Disabled Associations to protest in four tomorrow; Booking Tickets online still a Hurdle; says Disabled

Chennai (MAS): Despite a hint of relief from the Railway Budget, members of the disabled community feel let down at the practical lack of resolution to their woes in booking tickets online.

Earlier this year, an announcement in the Railway Budget said the disabled could purchase concessional e-tickets after a one-time registration, addressing a long-pending demand of the community.

“But the process has been made extremely difficult. We have to go to one of the four divisional offices in Chennai, Tiruchi, Salem or Madurai, get a form, attach the necessary documents, and then submit the form at the office. How can disabled people from villages access these offices?” said S. Namburajan, State secretary, The Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of all Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers.

The organisation has planned an agitation in four cities on Wednesday.

A senior Southern Railway official, however, said there is no need for the disabled to go to divisional offices. “The forms can be downloaded online. All they have to do is send in their railway concession forms with the valid documents to one of the four offices,” he said.

P. Simmachandran, an activist who went to get registered at the Chennai office, said he had a difficult experience. “The office on the second floor is difficult to access. We were given a new form which is only available at the divisional offices. We have to fill in the registration number of the government doctor who signed our concession form. Then, verification is done and only after six months do we get a unique number that can be used to book online,” he said.

Activists wonder why the system could not be similar to the one that exists for senior citizens — they can book online and then produce concession proof while travelling.

The Association plans to protest in front of the divisional offices and collect signatures to submit a petition to the authorities.

Gauge Conversion works between Palghat and Pollachi over; Trial run within 3 weeks

Palghat (PGT): The much-awaited gauge conversion between Palakkad and Pollachi to enhance rail connectivity between north Kerala and pilgrim centres such as Rameswaram, Erwadi, Madurai, and Palani in Southern Tamil Nadu is finally turning into a reality with the Railways preparing to conduct a trial run in three weeks’ time.

Railway officials said almost all work on the gauge conversion was over and just finishing touches were remaining.  Of the 54-km stretch, 22 km are in Tamil Nadu.  The rest of the stretch is in Kerala spreading between Meenkara dam and Palakkad Town railway station.  Work on all the five stations, including Palakkad town station, and locoshed at Vadakannikapuram, has been completed.  “It was a long-drawn public agitation that prompted the Railways to complete the works at least now. The inordinate delay has caused a huge drain on the Railways’ coffers apart from causing severe hardship to passengers,’’ said M.B. Rajesh, MP.

The metre-gauge line between Pollachi and Palakkad was closed down in 2008 with an assurance that it would be reopened in 16 months as a broad gauge.

Drastic Decline of Passenger Traffic between Andhra and Hyderabad due to bifurcation of AP observed: SCR

Secunderabad (SC): For the past few years, number of passengers travelling on trains has been decreasing. For the first time, Railways has officially explained why it lost passengers last year.

Railways has blamed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, agitation over Telangana, easy availability of two-wheeler loans and and even weather gods— almost everything under the sun, but itself— for carrying 163 million less passengers last year. The reasons were enlisted in Railways’ reply to a specific question by Standing Committee on Railways which tabled its report in Parliament Monday. The 31-member Committee headed by Dinesh Trivedi, former Union Minister of Railways (under UPA regime) however, has not been convinced. “The Committee therefore impressed upon Railways to realistically examine the reasons for the dissatisfaction of passengers,” it has replied.

Railways has said: “Due to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh from June 2014, movement of passengers between Andhra Pradesh state and twin cities of Secundrabad and Hyderabad has decreased considerably,”it has said. It has also cited 2014 general election and the agitation over Telangana as reasons for losing passengers.

Sample this: “On South Central Railway, last year, due to Telangana agitation, and bus strikes, seven million passengers had shifted to rail mode. This year (presumably meaning after Telangana’s creation), these passengers have gone back to road mode.”

Referring to a sharp drop in passenger numbers in the 1-40 km distance slab, Railways has said: “…the two wheeler segment has clocked a growth of 12.9 per cent (year on year) to reach nearly 13.5 million units by October 2014. This is attributed to low cost of two wheelers and availability of easy loan options which have attracted large segment in both rural and urban areas to shift to road over short distances.”

Railways, however, has conceded that the trend can be reversed by improving its own performance. “Since a large number of passengers using rail in this segment (short distances) are daily commuters, improvement in punctuality and review of train timings at origin, enroute and the destination station to suit commuter requirements is probably the only way to attract/retain passengers,” it said.

Imperative for Government Departments to modernize Systems by making best use of IT & ICT: President of India

President Pranab Mukherjee addressing with the Probationers of Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service & Indian P&T Service from National Institute of Financial Management at Rashtrapati Bhavan

President Pranab Mukherjee addressing with the Probationers of Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service & Indian P&T Service from National Institute of Financial Management at Rashtrapati Bhavan

New Delhi: Probationers of Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service and Indian P&T Finance & Accounts Service called on the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee today (April 20, 2015) at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Addressing the probationers, the President said that good ‘Public Financial Management System’ (PFMS) is the key to good governance. The organized accounting services that they represent are charged with the responsibility of building and maintaining a strong and robust system of financial management. In almost all countries of the world today, there is a move towards developing ‘Integrated Financial Management Information Systems’ (IFMIS) and towards setting up Standards in Accounting, Auditing and Budgeting. The Government of India is also moving towards such a system. In India today this is a necessity in view of the increasing quantum of public expenditures which require a sound system of tracking, monitoring and reporting to be in place. In developing such a system we need to learn from best global practices and build upon them.

The President said that there are rising expectations amongst the public for greater efficiencies in service delivery accompanied by transparency and accountability in government processes. In order to address these concerns, it is imperative for Government Departments to modernize systems by making best use of Information & Communication Technology and to make such systems citizen-centric, secure, efficient, economical and transparent. The Tax Information Network, OLTAS, the National Pension System are all extremely fine examples of pan-India systems which have simplified life for the ordinary citizen and have introduced greater efficiency and transparency in key areas of Government’s functioning. He emphasized that this trend shall only intensify in the future and he urged all officers to take part, as and when they have the opportunity to do so, in the development of such pan-India systems.

The President said that he had been informed that NIFM, apart from a multitude of on-campus activities, also organizes attachments for probationers with various offices and organizations of relevance where they are exposed to practical aspects of governance. He expressed happiness that probationers are also taken to the USA for an exposure to financial management practices at the federal and the provincial government levels. He urged the probationers to assimilate the learnings that they gather from such important country exposures and apply them appropriately in the Indian context.

The President said that keeping pace with the fast-changing world of information and communication technology also requires constant up-gradation of systems and processes. We need to examine how best we may use technology to make our payment and accounting systems seamless, as also progressively use IT tools in auditing to not only unearth frauds but also to evaluate and monitor the processes and outcomes of various government schemes. The challenges are many and the opportunities are vast and immense. He said he was sure that all of them will rise to the occasion and live up to the expectations of their countrymen.

The President said that the Government of India decided to establish the ‘National Institute of Financial Management’ (NIFM) in 1993 to train the newly recruited officers of the Finance and Accounts Services. The idea behind setting up NIFM was not only to train probationers in subjects related to Financial Management but also to inculcate a sense of camaraderie and esprit d’ corps amongst service officers. The opportunity of staying and learning together with officers from the different accounting services shall prove to be extremely beneficial to them in the years to come, he said.

The President said that as Union Finance Minister, he was the President of the NIFM Society between 2009 and 2012 which gave him the opportunity of getting to know about the activities of NIFM. He said that he was happy to say that NIFM had progressed well in the two decades of its existence. Various long term courses and Management Development Programs on cutting edge financial issues are now being organized by NIFM in addition to training programs in public financial management for Defence Services, State Governments, Banks, Public Sector Enterprises, Autonomous bodies and other stakeholders of Government. Another important area that they have branched out into is organizing long term and short term courses on financial and securities markets in collaboration with the BSE and NSE. It was a matter of satisfaction that NIFM had entered into MoUs with various Universities and institutions in the USA, Europe and Asia, apart from tie-ups with various institutions in India. He stated that these collaborations need to be encouraged as they impart a much needed global perspective to the learning that is imparted and also allow for cross cultural sharing of ideas and experiences.

Indian Railways takes Steps to Improve Fire Safety in Train

New Delhi: In order to improve the safety of passengers, a number of steps are being taken by the Indian Railways to prevent fire accidents in trains. Indian Railways have always endeavored to enhance fire worthiness of coaches by using fire retardant furnishing materials to mitigate effect of fire. Specifications for such furnishing materials have been periodically reviewed to incorporate fire retardant parameters in line with UIC and other international norms. All new manufacture of coaches/periodical overhauling of existing coaches is being carried out with fire retardant specifications of the furnishing materials wherever condition based replacements are warranted.

With a view to improve fire safety in running trains, a pilot project for provision of Comprehensive Fire and Smoke Detection System has been taken up in one rake of New Delhi – Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express on East Coast Railway. Besides, one LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) New Delhi – Jammu Tawi Rajdhani and one rake of LHB AC Double Decker Coaches running between Kachiguda – Tirupati/Guntur have also been provided with such a system.

Fire extinguishers are being provided in all Air-conditioned coaches, Second class – cum – guard and luggage vans, Pantry cars and train locomotives. Improved materials for electrical fittings and fixtures such as MCB, light fittings, terminal boards, connectors, etc., are being used progressively. Detailed instructions have been issued to zonal railways for observance of safe practices in handling of pantry cars and for ensuring periodical inspection of electrical and LPG fittings in the pantry cars. Further with an aim to spread awareness among passengers ,intensive publicity campaigns are being launched to prevent the travelling public from carrying inflammable goods along with them.

