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First train with Electric Loco flagged off on the Newly Electrified Secunderabad-Wadi Section

Secunderabad (SC): The South Central Railway crossed another milestone in track electrification on Tuesday when the first passenger train, hauled by an electric locomotive, ran from Secunderabad to Wadi on Tuesday, marking the commissioning of the electrification of 161-km-long Lingampalli-Wadi section of the Secunderabad-Mumbai line.

The train was flagged off by SCR General Manager PK Srivastava other senior officials. At present, 41 percent, ie 2,375 route km out of 5,810 route kom, on SCR has been electrified. Electrification of the Guntakal-Wadi section is in progress and work on the Guntur-Guntakal section will be taken up shortly.

The electrification of the Secunderabad-Wadi section was completed in four phases. The 27-km-long Secunderabad-Lingampalli stretch had been electrified earlier as a part of the MMTS project. Later, work on the Lingampalli-Vikarabad (50 km), Vikarabad-Tandur (41 km) and Tandur to Wadi (70 km) sections was completed.

The commissioner for railway safety has given his clearance after conducting inspection and trial run recently, facilitating the commencement of train operations with electric locomotives. Passenger and goods trains, if hauled by electric locomotives, can run faster leading to saving of valuable time and fossil fuels. It offers pollution-free and faster transportation. Freight traffic, mainly of coal, cement and clinker will become easier now in the section.

This prestigious project has been executed by the Secunderabad unit of the Allahabad-headquartered Central Organisation for Railway Electrification at a cost of Rs 204 crore.

At present, South Central Railway has got 41% of its route kms electrified i.e. 2375 route kms, out of a total of 5810 route kms. In addition, electrification works o­n another major section from Guntakal to Wadi are under active progress and works o­n Guntur to Guntakal route will also be taken up shortly.

Running the trains o­n electric traction yields several operational and economic benefits. An extended network of electrified Railway lines will enable seamless running of trains over long distances without any need for loco change from electric to diesel and vice-versa. It reduces the travel time benefiting the passengers and freight customers. Due to lesser detentions, average speed of the goods trains and passenger trains increases, which in turn improves availability of crew. Electric traction offers pollution-free transportation and considerable fuel economy, which is socio-economically beneficial.

P.K.Srivastava, General Manager/SCR complemented the team of SCR’s officers for the commendable achievement of electrifying the Secunderabad-Wadi Section.

Golden Rock Railway Workshop bags order for 1,000 container wagons

First rake of 45 container wagons of 2011 order to be dispatched

Ponmalai Golden Rock (GRC):  The railway workshop at Golden Rock here has bagged a fresh order for manufacture of 1,000 container wagons valued at Rs. 365 crore from the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR).

A letter of intent for the production of bogie low container (BLC) wagons was issued by the CONCOR, a Government of India undertaking, recently.

An agreement would soon be signed by Southern Railway top officials and the CONCOR, workshop authorities here said.

Engaged in a myriad of activities, the workshop is already manufacturing 1,000 BLC wagons, costing Rs. 291 crore, following an order it received from the CONCOR in 2011. The first rake of 45 container wagons of the 2011 order would be dispatched on Tuesday.

The BLC wagons are meant for transportation of ISO containers. The wagons have been provided with automatic twist lock to keep the container intact with wagons. An airbrake system with automatic load sensing device has also been provided.

The workshop, which started producing wagons from 1962, has manufactured more than 35,000 wagons of 53 varieties. Production work for CONCOR started in 2003. The capacity, facility, quality and timely deliver of wagons enabled the workshop in receiving orders from the CONCOR continuously.

The workshop has manufactured 3,820 container wagons worth Rs. 850 crore so far.

In addition to producing container wagons, the workshop, over 80 years old, is also involved in the manufacture of oil-fired steam locomotives for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and stainless steel wagons besides carrying out periodic overhaul of diesel locomotives and passenger coaches.

Palani-Tiruchendur train service via Madurai flagged off

Trial run between Palani and Pollachi within two months

LINKING TEMPLE TOWNS:S.R.Jayadurai, MP, flagging off the new train service in Tiruchendur on Sunday.— Photo: N. RajeshTiruchendur (TCN):  Trial run on the newly laid broad gauge track between Palani and Pollachi would be conducted within two months, Union Minister for Shipping G.K. Vasan said on Sunday. Flagging off the new passenger train (No.056769) to Tiruchendur at Palani railway station, as announced in the Railway Budget 2013 -14, he said the Commissioner for Rail Safety would inspect the new track.

Commissioning of signal system was at the final stage, and the work was in progress in the Pollachi section, he said. After the gauge conversion work was completed, Dindigul-Palani passenger train was introduced in 2011, and Palani-Chennai express train was launched in 2013.

The Palani-Tiruchendur train would cover four of the six abodes of Lord Muruga (arupadai veedu). The government was keen on improving infrastructure facilities for the benefit of pilgrims visiting the temple. Laying of separate walkers’ path between Dindigul and Palani was under way, Mr.Vasan noted.

The members of Passengers’ Association said office-goers expressed their happiness over the train timings. “The train that departs at 9.15 a.m. will be of no use to us. Now, we have three services in the morning and two services in the evening,” they added.

The passenger train will leave Palani station at 7.20 a.m., reach Dindigul at 8.45 a.m. and leave the station at 8.50 a.m.

The train which will arrive at Tiruchendur at 4 p.m. will stop at Chathirapatti, Oddanchatram, Akkaraipatti, Dindigul, Ambathurai, Kodai Road, Sholavandan, Madurai, Tirupparankundram, Tirumangalam, Virudhunagar, Sattur, Kovilpatti, Kadambur, Vanchi Maniyachchi, Naraikinaru, Talaiyuthu, Tirunelveli, Palayamkottai, Seydunganallur, Thathankulam, Srivaikundam, Alwathirunagari, Nazareth, Kachchanavilai, Kurumbur, Arumuganeri and Kayalpattinam.

In the return direction, the train (No.056770) will leave Tiruchendur at 10 a.m. and reach Palani at 7.20 p.m. It arrives at Dindigul at 5.35 p.m. and leaves the station at 5.40 p.m. The fare from Tiruchendur to Palani is Rs.60.

Tuticorin MP S.R. Jayadurai flagged off Tiruchendur–Palani passenger train at Tiruchendur at 10.40 a.m.

MUD Officials creates tussle over appointment of Sreedharan as Advisor to Lucknow Metro

Some in the Union Urban Ministry are seeking a re-think on E. Sreedharan’s appointment as Chief Adviser to Lucknow Metro

A tussle is brewing between the Union Urban Development Ministry and the Uttar Pradesh Government over the appointment of E. Sreedharan as chief adviser for the Lucknow metro rail project.

According to a source, an advisor to the Uttar Pradesh government was instrumental in roping in Dr. Sreedharan, but the move is being strongly contested by some senior officials in the Ministry. There are some concerns that have been expressed over the appointment, especially after his stint with the Kochi Metro has come in for criticism.  Though an announcement has been made, there is a demand from some sections in the Ministry for a re-think on the appointment,said a source.

However many IASs from the UP Government argue that the tussle was more created by the Kochi Metro’s former Managing Director Mr.Tom Jose against Sreedharan and it require no debate on the outstanding contributions Mr.E.Sreedharan made to the Metro Rail revolution in India.  It is learnt that Akhilesh is also keen to have Sreedharan as Chief Advisor to Lucknow Metro Railway.

Clueless Northern Railway authorities run helter-skelter on Fire outbreak in Guard’s Coach

Jalandhar (JUC):  Even though 24 hours have passed, the Northern Railway authorities seemed to be clueless about the cause of the fire in a parked coach of the Amritvani Express here late last night.

Although the local authorities conducted a preliminary investigation round into the incident, they were unable to find out the cause of the fire that had engulfed the guard’s cabin and destroyed it completely.

“There is a possibility of a short-circuit that may have caused the fire outbreak in the cabin, but it is not confirmed. Only the detailed investigation that will happen sometime next month will reveal the exact cause of the tragedy,” said SS Walia, station superintendent, city railway station.

On Sunday, the local authorities constituted a team of five members, comprising SS Walia, Station Superintendent, City Railway Station, Parminder Singh, SSE, (Carriages and Wagon), Sharda, SSE (Loco), SP Singh, SSE (Power) and Narinder Singh, ASI (RPF), immediately after the incident.

The team visited the spot around 5 am and video-graphed the whole scene. After doing the preliminary investigation for almost four hours, the team left the spot at around 9.30 am. Two officials were also reported to have joined the investigations from Amritsar.

