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Train rams into School Bus at Railway Crossing near Masaipet in Telangana, 25 Kids Dead

मसाइपेट Masaipet (ME):  Twenty Five School Students feared dead as school bus collides with train in Medak in Telangana.  The bus was on its way to Toophran in Medak from Islampur when tragedy occurred. Nanded-Secunderabad Passenger rammed the bus which belongs to Kakatiya Techno School. Primarily it looks that the driver of the School Bus made adventurism by proceeding the school bus eventhough the train is visibly coming nearer to Railway Gate.

Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda expressed shock over the incident and ordered immediate rescue and relief operations to the concerned Railway Officials on the South Central Railway Zonal Headquarters, as well as Hyderabad Division.

All the senior Railway officials from the Zonal and Divisional level have rushed to the spot.

IT Cos eyeing for Rs.2500 Crore biggest ever IT deal on Indian Railways

Indian IT Companies would be bidding for the largest IT deal in Indian Railways history that looks at Digitization and GIS Mapping of Land Assets of Indian Railways.

A Rs.2500 crore deal has been publicised by the Indian Railways and the IT big boys have started lining up for it. It is the first and possibly the largest deal by the Modi government. The deal is to digitise the data on Indian Railways, and sort of centralise the entire IT infrastructure and application data systems that are available for them.

The Minister of Railways D.V.Sadananda Gowda has, on 8th July, 2014 said that Indian Railways hold vast land assets which need to be digitized and GIS mapped for better management and usage. Presenting the Railway Budget in Parliament, Minister said the resources mobilization using land assets will be explored through private participation in setting up railway related business in railway lands as well as for commercial development. This would hold Railways in protecting the lands as well as leveraging it for raising resources.  To this effect, for the overall efficient management of this massive technology driven aspect that which would essentially be simplifying the process for Indian Railways and putting it under one roof, the government has asked for request for quotation (RFQ), whose base price has been approximately set at around Rs.2500 crore.

Working of the deal

Government will set a base bid price and individual IT companies will bid for it depending upon the kind of muscle that they have.

Possible bidders

Sources say Wipro, TCS, Infosys are bidding for this and are in the process of applying. However, Wipro and TCS could possibly have a lead over Infosys when it comes to the domestic IT deal. Interestingly, even players like IBM and Accenture are actively looking at this deal because this is the first deal in the Modi government. The player that bags the deal could get a leg-up in the other deals that are likely to come in for MPLS-VPN, Data Centre including DR, Compute, Storate, Virtualisation, Routing, Switching, Security and Firewall, WAN Acceleration, Bandwidth Management, Managed Services, Engineering, Designing and Consultancy services around the envisaged Digitization Plan of IR.  Also, various Systems Integrators and like IBM, HP, Dimension Data, Sify, Riverbed, Cisco, EMC, Aruba, Juniper etc are also in the race either directly or in partnership with the Prime Bidders.

Sources suggests, deals worth Rs 5000 crore could be up for grabs by year-end.

KCR to bat for National Rail University in Hyderabad – assure 5000 Acres Land near Hitec City

हैदराबाद Hyderabad: Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda gave impetus in his Budget speech in parliament on setting up of National Rail University with an aim of providing railway-oriented education in the technical and non-technical disciplines and said that the proposals are in the air by the government for setting up of a world-class Railway University for both technical and non-technical subjects. Railway Minister also spoke about the plans for skill development of the staff while presenting the Rail Budget for 2014-15 in the Lok Sabha.

He said the railways could tie up with technical institutions for introducing railway-oriented subject for graduation/post-graduation and PhD and skill developments. The exposure for specialised areas like high-speed, heavy haul operations, Metro and Mono Rail systems etc will be undertaken for all level of staff and officers at appropriate institutes in India and abroad.

It looks the Telangana Government led by Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is highly keen to allocate 5000 Acres of land for setting up of National Rail University at Hyderabad which already houses most of the prestigious Railway Institutes like Indian Railways Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunications (IRISET), Centralized Training Academy for Railways Accounts (C-TARA), SCR Hqrs and Hyderabad Metro Railway, alongwith the other private sector institutes like IMRT offering various Engineering courses for Railway and Metro Railway transport systems apart from Indian Railways Institute of Financial Management (IRIFM) which is in the stages of construction, said Spokesman who further added that this is yet more good news in the formative years of Telangana, and on the verge of India celebrating 160th anniversary of Indian Railways.

“It makes perfect sense to have the people being trained in the same city as those with the current expertise. One of the things that we pride ourselves on at the Hyderabad is that we could build you a whole railway ecosystem environment for not only India, but for the adjoining Asia-Pacific and Middle-East region” said spokesperson.

“KCR looks forward to working with Centre, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Human Resource Development, IITs, IIMs, Railway Institutes etc. to make sure that Hyderabad’s case is made as strong as possible for setting up of the University” said the spokesperson. I think it is really important to press our case as a home for the National Railway University particularly at the 160th year of Indian Railways.

“At the heart of National Rail University will be the innovation and that is exactly what the railway needs to develop the young workers of the future. We received a number of very strong proposals, and we are taking an objective decisions in this regard”, said the spokesperson.

“However, it is clear that there is already some excellent partnership activity taking place between education providers and the rail industry across the country which is resulting in the delivery of some outstanding provision. Representatives from Hyderabad will make presentations in late August with a final decision being made with the allocation of land and infrastructure for the National Rail University..

Inter Ministerial Consultations on FDI in Railways to start from 28th July

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Inter-ministerial consultations to allow FDI in respect of certain activities of Railways are being undertaken and it was indicated that procedural process to start from 28th July onwards.  However, mo final decision in the matter has been taken as of now.  Review of the FDI policy of the country is an ongoing process and Government has taken a number of steps in the recent past to make India an attractive investment destination.

As regards proposal to increase the cap in some sectors, Finance Minister, in his Budget Speech, given on 10.7.2014, has made following statement:

“The policy of the NDA Government is to promote Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) selectively in sectors where it helps the larger interest of the Indian Economy. FDI in several sectors is an additionality of resource which helps in promoting domestic manufacture and job creation. India today needs a boost for job creation. Our manufacturing sector in particular needs a push for job creation.

India today is the largest buyer of defence equipment in the world. Our domestic manufacturing capacities are still at a nascent stage. We are buying substantial part of our Defence requirements directly from foreign players. Companies controlled by foreign governments and foreign private sector are supplying our Defence requirements to us at a considerable outflow of foreign exchange. Currently we permit 26 per cent FDI in Defence manufacturing. The composite cap of foreign exchange is being raised to 49 per cent with full Indian management and control through the FIPB route.

The Insurance sector is investment starved. Several segments of the Insurance sector need an expansion. The composite cap in the Insurance sector is proposed to be increased up to 49 per cent from the current level of 26 per cent, with full Indian management and control, through the FIPB route.

To encourage development of Smart Cities, which will also provide habitation for the neo-middle class, requirement of the built up area and capital conditions for FDI is being reduced from 50,000 square metres to 20,000 square metres and from USD 10 million to USD 5 million respectively with a three year post completion lock in.

To further encourage this, projects which commit at least 30 per cent of the total project cost for low cost affordable housing will be exempted from minimum built up area and capitalisation requirements, with the condition of three year lock-in. FDI in the manufacturing sector is today on the automatic route. The manufacturing units will be allowed to sell its products through retail including E-commerce platforms without any additional approval.”

The information was given by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.

Rail Users’ Associations urge stoppage for all trains at Kudalnagar station

कूडलनगर Kudalnagar (KON): Just two km away from the buzzing Madurai Junction railway station, lies, another quiet station that does not witness much activity as only a handful of passenger trains and a lone express train halts there. But, for the residents of Madurai city and its suburbs, the Kudal Nagar railway station is as important as the junction station itself as it helps them reach their homes early after a tiring train journey. At present, the Kudal Nagar station hosts only the goods yard, but railway users want more than that. They want the railways to halt all trains bound for Madurai and beyond from Chennai and other destinations at Kudal Nagar.

For long, trade and industrial associations and rail users have been urging the railway authorities to provide a stoppage as they feel that it would be of immense help to almost 40% of the total passengers hailing from the western part of city and beyond since they can alight there to reach their homes without getting caught in traffic snarls in the morning hours.

Kudal Nagar station was announced as one of the ‘Adarsh’ stations (model station) in June 2013 by the railway ministry. The station had earlier handled train operations when yard remodeling works were undertaken in October 2012. Originating trains like Vaigai and Pandian Expresses were operated from Kudal Nagar station for more than a where the railways and local administration had made arrangements to handle passenger flow. Though it was proposed even in those days to convert Kudal Nagar as second terminal, nothing much has happened after that. Passengers from the city anticipated that there will be some announcement regarding that in the railway budget but it did not find any mention.

