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Sikkim CM Chamling request Centre to expedite Sevoke-Rangpo rail project

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has requested the Centre to expedite the first ever railway project proposed for the state.

With the ambitious Sevoke-Rangpo rail project yet to take off, Mr.Chamling is said to have requested the Indian Railways to begin the project in the larger national interest. He was interacting with Railway Board Member (Traffic) D.P.Pandey at Mintokgang, his official residence, here on Monday, officials said.

Work on the proposed 55-km Sevoke-Rangpo rail line to connect the border state to the railway network is yet to begin due to forest clearance hurdles. The then railways minister Mamata Banerjee had laid the foundation stone for the project in October 2009.

Mr Pandey, meanwhile, apprised Mr Chamling of the Indian Railways’ plan to launch rail tour packages for students of Northeastern states, the officials said.

He said students could visit NE states at nominal fares, which would help promote tourism and provide a better understanding of the states among them.

The railway ministry has also shown keenness to promote all tourism fests and festivals of the region by including them in the railway tourism map.

The popular Namchi Mahotsav will be part of the project from Sikkim. Mr Pandey also told the chief minister that Sikkim’s floriculture products will be transported to major Indian cities in refrigerated coaches.

IRCTC Windows App disappoint users

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In September last year, the ministry of railways quietly announced an application for users of its e-ticket portal Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), but made it available only for Windows phone and Windows 8 device users, who account for less than 10 per cent in the Indian market.

The app, which is available free-of-cost on then Windows store, has been rated four stars by 2,199 users since September 2013, when it was launched. However, most users of the Windows operating system who have tried to use the app have been disappointed so far.

“The app requires you to generate a TPIN before logging in. It took me multiple tries and over 30 minutes before I gave up the attempt,” said city-based school teacher Prerna Maggu.

“I managed to generate the TPIN, but when I tried to book a ticket, the site was down for maintenance,” said Bangalore-based IT professional Mayur Naidu.

Reviews like these abound on the Windows Store. Problems range from not being able to book or cancel tickets, to slow connection issues and the app not syncing with the online application.

The app can be used to “plan a trip, make railway reservations, check the PNR status and perform all the tasks already available on the IRCTC website,” the press note from the railways ministry had said last year.

Last week, the ministry had announced a Train Enquiry Mobile App on the Window platform, which will be followed by an Android version soon.

In the second quarter last year, the Android operating system accounted for 91 per cent of the Indian market, according to market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) data. Only 5.4 per cent of Indian users preferred Windows OS. According to CyberMedia Research, Windows platform accounted for 3 per cent and 1.5 per cent of the India smartphone market in the first and second quarter, respectively, this year.

“It is a very misplaced strategy for India. IRCTC has not done its due diligence,” said Greyhound Research CEO Sanchit Vir Gogia. “An app that serves a large section of the public should not be limited to one vendor,” he added.

Similar to IRCTC, Jet Airways had also launched an App exclusively for Windows in May last year. It later followed it up with apps for Android and Apple’s iOS to cater to a wider user base. The IRCTC has not announced plans to develop its App on any other OS so far.

Several attempts to reach IRCTC officials did not elicit a response. “Microsoft helps entities such as IRCTC develop an app, but once it is up and running, it is the responsibility of the publisher to maintain it and ensure smooth functioning,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Will the Indian imports of Coal revive Freight Rates for bulkers

India is importing in excess of 18 million tonnes of Coal a month and this figure is likely to increase in the coming months as the busy season begins for the Indian economy.

In a note to clients an analyst at Commodore Research attributed the rally seen last week to a surge in demand for bulkers to export thermal coal to India.

With Coal Production in India not having kept pace with demand the unavailability of coal is considered the Achilles heel of the Indian economy.

To discuss what will be the production deficit of coal in India and what are the import options for Indian companies; mjunction and the Coal Consumers’Association of India in association with I H S McCloskey Coal are organising the 8th Indian Coal Markets Conference in Kolkata from September 14-16, 2014.

The problems are two fold.

1)      Augmenting Indigenous Coal Production: Coal production has stagnated, and in India

2)      What is the infrastructure that will be required to transport coal.

3)      How will India secure coking coal for its growing steel industry with the absence of the fuelin India.

The conference has received a very encouraging response from both speakers and delegates.  70% of the audience that has confirmed participation belong to Top Management of companies. The end users of coal from the power sector, cement, steel and sponge iron sector have registered in large numbers. We also expect that the concerned Government Ministries will be well represented at the event.

The draft conference programme with invited and confirmed speakers is attached. Also delegate registration forms to nominate your company executives.

This high powered event will be ideal not only to learn how this sector is expected to perform, it will also be useful to raise concerns, interact with government and other policy makers. Most importantly, it will be a great place to meet new people from India and overseas and transact business.

Over 2000 Deaths on Tracks in Mumbai in less than 8 months

मुंबई Mumbai: While the year is far from over, the Mumbai railway division has already clocked 2,143 deaths and 1,938 injuries on its train tracks between January and mid-August, casting a shadow on all of the government Railway Police’s (GRP) efforts to curb such accidents.

To make matters worse, 708 of the deceased are yet to be identified and claimed by family or friends. “The bodies in such cases are damaged beyond recognition and identifying them with the help of just their clothes and other belongings is really difficult,” said a senior railway police official. Ravinder Kumar Singal, commissioner of police (GRP), said, “We are trying our best to gather all possible information about the dead persons so we can contact their relatives. Though in some cases we have not found success yet. In most such cases, the bodies are so badly damaged that they cannot be recognized.”

An official said that when bodies are found on the tracks, a detailed investigation is conducted for the proper recognition and identification of the victim. Apart from enquiring in nearby areas, the railway police also sends their pictures to different police stations in and out of the city.

“We also preserve the skull or thigh bone of the deceased for future recognition by their relatives. Also other formalities like the post mortem are kept for records at our HQ,” said the official said. According to Singal, the railway police has been working on the www.shodh.gov.in website which provides profiles of the victims, both deceased and surviving, with details like pictures and identification marks.

“Passengers come here from all over India and even from abroad. In such cases, the website plays a very crucial role in finding missing persons. We are upgrading the website so that unidentified or missing passengers can be traced quickly,” he added.

Former WCR Section Engineer sentenced to 5 years Rigorous Imprisonment

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): The special judge for CBI cases, Bhopal, convicted A K Dubey, a former Section Engineer (P-Way), West Central Railway (WCR), Biaora, Rajgarh, under Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and sentenced him to undergo five years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs.15 lakh.

The CBI had registered a case against Dubey on the basis of a complaint by its inspector. It was alleged that Dubey, when he was posted as Section Engineer (Path Way), WCR, Biaora, Rajgarh, amassed huge assets to the tune of nearly Rs 15.18 lakh between January 1, 1994 and April 11, 2006. This was disproportionate to his known sources of income.

After completion of investigation, a charge sheet was filed on May 26, 2007 under Sections 7 and 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 in the court of the special judge for CBI cases, Bhopal. The court found Dubey guilty and convicted him.

Southern Railway officials to hold discussions with SRMU leaders

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS):  Southern Railway will hold discussions with Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) on Thursday and Friday to sort out employee problems and other work-related issues.

This is part of the Permanent Negotiating Machinery meetings which discuss industrial relations.

Southern Railway General Manager Rajesh Misra and other senior railway officers heading different departments will hold talks with SRMU leaders, including its General Secretary N Kanniah.

SRMU is the sole recognized union in Southern Railway.

In a statement, Kanniah said the union would raise issues pertaining to employees at the meeting and a solution would be found.

Southern Railway is suffering from shortage of staff, inefficient contractors and lack of spares to maintain trains, stations and railway yards. This is putting a lot of pressure on the employees.

Meanwhile, officials are also struggling with an undisciplined workforce.

India to adopt Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) Technology for High Speed Rail Systems

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  India has taken the first step towards running a truly high speed train by opting for magnetic levitation (MagLev) technology under which the screech of the wheel hitting the track is obviated as the train floats at high speeds a few inches over the track.

Thus India will avoid emulating Chile and some other countries that have been running refurbished versions at higher than currently prevailing speeds on the same track.

Rather, the country is fashioning a new game altogether, said a Railway officer specialising in design. Running on dedicated tracks, the trains will come in complete sets: there will be engine cabs at both ends and non-detachable coaches in the middle. This will eliminate the swaying motion Indian travellers are accustomed to.

The trains will have under carriages placed in a way that one axle and two wheels come under one coach and the rest under the next one, thus guaranteeing rapid fire acceleration.

The snub-nosed engines, super shiny outer hull and windows merged with the coach body are some of the features that will cut air resistance, the Railway official said. With cars to be allowed right next to the platform, passengers can park in front of the allocated coach.

As the train surges to its top speed, WiFi and mobile phone connections will continue to work seamlessly, for the entire ecosystem is electronics-intensive and microprocessor controlled so much so that wayside signals rushing past the train will be reflected on the locomotive’s control panel.

