Coaches of two Rajdhani Express trains gutted in fire at New Delhi rail yard

New Delhi: In a bizarre incident, when MOS (Railways) Manoj Sinha announced in the Parliament that the Railways have endeavored to enhance fire worthiness of coaches by using fire retardant furnishing materials to mitigate effect of fire in the trains yesterday, a massive fire broke out on two stationary passenger trains viz.Sealdah Rajdhani and Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Expresses at the New Delhi railway station on Tuesday. Although no casualties have been reported and fire engines are on the spot trying to douse the fire, it is reported that a heavy loss was incurred by Railways due to the fire accident. According to latest reports, fire was reported in the AC coach at the washing area. The fire department said there was no one inside the train and both the trains were parked in the washing area in the yard where the fire was reported.  As per Neeraj Sharma, CPRO, Northern Railway, four coaches of Sealdah Rajdhani Express and two coaches of Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express were gutted in the fire. Mr.Sharma added that the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained. Nineteen fire tenders were pressed into service after a call was received from the railway station at noon, said an official of the Delhi Fire Service.

E-Samiksha launched to monitor Rail projects Online

New Delhi: With an aim of monitoring implementation of various ongoing projects including Rail Budget proposals, railways today launched E-Samiksha, an online monitoring mechanism.

It is a very good beginning and now each and every project implementation can be monitored on real-time basis, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said here after launching the system.

Designed by NIC, the software is currently being used by Cabinet Secretariat, PMO and other Ministries for monitoring progress implementation of various programmes and follow-up of meetings.

“We want to monitor the progress of every project whether small or big as we are accountable to Parliament and people,” Prabhu said.

Apart from budget-related projects, the E-Samiksha can also be used for monitoring the infrastructure target and board meeting follow-up.

Prabhu further said the system should be constantly upgraded to cover every aspect.

According to a Railway official involved with the E-Samiksha, the software has been developed to make it a highly interactive web-based, user-friendly and customised system.

He said further enhancement can be seamlessly integrated with the existing module.

Projected financial improvement in Railways may not materialise: Dinesh Trivedi

New Delhi: Dinesh Trivedi dug deep into his brief but eventful experience as a railway minister to come out with a scathing report on the ministry, saying that a cohesive plan to put the organisation on the path to recovery was missing and the projected improvement in financial condition may not materialise.

Heading the Standing Committee on Railways, Trivedi tabled the report on Demands for Grants (2015-16) in Lok Sabha on Monday, cautioning the ministry against falling into a debt trap. The committee expressed concern over the fact that railways had failed to generate internal resources and were heavily dependent on Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) and borrowings and leasings.

Percentage of internal resource generation had successively fallen from 28.7 per cent in 2010-11 to 17.8 per cent in 2015-16. Borrowings on the other hand, had gone up from 23.9 per cent to 40.6 per cent in the same period. While railway finances were buttressed by GBS of 49.3 per cent in 2014-15, it estimated the amount to come down to 41.6 per cent in 2015-16.

rlys fin healthThe railway ministry informed the committee about the MoU signed with Life Insurance Corporation of India in March with a committed funding of assistance of Rs 1,50,000 crore over five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20. The railways had already tied up with World Bankand Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JICA) for the Dedicated Freight Corridor.

Cautioning the railways against falling into a debt trap, the committee said that the railways must study the bankability of projects “in minute detail” before implementing the financing model.

The report was preceded by tough grilling of the railway ministry with the Committee sending 40 questions regarding the financial condition of the organisation.

“The ministry dodged some questions, gave contradictory answers to others and tried to hoodwink the Committee in several places,” Trivedi told after tabling the report. He termed the report as a “complete pathological report of the railways” that gave true picture of the ailing organisation.

According to him, Suresh Prabhu had set targets in the railway budget that were not realistic and unachievable. There was no basis for the targets as the earnings from both, passengers and freight were showing a downward trend. Even in terms of number of passengers travelling, the railways had registered a negative growth.

