Thursday, 29 January 2015

Margao: The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) has decided to install a solar plant at Ratnagiri as part of its recently-formulated 'energy policy'. The policy resolved to employ solar and wind aero-generators wherever possible.

The proposed 350 KW-capacity solar photo voltaic plant, which will be connected to the state grid, shall generate about 3.8 lakh units of energy per year - sufficient to meet entire energy requirement of Ratnagiri railway station and railway office, chief public relations officer of the KRCL Vaishali Patange told TOI.

The project will cost 3.6 crore and shall be completed within six months. The plant is expected to result in a saving of about 42 lakh per annum for the railways.

There are also plans to increase the generation capacity of the plant to 1 MW in future. The excess power generated shall be fed back to the state grid, she said.

"KRCL has already initiated a number of endeavours for energy conservation, like providing solar and wind system at select stations and level crossing gates, LED light fittings for tunnel lighting - a first in the country, replacing conventional tubelights by T5 type energy-efficient fittings, usage of energy savers, and completely phasing out incandescent light bulbs," Patange said.

"The Konkan region is endowed with rich natural scenic beauty and it is the mission of KRCL to develop eco-friendly railway transport infrastructure with due stress on conservation of the environment. Prime minister Narendra Modi and railways minister Suresh Prabhu have stressed on harnessing solar energy and promoting use of green energy. This has been duly reflected in the Konkan Railway's energy policy," Patange said.

In yet another step towards environment conservation and waste management, KRCL recently installed an organic waste composting machine at its residential colony at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai, which will enable it to manage by itself all the organic and green waste being produced in the colony. Depending upon the results, Konkan Railway plans to install the system at the major stations on its route and its residential colonies along its route, Patange added.

Source: Times of India
After initiating plans for a thorough revamp of its administrative set-up and financial health, Indian Railways has got cracking on environment management, with a focus on pollution control, efficiency in energy consumption, conservation of resources like water, proper use of land, and development and use of renewable energy.

The ministry has formed an exclusive directorate in the railway board to implement this plan. The ‘Environment Directorate’, headed by an advisor, is functioning directly under the Railway Board chairman. Within a week of its formation, the directorate has asked all zonal railways and production units to prepare their performance report cards on environmental issues.

The move comes after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu last week sought inputs from energy experts to lower the transporter’s hefty fuel bill. “How can the Railways reduce the cost of its energy? Please offer some ideas to help me prepare the Budget as well. Please think about it,” Prabhu had said at an annual event.

As part of the plan, all railway zones and production units will monitor and report every month the trends in consumption of traction energy, both electrical and diesel, and conduct audits of energy and water consumption across major activity centres like workshops, depots, loco sheds, and railway stations.

The ministry has also asked all zonal railways to introduce a system of monitoring consumption of all types of energy and water, along with a trend analysis and benchmarking. All the zones and production units have been asked to give their reports within six months.

Electric traction accounts for 63 per cent of Indian Railways’ freight operations and 50 per cent of passenger services. Diesel traction accounts for 36 per cent of freight and 49 per cent of passenger operations. Indian Railways consumes about 13.8 billion units of electricity annually, close to two per cent of the country’s total power production.

The Railways’ locomotives also consume 2.6 billion litres of diesel annually. Its fuel bill — electricity traction cost apart from diesel — accounted for Rs 28,592 crore, or 22 per cent, of its total working expenses in 2013-14. Diesel accounted for around 70 per cent of the fuel bill.

The transporter has budgeted for an increase of Rs 20,000 in its working expenses — from Rs 1,22,867 crore last financial year to Rs 1,43,318 crore in the current year. A bulk of this additional expenditure was on account of fuel spending, which is expected to increase by Rs 6,500 crore over last year to Rs 35,181 crore in 2014-15.

Indian Railways’ expenditure on diesel had jumped 45 per cent from Rs 13,750 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 19,950 crore in 2013-14, despite a mere 2.7 per cent increase in volume. The reason: A 34 per cent jump in diesel prices driven by last year’s rise in crude oil rates. The situation has completely changed this year, with global crude oil prices declining over 50 per cent since June 2014 to less than $45 a barrel. Diesel prices for the Railways have come down from Rs 60.08 a litre in June to Rs 50.51 a litre now.

ENVIRONMENT FOCUS

* After restructuring the railway board and financial review, the ministry is focusing on environment management

* The plan includes lowering fuel bill, benchmark energy consumption, and auditing energy use of zonal wings and production units

* An ‘Environment Directorate’ will monitor the implementation of the plan

* Electricity traction accounts for 63 per cent of the Railways’ freight and 50 per cent of ITS passenger operations; Diesel traction accounts for the rest

* The Railways’ fuel bill (diesel and electricity) is estimated to rise 25 per cent to Rs 35,000 crore this financial year

Source: Business Standard
SHANGHAI: China plans to spend a further 800 billion yuan ($128 billion) on building railway tracks this year after exceeding its 2014 investment target, financial news magazine Caixin reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources at the railways operator.

Caixin said the 2015 forecast was made by China Railway in a report it distributed at a national railway work conference.

It also said the 800 billion yuan target for this year could be adjusted based on investment demands, and could even surpass 2010's record investment of 842.65 billion yuan.

An official at China Railway's media department declined to comment on the forecast. The data was also not released on China Railway's website.

The government has signalled that it is keen to plough more cash into infrastructure both domestically and abroad as the economy slows, spurring the sector's stocks to their highest level since 2009.

On Jan. 16, the national planner approved $8.6 billion of railway projects in the northern and southwestern parts of China.

China Railway said on its website it spent 808.8 billion yuan in 2014 building 8,427 kilometres of new railway lines. The total rail network is now 112,000 kilometres long, while its high-speed rail network, already the world's longest, is now 16,000 kilometres long.

China Railway, formed after the Ministry of Railways was disbanded following a 2011 train crash, said it would focus its construction efforts this year on the central and western regions, and would vigorously promote local rail technology abroad.

Source: The Economic Times

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Integral Coach Factory (ICF) plans to produce 67 stainless steel state-of-the-art Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB) high speed coaches this year and follow it up with another 300 in 2015-16, a top company official has said.

The production unit of Indian Railways manufacturing passenger coaches had for the first time produced three variants of LHB EOG shells during 2013-14, its General Manager Ashok K Agarwal said.

ICF produced a total of 1,662 general coaches last fiscal, registering its largest production in a financial year, he said, adding that the organisation has produced more than 49,000 coaches since its inception.

Referring to the green initiatives of the unit, he said ICF has rolled out one rake of environment friendly CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), DEMU (Diesel Electric Multiple Unit).

In a significant step towards adopting green fuel, the Railway Minister had launched this ICF built CNG train by flagging off the train on the Rewari-Rohtak section of Northern Railway on January 14 this year, he added.

Source: Business Standard
The inordinate delay on the part of the State government to release its share of cost appears to be the main reason for the delay in completing the 11-year-old Kalaburagi-Bidar new railway line, which would open up new vistas of development for this underdeveloped region as well as reduce the travelling time and distance between Bengaluru and New Delhi.

