Bengaluru-Karwar night Express to run on shortest route four days a week

Date of commencement and days of operation yet to be finalised

BENGALURU: The Railway Board on Wednesday approved South Western Railway’s (SWR) proposal to divert Bengaluru-Karwar/Kannur-Bengaluru night express through the shortest route, via Kunigal and Shravanabelagola, four days a week.

The train would run via Mysuru, the present route, during the remaining three days. The diversion via Shravanabelagola reduces the travel distance by about 90 km. The rail-road distance between Bengaluru and Mangaluru Central is about 447 km via Mysuru, and about 357 km via Shravanabelagola.

This comes as a relief to people who had been demanding complete diversion of the train for faster commute between the State capital and the coast. A public interest litigation writ petition by Sanjay Revankar of Kadwad village, Karwar, is also pending before the Karnataka High Court.

Sources in the Railway Board and SWR confirmed about the approval of the diversion. SWR sources said advanced reservation for the train on Mysuru route has to be frozen immediately and the diversion date has to be decided considering the advance reservations already made.

The journey hours between Bengaluru and Karwar are expected to come down by two hours from the present 18 hours.

Sources in the Railways said there may not be any advancement in the arrival timing of the Karwar Express either at Mangaluru Central or Karwar. The train might have a delayed departure, at around 10.20 p.m. from Bengaluru. There could be some changes in the arrival timing of the train at Bengaluru, though its departure timings at Karwar and Mangaluru Central are likely to remain the same.

Opposition from Bengaluru Division

The Bengaluru Division (SBC) of SWR, from where an average of 620 passengers board Bengaluru-Karwar/Kannur Express every day towards Mangaluru and beyond, had stiffly opposed the zone’s proposal to divert the train to the shortest route.

The division had said the proposal was not feasible either technically or commercially. If the train is diverted via Shravanabelagola, maintenance of its rake, stabling it and shunting it back to the platform for departure becomes difficult. Many people’s representatives too have opposed the diversion as it is the only train from Mysuru towards the coast, the division had informed the zone.

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Port Officers irked as Railway, IAS peers take the helm

Rue existing norms that make senior-level promotions almost impossible for them

MUMBAI: Seven of the 12 major ports are run by officers from the Indian Railways cadre while four are headed by IAS officers. Port officers say they are “systematically been deprived” of selection to top posts.

“Major port trusts have become the new hunting ground for Railway officers,” lamented a port official.

The rules framed by the Shipping Ministry in January 2008, on the appointment of chairmen/deputy chairmen in major port trusts, had said: “…it has been decided that in the six major ports in Category I (Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Visakhapatnam and Kandla), two posts of chairman/deputy chairman will be filled from among port officers. Similarly, three posts of chairman and deputy chairman in Category II ports (Paradip, Cochin, Mormugao, Tuticorin and New Mangalore) will be filled from among port officers.”

World Bank report

The rules were framed after the World Bank favoured such a plan in its ‘India Port Sector Strategy Report’.

“The present system of lAS recruitment is frustrating for port professionals,” the World Bank wrote. “There are advantages in the employment, as chairmen, of senior civil servants…However, to be effective and accepted, they must have the long-term development of ports, in all its many facets, as their primary goal, rather than their career as senior civil servants.

“A mixed solution is therefore recommended for consideration. First, chairmen should increasingly be recruited from among ports/shipping professionals. Second, the position of deputy chairman, recruited only among professionals of the port industry, should be upgraded, with increased possibility of acceding to the position of chairman.”

From the Railway cadre are I Jeyakumar, Chairman of Mormugao Port Trust and additional in-charge of VO Chidambaranar Port Trust; Rinkesh Roy, who heads Paradip Port Trust and is additional in-charge of Kamarajar Port; P Raveendran, Chief Executive of Chennai Port Trust and additional in-charge of Cochin Port Trust; and Vinit Kumar, the newly appointed full-time Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust.

Currently, there are no port cadre officers eligible for selection to the top post. MA Bhaskarachar, PC Parida and SAC Bose, the last three port cadre officers, retired recently as Chairmen of Kamarajar Port, New Mangalore Port Trust and VOCPT, respectively.

A port officer can become a head of department (HoD) after 15 years of service. He/she needs another five years as HoD to become empanelled for the deputy chairman’s post.

HODs with 15 years’ experience are still waiting to be promoted as deputy chairman in Category II ports.

A port cadre deputy chairman in a Category II port should work as deputy chairman in a Category I port for two years to become eligible for chairman of a Category II port. He/she needs a further two years’ experience to become eligible for chairman of a Category I port. These rules, however, don’t apply to Railway officers.

“One can see how norms are framed systematically to deprive port officers from being made chairmen and deputy chairmen. It is practically impossible for port officers to become the chairman of a Category I port,” added the port officer.

Court ruling

To rub it in, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) excluded deputy chairmen (from port officers) of major port trusts from applying for the post of CMD at Kamarajar Port.

This was set aside by the Chennai High Court two months ago on a petition filed by one of the port officers. The DoPT and the PESB are now looking to challenge the high court order.

Northern Railways to hire Retired Employees, 4500 posts on offer through RRB

RRB recruitment 2017: Vacancies are available for the posts of Senior Section Engineer, Junior Engineer, Welder, Blacksmith and Trackman. The age of the retired railways employees from civil engineering cadre should be not more than 62 years.

NEW DELHI: The Northern Railways has released a notification inviting retired railway employees to apply for 4500 vacant positions in various departments. The details on the application process are expected to release soon at nr.indianrailways.gov.in.

The re-engagement is valid up to September 14, 2018 for recruitment in Delhi, Ferozepur, Lucknow, Moradabad and Ambala Divisions. As per a note posted on the official website of the Northern Railways, “the period shall continue up to the last day of the month in which he attains the age of 62 years, that is, following the same system as that of normal assignment.”

Vacancies are available for the posts of Senior Section Engineer, Junior Engineer, Welder, Blacksmith and Trackman.

Eligibility: The age of the retired railways’ employees from civil engineering cadre should be not more than 62 years.

RRB recruitment 2017 details

  • Trackman: 4434 posts
  • SSE/ P.way: 127 posts
  • Junior Engineer (JE): 62 posts
  • Blacksmith: 33 posts
  • Welder: 34 posts

The daily allowances will be are as follows:

— Candidates retired with Rs 5200-20200 (Rs 1800) will be getting the daily allowance of Rs 300 per day.
— Candidates retired with Rs 5200-20200 (Rs 1900,2000,2400,2800) will be getting the daily allowance of Rs 320 per day.
— Candidates retired with Rs 9300-34800 (Rs 4200) will be getting the daily allowance of Rs 550 per day.
— Candidates retired with Rs 9300-34800 (Rs 4600) will be getting the daily allowance of Rs 565 per day.

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Self-propelled ‘Make in India’ Train Sets on Delhi-Mumbai Route to run at 160 Kmph Speed

Indian Railways is eyeing world-class ‘Make in India’ self-propelled semi-high speed train sets! There is a strong possibility that these new train sets will ply not only on the Delhi-Mumbai route, but also on the other major metro routes.

Indian Railways is eyeing world-class ‘Make in India’ self-propelled semi-high speed train sets! Indian Railways has invited bids for future-ready modern train sets that will be manufactured by foreign majors in the Integral Coach Factory (ICF)! Codenamed ‘Train-20′ in the hope that they will start plying by 2020, Indian Railways’ new train sets will have the capability of attaining speeds of 160 kmph. In fact, there is a strong possibility that these new train sets will ply on the Delhi-Mumbai and other major metro routes.

Sudhanshu Mani, General Manager, Integral Coach Factory said, “Train 20 is a Make in India project but the first rake will come from abroad. Train 20 would be 100% world-standard. We have called bids. European majors Siemens, Bombardier, Siemens and Alstom are together now, Stadler, Talgo – these are the people who will quote and we are hoping one of them will bag the order.”

The approximately Rs 2,500 crore order – said to be a ‘Make in India’leap – will be for 14 train sets of 20 coaches each, 11 spare coaches. In total 291 coaches will be made for Indian Railways. The contract involves design, development, manufacturing, testing and commissioning of the train sets. “One or two coaches will come from abroad. The last 4 rakes will be built entirely in ICF,” Mani told. Indian Railways hopes to finalise on the foreign major by mid-January 2018.

Train 20 will be able to attain a maximum speed of 160 kmph, making it a semi-high speed train. The aluminium-bodied self-propelled train set will be energy efficient, says ICF. The train set will have under-slung 3 phase propulsion system, automatic doors and a test speed of 176 kmph. Two types of coaches – air-conditioned chair car and sleeper-type – will be manufactured. The sleeper type coaches will include AC – 1st class, AC-2 tier and AC-3 tier.

According to Mani, simultaneous track-upgradation will happen so that the new train sets can run at their maximum speed of 160 kmph. “Some tracks are already there. For example, Gatimaan Express runs at 160 kmph. We are hoping that by the time Train 20 comes, Mumbai-Delhi tracks will be able to take 160 kmph and other metros also. So that’s a simultaneous exercise. The board is working on the upgradation of tracks. These are two separate exercises, they have to merged together to run the train at that speed,” he said.

The new coaches will also be safer, says ICF. “All safety features of LHB will be there. Also these new train sets will have more electronics and a platform where every new technology can be married into. The platform is available for a future upgradation of technology and whatever is already available is also safer than what we have,” Mani said.

ICF is also hopeful that the successful foreign tenderer will enter into future agreements with the coach factory for other train sets for Indian Railways and overseas markets as well.

Meanwhile, ICF is also working on ‘Train-18, which is another ‘Make in India’ project for self-propelled trains. According to Mani, Train 18 will be 90% world-class and Train 20 will be 100% world-class. Conceptualised as a chair car, the train set is also envisioned to achieve speeds of 160 kmph.

Pre-bid meet held on Vizag Metro Rail

VISAKHAPATNAM: A pre-bid meeting was held for pre-qualification of Visakhapatnam Metro Rail Project in public-private partnership here on Thursday.

The pre-bid meeting was meant to answer the queries raised by companies intending to participate in the pre-qualification.

A total of nine companies participated on Thursday’s meeting at VUDA Office, it is learnt.

The last date for submitting proposals for expression of interest/request for proposal for Visakhapatnam Metro called by Amaravatri Metro Rail Corporation (AMRC) is December 7.

The Visakhapatnam Metro is proposed on three corridors on a total of 42 km with the detailed project report prepared by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in 2015. However, it was revalidated as per the PPP norms by Urban Mass Transport Company (UMTC) in February, 2017.

In the PPP mode, about 50% funds will be provided by the Central and State governments and the remaining has to come from the agency taking up the work.

AMRC managing director N. Ramakrishna Reddy, Municipal Administration and Urban Development principal secretary Karikal Valaven, Joint Collector G. Srijana, Municipal Commissioner M. Hari Narayanan and VUDA Vice-Chairman P. Basanth Kumar, Visakhapatnam Metro executive engineer K.V.N. Ravi and consultants of UMTC participated in the meeting.

Among the companies that participated in the meeting were L&T, Tata, S&P, Adani, Siemens and Altsom.

Work on Diesel Factory in Bihar’s Marhowrah on track: says Vishal Wanchoo, President & CEO of GE South Asia

NEW DELHI: US giant General Electric today clarified that the work on a diesel locomotive factory in Bihar’s Marhowrah is on track, days after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal ruled out speculations that the government might exit the project contract.

The project, a joint venture between the Indian Railways and the GE, was announced in 2006-07 to supply and maintain modern diesel electric locomotives of 4,500 HP and 6,000 HP to the railways.

The railways had issued the Letter of Award for setting up Diesel Locomotive Factory (DLF) with GE Global Sourcing India in November 2015.

But with government’s thrust on electrification of tracks to combat pollution, there was a buzz, and some media reports, that it could exit the contract for manufacturing diesel locomotive.

“The first of 1,000 diesel-electric evolution series locomotives has already arrived at India’s Mundra Port,” Vishal Wanchoo, President and CEO, GE South Asia told PTI in the sidelines of the International Rail Conference and the 12th edition of the International Rail Equipment Exhibition (IREE) 2017 held here today.

“The work in our diesel factory in Bihar is on track and as the minister has said there are no changes in the contract,” he said, adding GE was actually ahead of schedule.

“The plan is to deliver 100 locomotives per year on an average. The first fiscal year will be little bit more. We plan to deliver the 1,000 locomotives to Indian Railways over 11 years,” he said.

Goyal had last month said that there would be no changes in the Marhowrah factory set up.

But, the railway minister had also said that he had discussions with top executives of GE to explore how the objectives of reducing pollution, bringing down overall cost and honouring agreements with the global conglomerate be met.

Wanchoo said GE has no plans to manufacture electric locomotives at the Marhowrah factory.

“GE bid for diesel locomotives and our Bihar plant can manufacture only diesel locomotives. Two contracts were floated and we bid for the diesel plant.

“However, we support the government’s electrification process. In every country that we operate, we supply these locomotives. Most countries wherein we operate have an electrification program, which makes a lot of sense, but the diesel locomotives also co-exist for various reasons as they are efficient and affordable,” Wanchoo said.

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India receives first GE Locomotive under $2.5 Billion Deal

This will be the first ever Diesel-Electric Locomotive running on Indian tracks which complies with the international UIC 1 standard on emissions, the company said.

NEW DELHI: India today received first of the 1,000 high-power diesel-electric railway locomotives that are to be supplied by American industrial giant GE as part of a $2.5 billion agreement signed in 2015 aimed at modernizing the country’s ageing loco fleet.

“GE Transportation today took another important step forward in its partnership with Indian Railways when the first of 1,000 diesel-electric Evolution series locomotives arrived at India’s Mundra Port,” the company said in a statement.

This will be the first ever diesel-electric locomotive running on Indian tracks which complies with the international UIC 1 standard on emissions, the company said. The locomotive was designed at the John F Welch Technology Center in Bangalore.

This is the first of 40 locomotives which are to be imported from the U.S. The remaining 960 will be built at GE’s factory being constructed at Marhowra in Bihar, and is expected to open in 2018. The partnership is also expected to provide technical training and employment opportunities for the local community in Bihar.

“Our partnership with Indian Railways is a best-in-class bilateral example of how entities can work together to create jobs and drive economic development in a region,” said Vishal Wanchoo, President & CEO, GE South Asia. “Through this project, we’re creating a robust supply chain ecosystem in India, and will localize more than 70 percent of all content. We’re proud of the more than 6,000 jobs, that have been created by GE in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

Commenting on the development, GE Transportation’s President and CEO-International Nalin Jain said the construction of the Marhowra factory and maintenance shed in Roza is underway and the company is delivering in line with the contractual timelines.

GE Transportation is building two locomotive models for Indian Railways. The latest ES43ACmi model is a dual-cab locomotive with a 4,500-horsepower engine. The second locomotive, model ES57ACi, features a 6,000-horsepower engine. It is currently in the design phase and will begin production later this year.

Railways to end ‘Unproductive Ventures’, to Shut Down all 14 of its Printing Presses

NEW DELHI: With most public service undertakings in the country making the transition to digital services with increasingly less requirement of paper-based communication, the move accentuates the railway ministry’s efforts in keeping up with time and technology.

In another significant uphaul by Indian Railways to exit unproductive ventures, all the printing presses have been directed for shutting down, and the staff employed in these units will be reassigned to other departments.

Part of the national transporter’s strategy to redirect its resources to more integral schemes, the move was given the nod during an extensive meeting held between railway minister Piyush Goyal, Railway Board members and general managers of all 17 railway zones.

Currently, 14 printing presses fall under the jurisdiction of the railways. With most public service undertakings in the country making the transition to digital services with increasingly less requirement of paper-based communication, the move accentuates the railway ministry’s efforts in keeping up with time and technology.

Phasing out printing machinery that is not just old but outdated as well, all printing works will be carried forth only through tenders hereafter

“Traditionally, a lot of paper, such as forms were used by the railways. But now these are getting automated. These are moribund 19th-century units which are not required anymore,” explained a former railway employee.

While the units were mostly used for printing books, forms and tickets, important documents like that of railway budget were being reportedly printed at a security press that wasn’t operated by railways. Now that even tickets are being booked online, the requirement of printing units to print tickets is nothing more than a cost deficit.

As per a former finance commissioner of the railway, a lot of printing units were shut when the internal requirements of the railways dropped in recent years.

“Earlier, these units were used to print tickets which were then supplied to stations. Now, they have been computerised. The real estate of these units can be put to more productive use,” he added.

The staff, who have been working in these units, will now be redeployed and given training accordingly.

Railways new pension scheme not workable: AIRF

PUNE: The market-linked pension scheme would have 10 per cent contributory fund by Government and 10 per cent by the employees. In this, Government knows the money is being used, but the employee does not have any information regarding the use of its funds, said AIRF General Secretary, Shivagopal Mishra

The Government of India, in its different departments, has recruited over 5 lakh employees since 2004, including one lakh employees in the Indian Railways. The new officials and employees, recruited under the new pension scheme are not finding the new scheme workable.

The market-linked pension scheme would have 10 per cent contributory fund by Government and 10 per cent by the employees. In this, Government knows the money is being used, but the employee does not have any information regarding the use of its funds, said AIRF General Secretary, Shivagopal Mishra while addressing the press conference on Tuesday at the West Central Railway Employees’ Union (WCREU) office. He is in city to attend the Youth Zonal Conference of WCREU.

He added that the new pension scheme has various lapses. First, it is market-linked and has limited provisions for withdrawal. Its provision is against employee’s benefits that is benefits provisions would end if the service is not complete. On this issue, when the AIRF gave a notice of strike to the Government, the present Government constituted a committee to review the demands of AIRF. “We are demanding guarantee pension scheme for the employees that is 50 per cent of last salary. On death or permanent disability of the employee, the compensation should be given as per old scheme. On this, the Government has shown some positive response, while also, the committee constituted has given recommendations in this direction, asking the Government to accept this demand,” he said.

He further said that, every year, around 400 to 500 employees die on duty. In these incidents, a number of linemen and trackmen lose their lives. We are demanding that like the Indian Army has been exempted from the new scheme, the Indian Railways employees and officials should be exempted from the new pension scheme provisions.

Commenting on the outsourcing trending in Railways, Mishra strongly criticized the ongoing outsourcing and said that outsourcing of important works in Railways would not be tolerated. We are demand the Government to fill all 1.25 lakh vacancies in safety and security departments, as without manpower of Railways, proper instrumentation and equipment, the security of Railways is not possible, he added.

After recent incidents, the Government has ordered to fill all vacancies in Railways and now, following pressure, now again the decision is being reviewed. He lastly added that if Railways does not have any option for privatisation of every work, the AIRF would have no other option left, but to go on strike. He said, Railways is the lifeline of country’s economy. If we go on strike, it would add fuel to the ongoing impact of recession in the country.

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Germany-India sign Agreement to study the feasibility of increasing Train Speed to 200 kmph on Chennai-Kazipet route

NEW DELHI: A Joint Declaration of Intent was signed between Ministry of Railways and Germany today i.e., 10th October, 2017 at Rail Bhavan, New Delhi in the presence of Shri Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board regarding carrying out of feasibility study on existing Chennai-Kazipet corridor of Indian Railways by German Railways for increasing the speed of passenger trains to 200 kmph on 50:50 percent cost sharing basis.

The current Joint Declaration of Intent is intended to deepen the cooperation, more specifically towards the achievement in the priority area of Semi High Speed Rail: the upgrading of current passenger services to SHS (Semi High Speed) upto 200 kmph on the Chennai-Kazipet corridor (643 km).

The Project is envisaged to consist of three phases to be carried out over a 22 month period with the objectives to provide:

Phase 1: Definition of three demand-based Upgrade scenarios for the corridor.

Phase 2: Selection of the preferred Upgrade scenario for SHS on the corridor, based on Analysis of respective operations and economic-financial impact.

Phase 3: For preferred scenario, Reference design and technical Tender document:

  • Development of Reference design for technical solution on preferred Upgrade scenario.
  • Procurement concept for Construction works and Railway Systems.
  • Concept and Requirements for construction phasing under Railway Operations.
  • Preparation of technical tender documents for preferred Scenario usable for Design & Build tendering.
  • Development of recommendations on the implications for a larger SHS program for India.
  • Possible financing options for the implementation of the corridor.

The cost of the feasibility study will be shared 50.50 percent by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India and Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The final terms and conditions of carrying out of this feasibility study shall be completed through signing a separate Agreement.

Earlier, a Protocol on cooperation in Rail sector was signed between both sides in May, 2016 in Germany, with following priority areas.

  1. Concepts for increasing the design and the actually driven speeds;
  2. Concepts for increasing the capacity of railway lines in passenger and goods transport;
  3. Concepts for improving operational safety to avoid incidents and accidents;
  4. Concepts for reducing operational costs, in particular by means of energy efficient railway Operations;
  5. Concepts for the cooperation between education and training facilities in India and Germany with the objective of enhancing the railway know how;
  6. Supporting the expansion of the high speed and semi high speed network;
  7. Joint development of user oriented standards and norms for India with the participation of the competent regulatory authorities;
  8. Concepts for speed raising on longer stretches for multiple traffic;
  9. Concepts for station redevelopment on modern lines.

Salient Features of Chennai-Kazipet Corridor

  • Route: Chennai-Gudur Jn-Nellore-Tenali Jn-Vijayawada Jn-Warangal-Kazipet Jn Total length of the corridor – 643 km (135 km in Southern Railway and 508 km in South Central Railway) and the entire corridor is electrified.
  • Divisions Involved – Chennai (135 km), Vijayawada (311 km) & Secunderabad (197 km).
  • The maximum sectional speed on the corridor is 110 kmphin Southern Railway and 120 kmph for South Central Railway.
  • There are 216 (Southern Railway-68 & South Central Railway-148) level crossings on the corridor and all are manned.
  • There are 1979 (Southern Railway-514 & South Central Railway-1465) number of bridges on this corridor.
  • There is only one direct train from Kazipet to Chennai i.e. Train No. 12760/Charminar SF Express taking 11 hours 20 minuteswith 13 stoppages at an average speed of 57 kmph.
  • Majority of the trains are from Warangal to Chennai (638 km) and the fastest train is Train no. 12433/12434Rajdhani Express taking 8 hours 29 minutes with average speed of 75.3 kmph with one stoppage at Vijayawada.
  • Details of coaching trains on the route: Garib Rath-1, Janshatabdi-1, Superfast-40, MailExpress-21 & Holiday Special-8, Total-71.
  • Total number of enroute stations – 108 (Southern Railway-28 & South Central Railway-80).
  • Total number of stations where platform is on the mainline – 29 (Southern Railway-23 & South Central Railway-06).
  • Southern Railway – Automatic/Absolute signaling, South Central Railway – Mainly absolute and MACLS.

Secunderabad Railway Station is India’s first Green Railway Station

The six modules involved in the evaluation of the Secunderabad Railway Station were sustainable station facility; health; hygiene and sanitation; energy efficiency; water efficiency; smart and green initiatives and innovation and development.

SECUNDERABAD: The Secunderabad Railway Station has earned the distinction of being the first railway station in the country to be certified as a ‘Green Railway Station’ by the Indian Green Building Council – Confederation of Industry (IGBC-CII), in association with Indian Railways.

The Station has bagged the coveted Silver Rating in the category, according to an SCR release. The IGBC-CII, with the support of Environment Directorate of the Indian Railways had developed the Green Railway Stations Rating system to facilitate adoption of Green Concepts to reduce adverse environmental impacts due to station operation and maintenance and enhance overall commuter experience.

The six modules involved in the evaluation of the Secunderabad station were sustainable station facility; health; hygiene and sanitation; energy efficiency; water efficiency; smart and green initiatives and innovation and development.

Tai Lee Siang, chairman, and Terri Wills, chief executive officer, World Green Building Council presented a shield, plaque and certification to SCR officials during the Green Building Congress-2017 at Jaipur last week. The certification is valid for three years.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR who was instrumental in drawing up the plan to meet norms for the Green Railway Station Certification, congratulated officials involved in the exercise.

Secunderabad Railway Station holds a total area of 13.34 acres and has 408 different species of trees available in the station area. Organic fertilizers and pesticides are being used while solar photo voltaic installations cover 41.2% of the exposed station roof area.

A 500 Kwp solar plant was installed in 2016, generating 2,500 units of power per day, accounting for 37% of energy requirements of the station, and leading to savings of Rs.72.92 lakh annually.

With 4,864 fixtures, Secunderabad station is 100% LED lit as well. Other green initiatives here include a 5lakh-litre Sewerage Treatment Plant, central waste collection, bottle crushing machine, CO2 sensors at AC waiting halls and rainwater harvesting pits.

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Zonal Railways asked to withdraw Catering Staff engaged in non-core activities such as those related to Cultural and Sports

NEW DELHI: All zonal railways have been asked to withdraw their catering staff engaged in non-core activities such as those related to cultural and sporting functions, according to a directive of the Railway Board issued today.

“All zonal railways should withdraw catering staff engaged in non-core activities like VIP catering, special catering, catering at the railway club or other semi-official catering activities like those related to Women’s Welfare Organisation, cultural and sporting functions and other such activities,” the directive, a copy of which is with PTI, read.

The Board has asked zonal railways to engage private caterers for such purposes.

“The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has also been directed to refrain from stretching their limited resources for such non-core catering activities,” it said.

With the implementation of the Catering Policy 2017, most of the catering units and related activities have been transferred to the IRCTC.

Zonal railways should curtail their role in the area of catering and Group D staff thus rendered surplus should be immediately redeployed against existing vacancies within the commercial and operating departments, the order read.
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Cabinet Committee appoints two new Railway Board Members

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved the appointment of M K Gupta, presently General Manager, Modern Coach Factory Raibareli, as Member Engineering in the Railway Board, said a government notification. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet also cleared the appointment of Gayen, presently posted as General Manager East Central Railway, as Member Staff in the Board, it said.

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday appointed M K Gupta and D K Gayen as the two new members in the Railway Board. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved the appointment of Gupta, presently General Manager, Modern Coach Factory Raibareli, as Member (Engineering) in the Railway Board, a government notification said.

The vacacny arose on September 1 this year on the superannuation of A K Mittal. The ACC also cleared the appointment of Gayen, presently posted as General Manager East Central Railway, as Member Staff in the Board, it said.

Flag pending decisions to Railway Board: Goyal to Railway Zones

NEW DELHI: In a bid to ensure safety of passengers, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said he has asked all zones to immediately flag “pending decisions” to the Railway Board.

He said the September 29 tragedy at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai was a wake-up call for the railway officials.

“After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai, I was pained to see that several decisions that were to be implemented earlier had been pending for over a year,” Goyal said at the 12th International Rail Conference in Pragati Maidan here.

He said that for the safety of passengers, he had given immense powers to the zonal general managers after keeping the Railway Board informed.

Goyal was referring to the stampede at the Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai on September 29, in which 23 people were killed.

The minister also stressed the need for taking decisions fast.

“Earlier the decisions were not taken at the required speed. I have asked the Railway Board to list out everything that is with the RDSO (Research Designs and Standards Organisation),” he said.

Speaking at the event, Goyal said that for safe and comfortable journey, there should be a separate freight and passenger corridor.

He also said that the Indian Railways had adopted modern technologies late.

“India is already late in adopting modern technologies. Last thing was the Rajdhani Express in 1969,” Goyal said.

“But despite being late, India … is in a hurry to provide most efficient modes of transport to serve the common man. And the High Speed Rail project shows that the Indian Railways is fully prepared to be the best of the best,” he said.

He also urged railway officials and entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ideas for the railways.

“There is no fund crisis in railways, give us a plan and we shall implement that, and I also want to assure the people here that soon a new system will come where the railways will make payments within 30 days,” Goyal said.

Indian Railways to cut delays, go for bulk procurement: Railway Minister

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Railways will now go for bulk procurement and disburse payments within 30 days of all work orders.

Pending projects

The Railway Board, which was meeting every week to clear pending projects, had been directed to put up online list of projects pending with Research Designs and Standard Organisations (RDSO) along with the timeline for approval.

“We want to change the rules of the game now; no more delays in the rail projects should be entertained from now,” said Mr. Goyal at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’s 12th International Railway Equipment Exhibition (IREE) 2017 here.