Instead of the no-option, tepid railway meals, orders could be placed at well-known food chains willing to cater to these trains. One SMS and food will be available at the next intermediate station.

But before this, there is hard work ahead. The Economic Survey has warned that high tariff and large passenger volumes are required to justify investment in the project, which is highly capital intensive in nature.

During his Japan visit and interaction here with the Chinese, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be exploring complete financing options at close to zero interest rates. Simultaneously, the Railways will work on reducing overhead costs through property development and other means.

If all goes well, India will join the club of two dozen countries running ultra high speed trains. For a country which figures in the first few in having an aircraft carrier, a full fledged space and nuclear programme and an ongoing mission to Mars, this will be better late than never.

Why do the Chinese want a train to Sikkim?

China is spending billions of dollars to improve infrastructure in Tibet and other parts of its border with India. Claude Arpi explains why New Delhi can’t afford to ignore Beijing’s plans

India dreams to catch up with China in infrastructure.  Whether it is highways, bullet trains or airports in remote corners of the Middle Kingdom, China is way ahead compared to India which struggles to develop a decent infrastructure, particularly in the Himalayas.

But the Communist leadership in Beijing is apparently not satisfied. It wants to increase the pace of its own development, especially on its borders with India.

Xinhua announced that Beijing was soon to upgrade the road network in Tibet ‘to make travels on The Roof of the World much easier.’

For whom, is the question!

The Chinese transport ministry affirmed that China will expand its road network to 110,000 km by 2020 in the Tibetan Autonomous Region alone.

That is not all, according to Xinhua, China plans to complete a network of railways of 1,300 km by the same year (the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan).

China will also build several new airports in Tibet.

In all, over $13 billion (Rs 79,495 crore) have been invested in transportation in the last 20 years in Tibet.

So, why should India be worried?

The ministry itself acknowledged that the development of transport in Tibet was ‘crucial to China’s national security… and the lasting prosperity in the autonomous region.’

‘National security’ in Tibet means the strengthening of the borders with India.

The Global Times recently published a report ‘Sky rail to run from Lhasa to south Tibet; further railway expansion to connect Nepal, Bhutan, India by 2020′.

It announced that the railway linking Lhasa and Shigatse (poetically called by China as the ‘closest stretch of railway to the sky’) will be opened to traffic in August.

The construction of the extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which started in September 2010, will be 254 km long and have 13 stations. Trains will be able to run at a speed of 120 km per hour and will take only two hours from Lhasa to Shigatse, the seat of the Panchen Lama’s and Tibet’s second largest city.

According to Yang Yulin, deputy director of Tibet’s railway office, it is the largest infrastructure project in the region during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011 to 2015), with an investment of more than $1.7 billion.

Zhu Bin, a manager at a mineral company based in Lhasa, told The People’s Daily that ‘it will accelerate transportation of the mineral products, which could only be transmitted through highways that often risk being cut off during rainy seasons or see vehicle turnovers.’ That is certainly one of the train’s objectives

A Tibetan writer based in Lhasa, told the Communist newspaper that the railway will help local Tibetans to ‘exchange with the outside world and tourists will be attracted to the area.’

It is obvious that China is not investing billions of dollars for the Tibetans to ‘see the outside world.’

The train to Shigatse has three purposes: One, to bring more tourists, Tibet’s main source of revenue (15 million will visit Tibet in 2014); two, to take minerals to the mainland to feed the economic machine and three, to ‘strengthen’ the borders with India by allowing quick movement of troops and armament.

More surprisingly, Yang announced that during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016 to 2020) period, the construction of a railway connecting Shigatse with Kyirong in northern Nepal and with Yatung, in the Chumbi Valley — located between Sikkim and Bhutan — will start.

Kyirong is a logical extension of the line as China has extensively invested in this landport to make it the main link between Tibet and Kathmandu, (and economically invade Nepal), but why Yatung?

The border trade between India and Tibet is minimal.

Despite the great hopes generated in 2006, when Nathu-la was trade opened between Yatung and Gangtok, the border trade has been stagnating (partly due to the restricted list of items allowed to be traded).

Wang Chunhuan, professor at the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences in Lhasa told The Global Times that the railway network in Tibet will play the role of a continental bridge in South Asia and promote economic and cultural exchanges.

Does it mean that China would like to open the Yatung-Nathu-la-Gangtok route in a big way?

Has Beijing consulted Delhi on this or is it a unilateral decision?

The Global Times quotes Liu Zongyi, a Chinese expert on India at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, saying that ‘Indians have lately been working on adding infrastructure in the South Tibet region, in order to strengthen control.’

Southern Tibet is the Chinese name for Arunachal Pradesh!

Liu explains it is a bargaining chip.

If people on the Chinese side of the South Tibet region (Arunachal Pradesh) see better economic development in south-western Tibet (Shigatse and Ngari) they will be tempted to join the People’s Republic.

This is, of course, a Chinese dream; it will never happen. But the move towards Yatung is indeed a bargaining chip at another level.

‘The growing railway network will increase Chinese activities in this area,’ Liu admits, ‘balancing Indian moves.’

China is nervous about India raising a ‘Mountain Strike Corps’, the XVII Corps, with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, not too far from Sikkim (and Yatung).

When fully operational (by 2018-2019), the Corps, costing some Rs 64,678 crore to Indian tax-payers, will have 90,274 troops.

The Corps will be spread on the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh; it will have two high-altitude infantry divisions (59 Div at Panagarh and 72 Div at Pathankot) with their integral units, two independent infantry brigades, two armoured brigades.

It will also include 30 new infantry battalions and two Para-Special Forces battalions.

Incidentally, the projected railway line to Yatung perhaps explains the inflated size of the Chumbi Valley in newly-published Chinese maps. Huge chunks of Bhutanese territory have been engulfed in the Chumbi Valley.

Also important to India is the railway linking Lhasa to Nyingchi Prefecture, located north of the McMahon Line, which is expected to start in a few months. It is also part of the 13th Five-Year Plan.

The recent heavy traffic of Communist VIPs/VVIPs from Beijing visiting Ngari (Western Tibet) is probably due to Beijing’s decision to consolidate its borders; namely the frontiers opposite Ladakh.

Last month, China Military Online reported that General Xu Qiliang, a member of the Politburo and one of the two powerful vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission, inspected the area.

According to an official military Web site, ‘Xu Qiliang recently (it is not disclosed when)inspected the troops of the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police Force garrisoning Xinjiang and Tibet.’

‘During the inspection, General Xu Qiliang visited the officers and men in frontier areas, and held talks with the leaders of the troop units garrisoning in Hotan (Xinjiang, near the Aksai Chin), Ali (Ngari or Gar) and Lhasa (in the Tibetan Autonomous Region) areas to discuss the development and reform of frontier troop units.’

Xu also met sentries of a frontier defence company at Shenxianwan (just north of the Karakoram Pass and the Depsang Plains): ‘The troops were performing their duties at the altitude of 5,380 metres.’

The general went to the barracks of the Khurnak Fort frontier (opposite the Indian troops in Ladakh, north of the Pangong lake) defence company and Banmozhang (near Sirijp on the Pangong lake where many incursions have taken place) ‘to inspect a water (speed-boats) squadron and inquire about the soldiers’ work, study and life.’

There is no doubt that Xi Jinping will make sure that China is ready in case of a conflict with India. He will also be in a strong bargaining position if Prime Minister Narendra Modi decides one day to discuss the border issue.

Top Chinese Railway Official Sentenced to Death in Corruption Case

बीजिंग BEIJING: A Beijing court today sentenced a former railway official to death for corruption, but promised a reprieve after two years of good behaviour, state media reported, in the latest graft case to hit China’s sprawling rail network.

Wen Qingliang was sacked as head of the rail bureau in the southwestern city of Kunming in 2011 for “discipline” problems, the usual euphemism for corruption in China.

The Beijing court found that Wen took more than C¥20 million yuan (RM10.5 million) in bribes between 2005 and 2011 while working in the northern province of Shanxi “to provide favours to companies bidding on railway projects”, the official Xinhua news agency said.

His death sentence will be commuted after two years, Xinhua added, which generally means that after two years of good behaviour he will end up with a life sentence.

The reprieve was granted because authorities recovered most of his ill-gotten gains, the report said.

Wen’s mistress, Zhong Hua, who is accused of colluding with him, will be given a separate trial, it added.

China’s railways have faced increased scrutiny from anti-corruption officials and the public after a scandal in which former railways minister Liu Zhijun was prosecuted for corruption and abuse of power.

China’s railways have faced increased scrutiny from anti-corruption officials and the public after a scandal in which former railways minister Liu Zhijun was prosecuted for corruption and abuse of power.

One of several officials implicated in the scandal, Liu received a suspended death sentence last summer. In China, that usually implies life in prison.

The country’s railways have confronted numerous problems in the past few years, including heavy debts from funding new high-speed lines, waste and fraud. The government has pledged to open the rail industry to private investment in a big way.

