Railway to unveil Vintage Hotels on ‘Palace on Wheel’ Coaches

Vintage hotels-cum-restaurants would be built in coaches of train set amid ambiance of an old station

New Delhi: Railway buffs may soon get the opportunity to unwind and enjoy their meals in thematic vintage hotels the public sector behemoth has proposed to construct on original coaches of the ‘Palace on Wheels’.

According to the proposal by the heritage wing of the railways, the vintage hotels-cum-restaurants would be built in the coaches of the train set amid the ambiance of an old station to serve the dual aim of preserving the transporter’s heritage and harnessing its potential to earn revenue.

“We have sent the vintage hotel proposal to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for consideration. Each vintage hotel will have two to three coaches and would cost an estimated Rs 16 crore,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

Currently the National Rail Museum houses seven of the original nine Palace on Wheels coaches that remind one of the luxury in which the Maharajas of the yore traveled.

These coaches can be refurbished and transformed into vintage hotel-cum-restaurants and placed at suitable locations, the official said. The locations could be a prominent in-bound tourist destination or a place easily accessible by road from a prominent destination point.

The plan envisages such hotels near Rewari Steam Care Centre, which attracts steam locomotive buffs. Such a hotel can also be built away from the hustle and bustle of city life like the Brar Square Station near the Delhi cantonment. Cities like Jaipur with great cultural heritage also could be ideal for such hotels, the official said.

Such vintage hotels can become a favorite getaway for the domestic tourist, he said.

DMRC re-tenders phase 2 of Kochi Metro Rail work

kochi metro phase 2Kochi: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has invited fresh tenders for the civil works on two stretches and a bridge in the second phase of the Kochi Metro Rail construction. The stretches are from Maharaja’s College to Ernakulam South and from Vyttila Kunnara Park to Pettah.

The tenders will be open from July 18 to August 22. The estimated cost of work as per the tender is Rs.294 crore, which include the constructions of elevated viaducts and three stations – Ernakulam South, Thykkoodam and Pettah. The completion period is 20 months. The work will be allotted on August 23.

The re-tendering of the works was done as Soma Construction and Era-Ranken failed to execute the phase I work on time. The first phase was restricted up to the Maharaja’s College because of the delay.

Soma Constructions was earlier entrusted with the work of the stretch between South overbridge and Vyttila after Era-Ranken defaulted on the schedule.Chambakkara bridge

The DMRC has also invited tenders for constructing a two-lane overbrigde at Chambakkara. The widening of the Vyttila-Pettah road was yet to get gather momentum because of the delay in the reconstruction of the Chambakkara bridge. The total estimated cost of the work is Rs 55.96 crore.

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

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

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

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

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

Salient Features of the Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talgo clocks 180 km per hour on Mathura-Palwal section in 38 minutes

Talgo train outruns Gatiman clocking 180 km per hour, aims for 220 kmph

talgo india train set insideThe Indian Railways has conducted the second trial run for high-speed Talgo trains of Spain on the Palwal-Mathura section of the North-Central Railway. Spanish-made Talgo has become the fastest train in the country by clocking a speed of 180 km/hr by covering 84 km in 38 minutes in the trial, surpassing the record of Gatimaan Express.

The train successfully completed its trial run on Wednesday by clocking 180 km/hr due to its light and advanced technology, Prabhash Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager, Agra,  said.

Talgo is a Madrid-based Spanish leading manufacturer of semi-high speed (160-250 kmph) and high-speed (350 kmph) passenger trains, which are energy-efficient.

The trials were conducted with empty coaches. In the coming days, trials will take place with sand bags filling the passenger sitting spaces.

On the fifth day of the trial, the train covered 84 km in 38 minutes between Mathura and Palwal. The second phase of the trial run had resumed on July 9.

On the first day of the trial between Mathura and Palwal, the train had clocked 120 km/hr following which it was decided that its speed would be increased by 10 km/hr everyday.

Enthused by the successful trail runs, the speed of the train was increased to 170 km/hr on Tuesday.

Now the next trial run will be carried out by keeping sand bags to mimic passengers’ weight to check the train’s condition on turns.

The next trial will be carried out on the route of Mumbai-bound Rajdhani Express from Mathura.

Talgo aims to connect the national capital, New Delhi, with the financial capital, Mumbai.

The maximum speed of Gatimaan Express is 160 km/hr, Shatabdi Express 150 km/hr and Rajdhani Express is 130 km/hr.

Merge Railway Budget with General Budget: Prabhu writes to Jaitley

Arun Jaitley Suresh PrabhuNew Delhi: Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu in a letter to finance minister Arun Jaitley recommended that the 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate budget for the Railways be discontinued and merged with the general budget.

“Integrating the rail budget with the general budget will enable formulation of a seamless national transportation policy, while insulating the Railways from political pressures,” Prabhu is understood to have said in the letter sent sometime in June.

“No reply has yet been received from the Finance Minister yet,” highly placed sources told.

After Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy recommended the merger last month, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) sought a reply from the Railways. “With the Railways Minister having responded, the issue has moved forward. It is quite likely that no rail budget will be presented next fiscal,” sources said.

Since its inception in the 1924-25 fiscal year, the rail budget has been a separate feature for over 9 decades. “The Railways today do not constitute a major chunk of government revenues, as it did in the past. Annual financial outlays of several public sector undertakings are today bigger in size, as compared to the Railways.”

“The initiative (integrating the Rail budget with the General budget) is a step in the right direction,” Railways expert Raghu Dayal said.

With Railways staring at financial bankruptcy on account of falling revenues and a mounting Operating Ratio (ratio of paisa spent against a rupee earned), representatives of employee unions of the country’s biggest employer have backed the move.

In the current fiscal year’s first two months, earnings were 9% short of target, while the OR has hovered in the region of 110% – in other words – Railways spent 110 paise to earn 100 paise.

The Railways carry an accumulated burden of a whopping Rs 4,83,511 crore towards execution of 458 unfinished and ongoing projects, while its losses in operating passenger services amounts to another Rs 34,000 crore. The company is also accountable for annual dividend payment against the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) component that it gets from the finance ministry.

“In the event of a merger, the entire financial burden can get transferred to the Finance Ministry. If the current crisis continues or escalates, the Railways might not be in a position to pay salaries or pensions”, a senior ministry official said.

Salaries and pensions constitute the biggest component of railway spending – 55.5 paisa for every rupee earned. The Depreciation Relief Fund (DRF) component of each general budget has normally been placed below 5 paisa (of every 100 paisa spending).

Monsoon hurdles: Railway Board preparedness for safe railway operations

monsoon and railwaysMinistry of Railways has geared up its machinery to ensure safe railway operation during the current monsoon season. Railway Board has already sent instructions to all Zonal railways to do necessary preparedness and undertake appropriate precaution to ensure safe railway operation during the monsoon season. Zonal Railways at their own level have also prepared booklets of detailed guidelines for the concerned railway staff for the rainy season. In brief, following measures have been taken to ensure safe railway operations: –

(i) Joint inspection of Railway affecting works (Canals, Tanks, Reservoirs etc.) with State Govt. officials and attention to deficiencies by State Governments.

(ii) Identification of Vulnerable locations on the basis of past history and pre monsoon inspections. Stationary watchman are deputed at vulnerable bridges/locations. Patrolman deputed in vulnerable sections.

(iii) Detailed Guidelines have been issued by the Zonal Railways for Monsoon Patrolling and protection of vulnerable bridges/locations.

(iv) Adequate monsoon reserves such as Boulders, sand/quarry dust, relieving girders, wire net trungers etc. have been stacked at identified locations and also loaded in wagons for early restoration of the site in case of breaches/washouts etc.

(v) In the event of abnormal rainfall or storm during day or night, the Railway officials (Mate) organise patrolling over the length affected.

(vi) Arrangement made by Railway with the concerned Meteorological Centre for receipt of bad weather warnings covering heavy rainfall, high velocity winds, cyclone etc.

(vii) Liaison has been maintained with local authorities for monitoring of excess release of water from reservoirs/Dams so that adequate protection of Railway structure could be taken without loss of time.

(viii) Regular cleaning of catch water drains and side drains to ensure free flow and quick drainage of storm water.

(ix) In hilly areas, where there is incidence of falling boulders, a survey is carried out to locate loose boulders. Such loose boulders are being dropped in a systematic manner.

(x) Railway Officials inspect sections during monsoon by footplate/motor trolley etc. specially during period of Heavy rains/weather forecast.

monsoon and railways role

Glitches on CR’s Mainline and Harbour line to continue till November

commuters on CR Harbour lineMumbai:  There have been frequent failures in the Central Railway’s (CR) mainline as well as the Harbour line.

The officials are pointing their fingers at the simultaneous work of converting the Harbour line coaches from nine to 12, and the electrical conversion of the line from Direct Current (DC) to Alternate Current (AC) as the two main reasons for the delay.

Officials said that these glitches would continue till November. “Unfortunately, we have been asked to do both the 12-coach and alternate current work almost together, which is why there are figuratively and literally too many fires to put out,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

The officials are also in a hurry to complete the conversion to 12 coaches in the Harbour line before August 15.

However, railway activist Subhash Gupta refuted the claims. “There has been no addition of any new services in sections like CST-Kalyan lines in the past two years, so it’s unlikely they have the pressure of more services,” said Mr Gupta.

About the recent failures in the services, Mr Gupta said that the work on the Harbour line should not have affected the mainline. “It is unlikely that work on the Harbour line is affecting the mainline.

The conversion on the mainline has occurred almost a year ago, so they had time to get that system in place at least,” he added.

CR Harbour lineThe most recent failure was seen on Tuesday evening when the fluctuation of the power in the overhead wire at Kopar caused all fast line trains to run only up to Kalyan for more than three hours.

On the Harbour line, the 12-coach rake is now running 14 services on the line currently. Commuters complained of not enough services during peak hours. “The 12-coach train is a welcome move. But there are no services between 8 am and 10 am to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or between 5 pm and 7 pm,” said Gagan Vohra, a railway activist.

Work is also underway to extend the Harbour line up to Goregaon. The project will cost ₹1.03 billion (US$15 million) and is expected to be completed by December 2016. Further extension of this line has been accepted under MUTP III till Borivali. Harbour line services will be converted to 12-car by December 2016. This is expected to increase the carrying capacity of the Harbour line by nearly 33%. The core project will cost ₹7.50 billion and about 153 more coaches will be required.

Harbour line faces the chronic problem of old rakes, with some of them being older than 30 years. According to the Central Railway, of the 72 new Bombardier AC traction rakes being procured, the Harbour line would be given 36 of them, on a priority basis, once the DC to AC traction is completed by mid-2015.

CR has sought permission from the Railway Board to run EMUs on the Harbour line between Kurla and Shivajinagar in Pune. The service would provide direct connectivity between Navi Mumbai and Pune, which is currently not available. EMUs will be modified to include six motor cars.

CR plans to use 16 coach mail/express trains to cover the 170 km distance in approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes. Stations on the line will be Kurla, Vashi, Belapur, Panvel, Karjat, Lonavla and Shivajinagar.

Odisha CM vexed over slow pace of Khurda-Bolangir Rail link

Land acquisition has emerged as the key roadblock for smooth execution of the rail link. Naveen Patnaik asks Transport Department to expedite works.

Odisha CM reviewBhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked state’s Transport Department to expedite work Khurda-Balangir rail route. CM Patnaik on Wednesday issued this direction while reviewing the project at the State Secretariat here.

Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi told that the 16-km railway line work started from Balangir side in December 2015 is scheduled to be completed by 2018. Work from Rajsunakhala to Nayagarh would be ready by 2017, and the whole route would be ready by 2021, Majhi said.

Notably, trains are now running till Rajsunakhala on the on the 289-km Khurda-Bolangir rail project.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday voiced his discontent over the slow pace of implementation of the Khurda Road-Bolangir rail link, a long-delayed project.

Though work on the Rajsunakhala-Bolagada section was expected to be completed by June this year, it has failed the timeline, drawing the wrath of Patnaik. The chief minister has now stressed on extending the rail link project till Nayagarh by March 2017.

Stating that the state government was attaching special importance on the project, he stressed on expediting it by obtaining the necessary clearances. He also directed the authorities to commence work from the Bolangir section soon so that people can be benefited from the crucial rail link project.

Land acquisition has emerged as the key roadblock for smooth execution of the rail link. For the 289-km Khurda-Bolangir rail link, the state government has offered land free of cost and also agreed to bear 50 per cent of the project cost.

China all set to bungle India’s Rail Legacy in Kenya

The colonial British viewed the railway as a good way to open up the interior of Kenya and countering the ambitions of Germany in the region.
The colonial British viewed the railway as a good way to open up the interior of Kenya and countering the ambitions of Germany in the region.

Nairobi: Lawyer Nitin Shah looked out wistfully from his office window in central Nairobi at railway tracks snaking away from the Kenyan capital’s railway station, then sighed and turned around.

His ancestors had helped build the notorious British East African Railway network that in the late 1800s connected Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast to the continent’s landlocked interiors at the cost of four Indian workers’ life per mile.

The Indians, brought by the British as labourers and managers, who survived the construction of the rail network and stayed on formed the first Indian diaspora community in East Africa and are today the region’s wealthiest social group.

But a $14 billion Chinese-funded new rail network that will connect Mombasa to Kampala in Uganda, Juba in South Sudan and Kigali in Rwanda is expected to replace the old, rusting lines by June next year. It promises 120km per hour trains that will allow travellers to cover the 480km Nairobi-Mombasa journey in four hours – it currently takes 12 hours.

