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IRFC raises $400m via. Overseas Bonds

IRFC logoNew Delhi:  Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC), the financing arm of the ministry of railways, has taken the lead in mobilising overseas debt in line with a government directive aimed at strengthening dollar inflows to wade through the expected tapering of the US government’s bond-buying programme next year. While others are still making early plans, the IRFC has mobilised $400 million as syndicated loans from three overseas banks and is now planning road shows to complete the balance debt raising plan of $600 million in January by issuing quasi sovereign bonds in overseas markets.

The Power Finance Corporation and IIFCL are still at a planning stage to complete their quotas ($1.5 billion each) of overseas bond issue.

In fact, PFC has not even confirmed that it would raise money from abroad in the form of quasi-sovereign bonds.

In August, the finance ministry mandated the IIFCL, PFC and IRFC to raise a total of $4 billion through quasi-sovereign bonds and asked banks and PSUs to raise NRI deposits and external commercial borrowings to help prop up the rupee and finance the current account deficit.

“The $1-billion target for us necessarily may not be all quasi-sovereign bonds. We have completed deal for $ 400 million in the form of loan of 5 years and depending on coupon rate we get, we will decide on overseas bonds for balance $600 million,” a senior official of IRFC told FE.

The first tranche of overseas lending has been committed by a consortium of three Japanese banks, including Mizuho Bank, SMBC and Bank of Tokyo and the State Bank of India. The official did not spell out the rate at which the loan has been offered but said it has got a very good deal. “The money under this loan will start coming in over next few weeks so our bonds issue will be between January and March next year in at least two tranches,” the official said.

The company intends to start road shows for its bonds issue later in December and will also look at tapping Sovereign Wealth Funds in Asian and European markets for its issue.

Kharge congratulates Legendary Crickter Sachin Tendulkar for Bharat Ratna Award

New Delhi:  The Minister of Railways Mr.Mallikarjun Kharge has congratulated legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and eminent scientist Professor C.N.R.Rao on being selected for the “Bharat Ratna Award.”

In a congratulatory message to Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, Shri Kharge said that Sachin has been hailed as a true Ambassador of India in the world of sports and his contribution and unmatched achievements in sports will always be remembered. Shri Kharge said that Sachin won glory for India and his life and career will be a great source of inspiration for millions of youth in India and abroad. Conferring India’s highest civilian award on him will go a long way in promoting sports and encouraging sportspersons in the country, the Railway Minister added. Shri Kharge hoped that Sachin would continue to provide guidance to Indian cricket and budding cricketers in the years to come.

Congratulating Professor C.N.R. Rao, Shri Kharge said that Professor Rao is a well recognised international authority on solid state and materials chemistry. Professor Rao has enriched the scientific world through his thousand research papers and many published books. Professor Rao has been contributing immensely in his capacity as the current Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. Professor Rao has many National and Internationals awards to his credit. “Bharat Ratna Award” to him will motivate and inspire scientists, researchers, academicians and students in a big way. This is also a moment of pride and honour for Karnataka, which professor Rao belongs to, the Railway Minister added.

Consortium of Banks send Notice to Airport Metro Express (DAMEPL) for Payment of Dues

Delhi-Metro-Airport-Express-LineNew Delhi:  A consortium of lenders led by Axis Bank has sent notice to Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL) for payment of loans which have turned into non-performing assets (NPA).

The banks and financial institutions, which have a total exposure of Rs 1,800 crore to the project, have served notices to Reliance Infrastructure Ltd and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) recently for recovery of debt, banking sources said.

The original concessionaire of the project DAMEPL was Reliance Infrastructure Ltd.

DAMEPL, a special purpose vehicle of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, in July this year had said that they terminated the Concession Agreement with DMRC for the airport metro line nearly nine months back, vide its notice dated October 8, 2012.

DMRC about five months ago took over the operations of 22.7 km-long Airport Express link along with maintenance team of 100 officials.

According to sources, the loan was given to original concessionaire and termination of contract does not absolve Reliance Infrastructure Ltd from repayment of debt.

Besides Axis Bank, consortium include Punjab National Bank, Central Bank of India, Dena Bank and Canara Bank

IIFC (UK), a subsidiary of India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL) is also part of the consortium as it has given loan of USD 54 million (about Rs 350 crore) for import of rolling stock of the project.

The total ridership of the Airport express line during the peak of its operations was recorded at 21,000 per day.

The metro line was shut down July last year after problems arose due to defects in the civil structure, which were later rectified and it resumed operations in January this year.

Since then its ridership has been recorded about 11,000 per day on an average.

‘Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon’ metaphorically bridged Gurgaon’s Urban-Rural Divide

Rapid Metro officials said about 10,000 commuters travelled on the 5.1-km route on Day One
M_Id_439463_Gurgaon_rapid_metro
Gurgaon: Months of anticipation ended in loud cheers when the first Rapid Metro train rolled into the Sikanderpur station — the transit between Delhi Metro and Rapid Metro — on Thursday.

And soon, its coaches were filled with commuters — the clerk rubbing shoulders with an MNC CEO; the migrant labourer sharing a seat with a BPO executive, a college student and a homemaker.

Besides providing relief to thousands of commuters, the Rapid Metro metaphorically bridged Gurgaon’s urban-rural divide.

Mohammed Shaheed Khan, a security guard, was excited as he stepped into the brand new coach. “I work in Cyber City, but live in Chakkarpur near the station,” he said. Until Thursday Khan used to walk to work every day. “It usually took me 30 minutes to reach Cyber City. But with Rapid Metro, I can travel in comfort and ease and the rate too is affordable.

Travelling alongside him, Sanjeev Kumar, an operator with Oracle, said, “The autorickshaw has been struck off my commute now,” he said.

Sharing coach space with Khan and Kumar were some senior executives. “The traffic situation in Gurgaon is worsening by the day. Eventually, the working population will take to the public transport,” Rajat Batra, CEO, Stenum Asia, said.

The comparisons to the Delhi Metro were inevitable. “It has lesser coaches than the Delhi Metro. But in terms of services, Rapid Metro has made a good impression,” Shumika, an executive with KPMG, said.

Rapid Metro officials said about 10,000 commuters travelled on the 5.1-km route on Day One. They were seen collecting feedback from commuters. Pritam Kumar, Senior Vice President, IL&FS, said, “Some recommended that we reserve seats for the aged and women, while others said they were disturbed by the loud announcements. We will work on improving the Rapid Metro.”

National Rail Museum Celebrates Children Day

natinal-railway-museam-2013New Delhi:  National Rail Museum of Indian Railways is celebrating Children’s day on 16th & 17th November 2013. On this occasion, a Drawing & Painting Competition had been organised for children on 16th November in the age groups of 0-7, 7-11 and 11-15 years. The event was very popular and the participants for the competition were more than 500 in number. The winners of this competition will be awarded during the Museum Day to be held on 1st February, 2014.

To encourage the participants, the entry fee for the children up to 12 years was kept free. Apart from this, free movie shows, magic show and puppet show have also been organised. The toy train as usual is a big attraction for the children and the elders too. Two trains are run one after the other to meet the expectations, Atmosphere in the Museum was full of fun, frolic and enthusiasm with balloons all over the place supplemented by high quality food items including Kulfi and Gulab Jamuns.

On both the days i.e. 16th & 17th November 2013, the museum will remain open from 0930 hrs to 1830 hrs. (Normal Timings of museum are 0930 hrs to 1730 hrs). Special lights have been provided to facilitate this. To add upon the festivity clowns, long man, tattoos, caricature have been arranged especially for children. Special discount has also been offered to the visitors on very popular Railways Souvenirs.

All these events have been made possible with the active involvement of National Rail Museum team, Railways Scouts & Guides, RPF, Staff from Northern Railway, Medical staff and Railway Volunteers, Faculty from Oak Grove School, Senior Railway officers, team of Delhi Police and Delhi Fire Service who have contributed in making this event a grand success. This is evident from the fact that 5000 visitors had entered the museum within first four hours of the event and many other visitors were still pouring in large groups till late in the evening on Saturday.

