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DRM pulls up Rly officials at junction

Bathinda:  Days before the General Manager of Northern Railways was scheduled to arrive at the Bathinda junction, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Anil Kumar Kathpal inspected the junction early this morning. While the GM will review the junction as part of his inspection tour of Bathinda, Dhuri and Jakhal, the DRM came to review the arrangements for the Northern Railway GM’s visit scheduled for November 29.

The DRM accompanied by senior railway officials reached Bathinda junction at 7 am today by a special train. During the inspection, he reviewed the prevailing conditions at platform numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 and pulled up the junction officials for lapses in maintenance and directed them to put their act together before the GM’s visit.

He instructed the junction officials to develop the park near platform number 7. He also reviewed the whitewash, floor, furniture of the VIP and the press conference rooms and directed the staff to make some changes.

When asked why the ticket window at the station could not be kept open 24×7, he said, “The railways have been facing a fund crunch. The expenditure exceeds the income of the railways. As a ripple effect, there is a shortage of manpower because of which the ticket window can’t be kept open all the through day and night,” the DRM said.

He also added that for the convenience of passengers, more ticket windows have been opened in the city. The DRM expressed the hope that passengers would avail the benefit of those windows to avoid heavy rush at the ticket counters inside the station during peak hours.

He also stated that the division was working towards phasing out the old token manual system and installing the automatic system in its place. The train driver or the assistant driver collects a new token from every halt station and discards the one collected from the earlier station. The tokens are meant to give the go ahead to the train signalling that the line ahead is clear. The automatic system would give red or green signal to the train driver indicating whether the track is clear or not.

While earlier, the DRM pulled up the authorities over the lack of sanitation at the platforms, he said the railway authorities were in the process of approving a new contract at the earliest when asked when the junction would get a final solution to its sanitation woes.

SCR firms up Action Plans to face Cyclone ‘Lehar’

Secunderabad:  South Central Railway has drawn up an action plan to face the situation arising out of the impending Cyclone ‘Lehar’ which is forecast to hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh in the next two days. In this connection, Shri P K Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway met the Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh at the Secretariat today (i.e.26th Nov, 2013 and held discussions o­n the effect of the approaching cyclone and its likely impact o­n Railways.

Later, the General Manager conducted a high level review meeting o­n the issue at SCR’s headquarters – Rail Nilayam this evening with senior Zonal Railway officers including the Divisional Railway Manager, Vijayawada Division. He directed them to put the Railway administration o­n high alert and instructed all the staff concerned to remain vigilant.  He stressed o­n the need to initiate advance action towards minimising any possible inconvenience to passengers and undertake required measures to handle any emergency that may arise as a fall out of the cyclone.

Major elements of the action plan being implemented by SCR to be in readiness to face the impending cyclone are detailed below:

  1. Emergency Control Rooms will start functioning at the Headquarters – Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad and also in the DRM’s offices at Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal.  Officials from various departments will be present 24 x 7 at these control rooms to monitor the impact of the cyclone in the field o­n the Railway system and initiate necessary immediate action.
  2. Patrolling of the Railway Tracks by Engineering staff o­n foot has been taken up both during the day and night period all over the length of the Railway line in the coastal region that is likely to be affected by the approaching Cyclone.
  3. Bridges, bunds, deep cuttings etc. at vulnerable locations o­n the stretch of Railway track that is likely to bear the brunt of the cyclone have been put o­n continuous surveillance by positioning stationary watchmen  to ensure the safety of the railway  structures at these locations.
  4. The Locomotives of  trains running o­n the identified vulnerable coastal sections will be manned by supervisors to keep an eye o­n the water levels / safety of the areas adjoining  the Railway track.
  5. With a view to undertake immediate restoration measures in case of any unforeseen circumstances affecting the Railway track, Engineering material trains loaded with sand, boulders, cribs, girders  and quarry dust etc. have been  kept ready at different locations o­n Vijayawada Division – at Rajahmundry (16 wagons); Krishna Canal Junction (23 wagons); Bitragunta (11 wagons); Allur Road (10wagons) and Manubolu (8 wagons).
  6. To take care of any possible damage to  the Over Head Electrical structures/masts etc. due to winds, tower cars with requisite material have been stationed in all readiness at key locations.   Additional Diesel locomotive engines are also kept o­n standby to operate trains with Diesel locos in case of any disruption to OHE power supply as per need.
  7. Senior Engineering officials will be camping at Eluru and Rajahmundry and a Chief Engineer from SCR headquarters is being deputed to Vijayawada to closely watch the local situation for appropriate intervention.
  8. Close liaison is being maintained by the Railway officials with officials of the State Government to assess the intensity and direction of cyclone Lehar  and  the speed of wind/extent of rainfall in the affected sections so as to suitably change the pattern of train operations, if needed.
  9. There is a likelihood of modification in the pattern of running of trains over SCR in the wake of cyclone Lehar in the ensuing days, as per the demands of the unfolding situation. In view of the dynamically changing nature of the cyclone, a close watch is being kept o­n its likely impact o­n Railway services and any changes will be announced at the appropriate time as per need.
  10. With a view to minimize any possible inconvenience to passengers in case the Railway services get affected, Railway machinery  has been kept in readiness — to set up round – the – clock Help Lines as and when required; to open additional  enquiry counters and refund counters etc. at major  stations; to make frequent announcements at Stations; to arrange  requisite catering facilities  etc.  to meet the needs of passengers as per the situation.

New intercity Superfast Express from Chandigarh to Amritsar a hit among regulars

Chandigarh:  The Chandigarh-Amritsar Intercity Super Fast Express, which was flagged off from Chandigarh on November 15, has received good response, with almost full occupancy in the past few days. The number of passengers who traveled from Chandigarh in the train on its maiden journey was 272, which has increased to 841 on November 24. On its first day, only 204 passengers had taken the train from Amritsar, while on November 24, the 691passengers travelled from Amritsar.

The train is attracting more passengers from Chandigarh as compared to Amritsar. On November 24, the number of passengers who traveled from Chandigarh was 923 while that from Amritsar was 691. The total capacity of the train is 926, which includes 78 seats in AC-Chair Car(CC) and 848 in Non-AC Chair Car (2S). The fare is Rs 110 for a seat in Non-AC Chair Car and 385 in AC-Chair Car. The timing of the train has been one of the most important reasons for its popularity. “The timing, the low cost and the comfortable seating arrangement are the main reason why people are liking the new train. Any train which provides comfortable journey in a time bound manner and at a low cost is bound to be a success,” said A K Kathpal, the DRM, Ambala Division.

DMRC releases LOA on M/s.Stone India for Retrofitment of Platform Screen Doors

Kolkata:  Stone India surged on Tuesday after it received Letters of Acceptance (‘LoA’) from Delhi Metro Rail Corportion for retrofitment of Platform Screen Door (PSD) in Line 2 of Delhi Metro.  The order is valued at USD 8.87 million (Rs 289 million).

Shares of the company are trading at Rs.15.50, up Rs.1, or 6.90% at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Tuesday at 2:39 p.m.

The scrip has touched an intra-day high of Rs.15.75 and low of Rs.14.50. The total volume of shares traded at the BSE is 6,957.

In the earlier session, the shares lost 5.23%, or Rs 0.8, at Rs.14.50. Currently, the stock is trading down 62.2% from its 52-week high of Rs.41 and above 10.71% over the 52-week low of Rs.14.

About M/s.Stone India

Stone India, a multi-product engineering company located in Kolkata, has been serving the Indian rail road industry for over seven decades.  A pioneer in brake systems and train lighting alternators, today Stone India is the undisputed leader in locomotive brake systems and has a wide range of mechanical and electrical products for the rail road industry.  Over the years, the company has grown from strength to strength. Today, stone India is part of multi billion INR Duncan Goenka Group and employs 320 people. It is an ISO 9001 accredited company that can boast of cutting-edge manufacturing facilities, systems and practices. The company is committed to achieving international standards of performance in quality, costs and delivery. Other than the corporate office and the manufacturing facilities in Kolkata, Stone India has branches and service Centres located at all major towns and cities of India.  The journey of Stone India in the recent past has been one of meteoric growth, fuelled by the quest for excellence. In the process, the company has made an indelible mark in the industry – the mark of a leader.  Stone India is the Undisputed Leader in Locomotive Brake Systems.

Two more Metro trains to arrive in Chennai soon

Chennai:  Two more trains for Chennai Metro Rail will sail into Chennai Port this week. The second and third train were shipped from Sao Paolo in Brazil in the last week of October.

Just as in the case of the first train, which arrived from Brazil on May 31 and was subsequently taken to the depot in Koyambedu, these two trains will also go through various tests.

The test run for the first train was conducted in the first week of November in the 800-metre test track in the depot. “We will continue to the test the first train for the next few months. The other two trains will also go through static and dynamic tests and be checked for the effective functionality of the air-conditioning, traction system, air compressor and electricity,” said a Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) official.

The fourth and fifth trains are in various stages of completion, he added.

Chennai Metro Rail, being built at a cost of Rs. 14,600 crore, will have a total of 42 trains manufactured by France-based Alstom Transport. Of these, nine will be made in Brazil and the rest at the special economic zone, Sri City in Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, a diesel shunting loco reached Chennai Port on November 15 from USA. This loco will help in pulling trains either in the elevated or underground tracks in case of an emergency or for repairs.

“The loco will always be stationed at the depot. It will also be used for the maintenance of other trains at the Koyambedu depot,” said the official.

Indo-Bangla Rail Link: Progress of Agartala-Akhaura section to be reviewed on Dec 4

Agartala: Officials of External Affairs and Railways ministries would review the progress of the rail link between Akhaura in Bangladesh and Tripura’s state capital Agartala on December 4.

