ARSS Infra Projects’ JV receives Rs.15.78 crore Work Order from Railways

ARSS Infrastructure Projects Ltd announced that a work order amounting to Rs.15.78 crore namely ‘Jagdalpur – Koraput Doubling which falls on the Waltair Division of East Coast Railway, Supplying, transporting and stacking of 90,000 cum of contractor’s hard stone machine crushed Track Ballast as per Railway specifications between Ambagaon – Khadapa stations (from Km.270.40 to Km.244.00) on KK line of Waltair Division of East Coast Railway ‘ has been awarded in favour one of the Company’s Joint Venture (JV) named ‘ARSS-LGPPL (JV)’ by East Coast Railway on 24 August 2017.

30 lakh stranded in Central Railway trains with no info

MUMBAI: There were no announcements made to passengers who were stranded in Central Railway (CR) trains for more than 11 hours on Tuesday following the heavy deluge that gripped the city. The reason for it being that CR trains do not have a system wherein the motorman and motor-guard can communicate with the control room located at its divisional headquarter in CST. This fact came to light on Thursday after commuters complained that they received no information from the Passenger Information System (PIS), via the speakers present in each coach.

More than 30 lakh passengers were stranded in various trains that were marooned mid-journey when water levels gushed into the train’s engines. Passengers like Shreyas Ranade, a resident of Seawoods, who was stuck in the train at Thane said, “I was trying to travel from Kalyan to Kurla, but was stuck in the train for almost six hours.  There were no announcements and I was just sitting there with no information from the railways. The only information I received was from family members and friends.”

Speaking about CR’s partially operational Train Management System (TMS), Divisional Railway Manager, Mumbai Division (CR) Mr.Ravindra Goyal said, “We are still working on the system where the guard and the motorman would get information from  the control room directly.” He further added, “The motorman calls up the control from their mobile in situations where it is needed. We will get the system soon after we sort out some technical issues.” Railway activist and ex-Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC) said, “This is a very operational issue on the CR. It is one of the most basic technologies that railways must have.”

Pictures of the railway tracks between Western Railway’s Elphinstone Road and Parel stations on Wednesday morning, after the flood waters receded, hold some answers to what caused the trains to stop on Tuesday afternoon and why 24 hours later services are not back to normal. The storm water channels, built to drain water from the tracks, were filled to the brim with styrofoam, plastic containers and wrappers. The choked drains were clearly overwhelmed by Tuesday’s rain in no time.

Mumbai’s railway tracks are among the filthiest in the country. Around nine months ago, Environment Life, an association of volunteers, clicked pictures of the incredibly filthy tracks near Sandhurst Road and Masjid station on the Central Railway and tweeted it to the railway minister. The officials managing the minister’s tweets responded by asking for the location of the tracks, there was no follow up after that. One railway babu in Mumbai asked the volunteers to file a complaint about the garbage. Seriously? Do you need a complaint from citizens to clean up your filthy premises?

Dharmesh Barai of Environment Life estimates that the garbage strewn along Central Railway’s two suburban lines in Mumbai could fill three trains. “The railways do not allow the municipal corporation or other agencies to send cleaning teams to the tracks (this is mainly because of security reasons),” said Barai. “Citizens are also responsible for throwing garbage and allowing sewage lines to empty into railway (stormwater) drains, but the railways seem to be doing nothing to punish the culprits.”

The main reason why the railways have not been able to resolve the garbage problem has been the lack of cooperation between the agencies that manage the Mumbai metropolitan region, which apart from Mumbai, includes other cities and towns. There are different government agencies like the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority), the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), the KDMC (Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation) and the railways. “They do not co-ordinate with each other though we have been telling them to,” said Subhash Gupta of Rail Yatri Parishad, an association of railway commuters. “The railway lines pass through the city without any kind of collaboration with other agencies. The railways will clean up its premises and ten days later the BMC will clean up the sewers in its area and send the garbage back into the storm water drains managed by the railways.”

Why are the railways allowing sewage from municipal drains to flow into the urgent storm water drains? The two agencies have not met in years to resolve the issue. “Nobody is taking up the responsibility of cleaning up the railway tracks; they are passing the blame,” added Gupta.

Mumbai Rains: Metro, Monorail Services unaffected by Heavy Rains; ferried commuters as usual

MUMBAI: As heavy rains crippled railway services all over the city on Tuesday, the metro and monorail services remained unaffected and ferried commuters as usual.

MMRDA officials said that the metro and monorail services can only be a supplement to the railway network and will be useful only to span areas not connected by the railways.

According to MMRDA which is responsible for the mono-rail services running from Jacob Circle to Chembur, the services had seen a surge in ridership on Tuesday after the incessant rains led to both vehicular and railway movement to a halt due to water logging.

“There was an increase in ridership by almost 5000, as people living in the eastern suburbs and stranded around Parel, Dadar and Wadala took the mono to reach home,” said MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawatkar. He added that the services were unaffected and in fact additional services were run on Tuesday to ferry stranded people.

The Metro services from Versova to Ghatkopar did not see any increase in the ridership. According to a MMOPL spokesperson the metro rail services had catered to mostly regular commuters during the incessant rains on Tuesday.

Mumbai should have gone for Elevated Rail over the existing suburban network long back, says Gadgil

MUMBAI: Maharashtra government should have gone in for construction of Elevated Rail Track over the existing suburban network of Western and Central Railways from south Mumbai towards at least Ghatkopar and Bandra, said Congress MLC Anant Gadgil.

Speaking to reporters at Mantralaya, Gadgil, an architect and a town planner said he had way back in 1997 recommended construction of such an elevated rail track whereby in times of the recent deluge of August 29 or July 26, 2005, people could have without facing hardships able to leave their workplaces in South Mumbai and head home.

He added that the elevated rail track can be built without disturbing the existing suburban rail network by constructing the elevated track on column beam arches just like the Mono and Metro Rail corridors.

“At times when heavy rains disrupt rail and road traffic, the elevated rail track can function and ease the situation on the ground. Prior to the July 26, 2005 deluge, I had warned the government to take remedial measures or else the metropolis will face devastation in near future,” he said.

Calling for an end to granting additional Floor Space Index (FSI) in Mumbai, Gadgil advocated the need for creating self-contained sub-growth centers between the triangle of Mumbai-Pune-Nashik region.

He said that these sub-growth centers should be self-contained in terms of industries, residential premises, schools and so on.

He added that there is a limit to which the city can grow and steps need to be taken to take the pressure off the metropolis.

Gadgil further said the drainage system that exists today was laid down by the British Improvement Trust (BIT) way back in 1932, of which we have only been able to replace 60 per cent of it.

“In the town planning schemes in eastern suburbs of Wadala, Sewri, Bandra-Khar or Parsi Colony in Dadar, the British had earmarked an area of 15 to 20 feet around the buildings for earth and gardens that soaked up excess rains,” he said.

Now in the process of allowing parking spaces, these open spaces have been concretized creating heat spots which are primarily responsible for decrease in the rainfall, he added.

Referring to the storm water drainage system, he said that at present the government is only spending on its maintenance and not on upgradation.

Gadgil said out of eight to nine pumping stations required for the city, only six have been built.

Passenger Train Services to start from Sept 3: N.F.Railway

GUWAHATI: While goods train service have resumed service from August 29 after restoration of Bridge no 133, work is going on in full swing at site for completion of balance work and further relaxation of speed.

A press note from the NF Railway informed that as only “UP” line has been restored and traffic in Telta – Sudhani block section is plying at restricted speed of 10 KMPH, authorities have decided to go in for gradual introduction of passenger services from September 3. (see table for list of trains)

In other news, the Railway Protection Force has rescued more than 214 minor children from January – July this year.

A press note from the NF Railway informed that during the period from January to July, 2017 RPF detected 75 cases of theft of stolen railway property. 93 criminals were arrested and stolen property worth Rs. 9, 58,845/- were recovered.

The RPF arrested and prosecuted as many as 94,949 offenders under various sections of Railway Act and fine to the tune of Rs. 5, 57, 74,905/- was realised during the period from January to July, 2017. During this period, the RPF apprehended 20 touts and prosecuted them under section 143 of Railway Act.

Further, contraband goods worth Rs. 3, 20, 43,549/- were recovered on 79 occasions with arrest of 27 criminals during this period.

More over during this period 18 criminals involved in drugging and looting of passengers and 18 criminals involved in theft of passengers belongings were also arrested and handed over to GRP for further action.

Also, during the current year, the RPF also recovered huge quantity of explosive, gelatin sticks, detonator, fuse wire at Kamakhya and Bihara railway stations with arrest of two persons. Another person was arrested along with a revolver. All arrested persons were handed over to GRP after registering cases.

More recently, the RPF also distributed food and clothes to flood victims of Lakhimpur and Karimganj districts of Assam.

The Tool Free RPF Helpline no. 182 is functioning round the clock and providing facility to travelling passenger in lodging complains and seeking assistance without breaking their journey, the press note added.

Meanwhile, a massive Cleanliness drive over all the five divisions of NF Railway i.e Katihar, Alipurduar ,Rangia, Lumding & Tinsukia including Maligaon Head Qrs, involving more than 665 officers and staff started from August 16 as a part of countrywide “Swachhta Pakhwada” being organised in Indian Railways concluded today.

The theme of the Swachhta Pakhwada observed by the N F Railway was to spread swachhta awareness and implementation in Railway premises including Railway colonies and trains with a focus on role of Railway Officers, staff and their family members in taking sanitation initiatives.

The main objective of the Swachhta Pakhwada has been ‘cleanliness, inside out’ – to sensitize and ensure good health and hygiene by providing employee their family and rail users with awareness on clean and safe environment, personal health, hygiene and good practices including hand washing on cleanliness, in order to create safe, healthy, clean and green environment.

Mumbai Floods: Railways take time to get back on track

Stranded and damaged rakes throw spanner into efforts to resume services; long-distance trains hit

MUMBAI: Regular travelers on the suburban railway will have to wait a while for train services to get back to normal.

Railway officials say they will require a few more days to resume services at full strength, with 14 rakes of the Central and Western Railways damaged in the downpour on Tuesday.

Officials said they have tried their best to resume operations. “On Tuesday, water had reached 200-300mm above the track level and so running trains was not possible. Some passengers had to stay for hours in one place. We were waiting the whole day and night to normalise services,” said one official.

On Wednesday, Central Railway (CR) struggled to resume operations, while Western Railway started partial services late on Tuesday.

CR officials said they would not have faced so much trouble had all the rakes functioned properly. But seven rakes — three on the harbour line and four on the main line — were marooned, causing services to be suspended for nearly two hours in the afternoon. “The rakes were taken to the nearby car shed for repairs, and the services were normalised,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, CR.

While Mr. Udasi said the services would run as per the normal schedule, it does not seem likely. Each rake is used for around four services per day, and then sent to the car shed for maintenance. Damage to seven rakes means that CR will approximately run 30 fewer services than usual.

Similarly, Western Railway will operate 30 fewer services than its 1,323 regular trips.

Motor damage

The rakes were damaged as they were standing in water for hours. The water level rose above the specified level, which damaged the motors of the trains. “These rakes will undergo an inspection, and can be put back on the tracks only after that. This may also take time if the motor coach is damaged,” said an official.

Long-distance trains that have been rescheduled and cancelled have created a backlog. Hence, the schedule will take at least three to four days to regain normalcy.

“Some trains will come from other divisions. And our rakes need to be checked thoroughly before we put them on the tracks. We will require minimum four days to restore the schedule,” said a senior railway official.

Central Railway also had to cancel many long-distance trains due to the derailment of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express between Vasind and Asangaon. The track has been restored, and services till Kasara have been resumed. “The overhead equipment work is in process, and after getting the fitness certification, we will run long-distance trains on this route instead of diverting them,” Mr. Udasi said.

Railway activist Subhash Gupta said the authorities should wake up and take precautionary measures to safeguard Mumbai’s lifeline. “Every year, the situation worsens during the monsoon. Why do the officials wait for this day? Many people have lost their lives; who will pay for this?” Mr. Gupta asked.

If duly nurtured and wisely led, Indian Railways can bounce back like China Rail: Raghu Dayal, Ex.CMD/CONCOR

Raghu Dayal is former Chairman of CONCOR and Senior fellow, Asian Institute of Transport Development.

A veritable lifeline of the country , it is not often that Indian Railways gets pilloried. A serious train mishap would inevitably elicit public wrath as it did in the wake of the Khatauli accident taking a toll of 23 lives, besides injuries to more than hundred travellers on the fateful Kalinga Utkal Express, closely followed by injuries to yet another hundred passengers again in Uttar Pradesh, when the Azamgarh-Delhi Kaifiyat Express collided with a dumper in Auriya.

The gruesome Khatauli mishap prime facie ascribed to callous violation of mandatory operating procedure, in fact, signified dereliction of elementary duty, creeping sloth and indiscipline and systemic failure of, what has been Indian Railways’ celebrated tradition: coordinated team work. Although sudden sack or transfer of Railway Board member(s) is not unprecedented, it was as a rule effected for ‘unsatisfactory’ performance, perhaps never for an accident. Pending a detailed probe to be carried out by Commissioner of Railway Safety (under administrative control of Civil Aviation ministry), the swift and stern penal action by government would appear to signal not just its stated ‘zero-tolerance for unsafe rail operations’ but an indictment on pervasive perception of, and serious concern at, Indian Railways’ continued lacklustre performance. Having ordered the Member Engineering to proceed on virtually premature retirement and top zonal and divisional officers to go on leave immediately, the government has terminated the post-retirement reappointment of the Railway Board chief, to be replaced by Air India chief Ashwani Lohani, professionally a railway officer.

While the inquiry commissioned by Railways will establish the cause of the accident, safety is itself symptomatic of operational efficiency and discipline, to be viewed integral to all its operations. The wages of sin have indeed accumulated over a long time. The czars and czarinas presiding in Rail Bhawan have left the nation’s lifeline battered and bruised, while its seasoned top technocrats let it drift and wither. Buffeted by some myopic, if not maniac, policies, railways lost its very direction, its goal, and its opportunities. From its leadership of nation’s freight and passenger businesses, it kept plummeting to be only a peripheral player because of skewed, debilitating pricing structure; lopsided investments; selfishly advocating social service obligation instead of an unambiguous commitment for the Indian Railway to carry the nation’s goods and passengers optimally, efficiently and economically. It starved the system of essential capacity enhancement and of business opportunities.

Let the perspective be clear. Accidents can occur in any activity involving movement – be it a pedestrian crossing a road or a space-ship heading for the moon. Railways is a transport enterprise in which accidents have been happening ever since the day Stephenson’s Rocket mortally injured Huskisson, a Member of British Parliament, and the broadsides the Punch fired in its ‘Death And His Brother Sleep.’ Today, technologies enable fatality-free rail travel: Japan’s Shinkansen ‘bullet’ trains have operated for more than 50 years with no fatality. And so has the TGV network in France. Involving very high costs, these technologies demand a modern mindset, appropriate management structure and a skilled workforce. With more than 85% of train accidents ascribed to ‘human failure’, the Indian Railways claims to have been constantly investing in newer technologies, mechanisation of maintenance and early detection of flaws.

With highly sophisticated equipment steadily ploughed in the Indian Railway system along with myriad technological aids increasingly made available for maintenance, it should be unacceptable to allow the extent of assets failures that indeed occur, not only impacting train operations, but jeopardising safety. Its asset failures show generally a disturbing upward trend: 3,546 rail track fractures and weld failures in 2016-17; 4,500 diesel and electric locomotives failures; more than 810 detachments of passenger coaches from trains on run; 447 failures of overhead electric wires; and signalling equipment failures of the order of 130,200.

A disciplined workforce led by professionally ‘battle-inoculated’ frontline managers was hailed as the Indian Railways’ sine qua non. So also its time-tested meaningful, efficacious inspection systems. While several functions today have been outsourced, the strength of their own departmental workers has not shown a commensurate fall. There are umpteen cases of unduly ‘overqualified workers’ as also of the untrained and ill equipped. Proliferation of posts as much as ranks and titles inevitably leads to overlap and unaccountability. Much like the country’s entire bureaucratic apparatus steeped in pyramids of yesteryear, the Indian Railways too has added layers when it needed to be far flatter.

Minister Prabhu has gone about setting up myriad ‘cells’ for Transformation, Mobility, Environment et al. The Railways’ energy appears getting dissipated on a minutiae of routine amenities euphemistically termed ‘projects’, inaugurated with fanfare. It seems afflicted by ‘consultivitis’, crowd-sourcing ideas. The most pressing need is of optimising the throughput of freight and passengers, rationalising its services to eke elbow-room for increasing services that would yield better returns, ruthlessly cutting costs, raising productivity of assets consistent with newer and costlier gadgets and technologies it inducts. The bigger the organisation grows, the more it tends to grow. The Indian Railways invests in new technologies and persists with old staffing patterns.

The glaring faultlines in the Khatauli accident reinforce the Indian Railways’ silo-based organisational set-up, giving rise to inter-departmental compartmentalisation coupled with competitive empire-building, rendering it perilously obese, voracious, and dilettantish. The Anil Kakodkar-led rail safety review committee report, 2012, echoed the prevalent public perception of the Indian Railways’ glaring infirmities: “centralised, top heavy and hierarchical along departmental lines”, and emphasised the status quo ante to be restored for senior general management posts to be manned only by those well versed in railways’ core businesses of production, operation and marketing of transport.

The Indian Railways needs to urgently move ahead towards redressing the bizarre policies which have severely dented its innate strength and led to a creeping leadership crisis within its apex managerial structure. It is inconceivable for the top army command to be handed over to the senior-most controller of defence accounts, likewise to an officer from Corps of Ordnance, for example. The army chief or, for that matter, the divisional, corps or Army commander would be drawn only from those who are trained and nurtured to fight on the frontline – from infantry, armoured, artillery. Strangely, the Indian Railways now can have anyone catapulted to the very top, albeit he/she in their formative 25-year service or more would have had no experience in its core businesses, nor any interaction with its customers!

Despite strong advocacy by several expert bodies that the railways be corporatised, it has stubbornly stuck to its departmental character, inevitably perpetrating bureaucratic rigidities and wallowing in competitive frailties of babudom. First, a clear categorical imperative for the Indian Railways is to deftly, and firmly, handle the secateurs in the Kafkaesque Rail Bhawan, then right across the sprawling system — its vast web of installations — workshops, sheds, depots, ‘sick lines’, stations, yards, colonies and offices. It’s not railways’ business to run schools, hospitals, or kitchens. It needs to corporatise and privatise development and manufacture of railway equipment, also construction as well as suburban and regional passenger services.

A fine body of men, much like those in the country’s armed forces, the spirit and symbol of an inclusive India, known for their diligence and devotion, railwaymen only need leadership to seize the future together. If duly nurtured and wisely led, the Indian Railways can bounce back like China Rail (CR). China Rail lagged much behind Indian Railways. In just 25 years, CR has gone far ahead of the laggard Indian Railways, and emerged world’s numero uno. So far it has been a case of lage raho, Indian Railways, in a culture of chalta hai. The time has come for Indian Railways it to embrace, in Prime Minister Modi’s words, gati (speed) with pragati (development), to be a true agent of growth and a leader in India’s transport domain.

Railway Board Opts for more power to Divisional Railway Managers

A Divisional Railway Manager or DRM heads the organisation at the division level and is primarily involved with the running of trains, customer interface and maintenance of railway assets.

NEW DELHI:  Taking stock of the series of derailments this month, the draft report of a committee set up by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu recommends that Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) be more empowered to take decisions, particularly in emergencies.

The committee, ‘Making Divisions as Strategic Business Units’, was constituted by Mr Prabhu in June to finalise a process by which more financial and executive powers are delegated to Divisional Railway Managers so they are able to handle day-to-day operations more effectively.

It is expected to submit its final report to the minister next month, a senior official told news agency PTI.

A Divisional Railway Manager or DRM heads the organisation at the division level and is primarily involved with the running of trains, customer interface and maintenance of railway assets.

According to the draft report, accessed by PTI, divisional railway managers should be fully empowered to grant blocks — stopping or diverting trains till work on the tracks is over — for up to three hours.

“No questions should be asked on regulation of trains for maintenance blocks,” the committee has recommended.

The three-hour time frame has been suggested, sources said, to ensure that the block does not effect running of trains on other connected divisions.

The suggestion from the committee headed by Director General, Personnel, comes days after the Kalinga Utkal Express derailment in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh on August 19 in which 23 people were killed. The divisional railway manager of the Northern Division was among those sent on leave.

“The committee is working to enable divisional railway managers to concentrate more on safety, customer satisfaction, transportation business, customer interface, generation of revenue, operation and maintenance of assets.”

“We are also working to see that they are relieved of procedural rigmaroles,” an official in the ministry said.

The committee has suggested in its draft report that full flexibility be given to DRMs to utilise their revenue grant across ‘minor head’ and ‘primary head’ within the overall spending limit given to the division.

It has also recommended that divisional railway managers should have the power to make emergency procurements so that safety related issues are addressed quickly.

“The system of procurement through stores depot to be modified to address gap in availability of safety items in sufficient quantity, affecting reliability and safety of assets,” the committee said.

It said that the divisions should be enabled to place supply orders directly to the vendor against the pre-decided rate contract.

According to the draft report, the tendering system in work contracts at divisional level should be simplified.

It has suggested that the railways should replicate the process followed by the Central Public Works Department where contractors are pre-qualified by headquarters and a list of approved contractors is maintained.

The Indian Railways is divided into 16 zones, which are further sub-divided into divisions, each having its divisional headquarters.

There are a total of 73 divisions. Each division is headed by a Divisional Railway Manager.

There have been three derailments since the Kalinga Utkal Express accident on August 19.

About 100 passengers were wounded when 10 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express train derailed on August 23 in UP’s Auraiya district after crashing into a dumper on the tracks.

On August 25, six coaches of an Andheri-bound local train derailed in Mumbai, injuring six passengers. Yesterday, a landslide caused by heavy rain led to the derailment of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express in Maharashtra. No casualties were reported.

Railway Contractors’ strike to have direct impact on Train Safety

Railways contractors strike work including track maintenance. Though the work has come to a halt at under-construction bridges, the worst affected are the railway tracks whose maintenance has been outsourced to private contractors. Is passenger safety being compromised?
Indian Railways contractors are protesting against government’s decision to impose 12 per cent GST on services by way of construction, erection, commissioning and installation with retrospective effect.

Over 90 per cent of the 10,000 odd contractors associated with the Indian Railways stopped working 10 days ago protesting against the government’s decision to impose 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on services by way of construction, erection, commissioning and installation with retrospective effect. Though the work has come to a halt at under-construction bridges and other infrastructure projects, the worst affected are the railway tracks whose maintenance has been outsourced to private contractors.

Ashok Ahuja, Secretary of the Railway Contractors Association, said, “We do not have any problem with GST. In fact, we welcomed its imposition on July 1 but the government is charging 12 per cent GST from us in contracts that were awarded before July 1, 2012”.

“We work on a margin of four to five per cent but the government is now, all of a sudden, asking for 12 per cent tax on contracts that were awarded before July 1, 2017. Where will the contractor pay this tax from,” said Ahuja.

The union government in its order dated June 20, 2012 had exempted services provided by contractors by way of construction, erection, commissioning and installation to the Indian Railway from any kind of service tax. With the imposition of GST, 12 per cent tax is being charged on these services but contractors have stopped all work saying they would rather not take any fresh payment from the Railways.

The railways has outsourced a major portion of its track maintenance work to contractors which has also been stopped in most parts of the country. “Track maintenance is directly linked with safety of railway passengers but it seems no-one in the railways is bothered. We are, in fact, waiting for another tragedy to happen as most track maintenance works are not being carried out,” a railway contractor, who has stopped track maintenance work on the Bhopal-Ramganj Mandi line, told.

The association of railway contractors met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu few days back but received only assurance. Newly appointed railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani was also approached but there has been no positive outcome.

A major impact is also being felt by the 3 lakh odd daily wage workers who work for the striking railway contractors across the country.

Digha Train: Railways spends Rs 72 Lakh, earns only Rs.5,000

PATNA: It may sound strange, but the railways on Tuesday admitted that it spends Rs.72 lakh and earns only Rs.5,640 annually by running a train on Patna-Digha route. Though the train service has been temporally suspended for a few days because of some technical works going on platform number 2 of Patna Junction, it causes traffic snarls on Bailey Road crossing around 10am and 4pm during peak hours, daily.

Hearing a writ petition, the division bench of Justices Ravi Ranjan and S Kumar wondered how relevant it was for the railways to run such a train on this route and ordered the general manager of East Central Railways (ECR) to file a counter affidavit within a week about the view the Indian Railways holds in this regard. The court had taken suo motu cognisance of the train being run with such a huge expenditure and almost no earning at all.

The railways has submitted that only 47 tickets are sold while Rs6.06 lakh is spent for running the train on this route every month and Rs.72 lakh annually, advocate general Lalit Kishore, who appeared for the state, said.

“A ticket on this route costs Rs.10. The then railway minister, Lalu Prasad, had ordered the railways to continue the train on the this route despite the losses,” said Patna junction station director B K Chaudhary.

When contacted, ECR chief public relation officer Rajesh Kumar said the state government had approached the ECR a few years back to hand over the land used by the railways on this route to the state. “I am not aware of the court proceedings, but railways runs trains between several locations without any profit,” he said and added that the ECR had forwarded the state government’s proposal to the railway board.

“ECR is not authorized to take any decision on such issues. The board will take a call on transfer of the land to the state government. As of now, the matter is pending before the board,” Kumar added.

The matter would come up for hearing after a week.

Cong-Led Govt in Meghalaya not interested in Railway Projects: MOSR

SHILLONG: Union minister of state for Railways, Rajen Gohain on Wednesday said that the Congress-led government in Meghalaya had not taken interest in expansion of the railway network to the hill state in reference to halted work on the railway project to connect Byrnihat in Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya.

Speaking to the media here on the sidelines of a programme, Gohain said the new non-Congress government which would be formed in Meghalaya next year after the election would take keen interest in developing railways in the state.

He asserted that the present government in Meghalaya did not understand the importance of railways in the state.

He said the railways besides providing better connectivity would create large scale employment opportunities, facilitate better tourists flow to the state.

It may be mentioned that the work on the railway project to connect Byrnihat in Meghalaya with Tetelia in Assam has been halted by the government following strong objection from the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU).

Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board pens down a Letter for Indian Railwaymen across the country

NEW DELHI: The Chairman Railway Board Shri Ashwani Lohani has called upon the railwaymen across the country to always be on guard to ensure the highest level of safety in train operations and instill a renewed sense of confidence in railway passengers. He emphasized that safety should always remain principle focused area.

In a letter sent to all railwaymen, Shri Lohani stressed the need to resolve to bring about an all-round improvement in the working of the railways so that we are able to satisfactorily meet the hopes, expectations and aspirations of the vast multitude.

Referring to the committed workforce of Indian Railways, the Chairman Railway Board said that the sincerity, dedication and professional capability of the railway employees, both officers and staff is indeed unparalleled. It is the men on the field who, regardless of their personal inconveniences and hardships, ensure that the wheels of the Nation keep moving surely and safely. This is what makes the Indian Railways the most visible symbol of dynamic delivery in our country.

He also pointed out that there is need to deal with the evils of corruption, sexual harassment at work places and alcohol abuse while on duty. These are social evils and need to be dealt firmly with an iron hand, he added.

He also talked about cleanliness at railway stations, trains, operation ratio, welfare of the railwaymen, avoiding frills in the functions.

Through the message, in an important development, Shri Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board has established a dialogue with its 1.3 million employees of Railways by writing a letter to the employees of Indian Railways across the country. In the letter, Shri Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, has asked all the employees to pitch in wholeheartedly to restore the glorious image of Indian Railways. In the letter, Chairman, Railway Board has posed his faith in the employees’ sincerity, dedication & professional capabilities.

The complete text of the letter is as under:

Dear Colleagues,

It is with immense pride that I share with you my happiness on assuming the position of Chairman, Railway Board. This is not only an onerous responsibility but also a challenge being the administrative head of this great organization, which is also the lifeline of the nation. At this critical juncture when we are facing a serious issue with the image perception of the railways, I expect all my fellow Railwaymen to pitch in wholeheartedly to set this perception right. I am sure, with your cooperation, we will be able to achieve and re-establish the pristine glory of the brand Indian Railways.

Indian Railways is indeed a great organization. The largest employer in the world under a single management, we are the wheels on which the nation moves. Spreading from Kanyakumari in the South to Baramulla in the North, Dibrugarh in the East to Okha in the West, this great monolith indeed touches almost the entire length and breadth of this great nation and thereby the lives of almost all the citizens of this nation. The sincerity, dedication and professional capability of the railway employees, both officers and staff is indeed unparalleled. It is the men on the field who, regardless of their personal inconveniences and hardships, ensure that the wheels of the Nation keep moving surely and safely. This is what makes the Indian Railways the most visible symbol of dynamic delivery in our country.

After spending over 41 years with the railways, this appointment as the head of the railway family has touched the inner core of my heart and makes me extremely grateful to the almighty. Besides being a humbling moment, it also strengthens my resolve to put in my life and soul for the welfare and the forward march of this great organization.

The great Indian Railways has suffered a serious dent in the recent past due to certain unfortunate incidents. Such incidents often overshadow the great work that this organization performs day in and day out. Let us, therefore, resolve to bring about an all-round improvement in the working of the railways so that we are able to satisfactorily meet the hopes, expectations and aspirations of the vast multitude.

SAFETY shall always remain our principal focus area. We have to always be on our guard to ensure the highest level of safety in train operations and instil a renewed sense of confidence in our esteemed passengers.