Fire fighting arrangements have also been made at railway stations by Indian Railways Each station is provided with two dry chemical powder type fire extinguishers. Fire buckets filled with dry sand and water are provided at all stations. Safety posters for operating various types of fire extinguishers have been displayed at stations. At large stations, smoke detectors are being installed. Front line staff such as Station Masters have been imparted regular training to operate fire extinguishers. Periodic drills on fire fighting are being conducted on regular basis. The telephone number of nearby fire brigades is kept available at Railway stations. Frequent drives against carrying of inflammable/dangerous articles in trains as well as station premises are undertaken. This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Railways need to reinvent itself: Parliamentary Panel

New Delhi: With the resource crunch severely eroding the financial credibility of railways, the Standing Committee on Railways headed by former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has said in the report tabled in Parliament today and further suggested the government should ensure that the proposed five-year investment plan serves as a stimulus package to assist the public transporter in its turnaround.

The Panel also suggested that Indian Railways should not have to pay Dividend to the government of India till the financial health of the railways improve. On the one hand, the Railways are made to pay dividend and on the other hand, government provides budgetary support to the railways. The Committee has asked that a two pronged approach should be adopted by the Government—they should ensure strict financial discipline and practice prudent ways to cut unproductive expenditure and at the same time the practice of paying dividend to general revenues should be kept in abeyance,” the committee has said.

It has called the practice “contradictory and counterproductive”. Incidentally, railways have to pay a dividend on the budgetary support that accrues to it from the government of India on a cumulative basis.

Incidentally, even the debt that accrues to the railways for dedicated freight corridor from World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) comes in the form of budgetary support from the centre to the Indian Railways. On this the Railways will pay a dividend in perpetuity. The dividend rate is decided by Railway Convention Committee.

The committee has also strongly recommended that National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, Ministry of Finance so as to meet their objective of transforming the Railways into an efficient vehicle for development as well as for meeting the increasing demands of economy.

The committee has also asked the railways to tread cautiously on its plans to take additional debt it plans to take from the multilateral agencies as they have huge financial liabilities attached to them.

Rail Connectivity to North Eastern Region

New Delhi: Indian Railways have laid a great emphasis on improvement in Railway infrastructure in the North Eastern Region. Accordingly, an all time high outlay of over Rs. 5200 crore was provided and spent for new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects in the North Eastern Region in 2014-15 against the total outlay of about Rs. 15000 crore for all such projects in the country. Again in 2015-16, a still higher outlay of Rs. 5338 crore has been provided for these projects in North Eastern Region.

Railway projects are taken up on the basis of remunerativeness, last mile connectivity, missing links and alternate routes, augmentation of congested/saturated lines, socio-economic considerations etc. depending upon throw forward of ongoing projects, overall availability of funds and competing demands which covers connectivity in backward areas also. Accordingly, funds are allotted project-wise and not region-wise/state-wise. In 2012-13 and 2013-14, outlays of Rs. 2279 crore and Rs. 3392 crore were provided and spent for the projects of new line, gauge conversion and doubling in North Eastern Region. With a view to complete the projects in this region expeditiously, Ministry of Railways has enhanced the outlays substantially in 2014-15 and 2015-16. As a result, more than 450 km of Broad Gauge track has been commissioned in North Eastern Region in 2014-15.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Concession based Ticketing to Physically Challenged Persons in Railways: MOSR

New Delhi: In compliance of the pronouncements made in Rail Budget 2015-16 with regard to passenger security, food, complaints helpline numbers, a number of new initiatives has been taken by the Railways.

The scheme of concession based ticketing for the physically challenged persons using Photo Identity Card issued by the Railways has been implemented w.e.f. 29.01.2015 over Northern Railway on pilot basis. Further, instructions have been issued to all Zonal Railways for implementation of the scheme on all India basis. Under this scheme, a Photo Identity Card is issued by the Railways to the Physically Challenged Persons upon submission of relevant documents subject to verification of the authenticity of the documents. The validity of the card is five years from the date of issue or till the last date up to which the concession certificate is valid, whichever is earlier. The passenger has to carry the Photo Identity Card issued by the Railways in original during the journey and shall be required to produce the same for certification during on-board/off-board checking.

For strengthening of surveillance mechanism in trains, Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras have been fitted on two SLRs on experimental basis to gain experience and feedback. For the year 2015-16, an enabling provision of CCTV cameras on 500 coaches has also been made.

All zonal railways have been advised to make 138 helpline number functional through Divisional Commercial Control as a public interface for queries/complaints related to medical emergency, cleanliness, food and catering, coach maintenance, linen etc. (except security), and this is being operated round the clock since 26th February, 2015. In addition to this a three digit Security Helpline number 182 has been made functional through Security Control Rooms of Railway Protection Force to provide round the clock security related assistance to passengers over Indian Railways.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

SCR’s Lallaguda Carriage Workshop bags Prestigious “INTACH Heritage Award 2015″

Shri Kabeer Ahmed, Chief Mechanical Engineer, SCR and Shri S.S. Misra, Chief Workshop Manager, Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda and Shri P.K. Srivastava GM SCR , are seen with the INTACH AWARD

Shri Kabeer Ahmed, Chief Mechanical Engineer, SCR and Shri S.S. Misra, Chief Workshop Manager, Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda and Shri P.K. Srivastava GM SCR , are seen with the INTACH AWARD

Secunderabad (SC): The Carriage Workshop of South Central Railway located at Lallaguda, Secunderabad was bestowed with the prestigious Heritage Award of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Hyderabad Chapter on the occasion of the World Heritage Day celebrations held at Salarjung Musuem, Hyderabad on 18th April, 2015. The award was presented to the Carriage Workshop under the Modern Industrial Heritage category.

Shri P.K.Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway, who has been instrumental in focusing due priority towards identifying and preservation of rail heritage on the Zone, expressed his happiness at the recognition earned by the Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda. He opined that SCR has got a rich past dating back to the origin of Railways in the region and all efforts shall be made to protect this legacy, in terms of structures, machinery, tools, photographs etc. The recent setting up of Rail Museum at Kacheguda, is hence an initiative in the right direction, he stated.

The Carriage Workshop of SCR which is located at Lallaguda was established in 1893 as the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Workshop of the Nizam State Railway (NSR). The work on a railways system for the erstwhile Hyderabad State commenced in 1870 and linked Hyderabad to the Greater Indian Peninsular Railway (GIP) network on the Bombay – Madras route which transited through the Dominions via Gulbarga, Raichur and Gooty. The Wadi – Secunderabad line became operational on 8th October, 1874. It was initially worked by GIP Railways before being taken over by the Nizam Guranteed Railway Company (NSGR) in 1879. By the turn of the century, another link to the Indian railway network was established with the commissioning of a link to Manmad undertaken by the Hyderabad-Godavari Valley Railway. The Government of Hyderabad took over direct control of the Railways in 1930 and renamed it as the Nizam State Railways (NSR).

The Lallaguda Workshop complex is one of the oldest surviving examples of modern Industrial Architecture in the Twin Cities. It signaled the beginning of major industry in the state. A number of structures in use today date from the time of the workshop’s initial commissioning. The precinct provides us with a glimpse of not only the industrial advances made over more than a century but is also a repository of heritages from a bygone era. Restored wagons, coaches and a variety of artefacts relating to railway history have been preserved and quite a few are displayed at the site. Notable among these one finds a meticulously restored coach of 1886 vintage.

The citation of INTACH states that – for its unique status as one of the earliest examples of Modern Industrial Heritage and for the efforts in conserving and preserving facets of Railway history, the Carriage Workshop at Lallaguda richly deserves an award.

MEGA Underground section to be completed in 27 months: CMD

Ahmedabad (ADI): Construction work in respect of Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project has begun within three months of the project being sanctioned by the central government with the Special Purpose Vehicle for execution of the project, MEGA (Metro –Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad) Company Limited commencing work for construction of 6 km. Viaduct between Vastaral Gaam and Apparel Park. The Rs.10,773 cr project was sanctioned in November last year and the work has commenced in February this year. The project envisages 37.66 km of Metro Rail with and elevated portion of 31.43 km and underground portion of 6.33 km.

Ahmedabad Metro Project will have an East-West corridor of 20.53 km between Thatlej Gaam and Vastrapur Gaam including the underground portion and fully elevated North-South corridor of 17.23 km between APMC and Motera stadium. There will be a total of 32 stations.

During the review of progress of Metro Projects being implemented on 50 : 50 Centre and State Joint Venture basis by the Ministry of Urban Development, CMD of MEGA informed that Design Consultants for Metro Stations and other components of works are being appointed. He said that the underground section will be completed in 27 months time.

Shri Madhusudhan Prasad, Secretary (UD) during the review on Friday last has asked the six Metros being implemented on 50 : 50 basis to ensure that there are no time and cost overruns. He said that infrastructure projects are top priority for the government and they are being monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office.

CMD of Kochi Metro informed in detail about the Smart Card based Automatic Fare Collection system to be introduced resulting in substantial savings in capital expenditure besides additional revenue to the Metro. Axis Bank led consortium which has been selected through international competitive bidding will introduce Smart Cards which can be used for payment of metro fares as well as for other commercial merchandise at various market outlets. Kochi Metro will be paid a royalty of Rs.209 cr over a ten year period besides 0.2 % of transaction value on card transactions for non-metro fare purposes. Through this initiative, Kochi Metro saves Rs.270 cr on capital expenditure on introducing AFC systems besides the expenditure on annual maintenance for 10 years.