The Kalaburagi-Bidar new railway line was one of the earliest cost-sharing projects taken up in the State. The revised cost of the project was Rs. 845.15 crore.

The share of the State government was Rs. 422.075 crore and the share of the Railways was Rs. 422.075 crore.

The delay on the part of the State government to acquire the land required for construction of the new railway line, particularly in Kalaburagi district and the non-release of State’s share of funds is cited as the reasons for the delay in completing the project.

Sources in the South Central Railway told The Hindu in Kalaburagi on Sunday that while the Railways had already spent Rs. 404 crore out of the its share, the State government had so far released only Rs. 290 crore.

Another Rs. 132.075 crore had to be released by the government this year. Sources said that the work of the Kalaburagi-Bidar railway track was carried out on a fast track mode and the delay on the part of the State had held up the payment of dues to contractors.

The Ministry of Railways had provided a budgetary grant of Rs. 100 crore for the project for the year 2014-15 and the State government had released Rs. 60 crore to the project this year and “the entire amount of both the budgetary allocation and the State government’s share had been spent”.

Sources said that if there was no further delay in release of funds on the part of the State government and if the remaining funds required to complete the project are provided in the Railway Budget, the project, which was started way back in 2003, for laying a new railway line of 110.40 km in lenght, including a tunnel of 1.7 km near Margutti in Kalaburagi district, would be completed by December, 2016.

Source: The Hindu

Good Show by Palakkad Railway Division

The Palakkad railway division has achieved 94.5 per cent punctuality for mail and express trains and 96.4 per cent for passenger trains during the nine-month period from April last year.

The division was able to operate 415 special trains during this financial year, including 159 special trains in December.

Extra Coaches

As many as 167 extra coaches were provided this year to clear the rush of passengers, Divisional Railway Manager, Palakkad, Anand Prakash said after inspecting the Republic Day parade on Monday.

He said the total earnings from April to December went up by 23.6 per cent with the earnings touching Rs.953.14 crore as against Rs.771.16 crore during the same period in 2013.

A 30.18 per cent rise in revenue was recorded in transporting goods in the current year.

The revenue generated was Rs.412.69 crore as compared to Rs.317.01 crore in 2013-14. Passenger revenue went up by 19.13 per cent with the division collecting Rs.489.43 crore in this period.

Revenue through monthly ticket checking was an all-time high of Rs.51.56 lakh, the Divisional Railway Manager said.

Achievements

Listing out the achievements in the other sectors, Mr. Prakash said work on installing two lifts each at the Palakkad Junction and Mangaluru Central stations was progressing.

Tender proceedings were on for installing two escalators each at the Mangaluru Central and Kannur stations and another one at Palakkad. Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram, Sunil Bajpai, in his address after inspecting the parade at the divisional headquarters, stressed on the need to follow “operational procedures and safe practices so as to keep away unusual occurrences”.

Source: The Hindu
For the first time in years, people using Dadar station saw the station's over bridges wide and pedestrian-friendly as it was originally meant to be.

It is good news for commuters and bad news for hawkers at Dadar station. The conversion of a part of the Central Railway construction department complex at Dadasaheb Phalke road in Dadar (East) into railway minister Suresh Prabhu's Public Grievance Office has spurred the railways into making Dadar station more presentable.

Last week, on the back of a commuter complaint to Prabhu about the unwanted presence of hawkers on the foot over bridges (FOBs) of the heavily-congested station, CR officials carried out a hawker eviction drive there. For the first time in years, people using Dadar station saw the station's over bridges wide and pedestrian-friendly as it was originally meant to be.

In an official statement, CR stated that "the railway minister instructed the Railway Protection Force and Central Railway Administration to clear and clean the foot over bridges at Dadar railway station on complaints received from railway passengers and rail users recently. In a concerted drive, Central Railway has cleaned the FOBs and cleared them free of hawkers. Suresh Prabhu instructed for similar action at other important stations over Indian Railways. Central Railway appeals to the rail users and passengers not to patronise the hawkers and help railways to keep the FOBs clean and clear of hawkers."

In fact, a visit by dna to Dadar station and its FOBs showed that the eviction drive was holding for the moment. "It is seldom that we see Dadar station free of hawkers for three days running but CR has managed it, all thanks to the fact that the railway minister's office is at Dadar," said Manish Chaturvedi, a Bhandup resident.

However, there are still doubts on whether the drive will be as successful when it is extended to other parts of the suburban network. "The hawker eviction drive has always been a sporadic effort which one sees when some dignitary is visiting a particular station. In fact, even the hawkers move out quietly as they know the disruption is temporary. In Dadar, it will hold because thanks to the public grievance office, officials and RPF know the chances of the railway minister coming there is high," agreed a senior CR official.

Source: DNA India

Monday, 26 January 2015

Rubbishing the APP’s (Association of Power Producers) allegation of discrimination in coal rake allocation, the railway ministry has put the blame on Coal India (CIL) and the ministry of coal for the fuel crisis. A lower than promised supply of coal by CIL and the coal ministry’s inability to coordinate with the railways are the main issues, it said.

During the peak season (December-March), demand for transportation from various sectors, including imported coal, picks up. “To address the issue Indian Railways is loading 20 additional rakes of imported coal daily compared to last year,” a railway ministry spokesperson said.

However, loading by CIL during the April-November, 2014 period was much less than the agreed quantity, even though adequate railway wagons were available. “Ministry of railways have been highlighting this issue and requesting the ministry of coal and CIL to ensure more loading of coal during other months,” the spokesperson said.

According to railways, CIL’s inability to supply adequate coal to the respective independent power producers (IPPs) might have led to a fall in actual supply in FY15.

The APP had complained to railway minister Suresh Prabhu, alleging that Indian Railways is discriminating “against IPPs in placement of (coal) rakes”. The association also indicated that the lack of coordination between CIL and railways is leading to coal shortage for the IPPs in the country.

The supply of rakes for the power sector is monitored regularly by a committee comprising coal, railways and power ministry officials.
Denying the APP’s claim of favouring PSU power producers, the railways said, “It has planned to supply rakes on priority for critical power houses.” And it has been successful to bring down losses for the critical power plants and reduced their numbers to 13 from 30 earlier.

“In spite of heavy fog in north region, which totally crippled operations, railway has been able to ensure adequate supply to critical power producers”, the railways said.

The power producers who have coal stock for running four or lesser days is considered ‘critical’.

Source: The Financial Express
Tiruchi Division records slight dip in freight earnings

Housekeeping of “A” and “B” class stations in Tiruchi railway division has been outsourced, Divisional Railway Manager Manjula Rangarajan said on Monday.

Noting that cleanliness was a focus area of the railway, Ms. Rangarajan said the railway had increased the imprest with station masters substantially to enable them to maintain the station premises clean.

Speaking at the Republic Day celebrations organised by the Tiruchi Division here, Ms. Manjula said the Tiruchi division’s freight earnings witnessed a marginal decrease in the last nine months this year as compared to the corresponding period of last year. The division earned Rs. 300.94 crore from freight business in the last nine months of the current year against Rs. 301.23 crore earned in the corresponding period of last year, with the marginal decrease being -0.10 per cent.

