JNPT-Rewari DFC project now on track

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court (HC) approval of the alignment of the JNPT-Rewari Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), including the removal of 543 mangroves in Dahanu Taluka, earlier this week has finally cleared the decks for the project.

Long touted as the railways’s game-changer, it is expected to be in line for a 2019 completion. The last of the nods now required is that of the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) for replacement of the 543 mangroves. According to the rules, the DFC will need to plant 10 mangroves for every one that will be removed.

According to DFC officials, the toughest part of the alignment is the JNPT to Dahanu stretch, thanks to the technical difficulties as well as environment challenges, such as the SGNP and mangroves along the Dahanu coast.

With the clearances coming in, officials believe the work on the JNPT-Vaitarna stretch should begin by next year. After the monsoon this year, work on the Vaitarna-Vadodara stretch will begin.

Railways national asset, must be run well: Suresh Prabhu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ensure Medical facilities at Mumbai Suburban Stations: Bombay High Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improved connectivity to southern Tamil Nadu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malgodown traders oppose Railways eviction notice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loco pilot ecstatic

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

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

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

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

Courageous gesture

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

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

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

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

World-class capital

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

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

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

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

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

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

RITES to prepare DPR for Varanasi and Kanpur Metro

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

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

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

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

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

Mamta Kulkarni is Mumbai’s first woman Station Master

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

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

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

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

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

Her husband Vivek works for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

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

Joining the Railways

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

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

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

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

This was in 1991 and I was 21 years old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mamta-kulkarni2The challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work-life balance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The perks

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

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

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

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

Lessons learned

I have learnt that circumstances may not always be favourable.

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

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

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

That would motivate me to ignore the negatives around me.

Advice

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

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

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

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

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

Delhi Division launches cleaning ops at 33 stations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delhi Division launches a massive cleaning operation in the National Capital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The predicament of CAF of Spain is somewhat different.

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

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

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

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

CRB assures NGT of Clean Tracks and Platforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NGT Order on Clean Railways Lauded

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

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

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

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

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

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

Central Railway to align Harbour Line along Eastern Freeway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIC’s hard bargain ensures Good Pricing in Rail Bonds

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

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

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

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

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

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

China ready to enhance Railway cooperation with India

Le Yucheng, Chinese Envoy to India

Le Yucheng, Chinese Envoy to India

New Delhi: Terming Railway cooperation as the “brightest spot” in bilateral relations, Chinese envoy to India Le Yucheng today said Beijing was ready to scale up its presence in this front in the coming days.

He welcomed the “opening up” of Indian Railways to private and foreign companies and expressed the hope that more investment-friendly policies would be implemented.

“There is a huge infrastructure demand in India”, he said terming China and India can work on a long term commitments that helps boost the bilateral trade and commerce between the two big nations of Asia.  China is ready to enhance railway cooperation with India and encourages Chinese companies to join India’s railways development.

“We hope further investment-friendly policies will be carried out in the future such as shortening registration process of project companies, reducing all kinds of approvals, facilitating application process of working visas,” he said.

The Ambassador was speaking at the ‘Railways @ 2020-Investment issues and Opportunities’ conference organised by industry body ASSOCHAM here which was also attended by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and MoS Railways Manoj Sinha.

He expanded upon China’s “remarkable” progress in building high speed corridors over the last two decades, saying it was ready to assist India in building the same for which the two countries have already signed an MoU.

Railways have identified Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore section for raising speed to 160 km per hour with help from China.

As per the action plan on the proposed semi-high speed project, China will conduct design and survey for the specified sections and also impart training to railway personnel on increasing speed.

French Ambassador to India Francois Richier, who also addressed the conference, emphasised on the need for transparency, efficiency and speed and spoke about the strategic significance of railways.

“The fact that railways are a vital strategic asset and there is a security element especially in times of war or any other catastrophe is often ignored,” he said.

Czech Republic Ambassador Milosav Stasek, who was also present, said more Czech companies would be seen investing in the development of Indian railways in the near future.

Railways to set up separate Body to enhance Ties with Private Investors

New Delhi: Seeking technical cooperation for upgradation of rail infrastructure with foreign countries, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu today said the national transporter can grow faster based on the partnership model.

The Minister also said that a new body would be set up to enhance partnership with private investors, and raise efficiency and speed in implementing rail projects.

“We need partnership which is our thrust area which I have mentioned in my budget speech. Partnership can help railways grow faster,” Prabhu said at an international conference on railways organised by ASSOCHAM and attended by Ambassadors of China, France and Czech Republic.

“We seek partnership with many of you and I look forward for Railways becoming a growth engine, Railways becoming the wheels of social transformation.