In view of heartening response from Children and the visitors today, Shri Uday Singh Mina, Director, National Rail Museum has expressed hope that visitors response on Sunday is expected in large groups and will be on higher side.

R.C.Acharya, former MM’s views on India’s ambitious High-Speed Rail Project

The cost of upgrading the track, rolling stock, locomotives and signalling on existing alignments would be much lower than the price tag of Rs 150 crore per km for the viaducts alone for the 250 kmph plus variety

opin4In a recent seminar organised by the Railways in Delhi, as many as 51 speakers talked about high-speed train systems; how to build, run, maintain them; and the amazing technologies they had to offer in the area of traction, signalling, rolling stock, and of course, safety.

Making use of the occasion, the Rail Minister also announced the creation of a High Speed Rail Corporation as a subsidiary of the RVNL (Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd) to take up such projects, if and when the finances are available.  Understandably, low-cost solution also implies speeds lower than that of the world-renowned bullet trains, namely Shinkansen of Japan, TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse) of Europe, and CHS (Chinese High Speed) of China, which all run at speeds higher than 250 kmph, with some of them reaching 350 kpmh on short stretches.

What the Railways is aiming at is hiking its existing maximum speeds of some of its premier trains such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi, etc. from 130 kmph to a level of only 160-200 kpmh, which could result in 10 to 25 per cent reduction in transit time depending on how much of the track would be upgraded to run such trains at 160-200 kpmh.

Upgrading the entire 64,000 km of its network being out of the question, only a few sections with a potential for high passenger volumes have been identified. These are Ahmedabad-Mumbai, Howrah-Haldia, New Delhi-Agra-Jhansi-Bhopal, Delhi-Lucknow, Chennai-Begaluru-Mysore, Delhi-Amritsar, and Delhi-Chandigarh.

Among these, Ahmedabad-Mumbai already has 22 trains while Delhi-Amritsar runs 32 trains each day, most of them fully packed!

The cost of upgrading the track, rolling stock, locomotives and signalling to run trains on existing alignments would be very much lower than the price tag of Rs 150 crore per km for the viaducts alone for the 250 kmph plus variety.

Incidentally, the Japanese Shinkansens trains popularly called Bullet trains [on account of the profile of the nose of the driving cab resembling a bullet] introduced nearly half-a-century ago are closer to commuter than long-distance service.

For instance, the 500-km Tokyo-Osaka section carries more than 160 million passengers a year with over a dozen 14 car trains every hour, covering the distance in less than three hours and making daily commute a distinct possibility.

TGVs in Europe also connect major cities, most of which are now only less than three hours away, or provide overnight service between various European capitals, offering stiff competition to the airlines in city center to city center transit time.

So far about half-a-dozen studies carried out for an Indian rollout have been for the high speed viz. 250 kpmh plus variety built as elevated track on a viaduct. Very few of them have considered financial viability based not only on the projected volumes, but also the paying capacity of the passengers for the relatively higher tariff to sustain it as a profitable investment and not degenerate into a basket case, as has been the fate of Reliance’s Delhi Airport Metro line.

On the other hand the proposed low-cost high-speed corridors could also be viewed as a socially desirable investment, which would help to slow down the spiralling growth and even help to decongest Metros such as Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai by spurring the development of Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities around them.

In the process it would also help to save on the nation’s fuel bill, reduce air pollution with a more fuel efficient mode of rail transport, reduce road congestion and connected accidents. In addition, reduction of commuter fatigue is perhaps one of the single factors that is making the high- speed services of Japan, Europe and China increasingly popular.

Choice of a section could degenerate into a political one-upmanship among various states and Metros, but its success would ultimately depend on the business model developed and its financial viability, which could even attract private investment in a PPP venture, a concept being vigorously encouraged by the Planning Commission.

Ultimately success would depend on techno-economic rather than political considerations, a concept which our worthy ‘netas’ are unfortunately seldom comfortable with.

The writer is a former member (mechanical) of the Railway Board

Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon powered by Coaches built by Siemens

As part of the contract, Siemens was to equip Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon with aluminium body trains, modern train control system, 750 V DC traction power supply along with a third-rail system
Neuer Superzug für Deutschland: Velaro D ist ein echter Europäer / New supertrain for Germany: Velaro D is a true EuropeanMumbai:  Siemens Infrastructure & Cities Sector has delivered the core rail systems of the Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon project. This has enabled Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon Limited to commence passenger operations on the six-kilometer metro line in Gurgaon, connecting cyber city to the Delhi Metro rail network through an inter-change station at Sikandarpur.

As part of the contract, Siemens was to equip Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon with aluminium body trains, modern train control system, 750 V DC traction power supply along with a third-rail system for current collection. The complete interface management and system integration form an integral part of the solutions Siemens has provided for Gurgaon Metro.

“Rapid Metro Rail hopes to fulfil the aspirations of millions by improving connectivity and becoming the preferred means of travel. The technology from Siemens is safe, reliable, and efficient, and the test runs were completed without any glitches. We are extremely pleased with the partnership as it is our mutual goal to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure solutions to India” said Sanjiv Rai, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon Ltd.

“Rapid Metro Rail is a landmark public transportation project and has given us an opportunity to prove our prowess as technology partner to provide state of the art transportation solutions on turnkey basis. Supporting infrastructural development in India through such projects resonate our vision of transforming cities for the better through sustainable technology.” said Mr Tilak Raj Seth, Executive Vice-President and Country Sector Lead, Infrastructure and Cities, Siemens Ltd. The trains run on standard-gauge track and can achieve top speed of about 80 km/h. The modern signalling and train control system ensures that if required the service interval of 2 minutes can be achieved during rush-hour traffic. This short headway will enable the metro trains to transport more than 20,000 passengers per hour.

Safe and reliable operation was achieved by the Sicas ECC type electronic inter- locking, the LZB 700 M automatic train control system with ATP (Automatic Train Protection) and ATO (Automatic Train Operations), as well as the Vicos OC 501

ATS (Automatic Train Supervision) system. To fully electrify the line, Siemens has installed substations, auxiliary sub stations, traction substations and 750VDC current collection system.

Earlier in August 2013, Siemens Infrastructure & Cities Sector had also won an order for Phase II of the Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon project.

Ministry to present Supplementary Budget on 5th Dec for new Railway Projects

Gulbarga:  Railway Minister Mr.Mallikarjun Kharge has said that a supplementary Railway Budget will be presented during the winter session of Parliament beginning on December 5.

He was talking to presspersons on the sidelines of a function to mark the launch of work on a Rs. 28.35-crore railway over bridge on the Gulbarga-Afzalpur State Highway and a pit line at a cost of Rs. 8 crore at the Gulbarga Railway Station on Saturday.

Mr. Kharge said the focus of the supplementary budget would be on providing additional funds for the projects committed by the Ministry during the year. As of now, there was no proposal to include any new project in the supplementary budget, he said.

Plan size to be cut?

He said that although the Planning Commission had not indicated the quantum of cut in the plan size of the Railways this year — which has been necessitated due to the fall in the growth rate — there were indications that the Railways would have to cut its plan size by 10 per cent. Efforts, however, were on to increase resource mobilisation to minimise the cut in the plan size, the Minister said.

He clarified that the current year’s resource mobilisation was 4 per cent higher than last year’s. The Railways, however, could not feel the impact of the increase in resource mobilisation mainly due to an increase in the salary bill.

Expecting buoyancy in the growth rate, the Railways had fixed higher targets for both passenger and freight earnings this year. One of the reasons for the failure to achieve the target this year was the steep fall in the movement of iron ore and coal. Improved road connectivity and road conditions took a toll on the movement of goods through trains, the Minister said.

The fall in the growth rate had also impacted on the Railways and its resource mobilisation efforts, he added.