CLEANLINESS at stations and on trains is another area that is crying for attention and often contributes to our image. Similarly quality of CATERING and LINEN on trains is also an area of serious concern. We have to work in a mission mode to bring about quantitative and qualitative improvements in a very short time frame in these areas, while at the same time not losing sight of the fact that the railways needs an overall improvement to achieve total customer satisfaction.

Our Operating Ratio needs to be brought down considerably, not only by reducing expenditure but by increasing freight loading and also finding other means of non-conventional revenue generation to achieve a spurt in revenues.

I have always believed in the supremacy of the human resource. For me my employees, not the customers, come first. For, it is my firm conviction, that a contented and happy employee is the prerequisite for the success of any organization. And this great organisation is no exception. I would therefore, expect employee welfare to be the core concern of all railwaymen.

At the same time we also have to deal with the evils of corruption, sexual harassment at work places and alcohol abuse while on duty. These are social evils and need to be dealt firmly with an iron hand.

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. We also have to reform our processes, many of which have, with passage of time, become so complicated that they seriously hamper work. That remaining busy is not deliverance is a thought that also needs to be imbibed.

This is my personal appeal to all my fellow railwaymen to put in their best effort to restore the old glory of the lifeline of the nation – the great Indian Railways.

Jai Hind

(Ashwani Lohani)

CRB orders withdrawal of all Gangmen/Trackmen from Duties at Residences of Officers

NEW DELHI: Immediately after taking over as Chairman, Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani cracked the whip and ordered the withdrawal of all gangmen from duties at residences of officers.

The role played by gangmen is essential for safe running of trains but some are engaged by officers as domestic staff in their bungalows and official quarters.

“After being appointed on Wednesday, the new CRB made it clear that there should not be parties after completion of inspection by general managers or senior officers from headquarters and the Railway Board. There should not be any extravaganza on any Railway Division and Zone, no mahila samity functions for the next three months. From Monday onward, whenever and General Manager or Divisional Railway Manager goes on leave or long duty, his work should be looked after by additional general managers and additional divisional railway managers, Lohani has said. No additional responsibilities should be given to GMs or DRMs.

He spoke on the banning of gifts and wanted signs outside general manager and divisional railway manager’s officers stating: “Gifts are not accepted in this office.” He wants the ‘bouquet culture’ to end and insists that one should pay respect by delivery of work rather than flowers,” a senior official said.

Lohani, former chairman and MD of Air India was appointed CRB after the country was rocked by at least two major rail accidents that caused several deaths.

Countdown Begins: ISRO’s Navigation Satellite launch to help Railways track Trains real-time, alerts at Unmanned LCs


The Rs.1,420-crore Indian Satellite Navigation System NavIC consists of Nine Satellites – Seven in Orbit and Two as Substitutes. One of the Substitutes is the IRNSS-1H. According to ISRO, the Navigation System is highly helpful for the Railways in tracking the trains real-time, and also giving alert in case of unmanned Level Crossings (ULCs).

NavIC is highly helpful for the Indian Railways in tracking the trains real-time, and also giving alert in case of unmanned Level Crossings (ULCs). The technology offering from ISRO will help boost the Operational Efficiency in a significant way.

SRIHARIKOTA: The 29-hour countdown for the launch of India’s eighth navigation satellite IRNSS-1H began at 2 pm today at Sriharikota rocket port, 80 kilometres from Chennai, officials said. The 1,425-kilogram satellite — part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) — will be carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, XL variant.

It will blast off on Thursday at 7 pm, an official of the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO said.

This will be the eighth IRNSS satellite and will be a replacement for IRNSS-1A as its atomic clocks have failed. The atomic clocks are important to provide accurate positional data.

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India that is similar to the US-owned Global Positioning System or GPS. The system that offers services such as terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management vehicle tracking and fleet management, navigation aids for hikers and travelers, visual and voice navigation for drivers, among other services.

The Rs. 1,420-crore Indian satellite navigation system NavIC consists of nine satellites — seven in orbit and two as substitutes. One of the substitutes is the IRNSS-1H.

Each satellite has three clocks, and a total of 27 clocks for the navigation satellite system (including the standby satellites) were supplied by the same vendor. Like its other IRNSS predecessors, IRNSS-1H also carries two types of payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload.

The navigation payload of IRNSS-1H will transmit navigation service signals to the users. This payload will be operating in L5-band and S-band. The ranging payload of IRNSS-1H consists of a C-band transponder, which facilitates accurate determination of the range of the satellite.

The four stage PSLV-XL stands 44.4 metres tall and weighs 321 tonnes at the lift-off stage. At least 19 minutes 25 seconds after lift-off, the rocket will sling IRNSS-1H at an altitude of 507 km.

According to ISRO, NavIC is useful for fishermen to reach potential fishing area. Fishermen can also get alert messages on bad weather, high waves or when they approach international maritime boundary line. These services are provided through a software application on a smartphone.

ISRO also said NavIC is useful for merchant ships in navigation and also during search and rescue operations. In the road transport sector, NavIC helps transport operators to track their vehicles.

According to ISRO, the navigation system is helpful for the railways in tracking trains and also giving alert in case of unmanned level crossing.

Suburban Train services on Western Line resumes in Mumbai

NEW DELHI: The suburban train services on the western railway line in Mumbai has resumed after incessant downpour threw life out of gear in the megapolis.

The Railway Ministry said on twitter that the services on the western railway resumed yesterday at 11.58 pm and stranded passengers were evacuated.

“Suburban lines on @WesternRly are made operational and services running. Services are running between Thane-Karjat, Thane-Titwala on main line. Vashi-Panvel on harbour line, Thane-Vashi on trans-harbour line,” it tweeted.

“On direction of MR @sureshpprabhu all efforts are being taken to provide relief to passengers of Mumbai suburban in wake of heavy rains,” the ministry tweeted.

“We are working in close coordination with the BMC and disaster management cell to ensure all possible measures.

Additional pumps have been put in for bringing water levels down in heavy water-logged areas,” it said.

The railways today cancelled 16 trains which include Hazrat Nizamuddin-Mumbai Central August Kranti Rajdhani Express, 18102 Jammu Tawi-Tata Nagar Muri Express, 14626 Firozpur-Delhi Sarai Rohilla Intercity Express, 14601 Firozpur-Sri Ganganagar Intercity Express, 14630 FirozpurLudhiana Sutlej Express, 12421 Nanded-Amritsar Express, 15656 Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-Kamakhya Express, 12984 Chandigarh-Ajmer Garibrath Express.

Some trains have also been cancelled on August 31 and September 1.

When the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto derailed early on Tuesday near its destination, the first reports did not mention the cause: a landslip under the tracks caused by heavy rains.

But that small landslip set the stage for the day as torrential monsoon rains gradually brought Mumbai down to its knees and led to the cancellation of scores of trains—not just those affected by the Duronto’s derailment—and flights in and out of India’s financial capital.

Indian Railways, which had just been given a new chairman after another derailment on August 23, was meanwhile working quietly through the heavy rain and slush to remove the derailed coaches of the Duronto from the tracks between Asangaon and Vasind, and to get trains running again on the section.

The General Manager of Central Railways, the division in charge of the area, was leading from the front.

Ants throw a spanner in Indian Railways’ repair works in Mumbai

Local train brakes failed due to red ants, probe reveals. Ants Chew Up Brake Cables in Train. The motorman had switched to emergency brakes after he failed to stop the train in the regular way.

MUMBAI: The lifeline of Mumbai, the suburban local trains carry lakhs of people every day, but in this case, a rake was also ferrying thousands of hidden passengers – red ants. To make matters worse, these red ants gnawed through the primary brake cables and Railways faced a surprising new challenge in Mumbai that is affecting its repair works too. The efforts of the department to re-rail coaches in the suburb of Mahim was complicated by the insects who swarmed the area.

The story started to unfold last Friday when an Andheri bound local train derailed on the Harbour line. Five coaches of the local train derailed blocking other trains on the line at Mahim. Later, a quick re-railing of the train turned into a nine-hour long marathon effort due to the red ants coming from the garbage.

The water-logging due to heavy downpour and garbage lying around the area had attracted a large group of red ants that prevented any re-railing work. “Our staff had to struggle due to the water logging on the rail lines and red ants on the sides of the tracks that had come due to garbage and feces”, said an official from Western Railway.

This is not the first time that the life line of the maximum city has come under attack from ants. Ants had created panic last March when they appeared in the first class compartment of a metro in the Central line.

The presence of large volumes of garbage is also an embarrassment to the railways which is conducting ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’ campaign to highlight the need for cleanliness.

The incident happened inside a Kalyan-Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus local train around 1.30 pm yesterday and the coaches were comparatively less crowded.

“As it crossed Matunga, the motorman saw a flicker on the dashboard, indicating that one of the cables connecting the EP brake was not working efficiently,” said a Central Railway (CR) official on condition of anonymity.

The Electro Pneumatic (EP) brake being the primary one inside the Siemens rake, the motorman then had to shift his attention to the secondary brakes.

Motormen have come to rely on the EP brake, in which the electrics take care of the braking and acceleration with little manual or mechanical intervention. This brake is like a joystick on the right side of the dashboard panel and the entire train, including its speed and braking, can be controlled by using it.

Backup provision

Sources said that after the EP brake failure, the rake was then run as a normal one, without the EP brake, all the way to CST, without it getting hampered by any technical glitch.

During this time the secondary brakes – which comprises an Auto brake – was put into use to take the train all the way till CST. “The train was then taken to Kurla carshed for inspection,” added the official. This is when the officials found thousands of red ants chewing the already damaged cables and insulators of the EP brake.

The official added, “The SKS12 cable insulator and in-coder cable were found damaged. We then had to replace them with a new one out of the stock.”

Meanwhile, the CR officials blame the motormen for not knowing to operate Auto brakes which are as good as the EP ones. Sources said that ever since the new rakes have come in, a single joystick is sufficient for acceleration and deceleration of trains. The Auto brakes and other semi-manual ones are on the left side of the dashboard panel.

“The motormen have more or less forgotten to use the Auto brakes, which was earlier an important part in older trains while manoeuvring them. We will now be training the 800-odd motormen to apply Auto brakes on a regular journey,” said the CR officials. The training will begin on the Kalyan-Karjat/Kasara route in the next couple of days during off-peak time when the motormen will be monitored while applying Auto brakes

In this case, CR officials claim that the motorman could have easily used the secondary brakes without panicking. These Auto brakes are semi-manual ones where there is little electronic control. When the Auto brakes are pressed, pressure is applied or released through a piston that then controls the braking of the entire rake. This was how the older rakes used to function.

Officialspeak

“There is no need to panic as the braking system is foolproof. There are three other brakes to ensure that there are no problems in the running of the train. Ants are difficult to control but regular pest control is carried out,” said Narendra Patil, chief PRO, CR.

Combating the ant menace

Every rake undergoes pest control during the periodic overhauling every 18 months. Apart from this, the authorities try to ensure that there are no anthills inside the carshed, where trains are parked in large numbers.

Dealing with emergencies

There is a ‘dead man handle’ – that is like a spring on the joystick – which ensures that the train comes to a halt if the motorman is incapacitated or other brakes don’t function. The guard too has an emergency brake inside his cabin that is completely manual.

The joystick where the EP brake is present also has a regenerative brake in it wherein the train saves power of 33 per cent every time the brake is applied. When the EP is pulled backward, the regenerative braking works up to the speed of 5 km/h.

Temporary Augmentation of 14 Express Trains with Additional Coaches


SECUNDERABAD: In order to provide additional travelling facility for waitlisted passengers, South Central Railway will extended the temporary augmentation of following Trains with additional Coaches as detailed below:-

  1. Train No. 17618 Nanded-Mumbai CSMT Tapovan Express will be augmented with one AC Chair Car Coach from 1st to 30th September, 2017.
  2. Train No. 17617 Mumbai CSMT-Nanded Tapovan Express will be augmented with one AC Chair Car Coach from 2nd September to 1st October, 2017.
  3. Train No. 12747 Guntur-Vikarabad Palnadu Express will be augmented with one AC Chair Car Coach from 1st to 30th September, 2017.
  4. Train No. 12748 Vikarabad-Guntur Palnadu Express will be augmented with one AC Chair Car Coach from 1st to 30th September, 2017.
  5. Train No. 17256 Hyderabad-Narsapur Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 1st to 30th September, 2017.
  6. Train No. 17255 Narsapur-Hyderabad Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 2nd September to 1st October, 2017.
  7. Train No. 17230 Hyderabad-Trivandrum Sabari Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 3rd September to 2nd  October, 2017.
  8. Train No. 17229 Trivandrum-Hyderabad Sabari Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 5th September to 4th  October, 2017.
  9. Train No. 12707 Tirupati-H.Nizamuddin AP Sampark Kranti Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 1st September to 29th September, 2017.
  10. Train No. 12708 H.Nizamuddin-Tirupati AP Sampark Kranti Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 3rd September to 1st October, 2017.
  11. Train No. 12749 Machilipatnam – Secunderabad Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 1st to 30th September, 2017.
  12. Train No. 12750 Secunderabad-Machilipatnam Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 2nd September to 1st October, 2017.
  13. Train No. 17221 Kakinada-LTT Mumbai Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 2nd to 30th September, 2017.
  14. Train No. 17222 LTT Mumbai-Kakinada Express will be augmented with one AC III Tier Coach from 3rd September to 1st October, 2017.

Trains Cancelled/Partially Cancelled/Rescheduled due to Derailment of Duronto Exp (Tr.no.12290)

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Due to derailment of Tr.no.12290 Nagpur – C.Shivaji Maharaj Terminal Duranto Express between Asangaon – Vasinad stations of Central Railway section on 29.08.2017 and water logging in Mumbai area, the following trains are cancelled/Partially cancelled/Rescheduled.

  1. Trains Cancelled on 30th August, 2017:
  • Train No. 12071 Dadar – Jalna Janshatabdi  Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 11014 Coimbatore – Lokmanyatilak Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 11042 Chennai Central – Mumbai CSMT Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 11013 Lokmanyatilak – Coimbatore Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 11011 Lokmanyatilak – H.S.Nanded Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 11041 Mumbai CSMT – Chennai Central Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 17618 H.S.Nanded – Mumbai CSMT Tapovan Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 12702 Hyderabad – Mumbai CSMT Hussiansagar Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 17032 Hyderabad – Mumbai CSMT Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.
  1. Trains Cancelled on 31th August, 2017:
  1. Train No. 11301 Mumbai CSMT – KSR Bengaluru Udyan Express is cancelled on 31th August, 2017.
  2. Train No. 11012 H.S.Nanded – Lokmanyatilak Express is cancelled on 31th August, 2017.
  3. Train No. 17617 Mumbai CSMT – H.S.Nanded  Tapovan  Express is cancelled on 31th August, 2017.
  • Trains Partially Cancelled:
  1. Train No.16340 Nagarcoil – Mumbai CSMT express which was left Nagarcoil on 29th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Kalyan- Mumbai CSMT
  2. Train No. 12702 Hyderabad – Mumbai CSMT Hussiansagar Express which was left Hyderabad on 29th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Pune – Mumbai CSMT
  3. Train No. 11302 KSR Bengaluru – Mumbai CSMT Udyan Express which was left KSR Bengaluru on 29th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Solapur – Mumbai CSMT
  4. Train No. 17614 H.S.Nanded – Panvel Express which was left S.Nanded on 29th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Kurduvadi – Panvel stations.
  5. Train No. 17613 Panvel – H.S.Nanded Express leaving Panvel on 30th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Panvel – Kurduvadi stations.
  6. Train No. 22128 Kazipet – Lokmanyatilak Anandwan Express which was left Kazipet on 29th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Manmad – Lokmanyatilak
  7. Train No. 12220 Secunderabad – Lokmanyatilak Duranto Express which was left Secunderabad on 29th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Solapur – Lokmanyatilak
  8. Train No. 17031 Mumbai CSMT – Hyderabad Express leaving Mumbai CSMT on 30th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Mumbai CSMT – Pune stations.
  9. Train No. 12072 Jalna – Dadar Janshatabdi Express leaving Jalna on 30th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Mumbai Nasik Road – Dadar stations.
  10. Train No. 17688 Dharmabad – Manmad Marathwada Express leaving Dharmabad on 30th August, 2017 is partially cancelled between Dharmabad – Nanded stations.
  11. Trains Rescheduled:
  12. Train No. 11027 Mumbai CSMT – Chennai Central  Mail Express Scheduled to depart Mumbai CSMT at 23:45 hrs on 29th August,2017 is rescheduled to depart at 17:10 hrs on 30th August,2017.
  13. Train No. 12701 Mumbai CSMT – Hyderabad Hussainsagar  Express Scheduled to depart Mumbai  CSMT at 21:50 hrs on 29th August,2017 is rescheduled to depart at 14:20 hrs on 30th August,2017.
  14. Train No. 16381 Mumbai CSMT – Kanyakumari Express Scheduled to depart Mumbai  CSMT at 15:45 hrs on 29th August,2017 is rescheduled to depart at 10:15 hrs on 30th August,2017.
  15. Train No. 18520 Lokmanytilak – Visakhapatnam Express Scheduled to depart Lokmanytilak at 06:55 hrs on 30th August,2017 is rescheduled to depart at 13:30 hrs on the same day.

Logistics efficiency holds the key to CIL’s Growth: outgoing Chairman Bhattacharya

It will also bring down electricity bills, says outgoing Chairman Bhattacharya

The ex-mine price of coal, he said, is not more than a third of the landed price of coal to the consumer located 750 km from the pithead. The rest of the value goes to taxes and rail freight.

Coal is the single largest revenue earner for the Railways.

Bhattacharya is not far from the truth. Vizag Steel pays ₹3,000 a tonne landed cost for CIL’s raw coal, sourced from 600 km away. The steel plant would have saved substantially had it opted for importing beneficiated Indonesian coal, available in Visakhapatnam at ₹3,800 a tonne including green tax.

“Over the past year, power plants have cut down on coal inventory drastically and relied on CIL and Railways for just-in-time delivery of fuel.

“That we succeeded in meeting this challenge is an indication of the improved logistics efficiency,” he said.

The entire nation stood to gain, he said, as lower inventory helped power plants to cut operating costs and reduce the cost of supplies to discoms.

CIL has appointed RITES to take the cooperation agenda forward with the Railways, to help fill the logistics gaps and improve operational efficiency.

Soon after taking over the chairmanship of CIL, Bhattacharya said increasing coal output and improving quality of fuel were his prime objectives.

Quality and quantity

Asked about these promises, he said the availability of fuel is no more a concern. Despite offering as much as 20 per cent production in the open market (up from 10 per cent two years ago), over and above meeting the contract obligations to the power sector, CIL was forced to suppress production in the first half of this fiscal, so as to liquidate a huge stockpile of 68 million tonnes fuel.

“I am formally and informally told by a class of consumers that quality is improving.

“However, I am not saying we achieved the goal of a customer-friendly organisation. CIL should remain consistent in its attempt to be market friendly,” he said.

Bhattacharya anticipates intense competition in commercial coal mining in the near future as State mining corporations are allowed to enter the field.

Meanwhile, uncertainty looms over the next head of the company.

The Public Enterprises Selection Board (PSEB) on Friday rejected all the six shortlisted candidates for the post, including the chairmen of several CIL subsidiaries.

The Centre is yet to announce a part-time chairman as well. Some clarity is expected on Wednesday, when Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal meet company officials for a review meeting.

How long will IR really take to get rid of all the old ICF Coaches?

We know what must be done to make rail travel safer in India – replace the ICF coaches with the much safer LHB coaches. However, there is a reluctance which the railways must move beyond to get the switchover done. How long that takes determines the prospect of rail safety.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways and the minister in charge of the organisation, Suresh Prabhu, have faced flak in recent times, thanks to recurring accidents and the resulting casualties. This year the Indian Railways has suffered at least two major accidents, leaving over 50 dead and more than 100 injured. Not to forget, last year saw the Pukhrayan train derailment that led to 150 deaths – the deadliest train accident since a derailment killed 290 passengers in 1999.

What’s common to these accidents, essentially, is the derailment of coaches. Derailments may occur due to various reasons, such as track damage due to weather or usage, sabotage and even unsafe train speeds.

A review of pictures from accident sites where the casualty figures are high shows bogies severely damaged, capsized, piled up, sometimes even ripped open. The coaches used in these trains are predominantly what are referred to as “ICF bogies” in railways parlance. The “ICF” in the name stands for Integral Coach Factory, the organisation that has designed and produced coaches since the 1950s. While there have been design inputs from abroad and continuous improvements made over the years, the coaches themselves have been particularly notorious for resulting in high casualty figures during train derailments. Even in the Pukhrayan train derailment of 2016, the role of ICF coaches was brought out repeatedly in the media.

The lack of safety features and design vulnerability of ICF coaches have been known for some time. Back in 1995, contracts had been issued to Linke-Hofmann-Busch, now Alstom LHB GmbH, of Germany to design, produce and offer technology transfer for a new generation of coaches. These coaches have since been referred to as LHB bogies or coaches.

LHB coaches are significantly safer than ICF coaches for multiple reasons, including the superior design of the ‘couplers’, which help join two coaches to form a rake. The coupler design prevents ‘climbing’ or piling up of coaches during accidents. There are several other safety features known to altogether make the LHB coaches significantly safer than the ICF coaches. In view of the multiple accidents over the years, the railways has therefore repeatedly announced a complete switchover to LHB coaches since the late 1990s.

The trouble, however, is that the railways has inherited a large number of ICF coaches. (According to the latest report, this count is at 50,000, although the actual figure could be slightly lower.) Despite the obvious safety advantages of LHB coaches, the production agencies, that is, the coach factories, have continued to produce ICF coaches in large numbers until at least the last year.

The production of LHB coaches has meanwhile been ramped up ever so slowly. In 2013, nearly 20 years after the contracts for LHB coaches were issued, India produced 3,082 ICF coaches as against only 543 coaches of the safer LHB variety.

A series of accidents in 2016 forced the railways to accelerate the replacement of coaches. Pushed by the Railways Ministry, the factories churned out 1,697 LHB coaches in 2015-16. This number is likely to rise to 2,384 in 2017-18 and eventually to 3,025 in 2018-19.

It may perhaps come as a surprise, but the Indian Railways has continued the production of ICF coaches through the years, and will only fully discontinue production during the 2018-19 period. While some safety upgrades, like in the form of a new coupler design, have been incorporated in the newly produced ICF coaches, they continue to be inferior to LHB coaches, as admitted to by the railways in a press release.

Further, it will still be some years before the railways is able to fully replace all the existing (nearly at least 40,000) ICF coaches. Even at very high production runs of over 4,000 coaches, this process is likely to take a minimum of 10 years.

The reluctance to move away from ICF to LHB coaches may have to do with three reasons.

1. Inability or unwillingness to build production facilities for LHB coaches and dismantle those for the ICF ones.

2. Many of these coaches have a useful life of over 20 years. So the railways might be reluctant to decommission useful assets before they’re done for. We are after all talking of assets worth in excess of Rs 50,000 crore (calculated at scrap values of Rs 1 crore per ICF coach).

3. NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy had provided a ball-park figure of Rs 3 crore for an LHB coach and only Rs 1.5 crore for an ICF one. At a cost difference of Rs 1.5 crore and a production of approximately 3,000 coaches a year, the overall cost difference would come up to Rs 4,500 crore for the Indian Railways per year. And this is only considering replacement without accounting for new requirements. Nevertheless, the fact that the railways has been producing older, relatively less safer coaches for more than one and a half decades since newer technologies emerged tells us about the organisational issues the Indian Railways is plagued with.

In any case, the organisation has decided to do away with ICF coaches entirely and the promises this time around seem earnest. The only question now is, how long will they really take to get rid of all the old ICF coaches?

Derailments: Railways to counsel families of overworked Loco Pilots

NEW DELHI: In a bid to address the problem of stressed and overworked loco pilots, the railways has now decided to meet their families and counsel them on the need of their proper rest at home. This direction comes in the wake of several accidents and derailments in past few months and majority of them due to human error.

In a direction issued to all 17 zonal railways, Railway Board has listed about 35 steps under the prevention of accidents to be followed during train operation, loco maintenance and general instruction to attain ‘Zero Accident’ regime.

With 16464 posts of loco pilots lying vacant, concerns have been raised overworked loco pilots.

The directions issued after the Utkal Express derailment on August 19 clearly calls for close monitoring of duty hours and ensuring periodical rests to loco pilots.

“Ensure that all loco running staff booked to work trains have availed full rest as prescribed at home station and out station. No under rest crew shall be booked for working trains except in emergency conditions,” said the directions.

It also calls for increased interaction with family members of the crew for bringing about an awareness of the need for proper rest at the home station.

“No running staff booked for safety training, refresher course or any mandatory training should be booked to work trains. Pamphlets should be issued, in lines of safety bulletins, narrating accident cases and action to be taken by Crew to avoid Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD),” said the directions.

A parliamentary standing committee on railways in its latest report on safety and security in railways had observed that loco pilots  are  required  to  work  for  cumulative  104  hours in  a  fortnight  and  their running duty at a stretch ordinarily should not exceed 10  hours but sometimes they are required  to  work  beyond  stipulated  duty  hours  due  to  operational  exigencies.

The board has also asked the zonal railways to prepare safety action plans according to local need and report the same. They have also been asked that details of all incidents of safety cases on railways shall be collected and causes of failures are analysed and discussed in all training centres and crew counselled by nominated loco inspectors accordingly.

Other instructions include avoiding the use of mobile phones during duty hours and running staff be asked to avoid the tendency of packing their personal belongings while approaching the termination stations.

Railways may shift to accrual-based accounting from FY:18-19

Come financial year 2018-19, the Indian Railways may shift to accrual-based accounting from the current cash-based system, a move that will help it identify its Lakhs of unknown assets, assess long-term liabilities and draw a clear picture of return on investments.

NEW DELHI: Come financial year 2018-19, the Indian Railways (IR) may shift to accrual-based accounting from the current cash-based system, a move that will help it identify its lakhs of unknown assets, assess long-term liabilities and draw a clear picture of return on investments. The change in accounting practice will also help the transporter identify its loss- or profit-making lines of businesses and services and take necessary steps to stem losses and boost profits. A pilot project on accrual-based accounting has already been completed in the Ajmer division of Northwestern Railways and at the Kapurthala rail coach factory. The accrual system of accounting records revenue and expenses when they are incurred; the system registers transactions carried out on a credit basis, by recording these as either receivables or payables. This means a transaction is recorded when the right to earn income is established or when expenditure is committed.

In the cash-based system being followed currently, however, transactions carried out on credit basis are not recognised. Also, in this system, since the main objective is to record only the flow of cash, the records of assets created, purchased, disposed of etc are not kept. IR’s inability to attract private funds or even multilateral finance for its huge expansion needs is partly due to the opaque system of accounting it follows and lack of clarity on return on investments. Even though the gross receipts are shown to slightly exceed ordinary working expenses, it is partly because of the flexibility the transporter enjoys when it comes to appropriations to various funds, including DRF, safety and capital funds.

The ministry of railways has adopted the Mission Beyond Bookkeeping to bring in the much-delayed accounting reforms. Under the process, pilots to move towards accrual-based accounting have already been completed in the Ajmer division, Northwestern Railways and the rail coach factory, Kapurthala. The pilot in Ajmer was conducted with the support of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), which is also helping in a pan-India roll-out, and showed that the division had over 70,000 assets though the value of most of the assets was unknown. “Some assets such as houses dated back to the 18th or 19th century, for which there were no records to establish the cost,” said a senior railway official, who was part of the Ajmer pilot.

Assets of the Indian Railways — which has 17 zones — includes buildings, tracks, overhead lines, signalling and rolling stock, among others, across the country. Such assets were assigned a value of Rs.1 to ensure the asset is mapped and a disclosure was given in the notes to account. For this purpose, a format called fixed asset register was prepared. Earlier, there was no system of capturing fixed assets as block accounts were used, which are an aggregation of the amount spent on assets till date, but a particular value to an asset was not maintained. This necessitated the need to map all the assets physically. “Recognising assets at Rs.1 is an accepted standard which the postal department was the first to adopt,” said another railway official.

Under the current cash flows-based system, the railways may have tendered services but not received payment or it may have received payment but service could be due. For instance, if a passenger books a ticket on March 30 for a journey to be undertaken on April 2, the current system will account it as an income for the year ending March 31. However, the passenger may decide on April 1 to cancel the ticket which will entail a refund. Though this liability is not recognised in the current format, the accrual system will put the liable refund amount under current liability. “We did an actuarial study of our pension liability which came to around pension Rs.27,000 crore for the Northwestern Railways alone over the life of every staff.

We used a longevity table of 79.8 including tentative promotions and pay commissions,” said the first official. At present, the railways budgets for around Rs.40,000 crore a year as pension outgo. “In the current scenario, we could be spending without even knowing the future capital requirements. The total long-term pension liability of the railways could run into several lakh crores for the current staff,” added the second official, adding accrual accounting gives a true picture of assets and liabilities which one may not liquidate immediately but gives a glimpse of liabilities today over a period of time to come as an organisation expands.

All government departments and states will eventually move to an accrual-basis system as per a recommendation of the Twelfth Finance Commission. The cash-based system of accounting is followed by many countries across the world — New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US, the UK and Sweden are some of the countries which have moved to accrual-based accounting. Currently, countries such as Russia and even organisations such as the United Nations are also in the process of adopting the accrual system of accounting.

