चेन्नई Chennai (MAS): Alstom has successfully delivered to Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) the first two metro sets of Chennai’s future metro system in India. The train sets are the first ever to be manufactured in India1, in Alstom’s new rolling stock facility of Sricity, Andhra Pradesh. They are part of a €243 million order representing 42 Metropolis train sets to be delivered by 2015.
The metro cars were rolled out from the facility in presence of Henri Poupart-Lafarge, President of Alstom Transport, Sudhir Krishna, Chairman of CMRL and François Richier, France’s Ambassador to India.
The stainless steel trains – composed of four cars each – will feature air-conditioned interiors and electrically operated automatic sliding doors, offering comfort and easy access to passengers. They will be equipped with a regenerative braking system ensuring significant energy savings. The cars will operate through an overhead catenary system at speeds of up to 80 km/h.
The new 280,000 ft2 Sricity facility is a modern unit incorporating best practices from other Alstom factories across the world. Today, the site employs over 150 highly skilled people and the plan is to increase this number to 200 soon.
The factory has an energy-efficient design including double insulation, heat recovery systems, a geothermal heating and cooling system which consumes less energy and is equipped to recycle rainwater. The facility’s location in the Sricity Special Economic Zone provides a lot of space for potential further expansion.
“The metro cars benefit from the highest quality standards and technological expertise. Alstom India received the Award for the best Rolling Stock Manufacturer /Supplier of the Year, which demonstrates the satisfaction of Alstom’s customers with its products. The new world class Sricity plant plays a vital role in Alstom’s strategy to set up a local industrial footprint in India, enhance proximity to its local customers and serve the expanding Indian infrastructure market”, said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, President of Alstom Transport.
“Metro projects are currently being implemented in seven Indian cities, representing a network of over 450 km. By 2030, 40% of people will live in towns and cities (vs 30% today). This new facility places Alstom in an excellent position to seize the opportunities offered by the country’s rapid urbanisation.”
1 – The first nine train sets were produced and tested at the Alstom Lapa factory in Brazil. They will all be delivered by May 2014 .
Shares of ALSTOM India Ltd was last trading in BSE at Rs.535.25 as compared to the previous close of Rs.526.45. The total number of shares traded during the day was 8530 in over 897 trades.
The stock hit an intraday high of Rs.538.85 and intraday low of 523.65. The net turnover during the day was Rs.4547690.
कपूरथला Kapurthala (KXH): In the wake of announcement in the Railway Budget presented in Parliament by D.V.Sadananda Gowda stating to roll out High Speed trains in India, Kapurthala based Rail Coach Factory (RCF) announced it will roll out first rake of coaches, capable of running at a high speed of 160 km per hour by the end of September or first week of October. By the end of 2017, we will be able to roll out more than 25000 coaches which can withstand the high speed rail capabilities, said the Chief Workshop Manager.
VC Corporate Advisors Pvt Ltd (“Manager to the Offer”) on behalf of M/s. Titagarh Wagons Ltd (hereinafter referred to as “the acquirer”/”TWL”) alongwith M/s. Cimco Equity Holdings Pvt. Ltd (“Person Acting in Concert” /”PAC” /”CEHPL”) has informed this Corrigendum to the Detailed Public Statement & Offer Opening Public Announcement to the Shareholders of Cimmco Ltd (“Target Company”), pursuant to regulation 18(7) of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011, as amended (“SEBI (SAST) Regulations”) in respect of Open Offer (“Offer”) for the acquisition of 50,53,181 (Fifty Lacs Fifty Three Thousand One Hundred Eighty One) fully paid-up equity shares of Rs. 10/- each, representing 25.08% of the equity and voting share capital of the Target Company. The Detailed Public Statement (“DPS”) pursuant to the Public Announcement (“PA”) made by the Acquirer alongwith PAC published on April 23, 2014.
सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): The works on the much awaited MMTS ( Multi Modal Transport System) phase -II project in the twin cities will commence very soon in this month itself. The joint venture partners, who have been awarded this prestigious project, have deposited the requisite Performance Guarantee amount with M/s Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) a few days back. With this, decks have been cleared to launch the field works on this project.
P.K.Srivastava, General Manager/SCR conducted a high level review meeting at Rail Nilayam today i.e. 14th July, 2014, on the progress of the Railway projects taken up by RVNL on the Zone. Shri P.Srinivas, Chief Project Manager/RVNL, Secunderabad briefed the General Manager on the present status of various key Railway works under taken by RVNL.
On this occasion, Srivastava emphasized that there shall be no further delay in commencing the work on MMTS phase-II as this project is critical in strengthening the Railway infrastructure in twin cities. He also stressed on close co-ordination between RVNL and the Divisional/Zonal Railway authorities to ensure the works progress at a brisk pace for their expeditious completion. The progress achieved vis-à-vis the set targets shall be reviewed constantly at the highest levels, he directed the officials involved in this project.
The present estimated cost of this project is Rs.817 crs, out of which 2/3rd of the cost will be borne by the State Government. Except the works in Falaknuma-Umdanagar-Shamshabad (Airport connectivity) stretch, for which tenders are yet to be invited, works in all other corridors are going to be taken up simultaneously under 3 different packages. on completion, this project enables running of more number of suburban passenger services, and helps in easing out the current operational constraints being faced in and around Secunderabad Railway Complex.
In addition to MMTS phase-II project, M/s RVNL have been entrusted with several other major Railway infrastructural works on SCR such as Doubling and Electrification of Vijayawada – Gudivada/Machlipatnam – Bhimavaram/Narsapur – Nidadavolu, and Tenali – Guntur Sections; and Electrification of Gooty – Dharmavaram and Wadi – Raichur Sections. The General Manager highlighted the need to speed up the execution of these works to enhance the capacity of Railways to meet the demands for more number of train services from the passengers and industry.
Sunil Kumar Agarwal, Additional General Manager and Principal heads of the departments of the Zone were present in this meeting. The Divisional Railway Managers of Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Guntakal Divisions also participated in the deliberations through video conferencing.
चेन्नई Chennai: Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, has placed an order worth Rs.13 Crore on Bangalore-based Kirloskar Electric Company Ltd. The order is for the supply and commissioning of 500-kilovolt amperes (kVA) power source systems comprising DG sets and various other equipment that are used in the power cars of Rajdhani/Shatabdi Express and other trains.
पनवेल Panvel (PNVL): A pet project of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has become a bone of contention for the railway authorities. The Western Corridor of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) passes through Panvel and then proceeds towards Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). The other schemes some of which were announced in previous budgets will also be in and around Panvel station. The DFC corridor which is being developed to provide a special network for cargo trains, will pass through Panvel where several other multi-crore projects also converging with each other – these include the planned CST-Panvel fast corridor, upcoming Airport at Navi Mumbai, Suburban Sections on the Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel line and finally, construction of the Panvel Coaching complex which is meant for carrying out maintenance work of trains and other amenities.
Sources in railways said that they are worried about a multitude of schemes clashing with each other.
A Central Railway official said that “The alignment of DFC is close to the planned suburban fast corridor and the coaching complex. So, we will require additional land from CIDCO, for which discussions with them are underway.”
The DFC is being carved out as a network for container and cargo trains so they can transport goods and commodities faster, without any passenger trains coming in their way (see box for details).
Officials explained that the existing railway station at Panvel would be expanded for the purpose of adding more platforms for the proposed CST-Panvel fast corridor and Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel lines. Apart from this, connectivity is also planned for the proposed airport coming in Navi Mumbai.
Amidst all this, they will require extra land for DFC. “We will need nearly 36 hectares of land from CIDCO and several others from other agencies and private parties,” said an official from Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), a subsidiary railway body created to look into the nitty-gritty of the project. As of May, they had acquired 442 hectares of land, that too only in Maharashtra.
A senior official from CIDCO said that “We are examining the various projects proposed by the railways. The meeting regarding the coaching complex also went well and land will be allotted accordingly.”
Meanwhile, Central Railway has given an in-principle nod for four new platforms at the Panvel suburban section, which will be used for Panvel-Virar and Panvel-Karjat routes.
Authorities will convert the current suburban platform numbers 3 and 4 into the DFC, and build four additional platforms for running trains to Virar and Karjat. It is likely that in the rail budget that will be presented today, the DFC will be allocated certain amounts of money.
Western Freight Corridor faces logjam due to other major projects near Delhi too
The western dedicated freight corridor (DFC), from Dadri near Delhi to Jawaharlal Nehru (JN) Port, reportedly faces a logjam due to several other major projects such as the proposed CST-Panvel fast corridor, the planned Navi Mumbai international airport, suburban sections on the Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel line and the construction of the Panvel Coaching Complex.
The western DFC, among the two that are being built, the other being the eastern one from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal, will pass through Panvel. It proposes to transport containers, commodities at a maximum speed of 100 kmph, which will considerably reduce haulage time.
