Delhi Metro to extend its Line till Noida Sector-62

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  If you’re looking to buy a flat in the interiors of Noida or in Greater Noida, here’s some good news. Delhi Metro is extending its existing Dwarka-Noida City Center corridor till Sector 62 and, thereafter, to Greater Noida. The Sector 52 station will be an interchange station for another Metro line planned for Greater Noida.

The alignment of the Noida City Center extension till Sector 62—a distance of 6.6km—will connect Noida with the heart of Delhi. One of the longest corridors in the Delhi Metro network, the extension will pass through sectors 34, 51, 59 and 62 to Electronic City.

The proposed extension will start from the dead end of the existing Noida City Center station and run straight along the median of Captain Shashi Kant Marg for about 2.2km before taking a left turn near Sector 52. It will run straight on the median of road leading to Sector 62 and along NH-24 for about 4.5km.

“While taking the left turn from Captain Shashi Kant Marg towards Electronic City, it has been kept in view that there will be a need in the future to have grade separator arrangement (with clover leaves) at this crossing,” said a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) official.

The length of the extension from dead end of Noida City Center station to the planned dead end near NH-24 is 6.675km. In Noida, the existing corridor has stations in sectors 15, 16 and 18, Botanical Garden, Golf Course and Noida City Center. “Botanical Garden station is planned as an interchange station for the Janakpuri-Botanical Garden line of Ph-III,” the official added. This corridor will be 36km long with over 20 stations. It is one of the two corridors coming up in Phase III of the network.

The extension to Electronic City and beyond is expected to give a boost to the connectivity in NCR. What makes the alignment exciting, according to Delhi Metro, is the plan to have Noida Sector 52 as an interchange station for the Metro line planned for Greater Noida.

“The recommended network in the ‘Revised Metro Plan for 2021′ prepared by DMRC totalled a length of 413.83km, comprising Delhi and adjoining parts of NCR, and was slated for completion latest by 2021 in phases,” said the Metro spokesperson.

Maharashtra plans for Metro Rail along the proposed Coastal Road in Mumbai

मुंबई Mumbai: The state government has plans to expand the scope of the ambitious coastal road project in Mumbai, following the Centre’s willingness to modify coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms for the project. A grand addition is now foreseen: A Metro Rail component and a bus rapid transit (BRT) line along the proposed 34-km freeway connecting south Mumbai to the western suburbs.

Senior officials confirmed that the option of setting up two additional lanes for a Metro Rail and another two lanes for a dedicated bus transit network are now on the drawing board for the project that was originally conceived as a six-lane ring road to decongest vehicular traffic.

The coastal road plan entails reclamation of 110 hectares of land. The project had hit a hurdle during the previous Congress-NCP regime over CRZ regulations prohibiting reclamation.

The breakthrough came at a meeting between Union Environment Minister Prakash Jawdekar and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last month, with the former expressing willingness to amend CRZ norms on some conditions.

On Monday, the CM held another discussion with Jawdekar in this regard in Mumbai.

Sources said the Centre was willing to accede to the state’s suggestion that the norms be amended by inserting a clause in the CRZ Notification permitting reclamation for road projects.

The proposal to incorporate a Metro Rail and BRT line aims to strengthen Mumbai’s public transport systems. While the estimated cost of the coastal road is pegged at Rs 9,000 crore currently, the addition of the mass rapid transit systems could push up costs by Rs 7,000 crore.

At least two of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s proposed Metro routes, meanwhile, could return to the drawing board if the coastal road’s Metro Line is okayed, including the Dahisar-Bandra-Mankhurd route and Colaba-Bandra-Seepz route.

While the MMRDA’s routes are brownfield projects and partly underground projects requiring complex rehabilitation of project-affected people, a Metro route on the coastal ring road will ensure a larger span in a shorter time frame, officials said. It would also be a cost-effective option. Official estimates say the cost of setting up an underground Metro Rail route is Rs 800 crore per km, whereas an elevated rail can be built at Rs 220 crore per kilometre.

In case of the coastal road project, the option of a Metro route “at grade” would cost Rs 70 crore per kilometre, senior officials said.

The state hopes to obtain a formal nod from the Centre for the coastal road project soon. It has set its sights on readying the detailed project report and starting work by the year-end.

Meanwhile, on the memorial for warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji off the Arabian Sea, following a legal opinion that the bhoomipujan for the project must be taken up only after the Centre’s green nod, Fadnavis has requested the Centre to complete the necessary formalities before May 1. The state has plans to carry out the bhoomipuja on that day.

Haryana to do away with unmanned railway crossings

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Within days of the death of 12 people in an accident at an unmanned level crossing in Hisar, the Haryana government has decided to do away with such crossings in the State.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said here on Monday that limited height subways would be constructed to bypass railway tracks or personnel deployed to operate the gates.

He said the government had written to Northern Railway, North Western Railway and North Central Railway, seeking a plan to man the level crossings wherever needed. The State government would provide the required assistance.

He said an action plan submitted to Railways said that of the 119 unmanned level crossings falling under Northern Railway, 89 could be replaced by subways and three merged with manned ones.

Two could be closed down. A plan was being worked out for the remaining 25.

Similarly, of the 68 unmanned level crossings falling under Northern Western Railway, 37 could be replaced by the subways, 19 merged and 12 manned.

The State government had given its consent for the construction of 68 subways out of railway funds.

As many as 65 overbridges and underbridges had been completed on busy level crossings. Work on 28 was in progress.

Western Railways GM conducts inspection of Rajkot division

राजकोट Rajkot (RJT): S K Sood, General Manager, Western Railways, on Monday conducted the annual inspection of Rajkot Division along with his team comprising of senior officers from the Headquarters. He was accompanied by Vinay Babtiwale, Divisional Railway Manager, Rajkot and other officers of Rajkot Division. Inspection of various stations, colonies, bridges, level crossing gates and ongoing works on 156 kms long Jamnagar-Morbi section was done.

General Manager’s annual inspection is an age old tradition of the Indian Railways wherein the complete Railway Infrastructure in one section in each of the Division is inspected thoroughly and improvements required for the betterment of the quality of service being provided to the Public is assessed.

Inspection was carried out at Jamnagar, Hapa and Morbi stations. Additional loop line (4th Railway Line) has been commissioned at Jamnagar station. A new VIP Room at Hapa station and Solar Lighting System for station and colony at Jalia Devani has been started. At Wankaner station, a VIP Room and Officers Rest House has been started. Besides this, a Heritage Steam Loco has been kept outside Wankaner station. At Morbi, Prime Data Feeding Centre (used for data entry of salary related details of Railway staff), new Goods Office and facility of Freight Operation Information System (enabling computerized working of Goods Office) have been started.

Two rail wagons derailed in Rajasthan

जयपुर Jaipur (JP): Two wagons of a goods train were today derailed, delaying train services for about an hour, at Banas siding on Beawar-Sirohi section on Ajmer Division of North Western Railway in Rajasthan, a railway spokesman said here.

No casualty or loss to wagons was reported, the NWR spokesman said.

The Ajmer-Beawar-Ahmedabad track was disturbed causing delay of trains for about one hour around 1440 hrs onwards, he said.

Architect shows how to make Mumbai’s gloomy stations cheerful

307009-stations1मुंबई Mumbai: The railways is toying with the idea of re-developing railway stations in the country, Mumbai in particular, as a way of garnering funds to run the ailing transporter. However an architecture student Sapan Gajjar says the challenge is to make our stations commuter-friendly and also one with the surrounding architecture rather than eyesores.

He gives a lowdown on what his concept of a simple, user-friendly railway station would be.

