Jindal Steel & Power Ltd Starts rolling ‘Head Hardened Rail’

RAIPUR: The Raigarh unit of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) has commenced rolling of ‘Head Hardened Rail’ on August 15, 2017.

The rails which are used for laying tracks for Metro and High Speed trains in currently being exported to Iran, a company Press release informed.

Till now this category of rail was being imported in India. With manufacture of ‘Head Hardened Rail’, JSPL  is among the league of seven nations which manufacture the products, the Press release informed.

JSPL started manufacturing ‘Head Hardened Rail’ in September 2016 with the setting up of the country’s first unit to manufacture the product.

The company has received supply order of 20,000 tonnes of ‘Head Hardened Rail’ from Iran.

JSPL has innovated to manufacture the longest rails in India. The country’s longest rail length of 121 metres is being rolled at JSPL’s Raigarh manufacturing plant site. In the plant site itself these rails can be further welded together to create 484 meter long rails that are then transported to the rail track location.

9 Cities to get Extra 313 km of Metro Rail Network

A total of 537 kms of metro sections are under under construction. The first one to be fully operational will be the 8.5 km Metro stretch in Lucknow. It will be opened for public in a fortnight.

NEW DELHI: Nine cities including Delhi, Noida, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Kochi, Bengaluru and Chennai are set to get additional 313 km on Metro Rail connectivity by March 2019. Till now the mass transit system is operational only on 370 kms in eight cities since the first Metro service began in Kolkata in 1984.

While most of the projects nearing completion, three projects in Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Lucknow were approved during Narendra Modi government. A total of 537 kms of metro sections are under under construction.

An official of housing urban affairs ministry said, “To speed up Metro expansion in view of growing traffic and pollution, the central government has increased budgetary provision for Metro projects to Rs 42,696 crore during 2015-18, marking an increase of 258% over that of Rs 16,565 crore during 2012-15 period.”

He added that the focus has been on ensuring close coordination and monitoring with states and agencies concerned for quick implementation of projects. Four new cities – Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Nagpur – will in the process come on the Metro map of the country taking the number of cities with metro services to 12.

The first one to be fully operational will be the 8.5 km Metro stretch in Lucknow. It will be opened for public in a fortnight.

For the Metro Rail projects implemented under 50:50 equity joint venture model with states concerned, which is the widely followed model, Centre provides assistance up to 20% of project costs excluding land cost in the form of equity coming to about 14% of such cost and subordinate debt accounting for about 6.00%. States make matching contribution with the remaining met from loans.

Ministry’s data show how the Central share has been in the range of 9.58% and 16.38% of the total project cost.

AP state says no to Centre’s Metro Rail policy, formulates its own

AMARAVATI: The state government of Andhra Pradesh is differing with Union government’s new Metro Rail policy and is formulating its own innovative model for successful implementation of Metro Rail projects in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. The government is of belief that the new policy, which has mandated public-private partnership, will not work out for low-density populated cities (below 20 lakh population) and is aimed to decrease investment burden on Centre.

As the state government has prior information on Centre’s move towards new metro policy, Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (AMRCL) has been working on a new model. But it is unsure on getting Centre’s assistance to the metro projects with the implementation of AP’s model.

As per the proposed new model of AP, State government will bear cost of civil works part that building of metro corridors, stations and other infrastructure. Remaining 50 per cent cost for O&M such as electrical, mechanical and other maintenance will be left to private partner. “It will easy to take up O&M part to private partners as the cost will be reduced by 50 per cent” AMRCL managing director N P Ramakrishna Reddy told.

As per Centre’s new policy, public-private partnership (PPP) for entire project has been made mandatory for availing Centre’s grant for new metro projects. The policy stipulated a shift from the present “Financial Internal Rate of Return of eight per cent” to “Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) of 14 per cent”. Besides, Centre’s grant has been reduced to 10 per cent.

In the old policy, Centre and State governments grant 20 per cent each of total project cost and remaining 60 per cent had to be obtained from private financial institutes. “If we procure the 10 per cent funds (Centre’s part), we can implement metro projects as per our wish” said a senior officer.

“The proposed PPP model will not be success. Private companies will not come forward to take up metro projects under the PPP model as huge amount must be spent for civil works. The new policy is aimed only to cut Centre’s funding to metro projects. In this scenario, we are preparing a model in which the state government will bear cost of civil works” said Ramakrishna Reddy.

Experts opine that the condition of 14 per cent EIRR will also be forced on state governments for manipulation as it is difficult to attain over 8 per cent EIRR. “Increasing losses to governments due to low EIRR of metro projects is one of the reason behind bringing the new policy,” added Ramakrishna Reddy.

“Centre is of the view that states see the metro projects as prestige to them and send DPRs for low-density populated cities such as Bhopal, Indore and Patna ignoring viability of the projects. Centre’s new metro policy may resist such kind of proposals,” said Ramakrishna Reddy.

Prime Minister to monitor select Railway Projects in Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI: Nearly a decade after getting stuck over land acquisition issues, the Second Phase Extension of Mass Rapid Transit System from Velachery to St Thomas Mount is finally set to get the much-needed boost after being listed among the projects the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself will monitor from now.

The five-six projects that the Prime Minister will review through video-conferencing under Pragati (Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation) programme includes the Tindivanam-Nagari railway line, which was forgotten after the foundation stone was laid 10 years ago, said sources. This, sources added, highlighted the urgency the Centre has accorded to incomplete projects that are bleeding the State exchequer.

The five-km MRTS second phase, for instance, which is stuck for nine years over acquiring 6,550 sq metres of private land, has seen cost escalate to Rs 732.89 crore from the original estimate of Rs 495.74 crore in April 2008. What could have been an important route for the thousands commuting to the city was stalled over acquiring the land, which hit a 1.5 km long standalone segment.

While the Madras High Court decided in favour of the State government, the authorities are stumbling over the compensation to be paid under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

As the newly worked out interim compensation based on land price fixed by the special tahsildar was lower than the land price fixed earlier, the land owners have sought the intervention of the high court once again.

It is now for the Centre and State to break the stalemate in the project, which is crucial for multimodal integration linking MRTS with metro and suburban railway.

In the case of Tindivanam-Nagari railway line, the foundation stone was laid at Ranipet railway station in 2007. The 184-km broad gauge line, which proposed to connect the interior parts of the northern districts and facilitate additional railway line to Puducherry, was to pass through Villupuram, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvallur districts, and also Chitoor in AP.

The project cost, which was initially estimated at Rs 498 crore, is expected to soar to Rs 650 crore.The other projects reviewed under the Pragati initiative include Smart City Mission.  Chennai and Coimbatore, selected under the first round of Smart City Mission, have completed less than one per cent of projects.

Rs 1,025 cr project delay under review

The delay in implementation of the Rs 1,025 crore transmission project associated with independent power producers of Nagapattinam/ Cuddalore area is also being reviewed.

Has Corrupt Bureaucracy at Zonal level eroded Rail Safety?

53% of 586 train accidents in last 5 yrs due to derailments. Less than 40% spend of the Rail Safety Fund by Zonal Railways for Safety Upgrade seems to be one of the biggest reason apart from corrupt Bureaucracy that eroded Rail Safety – an important task which is not a Rocket Science. Lack of determination and willingness to set proper practices in place and the lack of professional approach in meeting Safety Norms by few Officials at Zonal level is the cause of concern; leave alone the Laxity in Bureaucracy!

(The writer is Secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own).

Muzaffarnagar: The death of 23 passengers due to the derailment of the Haridwar-bound Utkal Express on 19 August is yet another instance of callousness of our Railways. This is not a one-off incident. Seventy derailments were reported in 2016, and almost 30 more have been reported this year. Derailment of goods trains and incidents with no casualty are hardly ever covered by the media.

Even when passengers escape death, frequent derailments are not a good sign. If anything, it shows that either the wheels are worn out or there is some mechanical failure. Nearly 53 per cent of the 586 train accidents in the last five years were due to derailments with the Utkal Express derailment being the latest. Notwithstanding the railways’ attempts to upgrade the safety apparatus, many such accidents continue to occur.

According to official figures, of a total of 586 rail accidents in the last five years, nearly 53 per cent were due to derailments.

Since November 2014, there have been 20 rail accidents, many of them minor.

The worst accident was the November 20, 2016, derailment of the Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur which resulted in 150 deaths and over 150 injuries.

The train pulled out of Pukhrayan station, on the outskirts of Kanpur, and derailed soon after. Several causes, including overcrowding and fracture in the railway line, were attributed to the accident.

On September 12, 2015, a narrow-gauge train, the Shivalik Queen, a chartered train from Kalka to Shimla, derailed on September 12, 2015.

36 British tourists and a tour guide were on the train. Two of the tourists died in the accident and 15 were injured.

Nine coaches of the Secunderabad Junction-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Duronto Express derailed near Karnataka’s Kalburgi town on September 12, 2015, resulting in two deaths and seven injuries.

On January 21, 40 passengers were killed and several injured when seven coaches and the engine of 18448 Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed near Kuneru railway station.

The Madhya Pradesh twin train derailments happened on August 4, 2015, when the Kamayani Express, on its way to Varanasi in UP, was the first to derail owing to flash floods in the area, followed by the Janata Express. The total casualty was 31 with over 100 injured.

The Rourkela-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derailed in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh on May 25, 2015. Eight bogies of the train derailed, leaving five dead and over 50 injured.

On March 20, 2015, the Dehradun-Varanasi Janata Express derailed in Rae Bareli district resulted in the death of 58 passengers and injuring over 150.

On February 13, 2015, 10 people were killed and around 150 were injured when nine bogies of the Bangalore-Ernakulam Intercity Express derailed on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Placing the Blame Without Proof

In some cases, even though sabotage is hinted at, the claims are not backed by proof. The sabotage angle is thrown in and by the time the enquiry is over, no one gets to read the report.

In a recent accident in Kanpur on 20 November, the Railways department immediately blamed the fractured tracks, without showing a photograph or any concrete proof. Later on 28 January, a Railway Safety Commission official ruled out sabotage and fog, fixing the blame instead on overaged wheels.

Funds Meant for Safety Misused

The amount, Rs 1 lakh crore, given to Railways for enhancing safety could now be misused — just as the Safety Fund created by Nitish Kumar was misused. The money will be spent on laying new lines and gauge conversion which should ideally come under capital expenditure. Hardly 30 percent would be spent on signal improvement, maintenance and technology upgradation, such as the remote checking of trains.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the action taken on its recommendations says (SCR 188 2013-14) that less than 40 percent of the money allotted for safety had been utilised by the Railways!

Mr Suresh Prabhu has an onerous job of utilising this fund for its original purpose. One can hope a number of distressed bridges, old tracks, out of date signalling systems, and other safety enhancement devices are replaced using the Safety Fund.

A Long Pending Technology Overhaul

If you read the previous ten Railway budgets, you can find references to projects like anti-collision device, advance warning system, satellite-based global positioning system, train collision avoidance system, train protection warning system, fire-retardant coaches, vigilance control device, auxiliary warning system, self-propelled ultrasonic rail testing cars (for flaw detection). However, these are still pilot projects.

If you let them, the department will invent phrases for another ten budgets. It feasts on the ignorance of public, and an absence of overall accountability.

Railways would not install scoot and flash devices at unmanned level crossings, but they would appoint people (to generate a source of income) to close the gates. Several gatemen had been found sleeping or absent while accidents happened.

It is not true that more money means more safety. Most of the accidents have been caused by human errors, and this is the result of poor training and wrong recruitment policies. With no change in these, merely pumping more money will not make rail travel safer.

The Department Does Not Listen

For years, the suggestions that every coach must have a fire extinguisher (in SL too), engines must have fog lights (at least two accidents during every fog season), and that they must have helicopters at every zonal or even divisional HQ for quick relief during accidents, have fallen on deaf ears.

It is the height of callousness that the rescue team arrived at the Utkal train accident site on Saturday without a search light. They think it is cheaper to pay compensation than take better safety measures. After an accident on 13 February, a passenger had to walk 4 kilometres just to inform the authorities.

The Railways’ responsibility to transport passengers safely is now only a moral obligation. It must be made a legal one. Canadian railway safety management system regulations and their Safe and Accountable Rail Act ensures accountability are worthy of emulation.

Railway Safety is Not Rocket Science

An independent committee must be entrusted with the money and the plans to implement them. The Chief Vigilance Commissioner has said that corruption is on the rise in the Railways (4 August 2015 in the Times of India). This only goes on to show how far beyond accountability the railway bureaucracy actually is.

Efficiency has not increased even by one percent, as the Bibek Debroy Committee pointed out. Railway Safety Commission should be truly made independent by appointing engineers from outside the department. Although for namesake, this Safety Commission is attached to Civil Aviation Ministry, it is manned by Railway men on deputation.

Can you, trust them any longer? It is high time this monolithic structure is broken down to create five PSUs. They should have technocrats, industrialists, and financial analysts from outside on the Board which is now limited to employees. The self-serving, corrupt bureaucracy is the built-in danger.

Bad timing causes Rs.1 Lakh loss per day for Coimbatore-Pollachi train service

COIMBATORE: The Southern Railway is incurring a loss of more than `1 lakh a day operating the Coimbatore-Pollachi train, as the schedule does not suit the majority of commuters -office-goers and students.

The train leaves Coimbatore at 1.35pm and reaches Pollachi at 2.45pm. It begins the return journey from Pollachi at 3.05pm and reaches Coimbatore at 4pm.

“This timings do not serve the purpose of thousands of office-goers and stu dents, who had desperately waited for the service for eight years,” said PR Natarajan, president of the Coimbatore Railways Struggle Committee. “Southern Railway introduced the train only because the railway minister had promised it. They will now blame poor patronage and low earnings and stop the service, as they did with the trains to Krishnarajapuram and Rameshwaram,” he told.

To ensure good patronage, the train should leave Pollachi around 7am and reach Coimbatore by 8am, rail activists suggested. “It should return from Coimbatore at 8.15am and reach Pollachi by 9.30am, which would help office-goers and stu dents commuting between the two towns. Also, there should be a train from Pollachi to Coimbatore around 6pm, which should return around 7.15pm,” said GK Nagaraj of Kongu Jananayaka Katchi.

“Such a service will give commuters a welcome respite from the crowded, overspeeding and accident-prone buses on the CoimbatorePollachi route,” he said.

According to sources, the railway spends about `1.12 lakh to operate the Coimbatore-Pollachi train, but earns less than Rs.2,000 a day on an average.

Special trains announced

Southern Railway has announced special fare special and Suvidha trains between Kochuveli and Chennai via Madurai in the last week of August. The trains will have 2 AC 2-tier, 3 AC 3-tier, 11 sleeper class, 2 general second class and 2 luggage-cum-brake van coaches.

Meeting over Indo-Bangla Railway Project on Aug 28

West Tripura district administration is planning to handover required land to the NFR by early next month to undertake ground work

DHAKA: A high-level bilateral meeting is scheduled to be held in Dhaka on August 28 regarding the progress of the Indo-Bangla railway project, in order to push the Indo-Bangla railway project, official sources confirmed here on Saturday. The meeting will be held at the Tripura Secretariat said.

Officials from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), North East Frontier Railway (NFR) and Tripura’s Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik are likely to attend the meeting.

On Bangladesh side, officers from Bangladesh Railways and Ministry of External Affairs will join the meeting. In the meeting, the progress of 15-km stretch of railway link between Agartala and Gangasagar (Bangladesh) will be reviewed.

Sources said land acquisition process has already begun in Bangladesh side, while the same process has gained ground on the Indian side too. According to latest inputs, West Tripura district administration is planning to hand over required land to the NFR by early next month to undertake ground work.

According to latest inputs, West Tripura district administration is planning to hand over required land to the NFR by early next month to undertake ground work.

According to the report, Ircon has been assigned to execute the railway link on both sides and India’s Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has already released fund to the tune of Rs98 crore to expedite land acquisition process. IRCON has been assigned to execute the 15-km railway link on both sides and the DoNER has already released fund to the tune of Rs. 98 crore to expedite land acquisition process.

“Once the required land is provided to us, the NFR will undertake construction of railway track on elevated corridor within a month,” said an official of the NFR here. The entire project cost would be borne by the Centre.

New Delhi is keen to establish the rail link as it would connect West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh. During the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in January 2010, India and Bangladesh had agreed to lay the tracks between Gangasagar (Bangladesh) and Agartala. The 15-km-long Agartala-Gangasagar railway route will connect Indian Railways with the Bangladesh Railways through the North-east which would improve connectivity and boost trade between the countries.

The 1,700 km distance between Agartala and Kolkata through chicken neck near Siliguri would be reduced to only 350 km if passengers from here could move through Bangladesh soil, according to sources.

The NFR will undertake construction of railway track on elevated corridor within a month once the land is provided.

During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in 2010, both counties had agreed to lay the tracks between Bangladesh’s Gangasagar and Agartala.

The railway route will connect Indian Railways with the Bangladesh Railways through the north-east which would improve connectivity and boost trade between the countries

Qin Gen Industrial Company of China seek Railway revival to invest in Afghan marble sector

KABUL: The landlocked Afghanistan, according to officials, is rich with untapped treasures, precious and semi-precious minerals, that can rebuild and take the country towards prosperity if extracted and utilized properly.

One of the almost untapped natural treasures in Afghanistan is marble that has been extracted, mostly with poor machinery in parts of the country.

A delegation of Qin Gen Industrial Company of China, headed by deputy general manager Li Yingjun, has met officials with Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and a number of businessmen and emphasized on joint efforts to enhance cooperation on infrastructures including railway connectivity and trade under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Expressing interest in investment in Afghan minerals extraction, Li said the company wants to invest in marble filed and its import.

“The two countries’ leaders have agreed on mining of up to 42 types of Afghan marbles, quality production and export to China,” Li told.

However, he emphasized for boosting railway connectivity between Afghanistan and China to accelerate trade and economic relations between the two neighbors.

The first-ever cargo train from China arrived in Afghanistan’s northern border town Hairatan in September 2016 after crossing several central Asian states and the initiative has been widely welcomed by Afghans as a step towards Sino-Afghan railway connectivity.

Nonetheless, the cargo train movement has been paused reportedly due to problems including high transit taxes in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as well as in Hairatan.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Zia Azizi, director of the international relation section of the ACCI, said the problems would soon be addressed in the next meeting of the three countries’ authorities.

To enhance railway connectivity and realize the dream of boosting bilateral trade relations, China and Afghanistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June this year in Beijing.

“Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has asked China for quality extraction of his country’s 42 types of the world second and third-grade marbles and their export to China, we wanted to speak about the ways of how could develop it through a joint Afghan-China dialogue,” Li added.

According to the ACCI, there are 63 marble factories in Afghanistan, producing and processing up to 100 to 1,000 tons each month, with roughly six colors.

“More than 20 other Chinese companies are also ready to join us in investment for extraction and international standard production of the world’s second and third-grade Afghan marbles,” said the Chinese businessman.

Inside Google-RailTel’s Wi-Fi partnership is a Great Learning – a Review on the Initiative

NEW DELHI: As a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative, the Indian Railways have partnered with Google to provide Wi-Fi Broadband facility to passengers at major railway stations across the country.

The Google RailTel initiative was launched in January 2016. Till date Google in partnership with RailTel, a subsidiary of Indian Railways, has reached 140 stations across India and offers speeds ranging from 20-40Mbps. Their lofty aim is to reach as many as 400 stations by 2018.

The main goal of the RailTel initiative is to bridge the digital divide and provide the masses with reliable and fast internet so that they can remain connected, do their work, watch videos and so whilst waiting for their trains. Under this initiative, RailTel provides the high speed network via Fiber lines while Google proved tech support and sets up the wireless infrastructure.

Google’s reasoning behind entering into a partnership with Indian Railways to bring high-speed internet at class A and A1 railway stations internet is both sound, forward thinking and intelligent:

“Railway stations are the one place in India where you can get reliable power, fiber thanks to RailTel and most importantly almost all of the demographic of India passes through these stations. Imagine the amount of population that will pass through the top 100 stations of the country in a year or two. Being a point of transit, it is not not the same 10 million people every day,” At Nizamuddin Railway station alongwith the personnel from Google and RailTel interacted first-hand with passengers on the ground as well as workers who spend their whole day at the railways station.

Mumbai Central a learning lesson

Currently, Google RailTel has over 6.5 million (65 lakh) monthly users. The first station to get the free public Wi-Fi service was Mumbai Central in January 2016. Google says they learnt a lot from their first experiment at the Mumbai Central station.

Apart from a few niggles, the Wi-Fi works quite well most of the time and delivers fast speeds

For example, they realised they should not put routers in open areas and foot over bridges as that leads to people using the internet extraneously. A RailTel representative quoted examples of people just standing at the foot over bridges for hours and clogging up bandwidth.

They also realised that the stations experience huge power surges when the trains roll in for which they were not prepared initially. It took Google 45 days to set up the wireless infrastructure in Mumbai Central – it now takes them just 14 days.

How is the RailWire Wi-Fi set-up?

Railtel has 45,000 kms of fiber internet connectivity across 4,000 – 5,000 railway stations across India. The problem is that it is all wired. This is where Google steps in. Each station is individualistic and has its own set of challenges which are identified and worked upon.

They do not put Wi-Fi in open areas because the signal can spread out and can result in a poor experience for the user. So wherever there is a roof in a station, Google installs routers spaced 50 metres apart. Footover bridges are also not covered because of potential of misuse and interference cause by the metallic structure.

Google then does a preliminary site survey to identify the civil infrastructure – how the station is designed. Then the company identifies all the potential hotspot locations in order to make a preliminary coverage map which is then submitted to RailTel. Then after approval is recieved, the installation of the infrastructure is finally done.

Google says they have a kind of ‘township’ coverage that ensures steady speed and signal across the whole station. There are Wi-Fi access points every 50 meters horizontally and also every 25 meters diagonally.

A great, future-forward initiative

The sign-up process is as easy as it gets. All you have to do is choose Google RailWire under WiFi settings, punch in your mobile number, enter the OTP you receive via SMS and you’re good to go. When we asked the people working at the station (who have been using the service for a long time) about the sign-up process, they were very impressed with how easy and uncomplicated it was.

Google’s free Wi-Fi service works on a model where there is no cap on the volume of data consumed. However, as there are no free lunches in the world, there is a time limit after which the speed of the internet gets gradually reduced. How this works is fascinating as well as complicated.

The three biggest challenges facing the project are lack of awareness, speed throttling in peak hours and the threat from cheap 4G services

For the first 30 minutes, a user gets access to the highest speed of the network (between 20-40Mbps), after which the network is dynamically adjusted in such a way that priority is given to those who are logging in for the first time. Simply put, after 30 minutes you may not be able to stream HD quality videos but you will be able to perform use case scenarios like running apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, opening social media websites and so on.

During our interaction at Nizamuddin railway station, people in general seemed happy with the Wi-Fi services. Most people remarked that apart from a few niggles (which we will talk about below), it works quite well most of the time and delivers fast speeds. What was fascinating to note is that while most people claimed to use the service for entertainment, we did see a few cases of school boys using the Wi-Fi to send pictures of a textbook to their friends, senior citizens using it to read books and so on.

This ties in well with several examples that were given to us by Google and RailTel representatives about how the Wi-Fi is being used for more than just entertainment. As the Google Wi-Fi project moves from tier 1 to tier 2 and tier 3 cities, its impact grows as many people without previous access to Internet get connected.

What are the challenges faced?

The three biggest challenges that Google free Wi-Fi project faces as of now is lack of awareness, speed throttling in peak hours and the threat it faces from cheap 4G services like Reliance Jio.

When we interacted with people waiting for their trains and workers at Nizamuddin railway station, a common thread emerged – people preferred using their Jio 4G connections over Google’s free Wi-Fi during peak hours. In the afternoon apparently the speeds slow down quite a bit due to heavy traffic which overloads the servers and subsequently throttles speeds.

When we addressed this concern to Mr Gulzar Azad – Google’s head of connectivity, he said “This is exactly what we were expecting. Once people start experiencing high-speed internet, the user behaviour changes – the expectation now is higher. There is more demand for less and less latency in the network.”

As the Google Wi-Fi project moves from tier 1 to tier 2 and 3 cities, its impact grows as many people without previous access to Internet get connected

Another reason people prefer using their 4G data connection over Google’s Wi-Fi service is the fact that high-speed access is limited to only 30 minutes. Mr Azad has this to say when we asked him if Google RailTel’s strategy had changed in any way since Jio revolutionised 4G data rates in India –  ” What we have seen is that as 4G has emerged, we have seen no dip in the Wi-Fi usage. If you talk about the time when ‘free’ 4G started emerging, we were at about 5 million (50 lakh) monthly active users, today we are at 6.5 million (65 lakh) monthly active users. So the RailTel initiative has only grown since then.”

The lack of awareness is an issue that Google is acutely aware off which is becoming exacerbated as the project moves from tier-1 cities to tier-2 and 3 towns. While a lot of effort needs to be done even in metropolitan cities, not many people expect there will be such high speed Wi-Fi in railway stations in tier 2 and 3 cities especially.

This is what Mr Azad had to say about the awareness challenges – ” We have tried a few things, we have tried LED boards as you can see, we have tried beacons at the station to give alerts to people as they walk in that Wi-Fi is available here. Indian Railways needs to find some creative ways to use the stalls etc to let people know. Because finally this is a great advancement. If you compare this with Wi-Fi in London and San Francisco, you will find that the Wi-Fi is better in both coverage and capacity.”

Railway Authorities hint negligence caused UP train tragedy

Negligence at the local level appeared to have caused the derailment of Utkal Express in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, one of the deadliest train accidents in the recent times in which 22 people were killed and over 150 injured, 26 of them grievously, officials indicated on Sunday.

A probe has been ordered to ascertain the exact cause of Saturday’s derailment, with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu directing railway board chairman to fix responsibility on “prima facie evidence by the end of day”.

The train, which was on its way from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, had 23 coaches, of which 13 derailed, said Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi Division, R N Singh.

Six coaches of the train, which was running at a speed of over 100 kmph, were severely damaged, he added. One coach crashed into a house.

The railways have deployed high-tech cranes and scores of workers to clear the tracks near Khatauli.

Two 140-tonne cranes were being used since Sunday morning to clear the derailed coaches, from which survivors had been rescued and bodies pulled out.

Rescue operation by the National Disaster Response Force got over at around 3 am.

The death toll in the accident on Sunday went up to 22, with one more person identified as Sushil Kumar succumbing to his injuries in a hospital in Ghaziabad, according to District Magistrate of Muzaffarnagar G S Priydarshi. Of them, 15 bodies have been identified.

Principal Secretary (Information) to the UP government Awanish Kumar Awasthi said 156 people were injured in the derailment and many among them remain critical.

A preliminary probe has found that maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks which might have caused the derailment, said Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, at a news briefing in New Delhi.

The senior official, who rushed to the spot in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh where the accident occurred, said he had seen maintenance tools on the tracks.

“Prime facie, it seems maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks…. Some maintenance work was going on, which might have caused the derailment of Utkal Express,” Jamshed said.

He said a probe would reveal if any maintenance work was being done on the tracks without permission.

“Prima facie, the information is that there is divisional responsibility involved if work was being done without seeking permission. By this evening we will know if any of our staff was responsible for this,” he said.

It was not “clear” what kind of work was going on at the site, the official said.

“However, any work on tracks has to follow a manual. We have maintenance manuals which lay down guidelines for work on any kind of railway infrastructure,” Jamshed said, adding the probe will reveal if the procedures were followed.

The probe, which will begin on Monday, will be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Shailesh Kumar Pathak, who will look into “every angle, be it sabotage, technical lapse or manual fault”.

“There is some audio clip of some conversation that we will probe. Also, when we did the site inspection, we saw some equipment the railways use for track repair present there,” he said.

“Whenever this kind of a big accident happens, coaches get smashed, toppled, capsized and derailed. In this case, a 200-metre track has been damaged completely. It has to be investigated in detail. All measurements are being taken and every lapse is being taken into account,” Jamshed said.

The senior officer also said the Railway Police had lodged an FIR in the case at Khatauli under sections that included mischief causing destruction of railway property, causing death by negligence, causing grievous hurt, endangering life and personal safety.

Explaining the procedure for maintenance followed by the railways, Jamshed wondered if it was followed in this case.

“Fixed infrastructure on which the rail network runs like tracks, overhead equipment and signals are regularly maintained as per schedule. Maintenance of tracks is done during operations by blocking them as per requirement, according to fixed time and schedule. Written permission needs to be taken for this work,” he said.

He also said sometimes repair needs to be done on an emergency basis, but even then, if the next station is informed, the consequent trains are stopped.

“Then we get our supervisors on the track which is inspected and repaired after which the trains are allowed to run with a speed restriction. Red flags are also shown to trains in case there is a problem on the tracks,” he said.

He said it would be investigated if these protocols were followed this time.

Construction of First Phase of Thailand-China Rail Line project to start in October 2017



BANGKOK — China and Thailand are working together to sign two contracts of the first phase of Thailand-China railway project in September to begin the construction work of the first section in October, Chinese Embassy in Bangkok said in a statement Saturday.

According to the statement, the two countries concluded negotiations of the contract of design work of the first phase of Thailand-China railway project and agreed on the price in the supervision contract during the 20th meeting of Joint Committee on Railway Cooperation between Thailand and China.

“It is a new significant progress that the project made after being approved by Thai cabinet and Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly,” the statement said.

It also mentioned that both sides had been required to accelerate their work to make it possible for the two sides to sign the two contracts in September and to begin the construction work of the first section in October.

The construction of first phase, or the 253 kilometers railway from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, will start gradually from the first 3.5 km section, the second 11 km section, the third 119 km section and finally the fourth 119 km section.

The railway project will also be further extended from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai on Thai-Lao border, which is called the second phase.

“The preparation work for the second phase of the project will start soon,” the embassy said.

China and Thailand have held meetings of Joint Committee on Railway Cooperation for 20 times over the past two years, the statement said both sides have overcome many difficulties and solved many problems.

Chinese side will be responsible for the design work and supervision, which will incorporate many Thai engineers and architects while the Thais will be responsible for construction work. The project will also use Thai equipments and materials as much as possible.

Once finished, the project will be the first standard gauge high speed railway of the Thailand and the railway, according to the statement, “will improve Thailand’s transport system, enforce its role as the transport hub in the region, boost economic growth in the country, especially its northeastern part, contribute to the Eastern Economic Corridor project and benefit other countries along the railway.”

23 killed, 40 injured as 14 Coaches of Utkal Express derail in UP – Terrorists’ Role Suspected


Utkal Express accident: Terrorists’ role suspected as an incident was also reported on the same route wherein miscreants pelted stones at Dehradun-Delhi Shatabdi Express near Khatauli Railway Station 5 hours before derailment of Utkal Express. In addition, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detected at Guwahati Railway Station on August 18, 2017 packed in bag, which was booked by Rail Mail Service. UP ATS rushed to spot. On being asked about the possibility of terrorist’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

Coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express after it derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

MUZAFFARNAGAR: At least 23 passengers were killed and over 40 injured when 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday evening, the Uttar Pradesh police said. The casualty figure might go up.

Earlier, UP Principal secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar had said, “11 dead bodies and 65 injured have been brought to Khatauli hospital,”

The accident took place around 5.45 pm. Khatauli is around 40 km from Muzaffarnagar. Television visuals show that derailed bogies have crashed into a house.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the derailment. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and strict action will be taken in case of any lapse.

As many as 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed.

Prabhu later announced ex gratia of Rs 3.5 Lakh for those who lost their lives in the derailment, Rs 50,000 for seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for people with minor injuries.

In a series of tweets, Prabhu also said that Minister of State Manoj Sinha has rushed to the spot while the chairman of Railway Board and member traffic have been asked to oversee rescue and relief operations.

Two National Disaster Response Force teams, comprising 45 personnel each, and two canines have been mobilised to the accident site from their base in Ghaziabad. Medical vans have also been rushed to the site.

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‘All efforts being taken to ensure speedy relief and rescue operations,’ Prabhu said.

Five hours prior to the derailment at Khatauli, an incident was reported wherein some miscreants pelted stones at the Dehradun-Delhi Shatabdi Express near Muzaffarnagar railway station here, damaging some window panes. No one was injured in the incident which occurred after the train crossed the railway station, according to railway protection force. The police have registered a case against unidentified people.

Gathering of people near derailed Utkal Express site in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

The Railway Ministry was also in close touch with the Uttar Pradesh government to coordinate rescue and relief operations.

In Lucknow, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that top priority was being accorded to ensure prompt rescue and relief work.

He said teams of Provincial Armed Constabulary and NDRF have been rushed to the spot.

Since darkness was impeding rescue operations, he said the power department officials had been directed to ensure that there was no shortage of electricity.

Kumar also said IMA chapters in Meerut zone have been alerted and asked to ensure adequate and prompt medical care to the injured.

Kumar said a team of UP Anti-Terrorism Squad was also sent to the spot, though there is no confirmation of the terrorism angle.

Coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train that derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar

Railways spokesperson Anil Saxena said at this stage, nothing can be said about the cause of the derailment.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath enquired about the accident and directed officials to take all possible action, an official spokesperson said.

Adityanath has directed two of his ministers to reach the site to expedite rescue and relief operations.

Adityanath directed senior ministers Suresh Rana and Satish Mahana to rush to the train accident site.

He also spoke with the Muzaffarnagar district magistrate and instructed him to ensure all possible relief to affected people, an official spokesperson said.

Hospitals have been instructed to provide free treatment to the injured passengers, the spokesperson said.

A coach of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train after it derailed and crashed into a house in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

He said four NDRF teams were also being rushed there — three from Ghaziabad and one from Delhi.

Besides, 35 ambulances, bread, butter, 1,000 food packets, additional private and state-run buses were being arranged, he said.

Volunteers were being mobilized from adjoining Meerut, the spokesperson said.

Medical colleges, district hospitals and large number of private hospitals were being prepared to receive patients, he said.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi expressed condolences over the loss of lives in the accident.

People resqueing the passengers trapped inside the mangled Coaches of the Utkal Express

‘Sad at train derailment in UP; my thoughts are with deceased and their families. Injured are being rescued and provided relief,’ President Kovind tweeted.

The PM said the railway ministry and the state government were doing everything possible and providing all assistance required.

He said the situation was being monitored very closely by the railways ministry.

‘Extremely pained by the derailment of the Utkal Express in Muzaffarnagar. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased,’ the prime minister tweeted. ‘I wish those injured a speedy recovery. The situation is being monitored very closely by the Railway Ministry,’ Modi said.

The railways and the UP government are ‘doing everything possible and providing all assistance required in the wake of the train derailment’, the PM added.

