Building Railways to Ports: Why This is Priority for PM Modi

India is targeting up to $1 billion of private investment by 2017 to build rail lines linking ports and national networks to ease growing congestion, which has delayed coal imports for power plants and contributed to a power supply crisis.

Such investment would more than double the $400 million that the state-owned railways have attracted in the decade since they allowed limited private participation and help fund crucial “last mile” links to ports.

The cash-starved British-built rail system has added just 11,000 kilometres (6,800 miles) of track in the 67 years since independence, and the network has come to symbolise the poor state of the country’s infrastructure. China has managed 14,000 km of new lines in the five years to 2011.

Over-crowding at ports has been delaying much-needed coal deliveries to Indian power plants and supplies of iron ore for steelmakers at a time when there is already a shortfall.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants private companies, which have held back from investing in freight lines because of the struggle to win the necessary approvals, to build more of the last mile links where bottlenecks bite the most.

Companies will now be allowed to part-own new rail lines for variable periods of time rather than a fixed number of years, said Mukul Saran Mathur, an executive director at the Ministry of Railways. The railways will also take on more of a project’s financial risk, Mathur said, without giving further details.

The ministry also wants foreign operators which own stakes in Indian ports, like Denmark’s Maersk, to invest but so far none had shown any interest.

Essar Ports, a large port operator, wants to build new rail lines to help meet an expected doubling of its cargo handling capacity to 200 million tons in the next few years.

But the state-owned railways, which have a monopoly on the provision of goods wagons, are failing to provide sufficient wagons to service the extra cargo, said Essar Ports CEO Rajiv Agarwal.

“We can build our own rail lines but there is this major shortage of wagons,” he said.

Most Indian ports only have access to two-thirds of the wagons they need, and the shortage is one reason why ships have to wait for two days more to get berthed and unload than the international average, according to Deutsche Bank.

Govt asks France to open shops in India for Railway projects

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Government today invited France to “open shops” in the country to execute Railway projects and sought co-operation in areas of safety, customer service and high-speed train service.

“There are multiple areas in rail sector where we can work together and in those areas we can hope for co-operation between France and India,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said while addressing Indo-French Rail seminar here.

Wooing French companies to set shops in India, Prabhu said, “Let’s find solutions and prepare completely actionable areas supported by corporate entities and set up shops here…Then we can always work together to make it happen.”

The Minister said that the Government is willing to work with with French companies and is trying to remove inhibitions that doing business in India is a challenge.

“Once we work on it you will realise that doing business in India is not that cumbersome.

“Solution to every problem is possible. We can work together. But for that you must come here first. You can have seminars and go back to France then nothing will happen. You have to come here to stay and make sure we work together,” Prabhu said.

The Railway Minister sought co-operation in areas of safety, customer service, improving communication network, and building high-speed train network.

Prabhu said safety is an “inherent obligation” and of paramount importance. “No one can compromise safety of any kind in the interest of commuters who board the train and want to reach their destinations safely,” he said.

The Minister sought France’s co-operation in providing better services to customers to make their travel easier.

“How to make the platform look better, how to make tickets bookings become smoother and improve communication network can for commuters through various technology. So at all these levels you can think of some co-operation,” Prabhu said.

He added that as a commuter spends maximum time in a rail compartment, efforts need to be made to upgrade that service and make it more comfortable.

INDO-FRENCH Seminar on Rail Sector Inaugurated

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  Mr Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Government of India, and H.E. Mr Francois Richier, Ambassador of France to India, today inaugurated a daylong Indo-French Rail Seminar on “High- and Semi-High Speed, Multimodal Stations – Infrastructure and Financing” in New Delhi. This seminar aims to expand the scope of Indo-French cooperation in the railways sector with emphasis on developing high-speed and semi-high-speed train systems in India and the creation of multimodal stations integrating several modes of public transport. Mr Arunendra Kumar, Chairman of the Railway Board, Member Engineering Railway Board Shri VK Gupta were among those present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that there are multiple areas in Rail sector where India and France can work together. He said that we need to find solutions and prepare plans of action for mutual cooperation. He called upon French companies to increase their presence in India as doing business in India is not that cumbersome. Referring to the emphasis on high speed travel given by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narender Modi , the Railway Minister said that there is a section of commuters who are willing to pay a higher fare and want high speed travel and Indian railways has earnestly embarked upon the path of developing high speed corridors in India. Shri Prabhu sought cooperation of France in high speed train operations and also in areas of safety, customer service and station development and multimodal stations. The Minister said that safety is of paramount importance in the interest of commuters. Shri Prabhu said that as a commuter spends maximum time in a rail compartment, there is a need to upgrade and innovate facilities and services to make it more comfortable. Shri Prabhu said that India is trying to develop its rail network to global standards and the cooperation with countries like France will be quite meaningful to achieve this objective.

H.E. Mr Francois Richier, Ambassador of France to India and Shri Arunendra Kumar, Chairman of the Railway Board also spoke on the occasion.

This seminar is being organized jointly by Indian Railways and the Regional Economic Department of the Embassy of France in India, with the objective of bringing together recognized specialists in the railway sector from France and India, and brainstorm to find the best solutions for an Indian high-speed and semi-high speed railway along with multimodal stations. French expertise and technology, brought by the French companies operating in India, can play their role in this process.

Three sessions are being organized during the seminar, each with a specific focus: High-Speed and Semi-High-Speed, the concept of multimodality in stations and the type of financing required for such modern railway networks in India. Indian Railways is making presentations about their strategy, plans and requirements for each of these topics followed by presentations from the French side (public institutions and private sector companies). French actors will showcase their expertise as technological solutions for the Indian Railways to build a high-speed and semi-high-speed network. Each session is to be concluded with a panel discussion to facilitate direct interaction between French and Indian railway experts and address the audience queries.

India and France have a long-standing bilateral co-operation in the railway sector of over 30 years. This was given a concrete shape by the signing of the first protocol in 2003. During the State Visit to India by the President of France, Mr Francois Hollande, in February 2013, the French Railways (the SNCF), and Indian Railways (IR) signed a new Memorandum of Understanding centred on 4 key areas of co-operation, namely: 1) high-speed trains, 2) station renovation, 3) urban trains and 4) railway network modernization. In June 2014, the French Railways (SNCF) concluded and presented to the Indian Railways a feasibility study on “operations and development” for high speed rail on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor(534 km). This report is under examination of the Railway Board.

CONCOR ropes in Feedback Infra for Feasibility Study of Logistics Parks

Scope of the study involves financial appraisal and preparation of business plan of the MMLPs

भुवनेश्वर Bhubaneswar (BBS): Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR), the navratna PSU under Railways ministry, has roped in Feedback Infra Pvt Ltd, a leading infrastructure services company, for carrying out the feasibility study for multi-modal logistics parks (MMLPs) proposed in Angul and Sukinda in Jajpur district.

The scope of the study involves financial appraisal and preparation of business plan of the MMLPs by assessing the business potential at the proposed locations including the adjoining area of about 200 kilometers.

Both the MMLPs will see a combined investment of Rs 300 crore excluding land cost with each park spreading over 50 acres of land. The study will include identification of industrial clusters in the area, consolidating and collecting traffic data and interaction with various key stakeholders including companies, inland container depots, container freight station and other private and government agencies.

These logistic parks are likely to give a boost to the state’s industrial competitiveness. The logistic parks will include facilities like warehouses, distribution centres, storage areas, offices, truck services, parking lots, truck terminals, container rail terminal, container handling facilities, cold storages, distribution centers, air cargo points, lorries, maintenance points, service stations, hospitals and restaurants. In addition, such parks would be equipped with weighbridges, telecommunication facilities, banks, health awareness units and recreation centres.