“In their replies, the railways have admitted that the originating passenger grew by 2.4 per cent in 2012-13, -0.3 per cent in 2013-14 and -2.12 per cent in 2014-15 (till February),” the report said, adding that it was expected to fall more sharply. Regarding freight, the earnings had gone down despite the railways carrying more load, registering a growth rate of 5 per cent.

Trivedi’s report further rubbished railways’ claim of improving its Operating Ratio (OR) from 91.8 per cent in 2014-15 to 88.5 per cent in 2015-16. “Based on unrealistic projections of total receipts, the improvement in OR is unlikely,” the Committee said.

The House panel also expressed concern on the accumulated arrears on account of Depreciation Fund and Development Funds. There were huge arrears in replacement and renewals of overaged assets, endangering the rail passengers. The committee said that even critical rail projects – linked to the defence sector – were inordinately delayed due to various reasons, mainly resource crunch.

Trivedi also questioned the much-acclaimed decision of the minister not to announce new trains and projects. “No new trains not a good idea. People living in remote, under-developed, tribal and hilly areas have been waiting for decades for a rail link. Their disenchantment and disappointment could lead to sense of alienation, and give rise to frustration and even extremist tendencies,” was Trivedi’s take on the issue.

The House panel recommended a National Policy on railways, “which should be the guiding force for the railways irrespective of the government in power.”

MOSR presents Performance of Railway Production Units in Parliament

New Delhi: With an aim to provide greater fillip to Prime Minister’s Make in India Campaign ,Indian Railways has constantly endeavored to  increase its production capacity through its production units as a result of which production output in last three fiscals of railway production units has consistently shown an increase. This has been possible due to capacity augmentation and technology up gradation. The Railway Production Units and their production output during last three years and current year is given below:

Production Plants performance

* This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha. Rail Coach Factory, Raebareli and Rail Wheel Plant, Bela are in Project stage. Production at these units is commensurate with the development of facilities there

The capacity utilization of these Production Units during last three years and current year is given below:

Capacity Utilization of Railways Production Plants

Capacity Utilization of Railways Production Plants

GRP Coordination Meeting of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka & AP today

Vellore (VT): Government Railway Police (GRP) from four southern States will meet in Vellore on Tuesday for a coordination meeting to discuss measures to prevent and detect property offences on trains.

On Monday, Seema Agrawal, Inspector General of Police, Railways and P. Vijaya Kumar, Superintendent of Police, GRP Chennai Railway Police district were at Jolarpet to review the security arrangements following three chain snatching incidents on board the Bangalore – Chennai Mail during Monday midnight in Jolarpet limit, Chains were snatched from three women travelling in the train at around 12.30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The theft occurred in between Bangarapet in Karnataka and Jolarpet railway stations in Vellore district in Tamil Nadu jurisdiction. The senior officers were here to review the security arrangements.

From all four southern States

The coordination meeting, which was scheduled much earlier, will see participation of GRP from all four southern States – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Officers from Railway Protection Force in Vijayawada, Guntakal, Bangalore and Palakad will also participate as they had a criminal investigation department, officials said.

“We want to coordinate with GRP of other southern States and also enable exchange of information to reduce, prevent and detect property offences.

We have strengthened our presence on trains in Chennai railway police district but such offences also take place in bordering areas, hence raising the need for coordination,” the official said.

Working arrangement

For instance, the officer said the meeting will see how the GRP, Chennai could work along with their counterparts in Bangalore on preventing offences in between and look at the possibility of whether Tamil Nadu police can be engaged in beat till Bangarapet.

Already, 250 GRP personnel of Chennai Railway Police district travel on trains between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.

“Our personnel have been deputed on this march on trains from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. as this is the vulnerable time.

Team on trains

A team consists of four persons and they travel on trains in the entire region including trains starting from Coimbatore, Salem, Hosur and Jolarpet,” he added.

In fact, GRP personnel were waiting to board the Bangalore-Chennai Mail at Jolarpet station and travel till Chennai when the passengers reported the chain snatching incident.

