BJP’s Election Manifesto promises Bullet Trains, 100 new cities, introduces Rail Corridors

“India should no longer be limited by its infrastructure. In fact, we have to create robust infrastructure, which drives growth,” the manifesto says

New Delhi:  BJP today promised to introduce high-speed bullet trains, build 100 new modern cities and expedite freight and industrial corridors to improve the country’s infrastructure and create employment.

In its election manifesto, the party said if elected the government will launch diamond quadrilateral project of high speed train network (bullet train).

“Work on the Freight Corridors and attendant Industrial Corridors will be expedited. This will result in the faster movement of people and goods. PPP would be encouraged to tap into private sector resources as well as expertise,” the manifesto said.

It said that its government will look at urbanisation as an opportunity rather than a threat and steps would be undertaken in transport and housing for ‘Urban Upliftment’ in India.

“We will initiate building 100 new cities; enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure – adhering to concepts like sustainability, walk to work, etc, and focused on specialised domains. The approach to urban development will be based on integrated habitat development – building on concepts like Twin cities and Satellite towns,” it said.

To enhance Internet penetration, the party said Wi-Fi facilities will be made available in public places and commercial centres.

The manifesto also emphasised on the need to build infrastructure in a futuristic way.

“Growth of this sector means the growth of cement, steel, electricity and many other associated industries and directly leads to massive job creation… We shall modernise existing and operational airports, and build new ones,” it added.

For next generation infrastructure, “we will set up Gas Grids to make gas available to households and industry and set up a National Optical-Fibre Network up to the village level”.

It also promised to launch an Integrated Public transport project and develop national logistics network for faster movement of goods.

Elevated Rail Corridor only till Bandra will be ‘Unviable’ – RITES

Bandra बांद्रा (BA):  The state government’s suggestion that the Western Railway (WR) elevated corridor be terminated at Bandra may make the project unviable because of low commuter volume.

After a meeting of the chief minister and the PM in November last year about the elevated corridor project, which was stuck because of differences among the railways, the Planning Commission and the state government, a study on passenger projections was commissioned. The reason was that Metro III was to partially run on the same alignment as the initially planned elevated corridor.

“The study was of passenger volume projections if the elevated corridor was allowed to operate only between Virar and Bandra,” said a state government official. “WR commissioned Rail India Technical And Economic Services (RITES), a consultancy arm of the railways, to carry out the study. RITES was also asked to ascertain the drop in passenger numbers owing to the elevated corridor running alongside Metro III (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) and Metro II (Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd).”  The existing WR corridor has a ridership (passenger volume) of 35 lakh people per day. The study estimates the ridership of the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor as 9 lakh passengers per day at 2013 levels.

“This figure was arrived at after it was estimated that around 50% of first-class passengers and 20% of second-class passengers will shift to the elevated corridor. Effectively, this translates into a 23% commuter shift from the existing WR corridor,” said an official.

But the ridership figure for a Virar-Bandra elevated corridor at 2013 levels is estimated at 5.50 lakh passengers per day, said a source. “The loss in ridership is estimated to be 40%, which will make the project financially unviable.”

Next Govt should view Indian Rlys as a Strategic Tool, not Legacy Problem: Sanjeev Sanyal

sanjeev_sanyalSince the mid-nineties, the experience of travelling around India has changed dramatically. One by one, the old, creaky, paan spit-smeared airports have been replaced by gleaming modern infrastructure. Travellers can now choose from among a number of full-service airlines and budget carriers. The major highways, too, have become much better – and there are some segments that can now be considered to be of international quality. The quality of cars, buses and hotelshas also slowly upgraded itself.

One may still complain that highway expansion has not kept up with the expansion of traffic or that the creation of the infrastructure involved corrupt practices, but one cannot deny the change. There is one area, however, in which there has been almost no change – the Railways. Travelling in today’s trains reminds me of my childhood in the early eighties. The same chaotic stations, the same bogies leisurely clattering along, the same blue rexine bunks in air-conditioned two-tier, and the same coolies in red shirts carrying luggage on top of their heads. Indeed, in many cases, the infrastructure was built in the 19th century.

Indian Railways may be great for nostalgia, but it is failing as the country’s infrastructure backbone. Before Independence in 1947, undivided British India had a railway network of around 69,000 kilometres, of which 55,000 km was inherited by India. Today the network stands at around 65,000 km – an expansion of a mere 18.5 per cent over 66 years!

Contrast this with China, which had a network of just 27,000 km in 1949 (half of it in Manchuria) but now has 110,000 km – a tenth of which is capable of supporting high-speed trains running at 250 km an hour, and some segments up to 350 km an hour.

Forget 21st-century China, India’s post-Independence performance is poor compared to what Victorian engineers were capable of 150 years ago. In the 1870s, they added an average of 749 km of lines per year, with 1,440 km being added in a single year, 1878. And they were not just adding tracks; they also built Victoria Terminus in Bombay (completed in 1887) and Howrah station in Calcutta (completed in 1905) – both extraordinary pieces of architecture. It must be accepted that we have added nothing comparable and, with a few exceptions, continue to use the same crumbling stations that the British left us three generations ago.

Not surprisingly, people are avoiding travelling by Indian Railways wherever other alternatives are available – passenger bookings, excluding the suburban sector, declined by four per cent during April-December 2014. This is quite shocking for a country in which demand for all other infrastructure grows naturally from population and purchasing power growth.

In the last few years, the success of the Delhi Metro has sparked interest in rail as part of the public transport mix of major cities; but there is a need for a much broader relook at Indian Railways as the infrastructure backbone for India as a whole. It is not just that rail transport remains the most efficient way of moving goods in bulk around a big country (only water transport is more efficient); the Railways can play an active role in guiding the way the country urbanises.

It is now widely recognised that India is urbanising rapidly and that it will be an urban majority country within a generation. Around 325 million extra people will have to be accommodated in Indian cities by 2040. This means that existing cities will expand and many new cities will be built. If this transition is done purely on the back of highway-based transport infrastructure, we will end up with urbanisation taking place in ribbons along these highway corridors. This is a very inefficient urban form that uses up a lot of land and smears development in a way that makes it very difficult and expensive to supply urban services to a diffuse population. Moreover, the process is self-defeating; the highway soon gets clogged with local traffic and can no longer function as a long-distance artery.

In contrast, urbanisation based on a railway backbone has the advantage that it forces dense urban clusters around designated hubs. The authorities have far greater control over these hubs and can guide urban expansion as well as supply urban services in a more concentrated way. In other words, the railway network can have a big impact on the evolution of India’s rapidly evolving urban geography.

So what needs to be done? For a start, the next government should treat Indian Railways as a strategic tool for supporting next-generation growth rather than as a legacy system that just needs to be kept going somehow. This means that the authorities will have to think about upgrading everything – the designs of the trains, the signalling system, the stations and so on.

Luckily, a lot of this can be made to pay for itself. It is not merely that it is much easier to get people to buy train tickets than to pay road tolls. Indian Railways sits on huge urban land banks that can be monetised in a variety of imaginative ways. Moreover, the government can leverage revenues from other urban amenities/utilities in densely clustered urban hubs much more easily that a dispersed ribbon along a highway. Hopefully, the government that comes to power in May will focus on these issues.

DMRC Interview 2014 results for various posts out

Delhi:  Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Ltd has declared Interview results for recruitment to the posts of Assistant Manager (Finance) and Account Assistant (Finance) on Direct Recruitment basis, and for the post of Legal Assistant.

The Interviews for the post of Assistant Manager (Finance) were held on February 25 and 26, 2014, for the post of Account Assistant (Finance) from March 12 to 14, 2014 and for the contractual post of Legal Assistant the Interview were held on March 11, 2014 in DMRC office.

Based on the performance in the screening tests including Interviews, 37 candidates – 13 for Assistant Manager (Finance) in the pay scale of Rs 20600- 46500 on direct recruitment basis, 21 for Account Assistant (Finance) in the pay scale of Rs 10170 – 18500 on direct recruitment basis and 3 for Legal Assistant (Legal) in the pay scale of Rs 13500-25520 on contract basis for a period of one year; have been provisionally empanelled for selection in DMRC.

The final selection will be done after candidates clear the medical test.

The selected candidates are requested to report at DMRC Office ‘Metro Bhawan, Fire Brigade Lane, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi-110001′ on April 16, 2014 with 6 recent passport size photographs and all origional documents for medical examination.

Click on below links to access the list of candidates selected for various posts: 

Legal Asst Results

Accounts Asst Finance

Results Asst Manager Finance

Country Club allege irregularities in land allotment to Hyderabad Metro Rail

Hyderabad हैदराबाद (HYB):  The Country Club of India Limited (CCIL) on Thursday said it would move the high court seeking a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in land allotment to the Hyderabad Metro Rail project.

CCIL was responding to a notice by Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) to partially demolish their corporate office in Begumpet. Addressing the media, club chairman Rajeev Reddy said the move was illegal as the HMRL had given a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the office. HMRL was going ahead with the demolition process despite the high court staying the construction on the premises of the CCIL, he said.

“The CCIL had spared over 1700 sq yards for the Metro Rail project in 2006, following which the HMRL issued an NOC to build the corporate office. We built the office only after receiving the NOC. But now the HMRL has issued a notice to partially demolish the building,” Rajeev Reddy said.

Apart from CCIL, buildings including White House, Lifestyle and Varun Motors face the threat of demolition .

Charging HMRL with deviating from norms and changing the alignment of the project to save properties of some vested interests at the cost of the traders in Begumpet, Reddy said there were irregularities in the land acquisition and allotment. “

I see vested interests of real estate sector behind the move.

We will request the High Court to order a CBI probe into it,” Rajeev said.

Titlagarh Railway Institute organises Blood Donation camp

blood-donationTitlagarh (TIG): Railway Institute, Titlagarh organized a three-day voluntary Blood donation camp at Railway Institute, Titilagarh that was concluded on Sunday.

A total of 41 male and four female railway staff and their family members donated blood.

The camp was coordinated by the oranising secretary of Railway Institute, Titilagarh and assistant engineer Rajesh Kumar, secretary Satyanarayan Sethi, Sarat Nag and members of organising committee.

Among others, ADMO, Titilagarh Dr BS Behera, Dr KC Paul and Gajendranath Rout of the District Blood Bank also visited the camp.

ECR to run weekly Premium Special Train between Patna-Bangalore

Patna पटना (PNBE): East Central Railway (ECR) has decided to run a weekly premium special train (02353-02354) between Patna Junction and Bangalore Cantt from April 17 to clear rush of passengers. The idea of premium special trains was announced in the interim rail budget this year in Lok Sabha.

This particular train is being introduced on the directive of ECR GM Madhuresh Kumar following requests by various organizations. Its fare will be dynamically charged, similar to air fare from passengers seeking berths at the last hour.

According to ECR CPRO Arvind Rajak, this train will have a load combination of 20 coaches. It will leave Patna Junction every Thursday at 11.30pm and reach Bangalore Cantt on Saturday at 6.55pm. The train will have only five stoppages at Mughalsarai, Jabalpur, Nagpur, Vijaywada and Chennai Central, he said, adding it will be accorded the status of Rajdhani Express.

On return journey, the train will leave Bangalore Cantt every Sunday at 3.30pm and reach Patna Junction on Tuesday at 9.45am. The special train will run on April 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and June 5, 12, 19 and 26 from Patna end while it will run on April 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, 25 and June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 from Bangalore Cantt end. There will be 11 trips of the train from both ends, he said.

According to Rajak, ticket booking for this train started from April 7 on the IRCTC site. There will be no waiting list for this train and no quota of berths from railway headquarters or defence quota either. In case of availability of berths even after preparation of chart, passengers could procure tickets from PRS and current reservation counters at Patna Junction or from Bangalore Cantt, he said.

The CPRO said in this train, 573 berths are available in sleeper class, 382 in 3AC and 88 berths in 2AC.

Indian Railways: Silent steps to reform

Several committees suggested a thorough reform of Indian Railways especially that of the Railway Board: Ms.Anusha Soni, Business Standard Correspondent, reports.. (Courtesy: Business Standard)

A friend once told me, if you wish to break a wall, there are two ways to it. Take a bulldozer and crush it in one go. If you can’t afford a bulldozer, buy a small hammer and start hitting on the cement that joins the bricks. One day the wall will fall by a mere push.

By analogy, Indian Railways seems to be hammering its way on the path to reform since it can’t bulldoze due to political compulsions. It is soon expected that train tickets could be expensive by few rupees at the physical counters much like the air tickets. And this development is not just about the expansion of internet and e-commerce but is also indicative of a larger silent process of reform that is underway in Indian Railways.

A variety of expert committees including the White Paper on Indian Railways have suggested a thorough reform of Indian Railways-especially that of the Railway Board. Key recommendations from across committees have been asking for diluting powers of the Railway Board, corporatizing the Railways under the Company’s Act like China, setting up a tariff board for rationalizing freight and passenger fares. But the fundamental question of ‘how’ remains to be answered.

But one can’t expect a revolution. Some Railway Minister will stand up to ‘revolutionise’ the functioning of the ministry and the Cabinet will oblige him. Political compulsions have rallied against reform in Indian Railways and will continue to do so. There is no rational for justifying the separate Rail budget other than the fact that we are following a British convention. The colonial power laid special emphasis on the Railway and network expansion for tapping the resources of the country. And like many others, the tradition has persisted without questions.

The tradition has been exploited for political advantages-Announcing unfeasible projects in home state of the Railway Minister, without checking on the fund reserve laying ambitious plans for new lines and trains. And the result is that Indian Railways currently has a backlog of projects over Rs one lakh crore.

But the silver lining is that there is a silent bureaucracy at work that is pushing step by step reform of the country’s largest employer. Passenger fare hike has moved out the Rail budget, making the procedure more rational and immune from electoral populism. The introduction of fuel adjustment component that would hedge the fuel price hike with freight rate was for the first time applied for passenger fares, though Railways is still absorbing majority of the losses on passenger side.

Premium trains introduced this year whose fares start with base tatkal fare and move along the demand curve is another reform step that boldly attempts to serve the demand and is not shy to earn few extra bucks, quite contrary to Railways traditional thinking of ‘social responsibility’.

And soon Railway ticketing would move largely online and special cess would be introduced at the physical counters and that is an indirect way of increasing fares. And all of this happened when the Railways had no uniform political leadership for four years. The Ministry had six Railway Ministers in the span of six years, indicative of the bureaucracy that is pushing the reforms.

But the resistance is not unfound. After much tiff between the Planning Commission and Indian Railways, the proposal of Plan Com found its way and the Rail Tariff Authority, pending an amendment in the Railways Act, 1989- will be a regulatory one armed with full powers to decide freight and passenger fares. An interim advisory body should be constituted by the year end.

Recently, a high level committee under Rakesh Mohan suggested that without the development of Indian Railways the required to boost to manufacturing sector and economy is impossible. Various experts have forecasted that the next big revolution is waiting to happen in the Indian Railways. And it wouldn’t be an Arab Spring but rather an tiring bureaucratic process full of resistance and drudgery.

Passengers in Chirayinkeezhu may use NOTA option in Polls as a mark of protest

Chirayinkil (CRY): The railway passengers in Chirayinkeezhu may use the NOTA option this time in the Lok Sabha election as a mark of protest against the failure of all major political fronts to persuade the Railway authorities to allot stops for certain trains passing through the Chirayinkeezhu railway station.

According to commuters, Chirayinkeezhu railway station is well ahead of many other railway stations under Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division in terms of collection and number of passengers.

However, the passengers complain that the station had not got its fair share in terms of development and train stops. They blamed the MPs of both LDF and UDF who represented the constituency over the years, for the neglect.

The commuters have erected two flex boards on the platforms of Chirayinkezhu station.

“Why should the railway passengers from Chirayinkeezhu vote?” is the question on one flex board. Another flex board says that no development had taken place in the station for the last 15 years. The flex board claims that during this period though the total number of train services in Kerala had tripled only one train stop was allotted to Chirayinkeezhu.

According to commuters, in the last three months more than 50 new train stops were sanctioned in Kerala, but Chirayinkeezhu was ignored by the railway authorities.

Other long-pending demands of Chirayinkeezhu like overbridge are remaining a dream.

Even the temporary stops to trains which were sanctioned during the ‘Kaliyoot’ festival at Sarkara temple were withdrawn. As the Chirayinkeezhu- Kaniyapuram road has been included in the nationalised category, private buses are not allowed to operate on the route adding to the travails of commuters. According to the commuters, one-third of the more than 10,000 passengers depend on Chirayinkeezhu station for travelling between Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam and other far-off places.

The commuters who have erected the flex boards do believe in democracy and so insist that every passenger should vote.

Their message to the voters of Chirayinkeezhu is that they should press the NOTA button to cast their votes in protest.

However, the response from the political parties was quick.

The flex board on the first platform disappeared overnight and the second was destroyed the other day.

But the photographs of the flex boards are already a hit on social networks adding to the heartbeats of the candidates.

First Passenger Train service to ‘chug chug’ into Arunachal Pradesh today

Harmuti (HMY): A passenger train would roll down from Tezpur to Naharlagun through the newly built Harmuti-Naharlagun railway line today to put landlocked Arunachal Pradesh on the railway map of India, informed Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki.

The ambitious railway line project estimated to cost Rs 156 crore (re-estimated at Rs 371.33 crore by the Railway Board on July 7, 2009), missed its target of December 2011 repeatedly.  Sarma, who is the project incharge, attributed the inordinate delay due to existence of five high tension power line poles along the tracks, forest clearance at Gumto area obtained only January 8 last.

As state’s power department has now removed the high tension power line, the formal train service began with clearance by Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Sarma said, adding only passenger trains would run, not goods trains.

Railway connectivity would be a gift of government of India for the land-locked people of this Himalayan state, said Chief Minister Nabam Tuki.

The construction of 20-km Harmutty-Itanagar railway line was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 31, 2008 but former Rajya Sabha member Nabam Rebia armed with a memorandum of Arunachal Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) had pursued then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, who in 2007 Railway Budget had ordered surveys for gauge conversion of Rangia-Murkongselek and Tezpur-Bhalukpong link lines besides updating of the surveys of the Harmutty-Itanagar railway line.

Highlighting the historical and mythological relevance of the state including the famous Parsuram Kund, Malinithan and tallest Shiva Linga of Ziro during a one to one interaction with the then Union MoS for Trade and Commerce Jairam Ramesh at Pasighat on January 15, 2007, an ACCI delegation led by president Techi Lala, general secretary Tarak Nachung and chief advisor B K Ghosh Dostidar had also demanded construction of 161-km Tinsukia-Parsuram Kund rail line to help tourists from all over India to put the holy place in global tourism map.

As the trade and commerce minister had assured to look into our demands, “your (Mr Yadav) personal attention, particularly as a descendant of Lord Krishna, would materialize the railway project and boost the high potential tourism sector of this Himalayan state, known as the last Sangri-La on the earth”, red the memorandum.

Subsequently, the ACCI had also written to the PMO and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi besides forwarding copy to both MPs for follow up action, Nachung recalled today, and added that the rail link would boost the socio-economic development of this land-locked state. His reaction came after witnessing the engine running on the track.

Aimed at breaking the sense of isolation of the North East India, the Planning Commission had approved several projects for the NE during the 11th Five Year Plan.

The completion of ambitious 4.315-km Bogibeel road, 198-km Lumding-Silchar-Jiribam gauge conversion, 100-km Ziribam-Imphal extension project to link Manipur, the 108-km Kumarghat-Agartala, Jiribhum-Tulpul; Dimapur-Zuzba; Azra-Byrnihat the gauge conversion of Rangiya-Murkongsele, 84-km Badarpur-Bhairabi section for gauge link to Mizoram, and the 15-km Amguri-Tuli line would expand the rail network in the region.

It is commonly believed that the British rulers during 1858 to 1947 did more good to India than the Indian rulers did since then. For the British came as traders and undertook development work intended to flourish their trade. This was cited by Yadav, who in his 2007 Railway Budget speech had said: “Even the foreign government of the British had understood this fact and from 1833 to 1900, they built 40,000 km of rail track whereas we constructed only 8,000 km of rail track between 1947 to 1995″.

Though the average rail density of India is 19.13 and the NE is one of the poorest, Assam stands at 31.9 while the ratio of other states (in descending order) is Delhi (138.2) followed by West Bengal (43.4), Punjab (41.6), Haryana (36.1), Bihar (35.9), Uttar Pradesh (35.8) and Tamil Nadu (32.1).

Gogoi woos Barak Valley voters with Rail link to Kolkata

Silchar सिलचर (SCL): Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday wooed voters in the Barak Valley by promising to link Karimganj with Kolkata by laying railway tracks via Bangladesh.

Addressing an election rally in Karimganj in southern Assam, Gogoi said Silchar is a major business hub and an important town of the state near Bangladesh. The railway project would facilitate expansion of trade between the two countries and also reduce the distance between the Barak Valley and Kolkata.

The Chief Minister said he will take up the issue with the Centre so that it can take it up with Dhaka.

A railway track from Mahishashan, India’s last railway station in Karimganj, stretches up to Sylhet in Bangladesh. However, the track has remained abandoned for the last four decades for diplomatic reasons, a source said.

Addressing the rally organized in support of Congress nominee Lalit Mohan Shuklabaidya for Karimganj Lok Sabha seat, Gogoi said he had promised a package of Rs 1,000 crore before the last assembly election, if most of the seats in the Barak Valley were won by Congress and had kept his promise after coming to power in 2011. “Now, I promise another package for the Barak Valley if Congress wins both Karimganj and Silchar Lok Sabha seats,” said the chief minister.

Addressing a 3000-strong crowd on the Public School ground in the border town, Gogoi said there was no ‘Modi wave’ in Assam. It was only ‘Gogoi wave’ across the state, he claimed.

“I will continue to remain the Chief Minister of Assam and Rahul Gandhi will be the Prime Minister after the general elections,” said Gogoi. He said AIUDF is the ‘B-Team’ of BJP in Assam. “Narendra Modi never spoke a word against AIUDF during his visits to the state. Both Modi and Badaruddin Ajmal have made it a habit to criticize me and Congress. Don’t vote for both the parties. They are two sides of the same coin,” said the Chief Minister.

However, Minister for Cooperation and Border Area Development Siddeq Ahmed didn’t attend the rally. A source said he was unhappy that Public Health Engineering Minister Gautom Roy was accompanying the Chief Minister at the meeting.

East Central Railway GM inspects work on Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge

rail-cum-road-bridgePatna पटना (PNBE): East Central Railway (ECR) GM Madhuresh Kumar on Saturday inspected the ongoing work on the Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge in Patna and directed officials concerned to maintain a close coordination with district officials of Patna and Saran to remove all encroachments on roads for smooth construction of the bridge. The bridge is to be commissioned on March 31, 2015.

Giving this information, ECR CPRO Arvind Rajak said the GM also directed officials to float tenders for the leftover work.

The GM asked the agencies engaged in the work to complete girder erection work fast and complete road deck also. Out of 36 spans, railways has almost completed 24 spans of the bridge, 13 from the south end and 11 from the north end, sources said.

According to ECR GM, railways has adopted a calculated strategy to complete the project in time and dedicate the bridge to the nation by the end of March 2015. Technical experts of railways are supervising the quality of work of the bridge.

