Railways ask MEGA to rope in RITES for design aspects along Ahmedabad-Botad corridor

Ahmedabad (ADI): Metro Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) has decided to rope in Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), a government of India enterprise, for the final approval of the design of the stations and the elevated corridor running parallel to the Ahmedabad-Botad railway in Ahmedabad city.

Officials in the MEGA said that the MEGA authorities had made the design for the construction of the stations and elevated corridor along the railway track in the city and had forwarded the same to the headquarters of the railway in Mumbai.

However, the railway authorities said that since they did not have the expertise to scrutinize the design and also they were over worked, they suggested involvement of RITES. “The Railway authorities suggested the METRO authorities to rope in RITES for the design aspect along the Ahmedabad-Botad corridor. Once the design gets approved by RITES, the railway will immediately approve the same,” said a government official.

The AMC officials have proposed that the Indian Railway train will move below the metro station, while the metro will continue to move along the elevated corridor.

The authorities said that RITES has already begun the work and the approval is likely to come by April. The authorities said that the work on the North-South Corridor is also likely to commence by June just before the AMC elections are announced by the state election commission.

The Metro Rail will be linked with BRTS, Railway and other public transport services through which a multi-model transport services can be developed by covering industrial, commercial and residential areas. Advanced technologies such as driverless system, communication-based train control system and smart card ticketing will be introduced in this project.

Rising derailments also due to Excreta corroding Rail Foot: Railways

In a recent Action Taken Report, government had called for zero-discharge toilets on all passenger trains

New Delhi: Dirty railway tracks and piles of garbage alongside the tracks have not only presented an ugly side to the travelling public but also posed serious safety problem to the Indian Railways. But it turns out that the excreta falling directly on the rails from the coaches is a major cause of corrosion of rail foot, leading to rail fractures and derailments.

While admitting that the number of derailments have increased on account of rail or weld fractures, the Railways have pointed out that the major cause of rail fractures is corrosion of rail foot due to dropping of excreta from the coaches directly on the rails.

In the Action Taken Report (ATR) on the recommendations of the 21st report of the Standing Committee on Railways on “Major Railway Accidents during the last five years — Causes and Remedial Measures” which was tabled recently in Parliament, the government said that all passenger train coaches need to be fixed with zero-discharge toilets to get rid of the problem of corrosion of rails.

Other measures, listed by the government, to protect the rails from corrosion include developing corrosion-resistant Nickel-Chromium-Copper rails and Copper-Molybdenum rails which are still under trial in different zonal railways; anti-corrosive bituminous painting of rails, greasing and sealing of liner contact area on corrosion prone areas. The Railways have also commissioned a study on rail corrosion due to micro-organisms and remedial measures to the Centre of Elecro-Chemical Research Institute (CECRI).

The ATR said complete mechanisation of track maintenance and construction had been planned. It said that increase in speed, axle loads and volume of traffic required greater maintenance efforts and superior quality of maintenance.

The report noted the Standing Committee’s concern that poor maintenance of track was the major cause of derailment. It wanted the Railway Ministry to take proactive steps, including introducing technological innovations to improve tracks and regular inspection to ensure rail-worthiness of tracks. In 2013-14, the total number of consequential accidents due to track defects were 19 and out of these eight were due to poor maintenance of tracks.

While presenting this year’s Rail Budget in the Lok Sabha last month, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had kept the focus on cleanliness of trains and stations and augmenting existing facilities for the passengers. The budget proposed to replace existing toilets with 17,388 bio toilets and bring out design for vacuum toilets in six months.

Centre asks States to respond on RPFA Amendment

New Delhi: The Centre has asked the State Government to respond to the proposal of Railway Ministry for the amendment of Railway Protection Force Act (RPFA), 1957 without further delay.

Official sources said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has raised the issue with all the Chief Ministers in a letter. Amendment to the RPFA will enable the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to deal with passenger-related offences more effectively, he said.

Though the Ministry of Railways had written to States in this regard in September, 2014, the Odisha Government which is opposed to the proposal is yet to accord its concurrence; while rest of the states in the country agreed to the proposal.  Prabhu said the prevalent three-tier security system comprising Government Railway Police (GRP), police and RPF is not designed to provide sufficient deterrence since the victims as well as the offenders are mobile.

Quite often a crime is committed in the jurisdiction of one State but the train enters another State before the crime is discovered and reported, he said.

Some long-distance trains pass through several States. This has worked to the advantage of criminals because of inter-State coordination issues. Centre had amended the relevant Acts in 2003 bringing the security of passenger area and passengers within the purview of RPF.

Prabhu said requisite authority is needed to be provided to the RPF by amending the Act to take speedy action in the event of any crime. He said suitable amendments have been proposed in the RPF Act in compliance with announcements made in Parliament.

The Ministries of Law and Justice and Home Affairs have given the go-ahead to the proposal for amendment of RPF Act. The proposed amendments in the RPF Act will lead to a two-tier security system, RPF and police, who will supplement and complement each other in their security efforts for the benefit of the passengers. Keeping the interest of common passengers in mind, the State Government should give its concurrence to the proposal and also convey the same at the earliest, Prabhu said in his letter to the Chief Minister.

Indian Prime Minister inaugurates northern railway track destroyed in war in Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off a train service at the north-western Sri Lankan town of Talaimannar - the closest point to India - restored after decades of civil war, completing the reconstruction of the entire Northern Province Railway Line

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off a train service at the north-western Sri Lankan town of Talaimannar – the closest point to India – restored after decades of civil war, completing the reconstruction of the entire Northern Province Railway Line

Colombo: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday flagged off a train service between Talaimannar, an island in Sri Lanka’s north, to the capital Colombo.

The railway track was built with funding from the Indian government which has already allocated millions of dollars to develop the Tamil dominated north of Sri Lanka.

talaimannar-prime-minister-narendra-modi-278680It is a 63-km track between Madhu Road, a town in northern Sri Lanka famous for the 350-year-old Roman Catholic Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, and Talaimannar, which is about 18 miles across the sea from Dhanushkodi, and is the Sri Lankan settlement that is geographically closest to India. The Madhu Road-Talaimannar line, which goes right up to Talaimannar Pier where Prime Minister Modi unveiled a plaque at the station, is the last segment of the prestigious 265-km Northern Railway Line Reconstruction Project. This stretch of the line has six stations, including Murukan, Mannar, Pesalai, Talaimannar, and Talaimannar Pier, and three sub-stations. The tracks are capable of running trains at speeds up to 120 km/h.

Indian Prime Minister Modi was given a customary cultural reception on his arrival at the Railway Station

Indian Prime Minister Modi was given a customary cultural reception on his arrival at the Railway Station

All services on the railway line were stopped in June 1990 after the Tamil Tiger rebels blasted the Mannar bridge in the northern province, which linked Mannar and Talaimannar island during the island’s 30 year civil war.

The 63-km newly built railway track between Mannar and Talaimannar Pier in the northwest is the last segment of a 265 km- long northern railway line reconstruction project funded by an Indian state owned company.

The Sri Lankan government said that the completion of the rail projects in the northern region is a big step towards providing safe, time and fuel efficient, comfortable and environment friendly transport service to its citizens.

talaimannar-prime-minister-narendra-modi-arrives-278681“After re-opening this section, the commitment of the Sri Lankan government to restoring rail track connectivity in the Northern Province after a lapse of 25 years will be fulfilled. This will also fulfill the long-cherished dream of the local Tamil people for having direct rail connectivity to Colombo,” the government said.

Modi, who is currently on a two day state visit to Sri Lanka, provided a fresh Line of Credit of up to 318 million U.S. dollars for the island nation’s railways sector on Friday. “This will be used to procure rolling stock, and to restore and upgrade existing railway tracks,” he said.

Modi-LankaSignificance of Railway line in the process of political reconciliation in Sri Lanka and the restoration of democracy

The opening of the Talaimannar link is part of the larger restoration of rail routes connecting the former war-ravaged northern provinces with Colombo and the southern parts of Sri Lanka after 25 years. The rail connectivity with Talaimannar was destroyed during the ethnic conflict. While the line will help bind Sri Lanka closer together, the planned return of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka will restore the sea link between Talaimannar and Rameswaram, and rekindle traditional trading activities, besides bringing hundreds of families on either side of the sea closer.

ModiColomboone700Role of India in the reopening of the Railway Line

In 2010, about a year after the final defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the end of the war in Sri Lanka, India bagged the contract to rebuild the destroyed railway line and telecommunications systems. The Indian Railway Construction (IRCON) International Ltd, an infrastructure construction company owned by the Ministry of Railways, began work on the Madhu-Talaimannar line on March 29, 2011. The project, carried out with financial assistance from India, has been completed at a cost of $ 149.7 million.

Importance of involvement in the rebuilding of former war-torn areas of Sri Lanka to India

Sri Lanka occupies a strategically critical location in the Indian Ocean, and China has been looking to invest deeply in the country and the region. China has been actively involved in Sri Lanka’s major infrastructure projects including the building of power plants, the modernization of Sri Lankan railways, and setting up satellite communication networks. India’s traditional ties with Sri Lanka have received a setback as a result of domestic politics in recent years, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit is also part of an effort to recover lost ground.

Narendra Modi waves at passengers in Talaimannar on Saturday

Narendra Modi waves at passengers in Talaimannar on Saturday

Modi offers Line of Credit of up to $318 Million for Development of Railways in Sri Lanka

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praises on the Sri Lankan government on his arrival in the nation on Friday, in appreciation of the new government’s swift actions to address New Delhi’s concerns over Colombo’s pro-China tilt.

Modi reached out to Colombo by offering a line of credit of up to $318 million for the railway sector, a currency swap agreement of $1.5 billion by RBI to stablise the local currency and help in establishing a regional petroleum hub. India favoured a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity for Tamils in the government’s new journey of peace and reconciliation, he said A little over a week after the Maithiripala Sirisena government temporarily suspended $1.5 billion worth Colombo Port City Project funded by China, Modi tried to win Lankan hearts by extending Visa on Arrival scheme to Sri Lankan citizens from April 14.

Following the civil war and terror threat, Lankans were bracketed with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen and Somalia while applying for visa. Air India will soon start direct flights between New Delhi and Colombo. Currently, Sri Lankan Airlines run a daily Delhi-Colombo flight.

Modi’s visit was fourth highranking visit between the two countries since the change of guard in Lanka in January that allowed Delhi to work with Colombo across sectors work on which was stalled under the Rajapaksa regime, according to sources. Pointing out that India is privileged to be a development partner for Sri Lanka, Modi announced that Delhi will provide a fresh Line of Credit of up to $ 318 million for the railways sector.

India’s total financial support to Lanka — past Line of Credit (essentially for railway infrastructure), Exim Bank support, private investments and grants—exceeds that of China which was primarily given during the Rajapaksa regime.

Western Railway tests retrofitted Automatic Door Closing System successfully

Mumbai: While the automatic door system was introduced on Western Railway without any glitch on Sunday.  WR has retrofitted one compartment reserved for ladies first class with automatic door closing system. On Sunday, this rake had two runs—Churchgate-Borivli-Churchgate. The first rake with passengers departed from Churchgate at 12.12pm. The coach had skeletal commuter presence as it was first class and a non-working day.  The real test however will be faced by the officials on Monday.

There was mixed reaction among commuters, with some suggesting slight changes to make the system more people-friendly. Sanjana Shetty, a commuter, said, “The authorities should work on a more efficient ventilation system as oxygen levels may dip when the compartment is crowded.”

Commuters also demanded that the doors of this compartment should have a distinct colour. Vijayalakhmi Nair, a Borivli commuter, said, “I did not realize that this door will open and moved to the adjoining door. However, the system is good and people will definitely adapt to it.”

Jaspreet Gill, another commuter, said, “This was needed to save people from falling off trains. This will prevent boarding or alighting when the train is in motion.”

WR had deputed technicians in the adjoining first class coach to handle any emergency. Apart from three women personnel, ticket checking staff were also deputed in the ladies coach to help commuters in case of any glitch. A WR spokesperson said, “The retrofitting of this compartment was done when the rake came for maintenance during the Period Over Haul (POH). We run only 4-5 services for the initial few days with a rake that comes out of POH.”

The authorities plan to introduce four such rakes each on CR and WR in a year. S K Sood, GM of WR and CR, said he has sought funds in the railway budget for this work. He had pushed for the door closing system after the Monika More incident in January 2014.

Danapur Division seek increase in Speed Limit of trains up to 130 kmph

Patna (PNBE): Danapur division of East Central Railway (ECR) has submitted a proposal to its Hajipur headquarters to increase the speed limit of trains up to 130 kmph between Patna and Mughalsarai. At present, trains run at 110 kmph on the Jhajha-Patna-Mughalsarai route.

Divisional Railway Manager/Danapur Mr.N K Gupta said signalling work was up to the mark but track renewal work required to increase the speed limit from 110 kmph to 130 kmph. “Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches are capable of running at 130 kmph. Rajdhani Express, however, runs at 110 kmph between Patna and Mughalsarai,” DRM Gupta added.

Railways has also increased the speed limit of trains from 75 kmph to 100 kmph on the Bakhtiarpur-Rajgir section of Danapur division while the speed limit of trains on the Patna-Gaya section has been enhanced up to 100 kmph to meet operational needs of traffic, Gupta said.

Business Transformation Council to increase private investments in Rlys: Prabhu at Railways@2020 Conference

ASSOCHAM Conf on Railways in IndiaNew Delhi: Railway Minister Suresh P. Prabhu on Wednesday said the Indian Railways will set up a business transformation council (BTC) to enhance partnership with private sector investors and raise efficiency and speed in implementing the Rs 8.5 lakh crore projected investment in coming five years.

Prabhu, who inaugurated the international conference on Railways @ 2020 organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) here, said the Ministry of Railway has signed an MoU with the Life insurance Corporation (LIC) which will bring Rs. 25 billion dollar to Indian railway in the next five years at very attractive rate of interest.

He revealed that the World Bank would also support the five year expansion plan besides “Other Multi-Lateral Agencies” like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other source.

Prabhu invited industry involvement in the Rs 8.5 lakh crore railway plans.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and other dignitaries while launching a publication on ASSOCHAM Conference on 'Railways @ 2020'

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and other dignitaries while launching a publication on ASSOCHAM Conference on ‘Railways @ 2020′

“Partnership with the private sector will be one of the thrust areas in operationalizing the MoUs and in opening up huge development in the railways,” he pointed out.

He assured transparency in the implementation of the plan.

“Railways are the harbingers of growth in India” he said.

Describing the Railway’s expansion and modernization programme as key to the success of the ‘Make in India’ scheme of the Prime Minister, Prabhu referred to the ongoing coal mines auction that had fetched the government an ‘Unimaginable’ Rs. two lakh crores.

“Indian Railways have now to develop the capacity to haul all the additional coal that would be mined now,” he said.

Chakradharpur Division looses Freight Revenue due to decline in mining activities in Sundargarh & Keonjhar

Rourkela (ROU): On the occasion of the inaugurating the second entry gate and booking counter of the Rourkela railway station on Saturday, South Eastern Railway (SER) General Manager Radhe Shyam interacting with reporters said the SER revenue from passengers fare has gone up to Rs.1,576 crore, which is a 14-per cent escalation. But the revenue from goods freight has plunged to Rs.8,576 crore, a fall of Rs.539 crore in comparison to the last year’s figure. It is due to the decline in mining activities in Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts under the SER Chakradharpur Division, said Radheshyam. He said a plan has been made for escalator facilities with infrastructural development including installation of CC cameras at the Rourkela railway station. Approval for two over-bridges at STI and ITI level crossings has been made and the tender would be floated on April 20 and construction work would begin in May or June.

Besides, for a flyover at the Bondamunda Kukuda Gate and Kalunga IDC the required drawing and other works are completed and approval is awaited. In reply to a question about nameplates in Odia, he assured steps for the purpose soon.

Japan keen on High Speed Rail project: Japanese Dy.PM

Sendai: Japan has shown keen interest in taking up the Malaysia-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, says Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin, who is on a working visit to Japan, said the Japanese government had been aggressive in expressing its interest for the mega project.

It is also keen to support its private company – the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) – for this project.

“Even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had requested to meet me to convey his interest. The project was the number one topic of discussion during our talks.

“The project was also brought up during my discussion with Japanese Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Muhyiddin held bilateral talks with Abe on Saturday and Ota yesterday on the sidelines of the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

He said the Japanese government was confident that its technology and system were the best.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia was attracted to JR East’s Shinkansen high-speed train technology as it was efficiently managed with a 100% safety record.

“Its high-tech systems will be among the criteria that will be looked into when we make a decision that will be made through an open tender,” he said.

However, Muhyiddin said the winning bidder should agree to a technology transfer while human resources should be developed locally.

“Supporting industries should also be created to create an economic spillover for Malaysia,” he said.

In an announcement made in 2013, Malaysia and Singapore planned to build a high-speed rail link by 2020 that would cut travel time between the city-state and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes.

Muhyiddin said Abe also expressed Japan’s interest in Malaysia’s high efficiency coal-fired power generation project.

He also held talks with his counterpart from Turkey Numan Kurtulmus, where they discussed combating Islamophobia, which had been rising as a result of the atrocities of the Islamic State terror group.  “Cooperation between both countries is important to spread the true meaning of Islam,” he said.

Hopes on rail declarations for Kerala go in vain

Kottayam:  With the Lok Sabha completing the discussions on Railway budget-2015 by Saturday, the expectations of the State for additional declarations during the Budget discussions, including new trains, new lines and funds for projects declared in the previous budget, appear to be in vain.

Though, Kerala had received comparatively better share of doubling works, the development impediments could not be removed without materialising the terminals in more stations, according to experts.

One of the major setbacks for the State was that the Railway ministry, once again, ignored the demand for fund allocation for new coaching terminals at Kottayam and Nemom, which were sanctioned in 2011 by the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“Lack of terminus facilities is the main reason for inadequate train services from cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities to Kerala.

“It is surprising and shocking that after four years and four more Railway Budgets were passed by the Railway Ministry, no fund is sanctioned for Kottayam and Nemon Terminus,” said Thomas Simon, general secretary, Western India Passengers’ Association.

He added that more trains can be launched from Kottayam to various destinations if the station is upgraded as a terminal station.

“It is high time for Kottayam station to be elevated as a terminal station taking into account the importance of Kottayam, which is the nearest Railway station for Sabarimala pilgrims, and an important place of Malayali  employees working in other states.

Kottayam Station has enough space to construct two more platforms, in addition to the three existing platforms and these are enough to start at least 10 Express trains a day to Goa, Bangalore, Mumbai, Coimbatore etc,” Simon said.

Meanwhile, Kottayam MP Jose K Mani told that he has already raised the issue in the Parliament and will continue to put pressure on the ministry for the allocation of fund. “The number of trains from Kottayam will be doubled if it becomes a terminal station. I have already made a special submission in the Parliament in this regard,” he said.

Apart from that, if Kottayam becomes Coaching Terminus, Chingavanam station can be developed as a freight Terminus and Goods operations of Kottayam and Tiruvalla stations could be shifted to Chingavanam as well. With Nattakom Inland Port very near, it will facilitate Container loading to the station. Moreover, the proposed Nemam Terminus (Trivandrum South), and the completion of the works for additional platforms at Kochuveli terminal station would also bring more trains to Kerala. In addition to this, extra efforts must be taken by MPs from Kerala for the realisation of new rail lines, approved for surveys in earlier Budgets, that include Thakazhy-Tiruvalla; Tiruvalla_Ranni- Pampa; Erumeli-Ranni- Punalur and Kannur – Mattannur

Member (Traffic) holds high-level meeting at ECR

Hajipur (HJP): Railway Board member (traffic) Ajay Shukla held a high-level meeting with ECR GM A K Mittal and other senior officials of the zone on Saturday. “It is important to chalk out a development plan for achieving the target set in the proposed railway budget (2015-2016),” Shukla said.

The Railway Board member explained the need to maintain cleanliness and to improve passenger amenities on railway platforms and station premises. He directed railway officials to attach extra coaches to mail and express trains to cater to the needs of passengers. Railway colonies should be properly maintained, Shukla said, adding, ECR must maintain smooth traffic flow under all its five divisions.

GM Mittal presented a blueprint of the zone for its further development. He said, “ECR carried at least 2,349.62 lakh passengers from April 2014 to February 2015. It has loaded a record 96.268 million tonnes of freight so far, yielding Rs10,723 crore as revenue.” ECR has 352 unreserved ticketing system (UTS), 122 passenger reservation system (PRS), 69 UTS-cum-PRS and six PRS counters at post offices for the benefit of passengers. According the GM, railways proposes to start 28 UTS, 48 UTS-cum-PRS and 102 janata ticket booking counters at different places.

Eastern Railway GM R.K.Gupta conferred Chanakya Puraskar

R.K.Gupta, General Manager, Eastern Railway

R.K.Gupta, General Manager, Eastern Railway

Kolkata (KOAA): Eastern Railway General Manager R.K.Gupta was awarded the prestigious Chankya Award – 2015 for business excellence in public sector from Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Juel Oram. The presentation of the award was held at the 9th GlobalCommunication Complex organised by the Public RelationsCouncil of India at New Delhi, the eastern railway sourceshere today said. Mr Gupta was nominated for this award for good governance, public relations initiatives and multi-dimensional development focus particularly in the areas of customer delight, cleanliness, safety and punctuality in the Eastern Railway.

An Officer of 1977-batch of Indian Railways Service of Engineers (IRSE), Shri Gupta has worked in various important posts in different parts of the country.Before his posting as General Manager, Eastern Railway, he has worked as Managing Director of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL).He also held various key positions o­n Indian Railways such as, Divisional Railway Manager, Principal Chief Engineer and Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) apart from working as Executive Director in the Ministry of Railways.He headed as Chief Administrative Officer in India’s prestigious and challenging New Line Rail Project in the State of Jammu & Kashmir which is considered to be o­ne of the most difficult projects in terms of logistics and terrain in the world and majority of the alignment passes through long tunnels and very tall and long bridges.

Shri Gupta has published several technical papers in various magazines and made presentations in various national and international conferences.He was trained in India and abroad in various fields and visited many countries in this connection.He was conferred with ‘Eminent Engineer’s Award’ by Institution of Engineers in 2013.

Born in January 1956, Shri Gupta graduated in Civil Engineering from erstwhile University of Roorkee (now IIT, Roorkee) and holds Masters Diploma in Public Administration.He is a Fellow from Institution of Engineers (India), Institute of Engineering & Technology (UK), Institution of Permanent Way Engineers (India) and Member of AIMA.  He is an officer of 1977 batch, Indian Railways Serviceof Engineers and has worked in various important positionsin different parts of the country prior to taking over asGeneral Manager, Eastern Railway. Mr Gupta was also be the recipient of ‘Eminent EngineersAward’ in 2013.

Madhepura people euphoric over green signal to Loco Plant

Madhepura: The much-awaited nod by the Union railway minister for the big ticket FDI proposals for paving the way for the establishment of electric locomotive plant at Madhepura has generated lot of euphoria across the region and is perceived to bring around a real turnaround in the barren industrial landscape of the Kosi region.

The proposal to set up an electric locomotive plant at an estimated cost of Rs 1,200 crore, which was in hibernation ever since the UPA government had mooted it, has ushered in hope among the people who feel that it will bring about a quantum change in the industrial climate of the region.

Welcoming the NDA’s government’s green signal for the ambitious project which resonated with PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ vision for which much spadework has already been done, an eminent lawyer Rajendra Kumar said.

Vyapar Sangh chief Ashok Chowdhary, on Monday said, “The entire Kosi region, which lacked any industrial infrastructure, will see a new dawn, besides checking largescale exodus of migrant workers to other states in quest of jobs and livelihood.”

Former JD(U) MLA from Singheshwar Rameshwar Yadav, said, “The Madhepura plant, which will manufacture 800 electric locomotives of 12,000 horse power (HP), will not only create tremendous job opportunities for the local youth, but will attract investors and others from different parts of the country as well, giving a new push to industrial potentialities in the area.”

BG engine honks in Silchar amid cheers

Passengers flock amid curiosity at the inaugural run of train BG track

Citizens flock at the Silchar Railway Station amid curiosity during the inaugural run of train on the newly built BG track

Silchar (SCL): The expectation which began 18 years ago met with reality as the broad gauge engine whistled into Silchar railway station on Friday evening. It was a sea of enthusiastic people, young and old thronging the railway station to witness the moment that entered the pages of history.

Expressing reactions on the historic moment, local MP Susmita Dev said that the Northeast Frontier Railway did a commendable job by completing the difficult task of gauge conversion despite the hurdles. In her words, it is not the time for politics, rather a moment of great joy and celebration, and it must be shared among every one.

“It is not the time for politics. I am happy that the long cherished dream of the people of Barak Valley has finally materialised. A big thanks to former Prime Ministers HD Deve Gowda, Dr Manmohan Singh, former MPs from Barak Valley – Lalit Mohan Suklabaidya and Kabindra Purakystha,” she said.

On the other hand, Kabindra Purakystha said the promise made by Narendra Modi to the people of Barak Valley before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has been fulfilled. This landmark achievement will not only usher development to Barak Valley but also will join neighbouring States of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

Members of various organisations were also seen with banners and placards claiming for their efforts and protests in driving home the mega project.

Meanwhile, Dilip Bora, senior PRO, NF Railways (Construction), who is here, said that the first passenger train from Silchar might start from April 15. He said that after the goods train reaches here later on Sunday, officials and experts will inspect the lines and recommendations on the commencement of passenger train will be augmented which might take another 30 days.

Environment Ministry concerned over silence of Railways on Wildlife Safety, Environment, Ecology & Pollution issues

New Delhi: Ministry of Forests and Environment officials voice concerns over Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s recent Railway Budget  as it was silent on Wildlife Safety, Environment & Pollution issues alongside the Railway areas.

Railway Minister has announced undertaking several projects for providing safe and comfortable journey to the travellers and the Budget primarily focused on better and efficient management of locomotives, provision of amenities for comfortable journey and environmental management while undertaking a slew of infrastructure projects, including expansion of tracks. The Budget also lays stress on sanitation and hygiene in train as well as in the railway station. It announces that 17,000 more bio- toilets, including 650 new station toilets, will be provided to the passengers in the running trains for better and improved sanitation. Rs 8.5lakh crore will be spent for improvement of new rail network within next five years.

However environmentalists argue that there must be some specific mention on the scientific management of waste of passengers. Needless to say, inadequate hygiene and improper sanitation poses a major threat to safe journey in India and the Railways should have its own infrastructure for management of human wastes. The wastes can be recycled into bio- fertilizers and harvest of energy for running the railway stations without depending on fossil fuel. Sadly, this point has not been taken into consideration while formulating the Railway Budget.

Since wastes are thrown irresponsibly, they pose a hazard to our life in the form of giving rise to numerous diseases. Again, there are provisions of supplying meals to the passengers. If this is done, lots of food wastages are likely to be created which if not properly managed would cause more grime. Trains run by fossils fuels discharge lots of carbons to the atmosphere. Especially in the coal mining areas, fossil fuel driven engines are engaged which pollute the atmosphere at a grand scale. The Budget seems to be very silent on controlling the bio-destructive practices of railway organs.

Again, it is most pertinent to mention that the Government of India, especially the Railway Department, has not taken into consideration unnatural deaths of wild animals through train accidents, which have grown a day-to-day affair at present. The Indian trains mostly travel within the wild life corridors of tropical and peninsular land where large number of carnivores and herbivores live. More often than not, these animals come over to the railway track leading to accidents and wanton destruction of wildlife. Especially, within the States of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, these accidents are very common.

When it comes to taking responsibility, the Forest Department and the Railways often pick up a tug of war.  Odisha is an accident-prone area with elephants mostly being mauled over by the running trains. Recently one leopard was crushed to death at Hatibadi in Sambalpur district. Absolutely there is no attempt from either the Forest or the Railways to stop the accidents. Whatever is done is not adequate.

The train lines also pass through the corridors of Naxalites in the State. However, the Railways has not made enough to ensure passenger safety and saving the public properties. The Maoists target the railway tracks and cause colossal destruction to the department and the traffic by blowing over the rail infrastructure. There is an urgent need to check the Maoist vandalism. Similarly, the mining operations within the State forest create unrest among the animals and birds forcing them to stray. As a result, often they come under the wheels of the running trains.

