Mumbai Rail Commuters to soon book ‘Local Tickets’ on their Mobiles

मुंबई Mumbai: Booking suburban railway tickets on mobile phones will be possible within a month, railway minister Suresh Prabhu announced in Mumbai on Saturday.

“The mobile ticketing initiative will help people book tickets on their way to the railway station. Once they reach the station, they will have to put the code provided to them in a machine at the station, after which they will get a print out. This will reduce the hassle of standing in long queues,” said Prabhu, after the launch of five new long-distance trains.

The minister said the trials for the first air-conditioned local will begin by March 2015. The project has missed several deadlines in the past. On the solutions to tackle overcrowding, the railway minister suggested steps such as operating double-decker or air-conditioned trains, apart from improving the bus and taxi services. “I have travelled on suburban locals and know the problems faced by commuters. We need new tracks, more platforms and rakes to manage the increasing number of railway commuters. We also need more investment to strengthen the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation,” he said.

Stating that the preparation of a comprehensive development plan for the city is underway, Prabhu said a joint meeting of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union minister Nitin Gadkari and MPs from the state will be called to finalise it. The railways will also hold monthly meetings of all authorities to speed up the projects that are stuck over minor coordination issues.

Prabhu said the railways will install closed circuit television cameras on women’s coaches.

When asked about the levy of a golden hour tax on passengers for providing emergency medical treatment, the minister said a decision on the implementation will be taken after a discussion.

Ex.Karnataka CM demands Merger of Mangaluru region with Konkan Railway

‘The demand for merger has been pending with the Railway Ministry’

मंगलूरु Mangaluru (MAQ): The demand for the merger of Mangaluru railway region with the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., has received a boost with the former Chief Minister and Shivamogga Lok Sabha Member B.S. Yeddyurappa urging the Railway Ministry to give effect to the original plan of KRCL formation. In a letter to the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu recently, Mr. Yeddyurappa said the demand for the merger has been pending with the Ministry. Referring to the original detailed project report of KRCL and the letter written by the then KRCL Chairman E.Sridharan opposing the non-merger of Mangaluru region with the corporation, the former Chief Minister said the merger would have facilitated Mangaluru becoming a Railway division automatically.

Mangalore Central, Mangalore Junction and the New Mangalore Port are still under Southern Railway.

He said, “ever since the commissioning of the dream project of Konkan Railway, the above mentioned stretch of 23 km (Tokur to Nethravathi Bridge) has been left out for unknown reasons. Though this concern was represented through the earlier MPs of coastal area of Karnataka to the Railways several times in the past, the same is not resolved till now.”

Strong criticism

He said the deletion of the Mangaluru region despite being a part of the original plan has been criticised strongly since the inception of KRCL. Mr.Sridharan too had immediately expressed great dissatisfaction over the issue and had urged the board to merge the Mangaluru region with KRCL, Mr. Yeddyurappa said. Mangaluru could become a Railway division without any additional financial implication to the Ministry if the original plan is given effect immediately, Mr. Yeddyurappa said.

Train movement hit in Sealdah-Canning section

कैनिंग Canning (CG): Local train movement was affected in Sealdah-Canning South section of Eastern Railway for about an hour as Trinamool Congress supporters blocked tracks in protest against West Bengal minister Madan Mitra’s arrest by CBI.

Railway sources said the TMC activists alleged the arrest was part of the greater conspiracy by the Centre against TMC government and sat on the UP, Down tracks at 10-30 am at Taldi station.

The blockade was lifted after 40 minutes.

One pair of Canning-Sealdah Local got delayed by less than an hour each as a result.

Nashik Municipal Corp to create Buffer Zone near Railway Station

Nashik Road (NK): The civic body is planning to create a buffer zone for the pilgrims near Nashik Road Railway station during the forthcoming Kumbh mela.

It will facilitate shifting the rail passengers to the buffer zone in case the Nashik Road railway station gets overcrowded during the mega religious event. The plan is being mooted to avoid stampede or any untoward incident.

An NMC official said, “Lakhs of people are expected to visit the city during Kumbh mela. People will come by road in Maharashtra State Regional Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses or private vehicles. Moreover, most of the people from across the country will reach Nashik by trains. At this juncture, there will be a huge crowd at the railway station. Hence, we are planning to create a buffer zone near the Nashik Road railway station.

“The NMC has reserved 12 acres land for a railway terminus near the railway station. The land is in the possession of the municipal corporation. Hence, we are planning to create a buffer zone for the pilgrims on around 10 acres. This is estimated to cost Rs 1.87 crore. We have prepared a proposal in this connection which is to be submitted to chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya during the meeting of the higher-power committee on Monday,” he added. Altogether 29 pilgrims had died in a stampede during the previous Kumbh mela hel in the city in 2003.

Nashik is one of the four major cities in the country where Kumbh mela is held after every 12 years. Around 75 lakh people and three lakh sadhus are expected to visit the city during the mega event. The NMC has already started preparations to provide various facilities to the pilgrims.

The NMC has reserved 12 acres land for a railway terminus near the railway station. The land is in the possession of the municipal corporation. Hence, we are planning to create a buffer zone for the pilgrims on around 10 acres. This is estimated to cost Rs 1.87 crore.

Bombay HC raps Railways for charging passengers availing Emergency Medical Facilities

मुंबई Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday rapped the railways for agreeing to provide emergency medical facilities at certain suburban railways stations and charging passengers for availing the service.

“Can this be a policy of a welfare state,” the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Ajay Gadkari asked advocate Suresh Kumar, the counsel for the Railway. “You are under an obligation to provide the emergency medical facility and you cannot charge the passengers for that,” said the bench.

The court was referring to the ‘Golden Hour Surcharge’ clause on suburban railway tickets that appears in the policy guidelines adopted by the Railway administration to recover the expenditure incurred while offering emergency medical facilities to accident victims.

The judges said though they have limitations with regards to exercising their extraordinary discretionary jurisdiction when it comes to policy decisions, they observed in their order that the Railway administration will have to reconsider the decision to recover the expenditure from passengers.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Sameer Zaveri in which he raised the issue of safety of suburban railway passengers.

During the course of the hearing, Kumar informed the court on Friday that the Railway administration has decided to set up emergency medical facilities at Kurla, Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan and Karjat on the central line. Emergency medical facilities will also be set up at Wadala, Vashi and Panvel on the harbour line and Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Bandra, Andheri, Borivli, Vasai Road and Palghar on the western line.

A doctor, nurse and an attendant will be deployed to provide emergency medical treatment to accident victims. Thereafter, the injured would be shifted to the nearest hospital having trauma care facilities.

‘Stations need advanced life support ambulances’

The high court on Friday expressed displeasure on the claim of the Railway administration and the state government stating that well-equipped ambulances are made available outside every suburban railway station in Mumbai.

According to a report of three court officials, appointed as court commissioners, the ambulances parked outside railway stations are basic life support ambulances and not well-equipped Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances, which specifically cater to accident victims.

Besides, the court commissioners noticed there were no ambulances at Mulund, Kanjurmarg and Vikhroli stations. At Borivli, although they found an ambulance parked outside the station, the doctor and driver were not present, and there was no doctor at all because of the doctor on duty had his weekly off.

The bench also opined that the railways would take at least six months to set up emergency medical facilities at major suburban stations.

It therefore directed the state government to consider providing dedicated Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances at suburban railway stations.

Patiala MP meets Union railway minister over poor rail connectivity

पटियाला Patiala (PTA): After Patiala constituency failed to get any mention in the last railway budget, member of Parliament from Patiala, Dharamvira Gandhi, took up the region’s demands again with Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu, on Friday.

