Rail Ministry responds with latest inputs to Questions as Parliament debates a number of Rail topics

NEW DELHI: Question Hour is the first hour of a sitting session of India’s Lok Sabha devoted to questions that Members of Parliament raise about any aspect of administrative activity. The concerned Minister is obliged to answer to the Parliament, either orally or in writing, depending on the type of question raised. Questions are one of the ways Parliament can hold the Executive accountable.

There are two main types of question—Starred and non-starred. Starred Questions are those for which an oral answer is expected. The member is allowed to ask a supplementary question, with the permission of the Speaker, after the reply is obtained from the Minister concerned. Non-starred questions are those for which a written reply is expected. After the reply has been provided, no supplementary question can be asked. A notice period is to be given to the minister to reply to a question. However, if a Member seeks to ask a question urgently and cannot wait for the duration of the notice period, then the member can do so provided it is accepted by the Speaker. Such questions are called supplementary questions.

The right to ask questions was given to the legislators for the first time by the Act of 1892, and to ask supplementary questions in 1909. Any act of the Government can be made the subject of a question. Even though the question is directed to a particular minister, it is his office that is responsible for framing a response. Formally, it is the process of eliciting information from the government. However, the question hour has been used to bring out several administrative lapses.

A number of questions pertaining to Railways were asked by the Members of Parliament for which the MOSR has properly responded with relevant answers. The same are given below:

Promoting digital transactions on Indian Railways 

Following schemes have been introduced for promoting digital transactions on Indian Railways:-

i. The facility of online booking of reserved ticket has been provided through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website. The payment for tickets booked through IRCTC website is made through various cashless modes such as net banking, through credit/debit cards, cash cards and e-wallets. To incentivize payment through digital money, service charge on online booking of tickets was withdrawn for the tickets booked from 23.11.2016. The facility has been extended upto 30.09.2017.

ii. The facility of booking unreserved ticket including journey, season and platform tickets through mobile phone has been introduced in all suburban sections of Central, Western, Southern, Eastern, South Central, South Eastern and Delhi-Palwal and Delhi-Ghaziabad non-suburban sections of Northern Railway. Additional payment options under the digital modes have also been introduced to widen the scope of digital payments for purchase of unreserved tickets.

iii. The facility of renewal of season tickets through IRCTC website has been provided for suburban train services on Central and Western Railways wherein payment is made through digital modes.

iv. Point of Sale (POS) machines are being installed at various locations of Indian Railways i.e. Passenger Reservation System (PRS) locations, Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) locations, Parcel/Goods locations under an agreement with the State Bank of India to install 10,000 POS machines.

v. New mobile application ‘Rail Saarthi’ for booking of rail tickets has also been launched.

vi. Service charge applicable on transactions against credit/debit cards for purchasing journey tickets at UTS/ PRS counters has been withdrawn.

vii. International Credit/ Debit cards issued outside India are accepted for booking of e-tickets through IRCTC website.

viii. 0.5% discount is given on purchase of season tickets through digital means with effect from 01.01.2017 up to 30.09.2017.

ix. Free accidental insurance cover of upto `10 lakh for confirmed/RAC passengers has been extended in case of tickets booked online from 10.12.2016 to 30.09.2017.

x. Provisions have been made in new Catering Policy 2017 for installation of facility for cashless transaction viz. POS/ Swipe machine etc. in all the mobile and static units.

xi. 5% discount is given on online payment made for availing services like online booking of retiring rooms with effect from 01.01.2017.

Further, certain payment solution providers such as e-wallets, mVisa etc. give frequent cashbacks to their users while booking e-tickets through IRCTC website.

However, introduction of new schemes or modification of existing schemes to promote the use of digital money is a continuous and ongoing process.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Coach Manufacturing Units in Railways 

The details of the installed capacities of the coach manufacturing units under the Ministry of Railways, and their production in the last three years and the current year are given below.

S.No. Name of Production Unit. Installed Capacity (Nos.In coaches) 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18(till June 2017)
1. Integral Coach Factory(ICF), Perambur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 1700 1678 1997 2215 380
2. Rail Coach Factory(RCF), Kapurthala, Punjab. 1500 1480 1603 1489 316
3. Modern Coach Factory(MCF), Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh. * 140 330 576 112

Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli has been planned to have an installed capacity of 1000 coaches per year. In addition, a factory has been set up at Haldia, West Bengal, for furnishing of 100 Diesel Electrical Multiple Unit (DEMU) coaches every year. However both, Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli, and DEMU Coach Factory, Haldia, are still in the stabilization phase and their outturn is planned to increase gradually.