At present, all passenger trains halt in this station while the Guruvayur ? Chennai Express is give a short halt. However, rail users demand all express and superfast trains are provided with one minute halt in this station. “We will be able to reach our homes faster and need not go all the way to Madurai to board or alight trains,” says R N Soumya, a college girl from Dinamani Nagar near Kudal Nagar station.

“We have to travel to Madurai Junction with all our baggage and pay hefty charges for autorickshaws or taxis. If there is a halt here, we will be relieved of the hardship of travelling through traffic congestion that takes place around Madurai Junction every morning,” said S Kubendran, a resident from Vilankudi.

S P Jeyapragasam, president of Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants Association Limited said that they eagerly anticipated some announcement about Kudal Nagar in this budget. “We are going to take it up again with our elected representatives and railway authorities. Kudal Nagar could be turned as Madurai’s terminal like Tambaram and Mambalam stations for Chennai,” he pointed out.

Railway sources said that Kudal Nagar station could handle train stoppages but it needs proper road facilities. The station managed train operations when Madurai Junction was closed in 2012. “There are basic facilities in the station and if division start halting trains, other facilities will come up automatically,” a railway official opined.

Divisional railway manager, A K Rastogi said only the railway board could decide on providing halts and rail users and trade associations could submit their proposals to the division. “We will forward it to railway board and find out the feasibility of halting trains in Kudal Nagar,” he said.

Tamil Nadu to restructure Chennai Monorail to woo developers

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS): Tamil Nadu Government today said it has decided to restructure the proposed monorail project for the city in a bid to attract potential developers under the Public Private Parnership (PPP) mode.

Stating this in the state assembly, Transport Minister V Senthil Balaji said the length of the network under the project would be approximately 43.48 km with two corridors.

While one will be from Poonamallee to Kathipara junction with a link from Porur to Vadapalani (20.68 kms), another will be between Vandalur and Velachery (22.80 kms), he said.

“To attract potential developers for the implementation of the Chennai Monorail project under the PPP mode, the government has decided to restructure the project,” he said adding

In respect of introduction of mono rail in Coimbatore, selection of consultant for the preparation of feasibility study “is under process,” he added.

CPI(M) floor leader A Soundararajan urged the government to extend the monorail project to North Chennai areas as there was a need for such transport solutions in that region.

In 2011, after taking over the reins of power, AIADMK government announced a monorail network of 111 km in the first phase to reduce traffic congestion in the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA). It was said the network would eventually cover 300 km in the CMA.

DMRC slashes 40% fares on Airport Express Line

The minimum single journey which used to cost Rs.30 would now be for Rs.20

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has slashed fares on Airport Express Line by 40%. The rates were revised earlier this month and will take effect from Thursday.

Yash Prakash, a frequent commuter of Airport Express Line told, “I am travelling to airport today and am very happy to hear that the fares have been slashed down. This particular metro line is very good and has less rush as compared to other lines. The service is also nice. As compared to auto fares metro is cheaper and saves time as well.”

Kailash, another regular commuter of Airport Express Line said, “It is good that rates have been slashed on airport express line. On one hand the railway fares have been increased and on other local travel expense is cut down.”

The minimum single journey which used to cost Rs 30 would now be for Rs 20 as per the revised fare chart.

The operation of Airport Express Line was taken over by the Delhi Metro on July 1, 2013.

Senior Section Engineer of S&T Branch booked by CBI in graft case

नागपुर Nagpur (NGP): The local unit of CBI has booked a Senior Section Engineer (S&T) of Central Railway after carrying out searches in his house and office in an alleged graft case involving a Kolkata-based company.

CBI conducted the searches at the residence and office of the engineer, R K Sharma, attached with Signal and Telecommunication Department, as part of its probe, a CBI statement said here. Documents related to the case were seized, it said.

Delhi Government releases first instalment of Rs.200 Crore to DMRC

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Delhi Government today released the first installment of Rs 200 crore to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for the construction of Metro network in the capital city.

“Government has released an amount of Rs 200 crore as contribution to equity as a first installment in the current year of 2014-15,” said a Government official.

Official also said that Rs.3561.60 crore for Phase-III (underway) of DMRC has already been released to DMRC while Rs.3695.20 crore for Phase-II (2005-2011) and Rs.1716 crore for Phase-I (1998 – 2006) had been released. He also said that an amount of Rs.100 crore is sanctioned against reimbursement of DVAT out of which Rs.50 crore have been released in the current financial year.

In the budget estimates for the year 2014-15, the Equity amount of Rs.827 crore, Subordinate debt for land Rs.26.51 crore, Reimbursement of Central Taxes Rs.348 crore, Reimbursement of DVAT Rs.100 crore is proposed to be released to DMRC by the Delhi Government for construction of Metro network in the national capital.

The DMRC was set up in May 1995 under the Indian Companies Act. It is a joint venture between the Government of India and the Government of Delhi State, with equal equity (50% each). Govt. of NCT of Delhi bears 50% cost towards equity, subordinate debt for land and subordinate debt for reimbursement of central taxes. In addition, Delhi Government also reimburses the DVAT paid by the DMRC.

Cabinet okays 4 Railway links along China frontier

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Cabinet has decided to start work on militarily crucial strategic railway lines in the Himalayas to connect areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), dividing India and China, with the mainland India.

The rail lines will enable rapid deployment of forces over the rugged, inhospitable and mostly snow-bound terrains. A high-level meeting of the government on July 14, chaired by the Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Sandhu and attended by representatives from Ministries of Defence and Finance, identified four strategic lines that would be taken up on a priority as part of the BJP-led government’s budget announcement to build strategic railway lines, sources said.

The four lines have been prioritised from among the 14 strategic lines identified by the Ministry of Defence. China has high-speed railways connecting almost all areas of its side of the 3,448 km LAC.

indo-china border rail networksThis will be the first foray of India in the upper Himalayas to build strategic railway lines. This will enable rapid deployment of troops, especially the newly created Mountain Strike Corps mandated to face China. The railway line being built in Kashmir has a dual purpose – socio-economic and strategic. The other existing narrow gauge lines in Himachal Pradesh and Northern Bengal are of British vintage.

The most important railway lines will connect Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh with the mainland India. Both these are on the LAC. The other two routes will connect one of the remotest parts of Arunachal Pradesh and facilitate easier military movement between other north-eastern states and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Tawang line is the most significant, considering the strategic importance of the area which is also a major Indian military base.

At present, there is no crossing over the Bhramaputra from Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram forcing the troop movement by a circuitous road route.

For north India, the Rail link to Leh will be crucial. The pre-feasibility report pegs the cost of the entire 498-km all-weather broad gauge Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line at Rs 22,831 crore. The take off point could be either near Kiratpur Sahib in the foothills of Punjab or Pathankot.

A British era 181 km narrow gauge line exists between Pathankot and Joginder Nagar. It can be converted into board gauge. The conversion is expected to cost Rs 3,279 crore. The rail-line to Leh will pas through Upshi in Ladakh providing for further bifurcation to important conflict points at Demchok and Chumar in south-eastern Ladakh. From Upshi onwards, it’s a flat plateau.

A sum of Rs 1,000 crore for this fiscal will be used in land acquisition and preparing detail project reports.

Lack of Rail connectivity hits regional industrial growth of Adilabad on Nanded Division

आदिलाबाद Adilabad (ADB): If the government needs a trigger for industrial development in Adilabad, then it has to ensure that the Indian Railways improves its network, especially in the western parts of the district. The western part of the district, comprising the headquarters town, which is the biggest cotton market and processing centre in Asia, and Nirmal town, lack good railway connectivity. This has slackened the pace of industrial growth here as compared to the eastern parts which are better developed.

The people’s representatives, who had earlier failed to take initiative in bagging development projects for the region, should pressure the Railway Ministry to take up pending surveys for a new line between Patancheru industrial district and Adilabad and Gadchandur in Maharashtra and Adilabad, which were included in the 2012-2013 Railway Budget. These lines would give a boost to goods transportation from Gadhchandur, a cement manufacturing hub. Also, transporting coal from Singareni Collieries to Parli in Maharashtra would become hassle-free.

“The public representatives should also press for double track between Secunderabad and Mudkhed in Nanded railway division and Parli and Adilabad, to increase the frequency of trains taking the Adilabad route. This will certainly be one of the reasons for industries to set up shop here,” opines Mahendra Kumar Dokwal, a businessman associated with railway development activity in Adilabad.