Detailing the aspects, he said, “There can be technical cooperation with other countries for upgradation of railway infrastructure like track maintenance, locomotives, signalling system to meet the global benchmarking. We have to design new locomotives, rolling stock which will be more user friendly and energy efficient.”

Minister also said that Foreign Rail Technology Cooperation Scheme would be launched to help in technology upgradation.  “We intend to introduce technology portal to invite innovative technological solutions. Railways propose to move from preventive to predictive maintenance. We propose to launch Foreign Rail Technology Cooperation Scheme and we will set up ‘Kayakalp’ to help in technology upgradation,” he said.  “We have also announced the setting up of regulatory framework. We are going to set up a Kaya Kalp Council for business transformation for railways and it will be headed by a very distinguished person,” he said.

Focusing on partnership, Prabhu said, “All of us will work together in the spirit of partnership to make railways better. We are signing MoUs with most of the states for executing rail projects. We will operationalise these MoUs after signing.”

Highlighting the public transporter’s role in Indian economy, he said, “Railways have to play a significant role in Indian economy’s growth. We must have transparency, efficiency and speed for implementing the projects.”

Prabhu also said that whatever was announced in the Rail Budget is under implementation. Terming Railway’s expansion and modernisation programme as key to the success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ scheme, Prabhu referred to the ongoing coal mines auction that has fetched the government an “unimaginable” Rs 2 lakh crore.

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

Railways needs to become the link between different parts of the country and to make that happen, we cannot rely on one source of funding that is the gross budgetary support from Finance Ministry, he said.

Railways would take help from the World Bank and other multi-lateral agencies like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for its expansion and modernisation plan.

The Minister underlined the importance of reducing of expenditure in Railways, saying steps are being taken in this regard.

“We have to reduce the cost and this is very important. We must reduce the cost of buying electricity and we are going to have to increase capacity of power generation. We must find ways to buy electricity at lower rates than the market rate,” he said.

Prabhu also asserted that Railways is far more “environment-friendly transportation system than any other mode of transportation.”

He said steps are being taken to make Railways a vibrant social transformation engine in the next few years

Bangalore-Chennai-Coimbatore-Thiruvananthapuram High Speed Rail project very much in the Pipeline: MOSR

Kochi: The Bengaluru-Chennai-Coimbatore-Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram high speed rail line is to get a new lease of life as Minister of State, Manoj Sinha said that the project was very much in the pipeline. During the tenure of the UPA government, a feasibility study was carried out for the rail, but when Sadananda Gowda took charge, the rail line was restricted to Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore.

While the Railways had initially considered the Chennai-Bengaluru-Ernakulam line, it was amended to extend the line until Thiruvananthapuram at the intervention of the state government. While the Japanese agency that conducted the feasibility studies approved the path, further action was not taken up.

The first high speed rail is to be constructed in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. Other routes are Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai and so on. The feasibility studies of various rail corridors have also been completed, the minister said.

Once the rail line is commissioned, trains would be able to travel at about 300 kms/hr on tracks laid out on pillars. Speed on existing tracks would be 160-200 km/hr.

The programme is being implemented by the High Speed Railway Corporation. For upgrading existing tracks, the cost involved would be about Rs 2.5 crores per kilometre of track. This is because construction would involve modern signalling systems, barricades along the track, safety measures etc.

Geotech Teams expected to arrive Vizag to conduct Soil Tests on the proposed three metro corridors

Visakhapatnam (VSKP): Accelerating the Visakhapatnam metro rail works, a team of geotechnical engineers from Jaipur is expected to arrive in the city this week to inspect the three proposed metro corridors and conduct soil tests.

As per the government’s metro rail project plan, three corridors would be constructed in the city – Madhurawada to NAD Junction, Park Hotel to Thatichetlapalem and Gurudwara Junction to Old Post Office. Apart from soil tests, the engineers’ team would take up topography, traffic and household surveys in the coming days. After preparing the reports, the team would submit an overall survey report to the government to get its approval for beginning the project works.

Earlier, the metro rail officials said that they would undertake the survey in the first week of February. But then, since it is already March, a delay in the overall project is clearly expected.

Meanwhile, the government is racking its brains as to how to convince and seek the cooperation of residents of Jagadamba Junction, Poorna Market and few other busy areas, to vacate the places for undertaking the metro rail works, if required.

Also, the traffic menace is going to be a major problem for the authorities to take up the metro project. Under such circumstances, the city planning department of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation is seen busy preparing plans to handle the possible disputes.

