Indo-China Rail Pact: Ignorance fuels mistrust in China-India ties, says scholar

बीजिंग Beijing:  As China and India seek to improve their ties, they have first to handle the problem of mutual mistrust, which in part comes from ignorance, according to an Indian scholar at Peking University.

“No one climbs on top of trains in India now,” Binod Singh said, referring to a common view of his country in China, based on old photographs circulated online featuring passenger-packed Indian trains.

“Those photos are all from the 1960s and 1970s. Indian trains are now electrified and climbing on top of them could prove fatal,” Singh told the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly.

The perception difference was also noticeable at the 2014 leaders’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, amid discussions on whether or not India and Pakistan should join the SCO, which has been dubbed the China-Russia Club. The regional political, economic and military cooperation group is made up of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Soon after Narendra Modi was sworn in as India’s prime minister in May, BR Deepak, a professor of sinology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, predicted that Modi will seek cooperation from China in the fields of transportation and energy resources.

New Delhi will list China as a top priority while seeking a partner to build high-speed railways in India, he forecast, saying that although Modi is regarded as a nationalist, he sees the new prime minister as an “extreme pragmatist.”

However, it is unlikely that China to be the sole player in India’s high-speed rail market. Modi is also likely to collaborate with France, the paper said, since India’s procurement policy in various Mission Mode projects of the Government are set to undergo Tendering and Bidding processes.

Although China is currently the largest trade partner of India, mutual trust between the two nations in diplomacy has not been high, the weekly stated, adding that Deepak had even described their relationship as suffering from a “trust deficit.”

Importantly for India, since last a decade, China is not trustworthy because of its exports of massive advanced weapons to Pakistan. India claims that China should understand the regional perspectives while extending such support particularly to a country like Pakistan – a country regarded as one of the most deadliest breeding ground of terrorists and its ambitious nuclear proliferation will fall into the hands of Islamists.  This has led India to boost political and military cooperation with the United States, Japan and other Western powers, which China is unlikely to welcome.  In all perspectives, it would be more better for China to strengthen bilateral, economic, trade and commerce business relations with India than Pakistan in the long run so that regional balance is achieved in both the countries.

Siemens Rail Automation becomes wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens

Siemens Ltd has now informed BSE that Siemens Rail Automation Private Limited has become a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the Company with effect from October 01, 2014.

With reference to the earlier announcement letter dated January 30, 2014, relating to the Board of Directors of Siemens Limited had approved the acquisition of 100% equity shares of Siemens Rail Automation Private Limited from Siemens International Holding BV, Netherlands (99 99%) and Siemens AG (0.01%) for a consideration of Rs.55 crores. Siemens Ltd informed BSE that Siemens Rail Automation Private Limited has become a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the Company with effect from October 01, 2014.

Texmaco Rail enters into J.V. Agreement with Wabtec International Inc

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA):  Texmaco Rail & Engineering Ltd has entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with Wabtec International Inc. (Westinghouse Air Brake), a leading multi Billion Dollar US Company in the field of advanced Rail technology and Rail Safety products for setting up of a facility with R&D in India on JV consortium partnership.

Recently, the company’s Heavy Engineering Division secured an order valued at Rs 387.05 crore for 974 Nos. well type wagons from the Ministry of Defence.

Texmaco Rail & Engineering (TexRail) operates in two business segments in India – heavy engineering division and steel foundry division.  TexRail is one of India’s leading freight car manufacturers with a diverse range of products, such as railway freight cars and diversified engineering division, steel foundry division and hydro-mechanical equipment.

The company is the largest supplier of wagons to the Indian Railways in India with strong in-house capabilities for the design and manufacture of special purpose wagons.

Crack on track near Kallayi station

कल्लाई Kallayi (KUL): A one-inch crack was detected on the railway track at West Kannancherry near the Kallayi railway station here after two regular trains had passed through the station. The crack on the track was detected by the railway staff at around 9.30 a.m. This was after the Parasuram Express, bound for Nagercoil, and the Kannur-Thrissur passenger train passed through the railway station. Soon afterwards, the railway officials carried out an inspection of the track. The station master has been asked to file a report on the incident.  The Southern Railway officials have instructed loco pilots of trains passing through the railway track to lessen their speed and be vigilant following the unusual crack on the regularly maintained track. Temporary repairs have been carried out. If required, the portion will be changed.

Cracks usually develop on rusted portions of the track in rural areas in the district. There were instances when a portion of track of nearly two to three inches was found displaced. And it was dangerous for trains to run on these tracks. These are repaired after halting trains at stations. Earlier this year, holes have been detected in a railway track at Kundayithodu, near Cheruvannur, here. It was found that these holes had been drilled by miscreants in an attempt to derail trains. No one has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Karnataka Forest Dept to erect barriers alongside Railway tracks to save Jumbos

बेंगुलूरु Bangalore (SBC): Karnataka State sanctions Rs.50 crore for project; Railways urged to reduce costs. The Forest department has written to the State government and the Railway ministry, seeking reduction in the cost of rails needed for erecting barriers in areas where man-elephant conflict is high.

A team of officials will visit New Delhi in the second week of October to meet Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to urge him to intervene and reduce the cost of rails which the State government intends to purchase from the Railways.

In August 2014, a team of Forest department officials along with Forests and Ecology Minister B Ramanath Rai had visited Kenya and South Africa to study the models to mitigate man-elephant conflict.

A couple of years ago, the Forest department, along with experts from the Indian Institute of Science, had erected rails discarded by the Railways in some patches of Bandipur Tiger Reserve on a pilot basis.

In view of this successful experiment and the study of the African model where rails were used for creating barriers, the minister, in September 2014, had announced that rails would be used to construct barriers to keep elephants at bay, apart from the traditional methods of digging elephant-proof trenches and chilli rope.

Accordingly, the Forest department chalked out a Rs 212-crore for the project to erect barricades using rails. They identified areas along the borders of Bannerghatta National Park, connecting River Cauvery, Bandipur and Nagarahole Tiger Reserves and a few areas around the BRT wildlife sanctuary.

But, the State government sanctioned only Rs 50 crore for the project. The officials contacted the South Western Railway (SWR) officials in this regard.

A senior SWR official said the tracks were sold at scrap rates of Rs 42 per kilogram. The rates fluctuate depending on the market prices and scrap is normally e-auctioned.

The official maintained that though it was the first time that a government department was keen on purchasing rails from the Railways, reduction in price would be decided by the board and the ministry.

“Out of the sanctioned Rs 50 crore, around 70 per cent will be spent on purchasing rails and the rest will be used for digging work, transportation and erection of rails, manpower and so on. Thus, around Rs 75 lakh to Rs 80 lakh will be spent for erecting a kilometre of barriers. With the sanctioned amount, only 60 km to 70 km can be covered.”

“We are requesting the government and the minister to intervene and help us get the rails at subsidised rates. Discussions are also on with SWR officials to reduce the costs of the rails,” Vinay Luthra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) told

CCTVs, Jammers mooted by railways to rein in Touts

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  Big and small railway ticket reservation centres and booking counters in railway stations in Delhi will now be equipped with CCTVs and jammers to prevent touting. A circular in this regard was issued by the railway board four days ago. It asked major stations to battle the menace of touting by monitoring the activities of booking clerks. Officials are now poised to return to their offices after a long spell of holidays and begin work of issuing tenders to install the cameras.

The circular from the railway ministry has asked stations to install the cameras that will send live feed at the time of booking reservations. Commercial inspectors of railways and divisional railway managers will be made responsible for monitoring footage of CCTVs during peak hours and on daily basis. “Touting has become a huge issue. Very recently, we heard rumours that even Tatkal tickets were being blocked by touts and sold on a premium, so this move was made,” said a senior official.

Officials in Delhi say that some of the reservation centres and railway stations are already equipped with CCTVs and jammers, and now the remaining stations will be covered. “Now we will try to cover the remaining stations as well,” said a Northern Railway official.

Another measure recently adopted is the doing away of RTSAs or Railway Travel Service Agents. “There were about 200 RTSAs in Delhi operating legally, each of whom was allowed six tickets each. But they had grown in influence over the years and were getting away with too many tickets. Vigilance proposed to do away with all of them. All 200 were debarred from blocking tickets a few months ago.”

Hoax call halts Train near Warangal over Bomb Threat to Swarna Jayanthi

वरंगल Warangal (WL):  Warangal railway enquiry authorities received a hoax call from an unknown person here on Monday, stating that a bomb was planted in Swarna Jayanthi express which was going to New Delhi from Visakhapatnam.