Punjabi and Rajasthan engineers and laborers had the skills the British required due to their experience in building railways in India for much of the later half of the 19th century.

The investment, the single largest infrastructure project in the history of Kenya, has also driven mammoth imports of steel from China in recent months that have allowed Beijing to replace New Delhi as Nairobi’s top trading partner for the first time ever.

India’s legacy in East Africa is under threat. But the man best positioned to lead an Indian counter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared unaware of the enormity of the challenge, twice referring to outdated statistics and not once to the new reality during his visit to Kenya, the region’s largest economy, that culminated yesterday.

Brought over by the British from India to build the railways, Indians in Kenya played a pivotal role in developing East Africa
Brought over by the British from India to build the railways, Indians in Kenya played a pivotal role in developing East Africa

“Indian companies have just not been investing as much in infrastructure in East Africa as China,” Gerrishon Ikiara, an economist and foreign policy analyst at the University of Nairobi’s Institute for Diplomacy and International Studies told. “And over the past year and a bit, China has overtaken India as Kenya’s trading partner.”

The new railway network will run on a standard gauge connecting Mombasa to Nairobi in the first phase, and then to Malaba on the Kenya-Uganda border. From there, it will continue into Uganda all the way to Kampala, the country’s capital. The rail lines will fork at Kampala – one going to Juba in South Sudan, the other to Kigali in Rwanda.

  • Indian migrants flocked to Kenya just over a century ago to build railways

  • Lion attacks and diseases such as black fever were just a couple of the dangers workers on the railways faced

  • Many descendants of those Indian migrants are today successful business owners across Kenya

  • Some say that the Indian community has still not fully integrated into Kenyan society

The new line starting from Mombasa has already reached the town of Machakos, just 63km southeast of Nairobi. There, workers and technicians were on Tuesday laying tracks and taking measurements amid heightened security because of fears of attacks from the terror group, Al Shabaab. Kenya fears the group may want to make the iconic new rail network a target.

The new rail line will run parallel to Kenya’s main A109 highway that connects Nairobi and Mombasa, its two biggest cities, serving as a ready reminder of the network’s construction by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

The demand for import of steel and machinery for the mammoth railway has given China a chance to outstrip India as Kenya’s top trading partner.

But Modi, seemingly unaware, twice referred to India as “Kenya’s largest trading partner and second-largest investor” yesterday: first after meeting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and then before business leaders from the two countries.

Officials later confirmed to this newspaper that Modi had quoted 2014 figures, when India’s bilateral trade with Kenya stood at $4.2 billion, just above China’s. Since then, the Indian ministry of commerce’s own figures show that bilateral trade with Kenya has slumped to just $3.2 billion in 2015-16, while China’s has risen to $4.8 billion.

Modi did make some investment announcements while in Kenya. These include two soft loans – $15 million for the revival of a textile factory and $30 million for fostering small and medium enterprises in Kenya. Chennai-based Apollo Hospitals and Pune-based Ruby Hall Clinic also inked agreements with African counterparts to set up facilities in Kenya.

“In India’s case, I think we need to be a little patient, because the government can only do so much, and it is mostly the private sector that will have to decide to invest more in Africa,” Ruchita Beri, an Africa specialist at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, told this newspaper over the phone. “And I think Indian companies are interested in Africa.”

But in a region, East Africa, where the Indian diaspora is more economically influential than in any other part of the world, some observers said they found India’s inability to compete better with China puzzling.

“India has such long-standing relations with Africa, especially East Africa,” Bernard Namunane, political editor of the Nation Media Group, the largest private media house in East and Central Africa told. “Yet it is China that comes in and makes the big investments. I don’t know why that happens.”

Building those “long-standing relations” wasn’t easy, as families like Shah’s know well. Shah heard the stories from his grandfather, who in turn heard them from his grandfather – tales that historical chroniclers of the British East African rail network have also detailed.

The British brought nearly 32,000 Indian workers and accountants to East Africa on the rail lines that were aimed at maintaining the clout of their empire in a region where Germany was making inroads, during what came to be known as the “Scramble for Africa.”

Constructions on the first phase of the rail network, connecting Mombasa to mines just inside present day Uganda – a distance of just over 600 km – left 2498 Indian workers dead and over 6000 incapacitated by injuries.

Some of those who survived returned, while the rest stayed back. They’ve remained in Kenya, through political upheaval, attacks, and economic instability. “If Kenyans today understand Indians so well, and talk of an old bond, it is because of these sacrifices,” Shah said.

Modi too referred to these sacrifices, at a speech on Monday during a banquet thrown in his honour by the Kenyan President.

“Thousands of Indians were brought here to build railways in the 19th and 20th centuries,” Modi recalled yesterday while addressing an India-Kenya business forum. “India and Kenya have had a very special relationship.”

But he did not show adequate recognition, Shah said, of the challenge India faces in maintaining the specialty of that relationship, in the face of giant Chinese investments that have shown no signs of reducing despite the country’s slowdown.

If India doesn’t make the investments that will compete with China, its legacy in East Africa will not remain untouched for very long, he cautioned.

“You can build on your historical advantage, water it, make it flourish still further,” Shah said. “Or you can allow it to disappear as a footnote of history.”

The Indian migrants who built Kenya’s ‘lunatic line’

Every week, Inside Africa takes its viewers on a journey across Africa, exploring the true diversity and depth of different cultures, countries and regions.

At the Old Port in Mombasa, southern Kenya, tranquil waters lap gently against the shore beneath the ghostly Fort Jesus garrison.

Today, it’s a pretty and peaceful scene, but one that belies the port’s bustling colonial past.

It was at this spot just over a century ago that the ancestors of Kenya’s successful Indian community first set foot on African soil.

The 625 mile track was soon christened the “lunatic line” due to the dangers posed by wildlife and disease during its construction. Workers were subjected to attacks by lions and many contracted Malaria. By the time construction was finished around 2,500 had lost their lives, equating to four dead men for every mile of track. Today, many of the families of many Indian laborers who moved to Kenya to work on the railways can be found in various towns and cities along the tracks.

They came in ships and dhows, having been coaxed here to build one of the continent’s great railways.

As that railway – which was soon christened the “lunatic line” because of its high cost and the dangers faced by those constructing it – snaked through the country towards Uganda in the years that followed, so did the Indian community.

The economic and cultural roots they laid down beside the tracks remains to this day.

“(My family is involved) in quite a lot,” said one businesswoman of Indian heritage we meet in a nearby restaurant. “We have commodities, transport and various other things.”

She tells us her grandfather first came to Kenya to work on the railways and her family has been there ever since.

Her colleague chimes in that “Indians have been traders and economically they play a very big role in the Kenyan economy.”

At a spice shop just down the road, meanwhile, the third generation Indian owner tells me that Kenyan Asians are spread widely across industries like construction, retail and tourism.

The winds of trade

Of course, merchants from erstwhile unified India (and also comprising of Pakistan) had come to Mombasa long before the railway.

The trade-routes linking East Africa and Asia were already well established.

Mombasa had been a city-state for over 2,000 years bearing long and fruitful relations with the Middle East, Asia and the Far East.

In the port’s heyday “there was ivory being sold like the way we sell cakes now or mahamris as we call them,” said historian Satmbuli Abdillahi Nassir. “There was rhinoceros horns … there was dry skin, there was spices, all this was happening at this port.”

It was the railway lines, however, and the need for labor that first brought a mass migration of people from the sub-continent.

By the mid-1890’s, the British were effectively in control of Kenya and were keen to open up the country’s interior and that of neighboring Uganda to counter German influence in the region.

Having started construction of railway lines in India nearly 50 years earlier, Punjabi engineers and laborers had the skills the British required.

The lion’s share

More 30,000 indentured Indian workers were soon enticed to sail to Mombasa and a new life in Africa.

Indians building Kenyan Railways
The Kenya-Uganda Railway, otherwise known as the “lunatic line”

The country these expectant migrants found upon arrival, however, was vastly different to the land of comparative business opportunity their ancestors inhabit today.

Work on the railways was brutally hard. By the time it had reached its destination in Kisumu on the banks of Lake Victoria, roughly 625 miles from Mombasa, around 2,500 men had died. That’s four people for every mile.

And it wasn’t just the oppressive heat and long hours workers had to contend with.

The man eaters of Tsavo were a pair of lions that killed anywhere between 28 and more than 100 workers during the building of the railway, depending which account you believe. They spread such terror that work stopped until they were eventually shot.

On top of that, there was also sickness and disease to contend with.

“Many people died of malaria and black fever when they were building because of the difficult terrain and there were no medical facilities resulting (in) many deaths,” said Komal Shah, whose ancestors settled just outside Nairobi after the railway was built.

“They had to take risks coming to this place,” she added.

Melting pot

Shah is one of the many Kenyan Asians who today run their own businesses in the Westlands and Parklands districts of the Kenyan capital.

She teaches the ancient Indian discipline of yoga, a far cry from the grueling and punishing work of the railway lines.

But the history and contribution of Shah’s ancestors in building the community and the infrastructure of the country make her proud of her roots.

“I would not like to be distinguished as a Kenyan from a different region of the world,” Shah said. “I am born here and a third generation Asian Kenyan. I proudly say that I am a Kenyan.”

Such open and patriotic sentiments aren’t uniform across the country, however. Outside of the big metropolises such as Nairobi and Mombasa, there is a more complex relationship between communities.

In Kisumu, where the great railway ends, issues of integration between Kenyan Asians and black Africans remain.

Although there are rarely tensions between the groups, neither mixes fully with the other. According to local MP Shakeel Shabbir Ahmed, himself a Kenyan Asian who married a black Kenyan woman, this is something that has to change.

“There has not been a real integration (in Kisumu) … like in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam,” Ahmed said.

“In Kisumu the integration is only when it’s in the shop or at the business … but when they go out of that particular environment there is very little integration either by way of recreation or other facilities.”

While Kenyan Asian’s community makes a substantial economic contribution to wider society, Ahmed believes they should make more of an effort to mix with their compatriots and refrain from being “insular.”

“We are less than 1.4% (of the population) here in Kenya but we hold the purse strings to maybe 30% or 40% of the economy,” Ahmed estimates.

“(But) we must remember that if we earn here, we live here, we must contribute to this country.”

That’s a sentiment that the very first Indian emigres to set foot in this beautiful country would have doubtless agreed with.

Nagpur better off as Bullet Train hub: Ex.ME Subodh Jain

Nagpur_Railway_StationNagpur: The recent announcement by the railway ministry — in its brochure commemorating two years of the Narendra Modi government — of studies to plan a high-speed rail (bullet) route between Mumbai-Nagpur and Nagpur-Delhi has once again raised a debate. This is because the Mumbai-Nagpur line, which was first envisaged by the Congress-led Democratic Front government in Maharashtra, was shelved by the railways a few months ago.

Among the reasons officials had given at the time was that with the state government coming up with a high-speed expressway between the two cities and the Nagpur airport itself undergoing expansion, the economic feasibility of a bullet train was doubtful.

The Delhi-Nagpur HSR (railway lingo for bullet trains) study is part of the first phase of studies commissioned. The feasibility study of the line is yet to be taken up by the China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group company, said officials. Delhi-Nagpur is part of the Delhi-Chennai route being studied currently.

Subodh Jain, former Member Engineering, Railway Board, who also served as General Manager of Central Railway, said Mumbai-Nagpur HSR route isn’t feasible. “Even when we studied it at CR, the line was not feasible as there isn’t clientele for HSR at Nagpur. However, if the ministry makes Nagpur a hub for HSR and then lays routes to various cities from there, it will be a good idea,” said Jain, who was the railways’ topmost engineering authority in 2013-14 when a lot of bullet train studies were being envisaged and commissioned.

According to Jain, if Nagpur is made the hub, then routes can be constructed to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai, which would mean that Nagpur becomes the inter-change point for the country’s bullet train network.

“The advantage with Nagpur as a hub-cum-changeover point is that passengers will have to travel for lesser duration at a stretch in HSR trains having only seating arrangements. A journey of up to five hours is ideal for such sitting journeys; longer can inconvenience passengers. For railways, the construction schedule and commissioning of lines becomes easier with Nagpur as hub rather than building longer routes, which can be commissioned only when the entire route is ready,” said Jain.

Advantages of Nagpur as bullet train hub

1. It is at the centre of the country’s vast railway network with most important cities equidistant from it.

2. Land availability and cost considerations to make a massive hub terminal are better at Nagpur than at any metro city.

3. It will speed up development of the cities around Nagpur, which currently is a flashpoint for Left-Wing Extremism.

The Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train saga

The train’s feasibility is being studied by the Spanish government-owned railway infrastructure firm Adif, partnered by Ineco. Ineco had earlier studied the feasibility of a 135km high-speed line between Howrah and Haldia in West Bengal and is currently studying the Delhi-Kolkata HSR line. The counterpart agency from India in the study is the railway ministry-owned High Speed Rail Corporation. The consortium of Adif-Ineco-HSRC is expected to submit the first report on the Mumbai-Nagpur line by December this year, said the railway ministry officials.

Railway Minister launches various facilities/initiatives from Rail Bhawan

New Delhi / Vijayawada: Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurated/ launched following facilities/Initiatives from Rail Bhawan today i.e. 12th July, 2016 :-

  1. Announcement of policy opening Category I and II Goods Sheds for Container Lift on/Lift off operations by private container operators.
  2. Announcement of policy opening parcel sector to container operators
  3. Flagging off of a new tri-weekly express train between Vijaywada and Dharmavaram Via Anantpur through video-conferencing.
  4. Flagging off ex. Gurgaon, of a time table Auto Car Freight train service between Gurgaon and Nidvanda (near Bengaluru) through video-conferencing.

