FDI is welcome, though not in core operational areas, says the Union Minister of Railways. Decision on new zone for Andhra after October 14
Secunderabad (SC): The new government will honour all commitments made by the earlier regime pertaining to development and expansion works of the Indian Railways, Minister of Railways D.V. Sadananda Gowda categorically stated here.
“However, we will review all of them and take every project, after duly prioritising the works based on the government’s current focus on improving safety of passengers, especially women and children, security of railway installations and improved services,” he told a press conference here on Friday afternoon. On the pending projects, he said it would take a whopping Rs. 5,00,000 crore to complete them.
“We gross about Rs. 30,000 crore as operational revenues and get another Rs. 30,000 crore from budgetary support, annually,” he said. Private sector participation is necessary if the Indian Railways is to be taken to the next level. He said foreign direct investment is welcome, though not in core operational areas. “We only need the ground to run our trains, so we have no objections if a private player wants to use the space above, to build a shopping mall or a multiplex after taking it on lease for 30 or 35 years. We have received good response,” he said.
Earlier, he inspected an impressive Passing-Out Parade of the 53 batch of 421 Cadet Sub-Inspectors (SIs), including the 2 batch of 42 women SIs at the Railway Protection Force Zonal Training Centre (ZTC) in Moula Ali. He said proposals for the ZTC to be upgraded as a Centre of Excellence are under active consideration because the RPF urgently needs a national-level training institution, considering the Railways focus on ensuring safety and security.
Very soon, 17,200 personnel, including 4,000 women officers, would be recruited and all vacancies would be filled across all departments, he said. Earlier, Director-General, RPF, Krishna Chaudhary, appraised the Minister of the initiatives being taken by the force to enhance security levels across the length and breadth of the vast network of the Indian Railways.
Because RPF personnel work in naxalite-affected areas and also because of the increasing crime on board trains, they need to be equipped with firearms. Jaya Singh Chauhan,, Secretary of the Jagjivan Ram Training Centre, Lucknow, presented the training report, and others present were General Manager of South Central Railway (SCR) P.K. Srivastava, Chief Security Commissioner, RPF-SCR, S.C. Parhi, and Principal of the Training Centre, G.M. Eswara Rao.
Union Minister of Railways D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Friday said that only after October 14, when the Experts Committee looking into all aspects concerned with the Railways submits its report pertaining to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, would the details of the new zone be firmed up.
“Every detail spelt out in the States Reorganisation Act and everything that I said on the Floor of the House will be implemented,” he said, adding that every project sanctioned by the previous Government would also be considered. He cited as examples, the Coach Factory at Kazipet with an installed capacity of 1,200 wagons – general and tanker type and the Mid-Life Coach Factory proposed near Kurnool and explained that once Government clears the allocation of land, work would start in right earnest.
The Minister declined to divulge details and said that they were waiting for the report to be submitted by the committee.
Vijayawada (BZA): The Andhra Pradesh State government has appointed Delhi Metro Rail Corporation former Managing Director Dr.E.Sreedharan as Principal Advisor for the proposed mass rapid transit system projects in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati. Municipal Administration Principal Secretary D. Sambasiva Rao said as part of efforts to implement the metro rail projects in the three areas on top priority, the government had decided to utilise services of Dr.Sreedharan.
New Delhi: Lok Sabha member from Tura and NPP chief, Purno A.Sangma, on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the newly-constructed Dudhnoi-Mendipathar railway line, the first in Meghalaya, which is ready for regular rail service. “It is a very prestigious project and it is not out of place to mention that not only the people of the area but of the entire North East region will feel honoured and proud if the railway connectivity is inaugurated by you,” Sangma said in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister. The Mendipathar station is the first railway station on Meghalaya soil. A train engine rolled on the tracks in the hilly state for the first time on March 31 this year. Regular train services are still awaited even though a passenger train was announced on the route during the last Rail budget. The track has already received safety clearance from the Commission of Railway Safety.
LC Gates position and Railway signalling systems at various Stations inspected
Vijayawada (BZA): Sanjiv Garg, advisor (safety), Railway Board, has emphasised upon the need to interact with the staff engaged in train operations to find out their problems in implementing safety-related instructions and orders issued by the Railway Board.
A high-level safety team, headed by Sanjiv Garg, inspected Machilipatnam, Pedana and Gudivada railway stations, unmanned level-crossing (Gate No. 24) at Gudivada and unmanned level-crossing near Pedana, a bridge at Budameru at Singhnagar, crew lobby and a running room at the Vijayawada Railway Station Friday.
The team enquired about the aspects of their work culture and said that the loco pilots and assistant loco pilots need to adhere to safety rules failing which it may cause accidents leading to loss of life, damage to railway property and slowing down of train operations. Sanjiv Garg also enquired the station masters and other railway staff about various aspects and interacted with the train crew.
Vijaya Laxmi Koushik, executive director (Safety-I), New Delhi, also inspected the Running Room at Vijayawada. She said that the pilots and assistant loco pilots were the main assets of the Railways and they need to be looked after well. Adequate rest should be ensured before they begin their duty so that they will be alert and cautious while they perform their duties.
Om Prakash, Executive Director (Safety-II), Alok Kumar, Executive Director, Safety (Electrical) and Ashish Kumar, Executive Director, (Safety) (Engineering), took part in inspection in the Vijayawada-Machilipatnam section. NSR Prasad, ADRM, M Prasad, Sr DSO, Vijayawada Division and branch officers of the division accompanied the safety team.
He said the RPF urgently needed a national-level training institution and the ZTC-Moulali was ideally suited for the purpose
सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): The Minister of Railways, D.V.Sadananda Gowda was the Chief Guest at the Passing Out Parade of 53rd batch of 421 direct recruit Railways Protection Force (RPF) Sub-Inspector Cadets including 42 lady officers at RPF Training Centre, Maula-Ali, Secunderabad today. While addressing a gathering at the Parade, Gowda announced the setting of a ‘State-of-the-Art training centre at Maula-Ali, Secunderabad to be known as the ‘National Academy for Railway Security”. He also announced the provision of a Fire Arms Training Simulator for each training centre of RPF and a cash reward of Rs. 10 lakh on the occasion.
These cadets completed nine months of initial training during which they received rigorous physical training and were taught various indoor subjects like law, crime, forensic science, disaster management etc. All the cadets were successful in the final examination conducted after training.
A proposal for upgrading the Railway Protection Force Zonal Training College (ZTC) at Moulali in Hyderabad into a Centre of Excellence and making it a National-level training institution is in the advanced stages of consideration, Railways Minister D.V. Sadanand Gowda said.
He was addressing a gathering after reviewing an impressive parade and turnout presented by 421 Cadet Sub-Inspectors of the RPF at the Passing-Out Parade of the the 53rd batch of SIs, that included 42 women belonging to the 2nd batch.
Considering the Railways’ focus on ensuring safety of passengers, with specific reference to women and children on board its trains, the RPF urgently needed a National-level training institution and the ZTC-Moulali was ideally suited for the purpose, he said.
With safety and security being of paramount importance, plans were being drawn up to induct about 4,000 women officers and personnel, forming 32 companies, Mr. Gowda said. Constraints of infrastructure and personnel apart, he said Government would leave no stone unturned in its endeavour to overcome the challenges, he said, adding that all vacancies would soon be filled, across all categories and levels in the different departments of the mammoth organisation.
The 53rd batch officers were trained in three different groups at ZTCs in Moulali, Jagjivan Ram RPF Training Centre, Lucknow and the one at Gorakhpur. As a mark of appreciation, the Minister announced a grant of Rs. 10 lakh each to the three institutions. “We are seriously considering the upgradation of the Moulali ZTC,” he said, to applause from the enthusiastic gathering.
Earlier, Director-General, RPF, Krishna Chaudhary appraised the Minister of the initiatives being taken by the Force to enhance security levels across the length and breadth of the vast network of the Indian Railways. The 53rd batch were trained in three groups because they did not have a large-enough institution, he pointed out.
In view of the fact that RPF officers and personnel worked in naxalite-affected areas and also because of the increasing instances of crime on board trains, there was a dire need for the personnel to be equipped with the capability to handle firearms, he said. The challenge here was that it was increasingly-difficult to get permission and time at the regular police and military firing ranges, he pointed out.
Responding to the request, Mr. Gowda said he had been told that this problem could be overcome by having simulators to serve as Virtual Firing Ranges. The Board was seized of the matter and very soon ZTCs would get the simulators, assured.
Jaya Singh Chauhan,, Secretary of the Jagjivan Ram Training Centre, Lucknow, presented the training report and others present included General Manager, South Central Railway (SCR), P.K. Srivastava, Chief Security Commissioner, RPF-SCR S.C. Parhi and Principal of the Training Centre, G.M. Eswara Rao.
Also present on the occasion were Director General, RPF, P.K.Srivastava, General Manger of South Central and senior officers. Family members of all cadets belonging to all parts of the country were also present in huge numbers to witness their loved one joining active service in this prestigious Armed Force of the Union.