Kochi Metro informed that 51% of work has been completed on Reach I from Aluva to Maharajas and 17% of work on Reach II between Maharajas and Petta. 4883 of 5693 Piles, 731 of 1416 Piers and 862 of 2751 Girders have also been completed. Financial progress has been reported to be 34%.

In respect of Bengaluru Metro, physical and financial progress of about 92% has been reported. The entire network of 42.30 kms. in Phase I will be complete in all respects by December this year of which 38.30 km. would be operational for public service and the balance 4 km would be ready for testing and commissioning. This Metro has a North-South corridor of 24.20 km between Puttenahalli and Nagasandra and East – West corridor of 18.10 km between Mysore Road and Baiyyappanahalli. Three Reaches with a total length of 17 km with 16 stations have so far been commissioned.

Regarding Chennai Metro, Stage -1 comprising 7 stations and Viaduct of 10 km is set for revenue operations soon. Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety has carried out Rolling Stock inspection for this stage in the first week of this month. Out of the 42 train sets required, 9 from Brazil and 12 from Sri City, Chittor (AP) have been received. Regarding other four Stages, works are in progress.

Nagpur Metro has reported completion of demarcation of alignment on Airport –MIHAN , Automative Square to Zero Mile and Prajapatinagar – Dosar Vaisya Chowk sections amounting to 55% of total alignment. DMRC has been assigned the Consultancy work of preparation of bid document for appointment of General Consultant and preparation of Design Basis Report. RITES has been tasked with preparation of bid document and bid process management for appointment of execution agency for the priority section between Airport and MIHAN and bid document for appointment of Detailed Design Consultant and for construction of Viaduct between Airport and Sitaburdi.

DMRC reported 70% progress in civil works and overall physical progress of 57% in respect of Phase-III Project and financial progress of 40%. This Phase is scheduled for completion between May, 2015 and December, 2016.

MUD reviews Progress of 6 Metro Projects; Metros asked to avoid Cost & Time Overruns

New Delhi: Construction work in respect of Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project has begun within three months of the project being sanctioned by the central government with the Special Purpose Vehicle for execution of the project, MEGA (Metro –Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad) Company Limited commencing work for construction of 6 km. Viaduct between Vastaral Gaam and Apparel Park. The Rs.10,773 cr project was sanctioned in November last year and the work has commenced in February this year. The project envisages 37.66 km of Metro Rail with and elevated portion of 31.43 km and underground portion of 6.33 km.

Ahmedabad Metro Project will have an East-West corridor of 20.53 km between Thatlej Gaam and Vastrapur Gaam including the underground portion and fully elevated North-South corridor of 17.23 km  between APMC and Motera stadium. There will be a total of 32 stations.

During the review of progress of Metro Projects being implemented on 50 : 50 Centre and State Joint Venture basis by the Ministry of Urban Development, CMD of MEGA informed that Design Consultants for Metro Stations and other components of works are being appointed. He said that the underground section will be completed in 27 months time.

Shri Madhusudhan Prasad, Secretary (UD) during the review on Friday last has asked the six Metros being implemented on 50 : 50 basis to ensure that there are no time and cost overruns. He said that infrastructure projects are top priority for the government and they are being monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office.

CMD of Kochi Metro informed in detail about the Smart Card based Automatic Fare Collection system to be introduced resulting in substantial savings in capital expenditure besides additional revenue to the Metro. Axis Bank led consortium which has been selected through international competitive bidding  will introduce Smart Cards which can be used for payment of metro fares as well as for other commercial merchandise at various market outlets. Kochi Metro will be paid a royalty of Rs.209 cr over a ten year period besides 0.2 % of transaction value on card transactions for non-metro fare purposes. Through this initiative, Kochi Metro saves Rs.270 cr on capital expenditure on introducing AFC systems besides the expenditure on annual maintenance for 10 years.

Kochi Metro informed that 51% of work has been completed on Reach I from Aluva to Maharajas and 17% of work on Reach II between Maharajas and Petta. 4883 of 5693 Piles, 731 of 1416 Piers and 862 of 2751 Girders have also been completed. Financial progress has been reported to be 34%.

In respect of Bengaluru Metro, physical and financial progress of about 92% has been reported. The entire network of 42.30 kms. in Phase I will be complete in all respects by December this year of which 38.30 km. would be operational for public service and the balance 4 km would be ready for testing and commissioning. This Metro has a North-South corridor of 24.20 km between Puttenahalli and Nagasandra and East – West corridor of 18.10 km between Mysore Road and Baiyyappanahalli. Three Reaches with a total length of 17 km with 16 stations have so far been commissioned.

Regarding Chennai Metro, Stage -1 comprising 7 stations and Viaduct of 10 km is set for revenue operations soon. Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety has carried out Rolling Stock inspection for this stage in the first week of this month. Out of the 42 train sets required, 9 from Brazil and 12 from Sri City, Chittor (AP) have been received. Regarding other four Stages, works are in progress.

Nagpur Metro has reported completion of demarcation of alignment on Airport –MIHAN , Automative Square to Zero Mile and Prajapatinagar – Dosar Vaisya Chowk sections amounting to  55% of total alignment. DMRC has been assigned the Consultancy work of preparation of bid document for appointment of General Consultant and preparation of Design Basis Report. RITES has been tasked with preparation of bid document and bid process management for appointment of execution agency for the priority section between Airport and MIHAN and bid document for appointment of Detailed Design Consultant and for construction of Viaduct between Airport and Sitaburdi.

DMRC reported 70% progress in civil works and overall physical progress of 57% in respect of Phase-III Project and financial progress of 40%. This Phase is scheduled for completion between May, 2015 and December, 2016.

JVs, SPVs, Tie-ups and MOUs gets fastracked in Railways

New Delhi: Ministry of Railways is set to tie up with various Universities, Research Institutes and IITs to create a Centre for Railway Research. As part of the proposal, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with University of Mumbai on Saturday.

“This is a first of its kind tie-up. And an agreement will be signed with more universities and IITs for a specific purpose,” said Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railway.

The aim is to make these educational arenas a centre for excellence. This Centre for Railway Research with University of Mumbai will help railways to further study Heavy Haul Technology, Vehicle Dynamics, High Speed Technologies, Track Research and Energy Efficient Traction Power Supply Systems among other things.

Another MoU was signed between Railway Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and Dighi Port, a private sector firm in Raigad district for laying a 33.7-km long rail line. A special purpose vehicle with 26% ownership with RVNL, 11% with Maharashtra Maritime Board and balance with Dighi Port will be created connecting the port with the nearest railhead at Roha on Konkan Railway.

Planned to be ready in the next two years, with an investment of around Rs.800 crore, there will be 11 bridges and five tunnels along the 33.7-km line.

Prabhu even shared that Ministry of Railway will be entering into an agreement with Maharashtra government, a state specific pact, to reach further into the hinterland.

“In the next few days, we will create a company with the state government which will develop rail lines in different parts of the state. This agreement will be limited to Maharashtra,” said Prabhu. These tracks are likely to be laid in Gadchiroli district, between Kolhapur and Vaibhavwadi in Konkan, between Karad-Chiplun, etc.

Mumbai’s first air-conditioned local is likely to be there in Mumbai by September. “It should be here before the October heat of Mumbai,” said Prabhu on Saturday.

There is a possibility of Central Railway getting nod from Commissioner for Railway Safety for conversion of Direct Current to Alternating Current of its suburban railway network.

Faiveley Transport awarded Kochi Metro train contracts

Kochi: Alstom Transport has awarded Faiveley Transport a series of contracts to supply onboard equipment for the 25 three-car Metropolis trainsets its Sricity plant in Andhra Pradesh is to build for the Kochi metro under a €85m contract awarded in October 2014.

Faiveley’s contracts have a total value of more than €10m, and include the supply of braking systems, automatic and semi-permanent couplers, external doors and saloon heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Engineering will take place at Faiveley’s facilities at Hosur in India, Shanghai in China and Witten in Germany, with the support of the group’s European Centres of Competence. Manufacturing will be undertaken in Europe, China and in India. Deliveries are scheduled for 2015-17.

The standard gauge air-conditioned trainsets for Kochi will be 65 m long with capacity for 975 passengers, with a maximum operating speed of 80 km/h using a 750 V DC third-rail supply. Alstom’s contract includes an option for a further 25 trainsets.

In 2011 Faiveley signed a contract to supply Alstom with brakes, couplers and doors for rolling stock for the Chennai metro. It has also supplied components for metros in Dehli, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Simon Charlesworth, Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, said Faiveley’s ‘established localisation in Indiademonstrates its on-going commitment to meeting its customer’s specific technical requirements and increasing expectations for local production.’

Minimise Re-investment Risk through Tax-Free Bonds: Sector Observers

Tax-free bonds are set for a comeback in the next few months, with the government giving a nod to state-owned Indian Railway Finance Corporation and National Highways Authority of India to sell these.

Since the returns of these bonds will be linked to the yield on government securities (G-secs), they are likely to fetch 7-7.25 per cent per annum, lower than the 8.5-9 per cent these offered in 2013-14. Sector observers believe there is likely to be less appetite for such bonds this time from high net worth individuals (HNIs), because of other attractive investment opportunities in equities and long-term bond funds.

Despite lower rates, experts feel these bonds make sense for those in the highest tax bracket. “We are in a declining interest rate scenario and it makes sense to lock-in at these rates for a tenure of 10-20 years. These are ideal instruments for HNIs because of the tax efficiency they offer,” says Ajay Manglunia, head of fixed-income markets at Edelweiss Financial Services.