However, earnings in the passenger front showed an increase of 18.33 per cent with the earnings being Rs. 197.26 crore during the last nine months of the current fiscal as compared to Rs. 166.70 crore earned during the corresponding period of last year.

Stating that safety in train operations was a priority to the railway, she said the division witnessed substantial reduction in the number of yard derailments this year.

The Divisional Railway Manager highlighted some of the tasks accomplished by the division this financial year.

Source: The Hindu

Thursday, 22 January 2015

New Delhi: The budget session of parliament will begin Feb 23 and the union budget would be presented Feb 28.

The first part of the session would be from Feb 23-March 20 and the second part from April 20 to May 8, a senior official said Wednesday.

The railway budget would be Feb 26 and economic survey Feb 27.

Source: ABP Live
Decision taken keeping in mind high consumption of electricity; 500 LED tubelights have already been installed as part of pilot project at Mahalaxmi car shed earlier this month.

A poorly maintained lighting system, which the Western Railway nonetheless spends heavily on, is a common feature in local trains. But the scenario is set to change, as the WR has started a project wherein it has decided to replace the existing fluorescent tubelights with Light Emitting Diode (LED) ones.

Authorities said the new LED tubelights are brighter, and will lead to savings in electricity costs. The project was initiated earlier this month at the Mahalaxmi car shed. “We have replaced about 500 fluorescent tubelights with LED ones so far,” said Shailendra Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), WR.

While a regular tubelight costs about Rs 250 or so, an LED one comes for around Rs 1,100. Though officials agreed that installing LED lights was a costly affair, they pointed out that an LED tubelight can last for at least five years against the 18-month lifespan of a fluorescent tubelight.

Justifying the purchase of LED lights, a senior WR official said, “Most of the electricity utilised by us goes in operating trains, which we cannot cut back on. Installation of LED lights will help us save at least some units and reduce the power bill.”

Power Woes
  • At present, Western Railway is paying R9 per unit of electricity, and its power expenditure has shot up by 40 per cent in the last two years
  • WR has requested Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) to allow it to get ‘deemed licensee’ status so that it can purchase electricity from other states
  • Authorities want to procure electricity from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, as the cost per unit there is around R4-5
  • This, officials say, will allow the railway to save nearly Rs 200 crore annually
Source: Mid Day
Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote has given nod to a proposal for a railway terminus at Sawantwadi in the coastal Sindhudurg district. The proposal would now be forwarded to the Railway Ministry, Raote said in Mumbai on Wednesday.

The state government has also sanctioned Rs 21.20 crore for constructing the necessary infrastructure at Sawantwadi.

The previous government had given sanction for terminus at Madure near Sawantwadi, but Raote has cleared the proposal for Sawantwadi itself.

Source: DNA India

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

For the fifth day in a row, fog led to delay in the arrival of New Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi. On Tuesday, the the train was late by over five hours and reached the local railway station at 4.17 pm. On Monday, the train was late by over six hours and reached here at 5.15 pm.

The delay caused inconvenience to passengers, with many blaming Railways for not providing enough services. A local official said that owing to poor visibility in the capital since last week, the train has been running late. The situation is expected to remain the same for few more days.

Apart from this, the Kalka-Howrah Mail was delayed by over 19 hours. Unchahar Express reached the local station after a delay of 13 hours while Lucknow-Chandigarh Superfast Train was late by four hours.

Amritsar-Chandigarh Superfast Express also ran late by one hour and 12 minutes.

Tuesday remained relatively colder, with the maximum temperature recorded at 14.5 degree Celsius, six degrees below normal. The minimum temperature was recorded at 10.2 degrees Celsius, four degrees above normal.

Beginning Wednesday, the city will experience rain until Friday, the Meteorological Department has predicted. The next 24-36 hours will remain cloudy and dry, with the possibility of dense fog during morning hours. However, there will be a decline in the intensity of fog thereafter.

Meanwhile, air operation was not affected much as visibility improved during day time. Only two Delhi-bound flights—one each of Jet Airways and Spicejet—were cancelled.

Source: Indian Express
CHENNAI: Southern Railway will operate special trains between Tiruchirapalli and Pune via Chennai and a train between Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati to clear extra rush of passengers.

Special trains between Tiruchirappalli - Pune (via Chennai Egmore): Train No.06801 Tiruchirappalli - Pune special train will leave Tiruchirappalli at 5.30am on Sundays on January 25, February 1, 8, 15, 22 and March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, leave Chennai Egmore at 12noon the same day and reach Pune at 11.50am the next day.

Train No.06802 Pune - Tiruchirappalli special train will leave Pune at 3.40pm on Mondays on January 26, February 2, 9, 16, 23, March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 leave Chennai Egmore at 12.50pm on Tuesdays and reach Tiruchirappalli at 7.15pm on Tuesdays. The composition of the trains will be 1 AC 2-tier, 3 AC 3-tier, 13 sleeper class, two general second class and 2 luggage-cum-brake van coaches.

The trains will stop at Srirangam, Vriddhachalam, Villupuram, Melmaruvathur, Chengalpattu, Tambaram, Chennai Egmore, Arakkonam, Tiruttani, Puttur, Renigunta, Koduru, Razampeta, Cuddapah, Yerraguntala, Muddanuru, Tadipatri, Gooty, Guntakkal, Adoni, Mantralayam Road, Raichur, Yadgir, Wadi, Gulbarga, Solapur and Daund.

Special trains between Guwahati - Thiruvananthapuram (via Perambur): Train No.02516 Guwahati - Thiruvananthapuram special train will leave Guwahati at 11.25pm on January 26 and reach Thiruvananthapuram at 10.30pm on January 29.

Train No.02515 Thiruvananthapuram - Guwahati special train will leave Thiruvananthapuram at 12noon January 30 and reach Guwahati at 8.20am on February 2.

The composition of the trains will be 1 AC 2-tier/3-tier, 1 AC 3-tier, 11 sleeper class, four general second class and two luggage-cum-brake van coaches.

The trains will stop at Kamakhya, Goalpara Town, New Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, New Alipurduar, New Coochbehar, Dhupguri, New Jalpaiguri, Kishanganj, Barsoi, Malda Town, Rampur hat, Durgapur, Asansol, Adra, Bankura, Bishnupur, Midnapore, Hijli, Balasore Bhadrak, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Khurda Road, Brahmapur, Palasa, Srikakulam Road, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Samalkot, Rajamundry, Eluru, Vijayawada, Ongole, Nellore, Gudur, Perambur, Arakkonam, Katpadi, Jolarpettai, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur, Podanur, Palakkad, Thrissur, Aluva, Ernakulam Town, Kottayam, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, Kayankulam and Kollam.

Advance reservations for Tiruchirapalli- Pune special trains are already on while reservations will open on January 22 for Thiruvananthapuram - Guwahati special train.

Source: The Times of India
The Mumbai Government Railway Police (GRP) on Tuesday released statistics of the crimes recorded in the suburban rail premises in 2014. The Mumbai suburban railway saw a 16% jump in criminal offences in 2014.