Natural forests and biological hubs are damaged for construction of railway passage, but these are not compensated through plantation or otherwise. The whole railway network spoils the calmness of the environment at various places for peaceful existence of the creatures in the forests. They damage the natural habitats, create sound and light pollution and cause accidents.

Both sides of railway lines can be raised with suitable forest plants as compensatory efforts, which can restrict the light and sound pollutions and reduce the accumulation of carbon in atmosphere. Besides, the barren wetlands and dry lands can be utilized for productive purpose. There are certain types of birds and lizards, which prefer to live in wet land, including some amphibian and semi amphibian species. Now, trains are also a safe vehicle for covert transportation of contrabands like ganja.

The western and the south western forests of Odisha including some parts of eastern forests are now widely used for ganja farming. This trade is going on under the very nose of the forest and railway employees, police and excise personnel. The State Intelligence department has utterly failed to book the culprits.

Railways national asset, must be run well: Suresh Prabhu

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha Thursday passed the Rail Budget for 2015-16 following a marathon discussion during which Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu underlined that Railways is a national asset and needs to be run professionally. “We are negotiating with World Bank, IFC and ADB. That will give us a substantially large amount that will be available for repayment over a long period. It is a very soft source of money,” Prabhu said, detailing how his ministry aimed to garner the 8.5 lakh crore investment in the next five years.

“There are institutions like India Infrastructure Finance Limited. We are negotiating for a joint venture with them. We are talking to State Bank of India…we are also going to sign an MoU with Coal India and others in the next few days,” he said.“We will use their surplus money and create win-win lines,” Prabhu said, adding that while the companies get new lines to evacuate coal, Railways will earn freight.

On Railways plans to achieve the revised freight loading targets, Prabhu pointed to the coal and mining Bills recently passed by Lok Sabha. “There is going to be a huge movement of raw material from mines to the processing point. There will be manufacture, so there is going to be movement of finished goods from the manufacturing point to the market. There is going to be a huge demand for Railways,” he said.

Stating that Railways can’t just be a commercial enterprise, he said: “It has to be a social, economic and political organisation. We cannot ignore that for so many people Railways is one of the big means of transportation”. He added: “If Railways itself is not viable, how can it serve the poor?

Funding the Railways: Why Suresh Prabhu is on to something?

The clamour for raising public investment is growing by the day, especially in railways. This gained further momentum post the government’s economic survey which pegged railways multiplier effect at 5 or more.

The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) signing an agreement with the Indian railways to bring in Rs 1,50,000 crore (USD 25 billion) of investments over the next five years seems to be ‘prabhu’s’ answer to all problems (capital constraints) faced by railway minister Suresh Prabhu. The clamour for raising public investment is growing by the day, especially in railways. This gained further momentum post the government’s economic survey which pegged railways multiplier effect at 5 or more, which means for every Re 1 increase in railways investment, there would be an increase in economy-wide output by Rs 5, according to a Deutsche Bank report.

In the Railway Budget presentation, Prabhu talked about an ambitious USD 140 billion target to reboot Indian railways, but a question mark emerged on how he plans to finance this ambitious target, given the fiscal constraints. According to the report, the LIC decision is a landmark development for two reasons: first and the obvious one is it will help the government bump up its resources for quick execution of projects, and second, it shows how the government is managing to tie up budgetary resources for financing public investment in a meaningful manner. This in turn can pull greater private investment without jeopardizing India’s public debt dynamics, the report adds. “The Indian Railways will need to build the capacity to carry more than 3x the current traffic of both passengers as well as freight by building high speed dedicated freight corridors and faster trains”,” said the report This will be critical for both the Make in India programme and dramatically improve India’s Incremental Capital Output ratio.

Ensure Medical facilities at Mumbai Suburban Stations: Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today said the railways must take the responsibility of safety of commuters and make available basic medical facility at all suburban stations in the city.

A division bench of justices A S Oka and A K Menon was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by activist Samir Zaveri, who had himself lost his legs in a railway accident, He has sought setting up of emergency medical centres in suburban stations.

After the petition was filed and orders were passed by the court, the railways had set up emergency medical centres at 15 out of a total of 125 suburban stations.

The Maharashtra government had also stationed ambulances at 46 stations to handle accident cases and ferry victims to the nearest hospital.

“Setting up of emergency medical centres was the first phase. The railways should now make available some kind of medical facilities at each and every station. The railways must take responsibility,” Justice Oka said.

The court also directed the government to ensure that the doctors who sit in the ambulances outside the stations are trained to handle emergency situations and equipments in the ambulances.

“Since, the doctors are not MBBS graduates but Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) graduates, they might need additional training to handle such peculiar cases. There should be a mandatory training at a government-established centre,” it said.

The court said that with doctors who are not trained or equipped to handle emergency cases, purpose of having an ambulance is not served.

The government has been asked to file an affidavit in the matter on March 25.

Palakkad-Pollachi Broad Gauge railway route to open for service soon

Improved connectivity to southern Tamil Nadu

Palghat (PGT): Traffic movement in Palakkad town and surroundings will most likely be hit with the reopening of Palakkad-Pollachi rail route in a few weeks from now.

It was eight years ago that the rail route was closed for gauge conversion. As per the plan of Railways, the trains will chug along the route by April after the completion of the long-pending gauge conversion work.

“Among the 18 railway gates between Palakkad Town and Pollachi stations, two are within the city — at Robbinson Road and at Yakkara. With the increased movement of trains on the route, both the gates will remain closed most of the time. That will create severe traffic congestion in Palakkad town,’’ says T. Raveendran, a social activist. According to him, the demand to ensure road overbridges at these gates still remains unattended by the authorities.

The new broad gauge line will improve rail connectivity between north Kerala and the pilgrim centres in southern Tamil Nadu such as Rameswaram, Erwadi, Madurai, and Palani, but road users in Palakkad town will likely be affected.

“In all likelihood, the roads in the city will choke once trains resume operation. Robbinson Road links two busy areas of the city. Yakkara too is crucial,’’ says P.S. Panicker of Janajagratha.

The only overbridge built in Palakkad was at the G B Road junction. But that alone will not help manage the increasing traffic in the town. Palakkad has four bus stands and the buses will have to pass through the railway gates.

“The State government and the Railways must immediately address the issue. Priority must be given to these two points (Robbinson Road and Yakkara) in Palakkad town and at Kollangode. The rest can be build in a time-bound manner,’’ says Arumukhan Pathichira, a resident of Kollangode.

Malgodown traders oppose Railways eviction notice

Cuttack (CTC): Opposing the eviction notice issued by East Coast Railways to traders of Malgodown, the Cuttack Chamber of Commerce (CCC) on Thursday organized a protest meeting.

The traders decided to meet chief minister Naveen Patnaik and chief secretary soon and apprise them of their plight. Besides, the chamber would also seek support of all MPs of the state to pressurize the railways to cancel the eviction notice. “We have sought appointment for the CM’s meeting. A delegation will meet him and tell him about our problem,” said joint secretary of CCC Srikant Sahoo.

“The Malgodown, the state’s biggest wholesale market, in is existence since 1866 and over 800 traders are doing business here. If evicted, we will sustain huge losses because we have our godowns and shops the malgodown,” said Sahoo.

The railways have issued notices to the traders to vacate the land by March 31 as it has some expansion plans. The railways owns the 25-acre Malgodown land since 1925 and it has been issuing license to the traders to do business . The traders pay a rent of Rs 4 to Rs 5 a sq ft to the railways. “It is shocking that railways has denied to renew our license and has given a short period of only 15 days to vacate the land. It is impossible to vacate the land within March 31,” said Madhusudan Rout, another trader.

The traders have threatened to stage an agitation if the eviction notice is not stopped. “We are not denying that the property belongs to railways. The government should provide alternative place to us to do business before evicting us,” added Sahoo. Over 30,000 people, including traders, workers and labourers, earn their livelihood from Malgodown that witnesses a daily trade of over Rs 150 crore.

Bangalore Metro Reach-2 likely to be opened by June 2015

Bangalore (SBC): The much awaited moment for Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) finally arrived on Thursday evening when a Metro train passed through the underground tunnel covering a distance of one kilometre from MG Road depot to Cubbon Park station on the East-West Purple line.

BMRCL Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola, who was present during the first trial run of the underground track along with several senior officials of the Namma Metro, said the train will travel to Magadi Road station either tonight or by Friday. It is most likely to emerge on Sunday at the elevated station.

Since the electrification is still to be done on the underground stations of Vidhan Soudha, Central College and City stations, the train will either be pulled or pushed by a battery operated loco till the Magadi Road-Mysore Road stretch.

“Once the train reaches there, the safety trials will be conducted and the stretch (Reach 2) is most likely to be opened by June this year,” said Kharola.

The officials of the operations department, rolling stock, signalling and others, who had spent sleepless nights over the past one week preparing for the big moment on Thursday, finally heaved a sigh of relief when the train moved on the underground track at a speed of 10 kilometre per hour. Before inviting the media to witness the big feat, BMRCL had a few hours of test run.

Speaking with the media later, Kharola said: “As much as 93 per cent of the work has been completed on the Phase I and first tender for Phase II will be out in a fortnight. Financially, there is no problem to complete the work,” he added.

The cutter dispatched from Italy for the tunnel boring machine stuck in Chickpet, will arrive in fifteen days, Kharola said.