Beside the coupon rate, investors will also benefit from capital gains if interest rates move south during the next few years. Yields on 10-year government bonds have fallen about 100 basis points, to 7.8 per cent from 8.85 per cent, in the past one year.

At an interest rate of 7-7.25 per cent, the effective pre-tax return for a person in the highest tax bracket works out to be 10.5-11 per cent. “There is no one in the market right now who would pay that kind of a return on AAA-rated paper,” says Dwijendra Srivastava, chief investment officer (CIO), debt, Sundaram MF.

These rates are much higher than post-tax yields from bank fixed deposits (FDs). For instance, the effective post-tax yield for a typical bank FD of one to three years, paying 8.5 per cent per annum, works out to be 5.5 per cent.

There are, however, competing investment options HNIs can look at – fixed maturity plans (FMPs) offered by mutual funds (MFs) and preference shares issued by companies. Investors with a shorter investment horizon can look at three-year FMPs, which offer an indexation benefit and a post tax yield of 7.6-8 per cent. “The returns will be higher than tax-free bonds but if interest rates decline in the coming months, returns in a tax-free bond will be comparable to or better than the debt MF returns, owing to capital gains,” says Umang Papneja, CIO, IIFL Wealth Management.

Preference shares, on the other hand, can be a good choice for investors with a longer time horizon, say experts. Dividend from preference shares are paid annually but the issue size is typically limited to Rs 500-1,500 crore. “Tax-free bonds offer better liquidity than preference shares, and are more tax-efficient when compared to debt MFs if the investment horizon is less than three years,” says Papneja.

The coupon or interest on tax-free bonds is typically paid annually and tax-free. Capital gains on units held for less than a year are added to your income, while gains on units held for more than 12 months are taxed at 10 per cent, or 20 per cent with indexation, whichever is lower.

10-20% bracket

Tax-free bonds might not be ideal for those in the 10-20 per cent tax bracket, say experts. “Someone in the 20 per cent bracket will get about 8.75 per cent taxable equivalent yield, which does not offer a significant spread over a bond or FD available in that tenor with rates of 8.3-8.75 per cent,” says Srivastava.

FDs could make more sense to investors in the 10 per cent tax bracket. For example, the post tax return on an FD offering 8.5 per cent will be around 7.65 per cent for these investors, higher than the yield on tax-free bonds. “Those in the 20 per cent tax bracket can look at five-year tax-free FDs, which can give returns of 8-8.5 per cent, with effective yield working out to about 10.46 per cent, as they are compounded quarterly,” says Srivastava.

However, premature withdrawal in FDs might mean paying a penalty or having to settle for lower interest rates. On Thursday, the Reserve Bank of India allowed banks to offer differential interest rates for deposits above Rs 15 lakh. The rates on premature withdrawal deposits are likely to be lower than normal rates. Tax-free bonds are fairly liquid, as the units are listed on the exchanges.

Besides FDs, those in the 10-20 per cent tax brackets can look at non-convertible debentures, which can fetch post tax returns of anywhere between 7.1 and 8.5 per cent.

According to Manglunia, investors in the 10 and 20 per cent tax bracket can still invest into tax-free bonds, provided they participate for capital gains over the next 12 to 18 months, and not for holding till maturity. Manglunia expects interest rates to decline by 40-50 basis points during the same period, resulting in capital gains of four to five per cent.

There could be another advantage for these investors. Retail applicants investing below Rs 10 lakh in tax-free bonds in the previous issues were offered a 55 bps lesser yield over the G-sec, while HNIs were given a 80 basis points lesser yield. A similar concession might be given for upcoming issues. This means if a 15-year G-sec is quoting at 7.9 per cent, HNIs will get the bonds at 7.1 per cent, while retail investors will get it at 7.35 per cent, resulting in higher capital gains.

Railways to fix late running of trains with the help of IITs

New Delhi: The Railway Ministry will join hands with Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to find a way out to solve the problem of late running of trains. The IITs and the Railways’ engineering consultancy company Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) will identify the bottlenecks that delay trains’ timings and work out a solution to ensure the trains can run faster on the “existing infrastructure”.

The first round of meeting in this regard took up the case study of the Frontier Express (now Golden Temple Express) between Bombay (now Mumbai) and Amritsar, which used to take 40 hours before Independence while now the travel time has been reduced only by eight hours. The other exception taken, according to a top Railway official, was about the lone existing 150 kmph train between Delhi and Agra unable to augment its speed by mere 10 kmph even after several rounds of deliberations.

“Frontier now takes 32 hours. Which means in 60 years we could only adjust eight hours. Similarly, we are unable to augment the speed of Taj Express to 160 km per hour even after 10 years when the fastest train was running between Delhi and Agra. These are the things which have been examined presently. The Ministry is very serious since we are looking forward to put trains at 200 kmph before a Bullet Train runs in India,” pointed a top Railway official.

The prime concern was the fact that in the present condition, Railways has been able to meet only 74 per cent punctuality on an average per day with worst coming from the North Central Railway (NCR) and East Central Railways (ECR) at merely 34 per cent punctuality maintenance. The Zonal Railways administration have conveyed to the Railways that it is “impossible” for them to maintain the scheduled timings “in the given infrastructure” as desired.

Last month, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was in a rude shock to know that punctuality figures used to be fudged by the officials to maintain it at 99 per cent even as complaints were galore about incessant delays of express trains including Rajdhanis and Shatabdis. The Ministry swung into action to address the complaints of late running of trains after the PMO expressed serious concern over the issue.

The PMO had sought explanation from the Railway Minister over trains running late after it received complaints by the passengers. The complaints were forwarded to the Railway Ministry and asked to follow the schedule and fix the problems so that trains were on time. Prabhu had then reacted that as the Railway Minister, it was his duty to ensure regular monitoring of punctuality of trains.

A top Railway official was made to sit twice during the last fortnight at Allahabad Junction for almost a week to examine the delays in the NCR and ECR zone. It was found that maximum number of train delays was tracked to New Delhi- Howrah route and particularly between the Patna-Mughalsarai-Allahabad section due to several asset failures like signaling, engines and track problems.

The initial report submitted to the Railway Minister says that in the event of delay of one train between on the “erratic” section, a cascading effect delays all the trains on the route. Allahabad junction also caters to trains bound to Mumbai and other Central and Southern Indian destinations besides New Delhi and beyond.

51 held for setting Coach afire; Railways loss estimated Rs.2.5 Crore; Railways to take stern action

Coach set on fire by mobDelang (DEG): Even as the Government Railway Police (GRP) on Sunday arrested at least 51 persons for torching a coach of Puri-Barbil/Paradip Express, Friday’s mob fury at Delang Railway Station has cost the Railways a staggering Rs 2.5 crore or even more.

All the arrested persons belonged to Sanagualipur village of Delang. SP of Railways Sanjay Kaushal said they will be produced before the court after verification of their involvement in the incident. Charges under Indian Penal Code (IPC) for destruction of public property, rioting and arson will be pressed against them. Provisions under the Railway Act will also be slapped, he added.

 On Friday, the mob had gone berserk after the death of a youth who had fallen off a train the previous  evening. The locals were demanding stoppage of the Puri-Barbil/Keonjhar Express at Delang.

Sources said the rioting and arson have put a huge cost on the ECoR property which is still being assessed. While a coach costs more than Rs 1.25 crore, the mob also damaged the station master’s cabin, reservation room, while the signalling and communication equipment were laid to waste. The route line interlocking system suffered serious damage. The incident may have inflicted a direct loss of over Rs  2.5 crore on the Railways.

“The Railways must make public the loss suffered by such incidents since these are public property and affects large sections of the society. Eventually, people pay for it through taxes,” said a senior government officer.

The mob also damaged furniture at Delang station. The locals are demanding stops at Delang and Kanas Road station. At least 3 fire tenders were deployed to douse the fire. Police also had to lathicharge to disperse the mob.

The mob also damaged furniture at Delang station. The locals are demanding stops at Delang and Kanas Road station. At least 3 fire tenders were deployed to douse the fire. Police also had to lathicharge to disperse the mob.

Direct losses apart, the consequential losses are even more. Sources pointed out that since a number of trains were controlled, short-terminated and cancelled because of the incident, there was a serious disruption of train traffic. As a result, affected passengers may also file claims.

 “There is a need to send out a strong message that railway property cannot be destroyed and Odisha Police must take stern action against those who vandalised the property to ensure that,” said an officer.

Railways to Launch baggage Insurance Plan for Passengers

The Railways is planning to launch Baggage Insurance Service to the passengers, wherein passengers will be compensated for valuables that they lose during the train journey.

Sources said talks were on with the New India Assurance to provide the service.

Passengers could claim the insurance money in case of lost or theft of baggage and goods such as laptop, mobile phone and other valuables. The service would be offered to passengers booking tickets online through the IRCTC website, but would not be mandatory.

“We are formalising tie-up with a leading insurance company for offering baggage insurance service to e-ticket customers. A customer will be given an option to avail of the insurance coverage, which will not be mandatory,” said an IRCTC official.

The customer will be given an option to avail the insurance coverage, which will not be mandatory. Around 2 million passengers travel every day and about 52% opt for e-ticketing.  He said the insurance premium would depend on the length of the journey and also the class of travel.

Also, efforts are on to offer services such as hospitalisation of passengers, if need arises, during the journey. Besides, the passengers are now offered e-catering and concierge services while booking tickets on certain trains and routes.

Over two million passengers daily use the railways for travel, with half of them booking  tickets online through the IRCTC website, the official pointed out.