Immediately the railway police were alerted who swung into action and stopped the train near Warangal Railway station. All the compartments were searched by pressing dog squad police and a bomb squad. The search continued for an hour. Railway Protection Force circle inspector Ravi Kumar said, each and every compartment along with passengers’ luggage was checked thoroughly.

Meanwhile, the railway authorities tracked the fake call which was dialed from mobile  number 7207748916. The hoax caller had said  that within five minutes Swarna Jayanthi express would explode as a powerful bomb was planted in the train.

When the train stopped abruptly at Warangal railway station panic spread among the passengers for a while.  Once it was confirmed that it was a hoax call, railway authorities gave  green signal around 7.15pm to the train. A case has been registered and an investigation is on.

NWR’s Packaged Food Scheme yet to gain popularity due to Lack of Publicity

जैपुर Jaipur (JP):  Despite the fact that the North Western Railway has started the service for passengers to book packed food over phone at four major railway stations, the service is yet to gain popularity. The reason – poor publicity and efforts by the NWR authorities and its respective divisions where passengers are compelled to eat onboard food of poor quality. Even there is no checks by the railway authorities to find if these services are actually working.

At Jaipur, Bikaner, Alwar and Abu Road stations, the authorities have also started the facility of telephone booking of the food for the passengers. Yet it is getting a very poor response so far.

Indian railways has already started SMS booking of the food as a pilot project while the efforts of the railway authorities at these stations seem insufficient. “I have no idea on if there is any facility of getting onboard food through calling up some vendor before reaching the bigger railway stations including Jaipur, Bikaner, Alwar and Abu Road. I think they should make these contact numbers public by pasting these numbers inside the boggies of the train or railway stations and other places,” said Mayank Bhatt, a frequent traveller between Jaipur and Ahmedabad.

CPRO admitted that the facility is not much publicized and said that efforts are on to bring it to the notice of the passengers. “We have given these numbers to the commercial division. The passengers can get these numbers from the commercial control office. We will certainly make an attempt to let more people aware of this facility,” Jain added.

He said that many passengers who are aware of it are getting their food booked over phone before reaching at the above mentioned railway stations. “If it is lunch time, when train will reach one of these stations, appropriate lunch would be made available while for other meals too timely delivery on the berth of passenger on board is being be made,” Jain added.

Such is the carelessness of the railway authorities when attempted to call up one of the numbers to check if food is booked for Jaipur railway station, the phone was switched off.

Authorities said that on Delhi-Amritsar route, the railways has already started the SMS booking of the food and after its success it will be launched at several other stations including many in Rajasthan. Many trains including Jaipur-Chandigarh Garib Rath and others don’t have a pantry car and passengers usually make a hue and cry over the lack of food facility.

Endless wait for Hebbal Flyover on the Hebbal-Banaswadi railway line

बेंगुलूरु Bangalore (SBC):  Safety of pedestrians near railway tracks seems to be the least of South Western Railway’s (SWR’s) concerns.   Even after a decade, the pedestrian crossing facility at the Hebbal flyover railway line (Hebbal-Banaswadi crossing) is yet to see the light of day.

Despite several requests, SWR has failed to provide a safe pedestrian crossing near the railway line.

Following a post in the government’s public grievance portal by Sanjeev Dyamannavar, SWR replied that they can provide the facility, provided BBMP deposits Rs 3.5 crore with it.

The Railways said that they have completed work on the foot overbridge (FoB) at Kadugodi near Whitefield railway station and work on another foot overbridge near the ITC flyover on Wheelers Road is nearing completion. However, these works were taken up for BBMP, after the latter deposited money.

BBMP had, in the past, requested for the construction of a subway near the Hebbal flyover. After site inspection, it was found that constructing a subway was not feasible and a FoB can be constructed.

The BBMP has been asked to deposit Rs 3.5 crore and work will be taken up only after money is deposited, SWR said.

Railway barrier

Residents say that earlier, there was a railway barrier and four guards worked in shifts to monitor the movement of pedestrians. But ever since the Hebbal flyover was constructed, the authorities discontinued the arrangement.

When K H Muniyappa was the union minister of state for railways, he had visited the spot and promised to construct a subway.

But nothing has been done. With the study conducted by railways stating that a FoB would be better suited than a subway, residents have no clue how long they will have to wait for a FoB.

IRCTC official from Mumbai to be quizzed in ticket touting scam

मुंबई Mumbai:  The Railway Protection Force, investigating a ticket touting racket running into Rs.2.00 Crore, will question an IRCTC official from Mumbai after his phone number cropped up in the call log of the accused.

So far, 12 accused have been arrested. The kingpin, Kulbir Singh, had developed a software to speed up the ticket booking process on IRCTC website. “We are going through the call records of the accused and more arrests are likely,” said senior divisional security commissioner, Alok Bohra, RPF (CR).

Besides Singh, the RPF has arrested Guru Patel who had clicked a selfie on co-accused Kalpesh Shah’s iPhone 6, which had helped identify Patel.

Protest against Cow Slaughter turns Violent in Pune: Agitators stage Rail Roko at Pimpri

Local Hindus protesting on Cow slaughter on the eve of Muslims' Eid at Pimpri Railway Station on Monday

Local Hindus protesting against Cow slaughter by Muslims’ on Eid at Pimpri Railway Station on Monday

पुणे Pune: Tension prevailed in Pimpri on Monday as traders and Hindu activists agitated against a proposed slaughterhouse in the Pimpri market. As the agitators hurled stones at shops and the temporary slaughterhouse in Pimpri, a huge police force had to be deployed to control the situation and they had to to resort to mild lathi-charge.

Police laticharge public after protests broke out due to cow slaughter at Pimpri in Pune

Police laticharge at public after protests broke out due to cow slaughter at Pimpri in Pune

With the agitators also staging a “rail roko” at the Pimpri railway station for about two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon, the Pune-Lonavala-Pune local trains between 3.30 pm and 4.30 pm were cancelled. Shops at the Pimpri market were later told to down shutters.

The local train services resumed in the evening.

Goraksha Seva Samaj observing Deeksha Satyagraha in Sangli on Cow Slaughter

Goraksha Seva Samaj observing Deeksha Satyagraha in Sangli on Cow Slaughter

Senior police officers, including Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur, visited Pimpri to take stock of the situation. Additional police force from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and Quick Response Teams (QRTs) was deployed.

07RAIL-ROKOThe police said there was a dispute over a slaughterhouse proposed at the Pimpri market area.  Agitators have been complaining that some Muslims are slaughtering Cows which are regarded as the Kamadhenu by Hindus.  Considering Eid festival on Monday, the civic body Sunday gave a temporary permission to operate the slaughterhouse without knowing the consequences.  Citing permission, the local Muslim traders killed Cows and started selling the flesh on the occasion of Eid.  Local traders at Pimpri then gathered at the Sai Chowk in Pimpri to oppose it. They had heated discussions with police and PCMC officials till late night.

Hindu devotees worship a sacred cow on the eve of Gokulastami

Hindu devotees worship a sacred cow on the eve of Gokulastami

On Monday, seeing the slaughterhouse operating in the market, the traders and activists of Gorakhsa Samiti came together to lodge a protest. The police said some of them thought the slaughterhouse would be allowed permanently now and they got aggressive. Some agitators then reportedly pelted the shops with stones and tried to shut the slaughterhouse.

Cow slaughter before protests broke out at Pimpri in Pune

Cow slaughter before protests broke out at Pimpri in Pune

CowProtection

As per Historians, Cow is part of life and culture of Hindus.The tradition has its roots since Vedic times. The traces of cow worship can be seen in various Temple inscriptions, Indus coins and seals, Temple Sculptures, Ancient Texts, Literature and rock edicts found in the entire Sub-Continent and during various archaeological excavations. Cow is regarded as one of the most soft-natured animals and an epitome of peace and prosperity among Hindus.

The agitators then staged a ‘rail roko’ at the Pimpri railway station around 1 pm and also hurled stones at trains.

The railway police arrested some of the agitators who went berserk.

To control the violence, nearly 200 police personnel were pressed into action in the Sai Chowk area and they resorted to mild lathicharge to control the crowd.

The Pimpri market was kept closed. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Rajendra Mane said: “The situation is well under control. We appeal to the residents to follow the law. Action will be taken if anyone tries to create violence.”