To discuss measures to prevent and detect property offences on trains

Dinesh Trivedi panel questions Setting up of several Expert Committees by Railways

New Delhi: Taking note of the various expert committees formed to study different aspects of the functioning of Railways, the 31-member Parliamentary Committee headed by TMC MP and former Union Minister of Railways Mr.Dinesh Trivedi has expressed concern over the wastage of public money.

The Standing Committee on Railways in its report has noted with concern that that public money which has gone into the setting up and working of the committees was being squandered when their recommendations are not implemented.

“That being so, the committee is constrained to point out that if the expert panels’ recommendations are not implemented in the right earnest, there appears no justification to constitute such committees,” the report tabled in Parliament today, said.

The committee has further said, “This sort of inaction becomes all the more serious when the much acclaimed investment plan of Railways is in a take-off stage and the government has been claiming to transform railways on the lines of the Chinese, Japanese and French Railways.”

The committee has strongly advocated for implementations of the expert committees’ reports in a time-bound manner.

The committee noted that in the recent past, various committees have been constituted by Railways to study various aspects of the functioning of the public transporter.

There are committees such as Kakodkar Committee, which was constituted to review safety of railway system. Sreedharan Committee was formed to review the delegation of commercial powers for railway projects for lower levels of bureaucracy. Mittal Committee was formed to suggest ways and means to raisethe revenue of the Railways.

The Sam Pitroda committee looked into the ways and means to modernise the Railway system. Similarly Debroy Committee was set up to study and report the limited role of Railway Board, revamping of HR functions and restructuring the Board.

The parliamentary committee has found that notwithstanding the fact that some of these committees submitted their report in 2012, their recommendations are still under examination by Railway Ministry and no decision has been taken on their implementation.

Considering the lackadaisical approach of Railway Ministry, the committee strongly recommended setting a time-schedule to implement the recommendations of these expert committees.

The committee has accordingly asked the Railways to scientifically monitor the progress made in this regard at the highest level.

Parliamentary Panel raise Serious Concerns at IR’s Financial Health; observe Rs.61000 Cr Bankruptcy by end 2015

The MPs noted that a similar trend has been observed in passenger business productivity also. For both freight and passenger traffic, system productivity was falling on an annual rate of 1% to 2%. Also it was found that over the years, railways has failed to generate internal resources resulting in its greater dependence on budgetary support and market borrowings

New Delhi: The Parliamentary Panel constituted to examine the financial condition of Railways, headed by the TMC MP and former Union Minister of Railways (under the previous UPA regime) Dinesh Trivedi has expressed serious concerns at the financial health of Indian Railways, even observing that it would declare a bankruptcy of Rs 61,000 crore by the end of 2015.

The 31-member panel headed by Dinish Trivedi which scrutinised grants for the railways observed that operating ratio of the national carrier had deteriorated to 93.6%. It had excess surplus of just Rs 3,740 crore in 2013-14. But under provisioning for depreciation has resulted in piling up of throw forward of works concerning renewal of overaged assets of the order of Rs 41,871 crore.

The MPs noted that a similar trend has been observed in passenger business productivity also. For both freight and passenger traffic, system productivity was falling on an annual rate of 1% to 2%. Also it was found that over the years, railways has failed to generate internal resources resulting in its greater dependence on budgetary support and market borrowings.

CBI initiates ‘thorough investigation’ into Rs.4200 Crore Rail Freight Scam under previous UPA regime

Several senior Railway officials in different Railway Zones are under Scanner for their Nexus with Coal Transporters

New Delhi: In what could snowball into another major scam during the UPA regime, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a probe into the loss of Rs.4200 crore to the Railways in freight. The agency said it conducted surprise checks at 65 locations last week where its officers found that goods being transported in trains are underweight in connivance with the railway officials and private companies.

It is perhaps the biggest ever operation as more than 500 CBI officers along with vigilance officers of Indian Railways from various Rail zones carried out countrywide joint surprise checks at 65 locations unearthing major irregularities in the weighment of freight carried in trains.