“This year’s Railway Budget has two new weekly trains – Nanded-Bikaner and Kazipet-Mumbai – which are likely to be introduced later this year. Our leaders should ensure that these trains are routed via Adilabad in order to facilitate general public and also open new avenues for trade and industry,” he says. Among other pending projects is the survey for a new line between Adilabad and Armoor of neighbouring Nizamabad district.

DMRC submits Tender Committee Proceedings of Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode MRTS

तिरुवनंतपुरम Thiruvananthapuram (TVC): The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has given the evaluation report of the technical bid submitted by the consortium for the exclusive developer-contractor for the Rs.5,581-crore elevated Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

The evaluation report from the DMRC, the general consultant for the monorail project in both cities, on the technical bid submitted by Bombardier Transportation Holdings USA Inc, will come up before the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Sources in the Transport Department told that the Cabinet and Kerala Monorail Corporation Ltd. (KMCL) will now take a call on opening the financial bid submitted by the consortium if the technical bid follows the parameters as per the DPR.

A 12-member team of the DMRC took 51 days to evaluate the technical bid that was submitted on May 30 in Delhi. Principal Adviser to the DMRC and State Planning Board member E. Sreedharan had insisted that the financial bid should be opened only after evaluating the technical bid.

Following the delay, the KMCL had sent a reminder to the DMRC.

Sources said the government would go ahead with the single bid if the technical bid was in order. The commercial bid would be crucial, as the variation between it and the estimate prepared by the DMRC should not be above 10 per cent. The CVC guidelines had also to be followed, sources said.

  • Bid by Bombardier Transportation Holdings USA Inc.
  • Technical bid was submitted on May 30

Fatehabad-Indore Section to be ready with GC works for CRS Inspection by August

फतेहाबाद चन्द्रावती गंज जं Fatehabad Chandrawati Ganj Jn (FTD): The Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS) will inspect Fatehabad-Indore broad gauge conversion work next month and the track will open for rail traffic from August end. Though there are hurdles to connect the BG track with Indore platform from Laxmibai Nagar, but the railways has sorted out the problem.

The BG work of 35 km-long Fatehabad-Laxmibai Nagar track is almost ready. The Railways was doing this work on war footing. According to sources, the CRS is coming for inspection around August 10. It is likely that he will submit his report in another next 5 to 7 days. As soon as the CRS gives his ok report, the track will open for train movement between August 15 and 20. The 35 km long Fatehabad-Laxamibai Nagar track was considered a less problematic track, because of no major bridge between two stations.

However, two under construction bridges near Laxmibai Nagar between this station and Fatehabad and some other technical problems were posing problems to connect the BG track between Laxmibai Nagar and Indore platform. One more fact is that the meter gauge track between Laxmibai Nagar and Indore platform is uprooted and construction of two new platform work is just going on the same track. Hence, the railway authorities sorted out problem to connect the broad gauge track between Laxmibai Nagar and Indore platforms. Ratlam Division Senior PRO Jitendra Kumar Jayant said: “We have sorted out the problem of connecting the BG track to Indore. He said that our plan was that just before under construction bridge, the BG line coming from Dewas also connect the same point where the BG track coming from Fatehabad joins. Hence, the trains coming from newly converted BG track from Ratlam and onwards will be shifted to the existing BG track coming from Dewas. In this ways the train will coming from Ratlam will reach Indore platform by passing the uprooted meter gauge track Laxmibai Nagar and Indore platform.

The opening of the this track for train movement will help to the thousands of the passengers of the this route who are bereaved from the train service more than one year due to the completion of the Ratlam-Indore BG work in phases. Railway Sources said that opening of the route for the train movement will be beneficial for railway too in the form of passenger fare. It is claimed that railway may shortly make the announcement for the starting of the BG work between Indore and Mhow.

Southern Railway to expedite Electrification works between Tuticorin-Madurai

तुत्तुक्कुड़ी Tuticorin (TN): The electrification work between Tuticorin and Madurai would be completed ahead of its target considering the rapid development of Tuticorin city as an industrial hub, Rakesh Misra, general manager of Southern Railway said on Tuesday.

Misra was on a visit to the Tuticorin Junction premises on a routine general inspection where he inspected the ticket counters, platforms, passenger resting rooms and other amenities. He also discussed pit line works with local railway officials where they pointed out that they have to be extended to cater 24-coach trains since present lines could only cater to 21-coach trains.

Later, talking to reporters, he said that against the previous target of March 2015, the railways would try to complete electrification on this section by December 2014 or January 2015 itself, since four power plants are nearing completion in the port city and infrastructure to ferry coal to these plants are underway.

However, he ruled out the possibility of doubling from Tuticorin since there is no huge traffic congestion on that section at present. But they may have to look at it when coal carrying capacity goes beyond 15 million tonnes per annum in the future, he said. Survey works to lay the new section between Madurai – Tuticorin via Meelavittan, Vilathikulam and Aruppukottai has also been initiated.

He further said that Tuticorin – Chennai Egmore Pearl City Express will be augmented with a first class air-conditioned coach in the coming days. The railways would also consider the locals demand to attach one more air-conditioned coach in Guruvayur Link Express, Misra added. Later, he met Tuticorin Port authorities and sources said railway officials discussed about laying railway lines to ferry coal from the port to power plants coming up around the city.

Madurai divisional railway manager, A K Rastogi said that electrification of Madurai – Tuticorin will be quite beneficial at operation point of view. The railways will be able to save on diesel fuel providing operational benefits as well as prevent pollution. Besides, electrification will be a boon to goods traffic since electric locomotives have got better horse power and goods trains need not swap locomotives in between. “The port city is developing faster and electrification will be beneficial to train operation”, he said.

Texmaco Rail to raise Rs.300 Crore for Expansion

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): Texmaco Rail & Engineering, which is in the process of merging with Kalindee Rail Nirman (Engineers), has decided to raise Rs 300 crore for expansion and diversification. The board of the Adventz group company took the decision to raise funds through equity issue.

The wagon maker reported a net loss of Rs 7.84 crore against a net profit of Rs 11.37 crore. The company suffered losses due to absence of the Railways orders in the first quarter.

AFD team arrives to review Kochi Metro progress

In February last year, AFD had sanctioned a loan to tune of Rs 1,527 cr to Kochi Metro

कोची Kochi: A four member team from Agence Francaise de – Development (AFD) will visit Kochi Metro Rail office on 29th of this month.

Priscille De Coninck and Arnaud Dauphin, project managers from the sustainable and transport division (AFD Paris) will lead the mission which also includes Cheikh Dia and Gautier Kohler, project officers at the New Delhi office of AFD.

In last February, AFD had sanctioned a loan to the tune of Rs.1,527 crore to the Kochi Metro.

AFD team will review the various project components of Kochi Metro. The other objective is to introduce the new project manager in charge of Kochi metro project at AFD headquarters, Priscille de Coninck, who recently replaced Xavier Hoang.

The team will conduct a site visit and meet with main stakeholders of the project including the members of the Kochi Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (KUMTA). They are also likely to review the progress of the work, procurement plans under process and the modalities of transfer of funds.

AFD is developing a Technical Assistance program, which is expected to be launched by the end of this year with the assistance of French Embassy in India on a grant basis amounting to 800,000 Euros. The mission would discuss about the content and the implementation structure of the technical assistance program, which will mainly based on the Kochi UMTA roadmap and the KMRL operation and maintenance strategy.

It will also review the various study under progress like environmental and social impact analysis study, Traffic Oriented Development (TOD) study and Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy.

‘KMRL is pleased to welcome the newly inducted Task Manager, Priscille De Coninck. This is the second mission of AFD after signing the loan agreement. We are hopeful that the team will finalise proposals for technical assistance and also explore further funding possibilities for urban transportation in the Kochi region, said Elias George, Managing Director, KMRL.

Kochi Metro had got sanction to avail external borrowings up to Rs. 2,170 crore. Canara Bank has recently signed an agreement to extend an assistance to the tune of Rs 1,170 crore.

The total estimated cost for Kochi Metro is Rs 5,180 crore and the first phase is scheduled to be completed by 2016. The first phase will have 22 stations and have a system length of 26 Kms. The State is expected to pool in Rs 2,009 crore (including land acquisition cost) and the Centre Rs 1,002 crore. Both central and state government will extend financial support through capital investment.

Railway Minister seek Bihar CM’s help for patrolling of Railway tracks in Bihar

इस्‍माइलपुर Ismailpur (IMGE): Railways Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda said here on Wednesday that he will be contacting Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi to seek more help in the patrolling of railway tracks in that state’s Aurangabad District, where Maoists blew up the Delhi-Howrah railway track late on Tuesday night.

