News Headlines

Central Railway try to finish Pending Works as Railway Minister may visit Thane station again

थाना Thane (TNA): Top Central Railway officials visited Thane station on Wednesday to instruct their men to expedite various pending works on station premises in the wake of railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s impending visit to the city to inaugurate Rambhau Mhalgi Lecture Series, which is to be held at Saraswati Marathi School, Naupada, on January 9.

Though his visit to the station is not sure, railway authorities have left no stone unturned to face the flak from the minister for lingering works in station area. Those top officials visited the station include Mukesh Nigam, Divisional Railway Manager, Rajeev Tyagi, Officer on Special Duty and Alok Borha, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner among others.

“Though minister’s station visit is not included in the plan so far, he may take a look at the station area for a few minutes which is why we conducted a review of the station premises to ensure that everything is in place. The local Member of Parliament Rajan Vichare is contemplating to take the minister to the station for five minutes during his visit to the city,” said an official.

According to Narendra Patil, chief public relations officer of Central Railway, “In a run up to minister’s city visit for a private programme to be held close to the station, it was imperative to see that things are in order.”

The relocation of station manager’s office is being done for the last few days. “Shifting of station manager’s office is yet to be complete as finishing touches on the new place are one. Officers were here to take stock of the situation at the station in the wake of probable visit of minister. Painting work is also on which is being expedited,” said S B Mahidhar, station manager.

RPF escorts upped on sensitive routes in Mumbai

मुंबई Mumbai: The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has started monitoring the deployment of its personnel on the Western line on a daily basis after the discovery that most of its staff had been functioning in non-core areas. The force also tweaked the escorting pattern on long-distance trains, posting personnel in larger batches than was done so far and covering only sensitive routes.

The RPF sanctioned strength on the Western line is 5,368 personnel, but the number of vacancies stands at over 1,800.

“We decided to make optimum utilization of the available staff,” a senior official said. “Each of our departments was asked to log into an internal software and key in the number of personnel available with them on a daily basis. The departments were also required to key in the positions that each of their staffers was occupying on that day. It turned out that only 32% of our staff was being deployed on railway stations. We then made changes in the deployment pattern, shifting maximum personnel to core areas and keeping a minimum in non-core areas.”

The RPF places armed escorts on long-distance trains. It had been receiving complaints that the escorts were not visible enough and that crime was rising as a result.

“Earlier, we used to have barely two escorts on each train,” the official said. “They couldn’t move across the entire train all the time. Now, we have stepped up the number of escorts to eight or 10 per train. While this means that not all trains can be covered by escorts, at least the sensitive routes will be fully protected. The escorts are required to keep patrolling.”

The RPF also introduced an internal file tracking system where a software keeps a record on the location of every document in the office.

If a file has been pending for too long, the name of the employee handling it shows up in the system. The programme was developed by an RPF constable in the time that he got after duty hours.

Bombay High Court raps Railways for refusal to adopt facilities for disabled

मुंबई Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday chided the railways for saying that providing low-height booking counters for wheelchair-bound commuters on the suburban stations will inconvenience others.

The reaction came from a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anil Menon after a reading of the Central Railway affidavit handed over by advocate Sangeeta Yadav.

The affidavit stated: “The low height booking counter is inconvenient to the normal passengers. Considering the volume of traffic, exclusive counters for wheel-chaired passengers is not desired.”

It said that though every day 1,800-2,000 passengers were inconvenienced at counters meant for passengers on wheelchairs, at least one low-height counter was being provided at stations.

Advocate Gayatri Singh, representing petitioner India Centre for Human Rights and Law, said the same was repeated in the Western Railways affidavit.

The bench, hearing a PIL for making the railways disabled friendly, asked if the railways had any choice but to provide the facilities mandated by law.

“Is it your discretion to provide facilities? You feel because they are few [in number], you need not provide it,” Justice Oka said. “You say it is not desirable. You decide whether you want to provide the facilities or not? Can it be the stand of the railways?”

The judges said the CR also states that it is not possible to provide low-height water taps at Masjid and Cotton Green stations. In their order, the bench noted that in August 2007 the high court had recorded the Centre’s statement that the railways was bound to provide facilities for the disabled.

Passengers of Varanasi-Delhi Express robbed near Jalalganj

जौनपुर Jaunpur (JNU): Several passengers of Varanasi-Delhi Express (04931) were robbed near Jalalganj railway station in Jaunpur district on Wednesday night.

According to reports, the first stoppage of the train after leaving Varanasi is Sultanpur. However, the train was stopped for few minutes at Jalalganj railway station to give a pass to Patna-Mathura Express.

Assistant station master Ashok Kumar said that a few miscreants boarded different coaches of the train in small groups and robbed the passengers. The miscreants later pulled the chain to stop the train a few metres away from the Jalalganj railway station and escaped.

The incident came to light when Nilima Singh and Pallavi Singh of Varanasi, who were travelling in S6 coach and had to reach Bareilly, alighted at Jaunpur city station and lodged an FIR with GRP alleging that their cash, jewellery, mobile phone and all identity cards were robbed at gunpoint. When the train reached Sultanpur another passenger Pratima Sarraf of Noida, travelling in AC coach, registered a similar case with GRP. CO GRP Chiranjiv Mukherjee admitted that the incident took place near Jalalpur and GRP was trying to workout the case.

Railways, Maha State Govt plan to build Elevated Rail, Road on same Pier

मुंबई Mumbai:  In a bid to resolve the city’s traffic woes, the state government proposes to build a road corridor along the elevated railway corridor between Churchgate-Virar and CST-Panvel on the same pier.

The idea was discussed at a meeting between railway minister Suresh Prabhu and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to take stock of various projects in Maharashtra, especially Mumbai.

“Along with the elevated railway corridor, a six-lane road is also proposed,” said Prabhu. This proposal can also be implemented while executing other projects, including the monorail corridor or Mumbai Trans Harbour link between Sewri and Nhava.

“The pier can be built strong enough to handle road as well as rail traffic. This will ensure faster execution of work as there will no hurdles for acquiring land, which generally delays projects leading to cost overruns,” said a state official.

Prabhu said the state also plans to set up an integrated transport authority that will comprise representation from MMRDA, BEST, BMC, Western Railway, Central Railway, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and other transport departments to ensure faster execution of projects as there will be improved coordination between the various agencies.

Prabhu added that his ministry will give approvals to build road overbridges above railway tracks within 60 days through an online system. He also assured that railway projects proposed under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III will be approved in this year’s railway budget. MUTP-III includes Airoli-Kalwa link, new suburban corridor between Panvel and Virar and quadrupling of tracks between Virar and Dahanu. The ministry also plans to provide bio-toilets in trains that arrive in Mumbai and Pune in the next two years.

KRCL releases List of Trains likely to run late on Konkan Railway route

मुंबई Mumbai: On account of mega block by Central Railway on its section between Pen and Roha stations certain trains going via Konkan Railway route are likely to be regulated/rescheduled and are likely to run late.

Details of trains likely to run late is as follows: Train no. 19262 Porbandar-Kochuveli Express will be regulated at Pen station from 1.28pm to 5.28pm and is likely to run late by about 4 hours; Train no. 16345 Netravati Expressress of Friday has been rescheduled to leave LTT at 2.20 pm and is likely to run late by 260 minutes late; Train no. 12619 Matsyagandha Express of Friday will be regulated at Jite station from 5.09pm to 6.50pm and is likely to run late by 90 mts; Train no. 50103 Dadar-Ratnagiri passenger of Friday train will be regulated at Pen station from 6.05pm to 7.35pm and is likely to run late by 70 minutes; Train no. 12201 LTT-Kochuveli Garib Rath Express of Friday will be regulated at Pen station from 7.15pm to 8.15pm and is likely to run late by about 55 min; Train no. 10111 CSTM-Madgaon Konkankanya Express of Friday has been rescheduled to leave CSTM at 12.20am on Saturday and is likely to run late by about 45 minutes; Train no. 16346 Trivandrum-LTT Netravati Express will be regulated at Roha station from 1.50pm to 4.55pm and is likely to run late by 205 minutes;Train no. 12431 Trivandrum-Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express will be regulated at Roha station from 4.55pm to 5.20pm and is likely to run late by 75minutes; Train no. 50106 Sawantwadi-Diva passenger train will be regulated at Roha station for one hour and is likely to run late by 65minutes; Train no. 10104 Madgaon-CSTM Mandovi Express will be regulated between Roha and Pen stations and is likely to be late by 75minutes; Train no. 22907 Madgaon-Hapa Express will be regulated at Roha station from 6.40pm to 7.15pm and is likely to run late by 115 minutes; Train no.19259 Kochuveli-Bhavnagar Expressress will be regulated at Roha station from 8.05pm to 8.30pm and is likely to be late by 20 minutes; Train no. 102052 Karmali – Dadar Janshatabdi Express will be regulated at Roha station from 8.40pm to 9.05pm and is likely to be late by 40 minutes.