Trying to fulfill the promises made during the assembly elections, Gandhi highlighted the issues of poor railway connectivity in the Malwa region.

During his last meeting with then railway minister Sadananda Gowda, Gandhi was assured that the demands of his constituency would be taken into consideration but when the Modi government came up with its first railway budget; Patiala did not find any mention.

Reiterating his demand of starting a Shatabdi via Patiala, Gandhi apprised the minister of the need for a Patiala-Chandigarh rail link for the convenience of residents of the Malwa region.

“Despite repeated attempts, the authorities have failed to take serious note of laying the 30-km rail link between Rajpura and Chandigarh. This stretch was first surveyed in 1979 and then in 1994 but due to the personal interests of transport companies mainly owned by politicians, the project failed to take off,” the AAP leader said.

Gandhi emphasised that it was the only route that connected Bathinda with other districts and many would benefit from the Rajpura-Chandigarh route as trains already served the Bathinda-Rajpura route.

Railways to improve capacity, speed by modernising signal system

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: After kicking up efforts for high speed and semi-high speed trains, Indian Railways (IR) is now planning to revamp the signal system on existing lines, to improve capacity and speed. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said in a programme here yesterday that since the high speed railway corridors are very costly affairs, it requires huge investments from private or foreign partners.

This would be a different path but semi high speed at 160-200 kmph is possible on existing tracks by improving them substantially, he added.

While indicating that high speed railway would be possible on foreign investments only, Mr Prabhu said today, IR is in a miserable situation.

The operating ratio is on an alarming level. There are many projects worth Rs six-eight lakh crores pending.

Besides safety measures, modernisation of stations, rolling stocks and signal system, IR requires Rs 10 to 12 lakh crore, said the Minister.

He also announced that his ministry would bring a white paper on overall situation of railways, which would help to diagnose the real challenges before it and find out a way to deal with them.

On claims and allegations about privatisation of railways, Mr Prabhu categorically rejected them and said that he is never in for privatisation of railways.

Privatisation is an ideological debate and Railways is only focusing on the outcome of passenger services, he added.

“Wherever we feel necessary, we would get private investment. Recently, Railways has rolled out very clear sectoral policy guidelines for inverters and different model agreement drafts.” He emphasised that getting investments by these ways, does not mean privatisation at all. The Minister clarified that the government has announced 100 per cent FDI in new railway projects like High speed railway, dedicated freight corridors and private lines for port connectivity. However, any step would be taken only after taking all stake holders into confidence, including railway trade unions, Mr Prabhu added.

Suburban Rail network, best answer for the Bangalore’s traffic woes

बेंगलुरू Bangalore (SBC): A suburban railway network is the best answer for the city’s traffic woes, according to a study conducted by an advocacy group.

The study suggests that connecting Bengaluru with towns like Mandya, Ramanagaram, Tumakuru, Doddballapur, Chikballapur, Malur, Bangarpet and Hosur would shift the growth centres to these places, and make Bengaluru more accessible.

The population of Bengaluru has grown by 46 per cent in the last decade. The public transport system is unable to cope with this growth. The number of vehicles has grown 17 times in the last decade. The population touched one crore last year and there is extreme traffic congestion, the study has revealed.

To address these issues, Prof Sitharam, ex-chairman of the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Transport Planning (CiSTUP) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), along with Praja, an advocacy and research organisation working on urban issues, have completed a study on the efficiency and cost effectiveness of a suburban railway transport system.

Prof Sitharam said, “Several measures were taken in Bengaluru like road widening, increasing the frequency of public transport, construction of a Metro rail network. Each option is laden with problems of cost, time taken for construction, nuisance to public during implementation and shorter reach in terms of distance covered.”

He says, “The government should consider options like suburban rail, which require minimal intervention and use of existing facilities rather than building something from scratch.”

Based on the number of passengers travelling daily, proximity to the city and future development potential, suburban towns like Mandya, Ramanagaram, Tumkur, Doddaballapur, Chikballapur, Malur, Bangarpet and Hosur were selected and connections to Bengaluru city were studied in detail.

With the low land prices in these areas, low and middle income groups tend to choose these locations as their places of residence.

‘It’s Cheaper’

Prof Sitharam also insists that the cost involved is much lesser.

As railway tracks already exist connecting these routes, the extra work needed — doubling the lines, electrification where needed and additional platforms — is minimal.

DFCCIL’s Durgawati-New Karwandia section on Eastern Corridor delayed longer

दुर्गावती Durgawati (DGO): The 66km Durgawati-New Karwandia section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) in Bihar, which was to be commissioned in March 2014, has been delayed by over seven months, mainly due to just three cases of land acquisition difficulties involving small stretches of land in Rohtas district.

All the civil works on Durgawati-New Karwandia section have already been completed in a 66km stretch, barring a few small stretches in Rohtas district where land could not be acquired as the project-affected persons have not accepted the award by arbitrator. A stretch of 300-metre land is not available for track- laying work at village Basa, 700-metre land is not available at village Dhanpurwa and a temple on the alignment near Sasaram railway station needs to be shifted, Ministry of Railways has pointed out in a letter to Union cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth. Seth has asked Bihar government to take necessary steps to resolve the land acquisition issues.

The 1,839km EDFC, extending from Dankuni in West Bengal to Ludhiana in Punjab, is being executed by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL), a railway undertaking. Being a key infrastructure project, its progress is being monitored at the highest level, including Prime Minister Office (PMO).

Sources in state government said, the Centre wanted an early date to begin trial run of goods trains on Mughalsarai-Durgawati-New Karwandia-Sonnagar section. But the DFCCIL is not able to complete the tracks due to non-acquisition of small stretches of land in Rohtas district and non-completion of approach road for a new road overbridge (ROB) near Bhabhua Road railway station in Kaimur district.

In September, Chairman, Railway Board, had sent a demi-official letter to Bihar chief secretary requesting him to expedite resolution of the land acquisition issues. Contacted over phone, DFCCIL’s chief project manager, Allahabad (East), Anamul Haque, who was also in-charge of Mughalsarai field unit till recently, on Saturday said the track-laying work had been left incomplete at Basa and Dhanpurwa village due to non-acquisition of land. He said the railways had already paid compensation for shifting of a temple near Sasaram station, but it was yet to be done. “Earlier, we were provided a plot near the station for shifting of temple. We built a new temple building up to roof level. But it has to be dismantled, as the district administration, under pressure from local people, changed its decision and asked us to build temple on another plot. We have now paid some monetary compensation even to some encroachers for vacating the new plot,” Haque told.

Rohtas District Magistrate Mr.Sandip Kumar R Pudakalkatti said, “The temple removal was an issue earlier, not now. It has been resolved. The temple will be shifted soon. The issue of 700-metre land at Dhanpurwa has also been resolved.” He said the issue of land at village Basa could not be resolved because the villagers had moved the Patna high court against award of compensation. The high court recently directed the DFCCIL to deposit compensation amount in civil court and asked villagers to approach the civil court. “We hope theBasa issue will also be resolved soon,” the DM said.

IRCTC in talks with Cafe Coffee Day, Pizza Hut & others to open Eateries at Stations

Come 2015, and your wait in a railway station isn’t going to be all that disappointing, especially if you are hungry. IRCTC in its effort to offer better fare at stations is talking to Cafe Coffee Day, Pizza Hut, Barista Coffee, Subway and Jumboking Vadapav, urging them to open eateries at stations.

In doing so, IRCTC is trying to take its annual earnings to Rs 50 crore from the current Rs 30 crore. “To begin with, Mapple Hotels has been selected to run the food plaza at Hardwar station. There are 106 other food plazas and fast food units that are at various stages of commissioning at places like Bhavnagar, Delhi Cantonment, Kanpur Central and others. We would also add another 56 food kiosks at Delhi Metro stations across New Delhi,” said R.N.Kalita, Director of Catering Services at IRCTC.

Travel Food Services (TFS), a Mumbai-based F&B operator that specialises in running restaurants, cafes, food courts and manages lounges across major airports in the country, will launch similar executive lounges across railway stations like Vijayawada, Howrah and Jaipur by next April. These lounges would be anything between 1,500 sq ft and 3,500 sq ft.

“We share the common vision of changing the travel experience of passengers with the Indian Railways. Our big challenge is to organise the scattered F&B services that are available at railway stations,” said Gaurav Deewan, COO, Travel Food Services.

TFS, which has franchisee arrangement with brands like KFC, Domino’s Pizza, Cafeccino, Haagen-Dazs, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, is also bidding to operate in the food courts and food plazas at various stations. IRCTC will soon finalise 50 food plazas in tier-II cities like Dehradun, Tambaram and Haridwar. Keeping in mind the heterogeneous consumers in railway stations, food items of all price range would be served at the railway and metro stations.

Operating more than 70 vadapav stores across the country, Jumboking Vadapav has proposed 20 outlets across stations in New Delhi, in places like IFFCO Chowk metro station and HUDA City Centre metro station.

DFCCIL all set to award Rs.20000 Crore worth Orders soon

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Government is all set to give Rs.20,000 crore worth of orders on behalf of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) which is to be commissioned by 2019. This is good news for L&T, GMR, and GVK and other construction companies. Indian Railways is setting up the project aimed to supplement the rail transport capacity with a project cost of over Rs 80,000 crore.

Here is an update on the issues which slowed down the mega project:

Land Acquisition: Like any other infrastructure projects, there are stretches of land that have been difficult to acquire for the government.For example, the western corridor of DFC was to pass through Panvel and then proceed towards Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). But acquiring land for DFC has been difficult at Panvel where several other projects are also converging like proposed CST-Panvel fast corridor, upcoming airport at Navi Mumbai, suburban sections on the Virar- Vasai-Diva-Panvel line and finally, construction of the Panvel Coaching complex. The DFC authorities have now requested for additional land from CIDCO.

Management change: Frequent management changes and availability of adequate resources at the mid level have been a bane for DFC till date. “The company continues to suffer lack of institutional strength as a result of non-availability of adequate resources at the middle level. The post of all the directors and MDs constituting the functional board has been short of its strength since 2011 continuously and in absence of full strength of functional directors, various roles are already clubbed, which is affecting smooth functioning of the company,” confesses the annual report of DFC.

Not enough bidders: Given the conditions set by the Japanese government (which is giving soft loans) and which stipulates involvement of a Japanese partner, the total number of bidders has been low for the Western corridor. This has twin impact as cost will be higher and delays in award of orders, given final bids have only two players (in most recent cases). Of this, even if one backs out, then the entire bid process is put to jeopardy.

Cancelled tender: A tender for design and construction of civil, building and track work for a 102-km-long double railway line in JNPT-Vaitran section in Maharashtra was recently cancelled (Sojitz-L&T and Mitsui-IRCON were the qualified bidders) and fresh bids have been floated. The pre-qualification process for this package was originally initiated during November 2013 and was to be awarded in FY2015. Cancellation of a tender and iterating the process again have a ripple effect on the overall advancement of the project, says a Kotak analyst.

Slow orders: The DFC has recently awarded two big orders to GMR and L&T consortiums. The contract value at Rs 5,080 crore to GMR while L&T-Sojitz was awarded electrification works for the 915-km stretch. More than 40% of the ordering will be imported Japanese products – substation equipment, electric wires and other equipment for railway electrification. After a long lull, the government plans to give orders worth Rs 20,000 crore. This could be good news for the Indian companies as long as the orders are not delayed like earlier.

South Central Railway achieves Rs.8103 Crore Gross Earnings in April-November

सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): he South Central Railway (SCR) has achieved cumulative gross originating earnings of Rs 8,103 crores during April-November 2014, which is Rs 1,365 crores higher with a 20 per cent growth, as compared to Rs 6,738 crores earned during the same period last fiscal.

Thus, the cumulative earnings achieved were Rs 550 crores (7.3 per cent) more than the proportionate target of Rs 7,553 crores set by Railway Board for April to November 2014, an SCR release said.

The gross originating earnings of SCR during November 2014 were Rs 1,181 crores, compared to Rs 903 crores in the same month last year, it said.

The continuous surge in originating freight loading resulted in 19.6 per cent growth during November 2014. SCR carried an originating freight of 10 Million Tonnes (MT) in the month, compared to 8.3 MT loaded in November 2013.

Originating coal loading, which constitutes 53 per cent of total originating loading on SCR, registered 15.7 per cent growth in November 2014. A 5.15 MT of coal was loaded during November 2014 compared to 4.45 MT in November 2013.

Cement loading of 2.06 MT during November 2014 took the cumulative loading to 18.8 MT, which is 6 per cent higher over last year’s loading in the same period, the release said.

The originating freight earnings for November 2014 were Rs 865 crores compared to Rs 626 crores in the same period in 2013, registering an increase of Rs 239 crores with 38 per cent growth.

SCR earned originating freight revenue of Rs 5,675 crores during April-November 14, compared to Rs 4,670 crores earned during the same period of last year, posting an incremental growth of Rs 1,005 crores (or 21.5 per cent).

It is higher by Rs 576 crores (11.3 per cent) compared to the proportionate target of Rs 5,099 crore of freight earnings set by Railway Board.

Besides, SCR carried 29.9 million of originating passengers during November 2014, and earned Rs 278 crores.

The cumulative originating passenger earnings till November went up by 18 per cent to Rs 2,062 crores in the current fiscal vis-a-vis Rs 1,752 crores achieved in the same period of last fiscal, which signifies Rs 310 crores incremental increase in passenger revenue, according to the SCR release.

Railway Recruitment examinations to go On-line

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Railway recruitment exams will henceforth will be online. An instruction to this effect was today given by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who said the current manual system has failed to inspire confidence among the candidates, the public and quite often even among officials associated with the process.

The Minister has asked the concerned officials to implement the on-line method in a time-bound manner with adequate checks and balance.

“Though efforts have been made to improve the recruitment process, it still lacks to inculcate an unfaltered range of confidence among the candidates, the public and quite often even among the officials associated with the process,” according to Prabhu.

Currently, Railway Recruitment Boards and Railway Recruitment Cells conduct written examination manually where propsective candidates answer questions on papers.

“Many times, examinations have to be scrapped due to the leakage of question papers,” said a senior Railway Ministry official adding “that is why the minister wanted to conduct the entire recruitment exercise including examination on-line.”

Railways recruit a substantial number of staff every year through RRBs and RRCs.

World Bank signs $1.1 Billion Soft Loan Guarantee Agreement with DFCCIL

India Signs Guarantee Agreement with the World Bank for IBRD Direct Lending of US $ 1100 Million to the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation India Ltd (DFCCIL) for Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor-II Project

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The World Bank on Thursday signed an agreement to lend $1.1 billion to India to build the eastern dedicated railway freight corridor.

“The project will help increase the capacity of these freight-only lines by raising the axle-load limit from 22.9 to 25 tonnes and enable speeds of up to 100km per hour. It will also help develop the institutional capacity of the DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corp. of India Ltd) to build and maintain the DFC (dedicated freight corridor) infrastructure network,” the bank said in an emailed statement.

The agreement is the second after the first loan of $975 million for the 343km Khurja-Kanpur section for a project that was approved by the World Bank in May 2011. “90% of the 1,245ha land needed for the project has been acquired from 22,000 land owners with Rs.336 crore paid off as compensation, in addition to agreed resettlement and rehabilitation benefits,” the World Bank said.

The agreement was signed by Tarun Bajaj, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, M.K.Mittal, Director-Finance of DFCCIL, and Onno Ruhl, Country Director for World Bank in India.

The Eastern Freight Corridor is 1,839km long and extends from Ludhiana to Kolkata. India is building two freight corridors, in the east and the west, which will help the country increase its railway transportation capacity by building higher-speed dedicated freight corridors.

Currently, the rail routes that form a golden quadrilateral connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata account for 16% of the railway network’s route length, but carry more than 60% of India’s total rail freight, according to the World Bank.

“The Indian Railways urgently needs to add freight routes to meet the growing freight traffic in India, which is projected to increase more than 7% annually. Dedicated freight corridors will not only meet this growing freight demand, but also decongest the already saturated rail network and promote the shifting of freight transport from road to more efficient rail transport,” Ben Eijbergen, lead transport specialist and task team leader for the project from World Bank, said in a statement.

“We are determined to adhere to the scheduled completion target of eastern corridor by December 2019. 90% of land acquisition for Kanpur-Mughal Sarai section, for which the loan agreement is being signed today, has been completed, and the contract for civil works will also be finalized by January. With the finalization of these contracts, the work will be progressing in two-thirds of the total length of eastern corridor,” Adesh Sharma, managing director of DFCCIL, said in the statement.

PRS Centre for Foreigners to Open 24 Hours at New Delhi Railway Station

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The reservation centre for foreigners at the New Delhi railway station will now be functional round-the-clock starting from today. The International Tourist Bureau/Passenger Reservation Centre for foreign tourists and non-resident Indians at New Delhi Station shall function round-the-clock from tomorrow, said a senior Northern Railway official.

Till now it was operational from 8 AM to 8 PM. The opening of the ticketing centre for foreign tourists for 24 hours will act as a deterrent to touts operating in the area, the official said.

There are about 20,000 foreigners who avail the facility for booking tickets daily. Passport is required to issue tickets to foreigners here, he said.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who had visited the centre on Monday, had instructed the concerned authorities to make it operational 24 hours to provide uninterrupted facility to foreigners.

New Delhi station is one of the most busiest station in the country with about 300 trains plying and 5 lakh passengers coming here daily.

Nod to process RFP for Lucknow Metro’s rolling stock

लखनऊ Lucknow (LKO): The Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) Board has approved document for inviting bids from companies experienced in designing and manufacturing metro’s rolling stock. It has also approved the bid document for selecting consultant for preparing an integration plan of all metro related work like rolling stock, maintenance, automated fare collection system, security system, etc.

LMRC has already put up batch mixing plant in the casting yard on airport’s land to generate ready mix concrete for civil work. Regarding issues over rent of the airport’s land, officials said the MD of LMRC, Kumar Keshav has recently met chairman of Airport Authority of India and asked him to provide the land of about 6 hectares on lease at minimum rent since it’s a government project.

Meanwhile, construction is in full swing from Transport Nagar to Krishna Nagar (approx. 2200 metre) and four Rig machines have been deployed at different sections to speed up the work. Officials confirmed about constructing 60 piles (underground) so far. Even casting beds are being made to prepare gantry girders (portion between two pillars) for the track.

“Normally, girders take over 28 days to settle down and strengthen after being constructed. The casting beds will enable us to prepare girders in advance which can be fixed up at the desired location conveniently. It barely takes a few hours to dry,” said LMRC. The procedure will give least inconvenience to the population living near construction site.

Speed Test on Virudhunagar-Vanchimaniyachi-Tuticorin & Vanchimaniyachi-Tirunelveli done

मदुरै Madurai (MDU): With the completion of the electrification works in Virudhunagar – Vanchimaniyachchi – Tuticorin and Vanchimaniyachchi – Tirunelveli sections, the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Bangalore conducted a high speed trial run in the sections today.

The special train, hauled by an electric locomotive, left Virudhunagar at 10.15 hrs to reach Tuticorin at 11.55 hrs and after leaving Tuticorin at 12.30 hrs it reached Tirunelveli at 13.20 hrs, a Southern Railway press release said.

After the Commissioner of Rail Safety gives his approval of the Railway Electrification based on the reports of the speed trials, regular services of express and passenger trains will be introduced in the section in a phased manner.

Mumbai to get World’s Third Largest Metro Rail Network

मुंबई Mumbai: In a move that could revolutionise transportation in India’s business capital, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority has planned a 450 km long network of metro rail corridors for the city and surroundings – the third largest in the world, a top official said here Thursday.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which comprises Mumbai and parts of adjacent Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, is aimed to get metro rail connectivity which will be next only to Shanghai and Beijing.

“The MMRDA has proposed to build 450 kms of metro rail and another network of monorail corridors which would offer efficient, convenient and environment friendly transportation system over the next 8-10 years,” said MMRDA Metropolitan Commissioner U.P.S. Madan at the Third Regional Dialogue, Mumbai, leading to the upcoming 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit scheduled in February.

Madan said that the government is working towards designing a transportation system that would ensure sustainable and smart mobility in the MMR.

He pointed out that given the changing income levels of the citizens, nearly 75 percent of the MMR population relies on public transportation against 80 percent population which was dependent on it earlier.

“Trains are cheap, eco-friendly and fast mode of transport – the people of Mumbai must be encouraged to use this mode by enabling better quality of services,” Madan said.

Mumabai Rail Vikas Corporation Ltd chairman Rakesh Saksena said that Mumbai and surroundings with a population of 22 million pose a major mobility challenge.

“Over 53 percent of the population relies on the railways for modal transporation. It is densely occupied with nearly 7.6 million commuters commuting daily. The city has to focus on continuous capacity creation to met the demand-supply gap,” he said.

For achieving this, a comprehensive rollout of metro rail, monorail and suburban trains is required, for which political and bureaucratic ownership of the projects and sustained government funding is the need of the hour, he said.

Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd CEO Abhay Mishra said that an efficient public transit system should save time, be financially viable and environment-friendly.

The much awaited metro rail project intends to positively impact lives of Mumbaikars by meeting these criteria, but the government must adopt a transit-oriented planning by redesigning roads, consider pedestrian walking aspects, stricter parking norms, eliminating roadside hawkers and illegal wayside constructions, Mishra urged.

The Regional Dialogues, organised by think tank TERI, came in the wake of the government’s recent announcements on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and 100 Smart Cities in India.

Ministry of Railways taken Steps to improve Freight Share

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Ministry of Railways has approved a pilot project on trial basis for running of RoadRailer train and signed a MoU with a private firm to increase freight earnings. Presently, transportation of trucks by rail wagons is undertaken under the nomenclature ‘Roll-on Roll-off’ scheme on the network of Konkan Railway Corporation Limited.  To improve the freight share of the Railways, the following ‘inventive steps’ have been taken as follows:

  1. Procurement of wagons by private investors through public-private partnership mode under the following schemes:
    a) Liberalised Wagon Investment Scheme.
    b) Wagon Leasing Scheme.
    c) Special Freight Train Operators Scheme.
    d) Automobile Freight Train Operators Scheme.
    e) Special Parcel Train Operator Scheme.
  2. Private investment for development of private freight terminals through public-private partnership mode.
  3. Development of eastern and western dedicated freight corridors.
  4. Automatic freight rebate for traffic loaded in inter-zonal traditional empty flow direction.