Besides, railways is carrying out fabrication and erection work on the rail bridge which is going on in full swing. The distance between two spans is about 131 metre.

According to sources, the whole project is likely to be completed at an estimated cost of about Rs 2,921 crore which includes cost of road construction work on the bridge. This is going to be the longest rail-cum-road bridge of Indian Railways having a length of about 4.5km.

This bridge will connect south and north ends to the state capital. Railways is building two stations Pataliputra in the south and Pahelja in the north end to cope with traffic flow after commissioning of the bridge. While Pataliputra station is almost complete, work on Pahelja railway station is going on, sources said.

According to Rajak, while width of the road on the bridge will be about 9.075 metre, the path for the convenience of the pedestrians will have 1.5 metre width.

Montek for Railways as a Public Sector Enterprise

MontekShahpur शाहपुर: The Railways should be converted into a public sector corporation. It is running like a government department and not performing as per expectations. The Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia stated this while interacting with students of the Central University Himachal Pradesh here today.

Ahluwalia said a few decades ago, the infrastructure of the Railways was on a par with that of China. The latter is now far ahead of India in terms of railway network infrastructure. The basic reason for that is that China has refurbished its railways ministry whereas in India, it is just like any other government department.

He said the total subsidy on passenger freight in India is around Rs.20000 crores annually. In China, the passenger fare in railways is more than commercial freight rates. In India, it is the reverse. In case the commercial and passenger freights in Indian railways were rationalised, it could help in the industry’s growth, Ahluwalia said.

Earlier, while delivering a lecture on Indian Economic Objectives and Prospects, Montek said in the last two years, the annual growth rate of the Indian economy had gone down from 8 per cent to 5 per cent. Two-third of the reasons for the slowdown in the Indian economy were domestic while one-third of these were linked to the global slowdown, he said.

The basic domestic reasons responsible for slowdown in the Indian economy were environmental clearances and increasing non-performing assets of the banks and non-availability of finances in the market, he added. In the last one decade, there has been a huge increase in investments in India.

The systems in India for environmental clearances were unable to cope with increase in investment proposals, he said. Another reason for the economic slowdown was uncertainty in policy in view of the polls, he added. Whichever government is voted to power in India after May, the economy would achieve a growth rate of about 5.5 per cent this year and about 7 per cent next year, he said.

The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission claimed there had been reduction in poverty in India in the last 10 years. About 140 million people in India had come out of the poverty line in the last 10 years, he said, quoting a poverty measure whose authenticity has been doubted of late.

About the allegation that the poor were getting poorer due to the policies of the present government, he said it was not true. He said though there was no data on income to substantiate the fact that poor were getting poorer in the country, in terms of consumption index, there has been a small increase in inequality in the Indian society. He said the view regarding increasing inequality in the Indian society has been created by media.

In many foreign countries, products meant for the middle class are advertised. In the Indian media, the products meant for the high end society are largely advertised. This has created an impression that the gap between rich and poor is increasing, claimed Ahluwalia.

Highlights of Ahluwalia’s speech

  • Ahluwalia said China was far ahead of India in terms of railway network infrastructure
  • China had refurbished its railways ministry whereas in India, it is just like any other government department, he said
  • About 140 million people in India had come out of the poverty line in the last 10 years, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman said, quoting a poverty measure whose authenticity has been doubted of late.

Mookambika Railway Yatri Sangha urge KRCL to extend Bhatkal train till Madgaon

Mookambika Road (BYNR): The Mookambika Railway Yatri Sangha, Byndoor has appealed the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) to extend the Mangalore Central – Bhatkal Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) service up to Madgaon.

Issuing a press release, president of the Sangha, K. Venkatesh Kini said that the present schedule of the DEMU service was not convenient for the passengers as the DEMU service from Bhatkal often arrived late to Mangalore Centre resulting in lack of the expected public response. Hence, he said, it was necessary to extend the service up to Madgaon.

It may be noted that during the last Konkan Railway Users Consultative Committee meeting, a similar demand was made But the KRCL officers has responded that running of DEMU service between Karwar and Mangalore would be considered after successful installation of bio-toilets.

As the Mangalore-Bhatkal DEMU service already had toilet and water facility, it is possible to extend it to Madgaon.

Lucknow Residents blame Railways of encroaching LDA land

Lucknow लखनऊ (LKO): Northern Railway’s decision to build a boundary wall in the fully developed Lucknow Development Authority colony of Vineet Khand-5, Gomtinagar has left around 50 families in jeopardy as their properties come within the wall’s ambit. They bought plots from LDA years ago and some even built houses.

After inhabiting the area for almost 13 years, locals found their plots occupied by Northern Railways. Since the area is close to railway land, there has been a decade-old disagreement between railways and LDA on land-sharing. The matter once again came to the fore this week when residents found a railway contractor digging their plots on the main Nagar Nigam road and blocking entry to the park of the area.

Railways want to build a memu-train shed, hence digging land to erect boundary wall around it. Allotees of the plot complain the contractor has ruined most underground infrastructures of the colony during land cutting. The locals said LDA and railways had already done a demarcation survey jointly in 2003 and had installed division poles on the land.

LDA developed facilities like sewerage, drainage, water supply and electricity infrastructure in the colony by 2002 and allotted it to owners a year later. The colony was transferred to Municipal Corporation in 2008. The sudden land cutting led to huge public resentment forcing the contractor to leave the spot. On Sunday, all affected families gathered on the disputed land to oppose construction and plan future course.

Property owner Ajay Shrivastav said “we have complained to LDA and LMC several times and both agencies have written strong letters to railway authorities for restoration of the road and for action against the railway contractor. After repeated reminders, railway authorities finally turned up on Saturday and agreed to conduct a joint survey again for demarcating the land.”

Meanwhile, railways’ action has caused resentment among allottees who say they expected clear ownership of land when buying it from LDA. They are now demanding that LDA must set up a boundary wall demarcating its land, to check any future attempt by the railways. LDA had acquired this land from Husedia village farmers to develop the colony in late 1990s.

LDA’s stand

LDA has not only allotted plots but also constructed roads, parks, laid down sewer and electricity lines years ago. Railways had then not expressed any objection. Their attempt to react after such a long time and claim the LDA land is unfair.

Railway’s stand

A railway land will always remain railway’s, irrespective of when we want to build a facility there. As per revenue records, map shows the land belongs to us. We want to build memu-train shed for maintenance. It is LDA’s mistake to allott them plots in our land knowingly. Earlier, during demarcation survey of 2003 too, LDA had made such folly for which it had ended up cancelling around 40 odd plots.

Namma Metro: Precious space gone waste

svroadmetroBangalore बंगलौर (SBC): The concrete marvel, that is the Metro Rail, is as inconvenient as it is convenient. Though its world-class infrastructure makes people reach their destination in a jiffy, sometimes the huge stretches that are used to make a station leave one wondering if so much space is required for it.

One such example is the Swami Vivekananda Metro Station.  The entrance to the station (from the Baiyappanahalli side back to MG Road) is on a massive road that could take a huge load of traffic.

Yet the irony is that vehicles aren’t allowed to move in here and there is a huge pile-up of traffic on the main road outside.

Metrolife interacts with the authorities and citizens using this stretch to find out the solution.

Pallavi, a lecturer at East Point of Higher Education who stays in Pai Layout near Gopalan Mall, feels that the stretch is wasted.

“We have to wait for 20 minutes on the road outside to clear the signal. The least the authorities can do is provide parking here,” she laments.

Dinesh, a second-PUC student, notes that the traffic is really bad during peak hours.

“I often travel between Baiyappanahalli and Ulsoor and in the evenings, it takes at least 15 minutes to clear this stretch. This space could be made more useful,” he notes.

A second-PUC student of Indiranagar Composite PU College, Chaitra points out certain good things about the clear space.

“When it rains, one can take shelter here. Even when it’s too sunny, it’s a cool stretch to be at. In the mornings, one can see people enjoying their walks while children play and cycle here even though it’s not allowed,” she says.