Expressing grief over the incident, Gowda said that though it was unfortunate, but he was relieved to hear that there were no casualties.

“Fortunately, no causalities have been reported. My officers detected the blast while patrolling. My officers and the state government, both took great care in guarding the railway tracks and safety has been taken as priority. Due to precautions taken by the authorities, a further accident was avoided. The railway authorities have done a good job,” said Gowda.

“We are taking much care after this incident. The operations are being carried forward. Two-three Rajdhani Express trains moving from that side have been halted on the other side. The movement will start soon when the track will be set right,” he added.

Last night, Maoists blew up up the Delhi-Howrah railway track in Amamsilva village near Aurangabad District of Bihar. The incident happened despite tight security by the Indian Railways.

Railways to establish Railway Medical Colleges under PPP

सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): Indian Railways is all set to change track. From transporting people and goods across the country, it has embarked on operating medical colleges. At present, various railway zones run schools and intermediate and degree colleges but a medical college will be a first. If all goes well, come next academic year, a railway medical college will get operational at Moula Ali in Secunderabad.

The medical college is being proposed by Indian Railways under Public Private Partnership (PPP) by which the private developer would have to build, operate and maintain the medical college, hostel and other infrastructure required for the college. It was in the 2009-10 railway budget that the UPA government proposed to establish five medical colleges across the country at Secunderabad, Chennai, Guwahati, Kharagpur and Lucknow. The logic behind the move was that since the railways runs scores of hospitals to cater to its employees, a teaching college will be a good idea. In 2011, the railway ministry invited Expression of Interest (EOI) for setting up and run the medical college at the five locations of all which are supported by large railway hospitals, infrastructure and availability of vacant land. However, while the hospitals are only for railway employees, admission in the medical colleges will be open to all with a certain number of seats reserved for wards of railway staff.

The railway medical college will come up on an eleven-acre land at Moula Ali and linked to the 300-bed railway hospital at Lalaguda which is about five kilometres away from Moula Ali. Sources said background work for the Moula Ali railway medical college was initiated over a year ago by the Indian Railways which appointed RITES, the infrastructure wing of the railways, as consultant. While the technical feasibility of the medical college was studied by Hosmac India Limited, IFCI Ltd studied the financial feasibility of the college.

A team of RITES officers visited the Moula Ali hospital site a few months ago and surveyed the existing facilities, resources and other aspects that are required to be fulfilled as per the norms laid down by the Medical Council of India. The site met with all the requirements, said the sources. “The Ministry of Railways will soon make an announcement on the railway medical colleges after getting the consent of the Railway Board. If things proceed as per plan, the railway medical college at Moula Ali can start functioning from the next academic year,” a senior project officer of RITES, told from Delhi.

The hospital at Lalaguda being run by South Central Railway is spread over nine acres land. “The existing hospital at Lalaguda is in a prime location which makes the project viable since it is a PPP project. However, the Railway Board will takes a final call on the medical colleges,” SCR official spokesperson told.

Apart from the Lalaguda hospital, SCR has a 200-bed hospital in Vijayawada, a 130-bed hospital in Guntakal, a 30-bed hospital at Nanded in Maharashtra (SCR region) and a 20-bed hospital in Rayalapadu near Vijayawada.

The new medical college by railways at Moula Ali will boost the medical scene in Telangana. Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has already asked Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) to explore the possibility of setting up a medical college since it runs hospitals at five places in Telangana. As of now, there are 2,900 medical seats in the state. Two weeks ago, the Medical Council of India sanctioned additional 200 seats.

Once the railway medical college and the one by SCCL too come up, the total number of medical seats in Telangana could touch 4,000.

Railway Board ready with Objective and Coherent PPP Policy for revamping Railway System

CAG raps the Railways to be clear in its objective on whether it wants to bring in efficiency by associating with private players or whether are they merely seeking an alternative source of funding!

To boost private participation, Indian Railways is gearing up to streamline its public-private partnership (PPP) policy. The national transporter is in the final stages of giving shape to model concession agreements under the various models identified under the participative models for Rail Connectivity Policy of 2012.

The model concession agreements framed for various models like build-operate-transfer, non-government railways and joint ventures among others will focus on easier processes by reducing the number of clearances, inspection required, longer lease periods and flexibility in haulage charges to attract private sector investments, said a senior Railway Board official on condition of anonymity. Three draft concessions agreement are ready for discussion.

In a report tabled in Parliament last week, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India had criticised the Railways for lack of coherent policy and absence of any model concession agreement. It also said the Railways had refused to accept the Planning Commission’s model.

The Railways had earlier refused to follow the model concession agreement suggested by the Planning Commission, calling it “generic” in nature, which would have been incapable to meet the specific needs of the diverse Railway projects, said the official.

Responding to the criticism levelled by CAG for no uniformity in the concession periods, incomplete shareholder agreements, etc., senior Railway officials argued different projects required “dynamic” approach for taking decision on concession periods and called the past few years a “learning trajectory for Railways” .

Planning Commission officials said the Railways has time and again proved to be a “closed” organisation and had not sought any opinion on its latest exercise of framing the model concession agreements, despite having no good track record of dealing with PPP.

“PPP has become a concept where everyone wants to do his own little thing. The Planning Commission has framed the model concession agreements for a lot of specific projects also after consulting all stakeholders. We could have done the same thing for the Railways. The case by case approach of Railways leaves room for arbitrary decisions and creates ambiguity for private players,” said a senior official of the Planning Commission, who did not want to be named.

The Railways expects to come up with model concession agreements for all the four models identified in the 2012 policy within the next six months.

The key concern of the private sector has been no standardisation of the concessionaire and unclear commercial structure. Other issues include low returns on investment because of shorter concession periods and high haulage charges, said an industry expert who did not want to be named.

Others say most private players invest in port connectivity projects because of the absence of any alternatives, not because the project offers and clear investment returns. Last-mile rail connectivity for medium and small private ports has been a key concern for port owners.

The Railways has to be clear in its objective, on whether it wants to bring in efficiency by associating with private players or whether they are merely seeking an alternative source of funding. Clear reasons for getting private investments will help identify clear project gains, said Abhaya Agarwal, Partner, Infrastructure and PPP at M/s. Ernst & Young.

The Railways has a target of getting Rs 6,000 crore for 2014-15 through the PPP route. Since 2000, it has done eight PPP projects in new lines and gauge conversion worth Rs 3,380 crore.

Rajya Sabha approves Railway Budget by a Voice Vote after Debate

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: Maintaining that the Railways will focus on timely completion of ongoing projects, mobilization of funds and safety and passenger amenities, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday said that FDI in Railways would help big ticket projects such as high-speed and freight corridors.

The Rajya Sabha approved the Railway Budget by a voice vote after debate.

Replying to the two-day long debate on the Railway budget in the House, Gowda made it clear that there was no discrimination against any states.

Referring to the issues raised by AIADMK member V Maitreyan, the Railway Minister said that he would discuss with the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to take forward the measures for Mahamaham festival and do the needful.

Referring to the demands from members from Kerala, Gowda said he had constituted a joint study group with MPs and Railway Ministry officials to sort out problems for the Railway projects in the State.

Gowda said the Bullet train project would be funded through bilateral agreements and FDI without putting any burden on common man.

Alleging that the NDA Government was taking advantage of all UPA programmes and showcasing them as its own, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said Railway budget is just a copy of the UPA budget.

PPP in Railways a necessity: Railway Minister

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  Railway minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday described the PPP mode as a necessity and allayed apprehensions over allowing FDI in the railways. Replying to a debate on the Rail Budget, he said FDI will help big ticket projects like high-speed corridors and freight corridors.

He said bullet trains were feasible as these projects would be funded through bilateral agreements and FDI without putting any burden on the common man of the country.

The Rail Budget was approved by the Rajya Sabha though a voice vote late in the evening. “There need not be any apprehension that the FDI would do some harm. FDI will be brought in such a manner that it will be used only in infrastructure development and not in operations,” he said. The FDI will be used in big-ticket projects like development of high-speed corridors, suburban corridors and freight corridors, he said. Mr Gowda said the growth in railway infrastructure will fuel the growth of manufacturing in the country.

The minister stated that 14.2 per cent hike in passenger fare and 6.5 per cent increase in freight charges effected ahead of the Rail Budget was the decision of the previous UPA government which the current dispensation implemented.

While rejecting the demand for new trains and more projects from MPs from various political parties, Mr Gowda clarified that he desisted from announcing any new projects as several projects are still incomplete. “My focus is to ensure completion of those ongoing projects,” he said.

Mr Jairam Ramesh (Congress), meanwhile, asked for doing away with the Rail Budget: “The Rail Budget is a colonial idea whose time is over.”