The meeting would focus on factual achievements in land acquisition and compensation arrangements, official sources said. This would be the second meeting of the Project Steering Committee and would be held at the civil secretariat here.

The first meeting was held on May 21 in Dhaka.

New Delhi was keen to establish the rail link as it would connect West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh delegation would be headed by Sunil Chandra Pal, Joint Secretary of Development & Planning and the Indian side by Alok Kumar Sinha, Joint Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the sources said.

India and Bangladesh had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 21 under which the acquisition of land for the first phase of work was to be completed in six months.

Bangladesh was to complete work on its side.

IRCON, an undertaking of Indian Railways, was to work as consultant and the MEA would bear the cost of the project. India sanctioned Rs 253 crore for the work.

Of the 15.054 km railway track, only five km fell on the Indian side and the rest is in Bangladesh. The tracks would be laid in meter gauge on broad gauge format so that it could be converted into broad gauge when necessary.

During Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in January 2010, India and Bangladesh had agreed to lay the tracks between Akhaura and Agartala.

Meanwhile, Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said extension of the railway line from Agartala to Sabroom, about 110 km from here, would be completed by March 2015.

Sabroom was also very close to the India-Bangladesh border and just about 70 km from Chittagong Port.

Rahul Promises Amethi New Trains, Railway Line

Rahul_Gandhi5_20131119Korwa/Amethi:  Promising his constituency, Amethi two new trains and a railway line, Rahul Gandhi today admitted that such steps alone would not eradicate poverty but stressed that UPA government’s flagship MNREGA and Food Security schemes would help change the face of the country.

“I reiterate it several times that only by laying railway lines alone will not eradicate poverty. For this we have brought big schemes. First MNREGS and now food security scheme. This is a revolutionary step, which would change the face of the country,” he said.

The Congress Vice-President was here in his parliamentary constituency to inaugurate two trains and lay foundation of a new railway line in Salon area.

“For thousands of years people used to sleep hungry. Now this will not happen. Earlier there was slogan that we will eat “half roti”, now it has become “puri roti khyenge” (We will eat full roti),” he said.

Regretting that he could not give much time to his constituency, Gandhi said now he had become the Vice President of Congress and had to visit other areas also.

“However, I get strength from this relationship (with Amethi). I had visited MP, Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh and Mizoram recently but I enjoy the most in Amethi,” he added.

Striking an emotional chord with people, Gandhi said it was a dream of his father Rajiv Gandhi that a railway line be laid here and this was being fulfilled today.

“I want to ensure connectivity with Lucknow, Delhi and rest of the world. In Amethi a lot of work has been done for youths and education sector. Such work is not done anywhere else,” Rahul said.

With the laying of new tracks, potato and peppermint growers would be benefited, he said, adding that it was his belief that Amethi should be connected to the rest of the country.

“By connecting food park, in future potato growers would be able to send their chips to rest of the country from Fursatganj,” he said.

Gandhi earlier laid the foundation of 67-klong Uchahar-Salon-Amethi rail line to be built at a cost of Rs 380 crore and Lucknow-Pratapgarh and Lucknow-Sultanpur trains.

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said that Northern railways had spent Rs 4,800 crore in this region.

Railways to use detonators in fog-prone areas

Kolkata: It was introduced by the British rulers many years ago but comes handy even today. As winter sets in, the Indian Railways mulls use of detonators, among other measures, to ensure smooth and safe movement of trains, particularly passenger trains, in fog-prone areas.

Fog impact

When fog severely impairs visibility, the detonators are used to provide audible guide to locomotive crew that the train is approaching a signal. If past experiences are any lesson, most accidents take place when the driver overshoots signal due to poor visibility.

These detonators are flat disc-shaped red colour metal container having explosives mixture that detonates with pressure as wheels of the locomotives roll.

Station masters in various fog-prone areas have already been supplied with detonators and advised to use their discretion in regard to use depending on the density of the fog.

Even railway staff posted in cabins and gates in these areas have been instructed to flash detonators to warn the loco pilots if the situation so warrants. “It is a time-tested method which is used as per procedures laid down over the years,” according to a railways spokesman.

Precautionary measures

The other precautionary measures include pasting luminous and fluorescent strips in overhead equipment, level crossings and busy sections, restricting the speed of trains between 30 km and 60 km depending on whether the foggy zone falls in the automatic signal territory or absolute block territory and extending proper counselling to loco pilots, assistant loco pilots, guards and other railway staff.

The menace of fog in winter is particularly serious in northern region but with the climate change it has started posing threat to other regions as well.

For example, wiser from the experience in past few years, East Coast Railway, having headquarters in Bhubaneswar with its network spread in half-a-dozen eastern states, has launched a special drive to tackle the menace.

It has identified the fog-prone zones within its jurisdiction and accordingly adopted various measures. “We’ve particularly advised our loco pilots to use their discretion keeping in mind the safety aspect first,” a spokesman for ECoR told

RPF panel identifies non-core areas in Southern Railway zone

The areas to be manned by private security agencies and home guards

Chennai:  Acting on the Railway Board’s instructions, a high-level committee of Railway Protection Force (RPF) has identified non-core areas in the Southern Railway zone which could be manned by private security agencies or home guards.

The panel, set up on the direction of the RPF Chief Security Commissioner, Southern Railway, obtained inputs from various railway divisions falling within the zone while identifying non-core areas of railway security where its personnel are currently deployed.

The report and suggestions of the committee was forwarded to the RPF Chief Security Commissioner recently for onward submission to the Railway Board. The panel consists of RPF Divisional Security Commissioners of Tiruchi, Madurai, and Thiruvananthapuram.

The committee has identified railway hospitals, patrolling and guarding of railway colonies, guarding general manager and divisional railway managers’ offices and residences, providing security to cycle/motorcycle stand in railway offices, guarding other railway offices and any other unscheduled duties not connected directly with train operations “non-core” areas.

It said that the identified non-core areas could be manned by engaging private security agencies under the control of the jurisdictional RPF inspector. The non-core activities where home guards personnel could be utilised to assist RPF personnel has also been put forth.

It said the duties of RPF had taken a new dimension consequent to the amendment of the RPF and Railway Acts with the personnel vested with the additional responsibility of safeguarding passengers and passenger areas besides guarding railway property.

The panel also submitted that safety and security of passengers and passenger areas, escorting trains, access control duty, investigation under railway passengers rule, manning and maintenance of security gadgets provided to the force under the integrated security scheme, aiding the local police, and guarding vital installations could be declared “core” areas.

The Railway Board had instructed all railway zones across the country to identify non-core areas, RPF officials said adding that the board would take a final call on this matter.

The whole idea is to accord more attention to security and re-deploy in the long run RPF personnel from non-core areas to perform core security duty for effective functioning. This way, the manpower shortfall faced by the force could be addressed to some extent, the officials added. Training for the next batch of constable recruits is expected to begin in August next year.

Google India head Rajan Anandan buys stake in TravelKhana.com

02f21c7e-df7a-4ff8-ab9c-1a8daf6f9025Google India head Rajan Anandan has acquired minority stake in TravelKhana, an online food delivery service for railway passengers.

Anandan and associates of Pushpinder Singh, chief executive of New Delhi-based Duronto Technologies Pvt Ltd, which owned and operated TravelKhana, together invested about Rs 3 crore in Travelkhana.  Pushpinder Singh had launched the platform in early 2012.

In October, Duronto Technologies had raised an undisclosed amount from Palaash Ventures. Tapesh Singhi, partner, Palaash Ventures, said about 15 million people in India travelled through long-distance trains every day and, therefore, this sector held immense potential.

Last month, a newspaper publication viz.’Business Standard’ had reported food portal TastyKhana and portals such as TravelKhana and Mera Food Choice, which supplied food in tier-I and tier-II cities, as well as to train passengers, were on the radar of venture capital and seed investors in India.

Travelkhana has tied up with about 200 restaurants in cities such as Bhopal, Gwalior, Jaipur, Ajmer and Kota.

A study by Technopak Advisors said the Indian food services industry was a $14-billion market, of which the unorganised sector accounted for $12 billion. Quick-service restaurants ruled the organised sector, with half the market share.

Rajan, former Managing Director of Microsoft in India, has invested in about 40 start-ups in India, as an angel investor. He is also the co-founder of Blue Ocean Ventures, the first seed fund in Sri Lanka.

Central Railway plan to develop independent Railway Bomb Detection & Disposal Team

Mumbai:  Top official says a full-fledged bomb squad will be formed in the next few months to protect passengers and railway property.

Four years after the Central Railway’s Railway Protection Force (RPF) floated a proposal to have an independent bomb detection and disposal squad on its Mumbai division, the file is yet to come up for approval.

The city has seen a series of terror attacks  – serial blasts in seven locals in July 2006, killing 188 commuters and terror attack on November 26, 2008, in which 166 people lost their lives.

The railway authorities had promised to form a bomb and disposal squad (BDDS) in 2009 after 26/11.

The plan is yet to see the light of the day, putting into danger the lives of more than 35 lakh commuters.

Sources said that the government had asked the RPF which is in charge of railway security, to form a separate BDDS. Its assurance, though, appears more to be mere lip-service.

The Central Railway has modern BDDS equipment but no trained personnel to form a bomb detection and disposal squad. The RPF, therefore, has to depend on the BDDS of the Mumbai police for every bomb threat call.

Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF, Central Railway, said: “We will start training our men to handle BDDS equipment soon. In the next few months, we will have a separate, full-fledged BDDS team to protect commuters and railway property.”