CONCOR would also set up three more MMLPs in the state. While the construction has started at the logistics park proposed at Jharsuguda, land acquisition is underway for two other parks at Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district and Muniguda in Rayagada district. Concor’s Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Balasore and Domestic Container Terminal (DCT) at Rourkela are operational in the state. Recently, Concor, the country’s largest logistics services provider, has picked up 26 per cent stake in Angul-Sukinda Railway Ltd (ASRL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to implement the key rail link project.

The rail link project, estimated to cost Rs 1,100 crore, is aimed at connecting steel plants based in and around Angul with the iron ore rich Keonjhar-Banspani belt and Talcher Coalfields with the Kalinganagar steel hub. Other equity partners of the SPV include Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO).

Thanks to Debroy Committee, now every cadre official has an idea about restructuring

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The Bibek Debroy Committee and its sweeping mandate to restructure the Indian Railways would win hands down if there was a poll for the most-discussed topic in the corridors of the ailing transport giant. Just about everybody working in the railways has an opinion about how the restructuring can be done and almost all of them feel their idea is the stand-out one.

Hidden among the ideas of these officials, of course, is also the infamous rivalries among various streams of engineering and traffic operations that is so quintessential to Indian Railways babudom.

So the electrical cadre officials want the mechanical cadre to pull up its socks and want the corporatisation of the workshops and manufacturing centres of the railways – most of these facilities controlled by the mechanical cadre. Not to be outdone, the mechanical cadre wants the electrical cadre to work faster with the electrification of the railways.

The traffic cadre – IRTS officials – want all the engineering streams in the railways to start delivering. “The restructuring should be in such a way that the engineering cadre and its facilities become manufacturing hubs for the railways and bring in money. At the moment the traffic cadre remains the most stressed thanks to the overflow of passengers and the need for more trains,” said a senior IRTS official.

The Railway Protection Force officers on their part want the restructuring committee to chalk out plans for the former to be the sole federal railway police in the country, in turn taking over duties from the railway police which are entities of respective states. Another suggestion is to give a lot of non-policing duties like patrolling stations, railway factories and the like to private security companies.

“It all depends on how far the committee goes. There is even talk of the disbandment of the Railway Board and a more corporate set-up against the current silo system of different Member posts for different streams of the railways,” said an official.

The Bibek Debroy Committee and its mandate

The 7-member committee, with a term of one-year, will be chaired by renowned economist Dr Bibek Debroy and will have among its members former cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekar, ex-chairman and MD of of Procter and Gamble Gurcharan Das, professor Partha Mukhopadhyay, senior fellow of the Centre for Policy Research, Ravi Narain, former MD of the National Stock Exchange, Rajendra Kashyap, former financial commissioner of the railways and one as-yet-unnamed nominee of the department of economic affairs. Sanjay Chadha, currently serving as the executive director mechanical engineering of the railway board will be the secretary to the committee.

The onus of the committee would be ‘reorganising and restructuring the railway board and subsequently the department so that policy making and operations are separated, the department does not work in silos, policy making focuses on long-term and medium-term planning issues and operations focuses on day-to-day functioning of the organization’.

Railways to expand FDI participation list, identify 50 projects on PPP model

Railways to finalise a fiscal roadmap for shaping its budget formulations over next five years

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  Indian Railways is gearing up for another phase of reforms through a slew of measures.

These include expanding the list of areas where foreign direct investment (FDI) will be invited, identifying at least 50 projects to be commissioned on a public-private partnership (PPP) and finalising a fiscal road map that will shape its budget formulations over the next five years.

“We are adding more projects to the list of areas where 100 per cent FDI will be allowed. The work is on in full swing to increase dialogue with the private sector,” said minister of state Manoj Sinha at an annual event here. “Also, we have selected 50-60 large-size projects to be implemented on PPP mode, with attached conditions.”

He said consultations on the steps had begun between senior minister Suresh Prabhu and industry stakeholders. The identified projects would soon be put on the ministry website, with details and deadlines for their commissioning and implementation.

“So far, the interest in FDI has largely surrounded three areas – High Speed Rail (HSR), medium HSR and station development. We will add more projects to this list shortly,” Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar, also present on the occasion, said in his speech. “Call it a craze, fever or national interest but HSR is our window to the outside world.”

The Union Cabinet had in August relaxed the FDI norms to allow 100 per cent investment in projects such as HST, suburban services, dedicated freight corridors, freight and passenger terminals. The ministry has notified a list of 17 such areas, including rail route electrification, signalling systems and logistics parks.

Other areas freed for FDI include cleaning operations and mechanised laundries, construction, maintenance and operation facilities to supply non-conventional sources of energy to IR, installation and maintenance of bio-toilets in passenger trains, setting up of technical training institutes, testing facilities and laboratories and providing technological solutions to improve safety.

Kumar said the ministry was awaiting clearance from the commissioner of railway safety for the first semi-high speed line between Delhi and Agra, of the total of nine such identified routes. “We are not just talking about locomotives as before. We are talking about HSR and station development. This is a new focus generated in the last few months,” he said.

Sinha said the road map being prepared by IR would shape its budget and finances over the next four to five years. “Also, work has simultaneously started for preparing a vision document that will give direction to the railways’ budget for the next 20 years,” he said.

The announcement for a new vision document comes even as a similar Vision 2020 document prepared under former railways minister Mamata Banerjee exists. The earlier document, prepared in 2009, had also promised HSR as part of big-bang reforms in the key areas of capacity creation, safety and finances.

Told to pay up Rs.20 Crore registration fee, metro rail contractor moves HC

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS): Gammon India Limited, which along with Russian company OJSC Moscow Metrostroy, is executing two portions of the Chennai metro rail project, has approached the Madras high court against the Tamil Nadu government’s demand to pay a registration fee of Rs 20 crore. According to the government, the company paid a paltry Rs 440 as registration fee.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, Justice V Ramasubramanian issued notices, but refused to stay the demand notice, after additional government pleader P Sanjay Gandhi pointed out that the appellate authority in the registration department had upheld the notice and staying it would cause heavy revenue loss to the government.

Gammon entered into two agreements with the Russian company in March 2011 to jointly execute the contracts to be awarded by Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL). While one agreement was for a value of Rs 930 crore, the other was a little more than Rs 1,000 crore. Together they worked out to around Rs 2,000 crore. Holding that they are not construction agreements but mere written guidelines on relations between the two companies, Gammon paid Rs 220 as registration fee for each of the agreements.

During an audit, the accountant general of Tamil Nadu raised objection to the payment. Registration fee at the rate of 1% would work out to Rs 20 crore, and not just Rs 440, it said. The government then slapped a demand on the company.

Denying the allegations, Gammon India said the demand notice had been issued after the limitation period of three years, that too without any jurisdiction. Gammon was not heard before the notices were issued, the petition said, adding that CMRL was not at all party to the agreement, and the registration fee could not be computed on the basis of the value of the construction contract signed by the two parties.

Authorities failed to understand that the agreements were not construction contracts, it said. Holding that Rs 220 each for the two agreements was enough and proper, it wanted the demand notice to be dismissed.

South Central Railway to run 132 Sabarimala specials

Secunderabad (SC): South Central Railway on Friday said it will run 132 Sabarimala special trains from Hyderabad and other places to clear the extra rush of passengers and pilgrims heading to the pilgrimage in Kerala.

Apart from Hyderabad the special trains will be run from Nizamabad, Kakinada Town, Narsapur, Vijayawada, Machilipatnam, Sirpurkagaznagar, Karimnagar, Aurangabad, Akola, Adilabad to Kollam and back from December 5, 2014 to January 14, 2015.

Advance reservations for these special trains will commence from 8 a.m. IST, Friday, according to a release.

57th IRICEN Day celebrated in Pune

1413885131789-image0041413884996731-image002पुणे Pune: City based Indian Railway Institute of Civil Engineering (IRICEN) recently celebrated 57th IRICEN day.

