Sep 1, 2014

Indian Railways to Install New Track Safety Technology

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways is installing a state-of-art technology along train tracks to detect of faults and defective parts in coaches, wagons and locomotives.

The track-side equipment can detect overheated bearings, wheels and brake discs in trains and help staff take fast decisions as to whether or not the train is safe to run.

The project, which will be run as trial project will be installed at 10 locations at an estimated cost of 73 crore rupees in the first phase.

The new system, which uses high-speed infrared and digital cameras, will replace physical examination of the wagons by railway staff.

The system is capable of working in rain, fog and in extremely hot and cold temperatures and data captured by it shall be used to improve quality and accuracy of safety inspections.

Be patient at the train station, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian tells commuters, as weekly tickets get the chop

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian is urging public transport users to show patience, despite a recent rise in the number of commuters signing up for the Opal smartcard.

Weekly adult train tickets are one of 14 ticket types that are no longer on sale as of Monday, with Ms Berejiklian warning there may be delays at suburban rail stations and ferry wharves, and at busy inner-city train stations.

"I am asking customers to allow a little extra time and be patient on their morning commute": