alarming” and all possible efforts are on to protect the rail track, he said. Anti-erosion measures are in full swing as boulder pitching and crating on the rail track is already in full blast, he said and hoped that these measures would adequately address the problem.

A reputed construction company, which is said to have the expertise and knowhow in respect of protecting the rail track, has been engaged and is going about the protection work. Besides, hosts of railway engineers are keeping a round the clock vigil, railway sources said. The 44-km-long Saharsa-Mansi rail route has a disconcerting record of facing threat of erosion by the Kosi. The surging waters of Kosi have a worrisome record of changing its course from time to time, railway sources say.

In 2011 and 2012, the Saharsa-Mansi rail track was under tremendous pressure at the same points near Fango railway halt, when some spurs were heavily eroded. War like efforts, which had persisted for days, had salvaged the situation and the all important lifeline was finally protected, railway sources recalled. A rail bridge could be a permanent solution, they suggested.

Meanwhile, overnight torrential rains in catchment areas and plains which continued till late in the day, resulted in swelling of the rivers like Mahananda and Kosi . Mahananda, which traverse through vast parts of Kishanganj, Katihar and partly Purnia districts, was flowing 65.22 metre a little below the danger mark of 66 metre at Taiyabpur ( Kishanganj) and 34.77 metre against the danger mark of 35.65 metre at Dengrahaghat (Purnia ) at 8 am on Friday.

The water discharge level of the Kosi surged to 1,30,670 cusec and 83,125 cusec at Kosi barrage at Bhimnagar near Birpur and Barahkhetra (Nepal) at 8 am on Friday, according to Central Water Commission (CWC) office in Purnia.

Railway Minister launches rail reservation by Calls/SMS through Mobile

Railways on Friday introduced a ticketing service through calls and text messages from mobile phones.
T330_13054_RAILWAYLaunching the facility, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge asserted that the service is more conducive for the masses of India because access to internet in the country is limited to 10 per cent of the population, but 80 per cent of the population has access to mobile phones.

“Online booking now constitutes 45 per cent of all forms of rail ticket booking.

The new facility will help further decrease ticketing through counters. This facility will help migrant labourers purchase tickets without taking leave from work,” Kharge asserted.

The service, which is looked after by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), has been launched on a pilot basis for three months. During this period no agent charges would be levied for availing of the facility.

The call is to be made by dialling *400#. Booking may be done by sending journey details through SMS to 139.

Rail land between R-Block and Digha in Patna shift hope

Indian Railways is mulling to transfer the plot on which a local train runs between R-Block and Digha to the state government.

East Central Railway (ECR) general manager Madhuresh Kumar told reporters about the plan at a programme in Patna organised to release the new railway timetable that will come into effect from July 1.

On the transfer of the land, Kumar said: “Talks are on between the state government and the railways. Very soon we will come out with a solution. I admit people face a lot of difficulties because of the facility. But we are looking into the matter seriously.”

The eight-coach facility runs at a speed of 20kmph and passes through Hartali Mor at 9.30am, 10.30am, 5.15pm and 6pm. So, by plying on the route, the train leaves commuters stranded at the Mor four times everyday during peak office hours.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had in the past urged the railway ministry to hand over the 7-km-long R-Block-Digha track land to the state government so that it could be converted into a four-lane road.

Asked if the train service would be called off, Kumar said: “We have received a proposal from the government to transfer the land.”

The train does not generate much revenue for the railways. The toy train at the Patna zoo fetches more revenue than the local train. The daily average income from the train is just Rs 250 to Rs 300, whereas the toy train earns Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 every day.

“Railways does not run trains for revenue generation. It is for the benefit of the passengers. If revenue was our only concern, then 500 tracks in Bihar would have been closed down by now,” said the ECR general manager

GM/N.C.Rly visits Rail Spring Factory

ALLAHABAD: General Manager, North Central Railway, Mr.Alok Johri inspected the Rail Spring Factory situated at Sithauli. All the heads of departments were present during the inspection.

The GM also examined the ongoing construction of new coiling line and manufacturing of the spring coils at the factory. These spring coils are used in railway coaches and engines.

During the inspection, Chief Mechanical Engineer of NCR Syed Kabir Ahmad said the work of construction of new coiling line at the factory will be completed till the end of December, 2013. He said the springs manufactured there were of high quality casted about two-third price of the cost of imported springs. About 1 lakh springs are manufactured each year and with the construction of the new coiling line, the factory will be able to manufacture about 1.5 lakh springs each year, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, the general manager, NCR said that with the construction of high quality springs, dependence of railways on the imported springs will be been lessened. “This is a great achievement and we should make the target to be able to supply springs to all the zones of the Indian Railways,” he added.

Later, Johri inspected Gwalior and Birlanagar stations and also inaugurated the newly constructed VIP room and waiting room on the stations. He said the circulating areas on both the sides of Gwalior station will be developed and a new foot over bridge will also be constructed along with the facility of escalator.

During the inspection, various heads of departments of NCR, Divisional Railway Manager of Jhansi Division and other officers were present.

Soon, better food and facilities on trains

Very soon you can expect better food and facilities in trains as Northern Railways is going to implement a new catering policy.

Northern Railway General Manager Vijay Kumar Gupta announced on Saturday that the division will also contract a new caterer.

Releasing the new timetable, Gupta said: “The food quality on trains operating under the Northern Railways will be much better from now. It is a continuous process. We provide food to around a lakh people daily.” The new schedule will come into effective from July 1.

Gupta also announced 42 new trains, including 33 express trains and nine passenger trains. Frequency of nine trains have been increased while the routes of 15 express and two passenger trains have been extended. To curb the menace of touts in railway bookings, he said the Northern Railways has constituted a team of officers and inspectors of the commercial department and Railway Protection Force to check all important outlets.  Additional general manager BP Gupta, chief operating manager Mohd Jamshed, chief commercial manager Vijaya Sinha, Divisional Railway Manager AK Sachan and other senior officers were present on the occasion.

Nagpur railway station is heading for paradigm shift in train operations

NAGPUR: With the Central Railway expediting work on platform No. 8 at Santra Market (east side), the Nagpur Railway Station is heading for paradigm shift in train operations.

As the passenger and freight train traffic is increasing day-by-day, there is huge congestion at Nagpur. The Railways is facing complexity of operations with criss-crossing of Central Railway and South East Central Railway (SECR) trains at T-junction towards Itarsi and Gondia end causing conflict.

“The platform number 8 (home platform) is a bigger part of the strategy to see that there is no conflict and SECR trains coming from Howrah are admitted here overcoming congestion at Nagpur. These trains will straightway head for Ajni through the present Engine Line, which had a speed potential of only 10 kmph and is now being upgraded to 100 kmph without using much additional resources,” said divisional railway manager of Central Railway Brijesh Dixit.

Dixit further said apart from starting and terminating some originating trains from Nagpur, the dedicated platform will prove to be a boon for passing trains to west and south. These trains, at times, have to be kept waiting at the outer for want of space at platform No. 2, 3 and 4, causing inconvenience to passengers.

As complex operations are impacting train movement, the Central Railway now will take up work on Nagpur-Kalamna double line. “However, as the project belongs to SECR, our job will be confined to junction only. It will include installing points and crossings for entry and exit of trains,” Dixit said.

The Rs21 crore Nagpur-Kalamna double line project was sanctioned in 2009, but encroachments have stalled it. SECR ADRM Saibal Bose said that almost 90% of the work has been completed except laying of track in one-km patch which full with encroachments. He said that Central Railway will do doubling work and removal of encroachments in its jurisdiction.

As SECR is unable to complete the project, Central Railway has pitched in to provide dedicated facility for arrival and departure of its trains by taking up doubling work at junction. The high-level platform would accommodate trains with 24 coaches.

“The best part is that the same line which will join the main line at Ajni will be integrated as the third line between Nagpur and Wardha. Survey work for third line is already in progress in certain patches,” said additional DRM Uday Borwankar.

The paradigm shift is being brought about by combining various works like creation of home platform, doubling of Kalamna-Nagpur and Godhni-Kalamna lines, two works of replacement of mechanical lever frame signalling and replacement of signalling panel at Ajni ‘A’ Cabin. By executing all these works simultaneously in tandem with each other, not only an additional line (third line) has been created right from Kalamna end of Nagpur station to Ajni ‘A’ cabin, but also conflicting movements of goods and mail/express trains towards Howrah will be avoided, which was never a possibility otherwise.

The four-km Engine Line already exists between Ajni and Nagpur. The line has been upgraded from 10 kmph to 50 kmph now and will further be upgraded to 100 kmph in next three months to ready it for passenger traffic.

Borwankar said the seven age-old lever frame cabins en route, which once used to manually operate train movement, will be replaced with two central panels one each at Ajni and Nagpur.

“At least, a dozen passenger trains from Howrah direction and freight trains will benefit,” Borwankar said.

On the issue of lack of infrastructure at Santra Market side, Borwankar informed the station area will be rearranged by providing enhanced parking for cars, two-wheelers and autorickshaw stand. The railways have plan for an executive lounge, waiting rooms, food stalls, heritage lamps, drop and go facility at the train’s doorstep among other things.

Work on home platform started in October 2012. Although it looks challenging, plans are afoot to open the platform by October this year with almost 50% of the work already completed.

Railways steps down – move to scrap station masters’ posts kept in abeyance

Thiruvananthapuram, June 28: The decision of Thiruvananthapuram railway division authorities to cancel 40 posts of assistant stationmasters has been kept in abeyance.

Office of the divisional railway manager has conveyed the decision to leaders of the recognised employee union, sources said.

The decision will be kept in abeyance pending enquiry by a two-member panel into the circumstances leading to the decision to cancel the posts.

The union had given an ultimatum that unless the decision was revoked by Friday, they would launch a work-to-rule agitation.

This would have brought network-wide services to a ‘crawl,’ if not entirely stopping them, since station masters double up as ticketing clerks or man public relation windows at a number of stations.

Many had been doing two shifts at a stretch due to acute shortage of staff. Supervisory station superintendents have to assume train-passing duty in Thrissur, Guruvayur, Chalakudy, Thiruvalla and Varkala, sources said.

The decision to cut down even more posts had come against this context, and was said to have been based on an internal report.

The fact that posts had been kept vacant for a year was said to have further legitimised it, since they could be stuck off if remaining unfilled for six months at a stretch.

The 40 posts in 28 railway stations under the division were sought to be removed at a time when 77 posts were already lying vacant and even more trains were being introduced, sources said.

Gujarat High Court notice to Railways on historical Dandi Bridge

06-5Ahmedabad:  The Gujarat high court on Thursday issued a notice to the Indian Railways, asking it to file a reply on an affidavit for not granting NOC to the civic body for constructing drainage system as part of the historic Dandi Bridge renovation project.  The division bench involved the railways in the litigation after the civic body expressed its limitation in expediting the drainage system it is contemplating to clean. The city body submitted that it was finding it difficult to implement the project since it did not get clearance from the railway department.  The department has been asked to come up with an explanation in two weeks.
Meanwhile, the civic body submitted its progress report and claimed that the work to remove the garbage is underway.  However, advocate Rashmin Jani for intervening party opposed the claims and placed photographs showing garbage dumps near the bridge.  The HC took suo motu cognizance of the dilapidated condition of the bridge after it got substantially damaged in a fire on April 17, 2012.

Two days later, the court issued a notice to the Centre, the state government and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation over the dilapidated condition of the historic bridge from where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had started his legendary Salt March.

Significance of Dandi Bridge

The historical Salt Satyagraha began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement. This was the most significant organized challenge to British authority since the Non-cooperation movement of 1920–22, and directly followed the Purna Swaraj declaration of independence by the Indian National Congress on January 26, 1930. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (commonly called Mahatma Gandhi) led the Dandi march from his base, Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad, to the sea coast near the village of Dandi. As he continued on this 24 day, 240 mile (390 km) march to produce salt without paying the tax, growing numbers of Indians joined him along the way. When Gandhi broke the salt laws at 6:30 am on April 6, 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians. The campaign had a significant effect on changing world and British attitude towards Indian independence and caused large numbers of Indians to join the fight for the first time.

After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi continued southward along the coast, producing salt and addressing meetings on the way. His party planned to stage a satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works, 25 miles south of Dandi. However, Gandhi was arrested on the midnight of May 4–5, 1930, just days before the planned action at Dharasana. The Dandi March and the ensuing Dharasana Satyagraha drew worldwide attention to the Indian independence movement through extensive newspaper and newsreel coverage. The satyagraha against the salt tax continued for almost a year, ending with Gandhi’s release from jail and negotiations with Viceroy Lord Irwin at the Second Round Table Conference. Over 80,000 Indians were jailed as a result of the Salt Satyagraha. However, it failed to result in major concessions from the British.

The Salt Satyagraha campaign was based upon Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent protest called satyagraha, which he loosely translated as “truth-force.” Literally, it is formed from the Sanskrit words satya, “truth”, and agraha, “force.” In early 1930 the Indian National Congress chose satyagraha as their main tactic for winning Indian independence from British rule and appointed Gandhi to organize the campaign. Gandhi chose the 1882 British Salt Act as the first target of satyagraha. The Salt March to Dandi, and the beating by British police of hundreds of nonviolent protesters in Dharasana, which received worldwide news coverage, demonstrated the effective use of civil disobedience as a technique for fighting social and political injustice. The satyagraha teachings of Gandhi and the March to Dandi had a significant influence on American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and his fight for civil rights for blacks and other minority groups in the 1960s.

Yuva Odisha criticize Centre for overlooking Bolangir-Khurda Railway Project

42088899National Level Odia outfit  Yuva Odisha criticizes Centre for overlooking Bolangir-Khurda Railway Project. The outfit announced to protest state wide agitation over  centre’s negilance to state in Railway.

Yuva Odisha chief Tejeswar Parida questioned the intention of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi over this issue. In a media statement Mr. Parida congratulated both the leaders for flagging off the first train connecting Banihal in Jammu with Qazigund in Kashmir in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which was constructed at a cost of Rs 1,691 crore for the total distance of 18 KMs.

But Yuva Odisha president Parida questions both the leaders that when will you flag off the first train connecting Bolangir in Western Odisha to Khurdha in the backward but developing state of Odisha.

Mr Parida said that, “The first survey work for the line was conducted in 1945 by the Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR ) to connect the backward and tribal dominated districts of Odisha (KBK districts) to the coastal part of Odisha. However, after independence the project remained in cold storage till the Planning Commission approved it in 1993 and it received the presidential nod in 1994. Even after 20 years of the Planning Commission’s approval, which was supposed to be completed in 5 yrs only, Only 36 km of tracks have been prepared till now out of total length of 289 KMs which cover 5 districts namely Khurda, Nayagarh, Boudh, Sonepur and Bolangir. The Railways has acquired land for only 100 km (20 km from Bolangir side and nearly 80 km from Khurda side).”

He further added that, “As the route would be a non-profit zone, Railways authorities are showing laxity in completing the project. The State Government has facilitated the land acquisition process but the Railways authorities, however, stated that poor allotment of funds in the Railway Budget for the project led to the inordinate delay. The cost of the project, which was estimated at Rs 383 crore initially, has now gone up to Rs 1,100 crore due to the delay. In 2012 Khurda Road Bolangir Railway line was allocated Rs 23 Crore only while in 2013 it was increased to only Rs 60 Crore. As planned, the 289-km rail line will pass through 32 bridges, 403 minor bridges, 11 tunnels (the longest being 1,400 metre), 124 level-crossings and 17 stations.”

He alleged that, “The central government has a step-motherly treatment towards Odisha. While the state is giving more than Rs 14,000 crore revenue per annum to the railways, Odisha was allocated only Rs 869 Crore under Rail Budget 2013, against our demand of Rs. 3,050 Crore. Last year in 2012 Railway Budget it was announced that Odisha to get only Rs 724 crore, which was subsequently reduced to Rs 444 crore (Rs 15 Crore was cut from the Bolangir-   Khurda Railway line) though Odisha had demanded for at least Rs. 2,345  Crore.”

Parida demand that justice be granted to the people of Odisha in regard to this vital social railway project Bolangir – Khurda Railway project. He also demanded that a special package be announced for this purpose. Yuva Odiha also invited both the leaders to visit these areas of Odisha to feel the sentiment of the citizens associated with this rail project.

Delhi-Pune Duranto Express engine derailed

Pune, June 28:  A major disaster was averted when the engine of the Hazrat Nizamuddin-Pune Duranto Express derailed after it was hit by a falling boulder in the treacherous Western Ghats Friday morning, an official said.

Six wheels of the engine jumped off the tracks on the impact. The boulder had rolled down from the hills between Thakurwadi and Monkey Hill areas on the Kalyan-Lonavala section of the Central Railway.

“There were no casualties. Other train services were not held up as a third alternative line was available and all trains were diverted to it,” a Central Railway official said.

Another engine hauled away coaches of the affected train. The train resumed its journey to Pune at 10.35 a.m. while the derailed engine was brought onto the tracks an hour later.

Owing to the incident, the return service – 12263 Pune-Hazrat Nizamuddin Duranto Express – has been delayed by nearly eight hours and will now depart at 7.50 p.m. Friday instead of the scheduled time of 11.10 a.m., officials said.

Jaipur Metro to miss deadline third time

JAIPUR: Even before it could run on the track, the Jaipur Metro has earned a dubious distinction of missing deadlines. After missing the June and then the July deadline, the much-touted project is now set to miss the third deadline of August 2013.

The Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation (JMRC) formally announced that its project will miss the extended deadline of August 2013.

This means that the ruling Congress government will have to either inaugurate the Jaipur Metro before it is even ready to ferry passengers or altogether miss the opportunity to flag it off. By August, the election code of conduct is likely to be enforced for the assembly elections due in November-December.

After reviewing the project’s civil and electrification works’ progress reports at its 15th board meeting on Friday, JMRC top officials realized that by August the Metro will be ready only for trial runs and that too between the Mansarovar and Shyam Nagar stations. The Metro’s commercial operation-when it can carry the passengers-will be possible, at the earliest, by October.

While talking to media, chief managing director (CMD) N C Goel, said, “Due to delay in civil construction work, trial run from Mansarovar station to Shyam Nagar will be possible.” Earlier, the project missed the July 2013 deadline.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials blamed price escalation and shortage of skilled labourers for the delay in project completion. “The pace of work was affected due to price escalation as contracted firms were facing losses. More skilled workers cannot be hired as financial losses were mounting,” said an official.

At the meeting, JMRC approved the design of the smart card to be used by Metro passengers. To decide the fare for various routes, a five-member committee was also constituted. The committee will submit the report in August.

The JMRC will initiate the tender process in August for the construction of Metro project phase I (B), proposed from Badi Chaupar to Chandpole, and based on an engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) model. “The Asian Development Bank (ADB) bank has approved the loan of USD 176 million. The last date to receive tenders is August 2. The work for the project will be initiated by the end of August.”

Decision to increase the share capital of JMRC from Rs 1500 crore to Rs 2000 crore was also decided in the meeting.

You may irk Bangaloreans’ if you chit-chat on their Namma Metro

The Bangalore Metro has become synonymous with delay and criticism.  Despite the fact that the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) has missed several deadlines, officials from the body are still making promises. But most people have lost faith in the system.

RailNews interacts with civic experts and citizens to find out if the new government is going to bring in any positive change.

MN Sreehari, advisor to the Government of Karnataka on traffic and infrastructure, says that the BMRCL is just misleading the public.

“They are not transparent in their transactions and do not disclose anything to local experts or the press. They seem to work only on political pressure,” he criticises. Sreehari also laments that with so many delays, the amount of money being lost per day is huge.

“Since they are not able to do the work properly, it is better that they take a global tender and give it to those who are internationally renowned,” he says, adding that the BMRCL’s drawback is lack of proper planning. “They always start the work and then realise there are problems,” he explains.

V Ravichandar, chairman of Feedback Consulting, says that it will be a ‘pleasant surprise’ if things happen on time.

“Unfortunately, past records have shown that unexpected problems crop up and that does not give us hope that future projects will be on time. Citizens must be ready for delays,” he explains.

Kayomarz Bacha, a professional who uses the Metro extensively, has reconciled herself to the delay and feels that even though things may not have gone as planned, it’s better late than never.

“We are in the dark about the reasons for the delay. It might be the corruption associated with the government and lack of funding and resources that have contributed to it. But it is better that the facility comes up late rather than never,” says Kayomarz.

Prabha, a homemaker, adds that even with the new government, things are not going to change much. “It’s just a myth to think that the situation will drastically improve. I doubt that we’ll see much change,” she opines.

Phase 2

Phase 1 has seen several delays and the State government is keen to avoid the same with Phase 2.

However, the implementation of the project has been stalled as the BMRCL is yet to receive an official clearance from the Centre. The project spans over 72.1 km. Phase 2 of the Metro covers a span of 72.095 km and adds 61 stations to the network.

It extends from RV Road to Bommasandra, Gottigere to IIM-B to Nagavara, Byappanahalli to Whitefield, Mysore Road Terminal to Kengeri, Hesaraghatta Cross to Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on Tumkur Road and Puttenahalli Cross to Anjanapura township.

BMRCL speaks

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) Chief PRO BLY Chavan says, “In the coming year, we are trying to open the elevated reaches of the west and south corridors and the underground, thereby completing Phase 1 of the project.”

He adds that these kinds of projects, where construction has to be carried out in heavily-built areas, are not without problems. “With support and cooperation from all the agencies, these problems will be of minimal nature,” he states.

He says that the testing of trains from Peenya Depot up to Yeshwanthpur Station began on June 10, 2013.

“From Sandal Soap Factory Station up to Sriramapura, system work like traction and signalling is under progress. Once this work is completed, the trains will be tested up to Srirampura and further up to Sampige Road in a phased manner,” he explains.

With regard to the completion of Phase 2, Chavan adds, “Any project of this nature requires a time period of 36 to 40 months for elevated and 60 to 66 months for underground, provided the full work front is available within six to eight months from the start of the work.”

Kochi Metro, DMRC cautiously take up civil works

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials said that the preparatory work of the Kochi Metro Rail which will commence on MG Road this weekend will not hit communication, banking, electricity or water services in the city. Earlier reports had said that the ‘takeover’ of the road, one of the busiest stretches in the city, would hit life and business, including bank ATMs and telecom services.

DMRC had informed that they would be ‘taking over’ MG Road for three days for inspecting the cables and other utility lines before commencing the actual metro work.

“We will identify the cables on MG Road. This is just a preparatory work. In fact, we are not going to do any kind of physical work on the stretch,” said a DMRC official.

Pointing out the reports about public life being hit he said, “We are getting many phone calls regarding this, so we want to make it clear that apart from traffic diversion business will run as usual on MG Road.”

It is learnt that DMRC has informed all the concerned departments, including KWA, PWD and BSNL, about the work. In case of any emergency, the DMRC will intimate the department concerned. “If any untoward incident happens, DMRC will rectify it within 15 minutes,” said the official.

But banks and telecom service providers said their services were not likely to be hit. The electricity board and water authority officials also said the same.

“We don’t expect any interruption,” said Vinod, chief manager, Federal Bank. “Bank ATMs have a wireless system called Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) that directly links them to satellites. Even if an underground cable fails the wireless VSAT will come alive, negating any possibility of affecting the ATMs,” he said.An official from Tata Docomo telecommunications has said that they had no fears of problems as they do not have any underground cable providing connectivity.

Jolly Mathew, BSNL Assistant General Manager, has said that necessary precautions have been taken. “We don’t expect a complete breakdown,” he said.

Kolkata Metro ask State Government to hand over land for East-West Metro

The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation wrote to the state government asking it to hand over land for the East-West Metro at Bowbazar in compliance with a high court order.

The high court on Thursday upheld its interim order allowing land acquisition in Bowbazar for the project, saying the authorities could “expeditiously complete” the task of taking possession of a plot crucial to the Salt Lake-Howrah link.

“The high court order has removed all obstacles. So we are writing to the state government asking it to hand over the land at Bowbazar, and to Calcutta police for making land available on Brabourne Road for Mahakaran station,” a railway ministry official said.

The judgment, he said, would facilitate the laying of tracks between Central station and Howrah following the original alignment. The Mamata Banerjee government prefers an alternative alignment on the stretch.

“Now (following the high court ruling) there is no point talking about an alternative alignment,” the official said.

The Trinamul MP from Howrah, Prasun Banerjee, said he would request the government to expedite the process of handing over land to KMRC.

The plot was acquired several years ago but the government has yet to take possession of it. Urban development minister Firhad Hakim had said forceful eviction of the people occupying the land was not an option.

Mumbai Metro Phase-III Work on rail link will start by 2015

MUMBAI: Construction work on Metro-III will start only by 2015, as the appointment of consultants and around eight contractors for phases of work (tunneling, stations, communication and rolling stock installation) will take two years.  There will be many hurdles, such as acquisition, transportation of excavated material, soil conditions and seepages below, and traffic management. “But during the first two years, we will try to simultaneously shift utilities and clear grounds for machinery and men to start construction,”Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) sources said.  For digging tunnels, an innovative method will have to be devised as soil excavation and its transportation to abandoned quarries beyond the city’s limits may affect traffic. Sources said over 55lakh cubic metres of excavated soil will have to be transported out.”The project will be a challenge as it is complex. Smaller but crucial land acquisition for entry and exit points of underground stations, underground utility shifting, traffic management during and after construction and synchronization of buses with the Metro route will also be challenges,” said additional metropolitan commissioner S V R Srinivas.  “Procedural delays can affect the schedule as signing of agreements between the Centre and a Japanese agency, and among consultants, contractors and government authorities should follow on time besides coordination,” sources said. Officials said the civil work, mostly involving a tunnel, could be completed in three-and-a-half years.

Lucknow Metro works to start by December

LUCKNOW: The state Cabinet on Thursday approved modalities for the first phase of 23-km-long Lucknow Metro rail project that is likely to start by December this year and completed in three to five years.

While giving nod for establishment of the Lucknow Metro Rail (LMRC) as special purpose vehicle (SPV), the government plans an equity partnership on 50:50 with the centre for this north-south corridor.

Talking to journalists after the Cabinet meeting, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said a decision had also been taken to expedite this ambitious project.

Later, principal secretary, housing and urban planning, Sadakant said the north-south corridor would run from Amausi airport to Munshipulia via Charbagh, Vidhan Sabha Marg, Hazratganj, KD Singh Stadium, Lucknow University, IT Crossing and Badshah Nagar and Indira Nagar.

The first phase is likely to cost Rs.8,000 crore, Sadakant said, adding that apart from the 50% financial assistance from the central government, there was also a plan to approach external agencies for additional mobilization of fund. Terming the project not feasible under the public private partnership (PPP) model, Sadakant said the DMRC was also on equity share basis of 50% each with the central government. So was also the case with Chennai, Kochi and Bangalore, he said.

As per the project, there would be three underground and 18 elevated stations. Three km route from KKC College, near Charbagh, to KD Singh Stadium (Hazratganj) would be underground, Sadakant said, adding that the 23-km long alignment had now been finalized. He said the government would provide initial funds to launch the project.

“Major framework for the first phase is ready and the government will be in a position launch it on the ground by December,” Sadakant said and added that the government had decided to invite suggestions from the people for further improvement in the project. The government has identified nearly 100 acres of land of the 23rd PAC battalion in Krishna Nagar on airport road for establishment of a depot. Sadakant said the government would provide an alternative land to PAC in Mohanlalganj.

Before launching the project the government and district administration would make all possible arrangements to avoid inconvenience to the people during the work, Sadakant said.

The government has decided to adopt two central government Acts in this connection. Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and National Capital Region (NCR) have also adopted these legislations.

Meanwhile, housing secretary Rajiv Agarwal said the underground cost of the project would be around Rs.500 crore per km and for elevated structure it would be about Rs.200 crore per km.

Hyd Metro Rail and Hyd Metro Development Authority to work together on Metro’s extension plans

HMDA, HMR told to jointly develop a master plan for future Metro Rail extensions in the extended HMDA area, keeping the future needs of the fast-expanding city in mind.

Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty on Friday advised HMDA Commissioner Neerabh Kumar Prasad and HMR Managing Director N.V.S. Reddy to jointly develop a master plan for the future Metro Rail extensions in the extended HMDA area keeping the future needs of fast expanding Hyderabad city in mind.

He said that Metro Rail, MMTS, National and State highways and major bus depots should be integrated and a transit-oriented development approach should be adopted. The CS was conducting the Special Task Force (STF) meeting to assess the progress of the Hyderabad Metro Rail project.

Earlier, HMR MD N.V.S. Reddy made a presentation to senior officials of STF where he explained that the project was jetting ahead with 780 foundations (21 km), 625 pillars (17.5 km), 3,700 segments (sufficient for 11 km) completed and elevated viaduct has been erected over 4.5 km. He has mentioned that 70 per cent of Uppal depot works and 40 per cent Miyapur depot works have also been completed.

Following the presentation, Mr. Mohanty called upon the GHMC and Collectors of Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts to speed up acquisition of properties in the critical stretches for road widening in metro corridors for the ‘Right of Way’ and for a smooth flow of traffic during the construction.

Concessionaire L&T Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd was told to finish foundations and pillar erection works in critical stretches in the core areas besides also reducing the barricade widths within a couple of months.

Traffic police was instructed to accord permission for more work fronts wherever two lanes are available on either side after barricading.

Both, the HMR and L&TMRHL have to carryout road improvement works and adopt traffic management solutions, including diversion of traffic to alternate routes, etc. Same goes to R&B and NH authorities too for road restoring works since the cost was being borne by the HMR.

The APCPDCL was urged to furnish estimates for 231 electrical poles, 28 distribution transformers and 30 other electrical installations while APTransco has to complete substations at Uppal and Miyapur depots as per schedule. The defence authorities have been asked to expedite the handing over of three acres of land to HMR after allocation of suitable encumbrance free land by the R.R. district Collector.

The HMR has offered to pay market rates for railway lands and sought fast approvals to the engineering designs for taking up construction of eight metro rail crossings over the existing railway lines. There were also pending shift of water and sewer lines.

MA&UD Principal Secretary B.Sam Bob, R&B Principal Secretary S.P Singh, Revenue Principal Secretary B.R Meena, GHMC Commissioner M.T Krishna Babu, Water Board MD J. Syamala Rao, Finance Secretary L. Premchandra Reddy, Hyderabad Collector S.A.M. Rizvi, Cyberabad Police Commissioner C.V. Anand, L&TMRHL MD V.B. Gadgil and other senior officers of various Central and State departments/organisations participated.

BMRCL will rejuvenate 78 lakes in Bangalore

Govt planning to hand over water bodies to Corporation. Tasked with building rail road infrastructure in the City, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is set to enter the marshland as the State government is contemplating handing over at least 78 lakes to it for rejuvenation.

The issue of handing over 78 lakes to the BMRCL was taken at a meeting where the City in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy and senior bureaucrats of the State were present, said sources in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

Of the 78 lakes identified for handing over to the BMRCL, six are with the BBMP and the rest with the BDA. Those with the BBMP are Mahadevapura Lake, Kundalahalli Lake, Challakere Lake, Gollahalli Lake, Kammagondanahalli Lake and Nayandahalli Lake.

Sources claimed that the decision was taken because the BMRCL has funds and expertise in civil engineering, which is essential for the lake rehabilitation. It is also learnt that a decision was taken in the meeting to make an additional budgetary provision of Rs 90 crore for lake improvement.

For restoration

Confirming this, Ramalinga Reddy said the government is planning to hand over certain lakes in Bangalore to the BMRCL. “There is a proposal to assign certain lakes to the BMRCL for restoration,” said Reddy.

When contacted, BMRCL spokesperson Yeshwanth Chavan said he has no information about the Government’s decision to give 78 lakes to the BMRCL for rehabilitation.

“We will accept the job if the Government entrusts it to us. Namma Metro has already undertaken rejuvenation of two lakes at Veerasandra near Electronics City and Kengeri Lake,” said the officer.

Delhi Metro with a train every 100 seconds, Stations with automated Passenger Screen Doors

How has the Delhi Metro evolved in the last decade?

The Delhi Metro has evolved tremendously. We started with some thousand commuters over a distance of 8 km. Now, the Metro covers 190 km and ferries nearly 22 lakh commuters per day.

Passengers will experience a higher quality of services. The signalling system has been upgraded. So, the train frequency will be much higher. Trains will arrive every 100-120 seconds. At present, the frequency is one train every 2.5 minutes. Stations will have automated passenger screen doors. Plans are in place to have multi-modal transport outside Metro stations.

Extending the Metro to far-flung areas will lead to a rise in the number of commuters. How do you plan to tackle that?

To manage greater passenger footfall, Phase-III will have the largest number of interchange stations —15. This will reduce the burden at stations such as Rajiv Chowk and Kashmere Gate. Some of the existing lines will get eight-coach trains to ferry more passengers.

A few weeks ago, passengers were stranded in Metro tunnels after trains stopped suddenly. What steps are being taken to avoid such incidents?

The trains stopped due to automatic application of emergency brakes after a software malfunction. We have decided that if a similar incident occurs again, passengers will not be made to wait more than 10 minutes before evacuation. Technical aspects are being taken care of to ensure that lights and air conditioners continue to work in emergency situations. The interiors of the underground tunnel will also be made evacuation-friendly.

Delhi Metro has become a role model for Metro networks in other cities. What has set it apart?

Delhi Metro has expertise in both planning and execution. When we started, we hired international consultants for which we had to pay an exorbitant amount. But today, the DMRC itself provides consultancy to many Metro projects abroad. It has experience in planning, commissioning, execution and operation, which is a landmark achievement. Upcoming Metro networks in other cities can hire either an international consultant or the DMRC. The DMRC has a separate Projects and Operations team. While the former deals with planning, the latter focuses only on execution of work.

J&K right wing parties say construction of Railway Lines is India’s Defense strategy

Srinagar 28/6/2013: Democratic Freedom Party President, Shabir Ahmad Shah Thursday said that the Banihal-Qazigund railway line linking the regions of Jammu and Kashmir and the developmental works is actually the defense strategy of India.  As per a statement issued by the party a meeting was organised at freedom house under the chairmanship of Shabir Ahmad shah in which National Front chairman Naeem Ahmad khan, Muslim conference Shabir Ahmad Dar, JKLF chairman Javaid Ahmad Mir, Islamic political party chairman Muhammad yusuf Naqash and human rights activist Muhammad Ahsan unto participated.

“A threadbare discussion was held on the recent visit of PM Manmohan Singh and Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the Valley. It was stressed that the construction of railways, bridges, widening of roads, is actually the defence strategy of india which they carry out to give to the shape to their designs”, the statement said.

They said the PM talked about the kashmir issue with the same rigid approach and an approach not based on reality. “Promises about development can’t be a alternative to the freedom. and Kashmiris can’t be lured to accept development at the cost of freedom. It is the 21st century and today’s Kashmiri is able to differentiate between azadi and slavery. The political pundits of India should try to understand that the crores of people of south asia are living under uncertainty because of the dispute of the Kashmir issue,” they said.

“India tries to give an impression that Kashmiri’s are economically dependent on Delhi, which in reality is not the fact. If we will be allowed to utilize our natural resources we will be far ahead of many countries in terms of progress. Shabir Ahmed said that “India has occupied our resources and is playing the propaganda of development”. Their developmental claims are nothing more than a lie,” the leaders said.

“The political development taking place at the world level and the conscience among the youth of Kashmiri’s about the freedom makes it inevitable that kashmir issue has to be solved to bring peace to the whole South Asia.  Kashmiri nation is fighting for the right to self determination and the solution has to found in the UN resolutions.”

The leaders said that India is constructing railways and widening roads in order to strengthen their military power to increase their defense. “By these strategies they will not be able to win the hearts of Kashmiris. India should understand that these things are no substitute to the freedom. Profreedom people of Kashmir will not even think of forgetting azad for the sake of so called development. The pro-Indian’s who gave long statements after the hanging of Afzal Guru about the return of his mortal remains have proved nothing. They all played drama at that time as it has been proved as they have not even opened their mouth before Manmohan Singh about that thing,” the leaders stressed.

They also said that these parties are not well wishers of the Kashmiris. “They are playing with the sentiments of people of Kashmir and are bad wishers of Kashmiri people. On the visit of Prime Minister, Kashmir was turned into a jail. To give the graveyard silence the name of peace is turning away one’s from the realty which is not good for India under any circumstances. The visit was actually a step towards the elections that are going to take place in 2014,” the leaders said in the meeting.

IIT-Madras Researchers forced to get down as TTE rejects SMS Ticket Confirmations

Chennai:  The next time, better not treat the PNR status generated by 139 centralised railway enquiry service as gospel – TTEs may not be keeping themselves abreast of the socio-technological advancements and various latest developments.

This was the lesson a group of IIT-M researchers learnt the hard way when they were offloaded from the Delhi-Chennai Duronto Express on June 18 because the automated text message on their mobile phone showing confirmed seats did not tally with the final reservation charts that declared the tickets as wait-listed.

The group of seven, including researchers and students, were returning from Delhi after attending a workshop at the IIT-Mandi on text-to-speech synthesis technology for the visually challenged.

“We had booked two sets of tickets almost two months in advance. Though they were initially wait-listed, we got the automated SMS from 139 a few hours before departure in which some tickets were confirmed and the rest were RAC,” said Anusha, who is a research associate on a text-to-speech synthesis project under way at IIT-M.

But, when the IIT-ians checked the chart at the Hazrat Nizamuddin station , they were shocked to find their tickets reverted to the wait-list. Imagining it to be a clerical error as they had a digitally generated proof of confirmed seats, the students boarded one of the coaches hoping to explain the situation to a Travelling Ticket Examiner.

Much to their chagrin, the TTE refused to accept the SMS confirmation and declared them as ticketless travellers. “The TTE even said the Railways was in no way obligated to the IRCTC as it was a private entity and that there was no option but for everyone to get down at the next halt,” said Anusha.

Though the Duronto does not have any scheduled stop between Delhi and Chennai, it has technical halts at a few stations.

As the group included four women, they were advised by their professor Hema Murthy not to wait till the train reached Jhansi and instead alight somewhere before it got too dark.

The group got off the train at Farah near Mathura and took a bus back to reach Delhi at 11 p.m.. With the help of their professor, the students took a flight to Chennai with the air tickets costing about Rs. 70,000.

When contacted, an IRCTC official conceded that the episode was “very, very rare.” It was either a technical glitch in 139 or an eleventh hour pull-out of a coach on the train that led to the downgrading of the reserved seats to wait-listed status – a change which was not communicated to passengers.

The IRCTC is investigating why the automated text on PNR status was at variance with the final reservation charts.

All said and done, but how come a TTE say that Indian Railways was in no way obligated to the IRCTC as it was a private entity….. question’s the senior lady professor, particularly when IRCTC is a PSU under Ministry of Railways with authority to develop, integrate, sell and facilitate the reservation tickets for the passengers of Indian Railways!  The question remained unanswered.

MP Chief Minister seeks clearance of all pending rail proposals

imagesBhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has asked Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to clear pending rail-related proposals of the state at the earliest.

In a letter written on Thursday, Chouhan has drawn the minister’s attention towards the fact that no significant provisions were made in the 2013-14 railway budget for rail network and connectivity in Madhya Pradesh, which has disappointed the state.

Madhya Pradesh is richly endowed with diverse flora and fauna, wildlife, cultural heritage, places of historical interest and pilgrimage destinations. Moreover, the state has become an emerging centre for investments in industrial and allied sectors, he said in the letter.

On account of these, Madhya Pradesh is witnessing significant increase of visitors every year, he said, adding that low rail connectivity in the state is posing a great hindrance to tourism and industrial development.

Many resolutions passed by the state Legislative Assembly for the improvement of the rail network and connectivity are pending before the Railway Ministry for approval, he said.

AIRF threatens to go on strike

New Delhi, June 28:  The All India Railwaymen’s Federation has threatened to go on indefinite strike unless many of their genuine demands including setting up of the Seventh Central Pay Commission and doing away with new pension scheme are met. “We have not decided on the timing of the strike yet,” Shiva Gopal Mishra, AIRF, told RailNews, however stated that during the first week of July AIRF General Body to take a decision on the same.
AIRF is the largest Railway union with 10.26 lakh members as on date on Indian Railways.  AIRF had got largest voting during the recently held Trade Union Elections, compared to its nearest competition.

Commuters express disappointment over new refund rules

A day after the Ministry of Railways announced changes in ticket refund rules from July 1, commuters have asked authorities not to implement the new norms that were against the interest of travellers.

T Ravi Kumar, president, All India Train and Bus Passengers Association said the Railways should not have extended the time limit to deduct cancellation charges from 24 hours to 48 hours.

As part of the new refund rules, `60 would be deducted in the event of sleeper class tickets being cancelled within 48 hours of departure.

Starting next month, a minimum cancellation charge will be deducted per passenger at the flat rate of `120 for air-conditioned first class/executive class, `100 for air-conditioned-II tier/first class, `90 for air-conditioned III-tier/3 economy/air-conditioned chair car and `30 for second class.

“Such amendments in the refund rules would hassle the passengers. The proposed amendments would benefit only the Railways and not the public,” he added.

According to railway sources, 25,000 booked tickets with around 80,000 passengers are cancelled within the limits of Southern Railway every day. Southern Railway comprises of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala.

The Railways has also announced that no refund shall be admissible for RAC e-tickets in case the request is filed online three hours after the actual departure of the train. Besides, no refund of fare shall be admissible on confirmed tatkal tickets.

Pointing out that passengers were facing troubles in cancelling their tickets after 8.00 pm at Central and Egmore railway stations, S Mohan Ram, member, Divisional Railway User’s Consultative Committee, Chennai Division said more time should have been given for passengers to cancel their tickets for availing refund.

Counters for cancelling tickets must function for extra hours at major railway stations for the benefit of the commuters, he added.

Southern Rly time table may disappoint Coimbatore on re-routing of trains

Even as Coimbatore anxiously waits for the release of railway time table on July 1, uncertainty looms, especially in terms of the demand for re-routing nine pairs of trains via Coimbatore which are at present being operated via Irugur–Podanur –Irugur section.

The new entries in the railway time table that might benefit Coimbatore are introduction of the Coimbatore–Rameswaram–Coimbatore weekly express with departure from Coimbatore on Fridays and departure from Rameswaram on Saturdays.


The demand was for a regular daily express train has been partially conceded with a weekly train service and even the exact date of commencement of service is yet to be notified.

However, the persistent demand of the Coimbatore Railway Struggle Committee was for ending the neglect of Coimbatore by routing some of the trains that were skipping Coimbatore.

As a fallout of the representations and agitations, of the 14 pairs of trains that skipped Coimbatore, five were re-routed enhancing the connectivity of Coimbatore with Chennai, Mangalore, Kerala and some upcountry destinations, added G.K. Nagaraj, convenor of the struggle committee.

The struggle committee was sore over Railways ignoring Coimbatore and continuing to run the trains on the Irugur – Podanur – Irugur line skipping Coimbatore despite the commissioning of the Coimbatore – Coimbatore North – Irugur second line at a cost of Rs. 60 crore after a two-decade-long wait, says MP and chairman of the struggle committee P.R. Natarajan.


Coimbatore was the second largest revenue earner for Southern Railway and is a gateway for Udhagamandalam and Kerala.

It also hosts a number of industries, educational institutions and hospitals and the traffic potential was growing in leaps and bounds day-by-day, pointed out R. Raveendran of struggle committee.

The issue of routing some more pair of trains was taken up with the General Manager of Southern Railway during his recent visit to Coimbatore and he promised to get some trains diverted if not all the trains.

This has renewed the hope, pointed out Jameel Ahmed, Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee member (DRUCC).

Contrary to expectations and promises, rail activist S. Ravi quoting sources pointed out that the only pair of train to be re-routed via Coimbatore will be train number 12654/53 Mangalore – Tiruchirapalli weekly express to be extended to Puducherry as announced in the railway budget.

There are nine pairs of trains from Thiruvananthapuram, Kochuveli, Mangalore and Kannur towards Chennai and Bangalore and the struggle committee had been asking for routing these trains via Coimbatore to enhance its connectivity and augment the availability of berths to ease pressure on road traffic, pointed out U.K. Sivagnanam, another member of DRUCC.

Despite not being a super fast express and with no risk of losing that fast tag, Railways was not showing any concern for routing the 16527/28 Yesvantpur – Kannur – Yesvantpur express via Coimbatore and passengers from Coimbatore find it hard to get berths for Bangalore and had to rely on omni buses compromising on safety besides exorbitant fare, Mr. Ravi pointed out.

The meagre benefits for Coimbatore would be the increase in frequency of Coimbatore Intercity Express from three days to four days a week, introduction of the Mangalore – Kacheguda – Mangalore bi-weekly express on Wednesdays and Sundays towards Kacheguda and on Tuesdays and Fridays towards Mangalore, besides Yesvantpur – Mangalore – Yesvantpur weekly express from Mangalore on Mondays and from Yesvantpur on Sundays.

Kharge to launch a Pilot Project on ticketing through non-internet based mobiles

31BGLAW_1347199eRailway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge will on Friday launch a pilot project on ticketing through non-internet based mobile services. The scheme has been conceived by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which already runs a website for e-ticketing.

“This (mobile ticketing) will enable people using non-internet-based mobile phones to easily access railway ticketing services through SMS/IVRS/USSD. The scheme is user-friendly, secure and also eco-friendly, as no print out is required,” IRCTC’s Joint GM (PR) Pradip Kundu said. The scheme will come into force with effect from July 1.

According to Railway officials, there will be a dedicated number on which SMS can be sent and there will be no need of internet connectivity at any stage viz. booking, payment, cancellation etc.

A person desirous of having ticket through mobile will have to register the mobile number with IRCTC as well as one’s bank. The passenger will have to type the train number, destination, journey date, class and passenger details like name, age and gender on the SMS box.

The sender will receive transaction ID and then make payment through sending another SMS by typing PAY followed by the transaction ID, MMID as received from the bank and password.

On successful booking of ticket, message will be sent to the user by IRCTC which will suffice as valid authority to travel along with photo ID card in original. Cancellation of tickets can also be done through the cancellation option available.

“The scheme will be on pilot basis and will not be available during the 8 am – 12 pm for booking ARP/Tatkal/General tickets,” official said. The e-ticketing initiative of Indian Railways has been one of the most passenger-friendly initiatives of Indian Railways.

In order to further expand the reach of ticketing, the Minister of Railways had made a Budget announcement regarding launch of ticketing through mobile phones was announced in the Railway Budget. The objective was to tap the potential of mobile phone market in India and thereby facilitate the common man, by providing him any-where any-time and hassle free booking option.

Lucknow Metro Rail Project gets Cabinet nod

The Uttar Pradesh government led by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday gave the go-ahead to the first phase of the ambitious Metro rail project for the state capital Lucknow.

At a cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister, the first phase, to be known as the North-South corridor, was approved, a government spokesman said.

Briefing media persons after the meeting, the official said the alignment and route of the Metro rail project has also been finalised and the route would initially be from the Chaudhary Charan Singh Amausi Airport to Munshi Puliya.

The project will be jointly undertaken by state government agencies and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and funds for the purpose are being arranged, officials said.

In another significant decision, the state cabinet also okayed the commissioning of 1,000 additional ambulances under a 102 Emergency Service through a private service provider.

Panel proposes 50 per cent funding from centre for metro project

Uttar Pradesh government-appointed that the panel has proposed to implement the Rs 1,800 crore metro rail project in Lucknow by securing 50 per cent funding from the central government.The state government appointed a high-level committee headed by Chief Secretary, to work out the details of the project.

The committee proposed to implement the metro rail project on a 50:50 sharing of funds between the central government and the state government, on the lines of the Delhi Metro project.

163 Km Hubli-Ankola railway line pending for last 62 years in Karnataka

Almost 62 years have passed, still the proposed 163-km long railway line between Hubli and Ankola, which is supposed to connect the north Karnataka hinterland to the Karwar port, appears to be a never-ending wait for the people of the state.

More than Rs 300 crore spent on laying the track covering a distance of about 45 km and creating infrastructure facilities. But yet the project got grounded after the railway authorities failed to get the environmental clearance from the union ministry of environment and forest indicating that the introduction of train services is likely to take longer. Now there is a renewed hope after Mallikarjun M Kharge was made the Minister of Railways.

The project requires not just the environmental clearance but also additional Rs 3,000 crore. Now that the Unesco has declared the Western Ghats (through which the proposed railway line will pass) as World Heritage site, it will be another Herculean task to get the green nod for the project. It all started in 1951 when the then president of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce, Hubli S S Yelmali made a formal demand for Hubli-Karwar railway line.

But then union minster of state for railways and transport K Santhanam turned it down saying he did not think the volume of traffic justified the construction of the line at a huge cost. After a lot of hue and cry in the early 1990s, the Railway Board sanctioned it in 1996 and work started in 2001. The 45-km stretch of railway line has already been completed from Hubli to Kalghatagi. Presently, the issue of environment clearance is pending before the Supreme court for Kalghatagi-Ankola stretch since the area comes under forest zone.

ECoR’s Mancheswar Workshop to repair LHB coaches

The Carriage Repair Workshop (CRW) of East Coast Railway at Mancheswar is set to take up maintenance and repair needs of important long distance trains which are fast switching to the Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB) coaches.
fix491pzriwyThis year only, the workshop achieved the capability to maintain LHB coaches which are modern, fire-retardant in nature, do not capsize during mishaps and have a longer shelf life. It was in May that one rake of Rajdhani Express was maintained by the workshop for the fist time.

In next few months, the entire rakes of Rajdhani and Duronto trains are targeted to be maintained at Mancheswar and need not be sent to far-off workshops. This will help better availability of coaches and problems can be better monitored too, Chief Workshop Manager of CRW SK Pankaj told mediapersons here on Wednesday.

He said ` 38 crore had been sanctioned by Railway Board to accommodate special facilities for maintenance of LHB coaches at the CRW and it has taken rapid strides. Indian Railways is fast switching over to LHB design steel shell and integral coach factory (ICF) bogie with air spring.

Earlier, these coaches were being repaired in West Bengal, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Now complete overhauling of bogies, air brake system and roof mounted air-conditioning system including poly-urethane paintings, interior and renewal of berths of LHB coaches have been achieved and sent for passenger carrying.

Pankaj said the workshop is also targeting to achieve a capacity augmentation from the 100 periodic overhauls (POH) of coaches per month to 150 POH per month by next year.

The capacity augmentation, sanctioned by Railway Board in 2008-09 at an estimated ` 25 crore, would enable the workshop to repair upto 150 coaches per month. The workshop achieved a record of highest ever outturn of 134 coaches in April 2013.

The Mancheswar workshop under ECoR would celebrate three decades of its operation in December this year. The first off POH coach was turned out on December 31, 1983. For capacity expansion, procurement of machinery and civil construction work is under advance stage. The CRW is spread over 314 acres of land with its workshop occupying 121 acres.

The workshop had started POH of hybrid coaches in February 2012 with Duronto Express. It is also developing infrastructure for supply of wagons and locomotive wheels to divisions.

Pankaj said a work order has already been sanctioned at the cost of Rs 57.7 lakh to develop facility for freight wheels.

RDSO team examines factors behind the success of Frauscher’s components at St.Marienkirchen in Spring 2013

A number of delegates from India examined the factors behind the success of Frauscher’s components at St. Marienkirchen in the spring of 2013.

Within the scope of the approval process for the axle counting system ACS2000 in India, Frauscher welcomed high-profile representatives of the RDSO Railway Board and of Indian railway companies to its head office.

Guests were able to familiarise themselves with the entire development and production line, which is the basis for the high quality and functionality of Frauscher components. In addition to training sessions and intensive debates, the in-house test and simulation facilities and the inspection of reference projects proved to be particularly interesting to participants. The inspection of the second scope of delivery for MRVC Mumbai was also carried out parallel to this – in the meantime, two thirds of the approximately 1900 wheel sensors and the corresponding axle counting systems are in the installation phase and/ or in operation.

Transport System goes Multimodal in Kerala

Planned for Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode

Close on the heels of the Metro and the Monorail, an integrated multimodal transport system, incorporating various modes such as road, rail, sea, and air, for cargo and passenger transport, is to be developed for Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode.

The multimodal integration, mooted by the Public Works Department (PWD), aims at improving accessibility and connectivity; reducing traffic congestion; and enhancement of the level of service of roads.

The government had kicked off the scheme on the basis of a study carried out by M/s Deloitte TT(I) under World Bank funding, sources said. Official sources told The Hindu that funds for the proposed multimodal hubs could be found in the Institutional Strengthening component of the second phase of the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP).

Six Consultants

Six consultants had been shortlisted on the basis of the 29 Expressions of Interest (EOI) received. The process to select a consultant for the techno-economic feasibility study and preparation of the detailed project report (DPR) for the three cities was on, sources said.

The multimodal system would ensure the free and safe movement of goods and passengers. It would also decongest the roads, now choked due to an increase in vehicle population, Minister for Public Works V.K. Ebrahim Kunju said.

Apart from the three multimodal transport hubs; Bus Rapid Transport System and intelligent transport systems for Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram; pedestrian foot overbridges and subways at select locations; single ticketing system; and multi-level parking at railway and bus stations had also been mooted, sources said.

Setting up of a transport authority and a United Metropolitan Transport Authority had been recommended. The suburban train services mooted had become irrelevant with the Kochi Metro taking off and Monorail being planned in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, they said.

Transport planners said roping in the key agencies involved in inland water, rail, and air transport would be a major challenge for the PWD. Greater public participation in plan and policy formulation and redesign of the existing policies governing various modes of transport would be needed.

The government has announced its plan to exploit the water transport option to ease pressure on the road. A series of measures had been taken to link waterways and small ports, they said.

A Maritime Board would be set up in the State.

The government had announced plans to set up more mobility hubs in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode following the success of the one at Vytilla. Efforts were on to connect the Vytilla hub with rail and water network for the benefit of the citizens, sources said.

New Director (Systems) joins Kochi Metro, Metro Meeting tomorrow

Kochi: Ved Mani Tiwari joined Kochi Metro Rail Limited as Director (Systems) on Thursday. He is a 1992 batch IRSEE officer with 23 years experience across different systems of transportation.

He was working as Director in the Ministry of Railways in charge of modernisation of EMUs, setting up new manufacturing facilities and procurement of new generation locomotives and EMUs.

Prior to this, he was working as Joint General Manger of DMRC. His area of specialisation and expertise include procurement, installation, testing commissioning, designing and preparation of bid document, formulation and implementation of policies and programmes.

During his stint in DMRC, he was a part of team which handled the interfacing with viaduct, track and signalling system, telecom system, rolling stock and utilities of line III of phase1 of Delhi Metro.

A meeting of metro stakeholders, PWD and NHAI officials is scheduled on Saturday. The meeting will discuss issues such as widening narrow portions on Aluva-Edappally National Highway for Kochi Metro and the construction of the Edappally flyover. The much-delayed widening of Vyttila-Pettah stretch also will be discussed.

LEA makes suggestion on Hyderabad Metro project

Consultancy firm LEA Associates recommended L&T Hyderabad Metro Rail to take up longer span works at junctions going up to 34 metre or about 112 feet with segmental construction.

However, in cases where the length is more than 34 metre, such structures will have to be constructed on the site against pre-fabricated links and shifted for the project implementation.

This recommendation was made by LEA in its report based on a traffic study. The services of the consultant have been enlisted by the Metro project for traffic management solutions.

On-the-site bridge construction would be required at about 80 junctions. It has been proposed to provide temporary support for the elevated concreting deck. And after tying the steel reinforcement, concrete work will be handled in three stages. The support will be placed in a way that there will be about 50 feet gap which will allow smooth flow of traffic.

The metro project will have to construct about 80 flyovers over the 72 km stretch in busy road junctions without disrupting traffic.

Since the bridge construction at major junctions will take about 4-5 months, several junctions will be taken up simultaneously to save time, according to NVS Reddy, Managing Director of Hyderabad Metro Rail.
The design solutions given by the structural engineers of the concessionaire L&T have won appreciation from both Delhi Metro team and experts from Indian Railways.

Civil works for Kochi Metro to begin after Onam

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is gearing up to complete Kochi Metro’s preparatory and civil works along MG Road within a year.

The 18-month time frame set earlier was altered to reduce hassles for commuters and shop owners along the city’s prime commercial corridor.

The work will commence after Onam, when Kochiites finish festive shopping, with the widening of narrow portions of MG Road.

The metro pillars occupy a 2.50-metre-wide space on the road. Widening works will provide a 7.50-metre-wide carriageway on each side of the road.

Once civil works along the corridor were completed by Onam next year, Madhava Pharmacy Junction-Woodlands Junction (located north of Jos Junction) stretch of MG Road would have become wider, DMRC sources said.


Widening work will be followed by construction of drains and utility ducts. Utilities will then be relocated to the ducts, after which viaduct construction will begin.

To avoid discomfort to commuters, the metro corridor along MG Road will be divided into two or three reaches.

“The preparatory and civil works will be done at one go in each stretch to minimise traffic diversion. All resources will be pumped in to ensure work along MG Road gets going,” sources said.

While buses might be diverted, motorists can easily bypass the 600-metre stretches, where work is on, by using side and parallel roads.

DMRC will organise a public awareness programme in July to reach out and communicate with road users, shoppers and shop owners.

“The full stretch of road will not be closed to traffic even for a single day,” sources in the agency said.


This Saturday and Sunday, traffic curbs will be imposed along MG Road’s western side – in between Padma Junction and Gopala Prabhu Road Junction.

The diversion will be from the early hours of Saturday to Sunday midnight. A 200-metre portion of the road will be barricaded to locate the position of utilities like water and sewage pipelines and cables.

Buses and other vehicles from Thevara, Vyttila bound for Madhava Pharmacy Junction must ply through Shanmugham Road. KSRTC buses towards Kaloor can use A L Jacob bridge, reach Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road and turn towards Kaloor.

They can return in the same direction. There will be no diversion for vehicles proceeding towards Thevara from Madhava Pharmacy Junction, the City Traffic Police have said.

A two-metre-wide trench will be cut across the road, to identify utilities and their alignment. The road will be restored by Sunday night using concrete and opened to traffic on Monday morning.

“Similar work will be carried out at KPCC Junction the next weekend, for which the western side of Jos Junction-Mullassery Canal Junction stretch will be barricaded,” a DMRC spokesman said.

Traffic would be diverted through Chitoor and Shanmugham Roads when work is on. The agency is unlikely to excavate the eastern side of the road if it locates the cables and water and sewage pipelines on the two weekends. Excavation had to be done since the KWA did not have drawings showing their location.

Most manholes were covered when the road was resurfaced. DMRC was unable to trace the utilities despite using ground-penetrating scanners.

Rs.2,500 Cr plan to construct 147 Railway-over-Bridges (ROBs) in Haryana

Chandigarh, Jun 27: Haryana has formulated an ambitious plan costing Rs 2,500 crore to construct 147 Railway over Bridges (RoBs) in the state.

It was informed today by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh after laying the foundation stone of a RoB at Delhi-Ambala Railway line on Sonipat-Purkhas road in Sonipat, an official release said here.

The Chief Minister said the RoB on Delhi-Ambala crossing would be 1.06 km long and it would cost about Rs 47.29 crore.

Chinese Railway Corporation face fierce competition in express industry

6-freight-yardThe new China Railway Corporation, founded after the Ministry of Railways was disbanded, will find it hard to break into the highly competitive express delivery market, experts say.

The plan to roll out same-day or next-morning service based on high-speed trains for small parcels. Door-to-door service has attracted wide attention.

Difficulties stem from the character of rail transport itself, according to Mr.XuYong, Chief Consultant at the China Express and Logistics Consulting.

State-run China Railway Express posted CNY 8 billion (USD 1.3 billion) previous year. Express contributed CNY1 billion, which represented only 1% of the entire express market.

The reform is a good start but it exposes the railway authority to troubles, Mr. Li Hongchang, a researcher from Beijing Jiaotong University, said.

Mr. Li also said the rail express development is an important sign of innovation, noting that the advantage of lower cost, railway-based express service will be welcomed as a complement to existing services.

In fact, before the reform, Guangzhou Railway Corporation has started a pilot express service using high-speed trains from Shenzhen to central China Changsha in May. According to the operator, rate per kilogramme for the service is half that of air freight.

Railway is irreplaceable for the transportation of bulk cargo of large quantity and oversized cargo, such coal and machines. But these goods are low in added value, while express service is much more lucrative with smaller packages.

China e-Business Research Centre’s statistics show that at present, 80% of the domestic express parcels are moved by truck, 15% by air, those by other means including rail come in at less than 5%.

Maharashtra most unsafe for Railway commuters

With highest number of cases registered in 2012, Maharashtra topped the list of most unsafe states for railway commuters in the country.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 4,062 cases were registered by the Government Railway Police (GRP) in Maharashtra in 2012.

While Uttar Pradesh stood second with 2,782 cases, Bihar secured the third position with 2,222 cases.

The GRP in Tripura, meanwhile, registered only 10 cases last year, the lowest in the country.

Of the 4,062 cases registered in Maharashtra, 3,070 were of thefts.

The state’s contribution to the thefts in the country last year was 21.5%.

According to the police, they are taking steps to curb incidents of thefts on trains.

In October 2012, the Kurla GRP had arrested a former bar dancer who took to thefts and earned enough to send one of her daughters to a Panchganibased boarding school.

Yasmin Shaikh, 26,the accused, was booked in 18 cases in the past.

“The railway police personnel constantly patrol railway stations and local trains. Closed circuit television cameras, too, have been put up, making it difficult for criminals to escape,” said a senior official from the Mumbai GRP, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

According to the statistics, 513 cases of robberies were registered with the Maharashtra GRP last year, apart from 88 cases of assault and seven cases of causing death due to negligence.

“Compared to 2011, there has been a 2.5% drop in the number of cases registered by the Maharashtra GRP in 2012. While 4,168 cases were registered in 2011, 4,062 cases were registered last year. The number was 3,896 in 2010,” said another official.

Prabhat Kumar, commissioner for GRP Mumbai, said, “Despite witnessing some serious incidents of crime against women in the recent past, the railway authorities are not taking enough measures.”

“A proposal of deploying 100 women police constables needs urgent approval from the railway authorities, but has been pending with them since almost a year,” said Kumar.

RPF seizes 40 kg charas, no arrests yet

A consignment of 40 kg charas was seized by the RPF from a passenger train on Tuesday near Cakhia railway station in Bihar’s East Champaran district.

Acting on a tip off, the RPF men carried out search in a coach of Gorakhpur-Muzaffarpur passenger train and seized the charas in 82 packets, valued at several lakhs of rupees, official sources said.

No arrest was made in this connection, they added.

RWWCO donates Rs.10 Lakh to Uttarakhand Flood Victims through PM’s Relief Fund

In a special humanitarian gesture, Railway Women’s Welfare Central Organization (RWWCO), a noted voluntary organization of the wives of Indian Railway officers, has come forward to make a donation to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for extending help in the rehabilitation of the flood victims of Uttarakhand.

The Minister of Railways, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge received a cheque of Rs.10 lakh for this noble cause from Smt. Poonam Mittal, President, RWWCO, here today. RWWCO’s General Secretary, Smt. Samidha Gupta and Treasurer Smt. Amita Chauhan were also present on the occasion.

While the primary concern of the RWWCO is the welfare of Railway employees and their families, it has also risen to the call of the society and the nation – be it environmental awareness, family welfare drives, disturbances on the borders or the natural calamities. With a very modest start about 48 years ago, RWWCO today has gained importance as one of the foremost voluntary organisations functioning in the country.

Broad activities of RWWCO are to run nursery schools, vocational training centres to contribute to national cause of education and literacy amongst women and children, to encourage children through competitions in sports, essay writing, drawing and painting etc. on All India Railway level, and to provide financial assistance to children of low-paid railway employees for studies in engineering, medical and other academic courses by way of giving scholarships and educational assistance. The organization also runs craft centre for imparting training in tailoring and crafts to wives/daughters of railway staff and masala/craft centres to provide gainful employment to women. Besides RWWCO also organizes awareness drives about environmental pollution, family welfare, AIDS etc. as well as also provides financial assistance to railway employees and their families in sickness and distress cases.

2 rail fractures hit services on CR

Train services were badly hit on the central line on Wednesday following two incidents of railway tracks fracture at different spots during the day.

While one incident occurred early in the morning, the second one took place during the evening peak hours, resulting in several cancellations and delays and, consequently, huge crowds in locals on the Central Railway’s main line.

Passengers complained that trains were running at least 15 to 20 minutes late in the evening.

“I travelled hanging on the door between Dadar and Ghatkopar as there was no place inside. After that I somehow managed to squeeze in,” said Rajendra Tambe, a resident of Kalyan.

ND Panda, a motorman of a Thane-bound local from CST, noticed a near Masjid station on the slow track around 6.10pm and immediately stopped the train.

The fracture held up two locals – one to Thane and one to Kalyan.

“Other locals were diverted on to the fast track from 6.36pm, “said AK Singh, public relations officer, CR. “Trains were running 10 minutes late.”

The rail fracture between Khadavali and Titwala stations was of a greater magnitude and therefore a higher risk – track fractures can derail trains.

It was spotted around 6.25 am by gangman Dasharath Vrinda, who informed the station master of Khadavali and the railway control.

“An Aasangaon local was to pass from there but it was stopped,” said Atul Rane, chief public relations officer, CR.

It took officials an hour to fix this fracture, until which time four locals and two long-distance trains were held up; as a result, two Kasara locals were also cancelled.

Demand for creation of a separate Railway Zone for Vizag hots up – CM’s intervention sought

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

Referring to the report: “End to Waltair Division woes in sight?” which appeared in these columns on Tuesday, he noted that the elected political representatives had been fooling the public of Visakhapatnam in particular and north coastal Andhra in general.

He noted that Praja Spandana and other organisations had been fighting for a separate Railway Zone right from the beginning when 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 Waltair is virtually being treated as a milch cow and thrown after use.

This Division is almost feeding the other two Divisions i.e., Khurda Road and Sambalpur with an annual income of Rs.5,000 crore,” he noted.

The people of Visakhapatnam had expected a lot from the former MP N. Janardhan Redddy 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 ‘Waltair Zone was her top priority’.

It’s possible to form a separate zone with Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, East and West Godavari districts and it will change the face of the backward north Andhra region. He called upon the people, political representatives and leaders to launch a massive protest to ensure that a new zone was formed with headquarters in Visakhapatnam.

New initiative by SCR in supply of Bedrolls

Hyderabad, Jun 27 : South Central Railway (SCR) has taken up another initiative of providing bedrolls in trains with a view to improve the comfort of passengers.

Under this initiative, woollen blankets are being supplied directly, wrapped in a cotton cloth cover for enhanced comfort in Kacheguda-Chittoor-Kacheguda Venkatadri Express.

Passengers will feel better and more satisfied since the fabric feel of the cover is softer than that of woollen blankets, giving more warmth. The aesthetic, eye pleasing pastel shaded cover of the blanket can be washed after every trip facilitating maintenance of the blankets with improved hygiene.

In addition, moth repellents are also being placed in the linen storage area in coaches to counter any stale odour from blankets.

As the feedback from the passengers was positive, SCR was taking steps to expand this initiative by introducing this measure on other express trains in a gradual manner, a release from SCR said here today.

Race for CRB post under the Scanner

Cabinet Secretary holds meeting with outgoing Chairman, second-time

In the backdrop of the CBI probe into malpractices in the transfer and posting of high-ups in the Railway Board, the race for the coveted post of chairman has come under the scanner of the Union government.  The Cabinet Secretary is said to have summoned the outgoing Chairman Vinay Mittal on Friday for a discussion. The meeting gained significance as it was held in the wake of the Cabinet Secretary’s directive to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for taking action on a memorandum from the Federation of Railway Officers’ Association president R.K. Bhatnagar regarding malpractices in the transfer and posting of officers.

All India Railwaymen’s Federation president Shiva Gopal Mishra has called for transparency in the posting and transfer of top officers after the CBI arrested the then Member Staff Mahesh Kumar in the alleged bribe scam, eyeing the plum post of Member Electrical.

The Officers’ Association lodged the protest apparently after coming to know of the alleged attempt to scuttle the prospects of North Frontier Zonal Railway General Manager R.S.Virdi, who is among the three names referred to the Prime Minister for consideration to fill the post that will fall vacant on June 30.  The other two names reportedly referred to are Northern Railway General Manager V.K. Gupta and South Western Railway General Manager A.K. Mittal. The other person in the race is Member Electrical Kul Bhushan.

The resentment among officers was due to the fact that a 10-year old case which was closed long back in which the CBI had already enquired and found baseless, was being sought to be reopened.  The CBI had enquired into the allegation against the then director coaching D.C. Sharma in the purchase of perfumes for air-conditioned coaches and gave him a clean bill.

A move now has been initiated to order a vigilance probe against Mr.Sharma’s then boss Mr. Virdi. A letter is said to have been written to Adviser, Vigilance Department, to look into the case after his name has been referred to the PM for consideration for the top post.

It was not clear if the approval of Railway Minister C.P. Joshi had been sought in the matter. Officers smell a rat behind the motive to dig out an old case which had been settled by the CBI and that too when Mr. Virdi had obtained two promotions and was now aspiring for the top post.

The federation has complained to the Cabinet Secretary, a copy of which has been sent to the PMO, that the vigilance wing was being misused as a tool of retribution to deny rights to upright officers and dole out favours to cronies.

Railway officials pointed out how N.C. inha had been denied the promotion, approved by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), to the post of additional member. When it was delayed by a few days, a vigilance inquiry was ordered against him.

This was when Dinesh Trivedi happened to be the Railway Minister and Mr. Mittal chairman of the board. The vigilance cleared his name and the ACC again granted Mr. Sinha promotion in December.

This time the case was referred to the Law Ministry for clarification, which sources maintained was not needed in the first place. And when the Law Ministry cleared his proposal in May, it was too late for Mr. Sinha. His residual tenure stood reduced to less than two years and that denied him promotion to the rank of General Manager.

This happened during the tenure of Pawan Kumar Bansal. The post of Member Traffic had been kept vacant for a particular officer, it was stated though Mr. Sinha qualified for the same.

Science Express arrives Ranchi, spreads awareness on biodiversity

logo-bannerScience Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS), a mobile science exhibition halted at Sini railway station. SP of Sini, Indrajet Mahato welcomed the train.

The state-of-the-art exhibition aboard the SEBS aims to create widespread awareness on unique biodiversity of India, climate change and related issues among various sections of society, especially the students. This is an initiative of Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Environment and Forests.

img3Out of the 16 coaches, eight are solely dedicated to showcasing the myriad of biodiversity spread across the bio-geographical zones of India. These include Trans-Himalaya and the Himalayas, the Gangetic Plain, North East India, The Desert and Semi Arid Zone, the Western Ghats, the Deccan Peninsula, the Coasts and Islands.

The exhibition also covers various facets like marine, coastal, forest, microbial, agro biodiversity and their linkages with livelihoods besides challenges of conservations. The Express will be in Sini railway station till June 27. It also halted at Raniganj, Joichandi Pahar railway stations respectively. The science express will move to Kharagpur on June 28.

VIDEO: Prime Minister of India inaugurates Banihal-Qazigund rail link in J&K

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Wednesday that the newly opened rail tunnel linking the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region will better the lives of people in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a rally in Urdu in Banihal town of Jammu region after inaugurating the rail link earlier, Manmohan Singh said: “Today we are dedicating a marvellous and wonderful feat of engineering crafted across the Himalayas by our engineers.”

He added: “Despite difficult geographical conditions and adverse weather, this longest tunnel in the country has been completed within seven years.

“This is not just an engineering marvel, but an all weather link between the valley and the rest of Jammu and Kashmir.

“This will usher in a new era in the development of the state, providing welfare and employment to the people here.”

The prime minister said the products of the Kashmir Valley, including handicrafts and fruits, would reach the rest of India through this railway link as will products from the rest of the country to the valley.

The railway bridge between Udhampur and Banihal would be the highest railway bridge in the World.

He said the rail tunnel was a part of his UPA government’s commitment to develop Jammu and Kashmir.

He said the state had got in recent times 14 new colleges, nine ITIs and five India Reserve Police battalions, providing employment to locals.

“I want to assure the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the (central) government will extend all possible support for the development of the people here.”

As he spoke in Urdu, Manmohan Singh struck a chord with the people at the rally. He was cheered each time he spoke about ushering development in the troubled state.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi told the rally that the “hardships faced by the people of the state during the winter months are now a thing of the past.

“Today’s inauguration of the all weather link between Jammu and the valley is a part of the UPA’s commitment to the peace and progress of the people here.”

Gandhi said the National Conference-Congress government in the state had done commendable work in the last five years.

“The people in Kashmir are fed up with violence. They want peace and development.

“The large turnout of people during the Panchayat elections in the state is a proof of the people’s desire for peace and development.

“I know very well that painful incidents happen here occasionally, but our democracy has enough scope to sort out issues through dialogue and negotiations.”

Manmohan Singh and Gandhi will fly to Udhampur army base on their way to New Delhi.

I’ll never forget this train ride: Omar Abdullah

Banihal, June 26: Politicians have always used the Railways to catch votes. But this was a rare occasion where the country’s top politicians took a train ride along with school children from Banihal’s higher secondary school to Qazigund and back.

Those who boarded the train’s inaugural run included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, among others.

This led Abdullah, who belongs to the National Conference, to term it as “the most exciting” train ride in his life.

“I have travelled by train many times. But I’ll never forget the train ride from Jammu to Kashmir,” he said, adding that he had never expected he would travel with the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi.

With general elections due next year, the political significance of this train ride could not be missed, as the UPA will use this rail link as one of its important achievements.

Abdullah said he hoped there would be a UPA-III, which would connect Katra and Banihal. Not to be left behind, Sonia Gandhi, who launched a coffee table book on the tunnel, said the rail link would improve trade, tourist, handicrafts and would create jobs for people here. She underlined the UPA’s investment into creating connectivity in the region and cited the Mughal Road connecting Rajouri and Poonch and another one connecting Ladakh.

The Prime Minister listed 67 projects that he had announced, largely to create infrastructure, after taking charge. Of this, 34 had been completed and the rest are in progress.

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, who took charge a week ago, said he was lucky that his first public function after taking over as Minister was the Kashmir project.

Abdullah said that this rail link will join the hearts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The people of Banihal were a happy lot. Never before has the place seen such a turnout of VIPs, said Famida, a resident.

Byappanahalli station to be coach terminus

The proposed world-class railway station at Byappnahalli will now be converted into a greenfield coach terminus.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural function of a photo exhibition organised at Venkatappa Art Gallery to commemorate the 160th year of the Indian Railways, South Western Railways General Manager Ashok Kumar Mittal said, “The proposed Byappanahalli railway station would be developed as a greenfield railway coach terminus. Two pit lines have already been constructed. Some more facilities will be developed soon to develop it as a coach terminus.” The railways has proposed to develop a world-class railway station at Byappanahalli on public private partnership mode and the state government has offered the required land for the project.

“As the private investors were not forthcoming, the Railways has now decided to develop it as greenfield coach terminus,” he said. Mittal also said nearly 50 per cent of the work on Bangalore-Hassan line is complete and the state government is yet to acquire 160 acres of land, including the one belonging to a stud farm near Tumkur.

“The Railways and the state government are collectively spending `600 to 700 crore on railway projects every year and have resolved to complete at least 120 kms of new railway line,” he said.

Bombay HC asks railways to bear cost of women commuters

In a move towards ensuring the safety of women commuters in the railways, the Bombay High Court today directed the Railways to bear 50 per cent of the cost incurred to deploy additional 100 GRP home guards across suburban railway stations and in local trains to give safety to women commuters.

Division bench consisting of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha today gave directions during the hearing of a suo moto Public Interest Litigation based on newspaper reports and a PIL filed by NGO Help Mumbai Foundation regarding women’s safety in the city and while travelling in local trains.

The bench was today informed by Advocate General Darius Khambata that on request from the Government Railway Police (GRP) for additional 100 home guards, the state government had sanctioned it but had asked the Railways to bear 50 per cent of the cost. However, the railways did not agree to it.

The state government had sanctioned 1,500 home guards but the order was withdrawn after the railways refused to accept the 50-50 cost bearing,’ Khambata said.

The bench in its oral order also observed that the issue of women’s safety was serious, and further directed the railways to bear 50 per cent cost for the home guards supplied to the GRP.

Chakki railway bridge pillars damaged in flash flood

Nurpur, June 26: The flash flood in the Chakki rivulet following rain washed away protection steps of six pillars of the Chakki railway bridge on the Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge railway line, near here, this morning. These cemented steps had been built by the Railway by spending lakhs of rupees a few months ago to render protection cover to all 22 supporting pillars of the Chakki bridge.

Pillar number 4 of this bridge was washed way in August 2011 and pillars numbers 5, 6 and 10 were partially damaged in flash floods in the Chakki rivulet. The railway traffic on this line remained suspended for about a year. Mining in the Chakki riverbed was considered to be a major cause of pillar damage in the past. Fourteen trains (up and down) have been providing economical traffic facility to thousands of commuters daily on this railway route connecting Pathankot (Punjab) with the Kangra valley.

Manjeet Goyal, Assistant Engineer, Northern Railway, admitted that due to a cloud burst in Chamba district and a flash flood in the Chakki rivulet, protection steps of pillars (5 to 7) of the Chakki bridge had been washed away today and these would be constructed or repaired soon.

Judicial rulings on women security in Railway areas yet to be implemented

In the last few years, the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court have instructed the state government and railway authorities to ensure the safety of women in trains. But experts and activists say the response is far from satisfactory.

“There is a lack of sensitivity from the authorities to address the issue of safety of women in trains in Mumbai,” says advocate Rajiv Chavan, counsel for Help Mumbai Foundation, which filed a PIL. Since 2011, a proposal to deploy 300 home guards, including 100 women, on trains, was hanging fire as the state and Railways couldn’t agree on sharing costs for additional staff. The HC later ordered the Railways to bear 50% costs. The PIL also highlighted information obtained from the Railway Police Force, revealing less than 10% of its staff were women. Of 3,371 RPF personnel on CR and WR, only 231 were women.

Moreover, in 2011, the RPF was yet to fill over 2,567 posts.

“The presence of women constables in trains is very important as it instills confidence, women commuters are more comfortable speaking to a policewoman,” said Chavan.

In 2011, the HC took suo motu notice of a PIL, after a 25-year-old woman was allegedly molested in a Harbour local at Nerul and snubbed by RPF personnel whom she approached at Thane. The HC came down heavily on security agencies and directed the Railways to expedite recruitment of women constables for ladies’ coaches. The SC in 2012, asked the state and other agencies to deploy plainclothes policewomen at locations like railway stations. Both measures are yet to be implemented.

ECR officials’ meet on safety, punctuality

PATNA: Danapur DRM L M Jha made a PowerPoint presentation on safety and punctuality issues under the division at a high-level meeting presided over by ECR AGM Ajay Shukla at the Danapur DRM’s office on Tuesday. Senior officials of the ECR and Danapur division attended the meeting.

Addressing the railway officials of the division, Shukla underlined the need to overcome local problems of the division which at times affected the smooth run of trains under the division. Chief operating manager Dipak Nath lauded the division for maintaining punctuality of mail and express trains despite hiccups while chief transportation manager (planning) Neeraj Ambastha suggested various measures to improve loading of goods and other consignments.

Chief signal and telecom engineer Rajesh Kumar took stock of the ongoing signal and telecom work. ECR’s chief security commissioner Sanjay Kumar suggested various measures to improve passengers’ safety. He said 110 RPF and RPSF men were deployed on train escort duty under the division.

New lines inaugurated: The newly laid 34km Koderma-Nawadih railway line under the Dhanbad division of ECR was inaugurated by Koderma MP Babulal Marandi at a function at Koderma station on Tuesday. Local MLA Annapurna Devi was also present on the occasion. According to Dhanabd division DRM Sudhir Kumar, two pairs of passenger trains would run on the route to start with.

Banihal-Qazigund: Asia’s Second Longest Transportation Tunnel

A 11-km-long tunnel across the treacherous Pir Panjal mountain range on the Banihal-Qazigund railway line in Jammu and Kashmir, dedicated today by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is the longest such transportation passage in India and second longest in Asia.

About 1,300 workers and 150 engineers worked tirelessly overcoming all odds for the last seven years to accomplish the engineering marvel. The work on the tunnel had started in November 2005.

The tunnel has been constructed using New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM) and it is for the first time such a method has been used on such a large scale in India.

Hindustan Construction Company, which implemented the project, said the Pir Panjal tunnel is the longest transportation tunnel in India and second longest in Asia.

An HCC official said China had constructed the longest tunnel in Asia.

“The HCC project team sustained round-the-clock work execution across all project fronts, even in freezing winter temperatures, with a singular objective – to successfully execute this project of national importance,” President and Whole Time Director of HCC Arun Karambelkar said.

He said that during the course of work, the project team faced several technical challenges due to unpredictable geology and inconsistency of the “rock mass” of the region.

“Despite the challenges, the project team successfully completed the work with a zero accident record,” he said.

The tunnel is totally water proof and equipped with a fire fighting system across the entire length of the tunnel.

The tunnel passes approximately 440 metres below the existing Jawahar Road Tunnel.

The 18-km long Banihal-Qazigund section of the ambitious mountain railway, connecting Kashmir Valley with Jammu region, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in presence of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Governor N N Vohra and central ministers.

The Prime Minister flagged off the first train and boarded it for a journey across the 11-km tunnel,

The railway line will considerably reduce the travel time between the two places. The distance between Banihal and Qazigund, which is also one of the most treacherous stretches in the entire Kashmir rail network project, will reduce from 35 km by road to 17.5 km on train.

The Banihal-Qazigund section was constructed at a cost of about Rs 1,700 crore.

While train service is already operational within the Valley on the 118-km long route between Qazigund and Baramulla in North Kashmir, the 148-km Katra-Qazigund line is expected to be completed in three years. The 25-km Udhampur-Katra section is likely to be opened in a few months.

The Udhampur-Katra-Banihal section, which will connect the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country’s rail network, is expected to be completed by 2017.

West Central Rly to launch special train between Habibgani and Guwahati

The West Central Railway (WCR) will ply a special train between Habibganj and Guwahati on June 27. WCR has launched the special train for decreasing the waiting list for reserved berths in the train.

The train will start from Habibganj railway station on Thursday at 6.20 pm and will reach Guwahati at 11:50 am on Saturday. The special train will have total 15 coaches including six sleeper, seven general coaches and two SLRs. Reservations in the train will start on Wednesday.

The train will halt at Itarsi, Pipariya, Gadarwara, Narsingpur, Jabalpur, Katni, Satna, Chivki, Mirzapur, Mugalsaray Junction, Dildaarnagar, Buxor, Dumraon, Ara, Danapur, Patna junction, Patna Saheb, Bakhtiyarpur, Barh, Mokameh, Barauni, Begu Sarai, Khagariya, Mansi, Thana Bihpur, Nogachiya, Katihar, Barsoi, Kishanganj, New Jalpaiguri, Dhupgudi, New Coochbehar, New Alipurduar, Kokrajhar, New Bongaigaon, Barpeta road, Rangiya and Kamakhya railway stations.

Meanwhile, the Railways has started 11 new trains, out of which three will pass through Madhya Pradesh. Train number 19307/19308 Indore-Chandigarh weekly express will start from Indore on every Wednesday and from Chandigarh on every Thursday. The train will ply with 18 coaches and will halt at Bhopal, Ruthiya, Guna and Shivpuri railway stations of state. Launching of the train will be declared soon.

Train number 11203/11204 Nagpur-Ajmer weekly train will start from Nagpur on every Thursday and will start from Ajmer on Friday. Train starting from Nagpur will reach Bhopal at 1:50 am and the train starting from Ajmer will reach Bhopal at 11:35 am. Train number 18573/18574 Vishakhapatnam-Bhagat Ki Kothi express will run once a week and will halt at Katni, Damoh, Sagar, Ashok Nagar and Guna railway station in State.

Indian Railways revises Ticket Refund Rules; How will it impact Passengers?

The Ministry of Railways revised and amended ticket refund rules on Tuesday, which will be effective from 1 July.

Accordingly, passengers need to cancel their confirmed tickets 48 hours ahead of the journey instead of the existing 24 hours to get maximum refund on the travel charges.

“Railway Passengers (Cancellation of ticket and Refund of fare) Rules, 1998 have not been substantially revised in the last 15 years during which period a large number of changes have taken place in the ticketing system of Indian Railways,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the revised rules, if a confirmed ticket is cancelled between 48 hours and upto six hours before the departure of the train as against the existing 24 hours and upto four hours, passengers will get a refund with cancellation charges of 25 percent of the fare. The ministry decided to revise the rules in an attempt to prevent booking agents from selling tickets at higher prices as well as to give more time for waitlisted passengers to decide about taking their trip.

If the ticket is cancelled within six hours before the scheduled departure of the train and upto two hours after the actual departure of the train, the cancellation charge will be 50 percent of the fare subject to a minimum charge. Existing rules allowed passengers to cancel tickets up to three hours for a distance of 200 km, upto six hours for a distance covered between 200-500 km and upto 12 hours for a distance of 500 km and above after the actual departure of the train. The revised rules clearly state that if a reserved ticket is surrendered for cancellation after two hours of the actual departure of the train, the railways will not grant any refunds.