The agency will soon register multiple FIRs. Several senior officers of railways, private vendors and freight transporters are under the scanner.

Almost two-third of the revenue of Indian Railways’ comes from freight earnings. The irregularities are not only leading to losses of several thousand crores for the transporter but also weakening tracks on long routes where the freight wagons move.

coal scam“We have carried out surprise checks and found serious discrepancies,” CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad told. The checks were done along with the vigilance department of the Indian Railways.

In 2012-13, Indian Railways transported 1,008 million metric tonnes of freight, earning Rs 85,262 crore, which constitutes 67% of its total revenues. The railways collect freight charges from various transporters.

The charges are levied based on the weight of the goods that are loaded in the wagons. Railways use both static and in-motion weigh bridges for weighing.

Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridge (EIMWBs) have been developed by the railways in consultation with Research Development and Standards Organisation (RDSO) to plug the leakage of revenue and to avoid overloading of wagons. A goods trains passing at the speed of 15 kilometres per hour gets automatically weighed by this system.

Explaining the modus operandi, a senior official said, “The manipulations in weighment was done by tampering of the software, EIMWB hardware. The manual entries by the suspects led to significant loss of revenue for the railways. Even a 5% under-reporting of actual weight of freight leads to a loss of nearly Rs 4,200 crore. Such a manipulation also leads to overloading with adverse consequences for wear and tear of track and railway safety.”

These EIMWBs are located at 200 locations out of which CBI conducted checks in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata among others. During the checks, CBI sleuths also found that the quantum of under-weighment increased with an increase in speed of the rake.

The CBI cops also secured the EIMWBs locations with the help of digital forensic experts to prevent the tampering of the machine. “We also took a forensic image of the hard disc of the EIMWB to enable a digital forensic analysis to locate the ‘digital fingerprints’ of past manipulation in weighment,” said a senior CBI official.

Indian Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena acknowledged the checks were conducted by CBI. He, however, downplayed the enormity of the scandal. “This is a regular exercise that is carried out by the Indian Railways to check corruption. We had only asked CBI and our vigilance department to conduct the checks,” Saxena told.

Railways, Ministry of Coal sign MOU on Transportation of Coal by Rail

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu said that the coal sector is the largest customer of the Indian Railways as 50 per cent of the total generation of the two third freight earning comes from coal transportation only

The MoU was signed in the presence of Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State Transport (Independent Charge) for Commerce. Ramesh Chandra Majhi from Odisha is also present

The MoU was signed in the presence of Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu, MoS (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, MoS (Railways) Manoj Sinha and MoS-Transport (IC) for Commerce.  Also present was Ramesh Chandra Majhi from Odisha

New Delhi: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Coal and Government of Odisha for formation of a joint venture (JV) to undertake project development, financing and implementation of identified projects for evacuation of coal through rail.

The MoU was signed in the presence of the Union Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu and the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State Transport (Independent Charge) for Commerce and, Govt. of Odisha, Ramesh Chandra Majhi.  Also present on the occasion among other were Secretary, Ministry  of Coal, Shri Anil  Swarup,  Railway Board Members, senior officials from Railway, Union Ministry of Coal and Odisha State Government.

The signatories to the MOU were Dr.A.K.Dubey, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Govt. of India, New Delhi, Dr. Sunil Kumar Bhargava, Chief Resident Commissioner, Government of Odisha and Shri Girish Pillai, Adviser/Infrastructure, Railway Board.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu said that the coal sector is the largest customer of the Indian Railways as 50 per cent of the total generation of the two third freight earning comes from coal transportation only. As coal is common man’s fuel, there is a need to augment its production and it is the prime responsibility of the Railways to play a major role in its transportation to the end users. Suresh Prabhu said that coal freight is the most important component of revenue generation of the Railways. Coal is poor man fuel and it is utmost important for us to increase coal production in the country. Railways has responsibility to help increasing coal production. Shri Prabhu said that in the days to come, the Railways Ministry will work out similar partnerships with all stakeholders and set up Joint Ventures to bring out synergy of operations. Suresh Prabhu also stressed upon the need for greater synergy between all the relevant stakeholders, especially between state governments, Coal India Limited, Railways and this Joint Venture will certainly be a win-win situation for the three stake holders. The Railway Minister also said that similar joint venture will be signed with other state governments also and for other sectors also.