The railways plan to soon acquire multi-crore hi-tech security equipment, including night-vision cameras, internet based security surveillance, vapour detectors and bomb baskets to protect commuters and vital installations, he said.

Blasts from the past

  • November 26, 2008: Pakistani terrorists attack CST killed 57 persons
  • July 11, 2006: Serial blasts in seven local trains on Western Railways, 188 dead
  • March 14, 2003: 10 commuters killed in a Karjat-bound local at Mulund station
  • January 28, 2003: Blast outside Vile Parle railway station; one dead and 20 injured

Pilot Project to Auto-Alarm Problems in Coaches by Railways

Indian Railways has started a pilot project for automated information about problems in passenger coaches, wagons and locomotives. The technique involves placing arrays of microphones and sensors to record noise and forces generated by the running coaches, wagons and locomotives.

The new maintenance technique which uses acoustic method of diagnostics is known as Acoustic Bearing Detectors (ABD) & Wheel Impact Load Detectors (WILD). When used in combination together they are known as Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS) systems.

“Conventional method to maintain passenger coaches, wagons and locomotives is to physically examine when these are in stationary condition at the maintenance depots. Under the new technique, the faults in the Rolling stock can be detected while on run which is a big advantage as it will make maintenance faster reducing turnaround time for Rolling stocks thereby ensuring availability of high number of wagons/coaches etc. for operation,” a senior Railway official said. The OMRS is so sensitive and accurate, officials claimed, that it is often able to indicate the specific sub-component that is not behaving the way it should and therefore causing abnormal noise.

“Moreover, this can be monitored remotely using mobile communication facilities. In the conventional method, it is nearly impossible to detect this problem unless major assemblies are completely dismantled and checked in the maintenance depot,” they said. One such system has been installed near Bakkas in Lucknow division of Northern Railway as a pilot project. Officials claimed it has successfully detected a number of wheel bearing faults avoiding the problem of wheel bearing becoming hot, which results in the stoppage of the train at the station or worse still-in between two stations.

The WILD have also been installed in 15 locations across the country in the initial phase and these have also detected faulty vehicles that have caused higher than normal impact force on the rails. These 15 locations are: Ajni, Asansol, Mughal Sarai-I, Mughal Sarai-II, Barwadih, Vishakhapatnam, Arakkonam, Gunakal, Mahalimarup, Dongargarh, Bilai, Hospet, Bina, Itarsi and New Katni.

Karnataka urge Railway Board to take up New Works

Bangalore:  To improve rail connectivity and create more job opportunities, the State government has requested the Railway Board to take up 10 new projects, including the proposed Coach Factory at Kolar at an estimated cost of Rs.10950 crore. The State government has also expressed its willingness to give the land required for these projects free of cost besides bearing 50 per cent of the project cost.

According to sources, the State government has already handed over a memorandum in this regard to the Railway Minister and to the Railway Board through him.

While refusing to divulge the details, principal secretary of Infrastructure Development Department, Vandita Sharma said, “The State government is keen on getting some railway projects sanctioned for the state and we have sent a proposal for the same.”

These list of proposed projects have to be placed under the Railway Planning Commission for it to explore. They are technically and financially feasible and subsequently, placed before the Railway Board for its final approval.

In addition to the proposed projects, the State government is funding 12 of the 30 ongoing railway projects in the state.

Karnataka is the only state in the country to give land free of cost for the railway projects and fund so many projects on cost sharing basis.

Rahul Gandhi to lay Foundation Stone for New Railway Line in UP today

Salon/Amethi:  Congress Vice President Mr.Rahul Gandhi along with Railway Minister M.Mallikarjun Kharge will lay the foundation stone for the much awaited Uchahar-Salon-Amethi new railway line at Salon tomorrow. Congress star campaigner and sister of the Congress vice-president Priyanka Vadra is also likely to attend the programme. Along with the new railway line, Mr Gandhi and the Railway Minister will also introduce the new Lucknow-Prtapgarh DMU service and Lucknow-Sultanpur EMU service.

Earlier, Mr Gandhi was to lay the foundation stone for three new railway lines connecting all the blocks of Amethi parliamentary constituency but later the remaining two projects have been dropped by the railway ministry. According to sources, preparation has started for the launching of the three projects which is expected to cost around Rs 1,331 crores. The 67 km railway line project to be laid would be between Uchahar to Amethi touching the Salon in Amethi district was approved in the union budget in 2010-11 but the foundation stone is expected to be laid after 3 years. Railways were yet to approve the Detail Project Report (DPR) of the new railway line for which the foundation stone would be laid tomorrow. Railways will spend around Rs 380 crores for the project. However, the two other rail line projects, first between Rae Bareli-Tiloi Akbarpur- Enohana of 47 KMs costing 296 crores and the second one between Akbarpur- Bazarshukl- Faizabad of 69 kms costing around Rs 655 crore have been again delayed.

Dedicated Freight Corridor will be a game changer: says CMD/CONCOR

19vzskp3-CONCOR_20_1590904eAnil Gupta, CMD, CONCOR spoke about the performance of the company and the container market in India

Set up in 1988, Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) is a miniratna public sector enterprise under the ministry of railways. It provides multi-modal logistics support for domestic and external trade. Its core businesses are cargo carriers, terminal operations and warehouse operations.

In an interview, CONCOR chairman and managing director Anil Gupta talks about the challenges faced by the PSU and its expansion plans. Edited excerpts:

How fast is CONCOR growing?

We were growing at a rate of 13-percent+ CAGR (compound annual growth rate) till 2008. Since October 2008 we have been affected by the global recession. In the last five years CAGR has gone down to around 3.5 percent. But this year we are expecting to grow at around 10 percent.

Is the container market in India very competitive?

There are 17 licensed container train operators in India and we are one of them. All the players are fighting for the limited volume because of the global recession. Once that ends there will be enough share for everyone. However, CONCOR has been able to retain the major market share which is around 75 percent.

Is the growth of CONCOR proportional to the growth of the market?

In the last three years, CONCOR is growing at a relatively higher rate than the growth of the all the players put together. Our market share, which had declined to 72 percent, is 76 percent now. The growth rate has been affected by the global recession and the present market condition. Exports from India are not growing as compared to imports. As a result there is a heavy import-export imbalance which is affecting all the players, including us.

How was CONCOR able to do so?

CONCOR has a very large customer base which has helped us even during adversity. We have the largest terminal base with 63 terminals. We are covering each and every corner of the country whereas our competitors are confining themselves to only some areas.

We also have the advantage of good frequency of trains. There is service of eight or nine trains at Tughlakabad ICD (inland container depot) every day. So even if the container misses the first train, it can go in the second or ninth train the same day. But a private operator may have a train which runs once in four-five days. So customers are more comfortable with CONCOR.

Our quality of service is by far the best. We have a very efficient tracking system. Customers can log into the website and track the containers. They can predict reasonably well when their container is going to arrive.

We do a customer satisfaction survey every year as a part of our MoU with the government of India. It is an independent survey done by the professional bodies. They have been giving us very good ratings. Last year the rating was above 89 percent.

Does CONCOR have any global ambitions?

We already have one terminal operating in Nepal. This is the only rail-linked ICD in Nepal, where Raxaul is the Indian station and Birganj is the Nepalese station. This ICD has been built by Nepal with the help of Asian Development Bank and we are managing it.

We are planning to extend our services to other neighbouring countries as well. We have been exploring Bangladesh and are trying to link our ICDs in Dhaka. There has been no proper response from the Bangladesh authorities yet.

Similarly, we have made proposals to the Sri Lankan government and it port authorities for starting multi-modal (services) there. We have the ambition to associate ourselves in building up the infrastructure of multi-modal in African and Latin American countries if the opportunity arises. We are in contact with different people; we are looking at tenders being floated there and the local requirements. But nothing concrete has emerged so far.

Is CONCOR awaiting Navratna status?

Our company was cleared for the grant of Navratna status by a committee of secretaries almost five years ago. But they made a condition that this would be implemented once the post of managing director is converted to that of chairman and managing director.

Initially the railway ministry was hesitant. Railways have around 12 enterprises and they have to implement the rule uniformly. This year railways have reviewed the entire situation and has agreed to have the post of chairman cum managing director at all its PSUs except two – IRFC and DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India).

Our proposal was again sent to the department of public enterprises (DPE) to activate the old sanction. But we were asked to submit a fresh proposal which we did. The government will take action after the railway board submits the proposal to DPE.

What motivated CONCOR to develop an integrated logistics park in Visakhapatnam?

During 12th five-year plan we have ambitions to develop almost 15 new facilities, all of which will be integrated logistics park. Visakhapatnam is one such facility. Till now CONCOR has only been running and developing container terminals for handling two kinds of containers – one for international export and import and the other for domestic cargo movement business. But all our new facilities will be logistics parks which will have a bulk handling area in addition to an export-import terminal and a domestic terminal.

Railways have permitted us to handle railway wagons in the private freight terminals. Our new terminals will be private freight terminals, where we would handle containers as well as non-containers.

There is a lot of demand for warehousing which will be generated by GSP and retail. At the same place we will have warehouses for catering to the requirement along with road transport and trans-shipment facilities. It will be one composite place where you could handle everything.

Today if a wagon comes to a railway station it has to be unloaded within a specified time frame. If 3,000 tonnes are coming in for the customer, he has to make arrangements for unloading this at the railway goods shed and then take it further. The customer does not have the space to keep such large containers. They want only 300-500 tonnes in a day. But once our logistic parks are developed, goods can be kept there and could be delivered as and when the customer wants. This would stop all the interim costs being incurred currently would stop.