“I find it a great opportunity to change the mindset with which the Railways has worked for so many years. I am delighted the Railway Board is meeting every week and disposing off all the matters expeditiously,” he said.

The government was working on a system under which it will guarantee payment on the 30th day for everything that was supplied to the Railways.

“Simple things like prompt payment and quick approval of designs bring down costs significantly,” the Minister said.

The Railways will go for bulk procurement for modernisation of trains and railway stations.

“We need at least 2,000 escalators in the railway network and the current cost of procuring an escalator is ₹1 crore. I have asked the Railways to review their entire system of estimates as well. We want to do large scale procurement.” The Railways plans to put up CCTV cameras in all coaches and railway stations.

Further, the Railways is exploring fog light technology for smooth train operations during winters, the Minister said.

He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for a complete revision of timetable followed by Indian Railways. “We will bring the best of experts around the world to see if passenger trains can run in sequence or if freight trains can also have a timetable. We will explore whether we can guarantee traffic blocks for maintenance so that we can avoid accidents,” Mr. Goyal said.

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Railway Minister stresses need to redefine the roles of RPF, GRP

The suggestion has come in the wake of the September 29 Elphinstone bridge stampede in Mumbai that killed 23 people. Both the GRP and the RPF work to secure railway premises and trains.

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has stressed the need to clearly define the roles of the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to avoid confusion in their operations, Director General RPF Dharmendra Kumar has said.

The suggestion has come in the wake of the September 29 Elphinstone bridge stampede in Mumbai that killed 23 people. Both the GRP and the RPF work to secure railway premises and trains.

The DG RPF in a letter to the Director General of Police and the Additional DGP (Railways), Maharashtra, on October 10 said there are areas in which the roles of the two forces overlap, resulting in confusion.

“While their legal powers are clearly defined, field formations of both organisations find their roles overlapping in many areas during their day-to-day working. This causes confusion among the rank and file of the forces.

In the absence of a standard operating procedure, this confusion becomes more pronounced during a crisis. The recent stampede at Elphinstone Road Station in Mumbai is a prime example, Kumar said in the letter, a copy of which is with PTI.

“In the wake of the incident, a meeting was conducted by the minister of railways in Mumbai on September 30 during which the need for proper codification of duties of the GRP and the RPF was flagged,” the letter read.

Kumar in his letter recommended setting up a committee under the Commissioner of Police (Railways), Mumbai, with the Additional Commissioner of Police as a member and two representatives from the RPF.

Its task, Kumar said, would be to examine the roles and responsibilities of both forces and suggest ways for the proper codification of their duties.

“The committee can also suggest a shared standard operating procedure to be implemented by both agencies in case of exigencies such as bomb threat, large-scale law and order disturbance, stampede, terror attack,” Kumar said.

The RPF DG said the panel’s recommendations would be implemented for the Mumbai suburban railways first and then replicated across the country if found suitable.

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Track maintainers to get GPS bands so they stay on tracks: Railways

Little over a month after media exposed how workers responsible for maintaining tracks were being used as domestic helps by senior railway officers…

NEW DELHI: The execution will start by the end of this year and depending on the response, more WR employees – keymen, patrolmen, ticket checkers etc – will be given GPS bands.

In a desperate attempt to prevent railway track maintainers from being used by officers as house helps, the Western Railway has decided to make these Class IV employees wear GPS tags to ensure they are on the field during working hours and not running errands for their seniors or their wives.

It was earlier exposed how over a thousand track maintainers – the railways’ first and most effective protection against derailments – were either employed as servants at senior officers’ residences or were attached to offices where there was a shortfall of manpower.

The shocking number, sources said, could safely be extrapolated to railway divisions across the country and reveals the real reason behind the recent spate of derailments across the country, including Mumbai.

There have been nine major derailments in the country, including three in Mumbai, this year so far. The mishaps left 65 people dead and over 240 injured. In 2016, Mumbai division alone reported eight derailments.

The decision to tag track maintainers to GPS was taken at a meeting called by Western Railway GM Anil Kumar Gupta on Monday. The execution will start by the end of this year and depending on the response, more WR employees – keymen, patrolmen, ticket checkers etc – will be given GPS bands.

WR Chief PRO Ravinder Bhakar said the GPS bands will also help improve productivity with more efficient deployment of resources.

Monitoring stations will be set up in every railway division to track the movements of employees tagged to GPS. The employees will be, however, allowed to switch off the device during off-duty hours.

The recently appointed chairman of the Railway Board Ashwani Lohani had last month asked all his officers, including members of Railway Board, to release track maintainers posted as domestic staff at their residences. He also asked all general managers and divisional managers to re-deploy track maintainers back on their jobs from wherever they are currently posted.

Both Central and Western Railways’ Mumbai division in their books show a shortfall of track maintainers. Western Railway’s sanctioned strength of track maintainers for its Mumbai division is 5100. However, it has only 4100 available to inspect its tracks.

CR’s sanctioned strength of track maintainers for Mumbai is 4800, but it has only 4070 available. Between the two divisions, there is a total length of over 1000-km of track length to be covered in Mumbai. Track maintainers inspect tracks manually, walking the entire length allotted to them, which is on an average 10 km/day, on foot. It is a tough job as each track maintainer carries equipment weighing 20 kg over a 12-hour shift.

And not just that, track deaths are common. On an average, nationally 200 track maintainers get killed in accidents every year during patrolling exercises. Sources said the job is so backbreaking that a lot of track maintainers prefer doing odd jobs at their superiors’ residences or offices. Also, a lot of track maintainers are overqualified. While the minimum qualification for the job is Class X certificate, in the recent years graduates and double graduates have begun taking up the job. However, once they get the job, their preference is to get transferred to a non-field job.

Track maintainers were till recently known as gangmen. The nomenclature was revised because of the negative connotation attached to the word ‘gang’. According to VK Solanki, divisional chairman, CR Mazdoor Sangh, at least 500 trackmen in Mumbai are graduates and double graduates. Some even have bachelors’ degrees in engineering or IT.

South Korea, Germany to finance development of Iran’s Electric Trains

Iran’s Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development says South Korea and Germany will provide funds for the development of electric trains in the Islamic Republic

NEW DELHI: Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan declared that South Korea will provide funding to construct a double-track railway between Iranian cities of Isfahan in the centre and Ahwaz in the south.

Seven electric locomotives will also be purchased for Tehran-Isfahan route using the funds provided by Germany, he added.

IMNA quoted him in a Farsi report that there was no limit for any of the ministries and departments to use the $55 billion finances approved in the budget.

“Up to now, over $30 billion worth of these funds have been allocated, and the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development has proposed projects to spend $10 billion to $12 billion of the finances,” added the deputy minister.

He went on to say the ministry has undertaken projects to get $5 billion worth of foreign loan for their implementation. So, we are in the final stages of signing a contract with Russians to receive a 1.2 billion euros funding to run electric trains in Garmsar-Inche Boroun railway. (Garmsar is a small city in the southeast of Tehran and Incheboroun is a border city in the northeast).

“Of course, part of this $5 billion resource will also be allocated to the Ministry of Energy projects,” he noted.

This Iranian officials further mentioned that negotiations on a $500 million loan from Azerbaijan Republic to finance the construction of Rasht-Astara railway in northern are underway.

Fakhrieh-Kashan stated that Iran’s Central Bank has concluded talks with Exim Bank of China to complete Tehran-Mashhad railway project, saying that the same pattern of negotiations and signing contracts would be followed in other projects as well.

“At the moment, we are finalizing a €3 billion financing contract with a specific German company for a specific project, of which €1.7 billion would be allocated to the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.”

The Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development announced the German delegates will visit Iran in the near future to finalize the €3 billion funding.

“Another project is the construction of Chabahar-Zahedan Railway in the southeast, with the participation of the Indians and perhaps the Japanese. In this regard, we have held talks with the Japanese company JICA,” pointed out Fakhrieh-Kashan.

He said in the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project and also for the development of the Makran region, Iran will receive Japan’s $10 billion finances.

“To use Japan’s $10 billion funds, we have proposed that two underground railways would be constructed from Tehran’s northeast to southwest and also northwest to southeast, which has not yet been approved, but the Japanese have expressed interest in joining the $9 billion project.”

He went on to say that this project, which is expected to be launched in seven years, runs an underground exit from Tehran to solve Tehran’s traffic problem forever.

“We have offered to receive Austria’s funding to provide us with rails. The Austrians are one of the world’s leading rail producers and could provide part of our needed rails.”

In response to a question on how much of the $55 billion government finances would be allocated to the Ministry of Road and Urban Development, he said, “Apart from the Tehran underground railway project, the ministry’s share of these funds is about $10-12 billion.”

Escorts showcases New Products at IREE 2017 for Safer Rail Travel

Living up to its role of a leading partner to the Indian Railways, Escorts has developed a series of new products to make rail travel safe and faster.

NEW DELHI: The new products include anti lift AARH Couplers, Axle Mounted Disc Brakes, Brake Disc for high speed LHB coaches, Locomotive Brake Electronics for both Electric and Diesel Locomotives, High end Dampers for Locomotives and LHB coaches besides Air Springs. This will be aligned to modernization of infrastructure, focus on safety and enhancing the experience of traveling by train.

Shares of ESCORTS LTD. was last trading in BSE at Rs.697.1 as compared to the previous close of Rs. 693.9. The total number of shares traded during the day was 168697 in over 3089 trades. The stock hit an intraday high of Rs. 712.75 and intraday low of 695.15. The net turnover during the day was Rs.118764201.

The new Automatic Door for Metro & High Speed Train, LHB Alstom Coach Dampers, Heavy Duty Locomotive Dampers, Rubber to Metal bonded products , Friction Products like Brake Pads, and Axle mounted Disc Brake Systems for LHB live up to the Escorts brand legacy of contributing to national infrastructure development while unleashing hitherto unexplored business potentials for Escorts Railway Products.

Escorts Railway Products launched several new products for the Metros and Indian Railway segments in India.  These new rail products are an outcome of continual frugal and value engineering by in house R&D and Global Technology partners for making rail travel safe,  reliable and more comfortable while also paving the way to import substitution and reducing the need for costly imports. In sync with the new vision of railway transformation, this marks the initial steps of success of ‘Make In India’ by indigenous manufacturers.

The new Automatic Door for Metro & High Speed Train, LHB Alstom Coach Dampers, Heavy Duty Locomotive Dampers, Rubber to Metal bonded products , Friction Products like Brake Pads, and Axle mounted Disc Brake Systems for LHB live up to the Escorts brand legacy of contributing to national infrastructure development while unleashing hitherto unexplored business potentials for Escorts Railway Products.

Escorts Railway Products launched several new products for the Metros and Indian Railway segments in India.  These new rail products are an outcome of continual frugal and value engineering by in house R&D and Global Technology partners for making rail travel safe,  reliable and more comfortable while also paving the way to import substitution and reducing the need for costly imports. In sync with the new vision of railway transformation, this marks the initial steps of success of ‘Make In India’ by indigenous manufacturers.

The new Automatic Door for Metro & High Speed Train, LHB Alstom Coach Dampers, Heavy Duty Locomotive Dampers, Rubber to Metal bonded products , Friction Products like Brake Pads, and Axle mounted Disc Brake Systems for LHB live up to the Escorts brand legacy of contributing to national infrastructure development while unleashing hitherto unexplored business potentials for Escorts Railway Products.

According to Mr. Nikhil Nanda, Managing Director of Escorts, “Escorts Ltd is one of the key sponsors for IREE which is the only international platform in India for the Railway and its related sectors.We have been involved in the railway business for over 50 years now, beginning in 1962. In that time we have worked silently, but now the time has come for us to demonstrate the good work we are doing for our country men, by making railways reach a high level in both safety & comfort and value-for-money. We have partnered with the best companies around the world to Make In India the new products required for railway transformation as envisioned by the new Railway Minister.”

Dipankar Ghosh, CEO, Escorts Railway Products added saying, “Escorts Railway Division is gearing up to the challenge of participating in the transformation of Indian Railways and Metro Segment with a strategic mix of new product introduction through both inhouse innovation and global technology partnerships. At Escorts our foundational ethos have been to bring the world’s best to India at Indian prices and take the India’s best to the world by investing in our internal research and building capabilities. Our several new products being launched at IREE is a testimony to our commitment.”

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Capacity of Rae Bareli Coach Factory to be increased five times to 5000 Coaches a year

Ministry of Railways to invest about Rs 2,000 Crore for expansion
Spot welding in side wall of Indian Railway coaches at Modern Coach Factory , Raebareli (MCF)

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today said Indian Railways will be making an investment of around Rs 2,000 crore, in the next couple of years, for expansion of its various manufacturing units across the country. The capacity of the Rae Bareli coach factory alone is expected to be increased five times to 5,000 coaches per year, the minister said at a CII event in New Delhi. However, he did not divulge the timeline for the same.

The Indian Railways manufacturing capacity from its three factories — Intergral Coach Factory, Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh) and Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala (Punjab) is expected to be ramped up to 7,000-8,000 LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch – named after its German supplier) coaches from the current 4,000 coaches.

At present, around 51,000 Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) coaches and 5,500 LHB coaches are made in the Kapurthala factory.

“A major part of the investment would go to the ICF in Chennai,” Ravindra Gupta, Member (Rolling Stock), Railway Board told reporters in New Delhi.

According to Gupta, infrastructure improvement at the Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareli is expected to take about one-and-a-half years or so and a similar time horizon for ICF is also expected. Once the modernisation work is complete, Indian Railways would be in a position to ramp up its LHB manufacturing capacity to 7,000-8,000 coaches from the current 4,000.

However, he added that Indian Railways’ expansion plan would be complete by mid 2019-20.

Indian Railways has decided to shift to LHB coaches, but increasing production requires a sharp ramp up from the present annual coach production target of 2,435 coaches. The vendor capacity also needs to be increased accordingly. To this, Gupta said that the Railways was working towards increasing its vendor base.

Meanwhile, on the overall improvement of Indian Railways, Goyal said efficiency in operations and timely payments can save up to 30-40 per cent of the procurement cost for Railways.

The Railways procures material worth more than Rs 50,000 crore annually to cater to the needs for production and maintenance of rolling stocks, signaling, tracks and fuel. It had also identified a few high-value items, including high-speed diesel, where significant savings can be made during the current financial year (2017-18).

The Railways procures high-speed diesel worth Rs 15,000 crore a year and is the single largest buyer of diesel in the country.

Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli

Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli (earlier Rail Coach Factory, Raebareli) is a rail coach manufacturing unit of the Indian Railways at Lalganj near Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh. The factory is the third facility in India that produces railway compartments besides the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur in Tamil Nadu and the Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala in Punjab. The factory was inaugurated by the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on November 7, 2012.

The project was approved in the Supplementary Railway Budget for 2006-07. Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the factory in February, 2007 and land acquisition for the project commenced in April, 2007. However, in 2008, following the victory of the Bahujan Samaj Party in the Uttar Pradesh elections of 2007, the new government under Chief Minister Mayawati cancelled the land deed for the factory halting construction work there. The Allahabad High Court permitted the project to proceed after a public interest litigation petition was filed before it. In January 2009, construction of the factory began again which was inaugurated once again by Sonia Gandhi. The same month, Indian Railways signed a 99-year land lease agreement with the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The delay led to the cost of the project rising from an initially estimated ₹1685 crores to about ₹2500 crores

The factory has come up on a total area of 541 hectares of land of which 283 was acquired from private parties. The factory was constructed by the IRCON INTERNATIONAL LIMITED (IRCON). 1450 jobs are to be given to families that were affected by the land acquisition besides the compensation package and the Lucknow Division of the Northern Railways is expected to generate another 1000 job opportunities as a result of the factory becoming operational. The factory adheres to stringent pollution control norms for curbing air pollution and spillage of oils and employs fume and sewage neutralisation syste.

The factory is expected to manufacture 1000 Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB) coaches annually.

Anubhuti coaches, which are state of the art LHB coaches featuring ergonomically designed cushioned seats, LCD screens, modular toilets and stylish interiors, announced in the Railway Budget of 2013 are to be produced at the Rae Bareli coach factory. These coaches will progressively be introduced on the Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express train.

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Alstom and Siemens Rail Deal stirs French political passions

MUNICH/PARIS: Siemens and Alstom are expected to announce a deal merging their rail operations on Tuesday, a Franco-German industrial breakthrough for President Emmanuel Macron but a move already riling opposition politicians.

Macron’s centrist government has said it supports efforts to strengthen French industry through partnerships with German firms as long as jobs are safeguarded. The French state owns around 20 percent of Alstom.

Siemens is expected to announce the rail deal with Alstom on Tuesday rather than pursuing an alternative with Canada’s Bombardier , two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The agreement is likely to see Siemens Mobility merged into Alstom, in which Siemens would hold 50 percent plus one share, while the chief executive would be Alstom’s current boss Henri-Poupart Lafarge.

Major train makers in Europe are under increasing pressure to combine their businesses as much-larger Chinese state-backed rival CRRC <601766.SS> embarks on a global expansion.

Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser said he believed the scale of CRRC left little room for regulators to oppose a deal.

“It always depends, but the facts are that there is a dominant player,” he told Reuters in an interview in New York.

Siemens and Alstom are strong in high-speed intercity trains with their ICE and TGV models. Siemens is also the leader in signalling technology, while Bombardier – whose transportation headquarters are in Berlin – is stronger in commuter and light-rail trains.

Siemens stands to gain control of Alstom’s main business, since all of Alstom’s divisions deal with the railways and transportation industries.

A special dividend would even out the value of Siemens and Alstom, which has too much cash on its balance sheet, to smooth the intended 50-50 joint venture, one of the sources said.

“Will there be a special dividend? Yes,” said the second person.

Siemens’ mobility division reported operating profit of 678 million euros ($800 million) in its last financial year, a margin of 8.7 percent of sales and a 15 percent increase on the prior year.

Alstom posted adjusted EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) of 421 million euros in its most recent annual earnings, a margin of 5.8 percent and also a 15 percent rise.

SIGNS OF BACKLASH

While the French government has made comments backing the deal, several opposition politicians and French trade union activists expressed concerns.

Their worries centre on France losing control of its TGV high-speed train – a symbol of national pride that has highlighted French engineering skill – and possible job losses.

French right-wing politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan criticised the likely deal on Tuesday as being more favourable to Germany than France, as did far-right politician Nicolas Bay, the National Front’s secretary general, who said on Twitter that it could result in the “eradication of French industry”.

Eric Woerth, a member of the right-wing Republicans’ party, voiced similar views on his Twitter account.

“Is this now the end of Alstom? Will TGV become German? Why does the government accept such an imbalance?”

Last week, the French government’s spokesman said France was not worried about an Alstom-Siemens tie-up provided that jobs were protected. One source said France had no concerns over any anti-trust issues emanating from it.

A branch of the CFDT trade union representing Alstom workers wrote on Twitter: “Macron abandoned Alstom to GE and he’s now abandoning them to Siemens.” Macron served as economy minister for two years from August 2014.

A tie-up between the two companies – aimed at creating a European champion in the railway sector similar to Airbus in aviation – would represent a reconciliation of sorts between Siemens and Alstom.

Alstom snubbed the German company in 2014 to sell its energy division to General Electric in a deal that also saw Paris take a 20 percent stake in Alstom, under a temporary agreement with construction group Bouygues .

Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas raised their rating on Alstom to “neutral” from “underweight” noting a deal offered better growth prospects than remaining a standalone company.

“We suggest that, if they participate, value creation would be limited for Siemens but material for Alstom,” the Exane BNP Paribas analysts wrote.

“Aside from the M&A (mergers and acquisition) angle, we believe that commercially, this year will be relatively muted for Alstom. With no large contracts in sight, pressure on free cash flow should intensify due to lack of downpayments received.”

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Auto industry urges Railways, Waterways authorities to meet Transportation Demands

Greater participation of railways needed to meet auto logistics demand: SIAM
Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, who was invited as the Chief Guest at the Conclave, assured the industry that he is trying to bring in culture of work at Railways and has initiated the process of reforms.

NEW DELHI: Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex body of the automobile industry, held its 4th SIAM Automotive Logistics Conclave.

In the two-day event, which concluded on Tuesday, delegates discussed emerging challenges in India’s fast-moving automotive logistics sector and called for concerted efforts from the industry players and the government, especially the Indian Railways for the sustainable development.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the annual event themed: “Changing Facets of Automotive Logistics”, Abhay Firodia, President, SIAM, and Chairman, Force Motors, said: “Developments in the sector are happening in an exciting pace with active participation of the government.

“Presence of Chairman, Railway Board here indicates that the government is desirous to be pro-active to smoothen and transitioning to the new era. The Railways has been a major catalyst and a lever in transformation of our country. It has the power to move things, people and freight, which have huge impact on efficiency and cost,” Firodia asserted.

Terming the Indian Railways as the movers of nation, Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, who was the chief guest at the Conclave, assured the industry that he is trying to bring in culture of work at Railways and has initiated the process of reforms.

He said the Indian Railways is poised for a change, in the way it conducts its business.

“We do have issues and we are aware of it. We are trying to focus on these issues and so have initiated the process of reforms. It is a changing time for the nation. You will see a paradigm shift that will come in the Indian Railways. We will spare no effort in improving the interaction with the automobile industry in meeting their logistics needs,” Lohani assured, while replying to a participant urging him to look into delays and mishandling of goods, while transporting through Railways network.

Lohani also suggested SIAM and the industry to share their concerns with him and promised to address as many issues as possible. He further stated that the Indian Railways is looking at consolidation and growth, especially for the high speed freight corridor and auto hubs.

“We want private investments in this segment. We have a scheme of entering into long-term partnerships. The long-term contract agreement will help in reducing the logistic cost. This is the new policy. We at the Indian Railways are looking at different ways of conducting business.”

“Currently, we move 1,100 million tonne of freight a year and 25 million passengers a day. We understand that the manufacturings of vehicles have gone up and so the requirement of logistics is crucial for the sector. Automobiles are symptom of how our economy is doing,” Lohani explained.

Prem Verma, Chairman, SIAM Logistics Group & Project Leader – Logistics, Tata Motors, said that this annual event is an excellent initiative to bring in the industry on one platform to discuss issues and concerns confronting the sector.

Welcoming Lohani, Verma averred that his presence at the conclave is the testimony to the seriousness the Indian Railways have for the automobile business.

“We are sure that going forward, things would be better and will improve further,” said Verma.

S K Gangwar, Member, (Technical), Inland Waterways Authority of India, while speaking at a session on Waterways and Shipping, urged the logistics industry to suggest and give their feedback on their expectations from the government.

“We are planning to start with some inland service soon. We will soon come out with it. The movement of cargo through waterway is more economical than road, especially for long distances…”, Gangwar pointed out.

He also informed that currently car like vehicles can be transported through waterway, but vehicles like trucks do not have the vessel support and can be done as more infrastructure is developed. India has a navigable length of around 14,500 kms, of which 5,200 kms of river and 4,000 kms of canals can be used as mode of water transportation. However, total cargo moved in India is just 0.1 per cent of the total inland traffic in India, while it is over 20 per cent in the US.

Sunil K Chaturvedi, CEO, Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC), called for a need to have adequate planning, implementing, storing, controlling and ensuring efficient and effective movement of parts and vehicles.

He said there is a need and scope for Indian specific research work in automotive logistics. For auto logistics, there are 214 training centres across 23 states, where 62,153 trainees are enrolled and 40,751 trainees are certified.

“There is a need to integrate Railways and water transportation,” he explained. The Automotive Skills Development Council has been a mandate to bridge skill gaps and enabling sustained growth of the automotive sector.

R S Kapoor, Vice President, Maruti Suzuki, while addressing a session on Railways – Terminals, Policies & Technology, said that the Indian automotive sector needed to gear up to meet the challenges, as it is poised to be on top 3 markets globally by 2026.

In this regard he suggested for a multi-model logistics solution to meet the growing demand of transportation of automotive production across the country. He urged the government, especially the Indian Railways to increase its share of contribution in transportation of automotive units like cars – currently at 4-5 per cent — which will help the industry maintain growth and speedy transportation of vehicles.

“With support of Railways, we will be able to dispatch more number of cars every year. There is an urgent need to adopt global logistics models. At the same time, we need to improve on the skill development, as we move ahead in the growing automotive sector,” Kapoor claimed.

S M Andaleeb Razi, Director (Freight Marketing), Railway Board, stated that the Indian Railways is willing to partner in the change, which would happen in the coming years.

“For the Indian Railways automobile sector is a priority area. We are looking at increasing Railway’s share from 4-5 per cent to 12 per cent by 2020 and 25 per cent later. We are also going to have auto hub under the PPP model and this is being taken up very seriously. We will have better designed wagons which will increase throughput of vehicles transport. We will be increasing the height of our wagons to accommodate SUVs. The two-wheelers segment too has huge scope and we are working on it as well,” Razi explained.

H D Gujrati, Director, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India, termed the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) as a game-changer for the transport industry.

“It will help in faster movement of goods, guaranteed transit time. This will create huge capacity and create huge employment. We expect the share of the Indian Railways in the transportation sector to increase from 30 per cent to 45 per cent with the coming up of DFC. This will also augment value added services and supply chain management.

The two-day conclave on Changing Facets of Automotive Logistics, had sessions on Opportunities and Challenges, Waterways and Shipping, Road Transportation, Railways- Terminals, Policies & Technology. Around 120 delegates from vehicle manufacturers and logistics service providers participated in the event. Display stalls were also set up by a few logistics providers.

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IR to hand over Parcel Biz and Revenue & Operations of Platform Tickets to Developers undertaking Station Redevelopment

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways is out to woo developers to ensure that its plan to develop railway stations is a success.

After the Railway Board gave an in-principle approval for leasing railway land for 99 years and allowing construction of residential complexes, Indian Railways is considering handing over revenue and operations of platform tickets and parcel business of the stations to the developers who undertake station re-development.

The Railway Board, in a meeting on 5 October, discussed the two provisions along with giving approval for the land lease and land development.

A senior railway official on condition of anonymity said, “Railway minister Piyush Goyal has been informed about the proposals and he is in support of the move. Provisions are being considered as developers have asked for more sops to make it a lucrative offer.” He added that revenue from parcels account for just around 2% of railways’ earnings. No information was immediately available on earnings from platform tickets, which are currently priced at Rs10.

Under the current station redevelopment plan, the Indian Railways already allocates operation and maintenance of stations to the developers, including the maintenance and operations of toilets on the platform, vendors and food stalls, parking, waiting rooms, etc. If approved, the two provisions would bring additional business for the developers, apart from land sops.

Interestingly, Indian Railways seems to be giving in to the demands of developers now which were being opposed during the reign of former railway minister Suresh Prabhu. Prabhu had been advocating land leases of up to only 45 years citing the examples of Japan and UK. Prabhu often stated that if a developer cannot mint out their investment in 30-45 years, they won’t be able to do it with more time.

Another railway official who didn’t want to be identified said, “This is railways’ big privatization plan. It will start with stations and slowly cover other areas. Ticket and parcel handling are the only sources of revenue from stations which were with the railways under station development, and if they are gone, we give up our hold on stations.” He added that under the new station development plan, railways have asked a corporate entity to help them to set terms and conditions for termination of contracts, which entails penalties on early termination of contacts by railways.

“We have been given a clear mandate—our business is just to run trains on time,” he said adding that there seem to be no voices of dissent.

However, former railway board chairman Vivek Sahai warned, “Railways job is to transport men and material. Residential complex and such sops should come if you have no hope of any growth in transportation.”

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Railways asks 30,000 Trackmen to resume duties to spruce up Safety

NEW DELHI: To spruce up the safety on the railway network through manual patrolling, Indian Railways has instructed 30,000 trackmen, who were earlier posted at the residences of rail officials in different zones and divisions, to resume their duties.

“All 30,000 trackmen who were posted at the residents of officials will now be back maintaining patrolling rail tracks. Almost 7000 of these trackmen have already reported back to work in last two days,” a top rail ministry official said.

In a meeting with rail board last week, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal instructed that all the protocols that railway board members get while visiting zones should be done away with and the human resource available should instead be used in safety works instead of manning the offices and houses of top officials.