Long-Awaited Railways Regulator Gets Department of Personnel Nod

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking political sting out of railways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aiming at changing the Indian railways landscape

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

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

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

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

SAIL inks Long Term Tariff Contract with Indian Railways

KOLKATA: Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) and Indian Railways have entered into a strategic agreement on Long Term Tariff Contract (LTTC). The agreement will involve fifteen of the sixteen zones under Indian Railways for transportation of iron & steel and other related commodities. In terms of benchmark gross freight revenue and tonnage it poised to be the highest tariff contract of Indian Railways.

As part of the agreement, which will come into effect from September 1, 2017 and will be valid for a period of three years, SAIL is committed to generate a benchmark Gross Freight Revenue (BGFR) of Rs 3,418 crore with corresponding tonnage of 19.3 million tonne.

SAIL is one of the largest customers of Indian Railways, having a rail coefficient of over 95%. This agreement will be for loading and unloading terminals, with different commodities applicable to long term tariff contract like, iron & steel, pig iron, slag, limestone, dolomite, manganese ore etc.

The objectives notified in the Railways’ policy include long term freight revenue commitments from customers, while customers are ensured of stability and certainty of freight rates and assured supply of wagons. While it aims at generation of additional traffic volumes and revenues for railways, there is freight rebate on incremental as well as retention of traffic to customers. In any given contractual year, Railways also guarantees protection from freight escalation.

SAIL is on the verge of completion of a major modernisation program at its different steel plants that will substantially increase its production capacity. The company said it expects infrastructural improvement at loading and unloading areas will reduce the detention and thereby improve the overall turn-around time of railway wagons in the future.

The agreement was signed on Tuesday (August 29, 2017) by Kaushik Mukhopadhyay, Chief Commercial Manager, South Eastern Railway, which is headquartered at Kolkata and Debabrata Maiti, General Manager (Rail Movement) on behalf of SAIL.

Railways resume goods train services for North Eastern states

NEW DELHI: Rail services for transporting goods to the flood-ravaged northeastern region resumed today while passenger train services are expected to restart from September 3, the railway ministry said.

Due to floods in Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, the rail link with the northeastern states was disrupted since August 12.

All trains between the northeastern states and the rest of the country pass through New Jalpaiguri in north Bengal and Katihar division in Bihar.

“The rail route connecting North Eastern region has been opened for goods traffic today. Member, traffic, reviewed the position with the General Manager and Board officials and directed that rakes loaded with essential commodities for NE be moved on priority.

“Passenger trains are expected to start from September 3,” the railway ministry said in a series of tweets.

According to officials, the floods caused extensive damage to rail tracks, bridges, culverts, communication systems and other infrastructure, with the worst affected being between Sudhani and Telta in Kishanganj district under Katihar division of the North Frontier Railways.

If goods trains pass on the repaired tracks without facing any problem, then passenger train services will be resumed, officials said.

They said it is not clear how much revenue loss the railways has incurred so far, but it had lost an estimated Rs 150 crore in the first seven days of the deluge.

Heavy rains had washed away Bridge 133 between the Telta and Sudhani stations in the Katihar division of the NFR, a zonal railways spokesperson said.

More than 15 lakh passengers could not avail train services connecting the northeastern states and north Bengal with the rest of the country owing to the disruption, he said.

A total of 821 mail and express trains were cancelled during the period due to the damage caused to the tracks at several places in the Katihar and Alipurduar divisions.

As many as 484 passenger trains were also cancelled during the period.

Trains Regulated due to Traffic Block between Aurangabad and Nagarsol Stations

NANDED: Due to Non-Interlocking work at Potul Station (located between Aurangabad and Nagarsol Stations) in connection with commissioning of PQRS Siding, ballast siding and other operational works from 30th August,2017 to 01st September 2017, the following trains will be regulated as detailed below:-

Regulation of  Trains on 30th August,2017:

  1. Train No. 11046 Dhanbad–Kolhapur Dikshabhumi Express will be regulated by 70 minutes at Aurangabad station on 30th August, 2017.
  2. Train No. 51422 Nizamabad–Pune Passenger will be regulated by 2 hours and 30 minutes at Aurangabad on 30th August, 2017.
  3. Train No. 17688 Dharmabad–Manmad Express Marathwada Express will be regulated by 80  minutes at Aurangabad  on 30th  August, 2017.

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Regulation of  Trains on 01st September,2017:

  1. Train No. 17687 Manmad-Dharmabad Marathwada  Express will be regulated enroute by 40 minutes  on 01st September, 2017.
  2. Train No. 51422 Nizamabad–Pune Passenger will be regulated by 2 hours and 30 minutes at Aurangabad on 01st September, 2017.
  3. Train No. 17688 Dharmabad–Manmad Express Marathwada Express will be regulated by 80  minutes at Aurangabad  on 01st September, 2017.

Railways expressed regrets for the Inconvenience caused to the passengers due to this activity.

Trains Cancelled due to Heavy Rains in NFR, Derailment of Duranto Exp and Law and Order Situation in NR

Due to heavy rains and water flow over the tracks in North Frontier Railway the following trains are cancelled as detailed below:-

Trains Cancelled: Train No. 22611 Chennai Central – New Jalpaiguri Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.

Due to derailment of Tr.no.12290 Nagpur – C.Shivaji Maharaj Terminal Duranto Express between Asangaon – Vasinad stations of Central Railway section on 29.08.2017, the following trains are cancelled.

Trains Cancelled: Train No. 17057 C.Shivaji Maharaj Terminal – Secunderabad Devagiri Express is cancelled on 29th August, 2017.

Due to Law and Order situation in Northern Railway by DERA Sacha Sauda followers in Haryana & Punjab states, the following trains passing through SCR jurisdiction are cancelled.

Trains Cancelled:

  • Train No. 12716 Amritsar – H.S.Nanded Sachkhand Express is cancelled on 29th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 12421 H.S.Nanded – Amritsar Express is cancelled on 30th August, 2017.

*Railways expressed regret for the Inconvenience.

Railways to run Special Train  For Velankanni Festival between Velankanni-Panvel

VELANKANNI: In order to clear extra rush of passengers attending Velankanni Festival, one Special Train on  special fare will be run between  Velankanni and Panvel  as per the following schedule:-

Velankanni – Panvel  one way Special Train :

Train No. 06095 Velankanni – Panvel  special train will depart Velankanni at 21:45 hrs on 8th September, 2017 (Friday) and arrive Panvel at 08:45 hrs on Sunday.

Enroute, this special train will stop at Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur,  Mayiladuthurai, Villupuram, Vellore, Katpadi, Renigunta, Rajampeta, Cuddapah, Yerraguntla, Muddanuru, Tadipatri, Gooty, Guntakal, Adoni, Raichur, Yadgir, Wadi, Gulbarga, Solapur, Pune and Lonavala stations.

This Special Train consists  of  AC II Tier, Sleeper Class and Second Class Coaches.

Special Trains between Kanniyakumari and Santragachi via Vijayawada

VIJAYAWADA: In order to clear extra rush two special trains will be run between Kanniyakumari and Santragachi as per the following schedule:-

Accordingly, Train No. 06905 Kanniyakumari-Santargachi special train will depart Kanyakumari at 23:00 hrs on 31st August, 2017 (Thursday) and arrive Santragachi at 21:15 hrs on saturday.

In the return direction, Train No. 06906 Santragachi – Kanyakumari special train will depart Santragachi at 11.15 hrs on 04th September, 2017 ( Monday) and arrive Kanyakumari at 09:50 hrs on Wednesday.

Enroute, these special trains will stop at Kharagpur,Hijili, Balasore, Bhadrakh, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Khurda Rd, Bramhapur, Palasa, Srikakulam Rd, Vizainagaram, Visakhapatnam, Duvvada, Samalkot, Rajahmundry, Eluru, Vijayawada, Ongole, Nellore, Renigunta, Katpadi, Jolarpettai, Salem, Erode, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Palghat, Thrisur, Aluva, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Chengannur, Kollam, Thiruvanantapuram Central and Nagarcoil stations in both the directions.

These special trains will consist of  AC II Tier,  AC III Tier,  Sleeper Class and  General Second Class  Coaches.

Is ‘India’s Fastest’ Gatiman Express on Schedule?

The Gatimaan Express, which plies between Agra and Delhi, has had more instances of arriving late than before time, according to data from its inaugural year.

Flagged off by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on 5 April, 2016, the train is supposedly India’s fastest. It is meant to cover a distance of 188 km in 1 hour and 40 minutes, travelling at a speed of 160 km/hr with no halts.

The trains travels between two cities for 6 days a week, which translates into 314 days and 628 trips in a year.

According to data for journeys made between 2016 and 2017, the train was late for every three in ten trips during its first year of service. The data was obtained via an RTI application to the northern and north-central railway zones.

No Clear Reason for Delays

According to sources in the Railways department, the delays mostly occurred due to maintenance of Train Protection Warning Devices (TPWD), and foggy weather.

The TPWD is fitted on tracks and receives information from red signals to automatically reduce the speed of the trains, and sometimes applying the train’s emergency brakes as well. However, due to lack of maintenance, TPWDs often read the signals incorrectly and interfere with train speed – causing delays.

However, spokesperson of the railways’ Agra division, Sanchit Tyagi, denied TWPD snags as the reason for delays. Pointing at signal failure and instances of cattle being run over, he blamed the protection wall along the track as a primary reason.

Meanwhile, officials at the Nizamuddin station opined that delay in platform allotment and speed were most often the reason for the delays.

Railways at ‘Critical Juncture’; Safety to be Priority: Ashwani Lohani

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways is facing a serious perception problem, newly appointed Rail Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has said in a letter to employees, flagging safety as the focus at the government transporter that ferries more people daily than any other railroad globally.

Lohani was made Railway Board chairman last week after his predecessor AK Mittal resigned following a spate of accidents.

Reaching out to the strong 1.3 million work force of Indian Railways, Lohani said that “we are facing a serious issue with the image perception of the railways” following three derailments in last 10 days.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has taken the moral responsibility of these accidents and offered to resign. However, his resignation is yet to be accepted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Tuesday morning, nine coaches of a Mumbai-Nagpur train derailed near Kalyan in Maharashtra due to landslides triggered by heavy rains. However, there were no casualties.

“Safety shall remain our focus. We have to always be on our guard to ensure the highest level of safety in train operations and instill a renewed sense of confidence in our esteemed passengers,” Lohani wrote in the letter, calling the accidents unfortunate. He also highlighted the problem of the deteriorating operating ratio of the national transporter.

Operating ratio is the money spent to earn every Rs 100. The Railways currently has an operating ratio of 95 (which means to earn every Rs 100, it spent Rs 95), leaving it with very little funds for safety. “Our operating ratio needs to be brought down considerably – not only by reducing expenditure but also by increasing freight loading and finding other means non-conventional revenue generation,” he said in the letter.

Lohani, a railway service officer of the 1980 batch and former CMD of Air India, also asked the Railways to do away with the practice of excess protocols for officers and focus on delivery instead.

Telangana State Electricity Regulatory Commission offers Reduced Tariff of Rs.4.05 per unit to SCR

HYDERABAD: To keep a massive consumer like the South Central Railway (SCR) away from opting the open access system, the TS Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) has reduced tariff from Rs 7.10 per unit to Rs 4.05. For Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR), the tariff has been reduced from Rs 7 to Rs 3.95.

DISCOMs had requested the ERC to approve Rs 4.70 per unit for the SCR, considering that the Railways was a public utility. For HMR, it suggested a tariff at the average cost of service. Both SCR and HMR had applied to the state government for permission to purchase power in open auction, where they can purchase electricity from any supplier of their choice. This would have caused a loss to the state power utilities.

SCR told the government that the Indian Railways was purchasing power through open access in several states from Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private limited.

The ERC has directed the DISCOMs to submit the annual revenue requirement (ARR) and tariff proposals by November 30 to make the tariff order effective from April 1 next year.

It told the DISCOMs to make realistic projections for power sales for 2017-18 as the figures stated by them seemed unrealistic. The overall growth rate for 2017-18 has been projected as 9.42 per cent by the southern DISCOM and 12.05 per cent by the northern DISCOM. The growth rate for HT category has been projected at 14 per cent and and 26.16 per cent respectively.

The growth rate for low tension agriculture connections has been projected as 6.5 per cent by both DISCOMs. The ERC pointed out that the DISCOMs had previously projected higher agriculture consumption in the past.

The ERC said DISCOMs should replace 10 per cent of existing agricultural pump sets with energy efficient pump sets as stipulated in the UDAY memorandum of understanding. It sought a quarterly progress report on the same.

ERC said new agricultural connections should be given only if the farmer uses a five-star rated pump, complies with the demand side management measures and instals meters. The ERC has directed the state government to increase subsidy for agricultural power consumption because of the increase in duration of power supply.

Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derails – 7 Coaches go off track near Asangaon

Nagpur Mumbai Duronto Express derailed near Asangaon in Maharashtra this morning. Local trains have been affected by the accident. Central Railways officials said there have been no casualties reported so far.

ASANGAON: Seven coaches of Nagpur-bound Duronto Express derailed on Tuesday near Asangaon in Maharashtra. Railway officials said there have been no casualties so far. Reports suggest a rescue team has reached from Kalyan.

Central, Western Railway services delayed after Mumbai-Nagpur train derails near Asangaon. According to officials, the Kasara and Kalyan section of the suburban railway has been affected.

“Seven coaches of Duronto Express Nagpur-Mumbai 12290 derailed between Asangaon and Vasind railway stations. So far, no casualties have been reported,” the Central Railway PRO said.

The derailment took place just days after the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district on August 23 At least 81 people were injured after nine coaches of the train derailed in Uttar Pradesh, making it the second train accident in a week. On August 19, Kalinga Utkal Express had also derailed in Muzaffarnagar killing 22 people. Taking moral responsibility for the train accidents under his watch, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had offered to resign but was asked by the Prime Minister to “wait”.

The derailment of the Mumbai-bound Duronto Express has affected the services on the suburban railway. Central Railway officials have stated that the movement of local train between Titwala till Kasara has been affected due to the derailment.

This will affect commuters travelling from far-flung suburbs and towns like Shahapur.

Due to heavy rainfall, the Central Railway mainline services are operating with a delay of 20 minutes and the Harbour line services with a delay of 15 minutes. The local train services on the Western Railway are also operating with a delay of 10 minutes due to heavy rainfall.

There has also been a cascading effect on the local train services between Kalyan to CSMT, which are operating with a 10 to 15 minute delay. This will add to the commuters’ woes, especially during the morning peak hour.

Sunil Udasi, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway, said, “Suburban trains from Kasara and Asangaon are running up to Titwala only.”

On the mainline, CSMT-Howrah Gitanjali Express has been diverted via Kalyan-Panvel-Karjat-Pune-Daund-Manmad.

Seven bogies and the engine of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duranto Express derailed on Tuesday morning. No injuries to passengers were reported in the accident. The preliminary reason for the derailment seems to be heavy rains that had washed away a portion of the tracks.

Last week, four coaches of a harbour line train heading from Andheri to CSMT had derailed at Mahim. The railways conducted a nine-hour long public hearing into this accident on Monday.

9.45 am: Duronto express derails: Rescue operation underway, train traffic affected

9.30 am: Four trains diverted due to Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailment via Kalyan-Lonavala-Pune-Daund-Manmad. Five buses have also read the spot to carry stranded passengers.

9.25 am: While there have been no major injuries today, Friday’s derailment of a suburban local between Andheri and CSMT near Mahim railway station left six people injured. “I tried jumping out of the coach when it was getting derailed. My left leg received serious injuries. I was heading for my work when this happened and now I fear whether I will be able to recuperate soon to able to report to work this month,” Bankelal Kanojiya (38), a victim told.

9.20 am: A helpline booth has been provided near Deputy station superintendent’s office near Platform Number 1 at Nagpur stations.

9.15 am: The coaches derailed at around 6.35 am on the Central Railway making it the third derailment incident in the country in a period of 10 days.

9.10 am: While the Central Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said there has been no casualty or injury, an eyewitness travelling in the train said there may have been some minor injuries. “At least six coaches along with the engine slipped out of the tracks. We could not understand what happened. Few people were stuck in the washrooms and were rescued by fellow travellers breaking glasses of the windows,” Justin Rao, the eye witness, said.

9.05 am: Lohani was appointed as the chief of the Railway Board recently after a string of train mishaps. “Due to the recent spate of accidents, the image of the organisation has taken a severe beating,” he told PTI recently.  Young officers of the northern division were also asked for deep introspection to find the maladies and shortcomings that plagued the system.

9.00 am: “One board member, General Manager and DRM ordered to reach derailment site to provide extensive help to passengers,” Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani was quoted as saying by ANI.

8.55 am: ANI reported that Kasara and Asangaon suburban trains running up to Titwala. CSTM-Howrah Gitanjali Express diverted.

8.45 am: The reason behind the derailment has not been ascertained yet.

8.40 am: Local trains in up and down direction have been affected due to clearing of tracks. “Local trains running till Kalyan,” the Central Railways said.

8.35 am: Railways release helpline numbers. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: 22694040, Thane: 25334840, Kalyan: 2311499, Dadar: 24114836, Nagpur: 2564342

8.30 am: “Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed between Vasind and Asangaon. There are no injuries to passengers. We are arranging buses to bring passengers to the destination. Doctors and senior officers are already at the site,” Central Railways said in a statement.

8.25 am: On August 25, four coaches of a suburban local between Andheri and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) had also derailed near Mahim railway station on the Western Harbour line.

Railways to get Rs.2.8 Lakh Crore Safety Revamp

NEW DELHI: The government has drawn up a Rs 2.8 lakh crore revamp plan for Indian Railways – Re-Build Railways – that hinges on safety, including supply of track detection machines from Australia, redevelopment of 65 stations and raising the average speed of trains.

Indian Railways is tying up with an Australian company called Track IQ that will provide technology and equipment, including a sensor-based system to detect rail cracks.

The tie-up will be announced on Wednesday.

“Making Railways safer is the first priority. We are tying up with Australia to get the technology. We have set the target to reduce accidents by 50% in next two years,” a top rail official said. The national transporter will also make its research wing, SHRESTHA, operational at the earliest. The research wing will focus on piloting the upcoming global rail technology that will minimise accidents.

The rail ministry has changed tracks and now wants to focus on elements that can deliver tangible results quickly. Almost Rs 18000 crore are being spent on making Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata rail corridors semi high speed.

The Re-Build Railways plan also includes retrofitting 40,000 coaches and making them safer and also making trains discharge free in a year by installing almost 50,000 bio-toilets.

“Ongoing projects such as the 3,300-km dedicated freight corridors will also be made operational within a year and a half. The corridors being constructed at the cost of Rs 1lakh crore will increase the average speed of freight trains from the current 25 kmph to 70 kmph and would substantially reduce the rail freight tarrifs,” the official said.

Railways claims that in the last four years, it has spent almost Rs 4 lakh crore on infrastructure creation and modernisation, against Rs 4.9 lakh crore that was spent between 1947-2013.

The national transporter has sanctioned 13,000 km of new rail lines in last three years against commissioning of 8,000 km that was done in 30 years before 2014.

With the 2019 elections in sight, the government has asked all infrastructure ministries to focus on early completion of projects and undertake new ones that could be made operational by 2019.

Trackside Intelligence Pty Ltd, or more commonly Track IQ, is an international manufacturer and supplier of railway equipment and services for the purpose of measuring operating conditions. After developing the (Bearing Acoustic Monitor) and WCM (Wheel Condition Monitoring) systems, Track IQ formed a partnership with Siemens to install the systems in the UK and Continental Europe.

Although Track IQ operates out of Australia, more than 120 of their systems have been installed around the world. The company currently services 12 countries, including China, Australia, France, USA, New Zealand, UK, Norway, Mexico and Brazil.

Northern Railway suffers loss of Rs.100 Crore in four days as train movements affected

FEROZEPUR: Over 1,000 trains have been affected in the Ferozepur, Ambala and Delhi divisions alone during the last few days due to the situation emerging in the aftermath of the verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim incurring an estimated loss of over Rs.100 crore to the Railways till now.

The agitation not only affected the passenger traffic but also took a toll on valuable rail property and installations, he said. Not only the passenger traffic has been severely affected leaving over 8,000 commuters stranded at various railway stations, the ongoing controversy has taken its toll on valuable rail property and installations also. Premis had made an attempt to torch a railway station in Malout on Friday. Similar incidents have taken place at other locations. The Railways had to refund over Rs.80 lakh in these divisions on account of cancellation of reservations.

Vivek Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur Division, said an estimated loss of Rs.27.61 crore had been incurred in the division due to cancellation of trains during the last four days so far. The exact loss due to cancellation of goods trains and parcel services was being ascertained, he added.

Sources said besides cancellation, several trains were diverted or short terminated. The important rail routes to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, besides Jammu and Kashmir, had been badly affected. The entire rail traffic passing through Haryana, including Delhi-Panipat-Ambala-Jammu Tawi section, besides Delhi-Rohtak-Bathinda, had been shut down for the last four days.

Railway officials in Baroda House said the rail traffic on all other routes, except Delhi-Rohtak-Bathinda section, had resumed. The important rail routes to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Jammu and Kashmir were badly affected, he said

RITES Ltd records 18% rise in Turnover, declares 66.5% Dividend for FY:16-17

NEW DELHI: RITES Ltd., a schedule ‘A’, Mini Ratna Enterprise under the Ministry of Railways, has for the first time crossed benchmark turnover of Rs.1500 crore and registered gross turnover of Rs.1509 crore in FY 2016-17, which is 18% higher than turnover of Rs.1278 crore in 2015-16. Profit After Tax (PAT) during the year was Rs.331 crore. The company has declared Rs.133 crore to be paid as Dividend, which is equivalent to 66.5% paid up equity capital of Rs.200 crore of which Rs.55 crores has been paid.

Addressing the 43rd Annual General Meeting, Mr. Rajeev Mehrotra, Chairman and Managing Director of RITES Ltd. said that the last year ended with a healthy order book of Rs.3731 crore, which is also the highest ever. During the year, the company had 2 bonus issues, each of 5 crore equity shares. This has resulted in an increase of paid-up capital from Rs.100 crore to Rs.200 crore. The authorised share capital of the company was also increased from Rs.200 crore to Rs.300 crore.

In the past, the company has been rated as Excellent in its MOU performance and during the year 2016-17, the company believes that it has once again met similar parameters. Productivity of the employee in terms of turnover per employee has increased to Rs.47 lakh.

Key achievements during 2016-17 were securing of a high value export order of Rs.680 crore from Sri Lanka Railways for the supply of locomotives & DMU train sets and signing of contract with Mauritius Government for providing PMC services for implementation of light rail transit system. RITES successfully completed contract with Bangladesh Railway for supply of 120 BG LHB coaches made at RCF Kapurthala and export of 6 MG 1350 HP locomotives to Senegal.

In India, RITES is also involved in various capacities in mega transportation projects like dedicated freight corridors, metros, high speed rail studies, logistics parks, rail infrastructure, green energy, development of Greenfield airports and redevelopment of existing airports.

Railway Energy Management Company Ltd. (REMCL), the subsidiary company of RITES Ltd., promoted with the Indian Railways, has successfully commissioned 26 MW Windmill in Jaisalmer and has implemented many power procurement contracts for Indian Railways under ‘Open Access Policy’ under the Electricity Act, 2003, resulting in substantial savings to Indian Railways .

Accord Top Priority to Safety and Cleanliness: AGM/SCR

SECUNDERABAD: John Thomas, Additional General Manager, South Central Railway stressed upon according top priority to Safety and Cleanliness on the Zone in view of  the prevailing weather conditions during monsoon season. He conducted an intensive review meeting on Safety and Cleanliness today i.e., 28th August, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Divisional Railway Manager’s (DRM) of all six Divisions i.e. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded attended the meeting through video conference.

John Thomas instructed the Divisional Managers to intensify the field level inspections to attain visible improvement in cleanliness of all the important stations and Trains. He also instructed the officials to inspect all the Stations and Depots under their jurisdiction and  take proper  remedial actions immediately to rectify the issues related to safety.

Additional General Manager reviewed all the safety aspects and instructed the officials to avoid short cut methods in attending the asset failures and advised to focus on Signal and loco failures which will have impact on trains mobility and improves the safety. He instructed the officials to take corrective action without delay to ensure Safety.

John Thomas while addressing the issues on Railway Hospitals, instructed the officials to intensify the checks and provide proper treatment to the railway staff and beneficiaries by the Medical officers and Para Medical staff.  He also advised medical department  to focus on hygiene and  ensure proper supply of the Medicines.

N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Padmini Radhakrishnan,  Principal Financial Advisor (PFA); M.G.Gunashekarm, Chief Commercial Manager; A.A.Phadke, Chief Electrical Engineer; D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; N.V. Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer; K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Director; Sanjay Sankrityayan, Chief Security Commissioner were among the officials present.

Special Trains between KSR Bengaluru–Howrah, Howrah–Yeshvantpur and Bengaluru Cant.–Malda Town

BANGALORE: In order to clear extra rush of passengers three Superfast special trains on special fare will be run between KSR Bengaluru  -Howrah, Howrah- Yeshvantpur & Bengaluru Cant – Malda Town as detailed below:-

  1. KSR Bengaluru – Howrah Superfast Special Train:

Train No. 02523 KSR Bengaluru – Howrah Superfast special train on special fare will depart  KSR Bengaluru at 03:10 hrs on 29th August, 2017 (Tuesday) and arrive Howrah at 13:55 hrs on Wednesday.

Enroute, this special train will stop at Bengaluru Cantt, Krishnarajapuram, Bangarpet, Jolarpettai, Katpadi, Perambur, Gudur, Nellore, Ongole, Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Bramhapur,  Khurda Road, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack,  Balasore and  Kharagpur stations.

These trains consist of  AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper and Second Class coaches.

  1. Howrah – Yeshvantpur Superfast Special Train:

Train No. 02524 Howrah – Yeshvantpur Superfast  special train on special fare will depart  Howrah at 10:00 hrs on 31st  August, 2017 (Thursday) and arrive  Yeshvantpur  at 18:25 hrs on the next day.

Enroute, this special train will stop at Kharagpur, Hijili, Balasore, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Khurda Road, Bramhapur, Vizianagaram, Samalkot, Vijayawada, Gudur, Chennai Central, Katpadi and Jolarpettai Stations.

These trains consist of  AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper and Second Class coaches

  1. Bengaluru Cant – Malda Town one way  Superfast  Special Train:   

Train No. 02525  Bengaluru Cant – Malda Town one way Superfast special train on special fare will depart Bengaluru Cant at 23:40 hrs on 30th August, 2017 (Wednesday) and arrive Malda Town at 17:15 hrs on Friday.

Enroute, this special train will stop at Krishnarajapuram, Bangarpet, Jolarpettai,  Katpadi, Arakkonam, Chennai Central, Ongole, Vijayawada, Rajamundhry, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam Road, Palasa, Bramhapur, Balugan,  Khurda Road, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack,  Jajpur K Road, Bhadrakh, Balasore, Kharagpur, Santragachi, Howrah Jn, Bolpur S Niktn, Rampur Hat and  New Farakka  stations.

* These trains consist of  AC II Tier,AC III Tier, Sleeper  and  Second Class coaches.

South Central Railway to run Onam Special Trains to deal with Festive Rush

The South Central Railway will run four special trains between Secunderabad – Kochuvelli and H.S.Nanded-Ernakulam to clear extra rush of passengers during Onam festival.

SECUNDERABAD: The South Central Railway will run four special trains between Secunderabad – Kochuvelli and H.S.Nanded-Ernakulam to clear extra rush of passengers during Onam festival. Onam is the most significant festivals in the state of Kerala that signifies the rice harvest. The festive season began on August 25, 2017, and will continue till September 4, 2017.

As per Drik Panchang, Thiruvonam which is the last and most important day of Onam celebrations will be celebrated this year on Monday, September 4, 2017. During the festive season, the Indian Railways will run 4 special trains to provide hassle free travel to all its passengers. The special trains that will be open for public are 2 trains each of Secunderabad- Kochuveli- Secunderabad Special Trains and H.S. Nanded – Ernakulam – H.S.Nanded Special Trains.

Secunderabad-Kochuveli-Secunderabad Special Trains (02 services):

  • Train No. 07119 Secunderabad – Kochuveli Special Train is a special train that consists of 19 coaches viz., two AC II Tier, fifteen Sleeper Class, two Second General Class Coaches.
  • It will depart from Secunderabad at 16:25 hrs o­n 1st September 2017 (Friday) and will arrive Kochuveli at 00:30 hrs o­n Second day (i.e., Sunday).
  • In the return direction, Train No. 07120 Kochuveli- Secunderabad Special Train will depart Kochuveli at 20.30 hrs o­n 6th September 2017 (Wednesday) and will arrive at Secunderabad at 03.00 hrs o­n the Second day (i.e., Friday).
  • The halts of Secunderabad-Kochuveli-Secunderabad include Kazipet, Warangal, Khammam, Vijayawada, Tenali, o­ngole, Nellore, Gudur, Renigunta, Katpadi, Vaniyambadi, Jolarpettai, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Ottapalam, Trisur, Aluva, Ernakulan Town, Kottayam, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, Kayankulam and Kollam stations in both the directions.