Analysing the potential of the agreement, Umesh Choudhary, Vice Chairman, Titagarh Wagons expects this development to finally see light of the day as the railways project has been going on since several years in various forms and fashions
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) and an action plan were signed between the government of India and People’s Republic of China in enhancing technical cooperation in railway sector. The potential cooperation areas mentioned in the MoU are: training in heavy haul freight transportation, increasing speed of trains on existing routes, station redevelopment, high speed rail and setting up of Railway University. Analysing the potential of this agreement, Umesh Choudhary, Vice Chairman, Titagarh Wagons expects this development to finally see light of the day as the railways project has been going on since several years in various forms and fashions. Titagarh Wagons is not directly a part the project as of now but the company is getting into locomotives and expects to have some share in this pie, he says in an interview with a TV Channel. Further, he sees railway space getting a lot of traction hereon.
Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview:
Q: I am sure you would have gone through the news, your first comments on that?
A: The railway sector has been receiving a lot of focus and attention from many countries. We saw that from Japan also, the railway sector was in focus and in China also I happen to be in Delhi and I saw there were a lot of Chinese part of the delegation that went to the railways. I believe that apart from the technical collaboration and training Indian Railway men in China and so on they are also looking at investing in one of the corridors of the high speed apart from some tracks connectivity and tracks enhancement project. I personally believe that this is a sector that should receive a lot of traction going forward.
Q: There are some alerts that are coming by on a request for a proposal with regards to the Indian Railways. I will read it out to you, Indian Railways to issue an Request for Proposal (RFP) in a month for locomotive projects. Can you just tell us how much of an opportunity that would be for Titagarh Wagons if that is the case and in general what it would mean for the industry?
A: This is basically the Madhepura locomotive if I am correct. This has been going on for several years. We have seen this project come up in several forms and fashion but now it seems that it will see the light of the day. This is for high power or high capacity locomotive primarily for the dedicated freight corridor usage. So, it is an important milestone. While Titagarh is not directly a part of this right now but we are getting into locomotives. So, we are in dialogue with a few people to have some share in this pie as well.
Titagarh Wagons stock price
On September 19, 2014, at 13:24 hrs Titagarh Wagons was quoting at Rs 229.85, down Rs 4.9, or 2.09 percent. The 52-week high of the share was Rs 342.00 and the 52-week low was Rs 91.10.
The company’s trailing 12-month (TTM) EPS was at Rs 0.97 per share as per the quarter ended June 2014. The stock’s price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio was 236.96. The latest book value of the company is Rs 315.49 per share. At current value, the price-to-book value of the company is 0.73.
हैदराबाद Hyderabad (HYD): GVK Hancock has commenced a ‘Material Change of Use’ application for the approximate 310 kilometers of its rail corridor in the initial phase, following years of extensive planning and hydrological assessments in development of infrastructure to connect its Galilee Basin coal deposits with export markets.
The development of the Galilee Basin will give Queensland, one of the most significant pieces of regional and economic development and this application will allow meeting all regulatory requirements to support such a significant development.
The ‘Material Change of Use’ (MCU) application is the next step to finalise planning for this significant rail infrastructure development and it follows on from the grant by State environmental approval which it received in May 2012, Federal environmental approval in August 2012 and of Galilee Basin State Development Area in June 2014.
As part of the MCU application, GVK Hancock will continue to work with the landholders to ensure detailed planning, which has been presented to each specific property in the past and it will give access to homesteads, stock feeding areas and water supply.
GVK Hancock seeks consent from the landholders along with its first stage of rail corridor and contact has been established with the landholders on the issue.
Till date, the project team has undertaken an extensive assessment of the landholder engagement process for infrastructure along with approval of rail corridor connecting the southern end of the Galilee Basin with export markets.
The broad range of environmental and hydrological assessments contributed to the collaboration of an Environment Impact Statement (EIS), a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and an Addendum to the SEIS for the proposed rail infrastructure.
The company has successfully negotiated term sheets with the landholders for around 75 per cent of the rail corridor; it outlines the commercially viable terms for the acquisition and compensation of the land.
The company plans to co-operate with the landholders as well as the Government to commence the construction. There will also be a joint venture agreement with Aurizon to develop the required rail and port infrastructure.
The initial stage of rail development, which is approximately 310 kilometers of the proposed 500 kilometers will be constructed before connecting to the existing Aurizon infrastructure. This will allow a phased development at the Abbot Point T3 terminal to match up the volumes and a systematic ramp-up that can reduce the initial cost of infrastructure.
नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Ministry of Railways have come out with a new policy on posting of key officials like Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs), giving absolute power to the railway board chairman in the appointment process. The posting as DRM does not confer any extra additional benefits, but holding DRM post is a pre-requisite for an official to be promoted as a General Manager of a Zonal Railway system.
As of now, officers belonging to eight railway services, which are involved directly in train operations, are given preference for selection as DRM on the basis of a fixed quota. Out of 68 posts of DRMs, 16 each go to traffic, mechanical and engineering services while nine go to electrical and four to signals and telecom.
The quota was strongly challenged by Electrical and S&T departments whose strength and role has increased substantially in operations over the years. They have been asking for more DRM posts for their services.
The new policy says only eight services, directly involved in operations, would be given preference and not more than 18 posts of DRMs would be given to one service.
It goes on to state, “The decision of the railway board chairman in readjustment of slots among different services will be final.”
With 20-25 DRMs due for replacement and departmental lobbies at work, the latest policy has been questioned even by senior railway officials who argue that it leaves scope for manipulation and victimization in the appointment process. “This policy hides the current quota system fixed way back. It also vests much discretion in one individual,” said an official, adding that the new policy is open for manipulation.
The policy is also silent on many other issues. The delay in filling posts has raised serious questions. In the past, appointment of DRMs and GMs was delayed, ostensibly to scuttle a particular candidate’s chances of becoming GM, a board member or railway board chairman.
After the ‘cash-for-post’ scandal that rocked the state-run transporter last year, officials had demanded that the entire appointment process be recast to do away with discretionary powers and ensure there was no manipulation or victimization of those vying for top posts.
नई दिल्ली New Delhi: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and an Action Plan were signed between the Government of India and People’s Republic of China in enhancing Technical Cooperation in Railway Sector, at delegation level talks between the two countries here today. The MoU was signed in the presence of the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and the visiting President of China, Xi Jinping.
The Minister of Railways, Government of India, Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda was especially present on the occasion. The signatories to the agreements were Chairman, Railway Board, Government of India, Shri Arunendra Kumar and Vice Minister & Administrator of National Railway Administration (NRA), China, Mr. Lu Dengfu.
The potential cooperation areas mentioned in the MoU are; i) Training in heavy haul freight transportation, ii) Raising of speed of trains on existing routes, iii) Station redevelopment, iv) High speed rail and v) Setting up of Railway University.
Following specific areas have been mentioned in Action Plan:
(a) Training in Heavy Haul Transportation:
A training programme has been finalised for 100 persons (20 persons per batch for total 5 batches) in the field of heavy haul transportation.
(b) Speed raising on Existing Lines:
Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore section has been identified for speed raising to 160 kmph with the cooperation of China.
(c) Redevelopment of Railway Stations:
Chinese side will conduct pre-feasibility of two stations with their financing and prepare a report indicating further course of cooperation.
(d) Cooperation in High Speed rail:
Chinese side will conduct project feasibility study and prepare a detailed project report with their financing of a section to be advised by Indian Railways.
(e) Setting up of Railway University:
Chinese experience of Rail Universities will be used for developing a Railway University in India.
The MoU takes effect on the date of its signature by both parties and will remain in force for three years.
New Delhi: In a significant development, Indian Railways on Thursday joined hands with China to increase speed in its existing rail network, modernise stations and enhance mutual cooperation in the sector in the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping signed total 12 memorandums of understanding (MoU), including cooperation in rail sector.
Under the MoU for Railways, both sides have agreed to enhance cooperation in the railway sector in speed-raising on the identified route and studying feasibility of cooperation in bullet train projects among others.
The MoU signed by Chairman Railway Board Arunendra Kumar and Administrator of China’s National Railway Administration Lu Dongfu also envisages heavy-haul transportation training of Indian Railway personnel and redevelopment of railway stations and setting up of a RailwayUniversity in India.
Railways have identified Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore section for speed raising to 160 km per hour with help from China.
As per the action plan on the proposed semi-high speed, China will conduct design and survey for the specified sections and also impart training to railway personnel on speed-raising.
China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group will be coordinating with the High Speed Rail Corporation, a subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited on the cooperation on raising speed.
On training of heavy-haul transportation, the two sides have agreed on a training programme for batches of 20 trainees for duration of two-three weeks and a total of 5 batches with maximum of three training programmes in a year.
There will be emphasis on onsite training covering operational and maintenance facilities, monitoring systems and traffic control. The Beijing Jiaotong University will start the first training programme next month.
For co-operation in the bullet train project, China and India have agreed for a project feasibility study report to be taken up for financing by China. Railways will advise the proposed rail route before October and it will provide all necessary technical policies, documents and facilitation for the project survey.
China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group and other enterprises of China will undertake work related to this cooperation.
The MoU envisages that Indian Railway Station Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Rail Land Development Authority of Railways will visit China and study redeveloped and new stations in China next month, followed by a visit to India by China Railway Construction Engineering Group to study at least two stations identified for redevelopment in the country.