A special function was organised at the IRICEN’s new platinum rated green building on the occasion. The function was presided over by chief guest V.K.Gupta, Member Engineering, Railway Board.

Gupta congratulated all Civil Engineers and Awardees and Silver Jubilee Batch Officers. He praised young probationers for selecting civil engineering as their profession. He said that civil engineering is a noble profession as engineers create permanent structures like roads, dams, railway lines. He also said that future of railway civil engineering is very exciting as dedicated freight corridors and high speed corridors are being planned and built.

Gupta released seven publications prepared by IRICEN in form of books, journals and compact discs.

On occasion, Vishwesh Vhaubey, director of IRICEN said that it was eventful year for the institute. The IRICEN has shifted to new building. New facilities like demonstration yard, display area of civil engineering material are added. The institute plans to continuously review and update training content and improve its infrastructure, he said.

Officers from the Central railway, IRICEN and Pune railway division were present at the function.

Beginning in 1959 as a modest ‘Permanent Way Training School’ at Pune, IRICEN has come a long way in fulfilling the needs of training to freshly-recruited as well as serving railway civil engineers. The training covers modules on Track, Bridges and Structures covering specific needs of the railways. lt provides for interaction amongst practicing engineers, qualified, experienced & seasoned professionals and fresh entrants.

Located in the historical and cultural city of Pune, IRICEN has a capacity for training up to 100 engineers! managers at a time. Engineers from railways of the developing countries as well as other government departments/private organisations are also trained. The training programmes are generally residential in nature. Available infrastructure for conducting various training programmes includes a well-stocked technical library, computer centre, material testing laboratory, model rooml museum, hostel, mess and recreational facilities for the trainee officers.

For achieving excellence in training, IRICEN has been awarded ISO 9001-2008 certification by BSCIC Certification Pvt. Ltd.. Our clients include Indian Railways, RITES, IRCON, KRCL, DMRC, NTPC, reputed publicl private sector companies in the field of civil engineering and construction technology and railway officers from developing countries particularly Asia & Africa.

Suresh Prabhu seeks White Paper on Railways before Budget

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  New Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has sought a White Paper on finances, projects and safety and security in the ailing national transporter.

All directorates have been told about the instruction of the Railway Minister to prepare status of their ongoing projects and pending ones, reasons for delays and solutions, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Prabhu, who is away in Australia for G-20 summit, is expected to decide his future course of action after examining the report in this regard.

Departments have also been advised to submit details of future plan for the next five years and financial implications.

The report would be presented before the Consultative Committee on Railways on December 1 and also discussed in Parliament, before presentation of Prabhu’s first Rail Budget next year.

Prabhu, who is considered to be pro-reform, is likely to firm up the demand for budget allocation after discussing the issue at PMO.

Currently, 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.

In the last Rail Budget, 30 priority projects (which include all types of projects) were selected according to need and availability of funds.

Miraculous escape for passengers as Shatabdi ran on Broken Wheel at 110 km/h for 8 Km

बोबस Bobas (BOBS): In a miraculous escape for those seating in New Delhi Ajmer Shatabdi Express on Monday, the superfast train ran for approximately 8 km at 110 km per hour on a broken wheel.

There were nearly 300 passengers, including foreign tourists onboard the Shatabdi Express when the train was running in its full speed.

The incident was brought to notice at Bobas railway station in Jaipur Division of NWR by a gateman, Kaluram.  According to Kaluram, when the train was crossing Bobas at around 11 am, he saw smoke and heard a sound which gave him inkling of some foul play in its running.

He immediately informed the station master about his observations.

Later, the train was stopped at Asalpur Jobner railway station. Engineers and others officials were pressed into service to locate the fault.

During the safety check-up, it was found that the half part of a wheel attached to its Generator Car Van was broken.

The damaged wheel was replaced at Asalpur Jobner railway station itself before allowing the train to move towards its destination.

Tarun Jain, CPRO, NWR, has now formed a panel to look into the lapses as to why this happened in first place and also to fix the responsibility.

Chandni Chowk tram will decongest area: DMRC

New Delhi: Lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung on Monday directed various city departments and agencies to “immediately” resolve the issues affecting the redevelopment work in Chandni Chowk area and ordered the concerned officials to ensure time-bound completion of the project.

The L-G issued the directive after reviewing redevelopment work in Chandni Chowk and its precincts in the Walled City that is being done by the PWD. The work includes widening and improvement of footpaths, ornamental grills, underground RCC ducts, re-carpeting of carriage ways, ornamental Moghul-era poles and contemporary lights, basement for transformers and construction of toilets.

Separate presentations were made by secretary (PWD) and DMRC director on the ongoing and proposed works in the area.

DMRC director presented a report on the “feasibility study for operation of trams on Chandni Chowk Road” that involves examining the volume of traffic, parking issues, pedestrian count with the view to decongest the area and its precincts.

The proposed tram-line is expected to be 4.5 km in length, which will run in a loop in the Chandni Chowk area. It will take about 15 minutes to complete the entire length, the DMRC informed Mr Jung. “It is expected to carry 200 passengers across two coaches and the expected interval between two trams is likely to be two minutes.”

The DMRC said the tram is expected to provide integrated movement between the tram stops and the Old Delhi Railway Station and that the expected ridership of the proposed tram would be one lakh people. “The tram will be extremely successful in helping decongest the area and allowing for easy movement for all,” the director said.

Mockery of Justice over 39 year old murder case of L.N.Mishra: Verdict put off

New Delhi: The verdict in the 39-year-old murder case of former railway minister L.N.Mishra was deferred on Monday by a trial court which said the judgment was not ready. The case, which is said to be one of the oldest pending case in the history of criminal justice in India, relates to the bomb blast at a function attended by Mishra at Samastipur Railway Station on January 2, 1975. He succumbed to injuries the next day. The case has meandered through the courts for nearly four decades, despite some early breakthroughs made by the police. More than 22 judges have heard the case and statement of more than 200 witnesses including 161 prosecution witnesses and more than 40 defence witnesses, were examined in were recorded in this case.

During the prolonged trial of this case, one of the accused and some of the witnesses passed away. The investigation began to stall because the disclosures made by some accused allegedly indicated the involvement of some political bigwigs. Sources say it was because of these political overtones that judiciary could not give swift justice in the case. The case was transferred to the premier investigating agency CBI soon after the incident from but the final arguments in the case were concluded only on September 12, this year.

District Judge Vinod Goel, who had reserved the verdict for Monday, deferred the verdict for December 8 saying the judgment was not ready. Senior advocate ML Lahoty who was associated with the case for more than 35 years termed this case as a classic example of mockery of justice. Lahoty said that this case was stuck for unusual periods during every stage of trial. “Usually, the procedure of recording of statements of accused under section 313 of the CrPC takes 3-4 days but in this case, it took almost 6 years. Investigation and reinvestigation was ordered with changing governments. Some commissions too probed the matter. The records kept getting voluminous and by the time one judge would understand the facts of this case, time of his transfer would have come and the next judge would again take time to understand the case,” Lahoty said.

Advocate Ranjan Dwivedi, who was 24-year-old at that time, was named as an accused along with four Ananda Marga group members, one of whom has died. Apart from Dwivedi, three other accused in the case are Santoshananda Avadhuta, Sudevananda Avadhuta and Gopalji. Diwedi was released on bail in 1976 while the other accused got bail in 1986 in connection with the case.

The accused had earlier approached the Supreme Court for quashing of the trial against them in the murder case. The apex court had on August 17, 2012 dismissed their pleas on the ground that the proceedings could not be quashed merely because they had not been concluded in the last 37 years. The chargesheet in the case was filed on November 1,1977 in a CBI court in Patna. The case was shifted to Delhi in 1979 on a plea by the then Attorney General to the apex court.