The alignment of the western DFC close to the proposed CST-Panvel fast corridor and the Panvel Coaching Complex would be an impediment. The existing railway station at Panvel would be expanded and more platforms added for the proposed CST-Panvel fast corridor and the Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel lines, according to sources.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), the state-run corporation entrusted to undertake planning/development, mobilization of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the DFC, may need around 36 hectares of land from CIDCO, for which discussions are reportedly ongoing.
Gurgaon DM bans excavation on freight corridor land
In order to stop illegal excavation on land allotted to the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCC), Gurgaon District Magistrate Shekhar Vidyarthi ordered that JCBs and other excavating machines will not be admitted, parked or used along the DFCC alignment.
Excavation will not be permitted in villages under the district’s jurisdiction like Sohna, Raipur, Lakhuwas, Silani, Sancholi, Karanki, Khuntpuri and Ratikanaubad (Badkhera) villages, which are along the DFCC alignment, the DM said. These villages come under Tehsil Sohna of Gurgaon district and the orders were passed under Section 144 of CrPC.
DFCC was created by the Central Government, in order to lay a double-line railway track from Mumbai to Dadri, exclusively to operate double container freight traffic. This project is being undertaken by the Railways. The land required for construction of this line is being acquired through The Railway (Amendment ) Act 2008. As per the Act, once 20 E notification is issued by officials (which deals with ‘land acquisition for a special railway project’) the land will belong to the Railways.
विसाखपटनम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): The Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rail India Technical & Economic Services (RITES), a Government of India enterprise under the Ministry of Railways, for design and implementation of rail infrastructure works required for forthcoming projects of the RINL.
The MoU was signed by PC Mohapatra, Director (Projects), VSP, and Arbind Kumar, Director (Projects), RITES.
The MoU is valid for five years. The job involves laying of railway lines within VSP’s land boundary for projects like coke oven battery-5, pellet plant, and for new captive mines and stockyards among others.
RITES will prepare a detailed project report, facilitate in obtaining approval of the Railways, prepare technical specifications, supervise the work and assure quality control to receive fitment certificate from the Railways for movement of rail traffic, a VSP release stated.
RINL Executive Director (Works) Incharge D.N.Rao, Executive Director (Projects) N.Hariharan, General Manager (Logistics) Nagesh Gummalla and RITES Additional General Manager James Victor, Chief Project Manager A.S.Mohapatra and senior officers of both organisations were present during signing of the MoU.
Chandigarh: Hailing the Railway Budget, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday described it as “growth oriented” and “passenger friendly”, saying its proposals will propel all round development and prosperity in the country.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brainchild to introduce bullet trains in the country would put India on the global map of world class railways and the days were not far when India would be reckoned internationally as a front runner nation amongst the high speed railways, Badal said in a statement.
The Chief Minister also hailed the announcement to start five new trains including Saharasa-Amritsar Jansadharan Express, Nagpur-Amritsar (Weekly), Ferozepur-Chandigarh Express (6 days a week), New Delhi -Bhatinda Shatabdi Express (Bi¬weekly) and three others passing through Punjab namely Indore-Jammu Tawi Express(Weekly), Kamakhya-Katra Express(Weekly)via Darbhanga and Kanpur-Jammu Tawi Express (Bi-weekly), whereas Ludhiana-Hissar Passenger has been extended to Sadulpur.
Badal said that these trains would certainly boost trade and commercial activity in the state. He also complimented the Centre’s unique initiative for the modernisation of railway infrastructure and taking path breaking decisions like the recruitment of 4,000 women constables to ensure safety and security of women passenger and providing wi-fi at select stations and in trains.
The Chief Minister appreciated the decision of introducing a special pilgrim train covering the entire Sikh religious circuit joining all the five Takhats across the country.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal termed the budget as “dream budget” for Punjab as it has given state’s overdue share. However, Congress slammed the budget saying Punjab state was ignored.
Punjab badly needed better train connectivity but Akali Dal-BJP government had never taken up this issue convincingly with the Centre, alleging that better rail connectivity would have badly hit Badal family’s transport business, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) Chief Pratap Singh Bajwa said in a statement.
He rued that there was no indication in the budget about the fate of Beas-Qadian rail link that was announced by the previous UPA government. The demand for extending freight corridor from Ludhiana to Attari was also not fulfilled in the budget despite SAD-BJP led state government has been demanding from the Centre, he said.
बेंगलुरू Bangalore (SBC): People at the Vijayawada and Bangalore City Railway Stations will soon be able to surf the Net as the WiFi facility will be made available at the station. RailTel Corporation of India will provide the infrastructure to enable Net connectivity in the area through Wifi or it may be taken up in partnership with private enterprises if any logistical or connectivity issues are encountered by the former.
Wi-fi facility was earlier introduced in Chennai by RailTel but it could not be continued for long due to problems in its operation, which leaves the field open for either the public sector telecommunications provider which has the exclusive right of way along the country’s railway tracks for its optical fibre cable network, or some private company to take it up.
There are apprehensions about its efficacy which should guide the policy announced on Tuesday, a senior Railway official told on condition of anonymity.
RailTel is a public sector undertaking and a telecom infrastructure provider owning a pan-India optic fibre network on exclusive Right of Way (ROW) along the railway track. While presenting the Railway Budget, Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said that A1 category railway stations would get Wifi connectivity.
नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: The Railway Budget has announced a slew of IT initiatives. But most of the proposals are from the previous Congress-led regime, which the new Government plans to implement.
Announcements such as wi-fi services, digital reservation charts in railway stations, real-time tracking of trains, and next generation e-ticketing are already in place. The Railways Minister, DV Sadananda Gowda, has said these will be ‘revamped’.
According to analysts, with its recent proposals, the Railways wants to set its house in order.
For commuters, the Railway Minister said, ‘coin-operated automatic ticket vending machines’ will be experimented with and will improve system capabilities in e-ticketing to support 7,200 tickets per minute, against the 2,000 tickets per minute now. This will allow 1.20 lakh simultaneous users at any point in time.
Facility for online purchase of platform tickets and unreserved tickets will be provided. Combination parking-and-platform tickets will be launched.
An online facility to reserve railway retiring rooms will also be extended to all stations over the course of the year. For the freight business, online registration for booking wagons will be put in place in the next two months.
Further, a process for receiving electronic railway receipts will also be initiated during the year. There will be extension of logistics support to various e-commerce companies by providing designated pick-up centres at identified stations.
The Minister also announced providing education to children of Railway staff at remote locations through the Railtel optical fibre cable network. He said digitisation of GIS mapping of land assets of the Indian Railways will be done for better management and usage. It will help the Railways protecting its lands as well as leverage such properties to raise resources.
Resource mobilisation using land assets could be done through private participation.
The Railways also proposes to set up an Innovations Incubation Centre to harness the ideas generated by the staff of Indian Railways and convert them into practical solutions.
विसाखपटनम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): To create awareness among rail users to strictly observe cleanliness in and around the railway platforms and also inside the trains, a mass cleanliness drive was conducted at Visakhapatnam railway station Sunday. Waltair divisional railway manager and East Coast Railway Scouts and Guides president Anil Kumar flagged off a rally at the DRM’s office which culminated at the railway station.
Speaking on the occasion, he urged the rail users to use dustbins on the platforms and at all mass contact areas. As part of the drive, the passengers are being urged to use dustbins and keep the railway stations and trains clean. Awareness is being created against usage of lavatories in trains when the trains are stationed on the platforms, and not to leave food materials or used casseroles near the seats in the coaches. The DRM appealed to the public to treat the station premises and coaches as their home.
Additional DRM Madanlal Meena, senior personnel officer and district commissioner of Scouts KSN Raju, divisional officers and the members of ‘PREM” (Participation of Railway Employees in Management), along with about 300 Scouts and Guides cadets from various units and employees, participated in the rally by displaying placards and raising slogans on cleanliness. They also distributed pamphlets to rail-users on platforms and in the trains.
How many times has it happened to you that you have visited IRCTC site to book the tickets only to find that the train you want is completely booked and has a waitlist. Even then, you spend considerable amount of time thinking whether you should still try you luck with waitlisted tickets.
This is quite a frequent phenomenon with train travelers.
Now, an Indian startup may be able to help you with making that decision of “Whether to book waitlisted train tickets or not”.
Trainman.in, a site created by a IIT Roorkee graduate, Amir Mohammad has come up with a solution that predicts availability and confirmation chances of your waitlisted ticket.
The barebones site allows you to search for the trains that you need and gives you out in percentage terms the chances of you getting the booking for a particular train.
We did a little test and found it quite interesting. We searched for tickets from Pune to Hyderabad and it gave us 4 different train options. One of the trains was at “Waitlist 1” and other was at “Waitlist 11”. Generally, one would think that WL1 would have a much higher chance of getting confirmation compared to WL11, but trainman predicted that train with “WL11” has a 67.31 percent change of getting confirmed as compared to “WL1”, which only had 49 percent chance of getting confirmed.