 H.S. Nanded- Ernakulam-H.S.Nanded Special Trains (02 services):

  • Train No. 07505 which is H.S.Nanded – Ernakulam Special Train special trains has 15 coaches viz., o­ne AC II Tier, o­ne AC III Tier, eleven Sleeper Class, two Second General Class Coaches.
  • The Special Train will depart H.S.Nanded at 07.10 hrs o­n 1st September 2017 (Friday); arrive/depart Malkajgiri at 12.50/12.52 hrs; Kacheguda at 13.40/14.00 hrs and arrive Ernakulam at 14.00 hrs o­n next day (i.e., Saturday).
  • In the return direction, Train No. 07504 Ernakulam-H.S.Nanded Special Train will depart H.S.Nanded at 23.00 hrs o­n 4th September 2017 (Monday) and arrive/depart Kacheguda at 23.40/23.55 hrs; Malkajgiri at 00.20/00.22 hrs; arrive H.S.Nanded at 06.30 hrs o­n the Second day (i.e., Wednesday).
  • Enroute, these special trains will stop at Mudkhed, Dharmabad, Basar, Nizamabad, Kamareddy, Bolarum, Malkajgiri, Jedcherla, Mahbubnagar, Wanaparti Road, Gadwal, Kurnool City, Dhone, Gooty, Tadipatri, Muddanoor, Yerraguntla, Cuddapah, Nandalur, Rajampeta, Kodur, Renigunta, Katpadi, Vaniambadi, Jolarpettai, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Ottapalam, Trisur and Aluva stations in both the directions.

The first and the last day are particularly important in Kerala and to Malayalee communities elsewhere. Onam falls in the month of Chingam, which is the first month according to the Malayalam Calendar. The celebrations mark the Malayalam New Year, are spread over ten days, and conclude with Thiruvonam. The ten days are sequentially known as Atham, Chithira, Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradom, and Thiruvonam.

Railways to target Clusters prone to Accidents on Southern Railway

CHENNAI: Concerned over the rise in train run-over deaths in the State, railway authorities are now set to focus on clusters such as those near stations or level-crossings, which are prone to such incidents.

This first time approach  of targeting clusters, followed by recommending constructive measures, is aimed at bringing down the run-over count.

This effort involves Southern Railway, Government Railway Police and Railway Protection Force.

Mr.George, Superintendent of Police, GRP, said an analysis of previous incidents, factoring in all reasons, was being done. In the first phase, close to 10 clusters (falling withinthe GRP station limits), including Egmore, Avadi and Arakonnam have been identified. He stated that maps for each of those clusters kilometre-wise have been drawn up. “We will undertake field visits in these most vulnerable sections, in terms of higher number of incidents of death being recorded,” George said, adding that they will also be recommending measures.

The measures may include structural or infrastructural changes such as building foot overbridge (FoB), constructing walls etc. As a first step, a team of officials would take a field visit on the busy Central-Avadi section on Tuesday. The exercise would soon be expanded to other vulnerable sections in the state, officials said.

Danger Zones

Identified such clusters across the State are at Egmore, Korukkupet, Chengalpattu, Perambur, Avadi, Arakkonam, Jolarpettai, Tirupur and Salem

Flood-enforced blockade hurts Northeast Frontier Railway in best Revenue Year

Rail link between the Northeast and the mainland cut off since August 13. Track damage has also put the spotlight on alternative rail routes for bailing out the Northeast during emergencies.

GUWAHATI: Floods have cut off rail link between the Northeast and the mainland since August 13, hurting the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) in its best revenue year, besides depleting the stock of essentials across the region.

Damage to tracks has enforced a blockade that has again put the spotlight on alternative rail routes for bailing out the Northeast during emergencies.

Unlike other zones, NFR, catering primarily to eight landlocked north-eastern states besides parts of Bihar and West Bengal, is dependent on passenger traffic for revenue.

For the first time in decades, NFR topped all zones across the country to record 12.2% growth in passenger traffic between January and July this year. Passenger earnings too increased by 7.73% to touch Rs 1,009.40 crore during this period.

But two breaches on the arterial track near Telta and Sudhani stations in Bihar (between Kishanganj in Bihar and Malda in West Bengal) on August 13 came as a dampener for NFR, which has lost more than Rs 40 crore in revenue since.

The loss could cross Rs 50 crore by August 31, when the railway line is expected to be repaired for movement of trains.

“Our goods traffic is mostly inbound, which means there is hardly any loading of goods in the Northeast. Our revenue is thus passenger-dependent,” said NFR spokesperson Pranav Jyoti Sharma.

From August 13-20, NFR lost Rs 23.77 crore because of cancellation of 284 trains.

FCI stocks depleting

The nature-enforced railway blockade has hit Manipur – a victim of blockades by NGOs for long – the most.

As on August 20, Manipur had only a day’s stock of foodgrains and sugar procured by Food Corporation of India (FCI) via the railways. Mizoram followed with 11 days’ stock, Assam with 13, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland with 14 each, Tripura with 27 and Meghalaya with 29 days’ stock.

The next assessment of stock will be done on Tuesday.

FCI’s total storage capacity for foodgrains and sugar in the Northeast is 563,557 million tonnes.

According to the Kamrup Chamber of Commerce, the most influential trade body in the region, FCI warehouses being low on essentials is no cause for panic.

“Private players have sufficient quantity of essential commodities to last more than two months. Merchants are also bringing in goods by road. But the problem is NFR has halted continuous loading of wagons because of the disruption,” said the chamber’s president, Mahavir Jain.

Unlike FCI, merchants across the Northeast bring in only 30% of their goods by trains

NFR officials handling freight admitted 109 rakes, 10 of them for FCI, were stopped from being loaded in commodities hubs across the country. This was because 100 Northeast-bound rakes were not able to enter the NFR system for unloading at specific destinations in the region.

A rake has a maximum 52 wagons that are booked by a single or group of merchants. NFR handles an average 630 inbound rakes per month.

The freight service has been affected because the Guwahati-headquartered NFR’s three goods interchange points – Purnea, Katihar and Malda – are beyond the stretches where the tracks have been damaged.

Katihar and Purnea cater primarily to rice and wheat from northern India, while Malda is the interchange point for freight trains bringing in potatoes, onions, sugar, and fertiliser from western, central and southern India besides the ports on the Bay of Bengal.

Security concern for oil rakes

Seven loaded oil rakes stranded in northern West Bengal have raised security concerns for NFR. The railway zone has sought extra security fearing sabotage and pilferage of high-speed diesel and superior kerosene oil from these rakes.

“NFR moves an average 120 oil rakes per month. Some of them are loaded from the four refineries in Assam and some from two pipeline points in northern Bengal connected to two of these refineries. Each rake has 3,000 tonnes of diesel or kerosene,” a senior commercial manager said, declining to be named.

The vulnerability of the oil tankers increases manifold if they are stationary.

Alternative tracks

The Chicken’s Neck, a narrow strip of land in West Bengal connecting the Northeast to mainland India, allows little scope for alternative railway tracks.

“This disaster should make NFR give serious thought to laying tracks that can be relied upon during times of crisis. The railways has been delaying a few such projects,” Jain said.

NFR officials, however, disagreed, claiming work on one such broad gauge project — the 110.75 km Araria-Galgalia line in north-eastern Bihar — was started after a budget grant of Rs 150 crore during the 2016-17 fiscal.

The progress of work on this new line, estimated to cost Rs 838 crore has been 2% till date, according to an NFR officer.

A grant of Rs 10 crore was also provided for another project, the 50.87 km Jalalgarh-Kishanganj line in Bihar, but work has not started yet, said the officer. The anticipated cost for Jalalgarh-Kishanganj is Rs 565 crore.

“If we had either of these two lines, all goods and passenger trains could have been diverted,” the officer said.

Safety standards derailed at Railways: 40 percent of 1,219 line sections of the Railways are utilised beyond 100 percent

After every train accident that takes away lives, it is natural for people to wonder how safe our trains are. The answer to this question is—not too safe. Excessive traffic and inadequate upgrading of infrastructure are the two main causes of train derailments due to track failures.

Congestion reduces headway, or the interval between two consecutive trains running on the same route, thus increasing the chances of collisions on very busy stretches. This also eats into the time available for maintenance, according to an IndiaSpend report in IANS.

Most of India’s high-traffic rail routes lie in the Gangetic plains, according to a 2012 paper on traffic flow along express train routes in the journal ‘Physica A’. Of the 11 major accidents due to derailment or collision in 2010, eight occurred in this region, the paper said.

“We found a correlation between the low headway during the busiest time of the day and collision accidents,” said Niloy Ganguly, co-author of the paper and a professor at IIT Kharagpur. On the overbusy Delhi-Kanpur segment, between midnight and 7 am, the busiest rail traffic hours, railway staff got just 13 minutes to check the tracks, according to the paper. The rest of the day, the headway would increase to an average of 19 minutes.

The railways has ramped up considerably its maintenance technology which is also quicker but insufficient headway remains a concern.

Saturation of a section makes it vulnerable to accidents. As much as 40 per cent of 1,219 line sections of the railways are utilised beyond 100 per cent, according to a February 2015 white paper. Technically, a section using more than 90 per cent of its capacity is considered saturated.

The number of trains keeps rising while the track length does not increase accordingly. Over the last 15 years, daily tally of passenger trains rose 56 per cent—from 8,520 in 2000-01 to 13,313 in 2015-16. The number of freight trains increased by 59 per cent in the same period. But the running track length for all these trains increased by only 12 per cent in that period—from 81,865 km to 92,081 km.

According to the ‘Physica A’ paper, rail traffic, especially in the Gangetic plains, is so excessive that if all trains were to travel in accordance with their schedule, then the present infrastructure would not be able to handle the resultant traffic flow.

The paper explains that this situation is managed by making many trains wait at signals, which results in frequent delays and also an increased possibility of collision in the event of human error.

India needs more railways tracks to decrease chances of collision. Two key projects launched in 2005 are the 1,504 km-long western dedicated freight corridor (DFC) and the 1,318 km-long eastern DFC, roughly corresponding to the overworked Mumbai-Delhi and Howrah-Delhi lines where the utilisation varies between 115 per cent and 150 per cent, according to the IndiaSpend report.

When commissioned, the new freight corridors will absorb 70 per cent of the existing freight traffic on those routes, significantly freeing up line capacity. They will also boost the speed of freight trains from 25 kmph—where it has stood over the last three decades—to 70 kmph, says the report.

Yet, Indian trains are safer than those in many European countries. India’s accidents per million train kilometres, a safety index, compares favourably with Europe’s. In India, this index has more or less declined over the last decade, reducing from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.10 in 2015-16. This figure is lower than that of France or Germany (both 0.17), the report says. Far higher speed of trains in Europe—250 km per hour—could be the reason for India’s better ranking in the index.

So, the big question is: Would these resignations improve the lot on Indian Railways? Theoretically it may but practically it is difficult. All of them are only technically responsible. None of them in reality run the organisation, except conceptually. So if any improvement takes place with the changes it would only be accidental.

The trains are managed and run on the tracks by people at control, other operational staff, including Station and Assistant Station Masters (ASM), and the crucial gangmen, who are the hands, eyes and ears of railway safety. The human errors that often are blamed happen at these lower levels.

Are they inefficient? Absolutely not! The operational staff in the traffic, ASMs and the staff below them is the most efficient. They are kingpin of railway safety. It is for them that over 95 per cent of the trains across 17 zones and running track over a route of 66,687 km and a total track of 119,630 km with 7216 stations, run almost to around 95 per cent accuracy. It is the world’s biggest rail network. The leaders at the top matter marginally. The unsung heroes bear the brunt of punishment but are rarely appreciated.

The Utkal-Kalinga Express accident at Khatauli apparently happened as the railway operational staff was put under pressure to run trains at high speed while ignoring safety fundamentals. It is unheard of that when the track maintenance staff demands a 15-minute block – stoppage of traffic – the control unwisely refuses it.

The enquiry is not about human lapse to find out why this block was refused and a train at a speed of 100km was allowed to pass through virtually un-mended track but to spot the responsibility on who or what circulars of Railway Board or member, Traffic led to such disastrous consequence.

The gangmen are experienced people, they use such jugaad — putting a small rail piece to cover broken portions often but that is for just passing a train at dead speed. At Khatauli, this was used to pass a train at high speed. Surprisingly even the station master, responsible for clearing the green signal, and others were not aware of this maintenance. That also calls for probe.

No less surprising was the accident next day of the Azamgarh-Delhi Kaifiyat Express hitting an overturned dumper that was carrying material for building a new rail track. The lapses here too are obvious. How on such a busy track, almost a train following another in 90 seconds, a vehicle was allowed to cross the track without basic safety procedures and information to control and the nearest stations?

The approach is fine. But the improvements that the system is looking for require minimum investment and improving coordination. Often it is said that the gangmen are illiterate.

One reason is stated to be the inadequate number of gangmen and their long working hours often because of lack of replacement due to shortage of staff. Yes, the railways need to put more people at this level to maintain tracks. It is often now being compromised. They are the least paid but have the highest value for safety of operations. So saving on this crucial component is penny wise.

Former additional member safety of Railway Board, Kamlesh Gupta after the 2016 Indore-Patna train tragedy commented that the accident was due to rail fractures, which is very difficult to detect. Another reason for high casualty is stated to be the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches, which are said to pile up on collision as in the Khatauli accident.

The Anil Kakodkar committee suggested stainless steel Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches, which have more efficient shock absorption capacity. The railways have always been crying of lack of finances. But recent figures show that railways earn more, over 60 per cent from cancellation and dynamic fare structure. It means they earn for not giving any service and playing on psyche of shortage of berths.

The operating ratio of IR was high, at 93.6 per cent in 2013-14. There was a spike in 2009-10, from 75.9 per cent to 95.3 per cent, due to the Sixth Pay Commission. Staff costs comprise 54.5 per cent of the total expenses. There is something fundamentally wrong in railway accounting. The fare in many cases equal or surpasses the air fare.

The Railways need to revamp its internal mechanism, appoint more people at the track operation level, increase coordination to keep the tracks safe. Funds are needed but it is not the culprit for most of the rail accidents.

JSW restarts talks to acquire Italian steel major

Aferpi, formerly known as Lucchini, produces specialty long products for Railways, bars for Auto industry parts and wire rods

MUMBAI: Having lost the race to acquire Italy’s largest steel company Ilva to ArcelorMittal, Sajjan Jindal-owned JSW Group has re-initiated talks to buy Lucchini SpA, the second largest steel producer in that country.

In 2014, JSW Steel had made a bid to acquire Lucchini. However, Algeria’s Cevital Group acquired it the following year and renamed the company Aferpi (Acciaierie e Ferriere di Piombino) SpA.

Currently, JSW Steel is in talks with Cevital Group to acquire Aferpi for a valuation of $100 million (₹640 crore), sources said.

An email sent to JSW Steel officials on the Aferpi acquisition remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

With an annual steel production capacity of about 2.5 million tonne in Piombino, Lucchini was originally owned by Russia’s Severstal. The company ran into trouble in the 2008 recession that cut Europe’s steel demand by about a quarter. It was declared insolvent in 2012 and the Italian government placed Lucchini under special administration before founding a suitable buyer in Cevital Group.

Aferpi is engaged in the production of specialty long products for European railways, bars for specialised auto industry parts and wire rod mills.

The JSW Group’s talks to acquire a company in Italy comes when its promoter Sajjan Jindal has shown keen interest to produce electric cars India.

A foothold in Europe, one of the largest electric car markets, will enable the Group to gain technical knowhow on electric vehicle production and localise manufacture of components much faster, said an analyst.

Given JSW Group’s conservative approach on valuations, he said the group has made many unsuccessful bids to acquire assets abroad and India but it always stays the course on valuations.

Earlier this month, JSW Energy announced plans to invest about ₹4,000 crore to produce e-vehicles. The company is also in talks with State governments to set up plants and is holding discussions with several technology providers with plans to roll out the first electric vehicle of the group by 2020.

Tough first half for CRRC amid overcapacity, slower deliveries

The world’s largest train manufacturer’s profit slumped in the first half. CRRC saw its first-half net profit decline by 23.41 percent year-on-year to 3.67 billion yuan ($552.17 million), with revenues standing at 88.72 billion yuan, down 5.83 percent year-on-year.

BEIJING: First-half profit of CRRC Corp, the world’s largest train manufacturer, fell 23.4 percent year-on-year to 3.67 billion yuan ($552.17 million), with revenue down 5.8 percent to 88.72 billion yuan, its financial statements showed on Friday.

The first half was “extremely difficult” for CRRC, but the group sought to deal with tough conditions through “stabilizing income and lifting up profit” and those efforts had paid off, the company said in the statement.

Railway equipment sales slid 11 percent due to a “major shrinking in product deliveries,” while revenue from urban railway rolling stock jumped 35.3 percent, CRRC said.

Notably, the Chinese Standard Multiple-Unit Fuxing train series, manufactured by CRRC, began service in the first half on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line.

Meanwhile, revenues from the Chinese mainland and overseas market plunged 5.97 percent and 4.52 percent, respectively, from the same period last year, according to the statement.

The slumps highlight the uncertainties that train equipment suppliers will face in the near future, as the group, which was formed in June 2015 through a merger of two top trainmakers (China North Railway and China South Railway) has faced overcapacity in its rail transit sector and a slowdown in the country’s domestic railway market, news website thepaper.cn reported over the weekend, citing industry experts.

CRRC hopes to optimize its product structure to cope with “structural adjustment in market demand.”

But the company noted that China’s investment in the railway sector is expected to exceed 3.5 trillion yuan by 2020, with investment in railway equipment predicted to reach 500 billion yuan.

CRRC also stressed its capacity to explore overseas markets. “CRRC’s products have been exported to 102 countries and regions. China’s high-speed railways are becoming the calling cards of China’s high-end equipment,” said the statement.

In the first half, CRRC received orders for subway and heavy rail cars from Boston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Exports to Iran, Pakistan, Thailand and Argentina are also under way, according to the statement.

The Shanghai-listed company’s shares closed at 9.91 yuan on Friday, up 0.92 percent from the opening.


Why 77% of India believes Indian Railways improved under Suresh Prabhu?

Though, Suresh Prabhu offered to resign in light of recent train accidents, in his two years of tenure, the Rail Minister was seen bringing various innovative reforms in IR which were passenger-friendly, cost-effective, innovative and progressive! Here is a Review why he deserves full scoring!
Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways

According to a survey in the form of opinion polls done by RailNews on its most popular globally recognised online news portal, 77% of India believes Suresh Prabhu did a decent job with Railways.

Despite having offered to resign recently in light of the increasing number of train accidents, in his tenure of two years Prabhu was seen to have brought passenger friendly reforms in the country’s largest public sector enterprise. He has brought in multiple reforms in the Indian Railway in various sectors which were passenger-friendly, cost-effective, innovative and progressive in nature. The kind of transformation he has brought in the Indian Railways is too far sighted and the benefits of the same will be reaped by the generations to come. A review on his reforms:

  1. Merging of Railway Budget with the Union Budget: The Railway Budget was presented every year, a few days before the Union budget of India, till 2016. The Government on 21 September 2016 approved merger of the Rail and General budgets from succeeding years, ending a 92-year-old practice of a separate budget for the nation’s largest transporter. The last Railway Budget was presented on 25 February 2016 by Mr. Suresh Prabhu.
  2. Initiatives for Introduction of High Speed Trains in India: India’s prime minister Narendra Modi approved the choice of Japan to build India’s first high-speed railway. Suresh Prabhu has done remarkable effort in fulfilling the task of initiative the process of rolling out of Bullet Train in India and accordingly the related administrative works have been shaped up during his tenure. The planned rail would run some 500 km (310 mi) between Mumbai and the Ahmedabad, at a top minimum speed of 320 km/h (200 mph). Under the proposal, construction is expected to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2023. It would cost about ₹980 billion (US$15 billion) and be financed by a low-interest loan from Japan. India will use the wheel-based 300 km/hr HSR technology, instead of new maglev 600 km/hr technology of the Japan used in Chūō Shinkansen. India is expected to have its HSR line operational from 2025 onwards.
  3. Introduction of Accrual Accounting System on Indian Railways: The worldwide trend of shifting from Cash based Accounting to Accrual based Accounting is a key building block in progress towards the broader context of public sector Accounting Reform. Being a Government undertaking, IR does not follow practices in accounting which aid detailed assessment of unit costs. Government accounting system in India, in all three tiers of Governance, i.e., the Union, States and Local bodies including Autonomous or Statutory Bodies, is pre-dominantly on Cash based Accounting system. The basic principles of government accounting are enunciated in the General Financial Rules and other related legislations, manuals, etc. In recent times, there has been a paradigm shift in the priorities of public finance management from identifying resources of public finance management to fiscal prudence, efficiency and transparency in public spending. These shifts in priorities have been reflected in initiatives such as the Fiscal Responsibility & Budget Management Act and Outcome Budget. It is felt that there is a need for Financial Reporting to be in sync with the shift in priorities of Public Finance. In order to achieve this, Accounting systems the world over are being revisited with an emphasis on transition from rules to standards based Accounting and migration from Cash to Accrual based system of Accounting. Accrual Accounting provides meaningful information both for accountability and decision-making. Ministry of Railways have periodically examined the existing Accounting System of Indian Railways with a view to improve the quality of financial reporting. However, a decisive thrust towards Accrual Accountinghas been provided by the Hon’ble MR, articulated through his Budgets in 2015-16 and 2016-17. As a result, transition to Accrual Accounting has been adopted as one of the Mission areas aimed at transforming the financial and operating landscape of IR. The central theme in Accrual Accounting involves recording financial transactions in the accounting period in which they accrue and arise, whether or not a receipt or payment occurs. In contrast, Cash basis of accounting records revenue and expenditure only when the money is received or paid out. Thus the main difference between Accrual and Cash basis of Accounting is the timing of the recognition of revenue and expenses.
  4. Ending Dependence on State DISCOMs for Electricity and status at par with DISCOMs: Railways aims to reduce its energy bill by Rs 3,000 crore through the plan. Suresh Prabhu worked aggressively towards saving its annual Energy Bill and ending dependence on state DISCOMs; and have planned to expand its own power transmission lines by an additional 8,500 km through Public Private Partnership (PPP) along with investment through railways’ Capex. According to a document titled “IR’s Energy Policy and Management”, which was released on 3 November 2016, the Railways has taken up construction on following routes—Allahabad-Mughalsarai (160km), Mughalsarai-Howrah (700km), Mughalsarai-Son Nagar (130km), Delhi-Bharuch (1,100km), Delhi-Chennai (2,200km), Howrah-Mumbai (2,000km) and in South East Central Railway Zone (500km). The national carrier, which consumes 18 billion units of electricity, spends around Rs 10,000 crore on its electricity bill annually and spent Rs 9,200 crore the previous financial year. IR following the nod given by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) in 2015 also acquired the status of deemed distribution licence under the Electricity Act, 2003 bringing railways on a par with DISCOMs. At present the national transporter is working on setting up transmission lines across the dedicated freight corridor. It plans to create a network of transmission lines across the diamond quadrilateral as well. The Railways also plans to set up additional 500 km of transmission lines along South East Central Railway Zone. Towards realisation of this objective, Suresh Prabhu initiated setting up 400 km of Railways own transmission lines from Dadri to Kanpur, and additional 200 Km from Kanpur to Allahabad. Transmission lines from Sonnagar to Mughalsarai will be another 360 km in the pipeline. Another 500 km of lines are also be set up under SER by RVNL. The transporter is also working on a mega 41,000 crore energy saving plan over the next decade.
  5. High-speed WiFi Internet in 400 highest Revenue yielding Railway Stations: Suresh Prabhu has introduced High speed WiFi Internet in 400 highest revenue yielding Railway Stations of India. The project called RailWire, was launched in collaboration with Google and RailTel (a Telecom PSU under Ministry of Railways). The project had already been rolled out successfully in approximately 150 Stations and by end of 2018, Ministry of Railways will cover the target of 400 Railway Stations.
  6. Laying of new Railway Lines, Doubling Works and ElectrificationLaying of new railway tracks has doubled in the past three years if compared to the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. Since 2014-15, Railways had commissioned 1,983 km in 2014-15 and a 2,828 km in 2015-16 by way of new lines, gauge conversion and doubling of tracks. Notably, Suresh Prabhu has adopted a new metric. Since 2014-15, Railways has been measuring its achievements on the basis of how many kilometres of lines were “commissioned”. Earlier, it used to be how many kilometres were physically constructed during a particular financial year. While the Commissioner of Railway Safety would have given a safety certificate for passenger trains to run on the line, the running of freight trains does not require any such safety certificate. All our broad gauge lines will be electrified which will help in reducing emissions. Suresh Prabhu led Rail Ministry had fast-tracked the electrification of rail lines works and in fact, doubled the pace. Suresh Prabhu asserted that the Railways reached a new record in terms of “electrification, laying of new lines, track-doubling works. Prabhu also underlined the importance of sanctioning the work of track-doubling aggressively and in the last two-and-a-half years, sanctioned a 12,500 km of track-doubling work (in the last 75 years, the Congress led government covered only 15,000 km). This is crystal clear indication of the stand Suresh Prabhu has taken while improving the track network.
  7. Cleanliness in Railways:  Suresh Prabhu led Indian Railways gave Special Focus on Cleanliness at Railway Stations and in trains throughout the ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’, through out the nation every year between August 16 to 31. He has also directed that officers and staff of all departments should be made aware of this campaign and should be substantially involved in various activities during ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’.
  8. Integrated Mobile App: Suresh Prabhu pioneered for launch of an integrated mobile application to cater to various passenger requirements, including ticket booking, inquiry, on-board cleaning and ordering meal on a single platform code named as “Rail SAARTHI” (synergised advanced application rail travel help and information). This App will also cater for various other needs such as safety for women, complaint facility and suggestion for improvement.
  9. One-ICT and IT Revolution in Indian Railways: Suresh Prabhu initiated ambitious “Big Data” convergence plan called “One-ICT” to enhance and modernise services and operations. The One-ICT program will enable the Indian Railways to meet global benchmarks. Global bids inviting participation from transportation and IT companies. Prior to One-ICT the various applications have mostly functioned as silos and have not added enough value to the business of running trains. One-ICT, besides bringing about vast improvements in operational efficiency, will work as a one-stop-solution IT platform to unlock the business potentials of the Indian Railways by optimising freight and passenger operations too. As part of the same, Railways’ launched various IT enabled Services – one among them is the “Digital Contract” – a system of Digitisation of Railways’ supply chain across all Zones, to ensure greater transparency and ease of doing business. The system digitises processes like bill submission, inspection, dispatches, receipt, bill passing, payments and warranty monitoring and enables use of analytics for increasing supply chain efficiency in real time. With 100 percent e-tenders and e-auctions already assimilated into the system, railways is taking these initiatives to achieve seamless flow of material, finances and information. Self-aware” trains – or the “super-brain” concept for locomotive management – are among the new rail technologies being experimented under One-ICT.
  10. Cashless Railway Transactions: As on date, 58 per cent of rail travellers are practising the usage of IT to book train tickets. There are 23 million passengers who travel by Railways every day and the Cashless Railway transaction has been highly successful during Suresh Prabhu’s tenure. A large number of POS Devices were deployed all over the Railway Stations in the country during his tenure. This has facilitated the passengers to move with less cash during the train journeys.
  11. Mulling the proposal to link Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal: Suresh Prabhu led Indian Railways initiated the proposal to link Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal with Rail network as India has very cordial relations with those countries and helping to connect those countries with railway lines will not only increase interaction, tourism, trade, employment and connectivity for those countries with India, but also empower the region with greater connectivity. Suresh Prabhu said that sectors like Horticulture, Floriculture, Handicraft, Industry, Agriculture, Goods and other allied markets in those countries will get benefited in the region and importantly gets financial empowerment while quickly selling their products in a bigger market like India. The Railway lines will enhance the bilateral relationships between those countries too for a peace and stable region, he said, further adding that cement, fertilisers, steel industries in those countries are also more likely to be benefitted from this policy.
  12. Launching of Vistadome Coaches: India’s first train with glass-domed ceiling, 360 degrees reclining passenger seats were also launched successfully by Suresh Prabhu for giving more delightful travelling experience to Railway passengers and to promote tourism.
  13. Book-now-Pay-later-Service for TATKAL Bookings: The latest reform introduced by Suresh Prabhu was that of the book-now-pay-later service for tatkal bookings offered by IRCTC. The traffic on the portal, which was earlier plagued by a multitude of issues, was seen growing as a result of the reform.
  14. IRCTC onboard catering: Yeah, this is one serious affair, where government need to look into. For a trial basis catering is made optional on selected premium trains. The four premium pairs of trains where the trial is to be conducted are Nizamuddin-Mumbai Central (12953-12954) August Kranti Rajdhani, New Delhi-Patna Rajdhani (12309-12310), Pune-Secunderabad Shatabdi Express (12025-26) and Howrah-Puri Shatabdi Express (12277-12278). IRCTC also plans to serve local cuisines to passengers onboard (Will be a big relief from undercooked chapatis!)
  15. Introduction of New Trains series: 4 New trains series were introduced to run on various Zonal Rail systems – one for unreserved passengers and three for reserved ones – they are:- Humsafar Express: A fully AC train with optional service for meals; Tejas Express: It will showcase the future of train travel in India with operating speeds of 130 kmph; Uday Express: Overnight double-decker train, which will run on the busiest of routes. It will have 40% more passenger capacity and Antyodaya Express: A superfast train for those travelling on long routes. Will be fully unreserved.
  16. Varied Food Options: Passengers would be able to order pizzas and burgers on the Indian Railways website. Dominos, KFC would be setting up their restaurants at stations.
  17. Social Media Connect: I am sure, if you are reading this, you must have heard the heroic deeds of our Railway Minister, addressing problems of passengers in real time using twitter handle RailMinIndia. Issues ranging from overcharging of Rail Neer to cleaning of dirty coaches have been taken care of just by a small tweet. So folks, keep tweeting, you never know Prabhu tumhari bhi sun le!
  18. Booking Capacity: Booking tatkal e-tickets is no longer a dream. No more woes of “paise kat gaye lekin ticket book nahi hua”. IRCTC has increased its e-ticket booking capacity many folds. The IRCTC’s website is now capable of booking 7200 e-tickets per minute. Yes, with all that jazz during booking timings you need to believe me on this!
  19. Dedicated freight corridor: Railways have started building railways tracks dedicated to goods trains. This will speed up the delivery time taken by railway transport. I guess we can safely assume now that passenger trains won’t be stopped now to make way for goods trains.
  20. Personal Mail to All IRCTC Users: It’s rare that a Union Minister of Cabinet Rank sends an email to citizens of a Country listing their achievements towards a sense of responsibility to keen the citizen informed of the actions taken to improve the services. That’s exactly what Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways has done! Since he took over as the Railway Minister, Indian Railways has seen numerous changes and it is quite evident from hundreds and thousands of Social Media updates that we see. The mail sent to all IRCTC users, first talks about the challenges the ministry faced with overstretched infrastructure, inadequate carrying capacity and huge unmet passenger demand. However, over a two-and-half year period they seem to have turned things around to a large extent.
  21. Infrastructure Boost: A capital expenditure of Rs.94,000 Cr in 2015-16 against 2009-14 annual average of Rs.46,000 Cr. has been spent. a 2,828 kms of broad gauge lines were commissioned in 2015-16 against 2009-14 annual average of 1,528 kms. Also, 1,730 kms of electrification completed in 2015-16 against 2009-14 annual average of 1184 kms and 545 kms broad gauge lines commissioned in North Eastern India in 2015-16 against 2009-14 annual average of 110 kms.
  22. Energy Efficiency measures, Clean Fuel and one-third Reduction in Emissions by 2030: Even though Indian Railways is 12 times more energy efficient in freight traffic and three times more in passenger traffic compared to roadways, use of renewable sources of energy have been aggressively pursued and promoted by Suresh Prabhu for which a big target has been set to achieve 1000 Mw of solar power and 170 Mw of wind power installed capacities so as to reduce carbon footprint, and hence a low carbon growth strategy has been adopted to reduce emission intensity by 33 per cent by the year 2030 with 2025 as the base year by improving traction fuel and energy efficiency.
  23. Water Conservation: On the water front, the Indian Railways has decided to recycle water, promote rain water harvesting systems and revive of water bodies in Railway areas across the country. Towards this objective, various water bodies were recharged on the Indian Railways (example: Ancient Water Well built during Kakatiya Dynasty which was lying dry in 2016 in the Railway area at Moula-Ali in Secunderabad was revived and recharged by SCR). The Indian Railways will be saving Rs 300 crore a year through a concerted effort to conserve water and restore water bodies on rail land across the country, said Suresh Prabhu. It has set a target to recycle 20 crore litres per day. The installed capacity of recycling 1 crore liters per day is being enhanced to 3.5 crore litres per day by the end of 2017 through a concerted effort. Once the recycling potential of 20 crore litres per day is achieved, the Railways shall save Rs 300 crore per year only on its water bill, apart from saving precious water resources. Water recycling plants provided already at 30 locations saving 12 million litres of water per day. Water audit is underway at the major water consumption centres and rainwater harvesting systems already provided at more than 2200 locations and are being extended further.
  24. Backup Signalling System at various strategically important Stations: There are backup systems for each function like electrical interlocking, power supply, panels, signals and others at the station. But there was no backup for the entire train management system at the stations. To provide an alternate to the Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) System that operates rail points and signals, the IR will soon introduce a Backup Signaling System (BBS) for smooth train operations. The move comes after a major fire broke out at the Route Relay Interlocking panel at Itarsi Railway Station in June, 2015 which led to major disruptions in rail traffic with over 2,000 trains cancelled. The new system operates through fibre optics which helps prevent disruptions in train services. This will provide a backup for the entire train route at the railway station. The system is designed in such a way that it may be easy to transfer data to a laptop or a similar equipment and allow trains to pass through. Suresh Prabhu said that the introduction of this system will ensure that at least 90 per cent of trains can be operated when a signal cabin is disabled. The new backup system was developed by the RDSO which will be introduced in all railway stations since the trials conducted at Nishatpura Railway station under West Central Railway was proved to be successful following which the CRS has also approved this newly introduced system. The move is also part of automatic safety systems like protection of trains and warning systems.
  25. Installation of Bio-toilets in Coaches: There are 55,000 coaches in service on Indian Railways and there is a need to ensure clean and healthy environment by Railways. Suresh Prabhu said that to meet the objective, 2,20,000 bio-toilets were required to be installed in the coaches operating across the country. Under the leadership of Suresh Prabhu around 54,188 bio-toilets had already been fitted in the coaches by 2016 end, and taking into consideration the remaining coaches and resources available with the Railways, Suresh Prabhu said that it would be possible to install bio-toilets in all coaches by 2021-22.
  26. Jan Aushadhi Stores at 1000 Railway Stations: Indian Railways plans are afoot to open Jan Aushadhi stores at around 1,000 major railway stations across India as part of drive to make quality medicines available at low cost to the public. Efforts were put in place to ensure prescription of generic medicines by doctors for the benefit of patients, poor people in smaller towns and villages.
  27. Plan to increase Rail Revenue to Rs.2 lakh Crore in next 2 years: Suresh Prabhu has put in place a short-term plan to increase rail revenue to Rs.2 lakh crore in next two years. He said the national carrier is targeting to earn USD 6-7 billion in none-fare revenue in the next few years. The target looks like a tall order given that currently railways has an annual revenue of Rs 1.7 lakh crore and growth in passenger and freight segments have been tepid. However, the minister was hopeful that it could be achieved by detailed planning and a more focused market approach. If achieved, the increased revenue will bring down the railway operation ratio to healthier levels of 90-91%.  As per the roadmap, the Railways will launch more super premium trains on high traction routes with fares of these trains are going to be more than those of Rajdhani and Shatabdi. The target is to take the passenger revenue to Rs 56,000 crore from Rs 50,000 crore in the next two years. The railways also plans to increase the number of air-conditioned coaches on existing trains as the demand for the third AC class is rising. Railway wants its trains to be profitable sector wise, just like airlines, and hence is focusing on ramping up capacity in sectors where there is demand and where passengers are willing to pay surge prices during the peak season, the official said. The Railways also wants to wipe out the huge passenger subsidy burden gradually and has been pushing for more funds from the finance ministry. Another target that minister Prabhu has set is to boost non-fare revenues that basically include revenues from advertising and monetisation of rail assets. The target is to get more than 10% of total revenue from this segment, the official said. With its newly launched non fare policy, which includes private brands and e-Commerce firms tying up to use railways’ assets for advertising and other commercial exploitation, railways expects to get more than Rs 20,000 crore annually. It also plans to expand its freight basket to boost revenues. The focus will be to reduce reliance on coal, which is currently almost 45% of total revenue. IR designed new rakes for auto sector which would improve our service and capacity. The demand for iron ore and steel is picking up. I think for the next two years, we’ll see a lot of revenue from these segments. IR is also banking on the two dedicated freight corridors — eastern and western — being built at an investment of Rs 80,000-crore, which will add 3,300 km of fresh capacity to the rail network and will take away almost 70% of freight traffic from the existing network. These freight corridors will decongest the existing network, after which we’ll be able to run semi-high speed trains on corridors such as Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah,” an official from railway traffic services said. “It could lead to a huge boost in passenger revenue,” he added.
  28. Listing of five PSUs under the Railway MinistryThe Cabinet has approved listing of five PSUs under the railway ministry on stock exchanges. The PSUs under the Ministry of Railways that launched initial public offerings (IPO) were Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, IRCON International Ltd, Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) Ltd, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and RITES Ltd.
  29. IR’s Long Term Tariff Contracts with discount scheme to boost Freight: Under the Long Term Tariff Contracts (LTTC) policy, customers gets discounts in the range of 1.5-35 per cent based on the incremental growth in volume of cargo. Customers are required to offer at least 1 mt of traffic per annum. The discounts will be based on the gross freight revenue in return for commitment to provide guaranteed traffic by a customer. India Inc is upbeat about the Suresh Prabhu’s plan to have LTTC with consumers in cement, steel and fertiliser sectors, with many companies now willing to bring in more freight traffic to the national transporter. The new plan is likely to bring back the traffic the railways lost in the recent years. It is expecting an increase of six per cent in its freight traffic to 1,165 million tonne (mt) in 2017-18, compared with 1,093.5 mt in FY17. Over a period of 60 years, the share of railways on total freight traffic has declined from 89 per cent to 30 per cent, with the majority of the traffic moving towards the road sector. Pushed by long-term contracts, the segments in which the railways is expecting a major rise in traffic in FY18 include container services (9.9 per cent), pig iron and finished steel (7.52 per cent), coal (6.7 per cent) and iron ore (6.7 per cent). “This (the discount scheme) is a clear effort from the railways to bring back its lost traffic. As of now, about 65 per cent of cement sector traffic is through road and 30 per cent is through rail route, while the remaining five per cent is by water. The new incentives offered may help the cement sector and will bring in additional traffic to railways. The railways is targeting 113 mt traffic from the cement sector following the new scheme. The national carrier had set a target of 110 mt for FY17, but due to decline in infrastructure activities because of demonetisation till recently, it was in the range of only 90-100 mt. While coal constitutes 45 per cent of the railways’ freight traffic share, cement makes up eight per cent, while foodgrain and steel constitute seven per cent each. According to the Revised Estimates for 2016-17, revenue from freight traffic will be Rs 1,08,900 crore. The railways expects it to rise by 8.5 per cent to Rs 1,18,157 crore in FY18, primarily through an increase in cargo volumes. Freight loading is expected to fall marginally to 1,093.5 mt in FY17 from 1,095 mt in FY16. Any such new commitments for cargo movement should not be at the cost of the availability of covered rakes for evacuation of fertiliser from fertiliser plants, which operate round the clock. Of late, fertiliser plants have been facing constraints in timely availability of rakes. About 80 per cent of fertiliser movement take place through the railways, which rakes in revenue of about Rs 7,000 crore annually. For FY18, total coal traffic is expected to be 555 mt, compared to a revised target of 520 mt in FY17. The target from raw materials for steel, pig iron and finished steel for the next financial year comes to around 72 mt, iron ore at 142.75 mt, fertilisers at 54 mt and petroleum products at 45 mt. The railways transports nearly 75-80 per cent of the steel produced in the country. Since the movement of iron ore and steel depend on the quantity of the commodity and the distance covered, it varies from company to company, an expert said. SAIL has had a long-lasting relationship with IR, being both a freight customer and supplier for them. We expect to benefit as and when the guidelines are implemented. SAIL is currently moving 50-60 mt of steel, iron ore and coal through the railways. As we ramp up our production from the current level of 15 mt to 20 mt in the coming years, we expect to add more traffic to the rail network of the country.
  30. Joint Venture MOUs with State Governments: Indian Railways, under the leadership of Suresh Prabhu as the Railway Minister had entered into Joint Ventures established with state Governments to multiply the Railway infrastructure creation and development across the country on cost sharing basis. As on date 21 states have singed the pacts with Railways and other states are about to ink the same shortly.