Loco pilot ecstatic

Deenadayalu, the loco pilot of the train, said: “I feel glad to be part of this historic moment. To have driven the Metro train for the first time at an underground section is very satisfying.”

Deenadayalu, from BEML, has been part of all the trial runs and testing that BMRCL has undertaken so far. “In Indian Railways, we have to take so many safety measures. But in Metro, everything is taken care of. Actually, the train is driving the driver not vice versa.”

AP allocates Rs.300 Crore in State Budget 2015-16 for Metro Rail projects in Vijayawada & Visakhapatnam

The budgetary allocation of Rs. 300 crore for Metro Rail projects in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam and Rs. 3,168 crore for capital infrastructure are expected to give the much-needed boost to development, according to the industry.

Courageous gesture

The budget manifests the focus of cash-crunched Andhra Pradesh, according to industry pundits. “Given the scenario, the allocation of more than Rs. 3,000 crore for the capital is a serious and courageous gesture of the government. In fact, we did not expect an allocation of Rs. 300 crore for Metro Rail projects in Vijayawada and Vizag.

It will give a boost to development in the capital region, besides contributing to the industrial ecosystem,” said Suresh Rayudu Chitturi, chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries, Andhra Pradesh.

The announcement of the industrial policy will further speed up the development process according to him.

Thanks to the allocations, corporate companies will be interested in setting up units in the capital region, said T. Pardha Saradhi, president of AP Small Industries Association.

World-class capital

“This was how industrial development took place in Hyderabad. I am sure the same will be replicated here,” he added.

However, the total allocation is much less compared to the requirements. The State is pinning its hopes on the expected Central grant of Rs. 1,00,213 crore for capital construction and Rs. 41,253 crore for other critical infrastructure requirements.

A definitive assurance to this effect has not yet come from the BJP, the TDP’s alliance partner at the Centre.

Bifurcation necessitated an immediate need for building a world-class capital reflecting the aspirations of the people of the State.

The new capital will be a place for creativity and innovation, according to the budget statement.

Speaking to media on the immediate use of funds, Capital Region Development Authority Commissioner N.Srikanth said: “Funds will be utilised for a Detailed Project Report, development of land for farmers and construction of offices and building infrastructure.”

RITES to prepare DPR for Varanasi and Kanpur Metro

Lucknow (LKO): After successful launch of viaduct construction of Lucknow Metro on Kanpur Road, LMRC (Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation) has also begun the process of DPR making of Varanasi Metro. The DPR work has been given to RITES Limited, an engineering consultancy company established by the GOI.

LMRC MD, Kumar Keshav is presently looking after the project. Out of various rounds of survey to determine probable metro routes in Varanasi, LMRC has decided to run about 25 kms of metro corridor across Varanasi in two stretches. The route is expected to cover Banaras Hindu University, Mughalsarai, Sarnath and major portion of Allahabad Road. Officials said, “Once the DPR is ready, LMRC will begin inviting tenders for civil construction.”

Alongside Varanasi, DPR preparation of Kanpur metro has also begun. The same work has been given to RITES. E. Sreedharan, who is also the Principal Advisor in LMRC said that he would give feedback to the state government on metro projects being planned in other districts of UP like Kanpur, Agra, Varanasi etc if his suggestions are sought.

He said that the corporation is in talks with the AAI to grant 6 hectares of land at reasonable rent. “We are paying very nominal annual rent for acquired lands under Kochi metro – around Rs 35 lakh per acre. This happens under the land transfer norms within government departments. The same rules should be followed in Lucknow’s project too”, he added. The tender of rolling stock and signaling would be received and opened on March 30. LMRC MD Kumar Keshav said, “Though demand would be made in bulk, the supply would be in stages as per demand. In the first phase, we will book 4 coaches for priority section which needs to be delivered in 65 weeks.”

Once the tenders are finalized, LMRC would brief the company about coaches’ specifications like colour scheme, seating, lighting and holding arrangements. The company would then prepare a mock-up of the coach. After getting it approved from LMRC, the company would begin construction.

Mamta Kulkarni is Mumbai’s first woman Station Master

mamta-kulkarniMumbai: A woman station master in Mumbai is a rare sight.  “There are 997 station masters in Mumbai division, but only nine are women. Some joined only a few years ago,” says Mamta Kulkarni, the pioneer in the field who joined the Mumbai division of the Indian Railways as the first assistant station master in 1992.

I meet her on a Saturday, at her home, a couple of hours before she was to start work — the 6 pm to midnight shift.

She is dressed in a crisp white formal half sleeved shirt and white trousers.

She gives her two daughters Sanika and Mudra — studying in classes six and four — a string of instructions: “Finish your homework. Do not fight with each other. Do not step out of the house when you are alone. Call me or Papa if you need anything.”

She is 44 years old now and is deputy station manager at Thane, Mumbai. She has been in service for over 22 years.

Her husband Vivek works for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

In an interview, she talks about the challenges she faced and how she overcame them all to set an example for others.

Joining the Railways

My father was employed by the Central Government and it was my dream to serve the government.

We lived in Bhandup (Mumbai) and every time I spotted a station master in uniform, I was curious to know more. I knew that a station master commanded respect.

After a BSc in Chemistry from Jhunjhunwala College in Ghatkopar, I was studying for a diploma in Medical Laboratory from K J Somaiya College in Vidyavihar when I saw the advertisement for recruitment of women in the Railways.

My parents encouraged me to apply for the position of assistant station master. I cleared the written test and got the offer letter.

This was in 1991 and I was 21 years old.

I had no idea then that I would become the first woman to occupy that post.

Some seven or eight women gave the written test but I was the only one who managed to crack it.

During the training, I was the only female in a batch of 60.

On May 19, 1992, I joined the Mumbai division of Indian Railways as the first assistant station master. I was posted in Kurla.

A lot of people told me that I was the first female station master in India. I filed an RTI in October 2012 to confirm the fact.

I got a reply in November 2012 stating that I was the first female station master in Mumbai division, but there was no clarity on who’s the first in India.

The letter stated that the Railway Board will give me the details. I haven’t heard from them yet.

mamta-kulkarni2The challenges

On my first day in office, many people peeped into my office to get a look at me.

Some days later, one of them told me that they had never seen a woman station master.

Some of my colleagues told me that a station master’s job wasn’t meant for women. They told me of the long and odd working hours and the stress in order to discourage me.

Instead of appreciating the fact that a woman was working so hard, I was disappointed to find that I could not expect much encouragement from my colleagues.

In the six years I worked there I faced a lot of problems — from non co-operating colleagues to ego issues that came in the way of my work.

Even when I was pregnant with my first child I did rotating shifts at the CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) office, climbing five floors more than once a day.

I worked throughout the nine months of my pregnancy, without complaining, because I believe in commitment to work.

I travelled late hours during the Mumbai riots, stayed back at work during the terrorist attack in 2008 and visited accident sites and courts during both my pregnancies.

Some of my male colleagues would wonder what stuff I was made of.

During the deluge in 2005, all the men were sent away.

I was the only woman on duty and I worked for more than 24 hours, attending calls, manning the station, delegating work and monitoring the activity on the railway tracks.

I have lost count of the festivals and social gatherings I have missed in the 22 years I have been working.

I am not the only woman who has made many sacrifices to focus on her career. I believe it’s a small price to pay when you are set to make a mark.

Work-life balance

For a working woman in India who is married and has kids, there is no perfect work life balance. But one can always prioritise and make optimum use of available time.

I am lucky my husband volunteers to take care of the kids whenever he is home.

My mother-in-law also helps me manage the house. Without their help I would have been forced to quit a long time ago.

Given my odd working hours, I am extremely organised and plan things well in advance to avoid any inconvenience to my family.

People are surprised when I tell them I don’t have any maids or servants to help me.

If I am doing a night shift, I sleep for about four hours and finish my household stuff in the morning hours.

I cook the food, help the kids with their homework and even take them out shopping on my weekly offs.

My kids have become independent. They used to get upset initially, but now they are very accommodating and understand my limitations.

During Diwali, if I have a late evening shift, I do Laxmi Pooja in the morning. I prepare the sweets in advance so that my family doesn’t miss out on the celebrations.

The perks

Not many people are aware of the responsibilities of a station master.

We have a lot of power. My presence of mind and quick delegation has averted several accidents and derailments.

These things never get reported in newspapers. Only accidents and mishaps are reported.

Those few who know me and my work are proud of my achievements. When others tried to discourage me, my family and friends kept me going.

Lessons learned

I have learnt that circumstances may not always be favourable.

You have to be strong enough to rise above the challenges and motivate yourself to see the positives around you.

When I was stressed and frustrated, my husband would tell me to look at the bright side of things.

“So many people are working under you. You have so much power that others do not have. You’re so lucky and privileged,” he would tell me

That would motivate me to ignore the negatives around me.

Advice

I understand that women tend to be insecure. That’s natural.

But we must understand that a lot of people — both men and women — will use this as a tool to prevent talented women from rising up the ladder.

As far as possible, we women must avoid showing our weaknesses to the world.

We should stand up for each other and fight discrimination, and take on the challenges to gain success.

Women should encourage and help each other to chase success rather than be stumbling blocks.

Delhi Division launches cleaning ops at 33 stations

New Delhi: Pursuant to directives of the National Green Tribunal, the Delhi Division of Northern Railway has launched a cleaning operation focussing on 33 stations here.

Contract for cleaning operation has been issued for 29 stations while four are being cleaned on a regular basis departmentally, a senior Northern Railway official said today.

The cleaning exercise at these stations include mechanised cleaning of station premises, drains, rag-picking and disposal of garbage.