We are also planning to implement scientific handling of some cargo like cement. Visakhapatnam is one of these facilities which we are developing on around 100 acres of land. We already have a container freight station (CFS) in Visakhapatnam which is chock-a-block full. This would be developed in two phases. The first 10 acres we are developing to build another CFS which will be rail linked. The remaining 90 acres will be used for developing rail sightings, bulk handling, having a proper export-import and domestic terminal, warehousing etc.

How will CONCOR benefit from the upcoming dedicated freight corridor (DFC)?

Railways are doing a great thing by creating capacity ahead of demand. DFC will change the entire freight scenario in the company. It will be a game changer. Today we run a train of 90 TEUs. In DFC we will run a train of 400 TEUs. Today one train takes around 40 hours from here to Jawaharlal Nehru port (Mumbai). From Mundra and Pipavav it takes about 60-70 hours (to reach here). Once DFC comes up the trains from Mundra, Pipavav and JN port should be here within 24 hours. Many of the proposed 15 facilities will be on the DFC. Four of them are confirmed, others we are trying. We are looking for land; we are talking to state governments and different bodies.

One facility has already come on a place called Kathuwas which is around 35 km short of Rewari (near Delhi). We are already operating the facility. Today it is into the current existing rail corridor. Once the DFC comes up it will not take us more than a week to link ourselves to DFC. This facility is already being planned with all the dimensions of DFC. Once the DFC connection comes, once the rail route is laid by companies given the contract by DFCCIL we will be able to link to it and add more connectivity. DFC might fully come by March 2017 but some patches of DFC will be available for increasing the existing line capacity and we will make use of that. Double stack trains are already running between Mundra, Pipavav and Ghatua terminal in a regular manner.

Where is CONCOR focusing more on – east coast or west coast? And why?

Today containers are running primarily on the west coast. In the east coast Chennai and Vizag are ports where containers are being handled. We are already linked with the Kolkata port. We have CFS and two rail terminals in Kolkata. It is linked to places like Tatanagar, Guwahati, and Durgapur.
Chennai is already linked to Bangalore and Secunderabad. Odisha’s linkage to Kolkata vis-a-vis its linkage to Vizag is an issue. We are working on that. In Odisha we are short on terminals. We have already tied up with three terminals. We will get land and facilities. Any port which brings container vessels is business to CONCOR. For us it is of equal importance. The problem is that Indian imports from China are there but India does not export substantially to the Far-East and China. Whatever limited exports are going to the Far-East and China find a better vessel linkage through JN port. Vizag used to get a lot of import vessels but there was no export going back to Vizag. So that circle never got fulfilled. If that happens we are fully capable of running trains to the east coast also. There is nothing that prohibits us from going to the east coast except traffic. If traffic is there we will run train to east coast.  

What kind of challenges the company has faced in the last few years?

One of the challenges we have faced is slow growth. The second big challenge is the export-import imbalance, imports have been higher and exports have been lower. As a result, a lot of times empty containers are required to be run which means logistics costs go up.

Low containerization has been a major hurdle for such business. How is CONCOR addressing that?

It is a challenge arising out of export-import imbalance. This year we are quite bullish. Exports are looking up. We try to take care of that through our rating as well. Normally exports are given a preferential rating so that we try and get more exports. Even exporters are having very challenging environment in the foreign markets. Our traditional handicrafts market was very strong, but after the recovery of the US, China has stepped in those areas. If you are an importer and you have 40 containers coming into port and you speak to some shipping line they will tell you, ‘Please don’t order them here in Delhi. I already have 800 empty containers in Delhi. I have been told by my principal that unless I load these 800 containers of these exports in the northern hinterland I will not allow you to take more imports because container will rot here.’ Therefore, they will tell you to take it from Mumbai. It is a problem we are facing today.

Do you have any plans of expansion into other areas within the transport sector?

Majority of our business is through rail. But we do provide first-mile and last-mile connectivity by road too. We already have a joint venture with Transport Corporation of India Ltd which takes the total contract for rail-road. We are trying to expand to road because of the requirement of first-mile and last-mile deliveries. We have also done some coastal shipping through coastal agencies. But the experience has not been very good due to the imbalance. There is a lot of cargo to be sent from the north to the south by vessels which were being sent through the ports of Mundra and Pipavav. But in the return direction cargo is absent. Therefore it creates a problem. We haven’t done any coastal shipping in the last one-and-a-half year.

We are quite bullish about air cargo. Many of our facilities have got clearance for air cargo. In addition we have taken over the entire domestic cargo handling of Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL). We have made a new subsidiary company called CONCOR Air Ltd which has taken over the business from MIAL. We are going to make a new complex there for air cargo handling in Mumbai and we will shift operation to the new complex from the existing various facilities. We are also likely to take over international cargo handling in Mumbai airport. We have grand plans for getting into this sector.

Safety First: ECoR guidelines for coping with Foggy Weather

Bhubaneswar:  To ensure passenger safety during poor visibility conditions, the East Coast Railway has asked loco pilots and guards to run trains at a reduced speed, even if it affects punctuality.

As per instructions issued by the Safety Department of the ECoR, the guards have been asked to keep a watch so that loco pilots do not exceed the prescribed speed limit during fog.

Nitish orders probe into school girls’ sexual harassment in train

Dhanbad/Patna: A group of girl students of a missionary school in Dhanbad were allegedly harassed and their train seats forcibly occupied by some youths when they were returning from an environmental camp in Patna. In a complaint lodged with the Dhanbad Railway division of East Central Railway (Hazipur) today, a delegation of teachers of Carmel School alleged that unauthorised persons occupied the confirmed berths of 34 of 98 students travelling in the Ganga-Damodar Express on Saturday night.

The delegation, led by the school’s vice-principal Sister Sayrel, alleged that no action was taken when they complained to the GRP of Patna railway station about the matter. The delegation in a memorandum handed over to the office of the DRM B B Singh alleged that the teachers protested against the unruly behaviour of the youths, but the youths did not pay heed. Railway Superintendent of Police of Patna Upendra Kumar Sinha told that he had spoken to his Dhanbad counterpart about the incident.

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked additional director general of police (Railway) P N Rai to inquire into the matter. “It is really an unfortunate incident. I have asked ADG, Railway to inquire into the episode and initiate necessary lawful action,” Kumar said at a function. A large number of youths claiming to be examinees for a railway recruitment test of the East Central Railway at Dhanbad boarded the train from Patna and occupied the reserved seats of the girls. Meanwhile, sources said that senior rail SP of Patna had informed the Dhanbad Railway Division that five GRP personnel had been suspended for dereliction of duty.

Plan for Indo-Nepal Rail link: Kharge

Flag-Pin Indo-NepalGORAKHPUR: Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge flagged off DEMU train between Badni and Gorakhpur on Sunday. He also inaugurated Naugad as Adarsh railway station and laid the foundation for developing Shohratgarh railway station as Adarsh railway station. He said that the government is planning to connect Indian cities with Nepal through rail.

Kharge inaugurated the conversion of Naugad railway station into a model railway station. “Naugad railway station is an Adarsh railway station with better passenger amenities,” he said.

The area of Poorvanchal is densely populated and transportation is a matter of concern. With the DEMU train and upgrading of passenger amenities at Naugad station and Shohratgard stations, the people of the area will be benefited. DEMU train will also run in Poorvanchal. The train will run thrice from Badni to Gorakhpur. The train will not run on Sunday.

“Rs 35 crores was sanctioned for NER in the rail budget among which Rs 10 crores is sanctioned for Gonda-Badni broad gauge rail track,” he said.

“The government is planning to connect Jammu and Kashmir through rail and it is also planning to connect districts near border with Nepal through rail,” he said.

MP Jagdambika Pal said: “The DEMU train is six-day train. We demand a train between Badni and Gorakhpur on Sunday so that in absence of DEMU train on that day, people could commute easily.”

Maharajganj MP Harshvardhan Singh demanded a DEMU train between Nautanwa and Gorakhpur.

“Soon Sidharthnagar district will be connected with cities like Gonda and Lucknow as the work between Badni and Gonda on broad gauge rail track is on at war footing and it will be completed this year,” Kharge said.

NER General Manager KK Atal, Member Mechanical, Railway Board, Devi Prasad Pandey, DRM Lucknow Division, Anoop Kumar and others were present.

Palghat Division to hold meeting to discuss on Railway LC Gates

Palghat/Mangalore: Southern Railways Palghat Division has arranged an offical meeting with Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) at Chennai on November 29 to discuss issues related to road under bridge (RuB) and road overbridge (RoB) to be built at various level crossings in the city.

The decision came in the backdrop of request made by Mangalore MP Nalin Kumar Kateel. Railways Palghat divisional railway manager Piyush Agarwal, who was in city, said that all issues related to railways in Mangalore will be discussed in the meeting. “Let MCC officials bring all files related to RuB or RoB required at Bajal, Jeppu-Kudpady and Jeppu-Mahakalipadpu. We will discuss the issue and take final decision,” he said adding that all grievances will be discussed there.

It may be recalled that the demand for a RuB at Bajal level crossing near Mangalore Junction railway station is pending for more than two decades. While demand for RuB or RoB at Jeppu-Kudpady and Jeppu-Mahakalipadpu too have not been fulfilled, the officials of the Southern Railways and MCC were playing blame game. MP Nalin Kumar Kateel had convened several meetings and the issue would come up for discussion.

The MP, MCC commissioner S Ajith Kumar Hegde, executive engineer GV Rajashekhar, assistant commissioner KA Dayanand and other officials will attend the meeting in Chennai.