What a suburban station should be?
(i)   They should be looked at as a ‘Public Space’ rather than the commuter’s node. It is the best example of ‘Architecture for people’ in a true sense.
(ii)   Stations generate divide of east & west. A design that will submerge the divide and make it easier for people to transcend it will make the experience meaningful.
(iii)   Increasing the choices of the routes, and promoting diversities such as markets, street market, cafeteria, open library can enrich stations. Since efficiency of movement is primary requirement of these stations, offering wider choices of routes could help the intent.
(iv)   Station design could incorporate a mezzanine floor.
(v)    Appealing and efficient signage can also enrich the experience of the commute, such as structural system (trusses & columns) shall be coloured to notify the routes & spaces.
(vi)   Suffocating, Bleak & dark platforms could have a better roof design- lighter, well lit during day and porous, allowing it to breathe and in turn keep the commuter comfortable.

A case study for Mumbai’s dense suburban network:
Stadelhofen station in Switzerland, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is a smallish station located amidst the city of Zurich with intercity train services among few others. Located on a minimum ground footprint and due to its location within downtown, it’s an open and transparent building. There is no territorial divide; the street literally extends and transforms into the platform. Surrounding building’s amenities serves the station & passengers. Thus the functions of the station are optimized. A striking feature is the roof of one platform which is actually a foot over bridge, which is elegantly combined. The bridge transcends down swiftly on opposite street partially as a ramp. The well-lit underground subway is dotted with shops. Thus, this design sets a great example for a station located in the dense urban locale. (Courtesy: DNA)

India, Spain to partner for development of High speed Rail system

New Delhi: India and Spain are set to partner each other in the railways sector with a view to cooperate in the high speed rail category, after a delegation of the latter nation had a detailed discussion with the Railway Board on Monday.

“We had a meeting with the Railway Board of India and the meeting was very successful. We feel that cooperation in the railways sector is very important for our two nations,” Spanish Minister of State for Commerce Jaime Garcia Legaz said.

“Spain has the second largest high speed train network in the world after China and the gap is closing fast,” he added.

Among the other matters discussed was an upcoming Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) being signed between Spanish businessmen and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The visiting dignitaries also oversaw discussions pertaining to renewable energy and the construction of highways.

“With almost 25 percent of our energy coming from renewable sources, Spain has the highest percentage of renewable energy in Europe. We are eager to have India also increase its renewable energy production,” Legaz said.

Legaz also confirmed that the delegation shall meet Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu to discuss the ‘Smart Cities’ project.

“We are going to meet him tomorrow. The ‘Smart Cities’ project is one of the key areas of expertise and Barcelona is one such example of the ‘Smart Cities’ project,” he stated.

Naidu had visited Barcelona last year to learn about the Smart Cities project and the implementation of it by the Spanish Government in association with various industrialists

Supreme Court asks Delhi HC to decide on Gammon’s plea on Metro Rail tenders

New Delhi: Supreme Court today asked Delhi High Court to “expeditiously” decide a plea filed by Gammon India Limited that it has “arbitrarily” been denied contract of a ₹600 crore metro rail project despite its financial bid being lower than the company which bagged it.

“The parties (Gammon India, DMRC, Centre and others) agree that the pleadings shall be completed before February 25. We request the High Court to commence the hearing on that day,” a bench headed by Justice T.S Thakur said.

It also ordered maintenance of ‘status quo’ with regard to construction and other works in pursuance of award of the contract.

The bench, which also comprised Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said the parties would not seek any adjournment of hearing before the High Court which would expeditiously decide the plea of Gammon India Ltd.

Earlier, Gammon India had moved the High Court seeking a direction to DMRC and the government that its financial bid, submitted through a letter on October 13 last year, be considered for awarding the contract.

The high court, which issued notices on Gammon’s plea, had however refused to stay the operation of contract awarded to M/s GYT-TPL Joint Venture.

Gammon India then moved the apex court seeking ‘status quo’ on the construction and other works in pursuance of award of contract to M/s GYT-TPL Joint Venture.

“The financial bid of Petitioner (Gammon India Ltd) is significantly lower than successful bidder. The successful bid of M/s GYT-TPL Joint Venture is ₹665.87 crores whereas the Petitioner has bid ₹639.49 Crores, ₹26.36 crores less than the successful bidder.

“There could not have been any justification for giving a go-by to the petitioner in light of the difference in the bid amounts…,” Gammon India alleged.

It also claimed it has been “effectively blacklisted” by DMRC by refusing to open its financial bid in connection with “DMRC contract no CC–87 by making allegations which are wholly unconnected with the subject tender without so much as a letter to the Petitioner to explain anything.”

Coal India Ltd eyes mega tie-up with Indian Railways on the model of Krishnapatnam Rail Co

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Coal India Ltd (CIL) is looking at a comprehensive revenue-based partnership with the Railways in a bid to create the mega infrastructure consisting of about 50 rail projects to move coal across the country. Using the experience of Krishnapatnam Rail Co, in whose board CIL’s newly appointed chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya was earlier present, the monopoly miner is currently working on the probable models that can be formed to execute the projects.

Krishnapatnam Rail Co is a SPV comprising the government of Andhra Pradesh, Krishnapatnam Port Co Ltd and Rail Vikas Nigam, formed to provide rail connectivity to the port.

“CIL has to find an economic association with Railways. We are having a close look at railway logistics,” CIL chairman Suthirtha Bhattacharya said.

Funding Railways’s projects of linking mines to users of coal or creating a special purpose vehicle like Krishnapatnam are some of the business models that CIL is currently exploring with the Railways.

“We are looking at various models. One way to look at it is to give the responsibility of building the infrastructure to the Railways and, in return, we get freight discounts. The second model is that we form an SPV which can collect freight from all the users. In these SPVs we can involve the governments of coal-bearing states. We have to see what are allowed under the Indian Railways Act,” he said.

To explore the feasibility of the projects of these two PSU behemoths, CIL has recently roped in as advisor A K Maitra, Additional Member (Traffic), Railway Board. The 50 projects are part of the initiative to double CIL’s current production level by 2020, Anil Swarup, coal secretary, had recently disclosed. Among other plans to reach the 1 billion-tonne goal, dispatches need to keep pace with production.

Evacuation is growing at 3.2% while production is growing at more than 6% till date this year. Subsidiaries like Mahanadi and Central Coalfields have high pithead stocks where productions are more than evacuations.

Cutting redundancies which lead to seasonal spiking in demand for rakes leading to its shortages are some of the issues that are being looked into.

Coal India OFS: More to come

Employees who thought of participating in Coal India’s offer for sale but got left out, can rejoice. Government is likely to sell another 5% stake in the next couple of months a part of which will be reserved for the employees, an official said.

“There would be another 5% sale to comply with the listing norms which requires at least 25% public holdings. In this stake sale, the government is planning to offer a portion specifically for employees and it is likely to be at an additional discount over retail investors,” the official told.

CIL on Friday successfully sold a 10% stake to rake in around Rs 22,600 crore in the government’s largest divestment exercise that saw institutional investors oversubscribe by 1.05%.

About Krishnapatnam Rail Company

Krishnapatnam Railway Company Limited is implementing the new railway line project (111 kms.) from Obulavaripalle to Krishnapatnam on South Central Railway for providing port connectivity to the iron ore belt at Hospet/Bellary. The project cost is Rs. 733 crores. The equity of Rs. 270 crore is shared by the following partners in this project:

Partners’ Name(s)

  • Rail Vikas Nigam Limited
  • Government of Andhra Pradesh
  • NMDC Limited
  • Krishnapatnam Port Company Ltd.
  • Bramhani Industries Limited

National Green Tribunal ask Rlys to erect wall, curb Encroachments and Municipal waste

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: After a short train trip from New Delhi railway station revealed piles of waste and encroachment along its property, the Railways is now all set to erect a wall along railway tracks.

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Railways to start erecting the wall wherever there is no encroachment and in the meantime, clear other sites of municipal waste and encroachment.

“The Railways shall start constructing wall of the kind as its technical experts decide at the periphery the land that is in possession of the Railways as of now except encroachments,” directed a Bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar.