The minister has also told his top officials to travel in general classes once every month to know what passengers feel about services.

“The saloon culture of Indian Railway officials kept them away from knowing what passengers felt about services. All of that needs to be changed,” the official added.

SCR sign Energy Performance agreements with Energy Efficiency Services Limited – a JV of Power Ministry

SECUNDERABAD: South Central Railway has earned yet another distinction of being the first Zone on Indian Railways, where all the Six Divisions of the Zone viz., Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur & Nanded Divisions have signed Energy Performance Agreements with M/s. Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a Joint Venture Company of PSUs of Ministry of Power, Government of India under Energy Service Company (ESCO) model at a time. The agreement was signed today i.e., 10.10.2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad by the officials of SCR & EESL.

The agreement signed, is to implement Energy Efficiency projects at 22 selected A1 & A class stations on the Zone as per Railway Board guidelines involving provision of Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting, super energy efficient Brushless DC electric motor (BLDC) ceiling fans and super energy efficient Inverter AC’s replacing conventional lights, conventional ceiling fans & conventional Air-conditioners involving an approximate Energy Savings of 9.8 Lakh Units per annum amounting to Rs.88 Lakh.

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Travelling with Indian Railways? Here’s why Airtel should be your First Choice

Airtel’s network, on an average, has the maximum connectivity on most Railway routes. Airtel is followed by Vodafone and Idea.

If you are a regular traveller in Indian trains, you surely would have suffered from the poor network once in a while. According to a smartphone application RailYatri, users can now check the quality of their mobile network connections even during the train journey. In a press statement, Rail Yatri said, “So, travellers can check and compare the mobile connectivity across the different route.” If you wish to check the network coverage of your phone, open the RailYatri app and then click on the timetable of the train you are travelling on. You will then be provided with a link at the bottom which will showcase a map wich will have the details of the network coverage.

The app also rolled out a chart which shows major train routes and their corresponding coverage by popular telecom service providers such as Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance, BSNL and Idea. According to the chart, Delhi to Howrah (Kolkata) route scored the highest with 88 percent network coverage. Bangalore to Chennai route, with 78 per cent coverage came in second.

Meanwhile, mobile connectivity on Mumbai to Chennai and Mumbai to Bangalore routes stood at 58 percent, while commuters are expected to get 74 percent connectivity on Delhi-Mumbai route. Other popular train routes and their connectivity include Mumbai to Kolkata at 63 percent, Delhi to Chennai at 73 percent and Chennai to Kolkata at 70 per cent.

Manish Rathi, CEO and co-founder, RailYatri.in said, “An Indian on an average uses 4-5 apps during long train journeys. Internet connectivity along the rail routes has thus become important to ensure a pleasant experience for today’s travellers. With the Network Coverage feature, passengers now know what to expect along with their train route. Armed with this information, they can make their calls or take decisions like downloading a movie or book for later consumption.”

Meanwhile, Airtel’s network, on an average, has the maximum connectivity on most routes. Airtel is followed by Vodafone and Idea. Rathi added, “While stations are getting a high-speed WiFi connection, the RailYatri data showed fluctuating mobile connectivity on long train routes. While at some routes the network connectivity ranges as high as 70-88 percent, at other places they could go as low as 20 percent, depending on the network providers available on that route. The RailYatri data also captures the coverage by individual provider between stations. This awareness is definitely empowering the train traveller to make right choices at the right time.”

Delta Powering Green Mobility showcases its Energy Efficient Smart Solutions at IREE 2017

NEW DELHI: Delta, a global leader in power and thermal management solutions, showcased, at IREE 2017, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi its diversified portfolio of smart power solutions based on cutting edge power conversion technology capable of delivering industry-leading energy efficiency to the growing railway sector infrastructure in India.

The Indian Railway is the lifeline of the Indian transportation system, and any advancement is highly significant for India. Delta is poised to offer the required business solutions for rolling stock converters, Power Quality Restorer for TSS, Integrated Power Supplies for S&T, Solar Inverter & Battery Energy Storage, Station Power & Display Systems and EV Chargers.

Electrification is the biggest impetus India needs to get its growth story on path. Mr. R. Om Prakash, Business Head, Delta Rail Transportation Solutions said, “This is a big opportunity as Indian Railways is the largest user of electricity for electric traction purposes and their consumption of power is increasing. Power quality is a big issue for Traction Sub-station as per the power quality and energy guidelines prescribed by the regulator. If India is to grow, then Indian Railways must grow. Here is where Delta’s Smart Power Solutions comes in with its power conditioning and complete propulsion equipment appropriate for the IGBT traction system of electric powered locomotives. The improved power quality, energy management and harmonic balance will help the railway save energy, increase efficiency and passenger load without increasing capex.”

Mr. Dalip Sharma, Managing Director, Delta Electronics India remarked: “The Ministry of Indian Railways is working towards total electrification of the network as Railways is aiming towards a cheaper and cleaner source of energy. The important things involved in the process include availability of equipment and adequate infrastructure. We at Delta, the leading company in power and thermal management solutions, are offering Delta’s Railway Power solutions that are based on cutting edge power conversion technology. It is fully geared to partner in the Ministry of Railways growth by providing Power Quality Compensating and Traction Propulsion equipment. These products are developed at our state of the art R&D lab in Bengaluru, which provide significant commercial savings for the Railway infrastructure.”

Highlights of Delta’s Power Solution offerings at IREE 2017 will be: 

  • Power Quality Compensating Equipment: In the existing traction network, Indian Railways has a 25 kV, 50Hz, 1-phase traction system on their network. The main power quality issues for railway traction are Low Power Factor, Harmonics Imbalance, High Maximum Demand, and Poor Voltage Regulation. The prevalent equipment provides fixed reactive power compensation irrespective of the actual load. Delta’s unique and highly efficient iRMS Compensator addresses the reactive power compensation, harmonic current compensation, and 25kV bus voltage compensation, which makes the current at metering point pure and free from reactive and harmonic distortion.
  • Power Supplies for Signalling, Telecommunication and Train Control systems: Delta offers smart power quality solutions to critical railway infrastructure such as signalling, telecommunication, and train control systems with an excellent global track record. These power supplies are based on cutting-edge power conversion technology, are highly efficient, reliable, and safe. Both modular and scalable, they reduce complexity, environmental impact, and total cost of ownership across the entire railway infrastructure.
  • Display & Monitoring Solutions: Delta has significant expertise in developing smart display & monitoring solutions for Passenger Information Systems, Signalling, Telecommunication & Train Control Systems, Traffic Management Systems and Safety & Security Systems for railway operations. Our successful installations include the prestigious Bangalore Metro and Mumbai Metro Rail.
  • UPS & Datacenter Infrastructure Solutions: With its wide range of Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) ranging from 600VA to 4000 kVA, Delta offers a competitive edge to critical applications in need of first-rate power solutions. Reliable, efficient and modular, Delta’s Uninterruptible Power Solutions ensure the continuity of mission critical operations while reducing their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Delta has successfully installed its power back-up solutions at Noida Metro Rail.
  • Renewable Energy Solutions: Delta has a full range of solar PV inverters that boast not only industry-leading energy conversion efficiency, but also lead the market in both String and Central Inverter categories. Delta has installations in major railway stations and airports across India including Katra Railway station, Secunderabad Station, Delhi Railway Station, Mumbai Railway Stations, Kochi Airport, New Delhi Airport, Mumbai Airport, Kolkata Airport, and others. The power range of these PV inverters varies between 3kW to 3MW to serve the needs of the residential, commercial, industrial and utility segments in India.
  • EV Charging Solutions: Delta offers a complete range of energy efficient EV charging solutions with DC Quick, AC Chargers and Site Management System. These chargers can be conveniently installed in multiple applications such as parking spaces, highway service, as well as residential and commercial buildings.

About Delta Electronics India Pvt. Ltd.

Delta Electronics India is a 100% subsidiary of Delta Electronics (Thailand) PLC, a group company of Delta Group. Operating in India since 2003, Delta Electronics India is the leading provider of Telecom Power Solutions and a major source of Industrial Automation, Large Display Solutions, Mission Critical Infrastructure Solutions, Renewable Energy Solutions, Building Management Solutions, DC Fans & Blowers and Components.

With 10 regional offices, 3 manufacturing facilities at Rudrapur, Gurgaon, Hosur and 2 R&D centres in Gurgaon and Bangalore, Delta has a strong presence across India with more than 100 channel partners. The company has been awarded ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2007 and OHSAS  18001: 2008 certifications for Quality, Procedures, and Environment management.

For detailed information, please visit: www.deltaelectronicsindia.com

About Delta

Delta, founded in 1971, is a global leader in power and thermal management solutions and a major player in several product segments such as industrial automation, displays, and networking. Its mission statement, “To provide innovative, clean and energy-efficient solutions for a better tomorrow,” focuses on addressing key environmental issues such as global climate change. As an energy-saving solutions provider with core competencies in power electronics and innovative research and development, Delta’s business categories include Power Electronics, Automation, and Infrastructure. Delta has 153 sales offices, 61 R&D centers, and 40 manufacturing facilities worldwide.

Throughout its history, Delta has received many global awards and recognition for its business achievements, innovative technologies, and dedication to corporate social responsibility. Since 2011, Delta has been selected as a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability™ World Index (DJSI World) for 7 consecutive years. In 2016, Delta was selected out of 5,800 large companies by CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) for its Climate Change Leadership Level.

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Three firms in fray for Bhopal and Indore Metro Rail Contracts

Deutsche Bahn, Aegis India and AYESA are in the fray for consulting contracts for the Bhopal and Indore metro rail systems

BHOPAL: Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting, Aegis India and AYESA are in the fray for consulting contracts for the Bhopal and Indore metro rail systems, according to two people aware of the development. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Madhya Pradesh (MP) government plans to expedite construction of the projects in the state’s capital and business hub in the backdrop of assembly elections coming up next year. The firms have been shortlisted for general consulting contracts by the Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Co. Ltd (MPMRCL)—set up after the MP government approved its constitution in February 2015. The idea of setting up metro rails in Bhopal and Indore was conceived in 2009.

“The decision on who will get the contract for the project will be taken by September end,” said a senior state government official, requesting anonymity.

The Madhya Pradesh cabinet approved the detailed project reports of the Bhopal and Indore metro rails in December 2016 at a cost of Rs14,485.55 crore.

According to the decision, while MPMRCL would bear 60% of the project cost, the union and the state governments will share 20% each for the projects. “These projects are of great importance to the MP state government,” said a second person, requesting anonymity.
The metro rail network in the country is growing with the mass rapid transit system emerging as one of the best solutions for urban transportation. Even as nine Indian cities currently have a metro network, over two dozen more projects are lined up.

The union government had last month come out with a new metro policy wherein it will approve and aid metro rail projects only if they have private participation and ensure last-mile connectivity for users. Under the new metro rail policy, states will get powers to make rules and regulations and set up permanent fare fixation authorities.

“Private participation, either for complete provision of metro rail or for some unbundled components (like automatic fare collection, operation and maintenance of services etc.), will form an essential requirement for all metro rail projects seeking central financial assistance,” the policy stated.

Metro rail projects are capital intensive and are generally undertaken through financial support of both the central and state governments in the form of equity and grants with the remaining funds raised through multilateral lending agencies. India’s metro rail expansion over the last two decades has, for the most part, been financed through soft loans from Japan.

“There is no need to submit any fresh detailed project report for Bhopal and Indore metros, as our current reports are in accordance with the new Metro Rail Policy announced by the Centre,” said a senior MPMRCL official, who also didn’t want to be named.

Queries emailed to MPMRCL, Deutsche Bahn, Aegis and Ayesa remained unanswered till press time.

Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting has been active in the Indian infrastructure space. RaiNews reported on 3 April that it was in talks with Indian Port Rail Corp. Ltd (IPRCL) to form a joint venture (JV) to develop rail connectivity for Indian ports.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that 50 Indian cities were ready for a metro network.

According to rating agency ICRA, metro rail projects worth Rs2 trillion are likely to come up for bidding in the next five years.

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Sreedharan reviews progress of Lucknow Metro Rail project

LUCKNOW: Principal Advisor to the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) E. Sreedharan on Tuesday reviewed the progress of the Metro rail project on the 23-km North-South Corridor (Phase 1A) from Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport to Munshipulia here.

Managing Director Kumar Keshav and other directors briefed him about the progress of this project.

Sreedharan first visited the Transport Nagar Metro Station, where he was briefed about the operational and passenger facilities provided by the LMRC at Metro stations and inside the trains.

He visited the concourse and platform of the station to see the state-of-the-art world class facilities provided for passengers from the very first day of operations. He then took a ride in the Metro from Transport Nagar Metro Station to Charbagh Metro Station and expressed happiness over the cleanliness at the stations and inside the Metro train.

Sreedharan later visited the LMRC administrative office at Gomti Nagar, where he reviewed the progress of the underground Metro work going on for the Hussainganj-Sachivalaya-Hazratganj section and the elevated section beyond K.D. Singh Babu Stadium up to Munshipulia.

He also discussed the progress of other Metro rail projects, including the Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur Metro rail projects.

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IR plans to build a Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Battery powered 300kW Broad-gauge Locomotive

Indian Railways plans to build a hydrogen fuel cell and battery powered 300kW broad-gauge locomotive, and Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi has invited tenders by November 22 for components for the project.

The locomotive will have a proton-exchange-membrane-based (PEM) fuel cell power plant with a maximum of three air-cooled stack modules each rated at a minimum of 100kW. A fuel cell and battery system will provide transient power of 700kW, with a dc/dc boost/buck converter with transformer. The hydrogen storage system will consist of two modules each comprising carbon fibre/aluminium tanks.

The 21-tonne axleload locomotive will have a new underframe and superstructure, but will use some components from an Alco diesel locomotive including bogies, dc traction motors, air brakes, vigilance control device, event recorder, sanders, air dryers and horns.

The successful bidder will need to have a memorandum of understanding with an Indian partner to work on the project. Field trials on the IR network lasting at least three months will be conducted with the prototype locomotive.

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Siemens announces Equity Investment in predictive Locomotive Maintenance Specialist ‘Wi-Tronix’

Duane Hong, Wi-Tronix Vice President Customer Success; Larry Jordan, Wi-Tronix President and Chief Technology Officer; Johannes Emmelheinz, CEO of Customer Services at Siemens Mobility Division; Mike Heilmann, Wi-Tronix Executive Vice President; Lisa Matta, Wi-Tronix Vice President Product Development

Siemens has made what it describes as a “strategic equity investment” in predictive locomotive maintenance specialist Wi-Tronix, United States. While both companies have agreed not to release details of the transaction, Wi-Tronix will remain a standalone company led by its founder.

Siemens and Wi-Tronix, headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois, near Chicago, U.S., are launching a partnership to expand digital predictive maintenance for rail services. Through the integration of their technologies, and joint development of new innovations, the companies seek to move the industry toward the objective of one hundred-percent availability of safe, efficient service. Siemens has made a significant equity investment in Wi-Tronix. Both companies have agreed to maintain confidentiality regarding financial details of the deal.  The two companies plan to integrate their technologies and develop innovations to expand railway digital predictive maintenance with the ambitious objective of achieving 100% availability.

Wi-Tronix is a provider of remote monitoring, video analysis and predictive diagnostic systems for rolling stock and rail infrastructure, making critical data available to operators in real time through its Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. Worldwide, approximately 12,000 locomotives – primarily in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Australia – are equipped with Wi-Tronix technology and connected with SaaS-based solutions. Among them are the 70 electric Siemens ACS-64 locomotives operated by Amtrak, the American passenger service corporation.

“Wi-Tronix is a leading innovator in real-time monitoring for rail,” explained Johannes Emmelheinz, CEO of Customer Services at Siemens Mobility Division. “The company has profound expertise in key technologies such as video analysis, providing unique information for both real-time and predictive applications. Partnering with developers of exceptional technologies is a key part of our strategy to deliver expansive digital services for predictive maintenance.”

“We were very deliberate in seeking the ideal partner to work with,” stated Larry Jordan, President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Wi-Tronix. “Siemens shares our commitment to improving the world by making the transportation of people and goods safer, more reliable, and more efficient. This requires rail operators to have access to critical data which supports both real-time decisions and predictive maintenance. With their global reach and resources, we will accelerate development of our products and expand our footprint to serve customers across platforms around the world.”

Siemens operates a worldwide network of Mobility Data Services Centers to analyze masses of data that are continually collected from hundreds of sensors and controllers in trains, locomotives and rail infrastructure. On the basis of these analyses, early forecasts of system failures are made and recommendations for acute or scheduled maintenance are sent to technicians in the Siemens depots as well as to the operators.

  • With Wi-Tronix, Siemens expands its digitalized services for predictive maintenance in the rail sector 
  • Siemens makes a significant strategic equity investment in Wi-Tronix
  • Wi-Tronix to remain a standalone, founder-led company
  • The transaction has been executed in October 2017

Contact for journalists
Denise Senter
Phone: +1 312 659 9930; E-Mail: dsenter@wi-tronix.com
Skype: denise.senter
Follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/witronix 
For further information about Wi-Tronix, please visit: www.wi-tronix.com

Ellen Schramke
Phone: +49 30 386 22370; E-Mail: ellen.schramke@siemens.com
Follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/SiemensMobility
For further information about the Mobility Division, please see: www.siemens.com/mobilitySiemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016, Siemens generated revenue of €79.6 billion and net income of €5.6 billion. At the end of September 2016, the company had around 351,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.siemens.com.Wi-Tronix is a leading provider of remote monitoring, video analytics, and predictive diagnostic solutions for high-value mobile assets in rail, marine, mining, and other industrial markets. Utilizing both edge computing and cloud-based SaaS services, Wi-Tronix provides real-time data aggregation and analytics on an unprecedented scale. Wi-Tronix works closely with its customers to improve the safety, service reliability, and operational efficiency of their transportation systems. The entire Wi-Tronix team is passionately committed to our global vision of saving lives and ensuring the most efficient and reliable movement of goods and people throughout the world. Wi-Tronix corporate headquarters are located in Bolingbrook, Illinois. For more information visit wi-tronix.com or follow Wi-Tronix on Twitter at @WiTronix.

(Left to right) Duane Hong, Wi-Tronix Vice President Customer Success; Larry Jordan, Wi-Tronix President and Chief Technology Officer; Johannes Emmelheinz, CEO of Customer Services at Siemens Mobility Division; Mike Heilmann, Wi-Tronix Executive Vice President; Lisa Matta, Wi-Tronix Vice President Product Development.

 

Policy flip-flops in Railways and CIL hits supplies to Power Sector

Poor Production and Marketing plan of Railways and CIL suffers with fresh uncertainties as supplies to profitable non-power segments take a hit on policy flip-flops

KOLKATA: After more than a year, Indian Railways and Coal India are witnessing high demand for fuel from the power sector. Coal sales increased 15-16 per cent in August and September. Yet the two entities is not happy.

Emphasis on the power sector is bad for the CIL balance-sheet. This is because the miner gets 20 per cent higher price from non-power customers like steel, cement and others.

And over the last two months, its supplies to the power sector increased from roughly 82 per cent to 92 per cent. Even the most profitable open market sales have nearly stopped as CIL failed to offer much coal to the platform. The result may be felt in terms of lower margin in the July-September quarterly results.

CIL and Railways could step up supplies to the power sector but its production and marketing plan suffered fresh uncertainties.

The miner is expecting the situation to improve in October as the loading rate is set to improve from 215 a day to 235 a day in a week’s time.

History repeats

In the past, CIL used to direct nearly 30 per cent of its total sales to this segment. The ratio tilted in favour of power nearly four years ago, when the power sector was hit by fuel crisis.

The fuel crisis was a result of the greed and wrong policy prescriptions on the part of the then UPA government which ignored many alarms to recklessly enhance the generation capacity. CIL paid the price. It squeezed supplies to every customer to keep the power sector happy.

After coming to power, the Narendra Modi government went a step ahead. Open market sales were suspended throwing many ferroalloys companies, especially in Odisha, in great uncertainty.

Though the policy was reversed in the last year and more coal pumped into the open market; CIL had a hard time to get its customers back.

Coal supplies need strong logistics support which cannot be created overnight. Non-power customers found imports a more dependable option. The meltdown in energy commodity prices too helped the move.

The government’s decision to spare a potentially more polluting high-sulphur petroleum coke from carbon tax vis-a-vis four times rise in clean energy cess on coal from ₹100 a tonne to ₹400 a tonne, further tilted the game away from coal.

Cement makers started using petroleum coke not only for kiln operations but also for captive power generation. But just when CIL was trying to rebuild this market, the current crisis struck. And CIL has no one but the power sector to blame.

Spreading uncertainty

Between 2007 and 2017, India’s power generation capacity has doubled riding on thermal power capacity growth. It was expected that the plant-load factor of the sector will improve from 79 per cent to 85per cent during the period.

The reverse happened. PLF declined consistently to 60 per cent in FY17, indicating huge over-capacity running into 40-50 GW.

According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as of July 2017, the all-India PLF was barely 55 per cent.

Open market tariff was an unremunerative ₹2.5 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and private sector generators were facing techno-feasibility constraints to run plants at barely 55 per cent PLF. To reduce costs, they stopped storing coal for the monsoon.

A sudden upturn in demand for thermal electricity beginning mid-August, led to a rush for coal causing a disruption in the entire system.

China’s space-age rail network may be in pipeline

BEIJING:  Chinese Designers are investigating a revolutionary system that would employ magnetic levitation and hyperloops. A poll recently conducted by Beijing Foreign Studies University showed that the speed and convenience offered by high-speed rail, online shopping, shared bikes and mobile phone-based payment apps are the four things young expats in China view most favourably.

And of those four items, it seems likely that high-speed rail will remain on the list for a long time as the country works to retain its place as the home of the world’s fastest trains. Now, Chinese designers are developing a bullet train capable of achieving a top speed of 400 kilometres per hour on conventional tracks, along with a magnetic levitation, or maglev, train that is expected to run at 600 km/h.

The country is even considering the possibility of building a system based on a transnational tube that would allow specially designed trains to travel at 4,000 km/h.

Last month, designers at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, one of the country’s biggest space contractors, announced that they had started research and development work on a futuristic ultrafast transportation system popularly known as a hyperloop.

The CASIC hyperloop will see maglev lines running in partially elevated tubes or tunnels along which streamlined, engineless trains will travel at speeds of 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000 km/h, according to Mao Kai, chief designer of the system at CASIC. So far, there is no indication of how much such a system would cost.

By comparison, China’s fastest wheeled train in commercial operation travels at about 350 km/h, while large commercial jetliners usually fly at 900 to 1,000 km/h.

The highest speed ever achieved by a railway vehicle was 603 km/h. That record was set during a test run of the Japanese L0 Series superconducting maglev in April 2015. However, the fastest operating speed of a commercial rail vehicle is 430 km/h, and was attained by the Transrapid maglev, developed in Germany, on a 30.5 km stretch of line that runs to the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

CASIC is the first Chinese enterprise to begin developing a hyperloop system capable of allowing trains to travel at 1,000 km/h or faster.

Depth of experience

The project will benefit from the company’s experience in systems engineering and supersonic vehicles, CASIC said in a statement. The company is the third in the world to embark on such a venture, following Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One in the United States.

Mao said CASIC is working with more than 20 institutes at home and abroad on the project and its technicians are striving to develop key technologies, such as those required to construct elevated hyperloop tube systems.

He added that once the project has been developed sufficiently, CASIC plans to construct a short line for trial runs for the 1,000 km/h version.

The 1,000 km/h and 2,000 km/h versions of the system would be used for intercity travel, while the 4,000 km/h version would form part of a transnational ultrafast transportation network, according to Mao.

“The reason we are eager to develop a 4,000 km/h version is that we believe such a line is technologically feasible, and that it will have business potential in terms of long-distance transportation in the future,” he said. “Of course, safety and comfort will be at the top on our agenda when we develop hyperloop lines.”

The maglev train’s acceleration and deceleration within the tube would have to be relatively gradual and smooth to ensure passenger comfort, he said. Moreover, landforms and engineering considerations would determine what proportion of the line would be aboveground and how much would run underground.

Research competition

Zhai Wanming, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a professor of traction power at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, Sichuan province, previously told Xinhua News Agency that when trains travel at 400 km/h or faster more than 80 per cent of its traction power is used to counter air resistance. Therefore, a train can only maintain ultrafast speeds by running within a partially elevated tube, he said.

The idea of using magnetic levitation within a partial vacuum to carry people or cargo was floated by scientists many years ago. However, it gained new traction in 2012 when tech tycoon Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, announced his ambition to build a hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One have designed and produced prototypes and have signed agreements with several countries to conduct feasibility studies, according to media reports.

In May 2014, Southwest Jiaotong University announced that it had built the world’s first experimental elevated loop tube for technological demonstrations of a high-temperature superconducting maglev vehicle it has developed.

A senior Chinese maglev scientist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said vehicles reached constant speeds of 40 to 50 km/h during trial runs in the university’s loop tube that were conducted to assess the system’s overall design and resistance to vibration.

The scientist, who is close to the university’s research program, said the college plans to develop vehicles capable of running at 400 km/h in a partially elevated loop tube. He added that the institute is also in talks with provincial authorities regarding research and development of a next-generation maglev/tube system with an estimated speed of about 1,200 km/h.

With regard to the feasibility of CASIC’s hyperloop plans, the scientist said the company’s researchers will need to address a number of technical issues, including communications and equipment-cooling techniques in an elevated environment.

“Moreover, CASIC will have to pay great attention to its project’s profitability. My estimation is that the 1,000 km/h version will be economically and technically feasible,” he said.

“Of course, from a technical perspective, the 4,000 km/h model could also become a reality if the engineers are able to work out solutions to issues related to propulsion, levitation and control.”

Those points were echoed by Zhao Lin, an associate researcher at the National Laboratory for Superconductivity at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Zhao said any enterprise that is seriously considering investing in a hyperloop system will have to take a wealth of factors into consideration.

“For example, the ultrafast speed would generate a lot of demands on the track and the material from which the maglev system is made. In addition, the cost of constructing and maintaining a long-distance, elevated tube would be extremely high,” he said.

‘Traditional’ approach

Even before CASIC announced its hyperloop program, engineers at the State-owned railcar manufacturer CRRC Corp, the world’s largest train maker, had started developing a new-generation bullet train with an operating speed of 400 km/h, which will probably become the fastest train in service on the planet.

It will be deployed on a series of new lines the government is planning to connect nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, a multinational economic venture proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The initiative consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt, which will link China with Europe via Central and Western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which will stretch from southern China across Southeast Asia, and even to Africa. The government estimates that the initiative could benefit approximately 4.4 billion people in 65 nations.

The axles and wheels of CRRC’s new bullet train will be designed so they can be adjusted to fit a range of track gauges used outside China.

At present, goods can only continue their journeys after they have been transferred to rolling stock with the appropriate gauges when they cross national borders, according to professor Jia Limin of Beijing Jiaotong University, who heads China’s high-speed railway innovation program, in an earlier interview with China Daily.

Experts have also been testing an ultrafast bullet train capable of travelling at about 600 km/h, but its designers have stressed that it has been built to test next-generation railway technologies rather than for commercial use.

Moreover, CRRC is designing two types of maglev-a 600 km/h high-speed version and a 200 km/h mid-speed version. The company expects to put them into service sometime around 2021, according to the designers.

At present, China operates 124,000 km of rail lines. That figure includes more than 22,000 km of high-speed track, about 60 per cent of the global total.

Every day, at least 4 million people use the nation’s high-speed trains, accounting for 50 per cent of daily user numbers on the country’s entire rail network.

Alstom presents first Prima passenger locomotive for Azerbaijan Railways

The first of 10 Prima M4 locomotives for Azerbaijan was unveiled at Alstom’s Belfort factory.

AZERBAIJAN: The first of 10 Prima M4 electric passenger locomotives for national railway ADY was unveiled at Alstom’s Belfort factory in France on October 9.

ALSTOM managing director for west and central Asia Mr Bernard Peille presented the first of 10 type AZ4A Prima passenger locomotives for Azerbaijan Railways (ADY) to ADY deputy chairman Mr Hijran Valehov at the manufacturer’s plant in Belfort, France, on October 9.