Stations at Bhubaneswar and Bangalore are likely to be chosen for redevelopment as world class station with help from China.
China also agreed to carry out a pre-feasibility study of two stations with their financing and prepare a report indicating further course of cooperation after discussions with Indian Railways.
The two sides also agreed that the Chinese experience of Rail Universities will provide very useful inputs to develop a Railway university in India as proposed in the Budget. The two sides agreed that a delegation from India will be organized and visit China within the current year and a road map for cooperation in this area will be developed.
पठानकोट Pathankot (PTK): Defence Ministry has decided to extend Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge line to broad gauge and further lay additional line to Mandi and Leh of Jammu and Kashmir. BJP stalwart Shanta Kumar said Deputy Security Advisor Arvind Gupta informed him yesterday that the project was given waiver by the concerned Ministry. Similarly under-construction Bhanupali-Bilaspur rail line was also given consent to extend it Mandi from Bilaspur, he said in a statement here. Mr Kumar also added that the project was likely to get an outlay from Centre soon as now the matter was under consideration of Defence and Union Finance Ministry. The project would facilitate Armed forces to easy access to international borders beside helping locals improve connectivity which remained cut off from mainstream. The Railway did not need to acquire land for this project between Pathankot and Jogindernagar as it required extension of rail line to broad gauge. He said the Union Government had also made special provisions of strategic railway projects in the Rail Budget, Mr Kumar added.
Kochi: E Sreedharan, Principal Advisor Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) yesterday inspected the Metro construction alignment from Maharaja’s College up to Aluva with special focus on repairs to the road surface.
The ‘Metro man’ was generally satisfied with the road repairs and instructed the contractor to complete the remaining work also within two to three days.
Sreedharan was also satisfied with the progress being achieved on civil works and asked contractors to complete all basic civil works by October 2015 to enable system contractors take up track laying, third rail installation, Power supply and signalling works, a press release said.
He also visited Muttom Depot and gave directions to complete essential works by the time the first train is received in the Depot by about January 2016.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) on extending co-operation in rail, including agreement for new Mansarovar route
Shares of rail stocks surged 5-7 percent intraday Thursday riding on an upgrade as promised by Narendra Modi in his prime ministerial campaigns. The ailing sector is all set to see an improvement after it joined hands with China which will help the nation build high-speed rail network and modernise railway stations. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) on extending co-operation in rail, including agreement for new Mansarovar route. Both countries signed 12 agreements at delegation-level meeting. Earlier, India and China had signed an MoU on technical cooperation in railway sector on November 26, 2012 for five years. Railways has undertaken an exercise for technological upgradation, capacity enhancement and development of world class services. The change is observed as below for the below companies yesterday:
- Texmaco 5%
- Kernex 5%
- Titagarh 5%
- Kalindee Rail 7%
- Hind Rectifier 5%
मुंबई Mumbai: Monthly container volume of Indian Railways (IR) has registered a strong 15% growth in August 2014, reflecting the continuation of steady mid teen year on year growth in monthly volumes in Aug 2014 as well. The container throughput of IR registered a year on year growth of 16% in April 2014 and that was followed with a growth of 13%, 14% and 16% in May’14, Jun’14 and July’14 respectively. The strong growth in container throughput of IR was largely due to strong EXIM container volume, which grew by 21.74% (to 3.36 million tonnes), compared to corresponding previous period. But the domestic container volume was down by 6.45% (to 0.87 million tonnes) compared to 0.93 million tonnes in the corresponding previous period.
On cumulative basis the container volume of IR for the period of Apr-Aug 2014 was up by 14.6% (to 20.29 million tonnes) over corresponding previous period. For Apr-Aug 2014 period while the EXIM volume was up by 18.1% (to 15.73 million tonnes) and that of domestic volume was up by 4.1% to 4.53 million tonnes.
In-spite of strong mid teen growth in container volume the container earnings of Indian railways for Aug 2014 was up by just 5.3% to Rs 395.35 crore and this is largely on account of 2.5% fall in realization (Earnings/NTKM) to Rs 0.88. This is as result of 5.9% fall in average lead to 1060 km which moderated the growth at net tone km (NTKM) to 7.9% to 4483 million km.
धनबाद Dhanbad (DHN): The CBI has caught red-handed a commandant of Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) in Dhanbad while accepting a bribe of Rs 20,000 from two constables of his battalion who were seeking clearance of their pending salaries.
The agency laid a trap on Sunday evening to nab the commandant of the 10th Battalion (RPSF), Shanti Prakash Vashistha (58), from his official residence near Dhanbad station. He was produced in the court of special CBI judge Vijay Kumar Sharma and forwarded to jail.
According to CBI sources, constables Mukesh Kumar and Pradip Kayal had approached the agency’s Dhanbad branch recently, complaining that the commandant was demanding money for “regularising” their leave taken against the periodical medical examination category.
Mukesh and Pradip had been on medical leave for almost eight months each since January this year. While they received salaries for the first four months, they were apparently marked “absent” from duty for the remaining period of time. Hence, their salaries for the last four months were blocked.
On returning from leave, the duo submitted applications to Vashistha, requesting him to “grant” the entire eight months as medical leave, paving the way for payment of their pending salaries. But, Vashistha demanded money for passing a “favourable” decision in this regard.
The duo alleged that even after taking Rs 40,000 from each of them, he was demanding more money.
Frustrated, they approached the CBI. Working on the complaint, sleuths led by CBI SP P.K. Maji raided the commandant’s house around 7pm (on Sunday) when the constables, as per the agency’s plan, had gone to pay more money to Vashistha. The CBI caught him accepting Rs 10,000 from each of the duo.
हटिया Hatia (HTE): Burglars broke into a State Bank of India (SBI) branch operating from the office premises of Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of South Eastern Railway at Hatia in the heart of Ranchi and stole CCTV cameras, its accessories and other items, exposing the security chinks at an important railway establishment.
However, no cash went missing even though the criminals had tried to break open the vault. A canteen, which is located in front of the bank, was also targeted.
The heist, which came to light early on Tuesday, disrupted banking services at the branch that caters to more than 7,000 account-holders and does a business of Rs 48 crore every year since its establishment in 2007.
Branch manager Sanjay Kumar Sharma said he came to know about the burglary from police.
“I was taken aback when officer-in-charge of railway police station, Hatia, Kumar Rajeev, informed me about the theft around 7am. I rushed to the bank and found two locks on the grille gate and one on the wooden one broken. A number of items starting from CCTV cameras, its accessories, routers, switches and modems were missing,” Sharma said.
The manager added that he was more worried about the cash that was tucked away in a vault, but was relieved to see the safe unbroken.
“The vault was damaged, which indicates that the gang had tried to open it but failed,” Sharma added.
Burglars also cut the computer cables and damaged the PCs/Computers in the Branch including the network hub. State Bank of India’s System Integrator (SI) company M/s.Dimension Data India Limited was asked to restore the network hardware and cables to which the SI had expeditiously restored the network in coordination with service providers and enabled Bank establish its operations early.
Sandhya Shah, who runs Suruchi Sarvo Canteen on the same premises, said the criminals struck at her canteen too.
“They cut open two locks to the enter the kitchen and service room and decamped with an LPG cylinder, a few bottles of soft drink and water besides some fried fish that was kept in refrigerator,” she said.
An FIR has been registered at Jagannathpur police station on the basis of Sharma’s statements.
A team from the State Forensic Science Laboratory and a dog squad collected evidence from the spot on Tuesday even as two vehicles, one a Bolero and an Alto, belonging to outsiders remain suspiciously parked near the parking zone.
The Bolero, bearing registration number JH-01E 0372, was later identified as the official vehicle of Deoghar divisional forest officer Rajeev Ranjan, which was reported missing from Ashok Nagar in Argora on Monday night. The Alto with the registration number JH-01AE 2557 could not be identified.
Divisional security commissioner of South Eastern Railway Bhawani Shanker Nath said this was the first time that such an incident took place at the DRM’s office and they would be questioning the security guard.
Asked about the security lapses, Nath, whose office is also located on the same premises, cited manpower crunch. “Our division has only 299 RPF personnel against the sanctioned strength of 480. We can depute only one guard at the DRM’s office at night though there should be at least two to there,” he said.
The construction project of the railway is crucial for landlocked countries such as Mali, which will seaboard through the port of Conakry
The Mali Government has signed $11bn agreements with China to support two major railway projects, which will connect the country to the coast.
Signed during the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China, Reuters reported that the agreements are likely to boost the country’s economy and help deliver better services.
China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) head Dai Hegen said: “The construction project of the railway is crucial for landlocked countries such as Mali, which will seaboard through the port of Conakry.”
The first planned project worth $8bn is for a 900km-long railway link from Mali’s capital Bamako to Guinea’s port capital Conakry.
The other $1.4bn project will involve renovation of Bamako-Dakar railway to connect Mali to the Senegalese capital to the west.
According to the Mali Government, these $11bn agreements include $51m in gifts and interest-free loans from China.
Agreements for projects, including the construction of a fourth bridge across the Niger River in Bamako and planned housing, energy, road and education projects, were also signed.