Automobile Parcel Van and Container Parcel ServiceMinister of State for Railways & Minister of State for Communication (Independent Charge) Shri Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Science Shri Y.S.Chowdary were specially present to grace the occasion. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K.Mital, other Railway Board Members, several other dignitaries and senior officials were among those present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that today’s flag offs and new initiatives are one more step towards serving the country better. He said that auto industry which is the fastest growing industry is expanding with the increasing population and thus railways can extract revenue out of this opportunity by improving its auto traffic. He said that today’s flag off that too with time table run of freight train would ensure timely delivery of the autos which would increase confidence of auto industry on railway’s credibility.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railways & Minister of State for Communication (Independent Charge) Shri Manoj Sinha said that Indian Railways is firm in its commitment to complete budget announcements at the earliest. He further said that Indian Railway has a large shelf of projects ranging from passenger amenities to infrastructure development.  He said that the today’s flag offs and other measures are going to help the people and industry in a long way.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Science Shri Y.S. Chowdary thanked the Minister of Railways for introducing New Train Service between Vijaywada-Dharmavaram and keeping in the mind the long pending demand of the Andhra Pradesh people. He said that the Indian Railways has now been passing through a new era of modernization and wished Indian railways success for its future initiatives.


Opening of parcel sector for Container Train Operators(CTOs)     

In pursuance to the budget announcement, the following guidelines are being issued to open parcel segment for the Container Train Operators:  

(i)        Container Train Operators (CTOs) shall be allowed to operate Parcel Special trains (non-leased) consisting of Parcel Vans on indent basis.

(ii)      The minimum composition of Parcel Special train shall be 20 Parcel Vans + one Brakevan as per Freight Marketing Circular No. 17 of 2010.  Accordingly, Container Train Operators (CTOs) shall place indent for minimum of a rake.

(iii)    Container Train Operators (CTOs) shall aggregate the parcel cargo from various customers and offer the same in full rake load.  At destination, the parcel cargo shall be delivered to the CTO for further segregation and handing over to various customers.

(iv)     Container Train Operators (CTOs) shall be permitted to load/ unload the Parcel Special train from Container Rail Terminal (CRT), Inland Container Depot (ICD), Domestic Container Terminal (DCT), Multi-modal Logistic Park (MMLP) and all Railway’s terminals notified for handling of parcel trains.  

(v) The existing tariff shall be made applicable, which is at present at “Scale P”   as per Coaching Tariff No. 25, Part-III, effective from 01.10.2013. Any revision in tariff shall be made applicable under this scheme.

Opening of Group-I & II terminals for operation of container trains by private container operators by notification as Container Rail Terminals (CRTs)

  • In the Railway Budget 2016-17 Minister of Railways has announced that ‘All existing terminals/good-sheds would be granted access to container traffic, where considered feasible’.
  • Presently, all Group-III terminals (handling less than 7 rakes) are opened for operation of container trains including Lift on-Lift off. Group-I & II terminals (handling more than 12 and between 7-12 rakes respectively) with certain exceptions, are opened for chassis stuffing/de-stuffing operation only. The number of goods sheds/stations classified into Group-I, II & III are 378, 232 and 716 respectively.
  • Fulfilling the promise made in the Budget, it has been decided to open Group-I & II terminals also for container train operators (including Lift on-Lift off) so as to provide them access to 610 more goods sheds/stations, with following conditions –

Ø      Station/goods shed should have multiple handling lines

Ø      Traffic dealt at such terminal does not exceed seven rakes per handling line per month

Ø      Both Lift On-Lift Off operation and Chassis Stuffing/De-stuffing will be allowed

Ø      Permission will be given on joint recommendation of COM & CCM and with the approval of GM

Ø      It must be ensured that the contemplated container handling activity will not in any way hinder or restrict or hamper handling of inward or outward traffic in rail wagons at present or in foreseeable future.

  • Encouraging Lift On-Lift Off operations provides first and last mile road bridging services (‘door-to-door services’). This will lead to better utilization of unutilized/less utilized good shed lines, lead to expansion of container operations & widening of commodity basket through small packet size and attract traffic from Road to Rail through Containers.
  • Targeted beneficiaries are private container train operators, logistic companies, all freight customers, third party freight cargo aggregators, small packet size parcel operators & end-users and manufacturers.

Time tabled run of freight train (Automobile Traffic)

—        Indian Auto Industry is one of the largest in the world with annual production of about 24 million vehicles.

—        During year 2015-16, IR has loaded 708 rakes carrying 235907 units of four wheeler/three wheeler/two wheeler .

—        IR‘s present Rail Share in the automobile transportation is only about 3%.

—        The production and consumption pattern of Automobile is growing in such a way that there is substantial demand for transporting automobiles from one area to other area – to a distance much beyond 500 m.

—        IR is targeting to achieve 25% rail share of auto traffic.

—        At present Major OD pairs  are Delhi – Chennai,   Delhi – Bangalore,  Chennai – Guwahati.

—        Delhi –Bangalore is one of the most important OD pair for Auto transportation.

—        AUTO Cargo is time sensitive and hence Time Tabled running is important to ensure quality service.  The  time table for Gurgaon–Nidvanda- Gurgaon circuit is as follows:

 Time (Dep.) Day STATION   Time (Arrl.) day
21.30 (dep.)   1st day  GURGAON  (GGN) 23.00 (Arr.)
  01.30 2nd  day PALWAL (PWL)   17.00
  02.30 MATHURA JN. (MTJ)   16.00  
12.50/13.00 BINA   06.00 3rd day
20.00/20.10    ITARSI (ET) 23.50/2400
13.00/13.10 3rd  day BALLARSHAH (BPQ) 08.40/08.50 2nd day
11.00/11.20 4th  day  RENIGUNTA  (RU) 11.30/11.40
15.40/15.50 JOLARPETTAI (JTJ) 05.00/05.10
19.30 (Arr.)  NIDVANDA  (NDV) 01.00 (Dep.)        1st day
70 Hrs.   TOR   70 Hrs.hrs.
  1. Days of Run Ex Gurgaon on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
  2. Days of Run Ex Nidvanda Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

—        At  present  average 2000 cars  move per month  between Gurgaon  and Nidvanda. The time tabled run will improve the turn round and the number of trips are likely to go resulting transportation of about 6000 cars per month.

Introduction of New Train service between Vijaywada Dharmavaram (Tri-weekly)

Tri-weekly express flagging offThe Indian Railways, (as per Minutes provide by South Central Railway) going to introduces a Over-Night train viz. 17215/17216 Vijayawada-Dharmavaram (Tri Weekly service).

            The abstract schedule including timings; composition, stoppages etc. of the train services to be introduced are as under:

23.10 D VIJAYWADA A 06.50
00.00 00.05 A/D GUNTUR A/D 05.40 05.45
05.45 05.50 A/D NANDYAL A/D 00.05 00.10
10.00 10.02 A/D ANANTAPUR A/D 19.00 19.02
10.45 A DHARMAVARAM D 17.50
44.08 KMPH SPEED 39.46 KMPH

Primary Maintenance: Vijaywada (R/BPC).      OEM; Dharmavaram

Days of run:

            Ex-Vijayawada – Monday, Wednesday, & Saturday

            Ex-Dharmavaram – Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

One-way Distance:

510 Kms.


Guntur, Narsaraopet, Vinukonda, Markapur Road, Giddalur, Nandyal, Dhone Gooty,Anantpur .

Composition of regular service:

            SLR=2, 3AC=2, 2AC=1, Sleeper=6 (Total= 11 COACHES)

Railways opens up Parcel Services to Private Sector – Container Train Operators to run Parcel Special Trains

Railways has introduced the facility of Train Service Parcel Van in the Country!
Railways has introduced the facility of Train Service Parcel Van in the Country!

New Delhi: The Railways today opened its parcel business segment to container train operators to run “parcel special trains” in a bid to shore up its earnings.

“Parcel business is increasing as it is a fast moving sector. We want to increase our parcel share which is currently not much,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said after announcing the liberalised parcel policy here.

The Railways earn about Rs 2,000 crore a year in parcel business. It has set a target of Rs 3,000 crore for the current fiscal.

The commercial wing formulate strategies so as to encourage the agriculture / poultry trade to utilize railways for transport of perishable commodities including poultry products such as eggs, apart from Electronic Goods and Pharmaceuticals will be beneficial from the facility.

As per the new policy, container train operators (CTO) will be allowed to operate parcel special trains consisting of parcel vans. A parcel special train will have 20 parcel vans.

Prabhu said the initiative was mentioned in the rail budget. The facility is sure to give a big fillip to the transport of perishable commodities including Eggs from the region towards consumer destinations. The VPU service will hold a capacity for transport of 23 Tonnes of commodity, he said.

CTOs will aggregate the parcel cargo from customers and offer the same in full rake load. At the respective destinations, parcel cargo will be delivered to CTOs for further segregation and handing over to customers.

Prabhu said the Post and Telegraph department also has ambitious plans to increase their parcel business and the Railways can tie up with them.

Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed said parcel operation was being currently carried in a very limited way and efforts are on to increase it in a significant way.

Parcel policy has been liberalised now and all zones have been asked to run parcel vans on lease, Jamshed said.

Asked what kind of goods will be targeted for parcel services, the official said “basically, white goods can be transported in parcel. Pharmaceuticals, electronics and other similar items can also be transported in a big way in parcel.” The perishable commodities loaded from these destinations shall include agriculture produce, fish and eggs etc., Therefore, the VPU service will immensely serve the business interest of the poultry / farming community in the region in particular.

CTOs will be permitted to avail the facility at container rail terminals, domestic container terminals, inland container depot, multi-modal logistic park and all railway terminals.

Time-tabled Freight Train ‘Auto Express’ flagged off from Gurgaon

Time-tabled Freight Train for Auto Sectors

Time-tabled Freight TrainsGurgaon: After launching a time-tabled container freight train, the Ministry of Railways launched a time-tabled freight train for the auto sector on Delhi-Bengaluru route.

Targeting 25 per cent rail share in automobile traffic, railways launched time-tabled Auto Express from Gurgaon to Nidvanda to ensure faster delivery of cargo on 12th July, 2016.

The domestic auto sector is one of the largest in the world with annual production of about 24 million vehicles. During year 2015-16, IR has loaded 708 rakes carrying 2,35,907 units of four-wheeler / three-wheeler / two-wheeler.

IR’s present rail share in the automobile transportation is only about 3 per cent. Railways has also opened up good-sheds for container train operators, subject to certain conditions.

“Like our ever-growing population, auto population is also increasing on a faster rate. In fact auto sector is a fastest growing economy. If railways can tap it then it will be major source of revenue,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said after launching the first time-tabled auto car freight train service between Gurgaon and Nidvanda (Bangalore) from here through video-conferencing.

He said that with today’s flag off that too with time-table run of auto-car freight train would ensure timely delivery of the automobiles which would increase confidence of auto industry on railway’s credibility.

At present about 2000 cars move per month between Gurgaon and Nidavanda. With launch of the time tabled run of the freight train for automobile traffic, the volume will go up and the number of trips are likely to increase resulting transportation of about 6000 cars a month.

Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed said railways has earlier launched time-tabled Cargo Express and now Auto Express to ensure faster movement of traffic.

“These special trains have wagons to run 100 km per hour. So the travel duration has decreased from 70 hours to 57 hours.”

Jamshed further said auto cargo is time sensitive and hence time-tabled running is important to ensure quality service.

Over 100 Rare Documents of erstwhile Great Indian Peninsula Railway to be digitised

Special scanners would be used so that they would not need to come in contact with paper when the books are digitised.

Dinning hall in Central Railway, Mumbai prior to the Digitisation of old books
The Dinning Hall in Central Railway, Mumbai prior to the Digitisation of old books

Mumbai: More than 100 historical documents of Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR), the predecessor of Central Railway, are set to be digitised and preserved for posterity.

The digitised documents will be uploaded on the Central Railway’s website to provide a look into the functioning of the country’s oldest railway service.

GIPR was incorporated on August 1, 1849, by an Act of the British Parliament. It was planned to connect erstwhile Bombay with the interior of the Indian peninsula for increasing the export of cotton, silk, opium, sugar and spices.

India’s first passenger train was run by GIPR on April 16, 1853, from Boree Bunder station in Mumbai to Thane. The GIPR was, subsequently, incorporated into Central Railway in 1951.

Last Monday, Central Railway as part of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) Heritage Week handed over 100 documents of GIPR to Maharashtra State Archives for preservation.

The documents include information on the operations and the important decisions taken by GIPR in the past.

“The documents signify what role railways played in determining the economy or the society of the country at that time. The old magazines are representative of people’s dependence on the railway’s publishing journals for advertising, real estate or even discussions about their social lives,” said A K Srivastava, Additional General Manager, Central Railway.

“Many of the ancient documents are more than 80-90 years old and have worn out. There are letters written by the GIPR officials to the head office in London and vice-versa, concerning administration of railways. It is a must that we preserve these documents for future use,” Srivastava added.

The documents will be preserved through scanning, digitising and conversion of texts to English.

“Some of the very old documents will be laminated. It will be done through a special technique which involves use of gloves after sprinkling some powder on the pages. Bare hands should not come in contact with these documents as they are extremely old,” said Srivastava.

He added that special scanners would be put in place for digitising the books, which would not touch the paper or come in contact with the spine of the book. Srivastava said, “The calligraphy and words date back to the pre-Independence era. We will be hiring a team trained in Archaic English words who can dedicate their time to converting them to spoken English.This will help the readers attain a better understanding of the documents.”