Here is the screenshot.
If the prediction percentages are right, it can become a invaluable tool for train travelers to take the right and informed decision while booking tickets.
Trainman site is currently barebones – Just a simple form to search and a table that shows you the confirmation chances. But seems to be doing the chances of prediction quite well!
How does Trainman predict the chances of confirmation?
Trainman does it scientifically and algorithmically. Here is their explanation:
“trainman gives you confirmation chances of an already booked ticket by using scientific prediction. In general, it is based on simply mimicking the human way of predicting things i.e. learn from past experiences and apply those learnings to the present context. Train seat confirmation prediction is no different.
Trainman keeps on learning from current trends in train ticket bookings and the ups and downs in ticket confirmation scenarios and tries to fit it to a mathematical form, which it reuses at the time of prediction.”
Yes, it is as simple as that!
So, next time you are in a fix whether you should book a train ticket that has a waitlist status, make sure you head over to Trainman and get some advice!
नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Scouting for resources to meet its fund crunch, Railways is open to the idea of even 100 per cent FDI in its infrastructure development but would keep train operations out of its ambit.
“We have given our suggestion to the Cabinet and they have to take a call on what shall be the percentage…we would not mind having it up to the extent of 100 per cent but FDI would not be allowed in train operation”, Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said.
The rail budget presented today in parliament proposed to attract private domestic and FDI in infrastructure projects and pursuing private-public partnership to boost the finances of the railways.
Justifying the FDI proposal, both Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda and Kumar said there was a need for huge investment to run high speed trains and manage other projects including the upcoming dedicated freight corridors.
The Minister said that the Cabinet has to take a call and then “we will discuss it with the Prime Minister and Cabinet colleagues before taking a decision”. Admitting that PPP in railway sector takes a long time, Kumar said that as against the target of Rs 6000 crore, Railways could get Rs 2500 crore.
He said that lack of “convergence” was also an issue hampering flow of fund under PPP but now “we would like to hear them (private players) first as to where they would like to invest in Railways and then we would set our priorities”.
Touching about Railways financial health, Kumar, in his post-budget briefing, blamed the increased working expenses and staff allowance for the deterioration of the operating ratio, which stood at 93.5 per cent as against 90 per cent in the interim budget.
He said that Railways have to shell out Rs 27,000 crore on account of fuel expenses, Rs 52,000 under the staff expenses and Rs 28,000 crore to foot the pension bill.
ईटानगर Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for promoting and giving a boost to the tourism sector in the state.
According to the release, Joram Beda, the state tourism secretary represented the state government while IRCTC was represented by John Lepcha, regional manager during the MoU signing ceremony held at Itanagar in the presence of other senior departmental officials.
IRCTC has decided to tie up with the state government to provide value added tour package services and booking facilities in Arunachal Pradesh.
After signing the MoU, the team of IRCTC officials visited the newly constructed and now operational railway station at Yupia to explore the feasibility of opening tourism facilitating centre in the railway station premises, sources added.
नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: The Modi government’s first rail budget announced that the railway board would be restructured, aiming to infuse efficiency in the state-run transporter’s top decision-making body.
“At the moment, the railway board, due to overlapping roles of policy formulation and implementation, has become unwieldy. Therefore, I propose to separate these two functions,” railway minister Sadananda Gowda said.
Gowda’s first budget betrays the influence of the mechanical department — one of the biggest and most important departments in the railways which controls most funding — as it succeeded in scuttling plans for running more efficient and environment-friendly train operations.
The minister has to focus on reorganizing the state-run transporter in order to curb inter-departmental rivalry which is seeped in the culture of protecting vested interests. Many expert committees – such as Prakash Tandon Committee (early 1990s), Rakesh Mohan Committee (2001), Anil Kakodkar Committee (2011) — have suggested restructuring of the transporter but successive governments have failed to do so due to stiff resistance from the railway bureaucracy.
The powerful lobby scuttled projects related to electrification, running modern train-sets which are environment-friendly and more efficient than traditional trains and upgrading signaling and communication system as these projects failed to attract much funding.
Officials within railways and several committees have noted that the turf war between mechanical, engineering and electrical departments is affecting railways’ modernization agenda.
“The present organizational set-up on departmental lines is very conservative and lacks dynamism needed in a transport organization of the stature of Indian Railways. Such a set-up also gives rise to inter-departmental rivalry losing sight of the overall organizational goals including safety,” noted the Anil Kakodkar panel which had E Sridharan as its member.
The mechanical department, which is one of the oldest, generally prevails over other departments as it has more men in the railway board and as heads of many zonal and divisional units.
“The fight is of domination which is backed by vested interests such as diesel lobby developed over the years,” said an official.
Even the recent trial run on the Delhi-Agra sector in 90 minutes was questioned as the reduction in travel time due to 160 kmph speed was a mere three minutes. It was claimed that newer train-sets could travel faster than such locomotive-driven trains and travel time could be substantially cut down as they accelerate faster, increasing average speed of the train.
The sanctioning of electrification projects has been slowed which was reflected in the budget which mentioned only two such lines, ignoring the report of Raken Mohan panel on national transport policy. “Railway electrification should be taken up on a priority basis,” it had said.
The panel argued that electrification should be viewed as a means of making rail transport independent of imported fossil energy, while also providing a choice in sourcing energy. It said electric traction allows regeneration of power while braking, coasting and feeding the network, thereby reducing overall consumption of energy and carbon emissions which is not possible with diesel traction.
India is significantly behind other countries in locomotive productivity, indicating purchase of diesel locos which are not in optimal use.
Only 38% of the rail network is currently electrified. The answer to the low level of electrification lies in the presence of a strong diesel lobby in railways.
As of now, most procurement of rolling stock — coaches, wagons, locomotives — and their maintenance, entailing substantial funds, fall under the jurisdiction of the mechanical department. The department also control production units — diesel and electric loco units, coach and wagon manufacturing.
Gowda didn’t throw too many hints when he mentioned restructuring the railway board, but top officials say they were already working on a revamp plan that would separate its policy-making and operations arms.
India looks all set to throw open its doors to foreign investors in railway infrastructure and partially in operations, as the nation seeks to help improve the creaky transportation facility.
The department of industrial policy & promotion (DIPP) has circulated the final proposal on FDI in railways for the Union Cabinet’s consideration, which is aimed at attracting overseas funds for modernisation and expansion of the sector that faces a cash crunch.
Railway transport will be removed from the list of prohibited sectors in the consolidated FDI policy, a senior government official told ET. Currently, there is a complete ban on FDI in the railway sector, except for mass rapid transport systems. According to the proposal, foreign investment will be allowed in all public-private partnership (PPP) projects and in infrastructure such as signalling, highspeed tracks, electrification, dedicated freight corridors and suburban networks.
“We have sent the final note on FDI in railways to the Cabinet, proposing to open up railway sector to FDI in a very broad manner. It will ensure flow of funds to the cash-strapped sector to modernise and expand. It will add up to 1-1.5 per cent percentage points to India’s GDP,” said a DIPP official.
Though railway minister Sadananda Gowda has said FDI will be barred in railway operations, the Cabinet note talks about partially opening up this segment, proposing to allow foreign investment in PPP projects for suburban corridors, high-speed train systems and dedicated freight lines.
The DIPP seeks to allow up to 100 per cent FDI on the automatic route in railway infrastructure. FDI up to 100 per cent will be allowed through the special purpose vehicle route to provide last-mile connectivity to ports and mines.
“The announcement of FDI in railway sector and PPP for future projects will have a positive impact in terms of creation of new lines and capacity. This will help in achieving better road versus rail ratio for freight movement, thereby reducing logistics cost for the industry, especially for commodity players,” said SV Sukumar, partner-management consulting, head-strategy & operations practice at KPMG.
China and Japan have shown interest in investing in the railways. While railway FDI proposals won’t have to go to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board because they’ve been recommended for the automatic route, approvals may have to be taken from the ministry of railways.
“The demands of a growing economy require Indian Railways to expand its freight network, increase its ability to carry higher freight per wagon and the efficiency of the rail system for faster delivery, and improve the reach and quality of its passenger services,” the Economic Survey released last week noted.
The ministry of railways has selected seven corridors for prefeasibility studies for the introduction of high-speed passenger trains. Such projects are highly capital intensive in nature and require large passenger volumes and high tariffs, given the sizeable levels of investment.
Currently, the Indian Railways faces a cash crunch of Rs 26,000 crore. “Can I depend only on hiking fares and freight rates and burden the public to realise these funds? This is unrealistic. I need to explore alternative means of resource mobilisation,” Gowda had said after the railway budget.
नोएडा Noida: For the expansion of the Metro line in Noida, the Authority will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) this week, said Rama Raman, chairman of Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway authorities on Sunday. The chairman said date and venue of the event will be decided on Monday.