Speaking at the unveiling, ADY Deputy Chairman Hijran Valehov said important steps were being taken to modernise the operator’s locomotive fleet.

Alstom is building the 10 Type AZ4A passenger locomotives under a contract awarded by ADY on May 12 2014. The AZ4A is part of the manufacturer’s Prima M4 family, adapted to meet ADY’s specifications and the 1520mm-gauge locomotive is certified in accordance with Euro-Asian Council for Standardisation, Metrology and Certification GOST standards. The locomotives are intended to operate at a maximum speed of 160 km/h under 3 kV DC on the north–south corridor and 25 kV 50 Hz electrification on the east–west corridor.

The AZ4A is designed to offer longer intervals between servicing than older ADY locomotives, with lower power consumption and maintenance costs.

‘We are very pleased to deliver our first multipurpose Prima locomotive to Azerbaijan and become a part of ambitious projects to increase transit links between the Black and Caspian seas and between Russia and Iran’, said Bernard Peille, Alstom Managing Director for Western & Central Asia Cluster. ‘This technologically tailor-made product is the result of a solid relationship of trust between Alstom’s and ADY’s project teams.’

In May 2014 ADY awarded Alstom a €288m contract to supply 50 type KZ8A double-unit electric freight locomotives, but the order was amended to 40 freight locomotives and 10 passenger units the following year. The order was financed through a loan from a consortium of Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and the French branch of HSBC.

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Railways ignores speed restriction on 252 old bridges in bad shape, violates its own norms

Railways violated its own norms on FOBs in case of stampede at Elphinstone Road Station. Over 100 footover bridges on Central Railway, Western Railway in ‘fatal zone’

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: In a major safety lapse, Railway has found that out of 275 railway bridges across the country that need rebuilding for they are very old, speed restrictions for trains to pass through has been put only on 23 bridges. What poses a big threat to safe train operations is that trains continue to pass with usual speed on other 252 bridges that are in bad shape.

The Railway Board had sought details of bridges and it was observed that large number of bridges needing rehabilitation existed on some zonal railways since long. The Central Railways has 61 bridges, East Central Railways 63, South Central Railways 41 and Western Railways 42 bridges pending rebuilding.

“It is also observed that in most of the cases, no speed restriction has been imposed and special inspection schedule has also not been prescribed by chief bridge engineers. On the other hand, there are many bridges where speed restrictions have been imposed on condition basis but they are not categorized under ORN-1 or 2 categories,” said the order issued by A K Singhal, Executive Director Civil Engineering.

The railway bridges are divided in three categories – overall rating number 1, 2, 3. Bridges with overall rating number (ORN-1) rating require immediate rebuilding/rehabilitation, ORN-2 ratings are required to be rebuilt on the programmed basis while ORN-3 bridges require special repairs.

Railway Board has now pulled up zonal railways for failing to do a time bound planning for completing the rehabilitation work.

“It seems that proper time bound planning has not been done by railways for rehabilitation of these bridges which creates a doubt whether correct condition rating appropriate to the actual condition of the bridge has been assigned or not. It is also felt that there has been lack of due diligence at Division/headquarter level while revising/confirming the rating,” said Singhal in the order issued last month.

Railway Board has said that the chief bridge engineers (CBEs) should specifically review the position in respect of all bridges assigned in their respective railways and firm up the action plan for their rehabilitation on priority.

A CAG report in 2015 had found that delays in sanctioning of bridgeworks and completion of sanctioned bridgeworks resulted in operation of train services with speed restriction.

The Railways violated its own guidelines on foot-overbridges (FOBs) at stations which it had formulated in 2012-13 in the case of the one at Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai where a stampede occurred last month killing 22 people and leaving 33 injured. The breadth of the bridge was half what it should have been.

According to the standards that were set in 2012-13, the FOBs should have a breadth of 10 metres. But the breadth of the FOB at Elphinstone Road station is 4.5 metres. The schedule of dimensions which is issued by the Railway Board from time to time gives the standards that are to be followed for construction of FOBs and other infrastructure. “This schedule gives the ideal size of the infrastructure that has to be constructed at the railway stations and this is improved over time,” said a senior Railway official.

According to the official, FOB is a passenger amenity and it is still not considered a safety issue. Therefore the safety circular which is issued to all the chief safety officers will not include FOBs. “Safety circular is meant for operations of trains,” said the official.

FOBs  inside railway stations as well as at the entry and exit points are a responsibility of the Railways. In the past eight years, the Railways have sanctioned 36 FOBs for the Mumbai suburban railway. Out of these 22 have been constructed.

Railway officials said there is regular inspection of all the infrastructure at the general manager and divisional railway manager level. But the issue of the narrow FOB at Elphinstone Road station and vulnerability of people was apparently never raised. A survey of footfall at the station, an indicator of over-strained infrastructure, was also never carried out.

Now a new FOB has been sanctioned at the Elphinstone Road station by the GM Western Railways at a cost of Rs 10 crore. It is to be constructed parallel to the old FOB and will meet the standards that have been set by the Railways in 2012-2013. “The old FOB will not be destroyed as it will be a tedious task. Instead a new FOB will be constructed,” said the Railway official.

Illegal hawkers who encroach on the FOBs in the Mumbai suburban railway network have been blamed for the stampede. A campaign has been started to drive out the illegal hawkers which is being conducted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP).

It further said that instances of continued operation of speed restriction were noticed on 87 bridges of 13 zones ranging between four to 591 months. Audit assessed an extra expenditure of Rs 103.40 crore on account of operational cost due to continuation of speed restrictions.

“The above demonstrates the casual approach on part of Railways in sanctioning/executing and monitoring of bridgeworks. This resulted in delay in execution of bridgeworks that were identified for rehabilitation leaving the possibility of compromising passenger safety during operation of train services on these bridges. Railways need to ensure an effective monitoring system to be in place for timely execution and completion of bridgeworks,” the CAG report has added.

More than 100 footover bridges (FOBs) along Mumbai’s busiest suburban railway lines — Central and Western — fall in the top three fatal zones which require urgent attention, an internal Railways survey shows.

The list of dangerous bridges collated by the Railways shows that there are 61 bridges on the Central Railways (CR) and 42 bridges on the Western Railways that require urgent repair, DNA reported.

The East Central Railway zone with 63 bridges that need repairs are the most fatal zones. The report said that one of the bridges in the Lucknow Division, under the Northern Railway, is in a precarious condition and needs to be immediately rebuilt.

Western Railway officials did not confirm if the Elphinstone Road FOB was a part of the list. On September 29, 23 passengers were killed and 36 were injured in a deadly rush-hour stampede that occurred on a narrow foot overbridge connecting the Elphinstone Road railway station to Parel station.

The report stated that the Railway Board had issued a letter to 16 zones on Indian Railways where they had identified 275 railway bridges that need to be built immediately on September 21, a week before the stampede.

In 2017-18, the railways plan to come together to rehabilitate 114 bridges, of which CR will rebuild 20 bridges and WR will rebuild 13 bridges.

”It seems that proper time-bound planning has not been done by the railways for rehabilitation of these bridges. This creates a doubt whether the correct rating, appropriate to the actual condition, of the bridge, has been assigned or not,” states the letter.

Earlier, the Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had called for innovation in making the railways safer while stressing that enough money is available for the purpose.

“The railway minister has asked the zones not to worry about funds as far as work on safety is concerned. And so work on rehabilitating and rebuilding these railway bridges will be expedited,” AK Saxena, Director General (PR), Railway Board said.

The letter also stated that the field officers in charge of maintaining and studying the health of railway bridges need to be educated by the Chief Bridge Engineers so that the officer can determine the correct condition of bridges and take necessary remedial measures for safe movement of trains.

Indian Railways to ramp up production of LHB Coaches

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways plans to increase Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coach production sharply this year and has ordered 80,000 biotoilets as part of its safety and cleanliness drive.

“A decision has been taken to sharply increase LHB coach production,” AK Goel, DG-Stores, said on the sidelines of an international conference on technological advancements in rail and metro projects here.

Switch-over to LHB

Shailendra Singh, Chief Rolling Stock Engineer, Northern Railway, said a decision had been taken to produce 5,000 LHB coaches this year. At present, there are around 51,000 Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) coaches and 5,500 LHB coaches made in the Kapurthala factory.

“It has been decided to completely switch over to manufacture LHB coaches from April 1, 2018 onward,” he added.

Railways had already take a decision shift to LHB coaches, but increasing production requires a sharp ramp up from the present annual coach production target of 2,435. The vendor capacity also needs to be increased accordingly.

Addressing the conference, Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Coal, said: “We must work to see whether we can design better coaches, better locomotives, better signalling system and other related activity. We must explore cooperation with Military Engineering Service. Indian Railways need to work with commitment to make the railways safe, secure and to offer better amenities, riding comfort, punctuality and efficiency.”

‘Adopt latest tech’

Earlier in the day, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said Railways needed to plan for a massive expansion very meticulously with forward-looking, efficient technologies and innovative practices currently available across the globe and adopt them.

“Indian Railways will have to plan for this massive expansion meticulously. It will have to look for technologies and innovative practices currently available across the globe,” he said.

ICF rolls out Indigenous LHB Coach

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream ‘Make in India’ project just got a boost from Indian Railways as ICF rolls out first 100% ‘Make in India’ LHB coaches that enhance passengers safety

CHENNAI: The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, a premium railway production unit here, has rolled out the first indigenously manufactured Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coach. The technology for these coaches was acquired in 1995 by railways from Linke-Hofmann-Busch, a German company.

Although, ICF produced its first LHB coach in 2013, it was manufactured using imported materials. Over the years, the factory has been gradually reducing its import requirement with locally made substitutes. As the final step, the import of under-carriage materials has now been stopped. “We have thus been able to reduce the cost by around Rs.2.25 lakh per coach,” said a factory official.

At present, each LHB coach costs Rs.2.5 crore, which is estimated to be less than half of its original import cost.

The ICF General Manager Sudhanshu Mani inspected two LHB coaches with 100 per cent indigenous content, one a three-tier AC coach and the other a second sleeper compartment. These two coaches, he said, were to promote ‘Make in India’ efforts.

It has been proved that LHB coaches do not climb over one another during collision or derailment. Faced with a spate of accidents involving conventional coaches, the ministry had decided to replace them with LHB type.

“Coach No. LACCN 111 and LSDD 166 with 100% indigenous content was flagged off after inspection from Member Rolling Stock of the Railway Board,” an ICF official told FE Online. Out of the two ‘Make in India’ coaches that have been rolled out by ICF, the non-AC one has 100% indigenous components. The AC coach has one imported component. “The non-AC coaches are fitted with wheel disc manufactured at Rail Wheel Factory at Bangalore. The AC coach has an imported wheel that has been assembled at ICF with some value added component,” the ICF official said.

Asked about how soon the AC coaches will also have 100% indigenous components, the official said, “Member Rolling Stock has said that talks are on with local manufacturers. We should be able to zero in on someone soon. Once that happens, the AC coaches too will have all indigenous components.”

Given the spate of rail accidents over the last year, Indian Railways has decided to stop production of traditional ICF coaches in 2017. Now, ICF Chennai will make only LHB coaches. LHB coaches boast of stainless steel bodies and have anti-climbing features. This ensures that in case of a derailment, the coaches do not pile onto each other, hence making them safer. The LHB coaches also have a graduated release modular braking system the axle mounted disc brakes.

But, will all of them be 100% ‘Make in India’? Not yet, that’s a gradual process, says the ICF official. “We have been asked to almost double our production of LHB coaches, so 100% ‘Make in India’ will take some time to be absorbed completely,” he says, adding that focus is on meeting the twin goals of safety and ‘Make in India’.

Meanwhile, ICF is also working on project ‘Train-2018’ – a technological leap for the coach factory under which ‘Make in India’ self-propelled train sets will be manufactured. The ‘first of its kind’ semi-high speed self-propelled train set has been proposed for inter-city superfast travel.

Mission Indradhanush, Immunization Drive Conducted at Central Railway Hospital, Secunderabad

Shri K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Direcor of SCR immunising drops to children of Railway employees

SECUNDERABAD: An Intensified Immunization vaccination drive “Mission Indradhanush Programme” was conducted at Central Hospital, Lallaguda on 08.10.2017. The programme was inaugurated by Dr. K.H.K Dora, Chief Medical Director, SCR.

The aim of this mission is to identify the unimmunised and partially immunised children and immunise them against 7 preventable diseases under cover of Universal Immunisation Programme including pregnant women also.  A team of Paramedical staff were sent to Railway Colonies and surrounding areas to educate parents about this mission and to identify drop out children and immunise them. Wide publicity was given in Railway Colonies and Workshops regarding the programme. Railway Employee Children’s and Outsiders were also vaccinated.

Dr.T.S.R.Murthy, Medical Director; Dr. C.K.Venkateswarlu, Chief Health Director; Dr. S. K. Mahapatra, Chief Physician; Senior Doctors and Nursing staff of Central Hospital, Lallaguda Secunderabad were also present and conducted the program.

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Focus on Elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings by 2018: GM/SCR

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager of South Central Railway stressed upon according top priority to ensure safety related works and instructed the Officials to ensure elimination of  all Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) on the zone by the end of 2018. He informed that the safety aspects related to UMLCs are monitored by the Hon’ble Minister for Railways on a regular basis. General Manager conducted an intensive review meeting on Safety, Punctuality, Freight loading, Passenger amenities and cleanliness today i.e., 9th October, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) from all six Divisions i.e. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded attended the meeting through video conference.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, held an intensive review of all the safety aspects on the Zone including minor incidents of unusual happenings like yard derailments, gate open cases etc.,. He instructed the officials to conduct focused inspections on the safety aspects and  to counsel the staff to avoid unusual incidents and to ensure safe rail travel. Further he instructed all DRMs to send the proposals for safety related works immediately as it is the top priority item related to safety and monitored by the Railway Board. Further he advised to speed up the elimination of  UMLC gates works over the zone.

Speaking on the punctuality, General Manager, South Central Railway instructed the Officials to make action plans to improve the punctuality above 95% over the zone General Manager instructed the officials to focus for early completion of  ongoing foot over bridge (FOB) works and widening of platforms and instructed to take proper initiatives in crowd managements. Vinod Kumar Yadav complimented the officials for good maintenance of the employees facilitation hub at Head quarters in solving the grievances and he advised the officials to establish these type of facility hubs at all the divisional offices also. Further, he instructed the officials to take up the quarters repair works as priority item over SCR and to complete early.

Earlier, Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway  presented “Man of the Month” safety awards to sixteen employees for showing alertness in the duty and taking timely action to prevent unsafe conditions.

John Thomas, Additional General Manger along with Sr. Officials were amongst the officials present.

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Dy.CM of Telangana holds Meeting with GM/SCR at Rail Nilayam

SECUNDERABAD: Kadiyam Srihari, Deputy Chief Minister of Telangana State held a meeting with Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR today i.e., 9th October, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad.

Members of Parliament K. Sitaram Naik, Mahbubabad; P.Dayakar, Warangal; MLA’s T. Vinay Bhaskar, Warangal (West); Smt Konda Surekha, Warangal (East); N. Narender, Mayor, Warangal, Ms. K. Amarpalli, IAS, District Collector, Warangal, Ms. Shruti Ojha, Commissioner, Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation along with Senior Officials from Roads & Buildings Department, Telangana State, Prinicpal Heads of Departments and Senior Officials of Railways were also present.

The meeting discussed on issues pertaining to developmental works at Kazipet, Warangal, Mahbubabad areas on Secunderabad Division. Discussions were held on:

  • Construction of 2nd Road Over Bridge (ROB) between Hanamkonda – Kazipet
  • Establishment of Railway Wagon Periodical Overhauling Workshop at Kazipet
  • Providing Additional Road Over Bridge in Warangal Town
  • Construction of Additional Vent to the Road Under Bridge (RUB) at Shivnagar
  • Construction of Road Over Bridge in view of Level Crossing No. 62
  • Construction of two additional Foot Over Bridges – from Shivnagar to outside of Platform No. 1 at Warangal Railway Station and at Kazipet Railway Station
  • Construction of Road Over Bridge at Dornakal junction
  • Construction of Road Under Bridge (RUB) at LC No. 88 in Kazipet – Balharshah section, LC No. 29 in Dornakal – Mauguru Section & Road Over Bridge at LC No. 76 in Warangal – Vijayawada section
  • Improvement of Passenger Amenities at Kazipet Railway Station and sports facilities at Kazipet Railway Stadium
  • Widening of approach Road in Kazipet Railway Station
  • Improvement of Railway Hospital and Revival of Railway School at Kazipet.

Later, Kadiyam Srihari, Deputy Chief Minister briefed Media persons and expressed his satisfaction over the discussions held with the General Manager. He complimented Railway authorities for the quick response regarding the issues brought out to the notice.

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Rail Ministry gears up for aggressive Promotion & Marketing of Rail Tourism through the seven mountains

Two years after the Shimla Toy train derailment which claimed the lives of two British nationals and led to 18 per cent decline in passenger traffic in the UNESCO World Heritage train, the Railway Ministry has decided to go in for aggressive promotion and marketing of Rail Tourism through the seven mountain trains across the country.

However, safety has been accorded the topmost priority, and the Railway Board has directed the   authorities to ensure better upkeep of stations and rail infrastructure like bridges and signals en route the toy or hill trains.

The mountain railways refers to the seven narrow or metre gauge railway lines operational around the hill regions of the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, and valleys of Assam and Kashmir.

With the onset of tourist season in India and as part of the rail tourism initiative, the Delhi Rewari Steam Engine will also begin its first run on October 14 and the last on April 14, 2018 with the cost of to and fro travel being Rs 6,480.

The UNESCO World Heritage Kalka Shimla train’s image was dented when two female Britishers were killed following a derailment. Also, the incident saw train witnessing a decline of 18 per cent in its passengers in the last two years.

The Railway Board convened a special meeting on the toy/hill trains with  the stakeholders.  It was decided to give utmost priority to safety, cleanliness and smooth operations. The Railways also decided to bring  awareness among the people and others like film  and television producers for usage of this priceless memento built a century ago by the Britishers.

“Special focus will now be given on rail tourism which was ignored for quite some time. Tourism has immense potential within the Indian Railways network. All the mountain trains will  be refurbished and we will offer these  services for functions and special events at a very attractive price. Some of our hill trains are world heritage. The Delhi Rewari Steam Engine will be chugged by over 80 years WAP engine. The upholstery and other comforts have been reworked upon,” said a senior rail official.

The mountain trains, whose safety and  renewed comforts  have been given priority are Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, the Kalka-Shimla, Matheran Hill, Kangra Valley Railway and the newest addition in this segment are Jammu-Baramulla in the valley and Lumding-Badarpur section in the North-eastern India.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or Toy Train is in West Bengal and operates between Siliguri and Darjeeling, a favorite summer tourist destination.

The train has figured in several documentaries and Bollywood movies.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway,  also  a world heritage train,  runs on a single track metre gauge line of 46km  from Mettupalayam to Udhagamandalam railway station in the Nilgiri hills covering Coonoor and Ooty.

The other world heritage and famous train especially amongst the Europeans are  Kalka-Shimla Railway that traverse in Himalayas and Shivalik. In addition to this is the Kangra Valley Railway which covers a distance of 163 kilometres between Pathankot and Joginder Nagar. The  valley is known for its natural beauty and scenic view. Kangra valley toy train is one of two mountain railways in Himachal Pradesh and a heritage site.

In the far north east, the Hill Queen Express runs on meter gauge track which operates as Jan Shatabdi between Lumding to Lower Haflong in Assam. Lumding-Haflong-Badarpur Hill Railway route runs through the Borail Hill Range between Lumding and Badarpur.

Not very far from HP and Punjab is the Jammu Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway line in the Kashmir valley. The railway route also has world’s tallest railway bridge, Chenab Bridge, and one of the India’s longest rail tunnel, Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel.

The other proposed mountain train attraction closer to China is the Bilaspur Mandi Leh railway line on elevated track to connect Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Ladakh. The track will become the highest railway track in the world.

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Japanese companies to showcase High-speed Rail equipment, technologies

NEW DELHI: Japan will showcase products and technologies with focus on high speed rail during a rail equipment exhibition here.

This will be the largest ever Japanese showcase coinciding with India’s move to implement high speed bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Japan is partner country for the second time in the International Railway Equipment Exhibition to be organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in association with the Ministry of Railways here between October 11 and 13.

Japanese companies, including Japan Rail, Japan Overseas Rolling Stocks Association, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Hitachi, Toshiba, and Nippon, supported by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism and the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, Government of Japan, will take part in the expo, according to a CII release.

The exhibition will see participation by 500 companies from 20 countries including Austria, Belarus, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK and the US.

Brace for costlier Delhi Metro ride from Oct 10; fares to rise by up to Rs.10/-

NEW DELHI: Your metro ride is set to get dearer from tomorrow as the DMRC is adamant to implement the second phase of fare hike from October 10. The Metro fares were last revised in May when the minimum tariff was raised from Rs 8 to Rs 10 and the maximum fare from Rs 30 to Rs 50.

The fare hike would be felt by commuters on Tuesday.

Since its last fare revision in May, DMRC has seen a dip in footfall, with June witnessing a fall of almost 1.5 lakh passengers per day compared to June 2016.

Hence, it is anticipated that the second phase of fare revision might lead a further dip in footfall.

When metro had started operations on December 25, 2002, the minimum fare was Rs 4 and maximum was Rs 8.

Revised Fare and distance

The revised fare slabs from October 2017 may be: Rs 10 for the first 5 km, but subsequently increases by Rs 10 in each slab, going up to a maximum of Rs 50.

Why has DMRC hiked price

According to India.com, DMRC has cited increasing cost of electricity and maintenance works and salaries of staff as the reason behind the steep hike in fares.

According to officials, the recommendations made by the Fare Fixation Committee were repeatedly turned down by Metro board of directors, comprising officials from Delhi government, Union Urban Development Ministry, Union Railways Ministry and others.

What remains same

  • No revision in its Airport Express fares
  • Passengers using smart cards will still be given 10 per cent discount
  • Additional 10 per cent discount will be given to passengers exiting metro premises using a metro card on weekdays (Monday to Saturday) during “off-peak” hours.
  • Special discounted fare slab will also be given on Sundays and national holidays to urge people to use metro on non-working days

1st phase of fare hike

The revised fare slabs from May 2017 were: Rs 10 for 0-2km, Rs 15 for 2-5 km, Rs 20 for 5-12km, Rs 30 for 12-21km, Rs 40 for 21-32km, and Rs 50 for beyond 32km.

DMRC also announced different fare slabs for holidays. It will charge Rs 10 from 0-12km, Rs 20 for 12-21km, Rs 30 for 21-32km, and Rs 40 for beyond 32km on every Sunday and on national holidays.

Will pay half of funds if Centre pays 50%, says Kejriwal

Kejriwal’s reaction came in response to Puri’s suggestion to him to give over Rs 3,000 crore annually to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) if he wants to hold the proposed Metro fare hike.

Puri had said to Kejriwal through his letter dated October 6 that the Metro Act did not allow the central government to put on hold the fare hike.

He also noted that the alternative to fare hike was to provide DMRC yearly grants-in-aid for the next five years: Rs 3,040 crore, Rs 3,616 crore, Rs 3,318 crore, Rs 3,150 crore and Rs 2,980 crore respectively.

Puri was responding to a letter from Kejriwal on September 29 asking the central government to put the hike on hold.

The AAP government has opposed the fare hike proposed from October 10. It has locked horns with the Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC) over the impending second hike this year, following the recommendation of the fourth FFC.

The DMRC defended its decision by saying its input costs had gone up over the years and the increase was at par with Metro rails in other cities.

“Since the central government bears 100 per cent of loss for Kolkata Metro, I see no difficulty if it bears 50 per cent in case of Delhi. Thereafter, an FFC (Fare Fixation Committee) can be constituted, as suggested by you.”

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Indian Railways to launch a new web-based procurement system soon

NEW DELHI: To bring transparency in Railway tendering process, Indian Railways will soon launch a new web-based procurement system under which will empanel new vendors.

The total procurement bill of Indian Railways is around Rs 50,000 crore. All queries raised by prospective bidders will be addressed on the web-based platform, instead of sending it directly to prospective bidders.

A rail board notification issued last week said: “To bring in more transparency in reply to various queries raised by prospective bidders during tendering process, it has been decided that no response to the query will be sent to prospective bidders directly. instead, the query and the response will be posted on the web platform.”

Railway minister Piyush Goyal held a meeting recently with the rail board member on making the award of Railway work contracts more transparent and also to ensure that the Railway doesn’t over pay the material that’s supplied. The minister also decided to empanel new vendors to the list of suppliers.

Railway Stations Revamp: New PPP Model has more for Investors; IRSDC to play critical role

A revamped public-private partnership (PPP) model to redevelop railway stations will see more attractive terms for private investors while Indian Railway Station Redevelopment Corporation (IRSDC) — will play a critical role, official sources told. In the new contracts, the lease term might be raised to 99 years from the current 45 years while residential premises could be a part of the assets created.

NEW DELHI: A revamped public-private partnership (PPP) model to redevelop railway stations will see more attractive terms for private investors while Indian Railways’ (IR) agency — Indian Railway Station Redevelopment Corporation (IRSDC) — will play a critical role, official sources told. In the new contracts, the lease term might be raised to 99 years from the current 45 years while residential premises could be a part of the assets created.

Horeover, developers would be allowed to give multiple sub-leases rather than just one. “These were three sticking points for developers. We are going to approach the Railway Board stating that the current process will be foreclosed and to come up with a fresh approach,” said the official.

The Indian Railways’ redevelopment plan is being revisited as the “Swiss challenge” bidding process evoked only lukewarm interest. With the changes on the anvil, the transporter would roll back the tenders already floated for redevelopment of 23 stations, the sources added.

The contracts, which have already been awarded — in the case of Habibganj station — won’t be annulled but all other cases, including those where final bids have been received (Jammu Tawi and Kozikhode), would be suspended and re-evaluated.

IRSDC has been asked to devise a new single-stage, single-parameter bid process for station redevelopment which will be sent for Cabinet’s approval within two months, another official said.  In addition, it will now lead the redevelopment process and start redevelopment of some 15 A1 and A category station as test cases in order to instill confidence among developers. The railways will either use its own finances or raise debt to redevelop the test-case stations, with estimated investment of Rs 6,000-8,000 crore.

Under the station redevelopment plan approved by the Cabinet in July 2015, a total of  400 stations were to be revamped. The project envisaged land areas of 2,700 acres to be redeveloped and a cost of Rs 68,000 crore for commercial development and Rs 28,000 crore for revamp of the stations.

The redevelopment, as per the now-abandoned plan, was to be on ‘as is where is’ basis, through open invitation from interested parties with their designs and business ideas. These stations were to be developed by leveraging real estate development of land and air space in and around the stations.

Under the Swiss Challenge method, an unsolicited offer is made by the original proponent to the railways ensuring her process to be best (in terms of effectiveness including both the factors cost and time). It further allows third parties to make better offers (challenges) for a project during a designated period with simple objective to discourage frivolous project, or to avoid exaggerated project development costs. Then, the original proponent gets the right to counter-match any superior offers given by the third party.

As against this, in the new model being worked out, IRSDC will provide a detailed project report and outline the specifications which developers will have to follow, as in turnkey projects. It will de-risk the projects by taking all approvals before auctioning the stations unlike the earlier as-is-where-is method wherein developers were required to take all approvals.

“The railway minister has directed that IRSDC should be beefed up to take up bulk of the work. It may make some investments first and then auction the projects,” said the railway official quoted above.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal recently held a meeting with leading developers including Tata Realty, L&T, GMR, Shapoorji Pallonji and Essel Infra, among others, who also asked that railways should indemnify issues arising out of “change in law” for developers to be comfortable to submit bids. The new bidding process, to be created by IRSDC, is expected to factor this in.

Developers have asked an integrated plan for connectivity– roads or monorails–with the redeveloped stations as some of the stations are in congested areas which may not attract tenants for the commercial projects.