Railways opens up more than Rs.90000 Crore of FDI opportunity

The Rs 63,000-cr Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor and Rs 14,000-cr CSTM-Panvel suburban corridor are two of the largest projects

Foreign investors can put in as much as Rs 90,300 crore in India’s rail infrastructure through the foreign direct investment (FDI) route, suggests a list of projects released by the railway ministry.

The Rs 63,000-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor project is the single largest. The other big ones include the Rs 14,000-crore CSTM-Panvel suburban corridor, to be implemented in public-private partnership (PPP), and the Rs 1,200-crore Kachrapara rail coach factory, besides multiple freight line, electrification and signalling projects.

“We are going to hold two investor meets to apprise potential investors of the kind of models and projects on offer for participation,” Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said. The ministry had earlier this month held an investor meet that saw participation of about 150 top executives from 65 private companies.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu had said the ministry would put in place an “investor-friendly framework to transform the national transporter into an efficient organisation, attract investment on a long-term sustainable basis and in three years make the railways better than what it is today”.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor stretches 534 km and will be implemented on a design-build-finance-operate-transfer (DBFOT) basis, with government-to-government cooperation. For the Kachrapara rail coach factory, the ministry has finalised the lowest price per coach as the bidding parameter. The factor is being planned to roll out 500 such coaches annually.

According to the Railway Board, the discussions at the previous investor meet surrounded the overview of five models of participative policy, framework of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts and sectoral guidelines for foreign and domestic investment. The ministry’s brass has also deliberated on a new model concession agreement under the PPP model and new projects like station development to be rolled out under PPP with investors.

Among the companies that have so far expressed interest in the ministry’s PPP initiative are Reliance Infrastructure, Larsen & Toubro, Siemens, Adani Ports, GMR, Tata Infrastructure, Gammon, Jindal Steel and Power, JSW, Bombardier, GE, Alstom, Electromotive Diesel, Bharat Heavy Electricals, NMDC, HSBC and JPMorgan.

Delhi High Court vacates stay on Kochi Metro contract

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In a major relief for Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) authorities, the Delhi High Court has vacated the stay on awarding the contract for laying non-ballasted tracks for the Metro project.

The court had earlier stayed awarding the contract based on a plea filed by Kalpataru Power Transmissions Ltd challenging the tender process initiated by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

The High Court verdict will help DMRC to expedite the tendering process and entrust the work without further delay.

The DMRC had awarded two separate contracts for laying ballasted and non-ballasted tracks to IRCON International, a Central government PSU in September this year.

Non-ballasted tracks facilitate movement of high-speed trains and require lesser maintenance. There were apprehensions that the court order might affect the timely completion of the project.

Since the technical bid submitted by Kalpataru Power Transmissions Ltd was rejected by DMRC, its financial bid need not be considered. However, the court asked for the financial bid submitted by the firm to be opened and found it to be in fourth place.

Hence, the allegations raised by them in court have become redundant, it was pointed out.

Now, IRCON can proceed with the contract agreement. IRCON is a specialized constructions firm covering the entire spectrum of construction activities with special focus on Railway and Highway construction and mass rapid transport system (MRTS).

The firm has partnered several Metro projects within and outside the country including the prestigious Delhi Metro.

Cabinet selects projects for Public Private Participation

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Government has selected about 20 railway projects worth Rs.900 bn ($US 14.5bn) for domestic or foreign direct private investment, allowing Indian Railways to float global bids shortly.

This follows the government’s announcement earlier this year that it will open up India’s rail sector by relaxing the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rules to permit 100% investment in rail projects including suburban schemes, high-speed projects, dedicated freight lines, rolling stock, electrification, signalling, freight terminals and logistics parks, and passenger stations.

Two high-speed projects have been identified for public-private partnership (PPP) and foreign investment. The Rs 631bn 534km Mumbai – Ahmedabad high-speed will be executed as either a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) scheme or through government-to-government cooperation. As with the other identified projects, the Mumbai – Ahmedabad corridor will be eligible for a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) amounting to 20% of the total cost. The other high-speed rail project identified is the Chennai – Bangalore – Mysore line.

Suburban projects include the 49km Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal (CST) – Panvel line costing Rs 140bn which will be executed as a DBFOT scheme.

New freight lines identified comprise the 282km Dankuni – Gomoh line costing Rs 45bn and a 53km line from Whitefield to Kolar costing Rs 3.5bn.

Rolling stock projects on the list include a Rs 12bn scheme to manufacture 500 multiple-unit cars a year at Kachrapara in West Bengal and a Rs 5.5bn project for the annual production of 400 aluminium coaches at a new factory at Palkkad in Kerala.

Chaygaon residents asks GM/NFR for Construction of Box Culverts on tracks

बोरझार Borjhar: The residents of Chaygaon in Kamrup district have demanded construction of culverts on the Kamakhya-Jogighopa railway track for smoother flow of water in order to prevent floods in the area.

The area had experienced severe flooding in October this year and people of the area blame it on lack of culverts on the 8km stretch of railway track between Chaygaon and Kukurmara in Kamakhya-Jogighopa section of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

Chaygaon is nearly 35km from Guwahati.

A four-member group of local residents met NFR general manager R.S.Virdi at Chaygaon railway station yesterday and apprised him of the situation.

Virdi was on a visit to the railway station as part of his annual inspection.

“The NFR general manager has assured us that he will consider our demand for construction of box culverts to ensure smooth flow of water,” Sukumar Medhi, a member of the group, said.

According to the people, floodwaters had stagnated for nearly 10 days in the low-lying areas along the track in September for lack of culverts.

The residents demanded a public reservation system at then railway station and stops for long-distance trains like Capital Express, Vivek Express and Kamakhya-Puri Express at Chaygaon railway station, citing that a large number of patients travel to Chennai for treatment.

They also asked for a foot overbridge at the station.

In a press statement issued today, NFR authorities said apart from Chaygaon, Virdi also conducted the annual inspection of other stations under the Rangiya division such as Azara, Mirza and Dhupdhara.

He was accompanied by a team comprising senior officers from the NFR headquarters, the divisional railway manager of Rangiya Ratan Lal and the other divisional officers. He also inspected the 74km Kamakhya-Dhupdhara section.

The divisional railway manager of Rangiya told Virdi that 10 unmanned level crossings have been manned in the New Bongaigaon-Goalpara Town-Kamakhya section.

“Ten unreserved ticketing systems have been commissioned in the division and one non-rail head PRS has been commissioned at Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh,” Lal said.

Virdi also inspected the carriage and wagon workshop at New Bongaigaon.

RVNL & Chinese delegation completes survey of Chennai-Mysore track for High Speed Rail

बंगलोर Bangalore (SBC): The high speed train between Chennai and Mysore via Bengaluru seems rolling at least on papers. The Chinese delegation and team from Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) have done their survey on the tracks and left for Delhi to discuss the key issues.

South Western Railway (SWR) sources said that the team landed in Chennai on Tuesday and took a window trailing ride from Chennai to Bengaluru on Wednesday. On Thursday the team took the ride to Mysuru and returned to Delhi on Friday. The Chinese delegation sat in a glass coach that was tagged on to the end of a train. The coach opened to the rear, enabling the delegation members to physically check the tracks as the train moved. “On Wednesday they inspected the wagon carriage and signaling systems in Bengaluru. There are some challenges that they would face—steep curves that have to be straightened to run the train at 200 kmph and complete overhauling of signaling systems.

These curves are very steep (eight degrees) at places which is just fit for the train to run at speeds of 160kmph. In order to flatten these, we need to acquire more land. There are over 500 rail bridges that have to be either strengthened or rebuilt,” said Anil Agarwal, divisional railway manager, Bengaluru, SWR. The High Speed rail corridor between Chennai and Mysuru via Bengaluru is envisioned by the Modi government that will reduce the travel time between the three cities. The travel time is now eight hours. The delegation met the railway ministry and RVNL officials in Delhi on Friday and have set to file a preliminary report in three months.