Survey/Plans ready for World Class Railway Station at Mangalore

Mangalore: “Kerala Industrial and Technological Consultancy Organization (KITCO) Ltd has already completed the survey and chalked out the plan for upgrading Mangalore Central into a world class railway station,” said Piyush Agarwal, DRM of Palghat Division.

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He was speaking in the railway progress meeting held under the initiative of MP Nalin Kumar Kateel at Circuit House here on Monday November 25.

Regarding overbridge at Baikampady, Agarwal and Shriram Mishra of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) assured of finishing the work before the next monsoon.

About the construction of railway underbridge at Bajal-Padil Agarwal said, “The present proposed underbridge plan is technically not safe for commuters and there is also a technical problem. There is no provision for the required length of box-pushing in the marked place,” he said.

Responding to this, Kateel asked MCC officials to discuss with railway board members on this issue in Chennai. Accordingly, Agarwal fixed a meeting in Chennai for Friday November 29 where the technical problems will be discussed.

Meanwhile, West Coast Rail Yathri Development Committee president G Hanumanth Kamath and M Ahmed Bava, member, Railway Users’ Consultancy Committee alleged that there were delays in underbridge work in Bajal.

On construction of underbridge at Jeppu Kudpady, Agrawal said that Rs 9.70 lac has been remitted by Mangalore Corporation and detailed estimated for Rs 3.612 crore has been sent to the Corporation but so for no response has been forthcoming.

Ganapathi, a college student, said, “The train which plies between Chervathur and Mangalore is delayed and stopped for several minutes on Ullal Bridge and by the time it reaches Mangalore Central station students and workers are late for work and college.”

In the meeting, various problems like extension of the Mangalore-Madgaon train, maintenance of Mangalore Junction railway station, Kabakka Puttur railway station, and Neralakatte railway stop were discussed.  The decisions taken in the meeting were also brought to the notice of the representatives by the MP.

ADC Dayanand, Anil Kumar, senior division manager of Mysore Railways, Vinaykumar, assistant traffic manager of Konkan Railways, and MCC executive engineer Rajasheker were present.
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RPF seizes 400 rare smuggled Turtles from Janata Express at Kanpur station

KANPUR: With the arrest of seven women smugglers, as many as 400 rare turtles stuffed in jute and air-bags were seized by Railway Protection Force (RPF) from the Delhi-Howrah bound Janata Express, at Kanpur Central railway station, here on Monday.

Four women are natives of Kolkata and three hails from the City, they were on their way to Howrah in West Bengal to deliver the consignment, informed an RPF official.

“We came to know about the movement of women smugglers following a specific tip-off and laid a trap at Kanpur Central. Later, we conducted massive search in the general compartment of Delhi-Howrah bound Janata express after it’s arrival at platform no: 5 and recovered 400 live turtles stuffed in jute and air-bags stashed below berths,” informed inspector RPF Sanjay Pandey.

The seven arrested women have been identified as Nirmala, Bachaiya and Rupa of Gaushala locality in Juhi area of the City, besides Anita, Savitri, Urmila and Phooladevi, all natives of West Bengal. They have been further taken into custody for interrogation.

According to a senior RPF official, “Preliminary investigation revealed that the women, who were ticketless, had boarded the train with jute and air-bags containing turtles at Etawah railway station. They further informed us that the animals were being smuggled to Howrah in West Bengal.”

The turtles were later handed over to Forest department officials, who will further release the animals into river Ganga, he added. It might be noted, turtle comes under Schedule I category of the Wildlife Protection Act and involves maximum punishment.

The arrest would surely expose turtle smugglers nexus. “We are also trying to know other smuggling routes, mode of transport and the purpose of the smuggling,” said a GRP official.

TravelKhana secures funding from Google India head Rajan Anandan

New Delhi-based Duronto Technologies Pvt Ltd, the company that owns and operates TravelKhana, an online food delivery service for Indian Railways’ commuters, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Google India head Rajan Anandan, a source close to the development told Techcircle.in.

“Anandan co-invested along with Delhi and Bangalore based Palaash Ventures in a funding round in September-October this year,” the source said. We tried contacting TravelKhana CEO Pushpinder Singh as well as Anandan for the details, but they did not respond till the time of publishing this article. Palaash Ventures spokesperson declined to comment.

Early last month, we had exclusively reported Palaash Ventures’ investment in the company.

TravelKhana was founded in 2012 by Singh, a BITS Pilani graduate who also holds a B.Tech in Engineering from IIT (Banaras Hindu University), Varanasi. Prior to setting up this venture, he was CTO at INCA Informatics. In the past, he had worked with Lotus Interworks and Sopra Consulting in various positions.

Travelkhana enables railway commuters to order food online or over the phone. Passengers can select the food of their choice from restaurants along the route they are commuting. The restaurants are selected and verified by TravelKhana personnel and the platform tracks train status, and coordinates food preparation time with the restaurant to ensure that the passengers receive meals on their seats. TravelKhana said on its official Facebook page that it has served more than 1 lakh railway commuters so far.

Apart from making standalone investments, Anandan is also a member of Indian Angel Network. Some of his recent investments include SnapLion.com, Mobilewalla, Airwoot, Aurality and DataWeave Software.

School Girls harassed by Railway Examinees at Patna junction

Patna:  A group of school girls who had gone to Patna for an excursion along with their teachers were allegedly harassed and teased by a group of men who were also travelling after taking the Group D railway recruitment test on Sunday night. It was reported that the group of girl students from Carmel Schools Dhanbad and Digwadih “were teased for 45 harrowing minutes by 60 youths on a crowded platform at Patna Junction. They made lewd remarks at the girls, forcibly occupied reserved seats on Ganga Damodar Express sleeper coach (S1) and blocked the two doors of the compartment.”

Shockingly no one came to help the girls and their teachers. The RPF sub-inspector and constable in Patna also reportedly disappeared from the spot while the group was being harassed. Darleen Rydqvist, a teacher of Carmel School, Dhanbad, told: “Our contingent had assembled on platform No 10 at Patna Junction before time to catch the train that arrives at 11.30 pm. As soon as it did, hundreds of railway recruitment examinees swarmed on the platform and rushed inside sleeper coaches, including S1. Then, the nightmare started.” Seats for the girls for Dhanbad were booked on S1 and the girls from Digwadih were to go in S2. The group of railway recruitment test examinees were mostly travelling ticketless and forcibly occupied seats booked by the students “One of the girls called up her father, a highly placed man, who got a TTE to accompany us to the AC coach. All 99 of us spent the night crammed into the 62 berths in the AC compartment and somehow returned home,” Rydqvist told.

Special Trains on Konkan Railway route for Winter Season

Good news for passengers !! It has been decided to run special trains between CSTM/LTT- Madgaon/Ernakulam & Tirunelveli via Konkan Railway route to clear extra rush of passengers during the winter season.

  1. Train no. 01001/01002 – Lokmanya Tilak (T) – Madgaon- Lokmanya Tilak(T) AC Special.

Train no. 01001 will leave from LTT on 19/12/2013, 26/12/2013, 02/01/2014 at 00.55 hrs and reach Madgaon at 12.40 hrs . Train no. 01002 will leave from Madgaon on 19/12/2013, 26/12/2013, 02./01/2014 at 13.15 hrs and reach LTT at 00.20 hrs Midnight . The train will have 15 coaches. Train will halt at Thane, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kankavali, Kudal, Thivim and Karmali.

  1. Train no. 01229/01230 – Lokmanya Tilak (T) – Madgaon- Lokmanya Tilak (T)

Train no. 01229 will leave from LTT on 18/12/2013, 25/12/2013, 01/01/2014 & 08/01/2014 at 10.45 hrs and reach Madgaon at 22.30 hrs same day. Train no. 01230 will leave from Madgaon on 19/12/2013, 26/12/2013, 02/01/2014 & 09/01/2014 at 04.30 hrs and reach LTT at 17.50 hrs on same day. The train will have 17 coaches. Train will halt at Thane, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kankavali, Kudal, Thivim andKarmali.

  1. Train no. 01003/01004 – Lokmanya Tilak (T) – Madgaon- Lokmanya Tilak (T)

Train no. 01003 will leave from LTT on 20/12/2013, 27/12/2013 & 03/01/2014 at 00.55 hrs and reach Madgaon at 12.40 hrs same day. Train no. 01004 will leave from -Madgaon on 20/12/2013, 27/12/2013 & 03/01/2014 at 13.15 hrs and reach LTT at 00.200 hrs on next day. The train will have 17 coaches. Train will halt at Thane, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Sawantwadi and Thivim.

  1. Train no. 01067/01068 –CSTM – Tirunelveli – Mumbai CST

Train no. 01067 will leave from CSTM on 21/12/2013, 28/12/2013 & 04/01/2014 at 00.20 hrs and reach Tirunelveli at 11.15 hrs next day. Train no. 01068 will leave from Tirunveli on 22/12/2013, 29/12/2013 & 05/01/2014 at 13.30 hrs and reach CSTM at 23.00 hrs on next day. The train will have 23 coaches. Train will halt at Dadar, Thane, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kankavali, Kudal, Thivim, Karmali, Madgaon, Karwar, Kumta, Bhatkal, Kundapura, Udupi, Suratkal, Thokur, Manglore Jn., Kasaragod, Kanhagad, Payyanur, Kannur, Thalasery, Vadakara, Kozhikkode, Tirur, Kuttipuram, Shornur, Thrisur, Aluva, Ernakulam Town, Kottayam, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, Kayakulam, Kollam, Trivandrum, Neyyatinkara, Kulltturai, Eraniel, Nagarcoil Town and Vallyur.