An official from the Maharashtra State Archives said details of the process would be finalised after a meeting with CR officials. “We will be assisting CR in the process of digitisation and preservation of documents. We will help them with expert teams and advise them on availing Central Government schemes for digitisation. A detailed meeting will be held with CR officials in the coming days,” said Dilip Balsekar, a State Archives official.

IR critical for both GDP & Carbon footprint: says Rakesh Mohan at Brookings India seminar

Brookings India hosted a seminar on Transporting India to the 2030s in which Rakesh Mohan focused on India’s transport needs over the next couple of decades, and what we need to do to satisfy them.
Brookings India hosted a seminar on Transporting India to the 2030s in which Rakesh Mohan focused on India’s transport needs over the next couple of decades, and what we need to do to satisfy them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was probably impressed enough by railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s performance to not move him in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, but more than that, the railways are critical for both India’s GDP as well as its carbon future. Just how critical, was reinforced by former RBI deputy governor Rakesh Mohan at a Brookings India seminar last fortnight—Mohan chaired a committee on India’s transport needs till 2032 and the seminar built upon the work it did over four years.

Brookings India hosted its inaugural session of its Development Seminars @ Brookings India with the paper “Transporting India to the 2030s” by Rakesh Mohan. The talk focused on India’s transport needs over the next couple of decades, and what we need to do to satisfy them. Rakesh Mohan is a Distinguished Fellow at Brookings India and former Executive Director for India to the IMF. The Development Seminars @ Brookings India are an opportunity to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to allow for an engaging discussion on a wide range of topics. The Seminar Series will feature distinguished speakers from a range of disciplines with the audience including people from government, academics, civil society, and the media.

Just a few numbers on India’s transport needs highlight how critical it is to get the railways piece right. If India was to grow at 7% a year, freight transport demand will quadruple by the mid-2030s—if the rate goes up to 8-9%, demand could rise by a factor of six. For passenger traffic, we’re talking of a 15-fold rise—if you think India’s roads and trains are crowded today, think of what this will do. Mohan’s committee’s simulations showed energy demand rising by a factor of four over the next 20 years, steel by eight times … Though a lot of traffic has shifted to road over the past few decades, neither the current network nor what is planned can deal with such volumes. Till 15 years ago, both road and railway networks, Mohan points out, were growing at relatively similar rates, but prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Golden Quadrilateral and then the rural roads programme put the roads network on a dramatically different trajectory. While the railways have made a recovery with the two dedicated freight corridors, what is needed is to complete the other corridors that Prabhu mentioned in his last budget speech—while a bullet train may be desirable, its costs have to be seen in comparison with what such corridors can achieve.

Click here to download the paper: “Transporting India to the 2030s”: RakeshMohan_Transport
Click here to download the Presentation: Presentation-Transporting-India-to-the-2030s

Not being able to do this implies a serious infrastructure constraint to further GDP growth since, to take the most obvious example, if coal does not move, there can be no electricity supply to power India’s industrial/services growth. In absolute terms, transport investment needs to rise seven-fold from the 11th Plan to the 15th Plan (2027-32), or from 2.6% of GDP right now to 3.7% in another few years and then be sustained at that level. Apart from the fact that a one percentage point step up is a big one, much of the investment will have to come from the public sector—in the original simulations, the private share was expected to rise to around 25-30% over a decade but the sad state of private infrastructure firm balance sheets shows this was way too optimistic. More than the money which is a big challenge, it is clear the present Railway Board-led governance structure cannot pull off this transformation. Apart from the criticality of building the railway network for GDP growth, India’s Paris goals depend upon increasing the railways’ share in local transport from 36% right now to 45% by 2030—the six freight corridors will lower India’s cumulative railway emissions from 1.26 billion tonnes between 2016-2046 to 0.29 billion tonnes, and to 0.09 billion in a low-carbon scenario. India can’t afford to slip up on widening its tracks.

Key Findings of the Paper

  • India’s transport growth trends suggest that share of railways in freight traffic has fallen from 90% in 1951 to 30% in 2010, annual deaths on roads have increased by 350% and domestic air passengers have gone up by 800% between 1991 and 2011.
  • Though there has been road capacity improvement with the Golden Quadrilateral, East-West and North-South highways and transformations in civil aviation, more work is needed to create efficient port structures, reliable urban transport and large capacity railways.
  • Achieving the target of 7% growth in the 12th Five Year Plan, followed by 9% till 2032 requires a seven-fold increase in transport investment from the 11th Plan to the 15th Plan.
  • Urgent action is required to ensure that India’s transport infrastructure can service the increasing needs for the movement of bulk energy commodities for the envisaged growth rates.

Prior to joining Brookings India, Rakesh Mohan was Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., representing India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Till early 2014, he was also Chairman, National Transport Development Policy Committee, Government of India, in the rank of a Minister of State. Previously, Dr Mohan has held the positions of Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India; Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India; and several key positions in Government of India including Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, in 2001-02.

Dr. Mohan has researched extensively in the areas of economic reforms and liberalisation, industrial economics, urban economics, infrastructure studies, economic regulation, monetary policy and the financial sector. He is the author of three books on urban economics and urban development, co-author of one and editor of another on Indian economic policy reforms, and author of two books on monetary policy and central banking and of numerous articles.

Zonal Railway GMs now have to meet tough monthly targets

Dozen projects have been identified for speedy completion

Zonal Railways TargetsThe Railway Board has set monthly targets for executing new/ongoing projects and urged General Managers to evolve a system for periodical monitoring of the progress made at the zonal level.

In Southern Railway, at least a dozen works have been listed, including the long-pending Sengottai-Punalur gauge conversion and Chennai Beach-Athipattu fourth broad gauge line projects, for early completion.

Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal, in a letter to General Managers, has pointed out that the tendency to keep most of the works for the last quarter of the year should be avoided.

“We have set ourselves very challenging targets for commissioning of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects in line with the announcement made in the Rail Budget 2016-17. Works Directorate has already worked out detailed month-wise plans after consultation with all Zonal Railway and Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd,” he said.

Mr. Mittal said timely commissioning of the projects called for meticulous planning in respect of preparatory works like approval of plans, arrangement of materials, fixing of executing agencies, creation of posts for maintenance of new assets etc. “Timelines for these activities have to be so prepared in advance that the final outcome of commissioning of the projects for traffic is accomplished within the deadline.”

On completion, new lines require inspection and clearance of the Commissioner of Railway Safety for operations. Stressing the need to set up a system through which progress of finalisation of ‘Engineering Signal Plan’, ‘Signal Installation Programme’ and ‘Station Working Rules’ required to achieve targets could be reviewed and monitored at the level of Additional General Manager, Mr. Mittal sought to know from General Managers the action taken and progress at their end.

In Southern Railway, the Chennai-Nagercoil double broad gauge line with electrification has been a long-pending demand of passengers.

While the work is nearing completion between Chennai and Madurai, doubling works along Madurai-Virudhunagar-Vanchi Maniyachi/Tuticorin-Tirunelveli-Nagercoil are expected to be completed in association with the Tamil Nadu government by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

Unmanned crossing

Railway officials said elimination of unmanned level crossings, installation of CCTV network at all suburban stations/major junctions and introduction of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches to replace conventional rakes were among the priority areas in the zone.

Prabhu aims to Transform India through Transforming Railways

Suresh Prabhu transforms IndiaPrime Minister Narendra Modi firmly believed that Indian Railway has the potential to become the backbone of India’s progress and economic development. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu with this vision is working hard to transform India through transforming Indian Railways.

18 months ago, when Suresh Prabhu took over the reigns of India’s transport behemoth the Indian Railways, he was faced with many challenges and he had the option of making small incremental changes or, go beyond business as usual. He chose the latter.

Bringing in systemic changes was the need of the hour. It was important for Suresh Prabhu to change the perception of Indian Railways from a slow moving behemoth to a responsive modern organization. Today it is satisfying for him to note that he could make some progress with the association of gallant folk of Indian Railwaymen.  However, he feels a lot is still to be done.

“our Prime Minister has asserted many times that our Government’s priority is the commonest of common man of the country and it is with this in mind, we worked on improving the travel experience for our people. We launched a host of initiatives aimed at this”, he mentions. An eBook was released by the Ministry under the leadership of Suresh Prabhu on the two year performance and achievements of Indian Railways which can be downloaded here: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/railwayboard/uploads/directorate/prd/downloads/Two_Years_Performance_Report.pdfSome of the important achievements and milestones Suresh Prabhu achieved in his 18 months tenure are:

  • Railways, under the leadership of Suresh Prabhu as its Union Minister of Railways, commissioned record 2,828 kms of Broad Gauge lines which is 85% higher than 2009-14 average annual commissioning. It may be noted that 7.7 kms lines commissioned per day as against the average of 4.3 kms during 2009-14. This is the fastest pace ever since the evolution of Railways in India from 1853.
  • Capital expenditure in 2015-16 was about Rs.94,000 Crore which is almost double the average annual capital expenditure over the previous five-year period of 2009-14.
  • Electrification of 1730 kms completed during the last 18 months is a huge jump over 2009-14 annual average of 1184 kms.
  • Indian Railways also become one of the most proactive towards redressal of various complaints through the responsive 24×7 complaint resolution mechanism employed through the use of social media and other mechanisms.
  • In terms of Cleanliness in the Railway stations and in upcountry areas, Railways launched Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat, Clean My Coach Services apart from deploying Bio-toilets in association with DRDO for many passenge trains, which have given best results in cleanliness.  There have been an efficient monitoring, maintenance and operation practice internalised today extensively on IR.
  • Railways even conducted a third party cleanliness audit in stations across various zonal railways. It is for the first time in the history of Indian Railways that tracks are now visibly clean even in the remotest parts of the country, with no dirt, stench, garbage in and around the railway areas.
  • E-catering, E-wheelchair, E-bedroll facilities launched by Indian Railways to ensure seamless availability and access to these facilities have given good results.
  • Railways have also streamlined the Concession Procedures and resolved various issues, governing the Id Cards for Physically Handicapped so that they need not struggle to run around the Railway Divisions/Zones for availing this facility.
  • On Ticketing front, IRCTC capacity was increased, Automatic ticket vending machines installed, cancellation of PRS tickets through cell phone launched, Vikalp scheme were quickly launched.
  • As regards Speed of Trains, India’s first semi high speed train Gatimaan Express was launched and it is a successful initiative by IR in the last 18 months on various sections.  Now the Trial run of Talgo Coaches  is underway. Once Talgo make Highspeed trains are proved to be beneficial, Railways can achieve average 160 Kms speed for various passenger trains across the country which will contribute for increased Operational efficiency and thus contribute for higher revenues.
  • Railway Connectivity to the frontier portions of the Northeast India was further strengthened with Barak Valley of Assam, Agartala, Mizoram and Manipur connected to Broad Gauge lines.
  • High speed Wi-Fi launched at various stations with a target of 400 stations by 2018.
  • Environment: A provision of 1% of total project cost made in all future projects to spend on environment protection measures, major thrust on solar and wind energy provided, traditional lights replaced by environment friendly LED lights.
  • 100% E-tendering implemented resulting in transparent and accountable procurement process.

While there are visible achievements by Suresh Prabhu as the Railway Minister, still the Railway system is very much in need of certain leap-forward steps to be taken for implementation of Accounting Reforms, Information Technology enabled solutions and export of products to non-IR industry by the Railways owned Production Plants etc.  Hopefully, the accounting reforms will be in place by 2017.  however, in terms of best IT practices, Railways is far behind and is yet to catch up with the speed of IT.

Today, Indian Railways is vulnerable to Cyber Security, as per industry experts; and it may be a point of concern that Railways is yet to give priority for creation an IT enabled Enterprise Architecture kind of a solution for Indian Railways, and is yet to transform Railways with the best IT solutions to achieve higher results. Prabhu should also concentrate on Network Security, Big Data Privacy, IOT, policy, Cyber Security Policy, Digitization of Employee Records, ERP rollout, Real-time Executive Dashbaord for better management at the Board, Zonal, Divisional, Workshops and Institutes level, with robust IT Program Management practices, Mobility in Governance etc.  Railways require to create a Member grade Chief Information Officer at Board level and create DGM-IT ranks at Zonal levels to achieve Prabhu’s mission to transform India through transforming Indian Railways!

While it should not be forgotten the important role Indian Railways has to play in reducing the carbon footprint and paralelly serious infrastructure constraint to further GDP growth. To take the most obvious example, if coal does not move, there can be no electricity supply to power India’s industrial/services growth. In absolute terms, transport investment needs to rise seven-fold from the 11th Plan to the 15th Plan (2027-32), or from 2.6% of GDP right now to 3.7% in another few years and then be sustained at that level. Apart from the fact that a one percentage point step up is a big one, much of the investment will have to come from the public sector—in the original simulations, the private share was expected to rise to around 25-30% over a decade but the sad state of private infrastructure firm balance sheets shows this was way too optimistic.