Jayashree, an accountant, feels that if the stretch is used better, the Bengaluru Santhe could be given more visibility.

The authorities, who are slowly but tastefully using the space at the stations to build cultural spaces like Rangoli Metro Art Centre and Bengaluru Santhe, which is currently at this station, have more plans.

Explaining why traffic isn’t allowed to move here at present, UA Vasanth Rao, general manager (finance), Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, says, “If we allow the traffic coming from MG Road through this stretch, it will get choked at the end of this stretch near the other half of Bengaluru Santhe, which will make the situation worse. That’s why we are planning to come up with three flyovers near Suranjandas Road,” he says.

The BDA, BBMP and BMRCL will be discussing this with the State Government, he informs.

“Once these flyovers come up, we will open one half of the stretch for vehicles. The original idea was for people using the Metro Rail to use this space as a pick-up and drop point,” he notes.

On the other half of the stretch towards the footpath and station, the authorities plan to open a world-class food court.

“Since this road leads to the IT corridor, we plan to open a grand food court that will have the most well-known food outlets, which will maintain hygiene and keep the surroundings clean. It will be open till 1 am. We will spruce up the place so that people can sit and enjoy or take away as they drive through. So while one half of the road will be for people using the food court, the other half will be open to regular traffic. And people can always park at the existing parking facility at the station,” he sums up.

Ahmedabad-Mumbai High-speed railway project talks put on fast track

530-odd kilometres between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be covered in just 2 hours

Ahmedabad अहमदाबाद (ADI): The ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed railway project had its first full-fledged meeting at the Railway Ministry earlier this week. Representatives from Maharashtra, Gujarat, the Japanese Industrial Cooperation Agency (JICA), and railway board officials attended it.

According to sources, the meeting was held to bring about a broad consensus on the project, especially between the governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The project, among the most ambitious ones the railways has on its plate, will see trains running between Mumbai and Ahmedabad at more than 300 kilometres per hour and try to complete the
530-odd kilometres between the two cities in around two hours.

According to officials, one of the things agreed upon was to start the line from Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and then take it to Thane and onward to Virar. While the state government is keen that the line also touches Belapur to bring Navi Mumbai in the ambit, railway officials said the Bealpur detour is best avoided.

Another issue that was discussed, said sources, was to ensure that the terminal to come up at BKC have a connection to the BKC metro station envisaged as part of the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz metro line III. “That will allow people from the southern part of Mumbai to reach BKC and board the train. With the train taking around the same time as a flight, we do believe that a lot of people will be patronising it. And south Mumbai has a sizeable chunk of people who travel frequently to Gujarat,” said the official.

According to officials, there is still some ambiguity over where the terminal at Ahmedabad would be. “The railways is of the view that it should be a little away from the present Ahmedabad station,” said an official.

With its price ranging between Rs.35,000 to Rs.60,000 crore, officials said the project will require a major push from the Gujarat government if it has to be successful. “More than Mumbai, it will be a game-changer for Gujarat since several of its big cities will be part of the network,” said an official.

The project was to start from Pune but the Mumbai-Pune leg had to be dropped due to the massive cost involved in laying a high-speed network in the mountainous terrain around Pune.

Alert Railway Staff avert major train mishap: Rajdhani Express escapes train fire

Smoke seen in New Delhi-Ahmedabad Rajdhani Express, major mishap averted

Sojat Road सोजत रोड (SOD):  An alert railway staff on Sunday averted what would have been a major mishap by stopping the New Delhi-Ahmedabad Rajdhani train near Sojat Road station and putting out the smoke coming out of an SLR coach.

A pointman at Sojat Road station, which falls along Ajmer-Marwar Junction route, observed the smoke emerging from the SLR coach of the New Delhi-Ahmedabad Swaran Jayanti Rajdhani Express train at around 4 am, and informed the station master who immediately contacted the train guard who stopped the train in between Sojat-road and Bhaisna where the crew members put out the smoke, chief PRO and DGM of NWR Tarun Jain said.

The train was stopped between Sojat-road and Bhaisna railway station, and the affected SLR coach was removed at Bhaisna railway station, Jain said.

NWR General Manager, R C Agarwal announced awards for the railway employees who averted the mishap, he said.

In another incident, the engine of Marudhar train (Jodhpur-Delhi) developed a technical snag in between Bandikui and Dausa railway station early on Sunday, an RPF inspector said.

The train was halted till the new engine was shuttled with it, he said, adding the train was halted for about half hour.

JD Seelam to pursue Railway Zone for AP

Headquarters may be located at either Vijayawada or Vizag, he says

Visakhapatnam विशाखापट्टनम (VSKP):  Union Minister of State for Revenue JD Seelam has said the Congress rule has not been exemplary, but then all the benefits that the poor are enjoying are a result of schemes that have been formulated and implemented by different Congress regimes. Addressing a media conference here on Sunday before leaving for Paderu the Union Minister said the sporadic incidents of violence against Dalits and tribal people cannot take away the credit from the Congress as it was the only party which was committed to serving the poor.

He lashed out at non-Congress political leaders of the State for trying to push the blame of bifurcation on the Congress and said AICC president Sonia Gandhi with a painful heart took the decision to divide the State and in the same breath welcomed bifurcation terming it as beneficial to the people of AP.

He came down heavily on the political leaders who quit the Congress after the bifurcation and were now trying to paint the party with a tar brush.

Referring to reports that the Railway Board had turned down the decision on formation of a new Railway Zone in AP, he said he would call for the file and study the grounds on which the officials of the Railway Board had reached a conclusion. There was no way the officials can turn down the directive of the government, he said and added that he would send a letter to the board along with the relevant provisions in the Reorganisation of AP Act 2014, which would have to be honoured.

The headquarters of the new Railway Zone could be either Vijayawada or Visakhapatnam, he said.

No Railway Zone for Residual Andhra; No Coach Factory for Telangana: Railway Board

Hyderabad हैदराबाद (HYB):The railway ministry has dashed the hopes of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh by informing the state government that it is not possible to establish a new railway zone exclusively for AP and that “it is not needed to set up a rail coach factory in Telangana”. A communication to this effect was also submitted to the Union home ministry, which is overseeing the division process and compliance of the promises made during the passage of the AP Reorganisation Act in Parliament.

In the 13th schedule of the Act, it was assured that the Centre will examine the proposal of a new railway zone in residuary Andhra Pradesh and the feasibility of a rail coach factory in Telangana. But the railway ministry, four days ago, made it clear that a rail coach factory in Telangana is “not needed as the existing capacity and planned capacity is sufficient to meet future needs”. With regard to the new railway zone, the ministry said “the proposal is not justified due to financial, geographical and other reasons.” People had hoped that the railway zone would boost transport facilities and exports.

The ministry’s stance has taken the state government aback. “It is mere reiteration of their old stance on both the issues. A separate railway zone and inclusion of Waltair division in the South Central Railway zone are pending for long. The railway ministry has refused to meet the demand based on a financial viability report,” said a source in the government.

Meanwhile, in more bad news for Telangana, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) informed the state government and the Centre that it has no new coal linkage to take up the 4,000 MW thermal power plant for the state. NTPC also informed the Centre that without new coal linkage, it could not take up such a massive thermal project.

“NTPC has been asked to re-prioritize its present coal allocations. However, it has not shown interest and has instead asked the state government to provide land and water first,” said a source.

With no coal, power sector officials said it is next to impossible to set up the thermal unit, which needs more than 10 lakh tonnes of high calorie coal supply every month.

Chief secretary PK Mohanty held talks with the cabinet secretary and officials of 18 ministries in New Delhi on Thursday to update them on the progress made on the division process.

RLDA floats EOI for commercial development of 4.3 hectares of Prime Land in Bandra (E)

INR 2500 Crore is what Railways will get by leasing one land parcel in Bandra

 

Bandra बांद्रा (BA):  The Indian Railways has floated tenders seeking interest from real estate developers for commercial development of 4.3 hectares of a prime land parcel in Bandra (East). The land, which will be given to successful bidders on a 45-year lease, is expected to fetch railways Rs.2,500-3,000 crore, said sources in know of the development.

Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) is undertaking the task of commercial exploitation of this land, which will have a floor space index (FSI) of 4.

The Maharashtra government had increased the FSI limit of this land from 2 to 4 in 2008. Of the additional FSI, nearly 60% of the proceeds will be utilised for funding the Rs.5,300 crore Phase II of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) by Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC).

MRVC is a public sector undertaking incorporated in 1999 and primarily carries out capacity augmentation works for the sub-urban railway system in the Greater Mumbai area.

Since the centrally located land abutting Western Express Highway has 16% area under coastal regulation zone (CRZ), the effective FSI on the plot will be 3.68, according to the bid document.

“This is a contiguous parcel of land in a prime location and should attract a lot of interest from developers. If executed well, this commercial development could be good competition to the financial centre of Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC),” says Sanjiv Chaudhary, Director for valuation and advisory (Western Region), Colliers International – a global real estate consultants.

However, being a new development and given the approval and development risks involved, the property may command a slightly low capital value and rentals initially as compared to BKC.

“The expected capital value should be in the range of Rs.20,000 to Rs.25,000 per square feet for this new development. Rentals would be around Rs.200 per square feet per month,” he said. BKC capital values range between Rs.26,000 per square feet to Rs.35,000 per square feet for ready properties, while rentals range in Rs.220-350 per square feet per month.

The much-delayed process of putting the land for commercial development first started in 2008. However, the proposal was met with opposition from some citizens who disputed the ownership of the land, when RLDA first invited bids six years back. It was in 2012 that Maharashtra’s revenue department vacated the stay on the said land and directed the Mumbai suburban district collector to carry out measurement and demarcation.

“There were some legal issues that needed to be sorted even after that, which are over now and so the tenders for the land have been floated. We hope that the process goes on smoothly as a substantial amount of earning from development of this land will be utilised for the ongoing MUTP-Phase II,” says Rakesh Saksena, Managing Director, MRVC.

The bidder will be selected based on the amount quoted for payments to be made to RLDA as a combination of one or more of the following — lease premium, annual lease rent and percentage share from project revenues.

The selected bidder shall deposit commitment security of Rs.60 crore within 15 days of issue of ‘letter of demand’ from RLDA after opening of the financial bid. The project has to be implemented through a special purpose company (SPC) to be set up by the selected bidder.

The paid up and subscribed share capital of the SPC at the time of signing of the lease agreement with RLDA should not be less than Rs.175 crore.

The SPC created will also be required to open and operate an escrow account in which 75% of project revenue shall mandatory be set aside towards payment of outstanding installments of lease premium to RLDA.

In case of lease premium, the selected bidder will be required to pay 15% of the lease premium amount within 60 days from the date of issue of letter of acceptance (LOA) by RLDA. The total lease premium is to be paid within five years from the date of payment of the first installment. As for annual lease, rent shall be revised upwards by 15% every three years (compounded) during the entire term.

Grant Thornton is the consultant on the project and the bids will be evaluated by the consultant along with RLDA. The last date for submission of bids is June 3, 2014.

Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation positive on talks with French financing agency

Lucknow लखनऊ (LKO): Officials from Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation on Friday had a meeting with French financial institution Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) regarding funding of the metro project.

The meeting was organized by the Union Finance Ministry’s Department of Economic Affairs for various Indian projects which the agency is considering for funding.

The French agency has shown interest to extend a loan to the Lucknow metro rail project. LMRC Managing Director Rajeev Agarwal said, “The discussions with the French agency have been positive so far”.

The final decision would come after a series of negotiations, deliberations and loan formalities.

According to LMRC, the conference was for projects already funded by the international bank and those in the pipeline. The fact that DEA invited LMRC for discussions with the bank is a signal that the department is positive about its association with the bank, said an official. A team of experts from AFD has visited the proposed site for the corridor construction.

The cost of the project would be shared between the state government, the Centre and the external agency in the ratio of 20:20:60. LMRC would need around 450 million euros from the agency.

The corporation said it had the required budget to start the project. The state government is expected to allocate some funds towards the metro project in June.

LMRC also said since the loan amount was heavy, DEA might consider more than one international bank for financing. Agarwal said DEA would organize a meeting with the European Investment Bank and a team from there might visit Lucknow soon.

Mott MacDonald provides Engineering & Architectural services for Bangalore Metro Phase-II

Mott Mc DonaldBangalore बेंगलूर (SBC): The civil-engineering group Mott MacDonald is providing detailed engineering and architectural services for the second phase of the Bangalore metro rail project in India. The London-based consultancy is providing the detailed design of the east-west corridor extension from Byappanahalli to Whitefield via the International Tech Park.

This is made up of 16 km of viaduct, 13 elevated stations and a new inter-modal transit hub at Baiyappanhalli. Mott MacDonald is also designing the 6.3km elevated viaduct in the extension of the north-south corridor from Puttenahalli Cross to Anjanapura Township, including five elevated stations.

S Pramod Kumar, Mott MacDonald’s project director, said: “Our work on the second phase of this project builds on our phase-one role as a detailed design consultant. We’re designing five underground stations, as well as providing mechanical, electrical and public-health engineering services for a sixth underground station. When the transport system is finished, it will be capable of carrying 1.5 million passengers per day and will reduce journey times across the city. It is also expected to cut traffic congestion and fuel use, minimising both carbon emissions and road accidents.”

The second-phase work should be completed in 2017.

NCR Allahabad notifies recruitment for 18 Teaching Posts in Railway Schools

Allahabad इलाहाबाद (ALD):  North Central Railway, Allahabad has invited applications for the recruitment to the posts of Lecturer (PGT), Assistant Teacher (TGT) and Primary Teacher. Selected candidates will be hired on a part time contractual basis and shall be confirmed based on administrative decisions after the expiry of the contract period.

Last date for application is May 10, 2014.

Vacancies
Lecturer (Post Graduate Teacher)
Biology: 1 post
Economics: 1 post
Commerce: 1 post
History + Civics: 1 post

Assistant Teacher (Trained Graduate Teacher)
Music/ Vocal: 1 post
PT (Male): 1 post
Maths + Science: 4 posts
Scocial Science: 1 post

PRT (Primary Teacher): 2 posts

Eligibility
Age of the candidate should be above 18 years and below 65 years. Candidate should have completed Graduation/ post Graduation in a relevant subject with minimum 50 per cent marks from a recognized University. Candidates should be able to teach in Hindi/English.

Selection

Eligible candidates will be selected on the basis of performance in an interview.

How to Apply

Interested candidates can apply offline by submitting the duly filled application form with attested copies of relevant certificates to Principal, North Central Railway College, Tundla, District- Firozabad, Pin-283204 (UP).

Important Dates

Last date for application: May 10, 2014
Release of short listed candidates for the interview: May 20, 2014
Interview to be held on May 21, 2014 and May 22, 2014

Robbery Bid on Train Foiled

Kalluru कल्लूर (KLU):  Two alert Railway policemen foiled an attempt by some miscreants to loot the passengers in a sleeper coach of the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express (Train No. 16591) near Kallur in the Garladinne mandal limits by opening fire in the early hours of Saturday.

The miscreants, who had occupied berths/seats in S1 and S8 coaches, moved to the S2 compartment around 2 a.m and pulled the alarm chain and halted the train when it was pasing by Kallur. However, when the miscreants tried to snatch the gold ornaments from two women passengers in the coach, the latter raised an alarm. Railway police

constables S Siva Prasad and N Narasimhulu, who were on duty in the compartment, sensed that some trouble was afoot and opened a round of fire forcing the miscreants to abandon their ‘operation’, jump off the train and escape from the scene taking advantage of the darkness.

As National Highway 44 is close to the spot where the train was halted, it is suspected that the miscreants had pre-planned their ‘operation’ so that they could escape once it was over.