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Railway Minister assures Electrification of Locos by 2020, Diesel Engines to go

In his earlier stint as power minister, railway minister Piyush Goyal had offered to help railways with electrification process.

NEW DELHI: If the railway ministry has its way, thousands of diesel-guzzling locomotives could be a thing of the past in the country. In a move to expedite the complete electrification of rail network, Indian railways has advanced the deadline by two years to 2020.

This means the railways would remove diesel engines in the next three years and all 19,000 trains will run only on electric locomotives, a senior railway official said. Railway minister Piyush Goyal has issued directions to speed up the electrification process of rail routes. Railway officials said this will not only contain greenhouse emission but also save cash-strapped railways at least Rs 11,000 crore annually on fuel expenses.

At present, Indian Railways spends Rs 18,000 crore annually on purchase of diesel. On the other hand, its electricity purchase bill is pegged at Rs 9,000 crore. As per estimates, if railways run all its trains on electricity, the expenditure on purchase of power will be Rs 16,000 crore and thus saving Rs 11,000 crore every year. “We are giving a relook to the ways of speeding up the electrification process of rail lines across the country. The cost on account of power is quite less and so we can do a lot of savings in that,” Goyal said recently.

Senior officials also maintained that shifting train operations to electric mode will drastically reduce import of diesel from foreign countries that will also be beneficial for the country’s economy. At present, Indian railways has a fleet of 19,000 passenger and goods trains. Of these, about 5,000 trains run on diesel consuming nearly 300 crore litre of fuel every year. Sources said railway’s power purchase cost has also gone down significantly over the past few years. A number of states have allowed railways to purchase electricity from alternate sources and thus its procurement cost has reduced from Rs 9 per unit to Rs 5 per unit. Earlier, railways had to purchase electricity only from state-owned power utilities.

It is to be noted that Goyal, during his previous stint as power minister, had offered the railway ministry help to expedite the electrification process. The power ministry had offered to bear the entire cost of electrification at one go as the process involved no land acquisition. Officials said the entire electrification would cost approximately Rs 35,000 crore. “The savings from not using diesel alone will be around Rs 18,000 crore and the cost will be recovered in seven years. Railways will stop production of diesel locomotives in the country if we achieve the target of complete electrification,” a senior official said.

The railway ministry has stepped up efforts to electrify 4,000-km route in the current fiscal, a quantum jump from the last year’s target of 2,000km. Railway also has rolled out an action plan to drastically decrease the use of diesel in order to reduce energy cost and greenhouse gas emission. Currently, only 42 per cent of total track network is electrified, rest section is operating on fossil fuel.

Railways energy bill is touching about Rs 32,000 crore a year, of which diesel is about Rs 18,000 crore. During the last three financial years (2014-2017) and for 2017-18, total number of 93 railway electrification projects consisting of 16,815 kilometre at an estimated cost of Rs 17,165 crore have been included in the Budget. The pace of electrification has been increased from present average of 1,700km route per annum to 4,000km in 2017-18, a senior railway ministry official said. According to the action plan, about 22,000km route has to be electrified by 2021.

Uzbek High Speed Rail has lessons for India

NEW DELHI: High Speed Rail (HSR) in landlocked Uzbekistan that connects key cities along the historic Silk Road is among the lesser known facts of the modern-day connectivity initiatives in Asia. Uzbekistan, besides Russia, is the only country in the Eurasian region to have HSR and as a developing country, Uzbek HSR has lessons for India that wants to develop a network of bullet trains beginning with the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.

Japan is providing technology as well as finance for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route and the foundation stone for the project was laid when PM Shinzo Abe visited Gujarat for the Indo-Japan annual summit last month. HSR has been able to revolutionise travel in the Central Asian state — connecting Uzbek capital Tashkent with historic cities of Samarkand and Bukhara — a model that India may replicate for its key tourism circuits. Importantly, the first Uzbek HSR route, opened in 2011, runs to the minute without delay.

And interestingly, these trains are run on upgraded conventional railway track. The Tashkent-Samarkand route (344 km) is covered in two hours and the Tashkent-Bukhara route (600 km) is covered in an impressive three hours and 20 minutes. Earlier, passengers spent 7-8 hours to travel from capital to Bukhara and vice-versa.

Renowned Spanish rail firm Talgo, which was also exploring the Indian market, had specially designed HSR in Uzbekistan that suited the extreme climatic conditions, a senior Uzbek official told. Temperatures in Uzbekistan can fall below –20 degrees Celsius during winters.

Samarkand and Bukhara house treasure of history on the ancient Silk Road and draw visitors from across the globe, an Uzbek official said. “The introduction of HSR in Uzbekistan that became independent in 1991 is a remarkable feat. Coupled with this transport initiative that has attracted additional tourists, recent measures to modernise the economy and financial structures will help keep local economy stable and make it grow,” the official added.

The resource and heritage-rich Central Asian state has witnessed a spur in tourism since tourist visas were abolished last December for 27 countries.

Forest Dept., ECoR join hands to save jumbos in Odisha

Measures initiated to reduce deaths of elephants while they cross railway tracks in Ganjam district.

BERHAMPUR: Authorities from the Forest Department and the Railways have initiated joint measures to prevent the death of wild elephants in train accidents between the Rambha and Humma Railway stations under the Khallikote forest range in the Ganjam district of Odisha.

This is the region where, on the night of December 29, 2012, six wild elephants were killed when the speeding Chennai-bound Coromandel Express collided with an elephant herd that was crossing the railway tracks. Usually, wild elephants frequent this area and cross railway tracks and roads at night.

According to the Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Ashis Behera, ahead of the coming harvest season of kharif crops, all measures have been initiated to check the possibility of accidents between trains and elephant herds. There are only 20 wild elephants in the Berhampur forest range and seven of them are in the Khallikote forest range. But every year, during the paddy harvest season, elephant herds from the Chandaka forest reach this area via the Barbara forest. During their journey, they cross the railway track between the Rambha and Humma railway stations.

The Forest Department has already erected solar-powered electrical fencing on a stretch of around three kilometres near the Satrusallya railway level crossing. A watch tower has also been erected near this level crossing, which is manned by four trackers of the Forest Department for round-the-clock monitoring of elephant movement in the region.

On September 29, a joint coordination meeting was held between officials of the Forest Department and East Coast Railway in Berhampur to streamline exchange of information on the movement of elephants in this stretch. Similar coordination meetings are to be held every month. The exact location of elephants would be provided to station masters of the Rambha and Humma railway stations every day.

In case of the issue of a caution notice regarding the movement of wild elephants in the region, train drivers will have to reduce the speed of the train and cross the seven kilometre stretch from Burudi to Satrusallya blowing long whistles.

Field staff of the Forest Department are expected to be extra vigilant during the cropping season.

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CyberSecurity4Rail Conference in Brussels agrees need for closer Cooperation & Steps towards an EU-wide rail sector

Last week’s CyberSecurity4Rail conference, held in Brussels for senior members of the rail industry and information security experts, has strongly endorsed the formation of a sector-driven pan-European Rail ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Centre). Conference speakers and delegates heard wide-ranging debate on how to effectively combat cyber-crime and cyber-attack and the panel sessions revealed a strong consensus for a structured approach to co-operation in the future.

The conference, held in Brussels on 4th October, was attended by over 120 experts from the railway, IT and cybersecurity industries. Sponsored and hosted by Hit Rail B.V., specialists in the provision of secure cross border connectivity and interoperability solutions in the railway sector, it provided a platform for speakers, panellists and conference participants to be able to consider the current cyber security landscape, legislative responses within the EU and how the railway industry can cooperate to respond more effectively.

It also formed the basis for conference participants to be able to consider and debate on their support for the proposal for a EURail-ISAC and how this might be set up with the support of organisations such as ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency). Discussions also centred around how this might be combined with initiatives in physical safety such as the Rail Common Occurrence Reporting System coordinated by ERA (European Union Agency of Railways), under an umbrella of shared concerns.

Antonio Lopez, General Manager of conference organisers Hit Rail B.V., said: “With so many senior representatives of rail bodies and experts in cyber security in one place at the same time, it made sense to discuss solutions on how best to cooperate. The speakers’ presentations, panel discussions and post-conference survey results revealed that most attendees were in favour of joint efforts and a common objective to maintain a cyber-secure Single European Railway Area (SERA) through the creation of an EU-wide ISAC.”

The discussions were in response to the adoption in July 2016 by the European Parliament of a Directive on security of Network and Information Systems (the NIS Directive). This Directive requires Member States to designate National CSIRTs (Computer Security Incident Response Teams), which are also known as CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams). It also created a European cooperation group (EU-CSIRT Network), supported by ENISA, which will facilitate exchange of information between CSIRTs/CERTs concerning incidents within Member States and cross-border incidents.

The NIS Directive emphasises the need for operators of essential services and digital service providers to take appropriate security measures and to notify serious incidents to the relevant national authority (relevant CSIRT/CERT) when cyber security threats or breaches occur.

The CyberSecurity4Rail conference was an ideal occasion for progress to be made. The wide-ranging conference programme included presentations from senior representatives from across the industries, including representatives from two EU Directorates concerned with cyber security, Carlos Mestre-Zamarreño of DG-MOVE, and Dr Florent Frederix of DG-CONNECT. Speakers also included security expert Corrado Giustozzi of SELTA SpA, Dr Josef Doppelbauer from ERA, Dr Libor Lochman from the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), Marie-Hélène Bonneau from the International Union of Railways (UIC), as well as Rossella Mattioli from ENISA and many senior information security officers from railway organisations and related industries. Hit Rail’s Technical Director Mick Haynes also gave a detailed presentation covering secure networks for collaborative services, and how a VPN can ensure secure traffic through segmentation of sensitive data away from other channels.

In his closing keynote, Carlo Borghini, Director of Shift2Rail concluded that the conference had been very constructive and he encouraged the attendees to take away the messages on how to collaborate together in practical ways, reducing replication and divergence, sharing innovation and combatting cyber threats.

Antonio Lopez, General Manager of Hit Rail, concluded: “We are delighted with the success of this conference. Demand for places meant we had to hire a bigger venue and we had an almost full house with 120 attendees on the day, demonstrating how important this topic has become for the industry. During the conference we made excellent progress, more than we as facilitators of the conference could have envisaged when we set out the initial concept. I am very encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and determination to combat the risks and fight back against the threats we all face in cyber security.”

CyberSecurity4Rail is the third in a series of workshops that Hit Rail has held for the railway industry. For more information on the conference and its outcomes please visit our website at: https://www.hitrail.com/events/cyber-security-for-railways-conference-2017

Press enquiries Hit Rail:
Sheila Lashford
Tel: +44 (0) 7986 514240
sheila.lashford@hitrail.com

About Hit Rail B.V.
Hit Rail B.V. is a private Dutch company created in 1990 and owned by 12 European railway companies. Its purpose is to help European railway companies to carry out international projects in related fields of data communications and information technology. Hit Rail is responsible for managing secure international private data communications infrastructure and message brokering services on behalf of its shareholders and customers. Its services are used by some 50 railway companies from 21 countries. All Hit Rail customers’ data centres and company networks are interconnected by a pan-European secure IP-based VPN (Virtual Private Network) named Hermes VPN, which is supplied by British Telecom (BT) and managed by Hit Rail. In 2013, the company launched its HEROS platform as a family of solutions that delivers benefits to the railway companies across Europe, by enabling message interoperability across disparate platforms between railway applications in passenger, freight and infrastructure for IT communications.

For more information please visit http://www.hitrail.com or send an email to info@hitrail.com

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Assam Rail Passengers’ Association demands separate Railway Zone for NE

GUWAHATI: Alleging neglect by the Railway authorities towards the Northeast, the Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (ARPA) has called upon the senior officials of the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to take initiative and send recommendations to New Delhi for bifurcation of the railway zone. ARPA secretary Dipankar Sharma said the railway infrastructure in the region will not improve till the NF Railway is bifurcated and a separate zone exclusively for the seven Northeastern States is constituted.

Over the years, there have been allegations that the areas falling in Bihar and West Bengal take away the major chunk of funds and projects earmarked for the NFR and that the Northeastern youth are also deprived of their rightful share of jobs in the Railways.

“There is marked lack of interest among railway officials for the development of the Northeast. It is high time that senior NFR officials should show their commitment to this region and send a request to the Railway Ministry for bifurcation of the zone and for setting up a separate zone dedicated exclusively for the Northeast,” said Sharma.

He further alleged that a section of senior NF Railway officials had in the past “conspired” to prevent any bifurcation of the zone.

Interestingly, during his visit to Guwahati in May this year, former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the Ministry would look into the issue of bifurcation. However, nothing has moved since then and Prabhu himself was moved out of the Railway Ministry during the last reshuffle in the Central government.

“Let the NFR officials speak out on behalf of the people of the Northeast. Let them give a formal proposal to the Railway Ministry for the bifurcation of NFR. How long will the people of the Northeast suffer from deprivation?” said Sharma.

The ARPA has also slammed the State government for being silent on the railway-related matters.

Railways to spend Rs.15000 Crore on Safety next year

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways will spend Rs 15,000 crore over the next 12 months to make travelling safer for passengers. The money will be spent on improving safety features on trains, tracks and stations on a “war footing”, a top Railway Ministry official said.

This will include installing elevators and constructing more foot-overbridges (FOBs) at all high density stations to help clear passenger traffic during rush hours. “Rail Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has already instructed general managers to go for an immediate audit and sanction works at the earliest,” the official said.

The announcement follows Friday’s stampede at the Elphinstone-Parel foot-over-bridge in Mumbai that killed at least 23 people. The Rail Board has empowered all general managers to spend on safety works on their own without waiting for any budgetary allocation or clearance. Besides, station directors have been empowered to take quick decisions in case there is a pile up of passengers at stations.

The Mumbai suburban network, which includes both the central and western railways, will get 10 new FOBs along with elevators to avoid a repeat of any such incident. The rail board has also decided to equip all major stations with CCTV cameras for better management of crowds during the peak hours.

All stations in an around Delhi will also be equipped with the same facilities at the earliest. Almost 2,000 CCTVs will be installed at 400 major stations. Rail minister Piyush Goyal has ordered that all this work should be completed on the Mumbai suburban network and at all major stations well within 15 months.

“Not only the Mumbai suburban network but stations around Delhi where lakhs of daily commuters use railways to reach the capital for work will also get additional FOBs and elevators,” the official said.

The government has approved a Rs 1 lakh crore dedicated Rail Safety Fund, which will be used for overhauling rail tracks, constructing foot-over-bridges, eliminating unmanned level crossings, upgrading network signalling and for installing CCTV cameras. The fund will be spent over five years.

Who are the Railway Gate Mitras?

Over 10000 men and women are employed as gate mitras by the Ministry of Railways at unmanned level crossings to ensure the safety of people while crossing railway tracks. To get a better understanding of what it exactly is, one must not forget the iron poles which are used to allow any vehicle or person to cross railway tracks, when a train is approaching. Now the job of gate mitras are to exactly do the same job, where there are no iron poles to obstruct the vehicles.

According to Indian Railways, “‘Gate Mitra’ is an initiative of the Ministry of Railways to enhance safety and prevent accidents at unmanned level crossing gates. The person engaged as “Gate Mitra” would alert road-users about approaching trains at unmanned level crossings. They are primarily deployed to counsel the road users to be vigilant while crossing the unmanned level crossing gates.”

However, the gate mitras, complain of exploitation and meagre payment. Speaking to RailNews, several gate mitras said that how they are made to work for 12 hours every day, witout any off throughout the year, for a meagre salary of 3000 to 4000 rupees per month. They also said that there is no arrangement for shelter, first aid, bathroom, and if somebody is not well, taking a day off would amount to salary cut even losing the job. Neeraj Kumar, President of Bhartiya Rail Gate Mitra Association Karmikshan said that 35% road accidents used to happen at unmanned level crossings bt after the deployment of gate mitras, the frequency of such accidents have rapidly decreased, however, even after being at the spot for over 12 hours, the gate mitras don’t earn enough to make ends meet. Apart from the lack of basic facilities, women who are deployed at such spots have no access to toilets mostly, they have to go in the open to relieve themselves, which also puts their safety at stake. Some women employees stay far away from these level crossings, and face severe problems during menstruation.

The gate mitras also said that due to absence of shelters, they have to also battle the harsh climate – heavy rains, blazing heat. If they do take an off, or raise a question, their contractors threaten to strip the of the job. Sarita Verma and Rajwati, 25 years of age, and had been working as gate mitras for 3 years, told RailNews about the problems face by women in the job. They revealed how women are harassed by unknown people and sometimes sexually explicit slurs are thrown at them. However they women said that they have now grown used to it, and it does not deter the from doing their job any longer.

RailNews also spoke to one such Contractor under whom 14 gate mitras are employed, and what he revealed gave an interesting twist to the story. At first the contractor revealed that the time stipulated for the work has been specified by the Railways and the contractor or the external agency has no role to play, and hence the complaints of employees regarding working hours and offs cannot be taken into consideration.

However, on further questioning what was revealed is the fact that the Railways have only specified the time for which gate mitras are required to be at the unmanned level crossing. Point to be noted is the fact that the number of hours to be worked by each and every employee is not specified by the railways and depends on the contractor. So it is obvious that to make more profit, these contractors employ less number of people and make the work under extreme pressure to earn more. For example if employing 10 gate mitras would allow every employee one off a week, the contractors would hire only 7 (example) make the work without offs, and earn their profit.

The above contractor speaking to us also mentioned about a rest giver ho is deployed if n employee needs rest, however, this claim has been refuted by the employees.

The question is, it is so easy to defy labour laws and exploit the poor? RailNews will keep a tab of the story and the space would be updated with each and every development..

ISRO’s Space Applications Centre to provide Satellite-tech to Indian Railways for Unmanned Crossings

We have prepared four private companies that will provide this technology to the Indian Railways. The railway network is so big that it will take 2-3 years to implement the project,” Tapan Misra added.

AHMEDABAD: In order to secure all unmanned level crossings on the rail network of Indian Railways, four private firms have been selected by ISRO to provide satellite-based technology to the railways. “There are about 12,000 unmanned level crossings in our country. The accidents happen because people are not aware of the approaching train. So by using the GSAT-6 (a communication) satellite, we have created a system that will alert the train driver of the approaching unmanned level crossing. At the same a hooter at the crossing will warn of the approaching train,” said Tapan Misra, Distinguished Scientist and Director of ISRO’s Space Applications Centre (SAC), a major arm of ISRO.

“Currently we are experimenting this system at 20 unmanned level crossings and we have set the system up on five Rajdhani trains,” said Misra while talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of “World Space Week” organised at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition (VSSE). “We have prepared four private companies that will provide this technology to the Indian Railways. The railway network is so big that it will take 2-3 years to implement the project,” he added.

The first trial run for developing this satellite-based system was conducted in Ahmedabad ISRO scientists from Space Applications Centre (SAC) in February 2016.

Railways eyes 160 Kmph run between Four Metros

NEW DELHI: Giving a push to the Railways’ ‘Mission Raftar’, a feasibility report is being prepared to increase the speed between Mumbai-Chennai and Howrah-Chennai to 160 kmph. Early this year in the Union Budget, two corridors—Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah—were sanctioned at a cost of Rs.21,000 crore. Railways now plans to get approval for these two sections in the next budget.

The plan is to launch the high-speed ‘golden quadrilateral’ by August 15, 2022, which will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the country’s Independence.

The Railway Board has started the process for initiating a feasibility study to assess detailed cost and requirement for infrastructure upgrade on the section.

The Railway Board has started the process for initiating a feasibility study to assess detailed cost and requirement for infrastructure upgrade on high-speed ‘golden quadrilateral’ section.

“The plan is to have a golden quadrilateral of high speed where trains run at 160 kmph, thus cutting down travel time between the four metro cities. These sectors have very high traffic and upgrade work will be required,” said a railway board officer.

Railway Board officials want all precautions and technology interventions in place for a train running at 160 kmph. Keeping this in mind, for the first time the Railways has decided to use `75-crore photographic track inspection systems to check derailments on the proposed section.

“Once the other two sections get approval, similar systems can be put in place to check derailment. The system will have high-definition infrared camera and will send live pictures of any wheel abnormalities to the control room at the nearest station. Besides, it can also check if there are any extended materials like doors of freight wagons hanging or any other material on the track and these can be corrected immediately,” the official added.

Photographic Inspection

The plan is to install photographic inspection systems at 10 locations, each costing Rs.7.5 crore. The system is designed to monitor axle, wheel, brake temperatures and to indicate any overheating which could lead to derailments and transmits this data to the traffic control and monitoring section.

All Senior Railway Officials asked to relieve Staff working as Domestic Help in their Homes

Railway Board ends 36-year-old protocol to do away with VIP culture in ministry. Move as per the new Guidelines issued by the Railway Ministry

NEW DELHI: The Railway Ministry has issued new guidelines for senior officials to end “excessive protocol” and ‘VIP culture’ in India’s national transportation system. The Railway Board has announced to do away with a 36-year-old protocol that encourages VIP culture in the ministry, PTI reported on Sunday. As part of a massive overhaul of the culture in the ministry, the board has said it was no longer mandatory for general managers to be present on arrival and departure of the Railway Board chairperson and other senior members during their zonal visits.

Instructions under a 1981 circular that mandated such a protocol has been withdrawn with immediate effect, the Railways Ministry said in an order passed on September 28. Railway Board Chairperson Ashwani Lohani said officials should also no longer be presented with bouquets and gifts.

The order further states that senior officials of the ministry have to relieve junior staff who work as domestic help at their homes. Around 30,000 employees trackmen are engaged as domestic help in households of senior officials, PTI reported quoting unidentified officials.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has also instructed senior officials to refrain from travelling in executive class compartments, and rather travel in sleeper and AC 3-tier classes. This will help them mingle with other passengers, according to Goyal.

“Guidelines have been established to end the excessive protocol, where the unauthorised workers have been asked to resume their duties,” a railway official told.

All senior officials have been asked to relieve all the railway staff who have been working as domestic help in their homes.

On asking about the reports of about 30,000 trackmen working at the homes of senior officials, the Railway Official rejected the reports saying, “Many unauthorized workers have been thrown out, and about 3000-4000 such people were involved. There are no specific numbers but it is definitely not 30,000.”

The official also said that Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani’s indication to end the offering of bouquets and gifts have been implemented as well.

“Ashwani Lohani had said that giving of gifts and bouquets should be stopped. Any kind of excessive protocol, gifts, excessive celebration will end and officials have been asked to focus solely be on their work,” the Railway official added.

Speaking on reports that senior officials have been asked to restrain from luxurious or executive traveling, and instead traverse through sleeper class or third tier, the official said that no rule of this kind has been effectuate.

“The senior officials can use saloons, or travel however they want, for official purpose or inspection, and there is no stoppage on that,” the official insisted.

The official, however, added that a guideline has been issued where the officials have been asked to visit and travel in the lower class to understand the ground situation.

“The senior officials have been asked to travel by lower class once in a quarter to understand the ground situation,” the railway official said.

The railway official added that senior officials’ guideline had nothing to do with travel purpose, but to work to access the ground situation and talk to the staffers to understand the situation.

Lohani, in a letter dated August 28, said to employees that the Indian Railways had suffered a “serious dent” in the recent past.

“I personally believe in avoiding any frills in the form of bouquets, gifts, lavish celebrations, excessive protocol etc. These divert our attention from our primary responsibilities, hard core work and severely damage the organization also. Our focus needs to be on deliverance and deliverance alone,” he said.

It is no longer mandatory for general managers to be present on arrival and departure of the Railway Board members during their zonal visits.

 

Railway Tickets may get Cheaper for Passengers Booking Online

NEW DELHI: Railway tickets are likely to get cheaper as the government is trying to do away with MDR or merchant discount rates levied on e-tickets. MDR charges are applied on tickets that passengers book online through the IRCTC website. The MDR charges are imposed by banks on the merchant for providing debit and credit card services. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal mentioned that talks are underway with banks to resolve this issue of MDR.

In an interview Goyal said, “Railways used to charge a service charge. Post demonetisation they removed that service charge and we saw digital transactions really shoot up. Now the only charge that is charges is the merchant discount rate (MDR). I am now engaged with bankers to see what we can do about that MDR also.”

Once the MDR charges are done away with, ticket prices would automatically fall for passengers booking though the online portal.

Goyal, who spoke at the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum on Thursday also mentioned that a million jobs can be created in the railways ecosystem in less than 12 months. He further added that if they use the amount of investment in the pipeline, they can create 2 to 2.5 lakh jobs in the existing projects alone.

The minister further added that the government is trying to change the growth narrative by making it more technologically driven. Goyal further added that a change can only be brought about by empowering people and cutting through bureaucracy.

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MT addresses All India Conference of Freight Transportation Manager’s at Secunderabad, Seeks focus on key Priority Areas

SECUNDERABAD: Mohd. Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, New Delhi visited South Central Railway Headquarters today i.e., 6th October, 2017 to address the All India Conference of Chief Freight Transportation Manager’s (CFTM’s) of all Zones at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. In addition to the CFTM’s, other senior officials from the Freight Transportation Directorate of Railway Board including Ambrish K Gupta, Additional Member (Traffic Transportation) attended the meeting. N. Madhusudana Rao, Principal Chief Operations Manager, SCR was also present.

The Member Traffic, Railway Board laid emphasis on the priority areas for Indian Railways, as spelt out by Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister for Railways and stated that the same shall be the mission area for attaining goals. He said that Safety on Railways in terms of maintenance of the existing infrastructure, both Rolling Stock Infra and Fixed Infra shall be to the optimum, so as to ensure utmost Safety levels. Towards this, Indian Railways is looking into track renewal wherever due on the existing system as the first priority before taking up rail laying for new lines, doubling etc. To meet the requirements, it is planned to invite Global Players for supply of Rails, he added. The Member Traffic stated that total Electrification of the Indian Railway Network is on cards, and work will be expedited so as to Electrify the entire balance network of 33, 000 Route Kilometers on Indian Railways in next four years.

Speaking on the Freight Traffic front which is the prime revenue earner, Mohd. Jamshed said that there is a need to undertake fundamental changes in the way the running of Freight Trains is involved. He added that, for the first time, Time Tabled Freight Trains will get into the Indian Railways Time Table. The key element for increasing freight traffic and resultant revenue is to look into mobility issues concerning streamlined and smooth running of Goods Trains which needs exemplary co-ordination between various departments and Zones. The Member Traffic expressed optimism that the Indian Railways Freight loading target of 1180 Million Tonnes for the current financial year will be met, by means of a commitment from all the Freight Transportation Manager’s to perform efficient and deliver results. He also wanted the Zones to concentrate on Coal Loading on Railways, which is expected to show a surge in demand. Jamshed stressed on the fact that perfect planning, keeping issues such as Foggy weather conditions, anticipated commodity traffic trends, innovation of alternate ideas to serve freight customer needs etc., will enable achieve freight targets for Indian Railways.

Secunderabad Railway Station Inspection:-

Later, Mohd. Jamshed inspected Secunderabad Railway Station. He checked the passenger amenities available at the station and interacted with a cross section of rail users to seek their feedback on the quality of rail services provided.  He also reviewed the Security Surveillance System at the Station which monitors the entire premises including rush of passengers at various locations, suspicious movements etc., 24 x7. He was also apprised on the plans afoot for further developing of passenger amenities at the station. He was accompanied by Amit Varadan, Divisional Railway Manager, Secunderabad Divison; M. G Sekharam, Principal Chief  Commercial Manager, SCR; N. Madhusudana Rao, Principal Chief Operations Manager, SCR.

The Member Traffic along with Arun Kumar Jain, Hyderabad Division and the Principal Chief Operations Manager, SCR undertook a rear window Tower Car inspection of the Secunderabad – Falaknuma – Umdanagar Suburban Section.

Railways to have Make In India Coaches that Guarantee more Safety

Indian Railways to ramp up production of LHB coaches

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways in a bid to fulfil Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s Make in India dream have launched a 100% Make In India Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches.

Each and every component of the coach has been manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai. The coaches have been allotted to Western Railways and the Railways has guaranteed passenger safety in these coaches.

Out of the two ‘Make in India’ coaches that have been rolled out by ICF, the non-AC one has 100% indigenous components. The AC coach has one imported component, the report added.