The coach was parked on track No. 6 to begin its journey to Ambala. Earlier, it had arrived on the city railway station carrying around 1,600 passengers from Begumpura. After its arrival, it was taken to the yard for cleaning and later was parked on track No. 6 to be sent back to Ambala. It was only during this time that the railways staff at the station saw some smoke coming out from the guard’s cabin. They immediately informed the fire services. The fire was so severe that it took 45 minutes to control it. The rest of the coaches were immediately separated from the guard’s cabin and were sent to Ludhiana. A detailed investigation into the case will be held later next month.

Bangalore based MRO-TEK signs pact with Rlys to deploy MAPLE 4C to enhance Safety

Bangalore (SBC): MRO-TEK, a pioneer in the field of communication and networking has signed a pact with South Central and South Eastern Railways in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to deploy MAPLE 4C to enhance railway safety and lower the risk of derailments.

MAPLE 4C is the multiplexer used in Key areas of Indian Railways’ Daily Operations.

Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km of track over a route of 65,000 km and 7,500 stations, transporting over 25 million passengers daily. The safety of this mammoth network is a formidable challenge.

MRO-TEK’ s MAPLE 4C is playing a significant role in two crucial segments of railway safety in India.

Firstly in the area of axle counter system. When a train has to pass from Station A to Station B, axles are counted at both points and matched to ensure that all carriages have crossed successfully. Only then signal for the train to pass through is given. The interface from the counter at every point is analog, which is converted to a digital signal before being transmitted to the other point.

In the earlier days, this information was transmitted through copper cables, which had a tendency of getting cut often. With MAPLE 4C, the signal is converted to a digital format and transmitted through fibre, ensuring total reliability.

Secondly, in the area of Voice Logger at Level Crossings. Commands at level crossings are given by the station master to the gateman through telephone. These conversations must be stored so that they can be retrieved later to analyse why the train was stopped.

To ensure accurate storage without loss of clarity, the analog voice is digitized and multiplexed using MAPLE 4C and then carried to the Voice Logger through fibre.

S. Narayanan, Chairman and Managing Director of MRO- TEK said – “We are extremely pleased to have won this contract to deploy our most advanced technology to further enhance the safety in Indian Railways. Our team will continue to leverage our strong technical capability, solid execution and reliable products operation, to further penetrate into the Indian railways and explore international opportunities in order to create value for our shareholders.”

Fatalities recorded by GRP prove Kurla as one of the Deadliest Stretch in Mumbai

Kurla (CLA): Fatalities recorded by the Government Railway Police (GRP) in 2013 have helped map the most dangerous stations/stretches on Mumbai’s lifeline.

Kurla stretch in the suburban railway network recorded the highest number of fatalities (444) and topped the list in deaths due to falling off trains (121). Kalyan stretch recorded the maximum trespassing fatalities (246) and 420 casualties in all, while Mumbai Central — each covering three to six contiguous stations — saw the most deaths (7) due to falls into the gap between train and platform.

A total of 3,506 commuters were killed and 3,318 injured between January and December in 2013, showed the statistics accessed through RTI by activist Chetan Kothari.

The Kurla division, which stretches from Kurla to Mulund station, faces severe overcrowding during peak hours. If 121 people died after falling off trains (the highest), 214 people died crossing tracks (the second highest), two died after hitting railway poles (second highest) and one after falling into the gap between train and platform. It’s among the few divisions to record casualties in all four types of accidents.

“Kurla is an important junction where passengers can opt to change trains for harbour line or central main line. Several passengers also get off here to take a bus to BKC, Santacruz or Bandra. On Monday alone, we had three commuters falling of trains. The density of crowds is far greater here compared to other stations,” said senior inspector Shivaji Dhumal, Kurla GRP. To ease some of its problems, the MRVC has announced a project to interconnect the foot overbridges (FOBs) and build escalators.

Further down the line, Kalyan division — extending from Kalyan to Kasara on one line and Kalyan to Badlapur on the other — saw 246 persons die while crossing tracks. Activists blame insufficient fencing and FOBs. “Large tracts of slums occupy areas adjacent to the tracks. Most of the people found to be crossing tracks for a short-cut are slum-dwellers,” said senior inspector Somnath Tambe, Kalyan GRP.

In June 2013, 20-year-old student Puja Patil lost both her legs while trying to get on a local at Dadar (WR). After battling for life for 41 days, she succumbed to her injuries. Dadar station is part of the Mumbai Central division (Mahim to Mumbai Central), which recorded the maximum number of deaths of commuters who fell into the gap between train and platform.

In the western suburbs, the Borivli division came across as a deadly stretch, recording 345 deaths in all — 184 for track crossings , 97 caused by falling off trains, 3 crushed when they fell into the gap (the second highest after Mumbai Central) and one killed after hitting a pole.

The statistics also show that Vasai, Karjat and Kurla divisions had the most deaths due to hitting poles. “Stunts could be a cause,” said D B Pable, senior inspector of Karjat GRP, which covers from Vangani to Khopoli stations.

C.Rly spine-chillied on scary decoupling of 5 Bogies of running train packed with Commuters

Mumbai: Monday’s incident where five bogies packed with commuters got detached from a 12-car local train on its way to Kalyan has alarmed Central Railway authorities.

A railway official said, “We will inspect all rakes to erase even a remote possibility of recurrence of this incident.” It is the first time that a bar of the Schaku coupler broke off in Mumbai. Schaku couplers are the most advanced and best in the world. Its failure has come as shock to the authorities. A bar with holes at the inner ends through which cars are connected with a bolt is called a coupler.

“Breaking of the bar coupler is a serious incident. Orders for this type of material are placed at the board level. We will have to look for the lot in which this defective coupler came. All other couplers in the consignment will be traced and inspected,” the official said These types of couplers are generally used for Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) rakes kept in formation of three or four cars. They can be disconnected only in a workshop.

“Bar couplers are designed to possess enough strength to withstand the stress when trains accelerate, decelerate or stop on application of brakes. If the coupler breaks, the train can witness parting and abrupt braking, which can lead to unexpected jolts in the coach and can cause people to fall off trains. Fortunately, Monday’s decoupling did not lead to any injury and caused only disruption of service.”

Ultrasound technology will have to be used to inspect any deformities in manufacturing of the couplers, said the railway official.

Monday’s incident had taken place on the slow track between Diva and Kopar around 6.30pm. The stretch had to be shut for almost two hours, leading to delays and overcrowding. CR has ordered an inquiry into the mishap and the process has begun.

The commissioner of railway safety, Central Circle, too is likely to seek an explanation from CR authorities. However, he cannot conduct an inquiry into the accident as there was no loss of life or injury due to the incident.

Railway’ SMS alert service a boon for Passengers

New Delhi: Patnaites have welcomed the railways’ move to provide automatic SMS alerts to waitlisted passengers. This facility, demanded for long, has been provided for in the interim rail budget presented in the Lok Sabha recently by railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge.

The railways’ integrated inquiry system, 139, currently provides PNR status to waitlisted passengers in response to SMSes or calls. The call on 139 is an expensive one for a common passenger. Sometimes many calls are to be made or many SMSes are to be sent to 139 to get the exact information about the PNR status and confirmation of berths as well. Most of the people, therefore, preferred to check their PNR status on arrival at the station.

The automatic SMS alert to waitlisted passengers would prove a boon for them as they would be freed from the last-minute tension pertaining to a journey. Besides, they can also plan their journey accordingly in case of non-confirmation of berths.

That apart, the railways’ decision to provide online booking facility for meals has also been hailed as a step towards further improving passenger amenities on running trains. “The railways should display the number at which the meals could be booked in each superfast train so that passengers could know about this facility,” said a passenger from Patna. They, however, added the railways would have to keep a tab on the quality of meals being served to passengers on trains through the online booking system.

According to sources, the railways has also planned to provide ‘cash accepting automatic ticket vending machine’ at all major locations of railways across the country. Patna Junction will be one of them, sources said and added this facility would help passengers get platform tickets or short-distance journey tickets on their own.

According to a Railway Board official, the railways has already announced a train inquiry information system on cellphones. A wake-up call to passengers on demand is also under consideration on select routes. This facility will be provided in premier trains on a trial basis. Details are being worked out by the railways’ technical experts, he said.

Chennai Central receives a Quick Clean-up before Panel visit

Chennai (MAS): Central railway station was hastily cleaned up on Tuesday after a four-member passenger amenities committee caught officials off guard during a surprise visit to Egmore and Chennai Beach stations on Monday.

By the time the committee members arrived at Central on Tuesday, everything was in order. The usual stench was absent and a low-priced restaurant on platform two looked spic and span. Platforms had been swept, bleaching powder sprinkled liberally on tracks and taps at the drinking water kiosk were clean and shiny.

The team didn’t find anything amiss expect for a few abandoned trolleys blocking passengers’ path on a platform.