Stagger Office Work hours in Mumbai and reduce Overcrowding in Trains: Rail Minister

मुंबई Mumbai: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to explore the possibility of introducing staggered work hours for office-goers in Mumbai, which he said will reduce the peak hour rush in suburban trains.

“I requested the CM to have staggered office timing (for people in Mumbai). If we can stagger the office timing, the load will automatically go down. The CM agreed to consider this request favourably,” Prabhu told reporters after a lengthy meeting with Fadnavis here.

Asked if the staggered office timings, when implemented, will also be applicable to those working in private sector or will it be restricted only for government staff, Prabhu said, “It will be applicable to everyone (all suburban train commuters in Mumbai).”

Prabhu said railways are proposing two major elevated roads, one from CST to Panvel and another from Churchgate to Virar.

“The CM liked the idea. This was my idea that we should have six-lane roads running below the train (tracks). This will reduce the road traffic considerably and will bring in lot of revenue to the system. We are losing lot of money on suburban railways. Any time you want to add something, the viability issue comes in,” the minister said.

Suburban trains are known as “lifeline” of the financial capital of the country and ferry around 70-80 lakh commuters daily from far-flung areas located across its huge network, and any disruption in its services means huge inconvenience to commuters.

Prabhu said a standing committee for integrated transport solution will be created since multiple agencies are working on the transport system. “The CM has agreed to it,” he added.

He said Fadnavis has also given sanction to start MUTP-3 (Mumbai Urban Transport) project which has already been cleared by him and work on it will start “very quickly”.

Prabhu said a special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed between the railways and each state to implement various railway projects.

“Accordingly, the Centre and Maharashtra Government will soon form the SPV to implement pending and new projects,” the minister said.

Along with the municipal corporations, we will have an integrated waste-disposal system as we don’t want the stations to be unclean and the city dirty, he said.

“We have decided to create a special task force to tackle the rush during the forthcoming Nashik kumbh mela,” Prabhu said.

He said the railways has agreed to create special projects only for Defence.

“Myself and defence minister Manohar Parrikar have agreed to create special railway projects only for defence. We will use the same model for Naxal affected areas,” he said.

Eastern Railway makes special train arrangements for Gangasagar Mela

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): Eastern Railway (ER) has made elaborate arrangements for the convenience of the pilgrims during Gangasagar Mela from January 12 to 16.

As many as seven additional EMU local trains will run on the Sealdah-Lakshmikantapur-Namkhana section from January 12 to 16. Moreover, three local trains will be extended. Special sanitary arrangements has been made at different stations on the Sealdah south section specially at Sealdah, Baruipur, Kakdwip and Namkhana with provision of adequate and emergency lighting arrangements at those stations. Electric pumps will be operated round the clock at Kakdwip and Namkhana.

For the convenience of the pilgrims, sufficient number of booking counters will be opened at Sealdah, kakdwip and Namkhana round the clock. RPF personnel at Diamond Harbour, Lakshmikantapur, Namkhana and Kakdwip stations in coordination with the GRP is maintaining strict vigil over law and order and social harmony. ‘May I Help’ counters are provided at Sealdah south, Baruipur, Kakdwip and Namkhana stations.

2 Elevated Rail Corridors for Mumbai

मुंबई Mumbai: Six-lane roads will be constructed on same route, said minister Suresh Prabhu.  If all goes well, Mumbai will soon have two elevated rail corridors on its harbour and western line. One will be between CST and Panvel while the other will be between Churchgate and Virar. Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu made the announcement on Thursday.

He said that owing to the serious stress on infrastructure resources of Mumbai, the Union railway ministry had decided to start the implementation of phase 3 of the MUTP (Mumbai Urban Transport Project) and both the elevated rail corridors were part of it.

The Union minister has also suggested a major change in which under the elevated rail corridors, six lanes would be constructed on the same route. According to him, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had also liked the idea. “The railway ministry has started examining the feasibility of the idea,” Mr Prabhu said.

The Union minister was talking to reporters after concluding a joint meeting with the Chief Minister and senior officials from Railways, BMC, MMRDA and Cidco. The meeting was called to resolve issues between the Railways and various authorities of the state government to improve rail infrastructure in Mumbai and across the state.

The elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar was the dream project of former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, which was put in cold storage on the issue of floor space index to be given to railways for its implementation. The estimated cost of the project was worth `20,000 crore.

“Mumbai is facing serious challenge in terms of stress on its infrastructure resources. In the last few years, the government has expanded its capacity to the ultimate level and it is high time to go on with phase 3 of the MUTP,” Mr Prabhu said.

After giving an in-principle approval, the railway minister has also sought permission from the state government at Thursday’s meeting, he said. Elaborating on his idea of six lanes running under elevated rail corridors, the Railway minister said this would reduce road vehicular traffic considerably.

Kochi Municipal Corp raises fears of ‘Shock Treatment’

कोच्चि Kochi: Along with the delay in shifting electric cables along the path of Kochi Metro, the Kochi corporation has raised safety concerns over the method used by Metro’s contractors to wrap steel structures with rubber sheets to prevent them coming into contact with power cables.

According to corporation officials, since the Metro work has gathered speed in the city, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has to ensure that cables are shifted safely, specifically referring to the work being carried out on MG Road. “It will not be wise to follow a practice of wrapping steel structures using rubber sheets. This is a temporary measure and cannot be considered safe. All agencies associated with the work must make sure that people’s life is not put to risk,” said town planning committee chairman K J Sohan.

However, Kochi Metro officials said that they were forced to opt for such measures because of the delay in shifting utility lines. “If we waited for agencies such as KSEB and Kerala Water Authority (KWA) to shift utility lines to continue with the Metro work, it will be almost impossible to complete the project in the agreed time frame,” an official said.

KSEB officials claimed that they were carrying out the process of shifting electric cables to facilitate work on MG Road. “We are trying to complete these works at the earliest,” said a KSEB engineer.

Meanwhile, Kochi mayor Tony Chammany has asked councillors to permit digging of city roads for KSEB to complete the process of laying underground cables. Speaking to councillors on the need for having underground cables, he said, “The KSEB has to complete the Restructured Accelerated Power Development & Reforms Programme (RAPD&RP) and take the cables underground. For this, they will have to dig the roads.”

He also assured councillors that the dug-up roads would be relaid using funds collected by the local body from KSEB.

Metro Model to be Followed at Tech Park

The Kochi Metro Rail model of land acquisition will be followed for setting up the electronics park at Amballoor in the district.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting convened by Excise Minister K Babu and Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob at the Collectorate Conference Hall here on Thursday.

“We are planning to acquire land using the ‘direct purchase method’. The decision on the proposal to acquire around 1 acre of land will be finalised soon. Eco-sensitive areas will be given priority while acquiring land for the project. Canals, wetlands and agriculture lands will be exempted,” said the ministers.

“The farmers have already agreed to surrender land for the project, which got a fillip from the involvement ministers like P K Kunhalikutty, P K Mohanan, K Babu, V K Ibrahim Kunju and Oommen Chandy,” said Anoop Jacob. District Collector M G Rajamanickam and representatives of the KSIDC also attended the meeting.

Knorr-Bremse acquires train control management specialist Selectron Systems AG

Knorr-Bremse IndiaBangalore (SBC): Knorr-Bremse has signed an agreement governing the acquisition of Selectron Systems AG of Lyss, Switzerland, on December 19, 2014. Through this acquisition, Knorr-Bremse is expanding its portfolio to include components and solutions for the automation of rail vehicles. Completion of the takeover remains subject to approval by the anti-trust authorities.