To a question, Mr. Kharge said an inquiry had been ordered into the derailment of Mangala Express at Ghoti, near Igatpuri, in Nasik district of Maharashtra in which four passengers were killed. Preliminary investigation had revealed that the accident was due to a fracture in the track.

To another question he said the State government was meeting its financial obligations towards sharing the cost of railway projects taken up in Karnataka. Both the Central and State governments would have to cooperate and step up fund release to ensure early completion of the projects, he said.

South Central Railway authorities had corrected all the defects pointed out by the Railway Safety Commissioner on the Humnabad-Bidar railway line and a requisition had been sent to the commissioner to re-inspect the track, he said.

Inauguration

To a question, Mr. Kharge said the new campus of the Central University of Karnataka at Kadaganchi village in Aland taluk of Gulbarga district would be inaugurated by Union Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju on November 30. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah would also participate in the function.

Toy causes panic at Bangalore Railway Station ahead of Modi visit

Bangalore:  A pink teddy bear abandoned at the city railway station parking lot created panic ahead of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Bangalore on Sunday morning.

Responding to the appeal made by police through SMSes asking people to be careful about suspicious objects and to report the matter, a few passers by noticed the teddy bear at City railway station’s parking lot and immediately alerted the police.

A team of police with the anti sabotage personnel rushed to the spot. The police cordoned the area and conducted a thorough check to confirm that it was just a soft toy.

“Someone in a hurry might have left the toy behind”, a police official said adding that the Upparpet police was further inquiring to ascertain if it could be a prank.

Newly released Book highlights “Corporate Social Responsibility” of Indian Railways

book relBangalore: It was Former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hedge who put the launch of a book at IIMB on runaway children in perspective when he declared, “This book – Rescuing Railway Children – serves to bring us out of our ivory towers and shows us glimpses of a world that desperately needs our attention.”

It was this ‘other world’ that Dr Chiranjeevi Singh, IAS, Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt of Karnataka, described when he recalled his early years as a young IAS officer posted in the districts. “I visited many modest homes; what struck me was not the size of their kitchens or the lack of toilets but the haunted look in the eyes of the kids in these homes.”

Calling the book a “lamp in the darkness enveloping a greedy and callous world”, he urged for the case studies and the real-life stories in the book to be translated to all Indian languages “so that individuals and communities are inspired to go from empathy to action”.

Both Dr Hegde and Dr Singh were chief guests at the launch of ‘Rescuing Railway Children’, co-authored by Lalitha Iyer of the NGO ‘Sathi’ and Professor Malcolm Harper, Emeritus Professor of Enterprise Development, Cranfield School of Management, UK.

The book was launched at IIMB on Children’s Day with a very special program: several of the children, rescued from railway platforms across India, were reunited with their families.

Why a launch at IIMB, many had wondered when we announced the event; we shall come to that in a bit. For now, the spirited youngsters had stories to share. Baba (19) from Pavagada in Tumkur district in Karnataka said he ran away from home when he was 8 years old. “I ran away to earn money; I also picked up all kinds of ‘habits’. In the Ananthpur railway station, I lost my leg; and in the Bangalore Central railway station I lost my elder brother,” he said. A volunteer from Sathi found him on the tracks. He was taken to a de-addiction centre where he was treated for ghutka-addiction, and when he was well and willing, he gave Sathi volunteers the address of his maternal uncle. “His parents are ill with worry. They will be happy to see him,” said the uncle in a choked voice.

Srinivas was in Std IX when he decided that he had enough of Hindi and English in the government school in Kadur in Chikmagalur district. The teenager got on a train and landed in Bangalore. He won’t speak of what happened after that; he would rather talk of returning home. He clearly wants to erase memories of life on the platform.

Not so Arun. The sprightly child had perfected the art of running away. “He ran away five times before this,” says his mother, referring obliquely to the many “bad things” that he picked up. Counseling and treatment seem to have helped Arun. “He isn’t so angry any more. He has calmed down. He is affectionate and he is back in school in Std VII,” said the overwhelmed mother.

The children described their extraordinary struggles in flat voices; their eyes gleamed very briefly when they received school bags and books and lunch boxes from student-volunteers of Vikasana, IIMB’s social service initiative that put together the event. Like all those present in the room, they knew that the journey to normalcy was going to be a long and difficult one. Like someone observed, “These children have not grown up but they have aged on railway platforms.”

Pramod Kulkarni, alumnus of IIMA and founder of SATHI; Mr Rahul Tandon, alumnus of IIMA and founder of IIMPACT; Vikas Manyar, alumnus of IIMA and former head of Akshara Foundation; and Professor M S Sriram of IIMB spoke of how management principles can help to create organizations of scale in order to handle problems of scale.

“In a country like India, there is no dearth of causes. If one wants to grow beyond one’s profession, then one should grow as a human being by working on a cause close to one’s heart,” said Rahul Tandon, who shared a video of the work that IIMPACT is doing by setting up learning Rescued railway children reunited with parents by SATHI an NGO at the launch of Rescuing Railway Children at IIM Bangalore on November 14 2013. 300x199 IIMB hosts book launch of Rescuing Railway Children on Childrens Daycentres for girl children across India.

“From understanding client needs – our clients are children with no ability to pay, to finding sources of funding, work in this sector needs the application of management principles,” he added.

Professor Sriram said, “When the idea of documenting the stories of railway children was born, I had suggested the working title as ‘Odihodhavaru’ (‘The Runaways’). But Pramod immediately replied, ‘Why not ‘Maralibandhavaru?’ (‘The Ones Who Returned’). That, to me, is the faith with which we should work with runaway children.”

Dr Vasudev Sharma, Director, Child Rights Trust, introduced the book and hoped the research would be used by other NGOs and government agencies working in the area of child rights.

Lalita Iyer, co-author, described the book as a bridge between different worlds. “We need to draw management graduates to the social sector,” she said.

Mr Rajesh Pandit, Chief Manager, Centre for Software and IT Management, IIMB, moderated the discussion on the need for adopting management principles in the social sector and thanked Vikasana and SATHI for bringing to light a world that few of us even acknowledge.

The book, as Dr Singh said, quoting Shakespeare, could prove to be a candle throwing its beams far and wide because it gave voice to runaway children. “We need more such voices to be heard,” he observed.

DMRC announces additional Information on arrangements for IITF 2013

New Delhi:  The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has taken a host of measures to cater to the commuters who will be using the Metro to visit the India International Trade Fair, 2013 at Pragati Maidan from the 19th of November to the 27th of November, 2013. Some of them are:

1.   DMRC will be running peak hour frequency of 2 min 40 sec on Line-3 from Dwarka to Yamuna Bank throughout the day i.e, from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

2.   Two trains on each Line will also be kept as standby during Trade Fair to facilitate better passenger handling, whenever required.

3.   A total of 24 token counters with separate counters for specific token denominations and destinations will be put up at the Pragati Maidan Metro station on all working days. During weekends and holidays, the number of these counters will go up to 32.

4.   In order to facilitate the public using Delhi Metro while going back from ongoing IITF at Pragati Maidan, the Delhi Metro will be exclusively operating 20 token/smart card counters from within the premises of IITF, Pragati Maidan near its Gate No. 10 from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM on all general days i.e, 19th Nov to 27th Nov 2013

5.   Additional Customer Facilitation Agents (CFAs) will be deployed at stations like Central Secretariat, Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate, etc. for guiding and managing the crowd in the ticketing area. Extra Security Guards will be provided at platforms, AFC gates, escalators, lifts, and token counters etc. at Pragati Maidan.

6.  At Pragati Maidan, Q-managers have been put for the physical segregation of the entry and exit points of the commuters. This will help in avoiding cross movements and crowding near AFC gates. Directional signage indicating the way towards the platforms, tokens, entry/exit points, security messages, system maps, fare charts, passenger information, last train and token timings, time of opening of counters etc. are also put up at required locations.