Apart from the above, various efforts were made by Suresh Prabhu as Union Minister of Railways. like Introduction of Deendayalu Coaches for general class passengers, Single person accountability for all facilities on a train, One of the world’s cheapest travel insurance for our passengers. At a cost of only 92 paise one can get insurance of up to Rs. 10 Lakh, Water vending machines at stations, Reserved accommodation capacity increased to 44.7 Cr from 37.1 Cr, Launch of Janani Sewa: Provision of baby foods at stations, Clean my Coach service for on board housekeeping service, Community partnership for beautifying stations, Complaint resolution through social media, dedicated helpline numbers, New train products : Tejas, Hamsafar, UDAY, Antyoday catering to different requirements of our passengers, largest ever online recruitment exam conducted with over 94 lakh applications, 100% E-procurement of goods implemented to ensure transparency, India’s fastest train Gatimaan Express launched, Trials of Talgo trains capable of running at 200 kmph successfully completed, Key result areas defined for ensuring accountability, objective performance appraisal, Transparent process in key appointments, transfers, promotions, HR audit done for right sizing, Online portal ‘Nivaran’ for employee grievance redressal, Mass mobilisation programs like Swachhta Saptah conducted, Collaboration between India and Japan on Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed Rail project, Collaboration with global players to co-create best-in-class technology and effect modernization of Indian Railways, High speed Wi-Fi at 70+ railway stations across India in partnership with Google, Best-in-class technological solutions for project management and monitoring, Collaboration with premier educational institutes for technology diffusion in Indian Railways, Leveraging technology to ease passengers by providing services like E-catering, E-wheelchair etc, Upgrading IRCTC website handling capacity to 1,20,000 number of simultaneous users, Sale of tickets through ticket vending machines, Ticket booking through international debit/credit cards, Cancellation of PRS tickets through cell phones, Port congestion charges and busy season surcharge dropped, Dual pricing policy of iron ore withdrawn, Siding policy liberalised, Time tabled freight services introduced, Container sector opened up for more commodities, The mail also listed many other initiatives which are currently in process of getting implemented:, Redevelopment of stations into world class modern terminals, A five year investment plan of Rs. 8.56 Lakh Cr for infrastructure augmentation, More structural reforms and creation of new organizations to keep pace with the changing requirements, a big push on enhancing non fare revenue through advertisings, leasing out of spaces etcm Mission ‘Zero Accident’ to further improve safety on Indian Railways, Improved port connectivity to stimulate trade, Two Dedicated Freight Corridors to be commissioned by 2019, All capital cities of North Eastern states to be connected with broad gauge line by 2020, Making Railway tracks 100% human waste discharge free through use of Bio-Toilets, working on the target of 1000 MW solar power generation in next 5 years, Establishment of Rail University as a holistic knowledge centre for Railways, Sale of UTS tickets through handheld terminals and bar coded tickets, LED luminaries at all stations and many more, Suresh Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister of Railways stands top among all the erstwhile Railway Ministers of India.

Railway Reforms should continue with a sharper eye on Safety and Execution

At around 7 am on Wednesday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu called up the Prime Minister’s residence to seek an appointment. The minister insisted he wanted to meet the PM immediately. The PM apparently conveyed the message that Prabhu could meet him after the cabinet meeting scheduled to be held that day. Prabhu seemed restless; he woke up at 4 am that day and instructed his key officers to move in no time to the Rail Bhawan’s control room. 

Soon after the cabinet meeting ended and Prabhu had a brief interaction with the PM, he tweeted, saying he was extremely pained by the “accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives”. Then he announced he had offered to resign. “Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait”, he clarified. He did not come to his office; instead he left the PMO and headed straight to an “undisclosed” location. “We have no clue. He has gone out of Delhi,” said one of his key aides when media persons rushed to Rail Bhawan that afternoon to hear from the horse’s mouth.

When we spoke with four railway officers to piece together this report. None wanted to come on record. At least on two points, they echoed the same versions. First, the two rail accidents in four days — Kalinga Utkal Express derailment at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar (in which 22 died and 106 were injured) and Kaifiyat Express derailment at Auraiya (25 injured), both in Uttar Pradesh — took place because of human error by railway employees. Two of them doubted the authenticity of the control room audio clips that got circulated after the first incident, but conceded that there was enough proof to conclude that the men on the ground goofed up and allowed the train to pass at high speed despite glitches on the track. The audio clips make it clear that punctuality got precedence over safety. 

Second, officers close to Prabhu said the minister is indeed emotional. He thought of quitting soon after he had returned from the site of the Indore-Patna Express derailment last November, one of the worst train accidents that resulted in 150 deaths. Yes, poor safety statistics, 251 death from 145 derailments in the last two and half years alone will continue to haunt Prabhu or his replacement. And if the PM does replace Prabhu, the new minister will surely accord the highest priority on safety. But that raises several questions on other fronts.

Will there be a pause on spending on rail infra – Rs 4 lakh crore has been spent between 2014 and 2018 as against Rs 4.9 lakh crore between 1947 and 2014? Or, will the IR succeed in mobilizing huge extra budgetary resources (like, for instance, the Rs 1.5 crore loan taken from the Life Insurance Corporation)? Or, will the raging safety debate slow down the highspeed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, for which the government needs to cough up just 20% of the proposed Rs 1 lakh crore; the rest will come from a Japanese government loan at a meagre 0.1% interest? 

Prabhu may have failed the nation on safety, but will a new minister be able to match him on the reforms front? I wish the new minister won’t take the railways on older tracks, like announcing new trains and laying foundations without any followup, a railway insider quips. 

IR Control Room Voiceovers 

Excerpts of audio clips, purportedly between the Khatauli station master and Delhi division control room ahead of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailment that killed 22 and injured 106. It appears a 20-minute block was asked for maintenance work, but was denied by the Delhi division’s control room:

1ST VOICE: Khatauli…Abhi nahi chale Utkal? Signal de de? (From Khatauli…Utkal Express has not started? Should we give the signal?)

2ND VOICE: Abhi nahin… (Not now)

1ST VOICE: Khatauli…20 minutes ka PWI block mang rahe hain (Khatauli…They are asking for a 20-minute maintenance work block); PWI is the permanent way inspector who heads the team of gangmen entrusted to physically check the tracks

3RD VOICE: Ye kaun sa block hain? (Which block is this?)

1ST VOICE: Pata nahin, koi gluejoint change karne ke liye bol rahe hain. Main isko bol raha hu, gaadiyo ka group hain. Ye kaise hoga? (I don’t know exactly. They are talking about changing some joints; I was telling how can we order a block when there is a queue of trains?) ….. De du 15-minute ka block? (Should we give it a 15-minute block?)

4TH VOICE: Block ka time nahi hain. Gaadiya bohut hain…(There’s no time for the block. There are a number of trains)

1ST VOICE: Thik hain (okay)

CEC recommends transportation of Iron Ore by Rail in next 2 years to protect environment

If the proposed measures are implemented, it will result in transportation of at least 70% of iron ore through Railways/conveyor belts in these districts

BALLARI: Transportation of iron ore from Ballari, Chitradurga and Tumkuru districts by road is likely to end in the next two years with the Supreme Court constituted Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommending its transportation through conveyor belts/railways to prevent environmental degradation.

M.K. Jiwrajka, former member secretary of CEC, has submitted a 57-page report to the apex court urging it to direct mining lessees and steel plants to install conveyer systems within 21 months, including the time required for right of way and Forest (Conservation) Act approvals. “If the proposed measures are implemented, it will result in transportation of at least 70% of iron ore through conveyor belts/railways in these districts.

Though production will gradually increase from 29 million metric tonnes to 40 million metric tonnes in the next five years, the ore that will be transported by road will be much less than the present level. Thus, the environmental degradation caused by transportation of ore by road will be contained,” said Mr Jiwarjka stated in his report submitted to the court on August 22.

Mr Jiwrajka, a retired IFS officer, who dealt with Karnataka’sillegal mining case  on behalf of the CEC in the apex court, said that the proposed scheme of transportation would provide for automatic and in-built safeguards to ensure that the Rs 15,000 crore socio-economic ameliorative measures in the mining ravaged areas under the Karnataka Mining Environment Restoration Corporation were implemented. He said that JSW Steel Ltd., the largest buyers of iron ore, should construct closed covered conveyer system between Nandllhalli to its plant and linked conveyor systems to transport at least 15 MMT of iron ore.  The apex court is expected to take this matter for hearing on September 14.

GRP clueless in Bogie burning case of Ranchi-Chopan Express

RANCHI: Some 24 hours after one of the Ranchi-Chopan Express general bogies was set on fire at platform number 5 of Ranchi Railway Station, the Government Railway Police (GRP) remains completely clueless about the person involved in absence of any Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras around.

However, forensic team has been working on whatsoever proof it could collect from the spot of crime to get more out of how bogie was set on fire from inside.

“We have been working on whatever evidence we could get from the crime scene, including a travel backpack which contained nothing more than 39 chits all with We Want Justice – MSG sort of thing written in them. A follower of Dera Sachcha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh Ji Insaan is suspected to have tried to disperse the chits in public but might have failed to do so and would have set the bogie on fire. We are trying our best to nab him and his companions if any while Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team is working separately on the evidences they collected, including handwritings,” said GRP (Ranchi) In-Charge Anil Singh on Saturday.

Meanwhile, security remained beefed up on Saturday with added police personnel and dog squad on Ranchi Railway Station. “We have also asked officials to keep tab on suspicious persons and activities in and around railway station. We are trying our best to get CCTVs for platform numbers 4 and 5 which have so far remained vulnerable as far as security concerns are concerned. The main problem is a narrow passage which we had to come up with for the use of railway staff residing on the other side of the wall in Railway Colony,” said Senior DCM Neeraj Kumar.

Notably, Gurmeet Ram Raheem was convicted on Friday in a rape case registered way back in 2002, after which thousands of his followers turned violent in many cities in country, mainly in Panchkula in Haryana where as many as 28 people were killed, primarily claimed by them. The GRP and other officials in Ranchi believe that the accident which took place at Ranchi Railway Station was orchestrated by one of his followers who, failing to cause more damage to Indian Railways, set the bogie which he was travelling in on fire after the train terminated at Ranchi Railway Station.

“He must have been a traveller and was perhaps alone as handwritings on all the chits are matching prima facie. Two bottles of petrol were also found in search conducted after the incident,” said Singh.

Kumar added that the security arrangements at the railway station and in trains leaving from here were being reviewed and situation was pretty under control. “There are not many Dera followers in this part of country. However, we are taking all precautions,” said the Sr. DCM.

Meeting between S.W.Railways and Govt.of Karnataka on Development of Railway infra works

BANGALORE: A meeting was held between Railway Officials and Government of Karnataka at Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru on Thursday last, to discuss various issues regarding development of Railways in Karnataka in general and Bengaluru in particular.  The meeting was chaired by Chief Secretary of Govt. of Karnataka along with General Manager of South Western Railway and other senior Railway officials. Additional Chief Secretary/Infrastructure, Additional  Chief Secretary Urban Development, MD BMRCL and State Govt. officials also participated in the meeting.

Railway gave detailed presentation about existing short distance services being run by Railways within Bengaluru area to cater to commuters, MOU with state government and land issues. It was brought out that presently 94 short distance services are being run by Railways through various sections in and around Bengaluru. It was noted that that for considering running of additional services, infrastructure of present railway network needs to be augmented in a big way with doubling/quadrupling of Railway lines, Electrification and automatic Signaling. Certain infrastructural works for cost sharing like Doubling of Hosur-Baiyyappanahalli line, 3rd and 4th lines between Bangalore and Whitfield, doubling of Hebbal line, Airport connectivity etc were discussed.

Meanwhile plan for conversion of existing services to MEMU will continue. State Government was also requested to develop approach to the New Baiyyappanahalli terminal under construction and the Banaswadi station which are going to be used shortly for long distance trains. BMRCL was asked to share information on Metro alignments near existing Railway stations for better integration. Railway also requested for early handing over of small patch of defense land on Old Madras Road side of Road over bridge to complete the old important unfinished ROB work.

Engineering Dept.of Pune Division starts Close Monitoring of Works related to Repair and Track Maintenance

CR’s Pune Division on toes after increase in derailment cases. Illegal block repairs carried out by workers but no major mishap reported so far; authorities decide to up their vigil

PUNE: Two train derailments within a span of five days in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh have sent shockwaves across the country. While the Kaifiyat Express derailment resulted in injuring 100 passengers, the Utkal Express accident killed nearly 23. Both the incidents brought to the fore “unofficial” maintenance of railway tracks carried out by contractual workers. Now, taking serious cognizance of the issue, the Pune railway division has decided to maintain the tracks and ensure the safety of commuters.

The railway division’s engineering department has started closely monitoring works related to repair and maintenance of these tracks. While there have been incidents where the contractual workers are caught and fined for not maintaining the tracks properly, fortunately no severe mishaps have taken place in the city so far.

B K Dadabhoy, Pune divisional railway manager, informed, “The workers are always allotted maintenance blocks to carry out repairs. In case of any emergency, a particular block is handed over to them to carry out the work. There is a system of planned maintenance blocks in place. In case of the Utkal Express derailment, the authorities had refused to repair that particular block. However, the workers carried out illegal repairs there. Though after the incident, we have become extra cautious and are conducting round-the-clock surveillance to ensure that the tracks are regularly maintained. Passenger-safety is of prime importance. Also, we do not want to disrupt the train schedule on any of our routes.”

While the railway authorities claim that all is well, Pune-Lonavala trains that run on four tracks are in an urgent need for attention as they are over 40-years-old. The demand to replace or repair these tracks has taken force after a local train in Mumbai’s Mahim Railway Station derailed on Friday morning. Four coaches were thrown off the track and five passengers were reportedly injured.

Harsha Shah, president of the Railway Pravasi Group, lamented, “In March 1978, the Pune to Lonavala local train service had started. These trains are in a worst condition now and need to be replaced on priority basis. Every day, thousands of passengers commute from Lonavla, Talegaon Dabhade, Chinchwad and other stations to Pune. The seats are also damaged and the trains are not maintained regularly.”

When asked about the issue raised by Shah, Dadabhoy explained, “We are currently operating four local trains between Pune and Lonavala and they are maintained properly on a regular basis. As of now, there is no official demand sent to us to get new trains. However, in the coming years, owing to a larger population travelling in these trains, we would need to rope in new ones for the route.”

Meanwhile, talking about the maintenance work, a senior railway official, on condition of anonymity, shared, “Maintenance and repair work of the railway tracks are a continuous process, which are given to the contractors under the Pune railway division. There are instances when the repairs are delayed, resulting in hampering the train schedules some times. We have repeatedly instructed them and even warned not to carry out unofficial maintenance or repair works for any blocks. After the two rail accidents in UP, all the track inspection officials and superiors of the Pune railway division are ensuring stronger vigil on these workers.”

445 Trains cancelled over Dera violence

Ram Rahim Supporters also set 2 Railway Stations afire in Punjab. Malout and Balluanna Railway stations which falls under the Ambala Division of Northern Railway were partially torched by the angry followers as violence spread across Punjab in the aftermath of the court’s verdict, officials said.

As many as 445 trains have been cancelled due to the law and order situation in Punjab and Haryana as Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in a rape case, officials said.

“485 train services have been affected (due to the violence). Of these, 445 stood cancelled,” Neeraj Sharma, spokesperson, Northern Railway, said.
The railways said the accumulative figure for cancelled trains on six days, since August 23 till August 28, was at 445.
Malout and Balluanna railway stations in Punjab were partially burnt by angry followers of the Dera chief as violence spread across Punjab in the aftermath of the court’s verdict, officials said. Two railway stations in Punjab were set on fire by followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, soon after the self-styled godman was convicted in a rape case by a CBI court in Panchkula in Haryana today.

“Two stations have been affected and we are still getting inputs on the extent of damage. No injuries have been reported so far,” Northern Railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma told PTI. The Northern Railway had cancelled 211 trains to and from Haryana since August 23 up to August 27.

Before the court verdict, the 50-year-old Dera head had appealed to his followers to maintain peace.
At least 30 people have lost their lives in the violence after the verdict was announced.

Passenger Safety will be Topmost Priority of Railways: Ashwani Lohani, CRB

Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani says passenger safety will be the topmost priority of railways, followed by cleanliness, improvement of stations and ending corruption

NEW DELHI: The safety of passengers will be the topmost priority of the railways, new Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani said after assuming the charge on Thursday.

The Railway Ministry had on Wednesday appointed Lohani as the chairman of Railway Board after A.K. Mital had tendered his resignation following two derailments within a span of five days.

“Safety will be our topmost priority, of course. Cleanliness, improvement of stations, and ending corruption and VIP culture would be other areas of focus,” Lohani told reporters in New Delhi. He further said it was an “emotional moment for me”. “There are lot of expectations and the railways will work hard to improve.”

Lohani, an officer of the railway mechanical service, had earlier served as the divisional railway manager (DRM) in Delhi.

New Metro Rail policy stresses on States to improve Viability: ICRA Report

The report elaborated that the viability can be improved by promoting transit-oriented development (TOD) and allying it with real estate development, improving last-mile connectivity as well as attracting private investments.

The new metro rail policy empowers states, by putting the onus on them to improve project viability by stressing on economic viability and private participation, according to a recent ICRA report.

The report elaborated that the viability can be improved by promoting transit-oriented development (TOD) and allying it with real estate development, improving last-mile connectivity as well as attracting private investments.

“The new metro rail policy will increase the state government’s role and responsibility in developing the new metro projects,” K Ravichandran, Senior Vice-President and Group-Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA, said in a statement.

The policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals, including alternate transit mode analysis to ensure that the least-cost and most-efficient mass transit mode is selected for public transport, the report pointed out.

Further, it also proposes an independent third-party assessment of proposals by government identified agencies.

“However, the policy’s increased emphasis on PPP model for metro development is expected to face challenges, given the low ridership witnessed in some of the operational metro projects and subdued interest of the private sector in taking up PPP projects,” Ravichandran said.

The PPP in the metro rail sector has so far been limited to only six such projects, one of which (Mumbai Metro Ph-2) was terminated before the start while another one (the Delhi Airport Line) was terminated after it became operational.

Currently, there are three operational PPP-based Metro projects (one in Mumbai, and two in Gurugram) while one project is under implementation (Hyderabad Metro).

The new policy plans to empower states to regulate and set up a Fare-Fixation Authority as well as promoting other non-fare revenues such as advertisements, lease of space, it noted.

Also there are provisions to raise resources using innovative mechanisms like ‘Betterment Levy’ on nearby assets, issuance of corporate bonds and improve last-mile connectivity for a catchment area of nearly five km, to promote metro ridership.