For many years now, Selectron Systems AG and its over 100 employees have been successfully developing advanced solutions for the automation, networking, and control of rail vehicles. State-of-the-art rail vehicles can only be realized with advanced control technology. Along with reliable and robust components at appropriate cost, enhanced safety standards are the decisive factor. The progressive rise in the volume of data exchanged by the various systems calls for higher data transmission bandwidths. As a respected specialist in this field, Selectron responds to these requirements with its versatile and flexible solutions.

Selectron Systems AG will continue to offer its established, successful range of systems, products, and services in the marketplace and will be strengthening and expanding this range through further innovations. Its integration into the Knorr-Bremse Group will extend the available portfolio of services, thereby facilitating supplier management for vehicle manufacturers and operators. In addition, Selectron Systems AG will be able to utilize the worldwide Knorr-Bremse sales and service network to provide its customers with even better support at international level. Customers of both Knorr-Bremse and Selectron stand to benefit in the original equipment, operators, and aftermarket sectors alike.

Railways to use Stations for Skill Development of youth across the country

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to meet Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy to develop a mechanism for implementing the plan

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: After crying foul for years over its social service obligations, including running uneconomical lines, the Indian Railways is trying to develop a new social face under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is working on a plan to utilise unused infrastructure at the Railways’ 8,000 stations across the country, to impart skill development training to unemployed youth, particularly in rural and far-flung areas. Also, the ministry plans to use the vast railway network as a tool to market products made by self-help groups and tribal people across the country.

The announcements come soon after a few customer-centric initiatives like introduction of mobile ticketing and Wi-Fi internet services, apart from a focus on cleanliness.

“Indian Railways has around 8,000 stations. The premises of some of the stations with very few trains and scanty footfall could be used for skill development activities,” Prabhu said while addressing a media gathering here, adding he would soon meet Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy to develop a mechanism for implementing the plan.

He was speaking at a book release function also attended by Dilip Chenoy, managing director and chief executive of National Skill Development Corporation; N K Maini, deputy managing director of Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi); H R Dave, deputy managing director of Nabard; and Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Indian Railways has tried to project its “public face” under different ministers in the past as well. The earlier approach, however, focused on announcing no rises in passenger fares or freight rates, introduction of new trains and expansion of metro services. The obligation to provide cheaper services — including coaching services and transportation of essential commodities below cost — has an annual impact of Rs 29,000 crore on Indian Railways.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on several occasions laid stress on skill development as a key area of focus for his government. Referring to the Konkani cuisine restaurant “Konkan Swaad Katta’, set up recently at Konkan Railway’s Ratnagiri station, Prabhu said such initiatives would encourage traditional businesses and help financially empower locals.

The minister also referred to the “huge marketing potential” of the railway company, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), and announced starting a pilot project to sell rural products through the IRCTC website, visited by 500,000 people a day.

Railway Minister to lay Foundation Stone for Multi-Modal Logistics hub at Qila Raipur

लुधियाना Ludhiana (): Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will jointly lay the foundation stone of the Multi Modal Logistics Hub (MMLH) at Qila Raipur in Ludhiana on January 20. The MMLH is expected provide an economic boost to the district and even generate employment for people living in and around the village.

A decision in this regard was taken by the chief minister while presiding over a high-level meeting of officers of the state government and the railway ministry at his office in Chandigarh.

Ludhiana deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal said the MMLH, which is to be constructed at a cost of Rs 500 crore, will be a game changer for the industry. He said the MMLH will provide direct linkage to the eastern freight corridor and the Ludhiana-Dhuri-Jakhal feeder line would join it with the western corridor in Rewari. This, he said, would greatly benefit the industry with prompt, easy and cheap transport of raw material and finished goods through railways.

The MMLH will be equipped with state-of-art facilities like container handling yard, bulk handling yard, rail side warehousing, multi-user warehousing, temperature controlled warehousing, truck terminus and others.

According to Agarwal, the MMLH will also have the facility of reefer containers for domestic and international cargo, silo storage for one lakh metric tones of grain and the domestic terminal will have storage facility on the railhead for steel, fertilizer, cement and others.

This will cut down logistical cost.

Mumbai Locals to have ‘Hotspots’ for Female commuters to send SOS Calls in Distress

 मुंबई Mumbai: The Western Railway will be the first railway service to introduce a concept called ‘hotspot’— a geographical space marked and monitored live using CCTV cameras.

The initiative, specially designed to help women commuters, requires the woman in distress to position herself at the hotspot and raise her hand to signal  authorities, in a situation where there is threat to her life or dignity.

All the hotspots will be connected via helpline network, confirmed officials.

The helpline assisted ‘hotspots’, will be on all platforms, typically in front of coaches for women, so that even commuters traveling in the train can seek assistance at the next station by quickly alighting and signaling security personnel through CCTV cameras.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the first such help-line point at Churchgate railway station on January 9.

The railway minister will also inaugurate the mobile app for women’s safety on January 9, jointly developed by Central Railway and Western Railway and developers of M indicator’ at Churchgate station.

M indicator mobile  app, commonly used  by commuters to check the railway timetable, will now allow women to use the app to send an alert in a distress situation.

“As a pilot project, apart from Churchagte , nine other stations will also see hotspots,” said an official. It will be the RPF who will then assist the women commuters confirmed railway officials.

“These  help line assisted spots will help women commuters in distress in minimum response time. It  will Minimize fake complaints. It will definitely improve the effectiveness of CCTV cameras. Display board will be help to find out the location of complainant and will also help in reducing the response time of attending the site,’’ said Anand Vijay Jha, Senior security commissioner, Mumbai division , WR.

A Right Move after Long Gap: States join hands with Centre on Rail Passenger Security

Railways convene RPF, GRP and State Police Chiefs meet on 15th January to review security arrangements in railway areas, work out a Mechanism to ensure effective Security for train travelers

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Centre would join hands with the State Governments to enhance the security arrangement for railway travelers.

Security of the Railways means security of millions of common people who travel in the train and hence it is an important responsibility, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said while addressing the Annual General Meeting of All-India RPF Association here.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday said that all heads of police of State Governments and the Union Home Ministry will work on the modalities next week to provide for best security arrangements for the passengers.

Prabhu, along with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, was  speaking at the Annual General meeting of all India RPF Association. On the occasion, Singh said that security agencies are working in a concerted manner to ensure safety and security of the travelling public in the Naxal-affected areas. Singh and Prabhu will also be present in the January 15 meeting convened to coordinate with State Governments for security mechanism for on board travelers.

The Railway Minister said that since millions of common people travel by railway every day, it is important to provide them seamless security.  At the same time, the Minister said he was aware of the difficult conditions and circumstances in which RPF and GRP men have to perform.

Emphasising the need to make concerted efforts to meet the security challenges, Prabhu said he has asked Director General, RPF, to organise training on behavioral issues to the RPF personnel. Referring to the conduct of RPF men  in public, Prabhu said that if a single person of RPF committed a mistake then it was perceived as a mistake committed by the entire RPF department.

Acknowledging the difficulty and circumstances in which Railway Protection Force (RPF) and General Railway Police (GRP) personnel have to perform, Prabhu said that there is a need for seamless security arrangement for travellers.

Referring to the security issues in the Naxal affected areas, the Home Minister said that his Ministry will support any proposal sent by the Railways Minister aimed at strengthening security of millions of traveling passengers.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who also addressed the meeting, assured all cooperation to the Railways for strengthening security of millions of train passengers in the country.

Referring to the security issues in naxal-affected areas in the country, Singh said that security agencies have to work in a concerted way to ensure safety and security of the public.

“Home Ministry is with Railway Ministry on this vital issue and will support any proposal sent by the Railway Minister aimed at strengthening security of millions of travelling passengers,” Singh said.

​Looking for Tech Partner for High-speed Rail: Umesh Chowdhary, Titagarh Wagons

Umesh Chowdhary, VC and MD, Titagarh Wagons Ltd, shares his business outlook in a chat with ET. Excerpts:

ET: Based on how third quarter bookings have been, and the order flow inflow for the quarter four is looking like, how better is the second half expected to be compared with the first half?