Except Gopalji, all those listed in the chargesheet in Mishra murder case were also named as accused in an attempt to murder case related to the bid on the life of then Chief Justice of India AN Ray in Delhi on March 20, 1975. Santoshananda and Sudevananda were made accused in the Justice Ray case on the basis of a confessional statement of Vikram, who had turned an approver for CBI.

While Santoshananda and Sudevananda were awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) each, Dwivedi was sentenced to four years RI by the trial court in the attempt to murder case. The convicts had challenged their conviction on the ground that Vikram had retracted from his confession. The Delhi High Court in August had upheld the conviction and sentence of Santoshananda and Sudevananda in the attempt to murder case but acquitted Dwivedi in the case.

During the final arguments, the CBI prosecutor had asked the court to consider the testimonies of two accused-turned-approvers in the case, saying their statements were important. The prosecutor had said testimonies of Vikram and Madan Mohan Srivastava, alias Visheshwarananda, as approvers must be taken into account because they had participated in the conspiracy to kill Mishra in 1975 and they knew the entire details of the case. Defence counsels Firoz Ahmed and Ashwini Kumar Bali, however, had argued that court could not rely on the statement of “an absconding person who had given wrong details in the court.” Vikram is still absconding and bailable as well as non-bailable warrants were issued against him but he has still not been arrested.

RailTel Bags ‘Aegis Graham Bell’ Awards 2014

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: RailTel Corporation of India Ltd. a public sector undertaking of Ministry of Railways added yet another jewel in its crown by bagging the ‘Aegis Graham Bell Awards 2014’. This award is organized by Aegis School of Business and Convergence, India with support of Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI), Telecom Center of Excellence (TCOE) and Deloitte. Aegis Graham Bell Awards is an initiative to promote innovation in the field of Telecom, Internet, Media and Edutainment (TIME) and to provide recognition for outstanding contributions.

RailTel has won the award in the category of Innovative Managed Services Awards. RailTel’s Retail Broadband Initiative – RailWire – was conferred with this award for its unique nature. RailWire is a collaborative platform to deliver reliable, affordable and high speed Broadband services with various value added services for Health, Education, Entertainment and work@home to common man. RailWire has more than 14,000 customers in India.

RailTel Corporation a “Mini Ratna (Category-I)” PSU is one of the largest neutral telecom services providers in the country owning a Pan-India optic fiber network covering all important towns & cities of the country and several rural areas covering 70% of India’s population. RailTel is in the forefront in providing nationwide Broadband Telecom & Multimedia Network in all parts of the country in addition to modernization of Train operations and administration network systems for Indian Railways. With its Pan India high capacity network, RailTel is working towards creating a knowledge society at various fronts and has been selected for implementation of various mission-mode Govt. of India projects in the telecom field.

Changes in the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG

At the meeting of the Supervisory Board of Knorr-Bremse AG on November 7, 2014, the following changes in the Executive Board were agreed:

Effective December 31, 2014, Dr. Michael Buscher is to resign from the Executive Board and as Chairman of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG for personal reasons. Dr. Buscher will be leaving the company on the very best of terms in order to take up a new professional challenge. The Supervisory Board expressly thanks Dr. Buscher for his commitment and his contribution to the development of the company and wishes him all the very best for the future.

He will be succeeded by Klaus Deller, who left the Executive Board at the end of June 2014 and is appointed Chairman of the Executive Board effective January 1, 2015. Mr. Deller originally joined the Executive Board on May 1, 2009 and until leaving the company was in charge of the global activities of Knorr-Bremse AG in the Commercial Vehicle Systems sector.

The current Executive Board member responsible for the global activities of Knorr-Bremse AG in the Rail Vehicle Systems sector, Dr. Dieter Wilhelm, is to leave the Board on June 30, 2015 on the very best of terms, having reached retirement age. He will be succeeded by Dr. Henrik Thiele, who has been with the company since October 2005. Dr. Thiele is currently responsible for the Asian business of Knorr-Bremse Rail Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong, as one of three Managing Directors. He is appointed to the Executive Board with effect from July 1, 2015.

Why Sadananda Gowda was gently Shunted out

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Over a month ago, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda selected an Indian Railway Personnel Service officer to head the crucial ‘Confidential’ branch of the Railway Board. Despite a written order, however, the rail bureaucracy did not move, and the post remains vacant.

The months in office of the first Railway Minister of the Narendra Modi government is replete with instances of the ever-smiling, “nice man” Gowda not being able to assert himself. Several Railway officials said this could never have been said about Gowda’s predecessors Lalu Prasad or Mamata Banerjee.

The Railways are big in Modi’s scheme of things. The PM has given the Railways a list of 30-odd tasks needed to be performed for an overall turnaround. The PMO monitors progress monthly. A majority of these have made no tangible progress.

At the meeting on connectivity-related infrastructure targets convened by the PM last week, the Railways got a tongue-lashing as things did not seem to have moved as desired, sources said.

Gowda did, in fact, try. He called meetings of the entire Railway Board to review PM-monitored projects regularly. One of these meetings took place on a national holiday last week. He also invoked the Swachh Bharat campaign wherever he could.

But things did not move. Devoid of any big idea to lead the ministry that has the biggest people connect, Gowda was increasingly being seen as someone out of his depth, unable to get work done.

Suresh Prabhu, a man with a big reformist reputation and enjoying Modi’s trust, is expected to be a tactful leader who will be able to galvanise the Railways bureaucracy, be more in sync with the deliverables and outside-the-box ideas the PMO is interested in, and overall be a more impressive “brand ambassador” for the Railways.

Prabhu was quick off the blocks on Sunday: tweeting, within minutes of the portfolios being announced, “Railways could be the engine of growth if driven properly. Now in the drivers seat”, and “All those who work for the Railways must work towards realising Honourable PM’s dream”.

By contrast, Gowda’s official handle continued to describe him as “Minister for Railways”, his last tweet having been on November 8, wishing L K Advani a happy birthday.

Gowda failed to find a way to untangle the knot of big infra projects like the locomotive factories in Madhepura and Marhaura, to bring out a roadmap for FDI in Railways, and to show progress in apparently simpler tasks like making Wifi available on trains and stations — something the PMO has been wanting since June.

Officials said the former Karnataka chief minister was also overwhelmed by the complex ways of the Rail Bhavan bureaucracy. For the past four months, the ministry’s proposal to fill posts of seven general managers across India has been getting rejected by the PM-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, which has been finding faults with the file. The ACC has recently given scathing remarks on the way the Railways has been handling high-level appointments. Gowda’s contribution to the Railway Board bureaucracy — a post of Director (New Initiatives and Projects) — has no power to get work done.

Arvind Gupta, appointed by Modi as an Adviser to the Minister for Railways, has become less and less visible at Rail Bhavan over the past few months. Sources said this was one indication that Gowda was going out of sync with his leadership as far as running the ministry was concerned.

Gowda’s lacklustre performance in steering an amendment to the Railway Act in the Lok Sabha, which led to even allies joining the opposition to criticize the government, and forced the government to refer the Bill to the Standing Committee, did not go unnoticed in the party leadership, sources said.

CONCOR picks up 26% stake in Angul-Sukinda Rail SPV

Company is also developing two multi modal logistic parks at Parjang and Duburi stations

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), the country’s largest logistics services provider, has decided to pick up 26 per cent stake in Angul-Sukinda Railway Ltd (ASRL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to implement the key rail link project.

Anil Kumar Gupta, Chairman & Managing Director of CONCOR handed over the consent letter for releasing Rs 100 crore to Dilip Kumar Samantaray, Managing Director of ASRL in New Delhi on November 3. The value of 26 per cent equity in ASRL is estimated at Rs 156 crore.