No casualties reported, authorities saved major mishap: Rail Board Chairman

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar on Wednesday said that the railway authorities managed to avoid a major mishap, as they had prior information of Maoist shutdown in Amamasilva village of Bihar’s Aurangabad district where the rebels blew up Delhi- Howrah railway track.

“We had received inputs that there will be Maoist bandh today in the village. Therefore we had taken precautionary measures of restricting the speed of train in Bihar. We made the patrol train to run before Rajdhani,” said Kumar.

“The engine of patrol train between Mughal Sarai and Gaya section derailed because of the blast thereby vanishing four meters of the railway track. Simultaneously, up and down lines were affected. The Bhubaneswar train was behind this patrol train and it was stopped. The rail transport normalized at 6 a.m. today, and slowly the trains will start moving,” Kumar added.

He also said that the authorities were cautious keeping in mind the Rajdhani accident that had happened sometime back.

“Some time back we came to know that Rajdhani was derailed due to the same reason, so we were aware about this and were cautious. This problem arises mostly in Bihar, therefore, we have already imposed alerts and restriction in the state. There were no casualties. We could save a major mishap because of the timely actions by officials. Since we are aware of this kind of inputs, so speed of trains in that area were also restricted and the track and CRPF personnel were augmented to keep a watch,” said Kumar.

The incident happened amid tight security that was stepped up by the Indian railways yesterday in Gaya after the Maoists has called for a shutdown.

Maoists blow up railway track in Mughalsarai Division of Bihar; traffic on Delhi-Howrah route hit

इस्‍माइलपुर Ismailpur (IMGE):  Maoists blew up a portion of a railway track between Ismailpur and Rafiganj section of Mughal Sarai Division of East Central Railway, in Bihar, leading to derailment of a pilot engine running ahead of the Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express.

No casualty was reported in the blast that took place late Tuesday night, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Magadh range, P K Shrivastava told.

In Patna, Chief Public Relations Officer, East Central Railway, Arvind Kumar Rajak said the advance pilot engine running ahead of Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express jumped off the track due to the incident.

Nearly one dozen mail and Express trains including three Rajdhani Express trains have been stranded at various places between Gaya and Mughalsarai due to the incident, Rajak said.

Railway minister Sadananda Gowda has asked for a report regarding the latest incident and said more safety measures would be set in place. Gowda said the damaged rail track would be repaired soon.

The blast was trigerred during a one-day bandh call called by the Maoists against police firing in Aurangabad and Rohtas districts.

The CPRO said that nearly three metre of the track has been damaged in the blast. Electric wire overhead has also been damaged, he said.

The DIG said that the blast appears to be a powerful one creating a four-feet deep crater.

Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Jodhpur-Howrah Express and Doon Express were among the major trains stranded at various places.

This is for the second time in less than a month that the premium train — Rajdhani Express — has been targeted by the Maoists. The New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express was derailed between Chhapra Kacheri and Goldenganj stations near Sonepur on June 25 killing four people and injuring many. Railway authorities had pointed towards ‘sabotage’ in the incident.

Railways prefer Urban Development Ministry handle Kolkata’s East-West Metro Project

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): The railway ministry seems to exit from the East-West Metro project in Kolkata that has been running several years behind schedule, a move many see as part of a preference shelve off itself from the other incomplete Metro routes too.  “We want the (East-West) project to be transferred. All urban transportation projects in India are handled by the urban development ministry and they have the expertise to handle such projects” Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda told. A senior railway official wrote to his counterpart in the Union Urban Development Ministry recently, stating that the East-West Metro project should be handled by it.

The stake-holding pattern is yet to be decided but sources said the urban development ministry had already asked the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation to inquire whether the Bengal government was interested in taking back the 50 per cent stake it once held.

“Since the project is in Bengal, the state government should ideally become a stakeholder. If the state doesn’t agree, then we have to look at some other arrangement,” a source in the urban development ministry said.

The topic is likely to be discussed by the Union cabinet soon, according to a railway ministry official. “It’s under our consideration. We are reviewing the transfer of stake,” he said.

If the switch happens, it will be the second in two years for the East-West Metro project on which hinges Calcutta’s escape from some of its commuting woes.

“We are giving thought to transferring the other four Metro projects as well. Ideally, these should be under one agency for better coordination,” the official said.

The other four projects are the New Garia-Airport, Joka-BBD Bag, Noapara-Barrackpore and Noapara-Airport-Barasat links. They are all currently under the railways, having been sanctioned when Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress was a partner in the erstwhile UPA government and held the railway ministry.

The existing north-south route from New Garia (Kavi Subhash) to Noapara is the only Metro link in the country to be run by the railways.

The state government and the Union urban development ministry had been equal stakeholders in the East-West project until Mamata initiated the move to transfer Bengal’s stake to the railways during her tenure as rail minister. The handover was decided late in 2012 at a meeting between the Union and state governments in Delhi. The transfer took place in end-2012.

Under the present arrangement, the railways owns 76 per cent of the project and the urban development ministry has a 24 per cent stake.

There was talk about the railways losing interest in the project in the aftermath of the Trinamul Congress pulling out of the UPA II government at the Centre. The letter from the railway ministry almost two years later has formalised what was in the realm of speculation.

From Delhi to Bangalore, Mumbai to Chennai, every other Metro link has been an Urban Development Ministry project involving the state government and, in some cases, private players. “The railways has expertise in inter-city rail connection, not intra-city Metro rail technology and practice. It hardly handles urban transport projects,” an official said.

He said the Urban Development Ministry and the state government were the right agencies to handle Metro projects involving a lengthy and often complicated process of land acquisition along with traffic diversion.

Although railway minister Gowda has earmarked Rs 900 crore for the East-West Metro in his first budget, officials said it was a commitment the cash-strapped ministry would find difficult to keep.

Former Railway Minister Pawan Bansal had committed Rs 100 crore to the project in his budget for 2013-14, an allocation seen to be on the lower side and blamed for the slow pace of work over the past year.

The railways’ dwindling interest in the project first became apparent when it reconstituted the KMRC board. Three of the seven board members were appointed on a part-time basis, including managing director A.K. Jha.

Jha remains the Principal Chief Engineer of Eastern Railway, apart from officiating as the managing director in the absence of a full-time incumbent.

A section of railway officials said the completion of the project would be delayed further if the project changed hands for the second time. “The board has to be reconstituted. The last time they did so, the process took months and that hampered the progress of the project,” an official said.

Work on the 14.67km Metro link started in April 2009 but the project remains stuck at two points — Bowbazar and BBD Bag— because of encroachments the government seems loath to remove.

The alignment of the tracks between Central and Howrah Maidan hasn’t been finalised either as the state is yet to hand over land at Bowbazar to the KMRC. At Duttabad in Salt Lake, work resumed recently after being stuck in a land knot for more than two years.

Government should do Away with Separate Railway Budget: Jairam Ramesh

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: A strong pitch was made in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday for doing away with the Railway Budget with a few members feeling that it was a colonial era practice not relevant anymore.

“…The Railway budget is a colonial idea whose time is over. Today, Railway expenditure accounts for only six per cent of the general expenditure of the government…Why should we have a separate budget for the Railways?,” said Jairam Ramesh (Congress), who was a minister in the United Progressive Alliance or UPA government.

He was participating in a discussion on the Railway Budget in the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Ramesh suggested that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda give a “serious thought” to the idea of abolishing the separate budget for the Railways.

The demand received support from Rangasayee Ramakrishna (BJP), who hoped that the Modi government will do away with this practice in the next two to three years.

“We should do away with this practice of the colonial era… we should go for corporations of the railways for performing different tasks such as looking after maintenance of railway stations,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Ramesh held the separate budget as “the root cause” of the financial disaster in the Railways and said that as long as the practice remains, the turnaround of the Railways was not possible.

During the British era in 1925, the tradition of presenting a separate budget for the Railways started perhaps because it was the largest industrial asset of the country then.

Stating that the Railways spend around 28,000 crore on social obligations in a year, Mr Ramesh suggested that the fund should come from the general budget.

JICA to submit final metro appraisal for Ahmedabad Metro by July-end

गांधीनगर Gandhinagar (GNC): The Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) project moved forward after the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) fixed the end of July for the second and final assessment on various technical and financial parameters. The MEGA has sought a loan of Rs.5900 crore from JICA at 1.4% interest. The loan tenure will be 30 years. The JICA team conducted the first round of project appraisals on June 4.