The sector suffered a major blow to its image when 40 people were killed in a crash between two high-speed trains in 2011.

Mumbai 2006 Train Blasts Case: MCOCA Court reserves Judgement

नई दिल्ली Mumbai: Eight years after seven RDX-laden bombs went off in suburban trains here killing 188 people, a Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Court concluded trial in the case on Tuesday and reserved its judgement, which is likely to be delivered next month.

“The court has reserved judgement in the case today”, special public prosecutor Raja Thakare on Tuesday, adding that judgment is likely to be passed on September 19.

In the marathon trial which lasted for eight years, the prosecution examined 192 witnesses, including eight Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, 5 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers as well as 18 doctors, while defence lawyers examined 51 witnesses and one person was called as court witness. The deposition made by witnesses runs into around 5500 pages.

Seven RDX bombs had exploded in first class coaches of Mumbai’s suburban trains on July 11, 2006, killing 188 people and injuring 829 others.

The blast occurred between Khar Road-Santacruz, Bandra-Khar Road, Jogeshwari-Mahim Junction, Mira Road- Bhayander, Matunga- Mahim Junction and Borivili.

Kamal Ahamed Ansari (37), Dr Tanvir Ahmed Ansari (37), Mohd Faisal Shaikh (36), Ehtesham Siddiqui (30), Mohammad Majid Shafi (32), Shaikh Alam Shaikh (41), Mohd Sajid Ansari (34), Abdul Wahid Shaikh (34), Muzzammil Shaikh (27), Soheil Mehmood Shaikh (43), Zamir Ahmad Shaikh (36), Naveed Hussain Khan (30), Asif Khan (38) are the accused who were arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

Azam Chima, along with 14 others are absconding in the case. Examination of witnesses resumed after two years since the Supreme court had stayed the trial in 2008. Before the stay, the prosecution had already examined a police officer. The Supreme Court vacated the stay on April 23, 2010.

India signs MoU with Czech Republic to develop Infrastructure for Semi High-Speed trains

Indo-Czech Rail Dealनई दिल्ली New Delhi:  A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 19.8. 2014 at Rail Bhawan, New Delhi between the Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India and Czech Railways (Ceske Drahy) of the Czech Republic and Association of Czech Railway Industry (ACRI) of the Czech Republic on Technical Cooperation in the field of railway sector by Shri Arunendra Kumar, Chairman/Railway Board and H.E.Miloslav Stasek, Ambassador of Czech Republic.

The potential cooperation areas mentioned in the MoU are Freight operations – Logistics of automotive transport, Passenger operations – raising of speeds upto 200 kmph; Infrastructure building and management – station development and workshop modernization; Information & communication technologies especially for passenger amenities; Modernisation of rolling stock; Modernisation of signalling & telecom etc.

cz-mou-mrThe MoU is valid for a period of three (3) years which can be extended further for successive periods of one (1) year at a time.

From IR side, Shri A.K. Mittal, Member (Staff), Shri D.P. Pande, Member (Traffic); Shri V.K. Gupta, Member (Engineering); Ms Saroj Rajware, Additional Member (Budget); Shri Girish Pillai, Adviser (Infra), Shri Manoj Kumar Srivastava, EDPP; Shri Mukul Mathur, ED/T/PPP, Shri Vijay Kumar ED/Infra/Mech; Shri Achal Khare, ED/Infra/Civil, Shri Devendra Singh, ED/Planning, Shri Pramod Sharma, ED/PSU, Shri Sandeep Srivastava, Dirctor Planning (Spl) Shri Mukul Kumar, Director Transport Planning were present. From Czech side, Mr. Jiri Janicek, Commercial Counsellor, Czech Republic, Ms Katerina Gregorova, Economic & Consular Affairs, Embassy of Czech Republic, Mr. Jan Kaiser, Embassy of Czech Republic and Shri S.K. Mandal, Managing Director, Technip Engineering & Consultancy Services were present.

Cabinet Nod for Nagpur Metro likely today

नागपुर Nagpur (NGP):  The Union cabinet is likely to clear the Nagpur Metro project on Wednesday, just a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the city to perform the bhoomi puja for the 38.20km corridors.

Sources said that after the public investment board (PIB) approved the proposal, a formal approval from the finance ministry came on Tuesday. The revised cost of Metro rail project is Rs 10,526 crore. The project is being expedited about 45 days before Maharashtra goes to polls with the BJP looking at maximizing the opportunity

The Metro project will be implemented through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and would be funded jointly by ministry of urban development (20%), Maharashtra government (20%), Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC, 5%) and Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT, 5%). The remaining 50% is expected to come by raising loans.

The cost of the Metro project has gone up due to delays. The state had taken an in-principle decision to construct the Metro rail in October 2011. Then its cost was expected to be Rs 6,860 crore. It was then revised to Rs 9,007 crore in 2012. It was reduced to Rs 8,680 crore in 2013 following a revision in the plan. The final revision, which has pegged the estimate at Rs 10,526 crore, was done following directives by the centre to estimate the cost according to prevailing prices.

According to project details, there would be two corridors – Automotive Square to Mihan (19.65Km) and Prajapati Nagar to Lokmanya Nagar (18.55km). The corridor interchange would be near Munje Square, Sitabuldi. Totally 34 stations will be constructed.

On his visit to Nagpur, Modi is also set to open the second phase of the National Thermal Power Corporation power plant at Mouda. The Metro function will be held at Kasturchand Park. This will be Modi’s second visit to Maharashtra after he became PM. On Saturday, he launched INS Kolkata in Mumbai.

Just before the Lok Sabha election, Kamal Nath had given in-principle approval to Nagpur Metro project even as ministry officials had not studied the detailed project report (DPR) of Nagpur metro. The Congress-NCP government in the state had tried hard have the bhoomi puja before Lok Sabha elections. However, the project did not have clearances from several ministries.

“The government’s intention is clear that the PM won’t inaugurate a project which has not been cleared by the government to give any room for his opponents. There is little doubt that the Cabinet won’t clear this proposal before the grand ceremony is held,” said a government official.

On the same occasion, Modi is also likely to announce two flyovers in Nagpur.

NMPT not very keen on funding Hassan-Mangalore rail line doubling

मंगलूरु Mangalore (MAQ): Sources in New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) sounded not very keen on funding the line doubling of the Hassan-Mangalore. “Doubling proposal is already with the Ministry of Railways and the final survey itself is not yet over, which is likely to be completed by this year end. If the Ministry of Shipping so desires, the trust would take up the responsibility provided the survey from Railways part is over and the cost of the project is tabled for debate and decisions,” the sources said, adding further, “even without line doubling, more trains could be introduced by constructing catch-sidings in the ghat section or providing crossings at four way-side stations, they said”.

However the Railway Board has earlier estimated the cost of the doubling project could be over Rs.2,500 crore at a rate of Rs.10 crore per km in the plains and Rs.25 crore per km in the ghat section.

Sources in HMRDC said that the bulk of the freight from Karnataka, now being moved out of the country through ports on the eastern coast, could be brought to NMPT upon line doubling. The Railways could run at least 20 freight trains in a day catering to the requirements of the industry as well as NMPT. The HMRDC officials opined that the March 2016 deadline set by Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda for the 172-km Bangalore-Hassan new railway line, if completed on time, may reduce travel time between the two cities. However, it will not bring more trains — freight or passenger — as the bottleneck is in the Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Road (55 km) ghat section. As on date, Railways are operating only 14 trains in a span of 24 hours due to speed restrictions and simultaneous movement of freight and passengers trains in the Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Road ghat section – officials of Hassan-Mangalore Rail Development Corporation (HMRDC), specially constituted for the purpose of construction of the broad gauge line on the stretch, said.

Aware of this bottleneck, Mr.Sadananda Gowda is working towards doubling the rail line. He told that the Ministry is looking for potential investors, including the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), to take up the project. He said that the Railways has allowed elsewhere private parties to construct lines for transporting their freight.

At the same time, the Ministry is in touch with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which has assured it of giving environment clearance for projects in up to 40 hectares of forest land. Mr. Sadananda Gowda is hopeful of getting clearance for the entire 55-km stretch.

DMRC to undertake Survey for Extension of Metro to Narela-Kutubgarh and to Kondli

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will undertake a survey for extending the Metro rail network to Narela-Kutubgarh and to Kondli and will consider renaming some existing Metro Railway stations so as to avoid confusion among commuters about the places they wish to alight at.  These points were discussed at a review meeting called by Union Urban Development Minister Mr.M.Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday to discuss issues relating to urbanisation and development of the NCR area.

Naidu also said that the government envisaged the urbanisation plan for various Category-A1, A, B1 and B cities meticulously so as to meet the future requirements for another 50 years that covers Urban Transportation, Water, Electricity, Surveillance, Security and other aspects of Policing and civic amenities etc.  In this regard, the Ministry is planning to constitute the panel of experts committee comprising of officials from Ministry of Urban Development, Institute of Urban Transport, Regional Center for Urban and Environmental Studies, Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation and other reputed organisation so as to submit their report in the shortest possible time to the MUD for policy decisions.