The decision to participate in this new rail line is primarily to promote the development of rail infrastructure and logistics in Odisha, Gupta said.

CONCOR is also developing two multi-modal logistic parks (MMLPs) at Parjang and Duburi stations of this new rail line for expanding container traffic in the state.

The crucial rail link project estimated to cost Rs 1100 crore, is aimed at connecting steel plants based in and around Angul with the iron ore rich Keonjhar-Banspani belt and Talcher Coalfields with the Kalinganagar steel hub.

Other equity partners of the SPV include Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco).

Work on the Angul-Sukinda rail link is expected to commence after the end of the current agriculture season. The rail line is targeted for completion by June 2018.

This rail line is set to handle traffic of 70.28 million tonne and will serve industries like Bhushan Steel, Uttam Galva Steel, Jindal Stainless Ltd, Visa Industries, Tata Steel, Monnet Ispat & Energy and Rungta Mines.

The project needs 205 acres of private land, 220 acres of government land and 251 acres of forest land. The project is being implemented on the public private partnership (PPP) mode.

Railways takes first step to give Surat station facelift

सूरत Surat (ST): The Western Railways have called for request for proposal (RFP) for preparing the master plan and study report for development of Surat railway station.

Ten consultants from across the country were present in the pre-bid meeting held on Wednesday and railway officials have asked for RFP for development of railway yard with 70,000 sq metre of land to be developed on public-private partnership (PPP) basis.

However, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), which is looking at integrated development of the whole of railway station area, has insisted on comprehensive redevelopment.

SMC plans to redevelop nearly 2 lakh sqm land around the railway station that belongs to state government, Gujarat State Road Transport Authority (GSRTC) and local body apart from railway authority.

“In our development plan, we will see that there is no additional financial burden on either railways or local body,” said Milind Torwane, municipal commissioner.

The plan aims at resolving the traffic movement around railway station. It will also establish links for mass transportation from railway station to different parts of the city. The plan includes malls, hotels, offices, multiplexes and an activity center for tourists.

“As we have possession of majority of the land in our hands, we can right way start the work as soon as the plans are finalized,” said Jatin Shah, city engineer, SMC.

Min of Petroleum, Railways & Renewable Energy plan Bio-diesel use in railways & defense

New Delhi: The oil ministry has circulated a Cabinet note for inter-departmental consultation on allowing 5 per cent blending of environment-friendly biofuels in diesel that would be consumed by bulk users such as the railways and defence establishments, government officials said.

Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and National Highways Nitin Gadkari said appropriate policy changes would be made to encourage use of alternative fuels that would reduce India’s dependence on crude oil imports. India imports 80 per cent of crude oil it processes and its last year’s petroleum import bill was over $155 billion. Bio-diesel produced in the country is being exported and the government needs to amend policies to change the situation.

The minister was speaking at a biodiesel conference held in Delhi. Officials in the ministries of petroleum, railways and new & renewable energy said the government initially planned to open bio-diesel use in railways and defense sectors to check on quality.

“We can’t immediately allow sale of bio-diesel in retail pumps either directly by producers or through public sector oil marketing companies. First, we need to address quality issues. And it will be a challenge for the domestic bio-diesel producers to meet 5 per cent fuel demand of railways and defense sectors,” one official said requesting anonymity.

Bio-diesel Association of India President Sandeep Chaturvedi said the government should allow direct sale of bio-diesel to bulk users that would save foreign exchange worth over Rs 400 crore. “While drugs, cosmetics can be sold directly to consumers, there is restriction on selling clean fuel to bulk consumers,” he said.

Officials said the government may gradually raise its scope to passenger vehicles. Bio-diesel is made from virgin or used vegetable oils and animal fats, which is a diesel substitute and requires no engine modifications up to 20 per cent blend.

Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda stressed on the need to promote biofuels. The industry should ensure that it is also genuinely sustainable and cost-effective for end consumers, he said.Railways and defence sectors account for about 5% of 69 million tonne diesel consumption. Railways alone consumes over 3 crore litre of diesel worth Rs 16,000 crore annually.

Bio-diesel use could be later extended to mobile towers, industrial generator sets and agri-equipment, officials said. Bio-diesel project was conceived in 2003 by the erstwhile NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The Bureau of Indian Standards ( BIS) has already evolved a standard (IS-15607) for bio-diesel, which is also known as B100 on the lines of American and European standards.

India’s installed bio-diesel capacity is about 1.2 million tonne per annum, but only 7 per cent of the capacity is currently utilised because of restrictions.

Railways seeks clarity on bio-diesel curbs

New Delhi: Railway ministry has asked changes in the policies of the petroleum ministry which would allow it to buy bio-diesel from private players apart from the oil marketing companies.

Sources said that the ministry has communicated to the petroleum ministry that policies restricting procurement and distribution of bio-diesel has been hampering the railway’s commitment to use the alternative clean fuel in a significant way.

It also said the oil marketing companies have not been able to meet the railway’s bulk bio-diesel requirements.

Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda on Wednesday reiterated railways’ commitment to use bio-diesel at a massive scale.

“With a concern for cleaner environment, Indian Railways has decided to promote use of alternative fuels like bio-diesel in a big way for powering our vast fleet of over 4000 Diesel locomotives,” Gowda told the Conference, Bio-Fuels – 2014, organised by Bio-Diesel Association of India .

Rlys pushes for Congestion Surcharge at all ports as Coal, Fertilisers & Iron-ore imports up

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Indian Railways have proposed to levy a ‘congestion surcharge’ at all ports in the country due to a surge in imports of coal, fertilisers and iron ore, a move strongly opposed by industry who have said that it would lead to a rise in prices of electricity, steel and farm output.

The railway board has written to the finance and commerce ministries on October 21st proposing that in view of the serious congestion at the ports a surcharge at the rate of 10% of the base rate would be imposed.

This translates into rise of 4 paise on per kg of coal and iron ore, 5 paise per kg on fertilisers, 3 paise per kg on limestone and dolomite and 5 paise per kg of gypsum. The board has asked these ministries to treat this proposed rise as a small cost to pay for the massive evacuation which is underway at the ports.

The railway board said that “At the rate which imports is growing, there is no other option but to recover this cost through the surcharge.”

The board has justified its proposal saying that the spurt in the imports of minerals and fertilisers has led to a situation where the quantity to be evacuated from ports has far exceeded the planned capacity.

Congestion at various ports has resulted in the Railways’ rolling stock getting overstretched. Last month there was a growth of 25% in the traffic loaded at various ports over the last year.

Opposing the move, Mr Ashok Khurana, DG of the Association of Power Producers, said that the 4 paise hike translates into a hike of INR 4,00,000 on every million tonne of coal and considering that the country imports currently about 55 million tonne of coal each year, the thermal power companies will have to shell out INR 220 crore more each year due to the surcharge.

Mr Khurana said that “This is bound to increase electricity production costs. Since the cost of importing coal is pass through, it would lead to higher power tariffs. The Railways should increase capacity of its rolling stock and construct more railway lines to make movements of its rakes faster.”

Mr Vinod Kumar, director of commercial at SAIL, said that “The import cost coupled with the proposed surcharge would lead to rise in steel prices. All steel companies import huge amount of coking coal to fire their furnaces and considering that coal is an essential ingredient in making steel, imports cannot be cut down.”

Mr Firdose Vandrevala, executive vice chairman of Essar Steel, said that the surcharge would only add to the cost burden of Indian steel industry and a cost push increase on the finished steel.

Mr Vandrevala said that “With Indian steel industry set to grow at faster pace and with lack of adequate supplies of iron ore-coal within the country, imports are bound to increase to meet production requirement. The focus should be on creating necessary infrastructure to handle increased volumes.”

A senior steel ministry official said that the surcharge would be a double whammy on coking coal.