MEGA Const cost“The JICA team was assessing the detailed project report (DPR) and checking the financial viability of the project,“ says a senior MEGA official. “The team has experts from various fields who are analyzing the project with due diligence – the investigation of a business proposition -prior to signing a contract with MEGA. This is stan dard procedure.“

The recent Union Budget had allocated Rs.100 crore for metro rail projects for Ahmedabad and Lucknow, which appeared piecemeal. Sources in the urban development department say that Ahmedabad’s share would be not more than Rs.50 crore.

MEGA budgetThe metro rail project cost is slated to be Rs.10675 crore. Sources in the MEGA say that a major portion of the funding will come from JICA, while the central government will extend exemptions worth Rs.3000 crore. “The Gujarat budget this year had allocated Rs.250 crore for the metro project which has made our corpus Rs.550 crore,“ says the MEGA official. “This is enough for our initial activities, like shifting of utilities and setting up processes. The Rs 50 crore allocation was expected as the Centre will provide tax exemptions.“

Govt looking at stake sale in Rail PSUs: IRCTC, RailTel, RITES, IRCON, IRFC in the list

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  The government is planning to offload its stake in certain profit-making infrastructure companies of Indian Railways, a move that will help such companies to get listed on stock exchanges as well as raise funds for exchequer.

“We are in talks with the Railway Board for sale of government equity in certain PSUs managed by Indian Railways, a source told.

There are about half a dozen companies which are managed by Indian Railways.

These include RITES, IRCON, IRFC, IRCTC, and RailTel Corporation of India Ltd. Since these companies are not listed it is likely that the initial public offer (IPO) will be accompanied by government offloading its stake. Indian Railways, which is facing cash crunch, is looking at various ways to mobilise resources for undertaking its expansion programme.

Government has already pitched for reforms in Railways by proposing Foreign Direct Investment and Public Private Partnership (PPP) to meet the resource crunch.

“The disinvestment will be a part of the government exercise to engage private players in ancillary services as part of overall agenda,” the source added.

The Finance Ministry plans to raise Rs 43,425 crore through disinvestment in PSUs in the current fiscal.

A host of companies have been lined up by the disinvestment department as candidates for stake sale.  These include SAIL, NHPC, ONGC, REC and PFC.

Railways planning Disposable Bed Linen in Rajdhani Express trains

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  You might get this happy surprise when you next board a train. The Railways is planning to soon try disposable bed linen, on an experimental basis, in the Bangalore Rajdhani Express.

Among other initiatives that the Railways is planning for giving you a “clean experience” are bio-toilets, pest-free train coaches and setting up of more cleaning stations.

All of this with a mere Rs 940 crore in pocket? It seems the country’s biggest transporter has a very daunting task at hand.  But the Railway Board is in a mission mode to make these possible, especially because cleanliness is among the three priority areas Prime Minister Narendra Modi has identified for the country’s railway network.

According to a senior official asking not to be named, unlike earlier years, the Railways has this year clubbed all its cleanliness allocation under one head.

The budget for this has seen a major increase from last year’s Rs 673 crore (under various heads).

“The cleanliness budget has been increased about 40 per cent this year. There has also been a reallocation of funds under the cleanliness head, so that the money can be targetted towards such work,” Alok Johri, Member (Mechanical), Railway Board told.

However, the use of disposable bed linen – which will cost the Indian Railways roughly Rs 75 a trip, compared with Rs 55 for cotton ones – entails the challenge of overcoming safety hazards more than the price factor.

These disposable sets – each containing a bed cover, a bed sheet, a pillow and a blanket – will add to the fire load of coaches, as these are synthetic and inflammable, unlike their cotton cousins currently in use.

According to Johri, while the Railways is working on this aspect, the new sets, supplied and designed by small-time contractors, also need to appeal to the commuters.

Indians do not generally feel comfortable covering themselves in synthetic sheets.

The biggest problem with the existing cotton sets, according to Johri, is their worn-out look due to repeated use.

“The zonal railways can buy bed linen only from the outlets of Khadi and Village Industries Commission and Association for Consumer Action on Safety & Health (Acash). These organisations, sometimes, are not able to meet the replacement requirements. So, we have asked the zonal railways to procure the sets, in case of short supply, from other sources as well.”

The Railways also plans to set up 64 mechanised laundries over the next three years to do the washing itself, instead of relying on conventional washermen.

Also, the Railways is adding some half a dozen cleaning stations to the current 34 where mechanised cleaning of trains halting for more than 15 minutes takes place.

However, bio-toilets are arguably the most complicated part of the Railways’ cleanliness drive.

A stainless steel bio-toilet set – with six chambers and costing Rs 90,000 – is to be fitted beneath each of the four rest rooms in a train coach. These toilets have a colony of anaerobic bacteria that do not require oxygen to breathe.

Aerobic bacteria, which survive on oxygen and have been used in some foreign trains, have proved unsuccessful in the Indian system.

The friendly-bacteria technology, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation for use in such toilets, breaks down faeces into methane and portable odourless liquid.

This takes care of not only cleanliness but corrosion caused on railway tracks due to human droppings.

Though the Railways is installing bio-toilets on both conventional train coaches and the latest Linke Hofmann Busch (indigenised German technology) ones, it is only by 2016-17 that all new coaches will have such toilets.

As of earlier this month, 11,800 such toilets had been installed in railway coaches.

Rolling On Clean Track

Some measures the Indian Railways, with the world’s largest fleet of 53,000 coaches on 7,000 trains, is planning


Stainless steel kits with empty-load weight of 110 kg to be fitted under each of the four toilets in a coach

Each kit has a colony of anaerobic bacteria that break faeces into methane and portable liquid

Cleaner Linen

Synthetic disposable bed linen, instead of cotton ones, to be used; this could add to the fire load

64 mechanised laundries to be set up for washing cotton beddings

Cleaning Stations

6 cleaning stations to be added to the current 34 where mechanised cleaning of trains halting for more than 15 minutes takes place

Pest Control

Fumigation through branded chemicals to avoid toxicity under integrated pest control contracts.

Kochi Metro assure to resolve impact of land reclamation at Muttom site

Kochi: Notwithstanding the intervention by the State Human Rights Commission, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) will go ahead with the Muttom yard project so as to complete its work in a time-bound manner.

“The KMRL has got a protocol for carrying out its works and whatever is required to neutralise the environmental impacts of land reclamation in Muttom will be done’’, said Elias George, Managing Director, KMRL. Admitting that land filling operations at the project site had caused water logging, he said the agency was undertaking a detailing work worth Rs.8.12 crore at the location to mitigate the impact of land reclamation.

The works include construction of new earthen drain along the western boundary depot and a concrete drain in addition to deepening and cleaning the existing canal on the eastern side. Further, pipe culverts, re-arranging of water pipelines and cleaning of choked culverts will also be carried out to facilitate the flow of flood water. The works are being initiated on the basis of a report submitted by a committee comprising representatives of the KMRL, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the municipalities of Kalamassery and Aluva and Choornikkara panchayat. According to him, the project has got environmental clearance from the State government and it is being initiated after assessing its impact on the environment. The statement comes in the wake of a report by the secretary of Choornikkara panchayat submitted to State Human Rights Commission Chairman J.B. Koshy last week that no EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) had been done before reclaiming land at the project site at Chavarpadom.

The report also said that the work on the project had caused damage to houses and five roads in the area. Further, reclamation of land also posed a serious threat to the natural drainage system, raising concerns of water logging.

Following this, the commission has asked reports from the KMRL and DMRC with regard to the metro village project at the location. The issue will be taken up for consideration during the commission’s sitting next month.

Bangalore Metro gets Ministry of Comm and IT approval for Radio Frequencies

Ministry has approved licences of the remaining five pairs

बेंगलुरू Bangalore (SBC): The Bangalore Metropolitan Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL)’s request for 10 pairs of radio frequencies for the Namma Metro has been approved by the Centre, said Pradeep Singh Kharola, Managing Director, BMRCL.

The BMRCL has to get licenses from the Government of India to use radio frequencies needed for communication between the control room and the trains .

It had requested 10 pairs (incoming and outgoing calls) of frequencies but had only received five so far . Five more pairs had been requested. He said with the granting of all 10 licences, the issue has been resolved.

The Namma Metro staff use the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA), a communications system where users communicate over phones in a closed system that works on a specific frequency. Since the frequency operates over a limited area, communicating in new areas requires new frequencies. Operating on new frequencies requires the permission of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

At present, the BMRCL has enough frequencies to communicate over Reach 1 and 3. But for Reach 3B and Reach 2, more frequencies were needed.

Reach 1 is Byappanahalli to M. G. Road; Reach 3 is Sampige Road to Yeshwanthpur; Reach 3B is Peenya village to Hesaraghatta Cross; Reach 2 is Leprosy Hospital (Magadi Road) to Mysore Road).