Waitlisted/RAC tickets have cancelled upto three hours after the actual departure of the train irrespective of the distance, according to the new rules. Passengers will get the refund of fare after a deduction of the clerkage of ₹30.

In case of a party ticket or a family ticket issued for travel, if some of the tickets have been confirmed and the others are in waiting list then full refund of fare, less clerkage will be granted for confirmed passengers provided that the entire ticket is surrendered for cancellation within six hours before the scheduled departure of the train instead of existing four hours. Full refund and less clerkage are also admissible to confirmed passengers who surrender the entire ticket within two hours as against the existing three hours after actual departure of the train, the ministry said.

If passengers holding reserved, RAC and waitlisted tickets do not undertake the journey due to delay by more than three hours of the scheduled departure from the station, they will be awarded full refund without any deduction of cancellation charges or clerkage on condition that they surrender the ticket upto the actual departure of the train.

Railway supervisor abducted by extremists in the Northeast

Shillong, June 26: A Bihar-based railway supervisor of a firm was today abducted by suspected Garo tribal militants in Meghalaya’s North Garo Hills district, police said on Wednesday.

J Narayan Rai 60, who was working as a supervisor for M/s.Rajpat MKJ Engineering and was engaged on the Northeast Frontier Railway by his company, was abducted on Tuesday evening from Tilapara village near Bakenang under Mendipathar police station, they said. The 60-year-old hails from Muzzafarpur district of Bihar.

The Northeast Frontier Railway is developing a 19.47 km broadgauge line from Assam’s Dudhnoi to Mendipathar in East Garo Hills.

Six men armed with pistols abducted Rai while he was supervising the construction of a railway bridge. We are investigating whether any ransom has been demanded said Ricky Dkhar, district Police Chief of North Garo Hills.

Though no rebel group has claimed responsibility, intelligence agencies here suspect it to be the handiwork of the Rabha Viper Army, a rebel group in the Rabha tribe–inhabited areas in Assam’s Goalpara district and certain areas of Meghalaya’s East and West Garo Hills districts.

Both Meghalaya and Assam Police have launched a hunt to locate Rai. Meghalaya police’s Swift Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) commandos along with the Army have launched a search operation.

Chennai Division – Station Masters’ on hunger strike to fill up vacancies

Chennai-division-of-the-AISThe increasing number of vacancies in the posts of station masters poses a grave danger to the safety of Railways and its services, said office-bearers of the All India Station Masters Association during a hunger strike by the Chennai division of the association on Tuesday.

The association claimed that the Chennai division of the Southern Railways had 190 vacancies among the 928 positions as of December 2012.

There will be a further increase of 45 vacancies by next year by way of retirement, said John Vincent Kumar, national president of the All India Station Masters Association.

“These huge vacancies will have a direct bearing on the functioning and safety of the Railways. As per norms, station masters are to work only for eight hours in normal areas and  six hours in high intensity areas owing to the stress levels involved. But as of now, most of us are forced to work for 12 hours at a stretch, and even a weekly day off is denied to us. This will affect the station masters and their ability to ensure the proper safety to the passengers,” he said.

The station masters also alleged that this year, the number of summer special trains was reduced by 10 per cent owing to shortage of drivers and station masters.

“The Central Government has put a blanket ban on government recruitments. Though drivers, station masters and guards are excluded from this, the government continues to follow the same policy here too,” claimed N Shanmughasundaram, president of the Chennai division of the All India Station Masters Association.

The association pointed out that the largescale vacancy was a result of the mass recruitment that had taken place in the late 1970s and early 80s.

“That whole batch is retiring in the next few years  and this would lead to mass vacancies.

“If the government does not take proactive steps to fill the vacancies, it will lead to multiple problems,” said Shanmughasundaram.

The union demanded that the Railway Board relax recruitment processes to facilitate filling up of vacancies and also to create a body on the lines of the employment exchange to meet the current crisis of mass retirements.

Delhi Metro Rail Corpn notifies recruitment for Asst Managers 2013

New Delhi, June 25: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) has announced for the recruitment of 88 Assistant Manager posts. Eligible candidates who are interested can apply online on or before 3rd July 2013. The DMRC is a state-owned company which was registered on 03 May, 1995 and has an equal equity involvement from the Government of India and the Government of Delhi. The DMRC operates Delhi Metro in the National Capital Region of India.

Important Dates

Online Application Forms opening date : 13 June 2013
Online Application Forms closing date : 3 July 2013
Payment of Application Fee : 13 June 2013 to 3 July 2013
Date of Submission of Printed Application Form should be on or before 12 July 2013

Vacancy Details

Assistant Manager (Signal & Telecom): 04 (Four)
Assistant Manager (Electrical): 43 (Fourty Three)
Assistant Manager (Civil): 41(Fourty One)
Age Limit:  Candidates must not exceed 28 years as on 01 January, 2013.

As per rules, age relaxation will be applicable

Educational Qualification

Candidates must be a graduate in B.E /B.Tech (Electrical/ Electronics/ Civil) with minimum 70% marks with valid GATE entrance score.

Application Fee

Candidates who belong to UR & OBC categories have to pay Rs 250.

Candidates who belong to SC/ST categories have to pay Rs.100. Candidates have to download cash challan from the DMRC website www.delhimetrorail.com

Candidates are requested to deposit the fee in a specially opened DMRC Account No. 32091518042 in any branch of State Bank of India.

Pay scale will be: Rs. 20600-46500 (IDA) Basic Pay + 35 % Perks + prevalent DA in IDA + HRA or lease facility of Rs. 21000/- + Site Allowances as applicable.

Selection Procedure

Candidates will be selected based on Personal Interview, Group Discussion and Medical Examination.

How to Apply

Candidates have to apply only through online mode through DMRC official website www.delhimetrorail.com on or before 3rd July, 2013. Candidate who apply online must send the DMRC registration slip (which you get post submission) along with ink signature, thumb impression, photograph, declaration, GATE Registration No as well as GATE Score Card through speed post to the below address before 12 July , 2013.

Executive Director (HR)
3rd Floor, Metro Bhavan,
Barakhamba Road,
New Delhi-110001
For more details candidates can contact DMRC Helpline nos: 155370, 22561231.

RailNews wishes all the best to candidates!

Railway employee shot dead in Bihar

A railway employee of Jamalpur coach factory was today shot dead by unidentified assailants near the Central Institute under East Colony police station area in Bihar’s Munger district, police said. Ram Prasad Tanti (48) was riding a motorcycle on way to work when the assailants fatally shot at him from close range. Search is on to arrest the culprits, police said.

Double-decker trains from Secunderabad to Tirupati soon: Kotla

The Railways will soon introduce double-decker trains between  Secunderabad and Tirupati, Union minster of state for railways Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy has said.

The minister annnounced this after flagging off two new trains – Kurnool-Secunderabad Intercity Express and Kurnool-Nandyal DEMU Passenger — at the Kurnool City railway station on Tuesday.  Stating that injustice had been meted out to Andhra Pradesh with regard to railway projects since 1966, Reddy vowed to do justice to the state, specially to his native Kurnool district, in his capacity as the MoS of Railways.

Among the new railway projects to be taken up soon in the State were the establishment of a railway coach shed in Kurnool in the next two to three years — which will provide 5,000 jobs to the unemployed youth– and the doubling of the line from Mahabubnagar to Gooti, he said. Additional platforms and escalators would be provided at all major railway stations in the State, he added.

Tiruchi Division Station Masters’ demand filling up of vacancies

TY25STATION_MASTER_1499168fA section of station masters observed fast here on Tuesday demanding the railway administration to fill up the existing vacancies of station masters in Tiruchi Railway Division. The fast call was given by the All India Station Masters Association (AISMA), Southern Railway.

The day-long fast observed near the Khadi Kraft was led by the AISMA Tiruchi divisional president K. Dharani.

The association said though the total sanctioned strength of Station Superintendent, Traffic Inspector, Station Master and Assistant Station Master put together was 562 in Tiruchi Division, more than 100 vacancies were yet to be filled up . The vacancies were poised to only increase further in the wake of retirement of many station masters in the coming years. This was causing hardship to the serving station masters as they were unable to avail their weekly off and leave, the association said. Further, the work burden on the existing station masters was affecting them physically and mentally, Mr. Dharani said.

ECR facilitating free ferry of relief materials to Uttarakhand

Patna: Abiding by the Railway Board’s decision not to charge any money on relief materials to Uttarakhand for 15 days, the East Central Railway zone is facilitating transportation of relief items to the devastated Himalayan state.

“We are following Railway board decision not to charge any cost on relief materials being taken to Uttarakhand,” Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) of ECR Amitabh Prabhakar told.

The free movement of relief materials is applicable for 15 days from June 25 to July 9, he said.

The instruction is applicable on all the trains in which freight of goods are allowed, Prabhakar said adding the decision was part of Railways concern for humanity.

He, however, said the consignment is properly checked to ensure only relief materials are packed for victims of Uttarkhand tragedy.

The Hajipur based ECR zone comprises of five Railway divisions – Danapur, Sonepur, Mughalsarai, Dhanbad and Samastipur.

Fracture of rail between CST-Masjid section leaves CR run trains late

Officials said the cascading effect would keep trains late right through the evening rush hours.  Train services on the Central Railway line were running ten to fifteen minutes late on Wednesday evening after ND Panda, the motorman of a CST-Thane local alerted the authorities of a rail fracture on the slow line between CST and Masjid.

Work on repairing the line took 24 minutes between 6:10pm and 6:34pm and during this period trains had to be diverted to the fast line. A Thane and a Kalyan bound local was stranded behind the train being Panda was operating, said officials.  This has cascading effect on train operations in the peak evening rush hours.

Planning Commission to decide on Rs.4,260 Crore Nanjangud Project

The Planning Commission will decide on whether to clear Rs.4,266.88 Crore Railway line project between Karnataka and Kerala or otherwise propose an alternate solution this week.

Of the estimated cost of Rs.4,266.88 Crore, the cost of laying 72 km Railway line between Nanjangud and Sulthan Bathery is estimated to be Rs.764 Crore.

The proposed new line would take off from Nilambur in Malappuram district and pass through Cheeral and Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad district, Ayyankolli in Tamil Nadu and Hura in Karnataka.

The line would cater to the needs of over two crores of people residing in the districts of Wayanad, the Nilgiris, Mysore, Chamrajanagar, Coorg, Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram. It is also said to ease the cargo movement between Bangalore and Kochi. The updating of survey on laying of new rail line on the 236-km route was completed and the report was sent for Planning Commission’s approval, said T M Rasheed, convener, the Nilgiris-Wayanad National Highway and Railway Action Committee (NWNHRAC).

Mudslide halts trains on Konkan Railway

MUMBAI: A mudslide that caused a large boulder to fall on to the tracks close to Adavali station in Ratnagiri affected traffic on the Konkan Railway (KR) for two hours on Tuesday.

Sources in the Konkan railway said the mudslide took place around 10.15am, sometime before the Trivandrum -LLT Netravati Express was to pass. Noticing a pile of mud on the tracks, the Netravati Express driver stopped the train just before the location of the mudslide.

It took about two hours to clear the mud and the boulder and to restore traffic.

“Traffic resumed around 12.30pm,” said a KR spokesperson, adding that only Netravati Express was held up because of the incident and services were normalised thereafter.

As most part of the route goes through the difficult terrain and is prone to landslides during the monsoon, the KR takes various measures such as speed restrictions of 75kmph, to ensure safety of passengers.

Electrification of Israel Railway Network soon – Bombardier

To make the country’s trains as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible, Israel to take up swift steps to electrify its 420 kilometers of railway track, a senior executive told RailNews on Thursday.  The contract was awarded to Bombardier who will support the investment and deployment of electrification,” said Laurent Troger, president for Rolling Stock Atlantic Services at Bombardier.

“It would provide a significant opportunity to enhance the transportation.”

Troger spoke with the Post following his address on Thursday at the International Transportation Conference at the Kfar Maccabiah convention center in Ramat Gan, sponsored by the Morag Group and the Transportation Ministry, in partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office.

Because trains can save more energy than any other vehicle and provide citizens a sustainable transportation solution, Troger recommended that Israel continue investing in its rail sector. A crucial component in these investments will be the electrification of the Israel Railways network, to bring the train infrastructure up to Western standards and employ advanced operating systems, he explained.

All over the world, “the climate is right for trains,” Troger said in his conference presentation.

Troger described how railways provide very little contribution to overall pollution, accounting for only about 0.6 percent of carbon dioxide emission caused by transportation in the European Union, whereas road traffic accounts for about 70.7 percent.

Looking at traffic volume, Troger said that in an urban environment, a metro rail can carry up to 50,000 people per hour and a light rail up to 22,000 people per hour, whereas cars and buses can only carry 2,100 and 9,000 people per hour, respectively.

Trains and trams, Troger explained, can be used to help cities facing a diverse range of challenges, including urbanization, population growth, pollution, congestion and real estate value and availability.

Once the government moves forward with longstanding plans to electrify its tracks and releases a tender for electric trains, Troger said that Bombardier hopes to offer a competitive prospect. Bombardier is already responsible for the red double-decker coaches that are used in most Israel Railway routes.

The railway would not necessarily need to replace its coaches, and instead, could simply replace the locomotives with fully electric or hybrid diesel-electric versions that can be integrated with existing coaches, Troger explained.

“That’s a very fast and cost-efficient solution for Israel Railways to move to an electric solution,” he said.

Despite environmental objections over potentially unsightly and radiation-emitting high-voltage electricity lines required for such electrification, Troger stressed that this is a stable and very secure transportation solution that is employed all over Western Europe particularly, as well as the rest of the world.

“This type of solution is very well known,” he said. “It is a very proven solution.”

Chandigarh Metro Rail – consent over SPV is long awaited

The UT Administration is waiting for consent from governments of Punjab and Haryana over the equity structure for the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the Metro Rail proposed for the Tricity. While talks have been going on between the stakeholders, a final decision is yet to be reached. It is likely that the Ministry of Urban Development (MUD) would be part of the equity structure.

At a meeting held earlier this month, a decision was taken to form the SPV. The name was finalised as Chandigarh Tricity Multi-Modal Transport Corporation. However, a decision on the equity structure was not taken. It was decided that officials of Punjab and Haryana would discuss the issue amongst themselves and reach a conclusion. Thereafter, it would be conveyed to the administration.

Several models for equity structure have been discussed. The Punjab government had earlier agreed to give its share of funds for the project. The approval for the same had been given by the Cabinet. However, a decision on equity participation in the SPV had not been taken. It’s only when the states give their approval that the SPV can be constituted.

UT Adviser K K Sharma says that talks are being held with the officials of Punjab and Haryana and a decision is expected soon.

The Ministry of Urban Development is likely to represent Chandigarh in the SPV. Once the equity structure is decided, experts from different fields would be made a part of it. These officials would solely be tasked with dealing with the issues pertaining to the Metro. An official says that it is likely during discussions by experts that the detailed project report prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation may witness some changes. The report had been submitted a few months back.

The Metro Rail would run in two corridors in the Tricity. The North-South corridor would be from Capitol Complex in Sector 1 to Gurdwara Shaheeda in Mohali. The East-West corridor would extend from Transport Terminus in Mullanpur to Grain Market in Sector 21, Panchkula.

The UT Administration has completed the physical demarcation of the Metro routes. Milestones have been installed along the routes and near the locations where Metro stations would be constructed. The exercise has, however, not been undertaken in Panchkula and Mohali. With two states and a Union Territory being stakeholders in the project, consent of all three is required which at times causes delay.

Jaipur Metro workers launch strike for non-payment of wages

JAIPUR: More than 300 workers of a private company working at Metro sites in Jaipur went on strike on Tuesday due to nonpayment of wages. The company has been working on civil works at metro station sites. “The private contractor had not paid wages of around Rs.50 lakh to its workers. We have spoken to the company officials in Delhi and they have agreed to release a part of payment today only,” said Atul Gadgil, Chief Project Manager of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). DMRC is entrusted to build the Jaipur metro rail project.  Work came to a stand still at the metro station sites from Mansarovar to New Sanganer road after workers boycotted work and shouted slogans against the company officials in the morning.

“It is a matter between the private contractor company and their employees; DMRC is not involved in the matter. But the work has suffered today. Workers have promised to return to work after part payment is received today,” said Gadgil.

The metro project in Jaipur is planned to be completed in two phases. The 12.6 km long first phase will have 11 stations from Mansarovar and Bari Chaupar, including three underground and eight elevated stations. The estimated cost of first phase is Rs.3149 crore in which Phase I-A will cost Rs2026 crore. We have already incurred around Rs.1300 crore on the project. The plan I-B will cost Rs.1123 crore, said Gadgil, adding that the Government has set a July 31 deadline for completion of phase 1-A and the work has been going on a war footing.