No fare cut despite drop in fuel prices: Railway Minister

बैंगलोर Bangalore (SBC): Railways has no plans to review passenger fares in wake of recent drop in fuel prices, Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said.

Any decision in this regard would be taken when Railways reviews the fuel adjustment component (FAC)-linked revision scheme, Gowda told reporters to a question in this regard.

The scheme is reviewed every six month and the next review is slated in December.

“There is an equation to calculate the fuel price. It comes up after six months,” he said.

Railways had in June this year effected a steep across-the-board hike of 14.2 per cent in passenger fares in all classes and a 6.5 per cent increase in freight rates to garner Rs 8000 crore (Rs 80 billion) a year.

Gowda released a book titled ‘Art and Railways – A Bangalore Saga’, penned by S Mani and Lily Pandeya, both of whom are senior railway officials.

Asked about cancellation of about 30 trains in view of the ensuing foggy weather conditions in Northern India, Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said the decision was taken to ensure smooth running of other trains and traffic during poor visibility.

“When fog takes place, nothing runs except trains. We have emphasised on safety even if trains run late and cancel trains so that other trains runs normally,” he said.

Special trains to be operated between Nellai and Chennai

मदुरै Madurai (MDU): The railways have announced the operation of special trains between Tirunelveli and Chennai to clear the extra rush of passengers.

According to a statement, eight trains including few premium trains will be operated on this section. Accordingly, train no. 06714 Tirunelveli – Chennai Egmore superfast special (via chord line) will leave Tirunelveli at 9.15pm on November 13 and 20 (Thursdays) and reach Chennai Egmore at 9am next day. The train will stop at Vanchi Maniyachchi, Kovilpatti, Sattur, Virudhunagar, Madurai, Kodaikkanal Road, Dindigul, Trichy, Vriddhachalam, Villupuram, Chengalpet, Tambaram and Mambalam. Train no. 06745 Chennai Egmore – Tirunelveli special (via main line) will leave Chennai Egmore at 10.45pm on November 24, Monday and reach Tirunelveli at 12.30pm the next day. The train will stop at Tambaram, Chengalpet, Villupuram, Tiruppadirippuliyur, Chidambaram, Mayiladuthurai, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Trichy, Dindigul, Madurai, Virudhunagar, Sattur, Kovilpatti and Vanchi Maniyachchi.

Train no. 06716 Tirunelveli – Chennai Egmore superfast special (via chord line) will leave Tirunelveli at 9.15pm on November 6, Thursday and reach Chennai Egmore at 9am the next day. The train will stop at Vanchi Maniyachchi, Kovilpatti, Sattur, Virudhunagar, Madurai, Kodaikanal Road, Dindigul, Trichy, Vriddhachalam, Villupuram, Chengalpet, Tambaram and Mambalam. Train no. 06715 Chennai Egmore – Tirunelveli special (via chord line) will leave Chennai Egmore at 9.05pm on November 7, Friday and reach Tirunelveli at 9.45am, the next day. The train will stop at Tambaram, Chengalpet, Villupuram, Vriddhachalam, Trichy, Dindigul, Kodaikanal Road, Madurai, Virudhunagar, Sattur, Kovilpatti and Vanchi Maniyachchi. Advance reservation for all these trains will commence from November 4 (Tuesday).

Train no. 00671 Chennai Egmore – Tirunelveli Premium Superfast special (via chord line) will leave Chennai Egmore at 9.05pm November 14 and 21 (Fridays) and reach Tirunelveli at 9.45am the next day. The train will stop at Villupuram, Trichy, Madurai, Virudhunagar and Kovilpatti. Advance reservation for train no. 00671 on November 14 will commence on November 4 and for November 21 it will commence on November 6.

Train no. 00672 Tirunelveli – Chennai Egmore Premium Superfast special (via main line) will leave Tirunelveli at 6.15pm on November 23, Sunday and reach Chennai Egmore at 7.15am the next day. The train will stop at Virudhunagar, Madurai, Trichy, Thanjavur and Villupuram. Advance reservation for this train will commence on November 8, the statement said.

Book tickets on IRCTC and win Laptops, Smart phones

Grabbing the attention of the new and existing users, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has introduced a lucky draw for the new users who register and book at least one ticket during the week from midnight of Monday to next Sunday midnight on its e-ticketing website.

Four lucky users will be selected through a random process by computerised draw, every Monday. If Monday happens to be a holiday, draw will be held on next working day. List of lucky draw winners are displayed on IRCTC website. The details of the scheme are available on IRCTC website www.irctc.co.in. As part of the lucky draw, the first lucky winner gets a laptop, 2nd and 3rd winner get a smart phone each and the 4th winner gets a New Delhi-Mata Rani package for one person.

Winners receive the prizes on their registered addresses only and hence users are advised to provide correct information while filling the registration form.

BMRCL begins recruitment procedure for Engineer posts

बंगलूरू Bangaluru (SBC):  The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has started its recruitment process. It has invited eligible and interested candidates to fill up various Engineer positions. BMRCL is a Special Purpose Vehicle entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Bangalore Metro Rail Project.

Vacancies

Total posts: 48

Name of the posts:

Dy. Chief Engineer (Structures) – 2 posts
Executive Engineer (Structures) – 2 posts
Assistant Executive Engineer (Structures) – 2 posts
Assistant Engineer (Structures) – 3 posts
Dy. General Manager (Architecture) – 2 posts
Manager (Architecture) – 2 posts
Assistant Manager (Architecture) – 2 posts
General Manager (Contracts) – 4 posts
Manager (Contracts) – 3 posts
Dy. Chief Engineer – 3 posts
Executive Engineer – 3 posts
Executive Engineer (Viaduct/Station) – 7 posts
Assistant Executive Engineer (Casting) – 9 posts

Pay Scale:

For Post I, V & IX – Selected candidates would be earning Rs 80000 per month.
For Post II, VII, X & XI- Selected candidates would be earning Rs 30000 per month.
For Post III, XII & XIII – Selected candidates would be earning Rs 35000 per month.
For Post IV, VI & VIII – Selected candidates would be earning Rs 50000 per month.

Eligibility

Age Limits: The maximum age of the applicant must not exceed 50 years and must be minimum 45 years.

Educational Qualification: The interested candidate must refer to the official notification for postwise educational qualification details.

Selection Procedure: The selection of the candidate would be on the basis of an interview and written test.

How To Apply: Applicants are required to download the online application form. The form along with all relevant documents must be sent to ‘The Director (Projects & Planning), Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, III Floor, BMTC Complex, K.H.Road, Shanthinagar, Bangalore – 560027′.

Important Dates: The last date to apply is November 30, 2014.

CR okays Monorail over Railway tracks

मुंबई Mumbai:  After sending the proposal back and forth for more than three years, the Central Railway has recently given the go-ahead to the city’s development authority to take the second phase of the Mumbai monorail above the suburban railway tracks, clearing one of the main hurdles. With the railway’s approval in the bag, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) expects to complete the project by the end of 2015.

UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner at the MMRDA, said, “The Central Railway gave a clearance last month to construct the monorail viaduct over the railway tracks at Currey Road. Work on the piers has started.”

The MMRDA needed the Central Railway’s clearance for the second phase of the monorail from Wadala to Jacob Circle near Mahalaksmi at two places —Wadala and Currey Road. The development authority had received a green signal for the Wadala crossing, where the work is already underway, a few months ago. However, the clearance for the Currey Road crossing was delayed further due to a confusion between the railway and the MMRDA.

Although the development authority was pushing for the clearances since 2011, it came to light only in June this year that the designs that it had submitted did not take into consideration the planned fifth and sixth lines of the railways between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Kurla junction. The Commissioner of Railway Safety, who is the final authority for granting an approval, had noticed the overlap and had asked the MMRDA to give an explanation, and subsequently modify the design.