Interestingly, the conviction rate saw an improvement, as compared to the previous year, 2013.

According to the figures releases by the Mumbai GRP, a total of 3,118 criminal cases were registered last year, in comparison to 2,676 registered in 2013.

One of the highlights has been the increase in the percentage of conviction rate. In 2013, the conviction rate was at 69%, while in 2014, the conviction rate went up by 3%, at 72%.

In the Central zone, a total of 2,249 cases were registered with 1,187 cases been detected, while the Western zone reported 869, cases with a detection rate of 60%.

The offences included murder, rape, attempt to murder, assault, molestation and theft, and were registered under relevant sections of the IPC.

GRP commissioner Ravinder Singhal said: "We have sensitized the force and a friendly approach helped us create an environment of trust, so victims came forward to register the complaints."

He added: "We have used modern communication tools like WhatsApp and Facebook to reach out to people, which I believe in the long run, will be helpful."

In 2014, a total of 73 cases were lodged under crimes against women, of which the GRP solved 61. "We have given lot of importance to crimes against women, and it will remain our top priority," said Singhal, adding: "We have registered 55 molestation cases this year, and hope that the number will decrease in subsequent months."

Another area that has been problematic, has been that of mobile theft. In 2014, a total of 1,518 cases of mobile theft were reported, in comparison to 1,045 registered in 2013.

As many as 3,423 accidental deaths were reported in 2014, 83 less than in 2013, mainly due to heavy rush in local trains.

Year 2013 2014

Criminal cases registered 2,676 3,118

Conviction rate 69% 72%

Mobile theft 1,045 1,518

Accidental deaths 3,506 3,423

Source: DNA India
This could be first IPO-led exit activity for the PE firm in India.

Private equity firm Blackstone has sought a public listing of Gateway Rail Freight Ltd (GRFL), which could open the window for an exit from its over five-year-old investment in the subsidiary of Gateway Distriparks Ltd (GDL), as per a stock market disclosure.

Blackstone has written to Gateway Distriparks seeking an IPO of GRFL in accordance with the terms of the share subscription & shareholders agreement dated November 9, 2009, Gateway Distriparks said in the filing.

An email query sent to Prem Kishan Gupta, deputy chairman & MD and R Kumar, deputy CEO & CFO of Gateway Distriparks, for more information, did not elicit any response till the time of filing this article.

Responding to a separate email query to the spokesperson of Blackstone on whether it wants to fully or partly exit its investment, the firm said it did not wish to comment on the development.

Blackstone had invested close to Rs 300 crore in New Delhi-based Gateway Rail Freight Ltd back in 2010. Bulk of this is through 120 million Compulsory Convertible Preference Shares (CCPS) of Rs 24.65 each. These CCPS can be converted into equity at the ratio of 167 shares for every 100 CCPS.

On conversion, Blackstone could hold around 40 per cent stake, after factoring in conversion of preference shares by Gateway Distriparks in the subsidiary.

Gateway Rail Freight provides intermodal logistics and operates its own Inland Container Depots/Dry Ports. It operates rail linked facilities at Garhi-Harsaru (Gurgaon, Haryana), Ludhiana (Punjab), Asaoti (Faridabad, Haryana) and Kalamboli (Navi Mumbai).

The company owns and operates a fleet of 21 trains and 230+ road trailers at its rail linked terminals. Gateway Rail operates regular container train service from these ICDs/Dry Ports to the maritime ports at Nhava Sheva, Mundra and Pipavav, transporting import and export as well as domestic containers.

For the year ended March 31, 2014, it had turnover of Rs 573 crore with net profit of Rs 52.1 crore.

For Gateway Distriparks this could mean another of its subsidiaries going public. Recently Snowman Logistics Ltd, an integrated temperature controlled logistics services unit of the firm, got listed. The firm, which counts Norwest Venture Partners and IFC as investors had a blockbuster listing in September, after its IPO was over-subscribed nearly 60 times.

Shares of GDL last traded at Rs 382.85 each, up 4.9 per cent on BSE in a strong Mumbai market on Monday.

For Blackstone, which also separately owns over 14 per cent stake in Allcargo Logistics, this could mark the first IPO-led exit opportunity in India. Another portfolio firm Emcure Pharma had filed for its IPO a couple of years ago but later decided not to go ahead with it. Blackstone eventually exited through a secondary PE deal where it sold its stake to Bain Capital.

Source: Vccircle.com
Railway Minister reiterated the demand of railways for payment of ‘traffic block charges’ by the State government in implementation of prestigious Hyderabad Metro Rail project.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday took up with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu the demand of railways for payment of ‘traffic block charges’ by the State government in the implementation of prestigious Hyderabad Metro Rail project.

Mr. Rao brought to the notice of the Railway Minister, who called on him at Secretariat, that the South Central Railway (SCR) has been demanding Rs. 10 crore per railway crossing where metro lines crossed the tracks of SCR at eight locations in Hyderabad. The amount was more than the cost of road over bridge itself at each location.

The demand of SCR was against the policy of the railway board which had not prescribed any traffic block charges to be collected from Metro Rail administrations. The board had only suggested collection of charges for crossing railway lines, supervision charges and centage charges. The government of Telangana had already paid Rs. 25 crore towards these charges to SCR over 18 months ago.

The other metro rail projects in the country had also informed that no traffic block charges were levied by Southern Railway for Chennai metro crossings and by South Western Railway for Bangalore metro crossings. But, only nominal charges were levied for Mumbai metro by Western Railway, Mr. Rao said.

He also said the work on Bharatnagar metro rail crossing was held up for several months due to the three year standoff between the government and SCR.

Source The Hindu
HYDERABAD: Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said in response to a question at a seminar on Monday that the burden of the cashstrapped Indian Railways is the burden of the common man, a reply interpreted by many as a hint that he may consider an increase in passenger fares while announcing the rail budget next month.

The minister, who was in Hyderabad to participate in a national seminar on public-private-partnership (PPP) and foreign direct investment (FDI) in Indian Railways, urged on the need for investments from all possible sources for speedy development of infrastructure.

Asked whether his statement that Indian Railways was in a bad financial position meant an imminent increase in fares, Prabhu said without ruling out a revision, "Burden of railways is burden of common man as the railways belongs to common man. We have to make sure how railways are run properly, giving more benefits and more amenities to common man."

The minister said Indian Railways needs investments, both financial and technological, from various sources within and outside, and added that the organisation was looking to draw investments from new sources such as foreign pension funds and other institutions.

Prabhu categorically said that Indian Railways will not be privatised and will continue to be owned by the government. "The driving wheel of Indian Railways will firmly be in the hands of railway ministry only," the minister said. "Financial institutions are looking at fairly reasonable returns but not ownership."

The minister said any decision by the government on PPP and FDI would be aimed at enabling the growth of railways and the economy. He stressed on the need to improve the efficiency and productivity in railw.

Source: The Economic Times

Monday, 19 January 2015

NEW DELHI: US President Barack Obama is likely to get a taste of Indian Railway hospitality during his visit to the country. The Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation has formally invited the US President to travel on the ultra-luxury Maharajas' Express along with his family.