सिलीगुड़ी Siliguri Jn. (SGUJ): The heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railways will resume the toy train services from December from Siliguri.
North-East Frontier Railway Divisional Railway Manager A.K.Sharma said that work remained pending along a small stretch between the two destinations and expected to be completed shortly.
It has been three years since the DHR had suspended services depriving tourists of the joyride through the picturesque terrains from Siliguri to Darjeeling hilltop.
“We hope to wrap up the repair work between Mahanadi and Ghayabari by the end of the year,” Sharma said.
Huge landslides in the Tindharay and Paglajhora areas had forced the DHR to suspend services in 2011.
The Darjeeling toy train first began running in 1881 when Sir Ashley Eden was the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. The DHR comes under the UNESCO’s world heritage sites and covers a route spanning 87km.
Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia had recently raised the issue before Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda and also intimated Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Sharma said along with the Railways, the National Highway Authority of India and PWD, West Bengal were involved in the repair work.
The issue of repairing NH 55 was recently taken up by Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Chief Executive Bimal Gurung with the Union Road Transport Ministry.
नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Indian Railways has generated Rs.40358.24 crore of revenue earnings from commodity-wise freight traffic during April-August 2014 as compared to Rs.36465.58 crore during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 10.67 per cent. Railways carried 445.73 million tonnes of commodity-wise freight traffic during April-August 2014 as compared to 426.14 million tonnes carried during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 4.60 per cent.
During the month of August 2014, Railways generated Rs.7906.93 crore as compared to Rs.6775.43 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 16.70 per cent. Out of which, Rs.3576.43 crore came from transportation of 43.43 million tonnes of coal, followed by Rs.607.62 crore from 9.33 million tonnes of iron ore for exports, steel plants and for other domestic user, Rs.627.08 crore from 8.14 million tonnes of cement, Rs.666.49 crore from 4.64 million tonnes of foodgrains, Rs.459.26 crore from 3.66 million tonnes of petroleum oil and lubricant (POL), Rs.526.95 crore from 3.53 million tonnes of Pig iron and finished steel from steel plants and other points, Rs.392.30 crore from 3.82 million tonnes of fertilizers, Rs.143,.19 crore from 1.49 million tonnes of raw material for steel plants except iron ore, Rs.395.35 crore from 4.23 million tonnes by container service and Rs.512.26 crore from 5.88 million tonnes of other goods.
सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): A high-level regional safety review meeting has been conducted by Railway Board at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad, today i.e. 17th September, 2014. D.P.Pande, Member Traffic, Railway Board, New Delhi chaired the meeting and reviewed in detail the safety performance of 4 Zonal Railways – South Central Railway (SCR), Southern Railway (SR), South Western Railway (SWR) and West Central Railways (WCR).
In his key note address, Pande stressed upon the utmost importance of safety in train operations. He stated that safety can not take second place and that Railway staff shall always accord top most priority for safe running of trains. Expressing concern over the rise in number of accidents at level crossings on Indian Railways, the Member Traffic directed that the field staff shall quickly implement various identified solutions such as posting gatemen, providing additional warning boards/whistling boards etc. to avoid any scope for accidents at level crossings.
He called upon all the senior safety officials present at the meeting to intensity field inspections of stations and other work units related to safety and also to take necessary advance corrective action to preempt any possible mishap. He emphasized on ensuring that the Railway assets like wagons, coaches, track and signaling gears etc. function all right, which will go a long way in eliminating any chance of derailments. He also directed the safety organization to conduct frequent safety audits and take immediate follow-up action to rectify the deficiencies noticed.
Sanjeev Garg, Adviser Safety, Railway Board, New Delhi in his address informed that this high level regional safety review meeting is fourth in a series of such reviews being undertaken by Railway Board which were conducted at Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata earlier. He underscored the need for imbibing safety as an integral part of Railway work culture to prevent any untoward incidents. Safety in train operations is a critical pre-requisite for expanding Services and growth of Railways, he cautioned.
S.K.Agarwal, Addl. General Manager, J.N.Jha, Chief Operations Manager and S.P.Sahu, Chief Safety Officer of SCR also spoke on the occasion. A high level team of Safety Officers from Railway Board, Chief Safety Officers and Senior Divisional Safety Officers from all Divisions of the 4 Zonal Railways – SCR, SR, SWR and WCR participated in the meet and deliberated on effective strategies and action plan to strengthen Railway Safety.
नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Railways has generated Rs. 40,358.24 crore from freight traffic during April-August 2014 as compared to Rs. 36,465.58 crore during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 10.67 per cent.
Railways carried 445.73 million tonnes (MT) of freight during April-August 2014 as compared to 426.14 MT carried during the same period last year, showing an increase of 4.60 per cent. In August 2014, Railways generated Rs. 7,906.93 crore revenue compared to Rs. 6,775.43 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 16.70 per cent.
Out of this, Rs. 3,576.43 crore came from transportation of 43.43 MT of coal, followed by Rs. 607.62 crore from 9.33 MT of iron ore for exports, steel plants and for other domestic user and Rs. 627.08 crore from 8.14 MT of cement.
Railways earned Rs. 666.49 crore from 4.64 MT of food grains, Rs. 459.26 crore from 3.66 MT of petroleum oil and lubricant (POL), Rs. 526.95 crore from 3.53 MT of pig iron and finished steel from steel plants and other points, Rs. 392.30 crore from 3.82 million tonnes of fertilisers, Rs. 143.19 crore from 1.49 MT of raw material for steel plants except iron ore, Rs. 395.35 crore from 4.23 MT by container service, and Rs. 512.26 crore from 5.88 MT of other goods.
Says section of the press had distorted correspondence between project concessionaire and Telangana government, that threatened to damage the prestigious project
हैदराबाद Hyderabad (HYD): The Hyderabad Metro Rail has expressed its commitment to complete the metro rail project in Hyderabad “expeditiously” as per schedule and said the progress so far was the fastest in any metro project in the country despite various challenges met during execution.
The chief executive officer and managing director of L & T Metro Rail, Hyderabad V.B. Gadgil told media persons after a meeting with Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Chief Secretary Rajiv Sharma that a section of the press on Wednesday had distorted the correspondence between the project concessionaire and the State government which threatened to damage the prestigious project.
He said the company will continue the project as it was “viable as of now” but the viability had to be checked continuously. The company also did not get any official communication from the government to change the alignment as reported in the press. However, the company stopped works at Sultan Bazar and Assembly where the government was said to have expressed its reservations in view of the location of heritage structures.
Mr. Gadgil admitted there were right of way issues in the project but they could be resolved or alternatives looked at.
He said the letter which was reproduced by the press on Wednesday was part of a huge correspondence with the government since February last. The termination of the project due to cost escalation which was highlighted by the newspapers was only a “gesture” and not final.
The report was published selectively and out of context. The letter was a sequel to an earlier correspondence with the previous government in February.
गुलबर्गा Gulbarga (GR): Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Indian Railways will be only for the creation of necessary infrastructure, said Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda here on Wednesday.
He told reporters that people need not worry that FDI in Railways would be a burden on passengers. “We will not allow FDI in operating section,” he said.
He said several countries, including China, Japan and France, have come forward to invest in infrastructure for the Railways. “We are signing an MoU with China on Thursday for the Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai high-speed train corridor. The train will run at a speed of 160 km per hour,” he said.
In all, 26 railway projects are in progress in Karnataka. While 10 are being implemented entirely by the Railways, 16 are joint collaborations between the state and the Centre, he said. “To complete these 26 projects, Rs.10,800 crore is needed. The state government has to give Rs.450 crore as its share, but so far it has released Rs.60 crore. We have written to the Karnataka government asking them to release the remaining amount,” he said.
To a question about the Chief Minister’s reluctance to bear 50 per cent of the project cost, Gowda said Sidharamaiah has requested reducing the state government’s share.
“But I have convinced him of the necessity of the state bearing 50 per cent of the cost for speedy completion of the projects and to take up new projects,” he said.
The state government has to acquire 12,238 acres for railway projects, but so far it has acquired 4,050 acres, he added. Gowda said the Bidar-Gulbarga railway line would be completed in 2016 and `100 crore has been allocated for the project in this year’s budget.
The Ramanagaram-Mysore track doubling work will be completed in 2015, he said.
गुलबर्गा Gulbarga (GR): Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda has clarified that there is no going back on the commitment made by the previous UPA government on establishing the Divisional Headquarters of the South Western Railways (SWR) in Gulbarga. Necessary funds would be provided once the Railway Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) comes out with the Detailed Project Report (DPR) with the estimated cost, he said.
“I want to make it clear once and for all the Divisional Headquarters in Gulbarga is here to stay.I will come to Gulbarga after a month to review the progress of several railway works taken up during my predecessor Mallikarjun Kharge and also bring the RVNL officials to finalise the proposal for taking up the construction work of the divisional headquarters,” he said.
Addressing a press conference in Gulbarga after inaugurating the new wing of S. Nijalingappa Institute of Dental Sciences and Research here on Wednesday, Mr. Gowda said a sum of Rs. 5 crore has been released to RVNL already. “Mr. Kharge has spoken to me on the need to allocate more funds for the works of the divisional headquarters. I have assured him the Railways was committed to provide the required funds to the project”.