Given the spate of rail accidents over the last year, Indian Railways has decided to stop production of traditional ICF coaches in 2017. LHB coaches boast of stainless steel bodies and have anti-climbing features. This ensures that in case of a derailment, the coaches do not pile onto each other, hence making them safer. The LHB coaches also have a graduated release modular braking system the axle mounted disc brakes.

Earlier in the day, Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal spoke to a gathering regarding the modernisation of the railways and the necessity of passenger safety.

Speaking at the International Conference on Technological Advancements in Railway and Metro Projects, Goyal also said that budget allocations are a limitation and tend to hold back research and innovation.

“Personally, I believe a budget is a limitation, it holds you back. Allocation of a budget doesn’t allow scientists to flourish as he wants to. Budgets restrict innovation,” said Goyal as he called for out-of-the-box thinking to improve rail safety features like as signaling systems and fog vision for locomotive pilots.

The railways is embarking on a massive programme to ensure safety of the entire network, he said. “As much money as required is available for safety.

“I am not even saying it will be made available, I am saying it is available,” he said, adding that he cannot make the railways safe without new ideas and he hoped that the conference will help generate innovations.

Switch-over to LHB

Shailendra Singh, Chief Rolling Stock Engineer, Northern Railway, said a decision had been taken to produce 5,000 LHB coaches this year. At present, there are around 51,000 Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) coaches and 5,500 LHB coaches made in the Kapurthala factory.

“It has been decided to completely switch over to manufacture LHB coaches from April 1, 2018 onward,” he added.

Railways had already take a decision shift to LHB coaches, but increasing production requires a sharp ramp up from the present annual coach production target of 2,435. The vendor capacity also needs to be increased accordingly. Addressing the conference, Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Coal, said: “We must work to see whether we can design better coaches, better locomotives, better signalling system and other related activity. We must explore cooperation with Military Engineering Service. Indian Railways need to work with commitment to make the railways safe, secure and to offer better amenities, riding comfort, punctuality and efficiency.”

‘Adopt latest tech’

Earlier in the day, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said Railways needed to plan for a massive expansion very meticulously with forward-looking, efficient technologies and innovative practices currently available across the globe and adopt them.

“Indian Railways will have to plan for this massive expansion meticulously. It will have to look for technologies and innovative practices currently available across the globe,” he said.

Gauge Conversion works on Edaman-Aryankavu section progressing at a fast pace:

The gauge conversion work on the Edaman-Aryankavu section is progressing well, Sudhakar Rao, chief of the Southern Railway construction wing, told N.K. Premachandran, MP. The utility was hopeful of commissioning the 49.9-km Punalur-Schencotta section by December, he said.

In statement, Mr. Premachandran said the following a high-level meeting post a site inspection in July, Railway authorities had assured that the line could be commissioned in December. Mr. Rao’s present communication was in tune with that assurance, the MP said.

The authorities also said the track-laying work on the Edaman-Aryankavu section had been completed.

Work on the project had been hit by heavy rains that caused landslips in the area.

In addition, the implementation of the GST regime had led the contractors to go on strike for some days.

Work on the tunnels was going on parallel to this work, and this was nearing completion.

Railways was also considering suggestions from Mr. Premachandran on train services through the section prior to the launch of the gauge conversion work, declaration of the Punalur station as a pilgrim station and starting 12 new services, Mr. Rao’s communication said.

Indian Railways dedicated 7666 km of Tracks during 2014-17 to the nation

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways did track laying work, which includes laying new tracks, doubling the existing lines, and converting narrow gauge to broad gauge, 11.5% faster during the NDA’s initial three-year rule than the Congress-led UPA-II’s.

The Railways has laid 7,666km of tracks during 2014-17 (NDA’s rule), which is 794km more than the UPA-II’s between 2009 and 2012, an RTI response revealed.

Addressing the nation from Red Fort on Independence Day this year, Prime Minster Narendra Modi had said railway tracks are being laid at double the speed. But data from the ministry of railways do not substantiate that claim.The railways’ achievement under the UPA-II’s first year was 27% more than the target. It encouraged the government to set target at 2,301km in 2010-11, 31% more than the last year.

“It outdid the target and laid 2315km length of tracks. But after that there is a constant decrease in the target leading to considerable decline in achievements as well,” says a former member of the Railway Board, requesting anonymity. The change of government at the Centre in May 2014 changed the growth trajectory and the railways, in the next three years, laid down tracks 13% more than its target.

Year Target (Distance in KM) Achievement
2009-10 1745 2222
2010-11 2301 2315
2011-12 2275 2335
2012-13 2200 1811
2013-14 1525 1562
2014-15 1450 1983
2015-16 2500 2828
2016-17 2800 2855
2017-18 3100 716.75 (till Aug 17, 2017)

However, the data defies Modi’s claim that “the railway tracks are being laid at double the speed”. A senior railway official, however, justified his statement, saying, “In 2013-14, railways laid down only 1,562km of track while in 2016-17, it is 2,855. So it’s almost double.”

As far as 2017 is concerned, the initial four and a half months shows only 23% achievement of the ambitious target of 3,100km.

Railway officials say that they are confident of outdoing it as they did in the past.

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Gruesome Godhra Train carnage: Gujarat HC sharply criticise Railways for miserably failing to maintain the Law & Order

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat High Court’s decision to commute the death sentence into life imprisonment to 11 of the convicts involved in the gruesome Godhra train burning case of February 27, 2002, even as sharply criticising the Gujarat government and the Indian Railways for miserably failing to maintain the law and order, has opened up fresh possibilities of re-examining the event.

While the HC has, at the same time, refused to change the trial court verdict, which acquitted 63 persons, including Maulvi Umarji, accused of being the mastermind behind the fire, there is reason to wonder what led to the incident, which was immediately described by the Gujarat government as a “criminal conspiracy” hatched in Pakistan, without even waiting for the investigators begin doing their job to find out how on that fateful date 58 people, most of them kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, were burnt alive.

Godhra has roughly an equal population of Muslims and Hindus, with a long and bloody history of communal tension and violence. The Muslims in Singal Falia, situated near the railway station, who allegedly attacked the Sabarmati Express, belong to the Ghanchi community, which is largely uneducated community with poor civil values and religiously always charged. Many of them have been allegedly under the influence of tabliqis of the Deobandi tradition, and have had the history of participating in communal violence.

The court termed it as “preplanned inhuman collective violent act of terrorism”. The fact is, the police, especially the DSP, arrived at the scene of the incident at the site of the incident at 8.30 am, by which time the mob had already dispersed. According to one report, since he heard no cries or any sounds from coach S6, he had no apprehensions of massive civilian casualties in that coach. This was discovered only later when the district collector entered the coach. Reportedly, all the bodies were in a heap in the centre of the coach S6. There is reason to wonder: Why did the Gujarat police not call forensic experts for a physical examination of the burnt railway coach for two long months even though it was freely accessible to the public from day one?

Sardar Vaghela, 77, locally known as Sardar Kaka, insists his son Rajesh is alive. “My son got lost in 2002. He was on the train. I am sure he will be back,” he said Monday.

The train he was referring to is the Sabarmati Express, which was set on fire in February 2002 leading to the death of 59 kar sevaks. On Monday, Gujarat High Court commuted to life the death sentences of 11 of those convicted.

“I have heard about the Gujarat High Court judgment and it has not done justice,” Sardar told. “My neighbours were on the train and they died. Those who killed them should not be forgiven. Giving them a life sentence is not enough.”

“Kaka has lost his mental balance after 2002,” said Dinesh Goswami, a survivor, who was on S6, the coach that was set on fire at Godhra station that day, the event that triggered communal riots in Gujarat. “Kaka goes to temples and mosques looking for his son. He is sharp when it comes to other matters, but when it is about his son he refuses to accept that he is dead,” Goswami said.

“The decision has come keeping the elections in mind. Advantage will be taken of this decision. The judgment is totally wrong and I think it will give out a wrong message to those who committed such a crime,” said Goswami, who had come to visit Sardar to tell his family about the judgment and the compensation announced.

“I was 31 years old when the incident happened,” he added. “I was one of the lucky ones who managed to escape. I could not recognise the charred bodies of my friends. This is what we call, in law, a rarest-of-the-rare case. The train burning made people so angry that the entire state erupted in violence. It was not the VHP or the BJP or the Congress or any political party. It was the anger of people because of what had happened to the kar sevaks.”

Goswami and Sardar live in Khokra area of Ahmedabad.

Gayatri Panchal of Vastral, Ahmedabad, is another survivor; she lost her parents and two sisters. She says she wants to move on rather than reflect on something that happened 16 years ago.

“I was on the train and have given statements several times. I am disappointed with the judgment but don’t want to say anything that may spark controversy. It has been 16 years and I want to move on.”

Gayatri, 32, is currently taking a break from work. She was in class XI when she lost her parents Nita and Harshad, and sisters Pratiksha and Chhaya.

She used to live in Ramol area of Ahmedabad and was later resettled in Vastral by members of the VHP.

“Most of the sevaks were from Ramol area. The VHP resettled many after the riots,” said Bipin Thakkar, 44, a businessman who deals in auto parts and is a VHP member. “I was there, helping families move and ensuring they got compensation. My father-in-law and brother-in-law died on the train and I am very disappointed with the high court judgment. The lower court judgment awarding the death sentence was the right one. I will make sure that we take the matter to the Supreme Court. I will do it individually if necessary.”

He said it had been a last-minute decision that made his father-in-law Mansukh Soni and brother-in-law Jesal Soni join the team visiting Ayodhya.

“It is a loss that no compensation can make up for. My wife does not know about the judgment yet. She will be disappointed,” Bipin said.

The VHP too expressed disappointment with the judgment. “The judgment of the high court is not just,” its Gujarat general secretary Ranchhod Bharvad said at a a press conference at the VHP office. “The murderers of the Ram bhakts cannot get away with only life imprisonment. We will take this matter to the Supreme Court. We want those who committed the crime to get the harshest punishment possible. We also want special packages and compensation from the government for those who died on the train. The Rs 10 lakh compensation is not enough. People have lost their families.”

Loco Pilots on Thiruvananthapuram Division opt for Voluntary Retirement Scheme, Railways in Crisis

Thiruvananthapuram: An increasing number of locopilots are opting for voluntary retirement or requesting for deployment in other departments on medical grounds after they are forced to work without “rest days” as the Thiruvananthapuram division is facing an acute shortage of personnel.  The latest instance was the voluntary retirement opted by two locopilots of Kollam depot the other day– Joseph Sebastian and Santosh Philip– despite having nearly six years of service left. “Though the retirement age is 60, many are opting for the scheme “very early.” Now there are several other VRS requests pending with the authorities. In the last five years, over 20 among us have requested to be relieved from the duty on medical grounds,” said  Mr L. Mony, central president, All-India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA).

He alleged  that the refusal of the authorities to fill up vacancies had  “overburdened” the existing lot. “However, the authorities are trying to implement a new duty roster for loco-pilots as a desperate measure to tide over the personnel shortage issue– nearly 15 per cent vacancies– instead of conducting recruitment and training of new candidates,” he said.    When contacted, a senior railway officer said the new duty roster would ensure that each of the 101 loco-pilots in the division could be deployed strategically and their services would be availed of to the maximum. “Now onwards, the loco-pilots cannot do ‘adjustment’ duties and have to complete the target kilometers,” he said.

“We’re not being  given rest day like that provided to the rest of the staff. Many could return to the ‘original’ station only on the third day after logging in,” said another loco-pilot on the condition of anonymity.   Currently, there are 37 vacancies of locopilots remaining vacant in the division, which has added new trains like Palaruvi Express and weekly long-haul ones that required services of an additional seven set crew on a war-footing.

Galvanised steel plates to help check rail accidents: HZL

NEW DELHI: Vedanta group’s Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) has suggested to the government that it replace fish plates and rails with galvanised steel as it is corrosion resistant and will help reduce accidents and derailments.

There has been a spate of rail accidents recently leading to loss of lives.

“Corrosion has been one of the major areas of concern for Railways…. The corrosion and deterioration of fish plates and rails has been identified as few reasons for such accidents,” HZL CEO Sunil Duggal has said in a letter to the railways ministry.

He said the company is of view is that use of corrosion resistant infrastructure will promote safety and reduce maintenance costs.

“In this regard, we wish to seek appointment from minister (Rail Minister Piyush Goyal) and would like to give him a detailed presentation on how Zinc galvanised steel can help in improving longevity of Indian Railways infrastructure,” the letter said.

Duggal said that technical representatives of International Zinc Association would also accompany him on his meeting with the minister.

Three trains jumped off the tracks and another derailment was averted on September 7 in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Maharashtra within a span of nine hours.

The derailments were the first since Goyal shifted to Rail Bhavan after the recent Cabinet recast. Suresh Prabhu, his predecessor, had reportedly offered to step down taking moral responsibility for two previous accidents.

On August 20, 14 coaches of the high-speed Kalinga-Utkal Puri Haridwar Express had derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, killing at least 23 people and leaving scores injured. The train was on its way to Haridwar from Puri.

Three days later, nine coaches of the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express had derailed in the Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh after it collided with a dumper, which had strayed on to the tracks, leaving around 100 passengers injured.

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NGT asks MoEF to approve Emission Norms for Diesel Locomotives

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to expeditiously approve the draft emission standards for diesel locomotives submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board.

A bench headed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to upload the guidelines for emission standards on its website.

“The counsel appearing for the CPCB submits that it has already prepared the guidelines including interim standards for locomotives to operate. Let the copy of that be circulated to all the concerned and put up on the website of the CPCB.

“…we dispose of this application finally with a direction that the guidelines containing locomotive standards will be put up on the website of the CPCB and expeditious efforts shall be made by all the stakeholders including the Ministry of Railways, MoEF, CPCB and any other ministry that may be concerned with the same, to approve the final parameters for locomotive engines, after completing the study and then notify the same,” the bench said.

The development comes in the wake of the green panel’s direction to set standards and ensure that railway engines don’t cause pollution.

The CPCB’s interim report, titled ‘Exhaust Emission Benchmarks for Diesel Locomotives on Indian Railways’, aims to fix standards and protocols for the sector to achieve the targets submitted by India under the Paris climate change agreement.

According to the report, the contribution of emissions from the transport sector on the whole has risen 3.5 times since 1990 to stand at 250 million tonne carbon dioxide, or 13.5 per cent of the total emissions in 2013.

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

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

Earlier, the tribunal had directed the environment and forests ministry to hold a meeting with the CPCB and the railways, and submit a report on emission standards for diesel locomotive within six weeks.

However, when the matter came up for hearing, the environment ministry sought more time, saying “the standards are yet to be fixed and one year’s time is required for completion”.

The railways had earlier submitted international standards for emissions from diesel engines and filed a data sheet indicating the emissions from 30 railway engines.

According to the data sheet, the emission levels in the tested 30 railway engines were much above international standards.

The directions came during the hearing on a petition filed by Dwarka-resident S K Goyal about harmful emissions from diesel locomotives.

Escalator a non-starter for want of Safety Certification

SURAT: Passengers, especially senior citizens, have been deprived of the escalator facility at Surat railway station since last one year. Though the railways partially installed the escalator for giving access to the passengers on platform 1 near the parcel office, but it has not been made operational.

There are two operational escalators on the railway station. However, both the escalators are operated only during the visit of VVIPs, while the general public have to take the staircase.

Member of the Railway Station Development Citizen Forum (RSDCF) Rajesh Modi, has dashed off the letter to the director of Research Design and Standards Organisation (RSDO), ministry of railways, regarding the escalator at platform 1.

“I have been continuously pursuing the escalator issue with the top authorities in WR from last many months. Earlier, they (authorities) told me that some construction parts of the escalators were yet to arrive and so there was a delay. Now, they are saying that the RSDO is yet to give approval for the operation of escalator,” claimed Modi.

“More than 1 lakh people visit the railway station on daily basis. Most of the long distance trains arrive and depart from platform 1. The escalator is non-functional since last one year. This, despite the fact that Surat station earns Rs 500 crore revenue per annum. Passengers are deprived of the basic amenities.”

When contacted, area railway officer (ARO) C R Garuda said, “There is some safety certification issue pending with the RSDO. The committee members have come for inspection thrice, but there is some technical problem. The present contractor is likely to be relieved and the railways is in the process of giving contract to other agency.”

Recently, during the maiden visit of Union railway minister Piyush Goyal, the railway authorities were put in an embarrassing situation after the escalator on platform 4 stopped midway.

Goyal paid a brief visit at the railway station on September 22 on the sideline of the inauguration of Mahamana Express. Goyal had gone for the inspection of passenger amenities and other infrastructure at the railway station along with the security staff, railway authorities, railway protection force (RPF) and local BJP leaders. In just a couple of minutes before Goyal embarked on the escalator, it stopped.

The divisional railway manager and other senior railway officers from Western Railway (WR) were questioned by the railway minister on the incident. He was not impressed with the reply that the escalator could have stopped due to overload.

Following stampede at Elphinstone Road, Railways start drive to evict hawkers on pedestrian bridges

23 people were killed during rush hour at Elphinstone Road, thanks to a stamped.

MUMBAI: In a bid to prevent incidents like the Elphinstone station stampede that claimed 23 lives, the railway administration has undertaken a drive to evict illegal hawkers from the entry and exit points of the station as well as from the foot over bridges (FOBs) to ease commuter movement.

Twenty-three people were killed in the stampede on a FOB linking Parel and Elphinstone Road last Friday during rush hour.
“Though action against hawkers is undertaken on a regular basis, from October 1, this drive has been intensified with a combined operation launched by the RPF and GRP, and moreover they will also be patrolling the FoBs,” said chief spokesperson of the Western Railway Ravinder Bhakar.

However, passengers and railway representatives want permanent eviction of hawkers and have warned the railway officials that they would report to the Railways Minister if the hawkers return to do business at these spots.

Bhakar said Western Railway administration is soon going to demarcate the railway area to stop this menace forever.

He said, “Most of the complaints against hawkers we receive, fall under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) area where we do not have our administrative control.

“So we are blamed unnecessarily. Therefore, we have decided to demarcate our periphery and we will keep full vigil within our jurisdiction.”

The Central Railway too has launched a drive against illegal hawkers at several stations including Ghatkopar, Kurla, Byculla, Mulund.

Eviction of hawkers paved way for smooth movement of commuters near railway stations and on foot overbridges.

Senior PRO of Central Railway A K Jain said, “Though our security forces, keep driving away unauthorised hawkers, they have been now been asked to deal strictly with them.” Rajiv Singal, who has been a member of Railway Users Consultative Committees in Central Railway and Western Railway, however, dubs this exercise of evicting hawkers as merely an “eyewash”.

Singal said, “This is simply dressing up and no permanent cure. It is showoff because audit team is doing their job and media pressure is working.

I can bet you, hawkers will be back again.”

“Until and unless, disciplinary action is not taken against the senior RPF officials in whose jurisdiction hawkers operate, nothing is going to change,” Singal said.

T N Dubey, former member of Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committees in Western Railway, said, “If hawkers come back, we will write to the Railways Minister and draw his attention to the issue.”

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Indian Railways’ ecosystem can create a Million Jobs in 12 months: Piyush Goyal

Indian Railways initiatives such as dedicated freight corridors and station redevelopment have the potential to create jobs, says railway minister Piyush Goyal

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways ecosystem can create a million jobs within the next 12 months, said railway minister Piyush Goyal at the opening session of the India Economic Summit.

As part of this exercise, the national carrier plans to create a sort of a franchisee model wherein local entrepreneurs, by using a smart device, can book tickets at 2,000 railway stations across its network which don’t have a booking office.

“This is in the works and will happen very soon,” Goyal told.

The national carrier has a track length of around 115,000km, making it the world’s largest railway network under a single management. It runs around 20,849 trains daily and transports 23 million passengers.

Goyal said various initiatives such as dedicated freight corridors, track renewal, station redevelopment, passenger holding areas and amenities such as parking have the potential to create these jobs without them being on the books of the country’s largest employer.

Goyal’s comments came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the first time directly addressed the criticism that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has mismanaged the Indian economy—especially after the first quarter showed that economic growth slowed sharply to 5.7%.

“The narrative is changing and India is becoming the pole around which the world economy can flourish,” Goyal, who also holds the coal ministry portfolio, said at the session.

Goyal has been given charge of the railway ministry to take care of critical issues such as passenger safety, corporatization of railways, monetization of the transporter’s assets and boosting non-fare revenue to deliver tangible outcomes.

He said the investment potential in the railways can have a significant impact on job creation in the country.

Goyal added that works such as track renewal and safety can alone create 200,000 jobs.

The NDA government unveiled the largest-ever rail budget of Rs1.31 trillion for this financial year, an 8.26% increase over the Rs1.21 trillion allocated to the national carrier in 2016-17.

“There is a changing nature of the jobs worldwide. The youth of tomorrow doesn’t want to be a job seeker but a job creator,” Goyal said.

He said he will leverage the people’s carrier real estate and monetise it so that there is no pressure on the exchequer.

This comes at a time when railways’ finances are stressed as it faces stiff competition from airlines and road transport for carrying people as well as freight.

Indian Railways is increasing its capital expenditure (capex). According to a recent Citibank report on the performance of Indian Railways, railway capex increased 60% year-on-year (y-o-y) in FY16 and 18% y-o-y in FY17. Physical commissioning of projects has improved sharply. Average commissioning of broad-gauge lines increased 86% in FY16-17 over average commissioning in 2009-14. Electrification of rail lines increased 58% in FY16-17 from the average in 2009-14.

“The potential in India is huge, it’s the mindset change which will transform India; we’ve seen that happen in sector after sector. It is the railways’ turn now,” Goyal added.

SECR mulls over Nagpur-Bilaspur 4th Railway Line

Bilaspur Zone issues order for engineering-cum-reconnaissance survey to examine feasibility of the project

NAGPUR: South East Central Railway (SECR), the loading Zone of , is contemplating a fourth line between Nagpur-Bilaspur, a distance of 412 kms. Anticipating high passenger growth and planning for a speedier movement of trains on Mumbai-Howrah route, Indian Railways is pushing for extra corridors on high density routes. Currently a double line route, it is heavily saturated and hence SECR bosses desires for third and fourth line. Primary reports said that the rate of return (RoR) on the fourth line is positive and hence there is a push for it at Zonal level.

Railway Board has currently sanctioned a third line between Bilaspur and Jharsugda and third line between Rajnandgaon-Nagpur, a distance of 234 kms.

As per current policies, Railways is pushing for joint third and fourth line as it is cheaper while planning additional assets, especially during electrification and signalling purpose.

The third line is already in place between Bilaspur-Jharsugda, a distance of 206 kms as also on Bilaspur-Raipur route which is about 176 kms.

As is known, Bilaspur Zone accounts for nearly 90 per cent movement of coal which generates nearly 70 per cent revenue. The current capacity is woefully short of demand and most of time its the good rakes which get regulated. Hence Railways is aggressively pushing for additional
corridors not only to accelerated movement of goods trains but also to speed-up Mail/Express trains.

By the time the third line becomes operational, saturation owing to increase in density of trains might render necessity of an additional line. Hence order for engineering-cum-reconnaissance survey was issued about a month back to have a feasibility study for fourth line. It would help gauge the estimated price for the fourth corridor. The survey would also take into account how much land would be needed for the fourth line, how much presently is available with Railways so that a call can be taken on the project.

At present about 54 pairs of Mail/Express trains operate on the route apart from number of passenger trains on shorter distances as also the DEMU trains in some sections. With Nagpur Division going in for enmass Gauge Conversion, about 700 kms of additional area would be added to SECR. Post completion of Gauge Conversion works additional train services would also be started and hence Railways are pushing for creating infrastructure to handle the future traffic, said people in know of the project.

Railways runs Superfast Special Trains between YESVANTPUR–HAZRAT NIZAMUDDIN on Special Fare

BANGALORE: Railways has decided to run Train No. 02649 Yesvantpur – Hazrat Nizamauddin Superfast Special Train on special fare to clear extra rush.

Train No. 02649 Yesvantpur – Hazrat Nizamauddin Superfast Special Train on special fare departs Yesvantpur at 22:00 hrs. on 10th October, 2017 (Tuesday) and reaches Hazrat Nizamauddin at 09:15 hrs. on 12th October, 2017 (Thursday).

Enroute, the train on Wednesday arrives/departs Dharmavaram at 00:40/00:45 Hrs., Kurnool City at 04:25/04:27 Hrs.,  Kacheguda at 08:20/08.30 Hrs.,  Ballarshah at 14:05/14:15 Hrs., Nagpur at 17:05/17:15 Hrs., Bhopal at 22:55/23:05 Hrs. and on Thursday arrives/departs Jhansi at 02:50/03:00 Hrs.

The Train Composition will have 16 coaches comprising of Eight Second Class Sleeper Coaches, Seven Second Class Coaches and One Luggage cum Break-van.

CANCELLATION OF TRAINS

Due to delay in restoration work in flood affected sections over North Frontier Railway, the following trains are cancelled:

1.  Train No. 12552, Kamakhya – Yesvantpur AC Superfast Express Journey commencing on 11th October, 2017 from Kamakhya is cancelled.
2.  Train No. 12551, Yesvantpur – Kamakhya AC Superfast Express Journey commencing on 14th October, 2017 from Yesvantpur is cancelled.

Train No.17204   Kakinada Port to Bhavnagar Terminus Express Train Rescheduled  

Train No. 17204 Kakinada Port – Bhavnagar Terminus Express scheduled to depart   Kakinada Port  at  03:45   hrs on 5th October, 2017 is rescheduled to depart at 06:45 hrs on same day due to late running of its pairing train.

Trains Cancelled/Diverted Due to Floods in North Frontier Railway

Due to Recent floods and disruption of services over North Frontier Railway the following trains are cancelled / diverted as detailed below:-

1)      Train No.22611 Chennai Central – New Jalpaiguri Express is cancelled on 11thOctober, 2017.
2)      Train No.15629 Tambaram – Guwahati Express is cancelled on 9th October, 2017.

Trains Diverted:

1)      Train No.07092 Raxaul – Secunderabad special train scheduled to depart on 06th October,2017 is diverted to run via Sagauli, Muzaffarpur and Samastipur  instead of Sitamarhi, Darbhanga and Samastipur.

Due to Non-Interlocking work being taken up at Raichur Station from 9th October 16.00hrs to 11thOctober 16.00 hrs, the following Passenger Trains are Cancelled as detailed below:-

1)   Tr.No.57428 Guntakal – Raichur Passenger Train is cancelled  on 9th  and 10th Oct, 2017 .
2)   Tr.No.57427 Raichir – Guntakal Passenger Train  is cancelled  on 10th and 11th Oct, 2017.

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Delhi Railway Division bars WhatsApp for Railway Officials during Duty Hours

NEW DELHI: Here’s another addition to the dos and don’ts for railway staff to enhance passenger safety. The operational staff of the railways have been strictly barred from using WhatsApp while on duty. Railway officials have identified the messaging app as a ‘major distraction’ while managing train operations and hence sent out instructions not to use it during working hours.

The circular has been issued by the Delhi division of Indian Railways to its entire operational staff, including drivers, guards, TTE and even station managers. Anyone found violating the orders shall be dealt with strictly, it said. A senior railway official said similar orders will be issued in all divisions since it pertained to railway safety.

“It was noted that several staff associated with the safety department or the operational staff were indulging in WhatsApp and YouTube during working hours. This caused major distraction and thus compromised passenger safety. They have been told not to use these apps and entertainment medium and perform their duty with greater efficiency and alertness,” an official said. The move comes in the wake of a series of rail accidents recently that claimed over 300 lives.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has already asked officers to take all measures to prevent accidents and make rail journey safer. The new circular will be applicable to all maintenance and safety staff such as trackmen, gang men guards on railway crossings, loco pilots and train guards.

Even station managers and superintendents who are primarily responsible for operation of trains at their stations will be prohibited from using WhatsApp on duty. A northern railway official said drivers and guards onboard trains have to be constantly alert and keep watch on the tracks. Not only do they have to monitor train movement in the opposite direction, but also physical obstruction on tracks.