Piyush Goyal said that signing of this MoU is a revolutionary step having potential to transform the overall economy of the country especially the economic landscape of eastern India. He said that there was a time when we used to import coal but now the production of the coal is increasing in our country and it is estimated that by 2020, the coal production in India as a whole will be around 1.5 billion tonnes. As a result of this MoU,  electricity will be reached to common man at affordable prices. Under this Joint Venture, the Railways will earn more freight revenue by providing a connectivity to the coal fields where as the state Government of Odisha will benefit by way of more royalty which will address the developmental deficits of the state.

While complimenting the officers of Ministries of Railways , Coal & Odisha Government for taking such revolutionary step , Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Shri Piyush Goyal said that this is win-win partnership for all stakeholders. Shri Goyal further said “ Launching of Joint Venture is a historic moment towards our efforts to reach 24×7 power to every home , for the expeditious industrial growth in the country , for economic development in double digit and to bring about change in the way government departments work and to expand opportunities for progress in the Eastern Region”.  Manoj Sinha also said that in our country, coal is important for electricity generation and this MoU will facilitate the proper evacuation/transportation and utilization of our vast coal reserves which will lead to economic empowerment of the country. With the result of the result of this partnership, freight traffic of Indian railways is likely to increase by fifteen per cent, he added.

Minister of State Transport (Independent Charge) for Commerce and, Govt. of Odisha, Shri Ramesh Chandra Majhi while speaking on the occasion assured all possible cooperation and thanked the Government of India for this initiative.

Chairman, Railway Board Shri A.K Mital in his welcome address said that Indian Railways always encourages Public Private Partnership as well as state’s government’s partnership on the basis of win-win situation for all the stakeholders. He said that with  this initiative, Railways will further explore the possibilities to enter such Joint Ventures for other mine sectors in the country in future.

Speaking on the occasion,  Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha said that signing of MoU is a landmark step being taken after success of similar two projects in Chhattisgarh. Shri Sinha said that this is a step in the direction of implementing the proposal of Railway Budget.  Minister of State Transport (Independent Charge) for  Commerce and, Govt. of Odisha  Shri Ramesh Chandra Majhi also spoke on the occasion and said that State Government will ensure sustainable developments of all projects being implemented the State. The salient features of the MoU are:

  1. Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Coal and Government of Odisha will participate in the equity on its own or through its Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) as nominated. The Ministry of Railways has nominated its PSU,  IRCON.
  2. Following Projects important for coal connectivity will be taken up for development, financing and implementation.
    S.No Railway Name of work Cost (Rs./Crore) Balance to Complete (Rs./Crore)
    A. ECOR Brundamal-Jharsuguda-Fly-over connection for joinining down line (6.6 km) 94 92
    B. ECoR Sambalpur-Talcher doubling (174 km) 679 577
    C. ECOR Sambalpur-Titlagarh (182 km) doubling 951 671
    D. ECOR Raipur-Titlagarh (203 km) doubling 951 366
    E. SECR Champa-Jharsuguda- 3rd line (165km) 1014 819
    F. Other Coal sidings    
    G. Other  Other coal evacuation projects in State of Odisha    
  3. The development of the corridors shall be implemented either through the proposed JV or through a separate project specific Joint Venture Companies (JVCs) /SPVs, as per IR standards.
  4. Critical coal sidings will be fully funded by the respective coal companies.
  5. The doubling/3rd line/Traffic Facility projects, which have a close interface with the existing IR network, shall be implemented by Indian Railways with possible funding by JV/JVCs through an appropriate mechanism as mutually agreed.
  6. The JV will have the following share holding.
    • “MoC” or its nominated PSU:  Equity Share 64%
    • “MoR” or its nominated PSU:  Equity Share 26%
    • “GoO” or its nominated PSUEquity Share 10%
  7. The project specific JVCs will further explore participation of private investors, project promoters and other stakeholders including state governments in the project including equity.
  8. The development of the corridors shall be implemented either through the proposed JV or through a separate project specific Joint Venture Companies (JVCs) /SPVs, as per IR standards.
  9. The Joint Venture will have 64% shareholding from Ministry of Coal or its PSU, 26% from Ministry of Railways its PSU and 10% from Government of Odisha or its PSU.
  10. The JV will have an authorized share capital of Rs.1000 Cr. with initial paid-up capital of Rs.50 cr.
  11. Board of Directors (BoD) of the JV shall have part-time, full time and independent directors as per extant provisions. Chairman of the Board shall be from the Ministry of Coal.
  12. The JV/JVCs shall enter into separate project specific concession agreement with MoR.
  13. Acquisition of land required for the project shall be done by JV/JVCs.  Entire costs of the land shall be borne by the JV/JVCs. The JV/JVCs shall also be responsible for payment of the compensation of the land and also implementation of the Rehabilitation plan as per Rehabilitation Policy of the State Government.  However, the Doubling/3rd line/4th line/Traffic facilities works, land, if required will be acquired by IR at its cost.
  14. “GoO” shall facilitate in completing the process of land acquisition and environmental / forest clearance(s) for the Projects as required.
  15. The construction work of the railway lines shall be undertaken only after process of land acquisition and environmental / forest clearance(s) have been completed, and financial closure has been achieved.
  16. “MoR”, “MOC” and “GoO” shall provide the requisite statutory support wherever required to the JV/JVCs to ensure expeditious completion and commissioning of the Projects.
  17. JV/JVCs at its own cost will carry out preliminary activities like final location, survey of alignment (survey and investigations etc.), preparation of feasibility/ bankability report to establish the project cost, alignment, requirement of land acquisition/ rehabilitation, resettlement, other project related requirements and viability of the Projects.
  18. MoC or its PSU shall take the necessary steps for the formation of the JV/JVCs in consultation with MoR or its PSU and “GoO” or its PSU. The expenditure on formation of the JV/JVCs shall be funded by MoC or its PSU, this shall be reimbursed by the JV/JVCs.
  19. JV/JVCs shall enter into separate project specific operational agreements with MoR for the operation and maintenance of the assets.
  20. JV/JVCs may take employees on deputation basis and can recruit employee on contractual basis.
  21. Chief Executive Officer of the JV shall be an officer preferably with Railway/ Infrastructure background.
  22. Each Party shall nominate at least one representative and a Nodal officer for implementation of this MOU.
  23. The project specific JVCs will further explore participation of private investors, project promoters and other stakeholders including state governments in the project including equity.
  24. The JV will have an authorized share capital of Rs.1000 crore with initial paid-up capital of Rs.50 crore.
  25. The JV/JVCs shall enter into separate project specific concession agreement with MoR. Acquisition of land required for the project shall be done by JV/JVCs.  Entire costs of the land shall be borne by the JV/JVCs.
  26. Government of Odisha shall facilitate in completing the process of land acquisition and environmental / forest clearance(s) for the Projects as required.

Trains from Agra to Etawah via.Bateshwar may start from July 1

Agra: The much awaited 140 Km Agra-Bateshwar-Etawah railway route, which was one of the dream projects of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is likely to start operating from July 1.

The route comprise of 11 stations and has a single broad-gauge track.

enior official of Agra DRM office said, “The construction of the Agra-Bateshwar route which includes, laying down of railway tracks, electric and single poles, platforms, loop tracks and other things required for operating full-fledged train services, has been completed. We are now conducting trials on the track. Till now at least four good trains have been used for the trial on newly-made route.”

He added, “We expect to make the track operational by July 1, after getting all the NOCs from different departments, especially the railway safety office.”