Doubling of Cuttack-Barang Line reaches final stage; will be ready by Jan-2015

भुवनेश्वर Bhubaneswar (BBS): More than 10 years after it was sanctioned by the Ministry of Railways, the doubling of Cuttack-Barang line reaches its final stages of completion. The 12-km double lining work has gone beyond schedule as contractors left the project mid-way. The delay has only added to the woes of traffic as the section witnesses heavy movement of trains, both passenger and goods.  With the number of trains increasing along with their frequency on East Coast Railway jurisdiction, the problem has only compounded in the recent past.

The Cuttack-Barang line was sanctioned in 2003-04 with an estimated cost of Rs 135 crore but the project lingered on. The Rail Vikash Nigam Limited (RVNL), which is implementing the project, finalised the tender in 2006 and the contract was awarded to three contractors – one each from Indonesia, Delhi and Odisha –  in 2008.

However, the contractors from Indonesia and Delhi left the project mid-way and work had to be stopped. With neither Rail Board nor RVNL giving any priority to the project, it got stuck. Although it was scheduled to be opened for traffic by September last, the expected date of completion has now been pushed to January 2015. Chief Project Manager of RVNL S.K.Patra admitted that abandoning of the work by the contractors led to a delay. He attributed it to ‘contractual litigations’.

“The project was being executed in a joint venture and there were some disputes following which RVNL terminated their contracts and issued fresh tender,” he added.While the double-lining work had started in 2008-09, the contractors abandoned the project after a year-and-a-half. This forced RVNL to float fresh tender in 2012.

Sources said, cumulative expenditure for the project now stands at Rs.216 crore. In the current year, at least Rs.17 crore has been spent. At present, the physical progress of the project is estimated at 85 per cent whereas the targeted date of completion has been fixed at December-end.

Work for five major and seven minor bridges has been completed while track linking of 11.5 km out of 12 km has been wrapped up.

Patra asserted that despite the delay, the project has not seen any cost escalation since procurement of materials had been completed. He said, work has reached the final stage and double-lining will be completed by January.

RVNL Officials to visit China on Delhi-Chennai Bullet Train project

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to introduce bullet trains in the country, a team of Railway officials will visit Beijing on November 24 to take forward the Delhi-Chennai high-speed corridor project, the longest in India.

A high-level team of officials from Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL) will make the visit to complete formalities with Chinese counterparts for the project’s feasibility study, a senior Railway official said.

China Railway Corporation (CRC) will begin a feasibility study early next year of what is billed as the world’s longest high speed railway – a 2174 km line connecting the Indian capital, New Delhi, with the southern port city of Chennai at an estimated cost of Rs 2 trillion ($US 32.3bn).  The Delhi-Chennai route is being given to China for conducting feasibility study and is proposed to be developed jointly with China, which is home to the world’s longest high-speed rail line between Beijing and Guangzhou.

Officials of the Rail Vikas Nigam today made a detailed presentation of proposed high speed train projects, including the Delhi-Chennai route before the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

The parameters of the study were agreed this week after a series of meetings in China between India’s High Speed Rail Corporation (HSRC), Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL), and China Rail Siyuan Survey and Design Group (CRSSD). The Chinese will conduct the study free-of-charge.

Since signing the MoU, China has also been assisting Indian Railways (IR) with its plans to increase the speed of mail and express trains to 160km/h. IR has identified nine lines for the semi-high-speed project and China Rail Eryuan Engineering Group Company (CREEGC) is now working on the Mysore – Bangalore – Chennai line.

India’s high speed plans have been fast-tracked since the election of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government in May. In its first rail budget in June, the new government announced its “diamond quadrilateral” project to build a network of high-speed lines linking Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Delhi with a direct line from Mumbai to Kolkata.

Besides, the Minister was also briefed about the progress of the 534-km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor project, estimated to cost Rs.63,180 cr, for which the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is currently conducting a feasibility study.

The Delhi-Chennai route, part of the proposed Diamond Quadrilateral project, which aims to build a high-speed train network between different cities, including Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Chennai-Kolkata, Kolkata-Delhi and Mumbai-Kolkata, is likely to cost Rs.2 lakh crore.

Currently Rajdhani covers the distance between the two cities in 28 hours and as per the plan, the proposed bullet train at 300 km per hour speed will reduce the travelling time to six hours.

While the cost of construction of a normal railway route is Rs.5 crore per km, the estimated expenditure on the high speed railway line will be Rs.120-126 crore.

Cabinet clears faster Transfer of Land for Metro Rail projects

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In a decision to speed up transfer of land for implementtion of metro rail projects, the Union Cabinet today decided that once such a project is approved, all ministries would give operating rights on the relevant land sought by the metro rail company immediately.

The decision will help avoid time and cost overruns.

The proposal is to restrict ministries, departments or PSUs of the central government from asking for land in exchange for land required for the implementation of such projects, an official statement said.

The concerned Ministry would be compensated in monetary terms for the transferred land based on the rates as per prevailing guideline values, it said.

“Once a metro rail project has been approved by the Cabinet, all Ministries/Departments would give operating rights on the relevant land sought by the Metro Rail Company, immediately,” the statement said.

China launch 32 High-Speed Rail Routes in Grand Expansion

China flexes its High-Speed Rail muscles by rolling out 32 New Routes in One Day

high-speed-rail-train-chinaबीजिंग Beijing: China is launching 32 high-speed train routes on December 10. The network extension includes a link between the biggest city Shanghai and the manufacturing hub of Guangzhou right next to Hong Kong.

The 1106-mile route cuts the journey time down to 6 hours and 51 minutes, instead of the 16 hours it previously took. New bullet train lines are part of the government’s plan to double the size of the domestic rail network.

China has the world’s largest high-speed rail network, which keeps the growing population and economy connected. The country’s two largest train makers are in the process of merging to create a more competitive company, both internationally and domestically, reports in October said.

china_high-speed_rail_network

China’s proposed high-speed rail network for 2020 (including current lines.) China aims to have 125,000 km of high-speed rail by the end of 2015. The red lines indicate planned or current routes and the blue lines represent travel time.

The world’s fastest passenger train is also in China – the Shanghai Maglev Train can reach speeds of over 430 kilometers (260 miles) per hour.

Authorities in China have big dreams for the transport network, envisioning links with Asian neighbors, Russia and even the United States and the United Kingdom.

China’s ambition could be curbed by a string of cancelled contracts. In October, Mexico unexpectedly cancelled a $3.75 billion bullet train deal with China, only two days after awarding the contract. The proposed 210-kilometer (130-mile) railway would link Mexico City with the central manufacturing hub of Queretaro. Another setback was in Thailand, where Chinese state companies were slated to develop a high speed rail network.

Devastating high-speed passenger train crashes in China in 2011 that killed 40, and in 2008 that left 90 dead have drawn critics to the project.

However, Chinese trains will arrive in the US before any tracks, as one of the two biggest state-owned train makers, China CNR Corp, has sold 284 cars to Boston’s metro in a $537 million contract.

IRCTC airlifts 400 Tonnes of Potable Mineral Water to Maldives

तिरूवनंतपुरम Thiruvananthapuram (TVC): Since Friday, India has airlifted nearly 400 tonnes of bottled water to Maldives which has been reeling under an acute water crisis. The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy have rendered yeoman service in tackling the emergency, but there is another agency that enabled India’s ‘water diplomacy’ to be undertaken at short notice – the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC). The thousands of bottles of potable water airlifted to Maldives since Friday have come from the vast packaged drinking water stock maintained by the IRCTC.