In addition, four rag-picking contracts covering nearly a 75-km-route length in the NCR area have also been given.

The green tribunal had directed the railway administration to initiate punitive action against people found littering in and around the station premises and along the tracks.

Consequently, a total of around 24,000 users were penalised for littering on railway premises during 2014-15 and a fine amounting to Rs 24 lakh approximately was collected, the official said, adding that 68 slum dwellers along the tracks between and Azadpur stations have been issued notices.

“Slums are major source of generation of filth, garbage and municipal solid waste. There are about 47,000 jhuggis on railway land in Delhi area itself.

“Out of these, about 24,500 jhuggies lie in the safety zone (within 15 metres of the outermost track). There is accumulation of a large amount of garbage at all stretches wherever there are large jhuggi clusters in close vicinity of the tracks,” he said.

A large number of these jhuggis on railway land are posing risk to the safety of train operations as they are located within the safety zone on either side of the tracks, the official said.

The railways has sought active cooperation from the Delhi government and police for removal of these encroachments as they have an adverse impact on the punctuality of train operations in Delhi area, he said.

“Due to these encroachments, the speed of the train entering Delhi area gets reduced near these jhuggi clusters,” he said

Railways share Draft MoU with Ministry of Coal & Odisha Govt for taking up rail projects

New Delhi: Ministry of Railway has proposed draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Railway, Ministry of Coal and Government of Odisha for taking up railway projects in Odisha as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs). However, no agreement has yet been finalized by Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL). However,. This was stated by Sh. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal & New and Renewable Energy in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.  The Minister further stated that as per the draft MoU the following 5 projects have been identified in Odisha which are as under:

S.No. Name of Projects
1 Brundamal-Jharsuguda-Fly-over connection for joining down line (6.6 km)
2 Sambalpur-Talcher doubling (174 km)
3 Sambalpur-Titlagarh (182 km) doubling
4 Raipur-Titlagarh (203 km) doubling
5 Champa-Jharsuguda- 3rd line (165km)

Delhi Division launches a massive cleaning operation in the National Capital

New Delhi: Northern Railway Delhi Division launches a massive cleaning operation focused o­n Delhi Area, pursuant to the various directives issued by National Green Tribunal.  Out of 33 stations in Delhi Area, o­n 29 stations contracts are now in place and 4 are being cleaned o­n a regular basis departmentally.  The cleaning operations at these stations include mechanized cleaning of station premises, rag picking, cleaning of drains and disposal of garbage.  In addition, 4 rag picking contracts covering almost 75 Kms. Route length in Delhi NCR Area have also been placed.  NGT had also directed the railway administration to initiate punitive action against the persons found littering in and around the station premises and along the railway tracks.  Consequently, under Rule 2012 a total of around 24000 users have been penalized for littering o­n railway premises during 2014-15 and fine amounting to Rupees Twenty Four Lacs approximately has been collected.  Further, in pursuant to directives of the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, 68 dwellers along the tracks between New Delhi and Azadpur stations have been issued notices for imposition of fines amounting to Rs.5000/- each.

Notwithstanding above, railway administration realizes that the major impediment in the success of this cleaning operation is existence of a large number of encroachments o­n railway land.These are major source of generation of filth, garbage and municipal solid waste.There are about 47,000 jhuggies o­n railway land in Delhi Area itself.And out of these, about 24,500 jhuggies lie in the safety zone (within 15 mtrs of the outermost track).There is accumulation of large amount of garbage at all stretches wherever, there are large jhuggie clusters in close vicinity of running tracks.

Not o­nly this accumulation of large amount of garbage poses a threat to environment but about 24000 of these jhuggies o­n railway land are posingrisk to the safety of train operations as they are located within the safety zone of 15 mtrs from the track o­n either side.The adverse impact o­n the punctuality of train operations in Delhi Area due to these encroachments is normally visible as the speed of the train entering Delhi Area gets reduced near these jhuggie clusters.

A High Level Committee Meeting to review the cleaning activities at stations and along the tracks in Delhi Area was held recently.The meeting was attended by the senior officers of Northern Railwayand Railway Board which included Shri A.K.Mittal, Chairman Railway Board, Shri Ajay Shukla, Member Traffic, Shri A.K.Puthia, General Manager/Northern Railway and Shri Arun Arora, Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi Division.Consequent to this meeting, the railways have launched a massive drive deploying JCBs and dumpers for o­ne time cleaning and disposal of garbage lying alongside the railway tracks near these encroachments.The drive has commenced in Azadpur area o­n 10.3.2015 and it has been planned to cover whole Delhi Area within a month.Earth moving machinery like excavators etc. and a large number of work force have been deployed for taking up this tedious work.Railway is also planning to recover the expenditure of this drive from the encroachers who are the polluters in the first place under the polluter to pay principle as per the directives of NGT.

Consequently a hearing was held by Hon’ble Chairman, NGT o­n 11/3/2015 wherein Shri A.K. Mittal, Chairman, Railway Board (CRB) and Shri Arun Arora, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Delhi Division were present. Shri A.K. Mittal, CRB, briefed Hon’ble Chairman, NGT regarding the status of cleanliness operation launched by the Railways at stations and along the tracks.He also explained the various constraints being faced by the Railways in ensuring the cleanliness o­n the railway land running alongside the track.The major source of garbage accumulation along the railway tracks is o­n account of massive encroachment especially in & around Delhi area.At many of the locations, these encroachments have infringed the safety band of 15 meters o­n either side of the railway track and these pose risk to the safety of train operations besides presenting a very shabby picture to the travelling public. In spite of rag picking contracts in place, unless the encroachments are removed from the railway land then o­nly the railway can construct boundary wall to protect the railway land and develop it aesthetically, explained Shri Mittal, CRB.Railways sought active cooperation from concerned agencies of Delhi State Government and Civil Police to assist in removal of these encroachments.

Highest ever Funding of Rs.1.5 Lakh Crore for Railways – MoU Signed with LIC India

mou_rlys_lic
The Union Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu and the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, Arun Jaitley witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Railways and Life Insurance Corporation of India, in New Delhi on March 11, 2015. The Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha is also seen in the picture

New Delhi: Just within fifteen days of presenting the Railway Budget 2015-16, the Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu fulfilled yet another commitment of his Budget announcement by achieving the highest ever funding of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore for Railways. In this historic landmark achievement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Railways and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) in the presence of the Minister of Finance Shri Arun Jaitley and the Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu at a function here today. The signatories of MoU were Smt. Rajalakshmi Ravikumar, Financial Commissioner, Ministry of Railways and Shri S.K.Roy, Chairman, LIC.

Union Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu exchanging the signed copies of the MOU with Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting

Union Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu exchanging the signed copies of the MOU with Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting

Speaking on the occasion, the Railway Minister said that this is the first such step in its endeavour to make Indian Railways prosperous in the future. He said that with such encouraging initiatives, the Ministry of Railways will be able to augment its resources for speedier execution of projects. Shri Suresh Prabhu said that the resultant enhanced throughput of traffic is likely to further increase the capacity to carry more to meet with a growing transportation demand leading to a robust economy. He thanked the officials of the Finance Ministry, LIC and the Railway Ministry for working together as a team to make this deal a big success.

Under this MoU, LIC will make available to the Ministry of Railways/its entities a Financial Assistance with a limit of 1,50,000 crore over the next five years for implementing Railway projects. The Financial Assistance will be available from the Financial Year 2015-16. In his Budget Speech, Shri Suresh Prabhu had announced his intention of meeting a part of the total Plan Budget of Rs 1,00,011 crore for the financial year 2015-16, through extra budgetary resources, such as market borrowings by tapping low cost long term funds. The challenge has been successfully met in a substantial measure by the signing of this MoU for mobilising resources.

Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, Financial Commissioner (Railways) Rajalakshmi Ravikumar, LIC Chairman, SK Roy and Financial Services Secretary Hasmukh Adhia during MoU signing between Railway Ministry and LIC, in New Delhi on Wednesday

Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, Financial Commissioner (Railways) Rajalakshmi Ravikumar, LIC Chairman, SK Roy and Financial Services Secretary Hasmukh Adhia during MoU signing between Railway Ministry and LIC, in New Delhi on Wednesday

There would be a five-year moratorium on interest and loan repayment and the rest of the terms would be negotiated while signing the finance assistance agreement.

The Minister of State for Finance, Shri Jayant Sinha, the Minister of Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha were also present on the occasion. Also present on the occasion, among others, were Shri A.K.Mital, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Hasmukh Adhia, Secretary (FS), Railway Board Members and senior officials from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Railways and LIC.

Earlier, just a few days after the presentation of Railway Budget 2015-16, the Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu fulfilled commitment of his budget announcement by launching a ‘Customer Complaint Web Portal and Mobile Application’. This ‘Customer Complaint-cum-Suggestion’ portal and mobile App which can be freely downloaded, is very useful as one can track the status of the complaints which he or she registered on this portal with the help of mobile App. Soon after his taking over as the Minister of Railway,, Shri Suresh Prabhu started the process of welcoming suggestions from the people to further improve the passenger services and valuable suggestions on this newly launched portal can be incorporated in all possible ways, if found suitable.

Amid Rail FDI push, foreign players falter doing business in India

UGL, an Australian conglomerate, has just written down fully its investments in its joint venture with Texmaco, while CAF of Spain has abandoned its Kolkata Metro project

While there’s excitement over likely inflow of foreign investment in the railway industry, ground reality is quite different when it comes to some of the few foreign players which are already present.

UGL, a $2.5 billion Australian conglomerate with presence in rail, transport & technology systems, power, resources, water and defence, has just written down fully its investments in its joint venture with Texmaco due to poor demand for specialty wagons.