“The area between the wall and the track shall be used as a green area and developed as such,” the Bench said.

It also directed the contractors engaged in cleaning and upkeep to show as to why they not be directed to pay Rs.5 lakh for their failure.

Railways’ counsel Om Prakash told the Bench that on January 23, officials from the Railways Delhi division, representatives from the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, DUSIB, NDMC and DDA travelled on train from New Delhi railway station to Badli via Sadar Bazar, Subzi Mandi, Azadpur, Adarsh Nagar and Badli. The entire journey and the sites were video-graphed and the film was submitted in the NGT.

The Railways said the residents of JJ clusters are responsible for encroachments.

Mr. Prakash said encroachment on railway land and along the tracks is so grave that there are at least 30 run-overs every month.

He said the slum dwellers could be seen sitting on cots spread on the tracks because of which trains have to operate at speed as low as 10 km per hour.

He also said there have been instances of theft in passenger and goods trains and cases where railway crew has been injured and rolling damaged due to stone pelting and other unwanted activities of these dwellers.

Unauthorised slums were constructed on railway land between Sabzimandi and Badli station along the railway track. Similar was the case between Azadpur and Dayabasti and Vivekanandpuri Halt near Sarai Rohilla.

Mr. Prakash said Railways has already given Rs.11.25 crore to MCD for removal and relocation of jhuggies. The money was subsequently transferred to DUSIB.

Following JJ clusters situated on railway safety zones have been prioritised by the Urban Development of GNCTD – JJ cluster Shaheed Sukhdev Nagar, Wazir Pur; Sanjay Camp, Chanakyapuri; JJ cluster railway station, Daya Basti; Barapullah Nalah Bridge; JJ cluster Wazirpur Railway track and JJ cluster WHO building/ Anna Nagar.

Move aimed to keep tracks free of encroachment and municipal waste

Railways gets cracking on Pollution Control, Environment Protection, Fuel Bill

The Railway Ministry has asked all zonal railways to introduce a system of monitoring consumption of all types of energy and water, along with trend analysis and benchmarking

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  After initiating plans for revamp of its administrative set-up and financial health, Indian Railways has got cracking on environment management, with a focus on pollution control, efficiency in energy consumption, conservation of resources like water, proper use of land, and development and use of renewable energy.

The ministry has formed a directorate in the Railway Board to implement this plan.

The ‘Environment Directorate’, headed by an advisor, is functioning directly under the Board chairman.

Within a week of formation, the directorate asked all zonal railways and production units to prepare performance report cards on environmental issues.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu sought inputs last week from energy experts to lower the transporter’s hefty fuel bill.

“How can the Railways reduce the cost of its energy? Please offer some ideas to help me prepare the Budget as well,” Prabhu had said at an annual event.

As part of the plan, all railway zones and production units will monitor and report the trends in consumption of traction energy, both electrical and diesel, and conduct audits of energy and water consumption across major activity centres like workshops, depots, loco sheds, and railway stations, every month.

The ministry has also asked all zonal railways to introduce a system of monitoring consumption of all types of energy and water, along with trend analysis and benchmarking.

All the zones and production units have been asked to give their reports within six months.

Electric traction accounts for 63 per cent of Indian Railways’ freight operations and 50 per cent of passenger services. Diesel traction accounts for 36 per cent of freight and 49 per cent of passenger operations.

Indian Railways consumes about 13.8 billion units of electricity annually, close to two per cent of the country’s total power production.

The Railways’ locomotives also consume 2.6 billion litres of diesel annually. Its fuel bill — electricity traction cost apart from diesel — accounted for Rs 28,592 crore (Rs 285.92 billion), or 22 per cent, of its total working expenses in 2013-14. Diesel accounted for around 70 per cent of the fuel bill.

The transporter has budgeted for an increase of Rs 20,000 in its working expenses — from Rs 1,22,867 crore (Rs 1,228.67 billion) last financial year to Rs 1,43,318 crore in the current year.

The bulk of this additional expenditure was on account of fuel spending, which is expected to increase by Rs 6,500 crore over last year to Rs 35,181 crore (Rs 351.81 billion) in 2014-15.

Indian Railways’ expenditure on diesel had jumped 45 per cent from Rs 13,750 crore (Rs 137.50 billion) in 2012-13 to Rs 19,950 crore (Rs 199.50 billion) in 2013-14, despite a mere 2.7 per cent increase in volume.

The reason: A 34 per cent jump in diesel prices driven by last year’s rise in crude oil rates.

The situation has completely changed this year, with global crude oil prices declining over 50 per cent since June 2014 to less than $45 a barrel.

Diesel prices for the Railways have come down from Rs 60.08 a litre in June to Rs 50.51 a litre now.

ENVIRONMENT FOCUS

After restructuring the railway board and financial review, the ministry is focusing on environment management

The plan includes lowering fuel bill, benchmarking energy consumption, and auditing energy use of zonal wings and production units

An ‘Environment Directorate’ will monitor the implementation of the plan

Electricity traction accounts for 63 per cent of the Railways’ freight and 50 per cent of ITS passenger operations; Diesel traction accounts for the rest

The Railways’ fuel bill (diesel and electricity) is estimated to rise 25 per cent to Rs 35,000 crore this financial year

Railways will soon let you book all 24 coaches of a train

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Indian Railways has some good news for you. Now you can book a coach or the whole train online. The new service has been named as Full Tariff Rate.

The maximum number of coaches which can be booked are 10, while for a full train, you can book 24 coaches.

People can also book goods train. All information regarding booking the trains can be found on ftr.irctc.co.in.

The registration for booking can be made 30 days in advance. The railways have started the service in the Western Zone as a pilot project.

Make in India gets rolling with Rs 500 Crore Bogie manufacturing project

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative, the Indian railways have fast-tracked implementation of the Rs 500 crore deal for the acquisition and Transfer of Technology (ToT) of the next-generation Amstead bogies from the US firm ASF Keystone.

These bogies — which will replace the BOXN and BLC wagons — carry approximately 10% more freight and can accelerate the speed of goods trains from the existing 60 kilometers per hour to 110 kmph. “The new technology can transform rail freight transportation in India,” sources said.

Due to political uncertainty during UPA 2 when seven different ministers held charge of railways, the deal was in cold storage.

“Given its potential to ramp up freight earnings on existing tracks, the NDA government has decided to push for fast execution of the project. Bulk supply of the Amstead bogies is likely to begin next year,” sources said.

As part of its commitment of the total supply of 4,000 bogies, the US firm will send the first lot of 240 bogies in 2016 for conducting the field trials in India. It will also assist the Indian railways to set up a manufacturing facility. It will also provide technical assistance for the setting up three other manufacturing facilities that domestic companies licensed by the Indian railways can set up.

Of its total inventory of 2.5 lakh wagons, the Indian railways have approximately 60,000 BOXN type wagons and about 15,000 BLC type container wagons. “The Amstead deal offers an opportunity for India to emerge as the export hub for the manufacture of international-class freight wagons,” sources said.

Railways’ launch ‘Village on Wheels’ for Bharat Darshan as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

इलाहाबाद Allahabad (ALD): For catering to the demand of travelers, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Indian Railways have jointly launched ‘Village on wheels’ for ‘Bharat Darshan’, for budgeted touring of India. ‘Village on wheels’ is for the budget tourists, especially villagers, who wish to explore the country.

As a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, IRCTC recently launched ‘Mahatma Gandhi Circuit train’ which takes the tourists to the places associated with the life and struggle of Gandhi.

Manager, public relations of IRCTC reveals that some sought after journeys of the Bharat Darshan include visit to five ‘jyotirlingas’, three other jyotirlingas along with Shirdi, Dakshin Bharat Darshan covering Mahakaleshwar- Ujjain, Nageshvara – Dwarka, Somnath temple, Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga – Aurangabad and Trayambakeshwar- Nasik.