Committee suggest expeditious Land acquisition for Kozhikode Monorail project

कोझीकोड Kozhicode: A meeting to review the progress of the proposed Kozhikode monorail project here on Tuesday decided to hasten the land acquisition process in the city.

Those who took part in the meeting, chaired by the Minister for Public Works V.K. Ebrahim Kunju, included Kerala Monorail Corporation Limited (KMCL) managing director P. I. Sheikh Pareed, District Collector C.A. Latha, officials from the Kerala Water Authority, Kozhikode Corporation and Public Works Department.

Nearly 8.2819 hectares of government land at Meenchandha, Kallayi, Mananchira and Medical College would be required. Besides, 0.1426 and 0.2111 hectares of land in possession of the Kozhikode Corporation and KWA would also be needed for the project.

Already the District Level Purchase Committee (DLPC) has been entrusted with the acquisition process. A preliminary visit at the sites was also held on Tuesday.

Special Tahsildhar (City Road Development) E.P. Mercy, Monorail Project manager Anand Elamon, Land Acquisition Advisor M. Vijayaraghavan, Valuation Assistant K. Babu, Revenue Inspector P. Dileep did the preliminary assessment at Chevayur, Thondayad, Koottuli, new Bus stand and KSRTC areas.

It is learnt that the land in the possession of various government departments, Kozhikode Corporation and KWA would be taken for lease for a period of 30 years. The civic body had agreed in principle to part with the land.

Incidentally, the Kozhikode monorail project also required 1.47 hectares of private land.

An application for acquiring this land is with the Revenue department. The private property would have to be acquired under direct purchase after DLPC negotiated with the land owners on the value of land.

The proposed monorail has a total of 15 stations, of which, construction of 11 stations required private as well as government land.

The stations are Chevayur, Thondayad, Kottooli, New Bus stand, KSRTC, Palayam, Kallayi, Pushpa Junction, Panniyankara, Vattakinar and Meenchanda.

Meanwhile the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), general consultant for the project, has favoured discharge of the tender submitted by the single bidder, a consortium formed by Bombardier Transportation Holdings USA Inc, for the elevated mass rapid transit system in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

Chennai Metro’s plush ride could be commercially up-and-running in a month

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS):  The long wait for a cosy metro rail ride in the city might perhaps end soon for Chennaiites. The city’s dream commuter train could be up and running commercially as early as in a month and a half, if the confidence exuded by CMRL (Chennai metro rail limited) officials is something to go by. The trip from Koyambedu to Alandur in a plush metro might become possible before October ends.

“We are confident of commencing the commercial run from Koyambedu to Alandur late October. Even in a worst-case scenario, the commissioning might get delayed maximum by a month,” a senior CMRL officer, who confirmed the deadline, told.

“CMRL has informed us that they will be ready by then. Once they get all necessary clearances from railway department and intimate the government, the Chief Minister’s office will finalise the date of the launch,” a senior bureaucrat said.

However, the initial operation would not be in full even on the first corridor. Commuters would only have restricted access at the stations. “The stations will be opened partially with one entry and exit and ticketing system among other minimum mandated requirements to operate the train,” another CMRL senior officer revealed. He added that the trains are currently undergoing rigorous tests at the Koyambedu depot and on the 10km-long elevated stretch.

Ten of the 14 trains, including the nine shipped from Sao Paolo in Brazil, are undergoing various tests mandated by CMRS (commissioner of metro railway safety and RDSO (the R&D wing of Indian Railways) and will be kept ready for CMRS inspection by the month end and the rest would be ready in a week from then.

CMRL is awaiting a report of the oscillation and emergency braking distance (EBD) trial done on the first four-car metro train by RDSO earlier. “We are expecting a positive RDSO report anytime soon. From there, it is just a matter of a few days before inviting the CRS for the final inspection,” another CMRL technical head in the know of things said.

“Our general consultants are supervising the synchronisation of various systems, which comprises rolling stock, communication, signaling and electronic operations and networking with the operation control center (OCC) in Koyambedu,” the technical head pointed out. He said that most of the scaffoldings would vanish and the seven metro stations on the stretch would be painted in a month from now. Similarly, work is apace to complete the installation of the lifts and escalators at the seven stations.

Adani ramps up PR campaign for Carmichael mine, rail project

Adani_Enterprises_190Indian mining company Adani is stepping up its efforts to gain the trust of the public for its coal projects.

Chief executive Sandeep Mehta will address a community meeting in Bowen today, with an update on its proposals.

The company has also launched a state-wide television ad campaign spruiking jobs and royalties expected to be generated by the projects.

Adani says the ads aim to build community confidence about its commitment to jobs and investment in the state.

Frank Alpert from the University of Queensland says it shows Adani takes the Carmichael mine and rail project very seriously.

“It shows the company cares about this project,” he said.

“The company wants to gain the trust of the public, by showing the company is not just out for its own profits, but is out to help Australia as well.

“So the ads don’t talk about what’s in it for Adani, they talk about how there will also be benefits for Australia through royalties and economic development.”

He says the campaign is different to other industry driven strategies, like one to push for repeal of the mining tax.

“This is a particularly interesting case, in that it is not lobbying for a particular policy outcome that is in current play with the Government,” he said.

“The Carmichael mine and rail project has already been approved but still you want to have favourable public opinion for significant projects like this.”

Adesh Sharma likely to head DFCCIL

Adesh Sharma IRSEनई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Government is likely to soon appoint two key officials in the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation (DFCCIL), the special purpose vehicle that is implementing the Eastern and Western dedicated rail freight corridor projects, valued at ₹1 lakh crore.

Adesh Sharma, the present Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), South Western Railway, and D.S.Rana are likely to be appointed as Managing Director and Director (Infrastructure) of DFCCIL. While Sharma’s appointment has already been forwarded by the Public Enterprises Selection Board, Rana is already posted as officer on special duty at DFCCIL. Anshuman Sharma, Director (Project Planning), currently holds additional charge of Director – Infrastructure and as Managing Director.

The appointments are crucial as DFCCIL plans to award contracts worth ₹10,000 crore in the current fiscal. The projects to be awarded include the civil contract for the Mughal Sarai-Kanpur stretch on the World Bank-funded Eastern corridor and some electrical and bridge contracts on the Western corridor.

The projects are expected to be completed by December 2019, for which these need to be awarded within the stipulated time. Moreover, there are cross-penalties built in the contract awarded by DFCCIL, as a result of which contractors and DFCCIL will have to bear extra costs in case one stakeholder does not ensure timely completion of its part of the project, delaying another stakeholder.

Also, DFCCIL will have to bear cost over-runs on account of any increase in tax incidence of the contractor due any change in taxation rules.

CR’s specialised RPF Commando Unit finally on-board to fight ‘terror’

मुंबई Mumbai: To deal with terror alerts, the Railway Protection Force of Central Railway has formed a specialized unit of 30 Commandos, the focus of which will be largely on CST and other important Terminals, which witnessed the biggest attack by terrorists in the country from Pakistan on 26/11. The RPF’s 67-member canine squad will supplement the unit as and when required.

“The idea came up nearly three years ago. We started recruiting for the commando unit way back in 2011 but things did not fall in place till recently. Now we have 16 personnel inducted at that time and 14 fresh recruits and additional 120 RPF personnel,” said a top RPF officer.

The Commando Unit has been stationed at Mulund from where the personnel will be dispatched wherever terror inputs are received. The Commando Unit will also equipped with HAL’s indigenously developed Dhruv Helicopters owned by Navy and Army whenever required within minutes. “We received an input from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) on Saturday about a possible terror strike on Dadar station. Immediately, the commandos were sent to the station and they were deployed for most part of the day. But as Dadar records a large footfall in peak hours, other RPF and GRP personnel were asked to assist the commandos in carrying out checks,” said the officer. On days when there are no terror inputs, the commandos will be deployed in two-hour shifts at nodal stations during peak hours.

The commando personnel are armed with AK-47 rifles and the department has already made a demand for more sophisticated arms. “The members of the commando unit are in their late 20s or early 30s. Physical fitness is being given a priority,” said the RPF officer. The men were trained at the RPF training centre at Chinkhill in Nashik. In fact, some of them were sent back for a refresher’s course on Sunday.

CR will also get six more dogs to their 67-member canine squad. “The canines are being trained at the Border Security Force (BSF)’s national level training centre and will join us in September. Five of them are being taught how to detect narcotics, while one is being trained in sniffing out combustibles,” said the officer.

Vossloh to inspect engineering glitches on Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line

Vossloh Cogiferमुंबई Mumbai: Within the first quarter of Mumbai Metro getting commissioned, some recurring and serious problems have emerged during operations between the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line. An engineer from an international company will be visiting the corridor to check whether the problem lies in the design, or it is occurring because of another reason.