Drivers and guards have to communicate with each other while on the move and at the same, be in touch with station masters at the approaching stations. Any communication by these staff is permitted only through walky talky. A close watch on railway signals and the distance between the train and the next station has to be closely monitored as even a slight mistake could prove to be disastrous.

A loco pilot at Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin station said existing rules also prescribe for such restrictions on staff. He said drivers and guards are required to switch off their phones while on duty. Drivers and guards are not even allowed to leave the locomotive for nature’s call.

Under pressure following a series of train accidents, railway minister Piyush Goyal has given his officials a week’s deadline to clear all railway-related issues and accord top priority to railway safety. He also ordered that 200 officers from the headquarters be assigned to field duty for ground operations and strengthen the safety mechanism.

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Indian Railways to add 30 MW of additional Rooftop Solar

NEW DELHI: Indian firms Azure Power (NYSE:AZRE) and Fourth Partner Energy have secured contracts to install 30 MW of rooftop solar power facilities for Indian Railways.

Under the deals, awarded last week, solar power producer Azure Power will install 20 MW of photovoltaic (PV) panels for the railway operator, while Fourth Partner Energy will be in charge of building a 10-MW plant, the two firms said separately last week. The larger project will involve the construction of rooftop solar systems at Indian Railways facilities across 17 states and union territories and sale of electricity for 25 years. The generated power will be sold at a tariff ranging between INR 3.64 (USD 0.056/EUR 0.047) per kWh and INR 4.49 per kWh depending on the location.

Azure Power said it will get a capital incentive from Indian Railways that is expected to result in a weighted average levelized tariff of INR 4.88 per kWh. Following the deal, Azure Power will become the largest solar power supplier to Indian Railways with a cumulative awarded capacity of 66 MW. Earlier this year, the New Delhi-based company was selected as the winning bidder to develop 46 MW of rooftop solar projects for the railway operator.

In the meantime, renewable energy services provider Fourth Partner Energy will install 10 MW of rooftop PV plants at Indian Railway’s facilities in Varanasi, Jabalpur and Gorakhpur.

According to consultancy Mercom India Research, the demand for renewables to power activities on the Indian Ministry of Railways has led to the approval of incentives for 500 MW of solar projects and provision of around INR 6 billion in funds for grid‑connected rooftop solar facilities.
(INR 100 = USD 1.528/EUR 1.299)

Cabinet apprised of Swiss tilting trains for Indian Railways

Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and Switzerland on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector

NEW DELHI: The Union cabinet was today apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the railways ministry with Switzerland which would help the two countries in developing tilting trains.

Tilting trains tilt on approaching a bend, just like a motorbike on a winding road. Such trains are operational in 11 countries namely Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, the UK, Switzerland, China, Germany and Romania.

The Ministry of Railways had in August signed two MoUs with the Federal Department of Environment, Transport and Communications of the Swiss Confederation for “technical cooperation in rail sector in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, an official statement said.

The MoUs aim at cooperation in the areas of multiple sectors of railway operations traction rolling stock, electric multiple unit and train sets, traction propulsion equipment, freight and passenger cars, tilting trains, railway electrification equipment, tunnelling technology among other things, it said.

The MoU will enable technical cooperation in the following areas:-

a. Traction Rolling stock
b. EMU and train sets
c. Traction Propulsion Equipments
d. Freight and Passenger Cars
e. Tilting Trains
f. Railway Electrification Equipments
g. Train scheduling and operation improvement
h. Railway Station modernization
i. Multimodal transport
j. Tunneling technology

Background:

Ministry of Railways have signed MoUs for technical cooperation in the Rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways. The identified areas of cooperation include high-speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world-class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure, etc. The cooperation is achieved through exchange of information on developments in areas of railways technology & operations, knowledge sharing, technical visits, training & seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.

The MoUs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector. The MoUs facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.

No service charge on train e-ticket till March 2018: Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: Rail passengers will continue to enjoy service charge exemption on tickets booked online till March 2018.

The government had waived service charges after demonetisation in November last year to encourage digital modes of booking.

The facility had been extended to June 30 and then September 30. Service charges on booking train tickets online through IRCTC ranges from Rs.20 to 40 per ticket.

In a September 29 missive to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the ticketing agency of the railways, the Railway Board directed that the benefits be extended till March next year.

Senior railway officials say that almost 33 per cent of the IRCTC revenue comes from the service charge collected on online bookings. As per the revenue collection of the last financial year, about Rs 540 crore of IRCTC’s revenue of over Rs 1,500 crore came from ticket bookings.

An amount of around Rs 184 crore has not been realised from passengers on account of service charge and service tax thereon on reserved tickets booked online from November 23, 2016 to February 28, 2017, according to railways data.

Ministry asks Top Officials to shun Saloons/First-class AC and travel in sleeper/general to understand the Passenger problems

A typical view of a Saloon (Inspection Carriage) of a Railway Officer on Indian Railways. Most of the officers in the ranks of HOD/PHOD grade on Indian Railways uses these Saloons for regular inspections.

NEW DELHI: Faced with mounting criticism following a spate of derailments and the September 29 stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai, the railway ministry has asked its top officials to shun the luxury of their saloons and executive class travel privileges and start travelling in sleeper and AC 3-tier classes to experience the problems of ordinary passengers.

The railway ministry has decided that senior officers, including members of the Railway Board, general managers of railway zones and divisional railway managers (DRMs) in each of the 50 divisions, will undertake long journeys in these classes to get first-hand experience of the services and the problems passengers face.

Normally these officers travel in their special saloon for official purposes but with the new mechanism in place, they will have to move in a typical aam aadmi-style in regular trains. A top railway official said that the move aims at getting first-hand information on the amenities being provided to passengers by the railways.

“It has been decided that the board members, general managers and DRMs will undertake journeys in sleeper and third AC classes to take stock of the condition of coaches. At the same time, services like cleanliness and catering will also be assessed,” said Anil Saxena, director general (PR), Indian Railways.

Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani had also accorded utmost priority to passenger safety and amenities in trains and stations. Soon after taking charge, he held a series of meetings with railway officials and instructed them to spend maximum time in field to assess the situation. He even asked his officers to give up luxuries and unnecessary protocols and work as a team.

The move comes at a time when the railway ministry is facing criticism on several fronts, especially passenger safety, and hygiene and cleanliness on stations and trains. The ministry, which was already under pressure following a series of train accidents in the past few months, found itself on a sticky wicket when a CAG report recently exposed the railways for poor quality of food being served in trains.

The report pointed out that the food served in trains was unfit for consumption. At the same time, it noted the presence of unauthorised vending and inadequate dustbins at stations, besides rampant overcharging for services and goods. Sources in the ministry said safety in moving trains was another key concern of passengers.

They said there were complaints of unauthorised entry of people in reserved coaches and harassment of female passengers, but in most of these cases the train staff failed to act. Complaints have also been pouring in against poor sanitation facilities in trains, particularly stinking toilets and dirty linen.

The railway officials, while travelling in trains, will interact with passengers and assess their satisfaction on the prescribed parameters of services.

“Board members and general managers will travel every two to three months preferably on longer routes so that they can spend maximum time on trains. This will be done to assess the shortcomings, followed by corrections if required,” officials said.

Sources claimed that passenger amenities were also discussed in the safety review meeting, chaired by railway minister Piyush Goyal after the stampede in Mumbai. At least 23 people died on Friday at the Elphinstone Road station of the western line in Mumbai. Goyal gave his officials a weeklong deadline to clear all railwaysrelated issues pending with state agencies. He ordered that 200 officers from headquarters be assigned to field duty for ground operations and project implemen-tation across the country.

The minister also said that in an attempt to cut red tape, general managers have been empowered to “spend whatever is necessary on safety” and that financial and administrative powers will soon be delegated to field units. A statement from the ministry said that “powers beyond limit” have been delegated to general managers to improve situation on the ground.

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China Exim Bank sign agreement with CRRC for USD 30 Billion funding to shore up exports

BEIJING: The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), which is making a strong bid to export its high-speed train technology, will get USD 30 billion in funding to sharpen its competitiveness in the overseas markets, state media reported today.

The Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) has signed an agreement with CRCC to provide 200-billion-yuan (about USD 30 billion) to enable it aggressively market its technology abroad.

The bank will offer CRCC a wide range of financial services, including credit support and information counselling, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

China has identified its bullet train technology as one of the items to boost its sagging exports.

Through the move, the China Exim Bank hopes to help the CRCC increase its core competitiveness in railway engineering and equipment manufacturing, and encourage outbound cooperation, the report said.

In recent years, Chinese enterprises have been quickening their pace of “going global”, and have gained a strong competitive edge in the area of railway construction.

China, which recently increased the speed of its bullet train to 350 kms, has the world’s longest high-speed rail network with 22,000 kms currently in operation.

It is now trying hard to market it abroad including in India. The CRCC has undertaken feasibility study to build the high-speed corridor in the New Delhi-Chennai sector.

Germany shows interest in executing Chennai-Bengaluru Bullet Train project, funding likely the Japanese way

In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on Bilateral Cooperation in the Rail Sector. Germany likely to follow Japan in aiding India’s quest for Superfast Trains.

BANGALORE: Germany is likely to follow Japan in aiding India’s quest for superfast trains. After laying the foundations of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train with aid from Japan, Germany is evincing keen interest to finance and execute the proposed Chennai-Bengaluru high-speed rail project, which will have almost the same terms as the Japanese venture.

For the Rs.110,000-crore (Rs 1,100 billion) Mumbai-Ahmedabad project, Japan has offered a loan of Rs 88,000 crore (Rs 880 billion at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent, which can be repaid in 50 years. Germany has shown an interest in executing and giving a loan for the Chennai-Bengaluru bullet train project.

Discussions are in initial stages but they are likely to agree to the way the Japanese are doing it,” said an official close to the development.

In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on bilateral cooperation in the rail sector.

According to the pact, Germany is expected to look at the possibility of a bullet train and increasing the speed of trains on existing routes to 200 km per hour (kmph).

In order to increase the overall speed of Indian trains, the railways ministry has made a multi-pronged strategy.

“The Railway Board’s plans include running high-speed trains (with a speed of more than 300 kmph), semi high-speed trains (with a speed of 160-200 kmph), and increasing the average speed of the existing trains,” the official added.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will cover 508 km and 12 stations have been proposed on the route. This distance is likely to be covered in two hours and 58 minutes by the bullet train, travelling at 320-350 kmph.

The distance by train between Chennai and Bengaluru is around 358 km. If the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project is taken as the benchmark, the Chennai-Bengaluru route is likely to cost Rs 70,000-80,000 crore  (Rs 700-Rs 800 billion).

Many analysts, however, say that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project cost is too high compared to that offered by Chinese and some European companies.

According to sources, five planned high-speed routes – Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur, and Mumbai-Nagpur – are also in various stages of consultation.

A Chinese consultant, The Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation, is doing the feasibility study for the Delhi-Mumbai route, while a consortium led by French major Systra, RITES, and Ernst and Young are studying the Mumbai-Chennai route.

A consortium led by Spanish company Typsa is studying the feasibility of the Delhi-Kolkata route.

The feasibility for the Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur routes is being conducted by China and Spain, respectively, on a government-to-government basis.

“Our priority is completing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Chennai-Bengaluru routes. The rest of the projects will be taken up only after that,” the official added. For the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, Japanese Shinkansen technology will be used. The project will cover 155.6 km in Maharashtra, 350.5 km in Gujarat, and 2 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

An alliance on track

  • In October last year, India and Germany signed a deal on bilateral cooperation in the rail sector
  • According to the pact, Germany was expected to look at the possibility of a bullet train and increasing the speed of trains on existing routes to 200 kmph
  • The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will cover 508 km and 12 stations have been proposed. This distance is likely to be covered in two hours and 58 minutes by the bullet train, travelling at 320-350 kmph

IR witnessed 3,546 Rail Track fractures and Weld failures in 2016-17 alone

Indian Railways has one of the highest incidences of accidents owing to material, equipment and human failures.

The Indian Railways’ catering wing, IRCTC, has delisted a juice brand after former rail minister Dinesh Trivedi complained he was served a “contaminated” lemon drink on-board the Kathgodam-Delhi Shatabdi last week. The incident comes soon after a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on ‘Catering Services in Indian Railways revealed that poor quality food was being served to passengers and articles unsuitable for human consumption, contaminated foodstuff and packaged items whose shelf life had run out were being sold on stations.

The flak from Mr Trivedi has added to the woes of the Indian Railways already facing criticism for incidents such as the stampede caused by the overcrowding of the overbridge near Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road Station in which 22 people died and a spate of derailments such as the accident near Khatauli, Uttar Pradesh, on August 19, which resulted in the death of 23 passengers.

Experts say the Indian Railways has one of the highest incidences of accidents owing to material, equipment and human failures. The railways witnessed 3,546 rail track fractures and weld failures in 2016-17 alone. The number of signalling equipment failures in the same period was 130,200. In 2012, the Centre had appointed Anil Kakodkar to head a panel which would examine the safety aspects of the Railways. Among its key recommendations was investing Rs 1 lakh crore over a five-year period and the creation of a statutory railway safety authority. The authority is yet to be created.

Notwithstanding the hype surrounding the high-speed rail project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, the government will be better advised to fix the crumbling rail infrastructure in the country. The system suffers from overloading of tracks and the staff seldom get the time needed for upkeep of infrastructure and repairing of tracks.

In June, quoting a report by the NITI Aayog, minister of state for Railways Rajen Gohain told Parliament that 53% of India’s train accidents are due to derailments. Going beyond symbolism, the government needs to restore the people’s confidence in the country’s lifeline, which still carries more than 8.6 billion passengers every year. Its customers, who now pay flexible fares, need to be assured that once they board a train on the Indian Railways, not only will they be served safe and hygienic food, they’ll also reach their destination safely.

Tamil Nadu Govt gives nod to acquire land for Tindivanam-Nagari Railway project

TIRUVANNAMALAI: A decade after laying the foundation stone for the 170.20 km Tindivanam (Tamil Nadu)-Nagari (Andhra Pradesh) broad gauge railway line project, the state government has issued an administrative sanction (AS) to acquire land in Vellore and Tiruvannamalai district for the project.

The ministry of revenue gave the nod for land acquisition for the project in Cheyyar sub-division in Tiruvannamalai recently. The officials have prepared to acquire 251.94 hectares of land in 33 villages – five in Arni, 15 in Vandavasi and 13 in Cheyyar – and to transfer 56.41 hectares of government poramboke land in Cheyyar sub-division to lay the broad gauge line for 63.01 km out of 170 km.

The government, according to the GO, has also directed the Vellore collector for the acquisition of 175.78 hectares of land and transfer of 34.18 hectares of government poramboke land in 25 villages in Arcot and Walajah taluks in the district.

The GO has been passed under Section 17 (2) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. “We received the AS four weeks ago and commenced the work to acquire the land,” said a reliable source.

The Rs 450-crore project was designed to extend rail connectivity to the rural pockets of the northern district. After the approval of the planning commission, the then Union minister of state for railways, R Velu, had laid the foundation stone for the project at Ranipet railway station in 2007.

It was aimed to bring Vandavasi and Cheyyar taluks in Tiruvannamalai district, Arcot in Vellore district and Pallipattu taluk in Thiruvallur district on the map of the Indian Railways. However, the project was put in cold storage due to financial crunch.

The delay in implementing the project has drastically increased the project cost from Rs 450 crore to over Rs 600 crore, said officials of the Southern Railway.

“After the tenure of R Velu, the railway project did not take off and slowly faded away from the memories of the officials,” said former MLA of Arcot Elavazhagan.

He added that a bridge was constructed across Palar at a cost of around Rs 30 crore in 2011-12. A railway station building was constructed at Ranipet as part of the project and the line between Walajah Junction Road and Ranipet was renewed at around Rs 20 crore, but to no avail.

An official said the central government had announced a little over Rs 100 crore since 2011 in the Union railway budgets for the project. However, the fund was not allocated as expected and the project never took off.

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Elphinstone Tragedy facilitates Audit of Pune Railway Station FOBs

PUNE: The September 29 Elphinstone stampede in Mumbai, where 22 people lost their lives, has primed the Pune railway division to be on their watchful best of the foot overbridges (FOBs) at their stations. In the last two days, a team of senior officials has surveyed all the three existing FOBs at the Pune railway station and is gearing up for a safety audit of all the other FOBs in the entire Pune railway division.

“The Elphinstone railway station incident was tragic. It has alerted officials concerned across the country regarding the safety measures over the FOBs at the railway stations. From the last two days, a team lead by Additional Divisional Railway Manager (ADRM) surveyed three FOBs at the Pune railway station during different times in the day and night as the footfalls varies. We gauged properness of the infrastructure, security systems and many other things,” said Pune Divisional Railway Manager B.K. Dadabhoy.

He added that they are going to handle the safety audit of all the FOBs across the 74 stations under the Pune railway division, as demanded by Pune MP Anil Shirole.

“On the background of the unfortunate incident, security checks at the Pune railway station are the need of the hour. I have written a letter demanding this safety audit to the Central Railway general manager, to ensure safety and security of the passengers travelling from the Pune railway station,” Shirole said.

The inspections have truly become the need of the hour after the incident, especially in a city which handles 180 train operations with a daily footfall over two lakh. Currently, the railways have completed the work of a new FOB towards Solapur end which connects platform nos. 1, 2 and 3 and is now opened for public. While the work on two other old FOBs has been started which are both towards the Mumbai end of the station and only one comes out over the Raja Bahadur Road. “We have deployed Railway Protection Force (RPF) to continuously monitor this rush and maintain its flow to avoid accidents,” Dadabhoy said.

The new FOB will be constructed for Rs 13 crore, out of which Rs 4 crore has been spent on the initial work, which is expected to gain momentum as the remaining amount rolls in. The bridge will be materialised within this year.

These new bridges also might bring some respite to the passengers who have had horrible experiences in the rush. The regular ones, who have witnessed crowding during certain hours, have various stories to tell. For instance, Kushal Das, who often travel to Kolkata from Pune railway stations often has to face heavy rush when he boards the Azad Hind Express. “At this point of time, the FOBs at the Pune railway station are flooded with public and there is hardly any way to walk properly. Few months ago, I had helped a lady to pick up her luggage, when she fell down while climbing the FOB at the main entrance gate,” recounted Das.

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How Safe are Kolkata Local Trains? A Wake up Call!

KOLKATA: “The Elphinstone railway station incident was tragic. It has alerted officials concerned across the country regarding the safety measures over the FOBs at the railway stations. As the aftermath of the Elphinstone Road stampede in Mumbai, the safety and infrastructure of local train stations in Kolkata could also come under scanner; how the less privileged travel for work in this eastern metropolis is a dreadful chronicle.

Vishakha is a 43-year old domestic help travelling daily on a local train to Kolkata from Diamond Harbour, an outskirt town in the district of South 24 Parganas. She used to get down at the Jadavpur or Dhakuria Station every day for work. The overcrowded stations during the peak hours, the limited number of trains and the dismal safety and hygiene conditions in the platforms have often got Vishakha and people like her in distress.

Her daughter comes to school with her now they travel till Ballygaunge now. She leaves her at the station gate and runs back to catch another train to Dhakuria every morning.

“We are poor people sir; there is nothing for poor people in India. If I don’t buy a ticket and get caught, I will be dropped in an unknown place where there are no trains, but we can’t complain about our safety and cleanliness,” she said with a disturbing urgency on her face as a local train approach the brimming platform in Dhakuria. Her daughter was waiting at the Ballygaunge station after school.

The Natural calamities or mismanaged functioning have often resulted in trains running late or even cancellations. Stations even in the main city such as Bagha Jatin, Garia or Dhakuria lack basic utilities such as hygienic toilets, proper waiting areas for women and emergency information or contact numbers. Commuters especially women should be aware of the persons to contact in case of emergency; however, stations such as Bagha Jatin or Dhakuria is even devoid of a signage that would help people find the station master or the station-in-charge. To reach the Government Railway Police (GRP), one needs to cross the tracks near platform 4; such is the setup.

The sight of people hanging at the gate in local trains might have given an adrenalin rush to a few but the safety standards go way behind the norm even in Kolkata.

Wakeup call

On September 30, a high-level meeting on Railways Safety was held in Mumbai, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal to comprehensively review safety measures in Mumbai Suburban Railways as well as entire Indian Railways. Various major decisions were taken in the meeting, wherein passenger safety has been accorded the highest priority. Accordingly, several important decisions were taken to empower Railway officers to take strong measures to improve passenger safety and security.

Measures such as improving the foot over-bridges treating it as a safety item under highest priority were primary mandates in the meeting. The meeting discussed how enthusiastic station directors being posted at more than 70 stations all over India can bring dynamism in operations.

Ashwani Lohani – Chairman, Railway Board and all railway board members were present at this meeting along with A K Gupta, the General Manager of Western Railway and D K Sharma, the General Manager of Central Railway and security officials of the state government.

However, the eastern metropolis that receives almost hundreds of thousands daily passengers primarily at the Sealdah station from north such as Bongaon, Hasnabad and from south such as Lakshmikantapur and Diamond Harbour remains in a pitiable condition. The frequency of trains being low, the peak hours see a lot of rush that highly indicates to a future catastrophe similar to the Elphinstone Road stampede.

Are women safe?

Parichiti – A Society for Empowerment of Women, is an organisation with the main objective of asserting the identities and claiming the rights of women who are unrepresented and underrepresented in public discourse and action conducted a study on the status of regularly travelling women in Kolkata local trains.

The study although covered the poor and semi-skilled workforce that come to the city as domestic help; the condition of women travelling in Kolkata bound local trains remains unsafe.

In the study that was conducted in July-August 2012, there were several situations of harassment reported by women in the ‘general compartment’. There is not much protest from any of the commuters – there is a lack of support from their co-passengers and women domestic workers (WDW) suffer their embarrassment in silence. They have accepted such situations as part of their life.

There is a once-in-a-day lady’s special train called the Matribhoomi Local (0800 hours) from both north and south that brings working women to the Sealdah station, however, most of the women who are employed as domestic help could not avail it as they have to take the early morning trains.

“Even in ladies compartments, we often see male travellers,” complains Vishakha. “In male compartments (the general compartments are addressed as male) there is continuous smoking and we feel suffocated,” she added.

“The biggest problem in our daily commutation is the frequency of trains in the peak hours,” says a regular passenger who comes to Kolkata for her job from Madhyamgram. “The peak hours are really crowded and when the trains are late, the mob becomes more hostile. This could only improve if the number of trains is increased,” she added.

Stations in Kolkata are more neglected according to most of the daily local train passengers. Stations such as Park Circus, Bagha Jatin and Dhakuria are more local markets than stations. The platforms are crowded with hawkers and passengers fighting for a space to stand.

The rush hours and the hope to find a better place to stand in the train also drive the commuters to swap and cross the tracks rather than taking the over-bridges.

Lack of well-behaved officers adds to the pity. In one of the disturbing findings in the Parichiti report, a respondent said, “Once I was caught by a ticket checker, paid INR 250 and was let go. A girl was once strip searched by lady ticket checkers during her menstrual period. If you’re caught, they strip you naked to look for money.”

Facilities such as clean drinking water in all stations, regular cleaning and up keeping the toilets and the station premises, increasing the frequency of regional language announcements are on top priority in Kolkata and its nearby areas.

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Thales inks new Maintenance Contract with Saudi Railway Company

Saudi Railway relies on Thales for the maintenance of the 2,400 Km of the North South Railway Line. Thales has signed a two-year contract with the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) to maintain the signalling, telecommunication and electromechanical systems of the North South Railways project (NSR). This contract also includes the transfer of knowledge to SAR local teams and complies with KSA Vision 2030.

The NSR project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the longest railway in the world equipped with state of the art technology signalling and communications systems, the ETCS Level 2. The project, currently in operation, involved the construction of 2,400 km of track, sidings, yards, depots, stations and administrative facilities of the two lines.  NSR transports passengers from the capital city of Riyadh to Al Haditha (near the border of Jordan) and freight from Wa’ad Al Shamal (phosphate mine in the Northern border province) to Ras Al Khair (Arabian gulf).

The maintenance activities will be performed by Thales through specialised engineers and technicians located across eight maintenance bases situated along the 2,400 km of railway line.

The contract includes the transfer of knowledge, which will be performed through a curriculum of training at Thales’ factories in the kingdom. This will allow SAR maintenance teams to gradually take over the maintenance activities for the duration of the two-year contract.

Coupled with this, Thales will support the Saudi Railway Polytechnic, established in Buraydah (Qassim Province capital) through a partnership between SAR and The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC). The Polytechnic will train 1,500 students aged 18-21 years over the course of five years, providing vocational qualifications in health & safety, mechanical, electrical & civil engineering, signalling & telecommunications, rolling stock maintenance and train driving. Thales has simulated the NSR systems in Saudi Railway Polytechnic laboratories which will be used for the training programmes.

Jean-Yves Tolot, Country Director for Thales in Saudi Arabia said:«Throughout its historic presence in the Kingdom, the Group has developed very strong cooperation with local industries and universities to speed up the transfer of knowledge, know-how and capabilities. In line with KSA Vision 2030 and NTP 2030, this project further illustrates Thales commitment to ensure the SAR maintenance are able to continue in their efforts long after our contract expires and contribute towards the Kingdom’s success.This contract win further solidifies our footprint in the Kingdom.

Along with our partners we have established a solid industrial network to provide maintenance and services to our customers in the kingdom »  he added.

In addition to the partnership with SAR for the deployment and maintenance of its railway network, Thales provides maintenance services across all solutions and systems in use by significant transport infrastructure providers. In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Thales provides maintenance services to the Al Mashaer Al Mugaddassah Makkah Metro (MMMP, the metro of the holy sites in Makkah) and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

“We are glad to partner with Thales who extends its contributions to the overall success of NSR project. It comes along with KSA strategic vision 2030 to transfer the knowledge for the maintenance activities to be carried out by Saudi professionals. The contract secures the needed support to Saudi Railway polytechnic that qualifies Saudi young professionals for the future of railways in KSA.” Abdullah Al Yousef, Signalling and telecommunication maintenance manager , Saudi Arabia Railway (SAR).

Key Points

  • Thales has signed a two-year contract with the Saudi Railway Company to maintain the signalling, telecommunication and electromechanical systems of the North South Railways project (NSR).
  • The contract includes maintenance activities, transfer of knowledge to SAR local teams and support to Saudi Railway Polytechnic.
  • The NSR project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the longest railway in the world equipped with state of the art technology signalling systems, the ETCS Level 2.

Northern Railwaymen’s Union alleges Indian Railways ignoring Repair Work

The union’s General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said in a press conference that they had serious concerns over railway safety works and flagged a number of issues related to personnel and maintenance.

NEW DELHI: The Northern Railwaymen’s Union alleged that the Railways were not carrying out maintenance and repair work in a timely manner and ignoring unsafe operations, charges that come in the backdrop of several high-profile train derailments.

The union’s General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said in a press conference that they had serious concerns over railway safety works and flagged a number of issues related to personnel and maintenance.

“It is pertinent for operational safety that necessary equipments, important machine parts and trained employees are available in required numbers in a timely manner.

“However, unfortunately, over time the increase in number of trains and the pressure of rising traffic has led to the non-availability of timely blocks for maintenance and repair work. In fact, because of this even unsafe railway operations are being ignored,” said a statement issued by the union.

Mishra said that due to a shortage of rail staff and the equipments, renewal of old tracks and track repair work was not being done in a time-bound manner.

He said the railways should call back the 30,000 odd staff employed at officials’ homes doing household work.

“Many of them are trackmen. The CRB had also instructed that they be relieved and sent to official rail duty. This has also caused shortage of staff,” he said.

Blaming the recent train derailments on lack of maintenance, Mishra said that the railways’ decision to not hire staff over the past two years besides shortage in necessary equipment are the reasons behind rail accidents.

“If there are problems in rail safety then rail employees cannot be made responsible for the incidents,” he said.

The union’s general secretary claimed that the railways had violated the natural course of justice by sacking 13 men after the Khatauli accident in August without an inquiry.

“As per railway manual 14(ii) it’s unconstitutional to dismiss employees without enquiry. In this incident, these men were summarily sacked without any such probe.