“Central station is better because it is a major station and there are facilities for maintenance. Beach railway station was dirty and officials told us there was no water for cleaning. I will speak to the municipal corporation to provide water if that is the reason,” committee chairman Chalavadi T Narayanaswamy said.

The committee visited about 100 stations in 17 states and found “varied practices adopted by different zones for cleanliness”. “At some stations there is mechanised cleaning,” he said, adding that they would recommend mechanised cleaning of station .

He said railways had received complaints about discourteous behaviour and over-charging by licensed porters. “I have instructed officials to issue laminated photo identity cards with a rate list on the back. They should pin it on their shirts,” he said.

He said there was no shortage of funds to improve passenger amenities. “We will recommend collecting a 1% or 2% passenger amenities cess. This will solve the problem of fund crunch if any.”

Railways unable to identify partner for Kanjikode Rail Coach Factory

Kanjikode (KJKD):  The Rs.550-crore rail coach factory at Kanjikode in Palakkad remains uncertain with the rail budget “silent” on it and Railways unable to identify a partner for the public-private partnership project.

Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge’s announcement that the rail wheel plant at Chhapra, rail coach factory at Rae Bareli, and the diesel component factory at Dankuni, announced along with the Kanjikode factory in 2008-09, have commenced production puts things in perspective.

Officials are sceptical whether the factory, that would have triggered development of rail network and industrialisation in the State, will take off the way things are progressing.

Authorities have adopted a go-slow approach as the Request For Qualification (RFQ) floated to identify a private player for the project elicited response from a Chinese firm.

Railways are planning to set up facilities for making Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB)-design stainless steel and state-of-the-art aluminium coaches at Kanjikode.

An official said it would be difficult to get a private player as the LBH technology was restricted to a handful of players.

“Unless it is made a South Asian manufacturing base, such players will not look towards Kanjikode. The domination of Chinese firms in this sector is another issue that cannot be ignored.”

The move to partner Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) had also failed to take-off as the project was on the PPP mode.

Additional land

Railways had been able to complete only 70 per cent construction of the boundary wall around the 92.04 hectares handed over by the State.

The boundary work could not be completed unless the additional land sought was handed over to Railways.

Sources said the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was yet to de-notify 36 hectares of forestland, additionally sought. The land was being sought to lay the assembly lines to its shape and specifications.

Going for public-public sector partnership instead of the public-private partnership mode would help put the project back on rails, it is said.

ADB signs $130 Million Loan deal with India under Railway Sector Investment Program

Tranche-II to Improve Rail Infrastructure along Key Routes

New Delhi:  The Government of India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed here yesterday a $130 million loan to help India improve rail services along some of its busiest and most critical freight and passenger transport routes. The second tranche loan is part of the $500 million Railway Sector Investment Program approved by ADB in 2011, and will finance track components for 840 kilometers of additional tracks along existing railway lines.

The signatories to the loan were Mr. Nilaya Mitash, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; and Ms. M. Teresa Kho, Country Director (INRM), on behalf of ADB. The project agreement was signed by Mr. Satish Agnihotri, CMD, RVNL.

Mr. Mitash said the investment program targets busy freight and passenger routes in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, including the critical ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ corridor that connects Chennai with Mumbai. Many of the lines traverse through impoverished rural areas and carry large number of passengers and huge quantities of minerals and other economically important freight.

M. Teresa Kho, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission said that the improvements in rail infrastructure will help deliver more energy efficient, safe, reliable, and environmentally-friendly rail services along key high-density routes. This will result in direct and indirect economic opportunities for about 21 million people in program areas who will benefit from faster travel times, lower costs, and improved links to markets, production centers, and social service facilities.

The second tranche from the ordinary capital resources of ADB has a 25-year term including a grace period of 5 years, commitment charge of 0.15% per year (on un-drawn balance), Maturity Premium of 0.10% (by straight line method)and interest rate to be determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR-based lending facility. The Government of India will provide counterpart finance of more than $97.2 million to cover the balance of the costs of the second tranche which is estimated at more than $227.2 million. The Ministry of Railways carries out the program which is due for completion by December 2018.

Commodity wise Cargo Revenue by Railways goes up by 10.37%

New Delhi: The railways have generated INR 765.01 billion of revenue earnings from commodity-wise cargo volume during April 2013 to January 2014 as compared to INR 693.13 billion during the corresponding period of previous year, registering a boost of 10.37%.

Railways carried 866.14 million tonnes (mt) of commodity-wise cargo volume during April 2013- January 2014 as compared to 827.82 mt carried during the corresponding period of previous year, registering an boost of 4.63%.

Out of the total earnings of INR 87.95 billion from commodity-wise freight volume during the month of January 2014, INR 37.73 billion came from transportation of 46.55 mt of coal, followed by INR 8.66 billion from 11.39 mt of iron ore for exports, steel plants and for other domestic user, INR 8.65 billion from 10.65 mt of cement, INR 7.79 billion from 5.03 mt of foodgrains, INR 4.71 billion from 3.56 million tons of petroleum oil and lubricant (POL), INR 5.25 billion from 3.49 mt of Pig iron and finished steel from steel plants and other points, INR 3.78 billion from 3.61 mt of fertilizers, INR 1.44 billion from 1.38 mt of raw material for steel plants except iron ore, INR 3.80 billion from 3.91 mt by container service and INR 6.09 billion from 6.83 mt of other goods.

Railway Panel to recommend Cess on Passengers to maintain Stations

Chennai (MAS): A passenger amenities committee of the railways plans to recommend a cess on passengers to maintain stations and trains clean if there is a shortage of funds.

The four-member committee headed by Chalavadi T Narayanaswamy found that the railways were struggling to maintain stations because of huge patronage. “We will recommend collecting a one or two percent passenger amenities cess on the lines of education cess charged by other establishment. This will solve the problem of fund crunch if any,” said Chalavady T Narayanaswamy after inspecting Chennai Central Railway Station on Tuesday.

“We have also told the railways to introduce mechanised cleaning of platforms and stations as early as possible because manual scavenging cannot be allowed any more. The railways are struggling to keep stations clean because manual scavenging has been abolished by an order by the ministry,” he said.

The committee made a surprise visit to Egmore, Beach and Perambur railway stations on Monday.

“Central Railway Station is better because it is a major station and there are facilities for maintenance. Beach railway station was dirty and officials have told us that there was no water available to keep the station clean,” he added.

Railway stations are not clean because of the huge volume of people using them at large stations and due to lack of facilities and shortage of water and such limitations at small stations, according to him.

The committee, which has so far visited about 100 stations in 17 states, found that there were “varied practices adopted by different zonal railways for cleanliness. It is the medical department that is in charge at some stations while it is the commercial department at others. At some stations there are mechanised cleaning. The ministry should issue clear cut guidelines to all zonal railways on cleanliness.”

Narayanaswamy said that the railways had received a number of representations and complaints about discourteous behaviour and over charging by licensed porters.

“I have instructed officials to issue a laminated photo identity card with name and address of porters on one side and rate list on the other side. They should pin it on their shirts. There should also be provision of temporary and permanent withdrawal of their badges,” he said.

The committee was constituted in July 2013 and submits report once in a quarter to the railway board and the ministry. The committee will visit Thiruvananthapuram, Kanyakumari and Nagercoil stations on Wednesday.

NTPC nod to Katwa Power Plant – to pay Rs.110 Cr to Rlys for Katwa-Bardhaman GC works

Katwa (KWF): The board of state-run power producer NTPC has approved the 1,320-MW thermal power plant at Katwa in West Bengal, clearing the last hurdle for the long delayed project. This came after the West Bengal government allocated 96 acre for the proposed plant and local residents agreed to add 150 acre to the land pool.

The Rs.8,000-crore project was struck for almost three years as a change of government in West Bengal jeopardised the company’s land acquisition plans. The project cost will include Rs.116 crore for 556 acre that the earlier Left Front government had acquired before the power equation in the state changed. It will also include a staff hostel belonging to the government that would be handed over to NTPC.

The cost will also include payment of Rs.110 crore to the Indian Railways for gauge conversion of the tracks between Bardhaman and Katwa. This track will also serve as coal link to the plant.

Additionally, the railways will undertake gauge conversion between Katwa and Ahmedpur. The power producer will buy 150 acre directly from the farmers at the rate of Rs.15 lakh per acre. The government has also decided to allocate excess coal from West Bengal Power Development Corporation to the project till the recently allotted Deocha Achine block in Birbhum starts production.

CCTV Cameras likely in all Superfast Trains

New Delhi:  With the interim rail budget emphasizing on further improvement of safety measures on running trains, installation of close circuit TV (CCTV) cameras in all superfast trains across the country appears imminent.