Umesh Chowdhary: The last six or eight quarters have been extremely subdued and weak primarily because there was a complete lack of decision making in the government and the private wagonspending had also dried down completely.

After the new government has come in and particularly after the new railway minister has assumed charge, we have seen a lot of traction taking place.

Railways have started to ease up the processes in order to take speedy decisions and, more importantly, the private wagon demand has started coming up. So obviously, we are hoping that the second half of the current fiscal should be better than the first half because the benchmark in itself was extremely low.

Having said this, the real result of all this action, which is being taken by the railways and the government, will start showing results over the next six to 12 months time-frame and that is what I am keeping an eye on. It will be important how the new policy initiatives taken by the minister and the government pan out.

ET: Can you also take us through how the domestic versus your export revenue mix is expected to shape up over the next four to six quarters?

Umesh Chowdhary: Historically, we had almost negligible export sales. In the last 12 to 24 months, we have started export business, but it has not been very sizable. What we have done is that we are working very closely with our French subsidiary and we are taking advantage of the technology that is available with it. With low cost manufacturing, we are building products to get into the African market.

So going forward, this is going to be a big potential for us and particularly with the francophonies that are there, there is huge French specifications or the UIC specifications and we believe that this can really culminate into a sizable portion of our revenue over the next few years.

As far as the immediate future is concerned, we are in active negotiations and discussions with a number of customers for some orders. I am definitely hopeful that we would have a quantum jump in our export revenue in the coming year.

ET: According to reports, you may end FY15 with exports of Rs 50 crore. In FY16, this number could double to Rs 120 crore and your French subsidiary will be instrumental for this. Can you explain how you are tapping into the Middle East and African markets?

Umesh Chowdhary: We have not given any numbers out. So they are more like estimates or conjectures, I would say.

Yes, the French subsidiary is going to play a big role in terms of giving us market access and technology access.

What we have mentioned is that our export turnover in the past 12 months has been about Rs 60 crore and we are obviously looking to take a quantum jump for FY16. I would not give out any number of the export revenue that we will be able to get in FY16 or FY17, but yes, that is a thrust or a very focussed segment for us. We are hoping that compared to the benchmark of say Rs 50-60 crore that we have done in the last 12 months, we would be able to do much more and would not be targeting incremental but a quantum jump.

ET: Given that in the first half, the operating profit was nothing to shout about and now we are seeing some capacity utilisation, quality of orders improving across the Indian Railways — particularly from private players and exports, what kind of Ebitda growth and margins you are aiming for?

Umesh Chowdhary: As far as the Indian railway orders are concerned, which you would have seen in our second quarter results, we have had to take an exceptional hit of almost odd Rs 16 crore. This was because the orders that came in were extremely remunerative and this happened because there was a drying up of orders for a long period of time and the entire industry was sitting and starving.

So, it was an almost desperate act by some of the players in the industry who quoted prices which were unrealistic and unremunerative. As per the accounting standards and keeping in line with our own corporate governance standards, we decided that rather than booking this loss quarter after quarter, we will take a hit at one go and that is what we did in the second quarter. For the other side of the business is concerned — all our private businesses or our export or our coaches or our defence — I would say on a blended basis, an EBITDA margin of plus/minus 15 per cent, plus/minus a per cent or two, is what we are going to be targeting going forward.

ET: What is the update on strategic as well as technological tie up for high speed rail? At what stage do talks stand and would you also be interested in a financial partnership?

Umesh Chowdhary: It would be very premature to comment on what kind of partnership we would be looking there, but just to give you a background, what we are doing in coach is today we are one of the largest private sector coach manufacturers in India.

In fact, we are the largest private sector coach manufacturers in India. We are doing EMUs. We have capacity to do two to three rakes of EMUs a month. We have a capacity to do 50 coaches a month and we have taken up a ontract to refurbish some coaches of the Kolkata Metro as well.

We believe it is going to be a very big future growth market as the metro coach manufacturer and the monorail manufacturer.

So, we are in dialogue with a few people on worldwide context. We essentially need a technology partner because of the whole prequalification criterion that is specified by the metro railways in their tenders and also, we do not think that we are as of now equipped to reinvent the wheel.

We would be going in for a technology partnership with somebody or the other. Hopefully, we will get a good partner, but what that form of partnership would be, it is too premature to say.

ET: And finally, what are your expectations then from the upcoming Rail Budget?

Umesh Chowdhary: A lot of them. This time, the railway budget is a very looked forward to kind of event and we are hoping that a lot of opening up of the mindset will take place in the railways. I do not mean privatisation of the railways.

I think the Prime Minister has been very forthright in talking about no privatisation of railways, but it is more partnership with the private sector in the railways. There are so many people, who have invested in the railway infrastructure like the container train operators. They have had so many issues particularly with respect to long-term policy being absent. So we are hoping that a regulator will actually come in. We saw some phenomenal decisions being taken in the railways in the last few days. The delegation of power has been completely transformed. (Courtesy: Economic Times)

MR instructs Stringent Action against RPF staff who rented out Railway Land at Mulund

Railway Minister’s quick response on Samir Zaveri’s complaint

मुंबई Mumbai: Suresh Prabhu asked senior officials to conduct an enquiry and take action against an erring official who rented out the Mulund ground owned by Railways to outsiders and collected and deposited the rent in a separate bank account instead of the Railway Treasury

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked senior officials from Central Railway to conduct an enquiry and take action against Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials who rented out the Railway Ground at Mulund for private functions and collected rent. Railway and Right to Information (RTI) activist Samir Zaveri has been pursuing the matter with the Railways. The Railway Minister ordered enquiry on Samir’s email.

Samir sent an email to the Railway Minister at 1.04am on 4 January 2015. Although it was a Sunday, within few hours, (at 11.30am on same day) Prabhu replied to the email. He also directed Anil Swarup, Executive Director, Public Grievances for the Railway Minister, and AK Singh, the Chief Security Commissioner (CR RPF) to conduct an enquiry into the episode and take action against the erring officials.

According to information procured by Samir using the RTI, the ground at Mulund was rented out to non-Railway parties for various functions on daily rent basis. Following an order from RPF head office, the officer at Mulund collected all the rent and deposited it in a separate bank account under the name of ASC, RPF. The money deposited in this account was Rs10.39 lakh during 2010 to 2014.

Samir said, “Who authorised the Central Railway RPF head office to rent out and collect the rent for the Mulund ground? Under which provision did the RPF officials opened a separate bank account and whether this is merged with the Railway Treasury? If the account is opened under RPF Rules 1987, Rule no262, then whether there was any yearly audit conducted?”

The die-hard railway activist under whose name Moneylife Foundation runs the Samir Zaveri Railway Helpline, has been raising the issue of illegal renting out of the Railway ground at Mulund. Following several letters from Zaveri, the Chief Security Commissioner of CR RPF directed the local authorities to stop giving out the Mulund ground on rent.

They also started the procedure to transfer the money deposited in ASC, RPF bank account back to the Railway Treasury. “Under which provision, the authorities have started the money transfer? Who are the RPF officers, responsible for these irregularities of giving out the Railway ground on rent to third parties and collecting and depositing the rent in a separate bank account?” Samir asked.

Let’s hope the probe would reveal all the details and irregularities, if any, and punish the officials responsible for this misconduct.

Yeshwantpur-Yelahanka rail line need extension upto Guntakal to ease traffic congestion

बंगलोर Bangalore (SBC): The work to double the railway track between Yeshwantpur and Yelahanka is almost over but the line remains underutilised as the South Western Railway (SWR) is running trains only on one side during the day, prompting a view that the project is a wasted effort.

Ninety per cent of the work has been completed and the rest is set for completion by March. The SWR is running trains only on one side divided over morning and evening.

This is despite the fact that the SWR is yet to double the Yelahanka–Doddaballapur–Guntakal railway line: one of the highly congested sections of South Western Railway.

Officials insist that they did ask for extension of doubling the line till Doddaballapur or Guntakal to make it worthwhile, but the railway authorities are not sanctioning it, citing lack of funds.