Radio frequency (RF) is a rate of oscillation in the range of around 3 kHz to 300 GHz, which corresponds to the frequency of radio waves, and the alternating currents which carry radio signals. RF usually refers to electrical rather than mechanical oscillations; however, mechanical RF systems do exist.  Although radio frequency is a rate of oscillation, the term “radio frequency” or its abbreviation “RF” are also used as a synonym for radio – i.e. to describe the use of wireless communication, as opposed to communication via electric wires.

Chennai Metro to have a significant impact on Realty Sector

चेन्नाई Chennai (MAS): A bird’s eye view of the Chennai Metro Rail project is simply breathtaking. The elevated tracks snake through densely populated areas of the city — all the way from the north to the south and passing through its central business district and along its principal corridors of Anna Salai, Poonamallee High Road and Inner Ring Road.

The biggest and most ambitious infrastructure project in the city till date, Metro Rail is bound to transform the commuting experience of citizens and have a significant impact on the realty sector. Market observers and leading players in the construction industry are optimistic that the project will primarily help people living in the suburbs and employed in offices in the Central Business District (CBD).

Secondly, it will encourage people to look for residential projects in the suburbs as the Metro promises a comfortable and a quick journey very close to their offices. The project will also help find buyers for unsold office and retail space. “The Metro project will bring stability and have a positive impact on the construction industry. Social infrastructure – basic amenities in the suburbs that are linked after the metro – will improve,” says A.S. Sivaramakrishan, Head, India Residential, CBRE.

“People living in the city will prefer to move out of the city to escape from the congestion and it will be a big boon to areas waiting for improved connectivity to boost their housing potential,” observes Dinesh Ethiraj, Director, Green Tree Homes. The project is also expected to change the profile of Anna Salai and result in the stretch regaining its ‘lost glory’ in retail and shopping space.

“Till about a decade ago, ‘high street shopping’ was an integral part of Anna Salai, but it later moved to interior areas, apart from south Chennai and offices also moved elsewhere. The Metro Rail will help bring about a turnaround in the case of Anna Salai,” points out Sanjay Chugh, Head, Residential Services, Chennai, Jones Lang LaSalle.

“Metro planners must look at a way to serve new suburbs by connecting Sriperumbudur and Kundrathur among other areas. Plans to link the Metro with MRTS, suburban services, the proposed Monorail, MTC and small bus services bus will address the traffic woes of commuters and extend longer connectivity,” notes Sundarji Nandagopal, Creative Editor, Clear Estate.

Texmaco Rail posts Q1 net loss at Rs.7.8 Crore

Texmaco Rail posted a net loss of Rs 7.8 crore in first quarter (April-June) of current financial year 2014-15 as against profit of Rs 11.4 crore in corresponding quarter of last fiscal. Board meeting on July 21, 2014, approved further issue of securities at such premium as may be approved by the Board and subject to the approval of the shareholders of the Company in accordance with the Companies Act, 2013 passed.

Texmaco Rail posted a net loss of Rs 7.8 crore in first quarter (April-June) of current financial year 2014-15 as against profit of Rs 11.4 crore in corresponding quarter of last fiscal. The company’s net sales were at Rs 41.6 crore versus Rs 143.6 crore, Y-o-Y. On July 21, 2014 Texmaco Rail and Engineering ended at Rs 94.30, down Rs 5.10, or 5.13 percent.

Texmaco Rail & Engineering Ltd has further informed BSE that the Board of Directors of the Company at its meeting held on July 21, 2014, has approved further issue of securities of the Company at such premium as may be approved by the Board and subject to the approval of the shareholders of the Company in accordance with the Companies Act, 2013, including, without limitation, Sections 41, 42, 54, 55, 62, 63 and 71 thereof, and also including any relevant provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, through one or more public issue and/or on a private placement basis and/or preferential issue and/or any other kind of issue and/or placement as may be permitted under applicable law from time to time, for an aggregate amount not exceeding Rs. 300 Crore (Rupees Three Hundred Crore).Further, the Company has informed that the Company is currently in the process of merging Kalindee Rail Nirman (Engineers) Limited into the Company by way of a scheme of amalgamation, and in case any change in the scheme of amalgamation is deemed necessary pursuant to the proposed further issue of securities, the revised documents / information shall be shared with the exchanges subsequently.

RLDA to develop Multi-utility Commercial Complex at Nizamabad: GM/SCR

निज़ामबाद Nizamabad (NZB): South Central Railway General Manager P.K. Sreevastava, going round the railway station as part of inspection here on Monday, said a multi-utility commercial complex would be built on the railway premises as part of the efforts to raise income to the railways. Earlier, he along with engineers observed the site located overlooking the Bodhan road.

The line laying work between Peddapalli-Nizamabad route is going on at a brisk pace and the Indian Railways is committed to complete it as early as possible.

Mr. Sreevastava suggested to the authorities to improve cleanliness at the station and alter the parking site before it. He asked them to beautify the station by landscaping the surroundings . He arrived here after inspecting Medchal, Akkannapet and Kamareddy railway stations en route. He left for Basar station for its inspection.

Meanwhile, various people’s organisations submitted memorandums to him.

DRM, Hyderabad Division and other senior officials from various departments were also present.

Rise in mishaps in Thane section: Statistics

ठाणे Thane (TNA): The Thane railway zone has witnessed an increase in mishaps than any other zone on the Central Railway network. Statistics revealed compared to 2013, railway accidents in Thane zone have seen a jump of 55 in 2014 from January to June, overtaking the perennially accident prone zones of Kurla and Kalyan.

The half yearly data compiled by the railway police showed that Thane has recorded 354 mishaps in the first half of 2014 as compared to 299 during the same period last year. The Vashi zone that includes the Trans- Harbour section followed with a jump of 26 cases. Last year, the stretch saw 153 mishaps followed by 179 this year.

Interestingly, Kurla stretch that has seen the highest number of mishaps has registered a dip of 51 cases in the same stretch this year, including Kalyan that also saw a mere rise by four mishaps this year.

Activists and railway police said the commute was becoming dangerous for passengers, especially those travelling by suburban trains. “The stretches between Kalwa and Mumbra and on the Trans-Harbour line near Airoli have seen many accidents of late. While on the main line there are several instances of commuters falling off crowded trains during peak hours, on the Trans-Harbour line, majority of cases are of run over between Thane and Khairane,” said a railway police official. Police said falling in between gaps at platforms, from trains or natural death while travelling have also added to the increased numbers. The Railway police said line crossing is responsible for majority of mishaps, both fatal and injuring.

At Thane, the major spots that see accidents happening are the Kopri end and the one near station towards the Cidco bus stop access. Also, there are several people who walk on the tracks to and from Vitawa and station in addition to the stretch near Parsik tunnel. Some mishaps have also been reported near Kharegaon crossing along with the Diva level crossing.

An official said that they regularly make announcements about the perils of line crossing and have even penalized commuters indulging in dangerous travel and barricaded the tracks to deter line crossing but in vain.

Dadar Station under CCTV Surveillance 14 cameras installed to monitor Passengers Safety

Over 14 CCTVs have been recently installed near the Dadar station (east), to monitor people and events

दादर Dadar (DR): To keep vigil and get clues on suspicious movements and activities outside railway stations frequented by thousands of people everyday, the Mumbai Police has begun installing multiple Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the immediate vicinity of stations, starting with the area  outside Dadar railway station.

Over 14 CCTVs have been recently installed near the Dadar station (east), to monitor people and events near the station. In the second phase the Mumbai police will install CCTVs outside Mumbai Central railway station and other stations that serve local and long distance trains.

Surrounded by shops, the famous Swaminarayan temple and multiple taxi stands, Dadar station, according to security agencies, is one of the most vulnerable locations in the city.

“Dadar railway station is one of the busiest stations in Mumbai since it serves both local and long distance trains. As a result the population density outside the station is very high. There are shops right outside the station which further adds to the crowd,” said Madhukar Pandey,  Additional Commissioner of Police (Central Region), adding that CCTVs outside Dadar railway station will help in better surveillance and also assist in detection of crimes.

“There is no immediate threat to the station, however, due to a high influx of people there is need for proactive policing,” said Pandey.

“There has been a long pending requirement of surveillance outside the station,which is bustling with people throughout the day. With temples closeby, there is an added flow of people towards Dadar railway station. With CCTVs being installed outside the station by the city police, the security system at the station will also be strengthened,” said a senior railway officer.

According to the officer, CCTVs will also help in monitoring safety of women in crowded areas just outside the station.