He also raised serious concerns over outsourcing of railway safety work to private contractors and said that the employees on hire didn’t have the technical knowledge to do the work.

There was no immediate reaction from the railways.

Over the past three months, the public transporter has been struggling with a slew of accidents, the worst being the one on August 19 in which at least 23 people were killed and 40 injured when 14 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district.

On September 29, safety concerns were raised again when a stampede at a foot-over-bridge in Mumbai led to the deaths of 23 people.

No Service Charge on Train e-Ticket till March 2018: Railways

The government had waived service charges after demonetisation in November last year to encourage digital modes of booking. As per the revenue collection of the last financial year, about Rs 540 crore of IRCTC’s revenue of over Rs 1,500 crore came from ticket bookings.

NEW DELHI: Rail passengers will continue to enjoy service charge exemption on tickets booked online till March 2018.

The government had waived service charges after demonetisation in November last year to encourage digital modes of booking.

The facility had been extended to June 30 and then September 30. Service charges on booking train tickets online through IRCTC ranges from Rs 20 to 40 per ticket.

In a September 29 missive to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the ticketing agency of the railways, the Railway Board directed that the benefits be extended till March next year.

Senior railway officials say that almost 33% of the IRCTC revenue comes from the service charge collected on online bookings. As per the revenue collection of the last financial year, about Rs 540 crore of IRCTC’s revenue of over Rs 1,500 crore came from ticket bookings.

An amount of around Rs 184 crore has not been realised from passengers on account of service charge and service tax thereon on reserved tickets booked online from November 23, 2016 to February 28, 2017, according to railways data.

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Elphinstone Stampede Saga: Multi-agency teams to begin Railway stations inspection

The officials will try to identify the problem areas or places where there are disturbances in smooth movement and engineering issues in terms of width and breadth

MUMBAI: Four days after the Elphinstone Road station stampede claimed 23 lives, the railway administration on Tuesday launched a “multidisciplinary” audit of all suburban train stations in and around Mumbai, senior officials said.

Around 150 officials across various government agencies will decide on an ideal ‘safe’ railway station in the next seven to 10 days. Starting from Tuesday, at least nine to 10 teams comprising around seven officials representing different departments and organisations will inspect all the railway stations on the Central and Western Railways line.

While the Central Railway has formed eight teams for the task, the Western Railway has set up five. They have roped in representatives of five municipal corporations, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

The audit, which was announced by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal the day the tragedy struck the metropolis, will cover more than 110 suburban stations. On September 30, following the tragic stampede on a narrow foot-overbridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road station, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced that multi-agency teams would be formulated, who would inspect railway stations in detail.

Sources said that on Monday, these teams conducted a dry run and some stations were checked. “These teams will visit the railway stations during morning and evening peak hours,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the Western Railway also launched an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the stampede.

There are 136 railway stations on the Mumbai Suburban system, but these teams will inspect those on the Churchgate-Virar section of WR, and CSMT-Panvel, CSMT-Kalyan sections of CR, which bear the major load of commuters. The Kalyan-Karjat/Kasara route is also heavily crowded, but authorities will inspect selective stations here, where the commuter load is high.

“These teams would do a multidisciplinary audit of 36 suburban stations of the WR and 76 stations of the CR. They will study the problem of trespassing, the requirement of extension of FOBs or skywalks, requirement of lifts or escalators. “They will also identify the waterlogging prone areas and look at the issues of crowd management and hawkers,” chief public relations officer (CPRO) of the CR Sunil Udasi said.

Sources said that there are four members from railways in each team, one each from commercial, engineering, Railway Police Force and construction, and the other members are from the Mumbai Police, Government Railway Police, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The teams will also include members from the respective corporations of Vasai Virar, Mira Bhayander, Kalyan Dombivali and Navi Mumbai in case of stations beyond Mumbai limits.

There will be a videographer accompanying each team, who would document every location of a railway station. The teams will study all the FOBs, entry and exit points, ticket booking counters, platforms and food stalls where commuters are seen. The video and photo evidence will be used to identify the issues at each location of a station and will be used to come up with solutions accordingly.

The officials will try to identify the problem areas or places where there are disturbances in smooth movement and engineering issues in terms of width and breadth. This process is expected to go on for a week or 10 days, after which a report will be submitted. In the last week of October, the first monthly meeting of the different government agencies will be chaired by state Education Minister Vinod Tawde.

Senior railway officials said that they are planning to get a comprehensive report ready in time to be presented at this meeting. Once the report is submitted, the heads of departments from different agencies will come forward and chalk out solutions to the problems documented by these teams.

 

Minister aide wrote to Railways to let hawkers on FOBs in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Railway officials have complained that politicians have been mounting pressure on them to not initiate action against hawkers who do business on foot over-bridges (FOBs). The assistant private secretary of Union minister for state for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale had recently written to Central Railway after officials prevented hawkers from accessing an FOB at Dadar.

The letter was addressed to divisional railway manager of Mumbai division on August 19. In his letter, the assistant private secretary , Pravin More, stated that he has been directed by the Union minister to request the railways to cooperate with the hawkers and allow them to do business on the Dadar station FOB.

More has also claimed that hawkers had been working on one side of the FOB but were not allowed since two years on the portion of the bridge which was under CR. More wrote that the police department has no objection with the hawkers using the FOB and only the Divisional Railway Manager has been opposing them.

When media spoke to Athawale, he said, “I am not aware of any such letter being issued, but I will inquire with More.”

“Several people approach my party workers whenever their livelihood gets affected. However, these hawkers should not come in the way of smooth movement of pedestrians. Nevertheless, authorities should also accommodate these hawkers at another place,” the minister added.

Divisional railway manager Ravinder Goyal was not available for comment.

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CRB slams Officials for receiving him at Mumbai Airport

Lohani told that the protocol culture in the railways will be over soon. “I finished the protocol culture in Air India and I will also make sure that it gets over in the railways.

MUMBAI: Ashwini Lohani, the chairman of the Railway Board, criticised officials for red-tape and ‘babu culture’ during a meeting at Western Railway’s headquarters at Churchgate on Saturday. Lohani’s remarks came after some officials had gone to the airport to receive him, despite asking them not to do so. According to a source, officials were asked to reach directly at the meeting venue. Senior railway officials and heads of departments of the Western and Central Railways had received him at the airport.

Miffed with the protocol gesture followed by rail officials, Lohani has asked his staff to give him an entire list of officers, who had received him. He further said that he would take personal action against the officers. Lohani told that the protocol culture in the railways will be over soon. “I finished the protocol culture in Air India and I will also make sure that it gets over in the railways.

According to the reports, it will happen soon,” said Lohani. Just after taking the charge, Lohani had ordered all railway officers to not accept any gift on festive season. He also said that strict action would be taken against railway officers, who are found taking bribe. The Railway Board chairman, is even particular about paying for his own food at the canteen of the Railway Board in Delhi.

The Railway Board chairman, is even particular about paying for his own food at the canteen of the Railway Board in Delhi. Ashwini Lohani, the chairman of the Railway Board, criticised officials for red-tape and ‘babu culture’ during a meeting at Western Railway’s headquarters at Churchgate on Saturday. Senior railway officials and heads of departments of the Western and Central Railways had received him at the airport. He also said that strict action would be taken against railway officers, who are found taking bribe. Just after taking the charge, Lohani had ordered all railway officers to not accept any gift on festive season.

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Negotiations underway, as Siemens is named main bidder in Israel

Siemens has been named as preferred bidder by Israel’s national rail operator to supply 330 electric passengers train carriages in a deal worth around £675m. The deal, which still needs to be ratified by the Ministry of Economy and Industry, will see the German company supply 60 four-car and six-car trains to the state-owned operator, Israel Railways, over five years from 2020. Also included in the deal is the option for Israel Railways to purchase more trains should they be required within the next ten years.

Providing an eco-friendly alternative to more traditional rolling stock, the double-decker carriages will be equipped with electric motors that require no additional power from other engines and will operate on line lines including the latest high speed network connecting Jerusalem with Tel Aviv.

A spokesperson from Siemens told SmartRail World that the as-yet-unsigned contract giving the German company preferred bidder status meant that “negotiations start now”. Siemens said separately that it was happy to be named number one. “We are proud to supply Israel Railways with the most advanced carriages in the world and to be a partner in such an important project for Israel Railways and the State of Israel.”

The news comes in a particularly eventful period for Siemens after it which signed an expected major deal with Alstom last week, combining its mobility business with the French company in a deal that was billed as a “merger of equals”.

Speaking on the Franco-German merger, Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens AG, said: “We put the European idea to work and together with our friends at Alstom, we are creating a new European champion in the rail industry for the long term.” Alstom was the final bidder in the running for the Israel Railways contract, coming ahead of Bombardier Transportation, Hitachi Rail Italy, Siemens, Škoda Transportation and Stadler, which were also in the running.

In related news, on the other side of the globe the Sydney Metro took delivery of an Alstom driverless train for its Skytrain network. Manufactured in India, services are due to begin in 2019 and will eventually grow to a fleet of 22 six-car trains, providing passengers with a train every four minutes.

“We are happy about the award and proud to supply Israel Railways with the most advanced carriages in the world and to be a partner in such an important project for Israel Railways and the State of Israel,” said Siemens Spokesperson.

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Indian Railways may tweak Flexi Fare scheme: Railway Minister

NEW DELHI: Union minister Piyush Goyal today said the flexi fare scheme of the Railways, which helped it earn an additional Rs 540 crore in less than a year, may be amended to ensure that it brings in revenues without taxing passengers.

“People have brought to my notice the issue of the flexi fare scheme. It could be made better in a way that it does not hurt people’s (pockets) and also meets the revenue target,” Goyal told reporters here.

He was responding to question on whether he had reviewed the flexi fare scheme after taking charge of the ministry earlier this month.

Asked if there could be any amendment to the scheme, Goyal said, “There is a possibility of making some change”.

The scheme, launched on September 9 last year and applicable to premium trains such as the Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto, allows 10 per cent of the seats to be sold at normal fare and thereafter increasing it in phases by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold, with a ceiling of a 50 per cent rise.

The Railways earned an additional revenue of Rs 540 crore from September 2016 to June 2017 through the scheme, its data show.

The minister said the railways was also working to ensure efficient and faster services.

“It is proposed to increase the speed of around 700 trains with effect from November 1, 2017. This exercise will help in converting 48 Mail Express trains to the Super Fast Express category,” he said.

He said all stations and trains will have high speed wi-fi connectivity, but did not specify when this would be implemented.

To ensure transparency, all Railway Protection Force (RPF) staff and Travel Ticket Examiners (TTEs) will be in proper uniform while on duty, Goyal said.

The RPF staff will not check tickets, which is the function of the TTEs, but they will assist ticket checking squads, he said.

He added that India’s space research body, ISRO, had offered to map all railway assets.

“We also plan to eliminate 5,000 unmanned level crossings in a time-bound manner,” Goyal added.

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Overcrowding in Mumbai Locals: Railways sits on HC orders, former judge says reflects officials’ casual approach

It’s often described as Mumbai’s “lifeline” but overcrowding in the trains is one of the main factors behind around 300 commuters dying every month in railway accidents, according to statistics provided to the Bombay High Court. The High Court has been hearing petitions on overcrowding and lack of infrastructure at railway stations since 2008. In these years, it has passed several orders to the railways but their implementation has mostly remained on paper despite several accidents taking place.

Retired Justice V M Kanade, who heard the matter pertaining to setting up emergency medical rooms in stations over the years, in fact held a meeting with officials from the Central Railway (CR) and the Western Railway (WR) along with the police department (railways) in December 2016 to address overcrowding and issues related to infrastructure. He had sought a vision statement to be prepared by the railways for the future to keep up with infrastructure development. Speaking on how such court orders fall on deaf years, the former judge said, “In the last two years, I passed several orders, which included directions to provide escalators and foot overbridges at stations. A meeting was also held in the judges conference room for this purpose.”

Referring to the stampede at the Elphinstone Road station’s foot overbridge last Friday, he said, “During Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, especially at Lalbaug, there is a huge rush but a stampede-like situation is avoided by proper management, which is missing when it comes to the railways.” According to him, such incidents are a reflection of the casual approach of the bureaucracy when it comes to providing public utilities. “It is almost like they are waiting for an accident to happen,” said Kanade. Emphasising that Mumbai was the financial capital, he said, “Everyday people bank on this mode of transport. What is being done for them?”

This particular petition relating to overcrowding and setting up emergency medical rooms hasn’t come up for hearing since March this year. “Once a public interest litigation is not heard for a period, officials tend to have a relaxed attitude about it,” the former judge said. In the meeting in the judges conference room, a CR official had pointed out that there had been a dip in accidents due to overcrowding and, secondly, track crossing. “In the present meeting, on behalf of Central and Western railways, proposal for increasing number of FOBs and also installation of escalators also has been discussed. Similarly, in the report submitted by Western Railway, steps which they propose to take to monitor the setting up of emergency medical rooms,” the court order stated.

The court, however, observed, “We, however, feel that the load of passengers on trains of Central and Western railways will increase over a period of time and sufficient measures need to be taken by railway authorities to find out the solution to reduce these problems and we believe that a vision statement should be prepared by them for the next 20 years, so that if work on development of infrastructure begins within a short period of time, then problems which would be faced after 10-20 years can be solved,” Justice Kanade had said then.

Another issue highlighted through a petition filed by the India Centre for Human Rights and Law was regarding making railway stations in Mumbai disabled-friendly by providing facilities like ramps, low-height booking windows and drinking water facilities. An independent survey was done by the Collective for Spatial Alternatives to undertake an accessibility audit of stations in relation to this petition.

This audit was carried out keeping in mind the guidelines listed by the Ministry of Urban Development. According to the survey, there is only 37 per cent compliance by the railways in providing facilities to make stations disabled-friendly. According to Hussain Indorewala, urban research teacher at Collective for Spatial Alternatives, “The biggest concern is relating to level changes. This is an issue at all stations. Safety is another aspect with regard to entering the stations from the road. There is poor quality of infrastructure in this regard,” he said.

“It is almost like they are waiting for an accident to happen,” said retired Justice Kanade. Emphasising that Mumbai was the financial capital, he said, “Everyday people bank on this mode of transport. What is being done for them?” The High Court had sought a vision statement to be prepared by the railways for the future to keep up with infrastructure development.

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Bold, strict and far-reaching structural reforms needed for Railways in these difficult times

Suburban Railway systems, like everything else for the Indian Railways, is overstretched by decades of underinvestment, which is one of the prime cause of the stampede on a foot overbridge at Elphinstone station — that led to the loss of 22 lives and injured over 30 — is a tragedy that was waiting to happen.

Changing ministers won’t prevent Elphinstone-like tragedies in the future. If one sacked a Railway Minister after each train or railway infrastructural accident, one would probably need a dozen new ministers every year. Watching the horrific scenes of the railway bridge stampede in Mumbai’s Elphinstone Station, we have to hang our collective head in shame.

For a government that supposedly believes in the Reaganomic mantra, ‘The government has no business to be in business’, with its own ‘Minimum government, maximum governance’ mission statement should show the courage to implement the Debroy Committee report on Railways released in 2015. It is fortuitous that Bibek Debroy, recently appointed as head of the Chief Economic Advisory Council to the PM, has spelt out detailed recommendations on reforming and overhauling the Indian Railways.

Politics aside, one of the major recommendations by the Debroy Committee is to separate the infrastructure of the railways from passenger train and freight operations, and make the infrastructure – tracks, signaling, etc – open to the private sector with a common user facility for a fee to infuse competition.

The Indian Railways, like the other ‘Navaratnas’, is a classic case of crony socialism. In the name of an ideology to help the poor, large resources are allocated through subsidies, huge government-owned corporations are created, and the people in power control these assets and resources by appointing their cronies to the boards of these organisations.

The Indian Railways is a huge dinosaur that offers employment to a little over 1.3 million people who live off government fat without accountability. The system fiercely opposes competition and tries to vigorously perpetuate itself. Its killer trains are unsafe — at any speed — and the tracks, compartments and railway platforms are hardly fit for use. Everything seems creaking, ancient, rickety and broken. Fixing footbridges is akin to applying a band aid to a lifethreatening wound.

The interest of the nation and the welfare of a 1.25 billion people cannot be mortgaged to pander to the wishes of lobbies with vested interests.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi must bite the bullet. Killer trains and murderous platforms will continue to take their toll, and more tragedies like Elphinstone are bound to recur if only ministers are changed but not the systems. The time has come to immediately commence deep structural reforms and usher in the private sector in phases, taking care that private sector monopolies are not created.

All cushions have been exhausted, including land for building additional tracks. The situation has been exacerbated by the lack of an overarching authority that looks at transport needs of a new development and how it can be provided.

The case of converting land available after closure of mills into office and commercial space is illustrative. It increased the burden on an overloaded suburban train system, which was then left to the Indian Railways (IR) to address.

IR has been doing its best to cope with the increasing demand for movement resulting from expansion of the central business district in the south, rather than dispersing across all areas. This has forced people to travel from their homes in the north to their places of work in the south.

As the demand for suburban transport has grown, IR has been adding new lines. Most of the network has four lines and a part of it even has six lines. It cannot add any more lines for lack of land for building tracks.

IR has also been increasing frequency of services and length of trains. It runs over 2,000 trains daily, with a 3-minute gap between trains. Over 7 million passengers use the suburban railway every day. The Railways has now reached a situation where adding more trains is problematic.

The result of the relentless increase in demand is that coaches are carrying nearly 16 persons per square metre, which is just not possible without people hanging from the coaches and falling off.

Nearly 20 people die every day falling from trains or crossing the tracks. No one talks about this though it has been happening for years. The stations need revamping, including foot overbridges. But there is no money to replace some of this over-age infrastructure as was brought out by the reply of the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu to an MP requesting replacement of this foot overbridge.

The problem has now reached a stage were IR is also a victim — of policies that have not coordinated land development with transport creation. Expecting the Railways to be able to provide enough transportation to meet the demand without massive injection of capital for revamping the system is being unrealistic.

An inquiry course has to be held in accordance with the Railway Act. But this will not go beyond immediate occurrence and, therefore, leave the problem unresolved.

To address the major challenges arising from existing shortfalls in the transport network — the results of decades of underfunding and the huge population and employment growth over the years — requires a political commitment to look at the ecosystem, develop the best strategies and investment programmes to support turning Mumbai into a world-class metropolis, meeting its economic and social objectives, as well as transport needs for the next 25 years.

IR is at the receiving end but that is being a bit unfair. The Railways management is professional and doing its best in a challenging environment created by lack of money.

The tragic accident has placed the ball in the minister’s court.

The only way to solve this problem to have consistent political direction in creating an arrangement at the highest political level, which coordinates land development and provision of transport of all types. Creation of funding mechanisms that provide for replacement of over-age infrastructure of the Railways by a modern system that can meet the needs of the city for the next 25 years and the rest of the Railways is also needed.

There is, of course, an immediate need to replace old, dilapidated foot overbridges and encroachments, which should be done immediately.

(Railway minister) Piyush Goyal has the challenging task of finding a way around the conundrum of increasing demand, lack of capacity and no money to create new capacity. The advantage he has is that the Railways management is capable of implementing, if he can provide the funds and political support where required.

Integrated Ticketing System may help streamline crowds in Mumbai: Railways

MUMBAI: In the aftermath of the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station that claimed 23 lives, the railway administration has expressed hope that the introduction of the Integrated Ticketing System (ITS) — a single smart card-based system that can be used on multiple modes of transport including the upcoming Metro Railway lines — will regulate entry and exit to railway stations. However, experts believe that while the ITS may regulate crowds to some extent, much more needs to be done to discipline crowds

The ITS envisages a common ticketing card for suburban commute on local trains, Metro rail and on buses. Different agencies including the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) and the Railways are working on the proposal along with a consultant.

“There can be two ways in which ITS can work, which included showing one’s card at the entry/ exit point of the station or a system that can read the card that is with the commuter irrespective of where it is. We will do a complete study before the system is implemented,” a senior railway official said.

Experts have expressed caution. “Once, they had tried to stop exit points at Churchgate and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and people had to stand in queues for an hour. So, ITS is a useful idea but an alternative on regulating entry and exit points at stations should be considered,” said Subhash Gupta, railway activist. The Central and Western Railways together witness a commuter ridership of 84 lakh on a daily average. According to studies by railways, during peak hours, a commuter may take 7-8 minutes to reach the platform from the entry of a station or from the train to the exit.

A V Shenoy, a transport expert, said: “At present, the entry and exit points at railway stations are many. Implementing the ITS on a standalone basis will not help. There is a need to implement the Station Area Traffic Improvement System that can equally regulate the movement of commuters entering from outside. Transport authorities must receive co-operation from the urban local body.”

Another railway official said introduction of technology, if done right, can ease crowds at stations. “Escalators were never deemed beneficial but they proved successful,” the official added.

Officials assured that the ITS would be implemented carefully as it is a key part of planning for the future. “Proper study will need to be conducted to ensure the system matches with a rising number of commuters at the respective station. An ITS will check mischievous elements of ticketless commuters, it will record movement on CCTV cameras, prevent entry of stray animals and regulate movement of hawkers. It will also lessen the Acrowds and discipline the system,” said Mukul Jain, Divisional Railway Manager, Western Railway.

Safety, not bullet train, should be first priority of Railways, says EAS Sarma

EAS Sarma, former secretary of the Government of India, has demanded the Railways and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to give priority to safety in Railways. Pointing out to specific reference from a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Mr Sarma cautions the Railway Minister to leave everything else and concentrate on safety instead of waiting for another accident to occur.

Mr Sarma has been sending warning to Railway Ministers about lackadaisical attitude of railways towards safety. In his recent letter, he says, “I thought that Railways, after the successive accidents, would drop the idea of taking up bullet trains and, instead, focus on the safety of tracks, modernisation of unmanned level crossings etc. The stampede on the narrow footbridge at the Elphinstone station in Mumbai has once again raised public anger against the warped priorities of the Railways.”

“What surprised me is Report No13/2016 of CAG on Railways. I reproduce a portion of Para 6.8.8 of that report, that says, ‘Foot over Bridge (FOB) is a critical element of crowd management and is prone to stampede. It was observed that FOBs were not strong enough to sustain crowd pressure at 25 stations of seven Zonal Railways’,” Mr Sarma says.

According to the former Secretary, what the CAG had said so clearly ought to have woken up Rail Ministry in time to save the innocent lives of the people. He says, “Who is responsible for the inaction that has cost people’s lives? Is it not ironic that the Prime Minister should spend so much effort on buying bullet trains from Japan instead of thinking of investing on safety improvements first? Is not the government misguided by warped priorities?”

“It is criminal on the part of the Railways to act indifferently towards modernising the 14,000 unmanned level crossings, strengthening the railways tracks, installing modern advance alert systems, crowd management systems and safety of women travelling by train,” Mr Sarma added.

In his earlier letter on 28 December 2016, Mr Sarma had said, “To the ordinary citizen not affiliated to any political party, the blame goes to everyone. Something is wrong with the safety systems in place in the Railways and the priority given to safety in the Railway budget. What is the use of merging the Railway budget with the general Budget, when the priority is for Wi-Fi and bullet trains, and not for the safety of passengers?”

“Once again, as a responsible Minister in charge of the Railways, you have the obligation to bring in technology into safety systems. Instead of holding the small fry responsible for these accidents, you will do well to hold those in the higher echelons answerable. Otherwise, you will only encourage the business-as-usual approach that will continue to consume human lives and cause human trauma,” the former Secretary wrote to the then Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu.

“The money that you spend in the budget on Railways is the money given to you by the tax-payer of this country to spend prudently, not fritter away on foreign companies to introduce ‘bullet trains’ and so on. May I request you to recall what all I have been saying on the need to launch a mission of ‘Zero Tolerance for Accidents’, make the senior officers of the Railways responsible for lapses and assure the nation of an accident-free railway system in a time bound manner?” Mr Sarma asked.

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GM/SCR conducts inspection at Aurangabad Railway Station

AURANGABAD: Vinod Kuamr Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway made a visit of  Aurangabad Railway Station today i.e., 28th September, 2017. He undertook inspection of the Railway Station covering the entire station premises, platforms and reviewed plans for development. He was accompanied by A.K.Sinha, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Nanded Division and other Officials of the Division.

Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire, Honble Member of Parliament, Aurangabad also met General Manager and discussed on various rail developmental works in his jurisdiction. He informed General Manager about the public demand for more passenger amenities, stoppage of trains, introduction of trains etc. The Hon’ble MP also sought completion of Road Under Bridge (RUB) at Aurangabad. The Hon’ble MP also discussed on doubling works with electrification between Manmad and Parbhani and development of Chikalthan Station. The General Manager assured that the issues will be looked into and action taken accordingly.

Later, the General Manager interacted with officers, supervisory staff and trackmen of Aurangabad section and enquired about safety related matters, working procedures and grievances. State Govt. Officials of Maharashtra discussed on rail related pending works and issues with General Manager.

The General Manager interacted with media at Aurangabad Railway Station and informed that railway is giving priority for Safety and Punctuality. He also informed that by end of next financial year, all the Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) will be eliminated over the Zone. Vinod Kumar Yadav stated that welfare of the employees will be given priority in solving their grievances and in health care. Later, the General Manager inspected Chikalthan station and reviewed the plans of construction of pit line and development of station.

Hubli Division holds Interaction Session to Sensitise the Staff involved in Train Operations

HUBLI: SWR’s Hubli Division held an interactive session for railway staff dealing with train operations on 27th September, 2017 at Railway Officers Club, Keshwapur, Hubballi.  The main theme of this session was to sensitise the staff involved in train operations so as to eliminate accidents caused by human errors and to boost safety culture in train operations. Various aspects of train operations and factors affecting safety were discussed with the staff. Some of the railway accidents in past were analysed and the staff were counselled on the reasons leading to such accidents.

Arun Kumar Jain, DRM welcomed the gathering and requested the staff to bring out specific issues to improve safety in train operations. He also appreciated the importance of platform where the field staff can have direct interaction with senior officers of railway including the General Manager. Speaking on the occasion, A.K Gupta, General Manager of South Western Railway said that the main work of railways is to run trains and run them safely for which staff should focus on safe train operations. He emphasised the need for coordination amongst various departments involved in running of trains. Mr. Gupta also said South Western Railway has kept special focus on training and education of staff and all efforts are being made to further improve the system involved in training of staff.

During the course of the programme, interactions were between the staff comprising of station managers, pointsmen, loco-pilots, guards, and section controllers. They were also informed about the new developments in field of safety and counselled on actions to be taken in case of untoward incidents. The approach of senior officers, who noted down grievances and suggestions from the field staff was appreciated by the audience.

A.K.Gupta, General Manager, South Western Railway; Arun Kumar Jain, Divisional Railway Manager, Hubballi; G.John Prasad, Chief Operations Manager; Rajiv Kumar, Chief Electrical Engineer; Premchand, Chief Safety Officer; P.A. Lamghare, Chief Mechanical Engineer of South Western Railway, and offices of Hubballi division were available.

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SCR enters into long term agreement with M/s Orient Cement Limited for Transport of Cement

SECUNDERABAD: In order to give long term stability and predictability to the freight tariff rates, Railways has introduced an innovative Freight tariff scheme for corporate freight customers of Indian Railways. Once a customer enters into this contract with Railways, the freight tariff rate will remain fixed for one year period. This gives predictability and stability in freight rates and helps the customers to plan their logistics for the entire year. The scheme also gives incentives to the freight customers in the form of freight discounts, if the customer exceeds the previous year’s freight contribution. It is a growth linked incentive, the higher freight the customer contributes over previous year, the higher the discount.

In a brief ceremony at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad today i.e., 28.09.2017, the Financial Adviser & Chief Accounts Officer (General) Smt.Purna M Cherla; Principal Chief Commercial Manager Shri M.G.Sekharam of South Central Railway and Shri Rahul Desmukh, Chief Operating Officer of M/s Orient Cements Limited  signed an agreement for a period   of five years. Orient Cements is the third such Cement Company to sign such agreement with South Central Railway. M/s UltraTech Cements Limited and M/s The India Cement Limited have already signed such an agreement with South Central Railway.

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