Sample this: From Yeshwantpur to Yelahanka, no train runs between 11 pm and 10 am. The regular trains start only at 2:30 pm. The first morning train to reach Yelahanka is Yeshwantpur–Devanahalli Passenger, at 10:30 am.

The next trains, at 2:30 pm, are Machilipatnam–Kondaveedu Express and Yeshwantpur–Kacheguda Express, both run three days a week. The next train is Prashanti Nilayam Express at 3:30 pm followed by a daily train, Basava Express, at 5:40 pm, followed by Nanded Express at 11 pm.

The SWR can run more trains via Yelahanka only if there is a double railway line between Yelahanka and Doddaballapur, which is about 20 km, or the line is doubled up to Guntakal, which is 200 km away. Anil Kumar Aggarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru, insists that the section is not underused.

“As per our internal calculation formula for track usage, the section is 140 per cent utilised. As far as the extension of doubling till Doddaballapur is concerned, we have submitted a proposal to the railway board several times but until we get the sanction, we cannot take up the work,” he said.

As per the information, due to one-sided traffic in the morning towards Yeshwantpur and evening towards Yelahanka, the double line is serving no purpose. Experts say the SWR should double the Yelahanka–Doddaballapur–Guntakal line on priority so that the route can be beneficial for passengers commuters as well as railways which will allow it to run more trains on either sides, thus resulting in more revenue.

Sanjeev Dyamannavar from Praja, an NGO that works in the urban transport sector, said, “The railways should look at the bigger picture when it comes to the doubling work and take it on priority. Otherwise there will be a lot of burden on trains running towards the north as Yelahanka-Guntakal is a single line and is being electrified.”

National Institute of Rock Mechanics to study NMR to avert Landslips

बंगलोर Bangalore (SBC): The Southern Railway has sought the assistance of National Institute of Rock Mechanics (NIRM) for undertaking a special study on the safety aspects of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) following repeated landslips reported in this section.

Rakesh Misra, General Manager, Southern Railway, told presspersons here on Wednesday, that the NMR track structure has become unstable and the maintenance of the track has become increasingly difficult of late.

The Bangalore based NIRM as it is popularly known, is a professional body providing research and consultancy support in almost entire spectrum of rock mechanics with international standards. NIRM was established in July 1988 under the aegis of Ministry of Mines, Government of India, as an Autonomous Research Institute to aid to the growing needs of the Mining and Civil Construction Industry in the area of Rock Engineering for design and development. Since its inception, the Institute has grown in strength and stature to mature as a professional body providing research and consultancy support in almost entire spectrum of rock mechanics with International standards. All activities are ISO 9001:2008 compliant.

The study will suggest remedial measures for the recurring landslips after studying the ghat section and landslip prone areas.

The movement of wild elephants was also a matter of concern for the Railways. The animals too were responsible for the falling of boulders on the track.

The Railways will take steps to check this too.

“However, the Railways has no intention of closing this heritage line”, Mr. Misra clarified.

Telangana MPs demand separate Warangal Division, more Investments by Railways

-DSC_3371-A view of Hon'ble MPs attending the  Meeting held at Rail Nilayam Secunderabad on 7th Jan. 2015. वरंगल Warangal (WGL): Members of Parliament from the newly formed Telangana state demanded establishment of separate Warangal Railway Division headquartered at Kazipet on the South Central Railway.  This was demanded by all the MPs at a high-level meeting held with General Manager and other officials of South Central Railway (SCR) on Wednesday at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad.  About 18 MPs from Telangana attended the meet with various suggestions for development of the new state, SCR general manager PK Srivastava.

-DSC_3387 A view of Hon'ble MPs attending the  Meeting held at Rail Nilayam Secunderabad on 7th Jan. 2015.While the major focus remained on developing Kazipet as a new division and establishing a wagon manufacturing unit there, other issues like increasing connectivity within the state and more allocation of funds were also discussed. Union minister of state for labour and employment Bandaru Dattatreya, who was also present at the meeting, said that Telangana would get its due and he would organise a meeting between state MPs and Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu soon.

Warangal MP Kadiyam Srihari said that a list of 21 demands was submitted to Srivastava in a memorandum. “Many key issues have been raised in the meeting. Secunderabad has been the most profitable station for SCR, yet the less inflow of investment shows the lack of commitment towards Telangana,” he said.

Srihari also brought up the pathetic condition of Kazipet railway hospital and said that the station is now an integral part of the state and needs to be improved. He also said that many more trains should halt at the station and it needs to be modernised.

Karimnagar MP B Vinod Kumar said that proposals for mainly three new lines were made. “The Macherla-Nalgonda line was brought up by many in the meeting. A formal proposal to complete the work on the line has already been made and it will be presented to the board. Apart from that, the development of Jadcherla-Macherla and Kazipet-Surat lines was also discussed,” said Vinod.

The Karimnagar MP also said that like the planning commission, the railway board should also be dissolved. “Every decision, from running new trains to making additional stops, has to be approved by the railway board. This is causing more problems than we can handle. Just like the Narendra Modi government dissolved the planning commission, the railway board should also be dissolved,” he added.

On the issue of the creation of another zone, the MPs unanimously agreed that if Visakhapatnam will be the headquarters of the zone, Telangana should not be a part of it. Another issue that was unanimously agreed on was changing the name of the train Andhra Pradesh Express. The train between Hyderabad and New Delhi touches no part of Andhra Pradesh anymore, and hence the name should be changed, they opined.

IRCTC to popularize ‘Rolling Deposit Scheme’

पटना Patna (PBNE): Buoyed up by tremendous increase in sale of e-tickets in 2014, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is now focusing on popularizing its venture, ‘Rolling Deposit Scheme’ (RDS) for frequent train travellers.

Under the scheme, passengers can book berths/seats against advance money kept with the IRCTC. The whole process is a hassle free exercise for the people booking their e-tickets online on the IRCTC website. IRCTC had introduced this scheme last year. But it is picking up slowly due to lack of awareness among the users. IRCTC manager cum PRO Sandip Dutta said the IRCTC has worked out details of the RDS scheme.

Under the plan, a user is required to deposit money in advance with the IRCTC and can use it as a payment option while booking e-tickets from IRCTC site online, he said adding people’s response has not been satisfactory so far. According to an IRCTC group general manager, the new scheme is likely to reduce the payment gateway time for the users as money will be deducted from their IRCTC account. At present the IRCTC is accepting payments from any bank used by users to book their e-tickets with the help of credit cards or debit cards. The RDS plan has the least possibility of e-ticket booking failure, he said adding about 10% cases of e-ticket booking failures are reported every month these days due to technical snag in the bank server.

According to sources, the IRCTC will not levy any gateway charge for booking e-tickets under RDS plan. Users can open an account with the IRCTC with the minimum balance of Rs 1,500 and operate their accounts and book online e-tickets for undertaking journey by any train, sources said. An IRCTC official said the RDS plan is a boon for frequent travellers by trains, especially businessmen and executives as they can book their e-tickets at short notice for travelling to any destination by trains. Besides, chances of ticket booking failure is remote under the RDS plan, he said adding IRCTC started this scheme after completing all other formalities.

Jaipur Metro Rail works set on war-footing to keep March 15 deadline

जयपुर Jaipur (JP): Officials of the Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation (JMRC) are burning the midnight oil to ensure the maiden run of the Jaipur Metro by March 2015. After completion of work at nine stations during phase IA of the Metro, the JMRC officials are now aiming at getting the various approvals and safety certifications.

After parleys with the state government, the JMRC had already committed to begin the operations by March.

“We have already obtained the safety certificate from the Independent Safety Assessor. Now, we will apply for things like rolling stock approval from the railway board, final signaling approval from the RDSO, Lucknow and most importantly the final approval for opening the section for commercial operation by commissioner of railways safety,” said Ashwini Saxena, JMRC project director, on Tuesday.

Officials are now aiming at applying for the Commissioner Railways Safety’s application by January 15. “After the application, he will visit the area a month after. It is going to be a detailed inspection for 3 to 7 days. After his clearance, we can start operations within 48 hours,” an officer added.

On the progress of various works, he said, “Majority of the stations are ready with facilities like escalators, ATMs and other amenities. Finishing work is on currently. Likewise, we have already floated tenders for parking at all the nine stations.”