Dakshin Darshan tour covering major pilgrimages of Southern India like Tirupati, Kanchipuram, Rameshwaram, Madurai, Kanyakumari and destinations like Mysore and Bangalore, completes the journey in 11 nights and 12 days.

One of the recent Bharat Dakshin Darshan tour include journey from Lucknow via Kanpur on February 20. This train will take the tourists to visit to places in South like Reningunta, Kanchipuram, Rameshwaram, Madurai, Thiruvanthapuram, Kanyakumari and Kurnool Town. Tourists can board this IRCTC train from Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Bina and Bhopal. The passengers will be served breakfast, lunch and dinner and a visit to all the tourist places of the Southern India. Guides will also be present on the train who will give detailed information about these tourist places.

IRCTC/North Zone has launched some new itineraries like Mahatma Gandhi Circuit and Splendid Goa. Mahatma Gandhi Circuit covers destinations like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Porbandar, Bhavnagar and Surat. All these places have become synonymous with the Mahatma be it as the birth place or where he spent his formative years or as places where he spread the message of Ahimsa and Satyagraha. This 8 nights and 9 days trip will be originating from Chandigarh on April 9, 2015.

14 year old boy from UP makes a Demo Metro Project using minimum resources

Abdul Samad with his trainमुजफ्फरनगर Muzaffarnagar: You will be astonished to know that a 10th-class student living in Shamli region of Uttar Pradesh have made a demo model of the metro. While most metro models are prepared by renown engineers, Abdul Samad studying in class-10th have prepared a metro model which will use the DC.

Abdul showcasing his dream project with minimum resourcesEven a good technical student will be surprised to see this model. The 14-year-old Abdul has made it using minimal resources available to him. He hails from a poor family and his father works in a private company in Delhi. He studies in an inter-school in his village only.

Abdul fixing the coachesHe is always inspired to do something new. However, due to poor financial conditions, he could not fulfill all his dreams. This is why he had to use the sources available in the village to complete the metro project. He has used wood to make the poles and wired to show the DC current flow.

Abdul electric traction set upAbdul considers former President APJ Abdul Kalam as his source of inspiration. He says “Abdul Kalam is one of the rare scientists who has set standards that his community has to practice. Whatsoever a great man like Abdul Kalam does, the same is done by others as well, whatever standards he sets, the world follows the same”.

Abdul after making the coach formationDue to low finances, he has to complete his education in the school located in the village only. His eyes have big dreams and the family hopes that the government lends a helping hand so Abdul can give wings to his wishes like any other student. If he gets a chance to pursue studies in better schools, he can possibly be the pride of the nation.

Maha CM sets up War Room for faster clearances of rail & infra projects

मुंबई Mumbai: The seriousness of the new government over clearing pending infrastructure projects for Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) can be observed as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has created a ‘war room’ in his office to expedite such projects. The war room has been monitoring the progress of projects to ensure their completion on time.

Senior bureaucrats and experts have been involved to create a war room to fast track top projects for Mumbai and MMR as well. The basic objective of the war room is to clear the bottlenecks in the projects resulting in delays.

Chief minister himself is heading the war room that was set up with the help of ‘Bombay First’ an NGO and global consultant McKinsey. Besides, two senior IAS officers Milind Mhaiskar and Pravin Pardeshi, both principal secretaries to the chief minister, are also monitoring issues that come up.

The team of the war room also comprises two officers on special duty (OSD) working round-the-clock that were personally chosen by the chief minister.

The responsibility of each of the OSDs is to coordinate with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). They also have subordinates called ‘associates’ to achieve specific targets.

“The war room was set up to clear up important infrastructure project that were held up for different reasons for years. We have to remove bottlenecks of the projects after doing a detailed study,” a senior officer working in the war room revealed.

Navi Mumbai International Airport, a proposed coastal road from Kandivali to Nariman Point, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), Mumbai Metro and development of Mumbai Port Trust land are the projects on which war room has been working.

Maharashtra Govt clears Draft Plan for Nagpur Metro Area

नागपुर Nagpur (NGP): Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis cleared the draft plan of Nagpur metropolitan area (NMA) at a meeting held on Saturday. The draft will be published by the government in a few days and made public.

Citizens will get an opportunity to submit suggestions and objections for 60 days. After taking these comments into consideration the final plan will be published. The development of the metro region will take place as per the plan. While the Nagpur Metropolitan Area Development Authority (NMADA) is yet to be formally constituted, the CM held the meeting of its members.

The government has ordered divisional commissioner Anup Kumar to hold elections to Nagpur Metropolitan Area Development Committee (NMAPC) by March 31. Kumar told that Nagpur district collector will be the returning officer and the election process will take four weeks and likely to be held by February end.

NMAPC, comprising officers, MPs, MLAs and NMC corporators, councillors of municipal council and Nagpur zilla parishad members will finalize the development plan of NMA. It will be headed by the CM.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Fadnavis said that the metro area land will be used for thirteen purposes. “Eight will be for urban and five for rural areas. In urban areas, more than 50% land will be for residential purposes followed by transport (16.9%) and industrial (13.4%). Only 1.15% will be for commercial purposes. The transport area is so big because all roads and railways come under it. In rural area, 54% is for agricultural. Our metro area has 14.25% forested land. This has a tourism potential,” he said.

“The development of metro area will be done on the basis of this plan for coming 20 years. The requirements of the area for coming 50 years have been taken into account. An investment of Rs 41,215 crore will be made in the metro area over the years,” the CM said.

Fadnavis claimed that land acquisition will not be a problem because land pooling will be done. “Funds will not be a problem as NMADA will collect development charges. This will help it in getting loans too. It can also use transfer of development rights (TDR), accommodation reservation and public-private partnership (PPP) for developing the metro area,” he added.

The area of NMA is 3,567 square kilometre. Some urban areas falling within it have been excluded from NMA jurisdiction. They are: Nagpur, Kalmeshwar, Mahadula, Koradi, Kamptee, Mouda and Mihan. The population of metro area in 2011 was 10.3 lakh. It is expected to reach 17 lakh by 2032.

Fresh line of action

  • Draft plan will be published within a few days
  • Citizens can give suggestions and objection regarding it for 60 days
  • The final plan will be made by NMAPC
  • NMAPC elections will be held in February or March
  • NMAPC will have NMC corporators, ZP members and members of municipal councils
  • The development of NMA will be done for coming 20 years on the basis of the plan
  • The plan will be made on the basis of requirements of the area in coming 50 years
  • It will require an investment of Rs41,000 crore
  • NIT will soon become NMADA

Delhi Metro likely to hike Fares after Delhi Assembly Polls

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Delhi Metro fares may be hiked soon after the Assembly polls as the government has initiated a process to review the rates which were last raised in 2009.

The Union Urban Development Ministry has sent a proposal to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet to set up a fare-fixation panel which will submit its report within three months of getting approved.

Retired Justice AK Srivastava has been chosen as the Chairman of the Committee, Delhi Metro sources said.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Chief Mangu Singh had recently indicated that a fare hike has become imperative with a significant rise in the operational costs.

“Fare hike is long overdue. Now when the committee will be formed and when it will give its recommendations is not in my hand,” Singh had said, clearly indicating that a fare hike was on the cards.

Delhi Metro can revise its fares only on recommendation of the three-member committee constituted by the Union government from time to time.

Apart from a person who is or has been a high court judge, the committee comprises of the urban development secretary and Delhi’s finance secretary.

Fares were last revised in 2009 when the minimum fare was raised from Rs 6 to Rs 8 while the maximum fare was hiked to Rs 30 from Rs 22.

During DMRC’s 12th anniversary celebrations, its operations director Sharat Sharma had stated that almost 40 per cent of metro’s overall expenses go towards paying electricity bills with the power consumption rising to around 63 crore units amounting to almost Rs 450 crore in 2014-15.