On Saturday alone, the IRCTC, which is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, supplied 150 tonnes of water which was promptly airlifted by the IAF transporters to the island nation.

“The 150 tonnes came from our stock at the Rail Neer plant in Palur (Tamil Nadu). We sent the water to the Navy’s Arakkonam airbase as instructed by our corporate office,” Ravi Kumar, Assistant General Manager of the Rail Neer plant, Palur said.

“For us, this was not a big order since we always maintain stocks for railway use,” he said. Maldives had flashed an SOS after a fire damaged its water treatment plant on Thursday. The archipelago is heavily dependent on treated sea water and the mishap cut off supply to citizens.

Arrangements had begun immediately to fly in assistance.

By Friday night, the IAF had flown in five planeloads of bottled water from New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram airports. Friday’s water consignments came from the Rail Neer stocks in Delhi, according to IRCTC officials. This was followed by three planes on Saturday and two more on Sunday, according to the IAF.

“On Sunday, we sent two planes from Arakkonam with 40 and 50 tonnes of water,” an IAF spokesperson said from New Delhi. The IAF has pressed into service its heavy-lift transporters, the C-17 Globemasters and Ilyushin-76s (IL-76) for tackling the emergency in Maldives.

GM ECR asks officials to finish Digha-Sonepur bridge by March

पटना Patna: East Central Railway (ECR) GM Madhuresh Kumar, at a high-level meeting on Wednesday, instructed the officials concerned to complete the Digha-Sonepur rail cum road bridge project by March 2015, the deadline set by railways.

Kumar is likely to inaugurate the partially complete bridge, particularly its superstructure portion, on December 30. It’s the dream project of Kumar who is to superannuate on December 31.

According to ECR CPRO Arvind Rajak, Ministry of Railways is according top priority to the Digha-Sonepur project. About 60% of the work has been completed. Railways is serious about completing the approach roads at both north and south ends of the bridge. The superstructure has been completed in a record time, he said, adding work on one more span is to be completed finally on December 27.

According to sources, the revised cost of the project has gone up to about Rs 2921.46 crore, out of which railways’ share is Rs 1681.37 crore while Planning Commission and state government’s share is Rs 1240.09 crore.

According to sources, railways ministry has allocated a sum of Rs 180 crore in 2014-2015 fiscal for the Digha rail bridge alone. Out of its total share of Rs 1681.37 crore, railways has so far spent Rs 1224.85 crore leaving Rs 456.52 crore as balance in its kitty, sources said.

Similarly, the Planning Commission, which is funding the road cost along with the state government’s share, has so far provided Rs 1119 crore as its share. Besides, railways is yet to get physical possession of land from the state government at Digha.

Bind Toli, an area of about 6.52 acre, is the major hurdle for railways at the south end of Digha bridge. Though state government has transferred this land to railways, its physical possession has not been given by the local administration. Any further delay in handing over this land to railways is likely to throw a spanner in the ambitious project, sources said adding railways is facing similar problem while acquiring land at the north end of the bridge at Sonepur end.

Munger rail cum road bridge is estimated to cost about Rs 2361.87 crore, out of which railways’ share is Rs 1246.55 crore while the Centre and state share is Rs 1115.32 crore. ECR GM is likely to inaugurate partially completed Munger rail bridge, particularly its superstructure portion, on December 26, the CPRO said.

Railways to Mop Up resources through Advertisements

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In an attempt to mop up additional resources, railway minister Suresh Prabhu has pushed a plan for generating funds through advertisements. The minister has directed RITES, a railway PSU, to quickly study and prepare a concept note, indicating ways and means for leveraging space in coaches, wagons and railway stations for advertisements, publicity and other purposes.

The minister has asked that the note be prepared at the earliest, preferably by Wednesday.

There are over 7,500 stations across the country while as many as 11,000 passenger trains and over 6,000 goods trains criss-cross the nation every day- which have huge advertising potential.

Prabhu’s predecessors, too, tried to generate funds through advertising, but could not succeed.

During Mamata Banerjee’s tenure, advertising and branding were significant focus areas as the transporter planned to raise ad revenue 10-fold in one year to Rs 1,000 crore. Even during Lalu Prasad’s tenure, the transporter tried to mop up funds through advertising.

Selling advertising space was not just restricted to signboards but also tickets, reservation charts, benches and pillars. A unique concept of 360-degree advertising solution that included on-board train branding was also devised.

The plan included providing advertising space to companies, not just on the outside but also inside, on the bed linen and on plasma screens in railway compartments.

Even a report by CAG in 2013 had pointed out that railways can make much more money by selling branding rights on stations, trains and tickets.

However, the auditor had pulled up the Railway Board for setting up high revenue projections without inputs from the ground.

For instance, by selling branding rights on the stations, trains, wagon depots, tickets, reservation forms, the railways garnered Rs 864 crore from 2008 to 2012. This was much less than the earnings target of Rs 1,000 crore set in just one year of 2010-11.

Simplex Infra bags Noapara-Baranagar-Dakshineswar Metro route at Rs.130 Cr extra

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): The stalled Noapara-Baranagar-Dakshineswar Metro has a new contractor whom the railways must pay Rs 130 crore extra because nobody else would touch a project being held hostage by illegal settlements.

Simplex Infrastructures Ltd bid for and bagged the contract last month on its own terms after the railways decided to get work started in sections where encroachment isn’t a problem.

But nobody has a clue yet how to remove the 500-odd illegal shanties on the Noapara-Baranagar stretch that has paralysed the project for four years and forced the exit of the previous two contractors.

Sources said Simplex’s Rs 329-crore bid was high even after accounting for time lost and other cost-escalation factors. Given the history of the project, Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd chose not to haggle.

“The contract was awarded to Simplex last month because there was no other bidder. Other companies didn’t show interest as they know the encroachments cannot be removed,” a senior official said.

The first contractor for the Noapara-Dakshineswar line was Senbo-Tantia, which quit in 2010 over the administration’s failure to remove the settlements.

A joint venture between the Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited (CCCL) and SAM India filled the void the same year with a Rs 199-crore bid, around Rs 18 crore more than Senbo-Tantia’s. The consortium quit in 2013 after waiting almost three years for the shanties to be shifted from the project path. Barely 18 per cent of the Metro link has been completed since 2010.

The Noapara-Baranagar-Dakshineswar Metro is one among several infrastructure projects in Calcutta stalled or delayed by land logjams caused by the Trinamul government’s unwillingness to evict even illegal settlers. The list includes the East-West Metro and the Parama-Park Circus flyover.

Chennai-based CCCL, contracted to build a maintenance depot for the East-West Metro in Salt Lake’s Central Park, had exited the Noapara-Dakshineswar Metro in July 2013 after RVNL, the implementing agency for the 4.47km route, terminated the contract citing “non-performance”.

“The timeframe for the project was 30 months, which was later extended by another 20 months because RVNL had failed to hand over land. The extension was awarded without imposing any fine, which proves that we were not at fault,” a source in the company, which is also involved in the Chennai Metro project, said.

The first tender in 2010 had attracted bids from six infrastructure companies, including Larsen & Toubro, ITD-ITD Cem and Senbo-Tantia JV.

Senbo-Tantia won the bid for Rs 181.29 crore but left the project soon after. “It apparently quit because of the unavailability of land,” a railway official said.

A fresh tender towards the end of 2010 brought five bids.

“Work was to start between Noapara and Baranagar after we came into the picture, but the 500-odd hutments couldn’t be removed. It was impossible even to do a survey because of the law and order problems,” a source in the Chennai-based company said. “RVNL should have invited bids after getting possession of the land.”