Bombay High Court asks Consumer Body to approach Railway Ministry on Rail Tariffs

मुम्बई Mumbai: A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and AS Chandurkar of the Bombay high court, disposing of a public interest litigation filed by consumer body Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP), asked it to make a representation to the railways with regard to its prayer for setting up a Railway Fare Authority to review fare hikes.

The consumer body had challenged the exorbitant fare hike proposed by the railway ministry last month.

Apart from MGP, which has been fighting for protection of consumers rights, former journalist Ketan Tirodkar too had field a PIL against the hike.

On June 20, the central govt had announced that the fares for train commute would be hiked substantially to recover losses. The worst hit have been those commuting on suburban railways, where the prices were hiked by nearly 100%.

A press note issued by the railways on June 20 said it was calculating the new fares based on 30 single journeys as against the 15 journeys used to calculate the fare earlier.

The PIL was disposed of in view of the railway ministry subsequently increasing fares only marginally.

Uday Warunjikar, counsel for MGP, pointed out to the court that although the fare hike issue was infructuous, its prayer for setting up a Railway Fare Authority to review fare hikes was still valid.

The court however asked the consumer body to make a representation to the ministry for setting up such an authority. In case the ministry does not give MGP a hearing, it has the liberty to file a fresh petition before the HC.

Meeting on Railways Appropriation Bill held

Some innovative ideas to the government for improving services of the Railways and its battered coffers. Various political parties suggested Railways to generate funds through Ads on exterior of coaches and introduction of hourly shuttle service between an important station and a nearby place of pilgrimage

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  Participating in a discussion on Railways Appropriation Bill in the Rajya Sabha on 21st July, Rajiv Shukla of Congress party suggested the Railways could generate funds by allowing advertisements on exterior of train coaches.

“There cannot be a better and wider space for hoardings other than train coaches. This will generate a lot of funds for the Railways,” he said.

Shukla also suggested introduction of hourly shuttle service between an important station and a nearby place of pilgrimage.

“The shuttle services can be started between Delhi and Vrindavan, Chennai and Tirupati and Jaipur-Ajmer among others. This kind of service has the potential to generate a lot of revenue for the Railways,” he said.

Questioning the source of funds for building the required infrastructure for flagging off bullet trains, Shukla asked whether such trains would remain within the reach of the poor people.

“If you answer that the project will be done through PPP model, I would say, being a former minister in the Planning Commission, that problems are a plenty with such projects,” he said.

Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda, his deputy Manoj Kumar Sinha and others, cutting across party lines, welcomed Shukla’s suggestions with thumping of desks.

Railways to have Bio-toilets in all trains by 2022

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  Seeking to provide a clean and eco-friendly travel to passengers, railways is planning to eliminate direct discharge type toilets from its entire fleet of passenger coaches and replacing the system with bio-toilets by the end of 2021-22.

Railways is envisaging to eliminate direct discharge toilet system from its entire fleet of passenger coaches by the end of 2012-12, the national transporter has said in a recent report to National Human Rights Commission

Restructuring of Railway System – Are we on Right Track?

While the Government’s intention to revamp India’s rail network, will the attempt through the budget reforms help Railways create a more efficient System?  Experts’ differ in opinions.

When political interference, poor asset management, high tariffs, low quality of services and a constant loss of traffic to other modes of conveyance hit the Japanese Railways in 1987, a detailed restructuring plan was drawn up. Under the plan, the government-controlled rail system was divided into seven different companies. By turn, these companies went public. Services improved, competition brought down tariffs and efficiency rose. Similar factors triggered reform processes in other railways across the world, including in New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Britain and Argentina.

The Indian Railways faces problems similar to the ones that plagued these railways. But for years, it has failed to respond to the challenge of chalking out reforms. The Railways currently works on a century-old, top-down hierarchical model in which a six-member Railway Board headed by a chairman creates, implements and monitors the rail policy and takes all key decisions. It is separated into 16 geographical zones that employ over 1.4 million people in a monopolistic operation.

Measuring EfficiencyGiven this, the recent Railway Budget made a brief, yet key, announcement on restructuring the Railway Board by separating policy making from executive powers. Other steps include modernisation of station and a deeper engagement with the private sector.

Are things finally changing? Before being too enthusiastic about change being ushered in the Railways, it would be instructive to see how successful examples of apex-level structuring in international rail systems prove that the process cannot be undertaken without a long-term plan of at least 6 to 12 years.

Delegating Powers

“After the Budget, we are undertaking a process through which more powers will be delegated to the zonal railways,” says a senior Railway Board official who did not want to be named. “The power to approve projects and to allocate budgets could also be delegated to additional members in the Railway Board or to executive directors. The routine work of monitoring punctuality, timetables and other issues will not be taken up by the Railway Board.”

Other crucial initiatives include a switch to e-governance and bigger reliance on technology for auditing and project monitoring. Monitoring execution of projects and other decisions will be assigned to the lower bureaucracy so that the Railway Board can focus on its policy-making function.

However, the measures seem incapable of meeting the serious problems confronting the Railways, feel analysts. Moreover, there does not appear to be a long-term objective behind the changes. No wonder, then, senior Railway officials confirm that there is neither a proposal at the moment to set up a high-level committee to steer the restructuring of the Railway Board, nor is a consolidated plan to set up such a committee under way.

The current plan expects the Railway Board to “restructure itself”, say experts, who also are pessimistic about any real change being effected. “An empowered committee needs to take up the case of the Railway Board, the process cannot happen internally,” says Akhileshwar Sahay, a former Railway official and sector expert. Adds J P Batra, former chairman, Railway Board: “Similar initiatives were taken during the tenure of Lalu Prasad Yadav as railway minister. Though such moves bring short-term efficiency, they are dependent on and driven by the personality of the minister. With no formal mechanisms set up with a long-term approach, any fundamental change is unlikely to follow.”

Strong lobbies, political influence and powerful labour unions have a vice-like grip on the Indian Railways that requires realistic structural changes to loosen it. “Today, the concern is more about which department will be asked to bear the responsibility whenever there is an accident,” rues a senior Railways official on condition of anonymity. “There is no focus as an organisation, everything is driven by departmental loyalties. No one wants to experiment with a new idea for fear that the responsibility for any failure will be attributed to that department.” The mechanical department currently dominates the decision-making in the Railways, and exerts a big influence over budget allocations.

These problems were faced by the railways of other countries too. In Japan, the civil engineering group was a powerful cadre with a firm hold on major budget allocations for years before the reform process started in 1987, according to a study by the United States’ National Bureau of Economic Research. The Chinese railways too suffered inefficiency due to corruption before the country’s ministry of railways was scrapped to set up a state-owned Chinese Railways Corporation. Falling share of railways in the overall passenger traffic and increasing competition from other modes of transportation led to Swedish rail reforms. The need to curb deficit spending underlined the speedy process of reform of Argentina’s rail system.

Private Partnership Problem

As for a partnership with the private sector, the Indian Railways has no coherent policy governing tariffs, project implementation or resource allocation. The latest Comptroller and Auditor General report bemoans the fact that the Railways has toyed with the idea of public-private partnerships without having a model concessionaire agreement for more than a decade now. The railways’ market share in freight and passenger segment has fallen to 33 per cent and 12 per cent respectively from 90 per cent and 65 per cent in 1950.

The Japanese Railways successfully experimented with privatisation, though it has to be admitted that Britain’s attempt to go private was a failure. The United States and Canada took a bottom-up restructuring, which a discussion paper by Frankfurt-based Centre of Financial Studies allowed the private sector a share in low-density lines and to buy or sell track rights.

Of course, the Railways does not lack ideas. The Sam Pitroda Committee Report of 2012 calls for reorganisation of the Railway Board with separate board members for passenger, freight, technology and business development. The report calls for scrapping the position of chairman of the Railway Board and replacing it with a chief executive officer instead. This is in stark contrast to the current organisation based on cadre-like mechanical, engineering and electrical departments with no separation of passenger and freight businesses. Other key suggestions of the panel included the appointment of an ombudsman for all private-public partnership projects who would hold a quasi-judicial authority to resolve all disputes regarding contracts. The Anil Kakodkar Committee report on rail safety as well as the railway ministry’s 2009 White Paper on Indian Railways have also called for similar reforms.

But with the Railway Board resisting the surrender of all its powers, any attempt at reform has only been half-hearted. For instance, a new Rail Tariff Authority will be set up, but it will be devoid of any regulatory power, despite the Planning Commission’s insistence that it be given more teeth.

With an ambiguous reforms road map, it seems that the promise of acche din might elude the national transporter in the coming years. The only way to prevent this is to make urgent changes right away.

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