Going paperless will cost Indian Railways over INR 1000 Crore

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Going paperless may not come cheap for the Indian Railways as it could cost about INR 1,000 crore to INR 1,300 crore to begin with. In fact, it may require another INR 300 crore to INR 400 crore as recurring cost every year.

At present, the Railways spend about INR 60 crore and consume an estimated 6,000 tonne of paper every year.

The official said that “We started collecting the data on paper consumption while studying the costs and benefits of having a paperless office. The consumption data is according to initial estimates.”

The break-up of annual paper consumption includes about 600 tonnes used for the Passenger Reservation System and Unreserved Ticketing System, 500 tonnes for computer stationery and 4,000 tonne for books and forms.

PRS, issuing reserved tickets, is used primarily for long-distance trains and UTS, which issues unreserved tickets, is for shorter distance trains.

In the last budget, the Railways had announced that it would have a paperless office in five years.

Another official said that “We have already lowered our paper consumption in the last few years, with introduction of e-tickets. The consumption is further expected to come down as more and more people migrate to using SMS as tickets in both the reserved and unreserved segment.”

The Railways book over 15.5 crore e-tickets a year.

At present, the reserved train travel segment allows passengers to use SMS as a ticket along with an identity proof. One of the steps that the Railways are working on involves allowing text messages as tickets in the UTS. But given the varied crowd in the unreserved segment, it is difficult to expect everybody to have an identity proof.

The official said that “The key challenge is to ensure the security feature on SMS. The fear is what if people forward the SMS and use it repeatedly? To tackle that, one option is to have a QR code in the SMS and make the sender a part of the security check.”

The official added that “On the freight side, the Railways is already working on a project to have electronic revenue receipts, and start issuing these to petroleum product traffic from companies, such as IOC, BPCL and HPCL.”

Ashok Agarwal assumes charge as new GM of Southern Railway

Shri Ashok K. Agarwal, General Manager, Southern Railway

Shri Ashok K Agarwal, General Manager, Southern Railway

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS): Former Chief Administrative Officer of Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels, New Delhi and currently General Manager of Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, Ashok K. Agarwal, has taken charge as General Manager, Southern Railway, Chennai.  Shri Agarwal succeeds Rakesh Mishra, who retired from service on January 31.

Ashok K Agarwal has taken over the charge of General Manager, Southern Railway, Chennai in addition to the post of General Manager, Integral Coach Factory.

Belonging to 1977 batch of Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), Agarwal has worked in various capacities apart from holding various posts in Railway Board, RITES, RDSO, Western Railway and Northern Railway.  Prior to this posting, Shri Agarwal held the post of GM, Integral Coach Factory, Perambur and Chief Administrative Officer/IROAF, New Delhi since January, 2013 He has also held the posts of Divisional Railway Manager, West Central Railway, Bhopal, Chief Mechanical Engineer, East Coast Railway, Bhubaneswar and Chief Mechanical Engineer, DMW, Patiala apart from many other posts in Railway Board, RITES, RDSO, Western Railway and Northern Railway.

After passing on completion of four years Mechanical Engineering training as Special Class Railway Apprentice at the Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, Jamalpur, Shri Ashok K. Agarwal joined the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers in March 1978 in Western Railway. During his training, he also passed the examinations of the Council of Engineering Institutions, London to graduate in Mechanical Engineering, and the examinations of the Institution of Engineers, India to graduate in Mechanical Engineering and also in Electrical Engineering.

He was awarded Gold Medals by the Institution of Engineers, India and by Indian Staff College, Vadodara. He is a Member of the Institution of Engineers, India and a Chartered Engineer. Shri Ashok K. Agarwal has more than 35 years of experience on the Indian Railways in the field of Man & Asset management, Workshop, Workshop Management Railway operations, Materials Management, Investment & Budgetary Control, Transfer of Technology, Planning and R&D. Shri Ashok K. Agarwal has also attended customized training programme for higher management at HEC, Paris and visited many other countries such as USA, UK, France, South Africa, Austriala, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria etc in connection with Railway Assignments.

Centre’s push for Railways’ Modernisation harbours immense Potential for Reform

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The government’s push for modernisation of this sector harbours immense potential for reform.  For India to grow at 10%, the railway network needs to grow at 15-20% annually. A single 200 km high-speed rail route can add $20 billion to India’s economy annually. By linking producers and consumers across the nation, it can leverage geographical advantage, creating an efficient division of production and providing the means to expand economics of scale and scope. To ‘Make in India’, efficient rail transport becomes necessary, raising growth in poor and isolated districts. By making inter-city travel economical, the railways helps lay a foundation for service industries and tourism. Every kilometre of new railway track can create a hundred jobs.  The railway minister’s empowerment of zonal railway heads should be utilised for furthering operational and financial goals, while bolstering accountability.

A comparison helps. By 2014, China had completed constructing a high-speed rail network of about 11,000 route-km, far exceeding the high-speed railway network in any other country. All this has been built at a typical infrastructure unit cost of about $17-21m/km, compared to $25-39m/km in Europe. China’s accomplishment relied on clear lines of responsibility, a strong technical capacity and large economies of scale, while incurring high railway debt. Clearly, thinking on a large scale helps.

With a worsening operating ratio (93.5%), slowing revenue growth (compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at 2.8%) and rising costs (CAGR at 10.9%), the railways finds itself fiscally constrained in making necessary investments. Of nearly 340 capacity enhancement and modernisation projects worth Rs 172,934 crore of investment (61% are uneconomic), we allocate just Rs 10,000 crore of funds each year.

A three-pronged approach is needed. First, a massive reconstruction programme needs to be launched to incorporate new lines, high-speed rail and freight corridors, separating long haul and suburban networks. Second, railway finances need to be fixed through public investment, market borrowings and private investments. Third, the railways need to be restructured from the bottom-up, improving investment planning and project execution, while ramping up safety.

Consider India’s railway map. Traffic flows on these routes are highly uneven and imbalanced. Lines connecting the four major metros constitute less than 16% of the total route but account for the majority of the passenger and freight traffic, with most lines having crossed 100% utilisation. We need to create capacity ahead of demand.

Construction in this railway network needs to be jumpstarted. There are several projects, including doubling of lines, gauge conversion and new lines that can be prioritised and constructed through ring-fenced turnkey projects. High-speed rail needs to be given a push, with the recent Delhi-Agra trail run a welcome success.

Public-private partnerships (PPP) could be offered on new lines to the private sector, with the government providing viability gap funding using existing schemes and adding sops, like the development of real estate and railway stations, and conversion of spare land into commercial developments. The private sector can help redevelop up to 50 railway stations through projects worth Rs 50,000 crore over the next three years.

The railways should also allow private inter-city trains to operate. With capital and operational expenditure borne by private operators, pre-determined paths and time-slots could be used to add capacity, while preventing cannibalisation of the railways’ revenues. A focus on axle loads, increasing trailing loads and running longer trains could help in the short run. Currently dedicated freight corridors are being partly financed through the World Bank. Such corridors can be bid out on a PPP basis, with up to 20% project cost available as viability gap funding. The railways could guarantee minimum traffic and pay access charges for freight movement.

The Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) has limited its mandate to leasing rolling stock; it needs to focus on railway electrification and signalling. About 14,000 km of network can be electrified over the next five years, through turnkey projects. The IRFC could fund this through market borrowings and the current allocation. Joint ventures with state governments, PSUs, port companies and the private sector can help construct railway line projects on a build, operate and maintain basis, with the railways paying a negotiated access charge.

Providing world-class signalling and train protection systems would go a long way in increasing throughput and improving safety. Investing in Automatic Block Signalling and using GSM-based mobile train control communication systems would lead to a line capacity increase of 30% for a cost of Rs 25,000 crore, with improved revenue generation paying for the expenditure.