Though the invite, sent through the Ministry of External Affairs, doesn't mention a destination, the railways hope Obama will accept and travel to Agra on the $3,000-a-night Presidential Suite of the train. IRCTC Chairman and MD AK Manocha told ET that the invitation had been sent to Obama through the proper channels after taking clearance from the Prime Minister's Office.

Obama's visit to Agra to see the Taj Mahal is almost certain, with officials of the US secret service and Indian security personnel busy sanitising the Uttar Pradesh city and also the Expressway that links it to Noida, near Delhi.

"We sent the invite over a week ago. Though we haven't heard from the US authorities, we still have hopes. The invite has not been rejected. He is expected to travel to Agra on January 27 and the ideal thing would be to travel royalty style on the Maharajas' Express. If there is a time constraint, he is welcome to take a short ride around Delhi or even come aboard for ameal," said Manocha.

He said the train, owned and operated by IRCTC, could cover the distance between Delhi and Agra in as little as two-and-a-half hours. "It all depends upon the guest. If he so desires, the journey time can be calibrated to take longer," the IRCTC chief said.

In addition to royalty-style furnished suites, dining halls, wellequipped bars and recreational areas, the train has a conference hall, business centre and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The lavishly painted maroon and gold train was at Safdarjung railway station on Sunday, waiting to leave on the Gems of India journey to cover Agra, Ranthambore and Jaipur before returning on January 21.

"The train would require one day of maintenance and then it will be ready to carry President Obama and his family," said Manocha, adding that they just need a two-day notice to make it the best ever journey for him. The Maharajas' Express was voted as the World's Leading Luxury Train in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the World Travel Awards.

Source: The Economic Times
The move to create a full-fledged suburban line between Virar and Panvel, one of the most ambitious railway projects in the city, has been shelved because of the Dedicated Freight Corridor and the Vira-Alibaug Multi-Modal Corridor.

The fact that the Dedicated Freight Corridor could decongest the Vasai-Diva line of freight trains and the Virar-Alibaug Corridor have a metro rail corridor, meant the Virar-Panvel suburban project was redundant.

Speaking at a press interaction earlier last week, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation chairman Prabhat Sahai admitted as much. Answering a query on the Virar-Panvel suburban corridor, Sahai said, "We believe that the Dedicated Freight Corridor (being built between JNPT and Dadri near Noida in Uttar Pradesh) will ensure that the freight trains currently using the Vasai-Diva line shift to that. It will give us space to run suburban locals on the Vasai-Diva line."

The Vasai-Diva line currently runs 70-odd services, including diesel-electric operated local ones, long-distance trains from the northern and southern parts of the country and goods trains from the Jawaharlal Nehru port.

Sahai said that the Virar-Panvel project was no longer part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) phase 3 which was given the go-ahead by the state government a fortnight ago after a meeting between railway minister Suresh Prabhu and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The Virar-Panvel project was also hit by the 126km-long Virar-Alibuag Multi Modal Corridor. In fact, the most workable part of the Virar-Alibaug corridor — 79km-long Virar (Navghar) to Chirner (JNPT) stretch — will actually serve the same areas which the Panvel-Virar project would have done, said officials. These include seven growth centres in the Mumbai metropolitan region such as Virar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Dombivli, Panvel, Taloja and Uran.

The Virar-Panvel project has been a favourite of the railway ministry for almost a decade now and had also caught the imagination of the builder lobby which had started marking the areas along the route — like Kalamboli, Kharbao, Bhiwandi- as New Thane.

However, the railways' demand that the Rs8,000-crore corridor be financed by taxes collected by civic bodies along the corridor didn't cut much ice with the state government.

Source: DNA India
Women travelling in trains can now hope for safer trips with Railways today saying it would introduce an all India helpline for them to send an alarm to the nearest railway station in times of distress. "Next month we are looking at launching an all India helpline for the safety of women that will send an alert to nearest railway station," Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said in Chennai.

He was speaking after flagging off the Chennai Central- Visakhapatnam weekly superfast express. Noting that Railways had come out with an integrated security system and had already spent Rs 41 crore in 40 locations all over India, he said, "We have already provided escorts in ladies compartments and also RPF to escort ladies compartment."

"In fact, I launched an application in Mumbai for women's safety, which will ensure that women in distress can send an alert to the nearest railway station, so that police can take care of that. By next month, we would like to launch an all India helpline...anybody in the country (women) can access it," he said.

Observing that the southern zone was a major thrust area for modernisation, he said one of the better travel services that Railways was putting forth was deployment of more lady constables in women's compartments. "My idea is to put more CCTV cameras to increase safety of women".

The Railways' objective is to provide better network and more basic amenities, he said, adding, they wanted to modernise the system and provide more amenities for which funds were needed.

He said the weekly superfast express was the beginning of providing more amenities in southern zone and urged state governments to come forward and take up projects jointly with the Centre by floating a Special Purpose Vehicle.

"We would like to provide more and more services and for that, I appeal to state governments to join hands with us. Your objective and our objective are the same....to provide better amenities to our citizens," he said.

Prabhu said many states had already signed MoUs with the Railway Ministry while others are in the process of doing so. "The objective is to bring out SPVs in each state so that we provide better amenities and increase efficiency in the states," he said.

"Central government and state governments will develop new projects and amenities for a particular state together", he said.

Source: DNA India
The maiden visit of Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu to Hyderabad assumes significance as people expect him to make an announcement on the much awaited bifurcation of the South Central Railway (SCR) and creation of a new zone.

He will be participating in a national seminar on ‘PPP and FDI in Indian Railways’. The seminar is organised by the Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM), an autonomous body of transport professionals at the Indian Railway Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunication (IRISET).

Apart from Mr. Prabhu, among those who would be participating in the inaugural session are the Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, E.S.L. Narasimhan, Member-Traffic of the Railway Board, Devi Prasad Pande and General Manager, South Central Railway, P.K. Srivastava. Interestingly, representatives of the corporate sector, trade and industry will also present their views and papers on the subject of Foreign Direct Investment and Public-Private Partnership in the Railways.

Mr. Prabhu will also visit the Secunderabad railway station and flag off two new express trains announced in the Railway Budget – 2014, the Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam AC Express (weekly) and the Nanded-Aurangabad Express (weekly) via remote video link at 11 a.m. He will also interact with the media and various associations representing the interests of stakeholders including passengers, freight users and traders at the Station.

The Minister will then visit Rail Nilayam and interact with officers and railway employees’ unions. He will also call on Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao at the Secretariat.

Source: The Hindu
Acquiring land has been a major hindrance to the Western Railway (WR) in making progress towards adding the sixth railway line between Mumbai Central and Borivli. The impasse between WR and the state government has led to the Rs 1,050-crore project to come to a standstill.

WR requires nearly 1,700 square metres of land at four places: Vile Parle (south and north ends), Malad (west side), and Borivli (south end). This is to be acquired from the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

All the plots are close to the railway station, and are required to lay the crucial line 6, which is meant to service long-distance trains. For instance, the railways have been in touch with the suburban collector’s office for over two years now.