  1. Train no. 01065/01066 –CSTM – Ernakulam – Mumbai CST

Train no. 01065 will leave from CSTM on 17/12/2013, 24/12/2013, 31/12/2013 & 07/01/2014 at 16.40 hrs and reach Ernakulam at 17.30 hrs next day. Train no. 01066 will leave from Ernakulam on 18/12/2013, 25/12/2013, 01/01/2014 & 08/01/2014 at 23.30 hrs and reach CSTM at 00.35 hrs on Third day. The train will have 23 coaches. Train will halt at Dadar, Thane, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri,Thivim, Karmali, Madgaon, Karwar, Bhatkal, Udupi, Thokur, Manglore Jn., Kasaragod, Kannagad, Payyanur, Kannur, Thalasery, Vadakara, Kozhikkode, Tirur, Kuttipuram, Shornur, Jn., Thrisur, Aluva and Ernakulam Town.

  1. Train no. 00112/00111 Madgaon – Lokmanya Tilak (T) – Madgaon

Train no. 00112 will leave from Madgaon on 23/11/2013 at 1300 hrs and reach LTT at 0015 hrs midnight. Train no. 00111 will leave from LTT on 24/11/2013 at 0055 hrs and reach Madgaon at 1230 hrs noon same day. The train will have 18 coaches. Train will halt at Thane, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kankavali, Thivim, and Karmali stations between Madgaon and LTT.

  1. Train no. 00114/00113 Madgaon – Lokmanya Tilak (T) – Madgaon

Train no. 00114 will leave from Madgaon on 24/11/2013 at 1700 hrs and reach LTT at 0410 hrs next day. Train no. 00113 will leave from LTT on 25/11/2013 at 0500 hrs and reach Madgaon at 1630 hrs on same day. The train will have 18 coaches. Train will halt at Thane, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kankavali, Thivim, and Karmali stations between Madgaon and LTT.

Tripura rail project overcomes fiasco over land acquisition

AGARTALA: The fiasco over land acquisition for the ongoing rail track construction work in between Agartala and Udaipur has been solved, according to Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

The land meant for the rail project has been acquired though there has been a minor problem at Brajapur and Kadamtala in Sipahijala district and this could not be negotiated shortly, said an official of the NFR here on Thursday last.

The ongoing railway project, the NFR sources claimed, would certainly gain momentum after the completion of the land acquisition process. “If everything falls in place, people of Udaipur would be able to see the rail head by December 2015”, said the NFR official.

The 44-km railway extension project has not yet gained momentum due to the problem of land acquisition. The Agartala-Udaipur rail extension project is scheduled to be completed by March 2012 and now the target has been rescheduled.

Besides, railway extension project up to Sabroom would be completed only by December, 2016 as the land acquisition has come up as a major hurdle.

As of now, around 90 per cent land acquisition has been done and only 10 per cent is left out. The remaining 10 per cent land could not be acquired without clearance from the Ministry of Forest and Environment.

NFR sources said, the railway extension track from Agartala to Sabroom would be Broad Gauge (BG) as decided by the higher ups.

Meanwhile, the mega block process for upgrading the existing rail connectivity is likely to start from October next year. During the process, the rail service would be stalled for around three to four months.

However, there is no further development in the Indo-Bangla rail connectivity since tender is yet to be floated. The proposed Agartala-Gangasagar rail project has been accepted by both sides after a joint study. This will also be BG to ensure better rail service between the two sides.

RailTel to tie up with MSOs to expand internet base in rural T.N.

Targets expansion of user base to 25,000 by end of financial year

25TH_Railway_col_e_1663416fRailTel Corporation of India (RailTel), the telecommunications arm of the Railways, is expanding its project to take high-speed internet to rural homes in Tamil Nadu by linking its optic fibre network to existing cable TV connections.

RailTel has entered into revenue-sharing partnerships that allow multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators (LCOs) to draw from its optic fibre cable (OFC) points of presence (PoP) established along railway lines across the State to provide last-mile connectivity to rural households.

Brand RailWire currently delivers Internet speeds ranging from 256 kbps to 10 mbps to about 2,500 subscribers in 16 of the 32 districts in the State. The business is growing at the rate of about 3,000 new connections every month, officials said.

“We are targeting expansion of the user base to 25,000 Internet connections in Tamil Nadu by the turn of this financial year,” said S. Selvadurai, RailTel general manager.

RailTel is also working out the modalities of a memorandum of understanding with Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable Corporation for accessing remote areas.

The firm is also eyeing other southern markets such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, where it has over 10,000 km of OFC.

In Tamil Nadu alone, RailTel has 2,500 km of OFC and about 400 PoPs. RailTel has already negotiated contracts with about 20 MSOs and 133 LCOs, and is looking to expand these partnerships, officials said.

Under these agreements, the LCO will bear the cost of laying the last-mile cables connecting RailTel’s PoPs with households with cable TV as well as upkeep cost. The LCO will also provide the modem switch that separates TV signals from Internet data that is streamed to a personal computer.

Simultaneously, RailTel has roped in a management service provider who will maintain a network operating centre — currently located in Bangalore, though the plan is to have one at RailTel’s Chennai office — and will also be responsible for business development and operating a 24/7 customer care help desk.

Though RailWire offers Internet speeds of up to 10 mbps, the bulk of the subscribers are happy with speeds ranging between the basic 256 kbps and 1mbps, officials said.

Competitive tariffs

The tariffs are competitive, ranging from the base rental of Rs. 299 for 256 kbps to Rs. 1,099 per month for a 10-mbps connection that offers 40 GB date usage under fair usage norms.

“We plan to roll out value-added services ranging from e-ticketing via IRCTC to e-governance initiatives,” said R. Bhaskaran, Group General Manager, RailTel.

Shifting of Tipu Armoury on Srirangapatna-Mysore Section to take 4 more months; Director/Archealogy

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Mysore:  The first of its kind initiative to shift a heritage monument – an armoury of Tipu Sultan period in Srirangapatna has hit a road block with no takers for the Rs.11.50 crore project.

The project of translocating the armoury from its current position near the city railway station to a distance, 100 metres away to facilitate railway track doubling work will not be completed by December as scheduled. In the first round of tendering process that began last month, no one has volunteered to take it up. The project was cleared by National Monuments Authority (NMA) in January.

“The first round of tendering process was started last month and no firms have come forward till now. So, we have decided to continue and extend dates so that some firm takes it up. We are putting serious efforts to ensure we find a bidder. As this is new to the country, we haven’t found any one,” a senior state archeology department official over seeing the process of translocation told.

The method the state archaeology officials have finalized proposes shifting of armoury, which measures about 40 feet in length and 30 feet in width with one meter thick walls without any disturbance to the structure. Unlike the heritage structures, which are made of stones and involves three major steps of numbering, dismantling and resetting while being translocated or during conservation, this 18th century structure has posed a challenged as it is made of bricks and lime mortar. The main structure is built on a pebble structure over a 15 feet foundation.

The proposal states that a new foundation would be built at a distance of 100 meter away. The existing structure, which weighs around 1,000 tonnes with a 15 feet height wall, would be translocated using skidding method on wheels to the new foundation built to fit the structure.

Tenders estimated a budget of about Rs.11.50 crore. “This is a unique method which is first in country. It will take another three months beyond the scheduled date, as the firm is yet to be finalized,” Dr.R.Gopal, Director, State Archaeology Department told.

NFR to run Special Train on 338th Sohidi Divas of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib

Guwahati:  The Northeast Frontier Railway will run a Special Train from Dibrugarh to Dhubri on December 4 on the eve of the 338th Sohidi Divas (Martyrdom Day) of Sri Guru Tej Bahadur Sahib Ji, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs.

The occasion will be celebrated with a three-day programme at Dhubri Gurudwara Sri Guru Tej Bahadur Sahib Ji here under the auspices of Sikh Pratinidhi Board, Eastern Zone, from December 5-7. NFR General Manager R.S. Virdi today said the special train would leave Dibrugarh on December 4 and reach Dhubri the following day.

“This direct special train was sanctioned to minimise the rush of devotees who visit Dhubri Gurudwara during Sohidi Divas,” he said.

The secretary of Sikh Pratinidhi Board, Sardar Kulwant Singh, expressed gratitude to NF Railway for sanctioning the special train which would help devotees.

“We appeal to the devotees and people of all communities to avail this special train to reach Dhubri. It will embark on its return journey on December 7 from Dhubri and reach Dibrugarh the following day,” he added.

Singh said various programmes have been organised to celebrate the event.

An Akhand path will begin on December 5 and a nagar kirtan (procession in the town) will be taken out on December 6. Guru-ka-langar will be served all the three days.

Besides, a mass marriage will be solemnised for the first time at the Gurudwara.

Singh sought the co-operation of the Dhubri district administration, police department and people to make the grand celebration a success.

Over 1.3 lakh used Delhi Metro to reach Trade Fair

New Delhi:  Over 1.3 lakh people took the Delhi Metro to reach Pragati Maidan on Sunday to visit the ongoing India International Trade Fair, recording an all time high footfall.

“At 6 PM today Pragati Maidan station recorded footfall (entry and exit) of 1,32,160, an all time high. Another 50,000 footfall is expected in the remaining hours of the day,” a DMRC spokesperson said.

Last year, the highest footfall was recorded at 1,07,000. The average footfall of Pragati Maidan on regular days is around 25,000.

The overall ridership at 8 PM today stood at 16.22 lakh. Last Sunday at 8 PM it was 14.52.