This organisation needs reformation. It all begins with investment planning and good project execution — sharply focused towards capacity creation. An archaic structure, focused on engineering lines, should be reorganised on business lines such as freight transport, passenger transport and infrastructure management. Such creation of profit centres would help bring railway accounts in line with global accountancy standards.

An institutional separation of roles is much called for. Focusing on policy, the government could help define a consistent vision for the railways as an entity that focuses on both passenger and freight traffic. This should be institutionalised by the creation of the Indian Rail Regulatory Authority (IRRA) and the Indian Railways Executive Board (IREB), focusing on the regulatory and management divisions of the railways respectively. The IRRA should focus on protecting consumer interest, fix tariffs and subsidies, and introduce competition into the network. The IREB should implement the restructuring and reorganise the regional organisations. Only then can it power forward to pull India’s economy along.

Expansion of Regional Rail Museum at Mysore under way

A sound-and-light show showcasing history of Railways is being planned.  The rail museum in Mysore is yet to become popular among tourists despite a collection of vintage Steam Locomotives, Rail Wagons, and Coaches

Railway-Museum Mysoreमैसूर Mysore (MYS): The rhythm of the steam locomotive conjuring up images of belching smoke and shifting tracks will come alive at the Mysore Rail Museum, which is poised for expansion.

The authorities are planning a sound-and-light programme complete with the history of the railways as part of the renovation plan.

“We have Rs. 1 crore with us while the cost of expansion is around Rs. 4.62 crore. We are awaiting the release of additional funds to take up the project, which has already been approved by the Railways,” said Rajkumar Lal, Divisional Railway Manager, Mysuru.

But, expansion work has already begun in the earnest. A wooden metre gauge vintage wagon from Banapur (Hospet) of Hubballi Division has been shifted to the Mysore Rail Museum. The central workshop staff here have rebuilt and provided an under gear for the wagon,” Mr. Lal said.

In addition, two wagons of a rail bus, which was operating on the Shivamogga –Talaguppa route, have been added and so has a diesel locomotive.

A senior engineer involved with the project said they have already acquired heritage furniture from different divisions and they are being repaired for display at the museum. A steam-operated crane will be procured from Bhusaval in Maharashtra and narrow gauge coaches from Nagpur, he said.

Our vision is to make it a star attraction for tourists visiting Mysuru. The Additional Secretary, Tourism, Government of Karnataka, has evinced keen interest in the development of the museum and has promised aid, the official said.

In what maybe the first of its kind in the country, a touchscreen device providing comprehensive details of the Railways, the divisions, locomotives, trains, rolling stock etc. will be kept at the museum, he added.

We have Rs. 1 crore with us while the cost of expansion is around Rs. 4.62 crore. We are awaiting the release of additional funds

Rajkumar Lal,Divisional Railway Manager, Mysuru

Rail Budget: Introduction of Vaccum Toilets in Trains, Changes in Coach Designs likely

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Water conservation initiatives such as introduction of environment-friendly vacuum toilets and changes in the design of existing lavatories in trains are some of the proposals likely to be announced in the forthcoming Rail Budget.

According to a senior Railway Ministry official, a concrete plan of action for water management at railway stations and in trains will be reflected in the Rail Budget 2015-16 to be announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who is keen on promoting environment-friendly activities.

The Railway Ministry will also announce the grand plan of water audit across the rail system in the country.

The official said that since vacuum toilets consume one-fourth less water than the existing lavatories, the railways is keen on introducing it on a trial basis in some select trains.

There is a plan to install 80 vacuum toilets in Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi Express on a trial basis and a budgetary provision is likely to be made for it in Prabhu’s maiden rail budget, he said.

Environment-friendly and vacuum-based toilets prevent corrosion of rail tracks as they stop waste discharge on the tracks, he added.

Railways will tie-up with civic authorities to make the vacuum toilet system operational, as it entails construction of safety tanks and sewerage link for disposal of waste at the railway stations.

The official, however, clarified that installation of bio-toilets in trains will continue with some minor design changes. “Replacement of conventional toilets with bio-toilets will continue as it is the stated policy of railways to have environment-friendly hygienic toilet system in the entire rail system,” he said.

“Certain modifications in the bio-toilet design are required to make it function more smoothly,” the official added.

Malfunctioning of bio-toilets was reported in some cases during the trial run. “Steps are being taken to tackle it with some changes in the design.”

Apart from trains, the railways is planning to install bio-toilets at the stations also.

Bombay High Court raps Railways over lack of Medical facilities at Stations

मुंबई Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday rapped the railways for not having proper emergency medical services in place at various stations across the suburban railway network.

A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and AK Menon expressed displeasure after going through the reports of surprise visits made by court commissioners at various railway stations.

They stated that several stations like CST and Lower Parel did not have the ambulance service. Also, the emergency ambulance supposed to be posted outside Mahalaxmi railway station was found at the Nagpada police station. Further, doctors and drivers were also found missing in the ambulances.

The bench ruled: “Don’t take this as adversarial litigation; there is no reason to disbelief the reports filed. However, you (government) are defending the authorities; we are shocked to see this.”

The court has now scheduled the next hearing for March 5, and has asked for the contracts between the government and the ambulance providers.

Additionally, the court directed the railways to indicate an outer limit as to when emergency medical centres would be set up at suburban railway stations, where over 100 deaths have occurred in the last year. The HC also directed railways to consider giving power to station masters to move accident victims without the permission of policemen.

While stating that this was a serious issue, the court called the Advocate General and the Additional Solicitor General to appear in the matter.

The direction was given during the hearing of a PIL filed by activist Sameer Zaveri, raising the issue of safety of suburban railway passengers. The railway administration came out with a proposal to make Dadar station a model, with regards to providing emergency medical services and set up a medical centre at the terminus.

However, the administration later took a stand that the medical centre remained almost un-utilised and therefore, it was not feasible to set up such centres at other suburban stations.

National Institute of Design to work on new designs of Engines, Coaches and Monorail

अहमदाबाद Ahmedabad (ADI): Indian Railways is planning to rope-in city-based NID to re-design the train coaches with an aim to provide comfortable journey to passengers.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu informed that his ministry will soon rope in National Institute of Design (NID) for the purpose.

“We are in talks with the NID for improving internal design of railway coaches. This will provide a comfortable journey to our passengers,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said here today.

“We met Railway Minister here and had a discussion with him. We will work out the plan and NID will be soon start working on re-designing the coaches,” NID, Ahmedabad, Director Pradyumna Vyas said.

“An MoU (Memorandum of understanding) will soon be signed between the NID and the Indian Railways,” Vyas said adding that time-limit of the project has not yet been fixed, but it is “on track” now.

The NID is working on several projects of Railways, including new designs of engines, coaches and mono-rail, he said.

When asked about installation of user-friendly dustbins inside the railway coaches, Vyas said the NID is in process for providing a solution to it.

According to railway sources, the ministry is in talks with the NID to have user-friendly dustbins designed in all coaches to keep its premises clean, in line with the government’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign.

The Railways have launched a cleanliness campaign across the country to keep platforms, stations and trains clean. The Ministry has also outsourced cleaning operations at 50 stations as a pilot project.

New SECoR Zone for Andhra likely to be announced in Railway Budget

विसाखपटनम Visakhapatnam (VSKP): The decades of Dream is turning into reality this year. The govt of India informed the confirmation of Visakhapatnam as a new railway zone. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu conveyed this to district collectors in a meeting and said that this will be announced officially in the railway budget 2015 in a month.

People of Visakhapatnam have been fighting for a special railway zone for decades as Visakhapatnam station has always been neglected inspite of its high share in revenue to which ever railway zone it belongs to for the high good handling activity from port and the iron ore mines in the region. Trains were bypassed from Duvvada, which is a 25 kms away from the city with no facilities to hold the traffic of Vizag travelling on trains. The other issue which always made it hot was every train being sanctioned to Vizag were extended to Bhubaneshwar decreasing the number of seats available for passengers from Vizag.