Even after the railway clearances, the project still has a few land acquisition issues to tackle along the alignment.

The Wadala-Jacob Circle monorail line would be the second phase of the 19.5-km Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle monorail corridor. The 8.8-km first phase from Chembur to Wadala was opened for public use in February this year. The MMRDA had earlier expected the entire corridor, for which the work had started in 2008, to be commissioned in 2011.

Online & Mobile bookings are strong drivers of e-commerce for Indian Railways

Digital Shift Will Drive Expansion of Indian Rail Network – reveals WTM Global Trends Report 2014

Online and mobile bookings for India’s extensive rail network are becoming a strong driver of e-commerce in the country, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, in association with Euromonitor International, released on Monday 3 November at World Travel Market. The Indian Railways Company (IRCTC) website is now capable of taking online bookings, as can online travel agents (OTAs) such as Yatra, Cleartrip and MakeMyTrip.

The report says that online rail bookings in India increased by 300% between March 2013 and March 2014. Mobile is also an increasingly important channel for rail bookings. Mobile internet subscriptions reached 72 million in 2013, more than 70% of total internet subscriptions in the country. The IRCTC site allows bookings via SMS messaging for people who have connected their mobile phone number to their bank account. And offline travel agents are also seeing the benefits as they can book tickets for people without internet access. However, many foreign travellers in India prefer to book their online train tickets through OTAs as IRCTC only accepts American Express credit cards from international tourists. The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 points out that the IRCTC’s focus on digital bookings is part of its overall plan to improve the network, including the development of six high-speed routes linking major cities in an effort to compete with the country’s rapidly expanding low-cost airlines. The new Indian government which came to power this May, is a strong supporter of domestic and inbound tourism.

The report quotes Indian Minister of Railways Sadanand Gowda: “IRCTC is expanding the scope of online booking for people to book additional services. “The need of the hour is to bring in a total change in the work culture and delivery of railway services by investing in large-scale integrated computerisation of major functions of Indian Railways.” World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “India’s railway network is one of the best ways to travel around the country and with online booking easily available, more international visitors will be experiencing it for themselves.” Euromonitor International, Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner added: “India looks set to overtake Brazil as the second largest BRICS economy by 2018 and its new government has identified rail as an important factor in making tourism a vital component of its overall growth”.

Rail Neer project for Vijayawada still not been implemented

विजयवाड़ा Vijayawada (BZA): Over two years after the railway minister announced the ‘Rail Neer’ project for Vijayawada railway station in his annual railway budget, there has been no movement on the ground. According to field reports, the project was allotted to Vijayawada division and handed over to Indian Tourism and Catering Corporation (IRCTC). It is the only project specifically allotted to Vijayawada division in the railway budget in last one decade.

However, there has been no follow up in its implementation, from either the officials or from politicians. Presently, passengers depend on mineral water being sold by private companies on the railway premises. “If the project is implemented, passenger can get quality water at rates lower than at present,” said Railway Users Zonal Advisory Committee former member Shaik Allauddin. He said that the railways has stopped water supply trolleys in railway stations.

Meanwhile, divisional railway manager Pradeep Kumar said that a site has been identified for the Rail-Neer project at Krishna Canal junction. Mr Kumar admitted that the project has been delayed, but since it was the responsibility of the IRCTC, he could do little about it. However, he vowed to pursue the matter so that it is completed.

Madras FICCI proposes Integrated Logistics Ministry

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS): A separate ministry for logistics that can integrate ports, railways, roads, airways and inland waterways was mooted by the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This will help in transport and shipping sector contribute at least 2 per cent to the country’s GDP, the chamber said in its presentation to Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Roadways, Highways and Shipping, on Monday.

J Krishnan, Chairman of the Logistics Committee of the chamber, in his presentation said that the two per cent target is somewhat understated, and it can be far more than that if an integrated logistics ministry is in place.

Unless a good infrastructure is in place, having an efficient Make in India programme, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently, would be a big challenge, he said.

Inter ministerial rivalries and trust deficit between the Centre and states due to different political affiliations have remained a major roadblock for commissioning and complete major infrastructure projects.

To create a world-class infrastructure, a holistic approach needs to be adopted. In the Indian context, ministries controlling infrastructure are road, rail, air, shipping, industry and different state governments.

Railways focuses on passenger movement, while the National Highways Authority of India and ports do not enter into pre-planning consultations. As the project progresses, bottlenecks emerge and disrupt the progress of the projects, Krishnan said.

Professional “Corporate Accounting” system to replace existing Railway accounting practice

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  A top government priority is to replace the “outdated and flexible” accounting practices with a professional “corporate accounting” system that can provide scientific data on the profits and losses of rail operations, said the official sources.  Government is also contemplating a role for private stakeholders in policy-making and lateral entry for IAS officers into the top rail hierarchy to “de-centralise and corporatize” the functioning of the public transporter, which carries roughly 23 million passengers daily. Scrapping the railway board, merging the rail budget with the main budget and withdrawing the passenger fare subsidy are among the radical reform proposals the government is considering, official sources said.

“The railways served the nation well in the initial decades after Independence, but its administrative and institutional structure and functioning seems archaic and unscientific in the present context and needs overhaul. These tasks are huge and difficult and will need to be attempted progressively,” Rail Restructuring Committee chairman Bibek Debroy told to media persons.

The committee was set up recently by the Indian Railways to take forward Gowda’s budget announcements on restructuring the rail ministry and railway board.

All these reform proposals have been mentioned in the reports of several expert committees.

“The railways must eventually work towards… charging passenger fares commensurate with expenses incurred in providing for the cost of travel. But the progressive hike in fares will also have to be matched with better passenger amenities,” Debroy said.

Currently, passenger fares are hugely subsidized, resulting in an annual loss of Rs. 25,000 crore in this segment. A proposal to merge the railways’ nine different cadre and provide for a single, unified cadre — to be called the Indian Railway Service — is also part of the surgical operation plan.

MP meets Railway Minister over Central Railway

मुंबई Mumbai: A day after BJP MP Kirit Somaiya met CR officials regarding frequent disruptions on the suburban route, Somiaya followed up the matter in a meeting with Union railway minister Sadananda Gowda to appraise him of the matter.

Somaiya said that the Union minister assured him of long- and short-term solutions to tide over problems on the suburban system. “He (Railway Minister) also sought details from CR officials about causes for the failure in the system,” said Somaiya.

Gowda assured Somaiya that he would discuss the long-term measures with CM ister Devendra Fadnavis.

CR officials had told Somaiya on Sunday that repair and maintenance work has been held up due to lack of funds.

Why mishap victims don’t get medical care at suburban stations? HC asks Railways

मुंबई Mumbai: Calling the Railways “insensitive”, the Bombay High Court came down heavily on it for not opening emergency medical care (EMC) centres at suburban railway stations for providing immediate medical attention to victims of any mishap, despite court orders.

The division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and A S Gadkari was irked with the Railways’ response, which stated that setting up EMCs was not feasible, despite the HC’s specific order in February 2011.

“Not only you have taken a stand contrary to earlier orders, but you have shown complete lack of sensitivity,” the court observed.

Advocate Suresh Kumar, appearing for the Railways, submitted that now an ambulance with a doctor was being stationed outside every suburban railway station, which would facilitate transfer of a mishap victim to the nearest hospital immediately.

The court then sought to know the rationale of the ‘facility’ during rush hours, and asked if an ambulance would be able to move speedily in peak traffic. “Ask your officers to check how much time a vehicle will take to reach Rajawadi Hospital from Ghatkopar station or from Thane railway station to the Civil Hospital during that time,” it told Kumar.

He also affirmed that the Railways wants its statement saying it doesn’t want to set up EMCs to be recorded in the order. The case was adjouned for a week by the court, giving the Railways a last chance to decide if they, on their own, were willing to set up EMCs.