This step is being taken to beef up security measures on running trains, said a Railway Board official. According to him, railways would first install CCTV cameras in premier trains like Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Sampoorna Kranti Express before introducing it in all superfast trains. The new system is likely to help in keeping tab on miscreants involved in sexual harassment of women in trains.

According to sources, railways registered the maximum number of molestation cases on running trains during 2013-2014. Women passengers were also criminally assaulted. These incidents forced railways to take the decision about CCTVs, sources said.

As per the proposal approved by Railway Board, the railways would manufacture new coaches fitted with secret cameras to maintain a close surveillance on the passengers’ activities, including smoking, on running trains. As railways has banned smoking and using liquor in trains or on platforms, the CCTVs would help it check such activities, said a board official.

According to sources, the plan also envisages installation of master computers at different places in various zones as well. Railway vigilance staff are working out details to prepare foolproof security system on running trains, sources said.

The railways also intends to introduce a new system in the Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains under which doors would remain locked automatically throughout the journey like metros for safety reasons, sources said. According to an ECR security official, railways has installed CCTVs at all major stations, including Patna Junction, under the integrated security system of railways.

Delhi Metro to have 22 Interchange Stations by 2016

New Delhi:  Commuters in Metro trains will be able to save their time and distance after the completion of third phase of metro rail projects.

An official of the DMRC said with the completion of third phase of the Delhi Metro, the number of interchange stations will increase to 22 from the current nine, leading to a drastic reduction of travel time and saving of commuters’ money.

At present, there are nine interchange stations – Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Central Secretariat, Inderlok, Ashok Park Main, Yamuna Bank, Dwarka Sector 21, New Delhi and Kirti Nagar.

Once phase III becomes fully operational by 2016, Delhi Metro network will have 13 more interchange hubs across the city, which includes Hauz Khas, INA, Rajouri Garden, Mayur Vihar phase I, Azadpur, Netaji Subhash Place, Lajpat Nagar, Anand Vihar, Karkardooma, Welcome, Kalkaji Mandir, Botanical Garden and Mandi House, the official said.

He said with the coming up of interchange stations at Karkardooma and Anand Vihar in the third phase, the present day distance of these stations from the nearest Welcome Metro station will come down drastically to 4.34 km and 5.49 km from the earlier 19.26 km and 20.32 km, respectively, if going by a train.

This will not only save travel time, but will also help in saving money for the passengers.

Similarly, with the coming up of other interchange stations in phase III, commuters in almost all parts of Delhi will be able to change trains without going to the present interchange stations like Rajiv Chowk and Central Secretariat.

For instance, the Hauz Khas Metro station will come up as an interchange between Line 2 and the Janakpuri West-Botanical Garden corridor (Line 8) of Phase III.

Passengers coming from Gurgaon on Line 2 will be able to get down at Hauz Khas and take a direct train to Kalkaji. By doing so they would save travelling distance of about 13.14 km.

Mumbai Gap Traps: IRCTC Chief Manager killed after falling in train-platform gap

Mumbai:  The deadly gap traps at stations claimed the life of one of railway’s own on Monday evening. An IRCTC catering manager assigned duty on the August Kranti Rajdhani Express to Delhi was killed when he fell into the gap between Andheri station’s platform No 4 and his coach. 

Witnesses said that the train was already in motion when Aashish Singh tried to board it. He was struck in the head by a metal ladder under the coach, which is believed to have caused his death.

A doctor at Cooper Hospital, where Singh was taken, said that he had suffered severe head injuries and deep cuts near his abdomen. “He must have died on the spot,” the doctor said.

For the past two months, several media has been highlighting the danger gap traps at railway stations pose to passengers. Last month, 16-year-old college student Monica More fell into a gap at Ghatkopar station and was run over by a train. She lost both her arms.

According to an official in the Western Railway, Singh was handling the “VIP catering service” on August Kranti Rajdhani Express. He had boarded the train at Mumbai Central, from where it departed around 5.45 pm. When the train halted at Andheri, Singh got off for some work. Before he could board the train, it started moving. Witnesses said he made a dash, but slipped and fell into the gap.

“It was 6.10 pm when this happened,” the official said. The RPF has sought CCTV footage of the platform to piece together the chain of events.

“Most long-distance trains have a ladder between coaches. One should not try to board a running train as the fall could be fatal,” the official said.

Mumbai High Court: Railways should consider raising platform height above 920mm

Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court also asked the Expert Committee to inspect existing height of Railway platforms and give its recommendation for reducing gap between platform and train footboards to prevent further mishaps

The Bombay High Court has asked an Expert Committee to examine the gaps between footboards of local trains and railway platforms and recommend suitable measures, including raising the height of platforms to prevent mishaps.

“At present the Court does not propose to pass any order on this issue, but it would be in the fitness of things to direct the Committee appointed by this Court to have another meeting and to recommend optimum height of the platform after taking into consideration all the relevant aspects including the height of the coach floor of suburban trains and also mail/ express/ passenger trains. The Committee shall also take into consideration the height of the platform at stations, which do not cater to the express/ mail/ passenger trains,” the HC said in its order issued last week.

The Committee is asked to file its report by 28th February to the Railways. The HC also directed railway officials to examine the Committee Report and come out with an action plan by 13th March.

A bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice MS Sanklecha directed the expert committee to inspect each and every platform on the Central and Western Railway routes and decide how much space should be left between the platforms and the footboards of trains so that mishaps could be avoided.

Adv Jamshed Mistry, the Special Invitee on Moneylife Foundation, has been appointed as amicus curie in the case.

The Committee, which has been given this task, is the same one appointed earlier by the High Court to look into the problems of handicapped persons who commute by local trains.

The bench had taken up the issue after a 16-year-old college girl, Monica More, lost her arms after falling into a gap between the platform and local train at Ghatkopar railway station while trying to board a local train last month.

The tragic incident brought to the fore the risk over 75 lakh commuters take daily to board crowded suburban local trains, transport ‘lifelines’ of Mumbai.

The Western Railway submitted before the Court that it had increased height of suburban platforms at nine railway stations including Grant Road and Dadar.

The Court has directed the expert Committee to inspect these nine platforms also along with others.

The HC also reprimanded the railways for keeping wide gaps between the platforms and footboards of trains thereby putting the lives of commuters at great risk.

The court observed “you (railways) are not ready to listen to others. Your stand has been that whatever you say is right and others are wrong.”

Counsel for railways Suresh Kumar gave technical reasons for not increasing the height of platforms.

Next hearing of the case is scheduled for 20th March.

The railways in an affidavit had said that the gap between the footboards of local trains and platforms is not the sole cause behind commuters losing their life or limbs in mishaps but there were several other factors involved like crossing of tracks, trespassing and over-crowding.

In Mumbai, there is no separate rail corridor for local suburban trains and long-distance trains. Since the width of the long-distance trains is greater than local trains, the platforms have to be constructed keeping this in mind.

Railways to get Rs.29000 Crore as Budgetary Support in 2014-15

New Delhi:  The interim budget presented today announced an increase of budgetary allocation for railways from Rs 26,000 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 29,000 crore in 2014-15.

“Railways need to mobilise huge resources through market burrowing and private public partnership schemes. It is proposed to identify new instruments and new mechanism to raise funds for railway projects,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said.

Railways is getting total Rs 30,223 crore as gross budgetary support for the fiscal 2014-15 which includes Rs 1223 crore as fuel cess.

Describing the increase in passenger fares of trains in the recent past as one of the “path-braking” decisions, Chidambaram said government took several notable decisions including some that were “described as courageous and long overdue”.

Railways fares were rationalised for the first time in a decade, Chidambaram said in his Interim Budget 2014-15 speech.

The then Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had effected an across-the-board hike in fares of all classes from midnight of January 21, 2013 to net an additional Rs 6,600 crore a year, the first such increase in a decade.

Later on the railways further increased passenger fares by up to 2 per cent across classes, except for the unreserved section, with the introduction of fuel adjustment component (FAC), a component that links rail tariffs with the price of fuel.

Railgate: High Court’s no to early hearing of plea against Bansal

The High Court, however, dismissed the plea seeking a direction to the lower court to expedite the hearing and the decision

New Delhi:  The Delhi High Court today refused to direct a lower court to expedite the hearing on a plea by an NGO seeking further probe into the alleged role of former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and others in the Rs 10- crore cash-for-post railway bribery case.

Bansal has been made a CBI witness in the case in which his nephew Vijay Singla and nine others are named as accused.

“The application of the petitioner (Social Progressive Society) is yet to be decided by the trial court which has fixed it for hearing and disposal on March 3,” Justice Mukta Gupta said.

During the hearing, Jaivir Bains, counsel for the NGO, said its plea for a direction to CBI to probe further the alleged role of Bansal and his nephew Singla in the case has not been decided by the trial court so far and any further delay would make the plea “infructuous”.