Maharahstra signs MOU with RVNL & Dighi Port to build Railway Line from Dighi to Roha and to integrate with DMIC

Signing of MOU between RVNL and Dighi Port Ltd. In the Picture are Shri Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways, Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Officials from RVNL and Dighi Port

Signing of MOU between RVNL and Dighi Port Ltd. In the Picture are Shri Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways, Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Officials from RVNL and Dighi Port. Also seen are Satish C Agnihotri (left), Chairman and Managing Director, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited and Vijay Kalantri (right), Chairman and Managing Director, Dighi Port Ltd

Mumbai: The Prime Minister’s vision of Port led growth takes shape in Maharahstra with the signing of MoU between  Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and Dighi Port Limited (DPL) from Dighi to Roha integrating the region with DMIC. The Chief Minister stressed that the most significant points of connectivity are Yavatmal, Gadchiroli, Beed, Nanded and Ahmednagar. This will change the entire landscape of the State.

The Chief Minister also complimented Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister for Railways for giving  direction and momentum to the country and the State of Maharashtra in particular with rail connections across the country. Port led growth will play a very important role in the overall GDP growth of the country which is largely dependent on connectivity for industrialization and overall growth.

Due to various hindrances in the past, growth of ports was neglected which facilitated the growth of ports in other States. However, the State of Maharashtra is now taking a pro-active steps to meet Prime Minister Modi’s vision which will integrate the ports across the country and Maharashtra will take a lead in promoting Port led growth, he assured his complete support to the stakeholders.

The Chief Minister also stated that several MoUs will also be signed in the near future and presently the western water front transport problems are being resolved and these developments will require New Finance models  which will have to be put in place.

Officials sharing the mutually signed MOU copies in front of the Hon'ble Ministers

Officials sharing the mutually signed MOU copies in front of the Hon’ble Ministers

Government is also taking significant steps for capacity enhancement of private and non-major ports through close and open interaction with officials for fruitful decisions which will lead to commercial growth. This is the 2nd MoU after Jaigad which was signed in 2014 for a 35 kms railway line connection.

The entire coastline of India is 7600 kms of which 10% i.e. 760 kms is in Maharashtra alone said Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Hon’ble Union Minister for Railways, if Maharashtra grows by 20%, India will grow by 2% that is the potential of the State of Maharashtra. The State of Maharashtra will automatically develop if the coastal areas have ports and can be connected   with rest of Maharashtra through rail road connection.

Government will not be a facilitator, but be  an initiator and will closely monitor the partnership models in the country. State and Central Government will make efforts toward improving port infrastructure and its growth said Mr. Prabhu.

Mr. Prabhu emphasized on revamping the entire cell for Public Private Partnership (PPP). Clearances must be time bound. Mr Prabhu said that port connectivity plays a crucial role in the overall development of the country. He also said that Railways would develop more connectivity projects all over the country so as to realise PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. Mr Sinha said that the project would provide good connectivity to major cities in Maharashtra, resulting in enhancement of industrial activities, which in turn would give impetus to the economic development of the country.

“The agreement will be limited to Maharashtra,” he said, adding, the improved rail connectivity will help bridge development gap between regions and enlisted possible routes which may be taken up. Vidharbha, Marathwada, Uttar Maharashtra should be taken on priority basis for railway connectivity which will help Konkan to get connected with the State. Rail connectivity promotes economic growth by linking regions which have ports with those industrialized areas which do not have port connections, this provides job opportunities and overall growth of regions including backward and coastal areas.  These included laying tracks in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district in Vidarbha; establish a line between Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra and Vaibhavwadi in the coastal Sindhudurg district and another between Karad and Chiplun, connecting the developed Western Maharashtra with Konkan.

Mr. Prabhu stated the example of the United States of American where ports have been developed across the coast and is an ideal example of port led growth. Mr Prabhu also announced the establishment of Logistics Corporation which should be established in Nagpur, because of its strategic location.

Mr. Prabhu stated that $ 150 bn of investment is required in the rail sector. LIC and Rail infra fund are the major funding agencies. Further Rs. 8,050 crores is required  for further connecting the entire country with  railways as this is also the most ecologically viable mode of transport.

Transportation is the key to development and transportation  cost will decide the cost of production,  hence development of logistic infrastructure is significant for economic growth.

The new route will have a provision of running double stack containers and heavy freight trains.

The project will be electrified single line broad gauge of 33.76 km with 84 bridges, five tunnels and four stations.

The project development will cost Rs 800 crore and will be funded by equity and debt raised by the new special purpose vehicle (SPV).

Speaking to RailNews, Vijay Kalantri, President and Managing Director of Dighi Port Limited said that the project will be completed in two year and the work will start within one month.

Speaking on the land acquisition, Kalantri said 80 per cent of the land for the project if government owned land and the balance 20 per cent is private, acquiring of land is not a problem, as this is a SPV project and we don’t need to pay as per the Land Acquisition Act.

By 2022, the port will cater to 100 million tonnes of cargo on this route as against the current 1 to 2 million tonnes that the port is moving through road, Kalantri stressed.

RVNL will hold 24 per cent stake, 11 per cent of stake will be held by Maharashtra government and the balance will be owned by Dighi Port.

Kerala fund for Atlantis Rail over bridge project

Kochi: The much-awaited Atlantis rail over bridge project got a push with the state government allocating additional funds for acquiring a few of the remaining plots. However, the additional funds to the tune of Rs 11.80 crore will not be sufficient to complete the acquisition.

“The government has given funds only to clear part of the compensation to be disbursed. A few landowners have protested against the delay in disbursing dues and the additional funds will be used to clear it,” said K. J Sohan, town planning committee chairman.

Lack of funds for land acquisition has been the major hurdle for the civic body to take up the project. Though the district level purchasing committee had fixed the compensation amount for landlords, plots are yet to be completely acquired due to paucity of funds.

Though the government had earlier given Rs 48 crore for land acquisition, it was not sufficient. The construction of the ROB with a width of 12 metres and length of 550 metres would alone cost more than Rs 25 crore apart from the land acquisition cost.

Now, with the additional funds, the civic body can entrust the works to the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation-Kerala (RBDC-K).

Meanwhile, civic experts indicate that realigning the bridge would help reduce the cost of land acquisition considerably. If changes have been made to the earlier fixed alignment as per the JNNURM specifications, land acquisition will be at the minimum, they point out.

Once the construction of the Atlantis RoB is over, it is expected to offer another entry point to the city and will help avoid the bottlenecks at the South ROB.

RPF Personnel Nab Luggage Thief Through CCTV Footage

Secunderabad (SC): Railway Protection Force personnel have apprehended two culprits, one at Hyderabad Railway Station and another at Secunderabad Railway station in the last week. A passenger lodged a complaint about theft of his luggage while boarding Train No. 17032 Hyderabad-Mumbai Express on 13th April, 2015.  RPF personnel identified the criminal through CCTV footage and handed over the culprit to Government Railway Police for further action.

Crime Prevention and Detection Squad had apprehended one suspect at Secunderabad Railway Station on 17th April, 2015. He was handed over to Government Railway Police (GRP), Secunderabad. On further interrogation, GRP came to know about his involvement in other crimes on Railway premises and recovered 145 grams of stolen gold ornaments worth Rs 144000/- from him. A case is booked against the thief.

Suresh Prabhu cautions against Effects of Greenhouse Gases; advocates use of Solar, Wind Energy

New Delhi, Apr 20: Cautioning against harmful effects of greenhouse gases due to fossil fuel use, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has advocated a paradigm shift in the energy scenario through the use of alternative energy like solar and wind power. “The largescale use of fossil fuel worldwide is causing greenhouse gas emission affecting the climate adversely. All have agreed that greenhouse gas emission due to use of fossil fuel is causing global warming and climate change,” he said at a memorial lecture on Sunday.

Explaining the consequence of greenhouse gas emission, he said, “The unseasonal rain in the recent time and the amount of change in weather cannot be imagined. Extreme weather is causing adverse effect on agriculture like damage to crop.” He said the present global regime of energy is not sustainable in terms of environment.

We must find out new source of energy which are sustainable and it is a big challenge today.” Advocating use of solar and wind energy, he said solar and wind energy can lead to a new paradigm shift in the energy scenario.

“We have 300 days of good sunshine in India. We do not have to import solar energy. We should focus on solar power,” he said. “However, there is a requirement for storage facility of solar energy, he said. The Minister also suggested tapping of oceanic energy while noting that India has a long coastline. Suggesting other changes to keep the environment clean, he said, “Buildings should be designed as energy-efficient. Since ground water is depleting, steps should be taken like rain water harvesting to prevent further fall in water level.”

Kolhapur CCI demand multiple halts for goods trains; parking of long distance trains on PF-1

Kolhapur (KOP): The Kolhapur Chamber of Commerce and Industries has demanded the railway officials to have multiple stoppages for the goods carrier train. In response, the railway officials have asked the traders to prepare a proposal before April 24 in this regard.

At present, the goods carrier train starts from Kolhapur and concludes its journey at either Ahmedabad or Mumbai without any stoppages. In this backdrop, the traders and industrialists from the region want the train to stop at multiple locations to load and unload the goods.

Long-time economic slowdown has made it difficult for the traders and industrialists to procure an order and load the entire goods train.

“When we don’t have enough demand, we cannot send the goods through train. In such a situation, we resort to road transport. Though railway transport is cheaper, we cannot afford it till the entire train is loaded with goods. Most of the sugar traders are preferring road transport since they could supply their commodities on time. Otherwise, they will have to wait till the train is fully loaded,” said Anand Mane, president of the Chamber.