Jaipur Metro announces its first Time Table; trains to do 131 trips a day

Jaipur (JP): As the much-awaited Jaipur Metro is approaching towards its maiden run, the Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation (JMRC) on Tuesday released the time table of the train connecting Mansarover to Chandpole. Except for Sunday when Jaipur Metro would be available after every 15 minutes, JMRC has chalked out different timings for the weekdays. Metro will take 131 trips per day from Mansarover to Chandpole while it will take 115 trips on Sundays.

Sharing the first time table with the newsmen at the JMRC office on Tuesday, NC Goyal, CMD, JMRC, said, “The first Metro every morning will start at 6.45 am from Mansarover station and from Chandpole side it will start at 7 am. Prior to that as a safety compliance a security run would be conducted at a speed of 25 kms/hour to check the track and other technical things.”

Asked if it is the right time to release the time table especially when Jaipur Metro awaits two more important clearances, Goyal said, “We are geared up for the inspection by the commissioner metro rail safety, Mumbai and our preparations are on. Even if during his proposed inspection from March 14 to March 17, we gets some reservations or concern from him, we will stick to the time table whenever Jaipur Metro will start its maiden run.”

Asked if JMRC has set up some peak hours and the intervals during which the train would be available Goyal, said, “We have not decided on any peak hour as these things would be decided after almost three months from the start of its maiden run. However, from Mansarover to Chandpole the train would be available in every 10 minutes during 8.30 am to 10.30 am and 5 pm to 7 pm. While it would be available in every 15 minutes between 6.45 pm to 8.30 pm and 10.30 to 5 pm and 7pm to 9 pm. However, for Sundays the train would be available in every 15 minutes.”

“Similarly, from Chandpole to Mansarover side we have given slabs 9 am to 11 am.

On the time it will take to complete its journey from Mansarover to Chandpole and Chandpole to Mansarover, Goyal said, “It will take nearly 22 minutes and we have decided to stick to a maximum speed of 60 kms/hour and an average speed of 30 kms/hour,” he said.

When asked if the JMRC would be able to have the commercial run of the Jaipur Metro by March, 31, Goyal clarified, “We are dependent on the railway board and commissioner metro rail safety for the rolling stock approval and for the section approval. We are aiming at starting Jaipur Metro on or before March 31. The dates would be finalized only after we will get these two approvals.”

JMRC has also fixed punctuality criteria for the train as Goyal said, “We have fixed a minimum delay of 120 seconds for our train and if our trains comes to the station after this time it would be taken as late or breaching punctuality.”

  • Mansarover to Chandpole: First train will start everyday at 6.45 am
  • Chandpole to Mansarover: First train will start everyday at 7.00 am
  • No. of trips per day (Monday to Saturday) – 131
  • No. of trips on Sunday – 115
  • Travel time (Both directions) – 22 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 60 kms/hour
  • Average speed – 30 kms/hour
  • Dwell time at each station – 20 to 45 seconds

Central Railway proposes Terminus at defunct Thakurli Power Plant land

Thakruli (THK): In one of the biggest moves in Mumbai’s railway landscape in recent times, Central Railway has prepared a proposal to build an Outstation Train Terminus at the land which once used to house the Thakurli Power Plant. The proposal is part of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s Railway Budget speech on February 26 about ‘Satellite Railway Terminals’. Central Railway General Manager S K Sood said the matter was ‘under consideration’.

Thakurli railway station falls on the Central line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway network and is at a distance of 49km from the Mumbai CST station.

Speaking in Parliament Prabhu had said, “Most of the railway terminals located in big cities are amidst very congested areas. We propose to develop satellite railway terminals in major cities with the twin purpose of decongesting the city as well as providing service to passengers residing in suburbs. The satellite terminals will have modern facilities for originating and terminating trains, which will also briefly stop at the existing major terminals. Ten select stations will be taken up in 2015-16 for this purpose.”

According to officials in the know, the stretch of land at Thakurli will be in the region of around 80 acres – almost three and half times the size of Oval Maidan – and would be ideal for a terminus. “Preliminary studies of the suitability of the Thakurli power plant land for a terminus are encouraging and with the pace of development in the stretches beyond Thane, the need for a terminus somewhere beyond Thane will arise sooner than later. If all goes well it could one of the ten spots that the railway minister spoke about in his budget speech,” said a senior CR official.

Currently Kalyan station is among the busiest in the country with more than 100 long distance and 650 suburban trains either halting or crossing the station every day. A terminus closer to Kalyan – Thakurli being the immediate station to the south of Kalyan – will allow CR to run trains to both the north-east direction i.e. towards Nashik and beyond, as well as the south-east direction, towards Pune and beyond.