WR to upgrade tracks on proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed Rail corridor

अहमदाबाद Ahmedabad (ADI): Western Railway (WR) will take up upgrading of tracks in the high-speed railway corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad on a priority basis. Officials said the work on Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor will begin from the beginning of next year and is likely to be completed by 2016. Upgrading of tracks would allow superfast trains to travel at speeds of 160 km an hour instead of 100 km an hour. This will reduce travel time between the two cities by Duronto or Shatabdi by nearly 90 minutes.

WR officials said that railway minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda, during this recent visit to Ahmedabad, had issued instructions that work on upgrading of tracks in the high speed corridor be taken up on a priority.

Officials said that only the existing tracks in the high speed corridor need to be strengthened. The project has been successfully tested in the corridor between Agra and Delhi. During the trial run, a train had covered nearly 200 km in just 100 minutes and this included a 10-minute halt.

The officials further said that the distance between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is 446 km. Hence, in all likelihood, it will take just four hours and 30 minutes for a superfast train to cover the distance between the two cities. However, for trains like Duranto and Shatabdi, which have few stoppages, the time taken to cover the same distance will be just four hours, said the officials.

In the railway budget for the year 2014-15 had announced that higher speeds for existing trains will be achieved by upgrading the present network of tracks. The budget had further stated that all effort will be made to increase the speed of trains to 160-200 kmph in select sectors so as to reduce travel time between major cities. Ahmedabad-Mumbai and Mumbai-Goa corridors are among those that are to be upgraded.

Officials said that first passenger high speed train will be flagged off in November and after this work will begin simultaneously between Ahmedabad-Mumbai, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Kanpur together.

Officials said that railways has already designed the high speed coaches needed for running trains at a speed of 200kmph by introducing alterations like automatic outer doors, changes in the braking system and improved vestibules.

30.8 Km Wadala-Thane Metro project likely to get funds from World Bank

ठाणे Thane (TNA): World Bank is likely to fund the proposed 30.8-km-long Wadala-Thane metro rail.

As per initial discussions and planning done by civic, state and central government officials on the Wadala to Kasarvadavali (in Thane) metro rail, World Bank in all probability will provide loan for the project.

“Financial details or how much amount will come as loan is yet to be finalised, but for this metro rail, having an estimated cost of around Rs.22000 crore, World Bank will provide financial assistance,” said an official of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

The MMRDA is Special Planning Authority (SPA) for Wadala, which lacks public transportation options. To turn the marshy area into a business district on the lines of Bandra-Kurla Complex, metro rail was proposed in the master plan. Also, Kasarvadavali on Thane’s Ghodbunder Road is a distant location, and it takes over half an hour to reach Kasarvadavali from Thane station. Due to high real estate prices, in the last half a decade, there has been tremendous increase in the population along Ghodbunder Road, and it will only multiply in the years to come.

In all, 31 stations are likely to be constructed on the alignment, out of which 10 would be underground in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai, due to lack of space on the arterial LBS Road.

The planners redesigned the metro rail route as the metro rail master plan had recommended separate metro rails between Hutatma Chowk-Ghatkopar and Ghatkopar-Mulund. By mid-2010, it was decided to extend this route to Teen Haath Naka in Thane from Mulund. But, later Hutatma Chowk-Ghatkopar corridor was scrapped.

The Wadala-Thane route was initially Ghatkopar-Mulund. It was reworked and extended up to Teen Haath Naka in Thane. Starting at Wadala and terminating at Kasarvadavli via Ghatkopar-Mulund-Teen Haath Naka are the latest revisions to the route.

IRCTC floats RFP for Co-Branded Online Marketplace

New Delhi: IRCTC’s first attempt at partnering with eCommerce site and selling products on their platform did not go very well, as they nulled their partnership with Yebhi in less than a year’s time.

Now, IRCTC has gone ahead and floated another tender inviting bids for selection of vendors who can partner with them to create a co-branded online marketplace.

The 71 page Tender document released by IRCTC gives in-depth details of the marketplace will function and what will it offer the interested bidders. The tender states that “IRCTC is calling upon online retail marketplace companies to showcase retail, deals and other services that will be offered from third parties/retailers, online retailers, affiliates, brands and service providers or their own inventory or combination thereof to the IRCTC customers to buy online services.”

We look at some of the highlights of the tender.

IRCTC Tender Details

  • Tender Submission Date: 29th Oct 15:00 hrs
  • Tender Opening Date: 29th Oct 15:30 hrs
  • Earnest Money Deposit: Rs. 2.00 Lakh
  • Estimated Cost of Tender: Rs. 7.82 Crore
  • Cost of Tender Document: Rs.1000/- (non-refundable)

Expectations From the Bidder

Here is what IRCTC expects from all the bidders who apply for Co-branded marketplace. Bidder needs to power a co-branded marketplace on IRCTC with end-to-end deliveries management and needs to have

  • open commerce platform with all the standard functionality including navigation, shopping cart, checkout, shipping and handling, and taxes and order management.
  • Bidders needs to have location based products and deals, vouchers, coupons and promotion discounts which helps IRCTC consumers. Expedited logistics and pickup spots need to be present.
  • The bidder needs to provide personalized shopping experience where the site knows what person is interested in, and offers personalized deals and vouchers.

Apart from these, IRCTC has come up with nearly 28 different parameters based on which technical qualification will be made for the bidder. Some of them include having over 100,000 SKUs at the time of the launch, over 500 sellers needed on the platform, have dedicated support team etc.

Interestingly, only a handful of eCommerce sites like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon and couple of otherswill be eligible given the kind of parameters IRCTC has put forth. None of the medium or smaller players really qualify for the same.

Commission Structure & Payment

IRCTC tender also lists down the commission structure that will be offered to the bidders for the products that will get sold on IRCTC. Here is the extract from the tender document that shows the commission structure.
Commission-Structure

The commission structure is tiered and attracts more commission for higher sales.

The reserve price for Annual Guarantee to IRCTC is Rs. 7,82,00,000 (7.82 cr) for each year of the contract and taxes thereof will be borne by the bidder. The same amount of annual guarantee will be paid by successful bidder for each year of contract.

Here is how IRCTC will calculate the payment structure
payment-structure

IRCTC intends to invite bids exclusively from the top eCommerce players only and it looks most of the eCommerce sites will not qualify for this tender and there is high chances that no one may bid for this tender, given the stringent regulations laid down, particularly when the top players already have their hands full competing with each other. While IRCTC may give them extra customers, it will also mean lot more effort!  We will need to wait and watch what happens and should know who is the unlucky vendor this time around!

Original IRCTC tender document can be downloaded from:

https://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC4QFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.irctc.com%2FDownloadDocuments%3Fworkflow%3DgetFile%26doc_cat_id%3D1%26doc_id%3D2642%26get_file_name%3Dscan.pdf&ei=KMoyVIXEBNWjugT5g4HICg&usg=AFQjCNF48dwujRj6jOFBHbijTzOXXpDP9g&bvm=bv.76802529,d.c2E

 

New Indonesian President’s ‘Development Plan’ an opportunity for India’s Infrastructure Inc.

जकार्ता Jakarta:  An ambitious economic development plan envisioned by Indonesian president-elect Joko Widodo has raised the eyebrows of major Indian enterprises interested in potential business opportunities in the country.

The centerpiece of the new administration’s economic initiative is the tremendous infrastructure plan at a scale equivalent to US$573 billion, as part of the new economic strategy to be announced on the day of the president’s inauguration.

Rizali Wilmar Indrakesuma, Indonesia’s ambassador to India and an advocate for Indo-Indonesian economic cooperation since assuming the office has urged Indian engineering firms and contractors, financial institutions and enterprises to actively tap business opportunities associated with the infrastructure projects to be put forth by the incoming administration.

Indrakesuma said that the new economic strategy will focus on energy safety and food safety, with ample investment opportunities in infrastructure, financial services, agricultural technological cooperation, mining and the metal refinery industry.

The new strategy will focus on links between the nation’s numerous islands, both big and small, to accelerate and balance economic development, according to Indrakesuma, who added that the strategy can be linked with India’s development in the fields of IT, Software, Manufacturing, Space Technologies, Pharma, Genome and associated services.

Major projects under the auspices of the strategy include a 600-kilometer pan-Sumatra highway connecting the major cities of the island, high-speed railway line connecting Jakarta and Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, and deep-water harbors, calling for total investment of 7 quadrillion rupiah (US$573 billion), Indrakesuma said.