“We had sent the application for procuring 1,178 square meters of land in October 2012,” said a WR official on condition of anonymity. WR authorities claim that until now they have paid around Rs 48 lakh to the state government earlier last year for acquiring it.

However, state government officials claim the process of land transfer has begun. “We have already awarded part of the private land to the railways near Vile Parle and Andheri. There are buildings and shops near Malad and Borivli that need to be removed,” said Suburban Collector Shekhar Channe.

Officials added that they had sent men for the demolition of the structures, but a few of the owners got a stay order from the court and the matter has gone into litigation. WR requires 550 square metres on the southern end of Vile Parle station from BMC.

A BMC road on the plot will be absorbed into the project. A BMC official said there is no encroachment on the said land. “We are working on procuring land for the sixth line,” said Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Western Railway.

Source: Mid Day

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Babulal Gaur today launched the mobile app 'GRP Helpline' here.

He termed it "an important step towards ensuring the safety of railway passengers".

Gaur referred to the death of Bhopal Development Authority CEO M G Rusia and the recent incident where a woman passenger was thrown out by some miscreants, and said the app will help in keeping a check over such incidents in an effective manner.

He said that he will also meet Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and advocate giving more powers to Government Railway Police and Railway Protection Force for ensuring safety of railway passengers.

GRP Director General of Police Maithlisharan Gupt informed that GRP of other states will also use the app, which can be downloaded from Google Play store.

"The app provides for assured quality response across the country," he added.

Source: Business Standard
Railways is planning to introduce a special train from Kolkata to offer tourists a spiritual tour of key Buddhist circuit cities spread across the region where the religion originated thousands of years ago.

The train will benefit tourists looking to visit Kolkata as also the states popular for their Buddhist pilgrimages, a senior Railway official said

Among the Buddhist tour circuit cities are Bodh Gaya, Dungeshwari Caves, Kesariya, Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Kushinagar, Sarnath and Varanasi.

In fact, a proposed separate AC gallery at Indian Museum here to showcase the urn said to contain the ashes of Lord Buddha and other relics associated with his life is further going to aid the initiative for the introduction of the special train, the official said.

"We are waiting for the Indian Museum to take a decision regarding the setting up of the gallery displaying the urn containing the ashes. Not many people know about it and we are very sure that it will draw a huge crowd," he said.

The Bharhut Gallery at the museum showcases several Buddhist artefacts, among them the gateway of a Buddhist stupa complete with sculptures and carvings depicting scenes from Lord Buddha's life.

Besides, a railway survey among pilgrims visiting Buddhist tour circuit cities suggested that the train, if it originates from the city, would be more popular than the Mahaparinirvan Express, which starts from New Delhi.

"There are several international tourists who want to visit eastern India and therefrom take the tour of the Buddhist circuit cities. The survey suggested that tourists prefer the shorter route to the circuit rather than starting on it from New Delhi," he said.

If the tour could be initiated from Kolkata, pilgrims would be able to visit Odisha, Sikkim and other northeastern states popular for the Buddhist monasteries there.

"Pilgrims are keen on visiting Odisha, Sikkim and other states in the northeastern region which are famous for their Buddhist monasteries. And, it will be quite logical and economical for the tourists too.

"Bihar is closer to Kolkata and Kolkata has the shortest route to Nalanda University. Also, going to Odisha from Kolkata is easy... We expect that the proposed tour would also be quite profitable for Railways," he said.

According to Railways' plan, the duration of the proposed train tour from Kolkata covering the Buddhist tour circuit cities would be seven nights/eight days, the official said.

"It will be a Kolkata-to-Kolkata tour. After returning from the tour of the Buddhist Circuit cities, tourists the next day will be taken to Indian Museum to see the urn and other relics connected with Lord Buddha," he added.

As to when the proposed train could be made operational, the IRCTC official said, "No dates have been finalised for it but we want it to be operational some time in the second half of this year. We are working on it. First, we are planning to run it on an experimental basis."

In Sikkim, there are about 200 monasteries notable among which are Pemayangtse Monastery, Rumtek Monastery, Enchey Monastery, Phensang Monastery and Dubdi Monastery.

Odisha with Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and Udaygiri Hills and innumerable Buddhist stupas and monasteries, too, attracts many Buddhist tourists every year.

The Mahaparinirvan Express, also popular as the Buddhist Circuit Train, was launched in 2007. Quite popular among pilgrims from Southeast Asian countries, the train covers important Buddhist pilgrimage sites as part of a 7-night-and-8 day tour. It is a fully air-conditioned train with three classes of travel and is operated by the railways using carriages from the Rajdhani Express.

Source: DNA India
Odisha government has agreed to accept a Railway ministry proposal to float a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to expedite several incomplete railway projects in the state.

"We sent a letter to the Railway ministry on January 8 informing the state's acceptance of forming the SPV," State Commerce and Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi said.

Odisha's Rail Coordination Commissioner Sanjay Mohapatra said, the state would be the first in the country to accept the Railway ministry proposal.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had in a letter to the state governments asked them to come forward for setting up SPVs for jointly developing railway projects.

As per the proposal of the Railway ministry, the state government would have 51% share in the SPV whereas the Centre would invest for the rest in it.

State Chief Secretary C Pati suggested that the SPV focus on rail network connecting ports and industrial corridors.

The SPV will conduct techno-economic survey to assertain requirement of railway infrastructure for backward areas, requirement of industries, ports and mining areas, the chief secretary said in his letter to the Railway Board.

The SPV may execute the projects by selecting suitable agencies. On completion, Railways would operate these services, fix tariff, collect all revenues and maintain the assets, the letter said.

Earlier, the Railway Ministry had informed the state governments including Odisha that a number of rail projects could not be taken up at proper time due to fund constraints.

Source: DNA India
Railway finances are in “deep trouble”, according to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who observed on Saturday that the government behemoth has been caught in a “vicious circle” of poor investments compromising its services.

Pitching for increased investment into the Railways, he said Pension Fund could be one of the possible means of pumping in the money into the largest government transporter which is facing losses to the tune of thousands of crores.

He said the Railways can become an engine of growth in the coming years and contribute 2.5 per cent to three per cent in the GDP with an improved infrastructure.

However, the Railway finances are in “deep trouble”, the Minister said addressing the Economic Times Global Business Summit here.

While underlining that railways requires huge investments to expand its network to provide physical connectivity, he said that 30 to 40,000 km of lines need to be expanded to carry more cargo besides people.

He regretted that India does not have the required institutions to invest in such sectors.

Pension fund, he said, was one such possibility which could help pump investments.

Giving the example of Naxal-hit areas, Mr. Prabhu said besides carrying security personnel, a better railway infrastructure could bring more investments in such places and create job opportunities.

Successive governments have been of the view that jobs can wean away youth from naxalism and militancy.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim of taking the economy to USD 20 trillion from USD 2 trillion, he said policies which are ambitious and at the same time “doable” can help achieve the target.

Terming lack of physical infrastructure as a “road block”,Mr Prabhu said many things have to be put in order to achieve the desired growth levels.