In order to make a loop of a railway network, points are made so that the metro or trains can change tracks and cross to its parallel line. These points are where the recurring problems have emerged on the 11.4-km long rail corridor.

The point that is giving Mumbai Metro authorities sleepless nights is that, just outside Ghatkopar metro station, the metro changes its tracks to enter the terminating station.

There are various types of point designs, one of which is the base plate based rail fastening system, wherein the rail track is placed on a metallic plate. The base plate positioned at this point is repeatedly giving problems.

Perhaps owing to the monsoon, the base plate is getting rusted, resulting in frequent point failures caused by the friction. On June 8, the inaugural day, point failure at Ghatkopar resulted in operations going haywire. One of the platforms was shut, which had a cascading effect on the services.

In order to address this concern, engineers from Vossloh, a German firm, are expected to reach Mumbai in the coming weeks.

Additionally, there have been repeated problems of the signalling system too, in between Jagruti Nagar and Ghatkopar stations, that ensure the metro remains off-schedule. This particular signal in question delayed the metro services on July 31 and August 1.

Finance Commissioner inspect works on Pamban Bridge at Rameswaram

Rashmi Kapoorरामेश्वरम Rameswaram (RMM): Rashmi Kapoor, Finance Commissioner, Indian Railways, who was in Rameswaram on Monday for inspection of Pamban Bridge said that there was no proposal to build a new rail bridge to Rameswaram as it would cost Rs.1,500 crore. The existing bridge would be strengthened. She said that the demand for introducing a new train to the pilgrim island from Mumbai viz.Mangalore would also be conveyd to Member-Traffic.

Talking to reporters after inspecting Pamban Rail Bridge here on Monday, she said the Joint Commissioner of Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple here said the connectivity to the temple from Mumbai was not good and there was a demand for a train service from the metropolis.

“I will suggest this to Member-Traffic, the person who decides on new train routes,” she said. Ms. Kapoor said she was visiting Rameswaram after 35 years.

Asked about the demand for introducing a day train from Rameswaram to Chennai, she said she was not dealing with introduction of new trains.

FC InspectionA.K.Rastogi, Divisional Railway Manager (Madurai Division), who was present, said there were already three day trains from Rameswaram to Madurai and people could reach Madurai and travel to other places.

“We have already converted a night passenger train to day train (between Madurai and Rameswaram) and there is no proposal to introduce new day train to Chennai,” he said, adding the railways was already running two trains to Chennai.

To a question on the possibility of relaying the railway line to Danushkodi, which was washed away in the 1964 cyclonic storm, Mr. Rastogi said there were fund constraints.

Answering a question, the DRM said there was no proposal to attach additional coaches to Sethu and Rameswaram express trains.

On allotment of funds for developing infrastructure in railway stations, Ms. Kapoor said 30 projects prioritised all over the country for early completion in the budget. “If we give a little bit to every work, then nothing gets completed,” she said.

Replying to a question, Mr.Rastogi said there was no proposal to build a new rail bridge to Rameswaram as it would cost Rs.1,500 crore. The existing bridge would be strengthened.

The piers were good and only the girders were getting corroded, he said, adding the eroded girders would be replaced and funds had been allotted.

Gowda assures Environmental Clearance to 168-km Hubli-Ankola line in one year

हुबली Hubli (UBL): Will the Hubli-Ankola railway link, a demand said to be pending since the British era, become a reality any soon? This issue has resurfaced after Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda said in Shimoga on Sunday that he will get environmental clearance to this 168-km line in one year.

The statement of the Railway Minister on the Hubli-Ankola project, a key infrastructure demand of north Karnataka and coastal Karnataka, comes a decade after the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest refused to part with dense forest land for it.

But the proponents of the project hope that the State will push for the project as it would lead to greater economic activity along the coast in the form of goods movement and also provide a direct rail link between the two important regions, though environmentalists have not warmed up to the idea.

Goods Traffic

New Mangalore Port Trust Chairman P.C. Parida said that about 1 million tonnes of goods traffic now being diverted to Chennai from the Bellary-Hospet industrial area could come to the port, if this line is constructed.

Trade and industry bodies in Hubli and Mangalore have been highlighting its positive socio-economic benefit to the two regions.

On the subject of environment objections, Mr. Parida said that there was a solution to everything, while another observer pointed out that the State government should take the lead in giving the support required for Mr. Sadananda Gowda to take the project forward by providing effective answers to the objections raised by the Union Ministry.

“Only a handful of environmentalists are opposed to it,” said Vittal Bhandary, leader of a left-wing cultural organisation, Samudaya, based in Karwar.

While Mr. Sadananda Gowda’s hopes of convincing the Union Ministry to accept the proposal rejected by it so categorically are actually daunting, what makes his task even more challenging is the fact that the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee is looking into the project’s environmental impact currently.

Project violates rules: environmentalist

Sirsi-based environmentalist Pandurang Hegde, who had petitioned the Supreme Court in the matter, said that the Hubli-Ankola rail line project could only be implemented in violation of rules protecting reserved forests.

He said that the proposed line would pass through Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, the Anasi Tiger Reserve and the Western Ghats, which has been declared a biodiversity hotspot.

Tiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode MRTS Project: Tender Committee rejects Financial Bid

DMRC favours ‘discharge’ of tender – cites ‘Abnormal Rates’ quoted by the Consortium Bidder as the amount quoted is Rs.4,811 Crore more than the estimate and beyond the scope of negotiations

तिरुवनंतपुरम Tiruvananthapuram (TVC): The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has favoured ‘discharge’ of the tender submitted by a consortium led by Bombardier Transportation Holdings USA Inc for the elevated mass rapid transit system in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

In its report to Kerala Monorail Corporation Ltd. (KMCL), the DMRC, general consultant for the project, cited the “abnormal rates” quoted by the consortium in the financial bid for rejecting the tender for selecting the ‘exclusive developer contractor’. Compared to the Rs.5,581-crore estimate in the detailed project report prepared by the DMRC, the consortium had quoted Rs.10,392 crore in the financial bid. The amount quoted included Rs.527 crore for maintenance.

As the amount quoted was Rs.4,811 crore more than the estimate and beyond the scope of negotiations, the DMRC asked for the discharge of the lone tender.

The financial bid was opened by the DMRC after the technical bid of the consortium was found responsive.

Confirming that a report was given to the KMCL, sources told that the DMRC had not given any proposal for action or on switching to light metro as mooted by another player.

The KMCL board chaired by the Chief Minister will have to take a call on the flagship project under the Mission 676 plan. Planning Board Member and Principal Advisor to the DMRC E. Sreedharan’s advise will be key to shaping the course of action.

Floating bids again will take another six months. A consortium of L&T-Hitachi has come forward with a proposal for a light metro.

The new player had made a presentation to key KMCL officials and met Ministers. A top official of the KMCL had met Mr. Sreedharan and sought his support for the light metro plan.

A decision of the KMCL board is likely this week.

CR use MRVC’s ‘Railys’ software to analyse stoppage of fast trains at Parel after Dadar

मुंबई Mumbai: The Central Railway (CR) has turned to Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to use its software ‘Railys’ to analyse if fast trains can be stopped at Parel after Dadar, since they do stop at Mulund and Thane during peak hours.

Commuters have been asking the CR to use platform numbers three and four, which are currently used for special trains to transport railway employees, as a halt for a fast train. Parel has seen an increase in footfall in the last five years.

CR general manager Sunil Kumar Sood has asked Mumbai’s railway planning body, MRVC, to use Railys, a train-time-table software procured from a German firm called R M Com to study its feasibility. “We will ask MRVC to use their software to look into whether the plan is feasible. We currently run 16 services during peak hours and if we stop a fast train at Parel the number of services might decrease to 15 or lower.”

Mr Sood was speaking to journalists at a press conference during the inauguration of the longest foot overbridge (270 metres) at CST.

Shiv Sena MP, Arvind Sawant who was present at the event suggested that the CR considered stopping eight of the 16 services at Parel alternately. “I requested the GM to see if the Parel halt is possible because a lot of corporate offices have come up at Parel and there has been a sudden increase in the number of commuters,” he said.

Although commuters and politicians have made the demand for the halt for a few years now, senior railway officials said that it was not feasible as the distance between Parel and Dadar was too short. “Mulund and Thane have a distance of 3.5 km between them hence the halt on both the stations is practical, but Parel and Dadar has a distance of only 1 km. Hence, halting the fast train at Parel is not feasible and if we agree to it we will have to agree to other non-feasible halts as well,” said a senior official, on condition of anonymity.

Fast trains towards CST currently stop at Byculla after Dadar, without any halts in between.

Hyderabad Metro propose to shift Metro alignment near Assembly building to the backyard

हैदराबाद Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Metro Rail has proposed to divert the Metro alignment to behind the Assembly building. In doing so, the old dilapidated police quarters and police land will be utilised.