“It means we can start trains meant for the south via Pune as well as north and east via Nashik from this proposed Kalyan terminus. The best part is that with so much land available, the biggest hurdle in any infrastructure project in Mumbai – the need for land acquisition – can be bypassed,” said the official.

The move also means that it is curtains for the Railways’ grand plans to resurrect the power plant at Thakurli by procuring gas from GAIL’s Uran establishment. Early last year, railway ministry officials even had a round of talks with the officials of the Atomic Energy department and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to study the chances of having a jointly-run nuclear power plant at the site.

Then railway minister Mamata Bannerjee, during her 2011 railway budget speech, had announced that a gas-based power plant would be set up at Thakurli.

Parliamentary Committee ask Railways to absorb Commission Vendors as Waiters

New Delhi: A parliamentary committee has recommended to railways for absorption of commission vendors as waiter at a grade pay of Rs 1,900 per month.

The Committee on Petitions, headed by BJP MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari, observed that these commission vendors across the country have been performing jobs, very similar to that of a waiter for years, without having the security or benefits of a government job.

Bansal slams UT over rejection of World-class project for Chandigarh Railway Station

Chandigarh (CDG): In his letter to the UT Administrator, former Chandigarh MP Pawan Kumar Bansal has flayed the local administration for rejecting the plans of Indian Railways to develop the Chandigarh Railway Station as a world-class station on the ground that this may destroy the character of the city.

“Instead of adopting a futuristic approach, we seem to be stuck in a time warp. I do not think the planners of the city beautiful ever thought of placing such an embargo on the futuristic development of the city,” he stated. He further mentioned that earlier, Chandigarh had been chosen among five stations for constructing world-class railway stations in the country, for which appointing consultants and other preliminary steps were also undertaken.

“The plan stipulates building passenger lounges, high-quality eating joints, a commercial hub, and hotels on upper floors with escalators leading to the ground floor railway platforms. This would give impetus to the economy of Chandigarh and enable its connectivity to all other important cities of the country. The proposed high-speed (bullet) train between Delhi and Chandigarh will also need commensurate terminal infrastructure,” he said.

CONCOR gallops to record high as RBI allows investment upto 34% by RFPIs

New Delhi: Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) jumped 10.15% to Rs 1,639.30 at 09:56 IST on BSE after the RBI advised that Registered Foreign Portfolios Investors can now invest up to 34% of the paid up capital of the company under the Portfolio Investment Scheme.

Meanwhile, the BSE Sensex was down 380.79 points, or 1.29%, to 29,068.16

On BSE, so far 18,498 shares were traded in the counter, compared with an average volume of 13,814 shares in the past one quarter.

The stock scaled a record high of Rs 1,650 in intraday trade today, 9 March 2015. The stock hit a low of Rs 1,505 so far during the day. The stock hit a 52-week low of Rs 793 on 5 March 2014.

The large-cap company has an equity capital of Rs 194.97 crore. Face value per share is Rs 10.

The Reserve Bank of India after market hours on Thursday, 5 March 2015 notified that Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs)/Registered Foreign Portfolios Investors (RFPIs) can now invest up to 34% of the paid up capital of Container Corporation of India under the Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS). RBI further advised that the foreign shareholding by FIIs/RFPIs in Container Corporation of India has gone below the revised threshold limit. Hence, the restrictions placed on the purchase of shares of the above company are withdrawn with immediate effect, the RBI said.

CONCOR’s net profit rose 20.6% to Rs 301.08 crore on 15.7% rise in total income to Rs 1537.01 crore in Q3 December 2014 over Q3 December 2013.

CONCOR provides logistics solution. It has the largest network of inland container depots (ICDs)/container freight stations in India. In addition to providing inland transport by rail for containers, it has also expanded to cover management of ports, air cargo complexes and establishing cold-chain.

The Government of India (GoI) holds 61.80% stake in CONCOR (as per the shareholding pattern as on 31 December 2014).

Andhra MP demand separate Rail Line between Tuni-Kothavalasa via Narsipatnam, Madugula and Devarapalle

Visakhapatnam (VSKP): Anakapalle MP Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao sought the laying of separate railway lines between Tuni and Kothavalasa junction via Narsipatnam, Madugula and Devarapalle to provide rail connectivity to the remote villages of Anakapalle constituency.

Discussion on Rail Budget

In the discussion on the railway budget in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Mr. Srinivasa Rao while supporting the Railway Budget 2015, noted that Andhra Pradesh was disappointed over the railway budget as the Railway Minister has neither sanctioned any new project nor has allocated funds to complete the pending projects.