The bench, which was hearing a PIL by activist Sameer Zaveri on suburban railway passengers’ safety, made it clear that it would pass an order directing Railways to set up EMCs in a time-bound manner if the latter did not come up with a proposal at the next hearing.

The PIL filed in 2008 had prompted the HC to direct the Railways in 2009 to raise the height of platforms to reduce the gap between the train footboard and platforms, and provide ambulances outside every suburban station to ensure accident victims are taken to hospitals within the ‘golden hour’.

Later, the Railways came up with a proposal to make Dadar station a model for providing emergency medical services to accident victims. However, it later took a stand that the medical centre remained almost unutilised, which made it unfeasible to set up EMCs at other stations.

Harbour commuters’ long-time grievance of poor frequency of trains may soon get redressed

मुंबई Mumbai: Central Railway’s Harbour Line may become the first to benefit from the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) scheme, which was announced by the Centre in the railway budget. The 100% FDI was announced to improve the infrastructure in the sector.

Harbour commuters’ long-time grievance of poor frequency of trains may soon be redressed with the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) proposing to use FDI and upgrade the signalling technology, which will reduce the gap between services. “We have submitted a proposal to the railway board to implement the cab-sign alling technology under FDI scheme,” MRVC’s chairman and MD Rakesh Saksena said.

The proposed cab-signalling system will allow trains to keep a shorter distance from each other, increasing the frequency. A train will no longer have to wait for an “all-clear” alert before it can start its journey, so that a safe distance is maintained with rakes ahead. Instead, a motorman will get signals in his cab about the details of the train ahead, such as its speed, location and braking distance. Two trains can now run close to each other, without compromising on safety.

The Harbour line covers 49 km between CST and Panvel and also branches out till Andheri. The corridor has witnessed a 10% growth in passenger traffic per annum, but the infrastructure has not improved much, with services remaining restricted to only the slow corridor; at a gap of four minutes, 583 services are run daily to cater to 14 lakh people. If the new system is implemented, the gap will be 2.30 minutes. The services will go up from 15 to 20 an hour.

According to experts, Harbour is ideal to implement the system, which is already being used on Metro, as the corridor operates only the suburban network. “The proposed technology can’t work with a mix of traffic. It cannot work on CR Main line, which handles suburban services with electrical multiple unit rakes and express trains with locomotive/engines,” Saksena said.

An MRVC official said, “We will invite foreign investors like Hutchinson or Bombardiers to instal the technology. We can ask the interested parties to earn their share of profit by splitting the revenue. Or, we can repay through a fixed mode of payment over 10 years either from our earning or through loan.”

Railways plan braille numbering and other signs for visually-impaired

मुंबई Mumbai: Good news for the visually impaired people who travel by the railways everyday. The railways’ plan to have braille numbering and other signs for the visually-impaired finally got off the ground with the Integral Coach Factory inviting tenders for the large-scale supply of these items. The first big tender for braille numbers to indicate the berths of long-distance trains was issued this week and will be opened at the ICF’s Chennai headquarters on November 25.

Confirming the development, Alok Johri, Member (Mechanical) said it is the first time railways was going for these braille signage for its long-distance coaches. Currently, long distance coaches have their signage, seat numbers as well as general instructions in the normal format written on vinyl stickers or metallic plates only helpful to normal passengers.

In the latter part of last year, railways deciding to provide braille stickers in coaches to facilitate visually impaired passengers. Things moved slowly since then and plans to have one air-conditioned coach in the Delhi-Purushottam Express also seemed to have been stalled.

The railway plan for braille signs and numbers in coaches will include braille characters embedded on to the metallic base so that visually-impaired could touch it and decode the information. Railway officials said the signage has been developed by the ICF under the observation of the Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) with suggestions from various organisations working for the visually-impaired.

Railways to cancel several trains during cold and foggy winter months in north India

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: With a view to prevent accidents taking place in the cold and foggy winter months, the Railways has cancelled nearly 30 trains plying mainly in north India during January and February.

The cancellations will hit mainly Delhi, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand.

A majority of these trains are Punjab-bound. “In view of the inconvenience to passengers during the foggy season, railways is compelled to make a plan every year to cancel, partially cancel or divert trains which are most affected by fog,” said the ministry in a statement.

Foggy conditions, especially during the winter season, pose a severe challenge in terms of operations and safety in northern India. “In view of the safety of trains and passengers, speeds of trains will be reduced to the minimum,” said the statement.

Lack of funds affecting safe Operations: CR

Mumbai: Central Railway, which ferries over 34 lakh passengers a day on the Mumbai suburban network, is running in losses, and shortage of funds is jeopardizing safe operations, causing frequent derailments, besides disruptions and delays.

The mandatory 300 km track renewals that is usually undertaken every year has come down to less than half, with just 110 km of replacements being done over the past three years. Other repairs and maintenance work too has been held up due to lack of adequate funds. This was revealed by CR managers to a BJP delegation led by MP Dr Kirit Somaiya, which met them on Sunday.

“We had an hour-long meeting with the GM and his team to discuss the frequent disruptions and derailments. More than seven such incidents occurred recently. Long-term and short-term measures to be taken were discussed in detail, and it was revealed that in the last three years the per annum track replacement has come down to 110 km from 300 km,” Somaiya told.

Somaiya said he will be taking up these issues with the Ministry of Railways at a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

Derailments, at low speeds, have also grown all too frequent on Mumbai’s Central Railway. This, in addition to overhead wire breakdowns and rail fractures are delaying the suburban system almost every day.

Railway officials said that track renewal proposals are submitted to the divisional engineer on basis of several inspections carried out during the year, and on an average about 300 km of tracks are renewed every year.

However, CR officials acknowledged off record that insufficient allocation of funds has seriously affected the safe working of the Railway. They said the Railway Board’s sanction of funds for many planned projects may not be adequate as CR has incurred a loss of Rs 727.47 crore during 2012-13 and same amount again in 2013-14.

Besides repairs and maintenance work, CR has also sent proposals to the Railway Board for fitting doors for coaches, building additional stations and introducing more rakes.

The plan to retrofit suburban rakes with automatic doors to reduce number of casualties due to overcrowding will need an investment of Rs 600 crore. The demand for additional stations with minimum facilities will cost Rs 18 crore for infrastructure, while more new rakes and maintaining the existing level of services will cost Rs 40 crore, an official said.

Bold reforms in store in Rail Budget

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  The upcoming Rail Budget is likely to have strong imprint of the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy-headed railway restructuring committee, with indications of downsizing the current nine rail cadres to just one, along with the government’s commitment to move away from cross-subsidising passenger tariff from freight earnings being on the cards. The committee is also likely to suggest restructuring of the Railway Board in a way that the monopoly of railway officials is broken and an IAS could come in to head the restructured entity for it to function in a corporate manner.

Sources said that the committee could share a draft report on the restructuring of the railways with the government early to allow railway minister enough time to include the recommendations in February’s Rail Budget. “From the current nine cadres for the employees in the railways, the emerging view, which may reflect in the draft report, is to have just one Indian Railways Services having general and technical categories. Additionally, the current isolation of railways officials could end, with inter-ministerial transfer and posting being on top of the agenda of the government,” sources said. The railways currently has cadres which include mechanical, civil, electrical, traffic, signalling, telephone, etc.

Furthermore, the Debroy committee is closely examining the apparent failure of the railways to attract FDI and indications are that it could suggest migration of the current accounting system to the one in vogue in the corporate world so that each project should stand on its own as far as financial support is concerned, sources said.

While the Union Cabinet has approved the constitution of the Railway Tariff Authority early this year, the Debroy-headed committee is likely to recommend a single-point railways regulatory authority which could deal with all aspects of the national transporter, sources said.

Decentralisation of power to each of the rail zones is also on the agenda.