Mane said it’s possible to load the train by taking an additional halt at Karad or other suitable location in the region. “By doing so, sugar traders from the respective areas could turn to the railways. At the same time, we also want additional stoppages towards the final destination. For instance, a goods train to Ahmedabad can have a stoppage at Vadodara so that we could procure orders from the local traders,” he said.

S K Tiwari, Sr.DOM of Pune Division who was in the city recently, assured the traders that he will solve the issue on priority basis.

“We have been told to produce a report of our demand in the next four days. On April 24, the railway authorities are conducting a meeting to fulfill the demand on priority basis. Tiwari may present our report at the meeting,” Mane said.

Tiwari also asked the members to prepare a list of their other demands and send it to him within two weeks. Their other demands include changing Sahyadri express’s departure timing by an hour. At present, the train departs from Kolhapur at 10.50 pm and reaches Mumbai at 11.50 am next day. The members want the train to depart at 9.50 pm and ensure its arrival in Mumbai before 9.30 am. They said the railways could skip some of the stoppages and save travel time.

Also, it was reported by the traders that many long distant important trains are being parked on 3rd Platform whereas the Parcel Office is located near the main entrance.  They complained that for loading any parcels, the traders have to deal with the Parcel Office minimum 12 hours in advance.  However, due to this parking of trains bound towards long distances, it has become very difficult to get the labour, leave alone the difficulty in handling with them.  Traders requested the railway officials to shift the departures of long distance trains to first platform so that railways can witness increased revenues in parcels.

Soon, CTBC technology to make Delhi Metro run Driverless Trains

New Delhi: The sight of driverless Delhi Metro trains whizzing past stations, crowded and deserted, is all set to become a reality as upgraded new-generation coaches are being introduced on two upcoming lines as part of its Phase-III of expansion.

Apart from “unattended” trains, the 58-km-long Mukundpur-Shiv Vihar corridor and the 34-km-long Janakpuri (West)-Botanical Garden corridors will also have a new-age signalling system.

“The frequency of trains would increase to a much greater level and the gaps between two trains would come down to around 90 seconds due to this Communication-Based Train Control (CTBC) technology,” a Metro spokesman said.

An official explained that these trains would be able to accommodate as many as 240 commuters more in six coaches as the cab of the trains is not required in driverless trains.

A total of 68 stations on the upcoming lines would also have Platform Screen Doors for greater safety and to prevent suicide attempts.

“More than 60 per cent work is complete on those lines” an official added.

Asked whether the technology would be implemented on the other upcoming lines of Phase-III, the official said that would not be possible as they are merely extensions of existing lines.

“The technology is being implemented on Line 7 and 8 as the entire lengths of the corridors are being constructed,” the official said.

The trains would also be “10 per cent” more energy efficient than the operational ones because of improved design features, including more regeneration of energy during braking and energy efficient subsystems such as LED lighting.

L&T Metro MD bags ACI Award

Hyderabad: American Concrete Institute (ACI) has honoured V B Gadgil, Chief Executive and Managing Director, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Ltd, with ACI Chapter Activities Award for “his exemplary contributions in furthering the activities and influence of ACI and the ACI Chapter in India”.

This award was presented recently in Kansas City. Gadgil in a statement said, “It is a matter of great pride for me to receive this award after 43 long years of dedicated service to construction industry.”

Founded in 1904 and headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, US, the American Concrete Institute is a leading authority and resource worldwide for the development and distribution of consensus-based standards.

Metro Rail engineers are all set to raise structures over the elevated viaduct over Punjagutta flyover, one of the busiest junctions in Hyderabad

Having crossed the Nalgonda flyover successfully, metro rail engineers of Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) and L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad (L&TMRH) are set to put structures in place to build the elevated viaduct over the Punjagutta flyover, one of huge crossovers.

Not only is it an engineering challenge but the fact that the junction is the busiest in the city and work has to be done without disrupting the traffic flow either on the flyover or on ground means the task is cut out for the metro rail engineers.

Construction of the lengthy viaduct of about 190 ft without a pier support including a single span of 58 metres will be done on the site itself. “It will take about three to four months to get the viaduct to cross over. Traffic will continue to move underneath and on the flyover as the span will be at least six metres high or 14 ft from the flyover,” explained HMR managing director N.V.S. Reddy.

From the road level below, it will be little more than 62 ft high. The entire work will be done in three stages for the steel girders and concrete pouring to be set in place. Similar crossovers of 190 ft length are going to be taken up at Balanagar crossroads, Khairatabad and M.J. Market.

Traffic studies conducted by Lea Associates has suggested going for big obligatory spans at junctions to take care of future traffic flows as the metro rail will have to cross over 80 such junctions. About 28 junctions will have this kind of construction and among them the lengthy single span crossovers are at Parade Grounds (180 ft), Hi-Tec City (151 ft) and Uppal, Habsiguda, Dharam-Karan junction, Yousufguda, Madhapur, JNTU, S.R. Nagar and Lakidikapul (148 ft).

Miyapur depot ready

HMR & L&TMRH’s second major depot at Miyapur spread over a 100 acre site is also complete in all respects. The 18 three-coach trains sourced from Hyundai Rotem are stationed in the first major depot at Uppal (also about 100 acres) and are undergoing trial runs on the completed viaduct between Nagole and Mettuguda or stage one of the construction schedule where all the eight stations overhead have been completed.

At Miyapur, which will be the maintenance depot for the corridor one – Miyapur to L.B. Nagar, there are currently 10 trains of three coaches each. Although test track on ground inside the depot has been laid, according to metro rail officials, the trains are yet to be tested. The 10 stations between Miyapur – S.R. Nagar (stage two of the construction schedule) are nearing completion.

Demolitions at Secunderabad railway station

While there are 250-odd properties to be acquired across the 72 km route in the three corridors where the metro project is under construction, the authorities are chipping away slowly. A significant achievement has been to take over the properties near the Jubilee Check Post after more than five years of political and legal wrangling, especially the corner one. Demolitions are apace at Secunderabad railway station, Yousufguda, Madhuranagar and other sites.

Foundations laid – 1824 or 48 km, Piers 1718 or 45 km, and viaduct – 36 km.

Former Railway Board Member applaud introduction of Competition in Railways

New Delhi: In a major initiative, the Bibek Debroy committee has proposed to invite private players to compete with the Indian Railways by running sleek, brand-new coaches replete with high-tech gadgetry zipping through the countryside at 200 kmph or above, providing a new level of experience to the discerning railway users.

The committee has extensively documented the experience of European nations where a large number of such private operators have set up shop and have changed the way people commute by train.

The committee, in its 323-page report, has cited the example of opening up of the civil aviation and telecom sectors which has given millions of Indians freedom to choose from varied service providers and has also made significant advances in standards of service in these sectors.

Unfortunately, unlike airlines which can access the open skies as long they pay licence fees, obey the ATC’s instructions and stick to the slot allotted at the airports, and the way telecom operators handle traffic on the wave length exclusively provided to them, the rail track needs a single entity directing trains onto it. Hence, these new trains need to access the same tracks being used by the Indian Railways—13,000 passenger trains and 8,000 freight trains—over its vast 64,000-km network.

According to the report, of the total 1,219 sections on the Indian Railways, 576 or almost 50% carry traffic at 100% or above the designed capacity. And of the 247 high-density sections—most of them routes which the private train operators would like to run their trains on to obtain maximum occupancy—161 or over 65% are already saturated, having over 100% utilisation.

These new trains would have a problem from day one for priority in running while competing with the Indian Railways’ own need for giving precedence to the scores of Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and super-fast trains, not to mention the freight trains including ConRaj (Container Rajdhani) with a guaranteed transit time of 48 hours between Tughlakabad and the Mumbai port.

Aware of this overcrowding, railway minister Suresh Prabhu placed on priority doubling, tripling and even quadrupling of 1,200 km of such high-density routes in his maiden Budget. Till the additional tracks have been laid and commissioned, perhaps private train operators will have to wait.

However, the scenario may change if the Dedicated Freight Corridor is fully operational, on which, as estimated by the committee, 55% of the current revenue earning freight of the Indian Railway may move, freeing up track capacity and, interestingly, enabling timetabling of freight trains.

The committee has proposed that the Railways Act be amended to allow the levy of tariffs by private operators, which no longer would be administered, but will be left to the market, with a qualification for such passenger on un-remunerative lines, somewhat as for the airlines sector.

The committee finds it necessary to set up a public service costing (PSC) exercise, independent of the Indian Railways, which could be entrusted to the railway regulator. It would determine the costs incurred by the Indian Railways and other rail service providers on construction, operation and maintenance of lines in specified locations and in providing rail services on identified existing branch lines which are purely in the nature of providing social services, and suggest fares accordingly.

Unfortunately, opening up of container business to private operators almost a decade ago has not been a very happy situation for the Container Corporation of India (Concor), with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) mediating on behalf of private players. Some of the charges concern discrimination against private container train operators (PCTOs) by prohibiting transportation of goods such as ores, minerals, coke and coal which constitute almost 65% of freight traffic, arbitrary increase of haulage and stabling charges for PCTOs, unfair advantage to Concor by providing land to it at favourable terms, and denial of terminals and sidings owned and exclusively used by Concor to PCTOs, thus increasing costs for PCTOs and making them less viable.

In the process, it has opened up a Pandora’s box for the Indian Railways, with the CCI establishing its jurisdiction over matters of ‘commercial nature’, as opposed to sovereign functions of the ministry of railways which, in its opinion, were outside the jurisdiction of the CCI.

The private sector entry into the catering business at food courts at major railway stations and recently on running trains has, however, taken place without any major hiccup—at least for now. (Courtesy: Shri R.C.Acharya, former Member, Railway Board).