Reportedly, the UP Police suspect the role of terrorists behind the derailment of 6 coaches of Utkal Express near Khatauli in UP’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday.

The UP Anti-Terror Squad has been rushed to the accident spot to probe the terror angle.

On being asked by the media about the possibility of militant’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

On being asked by the media about the possibility of militant’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

Some media reports have also claimed that recently track repairing work was carried out where the Puri Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express derailed.

The reports claimed that after the repairing work, rail tracks were not properly filled with sand. However, the Northern Railways CPRO denied the reports of repairing work being done on the tracks. The train was coming from Puri and was going to Haridwar. It met with the accident around 6:45 pm.

Member of security forces moves a bag containing improvised explosive device (IDE) from arm of a bomb disposal robot to an explosion-proof tank outside a railway station in Guwahati on August 18, 2017. A potential accident was averted on Friday by local police after an IED packed in bag, which was booked by Rail Mail Service, was detected at the station, said local official.

 

Floods ravage East, Northeast states, Rail links remain snapped – Trains operations badly hit

Many Trains Cancelled due to Heavy Rains in North Frontier Railway!

GUWAHATI: Rail link between the Northeast and rest of the country remained snapped for the second consecutive day due to floods in Bihar and the Railway Board has decided to cancel all incoming trains from various parts of the country towards the northeastern region till 10 am on August 16.

“The Railway Board has decided to cancel all incoming trains from various parts of the country towards the North East region which were to reach either Katihar or Malda Town till 10 am of August 16,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) said.

He said that senior Railway officials are at stationed at sites affected by flooding and water levels are being constantly monitored. “Booking refund counters are being kept open at Katihar, New Jalpaiguri and Guwahati stations to facilitate easy refund to passengers and officials are keeping a strict vigil to ensure that catering units are fully stocked with essential food items and passengers are not put to any inconvenience. Passengers are being intimated through SMS about cancellation of passenger trains. Frequent announcements are also being made through PA system at stations,” Sharma said.

Thousands of commuters have been left stranded at various stations across the NFR zone since yesterday since the rail link got snapped after rising water-levels inundated tracks at Katihar and Alipurduar divisions. Normal train traffic is still plying from New Jalpaiguri eastwards towards Guwahati and further up to Dibrugarh, Silchar, Murkongselek and Agartala. “However, train service to and from NFR zone to other parts of the country continue to remain disrupted. Services are only likely to resume once flood water recede and the track is certified fit for traffic,” said an official.

A number of trains including the Dibrugarh-Howrah Kamrup Express, the Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and the Dibrugarh-Delhi Brahmaputra Mail were cancelled today. In addition, NFR has also announced cancellation of a number of trains scheduled for tomorrow. Among them are the Guwahati-Rajendranagar Capital Express, the Guwahati-Bangalore Express, the North East Express, the Saraighat Express, the Guwahati-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express and the Kamakhya-Bangalore Express.

Due to heavy rains and water flow over the track between Kishanganj and Panjipara of North Frontier Railway  the following trains are cancelled as detailed below:

Trains Cancelled:

  • Train No. 12504 Kamakhya – Bengaluru Cantt Express is cancelled on 22nd  August, 2017.
  • Train No. 12508 Guwahati – Thiruvantapuram Central is cancelled on 25th August, 2017.
  • Train No. 12510 Guwahati – Bengaluru Cantt Express is cancelled on 21st ,22nd and 27th  August, 2017.
  • Train No. 12514 Guwahati – Secunderabad Express is cancelled on 24th August, 2017.
  • Train No.12516 Guwahati-Thiruvantapuram Central Express is cancelled on 23rd August, 2017
  • Train No.12552 Kamakhya – Yeshvantapur Express is cancelled on 23rd August, 2017
  • Train No.15630 Guwahati-Tambaram Express is cancelled on 25th August, 2017
  • Train No.15906 Dibrugarh – Kanyakumari Express is cancelled on 26th  August, 2017
  • Train No.15930 Dibrugarh – Tambaram Express is cancelled on 27th August, 2017.
  • Train No.22502 New Tinsukia – Bengaluru City Express is cancelled on 25th August, 2017
  • Train No.22612 New Jalpaiguri – Chennai Central Express is cancelled on 25th  August, 2017
  • Train No.12503 Bengaluru City – Kamakhya Express is cancelled on 25th  August, 2017.
  • Train No.12509 Bengaluru City – Guwahati Express is cancelled on 23rd, 24th and 25th August, 2017.
  • Train No.12551 Yeshvantapur – Kamakhya Express is cancelled on 26th August, 2017.
  • Train No.22501 Bengaluru City – New Tinsukia Express is cancelled on 22nd August, 2017.
  • Train No.15629 Tambaram – Guwahati Express is cancelled on 21st August, 2017.
  • Train No.12507 Thiruvanantapuram Central – Guwahati Express is cancelled on 22nd August, 2017.

Foundation Stone laid for Track Doubling from Netravathi Cabin to Mangalore Central

MANGALORE: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu laid the foundation stone for the railway track doubling work between Netravathi Cabin and Mangaluru Central Railway Station through video conference from Delhi on Friday.

According to Naresh Lalwani, Divisional Railway Manager, Palakkad, Southern Railway, the Railway Ministry sanctioned the project to double the 1.5-km stretch in 2016-17.

The detailed project report for it has been submitted to the Railway Board. It involved modification of two road overbridges (RoBs). The project is expected to cost Rs. 28.03 crore. The Minister also laid the foundation for building a foot overbridge at the Mangaluru Central Station on the occasion.

The 25-metre-long and three-metre-wide bridge would cost Rs. 90 lakh. It would have a fully covered structure giving protection from the Sun and rain. When the fourth platform at the station would be ready, this bridge could be extended from platforms two and three to the second entry at the station.

The station now had two foot overbridges. The new bridge to be built would connect platform No 1 with two other platforms. The foot overbridge on the east side of the station has been provided with two escalators and two lifts to ease passenger movements.

The Central station handled about 31,000 passengers daily. It handled 46 trains daily with 44 trains originating from the station.

Addressing the gathering MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said, “We have laid the foundation for Doubling of the Netravati – Mangaluru Central Section and Foot Over Bridge today. After Independence, the development of the Railways was moving at the speed of a tortoise. But now the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Prime Minister Modi have given it the speed of a horse. From many years I had kept a number of demands with Kharge and the Railway minister when Yeddyurappa was the CM. They had decided to upgrade the Karnataka Railway similar to Goa and Kerala.”

MP Nalin further said, “Under Modi’s government from the past 3 years funds of Rs1500 crore have been sanctioned to the Dakshina Kannada District Railway. Mangaluru is included in the smart city list and under the Amrit Yojana Rs 163 crore have been sanctioned. Mangaluru city has been taken seriously and included in the medical tourism. Under the MCC limits, there are always protests against the Padil Railway bridge. If we strengthen the relationship between the PWD, Railway department, Highway and the MCC problems can be solved. Because of miscommunication between the departments, there are problems. Now the Padil Railway bridge has been completed.”

MP Nalin also said, “To upgrade the Mangalru Railway to International standard we need funds. The Railway department is not a profitable department. We need to work on a PPP model to upgrade the Mangaluru Railway. We have done the survey and got 60 acres of land from the Railway department. If we get another 40 acres of land from the state government or the MCC we can start the up gradation of Mangaluru Railway to International Standards. Mangaluru is a heaven compared to other cities in the country. In Mangaluru we have the highest temples, churches, mosques, education Institutions, Medical institutions, port, airport, and beaches. If we forget politics and work together hand in hand, we can upgrade the Mangaluru Railway to International standards.”

MP Nalin said, “In order to improve the efficiency of freight and passenger train operations in Mangaluru area and to equip the section for future, Southern Railway took up the doubling work between Panambur and Mangaluru junction. The total estimate for the 19 km long project was Rs 238.04 crores. A new crossing station between Padil and Thokur was proposed at Jokatte, as a modification of doubling, to overcome the operational constraints and increase line capacity”.

Suresh Prabhu launches Doubling of Manapparai-Kalpattichatram Track Section

The Ramanathapuram MP A. Anwhar Raajha, Dindigul MP Udayakumar, Southern Railway General Manager Vashishta Johri, Divisional Railway Manager (Madurai) Neenu Itteyrah, Additional Divisional Railway Manager P.V. Murali Krishna, Madurai Collector Veera Raghava Rao and others witnessing the launch of development works by Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu through video-conferencing on Saturday.

MUMBAI/MADURAI: Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu on Saturday launched a number of development works benefitting Madurai division from Mumbai through video-conferencing.

The Ramanathapuram MP A. Anwhar Raajha, Dindigul MP Udayakumar, Southern Railway General Manager Vashishta Johri, Divisional Railway Manager (Madurai) Neenu Itteyrah, Additional Divisional Railway Manager P.V.Murali Krishna, Madurai Collector Veera Raghava Rao and others witnessed the event through the video-conferencing at Madurai Railway Junction.

The officials said that as part of the Villupuram and Dindigul doubling project, 23-km stretch of doubling between Manapparai and Kalpattichatram section was completed and commissioned for traffic.

With the idea of decongesting traffic and to minimise trespass accidents, five limited use sub-ways in lieu of level-crossing gates were dedicated.

The Minister also launched three foot-overbridges at Sholavandan, Ambathurai and Samayanallur railway stations respectively thus enabling passengers to reach the respective platforms as well as the entry and exit points easily, a press release said.

Suresh Prabhu inaugurates/Launches various initiatives pertaining to TN/Kerala

Indian Railways is heralding in a new era vying for a turnaround in the system. To cater to the diverse rail needs of the burgeoning populace, an array of modern facilities and services are being inducted into the system progressively. With focus on key areas such as infrastructural development, cleanliness, safety and security, Indian Railways has embarked on a journey of transformation. In this direction, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu Dedicated/ Inaugurated following initiatives pertaining to Tamil Nadu and Kerala through video-conferencing from Rail Bhawan today i.e. 19-08-17.

Initiatives taken in Tamil Nadu

1. Inauguration of additional rest room at new concourse at Chennai Central station (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
2. Dedication to the Nation-LED lighting at Chennai Central (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
3. Inauguration of new foot over bridge at Tiruvottiyur station (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
4. Inauguration of new booking office at western side of Guindy station (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
5. Inauguration of two escalators at Chepauk station on Platform no. 1 & 2 (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
6. Dedication to the nation-Hi speed Wi-fi facility at Chengalpattu Junction (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
7. Dedication to the Nation-Hi speed Wi-fi facility, Information Centre & CCTV Cameras at Katpadi Station. (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
8. Dedication to the Nation-food plaza at Arakkonam (at Chennai Central Railway Station).
9. Dedication to the Nation-App based cab service for passengers at Tiruchichirapalli junction station (at Tiruchchirappalli Junction Railway Station).
10.Dedication to the Nation-new parking facility for passengers at stations of Tiruchchirappalli Division (Papanasam, Mannargudi, Tiruchchirappalli Fort & Tiruchchirappalli Junction) (at Tiruchchirappalli Junction Railway Station).
11. Dedication to the Nation-doubling of Manapparai – Kalpattichatram Section (at Madurai Junction Railway Station).
12. Dedication to the Nation- 5 Limited Use Sub-ways in lieu of LC Gates no. 406, 491, 496, 536 & 14 in Madurai Division (at Madurai Junction Railway Station).
13. Dedication to the Nation-3 Foot Over Bridges at Sholavandan, Ambaturai and Samayanallur stations of Madurai Division (at Madurai Junction Railway Station).
14. Dedication to the Nation-New VIP Lounge at Salem Junction station (at Salem Junction Railway Station).
15. Dedication to the Nation-Extension of foot over bridge to the second entry of Salem Junction station (at Salem Junction Railway Station).
16. Dedication to the Nation- foot over bridge at Samalpatti station (at Salem Junction Railway Station).

Initiatives taken in Kerala

1. Inauguration of AC paid waiting hall at 2 stations Thiruvananthapuram and Quilon in association with Kudumbasree (at Thiruvananthapuram Railway Station).
2. Dedication to the Nation-foot over bridge at Kochuveli connecting both entry (at Thiruvananthapuram Railway Station).
3. Dedication to the Nation-10 concrete benches at Quilon Junction station funded by Hon’ble MP Shri Suresh Gopi through MPLAD (at Thiruvananthapuram Railway Station).
4. Dedication to the Nation-doubling of Tiruvalla-Chenganasseri section (at Ernakulam Junction Railway Station).
5. Inauguration of passenger lift at Chengannur Junction on Platform no. 1 (at Ernakulam Junction Railway Station).
6. Inauguration of one passenger lift at Ernakulam Junction on Platform no. 1 & 2 / 3 (at Ernakulam Junction Railway Station).
7. Dedication to the Nation-4 Water Vending Machines at 3 stations of Thiruvananthapuram Division (Ernakulam Junction-1, Ernakulam Town-2 and Aluva-1) (at Ernakulam Junction Railway Station).
8. Inauguration of 2 lifts at Kannur station on Platform no. 1, 2 / 3 (at Kannur Railway Station).

Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, other Railway Board Members and senior officials were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said, “Indian Railways has been focussing on providing better passenger amenities & augmenting capacity. There has been tremendous increase in the budget allocation for building Railway Infrastructure in states of Tamil Nadu & Kerala. Indian Railways is aiming at building better Railways for everyone by participation of all.”

Salient Features of Projects launched today

At Chennai Central Railway Station (Tamil Nadu)

1) Inauguration of Additional Rest Room at New concourse at Chennai Central Station – The Pay & Use Toilet in new concourse of Chennai Central has been renovated at cost of Rs. 60 Lakhs with state-of-the art amenities. The concept wall in the frontage gives a pleasing ambience to the facility.

2) Dedication to the Nation – LED Lighting at Chennai Central Station – A total of 2388 nos. of conventional lights of various wattages have been replaced with 2402 nos. of energy efficient LED lights of various wattages. Facilitated at a cost of Rs.50 lakh, these energy efficient lighting will result in reduction in carbon emission of 262 MT per year, savings to the tune of 60 lakh units and Rs.60 lakh per month.

3) Inauguration of New Foot Over Bridge at Tiruvottiyur Station (Tamil Nadu) – The new Foot Over Bridge will provide access to the travelling public from both East side and West side of the station yard to reach platform Nos. 1 & 2/3 at Tiruvottiyur station. The project has been commissioned at a cost of Rs. 1.44 lakh.

4) Inauguration of new Booking Office at Western side of Guindy Station(Tamil Nadu) – The Reservation cum booking office is newly constructed on the Western side of the Guindy Railway Station facing GST Road. The building has been constructed in an area 195 sq.mtr at the cost of Rs. 48.75 lakhs. Equipped with 7 ticket counters, both UTS and PRS tickets can be booked here.

5) Inauguration of 2 Escalators at Chepauk station (Tamil Nadu) on PF No.1 & 2 – Two nos. of passenger escalators have been commissioned at Chepauk Railway station in place of old defective escalators to platform no.1 and platform no.2. The cost of the Project isRs. 1.36 Crore. Being elevated stations in MRTS section, these escalators facilitate the easy movement of passengers especially senior citizens.

6) Dedication to the Nation – Hi-Speed Wi-Fi facility at Chengalpattu Jn station (Tamil Nadu) – High speed Wi-Fi commissioned by RCIL in collaboration with Google will cover all the 6 platforms, circulating area and VIP lounge at Chengalpattu Jn. Each access point has the capacity to cater about 200 – 250 subscribers at a time.

7) Dedication to the Nation – Hi-speed Wi-Fi facility, Information Centre and CCTV Cameras at Katpadi Jn station (Tamil Nadu).

8) CCTV surveillance camera at Katpadi Railway station – Surveillance camera system has been installed at Katpadiwith total 42 No of IP based digital cameras monitored centrally in the control room manned by RPF personnel. Installed at a cost of Rs.1.2cr, these cameras will help check the crimes against passengers in the station premises.

9)  Information Centre at Katpadi Railway Station – Information centre at Katpadi station brings all the different type of passenger information facilities under one roofthrough which data can be fed to all the information boards. It is setup with one number of PC based announcement and information display system and NTES terminal. The centre is provided at a cost of Rs. 33.6 lakh.

10) Wi-Fi system at Katpadi Railway Station – High speed Wi-Fi commissioned by RCIL in collaboration with Google covers all the 5 platforms of Katpadi station. Each access point has the capacity to cater about 200 – 250 subscribers at a time.

11) Dedication to the Nation -Food Plaza at Arakkonam Jn station (Tamil Nadu) – To tickle the taste buds of customers with choicest delicacies, IRCTC has set up a Food Plaza at Arakkonam Jn in an area of 1752 sq.ft.

II. Tiruchchirappalli Junction (Tamil Nadu)

12) Dedication of App based Cab Services: App based Cab Services have been facilitated at Tiruchchirappalli first Entry in Unit II & III with an area coverage of 210 sq.mt. with a total capacity of 20 cabs. Introduction of these services will give positive impact on Non Fare Revenue and will boost the image of Railways among travelling public.

13) A. Dedication of Parking Spaces at Tiruchchirappalli Junction (Tamil Nadu)

14) TPJ II Entry Premium Car Parking:  An Exclusive area for car parking with an area coverage of 855 sq.mt. at Tiruchchirappalli Junction II Entry with 50 cars parking capacity has been provided.

15) TPJ I Entry Premium Two Wheeler Parking:  A New Premium Two Wheeler Parking with a huge area coverage of 9000 sq.mt. at Tiruchchirappalli Junction I Entry, exclusively earmarked for Two Wheeler Parking with a total capacity of 5000 Two Wheelers has been facilitated.

16) TPJ I Entry Car Parking:  The New Car Parking at Tiruchchirappalli I Entry with an area coverage of 895.5 sq.mt. with the total car parking capacity of 58 cars has been provided.

B. Dedication of Parking Spaces at Tiruchchirappalli Fort Railway Station (Tamil Nadu) – A new parking space with an area coverage of 1965 sq.mt.for exclusive purpose of parking of four wheelers with a total capacity of 100 cars has been provided. A new vast 9000 sq.mt. area for the purpose of parking of Two Wheelers and Four Wheelers with total capacity of 2500 Two Wheelers and 250 cars has also been facilitated.

C. Dedication of Parking Space at Mannargudi Railway Station (Tamil Nadu) – A New parking area for the purpose of parking of Two Wheelers and Four Wheelers with an area coverage of 4292 sq.mt. with total parking capacity of 1500 Two Wheelers and 125 Cars has been provided.

D. Dedication of Parking Space at Papanasam Railway Station (Tamil Nadu) – A New Parking area for the purpose of parking of Two Wheelers and Four Wheelers with an area coverage of 2500 sq.mt.with total parking capacity of 750 Two Wheelers and 50 cars has been facilitated.

III. Madurai Junction Railway Station (Tamil Nadu)

18) Dedication of doubling between Manapparai-Kalpattichatram section (23km)

As part of Villupuram – Dindigul doubling project, doubling between Manapparai-Kalpattichatram section (23km) has been completed and commissioned for traffic.

19) Dedication of 5 Limited use Subways in lieu of LC gates

To ease traffic congestion and to minimise trespassing accidents, 5 Limited Use Subways were constructed in lieu of LC gates in Madurai Division. This will provide safer access to railway stations also.

20) Dedication of 3 Foot Over Bridges at Sholavandan, Ambaturai and Samayanallur stations

Foot Over Bridges constructed at Sholavandan, Ambaturai and Samayanallur stations will immensely benefit commuters as they can reach their Platforms and entry/exit points easily.

IV. Salem Junction Railway Station (Tamil Nadu)

21) Dedication of New VIP Lounge at Salem Jn

To receive and host the VIPs visiting Salem Junction, the new VIP Lounge is being located at PF No.1 near the main concourse area. This air conditioned VIP Lounge will serve the VIPs/Dignitaries arriving at/departing from Salem Junction, round the clock. This lounge has a seating capacity of 12 persons and has been provided with an attached toilet facility.

22) Dedication of extension of Foot Over Bridge to the second entry of Salem Junction

The western side of the Salem Junction is being developed to decongest the junction premises, by shifting major functions there, since sufficient space is available on the other side. With a view to facilitate passengers reach the second entry, the present FOB that was so far connecting PF No. 1, 3/4, and 5 has been extended to the second entry of Salem Junction, at a cost of Rs.1 crore (approximately). This will assist development of second entry to Salem Junction.

23) Dedication of Footover Bridge at Samalpatti Station :

Samalpatti Station in the Jolarpet-Salem Section is one of the important stations in Salem Division, with stoppage of 5 express trains and 6 passenger trains. Earlier, passengers were using the trolley path at the end to reach PF No.2, from PF 1 and vice versa. With a view to assist passengers reach PF No.2 safely and comfortably, a new FOB has been constructed in Samalpatti, at a cost of Rs.1 crore (approximately).

V. Trivandrum Central Railway Station (Kerala)

24) Dedication of AC Paid waiting Rooms with Kudumbasree

AC Paid waiting room at Trivandrum Central with seating capacity of 48 passengers has been set up in association with Kudumbashree, an all women Self Help Group under Govt. of Kerala. At Kollam station also the facility is manned by Kudumbashree and the hall has a seating capacity of 40. A mini library, TV, washrooms and a kids play zone are additional features of these AC waiting hall. A reasonable entry fee of Rs.25/hour is charged

25) Dedication of FOB at Kochuveli (Kerala)

A Foot Over Bridge at Kochuveli would alleviate the difficulty of commuters as they can access Platforms as well as both entries of the station. The FOB, constructed at a cost Rs-2.5 crore, is the longest one in Kerala.

26) Dedication of 10 Concrete Benches at Kollam Funded By Shri Suresh Gopi, MP(RS) through MPLAD at a cost of Rs-1 Lakh, 10 concrete benches are provided at Kollam Jn.

VI. Ernakulam Junction Railway Station (Kerala)

27) Dedication of Double Line between Tiruvalla – Changansseri- Work on double line between Tiruvalla-Changanasseri section of 7.94 km length completed and Line commissioned on 28-03-17. Two additional Lines with full rake unloading facility and a platform with 26 coach capacity was also commissioned along with the work at Tiruvalla.

28) Inauguration of Passenger lifts at Chengannur – Lifts are provided to assist the people with disability, the elderly, the women and the children among others. In addition, installation of Lifts at Railway Stations, Platforms will help to boost the image of Railways in public eye and Railways commitment to valuable Rail users.

28) Inauguration of Passenger lifts at Ernakulam Jn- A lift has been commissioned at PF No.1 and at Ernakulam Jn, 2 lifts have been commissioned, at PF1 and PF2/3. Ernakulam and Chengannur lisfts are commissioned at estimated cost of 37 lakhs.

29) Dedication of Water Vending Machines at Tiruvananthapuram Division- Taking forward the Railways’ mission to provide clean drinking water at stations IRCTCis installing water vending machines at Aluva, Ernakulam Jn, Ernakulam Town.

VII. Kannur Railway Station (Kerala)

30) Dedication of 2 Passenger Lifts at Kannur Railway station

To facilitate easy access to Platform No.1 and 2/3 at Kannur station, 2 passenger lifts have been installed. This will benefit differently-abled, sick and senior citizens.

SMS based Passenger Complaint & Suggestion System (SPCSS) for Indian Railways passengers

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways have introduced a System where one can complain from a running train.  The SMS about complaint will be acknowledged and attended.  Give the Train No., Bogie No., precise nature of complaint like no water in toilets, no lights, fans not working, security problem or whatever through SMS.  The Railway number to which one can SMS is 8121281212.  This will help someone in emergency.

OBJECTIVES

  1. To get complaints/suggestions from customers through SMS for aligning railway resources and priorities to customers’ aspirations and expectations.
  2. To reduce the gap between the customers’ expectations and railway’s performance.
  3. To help railways prioritize focus areas.
  4. To foster greater participation of customers in railway services.

SALIENT FEATURES

  1. Complaint/suggestion can be registered at 8121281212 by sending an SMS.
  2. In response, an automated acknowledgement with a unique ID will be sent as an SMS.
  3. With the unique ID, passenger can know the status of the complaint by sending SMS:- “STATUS < SPACE > < REFERENCE ID>” to 8121281212 or by logging on our website scr.indianrailways.gov.in/
  4. Final reply will be sent through an SMS and will also be available on website- www.scr.indianrailways.gov.in/

Northern Railway continues to suffer huge Losses due to poor L&O situation fomented by Pakistan in J&K


J&K gets 10% of Central funds with only 1% of India’s population. In the last sixteen years, the state got 1.14 Lakh Crore in Grants! Despite such extremely high levels of empowerment and attention of Centre, the social fabric continue to suffer due to Terrorism, Extremism and Religious Mania.


SRINAGAR: For the second consecutive year, the perpetual turmoil in Kashmir is seriously affecting the revenue generation of Norther Railway as Banihal-Baramulla train repeatedly face suspension due to law and order disturbances in southern districts of the region.

The Railways in Kashmir thrive on the sale of tickets, parcels, cargo freight etc., but due to repeated suspension of train services after every law and order problem, the revenue generation has taken a hit for the second consecutive year. Five month long unrest last year in Valley after the killing of top militant commander Burhan Wani resulted in Rs.360 crore losses to the Railway Department as the train remained completely suspended.

According to officials, 15 pairs of regular trains run over 137-kilometer-long railway line from Banihal to Baramulla. These trains carry nearly 30,000 commuters including students and Government employees. On an average, the Banihal-Baramulla rail service has Rs.3 lakh daily earnings and a full-day suspension leads to the losses worth said amount.

While the intensity of the turmoil this year is low compared to the 2016 but whenever any law and order situation arises after killings of militants or civilians, the train service on Banihal-Baramulla track is suspended with immediate effect to avoid mob attacks on stations and pairs. Last year, the railway stations and train pairs were damaged by angry mobs in south Kashmir and that resulted in losses to the concerned department.

Official figures revealed that the train service from Banihal to Baramulla was suspended 26 times this year for full day. The highest number of suspensions took place in the month of July when the train service was suspended 9 times completely. On many occasions, the train services were suspended for half-day. “With average earning Rs 3 lakh, the losses this year stood at Rs 81 lakh and if we add half-day suspensions then it will touch Rs 1 crore,” he said.

The officials of the Railways said that Pulwama district is their primary “cause of concern” as it is “hyper-sensitive” vis-à-vis law and order problem. “Most mob attacks last year occurred in Pulwama district and whenever any untoward incident happens in its jurisdiction, we are left with no choice but suspend the train,” they said and urged public to not indulge in any sort of attacks on train stations or pairs.

On an average, nearly 30,000 commuters including students and Government employees travel on Banihal-Baramulla train everyday. In Kashmir valley, the train is spanned over in six districts including Kulgam, Anantnag, Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam and Pulwama.

J&K gets 10% of Central funds with only 1% of population

Jammu and Kashmir has received 10 per cent of all Central grants given to states over the 2000-2017 period, despite having only one per cent of the country’s population.

In contrast, Uttar Pradesh makes up about 13 per cent of the country’s population but received only 8.2 per cent of Central grants in 2000-16.

That means J&K, with a population of 12.55 million according to the 2011 Census, received Rs.91,300 per person over the last sixteen years while Uttar Pradesh only received Rs.4,300 per person over the same period.

Even among the special category states, Jammu and Kashmir receives a disproportionately higher amounts of Central assistance.

The state received Rs.1.14 lakh crore in grants over the sixteen years under review, according to the Union Finance Ministry’s data, which is more than a quarter of the Central funds disbursed to the 11 special category states in that period.

“In general, the special category states get a higher share of central grants, and Jammu and Kashmir being one of them will also get such treatment,” Tapas Sen, a professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), and a long-time researcher on state finances, told. “But even among them, Jammu and Kashmir is getting a higher share due to its disturbed status because of its border with Pakistan- a muslim dominated country only carved out of extreme religious enmity with Hindus, non-acceptance of Democratic form of governance and the concept of United India during 1940s.” Pakistan continues to foment troubles till date and J&K is the biggest suffering state in this context.

CAG Report

This seeming imbalance in Jammu and Kashmir’s finances — with Central grants accounting for 54 per cent of the state’s total revenue and 44 per cent of its expenditure in FY16 — assumes significance in light of the fact that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in 2015 castigated the Jammu and Kashmir government for the pendency of a large number of inspection reports and observations highlighting “serious financial irregularities” in the state.

“There were persistent errors in budgeting, savings, excess expenditure and expenditure without provision,” the CAG report on the State’s finances for the year ended March 31, 2014, said. “Anticipated savings were either not surrendered or surrendered at the end of the year leaving no scope for utilising these funds for other development purposes.”

The report has entire sub-heads titled ‘errors in budgeting process’, and ‘unrealistic forecasting of resources’.

Apart from the political reasons, there are also some fiscal reasons for Jammu and Kashmir receiving a larger share of Central grants.

Fiscal reasons

“Service Tax is not levied in Jammu and Kashmir and hence the state does not get a share of the same in the devolution of central taxes to states,” Ranen Banerjee, Leader – Public Finance and Economics at PwC India said.

This has led to a ballooning of Jammu and Kashmir’s share in the total non-plan revenue deficit of all states, Mr. Banerjee said, which has, in turn, meant that the Centre has had to send it more money to finance this deficit.

Another reason lies in the Centre’s treatment of the north-eastern and hilly states.

“Plan Grants were stopped by the Twelfth Finance Commission except for the north-east states and hilly states including Jammu and Kashmir,” Mr. Banerjee said. “Thus, Jammu and Kashmir and other hilly states continue to get the Plan grants while others do not get it.”

However, this aspect does not explain Jammu and Kashmir’s larger share of grants even when compared to other hilly states.

According to the CAG report, 32,625 audit observations containing 8,518 inspection reports pertaining to the period 1998-2014 were outstanding as of March 31, 2014.

“Even though there might be legitimate reasons for Jammu and Kashmir receiving more Central grants, there is no call for such a large number of audit observations and questions lying unanswered with the state government,” another professor from NIPFP said. “Ignoring CAG’s warnings is a sure sign of trouble.”

People continue to suffer as rail service remain suspended on Srinagar-Banihal track

People continue to suffer as train service remained suspended for the second successive day today on Srinagar-Banihal track via south Kashmir for security reasons while trains will chug in north Kashmir as per schedule, a senior Railway official said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people arriving at different rail stations on Srinagar-Banihal track are returning with great disappointment after being informed about the suspension of the rail service.

The train service on Srinagar-Anantnag-Qazigund in south Kashmir to Banihal in Jammu region track will remain suspended today for the second successive day for security reasons, Chief Controller Northern Railway told UNI. He said the decision to suspend all train runs on this track has been taken for the security of passengers and railway property following an advisory from state administration and police. A top district commander of Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) Ayoub Lalihari was killed in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama on August 16, leading to massive protests in the south Kashmir, where some damage was caused to railway property also.

Train service on Srinagar-Banihal track was resumed only August 16 after remaining suspended for four days for security forces following the killing of three Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants and two Army soldiers on August 13 in Shopian.

Two civilians were also killed when security forces opened fire to disperse demonstrators in Shopian and Pulwama in south Kashmir. However, he said trains will run as per schedule on Srinagar-Badgam in central Kashmir to Baramulla in north Kashmir. Railway authorities had to face very serious law and order situation when passengers protested after Banihal to Srinagar train was suddenly terminated at Anantnag on August 16 evening following directions by police.

Similarly last train from Baramulla to Banihal was suspended at Badgam. Passengers said they were later provided State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses by the railway authorities at Anantnag. Daily travelers on Srinagar-Banihal and vise versa are very agitated due to frequent suspension of train service citing security reasons.

There are more than one thousand Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) besides paramilitary and state police personnel to protect the 135 km rail track from Baramulla in north Kashmir to Banihal in Jammu region.

However, a group of students travelling between Srinagar and Qazigund daily questioned why these security forces cannot provide security to run the rail service.

It is the students and government employees besides daily workers who suffered the most because of cancellation of train service. During the past about two months train service has been suspended frequently for security reasons in the valley, where train property had suffered damage due to demonstration.

Last year train service remained suspended for about six months due to summer unrest in the valley.

However, daily travelers are the most affected due to suspension of train service which is now being considered most trusted, cheap and fast. Students, employees and daily travelers are worst hit due suspension of the rail service in the valley, where traffic jam on majority routes has become a daily routine.

Israel commissions Kishon Port Rail Link at the eastern end of Haifa Port

ISRAEL: A rail connection to the Kishon area at the eastern end of Haifa Port of Israel was inaugurated on August 17, enabling freight trains to run directly to destinations across the Israel Railway network.

The 2km link was built in around a year as part of a programme of co-operation between the port authority and the national railway. This has included the extension of tracks to accommodate container trains.

‘It is not a huge infrastructure project, but its contribution will be of significant economic value’, said Haifa Port Co Deputy General Manager, Operations, David Cohen at the inauguration ceremony.

One of the first uses for the new link will be the delivery of Bombardier Transportation Traxx electric locomotives and double-deck push-pull coaches, the first of which are scheduled to arrive from Germany shortly.

Speaking at the inauguration of the link, ISR General Manager Shahar Ayalon said transport was a ‘national challenge’ which required co-operation between different organisations. He said ISR’s rail freight activities now generated US$110m a year, and the company’s vision was to be able to offer ‘a door-to-door service from the port to factories and back’.

‘Co-operation between the port and the railways is constantly accelerating’, added ISR Deputy General Manager, Freight, Uri Sharir. ‘The results can be seen all over Israel in siding extensions as well as in the increased number of freight trains.’

Port of Haifa

The Port of Haifa (Hebrew: נמל חיפה‎‎) is the largest of Israel’s three major international seaports, which include the Port of Ashdod, and the Port of Eilat. It has a natural deep water harbor which operates all year long, and serves both passenger and merchant ships. It is one of the largest ports in the eastern Mediterranean in terms of freight volume and handles about 26 million tons of cargo a year. The port employs over 1,000 people, with the number rising to 5,000 when cruise ships dock in Haifa. The Port of Haifa lies to the north of Haifa’s downtown quarter on the Mediterranean, and stretches to some 3 kilometers along the city’s central shore with activities ranging from military, industrial and commercial next to a nowadays-smaller passenger cruising facility.

Facilities:

The Port of Haifa contains many cargo terminals, and is capable of servicing many ships at once. A railroad freight terminal is inside the port and is used for transporting goods across the country. The port also features a passenger terminal, fishing wharf, yacht club, sports marina, and chemical terminal. In 2013, the port processed about 26 million tons of cargo including 1.36 million TEUs, as well as 253,524 passengers. The port opened the first phase in the “Carmel Port” expansion program in 2010 that involved the construction of a new cargo terminal which includes a 700m long wharf capable of handling 9,200 TEU container ships (of up to 15.5 metres (51 ft) draft) as well as the opening of a secondary 250 metres (820 ft) wharf plus adjacent support and storage areas. The new facilities will expand the port’s annual container handling capacity by 500,000 TEU. Construction of this new terminal cost NIS1.8 billion (appx. US$500 million) and took five years to complete.