A senior official said, “The diversion will be from the Telangana Tourism Development Corporation office to the police land and then near the railway track and will come out at Public Gardens. In doing so, the diversion will be minimal. But for this to be implemented, the Hyderabad Metro Rail and state government will have to sit together and fine tune the proposal.”

Officials also said that the Sultan Bazaar stretch and Mozamjahi Market would not be touched. The route will be changed from Badi Chowki to Tilak Park to the northeastern side of Women’s College in Koti where it will be connected to Chaderghat.

N.V.S. Reddy, managing director of Hyderabad Metro Rail, said, “The diversion is minimal and it will not affect our original alignment or the commuters on the route.” The earlier proposal had a linear direction wherein the Metro Rail went straight along the road and touched all high traffic zones from Lakdikapul, Assembly, Traffic office to the Nampally stretch. There are many government offices along the route and the diversion must be able to ensure that it caters to this traffic.

A senior officer said, “The re-alignment is being planned in such a manner that the passenger traffic is catered to. There are a lot of government offices, private enterprises and commercial establishments on the road where it is presently planned. It was expected to de-congest this complete segment.”

A senior officer added, “The state government has to give the final approval on the re-alignment. Once a clear picture emerges from the government with an official sanction, only then will L&T be given the changed plans.”

Sultan Bazaar traders still wary: While changes in the Metro routes have been welcomed, some sections of citizens are still apprehensive. The Sultan Bazaar trading community, for example, still has reservations about the final shape of the proposed Metro route. Following Sunday’s announcement, there was relief regarding the heritage building and market being saved, but opposition to the project continues.

According to the change, the new route, in case of Sultan Bazaar, is from Badi Chowdi, Tilak Road, Koti Women’s College to Chaderghat. “We are glad that the government kept its promise and saved the historical market of Sultan Bazaar, but the Badi Chowdi market is also of equal importance.

And once the Bata crossroad is touched, it automatically touches Sultan Bazaar. This kind of partial saving of the area is almost like saving nothing,” said Govind Raathi, chairman of Traders’ Joint Action Commi-ttee, Sultan Bazaar. The committee has suggested an alternative route from Kachiguda crossroads towards the station leading towards Chaderghat and MGBS.

HCL Tech wins Contract from Sydney Trains worth over INR 200 Crore

सिडनी Sydney: HCL Technologies, country’s fourth largest software services firm, has bagged a deal worth about AUD 36 million (over Rs.200 crore) from Sydney Trains to support and maintain 107 of its business applications.

Sydney Trains provides train services in the Sydney central business district and metropolitan area. It underwent a major restructuring and was formally launched on July 1, 2013, replacing CityRail as the provider of metropolitan train services for Sydney (Australia).

“Under the contract, valued at AUD 34.9 million, HCL Australia Services will provide support and maintenance services for 107 business applications,” a Sydney Trains spokesperson told.

Last year, the rail operator had sought to replace a network of 11 different external suppliers which had been supporting and maintaining its business applications.

The partnership follows a recommendation from the 2012 NSW Commission Audit, which found 130 corporate systems in use across the transport cluster, and suggested that amount be reduced to between 8 and 24 in order to reap annual savings of USD 100 million.

Sydney Trains operates 176 stations and provides 277 million customer journeys annually.

HCL Technologies in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) is headquartered in Sydney with offices and delivery centres at Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Auckland and Wellington and servicing clients across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.

Science Express to reach Meerut by 20th Aug

मीरट Meerut (MTC): Covering a distance of almost 86,000 km and 57 locations across the country, the Biodiversity Special Express train of Indian railways is set to reach the cantonment station on August 20.

A flagship venture of the science, forest and railways ministries, this exhibition on wheels is aimed at creating awareness about India’s biodiversity.

After its departure from Meerut cantonment, the train will visit Najibabad (Bijnor) Shahjahanpur, Unnao, Nasik and Gandhidham among other locations in different states. It will reach its final destination-Gandhinagar in Gujarat- in February next year.

RP Sharma, station superintendent, Meerut (cantonment) station, said, “The purpose of the train is to inform people about the rich biodiversity of our country. As many as 30,000 students are expected to visit the Science Express in the next three days.”

Sharma further added that the 16-coach train will be opened for public from 10:00 am till 5:00 pm in the evening.

Out of 16 coaches of Science Express eight coaches are solely dedicated to showcasing the bio-geographical zones of India through a variety of interactive exhibits, short films and videos. The remaining coaches have interesting and informative exhibits on climate change, energy and water conservation and other topical issues.

Mazdoor Union protests alleging Railways ‘anti-labour policy’

विजयवाड़ा Vijayawada (BZA): The South Central Railway Mazdoor Union (SCRMU) held a meeting at the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM)’s office on Monday, protesting the government’s anti-labour policies and appealed to DRM Pradeep Kumar to convey the higher-ups about the consequences of privatising the railway ticket booking system and outsourcing of departmental activities and other policies.

In a memorandum submitted to the DRM, SCRMU leaders stated that privatisation of the ticket booking system would ultimately lead to surrender of the entire commercial clerk posts. .

The Railway administration was converting regular employees system into the contract one, instead of providing new posts when assets were created.

Protests in Secunderabad too, on privatisation move of ticketing services

Railway employees attached to the South Central Railway Mazdoor Union (Secunderabad division) organised a ‘Maha Dharna’ in Tirupati as well as at Renigunta junction on Monday, protesting against the outsourcing and privatization of sale of reserved and unreserved tickets.

The employees called it unfortunate for the Government to outsource sale of tickets in the garb of ‘Public Private Partnership’, by establishing ‘Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendra’. Passenger’s details like name, age and sex cannot be modified for the tickets purchased in these counters, nor could they be cancelled.

Moment of realisation for a railway official – an SCR official during his journey finds the woes of passengers of fully-packed Janmabhoomi as well as the staff on duty. He found that heavy rush was obstructing the movement of railway employees on duty like ticket checking staff and AC mechanics and even vendors

An SCR official during his journey finds the woes of passengers of fully-packed Janmabhoomi as well as the staff on duty

A senior official of South Central Railway, who travelled by the Secunderabad–Visakhapatnam Janmabhoomi Express last week, was caught unawares when he found not only the II sitting but also AC chair cars were overcrowded, with passengers standing in the aisle.

The official was learnt to be travelling as part of a survey to study the feasibility of running a double decker AC express on the Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam Janmabhoomi Express withdrawing the rake from the Guntur-Tirupathi double-decker AC express, which failed to draw passengers.

He found that heavy rush was obstructing the movement of railway employees on duty like ticket checking staff and AC mechanics and even vendors.

Some picked up arguments with the employees for the poor service and lack of air-conditioning.

When an employee tried to convince him saying that AC would not function properly when the coach was overcrowded, the passenger did not give up his aggressive attitude and even argued with a civil policeman in uniform, for trying to come to the rescue of the employee.

When a TTE wanted to check the ticket, another passenger reminded him of a recent incident of a TTE being pushed out of a train.

These incidents are forcing the employees to refrain from antagonising the passengers.

The senior official also found the few vendors, who could make their way through the crowd, were selling tea/coffee in 75 ml cups instead of the standard 150 ml, charging Rs.30 for a little quantity of curd rice and Rs.10 for 30 gm of peanut, packed in thick polythene sachets.

To add to the woes of Janmabhoomi passengers, a bunch of trans-genders boarded the train. Their behaviour was highly rude, filthy, ill-mannered forcing women commuters close their eyes not able to see their vulgar behaviour.  Last but not the least, the train was even being given very little priority and was generally running two hours late.

National Rail Universities in India over next Five Years – Clear picture by Dec 2014: Gowda

मंगलौर Mangalore (MAQ): A clear picture on the establishment of a Railway University by Indian Railways may emerge in two months, if the Railway Minister’s assurances are any indication.

Speaking at the ‘Meet-the-Press’ programme organised by the Dakshina Kannada Working Journalists Union in Mangalore on Saturday, DV Sadananda Gowda, Railway Minister, said that the Indian Railways is planning to set up a Railway University.  “Hunt for trained manpower in all aspects of function of Indian Railways will manifest itself through Railway Universities to be set up in all four corners of India and this project is closely monitored by PMO as the Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi is keen on this project,” he said.

These Railway Universities will be of world class and will impart diversified fields of technology and innovations in the field of Railway operations, safety, engineering, mechanical, civil, electrical, Signal & Telecommunications, Software & IT Applications in Railway operations, Metro Rail systems, Urban Planning and Marine Railway engineering technologies etc.

He said his intention to set up Railway Universities is not to limit the university to a particular region but to stretch in all four corners of the country – North, East, West and South and shall bring world’s attention towards its scale and set up to attract students, faculty, infrastructure etc.

Stating that countries such as China and France have railway universities, he said his department is collecting information on them. China has nearly 30 Railway universities, he said.

The Ministry has approached the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development seeking its guidelines on the establishment of a dedicated university for Railways.

The university will look at the all-round development of the person for Railways irrespective of the department. By the time a person comes out of the university that person will be assured of the job.