“Backed by their track record, Indian firms stand to land even more engineering contracts in Indonesia,” Indrakesume said.

Ample opportunities will also open up in the fields of logistics and passenger transport. Vice President of Garuda Indonesia revealed the airline plans to launch direct flights between various Indian cities to a transportation hub in eastern Indonesia, on top of the existing flights from Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Indian enterprises can also invest in mining and refinery operations, as the Indonesian congress passed a law in 2009 banning the export of mineral ores from 2014, in order to boost industrialization, employment and the economic value of resources.

MUD releases Rs.250 Crore to DMRC for Phase-III project

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Central government has released its equity contribution of Rs.250 crore to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for construction work of Phase III projects.

“We have released an amount of Rs.250 crore to DMRC as part of the Government of India’s share towards equity for meeting the cost of Delhi MRTS Phase III projects for the current 2014-2015 year,” said an official of Ministry of Urban Development.

The official said that this amount shall consist of 25,00,000 shares of face value of Rs.1,000 each.

“The audited statement of account relating to transfer of this amount of Rs.250 crore to the equity of DMRC shall be furnished to Urban Development Ministry after the close of financial year together with a certificate that the amount has been utilised for the purpose for which it was sanctioned,” the official said.

He said that a total amount of Rs 7883.36 crore has been released earlier as equity to DMRC by Urban Devlopment Ministry.

One and half months back, Delhi government had also released its equity contribution of Rs.200 crore to DMRC for construction work of Phase III projects with some “strict” terms and conditions.

“Interest earned on equity before issue of shares, if any, would be adjusted against the contribution of Delhi government. Besides, DMRC would ensure time-bound progress of the project. It would also furnish monthly physical and financial progress to transport, planning and finance department,” Delhi government had said while releasing fund to DMRC.

Burdwan Blasts: ER and SER enhance Security and Vigil at various Railway Stations

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): Security and vigil at several stations of Eastern Railway, including Howrah and Sealdah have been enhanced in view of the Burdwan blast in which terror links have allegedly been found. “Security and vigil at Burdwan, Asansol, Howrah and Sealdah, which had been enhanced owing to the festive season have been further tightened after the recent blast in Burdwan,” Eastern Railway CPRO Ravi Mahapatra told PTI here.

He said ER general manager R K Gupta has directed that tighter vigil be maintained at all these important stations in view of the development. Two persons were killed and another was injured when explosives went off at a house at Khagragarh in Burdwan town, where improvised grenades were being made. A high level composite investigation team has been formed by the West Bengal government given the nature of the explosive materials and antecedents of those killed and others involved. West Bengal Home secretary Basudeb Banerjee told reporters here on Sunday that the state was also in touch with central agencies including NIA in this regard.

Alstom’s Sri City manufacturing facility at Tada to manufacture Sydney Metro Trains

Alstom's Metro Rail Coach manufacturing facility at Sricity near Tada Railway Station in Andhra Pradesh

Alstom’s Metro Rail Coach manufacturing facility at Sricity near Tada in Andhra Pradesh

चेन्नाई Chennai (MAS):   In two years, Chennai port will be exporting trains to Australia. The Alstom manufacturing facility at Sri City, near Tada on Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border, will be constructing 22 trains consisting six coaches each for the upcoming metro train project in Sydney. Chennai port will ship out the trains by end of 2016.

BL10_LOGI_METRO_1422407fRecently a team of Australian officials visited the unit and were satisfied with the facilities at the unit. Following this the company received go-ahead to manufacture the trains. Incidentally, coaches for Chennai metro will also come from the same facility.

“The Australian officials were satisfied with the manufacturing facility and the engineers involved in the process. The total cost of the Sydney project is likely to be 280 million euros and the coaches will be as per the specifications given by the Australian authorities,” Alstom India (transport) managing director Bharat Salhotra.

Electrification of 18 Km stretch of Rajaji National Park seem to have a nadir

देहरादून DEHRADUN (DDN): With cost bearing being seen as a major issue, the talks between railway officials and the forest department on the electrification of railways on the 18 km stretch of Rajaji National Park (RNP) seem to have a nadir.

Manoj Chandran, additional forest secretary told, “The forest department can not permit the electrification of trains inside the RNP without ensuring the safety measures. So we have clarified to the railways department to undertake fencing, construction of over-bridges, underpasses etc at the designated places. However the railway officials have insisted on the forest department to share the cost of the expenditure for which we have refused. The forest department is already facing shortage of funds for its own proposals. Now it is up to the railway department if they want to go ahead with the electrification or not.”

Hitender Malhotra, deputy regional manager of Northern Railways added that in all the meetings held at the central level, the railways had always asked the forest department to share the expenditure of constructing fencing, over-bridge, under pass or other structures.

Neena Grewal, director, RNP said, “Whatever is the outcome of the proposal, it has to be cleared by the State Wildlife Board. Since the railways throughout the country is being electrified, it will certainly be done in near or distant future in RNP as well. However the safety of the elephants will remain paramount.”

The forest officials, wildlife scientists and lovers have already expressed serious concern about the electrification of the railways in RNP. They fear for the lives of the elephants and other wild animals if the safety measures for electrification are ignored.

Akhil Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham urge announcement of Spl.Trains to Sabarimala

सबरिमला SABARIMALA:  With hardly 40 days left for the start of the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage season, concerns have been raised against lack of adequate rail transport facility for the scores of pilgrims, especially from neighbouring states.

Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham (ABASS) has urged the Railway Ministry for the announcing special trains at the earliest to facilitate the pilgrims to make advance reservations and bookings.

ABASS vice-president D Vijayakumar told that the indifferent attitude of the railway authorities will lead to hardships for pilgrims, especially from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Last year special trains were announced just one week before the start of the season.

He also urged that Railways should expeditiously announce Sabari Rail Project (Angamali-Erumeli Sabari rail alignment) so that it will serve majority of pilgrims across the country coming to Sabarimala.

Extension of Trains

Vijayakumar said the railway authorities should extend the special trains upto Kollam as the number of platforms and shunting yards are inadequate at Chengannur station, considered the gateway to the shrine.

As two-thirds of the aggregate number of pilgrims prefer Chengannur station, the authorities should provide additional facilities like resting place, toilets and bathrooms at the station.

The platforms at Chengannur station are poorly illuminated and yet to be fully covered with roofs.

The Sangham has demanded new railway line linking Chengannur with Pampa, passing through Aranmula, Kattoor, Ranni, Vadasserikara, Perunad, Kanamala and Valiyanavattom. Vijayakumar said though a survey was conducted by the Railway Ministry, no follow-up action was taken till date.

New KSRTC Service

Vijayakumar urged the KSRTC authorities to deploy new buses for Pampa special service. Though the KSRTC has done a commendable job last season, majority of buses were old ones arranged from other bus stations, causing large number of break-downs, he said.

The KSRTC authorities should take stern steps to prevent fleecing of pilgrims by hoteliers at Laha and Vadasseikara where the buses halt near the hotels for taking food items, he said.

There are allegations that some bus drivers and conductors are offered free food and even money by the hoteliers for halting buses near their restaurants.

Srikalahasthi-Nadikudi line to get priority in rail budget

स्रीकालहस्थि Sri Kalahasthi (KHT): Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Sunday said that the new railway line between Srikalahasthi and Nadikudi would be accorded top priority in the next railway budget. He added that the financial aspects of the project were currently under the consideration of the Ministry.

Speaking to reporters at Srikalahasthi, Mr. Gowda also promised to take up development projects at Tirupati and Renigunta stations.

Unions wary of Chinese participation in Railways modernisation and Bullet Train projects

चेन्नाई Chennai (MAS): Last month, India and China signed MoUs and exchanged documents on strengthening Indian Railways and last week, Union railway minister Sadananda Gowda confirmed, during his visit to Chennai, that railways was in track with China on technology development and this had created a trigger among various railway trade unions in south India.

Railway unions associated with the southern states insist that Indian Railways avoid China for investment and technology and warned that Chinese intrusion into the railways will have adverse effects. “If required, the railways should go for other global expertise,” said Mr M. Raghaviah, general secretary, Nation Federation for Indian Railwaymen. Southern Railway Mazdoor Union and Southern Railway Employees Sangh that have a significance presence in TN, Andhra and Kerala, also express similar views.

There are rail traffic bottlenecks in all metros and this needs immediate attention to increase speed and punctuality. There is no need to spend Rs.66000 crore on every high speed corridor proposed between Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai, along with three other corridors in the country, Mr Ragaviah said, warning that FDI will only lead to an economic crisis. “We will be compelled to go on strike, affecting rail services, if the idea of FDI is mooted in the railways,” he added.