Nitin Gadkari may get Railway Ministry even as Narendra Modi reserves decision on Suresh Prabhu

File Pic: Union Shipping and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari during the inauguration of Bio-Diesel Dispenser for Rail Engines at Haldia in West Bengal on June 24, 2015. Mr.S.Chaturvedi, President of Bio-Diesel Association also seen in the picture.

NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari may get the additional charge of the Ministry of Railways if Union railways minister Suresh Prabhu’s resignation is accepted.

Prabhu had offered to resign on Wednesday taking moral responsibility for train mishaps, the most recent being the Kaifiyat Express which derailed on Wednesday, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reserved his decision and asked him to wait. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had also reiterated that Modi will take a stand on the resignation later.

Gadkari has emerged as a top favourite with several media reports claiming that he may be asked to take charge of the railway ministry.

And with a cabinet reshuffle already on the cards, a decision could be announced anytime soon. With Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) now part of the NDA alliance, a cabinet expansion is likely with several new faces finding space in the Narendra Modi cabinet.

According to party insiders, talks of a joint infrastructure ministry has re-emerged as well. The new ministry, it is being said, might be created combining shipping, highways, and railways or civil aviation and railways.

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The possibility of the latter taking place seems higher, especially since Gadkari is part of the five-member ministerial panel, headed by Jaitley, that was tasked with deciding on the process of privatising Air India. But then Gadkari also holds a special interest for transport. So, it can swing either way.

Earlier today, Air India chief Ashwani Lohani was appointed as the new Railway Board chairman following the ouster of AK Mittal. If it’s indeed a joint civil aviation-railways ministry, irrespective of which other ministries that fall into Gadkari’s laps, the BJP leader will have a familiar face to start with.

File Pic: Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari with Union Food & Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan and Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu during the inauguration of India Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit 2017 in New Delhi.

Although Prabhu was tasked with the modernisation of Indian Railways since he took over in 2014, however, his tenure has been marred with accidents, nearly 347 of them so far. The Kaifiyat Express derailment on Wednesday came within just five days of the Utkal Express which derailed near Khatauli on 19 August in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district claiming 22 lives.

A two-day long statutory inquiry into the rail accident began on Tuesday in the divisional railway manager’s office in Delhi, however, initial reports claimed negligence from railway officials.

The Railways had on Sunday sent on leave three senior officials, suspended four officials and transferred one official following the train tragedy.

File Pic: Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu and Minister for Road Transpost Nitin Gadkari flagged-off the inaugural run of Ajni-Pune AC Superfast Express from Nagpur on May 9, 2017

Misuse of Trackmen/Gangmen for doing household chores at Officers Bungalows is a matter of serious concern

The claim is also backed by the Railway Unions. They also point out that this is happening at a time when the department is facing a shortage of nearly 1.5 lakh personnel who conduct safety checks.


MUMBAI: The series of train accidents in the last four days has exposed yet another flaw in the Railways’ functioning: use of trackmen and gangmen for doing menial and household jobs.

For example, of the 10,000-odd trackmen and gangmen in Mumbai Division of Central and Western Railways, around 10-12 percent work at officer bungalows, rail quarters and offices, doing personal chores for their higher-ups like buying groceries, picking up kids from schools, gardening and washing clothes and utensils and bringing vegetables from the markets, and cleaning and maintenance of pets at Officers’ bungalows etc.

The claim is also backed by the railway unions. They also point out that this is happening at a time when the department is facing a shortage of nearly 1.5 lakh personnel who conduct safety checks. In Mumbai alone, there are vacancies of nearly 7,000 gangmen posts in CR and WR put together.

“We know that some trackmen are made to work in offices and homes. There is another issue of highly qualified men who are working as trackmen and gangmen. We have informed the ministry to look into matter,” said National Federation of Indian Railwaymen, general secretary, M Raghavaiah.

Almost every Officer – right from Asst.Scale to Principle HOD level misuse the Trackmen/Gangmen for various household chores. The officers sometimes are so cruel that if the Trackmen/Gangmen disobeys or absent to his personal chores, then they resort to marking absent for the day, and hits their monthly salary too. As is known, these lower rung staff’s salary is too less to maintain their families, and cut in the salary will burden these workers in a big way.

These gangmen are vital for the smooth functioning of train services as they check the condition of tracks, rails, sleepers and crossings. “There are at least 300 odd gangmen who are doing these jobs instead of being on tracks. In fact these people are made to sign roster once or twice at the end of month by the officers,” said a union leader from Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, there used to be at least 12-15 workers in one group whose numbers has drastically reduced to about 5-6 now. “There are few trackmen who are made to do jobs for which they are not appointed for. Main issue is the unfilled vacancy,” said Praveen Bajpai, general, secretary, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh. Every day, these trackmen walk 20 kilometres on railway tracks only to ensure safety, for which they toil for 10-12 hours. They lack of quality footwear, jackets, helmets or gang huts for them to stay at night.

Mumbai-bound train takes wrong route on ECOR, Station Master suspended

The incident took place on Tuesday night, when the Puri-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Express went towards Rajkishorepur instead of Raj Athgarh on Khurda Road Division of ECOR. The Station Master of Macchapur has been suspended after a Mumbai-bound rain left the station heading in the wrong direction.

KHURDA: A Mumbai-bound express train from Odisha ran two kilometres in the wrong direction before rail officials realised the mistake and called it back.

The incident took place on Tuesday night, when the Puri-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Express, leaving Machhapur station in Odisha, went towards Rajkishorepur instead of Raj Athgarh. As soon as the mistake was noticed, the train was stopped and another engine pulled it back to the scheduled route.

East Coast Railway spokesperson JP Mishra said the station master of Machhapur has been suspended pending a departmental probe.

“It was a case of wrong operation. It was an irregular movement,” said Mishra.

The incident occurred on the day when the Azamgarh-Delhi Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh leaving around 74 injured.

In January, passengers travelling on the Anand Vihar-Bhubaneswar Super Fast Weekly Express in Rourkela junction had a few anxious moments when the engine moved ahead without the 15 bogies. The driver of the train realised only after he gone about two kilometres.

Heritage Billimora-Waghai Narrow Gauge Train’s engine derails near Waghai

SURAT: The heritage Billimora-Waghai narrow gauge train’s engine derailed in the dense forest area at Dungarda village, after it ran off the rail due to some technical reasons on Wednesday afternoon. There has not been any report of casualties.

Passengers, mostly tribal people travelling towards Waghai in Dangs, escaped unhurt when the heritage train going towards Waghai from Billimora derailed near Dungarda.

Official said the derailment occurred near Dungarda village, while approaching Waghai station at about 1:15 pm. The five coaches of the train were on track, while the trolley of the train’s engine derailed.

Station Master of Billimora, BL Bhairwa said, “The train runs on the speed of 20 kilometers. However, the derailment of the engine did not impacted the coaches. Usually, the train is packed with passengers on the week-days as people from Waghai arrive to Billimora for purchase and many arrive here for work”

Bhairwa added, “Our technical teams were rushed to the derailment spot. It took more than seven hours for the workers to lift the engine and put it back on the track. We are investigating the cause of the derailment and that the report will be submitted to the Western Railway (WR) in a day or two”

The heritage Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge train, a lone mode of long distance travel for the tribal in Dangs, completed 104 years last month.

The 63-km track of this train was laid by the British at the insistence of the Sayajirao Gaekwad in 1913. Initially, the train was supposed to be a part of Gaekwad’s Baroda State Railway (GBSR) which was owned by the Princely State of Baroda which was ruled by the Gaekwad dynasty. The motive behind this track was to keep the connection with the royal state.

Kaifiyat Express derailment: GRP files FIR against Railway Contractor, Dumper Driver

ALLAHABAD: Contradictory statements have emerged from departments of the railways as far as the derailment of the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express is concerned, with the railways claiming that the dumper which allegedly caused the accident belonged to a private person, while the Government Railway Police (GRP) stated that the vehicle was working on a contractual basis with the railways.

According to GRP officials, the dumper was working on construction of a third railway line, a freight corridor. The derailment took place between Pata and Achalda, less than 50 km from Etawah station.

Ravikant Parashar, deputy superintendent of police for GRP Etawah circle said, “The dumper was working on contract basis with the railway to dump soil and gravel for construction of the third line.”

Station officer of GRP Etawah Vijay Singh said, “At around 2:40 am, the dumper overturned and fell on the up track (Kanpur-New Delhi). Before the driver of the dumper could dial 100 to alert railways, the speeding Kaifiyat Express hit the vehicle and got derailed five minutes later.”

“In the accident, at least 40-50 people were injured. They were taken to Auriya, Kannauj and Etawah government hospitals,” Singh added.

On Wednesday evening, an FIR was filed by GRP Etawah against dumper driver Ballu and railway contractor Alok Dubey. “They have been booked under sections 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or safety of others) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50) of the IPC. Sections of the Railways Act, Public Property Damage Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. They had dumped soil to create aternate passage over the railway tracks,” SO Singh said.

However, chief public relations officer Gaurav K Bansal of North Central Railways said, “The dumper was neither of the railways nor of its contractors. Since there is no railway crossing, the private dumper attempted to cross the line and got stuck. The driver of the dumper broke the barbed wire and attempted to trespass the line, but when his vehicle got stuck, he abandoned it and ran away.”

According to the railways, there was no fault in signal or in railway track, as other trains which had passed earlier had not reported any faults.

Bansal said, “Loco pilots of Kaifiyat Express are heroes. They were not only alert but took appropriate action to respond to the unprecedented situation. Only 21 passengers were injured.”

Railway clears air on cost sharing row with Odisha on Jeypore-Malkangiri project

BHUBANESWAR: Minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha on Wednesday put an end to the controversy related to cost sharing of Jeypore-Malkangiri new line project. He clarified that his ministry will adhere to the provisions of memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Odisha government for execution of the project.

Recently, the state government had alleged that the East Coast Railway (ECoR), implementing agency of the project, wants the state to bear 100 per cent of land cost. But it was not mentioned in the MoU signed in October last year.

According to the MoU, the state government will bear 25 per cent cost of project and land as well. The rest will be borne by the Centre. But a letter from the ECoR to bear 100 per cent of the land cost created controversy later.

Sinha, while inaugurating some railway projects through videoconferencing at ECoR headquarters here, said his ministry never breaks promises. “Some people have started spreading rumors that Railways has changed its stand regarding cost sharing criteria of the project. But it is not true,” he added.

He said they had signed the MoU with the state government to give a rail link to the tribal dominated Malkangiri district. “Cost of the land is increasing day by day. Starting the project work by purchasing land has become a difficult thing, but we will do that. We always stick to our commitments,” he added. Jeypore-Malkangiri new rail line project was sanctioned in the Railway Budget 2016-17. The 130km long new line will put the tribal dominated district on railway map. The initial cost of the project was estimated at Rs 1277 crore. But it has now escalated to Rs 2344 crore. The cost of land would be only Rs 242 crore. So far, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 79 crore for the project, official sources said.

Delay over beginning of work of this project had created war of words among leaders of the political parties in the state. The BJD had urged the Centre to stick to the commitments agreed in the MoU. Similarly, the Congress had threatened the Centre to take the issue to the streets if it delays construction of the project.

Odisha chief secretary A P Padhi had taken up the issue with Railway Board chairman on July 14 and Union cabinet secretary P K Sinha through a videoconferencing earlier this month.

Later ECoR authorities said, “It was only a request to the state government to provide land free of cost as there was a quantum of jump in the cost of the project.”

Cabinet approves Closure of loss making Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal of Ministry of Railways to close the Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company Limited (BWEL) – a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under Ministry of Railways.

626 employees of BWEL will be benefitted from the voluntary retirement scheme to be offered at 2007 pay scale. The Government will have to provide one time grant off 151.18 crore towards severance package and for clearing the current liabilities of the company.

This measure will stop flow of financial support from public funds for carrying on the operations of sick/loss making BWEL resulting in savings for the Government.

The implementation will be done as per the timelines prescribed in the guidelines issued by Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) on time bound closure of sick/loss making CPSEs.

In view of the continues poor physical and financial performance of the company for more than 10 years, in spite of financial assistance and other support provided by Ministry of Railways combined with low probability of its revival in future, Bharat Wagon and Engineering Co. Ltd. is being wound up.

Background: 

BWEL was incorporated on 4th Dec’ 1978 as a CPSE after taking over two sick private sector companies – Arthur Butler & Company, Muzaffarpur and Britannia Engineering Company, Mokama. The Company was referred to BIFR (Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction) in December, 2000 and was declared sick in the year 2002. The Company continues to be a sick Company since then. The administrative control of the company was transferred from Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) to the MoR in August, 2008, as approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The company is engaged in the manufacture and repair of wagons, and is having two manufacturing units, at Mokama and Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

IRIPA strike disrupts ongoing Railway works

Members of Indian Railways Infrastructure Providers Association staging a protest at Sanchalan Bhavan in Secunderabad on Wednesday

Hyderabad: Members of the Indian Railway Infrastructure Providers Association (IRIPA) have been on an indefinite strike since August 20 protesting against the imposition of the GST.

The Association’s demands include reimbursement of additional burden imposed by the GST for the works tendered before July 1, 2017. The Association is also asking the government to bear the GST being the end service receiver for tenders after July 1, 2017.

The IRIPA alleged that reimbursement was given in all other sectors, including the subsidiaries of Indian Railways such as Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) but it has not been extended to the 6,500 odd railway contractors across the country.

The volume of works across the Indian Railways is about Rs one lakh crore and about Rs 4,000 crore worth works are underway in the SCR that were tendered before the implementation of GST. The IRIPA have been striking in 72 divisions in 16 zones.

Prime Minister may accept Suresh Prabhu’s resignation ahead of Cabinet reshuffle

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may accept Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s resignation, who earlier today offered to quit over recent rail accidents in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources in the government said Prabhu’s resignation may be accepted ahead of the reshuffle of the Union Cabinet that the government is planning to announce shortly. Suresh Prabhu, taking moral responsibility of a series of mishaps, in a series of tweets, said he met the Prime Minister, but was asked to wait before putting in papers. If sources are to be believed, Modi may accept Prabhu’s resignation just before the Cabinet reshuffle.

“I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking full moral responsibility. Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait. I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish,” Suresh Prabhu said in tweet.

“In less than three years as minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. New India envisioned by PM deserves a railways which is efficient and modern. I promise that is the path, on which railways is progressing now,” Prabhu said on Twitter. “Under leadership of PM, tried to overcome decades of neglect through systemic reforms in all areas leading to unprecedented investment and milestones,” the minister added.

The development came hours after Railway Board chairman Ashok Mittal submitted his resignation to Suresh Prabhu on a day when Indian Railways witnessed yet another accident in Uttar Pradesh.

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Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani new Railway Board Chairman

Ministry of Railways appoints Ashwani Lohani IRSME, as the Chairman, Railway Board.

NEW DELHI: Ashwani Lohani is IRSME officer, current Chairman & Managing Director of Air India has been appointed as the Chairman, Railway Board following the resignation on A.K. Mittal.

Ashwani holds a Limca Record for having four “engineering degree equivalents” in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering and Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering from Institution of Engineers, India; a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for successfully running the ‘Fairy Queen Express’, the world’s oldest working steam locomotive.

Ashwani also served as DRM, Delhi Division; Director, National Rail Museum; Chief Administrative Officer, Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuels (IROAF); Commissioner and Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and Chairman & Managing Director India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd., prior to appointment to the high level post in Air India.

He is a Mechanical Engineer; As part of Railways training he has attended workshop in Mechanical, Electrical, and Telecommunications at IRIMEE. He completed his schooling at St. Aloysius High School in Kanpur and studied engineering at Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Jamalpur.

The move comes after former Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mital tendered his resignation on Tuesday evening. Sources said he resigned owing moral responsibility of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailment in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening due to several lapses in the track maintenance work.

The Railway Ministry on Sunday sent three top officials on leave, suspended four local level officials and transferred another official after, prima facie, finding lapses in the maintenance work that led to the derailment of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, claiming 21 lives.

Ashwani Lohani in the Record Books, has garden named after him and, an all time Enthusiastic Personality!

Leadership is not about creating followers. It is all about creating more leaders at various levels. Only a person sure of himself can do it,’ says Ashwani Lohani, who has been named as the next Chairman, Railway Board.

After turning around Air India, ITDC and MPTC, the Indian Railway Service officer of 1980 batch now has a tough task in hand, of steering largest national carrier Indian Railways out of its looming crisis. A writer, an engineer, academician and a bureaucrat par excellence, Ashwani Lohani is a man of many parts. Here are some interesting facts about him:

  • At the age of 21, when people usually have one degree in hand, Ashwani Lohani bagged a place in the Limca Book of Records for completing four engineering degrees. He received degree equivalents in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering and Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering from Institution of Engineers, India. He is a gold medalist in metallurgical engineering.
  • He is also a Qualified Chartered Mechanical Engineer from I.Mech.E (UK), and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport.
  • He has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for successfully running the ‘Fairy Queen Express’, the world’s oldest working steam locomotive, in 1998. Steam locomotives have been an area of interest for Lohani, who revived the Rewari Heritage Steam Shed as the finest steam heritage destination in the world.
  • He has been associated with the Archaeological Survey of India in developing heritage sites in Madhya Pradesh.
  • He played a key role in getting world heritage status for two projects. While working as the director of the National Rail Museum, he succeeded in getting the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway declared as a world heritage site in 1999. Lohani also worked for getting a world heritage site status to Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya. He was also involved with the declaration of Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) in Mumbai as a world heritage site.
  • As chairman and managing director in the year 2002-03, he was responsible for the turnaround of India Tourism Development Corporation.
  • During his tenure as Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation’s managing director (2004-05 & 2006-09), the state received four National Tourism Awards in 2008, including the award for the ‘Best tourism performing state in the country’ and three National Tourism Awards in 2009.
  • In his honour, railway employees named a garden, ‘Ashwani Garden’, at Patratu, Bihar, in 1989. During his tenure as the divisional railway manager, New Delhi railway station was awarded the National Tourism Award in 2011 and won the most tourist friendly station award in 2012.
  • Ashwani has won several awards for his dedicated service across various departments. He has won the National Award for Outstanding Performance, ministry of railways, in April 1996, PATWA International Young Achievers Award at Berlin in March 2007, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism’s ‘Icon of Change’ Award in May 2010 and Lifetime Achievement Award in Tourism in September 2010. He won the ‘Art Moda Kala Samman’ in May 2011, ‘Eminent Engineer’ award by the Institution of Engineers India in September 2013 and an ‘Excellence in Governence’ award in November 2013.
  • Lohani has two books to his credit – Winning at work against all odds and a coffee table book, Smoking Beauties. He has also been a regular columnist with the Pioneer newspaper.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offers to quit Cabinet taking full responsibility of Accidents. PM ask Prabhu to Wait

Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways

NEW DELHI: Suresh Prabhu offers to quit for 2 accidents in 4 days. He tweeted that he met the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra odi taking full moral responsibility. He also said that he is extremely pained to the losses of lives due to train accidents. He said he took moral responsibility for the accidents that have caused him deep anguish over the loss of lives. He said he met PM Narendra Modi, who asked him to wait.

This is what the minister tweeted over the last 10 minutes. “In less than three years as Minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. Under the leadership of PM, tried 2 overcome decades of neglect thru systemic reforms in all areas leading 2 unprecedented investment & milestones.

New India envisioned by the Prime Minister deserves a Railways which is efficient, modern and accident-free. I promise that is the path, on which Indian Railways is progressing now. I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish. I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister @narendramodi taking full moral responsibility. Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait.”

In back-to-back rail accidents, As many as 74 passengers were injured as nine bogies of the Kaifiyat Express derailed in UP’s Auraiya district early today after dashing against a dumper carrying construction material for railway work, officials here said. Yesterday, 14 coaches of Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Katauli in which 23 people were killed.

While the entire country is in deep anguish at the current juncture and importantly the Indian Railways, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has begun its investigation into the derailment of Kalinga Utkal Express with its personnel visiting the accident site and recording statements of locals in Khatauli, an official said today.

Investigating officer (IO) of the GRP, Deputy Superintendent of Police Randhir Singh met shopkeepers, house owners and others for their account of the what had happened on the evening of August 19.

“We will file our report against those found guilty for the derailment as soon as we will finish our probe,” Singh said.

Thirteen bogies of the train derailed on Saturday in Khatauli near here, killing 22 people and injuring 156, 26 grievously. The GRP had registered a case of death by rash and negligent act in connection with Utkal Express train accident under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and The Railway Act.

2 Derailments in 4 Days: Railway Board Chairman Ashok Mittal resigns

NEW DELHI: Ashok Mittal, Chairman of the Railway Board, today submitted his resignation to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, sources told. Mittal’s resignation comes in the wake of a number of a high-profile accidents and derailments on the Indian Railways.

Mittal was facing flak after the Utkal Express derailment in Muzaffarnagar. On Saturday, 23 passengers died and over 60 sustained injuries when 14 coaches of the Utkal Express, which runs on the Puri-Haridwar-Kalinga route, derailed at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar.

Prabhu had directed the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility after the Muzaffarnagar incident. He also said that he would not allow laxity in operations by the Railway Board.

“Will not allow laxity in operations by the (Railways) Board. I have directed CRB to fix responsibility on prima facie evidence by end of day,” Prabhu said in a tweet.

Member Engineering Railway Board Ashok Mittal was on Sunday sent on leave after the prima facie evidence showed negligence on the part of maintenance staff as the reason why the Utkal Express derailed.

Divisional Railway Manager Delhi and General Manager Northern Railways, who had himself suspended four railway officials, have also been sent on leave. The Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway zone, has also been transferred, hours after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asked officials to make those responsible for the tragedy accountable by the end of this day.

R K Verma, Senior Divisional engineer, Delhi division, Rohit Kumar, Assistant engineer, Meerut, Delhi division, Inder Jeet Singh, Senior section engineer, Muzzafarnagar, and Pradeep Kumar, Junior engineer, Khatauli, were the four officials, suspended by the General Manager Northern Railways.

Boulder Crash on Hubli-LTT Express Train near Lonavla not our Fault: Central Railway

PUNE: In the third such incident this year, a boulder crashed into the Hubli-LTT Express train near Lonavla around 5.15 am yesterday, jolting passengers awake and injuring three. The question that arises is, why didn’t the railway authorities do enough to prevent this, considering that similar rock collapses had killed a staffer and derailed a locomotive in the past.

Was it negligence on the part of Central Railway that led to the boulder collapsing on the sleeper coach S-6 of the 17317 Hubli-LTT Express train at Monkey Hill? The authorities had had several warnings about the dangers in the route.

Just last month, on July 18, a rolling boulder led to the derailment of the locomotive of CSMT-Hyderabad Express in the same area. There had been no injuries then. Earlier, on January 21, however, a similar incident killed a railway employee and injured two contractual labourers after a rock fell on them in a section near Lonavla on the same route.

On Monday morning, the impact of the boulder crash was so severe that it ripped through the coach roof into the passenger seating area, injuring a father-son duo -Hasansaab Belavanki, 59, his son Asif, 25, residents of Hubli — and another commuter sleeping on the adjacent berth, Shivprasad Mallappa Hiremath, 27, resident of Bhandup West.

Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer for Central Railway, told, “It would be unfair to say that there was negligence on the part of Central Railway. After last month’s incident, the railway team had done extensive work to cut off hanging rocks and level the cliffs. It is a continuous process.”

“If you see the location of Monday’s boulder fall, it is a very high vertical cliff. The boulder fell from such a height that it damaged the roof of the train. The entire stretch is very mountainous and there are hanging rocks,” he added.

New precautions

The CR official said that extensive lighting had been installed in the 600-metre stretch that was vulnerable, to improve visibility for staffers patrolling the area. They have also planned to put a few cameras, wherever feasible, to keep an eye out for fallen or falling rocks, so prompt warnings can be issued at the nearest stations.

“We are also seeking help from Konkan Railway, which deals with such issues regularly. In addition to this, we have written to the Railways Design & Standards Organisation, the railways research wing, to use their expertise to suggest remedial measures,” Udasi said.

Victims stable

The rescue and relief operation began immediately, with doctors stabilising the victims in the Accident Relief Medical Van. The father-son duo needed CT scans and further treatment, and were shifted to Fortis Hospital in Kalyan. An amount of Rs 25,000 each has been paid in compensation to them, while the third injured victim received Rs 5,000.

Southern Railway tightens line Rules to curb Train Accidents

CHENNAI: The Utkal Express derailment in Uttar Pradesh where 23 died was allegedly caused because the engineering department was carrying out ‘unofficial’ maintenance to repair tracks.

This means that a ‘line block’ permission to slow down trains on a section of track or divert them through the other track was not taken from the Operations Department, which ultimately led to the train running on weak tracks and derailing.

Such a situation is unlikely to happen in the Chennai division of Southern Railway, say official sources. This is because, two years ago, the division devised a systematic method of handling track renewal works which would have to be requested a day in advance.

For instance, on Monday evening, Southern Railway issued a press release that there would be line and power block on Chennai-Gudur section to facilitate engineering works for constructing a limited use subway at Nayadupeta.

“The engineering department has to send in their requests a day in advance. This will be sent to a senior official of the divisional operating department who will either give permission or reject it. But in any case, the process will be on paper by the previous day evening,” said a senior railway official. A dedicated log is also maintained which can nail those flouting rules. This was devised based on learnings from Mumbai railway division, say sources.

This prevents shortcuts from the section engineers on the field and also gives them enough time to channelize manpower and resources for the work.

Track renewal work is very important as most important lines in Indian Railways are over-stressed. But due to high frequency of trains, maintenance time for tracks is less. “Planning in advance helps iron out the inter-departmental differences and also improve safety ,” another official said.

Boulders hit Coaches of Hubli-LTT Express near Monkey Hill on Pune Division: CRS to probe incident

Three passengers were injured. Officials questioned about delay in reaching train accident site!

PUNE: The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) will probe the incident of boulders falling on a coach of the Hubballi-LTT Express on Monday in which three passengers were injured. The inquiry, scheduled on Wednesday, will analyse whether required preventive measures and remedial actions had been taken by the railways.

On Monday, three passengers were injured after boulders fell on the roof of S 6 coach of 17317 Hubballi-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express between Monkey Hill and Thakurwadi stations on the Central Railway (CR). A CRS inquiry is initiated if an accident on the premise of the railways is of serious nature. The Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) was present at the accident site on Tuesday, along with the CRS, who will present his views on the matter in a hearing scheduled on Wednesday.

“It will be a day-long hearing. We will also present our views to the CRS on the immediate medical aid that was offered to the passengers after the incident. Quick action was taken by officials of all ranks to prevent any major mishap,” a senior CR official said.

In July, passengers travelling on the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Hyderabad Express had a narrow escape when the train’s engine jumped tracks after being hit by a boulder at Monkey Hill. “Officials face a tough time climbing the 20-30 km stretch of the ghats in that section. Before the monsoons, we take precaution and remove loose boulders, which can fall on the railway tracks, from the section. But there is no guarantee about which boulder could go loose due to rains. The particular section where the past accidents have taken place is more vulnerable,” the official added.

Sources said many senior railway officials were questioned by the General Manager of the CR over why they reached late at the accident spot. “ A serious error on part of the operations team was that the train was run all the way till LTT in spite of the fact that part of a rock was stuck inside the coach. After a coach of a train gets damaged, it is required that the same is detached or at least not declared road-worthy till an inspection. A gross negligence was witnessed,” an official added.