In the present system, a person is needed to be trained after joining the Railways. The person coming out of the university will be trained in entire operations of Railways irrespective of the departments and will be job-ready, he said.

Stating that at least two months are required for the study on the establishment of a Railway University, he said a clear picture will emerge by December, and the university will be set up by the beginning of an academic year, he said.

Kerala Govt to moot SPV for Nilambur-Sulthan Bathery-Nanjangud railway line project

तिरुवनंतपुरम Trivandruam (TVC):  The State government would explore the possibility of forming a project-specific Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to implement the proposed Nilambur-Sulthan Bathery-Nanjangud rail line project by bringing in private sector and foreign partners with requisite expertise, Minister for Industries and Information Technology P K Kunhalikutty has said.

The minister, who held a meeting with the office-bearers of the Nilgiris-Wayanad National Highway and Railway Action Committee (NWNHRAC) here the other day, further stated that he would take the initiative of convening a meeting of people’s representatives from the region to discuss the proposal with the chief minister.

The government would also consider the possibility of entrusting the task of conducting a feasibility study on the project to the Kerala State industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), the minister said.

Though the state governments of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were directed to pool 50 per cent of the total project cost, only Kerala responded to the call positively. In such a scenario, the NWNHRAC has put forth the proposal to form a company to raise capital for execution of the project, action committee convener Adv T M Rasheed said, adding that the NWHRAC had handed over the minister a detailed project report on the proposed `642 crore railway line. The committee observed that the proposed rail line project would act as a catalyst for the overall development of the region and it would also function as a connecting link among the major IT cities of Kochi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The new rail line would also help increase supply of essential goods and commodities from neighbouring states, thus resulting in lower prices for consumers, they added.

Roadblocks to Talaguppa-Honnavara & Hubli-Ankola projects to be cleared shortly: Gowda

शिवामोग्गा Shivamogga (SMET): Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda has said that hurdles in the way of implementing Talaguppa-Honnavara and Hubli-Ankola railway line projects would be cleared shortly.

“As railway tracks for both the projects pass through forestland, it is necessary to get the approval of the Ministry of Environment and Forest. A petition has been filed by a few environmentalists against the Hubli-Ankola project. I have already discussed the issue with Union Minister for Environment and Forest Prakash Javadekar,” he told presspersons here on Sunday.

Mr. Gowda said that he had directed the Railway officials to conduct a detailed study of the hurdles. Another meeting with Mr. Javadekar would be held shortly to get clearances for the projects. The possibilities of implementing the projects by causing minimum harm to environment are being considered. The hurdles will be cleared in a year, he said.

As part of its objective to ensure safe operation of trains, the Railways has decided to eliminate unmanned level crossings (ULCs) in phases. At present, more than 11,500 level-crossings in the country are unmanned. It is necessary to construct under-bridge or over-bridge across these level crossing to avoid the mishaps. The 2014-15 budget had earmarked Rs. 1,1785 crore for construction of over-bridges and under-bridges. The Railways would reserve an additional amount in the coming budget for the same, he said.

Mr. Gowda said it was necessary to strengthen and expand the railway network to fuel economic growth. With this objective, it has been planned to develop a ‘Diamond Quadrilateral’ of high-speed trains that will link metropolitan centres across the country. The project would be modelled on the ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ project launched when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister. Both Japan and China have successfully implemented such rail projects. The Indian Railways would avail themselves of technical expertise from these nations, Mr. Gowda said.

Rajya Sabha member Ayanur Manjunath and MLC M.B. Bhanuprakash were present.

BJP workers request Minister to upgrade Shimoga railway station

The district unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has requested Union Minister for Railways D.V. Sadananda Gowda to take initiatives to upgrade amenities for passengers at the Shimoga railway station.

President of district unit of the BJP and member of Rajya Sabha Ayanur Manjunath, M.B. Bhanuprakash, MLC, submitted a memorandum to Mr. Gowda in this regard during his visit to the city on Sunday.

In the memorandum, the BJP has demanded construction of a spacious parking lot near the railway station and for introduction of escalators to cross tracks for the benefit of aged persons, women and persons with disabilities.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Manjunath said the schedule of the Bangalore–Shimoga intercity train should be changed. The present schedule was not convenient for people of the Malnad region. The train should depart from Shimoga at 5.30 a.m. and reach Bangalore at 10.30 a.m. On the return journey, the train should start from Bangalore at 6 p.m., he said.

He has urged the Minister to take measures to construct a new railway station at the Vinobha Nagar locality in the city. The closure of the railway gate across National Highway 13 near Vidya Nagar results in traffic blockade. An overbridge should be constructed here to ensure free flow of traffic.

He also pressed for completion of the work of construction of railway overbridge in the outskirts of Bhadravathi city at the earliest.

With projected RoR of 12%, Odisha agree to bear 25% of Jeypore-Malkangiri line cost

भुवनेश्वर Bubaneshwar (BBS): Keeping in view low or negative rate of return (RoR) of Jeypore-Malkangiri and Jeypore-Nabarangpur rail link projects, the state government has urged the Railways ministry to sanction these projects on cost sharing basis.

“The Odisha government has time and again raised demand for sanctioning Jeypore-Malkangiri and Jeypore-Nabarangpur railway projects but it has not yet been sanctioned probably due to low RoR. Both these projects are proposed in one of the most backward Naxal affected tribal regions of the country”, R C Majhi, State Commerce & Transport Minister wrote to Railways Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.

With the projected RoR of Jeypore-Malkangiri link being 12 per cent, the state government has agreed in principle to bear 25 per cent of the construction cost of the project. The funding support of the state government is expected to raise RoR of the project to 17 per cent, higher than the cut off criteria of 14 per cent fixed by the Ministry of Railways.

On the contrary, factoring in the negative RoR of and Jeypore-Nabarangpur railway project, the Odisha government has agreed to provide the entire land free of cost and also bear 50 per cent of the construction cost. The state government has pitched for national status on this rail project, citing that it is going to bring socio-economic benefit to the Naxal affected and tribal dominated region.

Railways-Karnataka agree on 50:50 cost-sharing

बंगलूरू Bangalore (SBC): The impasse between the state and the railway ministry over sharing of cost of projects here seems to have been solved and the 50:50 ratio back on track. The issue was solved at a meeting railway minister D V Sadananda Gowda had with Congress MPs from Karnataka.

The meeting follows CM Siddaramaiah writing to Gowda on the eve of the railway budget expressing Karnataka’s difficulty in honouring the 50:50 cost sharing agreement.

Siddaramaiah had indicated that Karnataka would bear 33% of the project cost, including cost of land, rather than the 50:50 ratio besides providing free land for the project.

Gowda’s predecessor Mallikarjuna Kharge too was one of the MPs who attended the meeting at which Gowda said railways will be financially hamstrung in expediting state’s railway projects if the cost-sharing agreement was not met.

Laying the foundation for a road under bridge in lieu of a level crossing, 146-B, on Padil Bajal Road at Kankanady here on Saturday, Gowda said, “I did not make the letter (from CM) public (and indulge in politics).” Admitting that BJP leader K S Eshwarappa did raise the cost-sharing issue in the just concluded session of the state legislature, Gowda said, “It is only based on the content of the letter and not on the basis of actual letter itself.”

Gowda said politics should not come in the way of development and pointed out that it is for this reason he adopted all the proposals Kharge had made in the interim budget.

Karnataka is one among eight states that share costs of projects, which eventually benefit the states in their development. The CM had cited financial constraints owing to the state rolling out public welfare programmes while seeking a change in cost sharing.

The railway ministry is prioritising execution of ongoing and new projects on need-basis. Accordingly, March 2015 is the deadline for completion of doubling Bangalore-Mysore line and March 2016 for Bangalore-Hassan new line. The budget has allocated Rs. 150 crore for the Hassan line for its speedy completion, Gowda said, adding that Karnataka has got Rs 1,400 crore for various projects.

The Bangalore-Mangalore Express proposed in the budget might initially run via Mysore and be named “Kudla Express” as demanded in the coastal region, he said. This train, post completion of Hassan-Bangalore line via Shravanabelagola, could take the direct route via Hassan, he added. The new train from Kasargod to Baindoor proposed in the budget too will be started soon looking at convenience of various stakeholders, he said.

East Coast Railway earnings up 17pc in 2013-14

भुवनेश्वर Bhubaneswar (BBS) With a focus on passenger service and completion of major projects, earnings of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) climbed up to Rs 12,338 crore in 2013-14, registering a jump of 17.37 per cent over the previous year.

“Our Railway earned Rs 12,338 crore during 2013-14 as against Rs 10,512 crore in 2012-13 and thus recorded a growth of 17.37 per cent over the previous year,” ECoR General Manager Rajiv Vishnoi said.