7.  To ensure faster security clearance of the commuters, additional Door Frame Metal Detectors and extra X-Ray machines have been installed.

Preserve habitat, protect Elephants from Railway Accidents

The recent death of at least six elephants in north Bengal is testimony to the fact that despite being declared a national heritage, India is yet to make the tusker any safer. The 40-member herd was travelling through the Nagrakata forest range near Jalpaiguri when it came under the killer wheels of the Guwahati-bound Kabiguru Express. This is only the latest addition to a long list of such incidents that are common along railway lines which run through elephant corridors.

The animals use these passages to move from one forested area to another in search of sustenance. Forest officials have sought the assistance of the railways to ensure safe passage for the elephants, but the two groups are yet to come on the same page. Forest officials blame the railways for running trains beyond the 30kmph limit prescribed for such sensitive areas. Railway officials, on their part, point out that the area is yet to be designated as an elephant reserve and also that the forest department failed to inform the railway control room of the approaching herd, as it is obligated to.

Clearly, there are many flaws in the system which need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Setting an upper speed limit for trains crossing national parks and forests — it was done earlier this year — was a good move, but as this incident shows, it has to be implemented better. In addition, wildlife sensitive areas must be immediately demarcated as such and activities in them regulated by the forest and rail authorities in co-ordination. Care has to be taken because the Elephas Maximum Indicus, which is one of the three sub-species of the Asian elephant, has been declared endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as its population has declined by at least 50 per cent over the last 60-75 years. One reason is loss of habitat which forces them to traverse long distances, crossing railway lines.

SCR announces Rail Reservation System shutdown on Sunday

The South Central Railway (SCR) on Friday announced that the Passenger Reservation System (PRS) will be shut down for Disaster Recovery Drill for seven hours on Sunday.

A Disaster Recovery Drill will be conducted on the railway computerized PRS for  seven hours –from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, SCR said in a release here.

During these hours, the main PRS Server at Chennai will be shut down. Hence, no PRS activity is possible for the trains.

Secunderabad-Gudur-Secunderabad Simhapuri Express Cancelled

South Central Railway, on account of train accident near Nasik o­n 15th November, 2013, had announced cancellation of the following trains for want of pairing rakes:

  1. Train No.12710 Secunderabad – Gudur Simhapuri Express scheduled to depart Secunderabad at 22 30 hrs today i.e. o­n 16th November, 2013 (Saturday)is cancelled due to late running of pairing train.
  2. Train No. 12709 Gudur – Secunderabad Simhapuri Express scheduled to depart Gudur at 21 00 hrs tomorrow i.e. o­n 17th November, 2013 (Sunday)is cancelled for want of pairing rake.

South Central Railway conveyed regrets for the inconvenience caused to the travelling public.

DMRC chief reviews arrangements at Pragati Maidan Metro station

New Delhi:  The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has taken a host of measures to facilitate commuters visiting the India International Trade Fair from next week, including additional token counters and trains to meet the rush.

To review the special arrangements, DMRC Managing Director Mangu Singh today inspected the Pragati Maidan Metro station.

He examined the crowd management mechanism put in place at the station, token and smart card counters, signage in place, announcement system among other things.

Singh also emphasised on the need for adequate cleanliness at the station during the fair as thousands of visitors will be using the station.

He also examined the special token or smart card counters set up by the DMRC inside the Pragati Maidan near gate number 10. “Singh was satisfied with the overall preparedness of the staff in handling the fair rush at the station. He was accompanied by Director (Operations) Sharat Sharma and Director (Project) D.K. Saini,” said Anuj Dayal, DMRC Executive Director.

Among a host of measures, the trains will be running at the peak hour frequency of 2 min 40 sec from Dwarka to Yamuna Bank (Line 3) throughout the day, from 8 am to 8 pm.

Two trains on each line will also be kept as standby during the fair to facilitate better passenger handling, whenever required.

A total of 24 token counters with separate counters for specific token denominations and destinations will be put up at the Pragati Maidan Metro station on all working days. During weekends and holidays, the number of these counters will be increased to 32.

Tokens or smart cards will be available from 1 pm to 9 pm on all general days, from November 19 to November 27 at gate number 10. Additional customer facilitation agents will be deployed at stations like Central Secretariat, Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate, for guiding and managing the crowd in the ticketing area.

Extra security guards will be present at the platforms, automatic fare collection gates, escalators, lifts, and token counters at Pragati Maidan.

At the Pragati Maidan station, queue-managers have been put for the physical segregation of the entry and exit points of the commuters. This will help in avoiding cross movements and crowding near automatic fare collection gates.

NFR to operate special trains for Sabarimala

GUWAHATI: The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) will operate a fortnightly special train from Dibrugarh to Kochuveli over the next couple of months to clear extra rush of passengers during the Sabarimala season and for patients seeking specialized treatment in the southern states. The 06335/06336 Dibrugarh-Kochuveli-Dibrugarh will make five trips both ways, NFR PRO Nripen Bhattacharya said.

The train will depart from Dibrugarh at 12.15 am on November 24, December 8 and 22 and January 5 and 19 (all Sundays). It will depart from Kochuveli on November 19, December 3, 17 and 31 and January 14 (all Tuesdays).

The train will stop at New Tinsukia, Dimapur, Lumding, Guwahati, Goalpara Town, New Bongaigaon, Asansol, Bhubaneswar, Vishakapatnam, Vijayawada, Chennai Central, Coimbatore, Thrissur and Kottayam, among other stations.

It will consist of one AC-2 tier, two AC-3 tier, four sleeper class, six general chair car, six general second class and two SLR coaches.

Feeder Buses to link blue line Metros of Gurgaon and Delhi

GURGAON: The city will have a dedicated bus connection with Delhi Metro’s blue line from Monday.

Haryana Roadways on Friday commissioned two new feeder bus routes. One will link the city’s commercial hub of Udyog Vihar to Dwarka Sector 21 Metro station. The other will connect Udyog Vihar to Rapid Metro at Moulsari Avenue.

The buses will ply at an interval of 12 to 15 minutes and reduce commuting time from offices and industrial units in the area to Delhi and Sikanderpur. The benefits of increased connectivity are already visible. On only its second day of full-fledged operations, Rapid Metro’s commuter count rose by 5,000 from Day One to 15,000.

The feeder service will have a fleet of AC and non-AC buses that will provide seamless connectivity between the two Metro networks, too. Rapid Metro does have an interface with Delhi Metro, but with the yellow line that takes Gurgaonites to Rajiv Chowk. Blue line commuters need to change trains there.

Haryana Roadways said the frequency of the feeder buses will increase depending on the passenger load. “We are willing to support the cause of active commuting and help the IT-BPO industry solve the last-mile connectivity issue. Our good quality air-conditioned buses will run on high frequency to enable corporate employees reach their office in time and comfortably. We will increase the frequency depending on the response we receive,” said Yeshender Singh, general manager of Haryana Roadways.

Nitin Seth, Chair, NASSCOM Regional Council for Haryana and Country Head Fidelity Worldwide Investments, said, “We are really encouraged to see this development and it coincides with the launch of Rapid Metro. Use of public transport is good for environment and overall health of our employees. Most global cities have a promising transport system. We intend to have something similar for Gurgaon.”

Depending on the success of these two routes, other locations in Gurgaon will also have similar feeder buses to fix the last-mile connectivity problem. “Gurgaon employs about 3 lakh people in the IT-BPM industry, a force that can be utilized to bring about a positive change in the mindset towards use of public transport. We are seeing many senior industry leaders who have either started to cycle or use the Metro. This is a very positive sign and we intend to keep the momentum going,” Seth said.

DMRC expected to submit revised Nagpur Metro Rail report next week

NAGPUR: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is expected to submit the revised metro rail detailed project report (DPR) to Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) next week. Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) office had asked NIT to get a revised report in August. The reason for a revision in the project is because the earlier report was giving the financial internal rate of return (FIIR) of just 0.47% against minimum requirement of 8%.