Senior officials and staff at Pragati Maidan station and inside Trade Fair area are facilitating and guiding passengers since morning, the spokesperson said.

Crowd and ticket management, including security checks are all being managed smoothly and it is ensured that no passenger or visitor faces inconvenience, he added.

Inside Trade fair DMRC officials are also guiding and making announcements for the visitors to purchase metro tickets/cards from special counters inside gate 10 of Pragati Maidan to avoid last minute rush at the station, spokesperson said.

8 Selected as Brand Ambassadors of Hyderabad Metro Railway

Shreyas-SrinivasanThe brand ambassadors campaign for Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) came to end with unveiling of eight persons as the brand ambassadors on Saturday.

The Hyderabad Metro Rail Brand Ambassadors Campaign was conceptualised and promoted by L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited. It was a unique platform created to bring all denizens of Hyderabad to be completely involved with Hyderabad Metro Rail Project.

The campaign was aimed at finding the right flag bearers for Hyderabad Metro Rail from the denizens of Hyderabad to represent various genres – school students, college students, senior citizens, housewives, executives and entrepreneurs.

The eight brand ambassadors were selected through a stringent format and methodology, carried out in various phases to select the right set of HMR brand ambassadors.

This event is the culmination of the selection process, followed by HMR brand ambassadors taking centre stage in representing the Hyderabad Metro Rail.

Work on Gorakhpur-Gonda loop line to be completed by 2014

Siddharth Nagar (UP):  Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge today said that gauge change work on 107 kilometre Gorakhpur-Gonda loop line will be completed by next year.

Kharge was addressing a function to mark inauguration of expansion of passenger amenities at Naugarh railway station.

He said the gauge change was being done at a cost of Rs.1025 crore and so far, Rs.800 crore of the assigned fund has been spent on work.

Kharge said that for expansion of passenger amenities in 35 districts of North Eastern Railway, an additional allocation of Rs.35 crore has been made.

He said that the demands have been put before him regarding development of railway facilities in the backward eastern region of of Uttar Pradesh will be examined and fulfilled.

Kochi Metro: The city never sleeps these days with the Metro Rail work on in full blast

25KIMP_KOCHI1_1662326gKochi:  The shadows cast by hulking machines, sparks from the welder’s soldering gun, serpentine hoses, humungous metal pipes and crater-like pits filled with water – the Metro Rail work site opposite Changampuzha Park, Edappally, looks like a scene out of a sci-fi film.

It is 9 p.m., the 12-hour night shift started an hour ago. Workers lug pipes and poles to the piling site. It is heads-down and work time. A couple of junior engineers from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) supervise work. “They are in the site-office,” we are told.

Workspace Safety

The makeshift site-office is bright-lit. The junior engineers speak to a couple of workers, giving them instructions, meanwhile a worker signs the attendance register. Pooja Sudhir and Roshni C.V. are in-charge. Work is on at five rigs, which keeps them busy all night. They worked at the North Bridge site before being moved to this site. This is Roshni’s first job after graduating. It is exciting, she admits.

The inevitable, safety question pops up. “It is perfectly safe here. Plus there is frequent police patrolling and a police station nearby. We are safe here.”

There is a distant rumbling of machinery, “piling is on. We have to go there,” Pooja says as she hands us hard hats, “a must at our sites,” boots too, because of the slush. “And we will walk”, she says. It is impossible to walk through the enclosed stretch; one has to walk along the road between the partitions and the oncoming traffic. It is almost 9.30 p.m. At a time, during the shift, there are around 50 workers at work. The site wears a deserted look, but it turns out that the action is around the piling site.

There is a cluster of workers and engineers around a machine grinding a pit into the ground. Instructions are yelled back and forth. “In Delhi, we didn’t have to dig so much to reach hard surface. Here, we have to dig as deep as 27 metres because the soil is loose. And this takes time,” says Pankaj Kumar, half in exasperation. The native of Madhubani in Bihar, a site engineer with Jindal, sub-contractor on the project, he has been in Kochi for a week and all of it on the night shift. “I am sure Kochi is beautiful. Only that I need to see it in daylight,” he jokes.

Arrangements for accommodation for engineers and workers have been made at places such as Ponekkara, Pathadipalam and Kalamasserry (for workers on this stretch, we are told). It is national integration of sorts on site – there are professionals from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, Bengal, Orissa and Tamil Nadu besides Kerala.

Facilities

Food is provided for the workers by the contractors. Rest stations are provided; these are either containers with doors and windows or sheds covered with plastic or tin sheets. In some of these rest stations workers are taking a nap. “They are provided breaks in between. Only that it has to be in rotation. There have to be substitute workers,” Pooja says.

The shifts are in rotation. A lot of activity takes place at night on the sites since the working conditions are better, “the heat for instance,” says Pooja on the walk back. “There is no time to take a nap. There is lot walking to do between the five rigs.”

The ‘Union’ workers are a separate category. These are the local workers. V.P. John and Suresh Kumar P.K., the Union workers, are resting in the rest station. John is part of the crew doing the piling and Suresh Kumar is an electrician. There are a few other workers, some are Malayalis. So is this the Union rest station? “No. We are all united. There is nothing like that here,” says John. Working night shift is nothing new, they say.

The facilities? “Well…there are no latrines.” At one end of the site there are a couple of mobile toilets. But that is not enough, John’s shaking head seems to suggest.

JCB operator Ranjan M.G., from Thiruvananthapuram, lounges in his JCB. He has no complaints, “the work here is much better.”

Since work is on at five rigs (the work on piling for the pillars) there is no time for rest, says Prahlad Chaudhary, a welder with L&T. He is welding an iron frame, referred to as a cage which goes into the ground as part of the piling process. Parts are welded to make these. Sparks from his welding gun look especially bright in the semi-darkness.

“Once I finish here, I will move on to the next stretch where my colleagues are working. We get rest also in between so it is not as strenuous as one would imagine.” Prahalad, from Patna, has been in Kochi for the last two months.

It is close to 11 p.m. and Edappally has gone to bed. Everything is quiet except at the site which is groaning into activity. All shops in the vicinity are shut except for Supper Club, a teashop-trying-to-be small hotel. Joseph E.R., the owner, sits outside with a friend. Beef vindaloo, naadan fish curry, chemmeen, chapathi…the menu announces. “The North Indians don’t eat our food but they come here for tea. But the engineers come and eat here.” Joseph opened the shop on a couple of days after work started here.

The Metro Rail will change Kochi. By the looks of it, the change is picking up pace.

Hyderabad Metro: First Light weight, Stainless Metro Train to arrive in May 2014

Hyderabad:  The first train of the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) will be coming from Korea during the third week of May 2014. Stringent trial runs will commence from June 2014 till February 2015, before the service on the first stage of the Nagole-Mettuguda sector is thrown open to the public on March 21, 2015, said V.B. Gadgil, Chief Executive and Managing Director of L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad (L&TMRH) here on Sunday.

All the rolling stock, engines, automatic fare collecting machines, mobility cards, etc. will be coming from Korea. This is the first Metro Rail, in which the advanced radio frequency signalling system is being used since the time gap between two trains would be just 72 seconds.Though the trains are capable of travelling at 80 kmph speed, an average speed of 38 or 39 kmph would be maintained on all the three sectors, said Mr. Gadgil.

The three corridors of L.B. Nagar-Miyapur, JBS-Falaknuma & Nagole-Shilparamam would be given colours – blue, green and red for the convenience of passengers and three inter-sector change facilities would be provided at MGBS, Ameerpet and Parade Grounds, he explained.

He was addressing the South Indian Maharashtrian Association (SIMA) 35th Formation Day celebrations.

Mr. Gadgil said though people were talking about the faster progress of Metro Rail work, he was personally not happy with pace of work being taken up.

“I want the speed of works to be doubled up. “During the next three to four months, sensitive installations would be taken up,” said Mr. Gadgil. Once the Nagole-Mettuguda line works are completed, focus would be on Miyapur-S.R. Nagar line, he added.

Earlier, South Indian Maharashtrian Association president S. Raghvendra and secretary Sudhinder Kumar spoke about the association and its activities conducted during the last one year.

3 UP Govt agencies to fund First Phase of Lucknow Metro Rail

LUCKNOW: UP government has informed the Centre about its order dated November 19 which has directed three prominent development agencies of the state – UP Awas Vikas Parishad (AVP), Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) and Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) – to shell out Rs.350 crore for funding the first phase of Metro rail in Lucknow.

A senior official said, “We wanted to show how much the state government is serious about this project. We have informed the Centre that the three agencies have started working on making provisions for the required allocation. While AVP would take funds from its Awadh Vihar Housing Yojna, UPSIDC is almost ready to take approval from its board.”

Provision of funds by the three agencies would span over three financial years – from 2013-14 to 2015-16. While AVP has been asked to give Rs.200 crore, LDA will have to provide Rs.100 crore from its funds for the special purpose vehicle (SPV) – Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC), which has been formed to implement the Metro project.

While AVP and LDA will provide funds in the form of grants, UPSIDC has been asked to give Rs.50 crore to the LMRC in the form of equity stakes. The decision on this was taken by a high-power committee chaired by the chief secretary some time ago. It was also decided that the disbursement of funds would be made in three consecutive financial years.

The GO describes fund amount from every department and also asks each of them to allocate 20% of the amount this year. The three departments will have to provide 20% of the funds in the first year, 40% in the second and remaining 40% in the third year. Accordingly, AVP would disburse Rs.40 crore, LDA Rs.20 crore and UPSIDC Rs.10 crore in 2013-14.

Metro cell officials said the same funding model has successfully been adopted in other cities like Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai etc., where the development authorities and housing agencies have funded the Metro project.