On the kind of parking charges, an official, said, “We are aiming at very economical rates for the commuters. For cycle Rs 2, for two-wheelers Rs 5 and for four-wheelers Rs 15 would be charged for every 8 hours.”

The parking lot at the Sindhi Camp and Chandpole has lesser space since these places already have common parking lots.

JMRC officials are also aiming at giving nominal fares for the commuters. “We will try to stick to the fares we have quoted in the detailed project report (DPR) which is Rs 9 to Rs 17. The JMRC administration is now mulling over the projections given by fare fixation committee,” an officer said.

The officials will also lease out some space at various stations to eateries. “We will try to provide quality food at nominal prices for the commuters at the stations and will lease out some kiosks to the people interested,” an officer added

Tiruchirappalli–Thanjavur track doubling soon

Work to be carried out in patches on Tiruchirappalli-Thanjavur

तिरुचिरापल्ली Tiruchirappalli (TPJ): The Southern Railway will undertake broad gauge track doubling work in patches in the Tiruchi – Thanjavur section for the forthcoming Mahamaham festival in Kumbakonam, celebrated once in 12 years. The festival will be held in 2016.

The Southern Railway already commenced the track doubling work between Ponmalai (Golden Rock) and Thanjavur, involving a junction, five crossing stations and three halt stations, at an outlay of Rs. 400 crore.

As the ongoing doubling work is not expected to be completed well in time for the Mahamaham, it has been decided to do some patch doubling work at a few points where the traffic will be heavy in this section to ensure the smooth running of the regular trains and special trains expected to be operated for the festival, Rakesh Misra, General Manager, Southern Railway, told presspersons here on Wednesday.

The execution of the Ponmalai – Thanjavur junction track doubling work in Tiruchi Railway Division has been undertaken by Construction Organisation of the Southern Railway.

When asked about the demand of the people of the central districts for completing the track doubling work in the Thanjavur – Kumbakonam section too before Mahamaham, Mr. Misra said that such a proposal is not on the cards.

Festival

“For the Mahamaham festival, we have not zeroed in on the proposals. The major railway stations such as Thanjavur and Kumbakonam will be given a facelift. It has also been planned to run many special trains for the benefit of the devotees participating in the festival,” Mr. Misra said adding that he will hold discussion on the arrangements for Mahamaham with the officials of Tiruchi Railway division on Thursday (January 8)

Teleste acquires Mitron to focus on Rail Security

Teleste is acquiring the Finnish solutions provider Mitron to become one of the leading end-to-end providers of rail-specific video security and information management solutions

Teleste, an international technology group specialised in broadband video and data communication systems and services, is acquiring Mitron Group Oy Ltd, the Finnish provider of public transportation information systems and modern display solutions. The acquisition follows Teleste’s strategy to become one of the leading suppliers of end-to-end video and information management solutions for the rail market.

A major aim of the transaction is to answer to rail operators’ growing demands of end-to-end solutions that enable more efficient operations with enhanced passenger service and security throughout the rail ecosystem. Both Teleste and Mitron have been granted an IRIS certificate, and the acquisition further increases their compliances in providing high standard solutions that are specified for the needs of the rail industry.

Together Teleste and Mitron form one of the leading providers in the market offering the rail industry complete solutions for stations, rail cars and wireless data transmission between these two. The solution supports wireless offload from rail cars as well as real-time connectivity with live video transmission between rail cars and stations, and includes advanced passenger information and CCTV systems both in rail cars and at the station.

Key benefits for the operators are accurate and timely information as well as rapid and correct situation awareness and actions. In short, the solution ensures that the right message is delivered to the right people and at the right time. In addition to improved safety of operations and passengers, the solution also helps rail operators offer more advanced, better quality passenger services through e.g. live onboard entertainment.

“There is growing demand for more capable video security and real-time information management solutions in the rail segment. The customers are looking for end-to-end solutions that enable them to improve operational efficiency and security, and offer better quality passenger services”, says Johan Slotte, Deputy CEO of Teleste Corporation and head of its Video Networks Business Unit. “Teleste is aiming to provide the rail market with a complete solution that fulfils our customers’ wishes, and joining forces with Mitron meets that target in the most efficient way.”

Both Teleste and Mitron have a strong, international customer base. Teleste has profound expertise in providing video surveillance solutions for major rail operators such as CTA in the US and the SNCF in France as well as world class references from large networked video surveillance projects. Mitron’s customer base consists of major rail car manufacturers such as Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens and Stadler as well as several major rail operators. “We are delighted to join the Teleste team as the acquisition enables us to a reach a wider market for both Teleste and Mitron products. With joined forces, we can offer the rail market with a seamless and complete end-to-end solution fit for any rail operator and rail car manufacturer”, states Lasse Orre, CEO of Mitron Group Oy Ltd.

Mitron will continue its activities as an independent company as part of the video surveillance business unit within Teleste’s Video and Broadband Solutions Business Area and with its current management. The two former majority shareholders, Heino Ruottinen and Juha Siitonen, will continue to be members of the Board of Directors of Mitron Group’s mother company. No personnel reductions are planned as a result of the acquisition.

Delay in Nagpur Metro Rail to hike NMC, NIT Share by Rs.1940 Crore

नागपुर Nagpur (NGP): The ambitious plan of Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) to start the construction of metro rail project by second quarter of 2015 has virtually become impossible. The city will be fortunate if it starts by 2015 end.

NIT had claimed that it would finish the work by 2018 so that the cost does not increase beyond Rs.8,421 crore. The union cabinet had approved the project at this cost. However, according to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the project cost as per 2014 estimates is Rs.10,360 crore.

The detailed project report (DPR) prepared by DMRC envisages the completion of project in six years. After the project was cleared by union cabinet in August 2014, NIT said the work would start in second quarter of 2015.

In order to complete the project by 2018 end, NIT had claimed that the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for executing the project would be formed immediately and it would appoint an agency that would suggest ways to the SPV to complete the project in four years instead of six. The agency was to take six months for this. The SPV is yet to be formed and it is difficult to predict when the agency will be appointed.

Due to this delay, the economics of the metro rail project has gone haywire. The funding model of project is 20% central share, 20% state share, 5% NIT and 5% NMC and rest is soft loan. The difference of Rs.1,940 crore will have to borne by the two local bodies.

This means that the share of local bodies would increase to about Rs.2,800 crores. NIT claims that this amount will be raised by selling transfer of development rights (TDR) and extra floor to space index (FSI). Civic officials admit in private that the figure is too ambitious and if the project is to be completed, central government will have to provide more funds.

A civic official further said that completing the work in four years was a tall task and going by the history of infrastructure projects in the city, Nagpurians should consider themselves lucky if the project is completed in six years. Greater the delay in completing the work, higher will be cost escalation. “The pace of work can be satisfactory only if chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and union transport minister Nitin Gadkari regularly monitor the project,” the official said.

NFR GM inaugurates Bathnaha Railway station building

बथनहा Bathnaha (BTF): Nepal railway line scheme will be completed by October 2, 2016, as obstacles related to land acquisition in Nepal area will be solved soon. This was said by NFR GM Ranjit Singh Birdhi, who arrived here during an annual inspection of Katihar division. He also inaugurated the Bathnaha railway station building on Tuesday.

The GM arrived here by a special train to assess the various facilities being provided to commuters besides inspecting railway stations and also review the ongoing railway project for connecting Bathnaha railway station to Biratnagar railway station, which will be linked soon. Responding to several associations and railway users forum’s demand of extending the Katihar-Patna Inter-city Express and Amrapali Express upto Jogbani railway station, the GM said it can’t be done until the railway pitline is completed. Similarly, it is also not possible to attach pantry car to Simanchal Express, which runs daily between Jogbani and Delhi, he added.

The GM, however, assured the demand for running the Chitpur Express between Jogbani and Kolkata railway station daily will soon be submitted before the railway ministry. Forbesganj railway station being an ideal railway station will be provided more facilities.

The GM also conceded to the demand of opening railway police station at Forbesganj and said he will take an initiative in this regard . He also assured that he would accord priority to providing signal facilities at Araria Court and Araria RS stations.

The GM awarded the Forbesganj railway station superintendent Abul Qashim and others by giving certificate of appreciations along with cash prizes of Rs.5,000/-.