Officials said corrective measures like putting up lights in the area have been put in place assist trackmen at night. “We are aiming at placing CCTV cameras around the section so that the station master at Thakurwadi can gauge the movement of boulders and alert the staff members. We also aim to rope in professional talent, who can study the geography of the area and decide how such incidents can be avoided,” an official added.
Some officials also hinted at a probable lack of funding in arranging for the required safety measures, like nets that can hold rocks.The work would require maintenance blocks and blocking train traffic, which could be tedious, officials said. “As the CRS inquiry is yet to be done, no official comment can be given,” Sunil Udasi, the chief public relations officer, CR said

Data on the Safety Measures taken on Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways, eversince Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu took over as the Union Minister of Railways, has taken a number of Safety Measures on entire Indian Railways. Indian Railways accord highest priority to safety in train operations. Consequential train accidents have declined from 195 in 2006-07 to 135 in 2014-15 and further to 107 in 2015-16. Number of consequential train accidents remained at a level of 95 during 2015-16 and 2016-17 (from 1st April 2016 to 6th February 2017). Accidents Per Million Train Kilometres, an important index of safety, has come down from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.11 in 2014-15 and further to 0.10 (approximately) in 2015-16. All possible steps are undertaken on a continual basis including up-gradation of technology to aid safe running of trains. Railways are inducting modern technology on regular basis. The Bullet Points on Railway Safety are as under:

  • The consequential train accidents have continuously declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 107 in 2015-16 and further to 104 in 2016-17.
  • In the current year also, consequential train accidents decreased from 29 to 15 during 2017-18 (from 01/04/2017 to 30/06/2017) in comparison to corresponding period of the previous year which is an improvement of 48.3% over the last year.
  • Accidents Per Million Train Kilometres (APMTKMs), which is an internationally accepted yard stick of safety has declined from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.09 (approximately) in 2016-17.
Type of Accident 2006-07 2007- 08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013

-14

2014

-15

2015

-16

2016-17 2017-18     (01/04/17

to 30/06/17)

Total 195 194 177 165 141 131 122 118 135 107 104 15

Download the official document released by Railway Board here:SAFETY MEASURES TAKEN ON INDIAN RAILWAYS New.doc (1)

In 2017-18, a Fund namely ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been created for financing critical safety related works.  The Fund has been created with a corpus of Rs.1 lakh crore over a period of five years.  In Budget Estimates of 2017-18, a provision of Rs.20,000 crore has been made under RRSK, which includes Rs.5000 crore from Budgetary Support, Rs.10,000 crore from Central Road Fund and Rs.5000 crore out of Railways’ internal resources.   In the Railway Budget 2016-17, Mission Zero Accident was one of the Missions announced, comprising of the two sub-missions:

  • Elimination of unmanned level crossings (UMLC) over broad gauge in the next 3-4 years.
  • TCAS (Train Collision Avoidance System): To prevent collisions and signal passing at danger by the Loco Pilot through developing an indigenous technology and also to increase throughput by increasing average sectional speed on Indian Railways (IR).
  • Elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings: As on 01.04.2017, Indian Railways have 27181 Level Crossings, out of which 19480 are manned and 7701 are unmanned. Out of total 7701 unmanned level crossings, 4943 level crossings are on BG (Broad Gauge). It has been planned to eliminate unmanned level crossings (UMLCs) on Broad Gauge by 2020.
  • Year-wise target fixed for elimination is as under:
    Year No. of UMLCs to be eliminated
    2017-18 1500
    2018-19 1500
    2019-20 1943
     Description Actual

    2014-15

    Actual

    2015-16

    RE

    2016-17

    BE

    2017-18

    Total Expenditure on Safety 42304 45516 63063 65241+
  • Track Renewal –The allocation for track renewal has been almost doubled from the last 5 years average of `5548. 6 crores to `9961 crores in the Budget Estimate of 2017-18.
  • Vehicular Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) System, Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT Car): – Decision to use Vehicle bound USFD testing has been taken to ensure faster as well as more reliable testing as it would cover larger cross-sectional area of rail. Procurement of these 6 nos. SPURT cars have been included in Rolling Stock Program 2017-2018 at total cost of `186.24 crores.
  • Trial of Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System (UBRDS) for detection of Rail/Weld fractures has been undertaken on Northern Railway and North Central Railway on 25 Km track length each. It has been decided to proliferate this system on Indian Railways based on outcome of trial.
  • Proliferation of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches for improving Safety: Indian Railways is embarking on a mission to provide upgraded safety features on its coaching stock. As a part of this, it has been decided that only LHB coaches would be manufactured from 2018-19.  LHB coaches are of a superior design that reduces the chances of derailment and mitigates the possibility of grievous injury or death in case of accidents.
  • Refurbishment of ICF coaches: A policy decision has been taken to carry out the work of refurbishment and providing improved safety features in its existing ICF design coaches which have a residual life of more than 10 years. A total of about 40,000 coaches will be provided with these features in the next 5 years including production of new coaches.
  • Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS): Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) has capability to control the speed of train in accordance with the sectional permitted speed and signal aspect ahead by automatic actuation of brakes, in case loco pilot fails to do so in time. Thus it mitigates safety risk of accidents/collisions due to loco pilot’s error of Signal Passing at Danger or over speeding. TPWS also reduces delays during foggy weather.
  • In the last 64 years, while freight loading has been increased by 1344% and passenger kms by 1642%, the route kms have grown by only 23%. This is causing congestion on tracks. More than 60% of the routes are being utilized more than 100%.

Myths and Realty on Indian Railways Safety

Myth No. 1: Number of Railways accidents and fatalities have increased under Suresh Prabhu

Reality:   The consequential train accidents have continuously declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 107 in 2015-16 and further to 104 in 2016-17. To state a comparison, the average annual accidents during UPA I were 207/ year, during UPA II were 135/ year and during current government have reduced to 115/ year

Although every human life is invaluable and is irreparable loss to us but the number of casualties have also seen a declining trend. Total fatalities in first 3 years of UPA I were 759, they increased to 938 during UPA II, while the first three years of this government has seen the number decline to 652. 

Myth No. 2: Railways has lost focus on Safety

Reality: Safety remains one of the prime concerns and priorities for the Ministry.

  1. When this government took over, analysis revealed that 40% of the accidents and 60% of fatalities were due to accidents on Unmanned level crossings. Hence, Mission Zero Accident was launched to ensure all Unmanned level crossings were eliminated by 2019. It has seen unprecedented success, where we eliminated 4258 UMLCs in last 3 years, leading to drop in fatalities from UMLC accidents from 64% of total fatalities in 2013-14 to 16.81% in 2016-17.
  2. State of infrastructure is an important constituent to safety performance. The infrastructure had been deteriorating due to years of neglect, which requires huge investments. Investment in safety have increased from Rs 33972 Crore per year during UPA II to Rs54031 Crore every year under this government a jump of 60%
  3. Congestion on tracks also has some impact on safety. Reduction in congestion is achieved by infrastructure upgradation which again requires huge capital expenditure. We have been working this regard also. Under this government, by the end of year we would be spending about Rs 4 lakh crore on infrastructure creation. In last 67 years since independence (1947- 2014) capital investment of Rs4.9 lakh crore was made on Indian Railways.
  4. In 2017-18, a Fund namely ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been created for financing critical safety related works. The Fund has been created with a corpus of `1 lakh crore over a period of five years.
  5. Decision to stop production of ICF coaches, the main stay of Indian Raiwlays Passenger Business for many years, and having no anti climbing features was taken in 2015-16.
  6. Existing stock of 40,000 ICF coaches (90% of total coaches) cannot be discarded and hence is being retrofitted with CBC couplers to make them safer.
  7. New technologies like Condition based monitoring system for rolling stock and Track and Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System are being piloted on the network.

Myth No. 3: Number of vacancies in safety positions has increased recently leading to a spurt in accidents

Reality: Average vacancy in safety positions during the period 2009-10 to 2013-14 was 18.65% of total sanctioned strength. This has dropped down to 16.86% in 2017 despite the sanctioned strength increasing by 5% from 2014 to 2017. Further, during the current government we have recruited almost 37,510 people in the safety categories taking the total staff strength to 635940 on 1.04.2017. Massive recruitments of almost 2,00,000 staff in these categories are also lined up

Myth No. 4: Railways has been dragging its feet to implement Kakodkar Committee recommendations

Reality: High Level Safety Review Committee had made 106 recommendations on various aspects of railway’s working. Out of 106, 68 recommendations have been fully accepted out of which 52 have been fully implemented and 16 are under implementation. 19 recommendations were partially accepted out of which 13 have been implemented. 19 recommendations were not accepted by the Railways.

Myth No. 5: Railways has diverted funds to develop fancy projects like Bullet Train

Reality:  1. Indian Railways has unflinching commitment to the poor and the downtrodden as can be seen by a few examples:

  • Passenger fares are still amongst the lowest in the entire world. In fact, Indian Railways subsidises passenger and suburban travel to the tune of almost Rs36,000 Crore annually.
  • Antyodaya express – fully unreserved, super-fast trains with enhanced amenities such as drinking water, vestibule trains, LHB coaches etc were launched only to cater to unreserved segment
  • Re1 clinic were launched at important suburban stations
  • Indian Railways ensures availability of Janta meals at all major stations
  1. High speed train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is being funded by Japan Government with less than 20% contribution from Govt of India. This money, which came at incredibly attractive terms (0.1% rate of interest) was made available ONLY for this high-speed project and was NOT available to fund safety projects for Indian Railways. Moreover, high speed train is the safest mode of transport in the world. Hence, the government has not diverted any funds from existing corpus.

Safety Overview on Indian Railways.

  1. Safety performance of Indian Railways has been gradually improving in the past 3 years as consequential train accidents have reduced from 135 in the year 2014-15 to 107 in the year 2015-16 and further to 104 in the year 2016-17.
  2. Accidents per million train kilometers (APMTK), which is an internationally accepted yardstick of safety has also improved from 11 in 2014-15, 0.10 in 2015-16 and to 0.09 in 2016-17.
  3. Unmanned level crossings accidents have decreased to 60% in 2016-17 as compared to the year 2014-15.
  4. No accident at Manned level crossing occurred in the year 2016-17 as compared to 6 accidents each in the year 2014-15 and 2015-16.
  5. A very proactive approach was adopted to eliminate the existing UMLC gates and reducing risk at existing UMLC gates by deploying Gate Mitras and use of 2nd whistle boards.
  6. It has been announced in the Railway Budget 2015-16 that Indian Railways will eliminate all existing UMLCS on BG within the next 3-4 years.
  7. Total 1503 Unmanned Level Crossings were eliminated in 2016-17 by closure / merger/ subway construction as compared to 1253 in 2015-16 and 1148 in 2014-15. This has contributed in reducing accidents at Unmanned Level Crossings.
  8. Elimination of 509 Manned Level Crossings was done in 2016-17 as compared to 390 in 2015-16 and 310 in 2014-15.
  9. Technological aids of Automatic Train Protection System to drivers (loco pilots) to avoid collisions have been progressively adopted on Indian Railways keeping priority for high density routes/ suburban sections within the constraints of resources.
  10. Simulator based training is being imparted to loco pilots to improve their driving skills and reaction time.
  11. For reducing Derailments, following steps are taken – Use of mechanized track maintenance system, Vehicular USFD machines, Improving the welding technology, use of head hardened rails, installation of way side coach and wagon hot-box and other defect detectors, Proliferation of WILD (way side load impact detectors) LHB coaches, CBC coupling retro fitment in ICF coaches. etc
  12. Improving Fire Retardants in Coaches, Provision of Automatic Fire and Smoke Detection System in Coaches, Provision of Water mist type Fire Suppression in pantry cars and power cars.
  13. Implementation of High Level Safety Review Committee – Of the 106 recommendations of the High Level Safety Review Committee (Kakodkar Committee), 68 recommendations have been fully accepted and 13 partially accepted. Out of these, 52 recommendations have been implemented and the remaining recommendations are at various stages of implementation.
  14. Foreign Collaboration on Safety: Ministry of Railways has entered into Memorandum of Understandings/Agreements with Canada, Japan. Russia and Italy for technical cooperation in rail sector, which inter alia include railway safety as one of the cooperation areas.
  15. Railway Safety Fund: In the Budget 2017-18, setting up of a ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been announced with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crores over a period of 5 years for giving a major boost to safety related works over Indian railways. A provision of Rs 20,000 crore has been made in Budget Estimate 2017-18 towards ‘RRSK’ to fund essential safety works. These funds will be used improving safety of track, rolling stock, acquisition of vehicle based USFD machines, on board rolling stock monitoring systems and proliferation of other safety technologies.

Stainless Steel Coaches can lower the impact of Train Mishaps: ISSDA

NEW DELHI: Rail coaches made of stainless steel instead of carbon steel can minimise the impact of train accidents, an industry body has said.

“If all the railway coaches in the country could be made of stainless steel instead of carbon steel, it can bring down the number of lives lost in train accidents significantly,” the Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA) said referring to recent train accident in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh that claimed 22 lives.

The ISSDA is the apex association of leading stainless steel producers in the country.

It said the use of stainless steel in passenger coaches is a common practice in developed economies such as the US, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Korea and Australia and in many East Asian countries.

Stainless steel coaches also ensure safety and reliability through super fire and corrosion resistance, the association said, adding that the intrinsic weight of vehicle decreases, thereby increasing its load carrying capacity and fuel efficiency.

In case of accidents, stainless steel undergoes lesser deformation, which further helps in rescue operations, it said.

“Over 23 million people commute through trains in India on a daily basis. There is an urgent need to migrate to stainless steel coaches to improve safety of rail passengers … Indian Railways are already seized of the matter and taken up programme for increasing manufacture of LHB stainless steel coaches,” said K K Pahuja, President, ISSDA.

The association said Indian Railways, at present, is using stainless steel coaches in LHB designs only for Rajdhani, Shatabdi and other premium trains.

LHB coaches are designed to be anti-telescopic, which means that they do not pile up over each other in the event of derailment, it said.

Stainless steel coaches are stronger and absorb more energy during collision and they can withstand considerable impact without fracturing, it said.

GM/SCR holds Special Safety Review Meet, seek Concrete Action from all Departments to attain Zero Tolerance record

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway held a special Safety review meet with the Principal Heads of Departments and Divisional Railway Managers of all the six divisions of Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal and Nanded today i.e., 22nd August, 2017.

The Special review meeting discussed comprehensively on all the issues concerning safety of rail operations thread bare and formulated plans to further strengthen the coordination and implementation mechanism pertaining to all the areas of safety on Railways. The General Manager emphasised on the need to understand the ground reality at all levels and accordingly chalk out a safety action plan, so that there is no room for any lapse, Vinod Kumar Yadav stressed.

John Thomas, Additional General Manager, South Central Railway was also present at the meeting, which saw a host of initiatives coming up from the officials present, to further enhance the safety mechanism system on the zone by means of continuous channels of communication between all departments at various levels.

“Swachh Rail – Swachh Bharat” drive over SCR

“Swachhta Pakhwada” the Cleanliness Drive under the “Swachh Rail- Swachh Bharat” Mission is being carried actively all over South Central Railway with enthusiastic participation of employees, officers and voluntary organisations. The activities held at the stations include cleanliness drives, display of posters and banners and street plays spelling the message loud and clear to the travelling public that the Railway was their travelling home.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, John Thomas, Additional General Manager, South Central Railway and Divisional Railway Managers of all six Divisions viz. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal, Nanded are regularly monitoring the Swachh Rail- Swachh Bharat activities.

A brief report on “Swachh Awareness” & “Swachh Samvad” held from 16th to 21st August, 2017.

  1. 239 officers & 5335 staff participated in cleanliness drives on the Zone.
  2. 287 Anti littering drives conducted and imposed a fine of Rs 63,600/- & booked 317 persons for littering the premises.
  3. NGOs, NCC volunteers, Scouts&Guides and school children were actively involved in awareness campaigns throughout the Zone.
  4. Passenger interactions on cleanliness of Stations and trains with 2928 passengers were carried out at different stations and trains.
  5. 10 Nukkad Natak and skits were played in various stations to increase awareness of passengers on cleanliness.
  6. Workshops and Training programs were held to educate the staff on cleanliness to be observed at working places and office premises.
  7. Received 229 feedbacks from various locations on cleanliness from travelling public.

WCR imposes penalty against Marketing Federation for failing to unload Onions

JABALPUR: Height of apathy on the part of marketing federation has come to fore after the railway administration has imposed penalty of Rs 50 lakh against wharfage demurrage. The penalty has been imposed by the railways that has exposed the level of preparedness of marketing federation who are unable to unload the onions in the goods trains stationed at railway siding has accounted for escalating price of onion.

Besides this, has exposed the cause behind the surging prices of onion in Jabalpur and its surroundings areas in view of the fact that had the onion unloaded from the railway siding would have given no scope for black marketers to create artificial dearth of onion that eventually accounted for steep rise in the price of onion from Rs 10 to present rate of Rs 40 per kilogram.

Reportedly, six goods laden with onion had reached Jabalpur and were stationed at railway siding at Kachpura. Out of six goods train four were unloaded after the stipulated time of 9 hours duration. In view of delay accounted in the unloading of onion from the wagons that exceeded from the stipulated time frame the railway administration has imposed penalty on the marketing federation.

It may be recalled here that in view of bumper crop of onion, trains laden with onion were being sent to Jabalpur by trains. Despite the fact, that huge quantity of onion had arrived at Jabalpur, the proven apathy of concerned department to unload the onion from the goods train accounted for escalating price of onion.

Besides this, large quantity of onion due to delay in unloading got perished this made the traders to distance themselves from taking onion from the concerned department. The delay in unloading the onions from the wagons has crossed the stipulated time frame of 9 hours maximum permissible limit. Reportedly, after repeated intimations given by the railways the onion was finally unloaded from the wagons.

The time lapse in the unloading of onion reached on average of 50 hours duration. Apparently the fault on the part of concerned department has not only proved costly to the Government but has proved bitter experience for people have been forced to procure onion at high price. As per law of railway transportation any consignment if not unloaded the railway imposed penalty in form of wharfage demurrage and at Kachpura railway siding where 6 goods trains laden with onion arrived the concern department vested with the responsibility to unload the onion within stipulated time did not bother to unload the consignment of onion.

The onions in the process of delay have perished badly and have become inconspicuous for traders to procure from the government warehouse. According to rule the wharfage demurrage is to be given by the transporter, but the railway asserted that as the consignment reach the destination there does not arise of any penalty therefore the penalty has been imposed on the agency.

Meanwhile, the imposition of wharfage demurrage penalty by railway has exposed the artificial dearth created by traders to mint money by high price of onion despite the fact that huge stock of onion has eventually perished

MoS Manoj Sinha Inaugurates 3 Rail Projects In Odisha

BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister of state for Railways, Manoj Sinha inaugurated three rail projects through video conferencing from Rail Sadan in Bhubaneswar today.

Sinha inaugurated an electrified section between Sambalpur-Jharsuguda and flagged off a special passenger train no 05311 in the Sambalpur-Jharsuguda line. Another passenger train no 58135/58136 is supposed to be run by electric loco between Sambalpur-Jharsuguda from August 24 onwards.

The minister also laid the foundation stone for a railway over bridge in lieu of the Khetrarajpur level crossing gate between Sambalpur-Hirakud and commissioned Wi-Fi operations in Khurda Road junction.

Sinha is also supposed to attend a review meeting between the Railway department and BSNL later in the day.

At least 20 injured in Rail Accident in Uttar Pradesh

ALLAHABAD: At least 20 people were injured, some critically, when 11 train coaches derailed early on Wednesday in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s fifth major rail accident in the past year and only days after 23 people were killed in another derailment.

Northern Railways spokesperson Neeraj Sharma said the Kaifiyat Express travelling from Azamgarh to the capital Delhi collided with a dumper carrying construction material around 2110 GMT, causing the coaches to derail.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted that “some passengers have received injuries and have been shifted to nearby hospitals. I am personally monitoring situation, rescue operations. Have directed senior officers to reach the site immediately”.

Kaifiyat Express travels between Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi and the collision has impacted the train operations on the Delhi-Howrah route. Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said the train was travelling from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh to Delhi when it collided with a dumper around 2.50am between Pata and Achhalda railway stations. One of the bogies of the train overturned which impacted the other bogies, causing their derailment.

He said various departments will conduct their own inquiries. “Since it was a dumper which had collided due to trespassing, the local police would be investigating the matter and booking the dumper owner and the driver. Similarly, railways has also initiated its inquiry if there was any lapses on our part,” Saxena added.

Senior railway ministry officials along with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a medical train have rushed to the site to carry out rescue operations and provide support to the victims.

Twenty three people were killed and at least 123 were injured last Saturday in Uttar Pradesh when 13 coaches of a train came off the tracks as it was heading to the Hindu holy city of Haridwar.

India’s railway system is the world’s fourth biggest rail network, but it is grappling with chronic under-investment and over-crowding.

Untrained Safety Category Staff cause of Train Accidents: Commissioner of Railway Safety

NEW DELHI: A  month before the Utkal Express accident, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) S K Pathak had raised concerns about the quality of personnel serving in the Railway’s safety category posts.

In a letter to R K Kulshrestha, General Manager, Northern Railway, which is dated July 17, Pathak had raised doubts on whether the staff was hired giving due regard to the prescribed qualifications.

Kulshrestha was sent on leave following the Utkal Express accident on Saturday.

The letter raised some serious concerns about the safety of passengers travelling on trains. The Commissioner of Railway Safety falls under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and it was done to ensure independent probe by a government agency.

“Most of the recent railway accidents are due to human error. This is a serious reason for concern. It appears that the Railways has failed to ensuring that the newly recruited staff in engineering, signal and telecom, traction departments are adequately trained,” said the commissioner of railway safety.

In Utkal derailment, the Railway Board has accepted negligence by its staff and three topmost railways officers, including Railway Board Member Engineering A K Mittal, has been sent on leave based on prime facie evidence.

Pathak said that in the last five years a number of new facilities, including new lines have been opened after statutory inspection and authorisation by the Commission. “While authorising the opening of some of the new assets, The Commission directed the Railways to post adequate number of trained and qualified staff to maintain these new assets,” Pathak said in the letter.

However, he noted that the Commission was not informed about hiring process and whether the staff have been hired giving due regard to the stipulated norms. Expressing concerns over a spurt in train accidents due to human error, the CRS asked railways to furnish details of the number of recruitments done to man the new facilities.

The Commission has asked the Northern Railway to tender a briefing on the process. “It is advised that the status of filling of safety category posts in all new sections already opened may be submitted to the Commission,” said the communiqué. An internal analysis by the Railways found that 87 per cent of all rail accidents occur due to human error. Of these, 51 per cent are due to failure of the railway staff.

Derailments: Railways’ problem with Trackmen, too Qualified for Manual Labour

Of the almost 2.2 lakh trackmen in India, the number of those with graduate and postgraduate degrees and diplomas has increased manifold, the railways says!

NEW DELHI: At the heart of Railways’ track maintenance challenge is an unusual problem with its trackmen: over qualification. The job of manual labour involves patrolling tracks day and night in all weather conditions while looking for faults in the tracks and rectifying them with tools.

But the job has attracted more and more educated youths over the years. Officers claim that the new, educated lot does not want to really to do the job as faithfully as its predecessors. Of the almost 2.2 lakh trackmen in India, the number of those with graduate and postgraduate degrees and diplomas has increased manifold, the Railways said. “There are also MBAs,” said a Railway Board officer. “They just want a railway job. They don’t want the work. They are more suited for office work, they claim,” he said.

That supervising them in the rigours of a trackman is a tough challenge was indicated in an audio-clip purportedly of a conversation between an older gangman and a Railway official after the derailment. “Nowadays, the boys don’t want to do this job. They say, ‘give us jobs like sitting at a level crossing gate’ and the like. No one was listening to the Junior Engineer,” he is heard saying.

So, the Group D job selection process, which involves a written exam as an entry point, throws up a lot of people who would rather do something else than patrol an 8-km railway section on foot all day, carrying a heavy tool bag. That is something railway officers come to know only after they are inducted.

“Soon after these boys join, we keep getting frequent requests from them for transfers to other Group D jobs like working in the coaching depot or as bungalow peons in officers’ houses. Some claim they know computers and have certificates to show,” said a Northern Railway officer, who did not want to be named.

The minimum qualification in the earlier days for the post was education till Class VIII, which was later increased to Class X. Two months ago, the minimum qualification was made Industrial Training Institute certification. However, the ones who appear for the exam are often Commerce and Science graduates and postgraduates. Two years ago, for 4,000 vacancies of trackmen, the applications received were 10 times more.

Efforts to replace this age-old profile, a legacy of the British-era railways, results in backlash from unions, even though nowadays there are rails without too many fishplates that require lesser continuous manual inspection. The Railways’ way of introducing mechanised processes of track health assessment has always been slow because of this.

Hyderabad Division holds Merchants Meet to improve Freight and Parcel Loading

SECUNDERABAD: Arun Kumar Jain, Divisional Railway Manager/Hyderabad, South Central Railway organised a Customer meet today i.e., 22nd August, 2017 at Divisional Railway Manager’s conference hall, Hyderabad Bhavan, Secunderabad in order to improve the Freight and Parcel loading performance.

The Merchants from Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Nizamabad, Kamareddi, Kurnool and Mahabubnagar were attended the meeting. Sri B.D.Christopher, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager and Sri Raj Kumar, Senior Divisional Operations Manager, Hyderabad Division were also present.

A Power point presentation was given during the meeting to highlight various incentive schemes and Policy on transportation products to the customers. They were enlightened about the Notified Traditional empty flow direction of rakes towards Central Railway for which Freight at lesser rate (LR-1) is charged.

Customers were also appraised about Station to Station rates scheme which is advantageous to regular customers and also to new customers wherein a discount upto 30% is granted. In the parcel Segment, customers were appraised about the Reduction in parcel Scales as far as SLR leasing is concerned with a single moto to maximise the utilisation of SLR space.

Merchants expressed their views and assured full patronage to the schemes. Some of the practical problems faced by them were also discussed.

Sampark Kranti Express departs from Fractured Track at Nagpur Railway Station

NAGPUR: A major tragedy averted on Tuesday at Nagpur railway station after the Sampark Kranti Express left the platform no 1 and an alert senior train ticket examiner detected a rail fracture at the Itarsi end. The caution was felt after it was noticed that three coaches of the train jumped while moving and the movement too was not smooth. Sources said senior TTE Jitendra Kumar Hathel, The TTE suspected something wrong, and noticed the rail fracture on the railway line when he checked the spot. He immediately rushed to the deputy station superintendent (Dy.SS) office at platform number 1 and informed the staff there.

An alert was sounded and the control room was informed about it. The engineering staff too was summoned. In the backdrop of the recent mishap at Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, where 23 passengers died, there was panic among passengers waiting for Ahmedabad Express. Even as repair works started at the rail fracture on platform number 1, Ahmedabad Express was shifted to platform number 2. Central Railway public relations officer (PRO) PD Patil confirmed the incident and said the rail fracture was repaired and traffic from the platform was restored in 45 minutes.

Even as repair works started at the rail fracture on platform number 1, Ahmedabad Express was shifted to platform number 2.

Central Railway public relations officer (PRO) PD Patil confirmed the incident and said the rail fracture was repaired and traffic from the platform was restored in 45 minutes.

Russia to finance €1bn Rail Electrification in Iran

The Tabriz-Jolfa route in northwestern Iran is currently the country’s only operational electrified railway line. The loan is related to a 1.2 billion Euro deal that Russia and Iran signed to electrify the Garmsar-Inche Burun Railway line during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tehran in November 2015.

TEHRAN: A Russian bank has agreed to provide 1 billion euros to electrify a 500 km railway route in northern Iran, state news agency IRNA has quoted a senior official as saying.

Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways for northern network, Yusef Gheranpasha, said the bank will finance the electrification of the line between the cities of Garmsar and Gorgan.

“With the agreement of the Russian bank to provide finance, the project will soon be put into the implementation phase and become operational within three years,” the official said without identifying the lender.

The loan is related to a 1.2 billion euro deal that Russia and Iran signed to electrify the Garmsar to Inche Burun line during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tehran in November 2015.

The railway line extends into Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, linking Central Asia to the Persian Gulf and beyond.

Russian Railways officials have said the company will start the project in 2018. The contract covers design, sourcing of materials and equipment and construction of 32 stations and 95 tunnels, 7 traction substations, 11 section pillars, 6 duty posts of the contact station and the power supply administration building.

Russia will be financing the project as part of its $5 billion credit line for infrastructure projects in Iran. Russian state lender Vnesheconombank will grant another 2 billion euro export loan to the Islamic Republic.

The news came amid the World Bank’s announcement that it was not currently looking to finance any projects in Iran.

“We are not considering financing any projects in Iran right now,” Reuters quoted an unnamed World Bank spokesman as saying Tuesday.

The Russians have also announced readiness to electrify the 600 km railway route between Tehran and the northwestern city of Tabriz, which is also eyed by the Germans and Italians.

Last month, Russia’s largest manufacturer of locomotives and rail equipment, CJSC Transmashholding, signed a 2.5 billion euro deal with IDRO Group in Tehran for joint production of rolling stock in Iran.

Transmash holding will hold an 80% stake in the joint venture, taking over Iran’s Wagon Pars Company to produce railroad cars in the country.

It was among the biggest contracts which Iran has signed with international companies after the removal of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

In July, Iran signed another deal worth 1.2 billion euros with Italy’s state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) to build a high-speed railway between the central cities of Arak and Qom.

Later in the month, French transport company Alstom signed a joint agreement for the construction of subway carriages in Iran.

The Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) also signed a $1.5 billion deal to finance the electrification of a high-speed rail line between the Iranian cities of Tehran and Mashhad.

The projects are part of Iran’s $25 billion investment roadmap over the next 10 years to modernize and expand the country’s railway network.

Under the plan, Iran seeks to stretch out the nationwide railroad line to 25,000 kilometers by 2025 from under 15,000 kilometers now.

Railway Contractors on South Western Railway to go on Strike over GST

HUBLI: Several railway infrastructure works taken up by the South Western Railway are likely to be affected as contractors executing those works have decided to begin an indefinite strike on Tuesday, demanding resolution of issues pertaining to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

President of the South Western Railway Contractors’ Association, V S V Prasad told reporters here on Monday that the association demanded that the railways reimburse GST for the works tendered before July 1 when the GST was implemented, and pay the GST for the works tendered after it came into effect.

“Under the GST, service receiver should pay the tax and not the service provider. Being a service receiver, the railways should bear the GST burden and not us who are service providers,” he said.

Prasad said that contractors would calculate the cost of executing the work, add income tax, sales tax, labour cess and profit of 2-4% before participating in any tender. “Though the GST is a welcome move, the railway contractors will die if the railway is not going to save us by bearing the additional burden being caused by the GST. In the earlier contract, it was only sales tax that we used to pay. Railways was exempted from service tax. Now, for the same contract, contractors have to pay 12% GST. The works taken up before July 1 will be affected a lot. Railway contractors are not paid for the works taken up before July 1 due to the confusion. Under the SWR alone, contractors have to be paid Rs 400 crore. The contractors are ready to pay GST for the future contracts,” he said.

Central Railway ropes in RDSO to solve Monkey Hill problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eastern Railway GM conducts Surprise Inspection at Howrah Station

HOWRAH: Harindra Rao, General Manager, Eastern Railway on Tuesday made a surprise visit to Howrah station complex. He visited the food court, Jan Ahaar and also inspected the ongoing cleanliness drive at Howrah Station complex. It may be mentioned here that Eastern Railway is observing Swachhta Pakhwada from August 16 to 31.Rao later boarded the inspection car to go through the tracks, points, RRI Cabins, yard and other safety installations in the section, particularly in Bardhman station area. He was accompanied by ADRM, DRM/Howrah and officers of civil engineering, mechanical, safety and signal and telecom departments of Howrah Division besides Principal Officers of Eastern Railway.