The issues has already been discussed with UP chief secretary Alok Ranjan on Saturday in New Delhi. “The state government has already given green signal to sign the MoU,” said Raman. The Mou will be signed in the presence of DMRC chief Mangu Singh, said a senior official of Authority.
Three years after the 3.9-km Botanical Garden (Noida)-Kalindi Kunj (Delhi) Metro corridor was proposed and approved by the Noida Authority, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav cleared the proposal in a cabinet meeting in Lucknow in June this year. After opening of the line, the commuters will not have to go to Rajiv Chowk Metro station to take Line 2 (Huda City Centre to Jahangirpuri) as the corridor will form a ringed route and connect Botanical Garden station with Hauz Khas station via Amity University, Kalindi Kunj and Kalkaji station. The Noida Authority on behalf of the UP government will sign the MoU. The CM has already given Rama Raman a go ahead to sign the MoU for the Metro phase III plan.
The Rs 845-crore corridor is expected to be completed by March 2016 with the cost of the Metro line over the Yamuna bridge to be shared on an 80-20 basis between the UP government and the Centre.
The DMRC had already invited bids for the project. “We have already paid DMRC around Rs 41 crore. Officials will now carry out a detailed survey for the project. We have also earmarked 55,000 sqm land to DMRC for a casting yard in Sector 71,” said a senior Noida Authority official.
The route will have three stations, Botanical Garden and Okhla Bird Sanctuary in Noida, and Kalindi Kunj in Delhi. The trains on the route will have six and eight coaches with a capacity to carry 1,756 and 2,352 passengers.
Two proposed Metro route links between Noida and Greater Noida and a route extension within Noida (6.6-km route between City Centre and Sector 62) are also underway, said Raman.
कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): The Union budget’s proposal to speed up construction of three critical railway lines may improve coal availability by about 300 million tonne, but officials say it will take at least five years to complete the projects and only a small fraction of the total 590 km will be completed by 2016.
An official of Coal India Ltd (CIL), the staterun miner which will use the proposed railway links to transport the coal, told, “The railways have told us that a portion of the 590 km will be ready in 2016 and rest of it will take five years. If the railways can meet the deadline, we will be able to supply some additional 300 million tonne in five years. If not, it may take longer to reach this figure.” The budget proposed faster construction of Tori-Shivpur-Kathautia, Jharsuguda-Barpalli-Sardega and Bhupdeopur-Raigarh-Mand rail links.
“These projects, now estimated to cost at least Rs 8,000 crore, will be paid for initially by CIL, which in turn will claim the amount from the government,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
The rail tracks are running several years behind schedule, a senior Railway Board official said. “The projects are facing delay due to environmental clearances. We are ready with the project work but delay in environment clearances is leading to time and cost overruns. We hope to start working on the project as soon as the clearances come.” CIL officials say the company’s expansion plans cannot take off in the absence of railway links, which are critical for transporting coal. “CIL is to spend the money and has already paid its initial sums, but the railway projects are far behind schedule,” a senior CIL official said.
The 93-km Tori -Shivpur-Kathautia railway line in Bihar is a case in point, the official said, adding that the ground work on the track that was expected to handle 80 million tonne of coal every year started way back in 2000. “But 14 years down the line, it is nowhere near completion. This railway track was envisaged to evacuate coal from new mining projects in North Karanpura mines of Coal India. CIL is in a fix. We cannot increase production from these mines because the coal produced has to be stacked up in the absence of a bulk transport.
Stacked coal has the tendency to catch fire, lead to loss,” the official said According to the CIL official, railways has informed the company that the Tori-Shivpur section is likely to be completed by December 2016 at a cost of 3,200 crore while the Shivpur-Kathautia section is still awaiting the first-stage clearance from the environment ministry. The second section was originally estimated to cost Rs 621 crore, but owing to the delay it is now estimated to cost about Rs 1,000 crore, the offic ..
Another critical project for CIL, the 52-km Jharsuguda-Barpalli in Odisha is now scheduled to be completed by March 2016. The project has received stage-I clearance from the environment and forests and the survey work has just begun. The stage-II clearance and land acquisition are due. “It is not likely to be completed in the next two years and is now expected to cost Rs 1,000 crore for a single-track connectivity while initial estimate was Rs 470 crore. The cost will touch Rs 2,100 crore when the track is doubled,” a CIL official said, adding that the project faced rehabilitation issues.
The third project envisages a total of 450-km railway tracks in three stretches in Mand-Raigarh Coalfields in Chhattisgarh, with an east corridor of 180 km, north corridor of 77 km and east-west corridor of 122 km. It is expected to handle 40 million tonne and come up towards the beginning of the 13th Plan period in 2017-18, the official said.
कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): The railway ministry is considering handing over of the Kolkata Metro railway project to the Urban Development Ministry, which is in charge of all the other metro rail projects in the country.
While the shift has not yet been finalised, the proposal has been discussed among the ministries concerned – railways and urban development, according to top government sources.
Kolkata Metro is the country’s first metro rail project that came up about two decades ago, under the Railway Ministry. At present, Kolkata metro is the only metro railway project that comes under the railway ministry while the rest have come up under the urban development ministry.
The second phase of Kolkata metro, which came up much later, has three stakeholders in which the railways is a one-third stake-holder while the urban development ministry and state government are the two others.
In terms of functioning, it makes it easier for the Centre as well as the state concerned to handle the metro rail project under the urban development ministry, say experts.
When railway minister Sadanand Gowda left out any reference to the Kolkata metro rail project, which is crying for immediate upgradation and maintenance, during his budget speech on Tuesday, MPs from West Bengal, mainly from Trinamool Congress, protested demanding to know what the minister was planning for the oldest metro network. Gowda refused to reply on the issue.
Later, it was learnt from government sources that since there were plans afoot to hand over the project to the UD ministry, the concerns of the Kolkata metro would be taken up later.
Sources said the railway ministry is finding it difficult to handle certain issues that have more to do with urban development than the railways.
लखनऊ Lucknow (LKO): A day after the board of Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation took important decisions regarding tendering work of the North-South corridor from Amausi Airport to Munshipulia, a delegation from European Investment Bank visited the city to survey the route for exploring loaning options.
The bank, headquartered in Luxemburg, is known for extending financial assistance to capital-extensive projects across the world. The visiting team comprised country manager Sunita Lukkhoo, deputy economic advisor Pierce Vickers and other officials who inspected the route and layout of the corridor on Tuesday. They met senior officials from LMRC (responsible to execute the project) and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which prepared a detailed project report (DPR) and which is the interim consultant of the project.
On Wednesday, the bank’s team will get answers to its queries and prepare an analysis of the project. It would send a report to its headquarters on Wednesday.
“The team has come for pre-appraisal which includes inspecting the route and challenges. After it submits a report, a team would again come for final appraisal. It includes working on finer details,” LMRC officials said.
Prior to this, French Agency for Development (AFD), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank have also come to review the project to explore loaning options. Officials said a team from AFD is expected to visit the city in the first week of August to complete an appraisal of the project. LMRC needs to borrow a hefty sum of about Rs 3,300 crore from an international financial institute to execute construction of the N-S corridor.
This team had come on the recommendation of the department of eonomic affairs under the ministry of finance. Officials said a loan for the project would preferably be borrowed from a bilateral or a multilateral agency. It might be taken from more than one agency depending on the situation and requirement.
रायबरेली Rae Bareli Jn (RBL): BJP-led central government has declared Raebareli rail coach factory independent.
The Lalganj rail coach factory at Raebareli was declared a ‘full-fledged’ factory on June 30. It will start rolling out coaches independently without entirely depending on government fund.
Sources say that the factory now would generate revenue through production. “Plan is to roll out 300 coaches and most of them independently.” In 2013-14, factory produced only 150 shells (empty shells without bogey and interiors).
After starting production in 2011, the factory has not produced even a single coach indigenously. It has not produced more than 200-odd assembled coaches so far.
But now, it would produce coaches all by itself. The target set for this year is miniscule but would be met by factory’s own resources, said sources.
The factory was, so far, getting raw material sourced from Kapurthala factory which was floating separate tender to procure raw material for Raebareli factory.
This not only delayed production at Lalganj factory but was also making the factory administration spend Rs 12 to 13 lakh on transportation of raw material like seats, wheels, paints, bathroom fittings and other accessories every year.
Indian Railways need about 5,000 coaches in a year. RCF, Kapoorthala and Integral coach factory, Chennai together roll out some 2,500 coaches. Raebareli factory, say sources, has the capacity to produce 1,500 coaches if it is made to function in three shifts.
Political apathy towards the project after it was inaugurated in 2007 has already escalated its cost from Rs 1,685 to Rs 2,500.
The factory produces only LHB coaches. LHB is a light weight coach based on German technology that can improve the speed of train and is the latest requirement of Indian Railways.