Though the two women passengers – Ratnamma and Chennamma – who were  targeted by the burglars did not lodge any complaint, the railway police registered a case.

Guntakal Railway DSP KM Madhu said that providentially no one was injured in the firing.

NCR organizes national conference on its 10th Anniversary

Allahabad इलाहाबाद (ALD): The North Central Railway zone organised a two day multi-specialty national conference called ‘Medi Sangam 2014′ on its ten years of completion at central hall of DSA grounds on Saturday.

Director General, Railway Health Services, Railway Board, Mr.P.S.Prasad and General Manager, NCR, Pradeep Kumar inaugurated the conference.

Speaking on the occasion, Prasad said, “Indian Railways provides medical services to more than 60 lakh employees and their families throughout the country.

Our service record is excellent and we have been giving our best despite limited resources.”

He also laid impetus on making the railway medical services more attractive and patient friendly and suggested for service sponsored candidature for railway medical doctors for undertaking post graduate courses.

Whereas Pradeep Kumar while welcoming the doctors, said, “Our railway fraternity will be greatly benefited by guidance provided by the doctors which will help us in maintaining better medical services.

The doctors who presented their papers in the conference included Dr Prashant Sharma of PGI Chandigarh, Dr SP Mishra of Motilal Nehru Medical College of Allahabad, Dr Manisha Dwivedi, Dr A Dutta, Dr Shabi Ahmad among others.

The programme is also being organized in commemoration of 90 years of railway hospital of Allahabad.

Delhi HC notice on railway water quality

New Delhi नई दिल्ली: The Delhi high court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea seeking improvement in the quality of drinking water in Indian Railways and a probe into alleged manipulation while awarding contracts for supply of chlorination plants.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul gave time till May 14 to the railway ministry and Northern Railway general manager to respond.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation. Appearing for it, advocate Prashant Bhushan told the court that the railway ministry has failed to ensure supply of safe drinking water to millions of rail passengers, besides its own staff residing in railway colonies.

The PIL claimed several people are facing the threat of diseases due to contaminated water being provided.

“There are serious deficiencies in the water quality testing and monitoring in the railways, with the result that despite an extremely high rate of sample failure in tests of water quality, no action is taken to protect the consumers from risks of water-borne diseases,” the plea said.

The PIL urged HC to step in and initiate a court monitored-probe by a special investigation team or the CBI into the irregularities around awarding of contract for supply of chlorination plants by the government.

“Serious irregularities in the award of contracts for supply of chlorination plants have also come to light. In fact, the failure of the railways to provide working chlorination plants for past several years is the most important cause of the poor quality of water,” the petition added.

It further highlights that in November 2013, the chief engineer sent officials to carry out inspections at major stations where chlorination was outsourced to contractors. The inspection also showed unsatisfactory condition of chlorination plants, and several plants were found to be under complete breakdown.

Rs.375 Crore allocated to MUTP-II, Rs.16 Crore for ATVMs

Mumbai मुम्बई:  The suburban train network has got a generous allocation in the railway budget. Apart from funds for passenger amenities, the railway board has allotted a substantial amount for Mumbai Urban Transport Project II. Though the interim railway budget was presented on February 12, the pink book that authorized expenditure under various heads of accounts was made available just a few days ago.

A railway official said, “Crucial projects like MUTP, Seawoods-Belapur-Uran line and mobile ticketing system have got substantial funds.”

For example, Rs 375 crore has been allocated to MUTP-II, under which works like laying of additional lines on both CR and WR, conversion of traction from DC to AC, extension of Harbour line from Andheri to Goregaon is being carried out.

An official said, “The board has also decided to allocate Rs 16 crore for ATVMs.”

While Rs 5 crore has been allotted for FOBs at Borivli, a total 71 escalators across stations have been approved.

Traffic snarls at Nahur railway station

Mumbai मुम्बई:  The road connecting the Eastern Express highway and Hedgewar chowk(Bhandup Sonapur junction) on LBS road, witnesses heavy traffic throughout the day. The road has already been widened to a large extent. The road becomes narrow near Nahur railway station, as the bridge above the railway line is narrow. So, traffic jam occurs here during peak hours.

Also, people going to and coming out of Nahur railway station find it difficult to cross the road, as there is a continuous flow of vehicles at this point. There is no traffic signal at this area. No traffic police is present at this place to regulate the traffic. The footpath which was present on the bridge, is now used as a road by cars, auto rickshaws and two wheelers.

Now, there is hardly any space for pedestrians to walk on the bridge. The authorities should widen the bridge for the smooth flow of vehicles. Proper footpath should also come up. Installing a traffic signal near the station will help people cross the road. The authorities can also build a skywalk from the station to this road for the fast dispersal of crowd.

Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation clash with Railways over Hoardings on Railway Land

Malad, Mumbai मलाड, मुम्बई: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Western Railway (WR) are on a collision course over advertisement hoardings after a senior BMC official on Saturday pulled down three hoardings from railway land near Malad station. The reason given by the BMC officials was that the hoardings were “distracting” motorists using the road along the western side of Malad station.

However, for the WR the hoardings that the BMC removed are part of a Rs.2.09 crore contract given to a private advertiser for putting up hoardings between Dadar and Kandivli stations, which could end up in legal complications if the BMC threatens more such action, said an official.

The immediate loss calculated by the WR due to removal of hoardings is Rs.5.99 lakh and WR officials say that if the hoardings are not put back in place quickly, the advertising firm that has got the contract can demand a refund.

The matter has reached the highest levels of both agencies with sources tell that the WR divisional railway manager Shailendra Kumar had a talk with BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte over the BMC action. “The hoardings are on railway land and allowing the BMC to come in and take action would set a bad precedent. It could lead to revenue loss for the railways and secondly can also see our advertising contractors dragging the railways to court over contractual obligations,” said a senior railway official.

For WR’s Mumbai division, the BMC action comes at a time when it has just about managed to achieve the advertisement revenue target set for them by the railway board. In fact, almost all other divisions on the railways have failed to achieve their targets, according to railway officials.

The Rs45.09 crore WR’s Mumbai division made was a 59 per cent jump from last year when it made around Rs.30 crore.

The other reason is that for WR’s Mumbai division, advertisement revenue is a sizeable chunk of the money that flows into its coffers. Advertisement revenue of Rs.45 crore is higher than what it earned from freight, which stood at Rs.29 crore, and ticketless travel, which stood at Rs.36 crore.

Ahmedabad-Ujjain Special Train extended to Indore

Ujjain उज्जैन (UJN): To meet the additional traffic during summer vacation, the Western Railways (WR) has decided to extend train no-09415/09416 Ahmedabad-Ujjain summer special to Indore from April 12.

According to a WR release, the train no 09416 Indore-Ahmedabad Weekly Summer Special will make a total 13 trips between April 12 to June 28. The train no 09416 will leave Indore every Saturday morning at 1055 hours and reach Ahmedabad at 2150 hours same day.

It will stop at Devas, Ujjain, Nagda, Ratlam, Dahod, Godhra, Vadodara, Anand and Nadiad.

The train no 09415 Ahmedabad-Indore will leave Ahmedabad every Friday at 2320 hours and reach Indore at 1015 hours next day.

The special train will have one AC, three 3rd AC, 12 sleeper class and 6 general coaches, the release added.

SCR fetes women Handball team

Secunderabad सिकंदराबाद (SC):  The South Central Railway (SCR) women team members, which won silver in the 7th All India Railway Handball Championship, held recently in Gorakhpur, were accorded a grand reception on arrival at the headquarters late Friday.

In the finals, SCR lost to South East Central Railway (Bilaspur).

Soon after they called on P K Srivastava, General Manager, South Central Railway, he appreciated the team members for their good performance during the championship.

Gajanan Mallya, Senior Deputy General Manager and President, South Central Railway Sports Association (SCRSA), K V Sivaprasad, General Secretary, SCRSA, were present on the occasion.