A NIT official said that DMRC would suggest how the revenue from metro rail can be increased to meet the FIIR requirement. This would be done by drawing up a plan for transit oriented development (TOD) of the city.

An urban transport consultant told RailNews that JNNURM had found the project to be unviable because it felt that there would not be enough passengers for the metro rail. “To make a metro route viable, around 50,000 people must travel on it every day. However, the project figures for the Mihan-Kamptee Road route even twenty years down the line are nowhere near this figure,” he said.

Commenting on possible measures to achieve TOD, he said, “If we want more people to use the metro, then the development of the city should be concentrated along the metro corridor. More and more offices and shops must be located along the corridor so that people travel to their work places using the metro. This implies that you will have to give incentives to builders to create realty along the corridor. These incentives can be higher floor to space index (FSI), concession in stamp duty, increase in area where transfer of development rights (TDR) can be utilized so that the developer purchase TDR of a plot located not necessarily in the corridor area, etc.”

DMRC has already suggested how the special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will run the metro can use the land acquired for the project, commercially to generate additional revenue for the project. “The agency will suggest how this revenue can be maximized again by relaxing development rules for the SPV,” he said.

If DMRC’s recommendations are to be implemented, then the state government will have to make major changes in Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act and Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act to allow NMC and NIT to change the development plan of the city without much hassle.

T.R.Baalu assure speeding up of pending Railway projects

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways led team of MPs who met commuters in Tambaram on Saturday
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Safety for women commuters and additional services in the morning and evening rush hours were the main demands made during an interaction between commuters and a delegation of Members of Parliament (MPs) that visited Tambaram on Saturday morning.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways was led by T.R. Baalu, Lok Sabha MP, former Union minister, and the chairman of the committee. The other members were Nandi Yellaiah and Husain Dalwai, Rajya Sabha MPs from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

After inspecting passenger amenities at Tambaram railway station, the MPs travelled in a ladies’ compartment of a Chennai Beach- bound EMU.

Meenalochani, a college student, stressed the need for safe, and harassment-free travel. “Whether we travel inside the compartments or while we wait for trains on platforms, we are subject to a lot of harassment from male commuters,” she said.

“They take photos and videos while we travel and also while we wait on the platforms. We feel so embarrassed,” she added.

K. Vigneswari, who works in a private company, said women who boarded the suburban services from Chengalpattu at stations between Tambaram and Guindy faced extreme hardship and needed additional services, at least during the morning and evening rush hours. She also sought deployment of women police constables on ladies’ compartments throughout the day to prevent harassment and petty crimes

After alighting at the Pallavaram railway station, Mr. Baalu told reporters the feedback received from commuters would be presented to the Parliament. Speaking on other issues, he said he was aware that the ‘doubling’ or the laying of the second broad guage line between Chengalpattu and Dindigul — a Rs. 1,200-crore project — was progressing at a snail’s pace. He added he would speak to the contractor about speeding up the work.

On the project to make Tambaram the third terminal, he said legal issues had delayed the project and that funds for such massive projects were released in phases. He would have detailed discussions with the general manager of Southern Railway to speed up the Rs. 50-crore terminal project as well as to complete guage conversion on platforms 3 and 4 at Tambaram, he added.

AIREF plan to protest in Delhi on 9th Dec

विजयवाडा Vijayawada (BZA): All India Railway Engineers’ Federation (AIREF) has announced that it will hold a mass protest rally at New Delhi on December 9 to press for settlement of its long-pending demands.

In a meeting of AIREF Vijayawada division unit here on Saturday, Federation president S.Bajpai and general secretary Bobin Mohanthy said the Government and Railway administration failed to rectify anomalies in 6th Pay Commission for railway engineers. They demanded that the section engineers and junior engineers should be recognised as Group-B Officers. AIREF Vijayawada division leaders B.V.S.N. Murthy, Rama Rao and others were present.

Sultanganj-Deoghar Railway Line to be ready by 2015 – Train to Baidyanath Dham

image4BHAGALPUR:  Come 2015, kanwariyas will not have to walk 185km from Sultanganj to offer holy water to Shiv at Baidyanath Dham during Shravani mela.

The much-ambitious railway link from Sultanganj to Deoghar, where Baidyanath Dham is located in Jharkhand, is expected to be ready by then.

Divisional Railway Manager, Malda Division Mr.Ravindar Gupta, while quoting a recent report of the railways construction department, said works on the new tracks from Sultanganj to Deoghar via Banka would be completed by end-2014. But it would take at least five to six months for starting railway traffic on the section.

With opening of the new tracks, the 185km distance between Sultanganj to Deoghar via Kiul would be reduced by 52km. At present, Sultanganj has direct rail connectivity with Banka via Bhagalpur and the new line to Deoghar would be extended from Banka to Deoghar. The distance from Banka to Deoghar would be 55km.

The work on the line was initiated on 2002 and was scheduled to be completed by 2010 but land acquisition problems delayed the project.

According to sources, work on some 10-12km tracks is yet to be completed. The stretch from Banka to Kakwara has been completed while work is presently on from Kakwara to Kharjausa to Kotoria. The sources said the stretch from Chandan to Deoghar had been completed last year and plying of goods trains were started too. “We had targeted to complete the work on this section by the end of 2012 but because of funds crunch, it was not completed but sanction of funds in the 2013-14 budget has expedited the process,” said an official.

The sources also pointed out that the construction department had started building the tracks along with railway stations, platform, water and electricity facilities among others. The sources said that work on the tracks on 25.7km from Banka to Kotoria had been completed, more than 80 per cent works have been completed on the 15km stretch from Chandan to Deoghar and works on railway tracks has been completed while 80 per cent other works yet to be completed on this stretch.

Bilash Kumar Mishra (67), a resident at Banka, said the proposed railway link would be very fruitful for the devotees and for the purpose of business, trade and commerce.

Train carrying Sikh pilgrims reaches Pakistan

Pakistan assure strict security measures are in place for protection of special train passengers
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The first special train‚ carrying around 1000 Sikh Yatrees‚ reached Wagah railway station from India on Friday afternoon.

Yatrees will attend celebrations of Sikh religion founder Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth anniversary at Nankana Sahib.

At the Wagha Railway Station‚ officials of Evacuee Trust Property Board and office bearers of Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Pakistan received the Yatrees. Strict security measures are in place for protection of special train passengers.

During their stay in Pakistan‚ the Sikh Yatrees will also visit their other sacred places in Lahore‚ Succha Soda and Hassan Abdal.

GRP Head Constable held for rape charges

Amritsar:  A Head Constable belonging to the Government Railway Police attached to Amritsar has been arrested here for allegedly raping a mother of four from Delhi who was visiting the city, police said.

The victim (34), a resident of the Jawahar Park area in the national capital, yesterday told police that the accused, identified as Ajmer Singh, had on Thursday taken her to a hotel where he raped her after threatening to hurt her children.

Police said the accused was arrested after his identity card was found lying on the floor of the bathroom of the hotel room where the woman has alleged the rape was committed.

The victim told police that Singh met her in the waiting room of Amritsar railway station on Thursday and offered her help in getting accommodation on genuine tariff. Thereupon, he took her to the said hotel along with her four minor children.

After getting her to a room at the hotel, the accused allegedly forced the victim into the bathroom and raped her while the children wept outside, police said.

Further, she has alleged that Singh also took away over Rs 11,000 in cash which she had in her bag.

A case in the matter has been registered under Sections 376, 380 and 506 of IPC, police said, adding that a medical test had been done on the victim the reports of which are awaited.

Railway Passengers demand better facilities at Thanjavur Station

RAIL_USERS_ASSOCIA_1654702fThanjavur:  Members of Thanjavur-Tiruchi Train Passengers Association staged a demonstration at the railway station here on Friday demanding better facilities.