Railways incur about Rs 2.73 crore in manufacturing a single AC 3 tier LHB coach and Rs 2.63 crore in manufacturing an AC 2 tier LHB coach. An empty shell costs around Rs 50 to 60 lakh.
The ministry of railways when headed by Mamata Banerjee was not bountiful to the project. Sources said that it was not getting a budget more than Rs 100 crore annually.
Things turned in its favour only when Pawan Bansal took over as the minister.
मैसूर Mysore (MYS): Union railway minister Sadananda Gowda on Sunday claimed that they have worked out plan to complete the double line work between Mysore and Bangalore at Srirangapattana without altering or changing the place of Tipu’s armory.
Though the minister refused to disclose the details of the plan on Tipu’s armory, he said Railway engineers have worked out a plan and the doubling work on this stretch will be completed by March next year . ” If I disclose the plan now with the issue being a sensitive one there will be unnecessary hurdles and in this country there is no dearth of people to deliberate on unwarranted and trivial issues” he disclosed , adding that without affecting its heritage and monumental value the doubling work will be completed.
He said he has allocated total funds needed for the track work between Mysore and Bangalore and ” without any delay the track will be operational by March 2015.
It may be recalled here that the doubling work on this small stretch of land where Tipu’s armoury near Srirangapattana railway station has been delayed following opposition to its shifting . Later the officials planned to relocate it to a nearby spot and this non-decisiveness on the part of the railway authorities.
He said he has also allotted funds for the survey work of Kushalnagar-Mysore new line and survey work between Kushalnagar and Madkeri will be taken up soon and the project may get delayed in this route because of the forest land and other environmental issues.
Referring to other works, Sadananda Gowda said he has allotted Rs 1543 crore for the ongoing works in Karnataka and there is no question of shelving the projects initiated by his predecessor Mallikarjun Kharge . “Rs 4,99,99,000 of the Rs 5 crore earmarked for Gulbarga division creation by Kharge has been released and only Rs 1000 has been held back to indicate the livingness of the project,” he replied and said more funds will be released in the coming days. “Even I have allotted funds for the Kolar and and Yadagir rail coach factories and there is no question of shelving these projects,” he clarified adding that all on going projects are not mentioned in the budget.
Allocations for the projects will exist in the pink book and people will not know how much money has been allotted to a particular on going project.
क़तरा Katra: There was supposed to be a railway line between Katra and Banihal, a part of the Kashmir link project flagged off by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 with a five-year deadline for completion. For a leader who had been elected on the platform of good governance, Modi did not deem it fit to explain why, even 12 years later, railway passengers still have to put up with so much trouble to go to Kashmir.
The omission is curious as the proposed Katra-Banihal track, which is now due to be completed by 2018, is a case study of ineptitude, cost overruns and corruption. This is clearly the most challenging stretch of the Kashmir link project.
Katra and Banihal are separated by seven ridges of the geologically young Himalayas, which are notoriously prone to landslides and earthquakes. Hence the alignment in this stretch required the most meticulous planning, of the three broad sections of the Kashmir railway link project.
The northern section, which had been sanctioned in 1999, was completed in 2009. Stretching over 119 km, the northern section was the easiest portion as it was built on the flat terrain of the Kashmir valley, from Qazigund to Baramulla. The southern section, which has recently been inaugurated by Modi, was relatively harder as it had been built on the foothills of the Himalayas, from Udhampur to Katra.
Though it is not more than 25 km, the railways took 19 years to complete this section, which was sanctioned way back in 1995.
The middle section, connecting Katra with Qazigund, is the one that actually provides the railway link to the Kashmir valley. Though sanctioned in 2002, the section stretching across 144 km remains incomplete. The only part that has been completed so far is the 18-km stretch from Banihal to Qazigund, including a 11-km tunnel cutting through the eighth and last ridge of the Himalayas. The alignment approved by the railways could be executed in this part as it crossed the Pir Panjal ridge through a straight tunnel.
But when it came to the seven ridges lying between Katra and Banihal, the alignment approved by the railways was far different: the track was planned to be built on bridges and tunnels skirting the mountain slopes. Besides being harder to build, the alignment has proved to be unstable as it is vulnerable to the vagaries of nature. Adding to the complexity of this alignment was the ambitious plan to build mega arch bridges at high altitudes to cross rivers Anji and Chenab. Some of the tunnels on the Katra-Banihal stretch have already collapsed.
Little wonder then that when the original deadline of 2007 expired, barely 10% of the Katra-Banihal stretch had been executed and some of the tunnels in that part had already collapsed. The churning within the railways led to the proposal of an alternative alignment marked by straight tunnels, the kind that has been built between Banihal and Qazigund. Having done away with the slope-skirting alignment, the alternative proposal reduced the length of the track between Katra and Banihal from 126 km to 67 km.
In an embarrassing admission of the need to review the approved alignment, all work in the Katra-Banihal stretch was suspended in July 2008. A month later, the railway board appointed an expert committee to evaluate the alternative alignment. In June 2009, the panel recommended that 93 km out of the approved alignment of 126 km between Katra and Banihal be abandoned. It also raised questions about the safety of the Anji and Chenab bridges. The railway board accepted the report and, by August 2012, it scrapped the Anji bridge.
For its half-hearted attempts to take corrective action, the railway board has been repeatedly censured by the Delhi high court, CAG and CVC. In 2010, the high court held that the review had actually been “scuttled” by two board members who had been proponents of the flawed alignment. In 2011, the CVC advised the board to fix responsibility on the officers responsible for “project mismanagement”.
The following year, the CAG estimated that the losses incurred due to “construction failures” in the project were to the tune of Rs 3,258 crore. Finally, about a month ago, the high court directed the board to set up another expert committee as the previous one had failed to consider the alternative alignment.
Despite such signals, Modi seems to have missed the point that the railways have executed the easier parts of the Kashmir link project while the tougher stretch has remained unresolved.
अगरतला Agartala (AGTL): Tripura’s tenuous railway link between Agartala-Silchar and Lumding will come to a standstill from October 1 when the Northeast Frontier Railway will start gauge conversion work between Lumding-Badarpur and Silchar to upgrade the metre-gauge link to broad-gauge.
The Tripura government had demanded simultaneous beginning of the gauge conversion work between Badarpur and Agartala but NF Railway and the railway ministry in Delhi have not yet made their stand clear on the issue.
After the presentation of the railway budget in Parliament, two MPs from Tripura, Jiten Chowdhury and Sankar Prasad Dutta, met railway minister Sadananda Gowda and pressed for inclusion of the Badarpur-Agartala gauge upgradation work, demanding specific budgetary allocation. But the railway minister did not make any firm commitment, promising only to “look into the matter”.
The NF Railway authorities, in an official letter to chief minister Manik Sarkar, has informed him of their inability to start simultaneous gauge upgradation work between Badarpur and Silchar along the Lumding-Badarpur-Silchar track.
Expressing grave concern over the issue, transport minister Manik Dey said stoppage of railway service because of the gauge conversion work from October 1 would create serious problems in transportation to and from Tripura.
“We had consistently demanded improvement of national highway 44 before beginning of the railway gauge upgradation work and simultaneous gauge upgradation between Badarpur and Silchar. But the NF Railway authority and even the railway ministry in Delhi have not responded positively,” said Dey.
He pointed out that National Highway 44 is in a “pathetic condition”, especially on a 20km stretch between Tripura’s border with Assam at Churaibari and Loarpua in Karimganj district in Barak valley of Assam.
“This 20km stretch often becomes almost unusable during the monsoon. Things will improve by the beginning of October but the pressure of traffic on the highway is so heavy now that without comprehensive repairing and upgradation, it will not be able to bear the load of vehicles,” Dey said.
He expressed the fear that disruption of railway link will put heavier pressure on the national highway and road transport will become very difficult. “The trouble is that Tripura, in the absence of railway service for the time being, will be totally dependent on the national highway which needs immediate repairs and upgradation but the BRTF has not yet taken any initiative,” Dey said.
Chief secretary S.K. Panda wrote to the cabinet secretary on June 28 apprising him of the critical problems emerging from the disruption in the railway link. But no initiative has been taken to address the state’s problems.
“I had addressed a letter on July 10 to Union railway minister Sadananda Gowda and apprised him of our problems. We are hoping that the railway minister will take an initiative in this regard,” said transport minister Manik Dey.
He described as “unfortunate” the non-inclusion of Tripura in any of the projects announced by the Centre in the railway or the general budgets.
नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: The speed of Indian trains has remained stagnant since the 80s. We thought about increasing the speed in the past, but the sixth pay commission’s burden had shifted our focus to freight (a dedicated freight corridor is being built). But the world has moved on. Even countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Monaco and Tunisia are at various stages of developing a high-speed rail network. For us, there will now be two sets of trains. One is a semi high-speed system [160-190 kmph] that will happen soon. By end of this calendar year, we will have a train running between Delhi and Agra at 160 km per hour.