More than the money which is a big challenge, it is clear the present Railway Board-led governance structure cannot pull off this transformation. Apart from the criticality of building the railway network for GDP growth, India’s Paris goals depend upon increasing the railways’ share in local transport from 36% right now to 45% by 2030—the six freight corridors will lower India’s cumulative railway emissions from 1.26 billion tonnes between 2016-2046 to 0.29 billion tonnes, and to 0.09 billion in a low-carbon scenario. India can’t afford to slip up on widening its tracks. For the purpose of export, these units can even make products in gauges not generally found on the Indian Railway network, such as the standard gauge. It has also emphasised on building modern three-phase metre-gauge locomotives and diesel-electric multiple units (DEMU) as both these products have a high potential in certain foreign markets. Plans for increasing non-fare revenue, creating corpus for various production plants, to develop new products for export markets, quality upgrade of products for export are the need of the hour. The task is daunting. All production units put together earn about Rs.300 crore by selling products to firms and countries apart from the Indian Railways, (something the IR calls non-fare revenue). Currently, one of the biggest export orders with the railways is the construction of 120 LHB coaches for Bangladesh Railways. These coaches are being built at the Rail Coach Factory (RCF)-Kapurthala in Punjab. IR should plan is to get all Production Units under the Indian Railways to have an export target of at least Rs.500 crore is a welcome sign. It is tough but it is time these units stepped up to the challenge. By making standard gauge products, the railways can also cater to various Indian cities where metro railway systems are coming up on standard gauge (for example Mumbai’s Versova-Ghatkopar metro)”.

While Suresh Prabhu continue to make his journey on this noble mission of “Transforming India through Transforming Railways”, he needs increased support and proactive participation from not only his colleagues at Board/ Zonal/Divisional Railways, but also from the entire industry and socio-political fraternity together to make the Indian Railways better.

The Takeaway for China from failed US High-Speed Rail Deal

US HSR by ChineseWhat is the most important lesson that China should learn from the recent termination of its U.S. rail deal? It is not that the overseas markets are complicated or that trade protectionism threats are lurking. What it demonstrates is that the United States cannot keep up with the times, and its public cannot rid themselves of vested interests, breaking the hope that the United States would enter an era of high-speed rail transport.

It is true that trade protectionism exists in America, since some forces in the United States regard China as their largest international rival. Nonetheless, trade protectionism seems not to have been a major reason for XpressWest’s unilateral termination of its deal with China Railway International Group to build a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Although the Buy America Act may be considered as an obstacle to deals with China, it does offer some exceptions. The act, which seeks to ensure that “infrastructure projects are built with American-made products,” may be waived if using the domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.

It is by these exceptions that the CRRC Corp. Ltd. and some other Chinese companies have been exempted from the act, and have already been producing high-speed rail equipment in their U.S. factories. Therefore, XpressWest probably didn’t see the act as a sticking point when signing the contract with China Railway International Group.

The reason for XpressWest backing out may have been purely due to business considerations. The estimated construction costs are too high, the competition from road and air transportation is too fierce, and financing is difficult to obtain. All of these factors could have pushed the company to terminate the deal.

The U.S. Federal Government faces various difficulties in advancing its plans to build high-speed railways. Stopping the construction of its first high-speed rail project will hurt the United States more than China.

Massive infrastructure projects have always powered a country’s economic growth. During the industrial revolution, for example, the creation of canals, highways and railways greatly boosted the British economy. After World War II, U.S. President Eisenhower, learning from Germany’s autobahn network, pushed for a similar system in the United States, which eventually replaced Germany as the owner of the world’s largest network of expressways.

The United States used to have an outstanding capacity to undertake infrastructure projects but has nevertheless fallen behind in terms of high-speed railways. This indicates that there are underlying problems in its governance structure and that vested interests may be obstructing the United States from making sustained innovation and progress despite their former support of such endeavors.

We must also recognize that vested interests obstructing innovation and progress come not only from a small number of elites, but also from the public. Why did the first industrial revolution start from the emerging cotton textile sector and related equipment manufacturing not the wool textile industry long-developed in Europe? Besides the advantages over wool which cotton provided during its processing and use, workers in the wool textile industry also thwarted the revolution’s progress. Being fully dependent on wages from conventional labor, they resisted the mechanization of the industry. But in the emerging cotton textile industry, it was easier to hire new workers and to adopt new methods of production.

Due to this reason, although spinning frames were first designed for the mature wool textile industry instead of the emerging cotton textile industry, the former still fell behind the latter during the industrial revolution.

Therefore, China need not care about the failures of single projects as long as it has advanced technology and production capabilities. What China must learn from the United States is that if a country cannot keep up with the times, and if its public cannot rid themselves of vested interests, it will lose its capacity for innovation and progress.

Mei Xinyu – the author, is a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation

Railways ERP: Decisions based on gut-reaction can lead to costly mistakes

Operational and Management reports, Analytics and Data feeds: all the information you need to run railway services efficiently and manage business effectively are unfortunately lacking on Indian Railways. The present set of statistical data, collected often on an yearly basis, is mostly to evaluate operational performance!

Indian Railways ERPWhich trains are money-spinners and which routes are losing? How much of freight business and on which products are being lost to the road sector every year? Has the PPP model resulted in a sizeable increase in Railways’ revenues or has it only given the private sector a chunk of railways’ land to squat on? How is each of the products supplied by millions of vendors for maintenance of rolling stock performing? Which areas of the Railways’ activity could be outsourced to effect greater financial economy ?

These, and a host of other questions, need to be answered for any meaningful business decision to be taken. Sadly, in the absence of hard facts or reliable data on BI & Analytics Dashboard, these decisions are often based on a hunch or a gut reaction, which could lead to costly mistakes, or are not taken at all with the hope that things would some how work out in the end.

In a dynamic activity such as rail transport, where the scenario can change almost daily, taking quick decisions is inescapable—for this, availability of real time information and reliable data is paramount. Unfortunately, the present set of statistical data, collected often on an yearly basis, is mostly to evaluate operational performance involving usage of assets such as wagons, locomotives, fuel consumption, etc.

Representational Image: BI & Analytics Dashboard for Indian Railways must from Board level to Zonal/Divisional level for performance assessments online and to increase competing environment among various Zones/Divisions
Representational Image: BI & Analytics Dashboard for Indian Railways must from Board level to Zonal/Divisional level for performance assessments online and to increase competing environment among various Zones/Divisions

PRS (Passenger Reservation System), installed in 1984, was the first major computerisation initiative. It involved the mammoth task of booking train tickets, a business which has now grown to over 2 million tickets a day being booked from over 10,000 terminals spread across railway’s 64,000-km long network, as well as online and via mobile phones.

The next major foray was made when the Centre for Railway Information Services (CRIS) built a robust platform for keeping track of over 7,000 freight trains originating daily from scores of yards and sidings.

As a result, real-time data on tonnage, commodity-loaded, point of origin and destination, time of departure and the exact location of a train at any point of time is available at the click of a mouse.

Created in 1986, CRIS started its search for an appropriate programme only in the late 1990s. The architecture of CANAC, the Canadian Railway Consultancy Service’s programme, did not meet the needs of Indian Railways while IBM’s proposal turned out to be too expensive.

Ultimately, CRIS developed a programme with its in-house expertise. This was rolled out by the end of a decade and has been the mainstay for Railways’ pan-India monitoring of freight trains. It, incidentally, also helps CONCOR keep track of its containers.

However, apart from a few individual departmental efforts to computerise asset maintenance, store functions and other record-keeping, no major effort has been made over the last two decades for vital data to be available for both short- and long-term decision-making—a serious shortcoming for the 1.3-million strong behemoth which is nation’s economic life-line.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is now determined to change all that with a major ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) exercise by roping in one of the major IT players, such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro, or SAP. Undoubtedly, a tough task, for it should not result in just generating a lot of information.

Identifying areas of concern, arriving at how the data is to be keyed in and who would do it are equally crucial to avoid pitfall of GI-GO (or Garbage-In-Garbage-Out). The objective for each module would also need to be clearly spelt-out and the integrity of data and competence of those making the inputs fully ensured.

In the final analysis choice of a competent CEO who would see the project through, staying as long it takes and not use it as a stepping stone for higher responsibilities would be crucial for success of the multi-crore project. Merging some of the existing IT initiatives into the new project to provide a seamless interface could go a long way in keeping the cost of the multi-crore project to a bare minimum.

Modi retraces Gandhi’s Train Journey in South Africa

Reliving Mahatma Gandhi’s historic train journey, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday travelled to the railway station where the Father of the Nation was thrown out of a train compartment – an incident that proved to be a turning point in his fight against racial discrimination in South Africa. Prime Minister pays glowing tribute to the Mahatma and Nelson Mandela.

PM Modi retraces Mahatma Gandhi's train journey in South Africa. Arrives by train at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg
Prime Minister Modi retraces Mahatma Gandhi’s train journey in South Africa; arrives by train at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg (SA): Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled on a train on Saturday from Pentrich to the Pietermaritzburg railway station where a young Gandhi was thrown out of a compartment in 1893 for refusing to obey a racist order to move from a first-class compartment to a third-class one for being an Indian. On the second day of his South Africa visit, Modi boarded a wood-panelled carriage at Pentrich and travelled to Pietermaritzburg railway station where a young Gandhi was thrown out of a train.

The turning point of Mahatma Gandhiji's life in Pietermaritzberg South Africa, where he was thrown out of the train just because he was a non-white!
The turning point of Mahatma Gandhiji’s life in Pietermaritzberg South Africa, where he was thrown out of the train just because he was a non-white! Travelling farther on by stagecoach he was also beaten by a white driver for refusing to travel on the foot board to make room for a European passenger. These events were a turning point in his life, awakening him to social injustice by White sects of European origin, and influencing his subsequent social activism. 

“This is the place where the seed was laid for Mohandas (Karamchand Gandhi) to start the journey of the Mahatma,” Modi told reporters at the Pietermaritzburg railway station.

The incident on June 7, 1893 had strongly influenced Gandhi’s decision to fight racial discrimination in South Africa and later the freedom struggle in India.

modi SA gandhi train with president SAPaying a glowing tribute to Gandhi, the prime minister said the visit to South Africa was like a pilgrimage as he was visiting places linked to India’s history and life of the Father of the Nation. “My visit to South Africa has become like a pilgrimage as I have got the opportunity to visit all the three places that are significant to Indian history and Mahatma Gandhi’s life,” said Modi.

Pietermaritzburg Station in South Africa where Mahatma Gandhi was forced out of a First Class compartment by Whites
Pietermaritzburg Station in South Africa where Mahatma Gandhi was forced out of a First Class compartment by Whites

Modi also visited the spot where Gandhi was offloaded at Pietermaritzburg. Writing in the visitors’ book at the station, Modi said the incident at Pietermaritzburg had altered the course of India’s history. The prime minister also inaugurated an exhibition at the waiting hall of the railway station where Gandhi had spent the night after being thrown out of the train.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaks to the press at a railway station in Pietermaritzburg
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaks to the press at a railway station in Pietermaritzburg

“My visit to South Africa has become like a pilgrimage a pilgrimage to me as I have got the opportunity to visit all the three places that are significant to Indian history and Mahatma Gandhi’s life,” said Modi.

On the fateful winter night, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria from Durban, a white man objected to his presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the third-class compartment. Gandhi had a valid first-class ticket and refused to obey the orders following which he was thrown out of the train at Pietermaritzburg station on a winter night. He had stayed at the station that night in shivering cold.

Narendra Modi with Presspersons in SA2The Prime Minister also inaugurated an exhibition at the waiting hall of the railway station where Gandhi had spent the night after being thrown out of the train.

On the fateful winter night, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria from Durban, a white man objected to his presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the third-class compartment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspects a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg on Friday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspects a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg on Friday

Gandhi had a valid first-class ticket and refused to obey the orders following which he was thrown out of the train at Pietermaritzburg station in a winter night. He had stayed at the station that night in shivering cold.

Modi also talked about Gandhi’s fight against racial discrimination and how he tolerated pain in fighting against injustices.

Narendra Modi with Presspersons in SA2“PM travels from Pentrich Railway Station to Pietermaritzburg. Train resembles the one on which Gandhi ji travelled,” the PMO tweeted.

The Prime Minister arrived in South Africa from Mozambique on Thursday night on the second leg of his four-nation trip to Africa.

PM Narendra Modi being received by the South African Govt with all High ProtocolModi had held extensive talks South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday during which both sides agreed to deepen engagement in key areas of defence production, manufacturing, mining and minerals.

The two countries also vowed to cooperate “actively” in combating terrorism and dealing with issues at multilateral fora.

Narendra Modi,Mahatma Gandhi, Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, South Africa
Narendra Modi,Mahatma Gandhi, Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, South Africa

After talks, he had paid glowing tribute to Gandhi as well as to Nelson Mandela. “For me personally, this visit is an opportunity to pay homage to two of the greatest human souls to have ever walked this Earth – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela,” Modi said.

He further said, “We stood together in our common fight against racial subjugation and colonialism. It was in South Africa that Gandhi found his true calling. He belongs as much to India as to South Africa.
Prime Minister Modi talks with Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, at Phoenix Settlement
Prime Minister Modi talks with Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, at Phoenix Settlement
PM Modi pays floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi during a visit to Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg
PM Modi pays floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi during a visit to Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg

PM Narendra Modi with Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, during a visit to Sarvodaya-Gandhiji's residence at Phoenix Settlement in South Africa

PM Narendra Modi with Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, during a visit to Sarvodaya-Gandhiji’s residence at Phoenix Settlement in South Africa

Tejas trains to have Entertainment Units, WiFi

With high-tech Entertainment Units, WiFi facility and integrated Braille Displays, the coaches of premier Indian Railways Tejas trains are being readied to give its passengers the feel of world class travel

Tejas TrainNew Delhi: With high-tech entertainment units, WiFi facility and integrated braille displays, the coaches of premier Indian Railways Tejas trains are being readied to give its passengers the feel of world class travel.

While the coaches of Tejas, meaning brilliance, will be of golden colour, those of Hamsafar, also to be rolled out this year, will be draped in vinyl sheets painted in the colours of earth and sky to convey the message of being the common man’s carrier.