The Port maintains facilities for the United States Sixth Fleet.

On 4 January 2013, the MSC Chicago docked at the port’s Carmel terminal, making it the largest container ship ever to visit Haifa. MSC Chicago has a capacity of 9,200 containers. The previous record ship visit was the MSC Maeva (capacity of 8040 containers) which had visited two months before.

Israel Shipyards is nearby the port and provides heavy ship repair facilities. The company also operates a private port on its premises which in 2013 handled approximately 1.7 million tons of cargo.

Passenger Terminal

The port contains a modern passenger terminal serving cruise and ferry passengers. The terminal offers a waiting area, duty-free shop, souvenir shop, cafeteria, VAT reimbursement counter, currency exchange, free wireless internet, parking, as well as other services to travelers.

The area near the terminal also offers excellent public transit connections for passengers. The Haifa Center Railway Station is adjacent to the terminal and is served by nearly 200 passenger trains 24 hours a day on weekdays to the Haifa region and beyond. Additional public transit connections are available by bus or taxi at the railway station or on Ha’Azmaut Road, the main thoroughfare in downtown Haifa which is located in front of the station. The Carmelit’s Kikar Paris subway station is also within walking distance and allows convenient access to the top of Mount Carmel.

Now, Companies can apply Online to set up Inland Container Depots (ICDs): Commerce Ministry


This is facilitated through an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) which consists of officials from Ministries of Commerce, Finance (Department of Revenue), Railways and Shipping.


NEW DELHI: In a bid to ensure speedier and more transparent approval process for the setting up of Inland Container Depot (ICD)/Container Freight Station (CFS)/Air Freight Station (AFS), the companies can now move their applications and track their progress online, the government said on Friday.

“The improved procedure is aimed at ensuring a speedier and more transparent approval process. Companies can now submit applications online and view their progress/update online, without visiting any government office. This is a pioneer attempt as a major inter-ministerial IT Application rather than a mere intra-ministerial IT initiative,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

There have been frequent complaints from applicants that the manual process is very cumbersome and not only does it result in loss of documents in transit but also leads to lack of transparency regarding status of clearances by various agencies/departments. There have been persistent demands from various stakeholders to streamline the processes.

Now, the back-end process will also be online and the applicant can see various stages of processing of his/her application in various ministries/departments online.

“Apart from saving reams of paper, the process also brings about greater transparency by disclosing the application status. This includes sending out SMS and e-mail alerts to keep all stakeholders abreast of the progress,” the Ministry said.

“This approach was conceived under the broader umbrella motto of the government – ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’,” the statement said.

The approval process for setting up an ICD/CFS/AFS involves many departments. This is facilitated through an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) which consists of officials from Ministries of Commerce, Finance (Department of Revenue), Railways and Shipping. If required, the view of the respective state government is also sought.

This IMC is housed in the Department of Commerce which is mandated to act as a single window for the approval process.

Under the current process, an applicant submits as many as 10 physical copies of the application form with requisite documents to Infrastructure Division at the Department of Commerce (DoC), besides one copy with the Jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs.

The current process of examination of application is very cumbersome, and the application form very bulky with ancillary material running into almost 500-1,000 pages. This is initially scrutinised by the Department of Commerce for adherence to the land acquisition guidelines.

Copies of the application are then sent to Ministry of Railways, Shipping, Civil Aviation and Department of Revenue (Central Board of Excise and Customs) for scrutiny and comments. Department of Revenue (CBEC) then sends the copies of this application to the Jurisdictional Commissioners in the field and thereafter on receiving a report from them sends their clearances to Department of Commerce.

Upon receiving the comments from the Ministry of Railways, Shipping, Civil Aviation and Department of Revenue (CBEC), a meeting of Inter-Ministerial Committee is convened wherein the application is reviewed on the basis of the comments received and a decision taken on issue of the Letter of Intent to the applicant.

Upon receiving the approval, the applicant is required to set up the infrastructure within one year from the date of approval. The IMC may grant an extension of six months after reviewing the justification for delays given by the party.

After the applicant has put up the required infrastructure, conformed with the security standards of the Jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs and provided a bond backed by bank guarantee to the Customs, a final clearance and Customs notification is issued by the Customs department which then declares the facility operational.

Bangalore Whitefield to get another Train to deal with peak hour rush

The Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train to run exclusively between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield was launched on Friday by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

BANGALORE: The city’s tech hub Whitefield is all set to get the 15th suburban train from Friday . This translates to a frequency of 15 to 60 minutes during peak hours. A train to run exclusively between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield, to cater to the thousands of commuters from the busy IT hub during peak hours, was launched on Friday.

The Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train will leave Baiyappanahalli at 8.25 a.m. and arrive at Whitefield at 8.50 a.m. – a timing that could help office-goers beat the morning traffic rush that clogs K.R. Puram and Outer Ring Road. The train will stop at K.R. Puram and Hoodi in a route that covers 15km in less than half an hour. In the return, the train will leave at 6.15 p.m. Eight coaches of the DEMU train can carry upto 2,412 passengers.

Of the total 94 suburban services operated by the South Western Railway , 15 pairs are for Whitefield. With each train having a passenger capacity of 2,000, they can carry up to 60,000 passengers a day . Five trains arrive at Whitefield from Bengaluru City and Baiyappanahalli railway stations from 7.45 am to 10.30 am. As many as six trains arrive here during the evening peak hour (5.45 pm to 9 pm). From Whitefield to the three railway stations of central Bengaluru, six trains operate from 7 am to 9.45 am. From 4 pm to 7.20 pm, there are as many as seven services.

“This is an old demand of those in Bengaluru… Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) has been meeting with us on the joint ventures for a number of projects and we are working on it,” said Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister, who flagged the train remotely.

Commuter routes taking shape

With this, the line now hosts more than 15 trains that can be used by local commuters, while the DEMU is the second such exclusive short-distance train. From K.S.R. Bengaluru, there are five trains between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., while the evening rush between 4 p.m. and 7p.m., sees six trains departing Whitefield. “While this is a good move, we need two or three more such services to ease the traffic situation and get people to start using suburban rail,” said P.C. Mohan, area MP.

In all, the South Western Railways says there are 95 commuter services in and around Bengaluru, connecting various stations to Ramanagaram, Chikkaballapur, Tumakuru among others.

“We want the Railways Ministry to expedite the proposal for a 54-km line doubling and electrification of the Baiyappanahalli and Hosur as well as 27-km betwen Yesvanthpur and Channasandra which can be the suburban line to the airport,” said H.N. Ananth Kumar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers.

He said the suburban system can take off the ground in a big way if the state government allots 40 acres from the now-vacant NGEF land in Baiyappanahalli for maintenance workshops and another 9.6 acres from the erstwhile Binny Mills land for an operations centre.

It is in line with this demand that SWR is starting the new service exclusively between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield from Friday .

Urban affairs expert RK Mishra said reliability and an increase in the frequency of train services is necessary to change the travelling pattern of people. “The railways should provide a suburban train every fifteen minutes in the morning and evening peak hours,“ he said.

Mishra said about four lakh people travel from different parts of Bengaluru to Whitefield. “ As the Baiyappanahalli railway station is integrated with the Metro, people from north and south Bengaluru will definitely move to the train commute if services are reliable,“ he said.

Ajith Sequeira from Whitefield Rising suggested that the new train stop at the satellite goods terminal as well. “Corporate firms should increase shuttle bus services for the benefit of employees. The BMTC should deploy more buses to ensure train usage becomes popular,“ he said. A foot overbridge from the Whitefield railway station to the Kadugodi bus terminus would help attain this, he pointed out.

Commuter railway activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said the railways should increase the number of coaches on these trains to about 12-15 from the present nine.

BMTC operates 332 buses to Whitefield which make 2,358 trips from different parts of the city . It caters to about 90,000 passengers a day .

Suresh Prabhu dedicates Madhupur-Giridih Green Corridor on Asansol Division

KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister for Railways dedicated Madhupur-Giridih Green Corridor by video conferencing from Rail Bhavan, New Delhi, today.

With this dedication of Madhupur-Giridih Green Corridor by Rail Minister all the five pairs of trains running in this section of Eastern Railway’s Asansol Division have been fitted with bio-toilets which ensure zero discharge of human waste on the rail tracks thereby improving cleanliness and hygiene.

The Green Corridor is a commitment to clean environment under the “Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat’ initiative.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Prabhu said that Indian Railways launching such Green Corridor in different sections of different Zonal Railways for effective contribution towards “Swachh Bharat Mission” launched by Prime Minister.

He mentioned that such Green Corridor will stop discharging human waste from running trains. It is a commitment to clean the environment under the Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat initiative. The trains running in the Green corridor have been fitted with bio toilets, which insure zero discharge of human waste on the rail track for better environment.

The 38 km long Madhupur-Giridih Green Corridor stretch of Asansol Division became 2nd Green corridor of Eastern Railway, while 1st one i.e. Bhagalpur-Banka Green Corridor in Malda Division has already been dedicated by the Railway Minister on 16 August, 2017 on the inaugural day of Swachhta Pakhwada to be observed all over Indian Railway system from 16 to 31 August, 2017.

Northeast Floods: Flood bill of approx Rs.150 Crore for Railways in 7 days

NEW DELHI: Indian railways has incurred a loss of nearly Rs 150 crore in the last seven days due to floods in Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, a spokesperson of the railways said.

The Northeast Frontier Railway lost approximately Rs.12 Crore per day as revenue from passengers and parcel, while repairs of submerged tracks would cost an estimated Rs 10 crore. The cumulative loss in this zone has been around Rs 94 crore.

Similarly, the East Central Railway has lost Rs 5.5 crore per day while the cost of repairs is an estimated Rs 5 crore in this zone.

“It is very difficult to ascertain the exact loss in revenue and these are all rough figures. The true picture will only be known after the situation normalises,” said Anil Saxena, Spokesperson, Railways.

The loss of revenue, officials say, is mostly because of major cancellations of trains in these two zones primarily due to submerging of tracks.

Calling floods this time as “unprecedented”, Railway Board Member Traffic Md Jamshed said tracks in parts of northeast region are totally under water and entry to Northeast Frontier Railway is completely stopped.

According to Railway Board, 445 trains were cancelled, 151 partially cancelled and 4 diverted in northeast frontier railway while 66 trains were cancelled, 105 partially cancelled and 28 diverted in East central Railways between August 10-18.

The cancellation of trains has caused a loss of Rs 80 crore with Rs 65 crore commercial loss due to the cancellation of passenger and freight services and Rs 15 crore as track repair damage.

“We are taking stock of the situation regularly and water level in some areas is still high but has started to recede. We will be able to access the exact damage after water receded,” said Jamshed.

Railway has cancelled all trains services beyond Malda and Katihar by August 20 but inter-state connectivity on some sections in West Bengal and Assam is being operated. No accessibility to damage sites has affected the restoration work and telecommunication network in the entire section is also badly affected.

Some of the bridges are also damaged by flooding and it will take time for restoring trains services on the section, said a railway officer, adding that the exact damage would only be calculated after water recedes.

Heavy rains in the northeast region have caused unprecedented damage in the region with several lakhs affected.

Partial Cancellation/Regulation/Divertion/Additional Stoppages of various Trains on SCR jurisdiction announced

SECUNDERABAD: Due to line block / power block for construction of subway at Level Crossing at Nayudupeta yard and Odur  yard the following trains are cancelled/partially cancelled/regulated/diverted on 22nd / 23rd August, 2017 as detailed below:-

Trains Cancelled:

  • Train No. 66031 Sullurupeta-Nellore MEMU train is cancelled.
  • Train No. 66032 Nellore-Sullurupeta MEMU train is cancelled.

Trains Partially Cancelled:

  • Train No. 66036 Nellore-Sullurupeta MEMU will be partially cancelled between Gudur and Sullurupeta.

Trains Regulated:

  • Train No. 12688 Dehradun-Madurai Express will be regulated by 45 minutes enroute.

Trains Diverted:

  • Train No. 12841 Howrah-Chennai Coromandal Express is diverted to run via Renigunta, Arakkonam stations on 21st August, 2017.
  • Train No. 12665 Howrah-Kanniyakumari Express is diverted to run via Renigunta, Arakkonam and Chennai Beach stations on 21st August, 2017.
  • Train No. 12612 H.Nizamuddin-Chennai Garibrath Express is diverted to run via Renigunta and Arakkonam stations on 21st August, 2017.
  • Train No. 22645 Indore-Thiruvananthapuram Ahilya Nagari Express is diverted to run via Renigunta, Arakkonam and Chennai stations on 21st August, 2017.
  • Train No. 13351 Dhanbad-Alappuzha Express is diverted to run via Renigunta, Arakkonam and Chennai stations on 21st August, 2017.

Additional Stoppages provided for Six Express Trains

Ministry of Railway have decided to provide additional stoppages for the following trains on experimental basis for a period of six months. Train No. 22663/22664 Chennai Egomore-Jodhpur – Chennai Egomore Express is provided stoppage at Chandrapur railway station. Train No. 12767/12768 H.S.Nanded-Santragachi – H.S.Nanded Express is provided stoppage at Chandrapur railway station. Train No. 12655/12656 Ahmedabad-Chennai-Ahmedabad Navjeevan Express is provided stoppage at Pulgaon railway station as detailed below:-

Additional Stoppage at Chandrapur Station:

  1. Accordingly, Train No. 22663 Chennai Egmore-Jodhpur Express will arrive / depart Chandrapur at 06:10/06:12 hrs with effect from 3rd September, 2017.
  2. Train No. 22664 Jodhpur-Chennai Egmore Express will arrive / depart Chandrapur at 01:32/01:34 hrs with effect from 30th August, 2017.                                 
  3. Accordingly, Train No. 12767 H.S.Nanded-Santragachi Express will arrive / depart Chandrapur at 22:20/22:22 hrs with effect from 4th September, 2017.
  4. Train No. 12768 Santragachi-H.S.Nanded Express will arrive / depart Chandrapur at 11:28/11:30 hrs with effect from 31st August, 2017.

Additional Stoppage at Pulgaon Station:

  1. Accordingly, Train No. 12655 Ahmedabad-Chennai Navjeevan Express will arrive / depart Pulgaon at 21:55/21:57 hrs with effect from 31st August, 2017.
  2. Train No. 12656 Chennai-Ahmedabad Navjeevan Express will arrive / depart Pulgaon at 02:58/03:00 hrs with effect from 31st August, 2017.

Trains Regulated due to Traffic Block

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In order to laying of points & crossing at Kavanur on Southern Railway on 19th & 22nd August, 2017 the following trains will be regulated as detailed below:-

Regulations:

  1. Train No. 12578 Mysore-Darbhanga Bagmati Express will be regulated by 3 hrs Enroute on 19th August, 2017.
  2. Train No. 17209 KSR Bengaluru-Kakinada Town Seshadri Express will be regulated by 1 hour and 25 minutes enroute on 19th August, 2017.

Train No. 17209 KSR Bengaluru-Kakinada Town Seshadri Express will be regulated by 25 minutes enroute  on 22nd August, 2017

Railways run Special Train from Howrah to Kanniyakumari via.Vijayawada

HOWRAH: In order to clear extra rush a one way special train will be run from Howrah to Kanniyakumari as per the following schedule:-

Accordingly, Train No.05906 Howrah-Kanniyakumari special train will depart Howrah at 06:05 hrs on 19th August, 2017 (Saturday) and arrive Kanniyakumari at 09:50 hrs on the second day.

Enroute, this special train will stop at Barddhaman, Durgapur, Asansol, Adra Jn, Bankura, Midnapur, Hijili, Balasore, Bhadrakh, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Khurda Rd, Berhampur, 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, Trivandrum, and Nagarcoil stations.

This special train will consist of one AC II Tier, three AC III Tier, eleven Sleeper Class, four General Second Class and two Luggage cum Brake van Coaches.

The Special Train will run on the Howrah / Asansol / Adra / Kharagpur / Khurda Road / Bhubaneswar / Waltair / Vijayawada / Guntakal / Chennai / Selam / Palghat / Thiruvananthapuram Divisions on various Zonal Rail systems of Indian Railways.

China to invest about 2 Trillion Dollars for Trans-Asia High Speed Rail by 2030

China’s high-speed railway grid of four east-west lines and four north-south lines has basically been completed. At the end of 2016, China’s high-speed rail network stood at 22,000km.

According to a comprehensive transport plan approved earlier this year by the State Council, China’s cabinet, the high-speed rail network will reach 30,000km by 2020. This will effectively double the grid network already created so that there will be eight east-west and eight north-south lines.

Accelerating railway development, particularly investment in the central and western regions, is key for China’s strategy to stabilize growth, adjust economic structure, increase efficient investment and expand consumption,” the plan says.

Besides these major lines, China is planning some short-distance lines to add to the high-speed network by 2020. When the 2020 target has been reached, more than 80% of cities with a population of more than one million will be served by high-speed train.

China’s investment in railway fixed assets stood at Yuan 801.5 billion ($US 118bn) in 2016, according to the Ministry of Transport. Fixed asset investment includes capital spent on infrastructure, machinery and other physical assets.

This year fixed asset investment will be at the same level as in 2016, with the government setting a target of Yuan 800bn, according to China Railway Corporation (CRC). China plans to invest Yuan 3.5 trillion in railway construction during the 13th Five-Year Plan covering the period 2016-2020. China spending about $120 billion per year on internal high speed rail projects and will likely spend several hundred billion dollars on a Transasia high speed rail network.

According to the revised plan, the total length of high-speed lines will be further extended to reach 38,000km by 2025, and 45,000km by 2030. China will also have even more extensive subways systems within cities and regions.

China’s next-generation Fuxing or Rejuvenation high-speed train made its debut on the country’s busiest high-speed route, the Beijing – Shanghai line, in June. The new train, which has been developed from the widely-used Hexiehao (Harmony) train, has a maximum design speed of 400km/h and can operate at 350km/h. Besides the higher speed, it is more spacious, has a longer design lifecycle, and should be more reliable than previous generations of Chinese high-speed trains.

“Fuxing will be China’s prime high-speed export train in the future,” says Mr He Huawu, CRC’s chief engineer. “The model can be adapted to various situations, including extreme climates.”

China and Indonesia signed an EPC deal in April to build a high-speed rail link between the capital Jakarta and Indonesia’s fourth largest city Bandung. The line, with a maximum design speed of 350km/h, will be operational in three years’ time and will cut the journey time between the two cities from more than three hours to just 40 minutes.

The deal was the first full-package overseas high-speed project using Chinese technology, design, engineering, equipment, management and personnel training.

China is pushing forward with high-speed railway projects in Russia. CRC, Russian Railways (RZD), Chinese train builder CRRC and a Russian railway company have signed a letter of intent to build a 762km railway between Moscow and Kazan, with a designed maximum speed of 400km/h and an operating speed of 360km/h. China is also actively seeking high-speed railway deals in Malaysia, Britain and the United States as it looks to export its expertise around the world.

This Belt and Road effort with hundred of billions of dollars in funding will likely result in a significant buildout of the Transasia-Europe high speed rail network by 2030.

Railway Minister launches various Services and Facilities on a massive scale in Karnataka through VC

NEW DELHI/BANGALORE: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has launched various railway related facilities and services for the benefit of different regions and the people there in Karnataka on South Western Railway. Speaking on this occasion Minister said “Karnataka is an important state for Indian Railways, we have allocated highest ever funds in the Budget for Karnataka for developing Railway infrastructure, almost quadrupling budget grant from that of 2013-14. Indian Railways is in transformation mode & is focusing on improving Rail Infrastructure & passenger amenities like never before. Cleanliness & Make in India programme have been successfully implemented in Indian Railways. High speed Railway network is being worked upon and soon we will operate trains at 200 Kmph on trunk routes. We are trying to make passengers comfortable in their journey and provide better quality of service; we are directing all efforts towards this.”

The following table indicates the work, venues of local function and dignitaries attended.

Sl. No Function Hon’ble Union Minister/Ministers/MLA/MLC
1. Flagging of new DEMU service between Baiyyappanahalli-Whitefield Baiyyappanahalli

1.   Ananth Kumar, Hon’ble Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers

2.   K J George, Hon’ble Minister for Bengaluru Development & Town Planning & Minister In Charge Of Bengaluru Urban District,

3.   P.C.  Mohan, Hon’ble MP, Bengaluru Central.

4.   M V Rajeev Gowda, Hon’ble MP Rajya Sabha

5.   S Raghu, Hon’ble MLA, C V Raman Nagar

6.   B A Basavaraja, Hon’ble MLA, K R Pura

7.   M Narayana Swamy, Hon’ble MLC

2. 1.   Commencement of  work of Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag doubling (248 Km)

2.   Inauguration of PF shelter on PF2 at Gadag

Gadag

1.   H.K. Patil,  Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development & Panchayat Raj Development  & Minister in – Charge of Gadag District, GoK

2.   Shivkumar Udasi, Hon’ble MP  Haveri

3.   Basangouda Patil Yatnal, Hon’ble MLC

3. 1.    Commencement of work of Gadag-Wadi new line (257 Km)

2.    Dedication to the nation- Doubling of Bhanapur-Koppal section

3.    Construction of  new PF 2&3  at Koppal station

Bhanapur

1.      Basavaraj Raya Reddi, Minister of Higher Education and Minister in-Charge of Koppal District

2.      Karadi Sanganna Amarappa, Hon’ble MP, Koppal

3.      K Raghavendra  B Hitnal, Hon’ble MLA,Koppal

4. 1.    Inauguration   of new station building  and extension  of platform shelter at Chikkodi Road Station

2.    Dedication to the nation – Doubling of Londa-Shivthan section.

3.    Extension of Platform shelter at Raybag station

4.    Commencement of work of ROB in lieu of LC No. 438.

Chikkodi

1.      Prakash Babanna Hukkeri, Hon’ble MP, Chikkodi

2.      Aravind C Patil, Hon’ble MLA

3.      Ganesh Prakash Hukkeri, Hon’ble MLA, Chikkodi

4.      Aihole Duryodhan Mahalingappa, Hon’ble MLA, Raybag

5. Inauguration of VIP lounge at Shivamogga town station Shivamogga

1.   D.H.Shankar Murthy,Chairman of Leg.assembly

2.   Bhanu Prakash, Hon’ble MLC

6. 1.    500 Kwp  Solar  Roof Top  System  at Mysuru Work shop

2.    Provision of  water conversation and  recycling plant at Mysuru Station

3.    Inauguration of FOB at Holenarsipur station.

Holenarasipur

1.   A. Manju  Hon’ble Minister for Animal Husbandry & Sericulture and Minister In-charge Hassan District

2.   H  D Revanna, Hon’ble MLA Holenarsipur

 

Details of works are as under:

WORKS AT GADAGGadag-Hotgi–Wadi-doubling – SALIENT FEATURES

Salient features Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag DL project
Cost of the project Rs.1615 cr.
Total length 284 km
Number of Stations 41
Major Bridges 23
Minor Bridges 145
Road over Bridges 2
Road Under Bridges 13
Manned Level Crossings 42

This is a major project for which work is commenced today .This project is being taken up in partnership with NTPC. It will increase the line capacity and strengthen Rail Infrastructure to connect Bengaluru/Hubballi to Mumbai.

  • At present, Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag route is a single line rail link between Guntakal-Pune-Mumbai and Hospet-Hubli-Goa rail routes.
  • A number of Integrated Steel Plants/Power Plants/Cement Plants are coming up along the Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag route. This doubling work will provide the necessary line capacity for introduction of additional trains and smooth movement of rakes to/from the industries/power plants.
  • Part length for this Doubling project, i.e. from Hotgi-Kudgi (134 km) has been taken up under “Customer Funding Model” with National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC). NTPC HAS DEPOSITED Rs. 946 Cr. Towards this doubling. Thermal Plant at Kudgi station of 4000 MW capacity is coming up and doubling of this line will greatly help movement of freight to this plant .
  • Gadag-Hotgi section passes through Gadag, Bagalkot, Bijapur Districts of Karnataka and Solapur district of Maharashtra State.
  • The entire project is targeted for completion by 2020-21.

Inauguration Of Platform shelter on PF2 at Gadag

Gadag is a ‘B’ Category railway station. It receives an footfall of about 3950 passengers per day. About 31 express/passenger trains halt at Gadag railway station daily. For the convenience of passengers, the existing platform shelter on platform no.2 & 3 has been extended for additional length of 60 M at a cost of Rs.11.50 lakhs. 15 numbers of three-seater concrete benches have been provided as seating arrangements for the convenience of passengers at a cost of Rs.1.50 lakhs. This extended shelter is helpful to passengers who wish to board/alight trains during extreme weather conditions.

WORKS AT BHANAPURGADAG (TALKAL)-WADI NEW RAILWAY LINE PROJECT – SALIENT FEATURES

1. Length of the Line 257Kms
2. No. of Stations 27 (Exclding  Wadi)
3. Total requirement of Land 3472 Acres
District Land in Acres
Koppal 967
Raichur 1116
Yadgir 1170
Kalaburagi 219
5. Total Number of Bridges 373
a)     Important Bridges: 02
b)     Major Bridges : 84
c)     Minor Bridges: 169
d)     Road Uner Bridges : 76
e)     Road Over Bridges : 42
6. Number of Level crossings Nil
7. Major rivers Krishna & Bheema

There will be no level crossing gate in the entire 257 KM route length of this line.

The 257 KM long Gadag-Wadi railway line is a prestigious project of Railways.

This line passes through Koppal, Raichur, Yadgir and Kalaburagi districts and covers important places like Yelburga, Kushtagi, Mudgal, Lingasugur, Shorapur & Shahpur enroute.

Once commissioned, this line will provide a short route between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, thus significantly reducing the travel time between the two states. The railway line between Gadag- Wadi will play a pivotal role in boosting economic growth in the region as it will also facilitate transportation of raw materials and finished goods of the industries in this region, besides catering to travel needs of public.

This project has been taken up under 50:50 cost sharing basis with Government of Karnataka (GoK).

Total land requirement for this project is 3472 Acres which will be provided by GoK free of cost to Railways.

Presently, 550 acres out of 750 Acres of land required between Talkal-Kushtagi (57 KM) has been handed over by GoK.

Tenders for execution of earthwork, minor bridges in this stretch costing Rs.85 Crores have been awarded by Railways.

Inauguration of New Platform No. 2/3 at Koppal Station

Koppal is one of the important districts of North Karnataka and being the district headquarters, a number of developmental activities have been taken up by Railways at Koppal for the convenience of passengers. Koppal railway station gets a foot-fall of approximately 2300 passengers per day and it is classified as a ‘B’ Category station. About 18 passenger/express trains arrive/depart Koppal daily. This Railway Station has been provided with all prescribed passenger amenities as per extant guidelines.

Newly constructed platform No.2/3 at Koppal railway station.

Along with the doubling of Hosapete- Tinaighat railway line, Koppal railway station was provided with an additional platform No. 2/3.

This is a high level island platform having length of 540 meters which has been constructed within a time span of 2 months, and at a cost of Rs.60 lakhs.

To have an access to this platform, one Foot-Over-Bridge(FOB) has also been provided to enable passenger have easy access to all the platforms.

Platform shelter for a length of 128 m/1024 Sq.m-8 bays of 16 m at cost of Rs.15 lakhs.

This new platform has 10 water booths to take care of drinking water requirements of passengers.

Adequate seating arrangement i.e. 20 three-seater concrete benches (at a cost of Rs.2.50 lakhs) has been provided for the convenience of passengers.

Total cost of improvement to passenger amenities is Rs. 1.66 Crores.

In addition, 3 New lines and one rail level goods unloading platform (650 m long x 21m width) have also been provided.

DOUBLING OF BHANAPUR-KOPPAL SECTION

Bhanapur-Koppal section is a part of Hosapete – Tinaighat doubling project. The doubling of this  section (12 Km) was commissioned recently . This doubling has been completed at a cost of Rs. 35 Cr.

The midsection includes 03 New Major Bridges & 05  minor bridges.

This doubling is in continuation with earlier doubling commissioned from Harlapur-Sompur-Banikoppa-Bhanapur commissioned in year 2016.

NEW STATION BULDING AT CHIKKODI ROAD STATION.

Chikkodi road is an important railway station situated in Chikkodi taluk of Belagavi district in the Londa – Miraj section of Hubballi division, South Western Railway. About 12 trains halt at Chikkodi road Railway station daily and the station receives a footfall of 600 passengers daily.

A new station building with built up area of 275 Sq. Meter has been constructed at Chikkoddi Road Station.

Improvement to circulating area is done by providing paver blocks for area of 500 Sq.M. to improve the aesthetics of this station.

For convenience of passengers, platform at Chikkodi Road railway station has been extended by 320 meter with cement concrete flooring.

New platform shelter has been provided for a length of 64 meter with seating arrangements.

Since freight traffic is also dealt at Chikkodi Road station, platform of length  700 meter has also been provided to facilitate ease in goods loading/unloading at Chikkodi Road railway station.

EXTENDED PLATFORM SHELTER AT RAYBAG RAILWAY STATION:

Raybag railway station is located Londa-Miraj section of Hubballi division (South Western Railway).

 About 20 trains (including passenger and express) halt at this station and it receives a footfall of around 1800 passengers daily.

In addition to passenger traffic, Raybag station also deals with freight traffic.

 The station has regular inward traffic of maize and fertilizers, and sugar is transported from Raybag.

 This station had an existing platform shelter of 20 m.

Since many important express trains have stoppage at this station, additional platform shelter of 64 m  at a cost of Rs.15 lakhs has been provided at Raybag for the convenience of passengers.

LAUNCHING OF SHIVATHAN–LONDA–TINAIGHAT DOUBLE LINE SECTION TO THE NATION

Shivathan – Londa – Tinaighat is a part of Hospet – Tinaighat doubling project, passing through semi-ghat terrain of Western Ghats.

The doubling of 16.5km long section was commissioned recently.

As a part of this work, yard re-modeling of Londa Junction was done by increasing loop to 750m and yard is also provided with new shunting neck of 550m, track machine siding and siding for Rail Grinding machine. At Tinaighat a medium level passenger platform of 375m length and platform shelter is provided.

All the newly laid Points & Crossings are Thick web switches which improves safety. This doubling eases the congestion around Londa junction.

This doubling has been completed at a cost of Rs. 38.5 Crores.

AT SHIVAMOGGAProvision of VIP lounge at Shivamogga Town 

Shivamogga town is an important A category station of Mysore Division which is attracting large number of tourists in the Malnad area of Karnataka.

 The upgradation of passenger amenities in this important and famous station has been done by  upgrading  of station building, improvements to approach road with proper paved parking facility and paving of circulating area, Digital Reservation Chart, platform shelter Electro – Chlorination Plant etc.

Being tourist destination of Malnad region of Karnataka, the station has been further upgraded by providing majestic VIP lounge.

The VIP lounge was sanctioned in the year 2015-16 and the facility is provided with proper ambience with granite flooring and cladding, air-conditioned seating arrangement with Sofa set, Luggage rack and improved bath-cum toilet facilities with hot and cold water.

 This facility to a great extent will grant better waiting experience to the travelling passengers visiting Shivamogga Town Railway station.

AT HOLENARASIPURA: Dedication of Foot over bridge at Holenarasipura

Holenarasipura is important station of Mysuru Division which is a famous for important an ancient Narasimha Temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha and river Hemavati, one of the many tributaries of the Kaveri.

Being the important tourist destination, the station was identified for upgradation as Adarsh station during year 2015-16.The important Passenger Amenity works listed below to the tune of Rs.2.85 crores are added to upgrade the station as per norms of Adarsh station.

Sl.No Name of Work Cost (in Lacs)
1 Improvement to façade of station building,  Improvement to PF surface of PF No.1 including seating arrangement and water pedestal, 34
2 Improvement to circulating area and approach road. 48
3 Provision of pay & use toilets, 5
4 Provision of IRS type PF shelter for a length of 96 mtrs at PF NO.1 54
6 Extension of PF No.1 to accommodated 24 coaches 12
7 Provision of second PF (No.2) rail level with lighting facilities. 47
8 Provision of low cost PF shelter PF NO.2 26
9 Provision of  Foot over bridge 59

Foot over bridge has been completed in the month July-17. On commissioning of foot over bridge at Holenarsipura all required facilities as per Adarsh station norms are provided.

AT BAIYYAPPANAHALLIDEMU train from Baiyyappanahalli (BYPL) to Whitefield (WFD)

A new special DEMU train starting from BYPL to WFD in the morning and WFD to BYPL in the evening peak hours is being planned to cater to the demand of daily passengers working in and around WFD area. BMRCL is taking up extension of Metro services from BYPL to WFD. In this regard several construction works are being taken up which has led to traffic congestion for road users. To facilitate commuters in this stretch, Railway has planned for introduction a new DEMU trains in addition to the existing services.

 

Pakistan Railways adds 55 US Made Locomotives to its fleet

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Railway has announced that the US-made 55 computerised locomotives, with 4,000 horsepower, have become part of fleet of Pakistan Railways locomotives.

Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique congratulated Pakistan Railways CEO Javed Anwar, AGM Mechanical Nasarullah Babar, administration and employees on this occasion and said that these up-to-date engines are earning hands of Pakistan Railways, said a press release issued here on Thursday.

The minister further said that in second phase 20 special engines will be bought for passenger train in Bolan section. They will help in accumulating profit of emerging contemporary Pakistan Railways, he said. This national organisation will serve industrial and business sector in a better way and will play its role in improving the country’s economy, he said.

Saad said that procurement of dynamics brake engines for mountainous areas will be completed in the end of next year. He said that Pakistan Railways very much understands the requirements of locomotives in future and in this concern proper planning has been done.

For fulfilling the requirements of modern engines till 2025, PC-I for procurement of 300 engines has been sent to the Planning Commission. He said that after World War-II, for the first time revolutionary changes have been brought in Pakistan Railways. The foundation for modern railways has been laid down, he added.

Bangladesh Rail Ministry sends Tk 17B proposal to Planning Commission for boosting Indo-Bangla Rail connectivity

DHAKA: The Railways Ministry has planned to convert the Parbatipur-Kownia railway track into a dual gauge one with Indian 2nd Line of Credit (LoC) to boost connectivity between Bangladesh and India.

The ministry has sent a draft project proposal titled ‘Converting Parbatipur-Kownia railway track of Bangladesh Railway into dual gauge’ to the Planning Commission with an estimated cost of Tk 17.25 billion (1,725.57 crore).