Every member of Parliament has Railway Zone for Vizag as one of their Election Promises. The AP reorganization bill has a new railway zone promised for Andhra Pradesh, but the location was finalized by the government of Andhra Pradesh as Visakhapatnam in respect to the long term demand for a Special Railway Zone to Visakhapatnam. The new railway zone will have the divisions of Andhra Pradesh including the Andhra Pradesh Capital’s largest railway junction of south India Vijayawada Junction and the No.1 Pilgrim Destination of India Tirupati making it one of the profitable railway zones also bring the most awaited loop track to Visakahapatnam which will decrease the amount of time that trains have to spend at the railway station for the change of engine as the track further the railways station ends at the Visakhapatnam Port.

Railways growth to fuel Country’s GDP: Suresh Prabhu

अहमदाबाद Ahmedabad (ADI): Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu Saturday called for greater investment in the sector which will help it grow and in turn increase the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2-3 percent.

“Development of railways is on the priority list of our Prime Minister. If the railways develop, the economy will also be strengthened. GDP will also rise by 2-3 percent,” Prabhu said.

“Though our GDP is growing today, with a much more efficient railway system it will grow rapidly.”
The minister added that the country’s economy is on the path of improvement and progress and this has increased the responsibility of the railways.

The minister was here to flag off two new trains. He launched wi-fi facility at the city’s railway station and later met Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

Prabhu added that increased investment in the railways will create new job opportunities.

Negative public perception is big risk to high speed rail: ASSOCHAM

मुंबई New Delhi: Notwithstanding the government’s priority to introduce high speed railway, the biggest hurdle to the ambitious project is the negative public perception about HSR (High-Speed Rail) which can be overcome by achieving a few success stories through implementing smaller projects, an ASSOCHAM Paper has said. ”The biggest hurdle high speed rail faces in the eyes of the public is its cost and its time frame.

To ally negative public perception, HSR needs to be packaged as a series of discrete high speed rail lines, each taking a finite number of years to complete, each involving a standard construction schedule,” the ASSOCHAM Paper on ‘Development of High Speed Rail in India: Issues and International Lessons’ noted.

It would mean dividing the development of the system into smaller achievable projects in terms of both time and cost. It also means that within these projects, planning and construction timelines need to be clear and realistic.

“Finally, as has happened in several other countries, once an initial section is operational and successful; its popularity will be catalyst for subsequent stages to be built. However, the success of the first stage is crucial for this to happen,” the paper pointed out.

The public has to be convinced about the cost – benefit analysis since the HSR projects involve high costs. The total cost of constructing 500 km (say, Mumbai-Ahmedabad) of HSR would involve about Rs 63,000 crore which works out to Rs 118 crore per km.

“While the entire money does not have to come from the public exchequer, the investment is required anyway. The public-private-partnership (PPP) in such a case would require several risk variables which would again have to be borne by the public funding,” ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

A sustainable funding strategy, including reliable central government commitments, is needed to put the HSR on a firm footing and inspire confidence. “When approaching the PPP, a proper allocation of risk among the parties is critical to successful project”, the paper said.

The problem is that the HSR is expensive both to build and to operate, requiring high ticket prices to break even. However, the benefits go beyond travel and eco-friendliness. China today has the world’s largest HSR network in operation which is close to 11,000 km and has emerged as a global high speed rail leader.

In India, the project should be approached keeping in view the international experience. “Once an initial section is operational and successful; its popularity will be the catalyst for subsequent stages to be built. However, the success of the first stage is crucial for this to happen,”

Rail Travel Gets Easy: Book a Porter, Cab before your Train Arrives

बंगलोर Bangalore (SBC): A novel initiative by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) can finally put an end to the hassles faced by passengers in finding a cab or porter.

‘Concierge Services’, as it is stylishly billed, was quietly introduced on an experimental basis just three days ago in Mysuru for the Shatabdi Express. This is said to be the first such facility in South India. The services can be availed as a combo of both cab and porter or only one of these options.

IRCTC tourism manager P Sam Joseph told, “Presently, the service needs to be booked at least 36 hours in advance so that the allotment of individual taxis and porters can be taken care of by IRCTC.” The facilities can be reserved while booking tickets through IRCTC website. “The passenger will be provided details about the cab 45 minutes before the arrival of the train at the destination,” he said.

This will be a big move towards ensuring the safety of passengers, particularly women, as all the cabs are empanelled service providers of IRCTC tour packages and the credentials of drivers have been thoroughly checked, Joseph said.

The plan is to have railway supervisors near the train to ensure that a particular porter is allotted to a passenger.  “In future, we hope to put in place some other system once we see the response this service generates,” Joseph said.

The porter service at Mysuru has been fixed at Rs.225 for two pieces of luggage. The cost for every additional bag will depend on the weight. Informal talks were held with the porters, who have agreed to the plan.

The cab charges have been fixed at a minimum of Rs.600 (plus taxes) for all areas falling within a radius of 20 km from the station. The facility will be extended to Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Ernakulam in Kerala in the first week of February and Bengaluru is next in the pipeline.

Joseph said for Bengaluru City Railway Station the services will initially be introduced for the Rajdhani Express from Delhi and Shatabdi Express from Chennai.

“We are still working out the fares to be fixed for Bengaluru. We are bearing in mind that it is a very competitive place for cab operators,” Joseph said.

Rail block between Santacruz and Goregaon on Sunday

मुंबई Mumbai: There will be a jumbo rail block on slow lines between Santacruz and Goregaon stations on Sunday.

Said a WR official :”To carry out maintenance work of tracks, signalling and overhead equipment, a jumbo block will be carried out between Santacruz and Goregaon stations from 10.35 am to 3.35 pm on Sunday. This will be done on the Up and Down local (slow) lines.”

During the block period, all Up and Down slow trains will run on through (fast) lines between Santacruz and Goregaon stations. All Up and Down 12-car slow trains will take double halt at Vile Parle platform number 3/4 on the fast lines.

“Due to the block, some suburban services will remain cancelled,” an official said, adding, “Detailed information to this effect is available with the station masters.”

Sanjeev Kumar appointed as Private Secretary to Railway Minister

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Sanjeev Kumar, a 2003 batch IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre, has been appointed Private Secretary to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

He has been appointed for a period of five years or on co-terminus basis with the minister’s tenure, the release said.

Bangalore needs Integrated Transport Authority: Railway Minister

बंगलोर Bangalore (SBC): Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday said Bengaluru needs an integrated transport solution authority for creating ways for a multi-modal seamless commuting experience for the people.

He was addressing the concerns of the people regarding railway projects in the City after launching four new trains from Bengaluru to other destinations.

Prabhu said: “I am aware of the need for suburban rail network to connect the City with Mysuru, Tumakuru and other suburbs. We will find the best way to take the project further and will execute it in an innovative way which will have the integrated transport solution.”

Prior to Prabhu’s statement, Union Law Minister Sadandnada Gowda, State Ministers Ramalinga Reddy, R V Deshpande, Dinesh Gundu Rao and Banaglore Rural MP D K Suresh made out a strong case for a suburban rail connectivity and apprised the Railway Minister that already RITES has done a feasibility study.

P C Mohan’s largesse

Bangalore Central MP, P C Mohan donated Rs one crore from his MPLADS fund for developing a halting station at Whitefield and another Rs 10 lakh for providing benches and chairs at the City railway station.

Mohan said about 10,000 techies use the Whitefield station which does not even have a platform. Suresh Prabhu, lauding Mohan’s gesture, said this is the first time an MP has heeded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion of MP’s donating funds. “I will show this letter to every MP so that they also get inspired and make donation to railways for public welfare as daily three crore people travel in Indian trains.”