“Design features of the coaches of Tejas, Hamsafar, Antodaya and Deen Dayalu have been finalised now. The production units have been instructed to manufacture and equip the coaches accordingly,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Tejas coaches will have Executive Class and Chair Cars, while those of Hamsafar will 3-AC.

Besides the improved aesthetics, Tejas coaches will be equipped with 22 new features including entertainment screens for each passenger along with hand phone socket and LED boards for communicating safety instructions.

There will be water level indicators in bio-vacuum toilets, sensorised taps and hand driers. Tejas coaches will also have Wi-Fi facility, integrated braille displays, digital destination boards and electronic passenger reservation chart.

Since Tejas will be a new premier class train, attempts have been made to provide state-of-the-art facilities including tea and coffee vending machines, magazines and snack tables, the official said.

Both Tejas and Hamsafar will have CCTVs, and fire and smoke detection and suppression system.

Tejas and Hamsafar trains along with Antodaya Express and Deen Dayalu coaches are to be introduced in the current fiscal as part of the budget proposal.

Antodaya Express will be a fully unreserved train, while Deen Dayalu coaches will have improved facilities for general class passengers.

ICAI confident of Railways likely to adopt Double-entry Accounting

Double Entry Accounting SystemVijayawada: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is confident that the Indian Railways will start implementing Double Entry Accounting System (DEAS) from 2017 thereby facilitating better management of its finances and assets.

The institute will be submitting the report of a pilot project done by it on DEAS in the Jaipur division to the Ministries concerned in August. The proposed adoption of a similar accounting system by the Ministry of Defence is being closely followed and the official nod for it is likely to be given next year, said ICAI national president M. Devaraja Reddy.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Devaraja Reddy said the Ministry of Railways (MOR) had acknowledged the effectiveness of the accounting system mooted by the ICAI Accounting Research Foundation. The MOR was expected to give the green signal soon, facilitating regular auditing of railway establishments across the country in tune with the new accounting norms. Mr. Devaraja Reddy said the ICAI was firm on its stand that constitution of a National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), for which a provision had been made under Sec. 132 of the Companies Act, 2013, amounted to encroaching on the powers of ICAI.

Main areas of the topic include traffic revenue, balance-sheet accrual system, and fixed assets. By making a move to the institute, the chief purpose of the Indian Railways was to the convince the same for undertaking the tentative project on the study of current budgeting and the costing system. They wanted the institute to come up with a proposed plan for the outcome budgeting and the integrated cost accounting framework in agreement with the 2016 Union Budget. “Railways has got vast assets across the country and huge manpower. Hence, the double accounting system will help them to know how to manage those assets and manpower in a cost-effective manner,” told by ICAI President M Devaraja Reddy. The institute has recently undertaken a pilot study project of review of the capital expenditure procurement process and policy compliances framework on pro-bono basis of another state-owned PSU, Coal India” he said. Further, he added that a project on ‘migration strategy for implementation of accrual accounting system in EPFO’ has also been considered by ICAI and it has submitted the draft reports already.

The Quality Review Board (QRB) formed under Sec. 28A of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 was striving to ensure the quality of services rendered by the accounting professionals.

“The QRB and NFRA are bound to work at cross-purposes while the Ministry of Finance claims that the latter will be an overarching authority dealing with larger issues beyond accounting,” Mr. Reddy observed. Mr. Devaraja Reddy said efforts were being made to implement new syllabus from November. It was approved by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the clearance of Ministry of Law and Justice was awaited.

Speaking at ICAI’s sub-regional conference earlier in the day, Mr. Devaraja Reddy said there were 2.60 lakh chartered accountants in the country. Of them 1.10 lakh are doing independent practice and the others were employed in the corporate sector.

The ICAI has requested Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to allot five acres to the institute in Amaravati for setting up a Centre of Excellence there.

It will focus on skill development and continuing professional education.

Talgo train trial run in Mathura-Palwal section today

Spanish train Talgo runs at speed of 110-115 km per hour during trial between Bareilly-Moradabad
Spanish train Talgo runs at speed of 110-115 km per hour during trial between Bareilly-Moradabad

Mathura: Northern Railway will run the Spanish train Talgo at a maximum speed of up to 180 km per hour during the second phase trial on Saturday from Mathura station.

The second phase trial will be held between Mathura and Palwal stations on July 9, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Earlier trial was carried out between Bareilly and Moradabad stations last month.

A team of Spanish officials along with railways officials and experts from Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO) will be present onboard during the nine-coach Talgo train trial.

Talgo coaches are lightweight and designed in a way that it can run on curves without decelerating the speed.

“The trial will continue till July 26 and various aspects will be observed during the trial run,” the official said.

After the successful launch of semi-high speed Gatimaan Express, Talgo trial is being conducted as part of railways strategy to increase the speed of trains.

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

Hauled by a 4,500 HP diesel engine, Talgo train ran at a speed ranging between 80-115 km per hour during the first trial.

The trial will be conducted with empty coaches and after filling those with sand bags. The testing team will be in the coaches during trials.

Besides speed, testing team will also take note of vibration, safety and stability of lightweight coaches during the trial and these technical parametres were vital for high speed run.

About the earlier trial results, the official said report is under preparation with analysis of various technical data.

However, he said though the preliminary report is okay there will also be a final trial between Mumbai-Delhi route before finalising the report.

Shipped from Barcelona, the Talgo aluminium coaches anchored at Mumbai port on April 21.

The Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express runs at an average speed of 85 km per hour while the Talgo train can maintain an average speed of 125 km per hour. Talgo envisages the journey between Delhi and Mumbai can be completed in about 12 hours as compared to 17 hours at present.

Besides reducing travel time, Talgo’s lighter trains consume 30 per cent less energy.

The Railways has set up a Mobility Directorate to work on strategies to increase speed of trains.

Land acquisition for Bangladesh Rail link to start soon as DoNER Ministry releases funds

Agartala-Akhaura Rail LineAgartala: Acquisition of land for rail link between Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh will start soon as funds have been released by DoNER ministry, officials said today.

“Rs 97 crore were earmarked for land for Agartala- Akhaura rail project in the Indian side. The entire amount has been handed over to the state government and we will start acquisition of land in five-kilometre area up to the border on Indian side. “As we have to give notices to the land owners, it will take about three months to complete the process,” West Tripura District Magistrate Milind Ramteke told reporters.

The process of laying the 15.054-km-long railway tracks to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh will be completed by 2017. Of the total track, a stretch of five kilometre would be on the Indian side and the rest in Bangladesh.

A flyover (viaduct) which will be 3.7 km long would be constructed on the Indian side to save cultivable lands and the entire project cost would be borne by the government, he said.

DoNER has already sanctioned Rs 580 crore for the project as New Delhi is keen to establish the rail link which would connect West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh.

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

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

The entire project cost for laying down the track on Indian side and Bangladeshi side would be borne by India.

The two neighbouring countries had agreed to lay the tracks between Akhaura and Agartala duringing Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in January 2010.

Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has hiked the Northeast Railway Budget by as much as 151% within the last two years of its term which stood at Rs 5340 crore. A lot of priority is being given to connectivity in the Northeast including the rail network, citing how  Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first ever rail link to Meghalaya and around the same time, Arunachal Pradesh was also brought on the rail map of India. The Akhaura-Agartala-Bangladesh is going to be a game changer. The Ministry of Railways has offered to contribute Rs 580 crore for the construction of a railway track on the Indian side while for across the border, funds will be borne by the Ministry of External Affairs. As regards the fast-track movement of rail expansion in Northeast, the work on the broad-gauge track was expedited in the last two years. During the year 2015-16, over 500 km of broad-gauge railway track was laid in the region. This includes the broad-gauge track to Agartala which became functional on February 20, 2016 and also Kathakat-Bhairabi in Mizoram.

Rail and road connectivity to the Northeast will pave the way for growth in the areas of employment, tourism, revenue, trade and economic development of the region, in addition to the innovative work on laying down of waterways along the Brahmaputra up to the Bay of Bengal has also been undertaken which will not only prove to be an alternative means of transport but also be much more cost effective.

Railways sets 10% Export target for its Production Units

The ministry has clarified that for the purpose of export, these units can even make products in gauges not generally found on the Indian railway network, such as the standard gauge.

IR exportsNew Delhi: In a challenge that the officials are terming as steep but exciting, the railway ministry has asked all its production units (PU) to prepare a plan to market at least 10% of their products to firms or countries outside the ambit of the Indian Railways. It has asked these units to partner with agencies such as the Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) to develop products for export to foreign countries.

The ministry has clarified that for the purpose of export, these units can even make products in gauges not generally found on the Indian railway network, such as the standard gauge. It has also emphasised on building modern three-phase metre-gauge locomotives and diesel-electric multiple units (DEMU) as both these products have a high potential in certain foreign markets.

“The plan is to create a Rs.100 crore corpus for Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW)-Varanasi, to develop new products for export markets. Quality upgrade of products for export is the need of the hour. Third party inspection should be done to improve the standard of acceptability of PU products,” read a statement of the minutes of the Chief Mechanical Engineers Conference, held recently at Ooty in Tamil Nadu.

The task is daunting. According to a senior railway official, all production units put together earn about Rs300 crore by selling products to firms and countries apart from the Indian Railways, something the railways calls “non-fare revenue”.

Currently, one of the biggest export orders with the railways is the construction of 120 LHB coaches for Bangladesh Railways. These coaches are being built at the Rail Coach Factory (RCF)-Kapurthala in Punjab.

“The plan is to get all production units under the Indian Railways to have an export target of at least Rs500 crore. It is tough but it is time these units stepped up to the challenge. By making standard gauge products, the railways can also cater to various Indian cities where metro railway systems are coming up on standard gauge (for example Mumbai’s Versova-Ghatkopar metro),” said the official.

GM/SCR inspects Parli-Nanded section to review Rail Development plans

4.Shri Ravindra Gupta,GM,SCR inspecting Passenger amenities at Purna Rly stnNanded: Ravindra Gupta, General Manager, South Central Railway undertook extensive inspection of Parli – Nanded Section of Nanded Division today i.e., 9th July, 2016. He inspected Parli Vaijnath, Parbhani, Purna and Nanded Railway stations to review the availability of passenger amenities and discussed the developmental plans with Divisional Railway Manager, Nanded Division and other Senior Officials.

1.Shri Ravindra Gupta,GM,SCR inspecting Parli Rly stnCommencing his day long inspection from Parli Vaijnath, Ravindra Gupta, made a extensive tour of the station premises and the circulating area to check Ticket Booking counters, Signage boards, Station Circulating area, Reservation Booking Office, ATVM Machines, VIP Lounge, Crew booking cell, Second Class waiting hall & Ladies waiting hall. He spoke to the officials of Secunderabad Division on the need to ensure that the infrastructure works are taken up in a co-ordinate manner so as to ensure simultaneous completion.

2.Shri Ravindra Gupta,GM,SCR discussing with officials on developmental plans at Parli Rly stnLater, the General Manager stopped at Parbhani Railway station and undertook extensive inspection of entire passenger amenities including the Platforms, Booking Offices,  Station Managers Office, Foot Over bridge, Catering stalls and Station Circulating area. He discussed the station developmental plans with A.K.Sinha, Divisional Railway Manager, Nanded Division and other Officials, advising that the same shall continue to be maintained to earn passenger satisfaction. Focusing on a Green Environment, the General Manager symbolically planted a sapling at Officers Rest House, Parbhani. Later, he met Ms. Sangeeta Wadkar, Hon’ble Mayor, Parbhani & other public representatives and discussed rail developmental plans in the area.

3. Shri Ravindra Gupta,GM,SCR inspecting stalls at Parbhani Rly stnThe next halt for the General Manager was at Purna Railway station, where he went around the station and circulating areas to check Passenger Amenities. He made a visit to the Running Room here and interacted with the staff and enquired on the quality of the food being provided as well the other facilities given.

The last stop of the inspection for the General Manager was at Nanded Railway Station, where he had a look at the Passenger facilities and amenities. Ravindra Gupta met Hemant Sriram Patil, Hon’ble MLA/Nanded and discussed rail developmental plans in the area. General Manager interacted with various rail user customer groups and the media where in plans of the Railways and the steps taken towards user satisfaction were spelt out. General Manager stated that towards infrastructural development Akola-Khandwa Gauge conversion and doubling of Parbhani-Nanded line works are in progress.

Trains Rescheduled:

Train No 12715 & 12485 H.S. Nanded-Amritsar and H.S.Nanded-Shri Ganganagar Express Trains Rescheduled on 10th July, 2016

  1. Train No.12715 H.S.Nanded–Amritsar Sachkand Express scheduled to depart H.S.Nanded at 09:30 hrs is rescheduled to depart at 14:30 hrs on 10th July, 2016 due to late arrival of its pairing train.
  2. Train No.12485 H.S.Nanded–Shri Ganganagar Express scheduled to depart H.S.Nanded at 11:00 hrs is rescheduled to depart at 12:00 hrs on 10th July, 2016 due to late arrival of its pairing train.

Railway authorities expressed regrets for the inconvenience caused to passengers in this regard.

CST-Panvel corridor riskier than Bandra-Virar one

CST Panvel e-corridorMumbai: The CST-Panvel elevated corridor looks financially riskier than its Bandra to Virar counterpart, railway sources have said. Railway officials have started worrying because according to the preliminary findings of the feasibility report, there is a 12 to 13 per cent decrease of the CST-Panvel corridor’s financial returns in the first year that the corridor will be operational.