They demanded toilet and restroom facilities at the renovated platforms 1 and 2, 24-hour ticket counter at Mary’s Corner entrance, additional seating facilities on platforms, and operation of Uzhavan Express, which is kept at the railway station for the whole day after its arrival from Chennai Egmore, on Thanjavur-Mayiladuthurai route.

Ayyanapuram K.Nadarajan, president of the association, led the agitation. Members of Thanjavur District Mootha Kudimakkal Peravai, Thanjavur Division Insurance Employees Association and Pensioners Association took part.

Priority for Goods Train irks Public at Chennai Central

Chennai: Southern Railway’s (SR’s) priorities seem misplaced. It appears to attach more importance to freight handling than optimising the quality of passenger service.

At least a few thousand travellers commuting bet­ween Chennai Central and Gummidipoondi painfully endure a long wait aboard EMUs midway between stations as the operation department allows goods trains, instead of EMUs, to pass even during peak hours.

Revealing this official apathy were loco pilots who are already facing punctuality pressure after the reduction of loop line speed on the stretch. They have become the first to face public anger due to the long wait.

Twice in a month now, travellers on the route have vented their anger on mot­ormen. As if the rail roko at Ponneri a fortnight ago was not sufficient, passengers pelted stones at the driver’s cabin in Tiruvottiyur early this week, protesting a 40-minute delay.

The EMU took one hour to reach Tiruvottiyur from MMC (Moore market complex) instead of the stipulated 20 minutes. Loco pilots say, “Passengers suspect that we keep them waiting midway between two stations. They do not understand that the operation department has not cleared the signal for us to move the EMU.”

Some loco pilots even concede that they, as much as passengers, are victims of officials’ misplaced priorities. The EMU would not have reached late by 40 minutes on Tuesday if only they (officials) had not sent a goods train ahead of the EMU, loco pilots revealed.

“When a goods train is allowed to move before an EMU during peak hours, the EMU motorman is forced to wait till the goods trains crosses, particularly near stations and intersections, resulting in inordinate delay,” a motorman reasoned, admitting that most motormen on duty work under extreme pressure, which could jeopardise passenger safety at times.

The suburban trains on the route will continue to run late unless they inc­rease the loop line speed and stop clearing goods trains ahead of EMUs during peak hours, loco pilots argued.

MOSR Adhir’s interim bail extended till November 28

Berhampore (West Bengal): A local court on Saturday extended the interim bail of Union Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdury till November 28.

Murshidabad-Berhampore additional district judge Prasenjit Biswas fixed the next date of hearing of the case in connection with the non-bailable arrest warrant issued against the Minister for alleged conspiracy in the murder of Trinamool Congress worker, to November 28.

A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against Chowdhury by the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court on September 27 in connection with the murder of Kamal Sheikh in Golbazar area of Murshidabad district in 2011.

Appearing in the court today, Chowdhury said, “The court had instructed me to be personally present, so I had come. I am only following orders.”

The West Bengal government has already filed a petition in the Calcutta High Court on November 12 last challenging a Berhampore court order granting reprieve to Chowdhury in the murder case.

Increase train frequency on Blue Line, say DMRC Commuters

Metro commuters of the Blue Line corridor complain that the frequency of trains is low during the rush hours especially in the evening causing much inconvenience to them

New Delhi: Passengers heading back home say the frequency of trains from Dwarka to Noida City Centre is between 7 and 12 minutes.

“I take the Metro from Kaushambi to go to Mayur Vihar Phase-1. But daily I have to wait at Yamuna Bank for over 40 minutes to board a Noida City Centre-bound train as it comes, on an average, after an interval of 10 minutes,” said Prashant Pandey, a private firm employee. “It is so crowded that one has to push and shove to get into the Metro.”

Commuters were also found cribbing about the fact that whereas there are two back-to-back trains from Dwarka to Vaishali, only one Noida-bound train comes after them and the cycle continues.

As a result, Yamuna Bank station gets flooded with commuters in the peak hours as it is the interchange station for the busiest stretch on the Metro network — Dwarka to Noida City Centre/Vaishali.

Passengers who alight from the Vaishali Metro there add to the rush.

“The Yamuna Bank station gets overcrowded as a sea of people can be seen waiting for the Noida Metro. Something has to be done to tackle the rush,” said Yadvendra Singh, an east Delhi resident.

Passengers who change train at Yamuna Bank are of the opinion that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation should run alternative service to Vaishali and Noida City Centre from Dwarka.

“I change Metro daily at Yamuna Bank to go to Noida Sector-18 and it’s so frustating to see that from Dwarka to Vaishali the frequency of train is 2 to 5 minutes. The two consecutive trains make matters worse for Noida-bound passengers,” said Saloni Malhotra, a 24-year-old Delhi University student.

Over 25 lakh passengers travel on the Metro network daily, of which over 9.25 lakh commute on the Blue line.

Rajesh Kumar Singh takes over as Incharge GM of South Central Railway

1384432171995-jpgRajesh Kumar Singh, General Manager, Northeast Frontier Railway (Construction), Maligaon (Guwahati) has taken over as Incharge General Manager of South Central Railway o­n 13th November, 2013.

Earlier, he worked as Chief Electrical Engineer, East Central Railway, Hajipur. Shri Rajesh Kumar Singh, belongs to Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE of 1976 batch).

Rajesh Kumar Singh graduated from IIT/Roorkee and started his career in Indian Railways as Assistant Electrical Engineer, Kurla Car Shed, Central Railway in September, 1977.

During his distinguished career, Rajesh Kumar Singh, held various important positions as Additional Divisional Railway Manager / Varanasi, North Eastern Railway; Divisional Railway Manager / Chakradharpur, South Eastern Railway; Executive Director / Railway Board, Chief Electrical Engineer / Jabalpur, West Central Railway; and Chief Administrative Officer / Madhepura Workshop, East Central Railway.

He has dealt with several facets of Electrical Engineering o­n Indian Railways. He has been also Deputy Railway Advisor, Embassy of India, Germany.

Rajeev Bhargava, GM/RWF takes over Additional Charge as GM, SWR

Rajeev Bhargav, GM-SWRBangalore:  The General Manager of Rail Wheel Factory (RWF) at Yelahanka, Rajeev Bhargava, took additional charge as General Manager of South Western Railway here on Wednesday.

Mr. Rajeev has been given additional charge as the previous General Manager of South Western Railway A.K. Mital has been appointed as the Member (Staff), Railway Board, New Delhi.

Bhargava is working as General Manager, Rail Wheel Factory (RWF), Yelhanka, Bangalore and General Manager, SWR post is an additional charge, apart from his original post of General Manager/Rail Wheel Factory(RWF), Yelhanka, Bangalore.

He joined Indian Railway Service of Civil Engineering in 1974 and during his service, Bhargava has held key posts like Additional Member(Works), Railway Board, New Delhi, Additional Director General of RDSO, Lucknow, Chief Administrative Officer(Construction), East Central Railway, Patna, Principal Chief Engineer, South Central Railway and Divisional Railway Manager, Jhansi Division. He was also Dean of Indian Railway Institute of Civil Engineering, Pune.

BMRCL didn’t brief govt well on HSRL: Sreedharan

Bangalore:  Arguing in favour of a high-speed rail link as opposed to a Metro line connecting Bangalore and the Bangalore International Airport, ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan believes it’s a pity the state government has not taken a long-term view of the need for a fast, comfortable and safe rail connection to the airport.

“I do not think the full facts of the case were properly presented to the government by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC),” Sreedharan has said.

Pointing out that it’ll only take 25 minutes from the city centre to the airport, he said: “…The proposed Metro line, which will have an average speed of only 30 kmph will take 70 minutes, since the train will stop at every station.”

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had prepared a detailed project report for the HSRL in 2007, recommending that it be implemented on a public-private partnership basis. The state government accepted the proposal and six concessionaires was also shortlisted. Thereafter, the project was handed to BMRC, which recommended scrapping it as the Metro would be extended to BIA in its second phase.