The Bangladesh Railway will implement the proposed project by June 2022, said an official at the Planning Commission. Of the total project cost, the official said, the Indian government will provide Tk 14 billion from its Line of Credit while the rest of Tk 3.25 billion will come from the state exchequer.

According to the 7th Five Year Plan, the government is planning to set up a 1,110-km dual gauge railway double track as both Bangladesh and India have put emphasis on boosting connectivity through railway network to enhance travel of passengers and transportation of goods.

Talking to the news agency, another official at the Ministry of Railways said the Parbatipur-Kownia railway track was last renovated during 1987-1992 period. But, due to lack of renovation over the years, the slippers and other infrastructure of the track became dilapidated for which inter-city and other trains cannot use this route at their desired speed.

Once the project is completed, the official said, it will help increase the travel of commuters and transportation of goods alongside increasing facilities for trans-border railway traffic through bringing this route under broad gauge network.

The official said the Pre-Evaluation Committee (PEC) meeting on the project was held recently and the project will be soon placed before ECNEC for its consideration.

The Railway Ministry official said that the main project operations include converting some 66.89 kilometres of railway track into dual gauge one at Parbatipur in Dinajpur, Rangpur district headquarters, Badarganj and Kawnia upazilas with an estimated cost of Tk 7.86 billion. Out of this 66.89 kilometres of track, there will be 57 kilometres main track and 9.89 kilometres of loop line.

The other project operations include conducting some 352-metre bridge works at Tk 3.45 billion, signaling works at Tk 933 million, office equipment procurement at Tk 2.0 million, procuring tamping station and P-way equipment at Tk 1.5 million alongside the construction of four station buildings, seven platforms, four platform-shed extension, and seven station approach road construction.

The project is included in the list of unapproved new project in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) of the current fiscal year, subject to availability of foreign funds.

Suresh Prabhu lays Foundation Stone for Doubling Work at Mangaluru Central station

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today laid the foundation stone for doubling of the railway line in the Nethravati-Mangaluru section and the foot over bridge at Mangaluru Central railway station here. Prabhu said several projects were being launched at eight different railway stations across Karnataka. 

MANGALURU: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today laid the foundation stone for doubling of the railway line in the Nethravati-Mangaluru section and the foot over bridge at Mangaluru Central railway station here through video conference from New Delhi. Nalin Kumar Kateel MP, city mayor Kavita Sanil and other dignitaries inaugurated the programme at the Mangaluru Central railway station by lighting a lamp. Addressing the audience through video conference, Prabhu said several projects were being launched at eight different railway stations across Karnataka. Only Rs 835 crore was allotted to railways for the state earlier. The grant was increased to Rs 2,200 crore during 2014-17 period, an increase of 163 per cent from the previous government’s budget.

During 2017-18, the budget had been increased to Rs 3,174 crore. This was the highest-ever allocation to the state and the government had now sanctioned Rs 60 crore for 10 doubling works, an electrification scheme and other new projects being taken up. Mayor Kavita Sanil, who also spoke, congratulated the Railways for the initiative taken to launch two new projects in Mangaluru Central railway station. She also demanded that Mangaluru be made a separate railway division.

Kateel said Dakshina Kannada district had received Rs 1,500 crore in the last three years. Mangaluru was set to become a Smart City and several development projects were being initiated by the Centre. Five railway stations, including Mangaluru had been identified under PPP model to be developed into world-class railway stations, he said. The proposed foot overbridge will connect platforms one with two and three and measure 25 metre in length and 3 metre in width. The total cost had been estimated at Rs 90 lakh.

The project of doubling the 1.5 km stretch of Nethravati to Mangaluru Central was sanctioned by the Railway ministry in 2016-17. The detailed project report had been submitted to the railway board. The project, expected to cost Rs 28.03 crore, also envisages modification of two road overbridges.

Suresh Prabhu commissions Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir, lays Foundation Stone for Bypass Rail Line at Wadi

The Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir was completed at a cost of Rs.80.92 Crore and has come up on 150 Acres of Land contributed by the State Government for free of cost to Railways to uplift the region in terms of employment and economy push.

NEW DELHI: The Districts of Yadgir and Kalaburagi in North Karnataka saw a fresh momentum to rail developmental activities when Suresh Prabhkar Prahu, Minister for Railways Commissioned the first ever Production Unit on South Central Railway i.e., Rail Bogie Karkhana at Badiyal Village near Yadgir and laid foundation stone for Bypass Railway Line at Wadi in Kalaburgi District of Karnataka State today i.e., 18th August, 2017 through Video Remote Link from New Delhi.

B.V.Naik, Member of Parliament, Raichur; Amarnath N Patil, Member of Legislative Council; B.G.Patil, Member of Legislative Assembly; Smt Sashikala Bheemannagouda Kyatnal, Member, Zilla Panchayat, Saidapur; Bashu S Rathod, President, Taluk Panchayat, Yadgir; Bassappagouda Belgundi, Member, Taluk Panchayat, Badiyal; Smt Shamiya Begam Gousuddin, Member, Taluk Panchayat, Kadaychur; Bheerappa, President, Gram Panchayat, Kadechur; Smt Gowramma, President, Gram Panchayat, Badiyal were the dignitaries present on the Occasion.

Addressing the large gathering, Suresh Prabhu, who inaugurated several other Rail Development Initiatives in Karnataka State simultaneously, said that the Railways is focused in undertaking development of rail network in Karnataka State. He stated that people should travel in comfort on Indian Railways, towards which the Organisation is committed to upgrade the Passenger Amenities to best standards. The Minister also highlighted that Indian Railways is focusing on energy efficient technology by imbibing green power such as solar energy. Indian Railways is on track in commissioning of Dedicated Freight Corridor and other initiatives as Modernisation of Network, Electrification etc., the Minister added.

Speaking on the inauguration of the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir, the Rail Minister said that – “Yadgir mein Rail Bogie Karkhana Ka Udghatan, Yaadgar Rahega”. The Occasion is a memorable moment because of the fact that the Unit will be manufacturing Rail Bogies needed for the new LHB Coaches on Indian Railways, there by strengthening the capacity of the organisation itself, in transporting more and more people.

Earlier, in his welcome address, John Thomas, Additional General Manager, SCR highlighted the fact that the Zone is committed in developing the rail infrastructure on its network. He said that the Rail Bogie Karkhana, is a very modern manufacturing facility with State of the Art Production Machinery including robotic welding machine etc. It has been set up at a cost of Rs. 80 Cr to manufacture 600 FIAT Bogie Frames per annum. On the Bypass line near Wadi, he stated that this will help in easing train moments at this important junction, in all the directions.

B.V.Naik; Amarnath N Patil and B.G.Patil also spoke on the occasion and expressed their happiness with the rail developmental initiatives that took off today.

Ateli-Phulera freight corridor on Western DFC to be operational next year

The Ministry of Railways has started the process of acquiring 4.88 hecrates of land in Dodwadiyon Ka Bas near Phulera for the freight corridor.

JAIPUR: The Ateli ( Rewari) to Phulera link of western rail freight corridor is expected to be ready for commercial operations of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) by March next year.

According to an official of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC), the 380km of track will easy the container traffic movement to the ports in western region. The prestigious project of the Indian Railways, the corridor will pass through the Jaipur and Ajmer division of the North Western Railway. Rewari in Haryana also comes under the Jaipur division. As far as the state is concerned, about 567km will pass through four districts of the state. This will be a dedicated freight corridor using high speed engines for transportation of containers.

The ministry of railways has started the process of acquiring 4.88 hecrates of land in Dodwadiyon Ka Bas near Phulera for the dedicated freight corridor. The notification has been issued and the land acquisition process would be completed within three months.This will pave way for the completion of the Phulera link.

The WDFC will begin at Dadri near Delhi and then will run parallel to existing line via Narnaul, Neem Ka Thana, Ringus, Phulera, Ajmer and Marwar junction. The corridor will pass through Gujarat before it terminating at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port at Nhava Sheva near Navi Mumbai.

The Ateli-Phulera link will be the second stretch that will start commercial operations. The first link between New-Durgauti-Sasaram section in Bihar which is of 56km became operational in March this year. The dedicated freight corridor in the state will pass through Neem Ka Thana, Reengus, Phulera, Kishangarh, Ajmer and Marwar Junction. The land acquisition process in these parts of the state has been completed and the railways paid Rs100 crore by way of compensation.

L&T to chip in

The work from Ateli to Marwar junction is being handled by L&T in association with the Japanese company Sojitz . A sleeper plat has been set up at Marwar Junction producing over two lakh sleepers per year. The contractors are using new track machines, which can lay railway tracks at a speed of 1.5km of tracks a day. The two companies have been awarded the work in Rs.4,000 crore.

Kerala seeks consensus with Karnataka on Nilambur-Nanjangud Rail line

A long-pending demand of local people in northern part of Kerala and in southern part of Karnataka, the proposed railway line is planned between Nilambur Road Station of Palakkad Division in Malappuram district, Kerala and Nanjangud Town Railway Station of Mysore Division in Karnataka.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala government was keen to implement Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line, being opposed by Karnataka, and wanted to reach a consensus with the neighbouring state, Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran said today.

Replying to a submission in the state assembly, he said Karnataka was opposing the proposed railway line which seeks to connect Nilambur in Kerala and Nanjangud in the neighbouring state on the ground that it passed through Bandipur tiger reserve.

A long-pending demand of local people in northern part of Kerala, the proposed railway line is planned between Nilambur in Malappuram district and Nanjangud.

“The Karnataka government is opposing the project. But, Kerala is very keen on implementing the railway line. We have to sort out the issues and explore an alternative alignment,” he said.

The minister said Kerala government was ready to implement the project and funds were not a hurdle.

Taking up the issue, I C Balakrishnan (Congress) wanted the state government to expedite the procedures to implement the railway line.

A total of Rs eight crore had been allotted for the project after the LDF government came to power last year, of which Rs two crore had been granted as an initial installment, he said.

“But, no other steps have been taken after that. The railway line is a long-pending demand of local people,” Balakrishnan said.

Doubling & Electrification of Railway Lines between Hosur-Baiyappanahalli and Yesvantpur-Baiyappanahalli-Channasandra sent to Railway Board

BANGALORE: To facilitate the running of additional trains, including suburban services in the future, the Bangalore Railway Division has proposed the doubling and electrification of railway lines between two vital routes: Hosur to Baiyappanahalli and Yesvantpur-Baiyappanahalli-Channasandra.

Announcing this at a programme organised at Baiyappanahalli railway station to flag off a new DEMU service between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield, Parliamentary Affairs and Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar said, “The proposal has been recently sent by the Bangalore Division to the Railway Board for approval. Divisional Railway Manager R S Saxena deserves congratulations for taking these major initiatives.”

Specifying details, Senior Divisional Engineer (Co-ordination), Bangalore Division, Lakshman Singh told Express, “The Baiyappanahalli-Hosur route which runs to nearly 50 kms is estimated to cost Rs 390 crore while the 22-km route proposed along Yesvantpur-Hebbal-Banaswadi-Baiyappanahalli-Channasandra is estimated at Rs 180 crore.”

At 12.29 am, the DEMU departed from Platform-2 of the station after it was simultaneously flagged off by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu via remote from New Delhi and from Bangalore by Ananth Kumar, Bangalore Development Minister K J George and MP P C Mohan.MP Rajeev Gowda called upon the Railways to use its existing infrastructure in a smart way.

Need more trains

Bengaluru Central MP P C Mohan said the DEMU between these two points will decongest Whitefield. “We need two to three more sets of trains in this direction,” he said.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his speech telecast live said that the Centre had allocated Rs 3,174 crores for railway projects in state.

“The plan to modernise the Cantonment railway station had not received any bids for the tenders called,” said Divisional Railway Manager R S Saxena.

SEVERAL PLANS ON TRACK

Proposal sent to Railway Board for a third line between Bangalore Cantonment and Whitefield.

Proposal sent to State government for acquiring 9.5 acres of land from Binny Mill area for improving infrastructure at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna railway station.

Request for 40 acres of land in NGEF area from State for Banaswadi MEMU shed. Upgradation of maintenance facilities at Banaswadi.

Automatic signalling between Cantonment and Whitefield taken up with a target of September 2018

Meeting to take forward the Suburban services on Aug 24

Working on measures to cut down on Train delays: claims Railways

NEW DELHI: Delays in train travel are likely to come down. Faced with a public outcry due to late running of trains, railways has taken a slew of measures, which include paying dividends, to curb delays.

In fact, the transporter recorded a punctuality rate of 89.83% on Wednesday, an improvement over the 81.25% registered on the same day last year.

However, one of the reasons for trains sticking to their schedules in August was several cancellations due to floods in north-east. Railways officials say the congestion on high density routes such as Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai is a major reason for trains running late.

“The punctuality will significantly improve after opening of dedicated freight corridor earlier next year as this will ensure dedicated track for passenger trains,” said an official. The punctuality rate was 84.02% in the period between August 1 and August 16 as against 81.05% in the same period last year.

Incidents of delays due to asset failures such as track defects and rail fractures due to inadequate maintenance have also come down as railways focused on infrastructure enhancement and giving 13-14% more time for safety works after train operations were badly hit by several accidents and fog last year.

Also helping the cause of smoother train operations are some of the works which are getting completed after the transporter pumped in money on construction of additional loop lines at stations (so that more trains have parking space) and doubling and tripling on busy routes with higher passenger traffic.

“Opening of third line on Ghaziabad-Aligarh route and Bhopal-Bina route has helped in cutting delays,” said an official.

Along with strict monitoring by top brass, the railways’ decision to allow loco pilots to run the trains at maximum speed has also played a role in achieving a better punctuality record, said an official.

Steps are also being taken to cut down on delays by installing automatic signalling on more tracks, construction of subways replacing level crossings, rail underbridges and overbridges, he added.

Speed restrictions and cautions imposed because of construction activities along the tracks which adversely affected timings, have also come down.

Why ‘Metro Man’ Sreedharan is against PPP Model in Rail Projects

PPP in India was tried out in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and the Airport line of Delhi. Inviting private players will delay progress: Sreedharan says!

NEW DELHI: The Centre’s growing emphasis on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model in transport infrastructure underscores a cash crunch in the coffers. Along with mounting fiscal deficit, governments in the states and Centre are also hobbled by a lack of institutional framework that would have made private investments viable and sustainable in the long run. It is in this context that ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan’s scathing observations about the Union government’s diktat on seeking private participation in urban mass transit projects assume importance.

E Sreedharan, famously known as the Metro Man, has always been a vocal critic of PPP (public-private-partnership). Therefore, his reluctance in executing urban rail projects on PPP mode is not new and if facts are to be believed the 85-year-old’s fear is not misplaced either.

It all might seem a good idea to invite private entities to capital-intensive projects, but as Sreedharan rightly points out private funding in infra-projects would seek higher returns in shorter time frames, which is virtually impossible in the case of metro since fares must be kept reasonable, if not low. With real-estate prices witnessing a sharp decline, the carrot of land parcels for property development hasn’t also worked. It is clear that the onus of developing mass public transport is on the government if it wants cities to grow as economic hubs — Mumbai’s wheels of commerce are powered by the suburban railways network. Going by past fiascos, depending on private participation is too risky a proposition for developing metro rail. The government must pay heed to his warning that the new policy could sound the death-knell for projects around the country. His words must be taken seriously.

Sreedharan in the past had said the construction of Airport Express Metro would have incurred 20 per cent less expenditure had Delhi Metro built it. In the case of Airport Express, the entire civil structure was done by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), accounting for 60 per cent of the cost. He had said the other 40 per cent could also have been done by DMRC with the help of a loan from Japan.

The project got delayed on several accounts and was finally salvaged by Sreedharan and launched in February 2011. In the airport line, DMRC invested 55 per cent of the cost (50 per cent of which was borrowed from Japan). Reliance Infrastructure, which was the only private player to come forward, invested in the rolling stock, electrification, and signaling.

According to latest media reports, the Metro Man has once again questioned the feasibility of PPP projects. PPP in India was tried out in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and the Airport line of Delhi, but the experience has not been good.

In Mumbai Metro Line 1, Reliance Infrastructure took almost seven years to complete 11 km of the relatively easier elevated line and they now claim to be losing Rs 50 lakh per day in revenue everyday despite the very high fares they are charging. In Chennai, the state and central governments invested all the money with borrowing from Japan.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a new metro policy under which the future metro projects will now be tendered after evaluating their social and economic impact in addition to considering financial returns.

Taking note of the substantial social, economic and environmental gains from Metro projects, the policy stipulated a shift from the present ‘Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8%’ to ‘Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14%’ for approving Metro projects, in line with global practices.

The policy opens a big window for private investments, making the PPP component mandatory. “Private participation either for complete provisioning of Metro rail or for some unbundled components (like automatic fare collection, operation and maintenance of services, etc) will form an essential requirement for all Metro rail projects seeking Central financial assistance,” the new policy said.

The new policy provides for a rigorous assessment of new proposals and also proposes an independent third-party assessment by government-identified agencies.

Sreedharan has even said that no private company will come forward for construction of Metro rail as it is not a profitable investment. This could also be true since the metro projects are left to be taken up in tier II cities where the traffic volumes may not be as high as in Delhi and Mumbai.

BEML hits new 52-week high as Cabinet approves new Metro Rail policy

BANGALORE: PSU stock BEML has moved higher on impressive volumes on Thursday, riding on news that the Union Cabinet has approved new metro rail policy. The government’s new policy aims to expand the metro network across various cities in the country through Public-Private Partnership model. The plan looks at construction of new Metro Rail systems via the Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer mode and allowing private players to operate the service and involving them works such as  maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure.

BEML already has a pretty strong order book and with the new policy on Metro Rail set to result in more order inflow for the company, the stock may well go on to test higher levels in the near to medium term.

The company announced that its order book’s value stood at Rs 7582 crore at the beginning of the June 2017-18 quarter and during the quarter it bagged orders worth Rs 815 crore.

The company executed orders worth Rs 632 crore in the April – June quarter. As on 30 June 2017, the order book value stood at Rs 7765 crore. Out of this, the company has execute orders worth Rs 2388 crore during the current fiscal and the rest, Rs 5377 crore worth of orders, in the next financial year.

BEML had reported a net loss of Rs 85.13 crore for the quarter ended June 2017, as against net profit of Rs 186.40 crore in the preceding quarter. In April – June 2016 quarter, the company had posted a loss of Rs 107.10 crore.

At Rs 1868, off the day’s high of Rs 1879, BEML is now up 8.8% from its previous closing price. More than 3.1 lakh shares have changed hands so far at the BEML counter on BSE today, about 3.3 times the average daily volume of 0.91 lakh shares. On the National Stock Exchange, the BEML counter has clocked a volume of nearly 3.2 million shares so far in the session. Th stock touched a new 52-week high of Rs 1880 on NSE today.

Karnataka Ministers to boycott Railway Minister’s Inaugural Function of FIAT Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir

They are upset over Railway Ministry neglecting elected representatives

BANGALORE: Expressing unhappiness about the Railway Ministry, Ministers Priyank Kharge and Sharanprakash Patil will boycott the inaugural programme of the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Kadechur-Badiyal Industrial area in Yadgir district on Friday.

Talking over the phone from Bengaluru, the Ministers expressed anguish over the Railway Ministry neglecting the region and also elected representatives. “Being the Minister of the district where the Karkhana came up, I was not invited as per protocol,” Mr. Priyank Kharge said.

Related Newshttp://www.railnews.in/suresh-prabhu-to-inaugurate-fiat-rail-bogie-plant-capable-of-manufacturing-600-lhb-bogie-frames-per-annum-at-yadgir/

Mr. Kharge said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu should understand the project came up because of M. Mallikarjun Kharge, MP and Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, who dreamed to develop the backward area with this project. Mr. Prabhu, however, did not invite Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge as per protocol.

The foundation stone to establish FIAT Rail Bogie Karkhana was laid in 2014 on 150 acres of land in Kadechur and Badiyal Industrial Area. The land was handed over by the State government for free and Tata Projects Ltd. completed the project at a cost of Rs. 80.92 crore for Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd.

According to the South Central Railway headquarters at Secunderabad, Mr.Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir through video-conferencing on Friday.

The foundation stone for the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir was laid in February, 2014 and the work was awarded to M/s.Tata Projects Ltd., with the executing agency being the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). The Karkhana was completed at a cost of Rs. 80.92 Crore and has come up on 150 acres of land given free by Government of Karnataka to Indian Railways. The Karkhana is located 40 Kms from Raichur Railway Station on the way to Saidapur Railway Station and approximately 10 Kms from Saidapur Railway Station.

Central Pollution Control Board to issue Draft Emission Norms for Diesel Locomotives in 2 weeks

The submission came in the wake of the green panel’s direction to set standards in this regard and ensure that the railway locomotive engines don’t cause pollution.

NEW DELHI: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has told the National Green Tribunal that the draft emission standards for diesel locomotives will be finalised within two weeks.

The apex pollution monitoring body told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that it would place the interim norms before August 30, the next date of hearing.

“The counsel appearing for CPCB submits that within two weeks the interim guidelines will be placed on record,” the bench noted.

The lawyer appearing for CPCB said the emission standards for diesel locomotives were still to be decided and they would send to the MoEF after finalisation.

The submission came in the wake of the green panel’s direction to set standards in this regard and ensure that the railway locomotive engines don’t cause pollution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Efforts on to Restore Flood-Damaged Railway Infrastructure, N-E links remains Snapped

GUWAHATI: Works to restore railway infrastructure damaged by the flood under the jurisdiction of the N R Railway is on in the war footing in the wake of the Railway Board giving direction to all zonal railways to cancel trains travelling from various parts of the country beyond Malda town in West Bengal and Katihar in Bihar till August 20 next because of the damage to railway infrastructure by flood fury.

The damage of railway infrastructure due to flood fury forced the N F Railway to cancel altogether 77 trains so far. The railway link with North East India has remained snapped.

Meanwhile, a medical camp was conducted at Guwahati station for the passengers waiting in the station due to cancellation of train services. The N F Railway is running special trains from Guwahati to Dalkhola and from Dibrugarh to Guwahati for clearance of rush caused by cancellation of trains due to unprecedented flood, according to the CPRO of the N R Railway, Pranab Jyoti Sharma.

The CPRO informed that at Bridge No. 3 located at Km. 7/2-3 between stations Kuretha and Manian in the section Katihar- Kumedpur which was breached at 7.30 A.M. on Wednesday, N.F. Railway has been able to mobilise a 45 ft. girder along with a 140-ton crane which has reached site from Eastern Railway. Boulders for restoration have been mobilised from Pakur, Bakudi and Sakrigli.

This bridge which is crucial for connectivity from Katihar to Malda is being attended by more than 600 labours working round the clock and it is expected that if flood condition does not deteriorate further the bridge will be restored by tomorrow.

At Bridge No. 133 located between stations Sudhani – Telta of New Jalpaiguri – Malda section which was worst hit with almost 60 m approach being washed away on both up and down line, restoration work has already been started. The senior railway officials are camping at site while an NDRF team from Danapur has also reached the site today. Work is progressing day and night.

At bridge no. MK 8, 9, 11 between stations Kumedpur – Khurial of Malda Town New Jalpaiguri section which have been washed out by flood water from river Mahananda, restoration work is going on in full swing under supervision of senior Railway officials.

In Alipurduar Division, track connection from Fakiragram to Dhubri has been restored from Thursday morning after completion of work at Bridge no. 28. Train connection from Dhubri will be restored and DEMU services will be started from Friday. In Lumding Division, the flood-affected track between Silghat and Jakhalabandha stations has been attended and restored for movement of traffic at restricted speed.

MOS (Rlys) inspects Secunderabad Railway Station, takes part in Swachhta Pakhwada, Reviews SCR Performance

SECUNDERABAD: Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Railways visited South Central Railway on 17th August, 2017 and inspected Secunderabad Railway Station and took part in the ongoing Swachhta Pakhwada – Mission Cleanliness Program of Indian Railways. Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR, Amit Varadan, Division Railway Manager, Secunderabad Division and other senior officials accompanied the Minister.

Rajen Gohain was briefed in detail on the working system of high standard Mechanized Cleaning equipments being put to use for the upkeep of station cleanliness at Secunderabad. The Minister inspected various Passenger Amenities such as Waiting Halls, Security Surveillance System, Toilet facilities etc. The General Manager, SCR detailed Rajen Gohain on the activities being taken up by the Zone during “Swachh Rail – Swachh Bharat” Swachhta Pakhwada fortnight campaign which commenced on 16th August, 2017.

The Minister of State for Railways interacted with the Media, Representatives of Passenger Association and SCR Employees as a part of “Swachh Samvad Day” of the ongoing Swachhta Pakhwada and briefed them on Swachh Bharat Mission taken up by Railways to fulfill the vision of Prime Minister of India. He also focused on taking up “Sankalp Se Siddhi” to strive for building a new India by 2022. He stated that the Dedicated Freight Corridor, High Speed rail project, running of Bullet Train in India are issues of aspiration to the people of the country and Indian Railways will fulfill them. He also stated that projects on Indian Railways such as laying of New Railway Line, Doubling, Tripling, Electrification are progressing fast and high priority is being accorded to complete the projects in stipulated target time.

Later, Rajen Gohain inaugurated a revived Heritage Well at the 1105 Railway Engineers’ Regiment (Territorial Army), located at Moula-ali, Hyderabad through Remote Video Link from SCR Headquarters, Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad where he also held a review meeting with Senior Railway Officials of the Zone. Interacting with the Railway Officials, Rajen Gohain stressed that South Central Railway transports a host of different freight commodities unlike several other Zones and hence shall make every effort to better its freight business. He advised the Officials to utilize the schemes from the Railway Ministry for encouraging freight traffic. Rajen Gohain keenly analyzed the status of ongoing Railway projects being taken up Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) & Construction Organization on SCR and sought to know the plans for early completion of the same. The Minister also reviewed various important subjects as passenger traffic, employee welfare measures etc.

Earlier, Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR welcomed the Minister of State for Railways and made a power point presentation on the performance and achievements of the Zone, various initiatives taken up by SCR for Water & Energy Conservation and Green Initiatives. The General Manager detailed the measures taken up by SCR concerning key areas of Safety, Security, Punctuality as well as status of rail projects on the Zone. John Thomas, Additional General Manager, SCR; Principal Heads of Departments; Divisional Railway Managers of Secunderabad and Hyderabad Division and the Chief Project Manager, RVNL were also present.

BJP State President urges MOSR to fast track Rail projects in the State

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State unit president K Laxman on Thursday urged the Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain to speed up the ongoing works of railway projects in Telangana.

The BJP president submitted a memorandum to the Railway Minister Rajen Gohain in this regard on Thursday. He said there were some projects which need to be cleared and require proper attention for development and faster growth of Telangana.

Laxman said some of the projects in the State were going on at a snail’s pace including Maulali – Sanathnagar, Secunderabad – Medchal, Secunderabad – Ghatkesar, Falaknuma – Umdanagar (Shamshabad), Ghatkesar – Raigiri (Yadadri).

Regarding the proposed Circular Railway Line along the existing Outer Ring Road (ORR), Laxman said the land for circular railway line was acquired but, a new line would be useful for people of Hyderabad to ease out the traffic congestion and reach different destinations in and around Hyderabad city, he added.

He said two new terminals have been proposed to ease out traffic congestion at Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Kacheguda railway stations by establishing passenger terminals at Cherlapally / Moula Ali and Lingampally.
He said the electrification of Secunderabad – Mudkhed, Kache guda- Guntakal and Bibinagar – Nadikudi railway lines was also pending.

He also brought to the notice of the Minister that workshop at Kazipet with an estimated cost of Rs 270 crore was also pending. He said the State government had to provide 160 acres of land for this purpose. This was proposed in 2016-17 Railway budget. The BJP leader wanted Uday Trains from Secunderabad/Hyderabad as there is not even a single Uday train from Secunderabad.

He also wanted the Minister to take steps for starting the works pertaining to upgradation of Secunderabad Railway Station into international standards. The BJP leader wanted the Minister to take up the new lines proposed including Macharla-Nalgonda (81.6 km), Bhadrachalam Road- Sattupally (56.25 km), Bhadrachalam Road-Kovvur (151 km), Akkannapet -Medak (17.20 km), Kondapally-Kothagudem (125 km), Manuguru -Ramagundam (200 km).

He asked the Minister to take personal attention for completing these projects.

Talking to reporters later, Rajen Gohain said the Centre allocated Rs 1,789 crore for the railway projects this year to Telangana, which was more than double compared to 2016-17, which was projects worth Rs 601 crore. He said that as of now Rs 17,475 crore worth projects were going on in the State.

New Metro Rail policy assures Economic Rate of Return on the Cost of Metro Rail projects

NEW DELHI: Delhi Metro recently raised the price of its ticket by up to 50 per cent for an average ride of 15 to 24 kilometres effectively taking the fare out reach for poorer income groups. The rationale offered by the Corporation is that it is necessary to keep it profitable. In the process, the benefit of the Metro to provide long-distance travel to low-income groups has gone for a toss. It is an example of tunnel-vision based accounting that the financial rate of return imposes on broad spectrum infrastructure projects.

The alternative floated by the central government on Wednesday requiring a higher than before commitment from states and public-private partnership (PPP), in terms of land clearances and funding obligations is more practical. The policy stipulates a shift from the present ‘Financial Internal Rate of Return of eight per cent’ to ‘Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14 per cent’ “in line with global best practices”  The new policy aims to encourage private investments across a range of metro operations through a PPP route for availing of central assistance for new projects. Private investment and other innovative forms of financing have been made compulsory to meet the huge resource demand for these capital-intensive schemes.

It is rarely possible for an urban transport project to be profitable. Yet for high-density populated cities infrastructure projects need to be constructed, says Shailesh Pathak, chief executive-deisgnate of L&T IDPL —the company executing the Hyderabad metro project. “The returns from these projects have to be assessed taking into account environmental costs, equity costs and so on”. For example, the Shanghai metro charges 3 and 4 yuan for journeys upto 16 kilometres, effectively encouraging all income segments to board. The costs that are saved are in terms of people opting for public transport  instead of taxis, bus et al. Writing sometime ago in Business Standard, Dinesh Mohan, one of India’s veteran commentator on transport economics, noted “One could demand lower fares if the Delhi metro operated as a service for the public good. But, in truth, the Delhi Metro has never presented itself as a public service, but more as a prestige project”.

Once those costs are built into the project instead of limiting the costs to only traditional ones, it is easy to understand why projects like city metros cannot be financed only through government handouts.  As a top former urban development department official said in the new policy a metro can be built as a joint venture between state and central government or it can rope in a private sector company.

Dinesh Mohan suggests those using cars should be taxed more to pay for the Metro subsidy. Metro man E Sreedharan thinks it is the government (state or central) which will have to foot the unlimited liability of building and running metros. He told, “Nowhere in the world has the construction and maintenance model of PPP in Metro rail completely succeeded”.

There is certainly no doubt the track record of Reliance Infra with Delhi’s airport line or Mumbai Metro does not inspire confidence.There is also little reason to believe that any other private sector company will be more socially attuned at the cost of its profit.

Yet is it fair to expect a government to choose between running hospitals and that of a metro within a limited budget, though the vocal public will make it choose the latter! At the end of the day bringing in an outside entity allows for more realistic recognition of the actual cost of such projects. This is vitally necessary to ensure these projects are built on tight deadlines and cost control. No government department can ensure that. As of now of the eight metro projects running in Delhi (217 kms), Bengaluru (42.30  kms), Kolkata (27.39 kms), Chennai (27.36 kms), Kochi (13.30 kms), Mumbai (Metro Line 1-11.40 km, Mono Rail Phase 1-9.0 km), Jaipur (9.00 kms) and Gurugram (Rapid Metro-1.60 km) has only two private sector players. The rest are joint ventures between the centre and the state governments. There are 13 more cities planning metros. Given the state finances it is impossible to expect that scarce public resources acutely needed for health care and education can be diverted to build these instead.

UMTC’s bid approved for DPR on Vijayawada Metro Mass Transit system

VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh State government on Wednesday approved the bid submitted by the Gurgaon-based Urban Mass Transit Company Ltd. (UMTC) for preparing the Detailed Project Report for the Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) and the Integrated Public Transport (IPT) Plan for the Vijayawada Metro Rail Project.

The Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation Limited (AMRCL) had been entrusted with the implementation of the Vijayawada Mass Transit System for the Vijayawada Metropolitan area along the identified 26-km alignment from the Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS) to Nidamanuru and the PNBS to Penamaluru.

The NMT and the IPT plans were required to make the public transport system an efficient one and encourage a large number of commuters to use it.

Karnataka CM urge early Environment Clearance for Hubballi-Ankola Railway line

Meets Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi

BANGALORE: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called on Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday in New Delhi, urging him to expedite pending railway projects in Karnataka. He also sought the early environment clearance from the centre for the long pending Hubballi-Ankola railway line.

The work on the Hubballi-Ankola railway line, which was first proposed in 1998, has been tardy since the centre has not given environment clearance to the project. A high power committee of the Union Ministry of Environment has recommended environment clearance to the project, Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

With the increase in the number of passengers and movement of trains in Mysuru railway station, the Chief Minister urged Mr. Prabhu to modernise the railway station to international standards, besides exanding the station to ensure that passengers can be provided with modern facilities.

Mr. Siddaramaiah also demanded the centre to expedite work on the high-speed rail network between Mysuru-Bengaluru-Chennai.

Mr. Prabhu, who listened to the demands of the Karnataka government, told the Chief Minister to submit the wish-list after officials of both state and the centre discussed the progress of various railway projects in Karnataka.

Drought relief

Mr. Siddaramaiah also called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and demanded higher amount of relief for executing drought relief works in the State. The centre has granted ₹1,527 crore to the state in the last five years, while other states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh had received more than ₹8,000 crore, he told reporters in Delhi.

He also urged Mr. Singh to drop the revised Manual for Drought Management 2016, which will be effective in the ongoing Kharif season. He maintained that the manual will significantly reduce the aid to the drought affected taluks.

On July 24, Mr. Siddaramaiah had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that “stringent parameters/eligibility conditions will make it difficult for the state government to declare taluks with significant crop loss severely drought affected.” He added that the new guidelines “will drastically reduce the central assistance in future. This will increase hardship of the farmers.”

The government has opposed changes in parameters for drought assessment. The new manual for drought management limits centre’s scope to offer financial assistance to states in the eventuality of drought.

Unlike the 2009 manual, which was a mere guideline and not mandatory for the states to follow, the “moderate” drought category has been deleted in the new manual. It means drought-hit areas will now be categorised as “normal” and “severe”. Only in case of “severe” drought, a state would be eligible for central assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund.

Russian Railways to buy more Trains from Siemens despite Crimea Scandal

MOSCOW: Russia’s state railway plans to order additional trains from Siemens despite a recent scandal over Moscow’s delivery of four of the German company’s turbines to Crimea in violation of sanctions, Russian news agencies report.