Mittal Committee may want Railways to halve ‘Emergency Quota’ tickets

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  Train ticket bookings by emergency quota may be halved and get costlier, if the Railway Ministry were to go by the recommendations of committee headed by DK Mittal.

The committee has recommended halving of berths that are allocated by the emergency quota, said an official in the know. It has also said that people booking tickets through emergency quota should be asked to pay higher charges as is applicable on tickets booked through Tatkal route, it is learnt.

However, there was no confirmation about it from the Railway Ministry. While one official told that there are strong rumours to lower the tickets booked by emergency quota, another top official said that no such decision has been yet been taken.

Some 60,000 seats are reserved for allocation through emergency quota, though the actual usage varies.

This is not just the committee thought. Recently, Make Railways Better – a group of 75,000 people from an online platform Local Circles – also called for setting up of a transparent system for allocating seats through emergency quota and VIP seat allocation.

The group had said that guidelines need to be issued defining an emergency and a VIP. “Emergency quota should be cut down by 75 per cent to 15,000 seats a day,”.  It had also called for implementation of optimisation system so that VIP routes have more seats. A citizen should be able to call an Emergency Travel Helpline, upload necessary document and get access to an emergency seat after validation, it said. The citizen group further said that only VIPs and Railway officials should have access to this quota for themselves and for official journeys only.

Families of VIPs and Railways officials could travel based on seat availability but after purchasing the ticket (or book as any other citizen), added Local Circles.

Additionally, it has said that usage of the VIP quota should be limited to a certain number of times and records should be maintained of which VIP is using how many seats and how many times.

MRVC officials in Delhi to get Mumbai’s railway network its due

मुंबई Mumbai: In a forceful bid to get the Rs 11,000-crore phase 3 of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) into the railway budget, top officials of the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) were in Delhi over the past couple of days holding meetings with Railway Board officials.

With Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis having cleared phase 3 on January 8 and railway minister Suresh Prabhu seen as someone keen on big-ticket projects, railway officials in the city are optimistic that the budget won’t be a damp squib like some of the previous budgets have been for city creaking railway system.

The new truncated version of phase 3 of the MUTP might not be as expansive as the Rs 54,000 crore plan that was initially thought up in 2010 but officials said that it still had the potential to bring about a positive change in suburban commuting.

The biggest project under phase 3 is the creation of two new lines between Virar and Dahanu to allow railways to run more suburban trains on the section as well as more passenger trains.

Among the big projects in it is the creation of a Panvel-Karjat suburban line. The route, currently a single line used by trains like the Pune-Ernakulam and Pune-Bhusawal express, if upgraded and converted to a suburban line can cut the distance between CST and Karjat from 100 kilometres to just 77 kilometres. It would also give relief thousands of commuters who need to get to Navi Mumbai from Karjat by making the cross-over at Thane to switch on to the Transharbour line or Kurla to hop onto the Harbour line.

Another project under phase 3 is the Airoli-Kalwa connector. The connector, an elevated rail line about 4 kms in length, will allow more people to reach Navi Mumbai without putting added pressure on the already-congested Thane station.

“Currently people have to come to Thane and then take the Thane-Vashi route- also called transharbour- to get to Navi Mumbai. The other option of course is the longer one to go to Kurla and then opt for the conventional harbour line.all the way to Panvel, The plan is one where we are enabling more people to reach Navi Mumbai and the more important part is that some of the crowding that occurs in Thane can be lessened” said the official.

The upside for the project is that it does not require much land acquisition as the elevated bridge will run on railway land parcel available as part of the Kalwa carshed.

The phase 3 also includes an ambitious plan to completely redevelop 20 suburban stations and also bring about infrastructure development at and between 12 chosen stations to reduce the problem of people crossing tracks and getting run over by trains. Phase 3 will also see the buying of new rakes, this time with automatic sliding doors, said officials.

Railway Minister ask all Departments to work together to increase Freight loading by 15pc

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has given the railways, often accused of lack of coordination among various departments behaving like silos, a big challenge. In a letter written earlier this week to the members of the Railway Board, Prabhu has asked all departments to work together to increase freight loading by 15 percent for the year 2015-16 (the financial year about to begin from April 1 this year) when compared to the freight loading for the current financial year.

Stressing on unity among the departments of the 13.5 lakh employee-strong railways, Prabhu wrote “the responsibility for achieving this target should not rest on one department alone. I expect all departments to contribute their full might towards achieving the target.”

The target is such that officials readily agreed that all departments would require to work together to achieve it. “The economy is just turning around and expecting a gain of 15 percent in freight loading from the previous year is not going to be easy,” said a senior railway official.

The numbers so far are encouraging however. The railways, between April 1 and December 31, 2014, carried 808.56 million tonnes of revenue earning freight traffic. This, according to a railway official, is a sizeable 38.82 million tonnes over the freight traffic of 768.74 million tonnes carried during the same period (April to December) in 2013. This in percentage terms, said the official, was an increase of 5.04 percent.

In fact, in December 2014, the rise in freight loading was just 3.58 percent, with railways carrying 95.46 million tonnes against the 92.16 million tonnes it carried in December 2013, a rise of 3.30 million tonnes.

“It just shows that an increase in 15 percent is not going to be a walk in the park but the initiative by the railway minister is a welcome one. The railways will have to shed its silo mentality and work together to bring about a significant discovery,” said the official.

The current structure of the railways is such that different streams — like civil engineering, electrical, mechanical, traffic, staff and finance — are headed by a member who is of the rank of secretary to the Government of India.

“It is often seen that the Railway Board members act like satraps of their own streams and try to protect their own turf rather than working together for the common good of the railways as a whole,” said a former railway board member.

Freight numbers (April-Dec)
2013 – 768.74 million tonnes
2014 – 808.56 million tonnes
5.04 % increase

IRCTC offers domestic air tour packages

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has launched domestic air tour packages to pilgrim destinations like Shirdi and popular places in the North-East.

Announcing the packages at a press conference here on Friday, the officials said the group departure for the Shirdi package with 20 tourists was scheduled for February 15. The tour will include two nights’ stay in Shirdi and organised visits to Shirdi Saibaba, Shani Shignapur, Trimbakeshwar and Panchvati temples.

The three days and two nights trip is priced at Rs 11,137 per person on a twin-sharing basis and will include onward and return tickets (Bengaluru-Pune-Shirdi), hotel accommodation, airport transfer, sightseeing tours by air-conditioned coaches and more.

Another group tour of 18 passengers to the North-East is scheduled to leave the City on March 31.

The tour named ‘Splendours of North-East’ is for six days and five nights, with visits to Kalimpong, Gangtok and Darjeeling. The package is priced at Rs 28,181 per person on a twin-sharing basis.

The tourism corporation has also launched a pilgrim special tourist train ‘Punya Teertha Yatra’ scheduled to leave Bengaluru on March 3. The 10-day tour will cover Allahabad, Varanasi, Gaya, Puti, Kolkata and Konark. The standard category with sleeper class is priced at Rs 9,100 per person.

McDonalds, Nirulas meals in Indian Railways soon

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Train passengers will now have a choice of a la carte meals from known brands like Haldirams, McDonalds and Nirulas.

The Indian Railways on Friday issued policy guidelines permitting ‘Ready to Eat’ meals from branded firms as an add-on option in all mail and express trains that provide for pantry car service.

Ready to Eat meals will include pre-cooked and frozen food packaged to provide for shelf life of not less than three months.

No additional license fee is proposed to be charged from these firms since the license fee has already been fixed and realised from contractors operating the pantry cars, a ministry circular says. The North Western Railway zone has been authorised to short-list reputed firms. “Expression of Interest bids will shortly be floated”, an official said.

In order to participate, firms must have an annual turnover of over Rs 50 lakh for each of the last three years and must comply with international technical standards besides possessing minimum three years experience in the packaged food industry.