On the directions of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Railway Ministry to prepare a detailed report on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Railways, Mr. Gowda said that already the note issued by the Commerce Ministry in this regard was discussed in the cabinet and the areas where the FDI would be allowed has also been finalised. He said many countries including china, Japan, France and others expressed their keen interest in investing in the Railways.
However, Mr. Gowda was categorical in limiting the FDI to the infrastructure development of the Railways. It would not be extended to operational area of the Railways, he said.
Mr. Gowda said that he had once again pleaded with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to meet the commitment made on the cost sharing projects so as to complete them at the earliest.
The State government had earlier its inability to fund these projects.
The next few months are going to be eventful for railways. The govt is determined to bring in greater private participation in this public utility, but two of its biggest unions are opposing the move tooth and nail, embarking on a collision course.
Friday will see the first of the big all-India agitations against introducing foreign direct investment (FDI) and public-private partnership (PPP). The agitation is being spearheaded by the communist-backed All-India Railwaymen’s Federation, an umbrella group of 1.1 million railway employees.
AIRF along with Congress-backed National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) are two of the biggest unions in the system, and both have made their intentions clear. They are not going to make it easy for the govt to ‘privatise’ railways.
As reported earlier, NFIR had torn into Modi govt’s policies on railways at a seminar on world transport unions held in Sophia (Bulgaria) in mid-August.
JR Bhosale, national treasurer, AIRF, said “We have had a meeting with Railway Board on Sept 8, and we will be meeting railway minister Sadananda Gowda next week. We believe the introduction of FDI and PPP will make Indian Railways sick. That is because, we believe FDI and PP would do nothing for railways’ core sectors that actually require rejuvenation.”
Union’s point of view: No FDI, plain common sense
According to Bhosale, the problem is that railways has not been getting adequate returns on several projects since 1952. “Look at out track system! Of the 63,000km of tracks, only 16% are saturated. We should be doubling these lines because the amount of time and fuel wasted due to congestion runs into several thousand crore. Instead, what we have been doing is constructing lines in areas, mostly rural, where there is hardly any returns,” said Bhosale.
Picking on the slow pace of electrification, Bhosle said that it was this aspect that should be given priority. “Look at the kind of money we are losing because of the diesel trains we operate. Money should be spend on electrification; tariff for power supply to the railways should be looked into so that we start saving money,” said Bhosale.
Railway ministry’s view: Numbers are all off-track
Railways minister V Sadananda Gowda, in his July 8 railway budget speech, highlighted one of the most depressing assessment of railway accounts in recent times. Railways, Gowda told Parliament, earned Rs 1,39, 558 crore, of which it spent Rs 1,30,321 crore as working expenses in 2013-14 fiscal.
On money required for big-ticket projects, Gowda said some ambitious dreams like the Diamond Quadrilateral Network—to connect metros with high-speed trains—and the 350kmph bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad would require the kind of money railways just cannot imagine. The Quadrilateral network would require Rs 9 lakh crore and the bullet train Rs 60,000 crore at the current estimate. Add to that another Rs 5 lakh crore over the next 10 years to complete the ongoing projects.
The bleeding is compounded by the low fares in place. The loss per km per passenger has increased from 10 paise in 2000-01 to 23 paise in 2012-13.
In a system where safety isn’t anything to write home about, railways will be needing Rs 40,000 crore for track renewals, elimination of unmanned level crossings and building road-overbridges/road-underbridges.
Expert view by S.Ananthanarayanan, former FA&CAO, Indian Railways
I believe FDI or PPP is not required. Shortage of funds is not the limiting factor in capital works. It’s not that railways is short of money. We are unable to spend the total money allotted for various projects because of lack of contractors, equipment, materials, etc. And PPP has hardly been used in the railways and would not be an option for building developmental lines. Private investors will come in only where there is profit. The problem is railways has spread its resources very thin (on a large number of projects, most of which have been delayed). Important safety works have been delayed because of the time taken for getting permission, shortage of essentials like sleepers, materials and agencies that can construct these projects.
Superior technology and their experience in safety and signaling give Japanese firms an edge over the Chinese, who might have pitched strongly to become the technology partner for the upcoming Rs 63,000-crore high-speed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, according to officials in the Railway ministry.
Despite being cheaper, the Chinese technology is not the preferred option. Senior railway officials say besides technology, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is likely to fund the high speed project. Officials said there was no formal movement on Chinese financing for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor though China could look at funding future corridors.
A feasibility study is being undertaken by JICA, which is likely to conclude early next year. Besides, a business development study by French Railways (SNCF) is also underway. Key locomotive manufacturers like Alstom and Bombardier have also shown interest for supplying locomotives.
JICA has been financing key railway projects like Western arm of the dedicated freight corridor, while two Chinese companies – CSR Sifang and CNR — are strong contenders for Rs 3,000-crore locomotive projects in Madhepura and Marhowra.
“The Japanese have mastered the art of tunneling with about 74% of its network in the hilly terrain. They are exemplary in signaling, control, rolling stock and in their safety record. As for the Chinese, there could be knowledge sharing on project implementation since they have created one of the largest high speed network within few years,” said a senior railway official who did not want to be named.The Japanese are deemed superior in terms of signaling, control, rolling stock and safety record
Recently, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pitched for a Shinkansen style high-speed train system in India. The Shinkansen bullet train system, which literally means the ‘new trunk line’, is the world’s first system for high-speed trains running up to 320 km per hour.
Japanese companies had earlier supplied technology to the Chinese. Later, the Japanese accused China of copying their patented technology and competing with them in the global market. Kawasaki Heavy Industries , maker of Shinkansen bullet trains, after signing technology transfers with CSR Sifang, the builder of China’s high-speed rail, said it regretted its now-dissolved partnership. Although the Japanese firm threatened legal action for patent infringement, it changed its mind, of late.
Experts and industry experts argue that India is not the only country where China and Japan are at loggerheads to sell their technology. “China is in talks with more than 15 countries to sell their technology. Some of the contracts are based on exchange of natural resources, competing directly with the United States and Japan. However, their first ever technology transfer to Turkey for high-speed rail was not without glitches,” said an industry expert, who did not want to be named.
The China Railway Construction Corporation and the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation won the bid in 2005 to build the railway line in partnership with two Turkish companies between Ankara and Istanbul. “..Both countries have admitted to difficulties during the process. The project has reportedly been beset with problems such as delays and accidents,” reports New York Times.
बेंगलुरू Bangalore (SBC): Electrification of the Yelahanka–Dharmavaram–Gooty railway line (306 km), which could offer faster and comfortable journey to the north from Bangalore besides saving on the fuel bill for the Railways, is likely to be completed by March 2015.
Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL), which is executing the project since 2011–12 has completed the overhead equipment (electric cables) work in two years. However, the electrified line is yet to be commissioned as power transmission companies of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are yet to execute their parts of work.
Responding to an RTI application, RVNL informed that the work on overhead equipment was complete except for a 2-km stretch on which power lines of Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh Ltd. (APTRANSCO) have passed through. Despite making payments to APTRANSCO in December 2012, the company is yet to shift the lines, it said.
At the same time, APTRANSCO and Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd., (KPTCL) have to install transmission lines from grid sub-station to four traction sub-stations catering to the electrified line, RVNL said. It has made payments to the two companies. RVNL expects that shifting of lines and installation of new lines to the traction sub-stations could be completed by December this year while the mandatory inspection by the Commissioner of Railway Safety could be done by March 31, 2015.
It is said that the commissioning of the line could save considerable journey time as at present diesel locos hauling Rajdhani and Sampark Kranthi express trains from Bangalore are replaced with electric locos at Secunderabad. An electric loco right from Bangalore would mean saving of at least 30 minutes and reduced environment pollution, he said. An electric loco could run up to 160 km an hour and its maintenance cost is lesser than that of a diesel loco.
A senior official in the operations division of South Western Railway said they preferred electric locos to diesel ones for the former’s efficiency.
London: The world’s oldest surviving Darjeeling Hill Railway locomotive is back on track, thanks to Adrian Shooter, and is running on his lawns inside his mansion in London.
Smitten by the magic of a ride on the DHR (now an Unesco world heritage property) a decade and a half before, Shooter who retired three years before as chairman of Chiltern Railways bought off the world’s oldest surviving DHR locomotive – model number 778 built in 1889 by Sharp Stewart and Company, Manchester to restore it into perfect condition and run it in his personal garden.
The Indian government had sold off the locomotive to Hesston Steam Museum in 1960, not realizing what it’s worth would be 50 years later, after being declared a world heritage by Unesco.
Most interestingly, Shooter has also bought an Ambassador car that runs by the train when it chugs through his garden to give it a real feel of Darjeeling.
Shooter shipped the loco in a container from US to the steam rail workshop in Tyseley, Birmingham where he restored it into perfect running condition. The laid tracks over 1.5 km is in the form of a loop just like in Darjeeling.
He has also built a station that looks exactly like the original Sukna station in Darjeeling besides laying a pathway that criss crosses over the rail tracks, exactly the way it is in Darjeeling.