Few engineers of one of the agencies had earlier protested against the funding liability of the priority section of Lucknow Metro. Responding to it, Metro cell officials said metro would cater to a large part of the society and the infrastructure is supposed to benefit all three agencies in the longer run.

The first phase of Metro rail will be built from Amausi to Alambagh. This will be a part of the North-South (N-S) corridor from Amausi airport to Munshipulia which would be about 23 km. Its groundwork is slated to begin this December with completion expected around March 2018.

Metro cell is planning to avail a large part of funds from the Central government and a foreign aiding agency which has experience in financing such large projects. During November 11 meeting, the nodal committee cleared the Metro cell’s proposal to avail funds from the external agency. The proposal would soon be sent by the cell to the Union Urban Development Ministry for approval.

Nagapattinam railway station a den after darkness

With counters shut, passengers are left groping in the dark
nagapatti46

On Friday evening, when the power went out, passengers bound for Chennai and Bangalore were staring at closed ticket counters here at Nagapattinam railway station. These were passengers waiting to board the trains to Chennai and Bangalore scheduled for 9.40 p.m.

Passengers — children and women — grappling in the dark, were informed that the generators of the station were out of order and therefore the counters were shut.

“I was to take the train to Chennai with my family. But the counter was shut and they suggested I board unreserved with my wife and two children,” Kalidas, a passenger, told.

The counter was finally opened at quarter past nine, when the power returned, leaving passengers with very few minutes for the train’s arrival.

The railway station, equipped with a larger capacity generator for the station and a minor one for the ticket counters, had remained dysfunctional for 10 days, a station source told. With the rise in the number of hours of power shutdown in the past fortnight, the uninterrupted power supply system exclusively for the ticket counters had not been recharged.

The higher capacity generator lighted up the platforms, the waiting room, station master’s room, and booking office.

With no generator, the station is in the dark, said a railway station source.

Source of headache

For the railway police outpost at the station, the abandoned erstwhile accounts office building is a source of headache.

The station with no compound wall and broken fencing is like a thoroughfare used by schoolchildren right when the train arrives, says an RPF personnel.

“The abandoned building should be demolished as it poses serious safety threat to the students who pass by. The blackouts increase our safety concerns,” says the RPF source. The railway station at the district headquarters is found wanting on other counts, says Aravind Kumar, Vice-President, Tamil Nadu Consumer Protection Council.

No coach display boards

With the increase in rail services, the absence of coach position display boards is a grievance for consumers.

There are three trains — Velankanni-Chennai, Karaikal-Chennai (Kamban Express), and Bangalore-Chennai — that arrive at night. None of the three platforms have a coach position display board. Kamban Express has 22 coaches and passengers have to run the length of the platform lugging their baggage clueless, says Aravind Kumar.

Temporary coaching indication boards were placed briefly for the Velankanni festival.

Sanitation problem

Sanitation has been another gnawing concern for the passengers here.

The newly built toilet has been tendered away on a temporary contract.

“After the sanitation workers finish their morning schedule, the toilets are locked up.

Passengers waiting to board the afternoon service at 1 p.m. have no recourse,” says Mr. Aravind Kumar.

Mobile-aided scam for Railway Exam cracked in Bihar

Patna:  Only a very few of us may have seen a mobile phone without any screen or a dialing pad, operated with just a micro-battery and of a size of a matchbox.

But this tiny device was the big thing in the armoury of a gang that was out to compromise the group D recruitment examination, conducted by the East Central Railway (ECR) on Sunday.

These devices, connected via Bluetooth to tiny earpieces – less than 1 centimetre by 4 millimetre in size – were to be worn by candidates taking the examination.

The gang had planned to relay the answers through them. But before it could do so, the Special Task Force (STF) of the Bihar Police raided its Patna headquarters to pour cold water on the scheme.

Four persons – Raj Kumar Singh, Dinkar Pandey, Ajit Kumar (all from Rohtas) and Varun Kumar from Katihar – were arrested from Bhikhna Pahari area under Patna’s Pirbahore police station, as alleged kingpins of the racket.

The examination passed off peacefully as, according to the police officials, the STF intervention foiled the exam rigging plan. Yet, the communication devices used by the gang surprised many officers.

“They are really efficient devices and easy to conceal. They seem to have been manufactured in Russia or the countries around it. The gangs hitting recruitment exams are constantly upgrading their technological skills,” said IG (Operations) Amit Kumar.

Altogether 11 such small phones with Bluetooth facilities, 16 earpieces, six common mobile phones, eight SIM cards, a few original certificates belonging to candidates, admit cards and Rs.55,000 cash were seized from the arrested persons.

“The candidates had to mortgage their original certificates before the examination to get the help from the culprits. Rs.3 lakh were to be taken from each of them upon selection. We are interrogating the arrested persons and investigating whether they were involved in committing the fraud in other recruitment exams also,” added Kumar.

The STF has recently busted several gangs involved in compromising examinations conducted by the state government, as well as, central government organisations.

Derailed Rajdhani Express trundle along road of Railway quarters while Shunting

Rajadhani3TL16Bangalore:  Residents of Mahatma Gandhi Railway Colony also called Railway Yard Quarters situated adjacent to the City Railway Station had a close call when two coaches of Rajdhani Express derailed and crashed through the compound wall before entering the service road on Sunday afternoon. However, the coach capsized and came to a halt before causing any casualties.

The incident occurred at around 3 p.m. when the coaches attached to the engine were moving in the reverse direction to be connected with other coaches in the yard. Soon after the coaches trundled along the road leading to the quarters, creating panic among the residents. Senior railway officials along with the police rushed to the spot and conducted spot investigations.

Preliminary investigations by the police found that the driver did not wait for the signal while taking the train in the reverse, leading to the mishap. The police said the loco pilot gave a statement that he did not see the signal to stop.

According to the officials, the train which had come to the city at 7.30 a.m. from New Delhi was supposed to begin its return journey at 7.30 p.m. on Sunday. The loco pilot was asked to connect the empty coaches from different platforms.

Railway officials who swung into action attached other coaches to the train to meet the schedule timing. Senior railway officials supervised the operations to get the coaches back on track.

The police said Sunday’s mishap was the third such incident in which the coaches of trains derailed in the last two months.

Meanwhile, commotion prevailed in the Railway quarters after the residents, who were relaxing after lunch, came out of their houses on hearing to a loud sound created by the coaches ploughing through the compound wall and trundling along the road.

Since it was Sunday, there was not much movement of the people on the road, said the police. Had it been a weekday, the damage would have been severe, the police official added. Residents said the road had a school and a temple, which attract many people.

Megablock extension irks Commuters in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Suburban train passengers were inconvenienced on both Harbour line and Western Railway due to the megablocks on Sunday. The railway officials, however, said trains were late by just 10 to maximum 20 minutes and there was no “major inconvenience” to commuters.

On the Harbour line, commuters complained that the megablock, which was imposed on the Up and Down harbour lines between Panvel and Nerul stations, till 3 pm was not completed on time. “We had announcements at Kharghar station that the megablock was still going on past 3 pm and would be over in a few minutes. But for 45 minutes, the megablock was not called off. This is frustrating,” said a commuter who was late for his job in south Mumbai.

Another commuter who travels from Nerul said that the trains which arrived from Panvel were very crowded. “It looked like a week day as the compartments were packed due to the delays,” he recalled.

The crowding in the trains continued till late evening, passengers said, adding that the railways should have completed the block on time and ensured that there were adequate number of trains to cater to passengers. “The platforms were packed with commuters waiting for train,” said another passenger from Kharghar. “Though there were announcements, it was not a relief to us. The railway officials should realise that several office-goers depend on trains to go to workplace on Sunday.”

Those who preferred to take the road also faced problems as there were refusals by auto drivers and the buses too were full of passengers.

On the WR, passengers from as far as Mira Road and Vasai complained of train delays upto half an hour. Officials said that there was a jumbo block carried out between Goregaon and Borivali stations from 10.35 am to 3.35 pm on the Up and Down fast lines between Goregaon and Borivali stations. “During the block period, all fast line trains were diverted on the slow tracks between Goregaon and Borivali. Due to this, some local trains were cancelled,” an official said.

Sources said that the block and the cancellation of trains had disturbed the frequency of trains.

Soon, book Season Ticket from your cellphones in Mumbai Suburbans

MUMBAI: Suburban commuters will be able to buy season tickets through mobile phones as the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) plans to embark on a project to reduce queues at booking offices.

The Indian Railways’ information & technology arm had come up with a proposal to use mobile phones to buy tickets but it failed to take off over fears that it would lead to revenue loss.

A senior MRVC official said, “The technology is not useful for card tickets as a person traveling to CST will buy a ticket through his phone only on reaching Masjid. Usually, there is no checking inside trains. He may buy the ticket from Masjid to show he is a bona fide traveler if caught by a TC at CST.”

The official said, “The system can work like the e-ticketing one of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation. The commuter can book a season ticket through a debit card or online banking. On completion of the transaction, the commuters will get a confirmation SMS or mail, that can be used as a valid ticket.”

The official said the interface will have to be developed by the vendor and approved by the board. He said that if the project gets through, there will be applications developed on various phone-operating systems. Various measures, including introduction of smart card-operated automated ticket vending machines (ATVM) and coupon validating machines

have failed to shorten queues at booking windows. A Western Railway official said this system will also reduce ticketless travel.

WR sells nearly 6.54 lakh tickets daily, of which 40,000 are season tickets; it is 10 lakh tickets daily, of which 55,000 are season tickets for Central Railway.

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