Siemens said last month it was reviewing its dealings with Russia after it discovered the power-generating turbines intended for use in southern Russia were instead delivered to Crimea in violation of European Union sanctions imposed over Moscow’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014.

Siemens said the turbines were delivered without its knowledge and against its wishes. The incident prompted the EU to impose additional sanctions on Moscow.

“It will not affect our relationship,” Aleksandr Misharin, Russian Railways first vice president, told reporters in Dvoriki in the Vladimir region on August 16, adding that the company planned to buy more high-speed Sapsan trains from Siemens.

A spokesman for Siemens declined to comment.

Russian Railways has been buying trains from Siemens for decades and will receive delivery of 13 Lastochka electric passenger trains this year under previously signed contracts.

Siemens has a joint venture in Russia with Dmitry Pumpyansky’s Sinara Group, which supplies Russian Railways with electric locomotives and Lastochka trains.

Russia to start construction of first high-speed Railway in 2018

High-speed train models are displayed at the 4th China-Russia Expo held in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, June 15, 2017.

MOSCOW: Russia will start to build its first high-speed railway linking Moscow and Kazan in 2018, said Alexander Misharin, First Vice-President of Russian Railways, on Wednesday.

The design of the high-speed railroad will be completed by the end of 2017, he said at a forum.

In November 2016, Russian Railways President Oleg Belozerov said the rail link is planned to enter service by 2022.

The 770-kilometer-long railway will cost about 1.3 trillion rubles (about 22.4 billion U.S. dollars). The high-speed trains will run at a maximum speed of 400 kilometers per hour, cutting the travel time from the current 14 hours to 3.5 hours.

The Moscow-Kazan railway is expected to be part of a high-speed rail line connecting Beijing with Moscow in the future and facilitate economic integration along the route.

Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in European Russia and one of the country’s industrial and economic centers.

Railway Postal Services to apply Blockchain Technology and IoT for better service delivery and management

NEW DELHI: Department of Posts, trading as India Post, is looking to modernize postal services including Railway Postal services through budding technologies.

India Post is planning to integrate blockchain technology and internet of things (IoT), respectively, to their service platforms. One of the senior Director at India Posts predicts that blockchain technology may be implemented by the end of 2018, or shortly thereafter.

Blockchain technology can be used to add a layer of security to the delivery of high value parcels, including luxury items. “Blockchain is secure and trusted as only authorised persons are allowed to open parcels,” the Director said.

Given the synergy between blockchain-based technologies and IoT devices, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to see a possible collaboration of technology platforms between these two state-run agencies viz. India Posts and Indian Railways, with IoT devices reporting to a blockchain platform. If this happens, it’s possible that both India Post’s and Indian Railways applications of blockchain technology and IoT may give rise to a shared technology that can track posts going through rail channels.

With similar goals of introducing new technology, Indian Railways also entered the areas of innovating with IoT devices. As per the report, the broadcasting spectrum would allow a wireless communications array to integrate with IoT sensors. Such sensors may provide better alerts to authorities, enabling them to more effectively stop trains to prevent accidents and perhaps save lives. It will also improve the logistics service of goods delivery.

Four different ways to use Blockchain technology to improve services

The report also suggests that the mail services should consider using blockchain technology for identity purposes, supply chains, device networks, and possibly even a cryptocurrency to be issued for purchasing postage with. The blockchain technology could impact the Postal Service’s business in several ways. The Postal Service could improve its existing services by beginning to experiment with the financial applications of blockchain.

There is also a recommendation for creating a centrally-run digital currency “PostCoin“. Although financial applications on the blockchain do not need intermediaries to function, having a trusted entity like the Postal Service acting to facilitate its fair, affordable, and transparent use may help address many of the challenges that currently prevent individuals and businesses from taking advantage of this technology.

The report explores two possibilities for creating the PostCoin, the option “to ‘buy in’ to an existing, public blockchain” and the option “to create a brand new blockchain altogether.” The benefits and challenges of each choice are examined, including implementation. “The Postal Service could use the Bitcoin protocol,” it stated, or “another open source software.”

The PostCoin could be used for more than replacing money orders and remittance transactions, states the report. They suggest the currency would be used as a kind of ATM network, and to purchase postage worldwide, across a global network of 600,000 post offices.

Digital Identity is the second major area of opportunity for blockchain disruption mentioned, and the report suggests storing verified identities for all citizens on their blockchain, even for use outside of the postal system. “Identity services are one of the biggest areas of opportunity in the blockchain community, and the Postal Service, as a highly trusted government agency, would be well-suited for a role in identity verification.”

“The Postal Service could verify identities in-person at a post office by using an identification card, such as a driver’s license, Aadhar or a biometric ID, such as a fingerprint,” the report continued. “It could further link that virtual identity used by the customer to operate within a blockchain system with real-world identifiers, such as a person’s postal address.”

The customer benefit derived from such a system could be available in far more roles and applications than any state ID system has attempted to address before. “Customers could use these verified identities to login to secure websites, notarize documents, or participate in smart contracts.”

The least well-known area for opportunity covered in the report was about Device Management, pertaining to the agencies’ own Internet of Things (IoT), including delivery trucks, hand scanners, terminals, and mailboxes. Putting all of these devices on a shared blockchain offers attractive cost savings, through security and efficiency gains.

The final opportunity for disruption may be the biggest cost saver of them all, focusing on the overall postal system supply chain management. Supply chains are explored in the report as a way of “using blockchain to identify packages and mail in the same way individuals can be identified.” Added benefits include tracking every single postal letter and package on a blockchain, removing the need for trust throughout their entire system, and even operating smart contracts for each package.

Although they make no cost savings estimates, it is clear that the improvements could be sweeping, and touch every part of their system. “In essence, blockchain technology allows for close linkages between the financial, logistics, and delivery parts of commercial transactions with the power to unify payment and delivery in one seamless experience.”

Although the report admits it would be cost prohibitive to put such a sensor in each letter and package, it presumes that some customers may pay more for that level of service, while most letters only need a simple barcode printed on them for tracking, like we have today, but referencing the blockchain.

Between the four areas of opportunity mentioned, the report makes no claims which should be implemented first and strongly suggests research for each of them.

The upgradation of information technology platform, equipment and processes to generate accurate and high-quality data for years, amidst financial challenges. “In many ways, the entire Postal organization is going through a data-driven transformation,” the report states “How we use this information is changing the way we manage the organization.”

“Here at the Postal Service, we’re not standing still — we never have. We have a long history of adaptation, embracing new technologies and innovating to meet the evolving needs of the people we serve. We’ll keep investing in the future because we’re always looking forward,” said a senior Technical resource at India Post.

The India Post isn’t the first postal system to consider the upside of using blockchain technology. The public and private jointly-owned enterprise that delivers Australia’s mail, Australia Post, has been considering using blockchain tech for identity management purposes since at least March of this year and the other major organisation is the US Postal Services. Both are also facing financial challenges, suffering a net loss of US$5.06 billion in 2015. Their investigations have so far been limited to improving their process for issuing digital identification, while the USPS seems to be considering any use for blockchain tech. A similar use for the technology in identity management has been considered in the U.S. already too. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), has been exploring potential applications in identity management as well. The agency said that it is seeking to “Design information security and privacy concepts on the blockchain to support identity management capabilities that increase security and productivity while decreasing costs and security risks for the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE).”

Coal Stock at Private Power Plants dips after critical Dhanbad-Chandrapura Rail line shuts

Shutdown of Dhanbad-Chandrapura rail line compells BCCL to shift 8-10 rakes from its supply to CCL.

DHANBAD: Coal stocks at some private thermal power plants, which receive the fuel from Central Coalfield Ltd (CCL), have reached precarious levels as CCL is said to be supplying more fuel to NTPC power plants. According to industry sources, this is due to the shutdown of Dhanbad-Chandrapura railway line, which has compelled Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) to shift 8-10 rakes from its supply to CCL.

Underground fire at Jharia coal field and unsafe operations of the railway led to the shutdown of Dhanbad-Chandrapura railway line in December, 2016. The railways is working closely with the coal ministry and Coal India Ltd to minimise loss of loading on account of the closure of this line, senior railway officials said. “Out of the 10 BCCL sidings falling on this line, only 3 sidings are now functional and remaining 7 sidings have been closed. BCCL has organised transportation of coal (which was earlier loaded from these closed sidings) to other sidings,” Mohd Jamshed, member traffic, Railway Board, told. “The loss of loading which was 6-8 rakes per day immediately after closure of the line has now reduced to 4-5 rakes per day with increased coal transportation by BCCL from alternate sidings,” Jamshed added.

According to the latest government data, on August 18, private power plants which get coal supply from CCL, such as Adani’s 3,300 MW Tirora plant and Lanco’s 1,200 MW Anpara plant had fuel reserves for only one day and two days respectively. Reliance’s 1,200 MW Rosa plant had zero days of coal in stock.

On the other hand, NTPC power plants which source coal from CCL through railways, namely the 4,760 MW Vindhyachal plant, 3,000 MW Rihand plant and the 2,320 MW Mauda plant, had coal stocks for 17, 19 and 18 days respectively.

According to the official definition, power plants with reserves of less than four days are termed to have ‘super-critical’ reserve. This definition stands for non-pithead power plants, like the ones cited above, which get supply of coal through railways.

In order to ensure seamless transportation of coal from the mines to the plants, the government had announced many railway line projects in the CCL and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited areas; however none of them have been commissioned even after three years of such announcement, pointed out sources from the private power generation industry who did not want to be named.

In a letter to Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar, written earlier this calendar year, the Association of Power Producers noted that generators face difficulty in long-term production planning due to significant mismatch between the committed schedule and the actual delivery of coal.

Completion of Key Rail Line projects to improve Coal Supplies from Next Fiscal

Coal India Limited (CIL) is undertaking three critical railway infrastructure projects that will enable the miner to efficiently evacuate 282-million tons a year of production. Doubling of track capacity between Jharsuguda and Vizianagaram via the coal belts of Sambalpur and Titlagarh will improve the scope of evacuation and the pace of supplies to the South.

BHUBANESWAR: Coal supplies will improve significantly beginning 2018, riding on the completion of key rail projects in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

In Odisha, the Coal India Ltd financed 53.5-km Jharsuguda-Barapali rail link is expected to be ready by December; paving the way for moving nearly 80 million tonnes of additional fuel from the vast Ib Valley reserves in Sundergarh district.

This coupled with the ongoing doubling of track capacity between Jharsuguda and Vizianagaram via the coal belts of Sambalpur and Titlagarh will improve significantly both the scope of evacuation and the pace of supplies to the South. Currently, the region is connected by a single-line.

The Railways is on course to resuming work on the 30-km Talcher-Angul loopline to pace up supplies from the Talcher coalfields. The project has been stalled the last five years due to land acquisition issues for a 3- km stretch.

Sources told that the Railways has finally made some headway in land acquisition. The project is now expected to be completed next year.

The loopline will help circular movement of rakes, thereby increasing the pace of evacuation from Talcher by 50-60 per cent. State-owned CIL now despatches 30-35 rakes a day from Talcher. The loopline is expected to increase this to 50 rakes a day.

Chhattisgarh East Railway Limited — a special purpose vehicle of South Eastern Coalfields Limited, IRCON and the State government — is reportedly making fast progress in connecting the prolific Mand Raigarh coalfield to the Kolkata-Mumbai line.

According to CIL sources, construction is apace and should link up the opencast mines at Chhal and Baroud by next year, adding approximately 20 million tonnes to the miner’s annual throughput. This line is to be extended to the prolific Gare Palma coalfields.

The Coal Ministry has asked the Railways to double the 25-km single-line connectivity between Shakti Nagar Railway Station on Dhanbad Division in Jharkhand and Karela in Madhya Pradesh. Karela is located on the Katni-Chopan line connecting eastern India with the North. This will help improve supplies by approximately 30 million tonnes annually from Northern Coalfields, a subsidiary of CIL.

The implementation of the Tori-Shibpur rail link in Jharkhand is progressing at a slow pace and is expected to reach Bhalumath (midway between Tori and Shibpur) by the end of this year. As a contingency plan, CIL has a laid a 20-km road connecting Bhalumath with the Magadh coalfields.

IR on a difficult track due to fall in revenues from Coal and Air Travel: CRISIL’s Director-Transport & Logistics Sector

There are two major obstacles: fall in revenues from coal because of the renewables shift, and the appeal of air travel – says Jagannarayan Padmanabhan.
Jagannarayan Padmanabhan
Director–Transport & Logistics
CRISIL

Indian Railways, which is making concerted efforts to correct its legacy of under-investments — and therefore, the opportunities lost — is facing the law of unintended consequences.

It is up against multiple headwinds, such as:

1. Faster awarding and implementation of national highway projects

2. Decreasing dependency on coal compounded by increasing thrust on renewable energy, and,

3. Airlines weaning away AC class passengers, and the regional connectivity scheme UDAAN.

Here’s the potential trouble in perspective:

Indian Railways sustains itself on two businesses — freight and AC class passengers. While freight contributes to two-thirds of revenue (coal transport alone contributes to half of that), nearly a third of passenger revenue comes from AC class passengers (who constitute just 1.3 per cent of the total number of passengers travelling in a year). In the past four decades, as more highways got built, the share of roads in freight transport has rocketed from 30 per cent to 70 per cent.

Problem is, the pace of highway construction is only accelerating. In the past three years, there has been a 25 per cent increase in the length of highways constructed, and Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road, Transport and Highways, wants to expand the network of highways in India by 50 per cent to 200,000 km.

That will have ramifications for the Railways. Financially, it’s a pincer move because freight income is used to subsidise passenger tickets, so any shortfall in freight revenue will be detrimental to the operating ratio of railways, which is already wallowing at a decadal low of 96.9 per cent.

Coal losing steam

Another flank of worry is that renewable energy is exploding. Solar power generation is becoming cheaper than thermal, and wind tariffs are heading southwards, too.

That will curb growth in coal freight. And if all that weren’t enough, a new law says coal cannot be transported without beneficiation for distances of more than 500 km.

Demand for cement and steel, which, along with coal account for about 70 per cent of annual railway freight, has been subdued for a while now.

Then comes the attack from the air. India became the third-largest aviation market in the world after China and the US, by overtaking Japan. Domestic passenger traffic has grown 17.7 per cent in the first four months of 2017 on a fairly large base.

If the trend continues — and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t — India will also see a signal shift this fiscal where flyers will outnumber AC-class rail passengers, with more than a push coming from UDAAN. Contrastingly, the volume of rail passengers has been flatlining at 120-125 million for a while now.

Clearly, the railways faces multiple headwinds, and the irony is that many of these emanate from its owner’s actions and disproportionate influence.

To wit, the government is a part of all phases of customer engagement by the railways — be it providing core infrastructure and its operation and maintenance, providing vehicles and their operation and maintenance, and lastly, bearing the financial risk that have ultimately given only poor returns. In road and air transport, private entities have a lot more skin in the game so the financing and risk-sharing is well spread out.

The way out

Given this context, what should Indian Railways do? There is only one way, and that is offer total customer solutions, both in freight and for passengers.

For example, in freight, it can:

1. Offer door-to-door service by tying up with logistics providers. That would require investment in technology to ensure service predictability and cargo control to the last mile.

2. Decrease the freight rate and increase investments in priority projects.

3. Execute route decongestion and laying of new tracks on mission mode.

4. Encourage private sector participation in operation and maintenance, and even running of trains and terminals

5. Get stakeholders involved in the core functioning of the rail network to benefit from optimum utilisation of finance and better management of workforce — a significant contributor to expenses.

6. Operationalise the two Freight corridors and move fast track the implementation of the others.

Offer differentiators

For passengers, it can:

1. Create more pay-per-use ecosystems. While passengers buying second class tickets are the most by number, about 28 per cent of passenger revenue comes from those that buy sleeper class tickets. The railways can them by offering more facilities, in-train entertainment, station refurbishment and a material leap in punctuality.

2. Better customer experience in all the interfaces starting from ticketing, Station touch points, on board travel engagement (cleanliness, food and beverage, in coach facilities, etc.).

Passengers need convenience, cost-effectiveness, and timeliness. There is enough empirical evidence to suggest people are willing to pay if they get value.

Today’s consumer has many choices, so the Railways will have to offer differentiators by reinventing itself rather quickly.

For the frenemy is at the gate.

The writer is practice leader and director-transport & logistics at CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory

Cement makers signing Long-term Freight Contracts with Indian Railways in droves

A development that would help the Indian Railways reverse the recent trend of a decline in cement loading and allow manufacturers of the binder to cut operating costs significantly. Apart from cement firms, steel makers are also showing interest in Indian Railways’ long-term contract scheme.

NEW DELHI: Cement markers are signing long-term freight contracts with Indian Railways (IR) in droves, a development that would help the transporter reverse the recent trend of a decline in cement loading and allow manufacturers of the binder to cut operating costs significantly. Following India Cement and UltraTech Cement which have signed loading contracts with the railways recently, at least three more large cement makers — ACC, Ambuja Cement and Birla Shakti (Vasavadatta Cement plant in Karnataka) — have inked long-term freight agreements with the transporter. Though the exact quantum of business these contracts will bring to IR is not immediately known, it is certain to benefit from the guaranteed revenue flows.

Apart from cement firms, steel makers are also showing interest in IR’s long-term contract scheme. In July, when the scheme was launched, Tata Steel had inked a contract with the South Eastern Railway. Steel Authority of India and JSW Steel are also getting into such contracts. At least 10 more long-term freight contracts are expected to inked by the end of this month, said a Railway Board member. “Vedanta has also shown interest but they are insisting on coking coal which is not included under the scheme as of now,” added the official.

The railways had witnessed a 4.9% annual fall in loading of cement, excluding clinker, on an originating basis in 2015-16 and a 3.2% decline in 2016-17. Its cement loading in 2016-17 was 71 million tonnes, just over 6% of total freight carried in the year.

According to a report by agency India Ratings, 21-25% of total operating costs for cement makers is on account of freight and forwarding costs. Another report by the rating agency expects the cement industry to grow 4-5% in 2017-18, “driven largely by the demand stemming from infrastructure activities and a revival in housing demand in rural areas, both led by government spending”. Other reasons for the growth estimate include funds allocated towards Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and spending of the ministry of road transport and highways.

Long-term contracts, which are signed with the railways zones, is an arrangement wherein the railways will benefit from long-term commitment from manufacturers and customers will benefit from freight rebates and assurance of tariffs.

Under the scheme, the railways is assured of revenue commitment from customers at predetermined price escalation principle as customers commit a minimum guaranteed gross freight revenue for each year of the contract period at a minimum of 5% increase over previous year.

For customers, freight rebate is linked to incremental growth in gross freight revenue and absolute volume of traffic. Rebate ranges from 1.5% to 35% based on incremental growth in revenue and 0.5% to 5% on the total volume of traffic. The contract period is for minimum three years and maximum five years.

Existing customers who offered a minimum 1 million tonnes of traffic for the previous 12 months are eligible for these contracts and new customers have to make commitment to offer at least 3 million tonnes of traffic during the agreement period and at least 1 million tonnes in first year.

Cabinet Committee clears Metro Rail policy; focus on PPP Model, Urban Development

Big Push For Private Players as Central Government unveils New Metro Rail Policy. Future projects are to be tendered while keeping in mind not only the estimated financial return, but also their social and economic impact!

NEW DELHI: The central government has cleared a new mechanism to hasten Public Private Partnership and privatisation of state-owned companies for strategic disinvestment, as opposed to minority stake sales in public sector units, public offers of equity and the like. Among other major decisions by the Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday, a nationwide policy for metro rail transportation was approved. Future projects are to be tendered while keeping in mind their social and economic impact, not only the estimated financial return.

The new policy on metro rail projects requires a higher than before commitment from states and public-private partnership (PPP), in terms of land clearances and funding obligations, expansion of viability gap funding, monitoring by the Centre and provisions to help on delays.

The policy stipulates a shift from the present ‘Financial Internal Rate of Return of eight per cent’ to ‘Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14 per cent’ for approving of projects, in line with global practices, went an official statement.

It allows private investments across a range of metro operations through a mandatory PPP route for availing of central assistance for new projects. Private investment and other innovative forms of financing have been made compulsory to meet the huge resource demand for these capital-intensive schemes.

“PPP, last-mile connectivity, rigorous analysis to provide right solution to the right city, a shift from financial rate of return to economic rate of return for large infrastructure projects, and fare fixation authority. All these would set the pace for great expansion of metro rail in this country,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman of infrastructure services provider Feedback Infra.

Earlier, only financial rate of return, which is the rate of return on capital invested, was looked at for metro projects. The economic rate of return is a social cost benefit analysis. “It takes into account multiplier effects that railways brings,” said Chatterjee.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the meeting that the policy provides for rigorous assessment of new proposals and third-party assessment by agencies to be identified by the government. Metro rail projects with a total length of about 350 km are operational in eight cities — Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Gurugram. Others are underway in Hyderabad, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Pune and Lucknow. In the next four years, said Jaitley, the aim is for 900 km of a metro rail network.

The policy, approved by the Union Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also empowers states to make rules and set up a permanent Fare Fixation Authority for timely revision of fares.

The policy also provides for a rigorous assessment of new proposals by independent third-party to be identified by the government, said Housing & Urban Affairs Secretary D S Mishra.

It outlines three models of metro projects for central assistance. In one of them, the Centre will provide a lump sum grant of 10 per cent of the cost, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said briefing reporters on Cabinet decisions.

The second one envisages 50:50 equity sharing model between central and state governments. The third is PPP model with central assistance under the Viability Gap Funding scheme of the Finance Ministry.

Under all these options private participation is mandatory, said Mishra, who was also present during the briefing.

Private participation could be either for complete provision of metro rail or for some unbundled components like automatic fare collection, operation or maintenance.

Such a provision is made compulsory to meet huge resource demand for capital-intensive and high capacity metro projects, Mishra added.

Under the policy, Mishra said, states need to adopt innovative financing mechanisms like Value Capture Financing (VCF) and issue of bonds.

VCF seeks imposition of new taxes or ‘Betterment Levy’ to capture a share of increase in the assets value in the vicinity of state-sponsored infrastructure projects like metro rail project.

Besides Delhi, metro services with a total length of 370 kms are currently operational in seven cities — Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Gurugram.

Metro projects of 537 kms are under construction.

Projects about 600 kms in length are under the consideration of the government and will require to follow the the new policy, an official said.

Meanwhile, Mishra said the policy also seeks to ensure last mile-connectivity, requiring state to give commitment regarding feeder bus services and ensuring infrastructure like walking and cycling pathways.

To ensure that least-cost mode of public transport is selected, the new policy also mandates that alternate analysis is carried out before proposing the metro rail projects.

The policy requires state to compulsorily set up Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) which will prepare comprehensive mobility plans for cities to ensure complete multi-modal integration.

It also stipulates shift from the present ‘Financial Internal Rate of Return‘ of 8 per cent to ‘Economic Internal Rate of Return’ of 14 per cent for approving metro projects.

Economic rate takes into consideration, apart from financial aspect, other benefits of the projects like employment generation and reduction in pollution.

The new policy also mandates Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which envisages setting up projects like housing and offices within walkable distance from the metro corridor.

The new policy also mandates evaluation of various modes of mass transit like the bus rapid transport system, light rail transit and tramways. Executing authorities must ensure last-mile connectivity through environment-friendly infrastructure like walkways and cycling corridors, according to the policy.

Strict pre-conditions on financial aspects will see fewer projects being taken up, said Anwarul Hoda, professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, a think tank. “The government has done this in a situation of high demand and less resources. This is to match the available resources for the projects that have been taken up.”

 

Suresh Prabhu launches various Services/Facilities/Initiatives through video-conferencing

NEW DELHIIn order to make the rail journey more comfortable and remarkable, Indian Railways has been launching various services and projects. In this direction,  Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu in a programme held today at Rail Bhawan, through video-conferencing launched and dedicated following services to the nation : –

1.    Laying of foundation stone for Gaya Byepass (At Gaya, Bihar).

2.    Electrification of Bakhtiarpur-Rajgir Section (at Bakhtiarpur, Bihar).

3.    Electrification of Meralgram-Renukut Section (at Renukut, Jharkhand & UP).

4.      Inauguration of following facilities at Bihta Station(Bihar): –

         a)   Extension of Platforms Nos. 1 & 2 for accommodation of 24 coaches, extension of Platforms shed-4 nos.

         b)   Provision of benches-12 nos.

         c)    Provision of water booth-1 no.

         d)   Improvement of circulating area (south side).

5.  Inauguration/Dedication of following facilities at Chhapra(Bihar):

         a)     ISS at Chhapra station.

         b)      Inauguration of works of escalators (02 nos) and improvements to platforms of Chhapra station.

         c)      Laying of foundation stone for second entry gate of Chhapra station.

         d)      Inauguration of Water Vending Machines (02 nos.) at Chhapra.

         e)      Wi-fi at Chhapra station.

6.      Newly constructed Goods Sheds and 6 lines station at Chhapra Gramin Station.

7.      Green Corridor in Bhagalpur- Banka section (Bihar) of Malda Division.

Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain was specially present to grace the occasion. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A. K. Mital, other Railway Board Members, several other dignitaries and senior officials were among those present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that the unfortunate floods in Bihar & Assam has caused distress. Indian Railways is extending all possible help to the victims. Inaugurations of various passenger amenities in different parts of Bihar will help the people of Bihar for comfortable journey experience.  

SERVICES LAUNCHED : –

1)      Laying of Foundation Stone for Gaya Bypass

Benefits:

●       Provides Direct Connectivity from 3rd Line between Gaya & Manpur(for movement to Kiul) to Gaya Patna Line.

●       Avoids Reversal at Gaya Station and will improve the movement of COAL,STEEL,CEMENT & FOOD GRAINS to Patna.

    2)   Electrification of Bakhtiarpur-Rajgir

            Benefits

  • Manpur – Tilaiya – Bakhtiyarpur is a missing link between two electrified corridors of Mughalsarai – Patna – Bakhtiyarpur –Sitarampur – Howrah (Delhi-Howrah main line) and Mughalsarai-Gaya-Dhanbad-Sitarampur-Howrah (Grand Chord).
  • The proposed section is a shorter route for transportation of coal to National  Thermal Power Corporation’s Barh thermal power plant.
  • Coal will be fed through this route from Tori-Shivpuri collieries of Central Collieries.
  • Apart from Coal, this section also carries Fertilizers, Food Grains, Cement , Salt etc.
  • After electrification of entire section, there will be seamless flow of electric trains in this section as traction changes/detentions at Manpur and Bakhtiyarpur ends would be eliminated.

3) Electrification of Meralgram-Renukut section.

        Benefits:

●       Garwa Road-Chopan-Singrauli including Karaila Road-Shaktinagar single line section of East Central Railway covering 257 route kilometers passes through the states of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

●       Electrification of Garwa Road-Chopan-Singrauli with a view to ultimately connect    Eastern and Central parts of India seamlessly through Garwa Road – Chopan – Singrauli – Katni– Bina – Kota.

●       The electrification of the mentioned route of ECR is necessary from strategic perspective for increase in traffic, operational flexibility and better utilization of assets in electrified section.

●       Electrification of this route will also avoid traction change at Garwa Road.

4) Inauguration of Passenger Amenities at Bihta Station

●       Extension of PF Sheds (4 Nos.).

●       Benches (12 Nos.), Water Booth (1 No.).

●       Improvement of Circulating Area (South Side).

●       Extension of PF Nos. 1 & 2 for accommodation of 24 coaches.

5)            Inauguration of Passenger amenities at Chhapra Station

●         Foundation stone for second entry gate- Estimated cost for Second Entry Gate is Rs. 24.62 Crores.

●       Wi Fi Facility at Chhapra Station- The facility for the visitors & rail users of Chhapra Railway Station is being provided by RailTel in partnership with Google with no cost to Railway for providing high speed state of the art world class internet experience to the commuters. The Railwire wi-fi service is currently available at 127 stations.

●       The facility will offer high-speed broadband like experience to users Wi-Fi facility is being provided at A1 & A category Railway station.

●       Provision of escalators and modification of platforms at Chhapra station.

●       Chhapra station is an ‘A-1’ category station on Gorakhpur cantt. and Chhapra Katcheri section of Varanasi Division, NER.

●       The estimated cost of provision of escalators at Chhapra station is     Rs. 7277052/-  each escalator (total Rs.7277052X2= Rs. 14554104/-).

6) Inauguration of New Goods Shed at Chhapra Gramin Station

●       Chhapra Gramin is a crossing station having 6 running lines. 2 lines are electrified and rest are in progress.

●       New goods shed opened from Feb. 16.

●       Mainly I/W traffic of cement, fertilizer and food grain. Average 23 rakes per month.

●       Good sheds has one full rake replacement capacity, pucca platform, adequate light arrangement and round the clock working.

Amid the gloom of floods & destruction, Railways brings good cheer for Bihar

Indian Railways upgrades amenities for passengers in Bihar. Prabhu also announced the foundation stone laying for Gaya Byepass, electrification of Bakhtiarpur-Rajgir rail line section, and new amenities for Bihta station, which is 28 kms west of Patna and Chapra station, apart from free Wi-Fi Internet.

NEW DELHI: The Railways has brought some good cheer for Bihar, amid the gloom of floods and destruction, with Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announcing a slew of amenities for passengers in the state. Among the most passenger-friendly moves, Prabhu announced the availability of Wi-Fi facility for passengers waiting at railway platforms for browsing the Internet at high speed. The service is being provided by RailTel in partnership with Google.

“Floods in Bihar have caused distress, I have directed concerned officers to extend all possible assistance to the people. We wanted to do this programme to ensure that people get the benefit of these amenities as soon as possible,” said Prabhu.

“In Chapra, we are also providing Wi-Fi. First we had a target of providing Wi-Fi at 140 stations, now we are targeting 200 stations to provide Wi-Fi this year and in two years time, we will provide it in 400 stations,” said Prabhu, going on to list the amenities provided at other railway stations across the state.

Prabhu also announced the foundation stone laying for Gaya Byepass, electrification of Bakhtiarpur-Rajgir section, and new amenities for Bihta station, which is 28 kms west of Patna and Chapra station. The Bihta Station is an important station connected with the state capital where dozens of long distance trains halt.

The amenities here include extension of platforms for accommodation of 24 coaches, extension of four platform sheds, provision of 12 benches for the passengers and a water booth. Chapra, not only gets the Wi-Fi connection, but also two escalators at a cost of Rs 145.54 lakh, 36 CCTV cameras, four water vending machine, each costing Rs 4.5 lakhs and a second entry gate is also being constructed at a cost of Rs 24.62 crore to meet the demand of passengers.

The minister also announced a green corridor in the Bhagalpur-Banka section of Malda Division wherein all the coaches will have bio-toilets by 2019-2020. Prabhu highlighted the importance of the electrification of Bakhtiyarpur-Rajgir section which was the missing link between two electrified corridors of Mughalsarai-Patna-Bakhtiyarpur-Sitarampur-Howrah (Delhi-Howrah main line) and Mughalsarai-Gaya-Dhanbad-Sitarampur-Howrah.

The proposed route via Tilaiya is a shorter route for transportation of coal to National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). Apart from coal, this line also carries fertilisers, food grains, cement and salt. “In the next few years, amenities for passengers will only get better. After becoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi had said that we will make the Railways such that people get the best amenities and they feel that everything has improved for the better,” said Prabhu.

The minister also announced the electrification of Meralgram-Renukut section which is a part of the Garwa road-Chopan-Singrauli line covering 257 kms passing through the states of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

25 people allegedly drugged, robbed on-board Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani

Railway officials said the cases have been registered under section 380 (theft) of Indian Penal Code

NEW DELHI: Twenty-five passengers of the Mumbai-Delhi August Kranti Rajdhani Express were robbed of valuables worth Rs 10-15 lakh in the early hours today, apparently near Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh.

According to preliminary information received by the Railways Ministry, seven coaches of the train (A1, A3, B6, B7, B9, B10 and B5), all AC-2 tier and AC-3 tier, were targeted by thieves between 2 am and 3 am.

A senior official of the ministry told PTI that a three- member Railway Police Force escort team of the train would be interrogated in the matter.

The incident came to light when the train was arriving at Rajasthan’s Kota junction and the passengers woke up to find their purses and small hand bags emptied and dumped near the toilets and vestibules, as per the FIRs lodged by some passengers with the Government Railway Police (GRP) at Nizamuddin Station.

While the RPF told the passengers to register their FIRs at the junction, most of them decided to do so in Nizamuddin. As of now, 11 FIRS have been filed in the case.

Many passengers complained of missing cash. Some said their I-phones, other electronic devices were missing and complained of Aadhar card and other essential documents.

Some in their FIRs, alleged that they were drugged as the passengers slept soundly through the robbery. Many people even expressed apprehensions about the involvement of rail staff in the incident.

“Earlier, instances of dacoity have been reported and they are coming down now…We are taking all steps necessary. CCTV cameras are being installed in coaches to keep a check on such incidents. It’s unfortunate that this has happened,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

Sources in the ministry said that it was being probed if any railway staff was involved in the incident and if it was found to be true, strict action will be taken against them.

“The ministry is coordinating with the respective GRP in the matter,” said Anil K Saxena, spokesperson, Indian Railways.

The number of robberies from January-June 2016 was 360, while in the same period this year, the number reduced to 345. The number of cases of dacoity during January-June 2016 were 24, as compared to 17 during the same period this year.

The Mumbai-Nizamuddin Rajdhani is one of the premium and most sought-after trains on the route.

In April, robbers struck the Delhi-Patna Rajdhani Express at a place in Bihar and stole cash and jewellery worth lakhs from sleeping passengers. The robbery raised questions about security in the country’s main train service.

Railway officials said the cases have been registered under section 380 (theft) of Indian Penal Code

IRCTC launches international tours for Lanka, Russia

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd. (A Govt. of India Enterprise) under Ministry of Railways is one of the biggest e-commerce website across Asia.

The company with its innovative offers under various arms including Catering, E-Ticketing is also offerings various International Tour Packages through its tourism arm. These packages are based on Leisure and Pilgrimage theme.

Ramayana Yatra Sri Lanka: Buoyed by the steadily increasing popularity of these international offerings of IRCTC in the last financial year, a unique Ramayana themed tour having six fixed departure originating Delhi, IGI Airport has been introduced with 25 seats in each of the fixed departures covering significant destinations, including the Ashok Vatika, Sita Mata Temple, Bhakta Hanuman Temple, Anjaniar Temple, Vibhishana Temple, Munavari and Sri Munneswaram Devasthanam.

This five night-six day tour package will be operated twice in the month of September on 7 and 20, once each in the month of October and on November 7 and 18 respectively.