Railway Minister promises to solve rail issues at Thanisandra, Hebbal

बंगलूरू Bangalore (SBC): Looking at the reports on lack of safety measures at a railway crossing below the Hebbal flyover and files pertaining to Thanisandra Railway Station going missing, Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda promised to solve the issues at the earliest.

The Minister told hat both the issues were not brought to his notice until now. He said he will soon hold a meeting with Railway officials. “Lack of pedestrian safety below Hebbal flyover is a serious issue. I will visit the spot and hold consultations with officials on the ways to provide a pedestrian safe pathway,” he said.

When asked about the longstanding demand for a foot over-bridge at the junction, he said even that would be looked into.

The Minister said that he will inquire into the missing documents regarding Thanisandra Railway Station and take suitable action.

First DRM Cup Swimming Championship held at Visakhapatnam

VIZAG ECRWWOविसाखपटनम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): The first DRM Cup swimming championship was conducted by the East Coast Railway Sports Association here on Sunday. The championship, inaugurated by Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar on Sunday morning, where Madanlal Meena was the guest of honour, was organised at the newly-built Olympic-size swimming pool constructed by the Waltair Division of East Coast Railway.

The championship conducted under the auspices of the Visakha District Swimming Association saw participation of 320 enthusiasts — 200 boys and 120 girls.

President of East Coast Railway Women’s Welfare Organization Anju Anil Kumar was chief guest at the evening session and gave away the prizes.

G. Vishal Yadav was adjudged best swimmer in the boys’ group and V. Meena Amrutha best swimmer amongst girls.

Senior DCM M. Yelvender Yadav presided over the event. Senior Divisional Engineer (Coordination) G.H. Victor Joseph, Divisional Engineer (headquarters) and Assistant Sports Officer Ch. Vishnu Murty, ADME and Assistant Sports Officer Kaushalender, secretary, Visakha District Swimming Association, A. Mohan, general secretary, ECoRSA, Waltair, B. Appanna Reddy, and secretary, Swimming, ECoRSA, Waltair, . Lakshmana Prasad, helped organise the event.All divisional officers of Waltair Division of East Coast Railway were present.

MRVC seeks residential category for Railway Land; bats for longer lease

मुंबई Mumbai:  Taking a huge initiative to streamline the railway development policy in the city, the Mumbai Vikas Railway Corporation (MRVC) has written to the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) to change the stipulation which states that the maximum lease period of land being given out for development must be for only 45 years. The RLDA is the statutory body set up by the railway ministry to commercially develop railway land.

Why the need for a longer lease?

Rakesh Saksena, CMD/MRVC confirming the move said, “We have written a letter in connection to the 45,000 sq mt land at Bandra East which has been unable to get a buyer despite being put on the block two times. This demand for enhancing the lease period was arrived at during talks between MRVC and different stake-holders in the land development policy”.

While the Bandra east land is being readied for development by RLDA, three major land parcels in Bhandup, Mahalaxmi and Wadala have been handed over to MRVC.

Is the residential sector a better bet?

Saksena said that residential development of railway plots must also be considered since the commercial sector is facing a glut, especially in Mumbai. “The ultimate aim of land development is optimum monetisation of the land, so why should residential development be excluded,” asked Saksena.

Senior MRVC officials agree to the above point. The three plots that they have been provided for development – at Bhandup, Wadala and Mahalxmi – are such that expecting commercial development from them might be a tough ask. The Bandra land, these officials say, is however best suited for a commercial complex than a residential colony.

“These three plots might fetch huge amounts if they are allowed to be developed as residential enclaves. Infact, areas like Mahalaxmi and Wadala are seeing a tremendous boom in the construction of upscale residential colonies. These plots, close to the railway stations, could fetch handsome a price,” said officials. “However residential development would mean long lease periods like 80 years or 99 years. No one will line up for a 45 year lease to build a residential colony,” said a senior MRVC official

Why land development is so important?

MRVC officials agreed that land development might be the single-biggest money-spinner for the railways in the city as other forms of revenue – tickets or advertisements- are not enough to power the projects that the railways has been planning in order to increase the capacity of the suburban system.

The failure of the Bandra land development plan has already got the MREVC shooting off a letter to the railway ministry saying that its projects as well loan repayment schedules would get affected if the money from the Bandra plot does not materialize soon. MRVC is expecting around Rs 2,400 crores as its share form the land sale.

It was earlier highlighted how real estate developers are of the view that the railway’s 45-year lease policy is a major dampener since the high land costs in Mumbai combined with the short lease would make any project unviable.

Which places could hold the key for Mumbai?

Currently, the RLDA is thinking of residential or mixed-use development for four of its plots but the length of lease period is still to be decided by the railway board. These plots are at Ashok Vihar in Delhi, Nirala Nagar in Kanpur, Aisha Bagh in Lucknow and Kanchrapara in West Bengal.

Bani-Basohli Rail link on the priority list of Government at Centre: Jitendra Singh

बसोली Basohli: Union Minister in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh declared that rail link to hilly areas of Bani and Basohli as well as declaration of Basohli as a heritage township are on the priority list of BJP led Government at Centre.

Jitendra singhAddressing a huge gathering on his maiden visit to Basohli township after taking over as Union Minister over two months back, Dr Jitendra Singh said that spadework on these two projects have already been started and once project reports are made ready both the issues will be expeditiously followed up by the concerned Union Ministries.

Regarding the growing public demand for grant of separate districts to Bani and Basohli tehsils, the Union Minister said that since the issue has been under the domain of State Government so the people should vote BJP to power in the coming Assembly elections so that this long standing demand is fulfilled.

Dr Singh said BJP is fully aware of the problems of the people of the State and soon after taking over, the Narendra Modi led Union Government took some drastic steps for the welfare of the people of this border State.

He said in a brief period of two and half months, many major accomplishments were made for the Jammu region by BJP Government at Centre, which include the sanction of bridge on river Ravi at Keedyan -Gadyal in Kathua. The foundation stone of the bridge is to be laid by Union Surface Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, he added.

He said besides, an ITI was sanctioned for the Jammu for which location of land is being worked out. Referring to the demand of opening of K V for Basohli, he said KV for Doda has already been sanctioned and for Basohli the issue will only be taken up after land is made available for the purpose.

Dr Singh said that instructions have been issued by Union Surface Transport Ministry for the speedy work on roads including those being constructed under PMGSY and the local administration including Deputy Commissioners have been advised to seriously execute these works and in case they face any difficulty in executing these works they can contact him.

The Union Minister also urged the youth to prepare proper documentation of various projects demanded by them and either pass the same to the concerned MLA or his newly established office at Gandhi Nagar.

Dr Singh who is also holding the independent charge of Science and Technology Ministry also announced that for the first time his Ministry of Science and Technology will hold a Science exhibition-cum-fare at Kathua tomorrow in which All India Director General (DG) of CSIR will also be present on the occasion.

Addressed the gathering, the BJP MLA from Basohli, Jagdish Raj Sapolia said that Dr Singh was very concerned for the development of the area and his last visit to Basohli town was postponed because of Parliament Session. But keeping his word to visit the area shows his commitment for the development of the area, he added.

BJP general secretary, Rajiv Jasrotia in his address while referring to Dr Singh said that it is a matter of proud that someone from the State has made name inside the Parliament and in his office at Delhi.
The gathering among others was addressed by Inderjit organizing secretary BJP, BJP district president Basohli, Mr Mankotia, Mandal presidents Thakur Dass, Mr Padha, Amrik Singh and Mohan Singh.

BMRCL co-branding RFP evokes good response from companies above Rs.1000 Cr turnover

बेंगुलुरु Bangalore (SBC): An attempt at ‘co-branding’ a station of Namma Metro seems to have received ‘substantial’ interest, if Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) sources are to be believed. U.A.Vasanth Rao, General Manager (Finance), BMRCL, said a tender issued on July 9 for co-branding of Trinity Metro Station has received a ‘very good’ response. BMRCL officials are now hoping that the enthusiasm for the technical bid will carry over to the financial bidding process.

Without disclosing the number of bidders, he said banks, real estate and financial companies in the vicinity of the station were the largest segment among the respondents. Mr. Rao said, “Mobile phone companies have also shown keen interest.”

Part of the co-branding initiative is to get the brand associated with names of stations. So, an instance of the announcement that would be made is: You are approaching ‘Trinity (brand name) Station’. Mr. Rao said BMRCL is targeting only ‘big brands’, i.e. companies in the big league with a turnover of above Rs. 1,000 crore, to partner as advertisers.

Besides a 10 ft X 5 ft kiosk to showcase the company’s products, its signage will appear every five minutes (when Namma Metro is fully operational) with the brand name mentioned 1,000 times in announcements . Co-branding would be done ‘wherever feasible’ at other Metro stations as well. The aim was to get a share of people’s mind space with ‘gentle’ advertising that would subtly persuade commuters through visual and audio media, he said.


  • BMRCL invites ‘co-branding’ for Trinity station
  • First time in India a Metro station will be ‘co-branded’
  • Financial, telecom, real estate companies, banks are among those interested

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