Private Developers can select a particular Station of their Choice for Revamp: Railway Minister

Suresh PrabhuNew Delhi: Railways minister Suresh Prabhu has come out with a new policy wherein the national transporter would not select 10 or 50 stations to be developed into world class stations, but it would be left for the private developers to select a particular station.

Private players can select any of around 8,000 stations across the country for revamping and transforming it as a world class station.

The government has visualized that these stations would be equipped with escalators, shopping outlets, restaurants and Wi-Fi- enabled waiting lounges.

The national transporter has decided to put all details about these stations such as requirement for passenger area, space for operational purpose and the vacant land or space which railways can offer to the private developers for commercial exploitation.

“The private developer can directly approach General Manager (GM) at zonal railways if they want to develop any station in the region,” said a railway official.

“All stations should have adequate waiting rooms, ladies dormitories, segregation of arrival and departure, essential facilities such as catering and unifying integration at both sides of the city,” Prabhu had said after taking over.

There is feeling that the transporter alone can’t development many stations considering huge financial constraints.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also stressed for privatization of passenger services at stations. “Railway facilities are the same as they were 100 years back … Privatize the railway stations and modernize them,” the PM had said. “I will make it in 10-12 places. Stations should be better than airports as most travellers are poor people. We can easily have trains running below and commercial properties above (floor),” Modi had said.

The PM said at a time when real estate is expensive, railways should leverage their properties by allowing private parties to build luxury hotels, restaurants and other facilities at stations.

This is not the first time government has indicated to modernize stations which suffer from poor hygiene and lack of passenger amenities.

The railways had set up a special purpose vehicle — station development authority — with equity of Rs 100 crore to give a boost to the ambitious plan. The authority has identified five stations – Anand Vihar and Brijvasan in Delhi, Chandigarh, Habibganj in Bhopal and Shivaji Nagar in Pune. But the plan could not take off.

“The fresh initiate would work as private players are given choice,” said an official, adding that they would be engaged to modernize passengers amenities at stations while they would be allowed to commercially exploit the real estate space available in heart of the city around the stations.

Rail Minister seeks help of all CMs to develop Railway infrastructure

Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu says new government in Delhi that will come to power after Assembly polls will better the coordination level with the Centre by developing partnerships

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Union Railway Minister Mr.Suresh Prabhu today said he has sought cooperation of all Chief Ministers to forge partnerships between the Centre and the states to develop railway infrastucture across the country which could fuel economic growth.

“To develop infrastructure more funds are needed, tracks need to be broadened and for that land is needed and the cooperation of the state governments becomes essential here.

“I have written to the Chief Minister of every state to forge a partnership with the Centre so that together we are able to implement all the schemes…If the railways doesn’t improve the country won’t go forward,” he said.

The Minister also expressed the hope that the “new” government in Delhi that will come to power after the Assembly polls will better the coordination level with the Centre by developing such a partnership.

“I believe that the new government that will come to power in Delhi very soon (will better the coordination) Dr. Harsh Vardhan will also help us in coordinating between the state government and the Centre so that a similar partnership develops for Delhi as well,” he told reporters here.

“People want that a BJP government comes to power in Delhi and that would be excellent…All over the country we are working steadfastly for the interest of common people without looking at the political colour of the ruling parties of respective states,” the Minister said.

Asked whether he was indicating that Vardhan may become the Chief Minister if BJP comes to power in Delhi, Prabhu refused to reply.

“We need to provide infrastructure at many places. (We) need to strengthen infrastructure and expand facilities where infrastructure is at place to fulfil the rising aspiration of people,” Prabhu added.

He made the remarks during an event to flag off three trains – two for West Bengal and one for Bihar – from Anand Vihar station here in the presence of MoS Railways Manoj Sinha, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan, East Delhi BJP MP Maheish Girri, Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal and other top officials.

 

 

Reliance Industries in race to supply Diesel to Railways

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: After a gap of almost seven years, Reliance Industries is gaining a foothold in supplying diesel to the Indian Railways.

Until now the bulk supply market was dominated by public sector oil marketing companies such as Indian Oil Corporation. Railways is the single largest consumer of bulk high-speed diesel (HSD).

Sources said that Reliance has offered a discount of about ₹1.50 a litre to the Railways. Bulk diesel in Delhi is available at ₹49.12 a litre. The rates vary between cities, depending on the distance from the depot.

Railway Ministry sources said private suppliers such as Reliance and Essar are on the suppliers’ list, but did not confirm anything officially. The Railway Ministry spokesperson did not respond to queries fromBusinessLine.

With diesel pricing now completely deregulated, private companies are also competing with PSUs to get a share of the Railways’ annual business, which is about 2.7 billion litres. However, it will be tough going for the private players as they will be hampered by infrastructure (terminal network) constraints.

A Reliance official in the know said that the category is not new to company. It had been supplying earlier, but because of the distortion in diesel prices (subsidy) it had to look at other markets.

Negotiating tool

In fact, the discount rates offered by private retailers are used by the Railways as a negotiating tool to get better rates from the PSUs. “Today, it is an open market and everyone will try to get the best deal,” said an official from a PSU oil company.

The Railways buys HSD through an annual rate contract with the oil marketing firms. It invites bids from firms, keeping the discount level as a parameter.

Once the discount rate is agreed upon, the Railways informs its zones and the zonal Railways are then free to procure diesel from oil companies having depots in their zones.

 

IRCTC plans ‘international standard’ rail coaches with Glass Roofs; submit proposal to ICF

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS): The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has submitted a proposal to manufacture ‘international standard’ railway coaches with glass roofs to the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai.

The corporation is looking to attract high-end and NRI tourists, corporate groups and the like for patronage on this special coaches, which will be attached to trains running on select routes that link important tourist locations. The roof would be made of glass for the passengers to get a clear view.

An order for two such special coaches has been given to the ICF as a pilot project.

Another aspect of the coach is that the pantry arrangement would be like those on aircraft, for which talks are on with foreign companies, sources said.

The coach would also have facilities for in-train entertainment. It can accommodate around 30 passengers and the fare would be higher than that for 2-tier AC, as it would have high-end facilities.

The coaches would have a stainless steel body like the LHB coaches used in the Rajdhani, Shatabdi and semi-high speed trains, ICF sources indicated.
Since the proposal involves several novel requirements, the ICF is working on it right from the scratch.

“Such a coach doesn’t exist in India and it will be a fresh design. We have never manufactured a coach like this,” said an official. The cost of manufacture would also be around `80 lakh to `1.2 crore.

Though a timeframe for the delivery of the two coaches wasn’t given, it would certainly take more than a year, ICF sources said.

Pre-budget meeting with Andhra MPs by GM/SCR evokes a lot of expectations

MPs from Guntur, Vijayawada, and Guntakal divisions attend pre-budget meeting. Mr.Srivastava said the earnings of SCR in the FY 2014-15 were bound to surpass Rs.9,300 Crore and it was poised to end the year with freight loading of 118 million tons which was highest in five to six years.

South Central Railway General Manager P.K. Srivastava (second from left) along with other Railways officials participating in the pre-budget consultation with Members of Parliament in Vijayawada on Tuesday

South Central Railway General Manager P.K. Srivastava (second from left) along with other Railways officials participating in the pre-budget consultation with Members of Parliament in Vijayawada on Tuesday

विजयवाडा Vijayawada (BZA):  South Central Railway (SCR) General Manager P.K. Srivastava has said the Railways was keen on taking forward pending projects in Andhra Pradesh but some of them being Capital-intensive, adequate funding was awaited and the State government was expected to cooperate in acquiring land for achieving speedy progress.

Briefing media persons about the in-camera meeting with MPs from Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions held here on Tuesday, Mr. Srivastava said each one of the MPs obviously wanted the projects in his/her constituency to be given priority but fulfilling their expectations was a tough task as funds have to be mobilised for the projects most of which were sanctioned in the previous Railway budget.

Many proposals came forth for development of Vijayawada, Tirupati, Nellore, Machilipatnam, Krishnapatnam and Kakinada stations which were important for the State. A lot of work was to be done to get those projects going.