We will merely tweak the system and our investments for the Delhi-Agra corridor will be less than Rs 10 crore. Then, we have envisioned the High Speed Rail System, which is a slightly longer term vision. The Rail Budget has already given the seed money of Rs 100 crore for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor, and we should complete the project in eight years.
On the arguably high project cost of Rs 60,000 crore
Let me tell our critics that an ongoing railway project, the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), will cost Rs 80,000 crore. Of this, Indian Railways has given a commitment for Rs 27,000 crore. Compared to the DFC, bullet train is a cheaper project. And remember we don’t need to give a single cheque of Rs 60,000 crore at one time, said Arunendra Kumar.
Various modalities for private sector participation will be weighed in. Multilateral agencies are also showing interest in the project. When India had its first coloured TV sets, there were sceptics. When mobile phones came, many asked their utility. Bullet train is no different.
Two days after the rail budget, Satish Agnihotri, CMD, Rail Vikas Nigam, the PSU that oversees the Indian Railway’s infrastructure projects, invited four retired rail engineers for lunch. The food was simple — rice, roti and dal. But what the five men were about to discuss was complex: how to build India’s first bullet train. For an organization that is synonymous with sluggish trains, bullet trains are nothing short of a leap into the future for the Indian Railways. Bullet trains, or high-speed trains, are billed as the Railways’ dream project.
But they might as well be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s too, given the frequency with which he promised to overhaul India’s rail infrastructure on the lines of Japan during the election campaign. So the sense of urgency that has taken over Agnihotri’s office located in New Delhi’s Bhikaji Cama Place since the government recently approved the high-speed rail corridor project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, worth Rs 60,000 crore, is to be expected. Agnihotri is also chairman of High Speed Rail Corporation of India (HSRC), which is tasked with executing the project. One of Agnihotri’s four guests was a man named Rajiv Ranjan Jaruhar who retired as member (engineering) of Railway Board in 2007.
Jaruhar calls the bullet train a “mighty” project with no parallel. “The institution handling the high speed rail project must have an entirely different work culture, paradigm and philosophy,” he says. In other words, for the Railways in its present form will be unable to execute the project. That is only one of the many challenges. Arunendra Kumar, chairman of Railway Board, the highest decision-making body of the railways, says technology adopted in high-speed rail is alien to India’s railway engineers. Nevertheless, the process of training over 300 rail men will begin this year itself.
“Yes, we have to start afresh. HSRC will have a corporate structure and independence, as private sector players as well as multilateral agencies are more comfortable with such a structure,” says Kumar. There is one factor that bodes well for the project — the new government’s intent. “Earlier we were told: let’s study the feasibility. Now the direction is: let’s do it,” Kumar says. Indeed, bullet trains as an idea is hardly new to India — as early as 2007-08, Lalu Prasad as rail minister envisaged trains running at 300-350 km an hour— but nothing came of it. But this time there is a change in attitude thanks to the NDA government getting a clear mandate, according to Kumar.
Chasing Bullet Dreams
Embracing the idea of bullet trains means the Railways will rid itself of a lobby that has always advocated enhancing train speed with minor changes. After Lalu Prasad’s announcement in the budget, the railways ministry approached 12 state governments for participating in pre-feasibility studies. Initially, nine gave an “in-principle” nod.
In 2009, Railways’ Vision 2020 document reiterated the need for high-speed rail corridors. But the wide range of speed — 250 km to 350 km an hour — for the proposed bullet trains cast doubts if they would stay true to character. The fastest train in India now is the Shatabdi, which runs at 140 kmph. The record was previously held by Rajdhani Express, which clocks a speed of up to 130 kmph. The Rajdhani was unveiled in 1969, five years after Japan introduced Shinkansen, the world’s first bullet train that ran at 240 kmph, at that time. The world has moved on, with France, Spain, China, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Japan too boasting trains that zip at 300 kmph. India, in sharp contrast, has been stuck in a time warp for decades.
No doubt, bullet trains are imperative to the Railways’ growth. But critics also question the gamble of creating infrastructure worth Rs 60,000 crore when the railways is strapped for cash. The government took a political risk by hiking rail fare by 14%, a move that led to street protests across India and prompting a rollback in Mumbai that will witness elections later this year. Even the hike will help the railways collect only Rs.8,000 crore, or about one-eighth of what one bullet train project might gobble up.
Also, if the massive expansion of Chinese high-speed rail — at 12,000 km, it trumps Japan’s 2500 km and France’s 1,900 km projects — offers any lessons, it is this: India should be careful about splurging on bullet train projects. Most of China’s high-speed projects except those connected to key cities of Beijing and Shanghai, are likely to operate at huge losses for years, even decades, according to experts.
Coaxing the private sector to participate is a good idea. But question is will it, if the project is seen as not commercially attractive? NVS Reddy, MD of Hyderabad Metro Rail, currently building the world’s largest metro rail project in a public-private partnership, adds a word of caution. “Under the present railway setup where there are so many restrictions, private players are unlikely to come forward for such a big project. The project of modernizing railway stations under PPP was quite a viable project, but that itself did not materialize. Railways structures need to be liberalized,” he says.
On possible bidders
The competition will be among companies from France, Japan, China and Germany
मुम्बई Mumbai: With a spate of rail fractures on Central Railway (CR), with the latest occurring on the Mulund-Thane fast line on Saturday causing 16 services to be cancelled, the railway faces a crisis of accountability as far as maintenance works are concerned.
Fractures occur with changes in weather such as drop in temperatures after summer and during the monsoon. Clamps at the end of railway lines shrink and loosen up, but work is not always completed. Also, as the tracks are over 10 years old and cannot be replaced fast enough, severe corrosion of material takes place.
Subhash Gupta from the Rail Pravasi Sangh pointed out that no department or worker is ever pulled up for these issues. “Our biggest weakness is governance; the railway employee has lost fear that he will lose his job if something goes wrong on his watch,” said Mr Gupta. He also mentioned that strong railway unions make it difficult to pull up workers.
Additionally, track quality is an issue since the Indian government doesn’t allow track purchase from abroad. An official said, “The civil engineering department complains about not being given good quality tracks by the railway board, which in turn says good quality tracks are available only outside India.”
Process to incorporate Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited starts – Metro Rail headquarter office to come up near Deekshabhoomi
नागपूर Nagpur (NGP): City’s ambitious metro rail project’s chief administrative office will come up near Deekshabhoomi. Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) has planned to construct the headquarters in sprawling 6,359.79 sq.mt land on the road connecting Central Bazaar road with South Ambazari Road.
But the headquarters will come up at the cost of tribal girls’ hostel. The proposed site was allotted to Integrated Tribal Development Project for construction of hostel for 500 tribal girls. NIT had passed resolution allotting the land in the meeting held on January 27.
Later, it realized the land was more suitable for the metro rail’s headquarters. NIT board of directors in the meeting held on May 28 cancelled the resolution of allotment of the land for the girls’ hostel. In the same meeting, it passed a resolution to earmark the land for construction of metro rail’s headquarters.
NIT superintending engineer SS Gujjalwar told the proposed site would be ideal for metro rail’s office. “Land of khasra no- 225 and city suvery no- 1261 falls in mouza Lendra and situated in front of Ambedkar College. NIT had allotted three-four plots for construction of hostels for tribal boys and girls. Work in couple of sites is going on,” he said.
Once constructed, the office will come under Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRCL), special purpose vehicle to be formed for operation and maintenance of the metro rail network here.
In another piece of good news for the metro rail project, state urban development department in consultation with NIT has completed the detailed project report (DPR). In this regard, the department organized a meeting on Friday. NIT chairman Pravin Darade and Gujjalwar attended it.
Gujjalwar said now the DPR would be submitted for approval of the Union cabinet. “The report is ready with necessary changes and additions,” he said.
The Centre had given in-principle approval to the project in February. It has to approve its share of 20% in the project which comes to Rs 1,736 crore. The state government had approved its share of 20% while NMC and NIT of 5% each. The remaining 50% has to be raised through loans. Once it gets the Union cabinet’s nod, NIT will float global tender inviting interested parties to execute the work.
Already, the project is running behind the expected schedule. Work was supposed to commence in 2013-14 but got delayed due to some reasons. Now, NIT is hopeful to perform bhoomipujan of the project before ensuing assembly elections and complete tendering process and kick-off the work by the end of the current fiscal.
Projected fare for 2018-19 prepared and approved.
Site identified for construction of chief administrative office.
NIT’s deputy director of town planning SD Kadu appointed in the project on additional basis.
Decision taken to appoint three executive engineers in the project from CIDCO or MMRDA.
One executive engineer (special project) will be selected from NMC or NIT.
Decision taken to appoint architect and also prepare detailed report for chief administrative building.
Process to incorporate Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited also started.
नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: After Congress members cried foul over “leakage” of Railway Budget to media, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari today said the matter needs to be looked into to ascertain if norms of official secrecy were infringed upon but rejected Breach of Privilege notices.
Amid ruckus, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told the House that government will take action taking cue from what has been done in such instances earlier.
Ansari mentioned that he had received notices of Breach of Privilege from six members alleging leakage of Railway Budget. He said the matter was also raised by the members in the House on July 8, the day Railway Budget was presented.
Ansari said he examined the notices on the basis of the case, materials placed on record and the past precedents.
“It is a fact that some of the proposals of the Government which found place in the Railway Minister’s Budget Speech were indeed reported” by a newspaper in its issue of July 8, the day on which the budget was presented.
“It is unfortunate that contents of the Budget Speech of the Railway Minister were reported in the media. This needs to be looked into by the Government to to ascertain if norms of official secrecy were infringed,” Ansari said.
He further said there are several instances in the past wherein the presiding officers have observed that the leakage of Budget proposal does not constitute a Breach of Privilege.
“I have no reasons to differ with these rulings of the past. Accordingly, I hold that these notices are not admissible,” the Chairman said triggering uproar.
लखनऊ Lucknow (LKO): Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has welcomed the rail budget of the new government stating that the rail budget presents a broad vision on what needs to be done in this critical sector in order to upgrade infrastructure and improve operational efficiency. It said it is a positive attitude to have an ambition to be the largest freight carrier in the world, as presented in the Railway Budget. “The minister has been realistic and candid in acknowledging the problems faced in implementation of projects and improving revenue realization,” said Ajay.S.Shriram, president of CII.
Director General of CII, Chandrajit Banerjee said that the railway budget has attempted to deftly strike a fine balance between commercial and welfare objectives to present a credible budget while eschewing populism. “A pragmatic budget, the thrust on increased passenger amenities, cleanliness and efficient station management, greater safely measures and seeking the involvement of corporates to take this forward shows that the budget is anchored in reality,” he added.
CII emphasized that the accent on resource mobilization through the public private partnership (PPP) and FDI and through surplus generated through PSUs is commendable. Similarly, restructuring of rail board is a bold initiative which would help improve efficiency in the system and pave the way for flexible decision-making and restructuring of railways on commercial lines, stated CII.
Zubin Irani, chairman, CII NR stated that the proposal of close monitoring of the execution of dedicated freight corridors is a welcome initiative. CII said it believes that timely implementation of the DFCs are critical for landlocked northern states. Plans to set up a ‘Diamond Quadrilateral Network’ of high speed rail connecting major metros and growth centers of the country is another positive decision, said Irani. This will further enhance connectivity of the Northern Region with the rest of country, said Irani.
Sachin Agarwal, chairman, CII UP State Council praised the railway minister for proposing to increase the speed of trains to 160-200 km per hour in areas including Delhi – Chandigarh, Delhi-Agra, and Delhi-Kanpur. “Introduction of the new premium train, Mumbai Central – New Delhi Premium AC Express is a major move as it connects the national capital with the financial hub of the country. This will cater to an overall industrial development and growth in the northern region which has till now been adversely impacted by its landlocked nature”, stated Agarwal. He added that facilitating connectivity to new and upcoming ports through public private partnership (PPP) will also aid the process.
कोचि Kochi: The first concrete girder of the Kochi Metro Rail was successfully installed on Saturday early morning.
The girder was installed at Pulinchode near Aluva. The ‘U-shaped’ girder was cast at the Metro Casting Yard at Kalamassery. It was transported from the yard around 7 pm on Friday with the help of two huge cranes and special trailers brought from Mumbai.
The girder reached the site at midnight, and was installed with the help of cranes having capacities of 350 tonne and 400 tonne.
The total length of the girder is 25 metres, and its width is 5 metres. The girder, weighing 150 tonne, was installed by 4 am. The authorities concerned said that the installation was successful, and that the second girder would be installed on Sunday night. Traffic towards Aluva was blocked at night while the girder was being installed.
Meanwhile, the diversion of traffic through the narrow pocket roads in the city as part of the ongoing work on the Metro Rail is causing difficulties to heavy vehicles.
The traffic diversion for the vehicles going towards Aluva on the national highway came into effect on Friday night.
As per the regulation, movement of heavy vehicles through the national highway is banned between 10 pm and 6 am, from Kalamassery. The double-decker carriers that transport cars are not allowed on this stretch during night. The authorities concerned have said that the diversion would be in effect until further notice.
According to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the diversion has been put in place in order to facilitate the smooth movement of huge cranes and trailers.
Meanwhile, the commuters, especially drivers of Volvo buses, and sleeper and semi-sleeper buses that conduct inter-state service, said they were finding it difficult to take sharp turn at corners at the narrow Pathalam and Muppathadam junctions.
However, the authorities concerned said that it was the best available option to divert traffic in the traffic diversion plan prepared by the L&T, the contractors of the Metro Rail work on the stretch.
The plan was submitted to the DMRC and the traffic police.
The authorities said that the L&T would display sign boards and deploy wardens at every junction to make sure that the plan is executed properly.
All the vehicles bound for Thrissur and Aluva bound for Kalamassery will have to turn left via the Apollo Junction.
They will have to turn left on Container Terminal road through the under pass; turn right to Edayar road at the Container Freight junction; go straight through the Pathalam junction; turn right at the Muppathadam junction and turn right at Kadangalloor West to reach the Valanjambalam junction.
मुम्बई Mumbai: Western Railway officials consider their local train stabling yard at the southern-end of Bandra station as one of their most problematic. The trains parked there at night are often used by slum dwellers, who live along the fringe of the yard, to sleep in at night, whereas, during the day, kids play between them.
On Sunday, the problem got magnified after miscreants cut the cables beneath several coaches of the two local trains parked there. This left WR with two trains less to run. If this doesn’t stop, it’s going to be a major problem for commuters, warned WR officials.
WR divisional railway manager Shailendra Kumar said, “Miscreant activity of this sort was noticed earlier, but these incidents used to take place at night. This time, it has happened during the day. The Railway Protection Force has been asked to increase surveillance and, hopefully, the culprits will be nabbed soon.”
A senior RPF official said prima facie, it looked like an attempt by thieves to extract copper from the cables without realising that those cables do not have any copper in them. “A case has been registered for creating nuisance and damaging railway property,” said the official.
The issue once again highlights WR as well as Central Railway’s perennial problem of lack of parking space for their trains. “Most of the adjoining stretches of these yards have been taken over by slums and children. Urchins loiter around in the yard looking for small items that could be sold in the flea market. The more dangerous ones are the drug addicts, who are looking for copper and end up cutting cables and damaging the rake itself,” said a senior railway official.
Among the problematic train stabling yards for the railways are the ones in Bandra south, where this incident happened, the one on the northern end of Dadar station and the one on the northern tip of Kurla station.
लखनऊ Lucknow (LKO): Sad news for all the aspirants, who were gearing up for Railway paper, as it is reported that railway recruitment board examination to be held in Lucknow on Sunday was scrapped after, the question papers were leaked.
Reportedly, just 90 minutes before the exam the question paper got leaked and knowing the fact, the Railway board cancelled the paper.
The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force have arrested two people in connection with the question paper leak.
The question papers that were leaked, were for the exam of diesel driver was to be held today
This is not the first time when a paper has leaked during Railway examination. Earlier, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested a chief vigilance officer of South Western Railway (SWR) and an advocate for being allegedly involved in leaking question papers of the Railway Recruitment Board exams in Bangalore.
The leaking of question papers for Railway Recruitment Board exams are not uncommon.
The latest leak comes just a fortnight after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested a chief vigilance officer of South Western Railway (SWR) and an advocate for being allegedly involved in leaking question papers of the Railway Recruitment Board exams in Bangalore.
बेंगलुरू Bangaluru (SBC): According to Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy who inspected the project’s progress with BMRCL officials on Saturday said the company has already invited tenders for the work. “The tender process will be completed by December and the work on Phase 2 is expected to begin in January or early February,” he said. With Phase 1 nearing completion, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is gearing up to begin the Phase 2 of the Metro train project.
BMRCL MD P S Kharola said that work will be taken on Mysore Road-Kengeri reach first. “We have issued notices to acquire properties. About 5-6 acres of land has to be acquired for the project,” he said.
When asked about the controversial alignment passing through Jayadeva Hospital, Kharola said minor adjustments are being made to the line to limit the land acquisition.
BMRCL hopes to throw open Peenya-Hesaraghatta stretch as the next line on Phase 1. Kharola said the work on the stretch is likely to be completed in the next three months and trials will be taken up thereafter.
“The work on the East-West corridor — from Baiyappanahalli to Mysore Road — is nearing completion. All works, including tunnelling, are likely to be completed by this December and we will begin trials. We hope to commission the line by April- May 2015,” he said.