Shooter said “I bought the locomotive from the museum in Indiana, USA, in 2002. It had been bought by a private individual, Mr Donnelley in 1960. He died in 1975 and it passed to the museum after that. He was the boss and major shareholder in R R Donnelley Co which is a very large printer and publisher in Chicago”.
He added “I have several volunteers who come and help me operate the loco and we give rides to invited guests. We usually have 100-150 and do this 3 or 4 times a year. The loco is fully functional and is in excellent condition. Last winter it had a 10 year overhaul when, by law,the boiler has to be taken off the chassis, carefully examined and repaired as necessary”.
“The loco still has the original 1889 boiler and is, by at least 50 years, the oldest loco boiler in use in the UK. There are a couple of older ones in India. The reason that it has lasted so long is that it is made of wrought iron which is much more corrosion resistant than steel. It was obviously very well looked after during its 70 years of use in India”.
Shooter who will be in Delhi in February because he has been invited by Mark Tully to speak at the Indian Steam Conference added “The Darjeeling Railway is very special because it climbs so high (over 7000 feet) through fantastic countryside with wonderful people (The Gorkas). Many British people had ancestors who lived, worked or visited Darjeeling. I still regularly come across people who went to school in Kurseong or Darjeeling. The engines, themselves, are of a very sound design that have shown themselves to be more than capable on a very steep and curvaceous railway”.
Shooter said he has no plans to return the loco to India. “It runs in my garden which is about 600 yards long”.
Britons will get a chance to get a ride on the train as it makes a special appearance at the high North Pennines on 26 – 28 September.
South Tynedale Railway at Alston is hosting Shooter’s train – Locomotive No 19 for an Indian-themed weekend of food, music and films. People will be able to ride the train, dress like a local from Darjeeling and enjoy sumptuous eastern Himalayan cuisine.
Built in 1889, Locomotive No19 was withdrawn from the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway service in 1960 and, privately purchased, made its way to Indiana and then, in 2003, across the Atlantic to be restored by Tyseley Locomotive Works, Birmingham, for Shooter. At the same time, two replica DHR carriages were constructed at the Boston Lodge Works of the Ffestiniog Railway. These and the loco are based at Adrian Shooters private garden railway.
India presently has 14 original DHR locomotives in working condition and 10 others on display at museums. Shooter’s train is the oldest of all DHR trains. Presently, only 5 DHR locomotives are in private hands, four of which are in Assam. The 778 is the only model outside Indian shore.
Indian railway expert Rajesh Agrawal said “In the 1960s, India was disposing off a large number of locomotives as we had more than we required. One such model was the 778. Nobody knew then that the DHR would become such a prized object. Also people thought the 778 was not in working condition as it was 71 years old. A locomotive generally retires at 45 years”.
मैसूर Mysore (MYS): In compliance with the Union government’s directives to prune red tape and paper work in offices, the Mysore division of South Western Railways is on the verge of becoming a “digital division” by harnessing technology.
For a start, the nearly 50-page “Daily Report” containing details of all developments in the last 24 hours — from freight loading to passenger traffic earnings, detention of trains, if any, signal failure — and submitted every morning to the Divisional Railway Manager, has been reduced to four pages and that too in digital form.
All the officials are now on WhatsApp and the Divisional Railway Manager Rajkumar Lal forwards them the report — if required — instead of making multiple copies and circulating it, as was the practice earlier. “This has not only saved paper and weeded out unnecessary paper work but also enhanced efficiency,” said Mr. Lal.
All information and files pertaining to routine administration and daily operations have been uploaded on Google Drive and officials can access it from anywhere. Two web-based helplines have been launched for greater coordination between officials of different departments, mainly finance and personnel, so that digitised information can be exchanged instead of paper files.
A new software, which will virtually eliminate paperwork, pertains to inspection reports. Mr. Lal said the Railways carries out lots of inspections related to rake maintenance, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, cleanliness, passenger amenities, electronics and communication and each report runs into 10 to 15 pages, all of which are read once and dumped aside and soon pile up to become huge mounds.
However, with the adoption of the new software, the reports will be available to the officials concerned in digital form and they can read it on their mobile.
A significant feature of the software is that it is programmed to reflect deadlines set to correct anomalies. If deadlines are not complied to and relevant entries not made in the system, it will be reflected in the monitor till the lacunae is sorted out.
This will help enhance efficiency, as there will be more accountability and failure to comply with the timeline will be reflected in the systems.
A station master, who was maintaining 72 registers pertaining to operations, now maintains only 36 and the rest have been declared redundant, while the Electrical Wing — which used to maintain 68 registers — makes do with the same work with 28 registers.
“The procedures were a fallout of redundant rules, some of which are 80 to 90 years old and we have written to the Ministry giving a list of such rules to be repealed,” Mr. Lal said.
Besides, 20 truckloads of old files without any reference value that had accumulated in the Divisional Railway Office have been cleared, to reflect a better work culture and ambience.
China will bid aggressively to bag key Indian Railway infrastructure projects during its premier Xi Jinping’s visit to India
नई दिल्ली New Delhi: China will bid aggressively to bag key Railway infrastructure projects from India when its premier Xi Jinping meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi during bilateral level talks in New Delhi starting from today. On the agenda is to provide India with a cheaper and reliable option for high speed travel by using the state-of-the-art bullet trains and also help India to modernise its railway stations in line with global standards.
China, which is looking to outsmart Japan which has committed investments to the tune of $38 billion in India during Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Tokyo, would bring in a clutch of its Railway officers and companies offering modern railway services to strike deals with India. Agreements are likely for investments in industrial parks, infrastructure, energy and railways sectors.
Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said that Beijing has decided to scale up investments in India regarded widely as the most safe investment destination and with this in mind Xi is expected to be accompanied by a large business delegation of 135 Chinese CEOs.
“China is considering investing in India’s ambitious plan to build high-speed railways, including bullet trains. India has already invited China to modernise railway stations,” said the official quoted earlier.
China is also expected to ask India to hand over certain railway corridors for it to build, develop and maintain high speed railway lines. While Japan bagged the Mumbai-Ahmedabad first bullet train project, Chinese officials have evinced interest in Chennai and Bangalore and Bangalore-Mumbai corridors to build high-speed trains.
The investments by China are aimed at addressing India’s concern of mounting trade deficit which averaged $35 billion in the total $ 66.4 billion trade last year. With a huge cash surplus, China has high appetite for investments. Its Outbound Direct Investment (ODI) last year crossed $90 billion. Of this India accounts a paltry $ 400 million so far.
Railways may be the oldest form of mass land transport, but they will be on the mind when President Xi Jinping begins a visit to India today. More than a century after Chinese labourers built the railways that opened up North America, China has reached the top of the value chain with a vision of opening up, and ultimately joining up, continents with its high-speed-train technology. India, where public transport is synonymous with overcrowded trains, is a prime target.
Xi’s visit will see the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Beijing and New Delhi for co-operation on railways, following talks between a Chinese delegation and Indian railway officials in July. Chinese companies are making joint bids for five high-speed-rail projects in competition with Japan.
China has global ambitions to export its technology, with the twin objectives of securing access to energy and other commodities in return for financial and technical support. The Indian ventures would be a stepping stone towards realising ambitious proposals to build high-speed railway lines from China to Europe, North America and Southeast Asia, and across South America and Africa. These are all practicable. In the space of five years, China has become a world leader in the technology, amid hotly disputed claims by Japan of theft. China has already built 10,000km of track, and expects to have built five times that much by the end of the decade.
Building high-speed railways across borders is another matter, politically and economically, however, and visions are not easily turned into reality. For example, since Thailand approved two high-speed lines with China, part of a planned link between Kunming in the southwest and Singapore, environmental and social concerns have thrown doubt on a section between Myanmar’s Rakhine state and Kunming. Such huge projects are also costly, raising questions about the cost-benefit equation for China and the ability of foreign governments to pick up a big enough share of the investment. Funding, technical and operational issues are magnified by distance, geography and the number of countries involved.
That said, cross-border high-speed rail is more than a practical tool of China’s resources diplomacy. It has rich potential for economies, for business in cargo and passenger transport, and job creation. But the new age of rail calls for persistence and resilience to setbacks as well as vision.
Japanese and Chinese companies are battling for potentially lucrative railway projects around Asia, as rapid economic growth and expanding populations have led to plans for about 10,000 kilometers in railway networks.
A bidding competition is expected next year for a railway route linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. India and Thailand also plan to build high-speed rail services through large parts of their nations.
At a railway conference and exhibition held in Kuala Lumpur last week, Masaki Ogata, vice chairman of East Japan Railway Co.,touted the technology that has made the Shinkansen bullet train a proud feature of Japanese manufacturing.
“Japan’s Shinkansen is not only safe, but the starting point of its strengths also lies in its on-time operations,” he said.
Ogata has made clear that JR East intends to win the bid for construction of the high-speed railway that will cover about 350 kilometers in 90 minutes and connect Malaysia and Singapore. The line is expected to begin operations in 2020.
Total construction costs are estimated at 40 billion ringgit (about 1.3 trillion yen or $12 billion).
“We will likely hold the bidding between October and December 2015,” Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal, chief executive officer of the Land Public Transport Commission of Malaysia, said.
China, France and Spain have also shown interest in the project.