“There is need for technology transfer, but not investments from China or other countries. We benefited from importing German technology while developing AC coaches for Indian Railways,” said SRMU general secretary C.A.Raja Sridhar, who is also vice-president, (Asia Pacific) International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) headquartered in London.

For the Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed corridor, the estimated cost is Rs.66000 crore and during execution, the project cost will be around Rs.90000 crore. Rather than going in for China’s high-speed train, Japan’s bullet train is economical and the safest, meeting all international safety parameters, he said, war ning that foreign investments will convert railways from service industry into a corporate house, affecting the common man.

“Rail commuters look for quality service and punctuality and this can be attained only by filling up the existing vacancies and resolving the bottlenecks. Technology can improve, but preference should be more on improving the human resource indices of railway staff,” said loco pilot Gopala Krishnan of the Southern Railway Employees Sangh.

Ticket touting scam: Key IRCTC Officer under scanner

मुंबई Mumbai: Investigations into possibly the biggest-ever railway touting scam, involving tickets worth over Rs2 crore and counting, now point to a Mumbai-based senior official of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for his proximity to some of the arrested touts. The scam involves usage of an automation software to illegally speed up the ticket booking process on IRCTC’s website and, ironically, this official holds a sensitive post in the corporation. Senior railway officials investigating the scam termed this development ‘very disturbing’.

Investigators told that the official in question seemed to have been in touch with some of these touts even after the scam broke out on September 24. This official’s name came up during interrogation of the arrested touts as well as checking of their cellphones, the investigators said, adding that call data records of several of these touts were being retrieved for investigative analysis.

“Investigations into whether this big cartel of software developer, marketeer and touts was getting insider help from someone in the IRCTC are now in an advanced stage. Around 53% of all tickets are booked on the IRCTC website. To think that some senior official at IRCTC itself might be in touch with these people who were circumventing the system and putting millions of bona fide passengers at a disadvantage is a very grave matter,” said one of the investigators.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) said that, as of Sunday, details of 4,506 tickets had been retrieved from one iMac, 45 CPUs, 10 pendrives and 11 mobile phones confiscated from the 12 arrested touts. “These tickets have a cumulative value of Rs.2.08 crore. It is possibly the biggest recovery of tickets in a touting case so far in the railways,” the investigator said.

Centred around a software developed by an Ahmedabad-based individual named Kulbir Singh, the scam involved a whole set of travel agents and touts using this software to surpass some of the ticket-booking procedures on the IRCTC website and book several tickets within seconds of the website opening. Railway officials probing the scam said the software allowed these touts to fill in all the requisite details the previous night itself and keep it ready for the morning when the website opens for booking.

“The software allowed the creation of multiple IP addresses, would link all these forms to various bank accounts of these touts and, at the touch of a button, book hundreds of tickets at one go. The software even allowed all the forms and ticket details to be saved in PDF format in the tout or agent’s computer for future reference,” said another railway official.

Touts’ software booked 2000 Tickets a minute

The gang behind Rs 2.82-crore scam employed several thousand usernames, used powerful software that generated over a hundred PNR numbers at a click.

The Railway Protection Force investigation, into one of the biggest e-ticket tout scams, revealed that the gang of touts had several thousand IRCTC user names and a powerful software that can book over 2,000 tickets in the first minute as soon as the tatkal quota opened at 8 am.

Investigations so far revealed that the scam is estimated to be worth Rs 2.82 crore, and the Railways are in the process of blocking 3,000-plus tickets.

The software enabled the touts to prefill reservation data and feed it into the IRCTC server, and thus book the tickets instantaneously. It generated between 25 to 136 PNR numbers in one click.

The RPF is now taking the help of a student accused in an earlier case to study and decode the software. “Shockingly, from the seized digitial assets, only a few folders have yet been opened, leading to such a large number and value of tickets. Details of over 15 folders are still being downloaded,” said Senior Divisional Commissioner Alok Bohra. “Once complete, it will lead to a multi-crore scam. The figure so far has touched Rs 2.82 crore, and many folders are still to be restored,” Bohra said.

The gang developed an automation software that enabled them to fill forms on the IRCTC website at a mass level and facilitate e-ticket bookings between 8 am and 8:01 am as soon as the site opened.

In this way, the site was not being hacked but multiple forms were being simultaneously filled in from different IP addresses. It used to generate between 25 to 136 PNR numbers in one click.

“The gang did not have just the yet-tobe-marketed iPhone 6L, but also many other expensive digital assets. They must have bought them from the black market and used all of them to faciliate the racket by storing data, generating the software and coding it. The investigating is an ongoing process and many more details are yet to be decoded. Just this much has yielded so much of value,” Bohra added.

The scam came to light late September following the arrest of two accused, Rajendra Kumar Jaiwantraj Bafna and Mahesh Rajendrakumar Bafna from Govandi, and the recovery of 478 e-tickets worth Rs 9. 33 lakh from them.

During interrogation, Mahesh revealed details of a shop in Virar, which was raided on September 25. The raid led to the seizure of 850 e-tickets worth Rs 39.52 lakh and the arrest of two accused, Kalpesh Shah and Sandeep Parekh. They had 1,400 identities on the IRCTC website, and using an illegal software had generated 136 PNR numbers in a single slot.

During the raid, five mobiles (Iphone 6L, iPhone 5S, LG-3, Samsung Note 3, Noka Lumia), 6 pen drives, 9 CPU and one Apple I-Mac desktop were seized.

“Interrogations of Kalpesh and Sandeep led to the further seizure of 950 e-tickets worth Rs.26,93,514. Recovery is still continuing from 18 folders still to be retrieved with total tickets about 1,777 from one of the pen drives from Kalpesh,” an officer who was part of the raid said.

The investigation also threw up the names of two key persons involved in the scam, Kulbir Singh and Guru Patel. While Kulbir, an English literature graduate and a teacher, developed the software, Guru was the kingpin who distributed and operated the software.

Following a further tip-off, on September 27 Guru was arrested from his residence in Dharavi and two CPUs and three mobile phones were recovered.

It was then learnt that the software developer, Kulbir Singh, was based in Ahmedabad. A team was despatched to Gujarat the same night, but as Kulbir was not found, his father-in-law was questioned.

Kulbir was eventually traced to Charoti Naka, Dahanu, where he was arrested and a laptop, two mobile phones, data card and a wi-fi port were seized.

Blocked train e-Tickets hit pupils’ educational tours

Massive online ticketing tout scam running into crores of rupees leaves students with pre-bookings stranded, forcing agents to make alternative arrangements. The ongoing investigation into the massive e-ticketing tout scam has badly hit educational tours of students, besides thousands of other commuters. The Railways are in the process of mass blocking thousands of e-tickets, throwing into jeopardy the schedules of student tour groups that had already done bookings. Among those left in the lurch were a group of 150 students who undertook an educational tour to Hyderabad organised by Modern Tours. They were stranded there four days ago when their confirmed return tickets to Mumbai were blocked as their PNR numbers were suspected to be part of the biggest-ever touting racket worth crores of rupees. Harsh Kotak of Modern Tours said it was not fair for tickets to be randomly blocked in this manner. “On October 1 we were to return by Hussain Sagar Express, but found our tickets blocked. The school and parents were expecting us back, but we had no way to return,” Kotak said. “Fortunately, a Railway manager helped us and we managed to return. But it was unfair of the Railways,” he said. “Other related issues such as hotel bookings, etc cannot be changed at the last minute.”

Alternative arrangements

Similarly, another agent in Kandivli said he booked tickets for hundreds of students in batches for educational tours to Kerala via Konkan Railway from October 20. “But since the PNRs were blocked earlier this week, we are now forced to make arrangements to take the students by buses,” he said. “The Railways should not cancel tickets in this manner. Earlier, the vigilance department used to issue newspaper ads with PNR details, asking ticket holders to prove their identities,” said Shailesh Goyal, former member of Railway Zonal Users Consultative Committee. “They should revert to that practice. It’s not correct to block tickets and inconvenience people.” A Railway official said blocking of PNR numbers in the folders retrieved from touts is essential as investigations are ongoing. “Tickets booked by Modern Tours and the Kandivali agent were found among these folders, hence they were blocked. We appeal to schools to book tickets from official sources only,” the IRCTC official said.