The demand for rail service is dynamic and decreases/increases depending upon seasonal variations, growth of passenger traffic, etc. The requirement of the coaches is based on these factors and gets included in the annual Coach Production Programme. The production of coaches is normally commensurate with the requirement.

The Indian Railways have procured Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU)/ Alternating Current Electrical Multiple Unit (ACEMU) coaches from private manufacturers in the past, but no such order has been placed on private manufacturers during the last three years.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Functioning of Railway Recruitment Board 

Presently, there are 21 Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) across the country for catering to the recruitment requirements of various categories of Group ‘C’ posts of Zonal Railway(s) / Production Unit(s).

During the last three years, a total of 62,773 candidates have been empanelled for various categories of Group ‘C’ posts by all the 21 RRBs. Year-wise break-up is as under-

Year Total candidates empanelled
2014-15 15191
2015-16 27995
2016-17 19587
Total 62773

Indian Railways is an organization having pan India character. The RRBs have been established based on territorial jurisdiction of the Indian railways and not on the basis of State(s), Zone(s) / Region(s). Candidates are free to apply to any RRB throughout the country in response to the advertisements; RRBs do not make any distinction on the basis of State(s), Region(s) / Area(s) / Locality, Caste(s), Gender(s) or Creed(s). No preference / relaxation is given to candidates belonging to any region.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Solar Powered Diesel Multiple Unit in Railways 

The Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) Broad Gauge Train with Solar Power generation on roof top of its coaches has been dedicated to the nation by the Hon’ble Minister of Railways on 14.07.2017. This train has been inducted in the link of Train Number 740033 between Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Garhi Harsaru – Farukhnagar in Northern Railway.

The details of reduction in Carbon Emission and fuel saving shall be known after running this train for a period of one year.

Ministry of Railways has sanctioned work for providing similar Solar Power System on 24 more Coaches of DEMU trains. Another work has been sanctioned by Ministry of Railways for provision of Solar power System with flexible solar panels on 250 coaches of DEMUs.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Buy Rail Tickets Now and Pay Later

A scheme of booking e-ticket online and making payment after 15 days through ‘ePaylater’ powered by M/s Arthashastra Fintech Pvt. Ltd., as a pilot project, has been introduced by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd. (IRCTC). Under this scheme, a customer has the option to pay after 15 days of booking an e-ticket through IRCTC website.

The service charge levied on using ‘ePaylater’ scheme is 3.50% of transaction amount and applicable taxes.

Online ticketing through IRCTC website is gaining popularity and its share vis-à-vis counter tickets is increasing. Further, online ticket booking is also being promoted as a cashless mode of transaction.

ePaylater as a payment option is displayed at the payment page of IRCTC website to make people aware about the availability of this payment method. Details about its service charge and ‘Terms & Conditions’ of the scheme are also provided at the payment option page.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Underwater Tunnel in Kolkata East-West Metro Corridor Project in Railways

In Kolkata East West Metro corridor project, a twin tunnel is being constructed below river Hooghly, between Howrah and Mahakaran stations. This is the first underwater transportation tunnel under construction in the country. The length of river crossing is 520 meters and the internal diameter of each tunnel is 5.55 meters.

The total estimated cost of the Kolkata East West Metro Corridor Project is ` 8996.96 crore. Construction of the underwater tunnel below is completed. The work of construction of tunnel (total 10.81 Km) in this project is targeted for completion by December, 2019.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Improvement in Passenger Facilities in different areas on Railways 

Policing on Railways being a State subject, prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation and maintenance of law and order in Railway premises as well as on running trains are the statutory responsibility of the State Governments, which they discharge through Government Railway Police (GRP)/District Police. However, Railway Protection Force (RPF) supplements the efforts of GRP in providing better protection and security of passenger area and passengers and for matters connected therewith.

Besides, the following steps are also being taken by the Railways to improve security in trains:

1. On vulnerable and identified routes/sections, 2500 trains (on an average) are escorted by Railway Protection Force daily, in addition to 2200 trains escorted by Government Railway Police of different States daily.

2. Security Help Line number 182 is made operational over Indian Railways for security related assistance to passengers in distress.

3. Indian Railways have installed CCTV cameras on a limited number of coaches of passenger and suburban trains on a pilot basis.

4. Surprise checks are conducted in trains to ensure security of passengers and alertness of trains escorting staff.

5. Sniffers dog squads are being utilized for anti-sabotage checks in trains.

6. The ladies special trains running in metropolitan cities are being escorted by lady RPF personnel. Staff deployment is made in ladies compartments of sub-urban trains during late night and early morning to ensure proper security to lady passengers.

7. Drives by Commercial Department and RPF are conducted from time to time against the entry of unauthorised persons in trains.

8. Close liaison is made by RPF with the State Police/GRP authorities at all levels for prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation and maintenance of law and order in Railway premises as well as on running trains.