This will also function as an alternative route in case of any mishap on the Tundla-Kanpur route to ferry passengers as well as goods towards the eastern part of the country.

The foundation stone of the new route was laid down in the year 1998-99. After coming into power, the BJP-led government funded the project, which helped in speeding up the pending work for the Vajpayee’s dream project.

Bateshwar is the native village of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Railways to designate some Sleeper Coaches as Unreserved

Nagpur (NGP): In a move that will benefit thousands of short distance passengers, the Railway Board has allowed general managers to identify specific trains on specific sections and permit redesignation of Sleeper class coaches as general coaches during daytime.

Railway officials said dereserving sleeper class coaches as general class coaches would benefit passengers taking short distance day journeys specially those commuting between cities.

At present, such travellers either have to travel in general compartment or board sleeper coaches illegally. “Now such travel will be legalized by specifying certain coaches for general passengers,” senior railway officials said. The move follows lack of demand for sleeper class accommodation in identified trains/sections as observed over a period of time from PRS data.

Till now powers to declare any Sleeper coach in identified trains as unreserved one rested with the Railway Board. These have now been delegated to the general managers. “In Nagpur division of South East Central Railway (SECR), a couple of trains like Gondia-Kolhapur Maharashtra Express and Nagpur-Raipur Intercity have certain coaches earmarked for general passengers where no extra charge is levied. Passengers travelling in other than prescribed coaches have to pay the difference,” said divisional commercial manager (DCM) Tanmay Mukhopadhyay.

“We have sent a similar proposal to the headquarters to dereserve some coaches from Gondia-Nagpur journey in Vidarbha Express,” Mukhopadhyay added.

The railway officials have been told to identify sleeper class coaches running empty or in locked condition due to insufficient demand. Second class fares will be charged for travel in such coaches.

“In case of demand, some of these coaches can also be earmarked as reserved second class coaches (2S). It shall be ensured that reserved sleeper class passengers will not be booked in such coaches in the identified trains/sections,” they said.

General secretary of Bharatiya Yatri Kendra (BYK) Basant Shukla slammed the Railway Board move. “Taking advantage of the new norm, unreserved passengers will try to grab unprescribed coaches as well. The worst part is that railways doesn’t have requisite ticket checking staff to monitor the situation,” Shukla said.

The general managers can identify specific trains in specific sections and permit redesignation of sleeper class coaches (GSCN) as general coaches (GS) on experimental basis initially for a period of six months. Based on response, GMs can extend the same on a regular basis if there is increase in passenger bookings/earnings for the sections/train.

DMRC report overall progress of 57% in the Phase-3 Metro works

New Delhi: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has reported 70 per cent progress in civil works and overall physical progress of 57 per cent in the Phase-3 project, covering 140-km-long route. Phase-3 is scheduled for completion between May, 2015 and December, 2016.

In a review meeting of six Metro projects by the Urban Development Ministry, DMRC reported financial progress of 40 per cent for the Phase-3 project.

Urban Development Secretary Madhusudhan Prasad during the review last week asked the Metro projects being implemented on joint venture of the Centre and respective state governments 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.

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 Ltd commencing work for construction of 6 km viaduct between Vastaral Gaam and Apparel Park.

The Rs 10,773 crore project was sanctioned in November last year and the work commenced in February this year. The project envisages 37.66 km of Metro with an elevated portion of 31.43 km and underground portion of 6.33 km.

CMD of Kochi Metro informed in detail about the Smart Card based Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system to be introduced resulting in substantial savings in capital expenditure besides additional revenue to the Metro.

Regarding Chennai Metro, Stage-1 comprising seven 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, nine from Brazil and 12 from Sri City, Chittor (AP) have been received. Regarding other four stages, works are in progress.

Nagpur Metro reported completion of demarcation of alignment on Airport–MIHAN, Automative Square to Zero Mile and Prajapatinagar–Dosar Vaisya Chowk sections amounting to 55 per cent of total alignment.

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.