The proposed train between Vijayawada and New Delhi would become a reality by March. It was delayed for want of rakes. There was an opinion among the MPs that instead of operating it from Vijayawada, it could be made to originate at Visakhapatnam and Tirupati three times each in a week as the train has to anyway pass through Vijayawada.

Some of the projects like the coach factory at Kurnool and new lines between Narsapuram and Kotipalli, Srikalahasti and Nadikudi and Kurnool and Mantralayam were ‘highly capital-intensive’. Things would start taking shape in the near future.

Mr. Srivastava said the earnings of SCR in the FY 2014-15 were bound to surpass Rs 9,300 crore and it was poised to end the year with freight loading of 118 million tons which was highest in five to six years. Similarly, the operating ratio of 17.50 per cent was the best in as many years.

Guntur MP Jayadev Galla said he presented a note containing 25 points pertaining to development of Guntur division and that the Railway officials were asked to look at the proposals for VGTM region from the Capital perspective.

Next Rail Budget to focus on religious tourism

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The next Rail Budget is expected to give more focus to religious tourism, with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu planning to meet chiefs of shrines to work out new projects.

Sources said the minister is trying to tap new sources of revenue by meeting the chiefs of these shrines, besides academicians of the Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management for more innovative plans.

Prabhu is keen on consulting with unconventional sections ahead of the budget in order to find new solutions to the Railways’ problems. The government is now focusing on high technology and huge private investments. The coming budget may see the announcement of a bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Sources said Prabhu would soon be meeting officials of Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA) and the World Bank. JICA is doing a feasibility study on the bullet train project and is most likely to execute it. Meeting with industry bodies is also on the agenda of the minister.

This time, the meeting would include more issues as the Railways is trying to reach out to private partners.

Railway Unions soften stand on FDI after Prime Minister’s assurance

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s persuasive pitch to railway employees unions has cleared the decks for more FDI inflows and private capital in national transporter that may be reflected in the rail budget.

After Modi’s statement that there would be no privatization of railways, the workers’ unions have softened their stand over several issues including FDI in the transport behemoth. However, the unions are sticking to demands relating to scrapping of new pension scheme (NPS) and DA mergers.

The PM has said that he had a “deep connection” with the railways. “I love railways. My life is what it is because of railways,” Modi said. “The government will not go in the direction of railway privatization … People are spreading rumours about privatization of railways. It is not true,” Modi had said.

The change of heart came after railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s reassurance that FDI or public-private partnership (PPP) will not affect the ownership of railways. During the meeting of general managers last week where union representatives were also present, the minister argued that the government wants to attract private investment in cash-strapped railways and it was not for privatization of railways.

After Modi’s categorical assurance, Prabhu’s persuasive skills worked in convincing the union leaders, said a senior railways official. The union representatives were also satisfied with the minister’s assurance that the railways would not sell any piece of land but instead try to exploit the land commercially.

Shiv Gopal Mishra of All India Railwaymen Federation said, “Our opposition is not politically motivated. We demanded that there should not be privatization of railways and the issue of FDI must be discussed with full transparency.”

At the same time, Mishra warned the minister and railways official that the transporter should not invite FDI or money from national resources which could harm the railways because of overcapitalization or payment of interest on the borrowed capital.

However, the deadlock over the employees’ demands such as scrapping of NPS and DA merger continues.

The unions have been demanding the restoration of old pension scheme as had been done in case of defence because the working conditions in the transporter are risky and large number of employees die on duty. The NPS is without social guarantee. The unions have also hinted at opposing any radical restructuring of the railway board.

The union leaders admitted that there were problems, but blamed politicians at the helm of affairs for the mess.

A leader said ministers did not raise passenger fares for years and announced ‘unviable’ projects which pushed the state-run transporter into bankruptcy.

SCR to hold meetings with MPs on zonal railway developmental activities

सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): South Central Railway is going to conduct three exclusive meetings with Members of Parliament – both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – representing the area falling under the jurisdiction of SCR. The first meeting will be held at Vijayawada on 6th January 2015.  MPs from Andhra Pradesh, primarily representing areas falling under Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal Divisions of SCR will participate in this meeting.

On 7th January, 2015, another meeting will be held with MPs from Telangana, primarily representing areas under Secunderabad and Hyderabad Divisions of SCR, at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. The third and final meeting will be held with MPs from Maharashtra, primarily representing areas under the jurisdiction of Nanded Division of SCR, at Nanded on 8th January 2015.

P.K. Srivastava, General Manager/SCR and Principal Heads of Departments and Divisional Railway Managers concerned will attend these meetings. During the course of these meetings, Srivastava will brief the MPs on the performance of SCR on various issues such as freight / passenger traffic, earnings, safety/security, cleanliness, passenger amenities, infrastructure development and various initiatives for providing improved service to rail users on the Zone. The views and the proposals of MPs on railway developmental activities and services in this region will also be discussed in these meetings.

MOSR flags off Manduadih-Ghazipur-Chhapra DMU from Ghazipur through Video Conference

गाजीपुर शहर Ghazipur City (GCT): The Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha flagged off Manduadih-Ghazipur-Chhapra diesel electric unit (DMU) train (75102/75101) through video conferencing from Ghazipur City Railway Station on Monday.

Sinha said that DMU train between Manduadih and Chhapra was announced in the railway budget. The Indian Railway arranged a new rack for DMU at the cost of about Rs 14 crore, he said, adding that coaches are equipped with toilet facility. He said that there is a planning to start a new train between Lucknow and Chhapra via Varanasi next month.

A fund of Rs 7 crore is being spent for improvement and expansion of passenger facilities at Ghazipur City Railway Station. The work would include foot overbridge and automatic escalator.

General manager of North Eastern Railway Rajeev Mishra said that DMU would operate on all days except Sundays.

Maharashtra CM Fadnavis sends wishlist to Railway Minister

मुंबई Mumbai: Two months ahead of the Centre’s Union railway budget, chief minister Devendra Fadanvis has sent the state’s wishlist to Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu, seeking funds worth more than Rs.600 crore for major ongoing railway projects in the state, besides additional services.

Fadnavis’ memorandum of demands was sent to Prabhu, who has said that special attention will be given to Mumbai’s suburban railway network, which is used by 75-lakh commuters every day.

The CM has demanded for the introduction of air-conditioned local trains, besides asking for cushioned seats in second-class compartments of more trains, and the provision of funds to control trespassing on the tracks.

To address the demand for a greater number of services for far-flung areas in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Fadnavis has demanded 50 services each on the Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway’s (CR) suburban network, along with more 15-coach trains.

According to sources, Fadnavis is expecting that new railway projects will get a nod in the railway budget and so has sent the memorandum of demands well in advance.

Fadnavis has sought Rs. 500 crore for the second phase of the ongoing Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) II, and another Rs. 20 crore for the Kalyan-Kasara third line project, in addition to Rs. 100 crore for the Nerul-Belapur-Uran line.

In his letter to Prabhu, Fadnavis has requested approval for a third phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-III), in which he has sought a nod for the Panvel-Karjat doubling project, and the Airoli-Kalwa elevated link project. Officials are hoping that with BJP ruling at both the Centre and the state, there are chances of these demands being accommodated in the budget.

Facilitate FIR for passengers on board: Allahabad High Court to Railways

अल्लाहाबाद Allahabad (ALD): The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad high court has issued several directions to ensure safety of railway passengers on board. It has directed railway officials that in case of any crime in train, they must register victims’ FIR on board without disturbing their journey . The complaint should be in three copies and one be handed over to the passenger forthwith.

So far, though Railway Protection Force (RPF) carried FIR forms, in effect passengers had to either break journey to lodge FIR or complain on reaching their destination. The court order should change that.

A bench of Justice S K Saxena and Justice Rakesh Srivastava simultaneously directed railway officials to install a panic button in every bogey for passengers to alert authorities when prompt action was required. The directions were issued in course of hearing of a PIL registered in 2011. It will hear the matter next on January 16.

The bench further directed the Government Reserve Police (GRP) to replace the heavy 303 rifles being carried by its escort team by modern and light arms.

The court also advised the GRP to set up control rooms on the pattern of police and woman control room to register complaint immediately after receiving it on railway helpline number 1322 and coordinate the follow up action.CCTV cameras will also be installed at every GRP station.