CR conversion plan almost complete, claims Railway

मुंबई Mumbai: One of the railway’s most important projects — to change its obsolete electricity systems which started way back in 1996 — is finally reaching the business end of things. Top railway officials said that the conversion of CR’s electric traction between Thane and CST is ’99 per cent’ complete and should be over by the December 31 deadline.

The project was one of those listed as important and in urgent need of completion in the list made to commemorate 100 days of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. While the 100-day commemoration was in August, railway officials said the project, despite not being completed by then, got a major fillip after being included in the list.

“It is the work that took place at breakneck speed between July and August which has now given us this 99 per cent complete status. Now permissions from the railway board, the Commissioner of Railway Safety and the Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) are left and that should take a couple of months more. We are well within the December 31 deadline,” said a top railway official.

The other big issue, the need for rakes that can run on AC traction after the conversion, is also in control with CR officials saying that around 10 such rakes would be needed to service the CST-Thane section.

“We use around 75 rakes to service the CST-Thane section every day. Some 52 are Siemens, around 9 are BHEL ones and some 8 rakes are retrofitted ones. We would require about 10 AC traction rakes which should not be a problem,” said an official.

The project would allow CR to deploy Alternating Current suburban locals which could run at 100 kilometres per hour, thus allowing train-runners to squeeze in more trains into the timetable. It will also give almost 33 per cent energy savings and power bill savings of anything between Rs.50-80 crore annually, said officials.

At a cost of Rs.1299 crore, the plan was to change the lines from DC to AC from Igatpuri and Pune towards CST. The project has progressed till Thane at a cost of Rs.910 crore and on the 5th and 6th lines — used by long-distance trains-between Thane and Kurla LTT. The lines left to be converted from DC to AC are Thane to CST and the Harbour line. The deadline to complete all these lines — except Harbour line — was March 2014 which was then pushed back first to August and then to December.

Railway Minister assures Special Trains for Godavari Pushkarams

तिरुपति Tirupati (TPTY): Union railway minister DV Sadananda Gowda said that his ministry will extend all the necessary support for the upcoming ‘Godavari Pushkarams’ in the state.

During a brief interaction with media persons in Srikalahasti, after conducting ‘Rahu-Kethu’ puja and having the darshan of Vayulingeswara Swamy on Sunday, the minister assured to operate special trains during the Pushkarams and also to improve passenger amenities in the railway stations located nearby Godavari river.

Stating that making financial allocations to the new railway line between Srikahalasthi and Nadikudi is under the consideration of railway ministry, he said that the project will be given priority in the next railway budget.

Admitting that the new state of Andhra Pradesh is facing difficulties in terms of development due to the state bifurcation, he said that the Centre will extend all possible help to the state.

Reiterating that Tirupati and Renigunta railway stations will witness more development works in the coming days, he assured the people that their appeals for more Express trains in the famous temple town of Srikalahasti will be considered soon. Earlier, the railway minister along with his family members had darshan of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala temple.

State endowment minister Manikyala Rao, who accompanied the union minister to Tirumala and Srikalahasti temples, explained the  latter about the significance of Godavari Pushkarams seeking necessary support from the railway ministry.

Later, speaking to media persons, Manikyala Rao said that he also invited the railway minister for inspecting the Rajahmundry and other nearby railway stations, to take necessary arrangements for the convenience of people as large number of people are expected to take part in the Pushkarams this year.

Coal Ministry sets up IMG to study Rail Freight Tariff

New Delhi:  The Coal Ministry has formed an inter-ministerial group to study the trend in the rail freight tariffs over the last two-three years and its impact on the price of coal.

The six-member group, under the chairmanship of Joint Secretary, Coal, has representatives from the ministries of power and railways, according to an official memorandum.

Representatives from Coal India and the Central Electricity Authority are also part of this group, it said.

Ro-Ro brings Rs.67.2 Crore revenue to Konkan Railway

मुंबई Mumbai:  The Roll-on, Roll-off (Ro-Ro) service, unique to Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., (KRCL) where trucks ride piggy-back on specially-designed Railway rakes from one place to another, has brought Rs. 67.2 crore revenue to the corporation in the last fiscal.

Having transported more than 55,000 trucks during 2013-14, KRCL claimed it is the highest-ever revenue earned so far from the service.

It had transported 48,000 trucks during the previous fiscal and anticipates at least 20 per cent increase in the numbers this fiscal. It had earned Rs. 50.9 crore from Ro-Ro in 2012-13, Rs. 35.64 crore in 2011-12 and Rs. 25.85 crore in 2010-11.

Ro-Ro was first introduced between Kolad (near Mumbai) and Verna in Goa on January 26, 1999 and later was extended till Surathkal (off Mangalore) from June 15, 2004.

Starting with one rake, KRCL augmented the services with six rakes subsequently. The Ro-Ro service is also available between Ankola (Uttara Kannada in Karnataka) and Surathkal for trucks to and from Hubli region.

‘Hassle-free’

Interacting with presspersons here recently, KRCL’s Chief Public Relations Officer Vaishali Patange said the service is becoming popular among freight operators since it offers hassle-free transportation of trucks devoid of many disadvantages of transportation through road.

Besides saving considerable amount of fuel, the service also offers speedier journey, she said. Ms. Patange said the demand is higher for service between Mumbai and Mangalore.

Operating surplus

Ms. Patange also said the corporation posted an operating surplus of Rs. 218 crore during the last fiscal with a turnover of Rs. 1,221 crore. The operational efficiency too improved from 95 paisa expenditure per rupee to 87 paisa, she said.

With available limited resources, the corporation is planning to strengthen its route network and double the lines in patches.

Initially, lines between Roha and Karanjadi in Maharashtra and Thokur (near Surathkal) and Byndoor in Karnataka were being targeted and estimates were being prepared, Ms. Patange said.


  • Trucks are loaded on BRN Wagons and transported from one place to another
  • First introduced between Kolad (Maharashtra) and Verna (Goa) on January 26, 1999
  • Ro-Ro points: Kolad-Verna (417 km); Kolad-Surathkal (721 km) and Ankola-Surathkal (205 km)

Traffic jams haunt commuters near Krishnarajapuram Railway Station

कृष्नराजापुरम Krishnarajapuram (KJM): For 30-year-old IT professional Sujan, the daily ride from his home in Kalyan Nagar to his workplace in Whitefield, is a harrowing experience.

Thanks to the chaotic traffic on a section of Old Madras Road opposite KR Puram railway station, where traffic jams last over an hour or longer during rush hour.

Sujan is not alone in this struggle. Thousands of commuters are trapped in this traffic net everyday.

With neither railway officials nor the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike finding any solution to bring a relief to commuters, the situation is only going to worsen once Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) begins work on the Baiyyappanahalli-Whitefield line.

While the KR Puram railway station is itself a picture of neglect with grossly inadequate infrastructure to tackle train traffic of almost 18 to 20 trains a day, officials say that as much as they would want to expand the station, there is a lack of funds which is hampering its proposals.

This, even as there have been suggestions in the past from all quarters to either expand the station or shift services to two nearby stations – Baiyyappanahalli or Whitefield.

Railway officials say that they are in a catch-22 situation as shifting the station is not an option as it is a crucial link for trains to Yelahanka and plans to expand existing platforms are on hold as they are waiting for sanction of funds from the Railway Board.

Interestingly, this station did not find any mention in the railway budget announced this year.

Meanwhile, Sanjeev, a member of the NGO Praja, said that as per a survey on passenger traffic to this station, most passengers have to come out of the station and board a BMTC bus or take an auto rickshaw to go to their destinations in Whitefield, Electronic City etc.

As most of the daily commuters belong to IT/BT sector, if more trains are given halts at this station, it will significantly reduce the chaos on the road outside, he added.

Another big problem which adds to commuter woes on the road is the fact that BMTC buses coming from Hebbal do not have designated stops on this stretch.

As a result, most passengers who do not have to go to Whitefield get down near the foot overbridge on Old Madras Road, causing long traffic jams on the entire stretch.

Govt to spend Rs.10000 Crore in 4 Years to fast-track 30 Rail projects

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The railway ministry is likely to spend Rs.10000 crore in four years to complete 30 high-priority projects.

“Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda is keen to complete pending railway projects first before allocating railways’ limited resources to new projects,” said an official spokesperson of Ministry of Railways.

While presenting the rail budget on 8 July, Gowda had said that adding new projects leads to spreading of resources too thinly and delays in completing projects.