“The case of the petitioner is that CBI has not investigated the role of Pawan Kumar Bansal and has not formed an opinion as to his guilt or innocence in the charge sheet.

“CBI has not formed or expressed any opinion or investigated his role in any manner on the basis of which it could be plausibly concluded that they have conducted an investigation qua him,” the plea said.

The plea, which is pending disposal in the lower court since November 30 last year, had alleged the telephone line of the then minister was used and CBI should have probed further.

The High Court, however, dismissed the plea seeking a direction to the lower court to expedite the hearing and the decision saying the application is yet to be decided.

CBI, which had filed the charge sheet in July last year, has made ten persons as accused and alleged Singla had demanded Rs 10 crore from then Member (Staff) of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar, an accused in the case, for his appointment as Member (Electrical).

Rail Budgets of succeeding years over last 10 years achieved Nothing

Roop Karnani is a Senior Journalist, Author and Industry Analyst

Mumbai:  The Rail budgets of succeeding years over the last 10 years have done nothing at all to modernize the 100 year old archaic British built railway network, when the world including Britain has moved on to modern high speed trains and automatic signals and trains controlled by computers at main control rooms located at major stations.

The result is that we have not added much to the 60,000 km network of railways, which we inherited from the British, and maintenance is poor, resulting in lack of safety and regular train accidents. Only 4,500 km of the 60,000 km is electrified. This means 95% of trains run on diesel. This means a huge import bill of crude. Budget after budget 17 to 20 new trains are added to the system, which is already overburdened.

The Rail budget last week showed a shortfall of about Rs. 20,000 crores, which is provided by the main budget of the country. What is appalling is that there are 1.4 million regular employees in the union, when World Bank reports show that this is twice the manpower required for operating the Indian railway network. The 6th pay commission resulted in a payout of more than Rs. 1 lakh crores annually to this huge manpower. It is even more appalling that during the last financial year the railways added 200000 (2 lakh) more employees. The government has already declared that there will be a 7th pay commission as early as 2016.

Railways are being used by the political class more for employment generation and as a vote catching instrument than for efficient transportation. Both in the passenger section and the freight section the railways is losing market share to roadways. For example in freight it has come down from 38% to 30%. This year alone it has lost 0.5% market share, despite the fact that trucking rates have gone up sharply. The dedicated western freight corridor was planned a decade ago with the help of World Bank and soft loans from Japan, but even after 10 years there has been zero progress. At least that would have been a good beginning in not only adding to essential infrastructure but to get in new high speed technology of tracks, trains and automatic signaling. Just this one freight corridor can turn the Railway into a profitable organization.

That’s not all – it would result in huge employment generation for building such a huge infrastructure project. It would also require a large amount of steel production for rails as well as wagons which would boost the shares of several steel and construction companies.

Also, as the huge project is completed in a speedy and time bound manner, it will speed up movement of goods which will increase the GDP considerably. The only problem could be land acquisition. But it is well known that Railways own a huge amount of land.

Japan which has offered to take a lead role in this infrastructure project has been so frustrated by the delays of the project by UPA2 that it is bent on implementing the dedicated freight corridor successfully, if Modi comes to power and they will put in all efforts to help railways upgrade itself in the fastest manner and bring it to at least 50% of the international level in 5 years, because even the finances are being provided by Japan as a soft loan for 50 years at 0.5% interest.

So, one is likely to see a paradigm shift in the railways in the near future, depending of course on the election outcome.

Railways to spend Rs.600 Cr on Bhopal Rly Station to make it World Class

Bhopal: The master plan of converting the Habibganj railway station into the railway hub of central India has been prepared under the policy of vision 2020. This railway station will be developed on the lines of Germany’s Berlin railway station and Tianjin west railway station of china. These stations were reviewed and surveyed before the master plan was ready.

The proposal includes the construction of conference hall, business centre, Retail shop, Museum, Art gallery, Restaurant along with a centre for entertainment and cultural activities. The passengers in this case will not have to wait on platform in case of delayed train as they can pass their time accordingly.

The master plan is prepared by the Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) keeping in mind the development of Bhopal in coming 40 years. The first presentation of the plan took place on 12th February in a meeting conducted between state government and railway officials.

Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) wins GSM-R deal with Polish Railway

Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) today said it will support Polish Railway for expanding its GSM-R infrastructure by deploying mobile network on 440-kilometer stretch of east-west rail corridor.

As per the deal, NSN will provide its GSM-Railway (GSM-R) mobile infrastructure to cover a 440-kilometer section of Poland’s E-20 railway corridor.

To optimize traveling time and help ensure safety, the nation’s rail network management, PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe (PLK) has selected NSN’s solution to modernize communications along the tracks, linking central Poland with the country’s eastern border.

NSN’s GSM-R communications will provide PLK with a secure digital infrastructure. The deal covers the railway section between the central city of Lowicz and Terespol and is to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2015.

Technology firm Thales will build turnkey transmission including fiber-optic cables network. NSN said the transmission system will be based on Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) and Ethernet technology, dedicated particularly to Fixed Dispatcher Terminals communications on the 440-kilometer section.

NSN will deploy its Base Stations and Base Station Controller. For seamless integration, NSN will provide a broad range of services including network design, project management, network implementation and maintenance. The deal also includes NSN’s NetActnetwork management system to ensure network efficiency and stability.

To date, the company has deployed around 30 GSM-R networks in 21 countries, serving some 50,000 km of railways to make it the world’s number one GSM-R vendor in both the number of commercial networks and the length of operated GSM-R lines.

Several State Governments agree to share cost for expanding Railway projects

New Delhi:  The Railway Minister, Mallikarjun Kharge, said in the Lok Sabha, the state governments of Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana have agreed to share the cost of several rail projects in their respective states in order to speed up creation of rail infrastructure for overall national growth.

Minister said, “While efforts of the government to provide precious financial resources for growth of Railways would continue, the phenomenal investment needs of rail infrastructure cannot be met entirely through gross budgetary support, internal generation of Railways and market borrowing.”

The national transporter is targeting private investment in rail infrastructure in order to bridge the gap, according to the Minister.

Pamban Bridge: Overcoming several odds

Madurai (MDU):  The Southern Railway (SR) has decided to hold the valedictory function of the centenary celebrations of Pamban bridge, which was widely expected to be held at Mandapam on February 24, at Chennai Egmore. Southern Railway General Manager, Rakesh Misra said this after inaugurating a photo exhibition on the bridge in Madurai, on Monday.

Stating the reason for holding the function in Chennai, Misra said this is being done to mark the beginning of the Boat Mail (Rameswaram Express), which was also the first train to pass over the bridge. After inaugurating it, Misra said that he was glad about the exhibition that showcases the heritage and the importance of conserving such structures.

“Pamban railway bridge is the most important heritage structure in my zone,” he said. To a query on the closing ceremony of the centenary celebration, Misra said that it would be held at the Chennai Egmore station from where the Boat Mail that crossed the bridge for the first time chugged out. Former railway engineer, E Sreedharan – known as the metro man – who was instrumental in restoring the bridge after the devastation caused due to the cyclone in 1964 would be attending the function, he said. Recently, the Southern Railway organised a technical session on the Pamban bridge with the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras team carrying out a study on the residual life of the bridge. “The study is still going on, but we have asked them to show the method through which the study is taking place,” he said.

The session also saw many retired railway officials who worked on the bridge sharing experiences about it especially during the cyclone days and the restoration works thereafter. “The experiences shared by them were quite interesting and motivating and we have decided to document them as well,” he said. As part of the centenary celebration, the Southern Railway will release a small booklet on Pamban bridge and it will contain interesting facts about the bridge and its initial days. It will also include some of the experiences shared by the retired officials, Misra said.

The photo exhibition will be held at the Madurai station for two days and would be shifted to Chennai Egmore for the closing ceremony. The exhibition will include old photos of the inauguration of the bridge during British regime, Misra added.

Photo exhibition narrates life of Pamban bridge

The 50 photographs on display at the Madurai railway station take us through the significant events in the life of the Pamban bridge that is celebrating its 100 years. The exhibition begins with the Dhanushkodi pier where the Boat Mail terminated and the ferry service started before the cyclone that devastated Dhanushkodi and Pamban railway bridge alike in 1964.

The series of photographs show the fury of the cyclone on the bridge and the railway engineers headed by E Sreedharan restoring it. A dozen photographs were contributed by K Rangarajan, retired deputy chief engineer of Southern Railway, who was part of the restoration team. A good number of old pictures were collected from the locality in Rameswaram by a railway engineer, Karthik who worked on the bridge recently, sources said.