DMRC continues in project only due to pressure from CM: Sreedharan

Thiruvananthapuram (TVC): Principal adviser to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) E Sreedharan said that DMRC has no interest in light metro project and is continuing because of the pressure from chief minister Oommen Chandy. In a meeting organized by Trivandrum development authority (TRIDA) to clear doubts about the light metro project, Sreedharan said that it was not a business for DMRC, but a service.

The seminar moderated by Inkel chairman T Balakrishnan was an invite-only function, attended mostly by representatives of organizations which are strongly in favour of DMRC taking up the project on a nomination basis. Though the seminar was organized to clear doubts about the project, invited participants didn’t take the risk to level displeasing questions. At the outset of the discussion itself, veteran BJP leader O Rajagopal and the representative from CII said there was no need to go into technical specifications in the detailed project report (DPR), which had been severely criticized.

Rather than debating ambiguous clauses, most of the participants hailed Sreedharan’s contributions and pleaded him not to abandon the project.

When raised question about the need for a global tender, Sreedharan said that government could go for global tender, but DMRC won’t participate. “DMRC has a policy that we don’t participate in tender,” he said.

When asked whether charging 6% of project cost as consultancy fee was higher compared to global rates, he said that 6% was not a big amount considering the benefits of DMRC becoming the turnkey consultant. “The companies would quote lesser amount because they have good faith in DMRC. The project will be completed in short span on time,” he said.

Sreedharan said that the major drawback of engaging foreign consultants is that the project would get delayed.

During the discussion, Sreedharan said that the same technology of metro rail will be used for light metros. “The only difference is that it will have fully motorized bogies,” he said. When probed the cost of the motorized bogies about which there is no mention in the DPR, moderator intervened stating that such details are immaterial.

Interestingly, Sreedharan said that a depot was not necessary to operate light metro on the Kesavadasapuram-Karamana stretch. “Yes, we have the technical advancement to operate light metro without a depot on the stretch. Only temporary facilities are required. Our bogies are so advanced that they won’t require any maintenance work for three years,” he said.

When youth commission member Swapna George asked whether fuel cess would be a burden for the people at a time when the state government has already introduced Rs.1 cess for fuel in the recent budget, Sreedharan said that cess was suggested so that Union government would get an assurance about how state government raise money for the project. He said it won’t be a burden for people as they are for better facilities.

“Raising Rs 200 crore per year for the state with an annual budget of Rs 1 lakh crore is not a big issue,” he said.

Sreedharan said that though financial internal rate of returns (FIRR) is low, economic internal rate of returns (EIRR) is high. “EIRR is calculated considering social benefits such as saving of fuels, time, lives, prevention of environmental pollution, etc. The EIRR calculated is 18%, which is important,” he said. Sreedharan said that return of loan worth Rs 2,300 crore was not a concern as companies which operate the light metro could pay back the amount from their revenue.

Will the State allocate Rs. 324 crore annually for five years for the Light Metro project in the two cites ?. A reply to this question is what the elected representatives, people, DMRC and the project officials are anxiously awaiting from the government.

The Rs.324 crore yearly outgo of the State includes Rs.200 crore for the capital city and Rs.124 crore for Kozhikode. When the project is executed fully in 2021, this will come to Rs.1,619 crore out of a completion cost of Rs.6,728 crore. The Rs.1,619 crore as State share (20 per cent) includes the equity of Rs.869 crore, Rs.409 crore (sub debt for central taxes) and Rs.361 crore as sub debt for land. “Why can’t the State with a budget of Rs. one lakh crore spare Rs.200 crore annually for the capital ?,’’asks DMRC Principal Adivser E.Sreedharan.

The Centre’s share (20 per cent) projected by the DMRC is Rs.1,278 crore with yearly outgo of Rs.256 crore for two cities. The remaining Rs.3,831 crore (60 per cent) is to be mobilised through loans locally or from external funding agencies.

Delhi Metro organise ‘Heritage Walk’ to celebrate World Heritage Day

New Delhi: The Metro Adventure Club (MAC), an initiative by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to promote adventure and sports activities among its employees was formally launched on Saturday through a ‘Heritage Walk’ organised between the Chawri Bazar and Chandni Chowk localities of old Delhi.

The walk covered many locations of great historical importance such as Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Gauri Shankar Mandir, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and the famous Paranthe Wali Gali.

The Managing Director of DMRC, Dr. Mangu Singh flagged off the walk in the presence of other senior officials and also took part in the walk.

The event, organised on the occasion of World Heritage Day today, was arranged in association with ‘Delhi Walks’ which arranges conducted walks to various heritage locations in the national capital.

Experts from ‘Delhi Walks’ also conducted the tour and explained in details about the importance of the various monuments which were covered during the tour that lasted for about two hours.

The event saw the participation of over 50 people.

DMRC is carrying out construction activities in all parts of Delhi and therefore such walks are aimed to instill awareness among the employees about the rich culture and heritage of the city.

The next activity of the Delhi Metro Adventure Club will be a visit to Yamunotri and Gangotri next month.

Baroda Academy suitable to be made into a Railway University; says MOSR

MOSR @ NAIRVadodara (BRC): Vadodara-based National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) may be upgraded into aRailway University even as the Centre works on setting up four Railway Universities across the country as proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year with the aim to train manpower for the Indian Railways.

Human Resource Development ministry is looking into every aspect of converting NAIR – an institute set up in Vadodara in 1952 to train officers of various departments intomanagement and technical aspects of the Indian Railways – into a university, Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha, said in Vadodara on Friday.

“Prime minister Narendra Modi had declared setting up of four Railway Universities across the country not just in India but also abroad. The institute, where we are currently holding the press conference (the NAIR), is most suited to be converted into aRailway University and a subsidiary of the HRD ministry is already looking into this,” Sinha said, while addressing a press conference.

Earlier in March, Sinha had said while replying to questions in Rajya Sabha that NAIR will be upgraded into a Railway University. A Railway University will be the first-of-its-kind in the country, offering railway-specific courses modelled on universities already existing in China, which has already proposed to co-fund and handhold India’s firstrailway university.

MOSR Sinha @ NAIRSpread across 55 acre land in the historic Pratap Vilas Palace and built in 1914, the NAIR provides training and management development opportunities to newly-appointed railway officers and other senior officers. It also offers training to officers of other services of central government, PSUs, and those from foreign railways. Theinfrastructure of the academy is also being expanded with a new hostel building, newmess, a lecture-theatre building, and a new guest house currently under construction. Sinha laid the foundation stone for an additional and modern sporting complex which will house badminton, squash, gymnasium, billiards, and other facilities.

Speaking further, Sinha said that with 5,250 kilometres railway network, Gujarat has an average 8.71 kilometres railway network per net population, much higher than the national average of 5.44 kilometres. He said the state has received much higher fund allocation for new railway lines, double line, gauge conversion, and overbridge-underbridge construction during the 2015-16 budget than before.

Rs.140 crore has been allocated for new lines, Rs.2,336 crore for double line, and Rs.882 crore for gauge conversion during 2015-16 budget, compared to Rs.105 crore for, Rs.572 crore, and Rs.139 crore, respectively, during the last budget. The tender for Rs.130-crore service station for 100 electric locomotives, which will come up at Dabhoi, has also been released and work will soon start, he said.

Southern Railway achieve 9% Growth in overall Earnings – 5.2% in Freight & 13.3% in Passenger segment

S Dhasarathy, (second from right) former member (Mechanical) Railway Board giving away the Electrical Efficiency award to the Chennai Division at the 60th railway week celebrations of Southern Railways on Thursday. Ashok K Agarwal, general manager, Southern Railway, is also seen

S Dhasarathy, (second from right) former member (Mechanical) Railway Board giving away the Electrical Efficiency award to the Chennai Division at the 60th railway week celebrations of Southern Railways on Thursday. Ashok K Agarwal, general manager, Southern Railway, is also seen

Channai (MAS): Southern Railways has achieved an 9.0 percent growth in overall earnings, 5.2 percent growth in freight earning and 13.3 percent in passenger earning, with expenditure rising by 8.5 percent with marginally improving our operating ratio which stands at 131.54, said Ashok Agarwal, General Manager, Southern Railways speaking at the 60th Railway week day celebrations on Thursday. “Continuing to be passenger oriented railways, we have permanently augmented trains by adding 96 coaches and temporarily adding 9,562 coaches with 1,099 special trains run to clear holiday rush,” Agarwal added.

The week is celebrated every year by various railway zones between April10 to April 16, to mark the starting of the Indian Railways with a single track back in 1853 with a single track between the erstwhile Bombay and Thane to remember the history of the institution and set goals for the coming year.

Southern Railway also secured three shields for safety, comprehensive health care and station cleanliness shield for the first time at the Railway Board level meet held recently event also saw many railway employees and their children display a variety of programmes such as  fusion dance, music and instrumental displays which kept the packed hall enthralled with their performances.

Metro Rail companies told to have at least one Woman on their Boards

New Delhi: Most of the entities running Metro rail projects in the country including in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kochi and Hyderabad would need to appoint at least one woman as director in their board of directors. At present, only Chennai and Mumbai Metro have women members in their board of directors.

Sources said that all the managing directors of the Metro projects have been told to create the provision of appointing an independent director. “These have to be done to comply with the norms of the Companies Act. Since these are companies, there is a consensus that they must follow the company rules,” said a government official.