“In the last 30 years, as many as 676 projects were sanctioned worth Rs.1,57,883 crore. Of these, only 317 projects could be completed and 359 projects remain to be completed, which will now require as much as Rs.1,82,000 crore,” he had said.

The total project cost of these 30 projects is estimated to be nearly Rs.20,000 crore. Nearly half the amount has been spent on the projects and the remaining will be provided over the next four years. As much as Rs.2,259 crore has been set aside for these projects in the current fiscal year that began in April.

The bigger projects in the list include Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion worth Rs.5,185 crore, doubling of Daund-Gulbarga line worth Rs.1,514 crore, doubling of Udhna-Jalgaon line worth Rs.1,390 crore and doubling of Utretia-Zafrabad line worth Rs.1,117 crore.

More than half the projects are for doubling the lines in order to enhance capacity and generate returns. Others include new lines, electrification and gauge conversion. “All these projects have a high rate of return and are at several stages of construction. The rate of return on most projects is expected to be 14% and above,” he said.

All clearances are in place for these projects, he added. The oldest project in the list dates back to 1995.

“It’s a good move. At least the prioritized projects will get completed and benefits from these will start flowing. Since most of the projects are for doubling lines, if these are being done on high traffic sections they will be remunerative for the railways and will improve its earnings,” said Samar Jha, a former financial commissioner at the Railway Board.

The ministry reported an operating ratio of 93.5% for the year ended 31 March, which implies that Indian Railways spent nearly 94 paise out of every rupee earned.

Kochi Metro gives priority to Kakkanad extension

कोच्चि Kochi: In an attempt to make the Metro Rail project feasible and to ensure more ridership, Kochi Metro Rail has decided to take up the Kakkanad extension on a priority basis. Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) will carry out works of the new line from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to Kakkanad (Infopark) along with the current phase as it requires technical and structural integration.

Due to hurdles in land acquisition and widening of Vyttila – Pettah Road, commissioning of Phase I and the earlier announced line to Tripunithura will be delayed. If the current progress of works is any indication, Metro Rail Phase I will end at Vyttila along with the new line to Kakkanad. Hence, it is almost certain that the Metro will reach the IT hub first and Tripunithura residents have to wait.

“We will not wait for the completion of Phase I to take up the new line to Kakkanad. The project proposal will be submitted for the state government’s approval this week after which it will be submitted to the Union government for consideration. The tendering process will begin after getting the statutory approval. Since the French funding agency, AFD, has expressed willingness to give funds for the extension, the project can be taken up soon,” said sources at KMRL.

The feasibility study and detailed project report for the Kakkanad extension has been prepared by RITES. KMRL is planning to undertake the Kakkanad project on its own, which will also help to hasten the project completion.

Shipping Ministry to implement Sagar Mala Project by interlinking Rail, Road and Waterways

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Aiming to integrate hinterlands through rail and road networks, the government would soon finalise implementation of Sagar Mala project.

Sagar Mala project aims to not only connect the ports with hinterlands through road and rail, but also develop the inland and coastal waterways as a major transport routes, an official statement by the Shipping Ministry said.

Sagar Mala was announced by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the Independence Day in 2003 with the objective of achieving rapid capacity expansion and modernisation of ports along the country’s east and west coasts.

The project envisaged developing India’s ports to levels comparable with the best global ports in terms of infrastructure, efficiency and quality of service, increasing the tonnage capacity, upgrading and creating ship building and ship repair facilities and increase the use of inland waterways for transportation.

The Shipping Ministry has prepared a concept note, which has perceived Sagar Mala as an integrated infrastructure cum policy project to develop the Indian Maritime sector.

It has proposed that the growth of India’s maritime sector be achieved by developing Maritime Economic Regions (MER).

The note has suggested that an MER would be a Regional Ports System comprising of a cluster of Major Ports and Non-Major Ports and the development of an MER would involve development of ports, port based SEZs (special economic zones), coastal industrial clusters and other port based industries.

The MER envisages that it would be linked with road, inland waterways transport and airport projects to have the best connectivity, the statement said.

Vodafone M-Pesa ties up with Indian Railways for Ticket Booking

M-Pesa-Bharat-BPOमुंबई Mumbai: Vodafone entered into a strategic partnership today with Bharat BPO, an arm of the Railways, to provide an integrated train enquiry service as well as enable online booking of railway tickets through its mobile money transfer and payment service Vodafone M-Pesa.

Vodafone M-Pesa’s tie up with Bharat BPO would enable safe, secure and convenient ticketing transactions through mobile phones, it was officially announced here today.

Vodafone M-Pesa, a unique mobile money transfer and payment service has tied up with Bharat BPO (BBPO) to enable this safe, secure and convenient ticketing transaction through the mobile phone. The introduction of this service application will put an end to the long wait in queues at railway booking counters providing convenience to customers as they can now book e-tickets on the go anytime, from anywhere.

“This partnership will help open up and extend the convenience and efficiency of e-commerce and online services to those unbanked millions who use cash and are otherwise excluded from this eco-system. This new app based offering empowers our customers to book railway e-tickets, seek PNR status, cancel tickets, get refunds, all at their own convenience, through their mobile handset. We are extending a highly safe and secure technology platform that works even for customers who do not have an Internet connection,” said Vodafone M-Pesa head Suresh Sethi in a statement.

“This new app-based offering empowers our customers to book rail e-tickets, seek PNR status, cancel tickets, get refunds, all at their own convenience, through their mobile handsets. We are extending a highly safe and secure technology platform which works even for customers who do not have an Internet connection,” Sethi said.

Customers will have to download the extremely user friendly mobile application “139 Railways Reservation” only once, post which it does not require any data connection for registration or booking of tickets. Vodafone users could download the application by sending an SMS ‘Ticket’ to 111. Once accessed, the app prompts users with interactive and guided menu options to book tickets. M-Pesa customers could send in their booking details through the ‘139 Railways Reservation’ app and only have to enter their M-PIN to authorise transactions. Additionally, information on partial or full cancellation, PNR status, could also be accessed through mobile applications.  Vodafone customers can download the application by sending an SMS “TICKET” to 111. Once accessed, the app prompts users with interactive and guided menu options towards booking tickets.

In case of cancellations, relevant refunds would be credited to customers’ M-Pesa wallets. The SMS-based booking on 139 is available for all feature phone customers.

“This innovative offering would make railway e-ticket booking easy for customers since they can book tickets from anywhere,” Bharat BPO Services chief executive Jatinder Verma said.

Commenting on the partnership, IRCTC Director (Marketing and Tourism) Mrs. Amritbir Kaur Brar said, “We are delighted that Vodafone M-Pesa has partnered Bharat BPO to facilitate railway e-ticket bookings on the go. We are confident that this association will play a transformational role in both, providing a never before holistic service proposition even for the unbanked sections of society and simultaneously be a lifestyle enhancer since it does away with waiting in queues at railway stations to book tickets.”

The SMS based booking on 139 is available for all feature phone customers. The application is also compatible with Android and J2ME handsets.

Who Will Benefit?

This service is targeted at people who do not have access to internet and don’t have bank accounts. It will help millions of Vodafone customers who are unable to book Railway tickets on their own due to lack of bank accounts. Through this new service, Vodafone customers can not only book railway e-tickets but also seek PNR status, cancel tickets, get refunds, all at their own convenience, through their basic mobile handsets.

Bharti Airtel already has a similar offering which enables their customers book Railway Tickets through their mobile phones without need of Internet.

Soon, wake up SMS for Railway passengers

बेंगुलूरु Bangalore (SBC): Passengers boarding the Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto Express trains will soon get a wake up SMS from the railways with information on their timings and platform numbers, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda announced here on Sunday.

The railway minister said the service will be extended to other trains at a later stage. Gowda said the service will begin in the next 15 days and those who have given their mobile numbers will get the wake up messages.

The proposal has been in the pipeline for more than a year, and will finally see light of the day with the Centre for Railway Information Systems now ready to execute the service.

Soon, passengers could also get SMSes pertaining to any delay or cancellation of these trains as well.

An app is also on the cards which will enable passengers to get real time updates about the trains. The App will be available on iOS, Android and Windows-based phones.

Man from Kerala accuses Railways of stealing Safety Device idea

मनकारा Mankarai (MNY):  An innovator from Kerala says the Southern Railway hijacked his idea for an anti-collision device and sold it to various countries.

Sahadevan, from a village called Mankara in Palghat, has been fighting the mighty railway establishment to claim recognition for an innovation that he says he developed in 1995.