With the objective to provide quality food to rail passengers, new Catering Policy 2017 has been issued on 27.02.2017 wherein Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has been mandated to carry out the unbundling by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. The new catering policy, inter-alia, includes the following features for unbundling of catering services (i) IRCTC shall manage catering services on all mobile units. (ii) Meals for all mobile units will be picked up from the nominated kitchens owned, operated and managed by IRCTC. (iii) IRCTC will engage service providers for hospitality industry for service of food in trains. (iv) IRCTC shall not outrightly outsource or issue licenses for provision of catering services to private licensees. (v) IRCTC shall retain the ownership and shall be fully accountable for all the issues pertaining to setting up and operation of the Base Kitchens and quality of food. (vi) IRCTC shall ensure compliance of all statutory guidelines viz. FSSAI norms of food safety in Base Kitchens/ kitchen units and mobile catering units, pollution control, Green Tribunal etc (the statutory bodies mentioned are indicative in nature, not exhaustive). (vii) Third Party Audit of mobile units and base kitchens shall be done by Zonal Railways periodically by an independent agency.

Other steps taken to ensure good quality and hygienic food served to the passengers inter-alia include:- (i) Phased introduction of station based e-catering at all A1 and A category stations for widening the range of options available to passengers for ordering food of their choice. (ii) Introduction of precooked food (‘ready to eat’ meals). (iii) Operation of Centralized Catering Service Monitoring Cell (CSMC) (toll free number 1800-111-321) for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to the catering activities and real time assistance to travelling public. (iv) Imposition of penalties in case of deficiencies detected in services. (v) Operation of All India Helpline (No. 138) for rail-users to lodge complaints/suggestions regarding food and catering services (vi) A Twitter handle with the address @IRCATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/suggestions with regard to catering services.

On Board House Keeping Service (OBHS) is being provided in all Rajdhani, Shatabdi and other important long distance Mail/Express trains for cleaning of coach toilets, doorways, aisles and passenger compartments during the run of the trains. This scheme was implemented in 670 trains up to March’2016.Now the OBHS scheme has been extended to cover nearly 900 trains.

Provision of enhanced passenger amenities in train coaches is a continual endeavor of the Indian Railways. New trains having better passenger amenities, such as Tejas, Humsafar and Antodaya have been introduced during the last one year.

Indian Railways has more than 8000 Stations. It has always been the endeavour of the Railways to provide adequate amenities to the passengers at the stations. Certain amenities are provided at the time of construction of new stations based on anticipated volume of traffic. Amenities are further augmented from time to time with growth in passenger traffic handled at stations, based on the felt need, expectations of the travelling public and availability of funds.

In the recent past Indian Railways have taken various steps to improve the services and facilitate the passengers, some of which are given below.

At stations:

i. Lifts and Escalators at the stations for facilitating movement across platforms.

ii. Battery Operated Vehicles for carrying passengers before/after the train journey, especially senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

iii. Yatri Mitra Sewa for passengers requiring wheel-chair assistance.

iv. Well appointed Retiring Rooms, Waiting Halls and Executive Lounges to relax for passengers during transit.

v. Wi-Fi facility at 127 important stations on Indian Railway.

In Reservations and travel:

i. Introduction of the Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme known as ‘VIKALP’ to give option to waitlisted passengers to shift to alternate train having vacant accommodation.

ii. Provision of facility to physically handicapped persons to book reserved tickets online.

iii. Introduction of paperless unreserved ticket booking through mobile phone.

iv. Automatic refund of confirmed/ Reservation Against Cancellation(RAC)/e-tickets on cancellation of trains.

v. Enhancement of Senior Citizen Quota as well as quota earmarked for persons with disability.

vi. Making provision in the system for automatic preparation of reservation charts at least four hours before the scheduled departure of train.

vii. Provision of facility to book available accommodation after preparation of first reservation chart through internet as well as across any computerized Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counter upto preparation of second reservation chart.

viii. Acceptance of all International Credit/Debit cards for booking of e-tickets through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation ( IRCTC ) website.

ix. The passengers having confirmed/RAC/Waitlisted PRS counter tickets may cancel the same through IRCTC website (www.irctc.co.in) or through 139 within the prescribed time limit and the refund amount maybe collected across PRS counter on surrendering the original ticket.

x. In order to facilitate cancellation of PRS counter tickets at relatively smaller stations, one of the Unreserved Ticketing System( UTS) cum PRS counters (wherever PRS booking facility is available) has been earmarked for granting refund beyond the working hours of PRS counters/Current counters. This facility is available in respect of PRS counter tickets for those trains whose scheduled departure time is within the next 24 hours.