The North-South corridor, on the other hand, will be ready on by September 2015, due to the slow tunnelling work, especially near Chickpet, the BMRCL MD said.
मुम्बई Mumbai: Bullet trains and diamond quadrilateral networks can wait. They are worth lakhs of crores of rupees. Let’s first talk small – about Rs 34 crore.
Three-and-a-half months back, the Central Railway (CR) issued a tender worth Rs 34 crore to build seven minor bridges that are part of the much-delayed third line between Kalyan and Kasara.
It attracted just one bidder. Before the CR could recover from this disappointment, came the next blow: even the lone was not qualified. The tender was re-issued earlier this week.
“It’s getting tough to execute such projects. Companies are not doing well and hence not keen on spreading their resources thin. Even those firms that have a few works in this range don’t want to take up new ones,” said a senior CR official.
The other reason, he said, is that since the cost of such projects is small, companies outside Mumbai are not keen.
“Setting up infrastructure here to start the work would itself be as costly as the profit to be earned. Hence, several projects are held up and cost keeps escalating,” he said.
The third-line project itself is the best example. CR had proposed the project to the Railway Board in 2009. The cost envisaged then was around Rs 252 crore. It would now need more that Rs 600 crore, the official said.
The Rs 34 crore tender re-issued earlier this week was for the construction of the seven bridges and for the remodelling of a road-overbridge (between Thakurli and Kalyan). Work on the third line on the 67km Kalyan-Kasara stretch can start only when the seven bridges are completed.
The route, with just two lines, is one of the most congested rail stretches in the country. Suburban trains compete with long-distance trains moving towards Nashik and then on to the north and eastern parts of the country. In addition, there are 20-odd freight trains.
CR records show 147 suburban trains run on these routes: 34 to Kasara, 39 to Aasangaon and 74 to Titwala. Also, there are 71 long-distance ones to places like UP, Bihar, Kolkata and the North-East.
Trains on Kalyan-Kasara route
Suburban trains: 147
To Kasara: 34
To Asangaon: 39
To Titwala: 74
दीमापुर Dimapur (DMV): The Wildlife Crime Control Branch under Wildlife Division, Dimapur, seized 62 numbers of live star tortoises from the Railway Parcel Office, Dimapur, on July 12.
Officer-in-charge, Wildlife Crime Control Branch, Ailong Phom, who led the seizure informed that the tortoises were found concealed under fruits in two fruit crates parceled from Delhi. In a statement released to the media, OC said that the seizure was made with the active assistance from the personnel of Railways Protection Force posted at Dimapur Railway Station and co-operation from parcel office staff.
Further investigation is on by the Wildlife Crime Control Branch of the State Forest Department along with Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Government of India to ascertain the trade network and apprehend those involved in the trade, the OC informed. The OC also informed that an officer from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, (WCCB), Government of India, has already reached Nagaland to pursue the case further.
The Indian Star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is highly prized specimen in illegal wildlife trade as an exotic pet due to the beautiful pattern on their shells. The Star Tortoises are found naturally in India in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. They are also found in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The trade in star tortoises is banned under Appendix –II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Species is also protected under Schedule IV of Wildlife Protection Act- 1972 which bans its possession and trade.
The Delhi Metro has been operational for over a decade now. Has it helped reduce the high levels of air pollution?
The Delhi Metro, an intra-city electric rail system serving the National Capital Region (NCR), has been operational since December 2002. By March 2012, the Delhi Metro had an operational route length of 167 km.
While a key motivation behind building a mass transit system in Delhi was to ease traffic congestion, it wouldn’t have been hard to imagine that it may have a considerable impact on air quality as well. An improvement in air quality would presumably occur mainly because of the ‘traffic diversion effect’. This refers to the possibility that commuters who were earlier using personal transport such as cars and two-wheelers would switch to the Delhi Metro leading to net reduction in the level of vehicular emissions.
Investigating whether this actually happened becomes particularly important for Delhi because the city is infamous for its high levels of air pollution. On most days between 2004 and 2006, the average levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide exceeded the permissible standards set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Such high levels of pollution raise health concerns for the city’s inhabitants. The adverse effects of air pollution on health such as damage to the central nervous system, worsening of asthma and an increase in infant mortality rates, are well documented. Studies conducted by the CPCB find that high pollution levels in Delhi are positively associated with lung function deficits and with respiratory ailments. S.K Guttikunda and J.S. Apte in their book titled (Monitoring & Mapping Urban Air Pollution: A One Day Experiment in Delhi, India) found that about 10,900 premature deaths every year in Delhi occur due to ambient particulate matter pollution. In light of these facts, it is important to examine whether there has been any significant impact on air pollution in Delhi due to the operation of the metro.
Traffic diversion versus traffic creation
Based on transport economics theories, it is not possible to predict whether the net effect of the Delhi Metro on air quality will be positive or negative. The main argument is that along with the traffic diversion effect, there could be a traffic creation effect due to introduction of a new mode of transportation. The latter refers to new demand for travel generated by a faster and arguably more comfortable mode of transport such as the Delhi Metro. For example, new demand for travel could arise if, facilitated by the Delhi Metro, people decide to relocate to the outskirts of the city to possibly benefit from cheaper real estate prices, and then commute longer distances to work. If part of the increased distance is covered using pollution-intensive modes of transport (such as private cars), then this could negate any traffic diversion effect and could lead to an increase in overall level of pollution.
An added dimension that needs to be considered while studying the net effect is the presence of two coal-based power plants within the city limits that were operational during our study period (2004-2006). If operation of the Delhi Metro resulted in increased capacity utilisation of these plants in order to supply electricity for running it, then this could also contribute to higher overall emissions in the city.
Analysing the link between the metro and air quality
In our study, we examine the effect of the Delhi Metro on air quality using data obtained from the CPCB on four pollutants—nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and sulfur dioxide, between 2004 and 2006. This data is collected at two locations in Delhi—ITO, a major traffic intersection in central Delhi, and Siri Fort, a residential locality in South Delhi. We obtained hourly data on temperature, rainfall, wind speed and relative humidity for Delhi from the India Meteorological Department.
In order to establish a causal link between the Delhi Metro and air quality it is important to compare pollution actually observed in the period after the Delhi Metro became operational with its correct “counterfactual”. This counterfactual refers to the level of pollution in the hypothetical scenario where all other factors that affect pollution remain the same as in the post-metro period, and the only difference is that the metro does not exist in the counterfactual. Any difference between the observed pollution in the post-metro period and the pollution in the counterfactual can then be attributed to the Delhi Metro. To do this, we estimate the trend (pattern over time) in pollution using hourly pollution data over a reasonably long time period which includes the date of extension of the Delhi Metro. If we detect a sudden change in the level of pollution at the date of extension of the Delhi Metro, then we attribute this change to the extension of the Delhi Metro.
Between 2004 and 2006, there were six extensions of the Delhi Metro rail network. At each extension, we examine the time trend for each pollutant separately. We identify the localised, short-term effect on pollution that can be attributed to each extension of the Delhi Metro by conducting this analysis separately for pollution data from the ITO (Income Tax Office) and Siri Fort. Our preliminary analysis shows a reduction in the levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide at both locations. This reduction varies between 24-29% for nitrogen dioxide and between 26-69% for carbon monoxide. For sulphur dioxide, we find an increase of 90% at ITO, and a decrease ranging between 35-89% for Siri Fort. For ozone, we do not find a uni-directional effect even across extensions at a particular location .
Conclusions and caveats
To summarize, preliminary evidence points towards a reduction in the levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Given that both nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide are important vehicular emissions, our initial findings suggest that the Delhi Metro has encouraged people to switch from private to public mode of travel resulting in positive effects on air quality in the city. In the light of our findings and given the existing evidence on the adverse health effects of air pollution, these indirect health benefits should be taken into account when urban policy makers contemplate setting up large scale intra-city transportation systems. We provide a rationale for subsidising these mass transit systems, such as the metro or dedicated bus routes, even when the direct costs do not show a net profit. These public transport systems should be considered seriously for other cities that face similar challenges in terms of vehicular congestion and health costs due to pollution.
Two caveats should be kept in mind while interpreting and understanding these results. First, the large number of missing observations in the pollution data makes this analysis particularly challenging. Further examination is needed to ensure that our results are not being driven by the pattern of missing observations. Second, for a few extensions, the magnitude of change in carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide are very large to be driven solely by a traffic diversion effect. Also, ozone is created in the presence of sunlight and nitrogen dioxide through a complicated non-linear process. The results for ozone do not show a consistent pattern in our analysis. In the light of these facts, further investigation is needed to rule out the possibility that our findings are not being driven by chance or poorly measured pollution data.
Deepti Goel is an assistant professor at the Delhi School of Economics.
Sonam Gupta is currently working as an assistant professor in the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida.
This column has been reprinted with permission from Ideas for India www.ideasforindia.in