New Superfast Train between Mumbai and Varanasi

Varanasi  वाराणसी (BSB): Railways have decided to run a premier superfast special between Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) and Varanasi.

This train will depart from LTT at 7:50 am and after passing through the route of Kalyan, Igatpuri, Bhusawal, Itarsi it will reach Jabalpur at 10:25 pm, Satna at 1:10 am, Chheoki at 4:30 am and finally terminate at Varanasi at 7:45 am.

During the return journey, the train will depart from Varanasi at 9:45 am and will arrive at Chheoki at 12:20 pm, Satna at 3:30 pm, Jabalpur at 6:50 pm and after going through the above mentioned route it will terminate at LTT at 11:50 pm.

This train will depart from LTT end on April 11 and from Varanasi end on April 12. This train comprises of six AC-III tier and ten sleeper coaches.

Artesyn Tech launches New DC-DC Converter Module for Railway Rolling Stock requirements

AET_logo_rgb_LRArtesyn Embedded Technologies, formerly Emerson Network Power’s Embedded Computing & Power business, today launched a new family of high performance DC-DC converter modules – the ERM family – to meet the power demands and safety standard requirements of railway rolling stock applications.

Artesyn 1396028920An advanced circuit topology gives Artesyn’s ERM family a very high efficiency of up to 92 percent. Encapsulated in a compact quarter-brick form factor with metal base-plate, the ERM family is protected from atmospheric conditions without additional conformal coating being required. The isolated base-plate with threaded inserts can accept an optional heat sink or be used to cold-wall mount the new modules.

The ERM family features a reinforced insulation system as required by the general specification of high voltage input and low voltage output. Combined with high EMC immunity, this qualifies these new dc-dc converters for the many demanding embedded power applications in railway and other transportation systems.

Artesyn’s new ERM family complies with the railway industry specifications EN 50155 and 50121-3-2 and has been tested to the vibration and thermal shock requirements of EN 61373. It is ideal for rolling stock applications such as engine management, traction control, door control, video surveillance, communications, entertainment, lighting and other on-board electrical equipment.

The first two series in the ERM family, the ERM75 and ERM50, offer 75 W and 50 W maximum power output respectively. Each series includes eight models with 5 V, 12 V, 15 V, or 24 V outputs and input ranges of 43 Vdc to 101 Vdc (72 Vdc nominal) or 66 Vdc to 160 Vdc (110 Vdc nominal). The dc-dc converter modules have a wide operating temperature range of minus 40 degrees Celsius to 85 degrees Celsius with derating. The ERM family’s quarter-brick format measures 57.9 x 36.8 x 12.7 mm (2.28 x 1.45 x 0.50 inches).

Artesyn’s new ERM family builds on an existing portfolio of standard ac-dc and dc-dc power conversion products that are already widely used in rail control and infrastructure applications, such as signaling, control systems, access control, ticketing, RFID and information displays.

IRCTC Launches Dial-A-Meal In South!

Chennai चेन्नई (MAS): There are number of startups who have cropped up over last couple of years, who cater to Indian Railways passengers by providing them meals on trains, which are either pre-booked on phone or on the internet.

The need for such service is high, due to the dismal quality of food provided by IRCTC through it’s own pantry within the trains. Many trains do not even have their own pantry, leaving the passengers at mercy of sub-standard food sold railway station vendors.

Now, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) South Zone has come up with an interesting initiative called Dial-A-Meal, where passengers can call a designated number (90432777777) and order their favorite food from a reputed third party food chain.

Currently IRCTC has partnered with with Ratna Café in Chennai Railway station to provide their menu of food items. The menu would have about 100 different types of items ranging from tiffin, snacks, sweets, biryani to mini-meals.

The customers will need to call the number 40 minutes and advance and place the order for their food items between 6 a.m to 11 p.m. According to IRCTC, this service will be very useful to travelers who arrive at Chennai Central at odd hours.

This is how it will work – Once the traveler places the order, he will need to visit the vendor’s outlet at the station and pick-up their food items and then pay the money. They will need to provide the reference number given to them while placing the order on the phone.

Currently this Dial-A-Meal can only be ordered on a phone, but soon IRCTC will also introducing web based reservation system.
Our View

While we applaud IRCTC taking this initiative, we are doubtful about it’s effectiveness. Travelers have food problems, especially during late night and early morning hours. And as the service is not 24X7, it will not help people who want to order before 6am or after 11pm.

Secondly, they are not providing the food packets at the seats, which many of startups in this space are doing. Aged people traveling do not like to get down at the stations, and Dial-A-Meal service would have been great if they could have provided the food on passenger’s seat.

Thirdly, in our view, IRCTC needs to better the quality of food they provide on the trains through their pantry kitchen rather than putting effort in partnering with third party vendors.

We will see how well IRCTC’s Dial-A-Meal service does in future. What do you think, do let us know in comments.

Trial runs of Hyderabad Metro Rail to start in June: HMR Managing Director

80 per cent of Metro Rail’s Stage-I complete

Byappanahalli-M.G. Road metro stretch more popular

Revenue generation in the first month of operation was higher for Reach 1 of Namma Metro than the Peenya Industry–Sampige Road stretch (Reach 3 and 3a)

Bangalore बेंगलूर (SBC):  Even though the full utility of the Namma Metro is expected to be realised only after the entire project becomes operational, an exercise to assess the popularity of the two existing Metro lines in the city saw the Byappanahalli–M.G. Road line emerging more sought after by the travelling public during its first month of operation than the recently inaugurated Peenya Industry–Sampige Road stretch.
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While an average of 40,907 people commuted on the Byappanahalli-MG Road line (Reach 1) every day, 24,605 people have used Peenya Industry-Sampige Road stretch (Reach 3 and 3a), which is longer by around 4 km, during their respective first month of commencement of operations. However, the present ridership on Reach 1 has dropped to an average of 15,775 per day in March 2014.

After opening of the line on March 1 this year, 7.62 lakh people used the Peenya Industry line till the month-end realising revenue of Rs. 1.5 crore. On the other hand, 12.68 lakh people had used the M.G. Road line in October 2011 adding Rs. 2.06 crore to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.’s (BMRCL) purse, according to the corporation.

Ease in commuting

Passengers who were commuting between Peenya and Sampige Road said more people would probably take the metro once connectivity till Majestic is complete. Sunil Kumar, a businessmen who travels from Rajajinagar to M.G.Road everyday said, “I take the metro between Rajajinagar and Sampige Road and then take either an auto or bus from Sampige Road. Opening of this line has only helped me in commuting half the distance. Once the line is connected to Majestic it would be more useful.”

Asked why the metro Reach 1 was more popular than reach 3 and 3 a, he said, “M.G. Road is a commercial hub and the line even though is a small distance has won many regular travellers.”

Elaborating further, M. N. Sreehari, advisor to the Government on Transportation, said the socio-economic status of people living near Reach 1 and Reach 3 and 3a, was different. “People along the K.R. Puram, Indiranagar side are able to afford to pay for the metro, whereas the same is not the case in Peenya Industry stretch as it is mainly an industrial area.” Many commuters preferred the bus as BMTC offers subsidised passes and covers more distance.

‘Better connectivity’

He also said bus connectivity between Peenya and Majestic was better compared to Reach 1, as a result of which more people preferred commuting by bus.

The BMRCL authorities say Reach 1 was more popular as it was the first time the metro came to the city and many people were “excited” about travelling in the metro. They said it was too early to compare the ridership and revenue between the two stretches.

B.L. Yashavanth Chavan, general manager (Operations), BMRCL, said analysing ridership could be done once the entire Phase 1 was completed. He also said the PeenyaSampige Road stretch was opened in March, which was a lean period being exam season, and hoped business would pick up soon.

He also said an internal survey conducted for Reach 1 in August 2013 showed people were aware of the smart cards but they had said the benefits of travel in metro would be more when the full phase was completed.