These issues were discussed at a review meeting of Metro projects chaired by urban development secretary Madhusudan Prasad on Friday. Officials said while having at least one woman in the board of directors goes well with the government’s focus on gender sensitization and representation to women, the appointment of independent directors is expected to usher in a new era in corporate governance in all such entities.

Sources also said there was also unanimity among all the MDs of Metro rail companies/ corporations that they should get more powers like that of their Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) counterpart so that they can take quick decisions without unnecessary paper work. Delhi Metro chief has all powers in contract matters irrespective of contract value.

“They wanted this so that project execution can be expedited and can be completed within the scheduled deadlines,” said an official.

SWR registers increase in Freight, Passenger earnings

Hubli (UBL): South Western Railway has registered an increase of 17 per cent and 13 per cent respectively in terms of originating passengers earnings and freight earnings in the financial year ending on March 31, 2015.

Announcing the achievement at the 60th Railway Week celebrations here on Friday, SWR General Manager Pradeep Kumar Saxena said that the zone had shown remarkable turnaround in its performance in the 12 years of its existence.

He said that originating passenger earnings up to March, 2015, had increased by 17 per cent to Rs. 1,820 crore.

SWR had carried 37.50 million tonnes of freight during the fiscal 2014-15, an increase of 5 per cent over last year, and consequently the freight earnings had increased to Rs. 3,378 crores, he said.

Security measures

Mr. Saxena said that SWR was continuously strengthening the security on the railway premises to ensure safe travel to the passengers. RPF was escorting 39 trains on an average per day, he said.

During 2014-15, construction organisation had completed 89 km of track which included 51 km of new line and 38 km of track doubling.

Mr. Saxena who also handed over efficiency shields and individual awards to the SWR employees and officers, thanked the employees for their dedicated work which he said had resulted in the zone’s progress.

Awards presented

Mr. Saxena also presented ‘Women of the year award’ which carries a purse of Rs. 5,000 each to V. Shantha, points woman, operating department, Hubballi division and Smitha V.M., helper, general stores depot(GSD), Hubballi.

He also presented GM’s scholarship awards under to railway high school students Megha M. Zende, Aishwarya A. Kulkarni and Anita Wallikar. The celebrations concluded with cultural programmes by railway employees and railway school students.

Originating passenger earnings increased by 17 per cent to

Rs. 1,820 crore up to March, 2015

ECoR achieves highest Freight Loading

Bhubaneswar (BBS): The East Coast Railway bagged the ‘Traffic Transportation Shield’ from the Railway Minister recently for achieving the highest loading in the Indian Railways. ECoR General Manager Rajiv Vishnoi complimented railwaymen for their contribution at the 60th Railway Week celebrations held at Bhubaneswar. ECoR achieved the highest loading of 161.90 MT this year as against 149.50 MT during 2013-14, registering an increase of 8.30 per cent. Similarly, ECoR had carried 89.84 million passengers during 2014-15 as against 88.83 million during the previous fiscal. ECoR had also bagged the Personnel Management Shield for the remarkable performance and collective achievement.

ECoR celebrates 60th Railway Week

Bhubaneswar (BBS): The East Coast Railway (ECoR) on Friday celebrated 60th Railway Week to commemorate the advent of the first train in the country.

General Manager of ECoR Rajiv Vishnoi and president of ECoR Women’s Welfare Organisation Shalini Vishnoi were chief guest and guest of honour of the function respectively.

Addressing the gathering, Vishnoi complimented his men for bagging honour of the highest loading zone in Indian Railways and Traffic Transportation Shield from the Ministry of Railways.

During 2014-15, he said the zone added another glorious chapter by recording a loading of 161.90 million tonne against 149.50 million tonne during 2013-14. This has been achieved despite challenges faced by traffic transportation sector in the country and Indian Railways in particular, he said.

Similarly, ECoR carried 89.84 million passengers in 2014-15 financial year against 88.83 million passengers in the previous fiscal, he informed. The zone also bagged the Personnel Management Shield for remarkable performance and collective achievement.

Merit awards and shields were handed over to various officers and staff on the occasion. Khurda Road Division received the Over all Efficiency Shield for performance in different fields.

Senior Deputy General Manager Sanjay Kumar Mohanty and Deputy General Manager Sushant Kumar Purohit also spoke.

Gauri Saxena takes over as Chief Commercial Manager of South Eastern Railway

Gauri Saxena IRTS, CCM, SER

Gauri Saxena IRTS, CCM, SER

Kolkata (KOAA): Gauri Saxena has taken over as the Chief Commercial Manager of South Eastern Railway and was appointed in H.A.Grade by utilising the HAG element of the post of COM/NFR and operating the SAG post of CCM/SER in HAG.

She joined Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) in 1981 and started her career in undivided South Eastern Railway as Asst Operations Manager of Nagpur Division.

With all her academic and professional excellence, Ms Saxena successfully traversed a long way in her career in various capacities at different Zonal Railways and Production Units.

Before joining as Chief Commercial Manager of South Eastern Railway, Ms Saxena was posted as Chief Commercial Manager (Freight Marketing), N.C.Railway.

She also held the prestigious posts of Principal, Zonal Railway Training Centre, Chandausi, Dean and Sr.Professor of IRITM, Lucknow, General Manager/Traffic of RITES and went to Kenya as Consultant while at RITES

Indian Railways to partner with CSIR for alternative Fuels; to set up Plants for Converting Plastic to Diesel

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology who visited the IIP’s campus at Pune inaugurated the Advanced Triblogy Research Centre. He was accompanied by Dr M.O.Garg, Director-General of CSIR who is also the Director of the prestigious Institute at Pune. Dr Sudeep Kumar, Head, PPD of CSIR and other scientists were also seen in the picture

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology who visited the IIP’s campus at Pune inaugurated the Advanced Triblogy Research Centre. He was accompanied by Dr M.O.Garg, Director-General of CSIR who is also the Director of the prestigious Institute at Pune. Dr Sudeep Kumar, Head, PPD of CSIR and other scientists were also seen in the picture

Pune: Indian Railways is soon to set up plants to manufacture diesel for mechanical traction with technology patented by scientists at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP) here.

Announcing this in Dehradun today, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology and Vice President, CSIR, laid out the roadmap for further exploitation of opportunities in alternative fuel sources. The country’s premier research establishment in hydrocarbons has achieved significant success in reducing national dependence on fossil fuels.

“I have myself campaigned on the streets of Delhi against pollution and plastic proliferation. Today, I am glad to announce that diesel conforming to Euro-5 specifications in sulphur content has become a reality thanks to the CSIR-IIP & GAIL’s diligence and ingenuity,” he said.

The rapid decision to embrace the technology by the world’s largest railway network, Indian Railways, speaks volumes for the Narendra Modi government’s resolve to apply out-of-the-box ideas to reduce India’s carbon footprint. The Minister remarked: “United States President Barack Obama has described Shri Modi as India’s reformer-in-chief. This is not surprising.”

CSIR-IIP, which is part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is currently blazing the trail in offering solutions to global warming. Reducing India’s high dependence on imports and sparing the fossil fuels for the future generations constitute the major focus of its present R&D thrust. He said, “At the inauguration of the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai in January, I had stated our government’s resolve not to be distracted by falling oil prices by continuing to fund R&D into clean energy. I had CSIR-IIP in mind at the time because I was confident that the time when I could announce to the world this amazing news was drawing near.”

The Minister elaborated: “We are the first to have the capability to convert 1 tonne of broken buckets, mugs, toothpaste tubes, bottle caps and other Polyolefins products into 850 litres of the cleanest grade of diesel. This is the best news yet for the planet this year because henceforth plastic waste will be viewed more as a resource than a nuisance.”

The Minister, who visited the IIP’s campus, inaugurated the Advanced Triblogy Research Centre. He was accompanied by Dr M.O.Garg, Director-General of CSIR who is also the Director of the prestigious establishment. Dr Sudeep Kumar, Head, PPD of CSIR and other scientists were also present.

Jet fuel from Jatropha

Another feather in CSIR-IIP’s cap is the successful project to produce low-carbon jet fuel from the inedible, drought-resistant Jatropha plant. This has already captured the imagination of several governments worldwide.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “We have gone several steps ahead in developing alternative sources of jet fuel. Jatropha apart, CSIR-IIP has the knowledge to make jet fuel out of any non-edible oil –even the waste cooking oil from our kitchens is soon to become prized material in the market.”

The Minister, who has initiated several renewable energy missions in the national capital –including a project to run public toilets with solar power-fuelled taps, exhaust fans and lights – said “We must make a social movement out of alternative fuel use. Our cultural heritage has been one of the most environment friendly. Our villagers have used cowdung cakes as a fuel source for thousands of years. In recent decades we had been following the mad path of over-consumption. Now, thanks to our scientists we can revert to our original mindset of preservation.”

While moving fast with alternative fuels, CSIR-IIP has continued with its founding mission of developing cleaner forms of fossil fuels. This has led to the development of world class sweetening catalyst which helps to remove excessive foul smelling mercaptans from LPG. After capturing the Indian market, recently 600 Kg of this new material hit the international market”, Dr Harsh Vardhan announced.

The Minister remarked that the advanced training courses on Petroleum Refining and Petrochemicals which have been run by the institute right from inception for the Indian hydrocarbon sector has made a major impact on human resource development. He stressed on the importance of imparting necessary skills to operate and optimize plant operations at the international level.

“Energy and environment are two side of the same coin”, he pointed out. “I urge our scientists to constantly strive to develop new technologies and products with zero defect and zero effect which can help to produce a higher GDP per unit of energy consumed. India must be at the forefront of fighting climate change. We would thus help realise the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister and President, CSIR.”