xi. Establishment of Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendras for issuing of tickets through public private partnership for establishment and operation of computerised Passenger Reservation System (PRS)-cum Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) terminals.

xii. Facility for booking unreserved ticket including platforms tickets and Season Tickets through mobile phone in the 6 suburban sections of Indian Railway in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Secunderabad and in Delhi – Palwal and Delhi-Ghaziabad sections of Northern Railway.

xiii. Commencement of concierge services with facility for online booking of wheelchairs through IRCTC website at New Delhi and 23 other stations.

xiv. Provision of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines to facilitate purchase of unreserved journey tickets.

xv. Extension of e-ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards for foreign tourists and NRIs.

xvi. Commissioning of online booking of retiring room at over 488 Railway stations.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Facilities to Railway Passengers

Provision of enhanced passenger amenities in train coaches is a continual endeavor of the Indian Railways.

Some of the policy decisions taken in this regard are:

1. Provision of cushioned seats in General Second class coaches.

2. Provision of bottle holder and snack table in Non-AC Sleeper Class coaches.

3. Provision of dust bins in Non-AC coaches.

4. Provision of mugs with chain in Non-AC coaches.

5. Provision of Health Faucets in AC as well as Non-AC Sleeper class coaches, etc.

Besides, new trains having better passenger amenities, such as Tejas, Humsafar and Antyodaya have already been introduced. It has also been decided to carry out the work of upgradation of the coach interiors and exteriors and to provide additional amenities in the identified coaches, that have a certain balance residual life. The upgradation of coaches would result in an improvement in the overall ambience and furnishing and enhanced passenger comfort. It has been decided to carry out the work in a phased manner depending upon the availability of capacities and funds.

Cleaning of coaches including toilets is done at both ends in all trains. Some of the major initiatives taken by Indian Railways towards improvement of cleanliness in trains are as follows:-

(i) Cleaning of coaches of trains at both ends including mechanized cleaning.

(ii) On Board House Keeping Service (OBHS) has been provided in nearly 900 trains including Rajdhani, Shatabdi, and other important long distance Mail/Express trains for cleaning of coach toilets, doorways, aisles and passenger compartments during the run of the trains.

(iii) ‘Clean My Coach’ service is provided on demand in nearly 880 important Superfast/ Mail/Express long distance trains having “On Board Housekeeping Service”.

(iv) Clean Train Station (CTS) scheme has also been prescribed for limited mechanized cleaning attention to identified trains including cleaning of toilets during their scheduled stoppages enroute at nominated stations. 40 Clean Train Stations are presently working.

In its endeavour to provide quality and hygienic food to the passengers, Indian Railways have developed and operationalized an institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through regular inspections at various levels to address catering complaints. Further, to improve the standard of food being provided to passengers in trains, new Catering Policy has been issued on 27th February, 2017 wherein inter-alia Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has been mandated to carry out the unbundling by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. In order to upgrade quality of food preparation, IRCTC is to set up new kitchens and upgrade existing ones. Further, a pilot project on optional catering service will be provided to passengers booking tickets from 01.08.2017 onwards for the journeys to commence on 01.08.2017 and onwards shall be introduced on 31 Rajdhani/Shatabdi/Duronto under the management of IRCTC w.e.f. 01.08.2017. This scheme shall be implemented for an initial period of 6 months subject to mid-term review of the scheme after 3 months.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

Water Recycle Plants in Railways

On various zones and production units of Indian Railways, 49 numbers of Water Recycling Plants (WRPs) have already been commissioned and to establish more WRPs, 36 numbers of WRPs have already been sanctioned. The position of WRPs are maintained zone /production unit wise. The details of WRPs, commissioned as well as sanctioned are as given below.

S.No.

 

Railway Zone No. of WRPs commissioned No. of WRPs sanctioned
1 Central 8 5
2 Eastern 1 2
3 East Central 0 1
4 East Coast 3 1
5 Northern 0 1
6 North Central 2 3
7 North Eastern 0 6
8 Northeast Frontier 0 1
9 North Western 4 1
10 Southern 6 7
11 South Central 4 1
12 South Eastern 1 2
13 South East Central 4 1
14 South Western 2 2
15 Western 0 1
16 West Central 6 1
17 Diesel Locomotive Works 1 0
18 Integrated Coach Factory 3 0
19 Rail Coach Factory 3 0
20 Rail Wheel Factory 1 0
Total 49 36

The capacity of WRPs already commissioned on Indian Railways varies from 10,000 liter/day to 20,00,000 liter/day depending upon the requirement. The capacity of Water Recycling Plants is upgraded/additional plant installed whenever requirement of recycled water increases.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 02.08.2017 (Wednesday).

 

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