Railway officials said the Left Front government had promised to rehabilitate the settlers and free the land required for the Metro project but didn’t fulfil its commitment. In 2011, the Trinamul Congress came to power but the project’s luck didn’t change. “The land belongs to the railways, so the state government didn’t have to acquire anything. It merely had to remove the illegal settlers,” a railway official said.

Several companies have either withdrawn from or demanded cost escalation for projects in town because the state government hasn’t handed over land or removed encroachments.

Gammon had refused to work on an encroached stretch of the East-West Metro in Salt Lake’s Duttabad while Larsen & Toubro exited the Barasat-Airport-Noapara project in 2013 over not being handed the required land.

Shapoorji Palonji Group owned AFCONS moved court for not being able to start work on the East-West Metro between Howrah Maidan and Central.

Sources said it would be difficult to evict the illegal settlers blocking the Noapara-Baranagar-Dakshineswar Metro route. “The government’s policy is not to forcibly evict people. We have had discussions with the settlers, who were issued ration cards by the erstwhile government. We are trying to find a way,” a senior official said.

TRICKY TRACKS

THE PROJECT
Noapara-Baranagar-Dakshineswar Metro

FIRST BID: 2010
Bidders: 6
Won by: Senbo-Tantia
Cost: Rs 181 crore (approx)
Status: Stalled by encroachment

SECOND BID: 2010
Bidders: 5
Won by: CCCL-SAM
India JV
Cost: Rs 199 crore (approx)
Status: Stalled by encroachment

THIRD BID: 2014
Bidders: 1
Won by: Simplex
Cost: Rs 329 crore (approx)
Status: Work to start in sections where there is no encroachment
Source: Railways

Delayed Land Acquisition hit Progress of Railway projects in Odisha

भुवनेश्वर Bhubaneswar (BBS): Even as Odisha demanded bigger share in the forthcoming railway budget and stressed on time-bound completion of on-going projects, acquisition of land for railway projects appeared to be slow.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik met Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi on Monday. He demanded INR 3,200 crore for Odisha in 2015-16 railway budget.

In Angul, one of the most industrialised districts, 1192.61 acres were required for railway infrastructure. However, little over 32% (386.3 acres) has been acquired.

Projects such as Haridaspur-Paradeep SPV Project (82 km, sanctioned in 1995-96) and Angul-Duburi-Sukinda SPV Project (90 km, sanctioned in 1997-98) remained incomplete due to delay in land acquisition.

Land acquisition in Kendrapara district was critical for connecting port town of Paradip which is emerging as the most industrialised town of the State. Here 69.543 acres of land was acquired against requirement of 818.356 acres.

Patnaik informed the Minister that for Khurda-Bolangir project, the State government had offered to allocate land free of cost and share 50 per cent of the construction cost in the Daspalla-Bolangir stretch (112-289 km) in January. But no response has been received from the Ministry.

Jakson Group bags Order worth Rs.110 Crore from DMRC

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Power solutions provider Jakson Group has received an order worth Rs 110 crore from Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC).

The contract is for executing mechanical, electrical and plumbing work under phase I of the Kochi metro rail project.

In a statement today, the company said the order is valued at Rs 110 crore.

As part of the turnkey contract, Jakson, among others, would undertake supply, installation, testing and commissioning of fire detection as well as fire suppression systems, including diesel generation sets for 22 elevated metro stations of Aluva-Petta line spanning 22.25 kilometres and Muttom Depot.

“.. We are confident of getting more such orders for metro projects from across the country,” Jakson Group MD Sameer Gupta said.

Centre looks to bolster security in Railways; RPF teams to escort about 5000 trains

नई दिल्ली  New Delhi: Bolstering rail security, Railway Protection Force escort teams will soon be deployed in 5000 trains and their personnel equipped with mobile phones to remain connected with passengers.

Though about 11,000 trains run daily, only 1300 are escorted by RPF escort teams.

“Our aim is to cover as many as 5000 trains by RPF escorting teams,” said RPF Director General Krishna Choudhary here today after inaugurating a three-day sensitisation programme for escorting personnel.

“There are about 11,000 trains running daily of which only a few selected trains are being provided security escort service. Currently, about 1300 trains are being escorted by RPF while GRP is involved in escorting 2200 trains.

“We are in the process of recruiting 16,500 RPF personnel by April and we are hoping to cover more trains to be escorted thereafter,” Chaudhury said.

Generally four to six personnel are deployed for escorting a train barring Naxal and other sensitive areas where about 20 RPF personnel are involved in the job.

Each escort party will be given mobile phone and that phone number will be made known to the passengers of that particular train.

As the escort party should be accessible, passengers would be provided mobile phones of the personnel.

Railways is in discussion with mobile service operators to have a special series of number for this purpose.

“We want a special series of number which will also include the number of that particular number,” Chaudhury said.

The DG also suggested that the escort team should be led by a Sub-Inspector rank officer as against the current practice of being led by a head constable.

He also noted that the security helpline launched for passengers have got good response.

The training programme aims to sensitise escorting personnel on their behaviour towards women passengers, knowledge of modus operandi of various criminals and identification of troubled spots en route.

Addressing the participants, Northern Railway General Manager Pradeep Kumar said the focus should be on ensuring security of passengers and create fear in the minds of criminals.

“Enforcement of the law of the land is essential,” Kumar said, adding, “For that fear in the minds of criminal for law enforcing agency is necessary as deploying one cop for one man is not possible.”

Kumar said it is “our duty and responsibility to ensure security of all including women.”

He, however, said, “unlike earlier days criminals no longer have fear of security men. We have to regain that”.

Kumar asked all RPF escorting personnel to take a pledge that no crime takes place in their presence.

IRFC Net Profit up 19.54% to Rs.421.73 Cr in H1-FY15

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Indian Railway Finance Corporation Ltd (IRFC) today posted a 19.54 per cent rise in its net profit at Rs 421.73 crore for the six-month period ended September 30, 2014.

IRFC, the financing arm of the Indian railways, had posted a net profit of Rs 352.79 crore during the same period last year.

The rise in net profit is mainly attributed to the growth in lease income which stood at Rs 3,141.34 crore as against Rs 2,856.90 in the year-ago period.

Interest on deposit from banks also increased to Rs 204.18 crore as against Rs 11.07 crore earned during the same period last year.

The company had posted a net profit of Rs 700.69 crore for the year ended March 31, 2014.

China’s leading train makers CSR & CNR finish Merger Plan

A Cartoon illustrating the Merger of China's leading train makers CSR and CNR

Cartoon illustrating Merger of China’s leading train makers CSR & CNR

Beijing: Two major Chinese train makers have completed a first draft plan for their merger, which was first announced over a month ago, a source with the authorities said. The companies, CSR and China CNR, have submitted their plan to the State Council for further discussion and approval, a source in the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said, without disclosing more details.

But Guangzhou’s 21st Century Business Herald cited insiders close to the proceedings who said that CSR will purchase all CNR shares via a secondary public offering, and the latter will delist from the capital market.

The two companies are both listed in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with a combined market value of about US$30 billion. Their shares have been suspended for over a month, and the merger was first announced on Oct. 27.

The merger will create a new giant train manufacturer, renamed China Railway Vehicle Corp, which is expected to hold total assets of over 300 billion yuan (nearly US$50 billion).

The planned deal will facilitate the country’s high-speed rail in “going global” and avoid cutthroat competition between the two major producers.

CSR’s net profits increased 58.29% year on year in the first three quarters of 2014, with turnover of 84.89 billion yuan (US$14 billion), while CNR’s net profits grew even faster, but with less in operating revenues.