He said after setting targets, there was a a need to put in place a strategy to achieve the objectives and the Modi government was working on it.

Source: The Hindu
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday assured trade unions that the government did not intend privatizing either the railways or Coal India.

"Government has no intention to privatize either railways or Coal India. The focus of the government is to create more jobs and employment opportunities, besides safeguarding the existing jobs," Jaitley told representatives of 11 trade unions in a pre-budget meeting, an official statement here said.

"The focus of the government is also to give a better environment for ease of living for the common man," he added.

The unions asked for an immediate stop to the process of disinvestment in profit-making public sector units, as well as budgetary support for revival sick state-run units that are potentially viable.

"In particular, we opposed the ordinance on the coal sector, insurance sector and Land Acquisition Act. We demand all such ordinances should be withdrawn forthwith," All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) secretary D.L.Sachdev told reporters after the meeting.

They also opposed foreign equity in key sectors like defence production.

A joint statement by the 11 unions said: "Concrete steps must be taken to recover huge accumulated unpaid arrears which has already crossed Rs.5 lakh crore on direct and corporate tax accounts alone."

The unions which met the finance minister included the AITUC, the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), and the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).

Source: Business Standard
NEW DELHI: The railways need huge investment in order to make it an engine of growth for the economy, said Suresh Prabhu.

He said there was a need to create new financial instruments in the country, and suggested that using the Pension funds was one such possibility.

Speaking at the ET Business Summit on Saturday morning, the minister said that railways had the potential to help achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of making India a $ 20 trillion economy. That is why it was imperative to develop railways in order to derive immense downstream benefits.

Prabhu said that private sector participation was needed to bring in funds into railways. He said that railway finances were in a very bad shape and the sector had sunk into a vicious circle. "There is little investment which is causing deterioration of service which in turn has made railways a less attractive sector for more funds, " the minister said.

He expressed optimism of developing railways at the rate of 3 per cent every year, so that the country's economy could continue to grow at over 9 per cent.

Source: The Economic Times

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Government on Thursday proposed a series of measures to provide top-notch security cover to train passengers. The Centre will try to build a consensus with the State Governments to amend the Railway Protection Act, 1957 and hand over the entire  security to the Railway Protection Force, which is often at loggerheads with the Government Railway Police (GRP), controlled by the State Governments.

The new proposals also include online crime registrations and securing seats for ex-Armymen in all train coaches. The issue of Railway security came up for discussion at a conference attended by Central Ministers, State police officials and top brass of Railways and its security forces on Thursday.

Setting the ball rolling, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu called for an amendment in the law to ensure better policing of Railway premises. Home Minister Rajnath Singh admitted there were certain complexities in the jurisdictions of RPF and GRP and these need to be addressed.

Prabhu said involvement of multiple security agencies like GRP, RPF and State police in providing security to railways causes "discomforts" to passengers, and thus there is a need for achieving "seamless security."

While RPF, a wing of India Railways, is empowered to protect railway property, GRP, which falls under State Governments, is responsible for maintaining law and order on rail premises.

The proposed amendment to the RPF Act, 1957, aims to empower the force to lodge FIRs for crimes committed at railway stations and on trains. However, the proposed move is being opposed by many States as they feel it is against the federal framework since it would take away their role in maintaining law and order.

"I have written to all the Chief Ministers to take up the issue for providing seamless security. We have to address the issue. GRP, RPF and State police are three different organisations. While State police will remain with the States, the Railway Protection Act can be amended to ensure seamless policing. We need an amendment to the law to lodge FIR on running trains," Prabhu said.

Currently RPF personnel are deployed in 1300 trains, and GRP is deputed in 2200 trains. According to the plan, RPF will be manning about 5000 trains with recruitment and training process of 16,500 personnel nearing completion.

Prabhu also said that there is a plan to utilise ex-Armymen to protect passengers. Four seats in each coach will be reserved for them as part of railways' strategy to utilise their service in any emergency situation during the journey. Railways expect that allocating two berths at each side of the coach for ex-Armymen will go a long way in checking crime in trains. The new system is expected to be operational next month. According to the strategy, the side berths at entry points will be automatically reserved, once the ex-Army personnel books a ticket in his name.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh mooted a proposal for online registration of FIRs for railway crimes to deal with the issue of States' jurisdiction in the filing of complaints. "Law and order is primarily the States' responsibility. Complaints can be registered online and they can be referred to the State concerned for investigations to be expedited," Singh said.

Highlighting the attack on trains and difficulties in executing rail infrastructure projects in Naxal-affected areas, Prabhu and Singh both said there is a requirement for a geared-up police, specially-trained to face such situations. Prabhu also said there is a plan to set up a separate women's wing of RPF - Mahila Vahini to be deployed in ladies' compartment, besides installing CCTV in ladies' compartments.

Railway Board Chairman AK Mittal said passengers, especially women, do not feel safe travelling on trains due to the prevailing situation. "We have to regain their faith by finding a viable solution to the problem," he said.

Source: Daily Pioneer
NEW DELHI: Railways needs investments of over $100 billion in next 3-4 years to transform itself and the government is working on a plan to attract funds including from overseas, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said on Saturday.

"We want investments upward of $100 billion in next 3-4 years from multiple corners. We are gearing up for this. We are working within Indian missions overseas. We are working with ministry of finance and with all government machinery to make this happen," Prabhu said.

Speaking at 'India Economic Conclave', the railways minister said passengers are demanding tremendous improvement in railway services but the government does not have the level of funds which are required to meet that scale of investment.

"Operating ratio of railways is very low when you compare it to US. It is 20 point less than what it is in US. We have hardly any money left to make investment in railways.

"One thing that I am trying to do is attract huge investments in railways. I don't want to disclose the entire strategy now," Prabhu said.

The minister said he has delegated powers of procurement to general managers in railways, besides setting up a one-man panel to oversee that his decision in this regard is implemented smoothly.

"I am not going to look at any tender. I have delegated those powers to general managers and officers below them. I am going to make them accountable.

"I want to bring in a mix of incentive and disincentive to make it happen. I am going to incentivise good operations," Prabhu said.

The minister said he will focus on outcomes as part of a new strategy to transform railways.

Source: The Times of India
The elevated autorickshaw deck at Andheri, an unqualified engineering disaster that has cost Rs8 crore to construct, has just turned into a bigger nightmare for Western Railway (WR) officials. The ramp leading to the deck on the eastern side of Andheri station has started to get its first hawkers. A section of officials believe that going by the way hawking spreads in Mumbai, it is a just a matter of time before the deck itself is taken over by unauthorised hawkers.

Currently unused because WR and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been unable to agree on how to clear the deck's entrance from the Nityanand Road end of shops, the deck can be a good hawker magnet because it will allow people to shop without any of the hustle and bustle that the foot over bridges (FOBs) of the station generate.

"Moreover, with the Railway Protection Force concentrating on the FOBs, the hawkers on the deck will have a field day. The deck should have been constructed only when all the loose ends had been tied up. It is a shame and the engineering department of WR should be hauled up for this disaster," said a senior railway official.