Executives of companies in a Japanese consortium, including JR East, Sumitomo Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., accompanied transport minister Akihiro Ota to Malaysia in mid-August to lobby officials of the Southeast Asian country.
Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the military junta in Thailand has approved two high-speed domestic rail projects. And in Vietnam, discussions are continuing on a plan to begin work on a part of a line that will eventually link Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City.
A study is moving ahead in India for a railway to connect Mumbai with Ahmedabad in the western part of the nation.
The United States and Brazil also plan to build high-speed railway networks. But the focus of attention is in Asia because of its economic growth and booming population.
However, Japan so far has little to show in terms of exporting its Shinkansen technology, outside of rolling stock sold to Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp., which began operations in 2007. To gain a firmer position in the bidding process, Japanese companies are now publicizing various other services they can provide, such as operations support, maintenance and inspection.
As in other economic areas, China is ratcheting up efforts to export high-speed railway technology. Chinese companies were involved in the construction of a high-speed railway line in Turkey that was completed in July.
China also intends to take the initiative in building a 3,000-km network to connect Kunming, Yunnan province, with Singapore by passing through Laos and Thailand.
To gain a foothold in the project, Beijing reportedly is considering offering a loan of 700 billion yen to financially struggling Laos for construction costs.
Chinese officials also expressed strong interest in the high-speed railway projects in Thailand during strategic talks held with the military junta in July.
Chinese companies boast that they can build railway lines faster than Japanese companies and for about half the cost. A 1,069-km line linking Wuhan with Guangzhou began operations in 2009, about four and a half years after the start of construction.
CSR Corp., a major Chinese rolling stock manufacturer, had a booth at the Malaysia conference that was bigger than the one for JR East.
“We will not lose in the competition in terms not only of price but also safety,” a CSR source said.
Consulting companies that conduct feasibility studies play a key role in the export of railway infrastructure. JR East has established a consulting company that has been commissioned to study the high-speed railway projects under consideration in India and Indonesia.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations plans to create an economic union among member states in 2015. Such a union would accelerate the construction of high-speed railway lines that go beyond national boundaries.
Geoffrey Wade, a visiting fellow at Australian National University, said such a cross-border railway network would likely lead to a unification in standards and operations among the various nations. That would mean that the total capabilities of nations showing interest in the bidding process would be tested, he said.
Japan Railway consortium mounts ‘all-Japan’ effort to market Shinkansen overseas
Railway companies, manufacturers and industry groups have banded together to link up efforts to dispatch Japan’s bullet-train technology overseas.
The newly organized International High-Speed Rail Association is planning an international conference in October, inviting about 300 representatives from railway companies and governments from the United States, Australia, India, Malaysia and other countries, which all have projects to construct high-speed railways.
The association plans to promote the advantages of the Shinkansen system amid increasing competition from rivals in Europe and elsewhere.
“It’s high time for us to make an all-Japan effort to pitch the Shinkansen system to overseas markets,” Masafumi Shukuri, chairman of the International High-Speed Rail Association, said in a recent interview.
During a news conference after the association’s inauguration in April, Yoshiyuki Kasai, honorary chairman of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), said that Japan’s expertise in operating high-speed railways should become “the world’s common asset.”
“We have developed expertise in operating (a high-speed railway) since the Tokaido Shinkansen Line went into service 50 years ago,” Kasai said. “Our experience can be a common asset for the world, and we will make efforts to make it known to the world.”
The International High-Speed Rail Association includes 26 companies and industry groups, including four Japan Railway Group companies that operate Shinkansen lines and major railway makers, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Toshiba Corp.
The association plans to mount publicity campaigns and lobbying efforts to pitch Shinkansen technology to countries planning to construct high-speed railways.
There currently are 22 countries planning to build high-speed railways that run faster than 250 kph at maximum speed, including the United States and Canada, as well as emerging economies in Asia and Africa.
Despite decades of efforts to export Shinkansen technology, Japan has successfully won orders only from Taiwan’s rapid rail.
On the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh in November 2012, then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, agreed to hold talks on adopting Japan’s bullet-train system for a high-speed rail project connecting 500-km routes between Mumbai with Ahmedabad.
But the agreement has been on hold since the two prime ministers stepped down from office.
While a railway consulting company set up by East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) and its partners has conducted research on exporting Shinkansen technology to India, officials say that European competitors have been aggressively pitching their technologies to counter Japan.
There are seven projects to construct high-speed railway lines in India, whose total distance tops 4,600 kilometers, including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. France and Spain have already won orders to conduct research on some of the routes.
In a scheduled summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Japan in September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to push the Shinkansen system directly to Modi.
As for a 900 billion yen ($8.86 billion) high-speed railway project to connect Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, the bidding for construction contractors is set to start sometime next year at the earliest. JR East has set up an office in Singapore to collect up-to-date information.
Japan also faces China as a rival, which has surpassed Japan with the world’s longest high-speed railway network, as competition heats up for orders from developing countries in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Whereas China’s system has its advantage in lower construction costs and subsidies that its government grants to these countries, Japan’s Shinkansen boasts a safety record that is free of any fatal operational accidents during a half-century of operation.
The excellent safety record is because the Shinkansen system uses exclusive railway tracks without railroad crossings, which also enable trains to run on precise timetables.
But the system poses a double-edged sword because of its higher construction costs and longer building schedule. It can also inconvenience users when they transfer from existing railway lines to a Shinkansen.
But Shukuri said that Shinkansen technology, which also uses the automatic train control system, can be cost effective in the long run because it allows high-speed and high-frequency operations to meet increasing passenger demand in the future.
“Viewed from the mid- and long-term perspective, I certainly do not believe that Shinkansen technology has cost disadvantages,” he said, adding that countries without existing train networks can take full advantage of the Shinkansen system.
On Monday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the tunnelling work for phase 1 should be completed within the next 300 days.
The delay in completion of phase 1 was owing to rocks encountered during the tunnelling work, for which four tunnel-boring machines had been deployed.
After visiting the Namma Metro work sites at Nagasandra, Vijayanagar, Chamarajpet and Central College, the Chief Minister told presspersons that civil works between Peenya and Nagasandra would be completed by February 2015 and the stretch between Magadi Road and Nayandahalli would be completed by April 2015.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) has been asked to complete the work on service roads, footpaths and drains by the end of this December, he said.
BMRCL Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola said while the tunnelling work had been completed for a distance of 18 km, work on a 2.5-km stretch was yet to be completed.
“By December-end, the tunnel work for phase 1 would be completed,” he said.
As the Chief Minister’s entourage, comprising two buses and several vehicles, moved around city, traffic came to a standstill. Movement of traffic was also affected around the Chief Minister’s home office on Kumara Krupa Road.
Transport Minister R. Ramalinga Reddy was present.
जम्मू Jammu: Indian Railways, in coordination with state police, has restored a total of 57 km of tracks and made operational eight railway stations from Baramulla to Nowgam in north Kashmir, and efforts were on to make the remaining stations in south Kashmir functional.
“57 km railway track from Baramulla to Nowgam has been restored and all the eight railway stations in North Kashmir have been made functional,” Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar said.
“Police, in coordination with the railways, has been undertaking strenuous efforts to restore train service in the Valley,” he said, adding the remaining railway stations in south Kashmir will start functioning within next few days.
The DGP assured the railway authorities that police will provide all the required assistance for restoration of rail service in the flood-hit Valley.
He said in order to coordinate in rescue and relief work with the civil administration, police tele-communication network is being strengthened and satellite phones, wireless sets are provided to the designated officers assigned with the rescue and relief operations.
Police Tele-communication Control Room has been set up at Police Headquarters (PHQ) to facilitate the communication between different agencies involved in rescue operations and restoration works, he said.
Kumar asked the officers of the force to mobilise their resources and coordinate with the civil administration to ease the problems of the people hit by devastating floods.
The DGP directed all Zonal Inspectors General of Police, range DIGs, District Superintendents and Commandants of Armed and IRP battalions to mobilise their subordinate establishments and work round the clock for the rescue and assistance of the people in their respective areas.
Kumar, during his visit to the flood-hit areas, sought reports from the field officers about the functioning of police establishments during the evacuation of people from the flood hit areas.
He was told that police personnel under the command of senior officers rescued the people trapped in the floods.
The DGP expressed satisfaction over the functioning of police stations hit by the floods, which have started their work of public service from the nearest safer locations.
Restoration of rail link between Jammu, Katra may take ‘month’
The restoration of train connectivity between Jammu and Katra may take a long time as a bridge between Bajalta and Sangar has been damaged badly with the heavy rain in Jammu.
The rail link between Jammu and Katra remained closed for the third consecutive day due to landslides at many spots on the railway track and a bridge between Bajalta and Sangar getting badly damaged.
The 78-km-long Jammu-Katra rail link was suspended on Saturday due to the heavy rain in Jammu. A team of the Northern Railway has inspected the damage on the track as well as the bridge between Bajalta and Sangarh.
The railway authorities, however, have not disclosing the time of restoration of the rail link, but as per the sources, the repair of bridge may take long and the pilgrims of the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine will have to go by road only.