The next series of photographs show the broad gauge conversion work in 2007. The series of photographs end with the train chugging out on the BG section on the bridge. The latest photographs display the recent danger the bridge suffered when a barge collided against it in 2013. One of the piers suffered damages and the railway officials restored it and train operations resumed after a week’s time. The exhibition ends with a panoramic view of the bridge. The photographs of BG conversion work and barge collision and restoration were clicked by J K Venkatesh, junior engineer (drawing) who acts as the official photographer of the Madurai railway division. A team headed by public relation officer, N Venugopal collected the photographs and arranged the exhibition.

It was planned that the exhibition will display 100 photographs but 50 of them which were sent by the heritage centre at Trichy got delayed and could not be displayed on Monday. However, they would be on display on Tuesday, sources said.

Robbery takes place at Eastern Railway Officers’ Quarter, Club

Barrackpore (BP):  A robbery took place at the railway officers’ club and quarters in Kanchrapara, despite high protection. Bijpur police station is investigating the matter.

At around 4 a.m. today, the robbery took place in the officers’ railway quarters of Kanchrapara officers’ club.

High ranking officers of the Eastern Railway service live in these quarters and the whole place is protected by railway police and security guards. Even the Chief Works Manager of the railway lives here with his family.

According to sources, today early in the morning, a group of around six robbers allegedly entered Mr Ram Parakash Jadav`s quarter after they threatened the security guard with the help of a revolver.

The robbers allegedly looted a computer, a tablet and some cash.

After that they allegedly entered the railway officers’ club and from there they allegedly looted an LCD TV, a laptop, computers, fans and other electronic devices.

When people came to know about this robbery, the robbers had already escaped.

The officers and Mr Ram lodged a complaint at Bijpur police station.

Begun Kodar popularly known as Ghost Station on the Indian Railways

begunkodarSeveral railway employees claim to have seen a Ghost in white saree there

Begun Kodar: At Begun Kodar in West Bengal, a mysterious woman in a white saree walks along the tracks of a lonely railway station.

Faces full of disbelief and fear eye me as I ask locals for directions to Begun Kodar in West Bengal’s Purulia district, popularly known as the ghost station of the Indian Railways.

One needs to travel back in history to delve into the mystery behind this strange name.

begunkodar_stationIt was in the early 1960s that Lachan Kumari, a queen of the Santal tribe that inhabited the area, donated a large chunk of her land to the Railways for the upliftment of her people.

Soon the Begun Kodar railway station was up and running, acting as a lifeline for many commuters.

However, the dream ran into unforeseen trouble in 1967.

Locals believe that this was the year that the station master spied a woman in a white saree on the tracks for the first time.

People were agog when he died the very next day. Rumours engulfed this tiny railway station, with news of the spooky events travelling far and wide.

Both passengers and the Railways deserted the place. And thus began the tale of the ghost station, which has been tagged as “haunted” in railway records.

Cut to 2009, when another lady in a white saree tried to rescue the station from ignominy.

Mamata Banerjee, the then railway minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo, dared many in the state to visit the place by reopening the station after 42 years.

begunkodar_booking_windows_20090928“Ami bhoote bishshas korina (I don’t believe in ghosts),” said Banerjee.

“It was three ladies — the Santhal queen, Mamata Banerjee and the ghost — who turned the fortunes of this station around in the past five decades,” says Narayan Mahato, a local from the nearby Baamni village.

“People are curious and some still believe the stories of paranormal presence here. You should leave the place before 5.30 pm, no one stays here after that.”

Surrounded by paddy fields, with no signs of human life evident for miles, the station and its building look strange and forbidding.

With changing times, Begun Kodar has transformed as well.

begun-kodar“At least 700 to 800 passengers descend on this station on a daily basis, despite all the scary stories,” says Swapan Kumar, who owns a hand-pulled cart stocked with food and several other essential items inside the station.

“My livelihood depends on the travellers of the five trains that stop here. The passengers include those who come from distant corners of West Bengal to see the ghost station.”

He assures that he has never had any bad experience in the last two years.

However, locals tell a different story.

“Not just one, but several railway employees claim to have seen a ghost here,” says Kailash Sahesh, one of the many commuters.

However, there could be a twist in the tale.

“Probably, no one wants to work here as it lies in the Naxal heartland and they have fabricated these tales to scare people away,” he adds.

Indeed, the station lies at the edge of the thick forest range that forms a part of the “red corridor” — areas affected by the Naxalite insurgency.

Purulia is believed to be the gateway to Bengal for Naxals from Bihar and Jharkhand.

The reopening of the station has been broiled in controversy as well, with CPI (M) supporters accusing Banerjee of cashing in on the efforts made by Basudev Acharia, a CPI (M) member of Parliament from Bankura.

“Since the 1990s, Acharia had been working tirelessly to get the station reopened. Just before the state assembly elections, TMC cashed in on the opportunity. The land has deep associations for the Santal tribe, which constitutes a major vote bank in this belt,” says Bhajori Mahato, a CPI (M) supporter.

Santals account for over 62 per cent of the total scheduled tribe population of the Purulia district, according to official figures, underlining the interest shown by political parties in the revamp of the station.

Time stands still in this ghost station and you will find ticket cards dating back to the 1950s still in use here.

A trip here will transport you into a sepia-toned album of a very different Bengal.

The station has no full-time railway employees — a major hurdle for the place to rise from the status of a halt station.

Begun Kodar, which falls under the Ranchi division, has a skeletal temporary staff that gets Rs 1 as commission for every ticket sold here.

Apart from the Bokaro Steel City-Asansol MEMU, Hatia-Kharagpur passenger, Ranchi-Asansol memu, Ranchi Garhbeta passenger and Hatia-Dhanbad passenger, none of the trains stop here.

Since passengers are reluctant to come to the station after 6 pm, the last train here is at 5.45 pm.

The building hosts pictures of various Hindu Gods to ward off evil and Dalu Mahato, a temporary ticket-seller, enters the station only after a daily puja.

After 5.45 pm, he too scampers from the station, with a prayer on his lips that the lady in the white saree never comes his way.

Most of the Fire Extinguishers in trains are Old & Expired: No improvements even after fire accidents

Union railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge’s interim railway budget speech last week stressed on fire and smoke detection systems inside trains after back-to-back burning disasters on board Nanded Express and Bandra Terminus-Dehradun Express, but for passengers boarding from Ranchi or Hatia stations, any day could be blaze day.

Where lip service to safety is given, fire extinguishers are present, but expiry dates may be over or they may be defunct. In most cases, the extinguisher will be missing.

D. Sarkar, on board Shatabdi Express (Ranchi-Howrah) on Monday, trashed the government’s seriousness on improving fire safety on trains.

“Most fire extinguishers, like in my air-conditioned coach C3, and adjoining C4 and C5, have expired. There is no smoke warning system. If a coach catches fire, getting roasted alive is easy to imagine,” Sarkar said from the train on Monday afternoon.

Only C6 coach had a fire extinguisher that could perhaps be relied upon to work. Last checked on June 4, 2013, it displayed an expiry date of June 3, 2014.

When contacted, Shatabdi Express pantry car assistant manager Shravan Pandey claimed they had fire extinguishers at every coach. “We frequently recharge them. Each fire extinguisher has month and year inspection tags. We regularly check each extinguisher,” he said.

A second look at the train’s pantry car revealed the absence of a fire extinguisher. “Humlog ko bhi dar lagta hai (we are scared too),” a staffer said, adding they had not been trained in firefighting. “There is one exit window in each coach instead of four emergency exits,” he also pointed out.

Ranchi-Patna Janshatabdi Express was also devoid of fire fighting equipment.

“In the AC coach, the portable fire extinguisher is not working. The pantry car has no firefighting system. All portable fire extinguishers require refilling but who is there to listen,” said Amitabh Lal, a passenger in C2.

At Ranchi-Baidyanathdham Express, bound for Deoghar, no coach had a fire extinguisher. Finally, it was noticed they were locked up in the guardroom. The mystery was cleared.

“We frequently travel by ordinary coach (non-AC). It’s packed with people and luggage. If a fire occurs, there is only one emergency window and god knows how we will ever find it in the stampede that is sure to be as much of a killer as the fire,” rued college-goer Ramesh Kumar, a passenger.

At Hatia Railway station, all the fire extinguishers inside Hatia-Puri Express had expired. No surprises here, too.

Divisional railway manager (DRM), Ranchi, Deepak Kashyap, however claimed they were doing everything they could. “We give counselling and training to our mechanical department staff responsible to maintain fire safety equipment,” he claimed.

On expired fire extinguishers, Kashyap trotted out a standard reply. “We are regularly trying to refill cylinders so that they can be promptly used to combat crisis,” he said.