In addition two departures have specially been planned on December 2 and 16 to tap the potential tourist season.

This tour shall also be covering other popular locations in Sri Lanka such as the Pennawalla Elephant Orphanage, Ramboda waterwall, Nuwara Eliya hill station, Gregory Lake, Kandy Tooth Temple and Colombo city tour.

The per person price on double occupancy has been capped at Rs.50,500/- including flight tickets, meals, sightseeing, pick-up/drop, accommodation in three-star hotels, VISA, insurance and all government applicable taxes, IRCTC tour manager and tour guide.

Charming Russia: The Miniratna Company will also be offering international tour to Russia covering St.Petersburg and Moscow for the duration of five nights and six days, having three nights stay at the Heritage City?St.Petersburg and the remaining two nights stay at the Capital city ? Moscow departing ex-Delhi on September 13, 2017.

The tour will be a good opportunity for the prospective tourists to enjoy Cruise ride on the Neva River, Sightseeing of Winter palace, Peter and Paul Fortress, Petroff Palace. To connect to Moscow after the sightseeing of Saint Petersburg, tourists will be offered an opportunity to travel on SAPSAN ? Bullet Train.

The world famous Moscow Circus, sightseeing of Lenin?s Tomb, St. Basil?s Cathedral will also be amongst the highlights of the said tour amounting to Rs.98450/- per person, which is said to be the cheapest in the market with the given inclusions.

Along with the above international tour offerings one fixed departure of Thailand covering Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya with stay of two nights at each destination. Tour of Dubai & Abudhabi for 4 nights have also been introduced Ex Delhi.

For online bookings and details interested tourists can visit www.irctctourism.com or any of the IRCTC Offices across India.

China’s Rail Freight grows faster as Economy holds steady

BEIJING: China’s rail freight volume recorded faster growth in July, the national railway operator said Wednesday.

Railways carried 246 million tonnes of cargo last month, up 17 percent year on year, up from a 15.5-percent growth in June, according to figures from the China Railway Corporation (CRC).

Freight by high-speed railway was up 70 percent year on year in July, the CRC said.

In the first seven months of the year, rail freight volume reached 1.7 billion tonnes, up 15.1 percent from a year earlier.

Rail freight, electricity consumption and lending are important indicators of economic activity.

In July, industrial output, fixed-asset investment and consumption all posted slower expansion than in June, but both electricity use and new lending saw stronger growth.

Power use rose 9.9 percent year on year to 607.2 billion kilowatt-hours last month, up from a 6.5-percent increase in June.

Outstanding new yuan-denominated loans stood at 825.5 billion yuan (123.6 billion U.S. dollars) in July, up 361.9 billion yuan from the same period a year ago, beating market expectations.

China posted GDP growth of 6.9 percent in Q2, flat with the previous quarter and above the government’s annual growth target of around 6.5 percent.

Last month, Chinese passengers made 290 million trips by rail, up 9.9 percent year on year, compared with a 4-percent increase in June, as railway transport entered high season, according to the CRC.

The summer peak period for rail transport runs from July 1 to Aug. 31, when students on vacation have time to travel or return home.

Trips on high-speed rail increased 15.7 percent year on year to 160 million last month, with high seat occupancy rates for the new-generation Fuxing trains that debuted on the Beijing-Shanghai line in late June.

In the first seven months, around 1.8 billion passenger trips were made by rail, 9.9 percent more than the same period of last year, the CRC said.

Suresh Prabhu to launch host of Rail Projects on South Western Railway in Karnataka

HUBLI: Railway infrastructure in north Karnataka will take a boost with Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu launching several initiatives, including commencement of new line work between Gadag and Wadi (257 km) and doubling of Gadag-Kudgi-Hotgi line (284 km).

The initiatives, falling under Hubballi-headquartered South Western Railway (SWR), is not only expected to enhance rail connectivity in north Karnataka, but also likely to boost the economy of the region. Gadag-Wadi new line, which has been pending for several years, is also expected to reduce rail-road distance between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The launch will be through videoconferencing from Goa on August 18.

Gadag-Wadi line

The 257 km-long Gadag-Wadi line passing through Koppal, Raichur, Yadgir and Kalaburagi districts and covering Yelburga, Kushtagi, Mudgal, Lingasugur, Shorapur and Shahpur is a prestigious project for the Railways.

The SWR said the line will help boost economy in the region and also play a key role in transportation of raw material and finished goods, besides serving travel needs of the public. Sanctioned in 2013-14, it is being undertaken at a cost of ₹2,841 crore under 50:50 cost sharing basis with Government of Karnataka. The government is also providing 3,472 acres of land required free of cost while 550 acres has already been handed over. The SWR has awarded contract for earthwork and minor bridges for 57 km between Talkal-Kushtagi at a cost of ₹85 crore. Acquisition of 640 acres of land between Shahapur-Wadi for 47 km line is in the advance stages.

Gadag-Hotgi doubling

Sanctioned in 2014-15, the 285 km Gadag-Kudgi-Hotgi line doubling will enhance the line capacity improving average speed. The National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd., which is executing the 4,000 MW thermal power plant at Kudgi, is funding part of the (134 km) project under “Customer Funding Model” by investing ₹946 crore. The Railways will reimburse the investment through freight rebate once the project gets completed in 2019-20. The entire project is targeted for completion by 2020-21.

Other initiatives include dedication of new platform shelters at Gadag Railway Station; inauguration of new building for Chikkodi Road Station in Belagavi district; inauguration of newly constructed platforms 2/3 at Koppal Railway Station; and inauguration of platform shelters at Raibag Railway Station.

Nagpur Division ‘no’ to display names, mobile number of TTEs

NAGPUR: The Nagpur Central Railway has refused to disclose mobile numbers of train ticket examiners (TTEs) and conductors on reservation charts stating that there is no such provision by the Railway Board.

The issue of disclosing cell numbers of TTE and train conductors was recently raised by passengers welfare body Bharatiya Yatri Kendra (BYK) with assistant commercial manager (ACM) HK Behra.

BYK general secretary Basant Kumar Shukla had last month complained about train no. 18029 LTT-Shalimar Express departing from Bhusawal without TTEs for sleeper class.

“Passengers realized about the absence of TTEs only near Dhamangaon when Nagpur was 128km away. When railways realized the goof-up, a TTE from another train was deputed on Shalimar Express,” alleged Shukla.

Shukla added that many trains go unchecked as requisite numbers of TTEs are not posted aboard trains. “Passengers are a harried lot in absence of TTEs. The same thing happened with Shalimar Express,” he said.

Rejecting the demand, ACM Behra told BYK citing a circular issued by the Railway Board on December 17, 2014, that it was not practically feasible to display numbers of TTEs and conductors.

The 2014 circular was issued after Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had suggested that name and mobile numbers of TTEs be displayed on every compartment of the trains so that public can contact them in case of need.

Though the Railway Board rejected the CVC demand to display names and numbers of ticket checking staff through PRS, it agreed that desired trains like Rajdhanis, Durontos, and Shatabdis, where provisions of announcement is there, the name of the TTEs should be announced during the run.

Shukla says the rule is not being followed in case of premium trains like Durontos and Rajdhanis. The railways is trying to protect the ticket checking staff despite Railway Board issuing latest circular on revision of duties for TTEs.

The circular issued on June 8, 2017, on revision of duties of TTEs has increased their duty manifold, right from catering to safety of passengers. Shukla said one of the duties of the TTEs is to give frequent visits to the coaches he has to man.

“Whenever train stops at scheduled stations, a TTE has to stand outside the coach and guide the passengers. But when requisite numbers of TTEs are not posted aboard the trains, how can one expect better service?” said Shukla.

Manamadurai-Tiruchi track section to be a fully Green Corridor: says Sr.DME/Madurai

MADURAI: Very soon, Tiruchi-Manamadurai track section will be declared a green corridor, free of human waste dropping on the tracks from conventional toilets of trains. Southern Railway is all set to replace conventional toilets with bio-toilets in all coaches of trains passing through this section (excluding Tiruchi railway junction).

Already, Madurai Division of Southern Railway chugged on with the honour of creating the first-ever green corridor of the country’s railway network between Manamadurai and Rameswaram in 2016.

Along with the 114-km-long track of first green corridor, the new section will make Tiruchi-Manamadurai-Rameswaram line the longest green corridor of Indian Railways, running to a distance of 265 km.

“At present, all the trains, except Pallavan Express, that pass through this section have been provided with bio-toilets. The retrofitment of bio-toilets in this train is under way at Madurai Railway Depot,” said Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer Jay Prakash.

All the four toilets of each of the 24 coaches would be fitted with the undergear tank for bio-toilets along with strengthening of undergear and modification of pipelines. “It takes at least two days for the retrofitment work in each of the coaches. We are expected to complete the work in two months,” he added.

With introduction of bio-toilets that decompose human waste with bacteria, all the toilets in the trains and platforms in railway stations would not be reeking of foul smell. “The work of cleaning platforms of night soil will be done away with, giving a better and hygienic atmosphere,” he added.

The night soil that splashes on the tracks and undergear of trains also slowly corrodes them. “Now corrosion will be prevented and the tracks and under-gear of trains will require less maintenance and will have longer life,” he added.

Madurai Division is also planning to make Manamadurai-Madurai and Manamadurai-Virudhunagar sections green corridors in phases.

Indian Railways observe “Rail Swachhta Pakhwada” from 16th August to 31st August 2017

NEW DELHI: Ministry of Railways is observing ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’ across its entire network from August 16TH to 31ST August 2017. This period was allotted to Ministry of Railways by the Nodal Ministry for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ namely ‘Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation’.

Detailed guidelines for the ‘Pakhwada’ have been formulated and circulated to each unit of Indian Railways and the entire network is gearing up to observe the ‘Pakhwada’ in the most effective manner. Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has instructed the Railway Administration to make this Pakhwada a grand success and to give special focus on cleanliness at Railway Stations and in Trains throughout the ‘Pakhwada’. 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’. NGOs and other Organisations involved in similar activities may also be associated during this period.

The ‘Pakhwada’ has been named as “Rail Swachhta Pakhwada”. Each date of the ‘Pakhwada’ has been associated with a particular theme pertaining to cleanliness. The detailed theme-wise schedule is given below.

  • 16/08/2017: Swachh Awareness: The day should be started by administering Swachhta pledge to Railway staff and safai karamacharis. On this day Parbhat Pheris should be taken out in the morning with the slogan “Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat” with a view to raise awareness of all railway employees and their families to ensure cleanliness in the vicinity of their habitat.  Nukkad Nataks can be organized with the help of NGOs, Religious bodies and School children for creating awareness about cleanliness. Workshops and training programmes should be conducted for EnHM officers and staff.  The officers and staff of other departments involved in passenger services should also be part of the training programmes. They should also be briefed on objectives and content of Swachhta Pakhwada.
  • 17/08/2017: Swachh Samwad (Cleanliness dialogue/Public):  All DRMs should organize seminars on Sanitation and upkeep of railway stations by involving NGOs, Charitable institutions, Scouts & Guides, Unions and all employees to undertake cleanliness drive on their nearest railway stations.  Passengers and other Stakeholders should also be involved. Painting & Poster competitions on the theme of cleanliness should be organized in schools.
  • 18/08/2017: Swachh Samwad (Cleanliness dialogue/In-house):  Seminars and Workshops should be organized on Sanitation and upkeep of Railway Colonies and other Institutions on Railway premises.  Cleanliness awareness campaign to be organized by displaying Anti-littering notices in all the institutions on the Railway premises like Railway Colonies, Rest Houses and Dormitories, Running Rooms, Hospitals and Health Units, Colleges and Schools. For this use of CCTVs, awareness posters and slogans, Nukkar shows etc. may be undertaken. Awareness should be made through Public Announcements System and through posters encouraging more and more use of paperless travel in all classes of travel. Feedback may be taken from travelling public regarding cleanliness awareness including messages on 139.
  • 19/08/2017: Swachh Stations (Clean Stations):   Intensive Cleanliness drive at all A1 and A category stations should be undertaken. Availability and working of cleaning machines, tools & plants, protective gears for cleaning staff must be ensured. Adequate provision of dustbins at stations is to be ensured.  At A1 & A category stations, separate dustbins shall be provided for segregated collection of waste in terms of extant Board’s instructions. A campaign for ‘fill the dustbin’, ‘donate the dustbin’ may be taken up to generate the awareness among the rail users.
  • 20/08/2017: Swachh Stations (Clean Stations): This day should be dedicated to intensive cleaning of all stations other than A1 and A category.  Segregation of waste should be encouraged by setting up of separate dustbins. Plastic bottle crushers should be installed with CSR funding so that plastic thrown does not choke drains or water outlets. All efforts should be made to ensure at least one platform at important stations to be “zero waste”, i.e. litter-free.  During the “Swachhta Pakhwada”, it should be ensured that equipment using Solar Power should be functional, wherever installed. Efforts should be made to discourage use of plastic and during the period at least one station in the Zonal Railway should be plastic free.  The activities should be monitored through CCTVs and details of activities should be logged and sent to the Railway Board at the end of the “Swachhta Pakhwada” as part of the comprehensive report.
  • 21/08/2017: Swachh Railgaadi (Clean Train): Intensive inspection/cleaning of listed trains should be undertaken by teams of officers and staff to ensure cleanliness onboard.
  • 22/08/2017: Swachh Railgaadi (Clean Train): Intensive inspection/cleaning of all other trains not covered in drive dated 21/08/17 should be undertaken on this day. All trains have to be inspected in the washing lines, in railway yards and also at stations.  Train inspections to include checks on toilets and quality of linen. Suggestions/feedback should also be obtained from passengers and immediate action initiated.
  • 23/08/2017: Swachh Parisar (Clean Work Place)Intensive drive should be undertaken to clean up and improve offices including Hospitals, Schools, Coaching Depots and Lobbys.  Required amenities in the circulating areas of station complexes be ensured and unauthorized encroachments removed.  Cleaning of all drains to be undertaken.
  • 24/08/2017: Swachh Parisar: (Clean Residential Premises) Residential Premises including Railway Colony,  Retiring/Waiting Rooms, Rest Houses and Dormitories, Running Rooms etc., should be taken up for intensive cleaning on this day.  Plasters wherever falling should be repaired along with other repairs on walls/roofs/floors and electric fittings should be carried out. Intensive drive should be undertaken to clean up garbage. Areas which are normally ignored should be covered. Participation under CSR be called for setting up of waste to energy plants in railway colonies. Railway hospitals/Health Units should be cleaned intensively on this day. Efforts for segregation of waste be given a push. Children should be encouraged to keep the premises clean. Beautification of premises by pruning of trees, plantation and landscaping can be undertaken.
  • 25/08/2017: Swachh AharOn this day intensive cleaning of all canteens should be taken up.
  • 26/08/2017: Swachh Ahar: In continuation to station vending units, on this day intensive cleaning of all pantry cars in trains should be taken up. All Catering Units should be directed to clean their premises and ensure that clean and hygienic food is served.  Samples of food can be taken for checking and feedback of passengers obtained on the quality of food served.
  • 27/08/2017: Swachh Neer (Clean Water): Intensive inspection of all water installations including filter plants, sources of water supply, water taps for drinking water at stations as well as trains shall be undertaken.
  • 28/08/2017: Swachh Neer (Clean Water): Intensive inspection of all water installations in offices, Railway Colonies/Hospitals/Health Units/Schools should be taken up on this day.
  • It must be ensured that quality potable water is available and there is no shortage of water supply at any of passenger service locations like waiting rooms, retiring rooms, platforms, trains, etc. Inspection of water vending machines, water coolers should be undertaken for cleaning and sample checks should be conducted on quality of water. Efforts for setting up rain harvesting plants and recycling plants should be strengthened. It should be ensured that there is no problem of water stagnation anywhere in Railway premises.
  • 29/08/2017: Swachh Prasadhan: The day should be dedicated to intensive cleaning of all toilet blocks at railway stations, coaching depots, trains and surrounding areas. Water availability, leaking pipes, drainage systems should be paid attention to and broken items replaced wherever required.  People should be encouraged to desist from open defecation in areas approaching railway stations or on tracks.
  • 30/08/2017: Swachh Competition: A sense of healthy competition for cleaning should be inculcated and commendation be given to those units which are found perennially/regularly cleaned. Supervisors/staff working on cleaning activities should be suitably recognized.
  • 31/08/2017: Review/Briefing: On this day, the work carried out during the Pakhwada should be reviewed and a detailed report with photos and videos should be uploaded on the website of each Railway.  Due coverage of the drive should be ensured in social/print/electronic media.

As part of the Clean Energy drive, equipments fitted with Solar Energy will be made fully functional during this period. Proposals for solar energy fitments will be expedited.

Special emphasis will be given to A1 and A category Stations for cleanliness in passenger and non-passenger areas including the approach to the stations.

Suitable Senior Officers will be nominated to monitor the campaign at different levels. It is also proposed to do monitoring of cleanliness through CCTV wherever installed.

Some 200 Trains have also been identified for special attention regarding cleanliness during this fortnight. The list of trains is given below.

Premium Trains:

1.All Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duranto Trains.

2.All Jan Shatabdi and Samapark Kranti Trains.

3.All New Products like Gatiman, Tejas, Hamsafar and Antyodaya.

  1. Other Trains:
1 11077/78 Pune Jammutawi
2 12151/52 Mumbai(LTT) Howrah
3 12137/38 Mumbai (CSTM) Firozpur
4 11065/66 Mumbai(LTT) Darbhanga
5 18401/02 Puri Okha
6 12803/04 Visakhapatnam H.Nizamuddin
7 12859/60 Mumbai(CSTM) Howrah
8 12801/02 Puri New Delhi
9 13201/02 Rajendra Nagar Mumbai(LTT)
10 12321/22 Howrah Mumbai
11 13005/06 Howrah Amritsar
12 12311/12 Howrah Kalka
13 12511/12 Gorakhpur Trivendram
14 12591/92 Gorakhpur Bangalore
15 12589/90 Gorakhpur Secunderabad
16 15017/18 Gorakhpur Mumbai(LTT)
17 12515/16 Guwahati Tihiruvananthapuram
18 15667/68 Kamakhya Gandhidham
19 12509/10 Guwahati Bangalore
20 12505/06 Guwahati New Delhi
21 14055/56 Delhi Dibrugarh Town
22 12477/78 Jamnagar Katra
23 12475/76 Hapa Katra
24 12471/72 Bandra (T) Katra
25 12715/16 Nanded Amritsar
26 12791/92 Secunderabad Patna
27 12723/24 Hyderabad New Delhi
28 17229/30 Hyderabad Thiruvananthapurant
29 12703/04 Howrah Secunderabad
30 18237/38 Bilaspur Amritsar
31 12833/34 Ahmedabad Howrah
32 12863/64 Howrah Yesvantpur
33 18029/30 Shalimar Mumbai(LTT)
34 12809/10 Mumbai(CSTM) Howrah
35 12839/40 Howrah Chennai
36 18645/46 Howrah Hyderabad
37 12625/26 Thiruvananthapuram New Dellhi
38 12621/22 Channai New Delhi
39 12615/16 Channai New Delhi
40 12655/56 Chennai Ahmedabad
41 12295/96 Bangalore Patna
42 16533/34 Bangalore Jodhpur
43 16501/02 Ahmedabad Yesvantpur
44 11463/64 Jabalpur Somnath
45 12903/04 Mumbai(BCT) Amritsar
46 19037/38 Mumbai(BDTS) Gorakhpur
47 12925/26 Mumbai(BDTS) Amritsar
48 12947/48 Ahmedabad Patna
49 15203/04 Barauni Lucknow
50 12553/54 Barauni New Delhi
51 12391/92 Rajgir New Delhi
52 15047/48 Gorakhpur Kolkata
53 12487/88 Delhi (ANVT) Jogbani
54 12237/38 Varanasi Jammutawi
55 14611/12 Amritsar Gorakhpur
56 14257/58 New Delhi Varanasi
57 22417/18 New Delhi Varanasi
58 19707/08 Mumbai(BDTS) Jaipur
59 17479/80 Tirupati Puri
60 12701/02 Hyderabad Mumbai (CSTM)
61 18233/34 Bilaspur Indore
62 16859/60 Chennai Eg Mangalore
63 16779/80 Rameshwaram Tirupati
64 16593/94 Nanded Bangalore
65 19805/06 Kota Udhampur
66 12191/92 New Delhi Jabalpur
67 19031/32 Ahmedabad Haridwar
68 12955/56 Mumbai(BCT) Jaipur
69 12915/16 Delhi Ahmedabad

A mid-Pakhwada review will be conducted on completion of one week of ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’.

At the end of the ‘Pakhwada’, comprehensive reports submitted by Zonal Railways/PUs/CTIs, will be compiled for taking stock of the works done during ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’.

Railways to block doubtful IP Addresses from foreign locations to curb eTouts

As touts keep pace with tech, Railways seeks smarter ways to curb them. On-boarding a CCISO (Certified Chief Information Security Officer) is vital for critical IS Governance, security risk management, controls, and audit, leave alone the vulnerability program management and operations practice in a strategic manner.

NEW DELHI: As online train ticket booking increases, the Railways is facing a new challenge – eTouts.

eTouts use virtual tools to buy tickets before genuine passengers do. Touts book mass tickets – not for private use – but for business, shrinking the number of tickets genuine passengers have access to. Later they sell these tickets at a premium, making an illegal profit.

This has led the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to explore smarter ways to nab such tech savvy eTouts. The options explored include blocking shady IP addresses from foreign locales for a few minutes at peak traffic on its website and design software that can enable it to identify and block e-touting attempts real-time on a continuous basis.

Besides, the Railway Police has called for an update in the law to formally include e-touting in its policy lexicon.

“Every morning, as the ticket booking starts, the first 30 minutes are meant for private use only. This means both at railway counters where tickets are booked physically and through online windows, passengers can book a maximum of 10 tickets per month for private use,” said RP Pawar, RPF Zonal Training Centre, Central Railway.

Almost 60 per cent of reserved train tickets are sold online.

IP addresses

Railway agents share their IP addresses with IRCTC, which allows IRCTC to block ticket booking from those IP addresses. “But, agents often use private IP addresses, other than those shared with IRCTC for their clients,” Pawar told. “Our biggest worry in the reserved passenger bookings are people who are able to block others at the peak time. Some are able to create multiple identities, and have developed some software through which they are able to block others from accessing Passenger Reservation software. We are trying hard to get their footprints…But it’s a continuous process, as they keep changing the software. We need a solution from the cyber security experts,” said IRCTC’s CMD AK Manocha, who recently demitted office.

Manocha feels one option could be to block booking from foreign locations for five or 10 minutes during peak time when the booking per minute grows exponentially from 1,500-2,000 to 14,000-18,000.

Railways police officials have arrested eTouts in the past, but admit practical difficulties. They have sought updation in the Railway Act, which at present does not define eTouting separately.

“Earlier, as soon as the agents bought tickets during the time period when they were not supposed to, we could prove it as they had the booking slips. But now, we are not able to prove. So, we seize their computer, laptops, mobiles, whatever information is there. Subsequently we try to convince the court,” explained Pawar.

In his previous posting at Hubli, Pawar had seized computers, laptops, mobiles of eTouts to prove ‘unlawful possession’ in the Court. But unless, the Railway Act clearly spells out the course of action allowed to nab eTouts, Railway policemen feel they could be charged with misuse of law by courts.

During April-June 2017, 307 touts, 59,115 unauthorised vendors and 7 illegal ticketing agencies were prosecuted, according to Railways data shared in Parliament.

Pawar felt that a solution could be in linking Aadhaar, telephone number, bank accounts, all of which can be traced. Manocha echoed that the solution could lie in linking ticket booking to Aadhaar, or passport, or verifiable identities.

 

 

 

Change in Metrics a factor in Railways’ infra boost under NDA: Prime Minister

Project delays raises questions in people’s mind about the govt’s intent, says PM Modi. Since 2014-15, Railways has been measuring its achievements on the basis of how many kilometers of lines were “commissioned”, as opposed to how many kilometers were physically constructed during a particular financial year.

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his I-Day speech mentioned how the pace of construction of highways and laying of railway lines has “doubled” in the past three years when compared with the UPA era.

In the case of Railways, it is true as per records. However, the NDA government uses a different metric than its predecessor, shifting the proverbial goalpost. Since 2014-15, Railways has been measuring its achievements on the basis of how many kilometers of lines were “commissioned”, as opposed to how many kilometers were physically constructed during a particular financial year.

Commissioning of a railway line traditionally meant that after the physical construction of the track is complete, it needed to be able to run trains commercially for it to be “commissioned”. This meant that the Commissioner of Railway Safety would have given a safety certificate for passenger trains to run on the line. Running of freight trains does not require any safety certificate.

Moreover, if a project of 100-km of railway line typically takes about five years to build, it is only in the final year that the whole 100 km is commissioned and thrown open. For example, even though in the final year the actual construction of that line is just a small part of 100 kilometers, books would show that 100 km of line was commissioned that year, although the credit for actually constructing all the 100 kilometers is spread over the past five years– often falling in the time of the previous government.

Since 2014-15, railways only discloses how many kilometers were commissioned. And in that year, majority of the lines commissioned were not fit for passenger operations, but only for freight trains. It 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.

In comparison, between 2004 and 2009 the UPA regime had seen commissioning of 1,477 km per year and 1,528 km between 2009 and 2014. In 2016-17, the picture improved substantially, as a large number of commissioning of lines also included running of passenger trains, which meant a nod of the safety regulator. That year, it commissioned 2,857 km, marginally higher than the previous year.

In 2015-16, a large amount, at least a quarter of the money shows as spent on Capital expenditure for creation of infrastructure assets, was actually advance payments for works to be done in the subsequent year — but shown as money spent in the current year, as per accounting technicality. As far as highways is concerned, the emphasis is on the metric of how many kilometers worth of highway contracts has been awarded.

Between 2011 and 2014, 14,879 km of works were awarded. But between 2014 and 2017, that figure stood at a total of 34,018 km — more than double. The government however, talks less about how many kilometers worth of projects were completed and highlights kilometers built per day. During the NDA regime, the pace has been between 21-25 km per day, more than double of what it was during the UPA regime. The target is somewhere around 41 km per day, however officials concede that it has been kept steep to maintain the pressure of delivery. By March 2014, the country had 91,287 km of highways. That by April 2017 swelled to 1,14,158 kilometers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted infrastructure creation as the key growth engine, launching a veiled critique on previous governments for delays in projects that held up job creation in areas that have fallen behind on the development scale.

“Project delays affect the poorest most,” Modi said in his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of Red Fort on Tuesday. It is an irony that India can send a space vehicle to Mars in nine months, but can’t complete a 70-74 km railway project in 42 years, he said. “This raises questions in poor people’s mind about the government’s intent,” he said.

Nearly three out of 10 central infrastructure projects worth more than Rs 150 crore were running behind schedule, underlining the need for speedier procedural approvals, easier funds and quicker bureaucratic decision-making.

“Roads are now being built at double speed. Rail lines are being built at double speed,” Modi said.

Official data collated by Moneycontrol show that as on February 1, 2017, as many as 329 projects worth Rs 6.68 lakh crore (nearly three times India’s defence budget) of 1,201 government-monitored projects were facing delays ranging from a few months to as long as 21 years hit by fund shortages, environmental concerns, hurdles in government clearances and land acquisition problems among others.

As many as 122 projects were delayed in the roads and highways — highest number in any single sector — followed by 80 in the power sector, 68 in the railways, 47 in the petroleum sector, 45 in coal, 22 in urban development and 18 in steel, among others.

A key factor behind the difficulties facing the construction sector is the pendency of claims from government bodies. An estimated Rs 70,000 crore is tied up in arbitration. Over 85 percent of the claims raised against government bodies are still pending of which 11 percent is pending with the government agencies, 64 percent with the arbitrators and 8.5 percent with the courts. It takes an average of seven years to settle claims.

Road and other infrastructure projects can spur economic activity, boost construction and create jobs. The segment accounts for about eight percent of GDP and is the largest creator of direct and indirect employment, employing about 40 million people.

It has a strong multiplier effect, creating an estimated 2.7 new jobs indirectly for every Rs 1 lakh invested, with major forward linkages to sectors like real estate, infrastructure and manufacturing and backward linkages to steel and cement among others.

Government sources said that the construction sector has been affected by the large number of projects that got stalled during the period of stagnation between 2011 and 2014. The banking sector also has a large exposure to construction, estimated at over Rs 3 lakh crore. As much as 45 percent of the bank loans in the sector are under stress.

IR’s CAPEX jumps 36% to Rs.32000 Crore, retains status as Key Driver of public capital expenditure

The Q1 of FY-18 capex jump to Rs.32,000 crore comes on top of 19% annual growth in its capital investments in 2016-17 and 59% in 2015-16

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways has achieved a robust 36% year-on-year growth in capital expenditure to Rs.32,000 crore during April-July 2017, entrenching its status of the last couple of years as a key driver of public capex. The transporter’s Q1FY18 capex jump comes on top of a 19% annual growth in its capital investments in 2016-17 and 59% in 2015-16. The railways has planned a capital expenditure of Rs.1,31,000 crore for the financial year 2017-18, of which Rs.69,000 needs to be raised through budgetary resources and Rs.62,000 crore through extra budgetary means. While expenditure from the budgetary resources till July 2017 was Rs.17,000 crore, some Rs.15,000 crore was raised from extra budgetary resources.

The Centre’s overall budgetary capex for April-June increased 39% y-o-y to Rs.68,328 crore, of which nearly 50% was defence-related. Roads, agriculture, urban development, and housing, apart from railways, were the beneficiaries due to front-loading of expenditure.

During April-July, the railways spent Rs.3,154 crore through institutional financing and Rs.6,627 crore through partnerships, a focus area since the carrier is financially constrained. These are up around 230% and 118%, respectively, compared with the same period a year ago.

The capex include investments in building tracks which saw a total spending of around Rs.8,500 crore, including construction of new lines, gauge conversion, doubling and track renewals.

A Railway Convention Committee on track upgradation and modernisation in a report laid in the Lok Sabha recently observed that on average, 4,000-5,000 km of track requires renewal each year to keep the system in a healthy state. However, the committee expressed concerns that though the level of traffic has increased 14 times between 1950-51 and 2014-15, the track infrastructure has not kept pace. “According to the ministry, such a scenario has arisen due to chronic and insignificant under investment in the Indian Railways,” said the committee in the report.

The other major head under which the railways has invested substantially in April-July include rolling stock with Rs 5,590 crore pumped in. It has also disbursed Rs 3,065 crore towards the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) for bolstering safety.

The expenditure towards rolling stock has been necessitated due to requirement of new coaches for trains such as Tejas, Humsafar and Antyodaya, among others, which provide passengers with upgraded amenities. For example, given the success of Humsafar trains which comprise only of 3-tier air-conditioned coaches, it has increased its order for these trains to 1,000 coaches from 500 earlier for the current financial year. Also, the railways has switched to manufacturing the relatively safer LHB coaches which are expensive compared with ICF coaches.

The finance ministry earlier this year had proposed to create RRSK of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years which would be utilised for increasing safety on the Indian Railway network. Of the corpus, Rs.20,000 crore is to be allocated in the current fiscal with the finance ministry chipping in Rs 5,000 crore.

SIDBI–FISME to organise programmes on Make in India for Railways

FISME & SIDBI lay track to accelerate MSME procurement in Railways. RDSO will work with SIDBI and FISME to lay faster track for MSME suppliers!

NEW DELHI: Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), the nodal bank for micro, small and medium industries in India has joined hand with  FISME, the apex federation for MSMEs, to introduce MSMEs in railways supplies. Research, Development and Standards Organisation (RDSO) the premier R&D organisation of Indian Railways is working with SIDBI to facilitate supplies by MSMEs to Railways.

The first programme will be held in Lucknow on 22ndAugust, 2017 in association with RDSO, Railways. FISME, the lead federation of Indian MSMEs, will provide the back end support for the programme. The programme will be launched at the New Auditorium of RDSO at Manak Bagh, Lucknow by the senior officers of RDSO and SIDBI.

Railways, the second largest Government buyer after Ministry of Defence, procure about Rs. 80,000 crore of Goods and Services every year.

The concept for the fast track for MSME suppliers of Railways was laid by the Railways Minister, Suresh Prabhu at a meeting conducted recently.

RDSO has already taken a number of initiatives to encourage participation of MSMEs in Railways procurements. The most significant are reservation of 20% of all orders for new entrants and earmarking of development orders to MSMEs.

SIDBI on its end are offering financial package to MSMEs developing innovative solutions. Towards ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for MSMEs RDSO has already launched a single portal for all information and minimised the number of documents from 22 to 6.

Railways has also reduced the registration charges for micro and small enterprises from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 15,000 and extended the period of re-audits to 5 years.

FISME is at the fore front   for cutting a respectable share for MSMEs in the pie of the Government order of about Rs. 2 trillion rupees, annually. For this while on the one hand the FISME leadership is working with large buyers like Railways, it is also working at the policy level to ease the  procurements under compulsory ‘make in India’ accessible to MSMEs.

For the Railways, FISME will facilitate SIDBI in organising MSME suppliers’ meet with railways, at the all India level, to iron out the last mile bottlenecks.

Suggesting the measures at a meeting with Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on development of micro and small enterprises in Railways, FISME and SIDBI enlisted measures such as 100% development orders to new firms, 20% reservation of regular order to new vendors, reduction in registration fee from Rs.25000 to Rs.15000 by Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), and reduction in number of documents from 22 to 5 by RDSO.

Even a 20% share of it, as reserved by the Government for MSMEs will provide a Rs. 16,000 crore market for MSMEs!

The entire concept crystallised during a meeting taken by Suresh Prabhu, Railways Minister with the representatives of MSME bodies, recently.

At the meeting the Railways Minister directed  workable solutions for enhancing participation of MSMEs in Railways in a time bound manner.

Accordingly, SIDBI and Railways planned to organise Buy – Make in India campaign for MSMEs at all India level.

The focus of these programmes will be to make the MSMEs aware about the  special dispensations in Railways procurement for MSMEs and the items available on the table to supply.

Railways have already decided 100% development orders to new firms, which will benefit MSMEs to break the monopoly of multinationals in Railways supply.

Railways have also decided for 20% reservation of regular orders for new firms again to benefit MSMEs.

SIDBI at their end will be offering special financial package to MSME suppliers under their ‘SRIJAN’ scheme to develop innovative products for Railways.

Commenting on the development, Naveen Jain, entrepreneur from Muzaffarnagar and regular supplier to Railways mentioned that the initiative is an welcome step.

Railways should open the gate wider for MSMEs by simplifying the registration process and lower the upfront fees for registration and testing, Jain quipped.