At Bardhaman station, he inspected canteen and kitchen, waiting room, ticketing area and other passenger amenities related works. He also interacted with the passengers, Railway officers and staff and urged them to give top most priority to safety of passengers. He said Eastern Railway’s endeavour is to see the comfort, safety and security of the passengers. At the same time he also emphasised on the punctuality of trains. He urged upon the passengers to keep trains and station premises clean and co-operate with the Railways.

Railways in process of using Modern Technology to plug Accidents: Officials


NEW DELHI: The railway ministry has already initiated measures like inducting modern coaches, creating a safety fund as well as incorporating new technology to not only plug accidents due to derailments, but also to reduce casualties, a senior ministry official said today.

A key step was introdcution of sophisticated Linke Hofman Busch (LHB) coaches replacing conventional ones in a phased manner to reduce the chances of derailment and bringing down the possibility of grievous injury or death in case of accidents such as the one that took place in Khatauli yesterday evening, he said.

“These (LHB) coaches have anti-climbing features and provision of superior braking and lesser chances of uncoupling of coaches in case of accidents. Besides, the railways have speeded up the use of modern technology such as ultrasonic system to detect track defects,” the official, who did not want to be identified, said.

While the production target of LHB coaches has been increased from 1,697 in 2016-17 to 2,384 in 2017-18, it is expected to be 3,025 LHB coaches in 2018-19, he said.

According to the railways, under the rolling stock production programme, there will be only 801 conventional coaches manufactured in 2017-18 and, subsequently, no such coaches will be produced.

The train-protection warning system (TPWS) and the train- collision avoidance system (TCAS) are also being used to prevent accidents, the official said.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had launched ‘mission zero accident’ in the 2016-17 Rail Budget for carrying out a special drive to curb accidents.

The Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, a special safety fund, was created in the 2017-18 budget with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years for financing critical safety-related works.

While the TPWS has been installed on a 342-km route, the TCAS is being tried on a 350-km route, the official said.

“It is crucial for safe running of trains to ensure track security. So, track renewal has been undertaken on a priority basis and adequate funds have been allocated for this purpose,” he said.

The fund allocation for track renewal has been almost doubled from the last five years average of Rs 5,548.6 crore to Rs 9,961 crore in the Budget Estimate of 2017-18.

In the 2016-17 fiscal, the railways eliminated 1,503 unmanned level crossings and 484 manned level crossings by constructing road over-bridges and under-bridges.

Since unmanned level crossings are responsible for the maximum number of train accidents, the railways intends to eliminate all such crossings on broad gauge sections by 2020.

Chitheri Train Accident: Loco Pilot gets 10-year Jail for Accident that claimed lives of 12 and injured 71 in 2011

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

VELLORE: The principal district and sessions court on Monday sentenced a loco pilot to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for causing a train accident in 2011 that claimed the lives of 12 persons and injured 71.

A mobile phone-wielding loco pilot, whose train rammed a stationary rake in Chitheri killing 12 people in 2011, has been found guilty of committing culpable homicide, and sentenced to 10-year imprisonment.

Vellore principal district sessions judge S Ananthi convicted loco pilot A Rajkumar who drove the Chennai Beach-Vellore MEMU on the fateful day, under two counts and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for maximum period of 10 years. Delivering the verdict, principal district and sessions judge sentenced A. Rajkumar, the then loco pilot of Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) Train no. 66017 – Chennai Beach to Vellore Cantonment, to 10 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code.

According to A Dilli Babu, public prosecutor, a total of 74 witnesses were examined in the case, and 12 material evidence too were submitted. This included the mobile phone of the loco pilot and speedometer of the train engine.

Rajkumar had made phone call to a fellow loco-pilot, Ravi, when he was in-charge of the train. During the conversation, he told Ravi that he had to return from Vellore to Chennai the same night and hence he was rushing to Katpadi. During the course of the conversation, the phone call got disconnected and then it became not reachable, Ravi had depose during the trial.

Police stated that the train was being driven at 97 kmph, as against the permitted speed of 75 kilometres per hour.

During trial, police also produced the call details of Rajkumar’s mobile number, which clearly showed that he was speaking on the mobile while driving the train, which is against rules as per the Railway Board orders. While on the call, he missed the signal and dashed against the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train.

On September 13, 2011, the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit-66017 driven by Rajkumar rammed into a stationary train Arakkonam-Katpadi Passenger at Chitheri at 9.24 pm. Twelve persons died, while 71 were grievously injured in the accident. Of the 12 deceased, 11 had died on the spot, while another person died at the hospital. The then station master of Walajah Road station Krish Kumar, 31, was one among the deceased. He had gone to Arakkonam to buy gifts for his son’s first birthday.

Sessions judge Ananthi sentenced that Rajkumar must serve 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for offences punishable under Section 304 (ii) of IPC besides five years and Rs 1 lakh fine under Section 3 of Tamil Nadu Public Property Prevention of Damage and Loss Act, 1992 read with 151 of Railways Act. Though he was also booked under section 308 of IPC, he was acquitted of the charge. He will serve the imprisonment concurrently. If he failed to pay the fine, he will have to undergo one year imprisonment. He was acquitted of charges filed under Section 308 (attempt to culpable homicide) of the IPC. He will undergo the imprisonment concurrently.

“As per stipulated rules, the train should ply at 75 kmph. Instead, the train was plying at 97 kmph,” he said.

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

Everybody knew Khatauli Track had Cracks, Why One-Sided Action?

Saturday, 19 August, 2017 will go down in the history of the Indian Railways as the day when everyone knew of the impending disaster, but no one blew the whistle. 

NEW DELHI: The railway track at Khatauli had developed cracks. It could break any time. The maintenance team from the Engineering Department are aware of it. The maintenance engineer (Permanent Ways Inspector) sought permission from the Station Master for a block of 15-20 minutes for a no-traffic window when they could have cut the damaged portion and repaired it. The station master, after consulting his superiors – section controller – denied the block.

Maintenance Workers Flee on Seeing the Train

The maintenance team then went ahead without permission. They cut the railway line, re-laid the undamaged section of the railway line and started welding the piece.

Before the job was finished, they saw the Kalinga Utkal Express approaching at a speed of 105 km/hour.

The workers fled the scene leaving the work unfinished. They panicked so much that they even left their welding machine and tools on the track.

The facts are slowly emerging of criminal negligence from all quarters that resulted in derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express in Khatauli.

Saturday, 19 August, will go down in the history of the Indian Railways as the day when everyone knew of the impending disaster, but no one blew the whistle. The audio-recordings and documents that indicate culpability of both the engineering section as well as the operations division of the railways is a clear indication that lethargic staff from various departments contributed for the mishap, and not just engineering department. The Operating Staff also played a role in derailment and cannot go unscathed.

ASM Seeks 20-Minute Window for Repair

In one such recording, Assistant Station Master (ASM) of Khatauli,Prakash Kumar is heard asking Section Controller (SC), PB Taneja – responsible for operations and smooth traffic between Delhi and Saharanpur – that PWI is asking for a 20 minutes ‘block’. The conversation that took place minutes before the mishap goes like this –

SC: Khatauli?

ASM: Sir, the PWI people are asking for a 20-minutes block.

SC: Which block is this now?

ASM: They are saying they have to change something called the glue-joint? But that would bring entire traffic to a halt – main line and loop line, everything will be blocked.

SC: Trains are lined up…

ASM: Yes sir, that is what I have been telling them. Group of trains are coming, how can a block be given to them?

SC: Okay.

In another conversation, the ASM is asking the Section Controller whether he should turn the signal red. SC tells him how can that be allowed as the Utkal Express would then come to a halt. The train has already started moving and should not be stopped at Khatauli.

ASM followed the instructions and it culminated in the mishap which claimed over two dozen lives.

There is yet another conversation that took place a while earlier, in which the ASM is informing the SC of an impending request of PWI for a 15-minutes window to repair the track, but the SC flatly refuses to grant the block as this was a rush hour and a number of trains were moving in that direction.

Unfair to Blame Only the Engineering Division

The matter was, in fact, discussed not only at the junior level – PWI and SM, but at senior levels too. Senior Divisional Manager RK Verma spoke to Divisional Operations/Movements Manager (Delhi), Sudeep Kumar about the cracks in the track at Khatauli.

A day after the accident, station master of Khatauli, Rajendra Singh, in his interviews to newspapers and TV channels, denied knowledge of any ongoing repair on the track.

In any case, when ongoing repair work was common knowledge in Khatauli, Singh feigning ignorance about something that was barely 200 meters from his station and was informed repeatedly about the need for a ‘block’, is simply criminal. A memo was also written by the PWI to SM, Khatauli, Rajendra Singh seeking permission for repairs.

This resulted in the blame being squarely laid on the engineering division and immediate action was initiated against eight officials – right from the PWI to Member (Engineering) of the Railway Board. The operations divisions, however, escaped unscathed. No action was initiated against ASM, SM, SC, Divisional Operations Manager, Chief Operations Manager or Member (Traffic) of Railway Board.

One-Sided Action

It is not that the engineering section is above board. If there were cracks in the track, they shouldn’t have given the go-ahead without permission from the operations division.

Even if they had to go urgently, they should have taken enough precautions to avert the mishap. They should have posted couple of personnel with red flags at least one kilometre ahead of the repair site. This would have either stopped the train or at least would have slowed it down to a manageable speed.

This is the first time top officials like Member, Railway Board, have been taken to task for a train accident. But only one-sided action against the engineering division is causing more than just a few ripples.

Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (ARPA) urge Centre to speed up Rail Projects in Assam; rues at MOSR

GUWAHATI: Lambasting the Central government and the Railway Board over their failure to speed up the double-tracking projects in the State, the Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (ARPA) has said that delay in execution of the same in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section will mean that the actual benefits of the Bogibeel Bridge will not soon be received by the State in general and its people in particular.

Dipankar Sharma, ARPA secretary, said that though utilisation percentage of the main rail lines in Assam has reached as high as 170 per cent, no step has been taken by the Centre to undertake double-tracking works, while similar projects have been sanctioned in states like Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, even when tracks in those places have only a utilisation percentage of around 100-110 per cent.

“In the 2013 Railway Budget, sanction was given for doubling of tracks in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section, but since then the files have been lying with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). This is the main rail line of our State and officially its utility was mentioned as being 167 per cent six months ago,” he said.

Sharma added, “While people of our State are being made to wait for CCEA nod for so many years, earlier this year, sanction was given for doubling of tracks at some sections in Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala where the utilisation of tracks is currently only around 100-110 per cent. This shows that despite tall claims and promises, the NDA regime has not done anything to remove infrastructure bottlenecks in the railway sector in Assam and the Northeast.”

He rued that despite the Minister of State for Railways hailing from Assam, the State in particular and the Northeastern region in general have not been able to reap the benefits in actual terms as far as the development of railway infrastructure is concerned.

“Even our State government and the MPs elected from Assam are mum on such sensitive issues. Our Chief Minister visits New Delhi at least twice a week but he never bothers to raise such issues of vital economic, infrastructural as well as strategic importance with the Centre,” said the ARPA secretary.

Sharma said such discriminatory attitude by New Delhi is what forces the people of Assam to resort to agitations.

NGT allows Registration of 3 Diesel Trucks of Railways conforming to BS-IV Emission Norms

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has allowed the registration of three new diesel trucks, conforming to BS-IV emission norms, to be used by the railways’ general store department for transporting essential supplies.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar granted the relief after the PSU behemoth said it does not have any vehicle more than 10-years-old.

The green panel was also informed that three trucks which were more than 10-years-old had been scrapped and the certificate submitted to it.

The tribunal — which had last year banned the registration of new diesel vehicles as well as their re-registration after 10 years — clarified in its recent order that the new vehicles should be used only for carrying essential commodities and not for any other purpose.

“We dispose of this application and direct that the Registering Officer, Delhi register these three vehicles provided they are BS-IV compliant and have to be used for the purpose as stated in the application,” the bench said.

The tribunal’s order came after advocate Om Prakash, appearing for the railways, informed the bench that it had bought three new diesel vehicles which were BS-IV compliant.

The railways had approached the green panel seeking registration of its new vehicles following its directive last year.

Later, the Supreme Court had also banned registration of diesel-run SUVs and cars with engine capacity beyond 2000cc in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

In a jolt to diesel car owners in the national capital, the tribunal had directed the Delhi government to cancel the registration of all diesel-powered vehicles over 10 years old from plying in the city.

The tribunal had clarified later that deregistration of old diesel vehicles in the national capital would be carried out in a phased manner.

Dharmendra Kumar new Director General of Railway Protection Force

NEW DELHISenior IPS officer Dharmendra Kumar was appointed as new Director General of Railway Protection Force (RPF) on Monday, an official said.

Dharmendra Kumar, a 1984 batch Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre officer, will be replacing Surendra Kumar Bhagat who serving the post since May 2016.

Dharmendra Kumar will be the 32nd Director General of RPF.

At present, Kumar is serving in Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) as Additional Director General.

“His appointment will be effective from the date of assumption of charge of the post or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” a Home Ministry statement said.

Kumar had earlier served as Special Commissioner, Special Unit in Delhi Police before joining CISF.

He was Special Commissioner, Law and Order when a bomb blast took place in Delhi High Court in 2011.

Heated Disagreements arouse as BMRCL insists on building Metro Station a Km away from Bangalore Cantt Railway Stn.

Protests over Cantonment Metro Station to be intensified, as Residents and Commuters oppose plan to build it under a playground. BBMP is unaware of company’s decision to acquire a playground to build the metro station

BANGALORE: Even as the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) is hell-bent on the new alignment at cantonment which takes the Metro station at least one km away from the railway station, citizens are not ready to give up their fight.

After reaching out to state and central ministers, including the Prime Minister’s Office, through a memorandum, campaigners and mobility experts are going online to press their demand. The latest is twitter campaign called `Tweetathon’.

Their demand for integrating the Metro station with the Cantonment railway station has found support from Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) and the Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC).

“What’s the need for changing the alignment when it was finalised after considering all technical and financial details way back in 2014? The new alignment would mean a major deviation from an almost-perfect integration with railway station,“ Rajkumar Dugar, a resident of Vasanthnagar, said. But Namma Metro authorities had a different reason for the change in plan. They cited difficulties in acquiring railway land although the Railways clarified soon after that it was willing to part with the land. The BMRCL, however, did not reverse its decision.

BMRCL managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola said the new alignment would pass through a dense area, helping more people besides reducing travel time and building cost.

Dugar and others dismissed these statements as “silly“ and “false“. “What’s the point in sav ing one minute of travel time if commuters are made to walk a kilometre to switch from Metro and other trains?“ Dugar asked. He termed BMRCL’s claim of the stations being only 250 metres apart as false.

Urban mobility expert Sanjeev Dyamannavar said the Cantonment railway station sees about 40,000 footfalls a day. “The old alignment would have been a best example of integration. Auto stands, bus stations and railway station are up and running. The Metro would have best suited this place. There is enough parking space and the Metro station would cover the road on all sides,“ he noted.

Dyamannavar point out the lack of integration at the Majestic and Yeshwanthpur railway stations with the Metro stations.

B.PAC managing trustee Revathy Ashok said the group reached out to the state government and the Railways to raise objections to the new alignment. “Bengaluru needs all modes of transport and all of them should be integrated with each other. There is no point in building a Metro station when there are enough opportunities to build it close to the railway station,“ she said.

A high court ruling, Srinivas Alavilli from the Citizens for Bengaluru said, makes it mandatory to hold public consultation before finalising the location of Metro stations. “It will be a waste of opportunity if the railway and Metro stations are not integrated even after spending over Rs 24,000 crore on the project,“ he said.

MP (Bengaluru Central) PC Mohan said he would meet BMRCL officials in person and raise objections to the new alignment. “I will definitely follow up with BMRCL and the departments concerned. It does not make sense to move the metro away from the railway station, which will surely become a hub for commuters once the sub-urban railway starts,” said P.C. Mohan, MP, Bengaluru Central.

Rajya Sabha member representing the State Rajeev Chandrasekhar also spoke against the proposed move. “BMRCL must explain this change in plan. If citizens prefer a metro halt at the Cantonment Railway Station, then BMRCL must heed their suggestion,” he said. He has written to Union Minister for Urban Development Narendra Singh Tomar stating that relocation must be cancelled in the interests of the long-term benefits for the city and its commuters. “The integration is critical because Indian Railways is planning a sub-urban commuter rail system that will provide an additional public transportation mode and capacity to the Bengaluru commuter,” the letter says.

 

Commissioner of Railway Safety inspects Utkal Express Accident Site

KHATAULI: Commissioner, Railway Safety Shailesh Pathak on Monday visited Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar where 14 coaches of Kalinga Utkal Express derailed on Saturday claiming 22 lives. Pathak and his team inspected the accident site and also met the local people.

Meanwhile, the two-day long statutory enquiry into the rail accident will begin on Tuesday in Divisional Railway Manager’s office in Delhi. The railways had on Sunday sent on leave three senior officials, suspended four officials and transferred one official following the train tragedy.

At least 22 people died and over 156 injured when the Haridwar bound train coming from Puri in Odisha derailed on Saturday evening.

Railways amending Guidelines on Safety checks

With yet another train derailment claiming 23 lives, the Railways is going back to drawing board, amending guidelines on safety checks to avoid repeat of such incidents in future. There have been at least 23 rail accidents across India since 2014.

Sources opined that though one might see a proactive Railway ministry on social media, the ground situation speaks a different story. Now, with the rescue work at Utkal Express mishap site over, the Railways feels that it is time to plug the loopholes and fix the problem areas.

“We will issue necessary safety guidelines once the Commissioner of Railway Safety is through with his probe report,” said Vinod Kumar, Advisor (Safety), Railway Board. The Central and Western Railway officials claim that they too are expecting some sort of guidelines on maintaining safety in the days to come.

Guidelines apart, one of the possible causes behind this derailment is said to be the lack of coordination between the rail authorities and gangmen who maintain tracks. Sources said the gangmen alone cannot be faulted as across Indian Railways there is a practise of gangmen being asked to do personal chores at rail quarters and bungalows.

Not just this, the Railways pays little heed to the rail representatives and associations. For instance the Railway ministry has appointed commuter representatives and formed committees who discuss problems related to train travel. These are called Zonal Railway Users’ Consultative Committee (for the entire zone like CR, WR), Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee (Mumbai Division), which are meant to discuss the issues faced by commuters.

“For the last two years, there has been only two meetings with the Railways,” said Subhash Gupta, member, ZRUCC. These members take stock of the issues faced by people and then discuss it with the railway authorities.

“Ideally, these meetings should take place once in every three months, but it rarely happens. Moreover, the rail authorities show scant interest in holding such meetings,” said Madhu Kotian, member, ZRUCC.

Blaming the Railways for the accidents, they claim that the latter pay little heed to their suggestions concerning rail safety.

JSW Steel Ltd enters into Long Term Tariff Contract with South Western Railway

MOU was signed between SWR and JSW Steel Ltd. at Rail Soudha, Hubballi on 21.08.2017. Shri A.K. Gupta, General Manager, Shri K. Shivaprasad, Chief Commercial Manager of South Western Railway and Shri Susheel Nowal, Vice President of JSW Steel Ltd. are seen in the picture (From Left to Right).

HUBLI: South Western Railway and M/s.JSW Steel Ltd., Toranagallu signed Long Term Tariff Contract Agreement on 21.08.2017 for a period of 3 years by which Railways will retain the existing traffic of M/s.JSW Steel Ltd, Toranagallu besides encouraging them to load incremental traffic on cumulative basis during the contract period and also strive to divert the traffic from road to rail thereby increase the rail coefficient.

K.Shivaprasad, Chief Commercial Manager of South Western Railway and Susheel Nowal, Vice President of JSW Steel Ltd signed the MOU in presence of A.K.Gupta, General Manager and B.B.Singh, Additional General Manager, G.J.Prasad, Chief Operations Manager and A.K. Singh, Principal Finance Advisor & Chief Accounts Officer of South Western Railway.

M/s JSW Steel Ltd, Toranagallu will be eligible for rebate accrued in a year under this scheme as refund within 45 days after completion of each year for the traffic offered from all the three (03) plants viz., M/s. JSW Steel Ltd/Toranagallu, (JSWT/SWR), M/s. JSW Steel Ltd., Dolvi (JSWD/CR) and M/s. JSW steel Ltd, Salem (MCSI/SR).

The Inward commodities loaded will be Lime Stone, Dolomite, Steel Angle, Bentonite, Quartz and Clinker; outward commodities will be Steel, Slag and Cement.

Criminal negligence in Utkal Derailment: 4 Engineers suspended, 3 top Officials sent on leave

Gangmen, employees who are recruited to maintain railway tracks, are asked to do personal chores of Railway Officers at railway their Bungalows, claim sources. Chores include buying vegetables for railway personnel, escorting kids to school, cleaning, washing and maintaining the bungalows etc. This could be one of the reasons behind the derailment of Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express on Saturday as these gangmen spend more time doing chores than maintain tracks; sources said.

NEW DELHI: Four engineers were suspended, three top officials — including the Northern Railway General Manager — were sent on leave, while another was transferred for Saturday’s train accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, in which 24 passengers were killed.

The action was taken after a Railway inquiry found the Permanent Way Department that checks the routes of regular trains responsible for the derailment of the high-speed Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express near Khatauli Railway station. The inquiry team informed the Railway Ministry that maintenance work was in progress at the accident site and tracks were being cut with the help of hexa blades. It had resulted in removal of some nuts and bolts and displacement of fish plates. The accident that left more than a hundred passengers wounded was caused by the toppling of the 13th coach, sources said.

Based on prima facie evidence, the ministry suspended a Junior Engineer, a Senior Section Engineer, an Assistant Engineer and a Senior Divisional Engineer. The Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway, has been transferred, while the Northern Railway General Manager, the Divisional Railway Manager and the Member Engineering of the Railway Board have been sent on leave. Heads rolled after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asked the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility “by end of day.” An FIR was registered against unknown persons for causing death by negligence, mischief, and destruction of railway property.

Sources at Khatauli Raliway station said the tracks were under repair but authorities did not caution the driver to slow down. The train was running at 105 kmph when thirteen of its carriages jumped the tracks. The train does not stop at Khatauli, about 130 km north of Delhi. Trains passing through the Meerut line of the Northern Railway were either cancelled or diverted till 6 pm on Sunday.

The Railways has already approved a proposal to change about 200 metres of damaged tracks near Khatauli. The work on the project is on and trains on this route are supposed to be cautioned to run slow, sources said. Two coaches of the train crashed into a residential area, ramming a house and a college.

The Railways’ Additional Director General, BK Maurya, earlier in the day talked about two possibilities. “Either the train driver overlooked the caution board to slow or Railway authorities did not put up any caution board at all. In case of the second possibility, the station master should have called the driver or changed the track. He could have also given the stop signal to avert the derailment.”

Two trains had passed the tracks, before the accident, at 15 kmph without any problem, he said, adding, “Over-speeding and gross negligence by Khatauli station authorities seem to be prima facie case behind the derailment,” he said. This was the fourth major accident — third in UP — over the past year on the world’s fourth biggest rail network.

Maurya did not rule out the possibility of the driver applying the emergency brakes, reasons for which are under investigation by higher authorities. “Otherwise, the train would not have turned turtle or coaches piled on top of one another,” he said.

“Some maintenance work was going on, which might have caused the derailment,” Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, also said at a news briefing here.

“There is an audio clip of a conversation that we will probe. Also, when we did a site inspection, we saw some equipment of the railways used for track repair present there,” he said.

An eye-witness also supported the officials’ theory. “There was a deafening sound before the derailment as if the train hit something. It seemed that the driver saw something at the last moment and applied the emergency brakes,” he said.

Sources in the engineering division of the Railways claim that they had warned the Khatauli station authorities of repair work being carried out on the tracks. “We had no knowledge of technical problems,” Khatauli Station Superintendent Rajinder Singh, however, told a news channel.

Gangmen, employees who are recruited to maintain railway tracks, are asked to do personal chores at railway quarters, claim sources. Chores include buying vegetables for railway personnel, escorting kids to school, and maintaining the bungalows etc. This could be one of the reasons behind the derailment of Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express on Saturday as these gangmen spend more time doing chores than maintain tracks, sources add.

Hindustan Zinc can help build corrosion-free infra for Railways: HZL CEO Sunil Duggal

Corrosion reduces life of rails & increases maintenance workload. India loses more than Rs 6 lakh crore annually to corrosion, says Hind Zinc CEO
Sunil Duggal, CEO, Hindustan Zinc Ltd.

NEW DELHI: Pitching for corrosion-free infrastructure for the Railways, Hindustan Zinc Chief Executive Officer Sunil Duggal on Sunday said galvanising tracks could help achieve zero fatalities.

According to estimates, India loses about 4 per cent GDP annually on account of corrosion of such infrastructure.

“Zinc can help build corrosion-resistant infrastructure for Indian Railways that will help the Indian Railways achieve zero fatality,” Duggal told PTI.

He reasoned that corrosion-free infrastructure like rails, bridges, electrical poles, and fish plates will be more durable and add to passengers’ safety.

Terming the Railways’ vision document as “progressive”, Duggal said the need is to have corrosion-free infrastructure.

“Rail tracks in India are intermittently exposed to ultra violet rays of the sun and heavy rains. Passenger safety is of utmost importance and recent accidents have indicated corrosion of rails and fish plates as one of the major causes, which could have been avoided,” he said.

He made a case for corrosion-resistant infrastructure for not just rails, but bridges, electrical poles, fish plates and nuts and bolts “if we are looking for long-term investments in this sector and impact GDP of India”.

According to Duggal, corrosion reduces the life of rails by nearly half, which increases maintenance workload.

Corrosion of rails causes huge economic loss because of frequent rail replacements

The ministry’s vision document for 2017-19 puts a premium on economic growth and development, besides targeting reduction in accidents.

For now, the Railways is focusing on bridges and track upgradation, long-lasting infrastructure and electrification of train tracks and looking to eliminate 6,113 unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines across India.

Hindustan Zinc (HZL) in association with International Zinc Association (IZA) has recently organised an international conference on the galvanisation process.

Vedanta Group firm HZL had posted 81 per cent jump in net profit at Rs 1,876 crore for the quarter ended June, helped by better pricing and higher volume.

The total income during the April-June quarter stood at Rs 5,543 crore, registering an increase of 61 per cent over the year-ago period.

Fresh bid to set up Coaching Terminal adjacent to Nemom Railway Station in Thiruvananthapuram

Ministry of Railways propose to have five stabling lines in the first phase at Nemom.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A fresh initiative is on to make the coaching terminal proposed on 12.14 hectares of land owned by Railways adjacent to Nemom railway station a reality.

Instead of the original plan to have 10 pit lines to take care of the maintenance of 30 trains, 12 stabling lines, sick lines, and quarters for Railways personnel at Nemom, Railways have decided to have five stabling lines in the first phase.

“It will be the first phase of the coaching terminal. The proposal estimated to cost ₹67 crore has been submitted to Southern Railway. It will be forwarded to the Railway Board for inclusion in the Works Programme 2018-19,” Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram, Prakash Butani told on Saturday.

The divisional railway authorities’ aim is to link it with the ₹1552.94 crore doubling and electrification of the 86.56-km Thiruvanantha-puram Central-Kanyakumari railway line approved by the Union Cabinet recently.

The focus at Nemom is on stabling lines as they can be used to shift the parked rakes from the Central station at Thampanooor and use them for train operations.

A dedicated line is needed from the Central station to the proposed stabling lines at Nemom and efforts were on to lay it along with the forthcoming doubling works, he said.

The coaching terminal had been mooted taking into account the lack of platforms to handle the trains at the Central station and the satellite terminal at Kochuveli.

The premier station of the State is handling two-and-a-half times its sanctioned capacity and the Thiruvananthapuram-Kochuveli line has become choked. One of the reasons for Railways going in for the truncated version is the likely hurdles over land acquisition and mobilisation of funds, the DRM said.

As the land available (12.14 ha) with Railways is in the shape of a triangle, another 28.33 ha needs to be acquired for the original coaching terminal project modelled on the lines of the Basin Bridge Coaching Depot in Chennai.

Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik takes stock of Rail development works on Firozpur Division

Malik also takes stock of Railway Station’s development. Rs.145 Crore project begins; Chheharta station’s facelift too underway

AMRITSAR: Senior railway officials of the Ferozepur Division, headed by Divisional Railway Manager Vivek Kumar, held a meeting with Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik here on 19th Aug. Malik is the member of the Railway Board to review the status of various development projects for the Amritsar railway station.

Heads of almost all railway departments from the Ferozepur Division were present at the meeting. Malik said the development of the railway station with an investment of Rs 145 crore had commenced with the beginning of civil work for platform number six and seven.

He said tenders for granite flooring on platform number one and kota flooring on remaining platforms would be floated soon.

He said work to instal four lifts was going on and another escalator at the gate towards Gol Bagh would commence once the civil work for stairs completes.Officials said 200 fans and fancy LED lights would be installed. The air conditioned lounge at the parcel room, seven new AC retiring rooms and 26-bed dormitory would be raised at the station and high mast lights would also be installed at the parking lot.

A large sized LED screen, next to the enquiry window, would be installed to display the status of trains. A laundry to wash linen would also be set up at the railway station.With a view to decongest the Amritsar railway station, the Chheharta railway station is being developed with an investment of Rs 61.22 crore. Malik said the project would be finished next year.

Once, the Chheharta railway station becomes operational, all trains would go there for washing as the washing line is near completion.