Sreedharan said: “Any Metro extension to the airport will have to be fully funded by the government, while the airport line will need only 25 per cent cost by the government as viability gap funding…. Also, HSR will have checking-in facilities at the city centre where boarding passes can be taken and the train will have a separate compartment for luggage which is not being offered by the Metro.” He argued that the HSRL, which will follow the national highway, needs minimal land acquisition.

Letter to CM

In a September 23 letter to chief minister Siddaramaiah, Sreedharan reminded of some other proposals pending with the government, like extension of the HSRL planned between Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod by the Kerala government up to Mangalore and Udupi.

Rajahmundry’s Havelock Bridge to be a Tourism Spot; confirms Union Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi

800px-Godavari_BridgeRajahmundry: The abandoned railway bridge, which is popularly known as Havelock bridge, across Godavari river will be developed as tourism centre similar to the development taken up to a bridge in New York.

Union minister of state for tourism K. Chiranjeevi inspected the Havelock bridge during his visit here on Wednesday. Speaking on the occasion, he said that a Government of India enterprise, Rail India Technical and Economic Services Limited (RITES), was entrusted with the task to study the present status of the bridge and also to recommend as to what steps should be taken to develop it as a tourism centre by the union ministry of tourism and added that the agency would submit its report in 45 days.

Referring to the proposed auction of the bridge as a scrap by the railway authorities earlier, the minister said that the union ministry was ready to pay whatever the amount the railways would fix in order to take it over.

He said that though earlier union railway ministers including Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mamata Banerjee did not respond positively to hand over the bridge to the tourism authorities, the present railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge was responding positively to do so.  Added to this, the union minister said that Rs.5 crore was sanctioned to develop nurseries at Pitchukalanka as ecopark and added that they were going to sanction Rs 50 crore to develop a mega tourism project between Papikondalu and Konaseema.  Turning his attention on the proposed bifurcation of the state, the union minister Chiranjeevi said he was a staunch supporter of united state and said that it would be unwise to go ahead with the bifurcation of the state without addressing the serious concerns of the people on several issues.

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways to interact with commuters in Chennai on Saturday

CHENNAI: The Standing Committee on Railways will meet suburban train commuters, NGOs, rail user associations and public representatives in Chennai on Saturday to discuss the safety and security of passengers, especially those of women, according to a statement issued by committee chairman T R Baalu.

The meeting will be held at Taj Club House, (opposite to Spencer’s Plaza) at 12 noon.

The committee held similar meetings in Hyderabad and Bangalore on Thursday and Friday respectively. In both cities, the committee held wide ranging discussions on ‘suburban train services of the Indian Railways with particular emphasis on the security of women passengers’ with women organizations, suburban rail commuter groups, NGOs and rail user associations.

“The committee felt that the interaction with these groups was very useful and the committee gained valuable inputs from them on the problems plaguing regular commuters especially women passengers on the suburban rail sector,” the statement said.

The committee found that many NGOs and institutions offered to provide ambulance facilities to the Railways but they had no parking space. “The committee strongly advised that the Railways should look for ways and means to provide a dedicated parking spot for them and utilize their services meaningfully provided that they were not used commercially,” it added.

The attention of the committee was drawn to the fatal accident in which six wild elephants were run over by a speeding passenger train in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal on Wednesday despite the committee’s recommendations on controlling the speed of trains on elephant corridors.

“The committee expressed their deep concern at the unfortunate incident, especially in light of the depleting numbers of wild elephants in the country, and is fully aware that wild elephants are crucial in maintaining the fragile ecological balance,” the statement said.

Recognizing the importance of the issue, the committee has decided to convene an urgent meeting in New Delhi on November 26 to discuss this matter with the railway board, the ministry of environment and forests and the ministry of home affairs to arrive at a permanent solution to this problem, according to the statement.

Rly Stations’ Development Corp to modernise 5 Stations, Real Estate smells Boom

Indian Railways Stations Development Corporation Ltd., identify five stations under the station modernisation drive – works to start shortly

New Delhi: Five years from now, boarding a train from Anand Vihar Railway station in Delhi could be a different experience. Like the airport, there will be a separate waiting hall at the concourse with restaurants, shopping areas. Check in counters where you could swipe your tickets and board the trains at the ground level, after passing through automated doors.

Indian Railways has identified five stations under the station modernisation drive. Costing about Rs.2500 crore, Railways expects to raise this money from the real estate development around the station.

The five stations identified are Anand Vihar and Brijvasan station in Delhi, Chandigarh, Habibganj in Bhopal and Shivaji Nagar Station in Pune. Brijvasan is a green field or a new station coming up, the rest of them are brown field or existing stations.

But complete reliance on real estate development for funding can present challenges ahead for the ambitious project. Although the real estate experts say that the prime location of these stations in the city centre can prove to be an excellent opportunity for Railways to generate money for this project.

Each station is expected to cost over Rs.500 crore and expects to develop areas around the station spread over 100 acres. Railways might have to acquire some of the land from local authorities around these stations.

The Business Model

Railways expects to raise the money to develop these stations through real estate development in and around the stations making this project a zero investment scheme. But the past Indian experience of infrastructure projects betting on real estate development for operational cost presents a tale of failures. In the case of station modernisation, Indian Railways expects to raise not the operational but the cost of construction which can prove to be a difficult task, according to experts.

To provide a boost to this project Station Development Corporation Limited (SDCL) was set up in 2012-13 with an equity of Rs 100 crore. SDCL is a joint venture of Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) and Indian Railways Construction Company (IRCON).

“The idea is to build world class stations like the one in Beijing which has concourse above the station, different gates for arrival and departure. The station will also have a waiting area with eateries and shopping place,” said a senior Railway official associated with the project.

When asked about the financial model, officials close to the development recognised that it will be a challenge as it is a new kind of experience for Indian Railways. “We are working on various financial model, whether the real estate development should happen along with station construction or we might divide it into phases, “, said another official close to the development.

Experts claim that exploiting real estate potential in and near station terminals can prove to be good idea for Railways because most of the stations are located in the prime city areas. “In India many of our stations are located in midst of the cities and therefore have good potential that can be exploited to improve quality of passenger services. One can also use this model while developing new stations. However, I do not think it is good idea to first build real estate and then station,” said Vishwas Udgirkar, Senior Director, Deloitte India.

Experts also pronounce a note of caution arguing that the real estate potential itself will dependent upon passenger traffic so having real estate development before station development is not very logical. Most agree that real estate development should be complementary to station development and not otherwise.

“The model has been used at many places in the world. For example Honk Kong Metro that developed residential areas around and raised money”, says Mudassir Zaidi, National Director, Knight Frank India, which is also involved in making the business plan for the project.

These projects were announced in the budget of Dinesh Trivedi and had expected to target over 100 stations in five years.

The Challenges

Former Railway officials and expert say apart from the business model it’s the bureaucratic delays and lack of spirit from bureaucrats and officials that can dampen the prospects. Experts agree that the station modernisation projects are no one’s baby. “If you look at the past projects there is too much resistance to new initiatives. Considering that the Lok Sabha elections are near, I don’t think there is anything happening anytime soon,”says Akhileshwar Sahay, Railways expert.

The Past Initiatives

The past engagement of Indian Railways with private sector for station modernisation has been marred by bad planning and bureaucratic delays. In the budget of 2008-09, Lalu Prasad Yadav had announced the modernisation of New Delhi, CST, Mumbai, Patna, Secundrabad Railway Station and expected an investment of Rs.15,000 crore. But so far nothing has materialised for Indian Railways.

The Chatrapati Shivaji Station in Mumbai is stuck for want of clearance from the UNESCO, as the monument has been declared as World Heritage site. The plan for New Delhi station never took off. “The local authorities wanted us to only develop on the 50 per cent of the land that we have identified, we had to change the entire plan,” said an official close to the development. Similarly the Patna station faced issues of land acquisition and Secundrabad was never moved ahead from the planning stage.