According to Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, FISME, the multiplicity of Standards is a major barrier for MSMEs to conform and supply Railways.

Railways should review their standardisation process and minimise the number of essential standards, if they want to provide a level playing field, commented Bhardwaj.

The forthcoming programme at Lucknow may act as the curtain raiser for joining the Railways market.

Securing Suburban Railway Stations tougher than Airport: Audit

MUMBAI: Securing the airport or a Metro station isn’t half as tough as a suburban railway station, security agencies observed during a recent audit on Central and Western Railways. The biggest threat to security is the innumerable entry and exit points at stations.

A joint team of Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel is conducting an audit of 10 stations each on CR and WR, including CSMT, Churchgate, Dadar, Bandra, Kurla, Thane, Panvel, Vashi and Kalyan.

“We are trying to man as many entry and exit points as possible, but they are too many. Thane station, for instance, has 24 entry and exit points. Then, there are places like Lokmanya Tilak Terminus where the main hall has three entrances, but the platforms are open,” said an RPF official. The only solution, officers found, is to make two- or three-member teams that do random checks at each point, lasting two hours or so.

The GRP found, during the audit, that the most surveillance cameras have been mounted incorrectly; they are placed at such a height that passengers’ heads are seen and not their faces, at some locations.. The GRP is communicating with the railways to reduce their height. CCTV footages often provide good leads in crimes committed on railway premises.

Also at some stations, like Ghatkopar, the street runs parallel to the platform, leaving no space to create a buffer zone—it is crucial for holding people when security personnel are dealing with an emergency on the station. “Many station buildings are old and are security nightmares. With manpower constraints, we have resorted to flash checks, where a contingent of 100 perso-nnel, headed by an ACP-rank officer, descends on a rake and checks every compartment,” said an officer.

Functioning of baggage scanners, metal detectors and cameras will also be audited.

Chief Security Commissioner, Northern Railway awarded President’s Police Medal

NEW DELHI: On the occasion of Independence Day 2017, Sanjay Kishore, Chief Security Commissioner-cum-Inspector General of Police, Northern Railway was bestowed with the honour of President’s Police Medal for distinguished service.

An Indian Police Services Officer of 1987 batch, Kishore has been holding the position of Chief Security Commissioner-cum-Inspector General of Police, Northern Railway for the past two years handling the complexities of crime and intelligence on the entire northern railway zone.

Kishore has been conferred with this honour in view of his tactical crime control measures and initiatives as well as astute handling of intelligence matters for preventive crime besides his focus on adoption of technological tools for security on Railways.

It may also be relevant to mention that the distinguished services of Sanjay Kishore were also recognised through a notable record of honours viz. General Manager’s Award in the year 1994, Railway Minister’s Award in 2003, Indian Police Medal in 2008 and decorated with DG’s Insignia in the year 2017.

Kishore also received the Director General, Railway Board’s Letter of Commendation for his pivotal role in the investigation of the case of death of Junaid through his utmost diligence in gathering of evidence and collaboration with General Railway Police of State in the case.

Coimbatore Junction to get ISO Certifications by November

COIMBATORE: The Coimbatore Railway Junction on Salem Division in all likelihood would get ISO certifications for quality management, occupational health and safety, and environment management system in November.

According to Hari Shankar Verma, DRM/Salem Division, Habibganj station near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh was the only station in the Indian Railways to get the certifications in 2002. Mr. Verma told that he was instrumental in obtaining the certification for Habibganj station, when he was holding the position of Senior Divisional Operations Manager in West Central Railway Division.

Railway sources here said the process for obtaining ISO certifications – 9001 for Quality Management, 14001 for Occupational Health and Safety and 18001 for Environment Management System was set in motion two weeks ago by the Salem Division of the Southern Railway Zone.

For each and every ISO certificate, the railways will have to follow the parameters laid down by the certification authorities, which includes customer satisfaction, leadership quality improvement, systematic approach. A private consulting agency based in Bengaluru – Digital Age Strategies Private Limited – has been appointed for obtaining ISO certifications.

The officials of the company along with the senior officials of the Salem Division had conducted five meetings at Coimbatore Railway Junction.

The last meeting was held on August 11 and was presided over by the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager Vijuvin.

Railway Display Network in next 4 years on entire IR: MOSR

NEW DELHI: Display screens will come up at at various stations in a phased manner in the next four years under Railway Display Network (RDN) project to communicate with passengers and also provide infotainment, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said the railways proposes to install display screens at foot-over bridges, platforms, waiting rooms at stations under Railway Display Network (RDN) project in the next four years.

“Railway Display Network is envisaged to become a unique medium of communication with passengers which will not only provide necessary information and social messages to the passengers but will also become a medium of enriched infotainment,” he said.

The roll-out of the RDN system at various designated stations is expected to be done in a phased manner, Gohain said, adding 500 such screens have already been installed at 16 railway stations.

“Starting with deployment at A1 category stations followed by A, C and other category stations (B and D). The project is expected to be completed in four years,” he said. The screens will display information related to arrival, departure, running status of trains and other passenger related information round the clock.

It will keep passenger informed about amenities, comfort, convenience and safety features available at the station and also display emergency messages on SOS basis and messages related to disaster management.

The minister said the railways will display advertisement and social messages along with the other information. “Railway Display Network will generate revenue by displaying contextualised advertisements for pre-agreed duration and frequency. RDN is planned to be built and operated on a self-sustainable model with no capital investment by Indian railways,” Gohain said.

Parliamentary Panel expresses concern over slow pace of installation of CCTV Cameras at Railway Stations

NEW DELHI: A Parliamentary panel has expressed concern over the slow pace of the project of installation of CCTV cameras at all railways stations in the country.

Committee on Petitions in its latest report said the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) has submitted   that at present, 344 railway stations have been provided with CCTV cameras across Indian Railways   (including 94 CCTVs under the Integrated Security System).

The Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) stated that installation of CCTV cameras over 202 stations  has been further approved under Integrated Security System, out of which, 94 stations have already  been provided with CCTV surveillance system. Besides, it has been decided to install CCTV cameras  at 983 more stations with allocation of budget to the tune of Rs 500-crore from ‘Nirbhaya Fund’.

“Project of installation of CCTV cameras on all the railways stations across the country, which is  estimated to be between 8000 to 8500, is moving at a snail’s pace in view of the fact that till date, only  a meagre 438 railway stations have been provided with CCTV cameras over Indian Railways,” the  Panel said.

The Committee is of view that the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) should explore ways to   implement the provision of installation of CCTV cameras by utilising the allocation made from ‘Nirbhaya   Fund’ with a pre-determined target date.

”Any further delay in attainment of this objective should be enquired into at the highest level in the   Railway Board,” the Panel said.

Hubli Division plans to commission Bagalkot-Kajjidoni Rail Line soon

HUBLI: The Hubballi division of South Western Railway plans to commission the 30-km railway line between Bagalkot-Kajjidoni shortly as inspection by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) has been completed.

Delivering the Independence Day speech at the divisional office at Keshwapur here, Divisional Railway Manager Arun Jain said that the division had completed 29 kilometres of line doubling on the Shivthan-Londa-Tinaighat and Koppal-Bhanapur route during the current financial year.

“Also, 89 kilometres of new line has now been opened for passenger service from Rayadurg to Kadiridevarapalli and Ginigera to Chikkabenakal,” he said.

Mr. Jain said that the division had registered an increase of 8.10% in earnings from passenger fare by carrying 136 lakh passengers for a revenue of Rs. 121 crore in the first four months this year.

The division had also earned Rs. 952 crore by loading 12.19 million tonnes of freight during the same period, he said.

He said that 12 long-distance trains of the Hubballi division had been provided with On-Board House Keeping Service in which passenger complaints regarding cleanliness were addressed immediately by the staff.

Students of Railway High School, South Western Railway Women’s Welfare Organisation School, and volunteers of Bharat Scouts and Guides presented various dance programmes.

Cash awards were also presented to the employees for their outstanding performance on the occasion.

Additional Divisional Railway Manager R.C. Punetha, several senior officials and office-bearers of South Western Railway Women’s Welfare Organisation were present.

SWR preparing to launch Baiyappanahalli-Whitefield Suburban Rail services from Aug 18

In its recent meeting, the Whitefield Area Commerce and Industries Association (WACIA) had urged the Railways to start a suburban service to Baiyappanahalli to help commuters

BANGALORE: As civil works for a metro line between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield are set to choke traffic further, Railways is preparing to operate suburban service on the route from August 18.

The much-anticipated Baiyappanahalli-Whitefield line, Reach 1 of Namma Metro’s Phase 2 project, involves taking up works on road which sees heavy traffic. The road-widening work has already affected the traffic as several stretches of the road have turned into bottlenecks.

In its recent meeting, the Whitefield Area Commerce and Industries Association (WACIA) had urged the Railways to start a suburban service to Baiyappanahalli to help commuters.

Member of Parliament P C Mohan had also written to the Railway minister urging him to “start a suburban rail between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield at the earliest.”

Three trains
“From August 18, three MEMU trains will run on this route. The railway officials will publish the timetable soon,” Mohan said. Thousands of people employed in various industries in Hoodi, Whitefield, and the surrounding areas, can reach their workplaces at the earliest.

“Travelling between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield on train is a 15-minute affair. One has to spend at least an hour on the road to travel the same distance,” said T P Lokesh, convenor, Karnataka Railway Vedike.

Noting that traffic congestion has increased in KR Puram, Hoodi Junction and Hope Farm, due to Metro construction work, he said, commuting on the Whitefield Main Road has become a huge challenge over the last few weeks.

“Hoodi and KR Puram are two key stations between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield. The trains stop at Diesel Loco Shed and Railway Power Station. Though these are not designated stoppages, commuters can get down here to reach nearby workplaces,” railway activist K N Krishnaprasad said.

Suhas Narayanamurthy, Software Developer: The KR Puram-Whitefield stretch sees heavy traffic congestion every day. Crossing this stretch and reaching Whitefield is a big challenge. The suburban rail will be a huge hit as it will save commuters from traffic snarls.

Simplex Infrastructures emerge L1 Bidder in tender for Metro Rail stretch on Bannerghatta Road

BANGALORE: Simplex Infrastructures, a Kolkata-headquartered diversified firm, has emerged as the lowest bidder to build the 7.5-km Metro corridor and five stations between Gottigere and Swagath Road Cross on Bannerghatta Road.

Its quote of Rs 578.70 crore is said to be the lowest among the bids received, a BMRCL official privy to the subject said.

The stretch, called Reach-6 in Metro jargon, consists of six stations – Gottigere, Hulimavu, IIMB, JP Nagar 4th Phase, Jayadeva and Swagath Road Cross. The 7.50-km elevated stretch is part of the 21.42 km Gottigere-Nagawara line. The Hindustan Construction Company ( in joint venture with URC Construction) will be building the Jayadeva interchange station which is part of the RV RoadBommasandra line.

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) had floated bids for the construction of Gottigere Swagath Road Cross corridor in March this year. The IL & FS, sources said, quoted Rs 619.62 crore.

If awarded, the 7.5-km stretch is going to be the second major Metro contract that Simplex will be taking up in Bengaluru. Early this year, the firm won a contract to build the 3-km corridor and three stations between Hesaraghatta Cross (from Nagasandra station) and Bangalore International Exhibition Centre.

In an interview earlier this month, BMRCL MD Pradeep Singh Kharola said they would award the contract for the 7.5-km line by the end of this month.

On the remaining stretch from Swagath Road Cross to Nagawara (an underground section), BMRCL invited bids last month. The 13.79-km section consists of 12 stations. They are: Dairy Circle, Mico Industries, Langford town, Vellara Junction, MG Road, Shivajinagar, Cantonment railway station, Pottery Town, Tannery Road, Venkateshapura, Arabic College and Nagawara.

Once the entire stretch is operational, BMRCL expects a daily ridership of about four lakh on the Gottigere IIMB-Nagawara line.

Expect FY18 Revenue from Railways at Rs.1,200 Crore: BEML

BEML revenues have risen over 80 percent this quarter as did the cost of materials. The company has posted an EBITDA loss of Rs 77 crores and a net loss of Rs.85 crores.

BANGALORE: BEML revenues have risen over 80 percent this quarter as did the cost of materials. The company has posted an EBITDA loss of Rs 77 crores and a net loss of Rs 85 crores.

Q1 usually has loss due to seasonality but they have been reduced substantially, he said.

As far as metro rail and defence is concerned, we already have the healthy order book position, he added.

For FY18 revenues, we expect Rs 1,200 crore from railways, Rs 900 crore from defence and Rs 1,700-1,800 crore from mining and construction, said Hota.

Margins are good in defence, he further mentioned.

This year, I am expecting the mining companies to make up for the loss that they had last year in terms of ordering. So I am extremely bullish on mining, Hota said.

On Metro, he said that the company has a huge healthy order book position. We have got orders from Bengaluru Metro which we are going to execute, Kolkata Metro, execution is on and we are expecting some more orders from Delhi Metro.

Firms vie to give Pune Railway station a face-lift on Swiss Challenge Model

Pune station is among the 23 railway stations, which are scheduled to be revamped along the lines of a ‘Swiss Challenge’ model. The ‘Swiss Challenge’ model of bidding is different than the conventional process. It allows the entity, which submitted the unsolicited bid itself, to match or better the best bid that comes out of the Swiss process.

PUNE: Six national and foreign infrastructure firms are vying to get the contract for redevelopment of the Pune railway station under the ‘Swiss Challenge’ model, the decision on which will be declared in a few months, said officials. Several bidders have approached the officials in the Pune Division and the Railway Board for the contract. Earnst and Young, which is appointed as an advisory firm, is in touch with the prospective bidders.

Pune station is among the 23 railway stations, which are scheduled to be revamped along the lines of a ‘Swiss Challenge’ model. The second phase of a mega modernisation programme is slated to kick off later this month. Passengers may soon get to enjoy “airport-like facilities”, said an official.

The Railway Board has identified 15 key parametres, including separate arrival and departure terminals, easy connectivity with local modes of transportation, such as bus or Metro, and accessibility from both sides of the city. Facilities such as food courts, retail outlets and medical facilities will also be made available.

“The project is getting good response from the infrastructure firms. As many as six companies have approahed us, in Pune and Delhi. Most of the work is being handled from Delhi. We have a liasoning officer in Pune too,” said a senior official in Pune Division.

The ‘Swiss Challenge’ model of bidding is different than the conventional process. It allows the entity, which submitted the unsolicited bid itself, to match or better the best bid that comes out of the Swiss process.

“Under the project, real estate development of land and air space belonging to the railways will be done. The private partner can exploit the space for commercial purposes. Redevelopment is on ‘as is where is’, through open invitation from interested parties with their designs and ideas,” said officials.

Officials added that the estimated cost of redevelopment of Pune railway station is 200 crore. The other stations scheduled for remodelling include Thane, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Mumbai Central, Bandra and Borivali.

Railway Contractors on South Central Railway to go on strike over GST

SECUNDERABAD: Over 300 railway contractors on South Central Railway are expected to join the nationwide strike by railway contractors from August 20. The contractors are unhappy about the impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on ongoing railway projects. The teething issues have resulted in most railway works in the state coming to a standstill. Contractors warn that the strike could paralyse the Indian railways and even compromise passenger safety.

Contractors say that railways should bear burden of GST on ongoing projects. A South Central Railway official said, “The Railway Board will mostly absorb the extra burden placed by GST on contractors.”

“The tax has gone up from 5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) to 12 per cent GST. Most construction materials and the special equipment we need now attract 18 and or 28 per cent GST. This has increased the operational costs of our ongoing projects. It is simply not possible for us to cover that cost,” said Keshava Rathnam, a contractor with SCR.

The GST Council had pointed out that contractors can avail the benefit of Input Tax Credit (ITC). However, contractors say it is not possible as many of the raw materials are procured without bills, rendering it impossible for them to claim ITC. “If we trade with unregistered traders who do not generate bills, we will have to bear the reverse charge. We had not factored these additional cost burden while submitting tenders for railway projects,” said Rathnam.

For a contractor with the SCR, the cost of a project ranges anywhere between ` 50 lakh and ` 100 crore. “The Railway Board has not taken any decision as of now but asked contractors to discuss their grievances with it,” said an SCR official. “Whatever the extra burden on them due to GST will most likely be absorbed by the railways,” he added.

Likely impact of strike

“Today, almost all railway works are being outsourced to private contractors. All track maintenance and related issues, signalling, telecommunication, construction and safety are all outsourced. Can the railways take a chance by compromising on any of these aspects?” asked a railway contractor.

Odisha CS writes to Railways to expedite Jeypore–Malkangiri Rail line Project

Netas bicker over Jeypore-Malkangiri rail project. Delay over commencement of work on the 130km Jeypore-Malkangirirail line has triggered a war of words between political parties. 

BHUBANESWAR: Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi in a letter to the Railway Board Chairman expressed discontent over the Indian Railways’ demand that the State government provide 100 percent land acquisition cost for the Jeypore – Malkangiri Railway Line Project.

Delay over commencement of work on the 130km Jeypore-Malkangirirail line has triggered a war of words between political parties. The project is expected to benefit tribal-dominated areas but is yet to take off despite being announced in the 2016-17 Rail Budget.

As part of the MoU signed by Odisha and the railways, the state government would bear 25% cost of the project and an equal proportion of the cost of the land. The railways has now requested the state to bear full cost of the land for the project.

The development of railways is the duty of the Centre, but the State Government provided financial support to expedite the project work. It does not mean that Odisha will provide funds for all projects, Padhi mentioned in his letter.

The State Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with East Coast Railway (ECoR) in October last year in which the former had agreed to provide 25 percent project construction cost and 25 percent land acquisition cost. But now the Indian Railways is demanding that the State should provide 100 percent funds for land acquisition on grounds of loss in revenue due to decline in mining and transportation.

The State Government has termed it as an open defiance of the MoU.

Addressing the Chairman of Railway Board AK Mittal, Padhi wrote, “I would request you to instruct your officials to honour the MoU signed between both the Governments and expedite work for this project in the overall interest of the country.”

Talking to media persons, Padhi said, “They wrote to us in June saying that Odisha Government should bear complete land acquisition cost. Therefore we requested that as an MoU was signed in presence of Odisha CM and Railway Minister, they should stick to it.”

A broad gauge rail line of 130 kilometres from Jeypore to Malkangiri will be set up under the project. The main intention behind it was socio-economic development of the backward and Maoists affected zone.

An outlay of Rs 79 crore for the project had been made in the Railway Budget 2016-17. But it is pending since last one year due to the confrontation between the State and Indian Railways.

Soon, Battery-operated Cars at 3 stations in Mumbai for differently-abled, senior citizens

The demand for the battery-operated car services has been long-pending. With the introduction of the same and based on the response and feasibility of the cars for long-distance trains, the Railways plans to extend the services to suburban stations

MUMBAI: The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and Dadar railway stations will soon have battery-operated cars for the differently-abled, patients and senior citizens.

Based on the response and feasibility of the cars for long-distance trains, the Railways plans to extend the services at suburban stations.

According to a source, the Central Railway has floated a tender for the services and the authorities have planned to have them operational in the next six months.

A total of four cars will be available at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, three at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and one at Dadar station.

The demand for the battery-operated car services has been long-pending.

In 2016, the railway board had issued directives to all the zonal railways to provide battery-operated cars at major stations. Earlier, in partnership with an NGO, battery-operated cars were made available at the CSMT.

Passengers had then complained about the quality of the cars, lack of its availability, which eventually led to scrapping of the services.

“Battery-operated cars are a must at the CSMT because many passengers also come for treatment at hospitals in South Mumbai. The Railways should provide the services free The Railways is expected to provide commuter-friendly services, which are included in the ticket and the car service should be provided from . The Railways should also not compromise with the quality of the cars like last time and should check them thoroughly before launch” said Lata Argade, vice-president, Railway Pravasi Mahasangh.

“The commuters had pointed out that the battery-operated cars earlier were not in proper condition and most of the times were not available. This is why we decided to go ahead and float tenders regarding the battery-operated cars.” said a Central Railway official.

Indian Railways on the fast track to undertake 70 Capacity Augmentation projects

NEW DELHI: Suresh Prabhu, the minister of railways, is a man in a tearing hurry. For he has to make up for the lack of any significant addition over the last two decades to the infrastructure of this 65,000-km-long network. Successive railway ministers, given to populism, have announced hundreds of new trains at the annual Rail Budgets, unmindful of whether there was adequate track capacity to run them or not. Resultantly, over the last two decades, no less than 5,000 such new trains have been added, taking the total tally of passenger trains to nearly 9,000, whereas the addition to freight during this period has been less than 1,000 trains.

Moreover, most of the new passenger trains have been the superfast variety, on the lines of those started by the late Madhavrao Scindia, who introduced the concept of fast intercity trains such as the Shatabdi Express in the 1980s. Nitish Kumar as the railway minister introduced a slew of Sampark Kranti Express trains, Lalu Prasad Yadav had his brand of Garib Rath, while Mamata Banerjee did one better with the Duronto Express trains which ran non-stop from source to destination.

The overcrowded tracks, 60% of which now carry over 100% and some even 150% of their designed capacity, have resulted in the freight trains taking a severe hit, with the average speeds dropping to an abysmal 25kph, since the passenger trains are always accorded precedence over freight.

Simultaneously, the reluctance of ministers over the last two decades to announce any meaningful hike in passenger tariff to keep up with inflation has resulted in the passenger business being subsidised at the cost of freight, whose tariff was hiked regularly to keep the Indian Railways from going in the red.

The double whammy of low average speeds and the hike in tariff each year adversely impacted Indian Railways’ freight business. It has not been able to attract any significant volumes of new business and merrily carried on with annual increments in bulk commodities such as coal, iron ore, limestone, cement, food grains, petroleum products, etc.

The absence of assured timetable in the running of special parcel express trains, comparatively high tariff, and rigidity in rules and regulations have resulted in the lucrative parcel business eluding the railways and continuing to prefer road sector.

With financing of infrastructure projects being assured by insurance giant LIC, whom minister Prabhu persuaded to provide a Rs 1.5 lakh crore loan, the Indian Railways has now been on the fast track to undertake 70 capacity augmentation projects.

Mostly for converting single lines to double or double to triple wherever the volume of traffic has gone beyond 100% of designed capacity, projects sanctioned so far with a total length of 7,663.93-km and costing Rs 75,700.28 crore range from a short 1.82-km bypass line at Khurda Road in Odisha costing Rs 25.72 crore to doubling of the 467-km track of the Pune-Miraj-Londa section costing Rs 3,627 crore. Chhattisgarh government and South Eastern Coalfields have been roped in for a JV with Ircon to finance a 122-km-long new line from Gevra Road to Pendra Road costing Rs 4,949.28 crore for movement of coal.

The world over, for railways, freight is the breadwinner, with passenger services restricted mostly to fast intercity or commuter services. However, India has the unique distinction of having two-thirds of its trains carrying passengers which earn just one-third of its total revenue. Prabhu aims to correct this aberration by creating adequate infrastructure, offering fast, safe and cost-effective rail transport for freight, regaining Indian Railways’ role as the nation’s economic lifeline.

Two new corridors, dedicated to carry freight, have also been in the works for almost a decade. The Eastern Corridor, a 1,278-km-long Ludhiana-Son Nagar alignment parallel to the existing grand trunk route, would meet the growing demand for coal by thermal power plants in the North from collieries in the East.

The Western Corridor—1,504-km-long from Delhi (Dadri) to Mumbai (JNPT)—will help export-import trade and also cater to the proposed DMIC. Expected to be commissioned sometime by end-2020, it will offer assured timetable running of freight trains, typically completing the Dadri to JNPT run in 24 hours.

Railways’ Disaster Management Institute and Safety village to come up near Bengaluru

Railways to set up first disaster management village near Bengaluru. Overaged rolling stock to replicate train accidents to improve real time rescues. Centre to build capacities to Mount Real Time Rescue Operations and augment theoretical class room training.

BANGALORE: Trains falling into rivers and coaches catching fire will be common sights in the country’s first ‘Railways disaster management village’ expected to come up on the outskirts of Bengaluru by December next year.

A senior official of the railways ministry said “overaged rolling stock” will be used to replicate train accidents so that real time rescue operations could be carried out to improve such efforts.

“It will be just like the mock drills carried out by security personnel. It will be as real as it can get,” he said.

The railways has earmarked the 3.32-sq km village of Hejjala, with a resource of 3,483 people, to develop its Disaster Management Institute and Safety village at a cost of Rs 44.42 crore, according to the blueprint accessed by PTI.

“For augmenting theoretical class room training with practical hands on exercise, a real environment for training in various conditions and scenarios of train accidents, a concept of safety village was envisaged,” it said.

The focus is on imparting state of the art training on rescue, medical relief and rolling stock restoration techniques in a classroom and also using various simulated teaching aids. However, it is the practical reproduction of accidents on site and the ensuing rescue operations that are being touted as the big ticket venture.

“For the practical training as a part of the safety village tunnel, cutting, embankment, other conditions and obstructions like overhead structures and platforms are being created. For carrying out underwater rescue and relief operations, a water body is also being developed,” it said.

Overaged rolling stock such as coaches, wagons and locomotives would be stationed in the safety village along with various tools and equipment for imparting hands-on practical training, the concept note said.

The village, about 25 km from Bengaluru, will also have a virtual reality centre for analysis of railway accidents.

“The centre aims at providing training on dealing with various disasters under varied environment and terrain,” it said. The focus is on imparting state of the art training on rescue, medical relief and rolling stock restoration techniques in a classroom and also using various simulated teaching aids. However, it is the practical reproduction of accidents on site and the ensuing rescue operations that are being touted as the big ticket venture.

Construction work has begun and will be completed by December next year, it said.

Railways’ Wi-Fi Video Entertainment Plan for Passengers gathers Steam

NEW DELHI: You could soon have video entertainment on trains to see you through long journeys. Video content providers such as Viacom18, Zee, Hungama and Shemaroo are keen to bid for the rights to provide video content on 3,000 trains through wireless intranet.

The Indian Railways, under its non-fare revenue cell, has drawn up the plan to provide video content, including movies in all major Indian languages on all its passenger trains.

Under the plan, passengers will be able to watch the content on their phones by logging on to the railways’ local wi-fi network onboard.

According to the railways, the companies have evinced interest during the pre-bid conferences and will participate in bidding next month as well.

The number of trains will be divided into two equal packages and the bidding will happen in a phase-wise manner. The deal is likely to fetch the railways nearly Rs 500 crore annually in non-fare revenue.

“Almost 24 such companies have come forward. We will be charging an annual license fee from the successful bidder,” a top railway official said.

The contract will be awarded for a period of five years. The official said since uninterrupted internet facility cannot be provided on trains due to technological challenges and high cost, the plan to disseminate content through local wi-fi in all coaches will work well.

“Earlier, we were expecting over Rs 1,000 crore annually from this segment. But after consultation with stakeholders, it was felt that the market was still not ripe. However, we will easily be able to get Rs 500 crore without even spending a penny as the successful bidder will provide the technology and the equipment,” the official added.

A distribution box will be installed in the coaches, which will be updated regularly. Passengers will be able to consume content on their own devices.

The content-on-demand project falls under the railways’ plan to boost non-fare revenue by selling advertising spaces inside and outside trains and railway stations, and branding rights for stations and trains, besides leasing out spaces for ATMs and shops.

The railways sees Rs 18,000-crore revenue potential for these initiatives annually. In the recently released volume two of the Economic Survey 2016-17, it has been suggested that the railways should focus on such initiatives to boost revenue.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has set the target to earn 10% of total rail revenue from such sources so that reliance on freight and passenger fares can be reduced.

Currently, the railways earn only 3% of its total revenue from non-fare sources as against the 15-20% average for railways in developed counties.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu launches Antyodaya, Humsafar Express via Video

Railways minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday inaugurated Antyodaya Express and Humsafar Express at Bandra Terminus here via video conferencing.

MUMBAI: Railways minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday inaugurated Antyodaya Express and Humsafar Express at Bandra Terminus here via video conferencing.

While Antyodaya Express is a fully unreserved service, Humsafar Express is touted as an affordable luxury train by the Railways.

“These express trains and host of other services for Mumbai suburban stations were launched by the railways minister through video conferencing,” a Western Railway release said.

While Antyodaya Express will run between Bandra (T) and Gorakhpur stations, Humsafar Express between Bandra (T) and Patna.

“Antyodaya Express will leave Bandra terminus every Sunday at 5:10am and will reach Gorakhpur at 5:35pm the next day. It will leave Gorakhpur every Tuesday at 3:15am and reach Bandra (T) at 4.15pm the next day,” it said.

Humsafar Express is fully air-conditioned train fitted with a GPS-based passenger information display system.

“It also has a passenger announcement system, a fire and smoke detection and suppression system, CCTVs, comfortable seats, mobile and laptop charging points. It also has integrated Braille display,” the release said.

This is the second Humsafar service to become operational on the Western Railway.

“The first such train was launched recently between Ahmedabad and Chennai,” it said.

The train will depart from Bandra (T) every Sunday at 12.55pm and will reach Patna at 10.15pm the next day.

“Similarly, the train will leave Patna at 11.10pm every Tuesday and will reach Bandra (T) at 7.35pm on Thursday,” as per the release.

The regular services of both the trains from Bandra will commence from August 20.

Prabhu also inaugurated a lift facility at suburban Borivali station to facilitate the movement of specially-abled and senior citizens. He also inaugurated the wi-fi facility at suburban Vasai Road and Virar stations.

Railways Launches 5 New Trains. Here Are All the Details You Need to Know

The trains will benefit thousands of commuters from UP, Odisha, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways announced the launch of five new trains on different routes last weekend, that will benefit thousands of commuters from UP, Odisha, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir.

These new trains were flagged off by Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, and Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha.

With the launch of these five trains, the Railways has also extended one route and increased the frequency of two trains from last weekend.

Here’s all you need to know about the newly launched trains:

1. Bi-weekly 22165/22166 Bhopal – Singrauli Express operational from August 12

indian railways-5-new-trains

2. Weekly 22167/22168 Singrauli – H. Nizamuddin Express from August 12

indian railways-5-new-trains

3. Weekly 22913/22914 Bandra Terminus – Patna Humsafar Express from August 13

indian railways-5-new-trains

4. Weekly train 22921/22922 Bandra Terminus – Gorakhpur Antyodaya Express from August 13

indian railways-5-new-trains

5. Bi-weekly train 22434/22433 Anand Vihar Terminus to Ghazipur via Kanpur, Allahabad from August 13

indian railways-5-new-trains

Non-uniformity in Railway Pension post digitalisation a cause of concern: says Pensioners’ Association

NAGPUR: Railway pensioners from city attended a programme organized by National Railway Pensioners Association (NRPA), Central Railway, at Association’s office in Ajni on Saturday.

SC Maheshwari, secretary general, Bharat Pensioners Samaj, New Delhi, was the keynote speaker and chief guest of the programme.

The programme started with the pensioners welcoming Maheshwari.

Maheshwari, in his speech, spoke about the modifications in the 7th CPC (Central Pay Commission) recommendation. He said, “The first formulation recommendation by 7th CPC was found not feasible on account of non-availability of large number of records. However, after a survey, it was found that 80% of the records were available while 18 to 20% were not.”

The question that comes to my mind is why 80% of people are not taken into consideration and why they are being ignored, Maheshwari said.

Further, he called non-uniformity in pension payment order (PPO) as the biggest enemy of digitalization. He said, “In railways, digitalization is not uniform. Different number of digits in PPO numbers in different railway regions leads to variety of problems. Majority of pensioners are unable to register on ARPAN, as this pension portal supports only a 15-digit PPO.”

Explaining the power of internet, Maheswari said, “Due to our age, we are unable to come together physically. However, we today have a great platform of social media. We all should use it for our benefit and discuss our issues on it and put forth our opinions. If we use this medium properly and come to a common consensus, we can make our voices heard.”

While encouraging the people to fight for their rights, he said, “We pensioners are not a burden and we are not asking for anything more than what is ours. We constitute a great part of our population and we should believe in our power and not beg for our rights. We should rather fight for our rights.”

Topics like new rules regarding PPOs and grievances on family pension were also briefly discussed on the occasion.

OP Verma, working president of NRPA; M K Kapse, secretary of NRPA and M B Ghodeswar, retired chief medical officer from Bhusawal, who was also the guest of honour, also graced the event.

SWR ask NGEF to give 40 Acres for MEMU Train Hub

BENGALURU: If the Bangalore Railway Division has its way, both stabling and maintenance facilities for the Multiple Diesel Electric Units (MEMU) trains of the suburban network would come up at Banaswadi itself.

The Bangalore Railway Division has come out with this proposal and requested NGEF to spare 40 acres of its land at Banaswadi for the same.

The Railway Board has already cleared the setting up of a stabling facility at Banaswadi at a cost of `29.45 crore to house 15 passenger trains that will be converted to MEMU trains. Two of them would be ready by December this year.

MEMU refers to Mainline Electric Multiple Units. These trains have 12 coaches and hence can carry more number of passengers than the regular passenger trains which have 8 coaches and run on diesel. It is also more eco-friendly.

The original report by consultancy firm, RITES, had proposed maintenance of suburban trains at Tumkur, Mandya and Bangarpet, says divisional railway manager, Bangalore Division, R S Saxena.

“However, having both maintenance and stabling facilities close to each other will help improve efficiency as small maintenance issues can be attended to immediately. It will also help us optimise our staff resources,” he said.

“I have verbally requested NGEF for the land and will be writing to them shortly,” the DRM said. The efficient suburban network in Mumbai houses its maintenance and stabling facilities together, he added.
For the proposed stabling facility, Railways has its own land at Banaswadi, he added.

Phase 1(A) of suburban project

  • Bengaluru-Mandya
  • Bengaluru-Tumakuru
  • Bengaluru -Bangarpet

Bengaluru to Kempe Gowda International airport (feasibility of connectivity from Yeshwantpur station is now on)
The present plan is to carry it out on a 80:20 cost sharing basis with the State funding the lion’s share.

Helped by the Rivalry between its two powerful neighbours, Nepal revives its Railway Network

Nepal is building a new railway network to boost its ailing economy—helped by the rivalry between its powerful neighbours, China and India. The Railway line to India was a lifeline for the southern frontier town of Janakpur, used to import everything from sweets to clothes and cosmetics and fueling a vibrant border economy.
Some years ago Nepal’s last working narrow gauge railway was dieselised with locomotives supplied by India. However, for economical reasons they kept one steam locomotive serviceable. In 2005 steam operation to this railway was re-introduced for four days. As the daily trains are nearly always overcrowded, special charter passenger trains would appear as only ghost trains.