“Due to soil erosion from the sides of the bridge, it has caved in and it may take a month to restore the bridge, depending upon the speed of work by the construction department of the Northern Railway,” sources said.
RN Meena, Divisional Traffic Manager, said, “The train service between Jammu and Katra has been suspended as a bridge between Bajalta and Sangar was damaged in the flood and there are heavy landslides between Jammu and Sangar.”
“A team, headed by Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), is on the site and inspecting the damage,” he added.
The 25-km-long rail link between Udhampur and Katra was inaugurated by Prime Minister, Narender Modi on July 4, which provided a direct train link for Katra for the pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine.
About 400 km of the project land in Gujarat passes through various tribal belts. For high-speed corridor, railways to dodge Land Acquisition Act.
अहमदाबाद Ahmedabad (ADI): For its high-speed corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Indian Railways is planning to acquire land under the Railways Act, 1989, dodging the stringent provisions of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Senior railway officials say this way, several bottlenecks posed by the latest land acquisition legislation will be avoided.
In 2008, the Railways Act was amended by inserting a new chapter, IV-A, specifying a provision to acquire land for special railway projects. Land acquisition for key projects such as the eastern and western arms of the dedicated freight corridor project, too, was carried out under this special provision.
Though the Land Acquisition Act made an exception for land to be acquired for railway and highway projects by doing away with the 10 per cent cap on non-irrigated multi-cropped land, officials said the Railways Act was preferred, as under this, there was little possibility of litigation.
Vishwas Udgirkar, senior director, Deloitte India, said, “Under the land acquisition Act of 2013, there are stringent conditions for local consent to be secured. However, under the Railways Act, 1989, you can only challenge the quantum of the compensation, not the acquisition per se. Also, the compensation is much higher under the 2013 Act.”
Senior railway officials say about 400 km of the project land is in Gujarat and passes through various tribal belts. They add the good pace of land acquisition for the dedicated freight corridor, as well as the fact that only a few cases of litigation were involved in the project, shows this process is faster and multiple levels of grievance redressal ensure locals are provided adequate compensation.
“JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) monitored the land acquisition process closely and those affected got compensation from the state concerned, as well as from Railways,” said a senior official.
The high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, India’s first such corridor, will be 546-km long and is expected to involve a cost of about Rs 100 crore a km. Currently, JICA is carrying out feasibility studies for the project and it is expected these will be completed by the end of this financial year.
On this corridor, trains are expected to run at up to 350 km an hour.
मुंबई Mumbai: In line with its target of introducing automatic door closing system in non-airconditioned local trains, the Western Railway, last week, conducted static trials in a suburban local coach at the railway workshop in Mahalaxmi.
WR retrofitted a coach for this purpose and very soon, the actual trials, with passenger load, will be conducted, said authorities. According to senior railway officers, the static test was conducted to see whether the door closing facility could be provided in existing rakes.
Last month WR had selected three coaches for retrofitment to test for automatic door system. Officials of German based Failele company, Integral Coach Factory, Chennai and Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow have come to Mumbai for the inspection. Western Railway officials were in touch with German based Failele company, which is an expert in manufacturing closed doors.
According to a senior official, tests are being conducted to check if the doors close automatically without glitches. During the tests, authorities found that the doors opened and closed within 10 seconds.
“However, we carried out the experiment on one coach and now we plan to test two more coaches in month of October, “ said a senior railway officer, requesting anonymity.
The rake’s braking system will be connected to the doors opening and closing. The official said, “The automatic doors will have sensor technology. The brakes will get released as soon as the doors close. This will ensure a foolproof system and the train will not move till all passengers have boarded it and the doors are closed.”
While tests for closed door system is underway, the WR official also said that they have to check air-circulation in the system. The railways may install the system in WR’s 80 rakes and CR’s 120 over three to four years. Retrofitting each 12-car rake is expected to cost Rs 4 crore.
After the cases of falling from running train, issue of closed door was taken into consideration. In June this year, the Railway Board asked the WR to conduct a pilot project to introduce automatic doors.
“Automatic closed door system is not possible without air-conditioning . Initially, the facility will only be restricted to coaches reserved for women commuters,” said a senior railway officer, expressing concern about having the facility in non-airconditioned trains.
To reduce the discomfort of commuters in a closed-door train sans air-conditioning, the WR will introduce the automatic door closing feature on Siemens rakes, which have ‘forced ventilation’ system. Apart from forced ventilation, WR will also work to increase air-flow inside the trains through windows.
“An improved version of the better air-circulation system is also available on the new Bombardier rakes, which are undergoing trials. However, since the new rakes are yet to be commissioned, the EMU workshop has been asked to begin work on Siemens rakes,” added the officer. While a 30-second halt time is provided on locals, it is estimated to go up by another 10 seconds after the door closing feature is introduced.
गुवाहाटी Guwahati (GWH): The Centre is aiming to complete 34 ongoing railway projects in the Northeast Frontier Railway (NRF) zone with a total anticipated cost of around Rs.54,000 crore within five years, while the much-anticipated Bogibeel Bridge would also be ready for use by June 2017.
The projects will entail an additional investment of around Rs.35,000 crore. According to NFR, about Rs 20,000 crore have already been spent for these projects as on March 31, 2014.
“We have 34 different projects going on in the North East with an estimated total cost of around Rs.54,000 crore,” Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said here today.
Of the 34 projects in progress in the NFR zone, 21 are new lines, seven are gauge conversion and six are doubling projects.
He said developing railways in the North East is a priority and Budget allotment to the region has been hiked by 54 per cent in the Railway Budget this year. Besides, seven new passenger trains were announced.
Asked about the Bogibeel project, he said, “It is going as per schedule. There is confusion in the minds of some people that there is a delay in the project, but that is not the truth.”
Gowda said launching of all 41 girders of Bogibeel would be completed by December 2016 and then it would take another six months to complete the bridge. “By June 2017 we are sure we will complete it,” he said.
Gowda said this fiscal the Indian Railways is aiming to complete work on 450 km of tracks, as compared to 310 km last fiscal. Besides, work has been taken up for 40 railway overbridges and railway underbridges and efforts are on to close all unmanned level crossings within 2-3 years.
“Within five years our target is to have rail connection with all state capitals in the North East,” he said.
Gowda said two new lines – from Dudhnoi to Mendipathar and from Harmuti to Naharlagung – are ready and the Indian Railways will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate them. The dates will be decided as per convenience and schedule of Modi.
“I have also decided that I must visit the North East at least once every six months to review all ongoing projects,” he said.
The minister added that the new NDA regime at the Centre has deliberately decided to refrain from announcing new projects and would rather prefer to finish work on the pending ones.
Regarding security problems, including that related to disruption of train services to Arunachal Pradesh over the ILP issue, Gowda said senior railway officials are in constant touch with the respective Chief Ministers and have secured cooperation from them.
Gowda said NFR has lost revenue to the tune of Rs 50 crore annually due to drop in carriage of coal on account of Supreme Court rulings and the six-month long mega block to facilitate gauge conversion work in the Lumding-Silchar section will result in loss of Rs 100 crore.
“We will complete work on the mega block within six months,” he said.
Regarding international projects, he said survey for extending railway connectivity to Bhutan is on, while land acquisition process has started in the Agartala–Akhaura (Bangladesh) section.
He praised the Maligaon-headquartered NFR for maintaining an 87 per cent punctuality rate in running of trains.
Meanwhile, during his maiden trip to the region after assuming office, the Railway Minister paid a visit to the Guwahati Railway Station and carried out an inspection of all facilities. He also interacted with passengers.
Later, he held meetings with senior officials of NFR (Open Line) and NFR (Construction) at Maligaon.
Mumbai: A scheme launched in this year’s budget by railways to establish computerised ticketing centres run by agents across the country through public private partnership was on Monday challenged in the Supreme Court.
The railways had brought about the idea of – Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendra – after putting to end bookings by around 1,500 authorised agents who were banned from entry into computerised reservation centres of the railways since May 28 this year on the ground that “the way they operated in the premises of the reservation centres was bringing disrepute to the railways”.
A bench headed by Justice A.R.Dave has issued notice to the Centre, Railways and the IRCTC on the plea filed by the Rai Travelers Service Agents.
“The new scheme is against an order of the Supreme Court in 1985 whereby they appointed Rail Travelers Service Agents. The government could not have done this without seeking a modification order from the Supreme Court,”said Dinanath Mehrotra, President of the East India Traveller Agents Association.
Mehrotra said the main bone of contention was that “each agent should have office premises outside railway stations or existing reservation centres equipped with adequate infrastructure.
Such premises need to be properly maintained with adequate conveniences and amenities in the vicinity so as to accommodate visit of sufficient number of customers, which was a very costly proposition”.The agents are also opposed to the “exorbitant” one-time non-refundable registration fee of Rs 5 Lakh the Railways is asking each one of them to pay on allotment of license.
“Each one of the agent cater to around 500-600 passengers per day, and as many as 25,000 to 30,000 employees are working for these authorised agents across the country.We are doing a great service to those who are unable to stand in the queue and book their tickets . The RTSAs earlier had separate counters at all the Computerised Reservation Centres. Suddenly they banned our entry and now ask us to set up offices outside railway premises. This is injustice,” says Mehrotra.