“We have received a directive from Railway Board that there should be regular inspections in all the coaches by both mechanical and electrical engineers to ensure firefighting equipment are well-maintained,” he added.

Kashyap saved the best for the last: “Soon, LPG cylinders in our pantry cars will be replaced with microwave ovens. This will also make trains much safer.”

But an official, who did not want to be named, said safety of trains depended on group C and D staff who had their own limitations.

“They rue lack of funds that hinders them from replacing defunct fire extinguishers. Training is also irregular. Till a crisis occurs, no one is prepared for it or will be,” he said.

What will you do in case of fire on your train?

Tragedy averted as Bogies separate from moving Train

Nagpur (NGP) Passengers on board Ramnagar-Bandra Express had a narrow escape when two bogeys got separated from the train hurtling towards Kannauj at a speed of around 60-70 km per hour late on Saturday night. A probe has been ordered into the incident that occurred on the Farrukhabad railway line falling under the jurisdiction of the North Eastern Railway.

According to reports, train number 19062 arrived at Kanpur Central two hours behind schedule. After the electrical engine of the train was replaced by a diesel one, the train started its onward journey.

However, after travelling a few kilometres, the coupling of the train gave way dissecting the train into two parts near IIT-Kanpur crossing.

The train guard was the first to notice the incident. He immediately informed the train driver who brought the train to a halt. After being informed NER officials rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. The train began its onward journey towards Kannauj after the coaches were reattached.

The incident also brought the vehicular traffic to a halt as the railway crossing gates remained closed for more than two hours owing to the incident. Even the train movement on the route was affected.

The Farrukhabad railway tracks were cleared after the two parts were connected and the train started its onward journey.

Railways to float Global Tenders for LNG Locomotive Manufacturing Plants in 2 months

By 2016, Indian Railways may usher in an era of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-based Locomotives. In about two months, it is likely to float an international tender in this regard. Russian companies have already evinced interest in the project.

This is the first time the Railways is looking beyond traditional fuels such as diesel, electricity, bio-diesel and coal. “We had floated a tender in this regard, but it had to be cancelled because of technical issues. We are floating a fresh global tender in one or two months. The initial costs are expected to be very high; the engineering design has been done,” said Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar.

Currently, the Railways has about 5,000 diesel, 4,500 electric and 40-odd steam locomotives.

“The basics are ready and technology is available. Once the bids are finalised, the first LNG-based train will run within six months, probably by late-2016. Russia has already shown keenness to cooperate with us in this regard. Our locomotives are going for a major overhaul with this initiative,” Kumar said.

According to reports, major rail carriers in the US are working with some of the world’s largest locomotive makers such as General Electric and Caterpillar to develop natural gas-powered models. The networks of major railway networks such as those in China, Europe and the US are electrified. Experts say locomotive manufacturers such as Alstom and Bombardier are conducting research in this area.

“Gas-run locomotives are of interest because of efficiency, reliability, cost and carbon footprints,” said Abhay Agarwal, partner, EY.

After the Centre introduced the dual pricing mechanism on January 17, 2013, diesel prices rose. This put pressure on the defence services and the Railways, both bulk consumers. Other bulk consumers such as state transport departments shifted to retail outlets. Indian Railways has also installed a new fuel-saving device, the auxiliary power unit (APU), in 12 diesel locomotives. This will help save about Rs 20 lakh per locomotive annually. In time, the railways plan to equip all new diesel locomotives with APUs.

A NEW ERA

  • This is the first time the Railways is looking beyond traditional fuels such as diesel, electricity, bio-diesel and coal
  • Russian companies have already evinced interest in the project
  • Currently, the Railways has about 5,000 diesel, 4,500 electric and 40 odd steam locomotives

Indian Railways to Introduce First Braille-embedded Coach in Purushottam Express

Keeping with its promises to facilitate technology for visually-challenged passengers towards its social responsibility, the Indian Railways is all set to introduce country first Braille-embedded coach in Purushottam Express.

In a first of its kind, railways has manufactured an AC three-tier coach with Braille signages to be operational by February end in the New Delhi-Puri superfast Purshottam Express as part of its social commitment in 2013-14 Rail budget to make trains and stations friendly towards specially-abled passengers. The AC coach is equipped with Braille-embedded signages on berths, toilets, wash basins and doors as well.

At present, coaches are provided with signage, instructions, seat numbers, etc, which are mostly in the form of vinyl stickers or metallic plates and have no Braille characters and cannot be read by visually-impaired passengers. The first coach with Braille signages, manufactured at Integrated Coach Factory in Chennai is ready. A senior railway official said the visually-impaired friendly AC coach was made with the inputs received from Research Designs and

Standards Organisation, Railways’ research arm, and consultation with blind associations. Expected to be a major step for facilitation of visually- impaired passengers during journey in trains, Railways plans to equip more AC and non-AC coaches with Braille-embedded signages. It costs about Rs 40,000 to make a coach visually- challenged friendly as Braille printing are superimposed on the stickers which can be used by both a person with normal vision as well as a visually impaired person. With embedded pictures or characters, there would not be any defacing even on repeated contacts or rubbing, added the official.

Mumbai Monorail: Route, Guidelines and Penalties

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Mumbai:  In its first phase, Mumbai monorail runs between Wadala and Chembur. In trying to maintain discipline and decorum in using monorail, there’s a list of do’s and don’t’s that are to be adhered to, but whether or not they do keep folks from committing offences is left to be seen.

Here’s a list of guidelines and penalties issued:

  • Only contact-less smart cards and contact-less smart tokens will be sold.
  • No monthly or tourist passes available
  • No return tickets will be sold
  • No escalator for another six months
  • No public conveniences at any stations
  • Smart cards to be valid for six months from the date of purchase / recharge
  • Price of smart card: Rs 150 (Rs 100 refundable security deposit + Rs 50 travel)
  • Children below 90 cm height do not need tickets
  • Journey should start within 30 minutes of purchase of token. After that, it will not be accepted by Automatic Fare Collection gates

Penalties

  • Permissible limit for staying inside the station after entry is 20 minutes for same station and 120 minutes for other station. Overstaying beyond the limit will be charged at the rate Rs 10 per hour and maximum of Rs 100.
  • Ticketless travel due to loss: Rs 200
  • Travelling beyond the defined destination will be charged with a fixed penalty of Rs 50 and additional fare of overstepped distance.
  • Drunkenness or nuisance: Rs 200
  • Demonstrations & pasting posters: Rs 200
  • Rooftop travel : Rs.200
  • Unlawful entry: Up to Rs 100
  • Walking on guideway beam: Rs 200
  • Endangering safety of passengers: Up to Rs 200
  • Obstructing running of train: Up to Rs 200
  • Obstructing monorail official in duties: Up to Rs 200
  • Needless interfering with means of communication in train: Up to Rs 200
  • Altering / defacing / counterfeiting pass or token: Rs 200
  • Unauthorised sale of articles inside monorail : Up to Rs 200
  • Defacing public notices: Up to Rs 200
  • Unauthorised sale of tickets: Up to Rs 200

Here’s a list of things to know about Mumbai Monorail:

  1. The part that is operational now is 8.93 km long.
  2. It will run between Wadala and Chembur in the eastern fringes of Mumbai.
  3. The monorail will be linked to major local train stations. So the station at Chembur is connected with a skywalk to the monorail station near it.
  4. To start with, the monorail will run every 15 minutes between 7 am and 3 pm.
  5. When the entire monorail project is completed, it will be 20 km long and connect Jacob Circle in south Mumbai to Chembur in eastern Mumbai.
  6. All coaches of the monorail trains are air-conditioned; each train will carry 560 passengers.
  7. Tickets are priced between Rs. 5 and Rs. 11 with six stations on the way.
  8. There will be no monthly passes like the ones on Mumbai’s lifeline, the local trains, but there will be a system of smart cards.
  9. Construction began in 2009; the project is running almost two years behind schedule.
  10. At its fastest, the monorail will run at 80 km/hour (50 mph); the average speed is set at 65 km/hour (40 mph).

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Railways to introduce Chemical-free technology to eliminate Rodent menace

Hyderabad:  City-based ‘Hyderabad Science Society’ has said it is in the process of developing a new chemical-free technology to deal with the problem of rats and other rodents on the trains.

It uses high pressure compressed air mixed with sand to kill rats, HSS Director Sanjar Ali Khan said on Sunday.

Media reports about the rodent problem on trains prompted the organisation to take up this project, Khan said.

“To attract rats, we have prepared a special chamber and the moment a rat enters this chamber its movement is detected by an electronic circuit and there will be a sudden blast of sand mixed with high pressure air directed into the chamber which kills the rat instantly,” he said. The system can kill four rats every minute, he added.