On the other hand, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, or CAF, of Spain has abandoned its project to supply coaches to Kolkata Metro Railway over a dispute, sources said.

“A $9.7 million investment made in India to establish bogie manufacturing as part of a low-cost supply chain in the production of locomotives for the coal and iron ore markets has been fully written down,” Sydney-based UGL revealed in its half yearly earnings, showing its whole investment in the joint venture as impairment charge.

“Reduction in freight rail growth impacting production throughput in India,” UGL told analysts explaining why the impairment was done.

UGL has built a world class manufacturing centre for rail industry components for freight and passenger rolling stock using state-of-the-art facilities like robotic welders.

The plant, based out of Texmaco’s Belgharia plant near Kolkata, has a product line capable of producing platforms and headstocks for passenger and freight rolling stock including diesel and electric locomotives, electric multiple units, coaches and wagons, and also flat packed container and other specialist rail wagons for both Indian and international markets.

The decision to impair the investment has also taken top Texmaco officials by surprise but is being seen as symptomatic of the state of affairs at the railway-related industrial economy where sufficient demand is yet to show up.

This is in sharp contrast to the recent upswing in sentiment around railway stocks triggered by the decision of railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday to give green signal to two big-ticket foreign direct investment proposals worth about Rs 2,400 for setting up diesel and electric locomotive plants.

The predicament of CAF of Spain is somewhat different.

CAF had, in consortium, won a contract to supply to Kolkata Metro Rail Corp (KMRC) 14 rakes of six coaches each for the East-West Metro corridor competing against biggies like Kawasaki-Toshiba-Mitshubishi.  The project, however, has fallen through and CAF is believed to have abandoned the project, sources in KMRC said.

“There were disputes and differences with regard to the execution of the contract. CAF has approached and invoked dispute resolution mechanism,” an official of KMRC said.

CAF was supposed to produce these air-conditioned metro coaches with a maximum passenger capacity of 2,136 pax/train with speed of up to 90 km an hour.

These details about the project has been taken off from CAF’s website signifying its exit and mail sent to the company asking for its comment remained unanswered.

CRB assures NGT of Clean Tracks and Platforms

Plans to erect boundary wall along tracks by March 31, 2018

New Delhi: Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal on Wednesday assured the National Green Tribunal that the railway tracks and platforms have improved and will improve further.

He further said that there were plans to erect boundary wall along the tracks in the Delhi area by March 31, 2018.

Appearing before the NGT Bench headed by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, Mr. Mittal assured the Tribunal of his commitment towards cleaning the tracks and other railway property.

The counsel for Railways, Om Prakash, informed the Tribunal that Rs. 1.4 crore has already been allocated for repairing the wall along the 163-km in the area.

Already, Rs.25 lakh and Rs.40 lakh had been released for developing green areas around the Delhi and New Delhi areas.

On Thursday, A.K. Puthia, General Manager, Northern Railway, along with Arun Arora, Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi, and a team of senior officers will inspect the stations and track between the New Delhi and Azadpur railway stations to assess the impact of steps taken for cleanliness.

Besides Mr. Mittal, commissioners of all municipal corporations appeared before the NGT which was critical of their failure in cleaning railway tracks and properties.

On Wednesday morning, the Bench summoned the commissioners and the CEO of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board to be present at the in-chamber hearing. The Railways said it had identified 46 locations for MCD to install dustbins.

The corporations are drawing up a plan to work with the Railways for clearing the municipal solid waste of its property.

Counsel for municipal corporations Balendu Shekhar said the civic bodies will do what is required of them.

The Railways has been pressing DUSIB to remove encroachments, particularly those which have cropped up in the last six months at Shahdara and Patel Nagar .

Besides , 65 permanent dwellers in and around Azadpur station have been served notices by the Railways under the Polluter Pays Principle for littering and dirtying railway property.

The Railways said it has to erect boundary wall along 273 km track in the Delhi area. Boundary wall exists along 163 km and needs repair for which Rs. 1.4 crore has already been sanctioned.

Mr. Prakash said due to severe encroachments, boundary wall cannot be erected along 22 km. The remaining 88 km stretch is under administrative consideration.

He said that 4,900 jhuggies have been removed till 2013.

National Green Tribunal (Southern Bench) warns officials of Southern Railway and Chennai Corporation

In an another move, the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday warned that it would consider issuing warrant against officials of Southern Railway and Chennai Corporation if they fail to appear before it on Thursday in connection with a petition to stop open defecation and urination in Chennai.

The petition was moved by S P Surendranath Karthik of Madipakkam seeking action to stop open defecation in the city. Petitioner alleged that despite Chennai having a population of around 6.5 million, there were only 900 public toilets available and of this only 500 were in good shape. He further stated that people relieved themselves next to the railway tracks between Old Washermanpet and Vyasarpadi.

The Tribunal had summoned officials of Southern Railway and Chennai Corporation on Tuesday in connection with the case. As they failed to appear, the Bench comprising judicial member Justice M Chockalingam and expert member R Nagendran, warned that bailable warrant would be issued if the officials do not appear for the next hearing.

NGT Order on Clean Railways Lauded

Many have hailed as significant the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order to the Indian Railways to take steps to maintain cleanliness, including fining offenders `5,000 for littering platforms and tracks.

The NGT order of March 18 also directed the railway authorities to place dustbins on platforms, collect and transport waste to treatment plants instead of directly releasing it into the sewer system and to install mobile toilets near slum clusters alongside railway tracks.

Garbage collection using dustbins and disposal of collected waste with the help of local body are already being done in most railway stations, said an official. “The levying of a fine of `5,000 will definitely be useful in preventing passengers from throwing waste just about anywhere. It will create some fear about disregarding rules. However, construction of mobile toilets in slum areas is not practical, as it would need more planning, besides funds,” he added.

Jameel Ahmed, president, Coimbatore Railway Users’ Welfare Association, hailed the move to fining those who litter station premises. “Passengers do not have the patience to look for a dustbin and throw the waste where they stand. They are still not aware of their role and responsibility in maintaining a clean environment. The hefty fine will yield the expected result and restrain passengers from littering. With proper implementation, it will change their attitude,” he said.

“Spitting and urination are also major problems coming in the way of hygienic environments at railway stations,” said Balaji, a frequent railway user. “It can be controlled by imposing a heavy fine. After people were fined for smoking in trains, the practice has almost stopped. The fine will help end littering too. Strict enforcement of rules is important to get better results, which is the objective of the NGT’s order,” he added.

However, it will take the railway authorities some time to implement it.  “The existing rules of the Railways do not allow fining passengers for littering station premises or tracks. Based on the order from NGT, a feasibility study has to be conducted on it,” said Salem Divisional Railway Manager Shubhranshu. “The new rules would be put into force based on the results of the study. However, we have to wait for further developments regarding the order,” he added.

Central Railway to align Harbour Line along Eastern Freeway

Mumbai: Central Railway is working on an alternate alignment for the Harbour Line from Dockyard Road over the Eastern Freeway. This alignment will free up space at both Masjid and Sandhurst Road that will be used exclusively for the fifth and sixth lines from Kurla to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).

New sister stations will come up at both Masjid and Sandhurst Road that will provide points of interchange for both Main and Harbour Lines. At CST, the Harbour Line trains will terminate on a new deck that would come up at the existing platforms 17 and 18. These two platforms are currently being used for long distance passenger trains.

“With the provision of a long foot-over bridge, that connects all 18 platforms at CST, passengers will be able to go towards any side of the “station,” said a senior officer at Central Railway.

On February 27, 2015, Central Railway administration held a meeting with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and other agencies on the issue of construction of fifth and sixth lines from Kurla to CST.

An alternate alignment for the existing harbour line from Dockyard Road to CST has been identified so that the space along this stretch may be used for the fifth and sixth lines.

The alternate alignment will be at elevated level of about 5.5 metre from the road level. The entire project will be completed at a cost of Rs 1,367 crore, which will be on a 50:50 partnership between the state government and the Railways.

According to Sunil Kumar Sood, General Manager, Central Railway, “Now MMRDA, the Mumbai Port Trust and the traffic department has given us permission for constructing elevated lines on the route.’’

A senior official, who was present during a recent meeting between the authorities of the Port Trust, MMRDA and Central Railway, said on condition of anonymity: “Earlier, the plan was to construct the elevated corridor over Mansion road in South Mumbai. However, it was subsequently decided that the elevated alignment will be on P D’Mello Road, which is 64 metre away from Mansion Road.”

With Rs.5206 Crore worth big ticket projects in hand, ECR set to serve as Railways’ ancillary zone

Patna (PNBE): East Central Railway which came into existence in October 2002, is all set to become an ancillary zone of Indian Railways following the Centre’s go-ahead for FDI in its two ambitious projects – Electric Locomotive Manufacturing Factory at Madhepura and Diesel Locomotive manufacturing factory at Marhaura in Saran district.

ECR has become a key player of Indian Railways insofar as revenue generation is concerned due to record loading of coal per day from Dhanbad. It has helped ECR join the club of railway zones earning more than Rs 10,000 crore annually.

ECR CPRO Arvind Rajak said the zone has made much progress in the field of information technology (IT). IT is now being used in security and train monitoring systems. ECR has more than 22 A-class stations which earn Rs 60 to 70 crore annually. These stations include Patna Junction, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Mughalsarai and Dhanbad, he said, adding all the five divisions of the zone have been provided adequate amenities at stations.