KHATMANDU/JANAKPUR: Three years after its last train hit the buffers, landlocked Nepal is building a new railway network to boost its ailing economy—helped by the rivalry between its powerful neighbours, China and India.

The railway line to India was a lifeline for the small southern frontier town of Janakpur, used to import everything from sweets to clothes and cosmetics and fuelling a vibrant border economy. The Janakpur Railway was a 762 mm gauge line which connects Jaynagar in India with the pilgrim centre in Janakpur. The big temple here is an interesting site and an important place of pilgrimage. As there is no parallel road the railway is still the only way to get there from Jaynagar. The line is flat and runs almost dead straight towards the north-west to Janakpur. As the lowlands to the foot of the Himalayan mountains see floods every monsoon season, there are many bridges along the line.

But it fell into disrepair after years of neglect and since 2014 the train has sat stationary, its rusting carcass now a playground for local children, while Janakpur’s markets are empty.

Rafid Kabadi, 49, had been driving trains on Nepal’s Janakpur line for 25 years before it was shut down in 2014.

“When the train was running, we would have a lot of business. I was easily providing (for) my family,” said Shyam Sah, whose small family-run cosmetics shop has suffered an 80% drop in profits since the railway closed. Now it is being rebuilt with Indian backing, one of three new rail lines—one funded by China in the north and a third by Nepal itself— that the country hopes will help boost international trade.

Nepal remains largely isolated from the global economy, dependent on aid and remittances. Growth slowed dramatically after a 2015 earthquake but is expected to normalise at 5% from 2018—one of the slowest rates in South Asia—according to the World Bank.

Locals were the first one on scene when the train broke down. Now the workshop and the machines have been deserted.

The historic Janakpur railway running between Nepal and India was once a major border crossing for citizens on both sides. The British built the 20-mile track in 1937 to carry timber from the once heavily forested areas of Janakpur to the Indian city of Jainagar, but as supply dwindled, the train’s main cargo became people.

Tourists and pilgrims boarded the train in India to get to the historic temples of Janakpur, considered the birthplace of the Hindu god Sita. And costing just a few rupees, Nepalese villagers needed it to find work in India and beyond, or to smuggle goods back to their hometowns to sell. Until it shut down in 2014, men, women, and even children would fill the carriages daily, and when room ran out, they’d sit on the roof or hang from the sides.

These days the villagers in Janakpur who can afford it have to travel by bus—which can cost three times more—to cross the border while their station sits abandoned. A recent photo series from Reuters exposes the shrubs that have grown around a rusting train engine, the dilapidated carriages whose only visitors are children chasing each other, and the deserted workshops once used for repairing the train (which frequently broke down or derailed during its final years).

The line closed so that Nepal Railway Corporation, with financial help from Indian Railways, could upgrade the track from its colonial days. It’s a $100 million endeavor, and for the locals, it can seem like the railway line might never reopen as construction faces numerous setbacks and the deadlines go unmet. Not to mention that there are accusations of contractors misusing materials meant for the line on other projects.

Yet according to Reuters, the company claims to have completed 80 percent of the much-needed improvement, which includes laying new tracks, extending the line 43 miles to the north, and building 14 new stations along the route. Even if all goes according to plan, the line won’t open for business until at least March.

In recent years it has courted its two large neighbours for investment in an attempt to plug itself into a rail network that links the far eastern reaches of Asia with Europe. But geography is not on its side. The Himalayas form a natural border between Nepal and China, leaving it largely dependent on India—with which it shares a 1,400 kilometre open border—for the majority of its imports and exports.

In recent years Kathmandu has tilted towards Beijing as part of a nationalist drive to decrease the country’s reliance on New Delhi. China has responded, ramping up its diplomatic ties with Nepal—mostly through large-scale infrastructure investments.

In 2017, Beijing pledged $8.3 billion to build roads and hydropower plants in Nepal, dwarfing India’s commitments of $317 million. Feasibility studies are also underway for a Beijing- backed railway connecting Kathmandu to Lhasa in Tibet, cutting straight through the Himalayas at an estimated cost of $8 billion.

Ankit Panda, senior editor at The Diplomat magazine, said that could be a game-changer for the small country. “The rail line with China holds potential depending on the demand side of the equation, on how China allows Nepal to leverage that link for commercial growth opportunities,” he said.

But it has strained relations between India and China, who are currently locked in a tense standoff on a remote Himalayan plateau in Bhutan sparked by a new road being built by China. “China knows that its chequebook diplomacy with the smaller Asian states is a sore point with India, which simply cannot afford to put up the kind of capital outlays that the Chinese promise,” said Panda.

The project is part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a massive global infrastructure programme to connect Chinese companies to new markets around the world that critics see as a geopolitical powerplay. Regional rival India has snubbed the plan and skipped a summit in Beijing in May.

New Delhi is funding the reconstruction of the Janakpur line, rebuilding the tracks to carry broad-gauge trains that will allow it to connect to the rest of the subcontinent’s expansive rail network. Meanwhile Nepal is building a 945-kilometre line that will cut across the southern plains from east to west. Nearly a third of the track has been built, but construction has stalled for lack of funds and it is not clear when it work will be finished.

Some experts warn that Nepal has become a de-facto battleground in a geopolitical struggle for regional supremacy between India and China—a position that Kathmandu must navigate carefully. “None of them (smaller Asian nations) want to become a de facto satellite state,” said Michael Auslin, Asia expert and fellow with the Hoover Institution.

“But by having both India and China essentially compete over it, from one perspective it makes it a battleground, from another perspective it means that Nepal is playing the two off against each other,” he added.

Meanwhile, the people of Janakpur are eagerly awaiting the rail revival that will connect them to India once again. “When the train stopped, everything finished. Business has gone down for all of the city,” said bookshop owner Rajendra Kusuwah. “After the new rail comes, it will open doors for development.”

Work for Sitamarhi-Janakpur Railway line on high steam

The Indian government has started paperwork for laying down railway track between Sitamarhi district of Bihar and Janakpurdham of Nepal.

According to a news report published in Indian newspaper Bhaskar News, the 45-kilometer track is being laid down to strengthen bilateral relation between the two countries. The project has been included in budget of the India’s Ministry of Railways for 2016/17.

The track will be 60 meters wide, according to the news report.
It is believed that the railway line between Sitamarhi and Janakpurdham will enhance relation between the two countries.

Indian government has taken needful steps to do away with problems that might occur while implementing the project. The railway line is expected to boost trade and business in both the cities.

The number of Indian tourists coming to Janakpur has come down as the Bhittamod-Jaleshwar-Janakpur, the only road between Sitamarhi and Janakpur, is in a bad condition. Earlier, thousands of Indian tourists used to visit Janakpur during festivals like Ram Nawami and Bibaha Panchami, among others. Once the railway links the two cities, the number of tourists to Janakpur is expected to increase significantly, bringing more income opportunities for locals and businesses.

Nepal and India share friendly relation since ancient times. The marriage between Indian prince Rama and Nepali princess Sita has made Janakpur a special place for Indians. Easy mode of transport is expected to facilitate movement of visitors between the two cities.

Locals of Mahottari have welcomed the Indian government decision to build railway line between Sitamarhi and Janakpurdham. Bajrang Nepali, a local leader of Nepali Congress, expressed his happiness at the initiative taken by the Indian government. “Janakpur could be the capital of Province No. 2. So, massive investment in infrastructure sector is needed,” he added.

He also said that the government should now take up the issue with India. “Though Indian has begun paperwork for the railway line, no route has been finalized yet. The two governments should sit together and finalize the route,” Nepali added.

Western Railway gains as Metro work disrupts traffic

Around one lakh more commuters are using the railway over the past few months.

MUMBAI: Western Railway (WR) has seen an increase in the number of passengers per month. Officials suspect that people have temporarily shifted to the railways from road due to the traffic snarls caused by the Metro work. Around one lakh more commuters are using the railway over the past few months.

The numbers began rising since last September and the past four months has seen a spurt in growth. WR sees 35 lakh commuters travel on its railways per day and the spurt means that at least 4,000 permanent travellers have been added to the commuting crowd per day. Each coach of a 12-coach train accommodates 4, 000 commuters during peak hours.

As a result of the growth, WR has seen an increase in ticket purchasing from other modes like the Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Seva (JTBS), where commuters have to pay an extra rupee, the Unserved Ticketing System (UTS) and mobile ticket ticketing, that was otherwise not receiving the kind of response when it was launched more than a year ago.

Officials said that they could not understand these numbers at first, but then asked stationmasters about what has changed around their stations and found the answer. According to an official, “When there is an increase in the number of tickets, there is a set pattern in the increase, but this seemed to be an oddity. When we asked our ticketing staff and the station masters, they said that a lot of work with regards to the Metro is being undertaken in the western suburbs, hence we feel that people prefer to take the train instead of getting stuck in their cars or an Uber/Ola, or even carpooling cars.”

The month of July, for example, has seen an increase in ticket sales by almost 85,000 on its suburban section, with stations like Santa Cruz, Andheri and Dahisar recording sharp rises, said officials.

WR senior divisional commercial manager, Aarti Singh Parihar said, “We have brought in more facilitators and have to talked with the JTBS contractors and ticketing staff about the sudden spurt in sales and will make sure that the waiting time at the counters is not increased for commuters.”

Suresh Prabhu to inaugurate FIAT Rail Bogie Plant capable of manufacturing 600 LHB Bogie Frames per annum at Yadgir

Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir on South Central Railway (a Pre-engineered building)

SECUNDERABAD: The FIAT Rail Bogie Karkhana, set up at Badiyal and Kadechur Villages in Yadgir District of Karnataka is to be inaugurated by the Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu on 18th August, 2017. This will be the first Railway Production Unit to come up on South Central Railway.

The foundation stone for the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir was laid in February, 2014 and the work was awarded to M/s. Tata Projects Ltd., with the executing agency being the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). The Karkhana was completed at a cost of Rs. 80.92 Crore and has come up on 150 acres of land given free by Government of Karnataka to Indian Railways. The Karkhana is located 40 Kms from Raichur Railway Station on the way to Saidapur Railway Station and approximately 10 Kms from Saidapur Railway Station.

The background for setting up of Rail Bogie Karkhana, Yadgir

Indian Railways has taken a giant step in modernizing its fleet by replacing the conventional coaches, in a phased manner, with Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches. In addition to ensuring safe travel, these coaches are designed for higher passenger capacity with operating speed up to 160 km/hr.

At present the production capacity of the LHB Coaches is 2800 LHB Coaches per year at the different Railway Coach manufacturing facilities i.e. Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, Integral Coach Factory, Perambur and Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli.

One LHB coach requires two FIAT Bogies. The bogie manufacturing capacity however, in the above manufacturing units is only for 1600 coach sets per year.

In order to fill the demand gap, two new Bogie production units were sanctioned at Budge-Budge (Bengal) and Yadgir (Karnataka, South Central Railway) to manufacture FIAT bogie frames.  Thus the Karkhana will serve the purpose of enhancing the fleet strength of Indian Railways.

Inside View of Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir

Salient Features of Rail Bogie Karkhana:-

Ø     This factory will comprise of manpower strength of around 470 personnel including Railway Employees, Outsourced Employees and local people on Indirect Employment.

Ø     The Karkhana is set up with Pre-Engineered Building (PEB) technology. The PEB sheds offer several advantages including superior architectural features and excellent aesthetics. They are fully fabricated in the factory premises after designing and shipped to site in CKD (completely knocked down) condition; and are assembled and erected at site with nut-bolts, thereby reducing the time of completion.

Ø     Further, most advanced methods of production processes have been established at Rail bogie Karkhana by installing sophisticated machinery and equipment to meet the requirements of high dimensional accuracy and reliability.

Ø     The Karkhana exemplifies a green and environment friendly approach with the use of initiatives such as –

  • Ensuring zero effluent discharge.
  • Solar electricity by setting solar panels on roof tops of the workshop shed and buildings up to 232 KVA.
  • Water harvesting mechanism and Water pond to collect run-off water
  • Plantation of 25000 trees in the open area of the project.

Ø     The Civic Infrastructure includes Service Buildings, Boundary Walls, Roads, Staff Quarters, Water Supply, Drainage, Sewerage, Earth Work, Horticulture and Two Wheeler Parking Shed etc., besides the main production unit which is made of PEB Shed.

Ø     Power Supply arrangements comprises of 11 KV Power Supply drawn from State Electricity authority with Electrical Sub-station and standby power production. A 232 kWp Grid connected Solar Plant is also set up.

Production Process

Ø     The side bogie frames are set on jigs & fixtures and initial welding is done manually. The bogie frames are then transferred to Robotic Welding line for full welding. The welded frames are then subjected to Shot blasting and painting. The painted bogie frames are fed to 5-Axis CNC machine centre for machining. The finished bogie frames are transported to Production Units at ICF/PER, RCF/Kapurthala as per demand.

Important Production Machinery

Ø     5-Axis CNC Machining Centre with ATC (Automatic tool changes) (Cost- Rs.25 cr approx)

  • 5 Axis CNC machine is used for machining of Bogie frames. The machine is capable of undertaking different rough and finish machining operations such as , Pre-milling, Milling, Chamfering, Drilling, Boring, Counter boring, Reaming, Threading, Tapping, Spot face milling etc using Automatic tooling selection transfer /exchange.  ATC has 48 tools with tool change time of 30 secs.
  • Capacity – One bogie per shift.

Ø     Robotic Welding Machine (Cost- Rs. 6 Cr approx)

  • The Six Axis Robotic Machine with articulated long arm type construction is used for welding of bogie. It can cover entire length of the side frame. It has tactile gas nozzle sensor, for seam tracking and uses tandem wire technology (twin wire).
  • Capacity – Two Bogie frames per shift.

Ø     Bogie Frame shot blasting Machine (Cost:  Rs.2.4 Crs Approx.)

  • The fabricated bogie frames are shot blasted with spinner hanger type shot blasting system for proper surface finish before painting. The plant has a blasting chamber, abrasive and dust collection system, bucket elevator and abrasive separator. The flow of shots to the blasting turbine wheels is controlled by the shot controller and the plant conforms to applicable PCB norms.
  • Capacity: 3 Bogie frames per shift.

Ø     Bogie Frame Painting Booth (Cost: Rs.3 Crs Approx.)

  • After shot blasting, the bogie frames are painted with high performance anti corrosive EPOXY 1st coat of primer and top coat of DFT 60 micron. The paint booth has overall length 6 mtrs, width 3.6 mtrs and height 6.1 metres for air less painting of bogie frame. The painted bogie frames are finally fed to 5 – Axis CNC machine for final machining. The plant conforms to applicable PCB norms.
  • Capacity: 2 Bogie frames per shift.
Solar Panels set up at Rail Bogie Karkhana in Yadgir towards Green Energy norms

Pre-engineered building

Constructed with pre-engineered building technology, the Karkhana’s sheds were fully fabricated on the factory premises and were shipped to the site in completely knocked down condition before assuming and erecting them.

It has most advanced methods of production with sophisticated machinery. The Karkhana has adopted several green measures including zero effluent discharge, water harvesting, and solar power.

The side bogie frames are set on jigs and fixtures and initial welding is done manually. The bogie frames are then transferred to Robotic Welding line for full welding. The welded frames are then subjected to shot blasting and painting before feeding to 5-Axis CNC machine centre for machining. The finished bogie frames are transported to production units at Integral Coach Factories, Perambur or Kapurtala as per demand.

Let Railways run on Commercial lines, not as a Charity

The idea suggested by the parliament panel of going back to the old ways of subsidizing ‘socially desirable projects’ is one from the previous era.

NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel report on the Indian Railways wants to take the railways back to the stone-age. The panel has asked the government not to consider the national transporter as a commercial undertaking and to find ways to fund ‘socially desirable projects’.

As per the railways, a socially desirable project is one which has a rate of return of less than 12 percent.

Of the 432 projects that were considered 292 of them have a rate of return of less than 12 percent and astonishingly 222 of them have a negative rate of return. Thankfully, the committee said that these projects should be funded through gross budgetary support (GBS) and not through outside credit whereby the Railways have to pay the market rate because the return from these lines would not be substantial enough to reimburse the cost of borrowing. In other words, tax payers should foot the bill.

There seems to be little logic in what the panel has recommended. Railways are already starving for funds and with an operating ratio of nearly 96 percent, it is barely able to keep its head above water. According to the Railways, the total net social service obligation on coaching and freight services was at Rs 34,000 crore in FY16. Adding more unviable projects will hamper future prospects of railways.

There is a case for connecting remote border areas with railways, but all other projects which can have an alternative should be considered.

Railways are already going through its biggest ever expansion plan with a clear cut roadmap of Rs 8.5 lakh crore being planned over the next five years. Most part of the funding required for the huge expenditure is from non-government sources.

Railway electrification, which stands at 42 percent, is expected to be doubled over the next five years. About 16,500 km of railway lines are projected to be doubled or tripled. This compares with 22,000 km that was laid over the last 70 years. Private freight stations are expected to be created along with the dedicated freight corridor.

Which the fund requirement for decongestion is huge, railways is clogged with semi-finished projects that have been announced so that politicians can o please their vote banks.

The railway network is already clogged at various points with 16 percent of the network carrying 60 percent of the traffic. Some regions of the network are operating at 150-160 percent of their capacity. This results in accidents and deaths. Rather than spending money on safety the proposal to invest in ‘socially desirable projects’ is a cruel joke.

Surprisingly, there is no mention of hiking rail fare to meet the requirement of full-filling these projects. Railways, which was known to lose market share on long distance route to the airline, is losing on short and medium distances to buses and alternate transports. What it means is that people prefer to use other transport services irrespective of the price. Politicians should thus stop their drama of crying for even small increases because people are now willing to pay provided timely services are available.

For the first time in the recent past the railways is being run like a professional organization. Track line at 8 km per day from earlier levels of 3 km per day is an indication that railway employees are willingly contributing to the growth. World Bank has appreciated, in writing, the way in which railways are functioning. Under such circumstances, the idea suggested by the parliament panel of going back to the old ways of subsidizing ‘socially desirable projects’ is one from the previous era.

Railway Board approves Doubling of Jaunpur-Akbarpur (Tanda) New Maynaguri-Gumanihat and Etawah Flyover

NEW DELHI: Ministry of Railways approved the project of Doubling of Jaunpur-Akbarpur (Tanda) – Northern Railway, doubling of New Maynaguri-Gumanihat (51.65km) in Northeast Frontier Railway and project of  Etawah Flyover 10.978 km in North Central Railway.

Salient Features of Projects Approved:

1.      Project Doubling of Jaunpur- Akbarpur (Tanda).- Northern Railway

Decision                     

:

Sanction of project of doubling of Jaunpur- Akbarpur (Tanda) 77.25 km long section in Northern Railways

Background

:

The Jaunpur-Akbarpur section falls in Lucknow Division of Northern Railways. At present detention of trains in Jaunpur-Akbarpur is high (140 minutes) as 31 trains are running on single line section.  Present capacity utilization is 133%. Also 14 more freight trains are expected each day with augmentation of National Thermal Power Corporation plant at Tanda by January, 2019.Doubling is absolutely necessary and it would not only speed up operation of goods and passenger trains but will also provide additional capacity for meeting the increased traffic in future.

Strategy and targets

:

(i)         Anticipated cost of  Rs 676.36 crore with completion cost of  Rs 766.33 crore of the project is proposed to be funded through Gross Budgetary Support

(ii)     This project is scheduled for completion by 2021-22

Expenditure Involved

:

Rs 676.36 Cr

States/Districts covered

:

Jaunpur, Ambedkar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh

2. Project of doubling of New Maynaguri-Gumanihat (51.65km) in Northeast Frontier Railway

Decision                     

:

Sanction of Project of  doubling of New Maynaguri-Gumanihat (51.65km) in Northeast Frontier Railway

 

Background

:

The project section is a part of Malda-Guwahati Main line route. For the route connecting to North East region this is the only 51 km patch left for doubling and it is necessary for overall development of the region and to reap the benefits of other doubling projects and gauge conversion projects completed in the section. The line capacity utilization of the section between Raninagar Jalpaiguri to Samuktala Road is 145.70% with maintenance block during 2016-17. At present, 38 trains are running against the sectional capacity of 22 trains. Doubling is therefore absolutely necessary to speed up operation of goods and passenger trains and for overall development of the region.

Strategy and targets

:

(i)    Anticipated cost of Rs 602.27 crore with completion cost of  Rs 648.19 crore of the project is proposed to be funded through Gross Budgetary Support

(ii)  This project is scheduled for completion by 2020-21

 

Expenditure Involved

:

Rs  602.27 Cr

States/Districts covered

:

Jalpaiguri and New Coochbehar in West Bengal

3.  Project of  Etawah Flyover 10.978 km in North Central Railway

Decision                     

:

Sanction of Etawah Flyover 10.978 km in North Central Railway

Background

:

This flyover will help in avoiding surface crossing on busy Delhi Howrah route and will help in reducing detentions and removing bottlenecks. Trains coming from Gwalior/Agra to Etawah will move via flyover over UP & DN lines. Trains from Gwalior/Agra and going to Mainpuri will move via flyover and branch off to Mainpuri. Trains coming from Etawah and going to Mainpuri will move via flyover, over the UP & DN main lines. This flyover at Etawah will help in improving punctuality of passenger trains and smooth running of the routes i.e. Howrah- Kanpur-New Delhi, Etawah –Bhind & Agra and Etawah- Mainpuri.

Strategy and targets

:

(i)    Anticipated cost of  Rs 830.73 crore with completion cost of  Rs 894.47 crore of the project is proposed to be funded through Gross Budgetary Support

(ii)  This project is scheduled for completion by 2020-21

Expenditure Involved

:

Rs 830.73 Cr

States/Districts covered

:

Etawah, Uttar Pradesh

 

High Speed Rail has the potential to transform Rail Travel and Bolster the Economy: Raghu Dayal, former CMD/CONCOR

The very mention of high speed rail or bullet train often elicits images of exorbitantly expensive infrastructure projects. High speed rail or HSR, which basically means trains running on dedicated lines at 250 km/h or higher has almost everywhere been initially dubbed as elitist. And India is no exception.

Just as it was asked in the case of the pioneer Shinkansen in Japan and later TGV in France, a general query is posed here too: isn’t HSR a case of muddled priorities in India? Why do we need such a capital-guzzling project when many other pressing issues need resources?

Let us get the perspective right. India’s pioneering 500-km ‘bullet’ train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, being executed in collaboration with Gujarat and Maharashtra, in no way crowds out any of Indian Railways’ projects and schemes. Japan’s offer of the $12 billion assistance at highly concessional terms is not transferable to other rail projects.

HSR advantage

A few selected high-density HSR corridors are amply justified for a mature mobility mix, to unlock an immense hidden value, and for the country not to be left out of essential technology upgrade. A nation of India’s size, potential and aspirations has to envision its destiny, sometimes with, what may appear, irrational exuberance.

As a McKinsey report suggests, by 2025, the number of households earning ₹2,00,000-₹10,00,000 annually will have risen to 583 million from the current 50 million. More intensive urbanisation as well as rising incomes would lead to higher travel propensity.

It is inconceivable that the Railways would continue to deny itself a peep into the rapid technological and commercial transformation railway systems world over experience.

Concerns over depleting fossil fuel reserves, climate change, overcrowded airports, delayed flights and congested roads have conspired against the HSR technology alternative.

Energy-efficient and environmentally benign, a high-speed electric train emits an eight and a fifth of carbon dioxide as against automobiles and airplanes per passenger km, respectively. A double-track rail line has more than thrice the passenger carrying capacity of a six-lane highway while requiring less than half the land.

Apart from diverting passengers from road and air, HSRgenerates a new class of passengers as well. With the average operating speeds of around 250 km/h, HSR helps bring settlements 500 km apart within two hours of each other. Designed to be faster than a car, while also cheaper and more convenient than a plane, HSR has been a catalyst for economic growth, a stimulus for the development of satellite towns, helping alleviate migration to metropolises. Providing services from and to city centres, HSR serves important centres en route, providing value for time through express and easy access to tier-II and tier-III cities.

HSR’s unblemished safety record is an important benefit: with a 2,500-km network, providing high frequency, up to 14 trains per hour, the Shinkansen ever since its inception in 1964 has maintained a unique record of no fatal accident. The TGV has been running without any accidents for the last 30 years, and more.

Global best practice

Today, most large railway systems have HSR. The TGV operating on some routes every five minutes is hailed as the real “low-cost” carrier. Shinkansen has emerged as an invaluable part of Japan’s mobility and economy. With already a 22,000-km sprawling high speed PDL (passenger dedicated lines) network, longest for any country, China is set to extend it to 30,000 km by 2020, when its total rail routes aggregate to 200,000 km. Less than a decade ago, China had no HSR; now its high speed trains move twice as many passengers as its airlines, and the demand keeps growing.

In India, clamour constantly increases for passenger trains providing hassle-free, speedy, safe, reliable and comfortable travel. Already, Indians are travelling more; they are travelling longer. By 2020-21, Indians will travel on average thrice as much as they travelled in 2000-01. The Railways has woefully lagged in substantially extending, accelerating and modernising its infrastructure and services.

The Railways needs to segregate its passenger business from freight, for better focus and orientation, enabling it to quickly pluck some ‘low hanging fruits’. It should upgrade the wherewithal for ‘semi high speed’ inter-city trains for, say, 10-12-hour journeys on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata Rajdhanis and 3-4 hour commuting on Shatabdis.

The Railways needs to restructure its services and tariffs to be able to reposition rail travel in preference to car as well as airlines. Its annual loss currently estimated at ₹30,000 crore from the passenger business is untenable.

More than suburban passenger traffic the ordinary second class fare is responsible for losses. There appears no rationale, for example, for non-suburban commuters availing of season ticket concession up to a distance of 150 km; this segment, though amounting to 22.1 per cent of non-suburban travellers in 2015-16, contributed a meagre 1.3 per cent of earnings.

A win-win

HSR fares are normally higher than classic rail services for increased speed, reliability and comfort. HSR stations are as a rule as comfortable and attractive as airports. The Shinkansen fare includes a surcharge that doubles the fare for conventional trains. HSR fares in China are around thrice the conventional train fares. Revenues from fare box collections are appreciably buttressed, in particular by commercial developments in and around HSR stations. Japan’s JR East Group operates over 40 hotels, offers some 177,000 retail locations at stations, and earns advertising revenues from 17 million daily passengers.

The Railways operates a daily average of over 13,000 passenger trains — including about 3,400 long distance inter-city mail and express services, 4,700 short distance stopping “regional” trains, and around 5,000 sub-urban ‘locals’, mostly in Mumbai and Kolkata. Slow sectional trains among the ‘regional’ services contribute the maximum loss in passenger business.

They also have multiple stops and consume a substantial portion of scarce movement capacity, including on high density routes. An autonomous corporate entity, if put in place under the Railways’ umbrella, would be better equipped to manage all sectional/regional passenger services including specific short distance suburban streams on the system.

The Railways must ensure the Ahmedabad-Mumbai HSR project is commissioned within stipulated time and cost. It needs to keep the other six designated HSR corridors on radar, feasibility studies for which have already been completed.

Additional detailed techno-economic studies strangely awarded by the Railways for 350 km/h trains corridors on arterial routes along the golden quadrilateral and its diagonals are prima facie ill conceived.

As a thumb rule, for high density routes of 200-800 km, airlines cannot match HSR in terms of total journey time inclusive of first/last-mile connectivity with airports/stations and ancillary security checks, etc; below 200 km, road transport has an edge; beyond 800 km, air option is better placed.

Rail push, economic growth lift CONCOR earnings to double digits

NEW DELHI: An aggressive and well-coordinated road-to-rail freight conversion effort combined with an economic rebound directed more volume to Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), boosting the state-owned rail giant’s first-quarter earnings by double digits.

CONCOR officials during a press briefing cited double-stack train service expansion, to 479 runs from 164 runs in the January-to-March period, and a surge in imports as key factors for the first-quarter performance. Container volumes at India’s major or public ports grew 6.3 percent year over year in the first fiscal quarter to 2.25 million TEU, a growth trend that continued in July as traffic rose 5 percent year over year to 752,000 TEU. India’s GDP growth will accelerate slightly this fiscal year to 7.3 percent, according to IHS Markit forecasts, which expects improving domestic demand and recovering commodity prices will drive import growth. India’s GDP grew just shy of 7 percent in the first fiscal quarter.

CONCOR’s net profit during jumped 36.4 percent year over year in the April to June period to Rs. 243.38 crore ($38.2 million) from Rs. 178.48 crore a year earlier, on revenue that was up 11.2 percent to Rs. 1,550.44 from Rs. 1,394.35 in the same three months of 2016, according to a company filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange.

That is a solid start to fiscal 2017 to 2018 for India’s largest intermodal company after it suffered a 12 percent dip in net profit and a 5 percent fall in revenue in the last fiscal year.

An analysis of the results shows first-quarter operating income from CONCOR’s core international business increased 5 percent year over year to Rs. 1,131.5 crore, whereas income from domestic operations totaled Rs. 325.21 crore, a 32.5 percent gain over April to June 2016.

As a result of that strong growth, CONCOR’s market share climbed to 76.3 percent from 72.5 percent in the last quarter of fiscal 2016 to 2017, according to the statement.

Officials also said Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust’s (JNPT) direct port delivery (DPD) program, which is already creating major growth challenges for rival logistics providers. has had no impact on volumes handled at CONCOR’s Dronagiri inland terminal located close to the public harbor.

“We are able to maintain our volume levels and in fact, we started handling DPD containers in our CFS [container freight station] and in the last quarter, we also did some trains [for DPD volumes] and there will be a lot of emphasis in the coming days,” they said.

Officials said though it is too early to tell what the Goods and Services Tax (GST) means for the intermodal logistics industry, rail volumes are expected to grow in the coming months as the government ramps up efforts to shift more loads away from trucks that are clogging port roadways.

The company is said to control around 84 percent of rail cargo through JNPT, and at the ports of Mundra and Pipavav, its share is slightly more than 50 percent. It is in the process of adding more services connecting the two private ports to the Jakhwada Inland Container Depot, near Ahmedabad in Gujarat State.

To meet expected growth, CONCOR is looking to spend about Rs. 1,000 crore during the year on capacity expansion. The company currently operates 68 inland locations and another four sites through tie-ups with other service providers.

Railways gets relief from GST cut on Works Contract;

Railway contractors threaten strike against high GST rates. Claiming that a high GST rate on old contracts adversely affecting those in the business, a body of Railway contractors threatened to go on a strike on August 20.

NEW DELHI: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council’s decision to roll back the increase in tax rate for government works contracts comes as a relief for the Indian Railways which had received representations from contractors on increased tax liability on various ongoing projects.

“The GST Council’s decision to cut back GST on contract works to 12% has come as a big relief to us as there was huge uncertainty,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

“The contractors were demanding more money for contracts awarded before July 1 due to increased tax liability but the Railways had refused to pay for the higher tax amount,” the official said.

The tax on construction activity, including composite work contracts, was increased to 18% from 12% under GST. However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced after the GST Council meeting on Saturday that government works contract, for both Centre and states, will attract 12% GST with input tax credit.

Panel set up

The Railway Ministry has also constituted a committee to examine the impact of GST on the work contracts after receiving representations from contractors on increased tax liability.

Work related to track, construction of bridges, earthwork in embankment, supply, unloading and spreading of ballast, among others were facing increased tax liability after the government’s initial move to increase GST on such projects.

Railway contractors threaten strike against high GST rates

ALLAHABAD: Claiming that a high GST rate on old contracts adversely affecting those in the business, a body of railway contractors here today threatened to go on a strike on August 20. “There is no clarity as to how the GST will be implemented with respect to old railway contracts. Contractors have received no payments since July 1 on account of this confusion.

We had recently met Railway minister Suresh Prabhu with the request to come up with a solution, but to no avail”, national vice president of Indian Railway Infrastructure Providers Association, Ashok Kumar Pathak told reporters here. He alleged that while Prabhu placed the ball in the court of the GST council, the latter refused to take any responsibility by asking us to sort out the matter with the ministry. Pathak said the bone of contention was the GST having been fixed at 12 per cent which was much higher than the VAT which contractors had been paying prior to the new tax regime.

“VAT payable in states like Rajasthan was as low as one per cent while in Uttar Pradesh it was not more than four per cent. On August 5, the GST council fixed GST rates for both old and new contracts at 12 per cent. This would hit the contractors badly. “We have, therefore, been requesting that as far as old works are concerned, contractors be made to pay not more than four per cent towards GST while the rest may be borne by the Railways,” he said.

“Left with no options, we have decided to observe a nation-wide strike on August 20. We hope that the government acts in time and we are not forced to do anything that adversely affects railway operations across the country,” he added.

Parliamentary Panel wants Centre to fund Railways ‘socially desirable’ projects in a phased manner

Don’t run Indian Railways just as a business: Panel

Projects that offer a rate of return of less than 12 per cent are bracketed as “socially desirable”.

Of the 432 new-line, gauge-conversion and doubling projects, two-thirds (292) have a rate of return of less than 12 per cent, the Standing Committee on Railways noted with concern. In fact, 222 of them have a negative rate of return, according to the report.

‘Rethink on definition’

Seeking an assessment of the quantum of social service obligations, the Committee has asked the Ministry to have a re-look at defining the Railways as a ‘commercial undertaking’ as, much like defence and roadways, the transporter makes an indirect contribution to overall GDP, besides also fetching direct earnings.

“…the concept (of the Railways being a commercial undertaking) was alright as long as it was under the British regime. Whatever penny the Britishers invested, they wanted returns out of it,” added the report.

The Committee was apprised that, while the Railways had not yet received a response from the Finance Ministry, steps had been initiated in this regard by merging the Rail Budget with the General Budget. According to the Railways, the total net social service obligation on coaching and freight services was at ₹34,000 crore in FY16.

‘Fund social projects’

In this context, the Committee has asked the government to come up with viable plans to fund ‘socially desirable projects’ in a phased manner so as to address issues in perspective, remove hindrances and work as a pro-active facilitator of connectivity.

The Railways, the Committee report said, could only fund these projects through gross budgetary support (GBS) and through outside credit whereby the Railways have to pay market rate, because the return from these lines would not be substantial enough to reimburse the cost of borrowing.

Moreover, 83 of the 432 projects form a part of the list of Railways’ ‘least priority projects’. An additional 29 projects do not even make it to this list. The list was drawn up to optimally utilise the meagre budgetary support and avoid funds from being spread too thin.

However, the Railways have prioritised some projects as national projects (which is on the ‘top priority’ list): these include some in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East.

As on date, the Railways have a throwforward of 495 ongoing, pending projects worth ₹4.36-lakh crore, which can never be completed if the public sector behemoth were to proceed with the present mode of funding, the panel report noted.