Sahadevan

Sahadevan from Mankara village of Palakkad Division holding his other inventions — a wind-powered clock and a self cooling helmet

He has tried everything, from appealing to the President to squatting with his family in front of railway offices, but has not been able to move the authorities. “I am at the end of a 19-year struggle and I trust Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give me justice,” Sahadevan tells. “I know they are conscientious leaders.”

Sahadevan’s innovations, such as a solar-cooled umbrella, a self-cooling helmet and a wind-powered tower clock, have caught the attention of entrepreneurs, who have bought his ideas.

The Railways sold the idea to countries like China, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, USA, Europe, Australia and United Arab Emirates, Sahadevan rues.

He believes he would have been rich had he played his cards better.

“Initially, the Southern Railway officials in Palghat and Chennai talked to me, and I gave away all the details about how the device works. But they later stopped talking to me,” he says.

On two occasions, in 1995 and 1996, the railway officials called him over for meetings. “Two years later, my device hit the headlines but the success was attributed to Southern Railway and a technology company,” says Sahadevan.

His last letter, seeking justice, is dated August 3, and asks for Sadananda Gowda’s intervention. “I may be poor, but I do get ideas and the anti-collision device was my dream innovation,” he says.

He had sought information to fight his case under the RTI Act, but has not received any response.

He has now appealed to the Central Information Commission to act against lapses in the RTI system.

‘No, We Didn’t’

Southern Railway has denied the piracy charge. Rajaram, a former Konkan Railway engineer, developed the device with help from a Hyderabad company, according to a senior Southern Railway official at the Palghat divisional office. Ministry records in Delhi make no mention of Sahadevan either, a source said.

Kolkata HC clears Railways move to recover INR 20000 Crore from Iron Ore exporters

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): Calcutta high court order on Monday has cleared the way for railways to recover a staggering INR 20,000 crore from iron ore exporters who misused the subsidized rates meant for domestic consumers.

The 79-page judgment by Judge Mr Anirudhha Bose has upheld the iron ore policy of the railways and its right to impose penalty and stop loading of errant companies.

Dismissing the writ petition, the judge said that railways was “entitled to impose penal charges” and that the government can “issue direction on railway administration for blacklisting the petitioner if there is any false, inaccurate or misleading statement in the endorsement of the forwarding note.” The judge goes on to say that the railways can “suspend the operation of the petitioners in relation to their loading activities for a limited period of time.”

The writ petition filed by Rashmi Metaliks, challenging the railway move, has been going on in the Calcutta high court for three years, even as questions have been swirling about the reluctance of railways to vigorously pursue what could be a windfall that could change its fortunes.

An ongoing multi-disciplinary investigation ordered by CVC, and CAG audits have all shown that the iron ore exporters have perpetuated a scam that has cost the railways thousands of crores. CAG said that railways could recover around INR 17,000 crore from the involved companies.

Rashmi Metaliks, which was asked to pay INR 660 crore by railways, had moved the HC challenging constitutional validity of the railway policy of differentiated transportation tariff that charged higher rate for non manufacturing usage of iron ore-after it was served the notice.

According to some officials who have closely watched the entire drama, the high court order should hopefully encourage the railways to spread its investigations into other zones where iron ore transportation has happened. Right now it is limited to Kolkata based South Eastern railways.

Debate over closed-door suburban local trains

मुंबई Mumbai:  The goods news is the railways has decided to construct all new suburban local trains with automatic sliding doors (ASD) to enhance passenger safety. The bad news for Mumbaikars, however, is that this would only apply to the trains that will be built for Mumbai after the full supply of 72 Bombardier rakes expected to come in by the end of 2016. Two of these Bombardier rakes have already been built and are being tested while production of the other 70 is yet to begin at the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai (ICF).

The move as expected has given rise to a debate among officials on whether leaving out the 70 Bombardier rakes from this ASD-for-all diktat was the wisest move after all.

A sizable number of railway officials spoke to, pointed out to the fact that getting these 70 Bombardier rakes to have ASDs will further delay the already delayed project, as it would require extensive design changes. They also pointed out that since the project for 72 Bombardier rakes came out of a global tendering process that started in December 2010, making such sweeping changes now might be a legal headache as well.

“It completely changes the financial contours of the tender as well as the cost of the rakes if they have to be fitted with ASDs. In such a case, the requirement for vestibules would almost be mandatory. All of this could take the cost of each rake by almost 15-20 per cent,” said an official.

As reported earlier, the cost estimates given by the ICF to the Railway Board for a train that will have ASDs and vestibules, but no AC – will be Rs.41 crores, which is almost Rs.6 crores more than the cost of the Bombardier rakes being built there.

However, a section of officials maintain that the issue is something that requires intervention by the railway ministry. “Wouldn’t it be foolish that the 70 rakes get built and then we try to retrofit ASDs onto these rakes. Firstly, such retro-fitment is bad engineering and secondly, we will be spending Rs.4 crore per rake for such retro-fitment of ASD at current prices. In all, it will cost Rs.288 crores to retro-fit all 72 rakes,” said an official.

The ASD project for Mumbai’s locals, first touted by Central Railway, is already underway on Western Railway with plans to retro-fit and test a local in the middle of October. Static trials have been a success but officials connected to the project said trials in real time would be far more difficult and different from the static ones.

The Automatic Sliding Doors project:
(1) Without vestibules, without AC: Cost Rs.39 crores
(2) With vestibules, without AC: Cost Rs.41 crores
(3) With vestibules, with AC: Cost Rs.43 crores

Tatkal Tickets become costlier; effective October 3

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In order to increase the revenues, the Indian Railways has decided to sell Tatkal tickets at a higher rate. Passengers buying Tatkal tickets for the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani and 80 other trains will have to shell out more money starting Friday.

Half of the tatkal tickets on 80 trains have become costlier with the railways deciding to partially implement the dynamic fare system under which charges will depend on demand.

Premium Tatkal TicketsThe decision, clearly aimed at mopping up more revenues by the cash-strapped railways, comes in the midst of festival season when there is a big rush of train travellers.

“It has been decided that 50 percent of the existing tatkal quota ticket shall be sold under dynamic fare scheme,” said a senior Railway Ministry official Thursday.

As per the scheme, 50 percent of tatkal quota tickets would be sold under the existing system and the subsequent 50 percent under ‘premium tatkal’ quota of dynamic pricing.

It will mean more the demand, more the cost.

The ‘Premium Tatkal Ticket’ scheme will be applicable to 80 trains from October one and like Premium train, the scheme will be available online only.

Railway Board Member (Traffic) D P Pandey said, “The Premium Tatkal ticket scheme has been launched for 80 popular trains. All zones have been asked to identify five popular trains in their respective zone.

“We will see the response and then we will decide on extending the scheme to other trains.”

He emphasised that only 50 percent of the tatkal tickets will be sold under the dynamic fare system while the rest will be sold on regular tatkal fare basis.

There is tremendous rush for tickets during the festive season as passengers prefer to travel to their home towns for celebrating Dusshera and Diwali.

However, railways has described the scheme as a preventive measure to deal with the menace of touts.

“There were reports of genuine passengers being fleeced by touts. This will help facilitating needy passengers to get tickets,” the official said.

The scheme, applicable on selected trains, will increase the prices of tatkal tickets and as an end result the train fare.

Northern Railway has identified five trains including Saptakranti Express, two Mumbai Rajdhani trains and Vaishali Express to implement Premium Tatkal scheme.

Some trains which have been identified for implementation of the scheme are Hyderabad-New Delhi Andhra Pradesh Express, Hyderabad-Hazrat Nizamuddin Dakshin Express, Secunderabad-Howrah Falaknuma Express, Kacheguda-Bangalore Express and Secunderabad-Patna Express.

The tatkal scheme currently covers around 2677 trains.

According to railway figures, around 1.71 lakh seats, of the 11.57 lakh available, are up for booking under the tatkal scheme.

It is also a prominent source of income for the Railways, raking in about Rs 1000 cr last year.

“The scheme has been launched to deal with the problem of touts. There were reports of genuine passengers being fleeced by touts. This will help facilitating needy passengers to get tickets,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

The scheme, applicable on selected train, will increase the prices of tatkal tickets and as an end result the train fare.

Railways is also running 50 premium trains on dynamic fare system, like flights.

It had increased tatkal charges last year in April by ten percent of the basic fare for reserved second class sitting and 30 percent of basic fare for all other classes.

NDA government has increased train fares of all classes by 14.2 percent on June 25