“I was expecting an announcement on separate zone and clubbing of Waltair Division in it. But, this had not happened,” he said .

Several works including the Vijayawada-Nidadavole-Jaggayyapet-Vishnupuram and Kakinada-Pithapuram lines have not found a mention in the Railway Minister’s speech though the State Government had agreed to bear 50 per cent of the cost.

Mr. Srinivasa Rao, however, welcomed the announcement on making the A-1 grade Visakhapatnam Railway Station WiFi-enabled and the development of satellite railway stations at Anakapalle, Duvvada, Simhachalam and Pendurthy.

Policy Change

The policy change on ‘private sidings’ would help development of Visakhapatnam city as a logistics hub with speedier evacuation from the sea port.

New Zone

He sought among other things: stoppage of all super fast trains at Anakapalle, stoppage of Mumbai LTT Express at Duvvada, provision of passenger amenities at Anakapalle, Elamanchili, Narsipatnam Road and Duvvada Railway Stations.

Mr. Srinivasa Rao appealed to the Railway Minister to expedite the process of creation of the new zone as it was promised in the AP Reorganisation Act.

welcomed the announcement on making the A-1 grade Visakhapatnam Railway Station WiFi-enabled

Panel constituted to examine feasibility for new Rail Zone to meet Key Stakeholders: MOSR

New Delhi: The committee constituted by the Ministry of Railways to examine the feasibility of creation of a new railway zone has been asked to consult various stakeholders, including MPs and the State governments, before a final decision is taken on the issue.

This was stated by Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha in the Lok Sabha on Monday, in response to questions raised by MPs — Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao (Anakapalle), Kothapalli Geetha (Araku), Malyadri Sriram (Bapatla), and Nandi Yellaiah (Nagarkurnool).

Mr. Sinha noted that as per Item 8 of Schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Indian Railways was required to examine the possibility of establishing a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, and take an expeditious decision thereon.

Proposals

He noted that the Railway Ministry had received proposals from different sources suggesting various locations, including Visakhapatnam, as headquarters of the new railway zone.

Project conceptualisation work on Varanasi Metro Rail begins, RITES to prepare DPR

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

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

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

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

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

Designer Uniforms for Lucknow Metro staff from NIFT Raebareli

Lucknow (LKO): The Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) is still in its initial stage, but work is speeding up. LT has found out that designers at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Raebareli have designed the uniforms of the staff at LMRC.

Telling us about the details, Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, LMRC says, “We thought it was necessary for the LMRC staff at the construction site to wear a proper uniform that would help them be identified as LMRC. We were looking for a good institution who could do that for us. We approached NIFT Raebareli, which is a government institution and located close to Lucknow, to do the job. They agreed to take up this project and so now, after a series of deliberations, we have nearly finalised the uniform. The first order will be placed in a couple of weeks or so.”

But the process of deciding the uniforms was quite a tedious one, shares Kumar. “It was not that NIFT presented one design and we approved it. It required collaborative working, and we kept giving our ideas to NIFT and they kept coming back with suggestions of bettering it. That’s how the uniform has been designed,” he says.

The LMRC’s requirements were simple and straight: “For the uniforms a few things were on our mind. Firstly, that it should be a rugged one, then the colour has to be such that it doesn’t get very dirty since it has to be worn daily, even on the construction site. At the same time, it doesn’t have to be very dull either. We wanted the uniform to be smart, but not over-the-top, since we are in a commercial business. We are now planning a proper launch of the uniform soon,” says Kumar.

While both LMRC and NIFT refuse to share the designs just yet, Dr Bharat Sah, director of the fashion institute reveals that the uniforms are in “shades of grey”. He adds, “It is a challenging project for NIFT Raebareli, and our expert faculty is on the job to design summer and winter wear for the LMRC staff. While designing the uniform, the comfort for employees has been taken into account, keeping in mind their working conditions.”  The LMRC employees will soon be seen in these uniforms on the construction sites.

Design competition to decide JMRC staff’s uniforms

In 2013, the Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation had organised a special competition to decide the uniform for its staff, inviting entries from various agencies, designing institutes, firms and individuals. The final design that was chosen had white shirt, grey trousers and red tie in summers with a navy blue blazer in winters for manager-rank JMRC officers, along with accessories like belt, cufflinks and tie pin, which will have a logo of Jaipur Metro on them. Women will wear red and pink saris and station controllers will wear red and pink shirts with grey trousers, and wear red jackets in winters. Customer relation assistants will also wear red and pink shirts with grey trousers and sleeveless red jackets. Women assistants will wear kurtis of the same colour with trousers and sleeveless jackets