Ironically, the deck which is 90% complete since construction started in 2011, was supposed to be commissioned in December 2014, after missing several deadlines since May 2013. Now, officials are unsure when it will get completed because removing the shops could take a few years as the procedure can get very litigious, agreed officials.

A brainchild of the construction department of WR, the plan involved building a 100-metre-long elevated autorickshaw lane, on which autorickshaws will enter from Swami Nityanand Road, just in front of the BEST depot at Agarkar Chowk, and then move on to a two-lane elevated deck — 60-metre long and 34-metre wide with footpaths on either sides — built between the middle and north FOBs. From there, the autos would pick commuters and return to the eastern side of the station without crossing the north FOB.

Source: DNA India

Bomb Threat at Paris Railway Station

Paris: A railway station in French capital Paris was closed and evacuated Friday following a bomb threat, media reports said.

The state railway SNCF said the Gare de l'Est rail station was evacuated at 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) but reopened about an hour later, Xinhua reported without offering details.

The scare came as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris for a visit in the wake of the terrorist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last week.

Meanwhile, French authorities said they Thursday night arrested 12 people suspected of helping a gunman, who killed a policewoman and four hostages at a supermarket in eastern Paris last week.

Source: Zee News

Thursday, 15 January 2015

CHENNAI: In just a few days, commuters on Chennai’s suburban and MRTS routes will be able to book tickets on their mobile phones using an Android or Windows application.

The facility was recently launched on the Mumbai suburban route by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

After booking the ticket on the mobile, the ticket would have to be printed at the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) or at the booking window.  As a pilot project, such special ATVMs would be kept at a few stations like Park, Fort, Tambaram and Mambalam when the service is launched in Chennai.

After downloading the application, utsonmobile - developed in-house by the Centre for Railway Information (CRIS) - on the mobile phone, the commuter will have to register his/her name, mobile number, city, default booking train type, class, ticket type, number of passengers and frequently travelled route.

A unique id and password would be given to each user post complete registration. After registration, a Railway wallet (R-Wallet) would be created, where the commuter would have to deposit some money, which would be debited every time a ticket is booked. Initially, the recharge facility for the R-wallet would be given only at booking windows, but in future it would be possible to recharge online on the website https://www.utsonmobile.indianrail.gov.in

Each time a ticket is booked, money would be debited from the R-wallet. After the ticket is booked, the commuter would get a text message on the registered mobile number containing the booking ID, using which the ticket would be printed at the ATVM kiosk.

Initially, only the facility of booking suburban tickets would be given, but would later be extended to booking and cancellation of unreserved tickets as well.

Source: New Indian Express
There is no "turf war between RPF and GRP" although there are "complexities" in that regard which need to be looked into, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today even as he mooted a proposal for online registration of FIRs for railway crimes to deal with the issue of states' jurisdiction in the filing of complaints.

"Law and order is primarily the (individual) states' responsibility. Complaints can be registered online and they can be referred to the state concerned for investigations to be expedited," Singh said at a conference here on railway security where he, however, stressed that there was "no dearth of coordination" in this area.

Though the minister noted that there are some complexities involved in the railway security system, he insisted that "there is no turf war between RPF and GRP. (But) some complexities are there which need to be looked into it".

Admitting that railways was becoming a soft target for Maoists, Singh said, "We have to ensure security for all modes of transportation. A strategy should be worked out to provide security to all forms of transportation."

Railway Protection Force (RPF) is the security wing of the public transporter while Government Railway Police (GRP) is under state government. RPF is empowered to protect railway property whereas GRP is responsible for maintaining law and order on rail premises.

There are complaints of non-cooperation from GRP and lack of coordination between RPF, GRP and state police when it comes to securing railway property.

"India has a federal structure and there are some complexities; but there is (also) a solution to it. There is a solution to every problem, why can't there be a solution for this?" said Singh.

The conference was attended by the Union Ministers, high- ranking state police and railway officials.

Source: Business Standard

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Major Fire at Rail Workshop

A major fire that broke out in the century-old Rail Carriage Repair Workshop on Gadag Road here, created panic among the workers and the public on Wednesday.

The fire was noticed around 12.50 p.m. at the rubbish yard of the workshop, and spread quickly. There were no casualties.

The Fire and Emergency Services personnel rushed to the spot. The operation that went on 8 p.m. and involved 45 personnel and six fire engines. The workshop didn’t have any standard fire-fighting equipment or arrangements, including a fire hydrant, sources said. Deputy Chief Workshop Manager Vijaykumar issued a statement hat the Railways had not incurred any loss due to the fire as the material that got burnt was of zero value. He said the cause of the fire would be investigated.

Source: The Hindu
Railways is finalising a multi- modal transportation system in coordination with other agencies to serve the passengers in a better way. Acknowledging problems concerning train services, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said an integrated policy is needed to address these.

"There are problems and I am aware of it. There is a need for integrated policy to address those problems," he said here while participating in an interactive session organised by Zee news to highlight problems being faced by passengers.

Welcoming suggestions from the public to improve rail system, he said, "Railways should not become an arena of politics. It is an asset of the nation." He said this when told that successive railway ministers had used Railways to further their political interest.

"In order to cater to the needs of passengers, an integrated multi-modal transportations system will be formed. We are working out details in consultation with other concerned agencies," he said.

Though Prabhu did not elaborate on it, the system is perhaps aimed at integrating various modes transportation like bus and Metro service with train schedule to provide end to end service to commuters so that a passenger after alighting from a train gets a convenient transport to reach home. He also highlighted the need for a perspective plan for five years as a mid-term vision to take the national transporter on the growth track.

"Annual Rail Budget is alright. But there is a need for five years perspective plan as a mid-term vision for the Railways. We will come out with such plan," Prabhu said this when asked about the forthcoming Rail Budget.

"It is important to know and identify the problems plaguing Railways. That is why we are bringing out a White Paper identifying those problems and also suggest ways to address those issues," he said.

Prabhu also reiterated that Railways will remain with the government though there will be private investment in the rail sector. "If the private investment is in the interest of passengers and Railways then let it be. But it will remain with the government," he said allaying apprehension against privatisation of Railways in the near future. He, however, said full potential of Railways has not been realised yet.

"The average speed of train is not much. There are so many stoppages which hamper the speed. Rolling stock is also old. Our rolling stocks, signaling system need to be upgraded for realising the full potential of railways," he said. He said there are challenges but these have to be tackled.

"We have to solve them as these are a challenge for the country and not Railways alone."

On the cleanliness issue Prabhu said, "An integrated waste management system should be formed to tackle the issue and we have launched the cleanliness campaign as part of Swachh Bharat Mission." On the financial front he said there is a need for about Rs 6 lakh crore to complete all the pending projects.

Prabhu agreed to a suggestion for creating a super class coach with higher ticket rate for those who can afford. He also agreed to another suggestion that the coaches meant for ladies and disabled persons should not be at the end of the train but at the middle. In order to facilitate easy availability of tickets, Prabhu said many new initiatives like mobile ticketing are being launched in certain routes.

"We want to use the technology in a bigger way to provide better passenger service," he said.

Source: DNA India