The recent decision of railways to expedite completion of the diesel locomotive and electric locomotive factories is likely to give a fillip to railways’ development plans in Bihar. Goods wagons and passenger wagons maintenance workshops in the state have already given an impetus to socio-economic development in the state, said a Railway Board official.

The Bihar government has to take initiative to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with railways to develop Bihar as an ancillary zone on the pattern of Bangalore, Hardwar and Bhopal, the Railway Board official said.

The railways’ ongoing projects in Bihar are wheel factory at Chapra (Rs 1417.23 crore), diesel locomotive manufacturing factory at Marhaura in Sararn district (Rs 2,025 crore), coach maintenance workshop at Harnaut (Rs 225 crore), goods wagon repair workshop at Sonepur (Rs 90 crore), DEMU maintenance depot at Sonepur (Rs 15 crore), wagon repair workshop at Samastipur (Rs 33 crore) and electric locomotive manufacturing factory at Madhepura (Rs 1,400 crore), sources said.

WR likely to conduct field trials of Automatic Door Closing system in Retrofitted Coaches on Churchgate-Virar section

Mumbai: Western Railway is likely to begin field trials of automatic door closing system in retrofitted coach that will run Churchgate-Virar section tomorrow.

WR sources said that the trails may begin from March 13 onwards after the static trials were successfully conducted at Mahalaxmi work.

WR’s chief public relations officer Sharat Chandrayan said, “The exact dates of the trials is not yet finalized. However, the trail of one coach with automatic door closing system will be carried out in empty service rakes without any passengers.”

After assessing the results of this trial, another set of trials will be carried out with passengers on board with a few weeks.

A senior WR official said, “Initially, the railway employees will be asked to board and alight from this coach to guage the feed back.”

During the trails the the efficacy of the forced ventilation system will be check by monitoring the carbon dioxide levels the doors will remain closed mid-section. Also, it will be ascertained if the doors open and close without any glitches. It will also have to be checked that train does not move if the door does not close.

The control of the door closing system will be given in the hands of the guard or the motorman. WR plans to keep the door open for 30 seconds to allow passengers to board and alight from the train.

The static trials of the door closing system were carried out in August 2014. Unlike, the metro coaches, the doors of the suburban rakes are slightly curved, thus making the automatic door closing system a bit challenging. In the suburban rakes, the sides of the roof form into a curved before merging with the frame of the door. The static trail proved that the doors opened and close with 10 seconds without any hitch.”

Under the system, the braking system of the rake will be connected to the opening and closing of door. The automatic door closure will have sensor technology. As soon as the door closes, the current will pass through the cable to release the brakes. Unless this brakes are released, the train will not be able to move. This will ensure that system is fool proof and the train will be unable to move till all passengers have boarded and door closed.”

If the trials are successful, railways may consider installing this system in all the rakes gradually . There are 80 rakes on WR and 120 on CR. The retrofitment work for each rake of 12-car formation is expected to cost Rs 4 crore.

The automatic door closing system was insisted by CR’s general manager SK Sood to prevent commuters traveling on the foot board from falling off a running train or dashing with the poles

Lucknow Metro approach MUD for early approval of project by Public Investment Board

Lucknow (LKO): The Lucknow Metro authorities approach Union Ministry of Urban Development, to request Ministry of Finance to extend PIB (Public Investment Board)’s approval to the project. PIB’s meeting in August last year had raised some queries related to security and cost of project. LMRC has sent its replies to the MoUD.

Daljeet Singh, Director (Works and Infrastructure), Lucknow Metro Rail Corp said, “We will be meeting with officials of MoUD so that our replies can soon be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance for PIB’s approval. As the project is progressing, our requirement of funds is also increasing, hence we need support from the Centre.” The project’s cost has to be borne by the Centre, state government and international financing agencies.

LMRC said it would begin placing peer caps on top of metro pillars from the first week of April. The peer caps are being pre-cast at metro’s yard near Amausi. From April-end, large U-girders (the iron base of cemented metro track) will be laid on the peer caps. Officials said construction of peers (pillars), placement of peer caps and u-girders will be a simultaneous process that would extend till June next year.

Railway officer A K Rastogi has been hired as the new Director (Finance) in LMRC. Currently, LMRC is busy in land acquisition formalities to make way for metro’s civil construction. The corporation has been facing issues related to acquiring government land for the project. AAI has still not responded to LMRC’s request to offer 6 hectare of land near Amausi free of cost for establishing project’s casting yard. Besides, some land from technical education department of state government, LDA and Northern Railways also needs to be acquired for which LMRC has still got approval.

Officials fear that the delay in land acquisition will retard the speed of construction, hence in meeting deadline. With regards to diversion of utilities coming in the way of metro corridor, LMRC maintained it has already received approval from most agencies except for BSNL. Officials said, “We will try our level best to give Lucknow a world class metro despite all odds and ensure that trains run timely.”

Nagpur Improvement Trust to provide more money for Metro Rail than Centre

Nagpur (NGP): With hefty cash surpluses, the Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) has planned to provide financial back-up to city’s ambitious metro rail project. The civic agency with annual revenue of around Rs 400 crore has made provision of Rs.150 crore for the project which is more money than allocated by the Central government to it for fiscal 2015-16.

The actual work on metro rail will begin in 2015-16. The target is to complete the two corridors of total length 38.21km by December 2018. Of the approved cost of Rs.8,680 crore, the central and state government’s share is 20% (Rs.1,736 crore) each. NMC and NIT are to bear 5% (Rs.434 crore) each while remaining 50% is to be raised through loans.

In budget presented a few days ago, finance minister Arun Jaitely gave Rs.144 crore for Nagpur’s metro rail project for 2015-16. The Centre has to release Rs.578.66 crore every year in next three fiscals beginning from 2015-16 if the project is to finish within deadline. In 2014-15, the centre had made provisions of only Rs.10 crore.

Shockingly, civic chief Shravan Hardikar in the NMC’s budget estimate for 2015-16 made a token provision of Rs.5 lakh for the project but with account head open to approve more if needed. State’s allocation is yet to be known as budget is awaited.

The government had appointed NIT as special planning authority of the project. On February 18, a special purpose vehicle Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (NMRCL) was formed and will begin operation from March 13. Still, NIT has shown special interest in the project. It is likely that NIT will collect the revenue from premium charged on extra floor space index (FSI) granted along the project. The money will be used to finance and run the project.

NIT chairman Shyam Wardhane said hefty provisions were made for the project to ensure lack of funds never became an obstacle. “NIT will give its 5% share for 2015-16 which is less. More provision was made in case there was any delay in releasing the funds from the government. It is city’s dream project and NIT had the responsibility to ensure its smooth execution. It can bring overall development to the city,” he said.

Wardhane added NIT could use the funds elsewhere in case they were not needed for metro. “We can always re-appropriate the money,” he said. Wardhane said NMCRL board will meet for the first time on March 13 and team of France-based Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), one of the agencies likely to finance it, will arrive on March 18.

E.Sreedharan submits Final Report on Decentralisation of Powers in Railways

Dr.E.Sreedharan had submitted an interim report to Prabhu on November 27 last year in which he had suggested greater delegation of powers to General Managers (GMs) and Divisional Railway Managers
Dr.E.Sreedharan, former Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corp.

Dr.E.Sreedharan, former Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation

New Delhi: Former Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan, who is heading a one-man committee for delegation of commercial powers for railway projects to lower levels of bureaucracy, on Wednesday submitted the final report on the matter to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Sreedharan had submitted an interim report to Prabhu on November 27 last year in which he had suggested greater delegation of powers to General Managers (GMs) and Divisional Railway Managers.

The final report was expected after three months of the submission of the interim report. The submission of the final report is a significant step in the decentralisation of powers in the Railways, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The Railways Ministry has, however, already delegated decision-making powers for contracting railway works and services to field officials to facilitate faster implementation of projects.

After getting the interim report, the Railways had decided on January 2 that all the cases for acceptance of works and stores tenders, which as per extant delegations are to be referred to railway board by zonal railways and production units, will now be dealt with and finalised by zonal railways and production units.

The committee was formed on the day Prabhu took over as Railway Minister on November 9. “My decision not to deal with tenders by minister moves closer to implementation by Sreedharan submitting report,” Prabhu had tweeted earlier.

The committee has been tasked to suggest a set of procedures to be followed in tendering processes so that transparency and accountability are ensured.

LIC to invest Rs.1.5 Lakh Crore in Bonds issued by various Railway entities like IRFC, beginning next fiscal

LIC’s hard bargain ensures Good Pricing in Rail Bonds

Mumbai: Financial powerhouse LIC has made a hard bargaining for its Rs 1.5 trillion investments in Railway bonds by ensuring a coupon rate above 10 basis points higher than 10-year benchmark government paper. “We have just signed an agreement with the Railways to invest Rs 1.5 trillion in their 30-year bond over the next five years.

State-run insurance major Life Insurance Corporation of India Ltd (LIC) on Wednesday committed Rs 1.5 lakh crore to the Indian Railways for development of various commercially viable projects in one of the largest railway networks in the world.

The investment would be made over a period of five years. “LIC has taken the task of supporting Indian Railways.  The investment would be done in bonds issued by various railway entities such Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC), beginning next fiscal.

It is a commercial decision. LIC will invest Rs 1.5 lakh crore over a period of five years,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said here.

On an average, LIC will be subscribing bonds worth Rs 30,000 crore over next five years, its Chairman S K Roy told after the signing of MoU between Indian Railways and LIC.

When asked about that what kind of interest rate LIC would earn from this investment, Roy said, “The rate is yet to be finalised. Since it is would be a commercial decision, it would be win-win situation for both.”