Umdanagar-RGIA link set to get Hyderabad-Secunderabad closer to International Airport

Hyderabad: The railway link between Umdanagar station and the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) is likely to benefit the surrounding villages of Shamshabad as the terminating station being planned on airport land is expected to have a dedicated entrance for locals.

According to railway sources, the 5.5 km Umdanagar station-RGIA link plans show the location of the terminating station on airport land. In addition to an entrance facing the airport terminal meant exclusively for airport users, an entrance/exit facing the Bangalore Highway is also proposed for the convenience of locals.

“The entrance will provide locals of Shamshabad rail connectivity to the city. Residents of Gollapally, Rasheedguda and surrounding villages, who now go to the Falaknuma station to take a train to Secunderabad or Kacheguda, will be benefited the most as they are located close to the terminal station being planned” a railway official said.

Rail connectivity to the airport, though part of original MMTS phase II plan conceived a decade ago, was finalized only recently after many deliberations between the airport operator and the state government. As part of the plan, the Umdanagar-Falaknuma section will be electrified and a new line will be laid from Umdanagar to the airport. State government has agreed to provide land to RVNL which in turn will call for tenders to fix an executing agency. The airport link is expected to cost Rs 50 crore.

The location of the airport railway station is nearly 2 km from the airport passenger terminal. Airport operator GMR has earmarked about 15 acres of land for it. However railway is expected to propose a higher requirement. The proposal from the airport operator has been forwarded to the South Central Railway for approval, following which a tri-party meet between GMR, RVNL and the state government will formalize plans in the coming days.

Meanwhile, a shadow looms over the execution of other MMTS phase II sections as UK-based Balfour-Beatty, one of the two partners in the consortium that bagged the tender backed out. Although, earlier this week, SCR general manager P K Srivastava said that Tata Projects and GMR may fill in, officials are apprehensive as it can take weeks before the participation of the new entrants is finalized. Also, calling for fresh tenders will greatly escalate costs of the project pegged at Rs 819 crore, said sources.

Samaikyandhra activists leave for Delhi in Trains to stall Telangana Bill

Special train with banners that read ‘Save Andhra Pradesh’ and ‘Jai Samaikyandhra’ left Vijayawada station with 1,500 people
6ZIJIRGSM1546Vijayawada (BZA): With just a few days remaining for the fate of the A.P Reorganisation Bill to be decided in Parliament, a large number of supporters of Samaikyandhra left for Delhi by a special train that originated from Vijayawada on Saturday night, to register their protest in the national Capital.

Vijayawada railway station was teeming with Samaikyandhra activists and the special train had banners that read ‘Save Andhra Pradesh’ and ‘Jai Samaikyandhra’ tied to them.

Anger writ large

The mood was one of anxiety and anger at the way the MPs from the Seemandhra region were manhandled and suspended from the Lok Sabha. Nearly 1,500 people from different sections of society embarked on the journey arranged by the APNGOs’ Association and various Joint Action Committees.

A much larger number of Samaikyandhra activists passed through Vijayawada by special trains arranged from other areas. They were all eager to help MPs from the Seemandhra region in preventing the passage of the controversial Bill. A good number of the travellers were youth and women.

The trains will reach Delhi in the early hours of Monday if there is no hurdle en route.

APNGOs’ Association leader Md. Iqbal, who monitored the arrangements, said the Central Government could not go ahead with bifurcation as it was vehemently opposed by majority population. Bifurcation would have serious consequences for many generations, he warned.

Kharge lays Foundation Stone for construction of Fiat Bogie Manufacturing Factory at Badiyal

1392542842300-yadgir phot 2.jpgYadgir (YG):  Minister for Railways and Social Justice & Empowerment Mr.Mallikarjun Kharge laid the foundation stone for the construction of Fiat Bogies manufacturing factory at Badiyal in Yadgir District at an official function held at Yadgir on 16th February, 2014.

Addressing a large gathering, Mr.Kharge said that Indian Railways is switching over to production of LHB design stainless steel coaches with FIAT bogies owing to their better riding quality, higher safety and low maintenance features. The LHB coaches are far superior with respect to passenger comfort, safety, speed, corrosion, maintenance and aesthetics. The new factory to be set up at Badiyal near Yadgir will have state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities to manufacture 600 Fiat Bogie frames per annum which would cater to requirement of 300 new coach sets per annum. He expressed the hope that the construction of this unit would give a major impetus to the socio – economic development of Yadgir region by providing employment and growth opportunities to the local people.

Mr.Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board while addressing the gathering, said that Railways is committed to expand the rail network and enhance the services to meet the demands from the Public. Railways have been setting up several new coach production units to scale up the supply of coaches to meet the ever rising demands for new trains. These units need supply of required components like bogie frames etc. from ancillary units. This new bogie manufacturing factory will be of immense use in meeting the requirement of bogies for the high end LHB coaches, he added.
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While delivering the welcome address, Mr.P.K.Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway, said that in order to meet the demand of FIAT Bogie frames for new LHB coaches, a green field project for manufacturing FIAT Bogies is sanctioned near Yadgir under supplementary demands for grants of FY 2013-14. This prestigious unit is being set up at an estimated cost of Rs.75 cr. and it is targeted to be completed in a period of 2 years. He thanked the Government of Karnataka for readily sparing 150 acres of land at the nearby Badiyal and Kadechur villages free of cost for this factory.

Mr. Baburao Chinchanasoor, Hon’ble Minister for Textiles, Ports & Inland Transport and District In-charge Minister, Yadgir, Govt. of Karnataka;Dr. Sharanprakash Patil, Hon’ble Minister for Medical Education, Govt. of Karnataka , Dr.A.B.Maalakareddy, Hon’ble MLA, Sri Alok Johri, Member, Mechanical/Railway Board/New Delhi, Mr. Satish Agnihotri, Chairman and Managing Director, Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd./New Delhi also spoke o­n this occasion. Other public representatives concerned, dignitaries and senior railway officials participated in the function.

Patliputra Station to emerge as a New Terminal

Patna (PNBE): The railways is hopeful of commissioning newly built Patliputra station soon as talks are on between the railways and the state government to end the stalemate.

The railways has not been able to make this station operational due to an agitation launched by the residents of Jalalpur, demanding a road along the track passing through their locality.

Talking to newsmen at Patna Junction recently, East Central Railway GM Madhuresh Kumar said the railways was frantically looking for a way out to make the newly built station operational at the earliest.

Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Region) R P Yadav has already given clearance for the commissioning of the station. The railways fixed the date for its commissioning thrice during the past two years. Unfortunately, it was forced to postpone the date for its inauguration for one reason or the other. The railways has incurred about Rs 1.6 crore on completing this project which is a part of the Digha-Sonepur rail bridge, sources said.

According to an ECR official, the Danapur rail division has worked out details to run at least two to three pairs of passenger trains from Patliputra station, to start with, and the required infrastructure has been provided at the station. The commissioning of this station would ease pressure on Patna Junction, he said and added a trial run of a goods train was also successful on the newly laid track.

The railways is also giving a thought to develop Patliputra station as a terminal station for trains coming from north Bihar. These trains would terminate at Patliputra for maintenance work too. Besides, the railways intends to build washing pit lines at Patliputra station to maintain passenger train coaches in future, the sources said.

Kanakapura-Malavalli-Kollegal-Chamarajanagar & Kotur-Harihar Rly line works to start soon

Mysore (MYS):  South Western Railways (SWR) will operate a new Chamarajanagar-Bangalore fast passenger train.

Divisional Railway Manager Raj Kumar Lal said the train will start at 7.15 am from Chamarajanagar and reach Bangalore at 12.30 pm, in the return direction, it will start from Bangalore at 1.30 pm. The train will run four days a week, he said.

He said the work on Kanakapura-Malavalli-Kollegal-Chamarajanagar railway line and Kotur-Harihar railway line will start soon as the authorities have approved it. The work on Kadur-Chikmagalur-Sakleshpur will be completed soon as the survey and land acquisition have been completed.

Referring to the railway budget that has given 13 new trains to the state, he said they have written to the railway ministry to extend a few long-distance trains between Bangalore and Mumbai. He said passenger facilities are their top priority.  “We have plans to set up 11 more electronic vending machines across the division and will set up on-board infotainment systems in some  trains,” he said.

He said they will act against the unruly behavior of those who are working at parking bays and act against those who are collecting  exorbitant charges from people.

Passenger Revenue Up

Raj Kumar Lal said the division has recorded 29 per cent growth in the passenger revenue and earned a revenue of Rs 163 crore against last year’s `129 crore. He said they have collected `3.4 crore as penatly from ticketless travellers.

However, there is a decline in revenue from freight traffic due to  slump in the export of iron ore and maize. “We hope we will do better next fiscal,” he added.

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