The railways had decided to finance the CST-Panvel elevated corridor along with the state in a 51 per cent to 49 per cent ratio. But railway officials said the 51 percent from their end now works out to more than Rs 8,000 crore, which is more than was expected. To add insult to injury, the financial returns from fares expected have come down as well. “We expected a return of 55 per cent of the cost it will take to run the corridor in the first year that it will be operational, but now when we are actually crunching the numbers and preparing the final feasibility report, it seems the percentage has dropped to 42-43 per cent,” said a railway official on the condition of anonymity.

This means that the CST-Panvel project, which was once the ‘viable’ one in terms of completion, has become a source of worry for railway officials.

“The Virar corridor seemed to be more problematic since as a result of the state’s own Metro project from Colaba to Seepz, the railways has had to curtail the project in terms of starting from Churchgate, to now starting it from Bandra instead,” added the official. “Another reason for thinking that the CST-Panvel corridor was more feasible was that there is less land acquisition as compared to the Bandra–Virar corridor, and even if the acquisition is done to a great extent for the latter, the prices of the land in the western suburbs is much more than that on the Harbour and Navi Mumbai line,” he said.

Semi-highspeed Trains on Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata routes planned

India Semi Highspeed Train GatimaanNew Delhi: With the first bullet train project schedule for commissioning in 2023, Indian Railways is now working on two busy sections Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata for running semi-high speed train to increase maximum speed to 160 kmph from the existing 130 kmph and reduce journey time by over five hours.

A proposal is being worked out in the Railway Board to increase speed on these two sections with basic infrastructure changes and less investment. Railway is already carrying out trials of Spanish train Talgo at some sections and it is also proposed to conduct trails on Delhi-Mumbai next month.

“The date of commissioning of bullet train is 2023 which is on Mumbai-Ahemdabad section and other corridors will come after that. It was felt that speed needs to be increased on some of the busiest sections and two sections are being explored for running the semi-high speed train by 2018-19,” said sources in the ministry.

A Japanese company had conducted a feasibility study on Delhi-Mumbai section in 2013 and it was estimated that Rs 15,500 crore would be needed to upgrade the track for running semi-high speed.

But if trials of Talgo trains are successful, it can be game changer as the company claims that these coaches can run at 160 kmph on the existing rails without any infrastructure changes. The cost of a Talgo coach is Rs 5 crore compared to Rs 23 crore per coach proposed by the Japanese company and half that of train sets, which railways is planning to buy. Talgo coaches require minimal infrastructure upgrade.

The Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express runs at an average speed of 85 km per hour while the Talgo train can maintain an average speed of 125 km per hour. Talgo envisages the journey between Delhi and Mumbai can be completed in about 12 hours as compared to 17 hours at present. The Talgo coaches can run on curved rails without decelerating speed. Besides reducing travel time, Talgo’s lighter trains consume 30 percent less energy.

The Railways has set up a Mobility Directorate to work on strategies to increase speed of trains. Gatimaan Express – India’s first semi-high speed that clocks 160 kmph, was launched on the Delhi-Agra route in April.

Security of Rail Passengers is Top-most Priority: GM/SCR at High Level Coordination Meeting between GRP and RPF

GM SCR at GRP RPF MeetSecunderabad: Ravindra Gupta, General Manager, SCR stressed upon the need for close co-ordination between Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) to  ensure security by preventing crime o­n Trains and Railway stations. He opined that the threat perception faced by Railways should be tackled effectively by better co-ordination between GRP & RPF. He emphasized on mutual sharing of important information and intelligence regarding offenders in various crimes which will enable the forces to tackle the criminals effectively. He stated that top priority should be given for providing security to women passengers by both the agencies.

Ravindra Gupta, chaired the high level co-ordination meeting between GRP and RPF at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad, today i.e. 8th July, 2016. A.K.Gupta. Addl. General Manager, SCR was also present. From Railways, Sanjay Sankrityayan, Chief Security Commissioner, RPF and G.M.Eswara Rao, Addl. Chief Security Commissioner, RPF, SCR participated. Krishna Prasad, ADGP/Rlys/Telangana; K.R.M. Kishore Kumar, ADGP/Rlys/Andhra Pradesh; D. Kanakaratnam, ADGP/Rlys/Maharastra; Smt Srilakshmi Prasad, ADGP/Rlys/Tamil Nadu; Ms. Irmeen Shah, AIGP/Rlys/Madhya Pradesh and Sri Basvaraj, DSRP/Gulbarga/Karnataka represented the GRP of the respective states falling under the jurisdiction of SCR at the Meeting.

GM SCR at GRP RPF Meet SCEarlier, deliberations were held on the scenario of passenger related crime and measures to control the same. Security arrangements for ensuing Krishna Pushkarams were also discussed at length and a strategy for crowd management was deliberated. Frequent exchange of data base of criminal gangs resorting to offences against passengers was decided upon. Joint operated Electronic Surveillance Control Rooms by RPF & GRP at major stations and exchange of visual data between RPF, GRP & Police was felt essential in ensuring passenger security.

All the Principal heads of the departments, Divisional Railway Managers of Secunderabad and Hyderabad Divisions, senior officials of RPF participated in this high level meeting. The Divisional Railway Managers of Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded Divisions of SCR also took part in the deliberations through Video Conferencing.

Kurnool Midlife Coach Factory got Railway Ministry’s nod: MP/Kurnool

MP Kurnool inspecting coach factory site with Rly OfficialsKurnool: The Railway Ministry accorded approval for the estimates for the railway midlife coach factory near Panchalingala village in Kurnool mandal and initiated the tender process for Rs. 281.35 crore in June, said Kurnool MP Butta Renuka on Thursday.

The MP and an eight-member team of officials of the Patna railway workshop inspected 123 acres and works to be taken up from Alampur Road railway station in Mahabubnagar district to E. Thandrapadu and Panchalingala in Kurnool district. The MP said that once the workshop is ready it can undertake the periodic overhauling and the railways will installed machines, including bogie testing apparatus, surface wheel lathe, plasma profile cutting machines and other essential plants required for smooth functioning of the workshop. With an optimum capacity to repair 50 coaches per month, the factory will start production through its carriage repair shop. “The intermediary overhauling block and periodical overhauling will be properly designed to cater to the requirements, the MP said. The first phase will be completed to undertake repair of non AC coaches, and gradually, once augmentation phase is completed, it will also take up maintenance of the AC coaches,” she said.

Kurnool coach factory representational image
Representational Image: Inside Carriage Repair Workshop, Harnaut, Bihar

Chief Accounts Officer Finesh Kumar, Chief Mechanical Engineer Sunil Kumar, Chief Engineer II S.K. Singh, Deputy Senior Superintending Engineer V.K. Srivatsava, Deputy CE R.K. Singh, Secretary to the CAO Kumar Ashish, all from Coach Mid Life Rehabilitation (CMLR) in Patna in Bihar, and Deputy Chief Engineer of Kurno A.K. Sarma participated.

The MP urged the railway officials to commence the midlife coach factory and rehabilitation workshop works soon and complete it in the next two and half years.

During the inspections, the Railway officials who visited Kurnool from Workshop Projects Organisation, Patna mentioned that the Harnaut coach factory have manpower strength of 1,200, including officers and technical staff and is being developed on about 115 acres of land – workshop on 78 acres and staff quarters on 37 acres.  It was Constructed at an expenditure of Rs.328 crore, and has altogether 18 modern repair workshops. The team also mentioned that Harnaut will be one of the most advanced coach factories in the country with the ‘double stacked coach maintenance technology’ to carry out periodical overhauling of coaches.The workshop is headed by the Chief Workshop manager. There are five departments dealing with various activities such as Mechanical, Electrical, Materials Management, Finance & Accounts, HRD, Audit & Security. It has a total employee strength of approx 5000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mangaluru-Bengaluru line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 Measurable KRAs are now Parameters for Performance Appraisal on IR

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is being innovative again – this time to ensure that all senior Railway officials take their work seriously, if they want a good performance appraisal.

New Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is being innovative again – this time to ensure that all senior Railway officials take their work seriously, if they want a good performance appraisal. Yes, if you thought only private sector appraisal system was tough, Prabhu is bringing the performance evaluation of Railway officials at par.

This is a first of its kind system for the Indian Railways, in which officials will be held accountable on measurable parameters (Key Result Areas or KRAs). The new appraisal system is part of the announcements that Prabhu made in his Railway Budget speech this year.

appraisal points
Now, 18 measurable Key Result Areas (KRAs) are the outputs within the Railways, for which an individual or group is logically responsible for Appraisals.

In a circular that has been issued by the Railway Board, performance agreements are being signed with General Managers. The agreements have key performance indicators and annual targets for these senior railway officials.

From weightage for non-fare revenue, new traffic streams added to the freight loading and passenger traffic from the managers’ zone, the 100 marks system has a total of 18 stringent parameters on the basis of which the performance of the senior officials will be decided.

“General Managers would sign similar Annual Performance Agreements with their PHODs (Principal Head of Departments) and DRMs (Divisional Railway Managers). The performance of PHODs and DRMs with respect to Key Performance parameters will be measured and made a part of their Annual Performance Appraisal and included in their service records,” says the Railway Board circular accessed by FE Online.

“These agreements (i.e. MoUs) would be attached with Self Evaluation Reports of the General Managers and be analysed for determining overall performance rating,” the circular adds.

After Rajnath Singh intervention, Rail strike put off

Railway Trade Unions defers their proposed indefinite strike by 4 months

Rajnath singhNew Delhi: Trade unions associated with railways have decided to defer their proposed strike from July 11 following a high-level meeting on Wednesday chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh.

The meeting which also had representatives from various other central trade unions deliberated on a number of issues related to the recommendations made by the 7th Pay Commission.

Sources said the meeting was “positive’’ as it came in the wake of the proposed July 11 strike called by central government employees’ unions.

The unions and the government evolved a “broad consensus” and arrived at an understanding that finance minister make a statement on the issue soon.

“The government has agreed to constitute a committee to review the minimum wages, besides the anomalies in the 7th Pay Commission report implementation particularly with regard to pension. The committee will review and submit the report soon. The decision is going to benefit a large number of railway employees. Therefore, we have deferred the strike call for a period of four months,” said Jeetendra Singh, general secretary of railway promotee officers association.

This was the second meeting the employees’ unions had with the government on the issue. Earlier, they met the Group of Ministers chaired by Mr Rajnath Singh on June 30.

The National Joint Council of Action (NJCA) of central government employees’ unions including Railways, Post & Telegraph and Defence have announced an indefinite strike from July 11 against the “unilateral” announcement of the Central government on implementation of 7th Pay Commission’s awards.

The trade unions claimed the recommended pay hike was the lowest in the last 70 years. They have accused the government of announcing the awards “unilaterally without any consultation with them. RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and other trade unions have rejected the recommendations, contending that it would increase disparity between the minimum and maximum pay.

ICF/Chennai develops First AC Coach for DEMU trains

DEMU AC CoachChennai: Railways has developed the first ever air conditioned coach (car)for its DEMU trains.

Till now the existing DEMU trains consisted only of non-air conditioned coaches. The first ever AC coach has been manufactured at Chennai based Integral Coach Factory (ICF). Existing 8-coach DEMU train will have 2 such newly developed AC coaches.

Soon such DEMU trains will be rolled out for passenger services. Integral Coach Factory (ICF) has planned to roll out 4 DEMU train sets each provided with two AC coaches.

Further manufacture of these trains will be based on the feedback from users.

These air conditioned coaches are provided with 5 comfortable reclining cushioned chairs arranged in each row(2*3 confg) with total capacity to seat 73 passengers.

The interior furnishing of these AC coaches is similar to that of intercity AC express train coaches. All AC coaches are equipped with environment friendly bio-toilets. Indian Railways presently run three type of DEMU trains namely: 6- coach DEMU train with 700 hp, 8- coach DEMU train with 1400 hp and 10- coach DEMU train with 1600 hp.

APL Logistics brings double-stack Container Train service to India

Freight dedicated network: APL IndiaLink, the rail operations arm of APL Logistics, run its first doublestack container train service -- from Mundra port for an inland container rail terminal at Kishangarh, near Delhi
Freight dedicated network: APL IndiaLink, the rail operations arm of APL Logistics, run its first double-stack container train service – from Mundra port for an inland container rail terminal at Kishangarh, near Delhi

Chennai: APL Logistics, a unit of the Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines, has extended its famous double-stack container train service — that help customers load double the volume of cargo in a single voyage — to India.

APL (American Presidential Lines) pioneered the concept in early 1984 in US domestic rail operations.

APL IndiaLinx, the rail operations arm of APL Logistics in India, recently stacked 90 forty-foot boxes two-high on a train from Mundra port for an inland container rail terminal at Kishangarh, near Delhi, according to a company official from Singapore.

The double-stacked train operation followed the Indian Railways’ recent decision to allow stacked train access along this rail corridor. This was part of the Railways’ bigger project to provide a freight-dedicated network of railroads with double-stack train access connecting key gateway ports and major North Indian industrial centres before end 2016.

APL IndiaLinx plans to expand its stacked train service network as more rail corridors are allowed double-stack access, the official said without giving a deadline. In 2006 the company was granted the rail operating licence. It owns and operates 18 weekly rail services between inland container rail terminals in northern India and the gateway ports on India’s west coast.

India Infrastructure and Logistics Private Ltd was set up in 2006 as a joint-venture between APL and Hindustan Infrastructure Projects & Engineering Private Ltd to provide rail-based container transportation and related logistics in India. Its service is marketed under the brand APL IndiaLinx.


When a customer has a huge volume of freight to move between two points, using trains offer traffic and environmental benefits over trucks. With double-stack trains, these benefits are even greater.