Officials close the development say that the project can take off only after clearance from local authorities. No deadline has been set so far but the project work is has already with expected date of completion in five years, according to government officials.

Indian Railways has over 8000 stations across the country. Each year Indian Railway spends around Rs.1000 crore on station upgrading activities like waiting hall, bridges and other station amenities.

Railway Employee thrashed for misbehaving with woman passenger

Secunderabad: A railway employee was taken into custody on charges of misbehaving with a woman passenger in an AC coach of Nagarsole-Narasapur Express allegedly in an inebriated condition, Railway Police said.

Accused Shanker, a technician in Lalaguda railway workshop and the resident of Sai Nagar, had boarded the train at Nizamabad railway station on his way to Hyderabad and entered the AC coach last night and misbehaved with a middle-aged woman passenger in the AC compartment, Secunderabad GRP Police said today.

The accused followed the woman to the washroom in the coach and continuously knocked its door. However, the woman raised an alarm, after which co-passengers caught hold of the man, thrashed him and then handed him over to railway police, they said.

After the train reached Secunderabad Railway Station, Shankar was taken into custody of IPC, following a complaint by the Secunderabad GRP Police who registered a case against the accused on charges of trying to outrage the modesty of a woman under section 354 of the IPC and other relevant provisions of the Nirbhaya Act, a railway police officer said.

Railways mops up 12.5% more revenue during April-Oct

New Delhi: The total approximate earnings of Indian Railways between April to October 2013 increased by 12.53 per cent, a government release said here Tuesday.

It stood at Rs.77,235.64 crore (April-Oct 2013) compared to Rs.68,634.26 crore during the same period last year.

The total goods earnings have gone up from Rs.47,350.71 crore during April-Oct 2012 to Rs.51,876.33 crore during April-Oct 2013, registering an increase of 9.56 percent.

The total passenger revenue earnings during April-Oct 2013 were Rs.21,247.79 crore compared to Rs.18,017.23 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 17.93 per cent.

The approximate revenue earnings from other coaching amounted to Rs.21,87.32 crore during April-Oct 2013 compared to Rs.1,782.94 crore during the same period last year, an increase of 22.68 per cent.

The total approximate numbers of passengers booked during April-Oct 2013 were 4,967.26 million compared to 4,997.36 million during the same period last year, showing a decrease of 0.60 percent.

In the suburban and non-suburban sectors, the numbers of passengers booked during April-Oct this year were 2657.16 million and 2310.10 million compared to 2596.17 million and 2401.19 million during the same period last year, showing an increase of 2.35 percent and a decrease of 3.79 percent respectively.

NorthEast Frontier Railway targets INR 100 Cr revenue from sale of scrap during current fiscal

GUWAHATI: The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is targeting to generate revenue worth Rs 100 crore from sale of scrap during the current financial year.

Senior NFR officials said that the recent move by the Indian Railways to switch over to 100 per cent e-auction for disposal of scrap eliminating need for physical presence or physical bidding by purchasers is expected to streamline the process and also make the entire exercise more transparent.

“The actual volume of sale of scrap would depend on how heavy melting scraps like wheels or axles are discarded or how many wagons and coaches are condemned. However, we are optimistic of achieving a revenue of at least Rs 100 crore from sale of scrap this year,” an official said.

The sale of scrap is undertaken by the Stores department. Till recently, scrap disposal by Indian Railways was being carried out through public auctions requiring physical presence of purchasers for bidding.

The e-auction system has been developed in-house by the Ministry of Railways and under this, electronic bidding system has been designed to enable participation in auction through internet using digital certificate for security.

“The e-auction process makes the payment process electronic and smooth for purchasers and handling of cash is not necessary. The bidding process is completely transparent, thus widening the reach of the bidder for participation in various auction of different lots through internet from anywhere and so curtails the role of middleman,” the official said.

Scrap items include cast iron, light melting scrap like sheets, plates and brake hanger, heavy melting scrap wheels, axles rolling scrap like rails, non-ferrous scrap like copper, brass and white metal, besides condemned wagons, coaches and locomotives.

Overall, Indian Railways disposes scrap worth Rs 3,500 crore every year.

DRM bags award for implementing official language

14nov_tysms07_A_TY_1654649eTrichi:  Manjula Rangarajan, Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi, has been awarded silver medal and a Certificate of Merit for Implementation of Official Language.

Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board, gave away the award to Ms. Rangarajan at a function held in New Delhi on Tuesday (November 12).

Certificate

The certificate presented to her said that she has been a role model for accelerating the spread and development of Hindi and its progressive use for various official purposes for the year 2012 as per the Official Language Policy of the Government of India. She motivated officers and employees by doing maximum work in Hindi.

Her individuality, originality, and self-expression in the field of Official Language got her the honour, it added.

MSU bags project to avert train collision

The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering has bagged a research project, worth Rs.12 lakh, for designing a system that would identify and analyse the obstructions on the railway track and alert the loco pilot to avert accidents.

The project, sanctioned by Science and Engineering Research Board, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, under the special scheme ‘Empowerment and equity opportunities for excellence in science’, has been awarded to D. Murugan, Principal Investigator of the project and Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, MSU.

The objective of the project is to reduce the number of accidents involving two trains or trains and other vehicles or pedestrians crossing the railway track.

The proposed system should identify the possible threat on the track and warn the loco pilot in advance.

“As per our proposal, an infrared-enabled long-range focusing video camera will be attached to the train engine and subsequently connected to the computer-enabled system with algorithm which will analyse the signal and warn the loco pilot about the obstruction on the railway track so that appropriate action can be taken on time to avert accidents,” said Dr.Murugan.

The project should be completed within two years.

Railway Employee accuses Member of Parliament Dhananjay Singh of rape, intimidation

NEW DELHI: Fresh trouble seems to be on the cards for BSP MP Dhananjay Singh after a 42-year-old woman here lodged a complaint against him of rape and criminal intimidation, police said today.

In February 2005, a Railway employee organized a luncheon and invited Dhananjay Singh, who was an MLA then. The 42-year-old railway employee alleges that it was here that the evil eye of the MLA (now MP) fell on his wife.  “After lunch, Dhananjay struck a conversation with my wife and acted very friendly. I didn’t object, as he was my guest. But he started coming home very often on some pretext or the other from that day and became friendlier with my family. Soon, he asked my wife to have a physical relation with him,” he said.  When she refused, Singh allegedly took out a handgun and sexually assaulted her. “He would rape me often in a similar manner; if I resisted, he would threaten to eliminate my family,” the victim says.

She tolerated all that for five years out of fear, but eventually managed to bring herself to filing a complaint against Dhananjay in 2009 after he married Jagriti. But such was the MLA’s clout that she was forced to take it back. No FIR was registered. Sunita almost gave up.

But with Jagriti killing her maid and Dhananjay getting arrested for destruction of evidence, Singh saw a ray of hope and decided to approach police again. She spoke to her husband about it, but he refused to support her in this.

On November 11, she got a call from a ‘private number’. The caller threatened her with dire consequences if she complained against the MP. She got a similar call the next day. She also alleges that an SUV fitted with a blue beacon tried to run her over.

But Singh didn’t budge. On November 13, she approached the police again, and this time, an FIR was instantly registered. Dhananjay might be taken on remand on Monday and arrested later.

Police will have Singh’s statement recorded before a magistrate under 164 CrPC so that she cannot be forced to retract, said an officer.

Singh is currently in judicial custody after he was charged with destruction of evidence and violation of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act in the case involving the death of a maid at his Delhi residence allegedly after she was subjected to torture.

The MP and his wife Jagriti were arrested on November 5 in connection with the death of Rakhi, their domestic help, and the alleged “merciless” torture by them of another domestic help, a minor.

Rakhi’s body, with injury marks on her legs, chest and arms, was recovered from Singh’s South Avenue residence on the evening of November 4.

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