Era Infra secures contract from Delhi Metro

M/s.Era Infra Engineering has bagged a contract from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation worth about Rs.384 Crore.  The project, in a joint venture with Chengdu Ranken, is for construction of five elevated stations including architectural finishing and plumbing works of stations on Alwaye-Petta Line of Kochi Metro Rail Project at Kochi, Kerala by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

LEA International bags Comprehensive Transportation Study for Hyderabad Metro

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) having a geographical jurisdiction of  about 7100 sq.km. under its administrative control, has appointed LEA International Ltd. (in joint venture with LEA Associates South Asia Pvt. Ltd.) as consultants for undertaking a Comprehensive Transportation Study (CTS) for the Hyderabad Metro. The study aims to provide Hyderabad a long-term transport strategy and to identify a practical and effective investment program in line with the National Urban Transport Policy 2006.  In order to develop a long term development strategy and investment plans, the consultant will be required to develop an Urban Transport Planning model. The primary focus of the model will be in developing forecast up to 2042. The investment programs for 2012 – 2017, 2017 – 2022, 2022 – 2027, 2027 – 2032 and 2032 – 2042 are intended to achieve transport improvements consistent with the long-term strategy for 2042. The study also aims to strengthen the traffic & transport planning capacity of HMDA and other relevant transport agencies in the region. The purpose of these terms of reference is to describe the context and scope of the envisaged study.

About LEA Associates

LEA Associates South Asia Private Limited (LASA), New Delhi is a subsidiary of LEA Group Holdings, Inc (LGHI), Canada, which has proven global operations of over five decades.

With 17 years old, LASA today is recognized as one of the premier, reputed and muti-disciplinary planning, engineering and management consultancy firms in India in infrastructure planning, development and management. With its commitment, LASA continues to offer value additions and innovative solutions to surpass client needs and expectations.

LASA’s quality services and deliverables led to convince clients’ to retain the firm repeatedly for downstream/new services. The client profile of LASA includes the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank and CIDA, along with Central & State Governments and important Authorities/Corporations.

LASA has become synonymous with good performance. We ensure that clients’ expectations are met in terms of schedule, budget and work quality. LASA is consistently acknowledged as one of the leading consulting company. It attracts the best of minds and has a highly committed staff that produces excellent consulting products with high credibility. LASA has completed over 500 consultancy assignments of varying scope and dimensions. This has resulted in the establishment of over 32 site offices spread over in India, South Asia, Eastern Africa and Middle East. LASA strives to ensure quality at all levels of operations. LASA has established pole position among Indian Consultants with excellent track record and bench marking quality.

HYD Metro – Construction of 80 metro rail viaducts a challenge

Construction of elevated metro rail viaduct over 80 road junctions on three metro corridors is a major engineering challenge. It is like building an equal number of flyovers over the busy traffic junctions without disrupting the vehicular traffic at the saturated junctions, Hyderabad Mero Rail Managing Director NVS Reddy has said.

A traffic study conducted by LEA Associates, which has been engaged by HMR, for traffic management solutions for the intersections made the task even more challenging as the study has projected bigger obligatory spans for many junctions to take care of future traffic flow.

Structural engineers of L&T, HMR and their specialist consultancy agencies held several rounds of discussions and came up with a technical solution to the tough engineering challenge: bridge the junctions up to a span length of 34 metres (112 feet) with segmental construction by the same launching girders which are building the metro rail viaduct.

However, junctions which have more than 34 mt of span length will have to be bridged through “in situ” construction ie, on-the-spot construction method.

Of the 80 junctions, 28 have the requirement of designing obligatory spans exceeding 34 mt (112 feet) and need to be bridged by “in situ” construction.

In this method, temporary supports will be provided to the elevated concreting deck and, after tying the steel reinforcement, concreting will be done in three stages. After curing the concreted viaduct for 14 days, it will be secured by pre-stressing the inserted high-strength steel strands. Thereafter, the temporary supports will be removed.

“For allowing the traffic to pass through these junctions, a gap of about 50 feet will be left between the temporary supports, thereby giving about three lanes on each side for movement of traffic.”

Since bridging the major junctions with in-situ construction at each junction will take four to five months, work will be taken up simultaneously at several junctions to save time. Work at Uppal Crossroads and Habsiguda junction has already begun. Reviewing the experience gained, simultaneous work at five to eight  junctions would be taken up, Reddy said.

The 28 junctions with longer obligatory spans needing in-situ construction are:

Corridor-I: Nizampet (141 ft), JNTU (148 ft), Godrej Y Jn (190 ft), SR Nagar (148 ft), Punjagutta (190 ft), KCP Jn (121 ft), Khairatabad (190 ft), Lakdikapul (148 ft), Nampally (131 ft), MJ Market (190 ft), Moosarambagh (131 ft) and Kothapet (121 ft).

Corridor-II: Parade Grounds (180 ft), Musheerabad (121 ft), Narayanaguda (121 ft), Sultan Bazar (144 ft), Kotla-e-Alijah (121 ft), Bibi Bazar (121 ft) and Shamsheergunj (121 ft).

Corridor-III: Uppal (148 ft), Habsiguda (148 ft), Alugaddabavi (131 ft), Sangeet Jn (138 ft), Paradise (138 ft), Dharam Karan  (148 ft), Yusufguda (148 ft), Madhapur PS (148 ft) and Hitec City (151 ft).

Delhi Metro designed to withstand Seismic activity

Amid reports that over 50 metro stations in Delhi are located in high seismic zones, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation today said all its structures are designed according to set guidelines to ensure safety during earthquakes.

“The Delhi Metro Rail structures are completely safe in case of any seismic or tectonic activities like earthquakes taking place in Delhi,” a DMRC spokesperson said.

The spokesperson maintained that the Metro rail structures have all been designed to handle seismic events corresponding to zone 4 and all Indian codes (IRC:6, BIS:1893, BIS:13920 and RIS codes) which give guidance on designing of structures for earthquakes, and “have been strictly followed in all the structural construction of the Delhi Metro Project”.

As per reports, the Global Assessment Report (GAR) released on June 3 by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction says that more than 50 stations under phases I and II are located in areas of high-earthquake hazard, exposing the line to earthquakes of up to a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale.

“But the same study in its conclusion clearly said that the direct risk to Metro structures and rail line structures have already been addressed and reduced owing to application of risk sensitive building codes,” the spokesperson claimed.

“The Metro design engineers have adequately addressed all risks to Metro structures which may happen during an earthquake,” the spokesperson said, adding that the structures are absolutely safe for carrying passenger traffic.

PM & Sonia lands in J&K to inaugurate Banihal-Qazigund Snow Sojourn Rail Project

14-Twitter-attack-IndiaInk-blog480A costly infrastructure build up to ferry the Snow Sojourn in J&K is being inaugurated today amid a situation wherein India mourns with not less than 10,000 citizens and pilgrims in Uttarakhand were killed in floods within the last one week, 10 young Indian Army Jawans killed in Srinagar within last 2 days, and another 9 young IAF Officers and Jawans killed in a Chopper crash while in rescue operations to airlift the stranded civilians in the flood affected hilly region of Uttarakhand, leave alone the struggles of bureaucracy struggling hard to manage the turmoil.  Interestingly, the apathy of the leaders is evident from the fact that a senior Defence Officer cited saying “Why are the Gods against us?” in the wake of these tragic incidents suggests diminishing levels of morale among our soldiers.
train_jpg_1498081gThe Banihal-Qazigund tunnel being inaugurated by PM Mr.Manmohan Singh is a project within Kashmir, not connecting to country’s main railway network – an uneconomical project ran in crores, at the cost of the nation.  However, Prime Minister Mr.Manmohan Singh and Congress President Ms.Sonia Gandhi landed in J&K yesterday amid the turmoils the country is facing only to “successfully inaugurate” the so called Snow Sojourn with Banihal-Qazigund Rail tunnel opened up in J&K connecting Kashmir with Jammu region, despite the fact that only 3 months ago, this ambitious railway project was described by the CAG as a link “only within Kashmir, rather than to Kashmir” which will still not connect the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.

The difference made by the tunnel is limited, says CAG – the 145 km railway track in Kashmir, crossing the Pir Panjal range, has finally touched the Jammu region. It has however done so in a small town called Banihal, which in the 2001 census had a population of less than 3,000. The remaining 142 km of track connecting Banihal to Udhampur is nowhere near completion.

Bad-weather-hits-rescue-operations-in-UttarakhandThough the Kashmir half of the project, most of which is on the flat surface of the valley, has been executed in 11 years, the Jammu part, running through a treacherous mountainous terrain, has been bedeviled by “poor planning” which, according to the CAG, caused losses to the tune of Rs 3,258 crores.

“The more critical section of the project between Katra and Banihal (117 kms) has been progressed only up to 12 to 14 per cent, and as complexities unfold during execution, the final cost of the project may rise manifold,” the CAG said, in its report released in March.
uttarakhandIn the project outlay of Rs 19,565 crores, the Kashmir part was estimated to cost Rs 5,340 crores while the corresponding estimate for the Jammu part was almost three times higher at Rs 14,225 crores.

The problems holding back the Jammu half of the project launched in 2002 arose largely from the flawed plan of skirting the landslide-prone Himalayas on the mountain slopes. This is a far cry from the Kashmir half of the project, where a 11 km tunnel has been built to cross the Pir Panjal barrier, insulating the track from the vagaries of nature.

kashmir_fullFor the more difficult terrain in the Jammu region, the Railways should have carried out a detailed survey of the area before deciding on the alignment, the CAG said. “This alignment passes through various thrust areas and fault lines in the Himalayas making the line vulnerable to seismic disasters. However, the Railways failed to carry out geo-technical investigations of the proposed alignment in a hitherto unexplored territory and relied entirely on aerial maps and satellite imagery.”

When questioned by the CAG, the Railways replied that they pursued investigation and construction simultaneously for achieving “quick visibility of progress of work”. The CAG report observed that the Railways were however silent on the implications of following “a high-risk strategy with a high probability of becoming counter-productive”. This indicated “total disregard of professional norms and inability of the Railway Board in enforcing compliance with the standards laid down in the engineering code.”

news_8_6_2013_6This project has also been the subject of a PIL filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan before the Delhi high court. On May 8, it issued a notice to the Railways on the petition seeking a review of the Jammu part of the project by an independent committee of experts. This was because, as the high court said in its 2010 verdict, the board’s own review was found to have been “scuttled” by two of its members, preventing consideration of a better alternative. The board is due to file its reply by the next hearing on July 24.

Can wind and sun power run UK’s Network Rail trains on time?

network-rail2BRITAIN’S RAIL NETWORK has been looking at becoming a self-sufficient electricity generator amid fears national power shortages could cause a crisis for the country’s trains.

Network Rail has confirmed it has examined the option, which could in future include wind farms and solar energy plants, and that it remains a “live issue”.

Rail bosses are concerned about warnings from electricity regulator Ofgem that dwindling capacity in the next five years could cause widespread power cuts.

The rail network, via its supplier EDF, is already National Grid’s biggest customer, sucking in about three per cent of Britain’s electricity, equivalent to 3,200GWh last year.

But that figure is predicted to soar to 4.5 per cent over the next five years as major routes, such as the Great Western Main Line to south Wales, complete their overhead wiring projects.

In the longer term, the completion of high speed rail, which will need another 2,000GWh every year, means Network Rail’s demand for electricity will almost double current levels.

That rise in demand also increases the likelihood of blackouts in Britain’s homes as consumers compete for power.

Although trains are becoming better at preserving electricity through special braking systems, customer demand for air conditioning and extra power points for gadgets only adds to the problems.

Network Rail has drawn up contingency plans to tackle short-term emergencies.

During any prolonged power cuts, it will insist operators run diesel trains on electrified routes and it will find alternative ways to signal trains.

Rail experts also predict that the National Grid might reduce the voltages to suppliers such as EDF, which could mean slower trains.

The nightmare scenarios have forced Network Rail to undertake a “future-proofing” exercise.

To reduce reliance on the National Grid, Network Rail has been considering generating its own electricity.

Strategists have already conducted one feasibility study, but they have refused publish the details other than to say generating their own electricity is not feasible “for now”.

A Network Rail spokesman told RailNews “We constantly review all elements of our electricity supply including the feasibility of producing our own electricity.

Common smart-card soon for public transport in Mumbai

With the Mumabi’s first Metro and Monorail projects expected to roll out this year, the city’s development authority MMRDA has revived its three-year-old plan of providing a seamless travel using a common smart-card based ticket on both modes of transport. While BEST has agreed in principle to be part of the initiative, efforts are no to rope in suburban railways, too.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has instructed the automatic fare collection vendor for the Metro and monorail to start linking both the systems. Spanish firm Indra is setting up the fare collection technology for the mass transit systems.

“We were waiting for the union government’s plan of a common mobility card to take off, but that is taking longer than expected so we decided to roll out a common smart card for our monorail and Metro lines at least. We have also invited BEST and the railways to join us. BEST has in-principle agreed, but we will need to work out the details,” said UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner at MMRDA.

A senior MMRDA official said it was easily possible to link the fare collection systems as they are based on the same technology and are being installed by the same vendor.

“We have instructed the vendor to start the process of linking the automatic fare collection system of the two modes of transport. We are aiming to have the integrated ticketing system running before the Metro and monorail corridors are commissioned,” she said.

With a common smart card, commuters will not need to wait in a queue to buy tokens. They will be able to swipe the card at the gate to the platform.

Ashok Datar, a city-based transport expert, said, “Although it may not be helpful to commuters immediately as the two corridors are not connected, it is a small beginning to a good concept. A seamless traveling card will be very helpful once more Metro and monorail corridors are commissioned and the card is linked to other modes of transport.”

Ambedkar hockey – Railway Boys Club hammers

Railway Boys Club, Pune thrashed Rajesh Pillay Academy (RPA) 5-1 in the 31st edition of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial hockey tournament being played at the Major Dhyan Chand hockey stadium.

Rajeev Bhatkar opened the scoring for Railway Boys as he guided a Ashish Bhosale pass into the net in the 20th minute. Akash Khaire then added a second in the 24th minute, tapping in a Sanju Menon pass. Khaire scored a second, the team’s third, two minutes later as he converted a Rajeev Bhatkar pass.

Ankush Kamble replied with a field goal for RPA but it turned out to be nothing more than a consolatory strike. Khaire completed his hat-trick in the 48th minute and Vinit Nimal added a fifth soon after.

In the second match of the day, Super XI recorded a 2-1 victory over Metro SC. Super XI drew first blood through Santosh Musale who converted a Sachin Kamble pass in the 11th minute. Prashant Bhokre then scored his side’s second in the 40th minute off a Nitin Salvi pass. Shailesh Gavare pulled one back for Metro SC in the 48th minute but the Super XI defence held strong for the remaining 22 minutes to claim full points. By virtue of their victory, Super XI and Railway Boys Club qualified for the quarter-finals.

On Wednesday, Pune City Police will take on Railway Police Line Boys while SRPF, Pune will face PCMC.

ER’s passenger revenues crosses Rs.320.67 Crore

KOLKATA: Eastern Railway has earned Rs.320.67 crore from passenger revenue during April and May of current financial year. During the corresponding period of last year, passenger earning was Rs.268.95 crores. With the earnings of this financial year, the growth has gone up to 19.23% over that of last year.

Serial Tampering of Junction Boxes on CR – 15 year old behind bars

Central Railway/Western Railway:  The mystery man behind the serial tampering of junction boxes that brought Central Railway suburban trains to a grinding halt over the past three weeks has turned out to be a 15-year-old boy from a Ghatkopar slum.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) caught the boy after another incident of tampering on Monday. The incident happened around 3 pm between Kalyan and Thakurli, and the boy found sitting in the train compartment even after the affected local had left for the yard.

A resident of Ramabai Nagar in Ghatkopar, the boy was produced before the juvenile justice board, Bhiwandi, on Tuesday. He was charged under the Railway Act and fined Rs 800.

“The boy used to loiter about the stretch where the problems were occurring and did such acts for fun,” senior divisional security commissioner, RPF, Alok Bohra said. “He even confessed to having attempted chain-pulling to halt a train. When he noticed that the train did not stop between stations even after pulling the chain, he began tampering with the electrical fittings in the junction box.”

The CR had first suspected a disgruntled employee. The CR was forced to cancel as many as 12 services on each of the four occasion when the rake had to withdrawn from service due to tampering with cables in the rake.

The CR now wants to secure the junction box in train compartments with additional protection

First passenger train run on Koderma-Nawadih-Giridih railway line

Jharkhand: The first passenger train on the the newly constructed Koderma-Nawadih -Giridih railway line was today flagged off by JVM (P) Chief Mr.Babulal Marandi.

With the flagging off, Koderma Station also received the status of a junction on the Grand Chord section of the East Central Railway under the Dhanbad Division.

The train with five bogies hauled by a diesel engine would make two trips every day except Sunday with a nominal fare of Rs.10.The 111 km Koderma-Giridih line costing Rs 371 .36 crore was sanctioned and was to be commissioned by 2005-6, but was hit by a fund problem.

The work started again when the then state government under Marandi state agreed to meet 50 per cent of the total cost of the project.

The foundation stone of the project was laid by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Marandi told reporters that said that the train services  would play a significant role for the development of the region which could not be exploited earlier and also create new avenues for employment.

Magic in Pakistan Railways – 96 trains are run with only 87 engines

Islamabad:  The Pakistan Railways is now operating 96 passenger trains with 87 operating engines, with 34 engines stranded at the workshops, it was learnt on Thursday.