With the container boxes stacked two-high, a double-stack train can potentially double the capacity in a train run. This effectively allows the company to move boxes out of the port area at a faster velocity in each train run, thereby easing congestion.

In fact, it also frees up the highways for trucks to move cargoes into other locations not served by rail or that do not have sufficient capacity or distance to justify rail movement. The use of double-stack trains also allow to make fewer train trips. This means reduction in fuel and emission, said the official.

In the US, double-stack trains run regularly over an intricate rail network providing time-predictable and efficient connectivity between the coastal terminals, manufacturing and consumption centres inland, the official said.

Vital North-east rail link back on track after two months

Lumding-Silchar section opened for goods train

A goods train passing through the diverted alignment near Migrendisa on Thursday.
A goods train passing through the diverted alignment near Migrendisa on Thursday.

Silchar/Agartala: The broad gauge line of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) – the lifeline of several north-eastern states – was restored on Thursday, almost two months after it was damaged by heavy rains.

In spite of frequent rainfall in the area, the NF Railway started operation of goods trains on Lumding-Silchar route on Thursday, said the Chief Engineer of NF Railway, RP Jingar.

The train services on the Lumding-Silchar route was disrupted for several days due to heavy landslide damaging the foundation of tracks near Migrendisa causing immense difficulties to the people of Barak Valley and Dima Hasao.

The restoration of the rail traffic will be a great relief for southern Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and parts of Manipur which are linked to the railway network of India through the NFR line.

Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) Pranav Jyoti Sharma said a new 300-metre track was laid to divert the route slightly at the problematic spot in Migrendisa in Dima Hasao district of southern Assam.

“After running goods train on the route on an experimental basis for a few days, we will decide on resuming normal passenger train service,” he told IANS over phone from NFR headquarters in Maligaon on the outskirts of Guwahati city.

It is learnt that after the incessant rain on May 16, the train tracks were damaged at KM 92/2. After repair works on May 17, 22, 30 and June 13, the route was finally opened to goods train. However, due to continuous uplift and lateral shift of the tracks is making it difficult to maintain the tracks’ parameter and route was closed on June 12.

The work for diverted alignment was started on June 17 and completed on July 6.

Huge landslides triggered by downpour damaged the tracks on April 27. Good train traffic was restored on May 6, only to be disrupted again from May 13 onwards. That cut off southern Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and parts of Manipur from the railway network.

The NFR converted the 110 years old metre gauge line to broad gauge last year in south Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram. However, poor soil conditions are hampering running of trains on certain sections.

The Guwahati-Silchar rail route is the lifeline for southern Assam comprising Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Dima Hasao districts, and the mountainous states of Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram.

The region is dependent on the rail line for supply of food grain, essential commodities, fertilisers, petroleum products, construction materials and other goods.

Railways to get rid of its Garbage in a Profitable Way!

Besides selling tickets on its trains, railways could soon be in the business of vending garbage piling in the platforms of its stations.

New Delhi: The proposal to sell garbage to a waste management group is part of its effort to determine revenue making opportunities other than passenger and freight fares by the Indian Railways.

“We are examining a proposal from a waste management group which has offered Rs 1.50 per kg for garbage to be collected at railway stations,” said a senior railway official involved in exploring various avenues for generating non- tariff revenues.

A separate Non-fare Revenue Directorate has been created to explore revenue-making sources that could substitute its earnings from ticket sales and goods bookings.

The waste management group will clear away garbage from the stations 24/7. “Collection and disposal (of garbage) will be the company’s responsibility. Waste thus collected could be used as manure or to generate power,” the official said.

garbage at railway stationsThe proposal also puts the onus on the company to insure garbage collectors against risk and provide black plastic bags to carry away the solid waste from the stations.

The company has offered to clear garbage at 12 stations, including Amritsar, Ambala, Haridwar, Jammu, Katra, Dehradun, Moradabad, Saharanpur, CST, Mumbai Central and Dadar. Besides the spotless maintenance of the stations, garbage collection also brings in vital revenue to the railways’ coffers, the official said.

A substantial amount of garbage, both biodegradable and non-degradable, is being generated at the stations by passengers, visitors, vendors and staff. The solid waste is currently being moved to the nearest designated municipal location, which requires considerable effort.

Sanjay Gupta appointed Konkan Railway CMD

sanjay gupta cmd konkanMumbai: Sanjay Gupta, who had been officiating as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL), has been appointed as the CMD of the corporation. He is the youngest ever CMD of KRCL.

An official release here said Mr. Gupta, who is from Indian Railway Services of Mechanical Engineering (IRSME), was working as Director (Operations and Commercial) from September 30, 2013 till his elevation.

He was officiating as the CMD from November 24, 2015, after the superannuation of B.P. Tayal.

Mr. Gupta has worked on several prestigious and coveted posts as well as on various assignments. He has a rich experience of more than 30 years as a Mechanical Officer of Indian Railways.

Prior to his posting as Director (Operations and Commercial) of Konkan Railway, he had also worked as Chief Mechanical Engineer on Konkan Railway. He has brought about several improvements in all spheres of working of Konkan Railway and has also been instrumental in taking KRCL to new heights, the release added.

CCTVs, Remote Monitoring Centres at Rs 40.6 Crore: DRM/Chennai

File Photo: Anupam Sharma, DRM, Chennai Division, Southern Railway, interacting with commuters on board an EMU train
File Photo: Anupam Sharma, DRM, Chennai Division, Southern Railway, interacting with commuters on board an EMU train

Chennai: Soon, the Southern Railway will equip all major railway stations in Chennai division with Closed Circuit Television (CCTVs) at a cost of Rs 40.6 crore to step up security measures. The CCTVs will be connected to 15 remote monitoring locations.

As many as 82 railway stations in Chennai division would be covered under the project. It is in addition to the seven stations that are already equipped with CCTVs, said Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Chennai Division, Southern Railway, Anupam Sharma shortly after reviewing the ongoing works in Katpadi Railway Station on Thursday.

“All the A1, A, B and C class Railway Stations will be covered under this project. Each station would be equipped with 15 to 16 CCTVs. Fifteen remote monitoring locations will also be established,” Anupam Sharma said and added that the project would be completed within six months.

For Katpadi Railway Junction, the department has received a separate sanction of Rs 1.04 crore from the Union ministry of railways to install CCTVs. “A total of 42 CCTVs will be installed in Katpadi Station in the next three to four months,” he added.

Sources in the department said that the agency that had been assigned with the project had already visited Katpadi Station on Tuesday to inspect and identify locations to install CCTVs. On development projects, the DRM said the Railways ministry had sanctioned Rs 40.5 crore to improve the passenger amenities. “We have taken up works such as establishing escalators and lifts in Katpadi station,” he said.

While an escalator and lift will come up in the circulating area in the station, the second escalator and lift will come up between platforms 2 and 3 to facilitate the commuters. “The prepaid A/C waiting hall in Katpadi Station has received a good response from the commuters,” he noted.

He said they have taken up work such as extension and paving of platforms and shelters in several stations in Vellore district. He said all the 75 Chennai suburban stations have pay and use toilets. The department has created 5000 sq ft of shelter in Arakkonam Railway Junction and laid a new platform in Sevur Railway Station in Vellore district, he said.

You may need Aadhaar to book Train Tickets soon

Soon you may be denied a train ticket if you do not have an Aadhaar card as the world’s largest biometric identity project may become the foundation of railway travel in India.

Sources say Indian Railways is all set to link passenger ticketing services with the database scheme in what is being seen as a bid to slash expenses on subsidy and other concessions.

Officials say the plan is aimed at curbing cases of impersonation.

The railway’s move will be in contrast to a Supreme Court order last year restricting the use of Aadhaar to only the public distribution system (PDS) and LPG connections.

The unique identity project was started seven years ago with the idea to help citizens, especially those who have no other form of portable ID, such as a passport or driving licence, to access banking and government services for the first time.

However, the top court said the programme cannot be made mandatory for availing government benefits. The matter is pending before the Constitution Bench for a final decision.

The railway plan will be implemented in two phases, sources say. In the first stage, it will be mandatory to provide the Aadhaar number to avail concessions under various quotas such as for senior citizens, freedom fighters, differently abled, students and unemployed youths. Indian Railways provides concessions in fares to 53 categories. A senior ministry official said the policy in this regard will be approved and implemented in 15 days.

In the second phase, that will take nearly two months, railways will link all ticketing services to the Aadhaar card. This means that a passenger will have to provide the unique identity number at the time of booking a ticket – online or at the reservation windows.

Initially, Aadhaar will be required for booking reserved tickets but later it will be made mandatory for unreserved tickets too. Railway officials justified the move saying this will ensure only genuine passengers travel in trains. They claimed that a majority of people are enrolled with Aadhaar and so this will not affect them adversely.

“ According to government statistics, 96 per cent of Indians have been given Aadhaar numbers. By making Aadhaar card mandatory, railways will be able to check impersonation and thus revenue losses,” said a senior Railway Board official.

As per the plan, the Aadhaar number, provided at the time of booking, will be printed on the ticket. During travel, the Aadhaar number mentioned on the ticket will be entered in the mobile devices provide to the ticket examiners. The identity details, including photograph of the passenger, will be displayed on the device that will authenticate the traveller. The account book of the rail ministry shows that the department offers 43 per cent subsidy on a single train journey to a passenger. This means, if the railways spends Rs.100 on a train journey, it only charges Rs.57 from a passenger.

Comprehensive data shows the railways incurred an expenditure of Rs.34,000 crore on “social service obligation” for the fiscal year 2015-16. Out of this, Rs.1600 crore was spent on myriad concessions on train travels. A major chunk of it, Rs.1200 crore, was spent on concessions to senior citizens. As per the rules, male senior citizens above 60 years of age are given 40 per cent concession on rail fare while women above the age of 58 years can avail 50 per cent concession in all classes. Some categories such as physically challenged, deaf & dumb and heart patients can avail concession up to 75 per cent on rail fares.

Eager to reduce it subsidy burden, Indian Railways has started printing the real cost involved in the train journey on the tickets to make passengers aware of the subsidy borne by the public transporter.

The department has also made it optional for senior citizens to avail the concession.

The project was started seven years ago with the idea to help citizens, especially those who have no other form of portable ID. Move aimed at curbing impersonation The plan will be implemented in 2 phases.

Land acquisition soon for Rail line connecting 3 districts to Bengaluru

The line connects Davangere, Chitradurga and Tumakuru with the State capital. Land acquisition soon for rail line connecting 3 districts to Bengaluru

railway track Land AcquisitionBengaluru: With the State Cabinet giving its approval for a direct line connecting Davangere, Chitradurga, and Tumakuru with the State capital, Bengaluru, the land acquisition for the long-pending project is likely to be initiated soon.

According to sources, the deputy commissioners of the three districts have been asked to start the project. The process of appointment of a land acquisition officer has also been initiated.

The State Cabinet approval for the project came recently after the Union government warned that it might have to shelve it if there was a further delay in land acquisition. A message was reportedly conveyed to the State authorities at a meeting on May 25.

The project has been a long-pending demand of the people of the region as it reduces the distance between these districts to the State capital. At present, the rail route distance between Davangere and Bengaluru is 326 km if you take the circuitous route via Tumakuru, Arsikere and Birur. The proposed new rail line via Bharamsagar, Chitradurga and Sira will be just 265 km.

The rail route distance between Chitradurga and Bengaluru is 312 km via Birur and Chikjajur and it will come down to 205 km. The total land required for the project is 2,961 acres.

Although the project was announced in 2011-12 on a cost-sharing basis, things had not moved further reportedly owing to the State’s reluctance to share the cost.

“We have made preparations to start the work and are waiting for the appointment of special land acquisition officer and a formal direction,” Deputy Commissioner Srirangaiah told.

President of the District Railway Horata Samithi, Kondandaramaiah, said the project would help save time and money of passengers and bring more revenue to the Railways.

Long-pending project:

  • Land required for the project is 2961 acres

  • Project to be implemented through cost sharing

  • Distance between Davangere, Bengaluru will come down by 61 km

  • Distance between Chitradurga and Bengaluru will come down to 205 km

  • Land acquisition to begin soon

Environmental clearance must for Railway projects, says NGT

In a petition filed on May 3, 2016, Tongad alleged that the Indian Railways project of laying 140km new track from Noida in UP to Rewari in Haryana will affect the ecology of the area because the Hindon River’s 800-metre stretch in Noida is being averted without obtaining environmental clearance
In a petition filed on May 3, 2016, Tongad alleged that the Indian Railways project of laying 140km new track from Noida in UP to Rewari in Haryana will affect the ecology of the area because the Hindon River’s 800-metre stretch in Noida is being averted without obtaining environmental clearance

Noida: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has made it mandatory to obtain environmental clearances for Indian Railway projects before any work begins on the ground.

The NGT bench, headed by the tribunal’s chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, delivered the order on Tuesday in response to a petition filed by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad.

In a petition filed on May 3, 2016, Tongad alleged that the Indian Railways project of laying 140km new track from Noida in UP to Rewari in Haryana will affect the ecology of the area because the Hindon River’s 800-metre stretch in Noida is being averted without obtaining environmental clearance (EC).

Indian Railways argued before the tribunal that its projects are exempted from obtaining EC as they are big infrastructure projects of national importance.

“But NGT did not go by Indian Railways counsel’s argument and made it clear that a railway project should obtain EC, like Delhi Metro projects,” Rahul Chaudhary, advocate on behalf of the petitioner, said.

Tongad is all set to file another petition in the NGT demanding a stay order on the work at Hindon River in Noida.