It is a well-known fact that one train route operates with at least two to three engines. With the current strength of locomotives at the disposal of the railways, it is almost impossible to meet the daily schedule of the train operations.

The problems for railways do not end just there. Out of the 34 engines under repair, 14 are as good as dead and their repair is not an economic viability, while the remaining 18 are not likely to join the total operating tally due to unavailability of funds.

The situation in the freight section too is far from good. Currently, only seven locomotives are available for freight operations. Needless to say that the major chunk of revenue for any railway system across the globe is their freight operations.

While the new leadership in the Railway Ministry is promising major changes and normalcy if not regularity in the railway operations, no steps have been taken to restore sanity to the affairs.

A railways official on condition of anonymity said that the previous government had promised Rs6.1 billion rupees for locomotive rehabilitation but the amount was never released and the current government too was not releasing any money to mend the engines so that the trains would operate on time.

The Pakistan Railways spokesperson said that the number of engines was precariously low but all was being done to keep the operations as close to the schedule as possible.

35 injured in train mishap near Chitradurga

Chitradurga (Karnataka), Jun 25:  Thirty five persons were injured when a railway engine rammed into a stationary Mysore-bound passenger train at Chikkajajur in Chitradurga district this evening, police said.

The Hubli-Arsikere-Mysore train had halted at the station when the incident happened due to a mix up in signal that resulted in the engine coming on the same track, they said.

South Western Railway, Hubli Division had depute the officials from its Operating, Traffic, Engineering and Medical departments to render rescue and relief operations.

45 Mysore tourists return to B’lore safe

About 45 tourists from Mysore who had gone to Haridwar arrived at Bangalore City Railway Station aboard Karnataka Express train on Tuesday.

They said though the Ganges at Haridwar was in spate, they did not face any problems being at a safe place.

Meanwhile, Minister for Infrastructure Development and Information Santhosh Lad met over 150 pilgrims from Karnataka stranded in Badrinath and assured them of safe return home.

Lad, who is camping in Uttarakhand since June 21, met the tourists at Badrinath, Gowrikund and Ramabad areas stranded for a fortnight. Information is being collected about all tourists from State and health camps and temporary shelters have now been set up.

Apart from helplines, public have been requested to give details about stranded tourists to Revenue Department by calling helpline number 2225 3707 and 080-1070.

One can also email to secyreliefrev@karnataka.gov.in and secy.dm@gmail.com. The details about stranded tourists once obtained will be conveyed to State governemnt as well as Uttarakhand government and required steps taken, said S M Nandappa from Revenue Department.

Delhi yet to receive Nagpur metro project report

The detailed project report for the proposed metro rail network in the city has been lying with the state government for the last two months, but is yet to be submitted to the Union urban development minister KamalNath. The project can move forward only after it is cleared by the centre and KamalNath’s ministry, which will share the project cost.

Nagpur city MP Vilas Muttemwar confirmed that there has been a delay in submitting the report by the state government. The project report was prepared by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMIRC), the consultant appointed by Nagpur Improvement Trust, which is the nodal agency appointed by the government to execute the project.

“In my last meeting with Kamal Nath in New Delhi, he told me that he was yet to receive the proposal from Maharashtra government. According to his information, the state wanted to present Nagpur and Pune metro proposals together. The Pune project report is also being prepared DMIRC, but that report is yet to be finalized because of public outcry on overground routes and also the fact that a special vehicle to execute the project has not been formed,” said Muttemwar.

The Nagpur report has proposed building of two corridors – east to west and north to south – in the first phase at a cost of around Rs 8,000 crore. The funding from centre is normally to the tune of 20% and rest is to be raised by the state and local agencies, with the project to be implemented through a private player on build-operate-transfer basis. “Once the proposal moves to Delhi, we can plead for a higher viability gap funding from the centre. I have already raised the matter with authorities concerned,” said Muttemwar.

Meanwhile, Haider Ali Dosani, former member of All India Handloom Board, met Kamal Nath in Delhi and urged him to use his good offices to get the DPR from the state. “I told the minister that Nagpur is a major trading hub for at least 48 districts of various regions like Vidarbha, Marathwada, parts of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. With the Mihan project also taking shape, the floating population has increased. A reliable and convenient public transport system is badly needed in the city. The minister has promised to look into the matter,” said Dosani, who also thanked Muttemwar for pursuing the matter diligently.

The Journey of Kochi Metro

Kochi Metro is a proposed rapid transit system for the city of Kochi in Kerala. The 25.65km metro line will run from Aluva to Petta and will include 22 stations. The Kochi Metro Rail Project is a $950m project which will be operated by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), a Joint Venture between the Central and State government.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and KMRL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New Delhi for executing the first phase of the project from Aluva to Pettah in May 2013. According to the agreement, DMRC will manage the technical aspects, contract orders, supervision at the project site, procurement and construction on behalf of KMRL.

The Kochi Metro will be completed in phases. The first phase is set to begin in June 2013 and be complete by 2016. The project will be operated under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis for a 30-year concession period.

Kochi Metro purpose and benefits

Heavy traffic congestion has necessitated the development of a metro rail system in Kochi. Buses are currently the major public transportation system in Kochi.

The new metro system will reduce traffic congestion, while providing safe and rapid transportation to commuters. It will also reduce pollution and noise levels, as well as congestion on city roads. The project will create employment opportunities for the local people.

Kochi Metrorail project details

The Government of Kerala selected DMRC to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for the project in December 2004. The project was initially expected to start by 2006 but was delayed due to poor economic conditions.

Kerala Government requested DMRC to extend the metro route to Nedumbaserry International Airport in February 2008. The proposal was approved in April 2008.
The project received Public Investment Board (PIB) clearance in March 2012 and Union Government clearance in July 2012.

DMRC began preliminary works for the project following the clearance. Preliminary work includes the widening of three arterial roads, Banerjee Road, MG Road and South Railway Station Road, as well as the construction of a new rail over-bridge (RoB) near KSRTC station and a foot over-bridge.

The Vyttila-Petta route was widened by 26m to facilitate the construction of the metro rail. KMRL resurfaced 21 roads in Kochi to reduce traffic congestion during the metro rail construction.

Construction of Kochi Metro

The foundation work for the much-delayed project started in September 2012. Construction work for the phase 1 began in June 2013. The Phase 1 includes construction of a 25.65km-long elevated route from Aluva to Petta. The route will include 22 stations.

Phase 2 received approval from KMRL in September 2012. It will include an extension from Aluva to Angamaly via Cochin International Airport, an extension from Petta to Tripunithura, and a branch line from Palarivattom to Infopark via Kakkanad.

Kochi Metro route

The Kochi metro will feature a single line route. It will start from Aluva and pass through stations such as Kalamassery, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), Pathadippalam, Edappally Junction, Changampuzha Park, Palarivattom, Nehru Stadium, Kaloor, Town Hall, Madhava Pharmacy, Maharajas College and Ernakulam Junction.

The Metro line will be linked to Cochin International Airport via Aluva and Tripunithura via Pettah in the future.

Facilities at Kochi Metro stations

The metro stations will be installed with uninterrupted power supply (UPS) system, and a manned ticket office machine for providing paper tickets and smart cards to passengers.

Each station will also feature special facilities for the disabled, such as engraved paths and tactile tiles for visually challenged people, toilets with wheelchair access, and Braille and auditory signals in elevators.

Kochi Metro signalling and communication

Computer Based Interlocking (CBI) system will be used on the Kochi Metro for better signalling and communication. The automatic signalling will be provided with protection and warning system.

The telecommunication systems will be integrated with fibre-optic cables, SCADA, train radio and public address (PA) systems.

Rolling stock for Kochi Metro

Each metro train of Kochi Metro will have three coaches. The train will be 55.5m long, 2.7m wide and 3.9m high. Each train can accommodate 600 passengers (114 sitting and 486 Crush Standing) at a time.

The metro trains will run at an average speed of 40km/h and a top speed of 90km/h.
Contractors involved with Kochi Metro project

DMRC issued a tender for the KC-3 project in January 2013. The tender includes the construction of the elevated viaduct, six elevated stations at CUSAT, Pathadipalam, Edapally Junction, Changampuzha Park, Palarivatom and JL Nehru stadium.

DMRC also issued four tenders worth $62.98m for the construction of the metro rail in April 2013. The contract includes construction of elevated viaduct, six elevated stations at Aluva, Pulinchodu, Companypady, Ambattukavu, Muttom and Kalamassery.

DMRC appointed Larsen and Toubro (L&T) for the construction of the viaduct on the Kalamassery-Kaloor stadium stretch, in April 2013. The contract will also include construction of metro stations on the stretch.

Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business, a construction unit of L&T received a $155.85m contract for the project in May 2013. The contract includes construction of elevated viaduct and elevated stations on Aluva-Petta line.

Financing of the Kochi Metro project

The Komet project will be jointly financed by the Government of India (50%) and the Government of Kerala (50%). The project received $180m and $320m in 2012 from the central and state governments respectively.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided a $400m loan for the project. AFD is expected to provide a loan of $189.5m for the project by December 2013.

The project is expected to raise $43m from the taxes, which will be managed by the state government with escalations.


Indian Railways revise rail ticket refund rules

NEW DELHI: Railway Ministry today revised its refund rules comprehensively under which passengers will have to present their confirmed tickets at least 48 hours before the journey instead of existing 24 hours to get the maximum refund.

The new rules, which are aimed at facilitating early confirmation of wait-listed passengers, will come into effect from July 1.

To get a refund with cancellation charges of 25 percent of the fare, passengers will now have to cancel their confirmed tickets within 48 hours and at least six hours before the train’s departure against the existing four hours, the ministry said.

The existing window of time for the same amount of fare deduction is between 24 hours to four hours before the train’s scheduled departure.

Railway is deducting a minimum per passenger cancellation charge at the flat rate of Rs 120 for AC first class/executive class, Rs 100 for AC-II tier/first class, Rs 90 for AC III-tier, economy and chair car, Rs 60 for sleeper class and Rs 30 for second class.

If the ticket is presented for cancellation within six hours before the train’s scheduled departure of the train and upto two hours after its actual departure, the cancellation charge would be 50 percent of the fare subject to a minimum of the charge.

The exiting rules, which are valid till June 30, allowed the cancellation of the tickets upto 12 hours after the train’s departure if the distance was 500 km or more.

According to the new rules, no refund will be granted on the reserved ticket if it is surrendered for cancellation two hours after the train’s actual departure.

Under the new rules, the time for filing of refund claims has been reduced from existing 90 days to 10 days of the train’s departure in case of unforeseen circumstances like strike or any natural causes like floods.

According to the new rules, even those with waitlisted or RAC tickets would have to cancel their tickets three hours before the train’s actual departure to get the refund after deduction of clerkage charge of Rs 30 once the new rules are implemented from July 1.

New rules would not allow any refund two hours after the train’s departure. Existing rules permit cancellation till three hours after the train’s departure.

Revised rules would reduce last-minute cancellation and give Railway more time to confirm and upgrade tickets of other passengers in the waiting list, railway officials said.

Justifying the revision, the Railway Ministry said “railway passengers (cancellation of ticket and refund of fare) Rules, 1998, have not been substantially revised in the last 15 years during which a large number of changes have taken place in the ticketing system of Indian Railways.”

Railway said passengers seeking duplicate tickets for their confirmed or RAC tickets will have to pay Rs 50 per passenger in case of second and sleeper class and Rs 100 per passenger for other classes instead of paying only the clerkage charges as per existing rules.

The postponement or advancement of a journey will now be allowed in the same class and for the same destination instead of any longer distance or any higher class by any train.

Present rules allowed passengers to travel longer distance if they surrendered their tickets 24 hours before the train’s scheduled departure. Under the new rules, such passengers would have to present their tickets 48 hours before the journey.

“In case no current counters are available at journey originating station for night trains leaving between 9 pm and 6 am, refund shall be admissible at the station within first two hours after the opening of reservation counter,” the ministry said.

MRVC mentions Volatile Rupee to lift Suburban Train Commuters’ Fortunes

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) seems to be an unwitting beneficiary of the diving rupee. The railway development body expects to save Rs 180 crore from a World Bank loan that was sanctioned back in 2010 when the rupee was stronger.

MRVC now plans to make use of this windfall to revamp seven major suburban stations. A senior MRVC official told “Originally, the World Bank had sanctioned a loan of $430million in 2010 when the rupee hovered around Rs 44 per dollar. Subsequently, we managed to curtail our loan exposure to $385million due to better fiscal management and global competitive biddings for the project. The rupee has now touched a low of Rs 59, which has resulted in savings of Rs 180 crore.”

MRVC plans to use the unexpected gain on completely overhauling the city’s major railway stations. The proposed makeover will cost Rs 600 crore. Final estimates, though, are yet to be prepared as the project is at a conceptual stage.

The selected stations include Dadar, Andheri, Borivli, Kurla, Virar, Kalyan and Thane.

“The challenge is to build the stations without disturbing traffic and causing least inconvenience to commuters. We aim to build stations that will serve their purpose for another 100 years,” an official claimed.

MRVC managing director Rakesh Saksena said, “We have chosen the busiest of stations, which also cater to long-distance trains or have inter-connectivity with other modes of transport.”

Another official said, “We plan to relocate stalls and booking offices at an elevated level to create hurdle-free platforms. An elevated deck connected to the FOB is also considered. The approach area outside the station will have to be redesigned with the state government’s help.” On April 15, the board had reviewed the projects and plans for MRVC. A senior official said, “Mittal had also pointed out that many of the stations were built almost 100 years ago and their designs have outlived their utility.”

New Escalator put at Nagpur Rly Station shuts down within 25 days of its launch

Already being put to limited use, the escalator at the west side of the railway station has shut down since Monday evening. The escalator worth Rs 50 lakh was dedicated to the passengers on May 31 amid much fanfare. However, a short spell of rain exposed chinks in the signature project of the station.

On July 20, 2009 the Railway Board had sanctioned escalators at 50 stations. Nagpur was among the first four-five stations only after Raipur, Vijaywada and Secunderabad to install it.

On Tuesday morning, the staircase of the escalator was covered with plastic and water was leaking from the roof into the electrical equipment. Water was also dripping on the conveyor belts and seeping into the switch box, which was covered with a plastic bag.

The staff feared that rain water might have entered the chamber of the escalator and hence covered it as a matter of precaution. “The roof near the escalator’s entry point is not adequate and hence rain water gushed towards the escalator due to strong winds. We have intimated higher ups about the situation,” said employees monitoring the escalator.

Central Railway PRO P D Patil said the escalator was shut on Tuesday as a precautionary measure following heavy rains. It can be reopened after rains stop and leaks are plugged. However, RailNews found the escalator was closed on Monday evening.

Already, the railways have limited the use of escalator by installing it at the southern end of the station. Of the over 60,000 passengers visiting the station, hardly 300-400 are using the escalators daily.

The entry point opposite the RPF thana, which leads passengers to the escalator, has been closed since Day One and many passengers turn back using the escalator.

“Passengers entering the station from west side get down at the main gate. It is a long way to reach the escalator where auto drivers refuse to go. If entry near the RPF station is turned into a ‘Drop & Go’, it will ease congestion near the main gate,” said Basant Shukla, zonal railway users consultative committee member of South East Central Railway.

Height, weight causing problems at rly baggage scanner

NAGPUR: The improperly installed baggage scanner at Santra Market side of the railway station is causing inconvenience to passengers. There are complaints that the height of the scanning machine’s platform is around four feet, which requires bags to be lifted almost to chest height, which is not only arduous but also dangerous for the elderly.

“I just collapsed while trying to scan my luggage when I was heading to board the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express on June 19. The machine is over four-feet-high and one has to lift the luggage up to the chest. There was no staff and a passenger rushed to my help,” said 72-year-old Vijaya Dalvi of Mumbai.

There is baggage scanning machine each at the west and east entrance to the station. While the machine at the west side is barely comfortable, the one at the foot-over bridge (FOB) on the east side is troublesome.

The machine was installed at a cost of Rs 25 lakh in 2011. However, the very purpose of strengthening security at the station seems to be defeated. Many passengers skip the scanning since they cannot lift the luggage up to the machine.

Central Railway senior divisional security commissioner (SrDSC) Ibrahim Sherrif admits that the baggage scanner machine is at a height and passengers have complained about it earlier too.

“Based on these complaints, we approached the Hyderabad-based company that installed the machine but it has expressed helplessness in making modifications. For passengers’ benefit, we have installed a small ramp to put the luggage. One home guard has also been posted to help senior citizens,” Sherriff said. However, the small ramp doesn’t have mechanical conveyor system to push the luggage into the machine. The home guard is usually a mute spectator.

This means public money has gone down the drain. Tenders for the machines were floated in 2009 and it was installed in 2011 when Sheriff was not at the helm. “Henceforth, we will have to be careful while placing orders for such machines,” the Sr.DSC said.

Central Railway public relations officer (PRO) PD Patil says the height of the baggage scanner was deliberately increased so the FOB could sustain the weight of the heavy machine.

“If Patil’s logic is considered, does it mean the FOB is a weak structure?” Dalvi asked.

She said many passengers do not use the ramp and climb up the stairs. When they come near the machine they are completely exhausted. “Instead of finding escape routes, the administration should think of some solution to the problem,” she said.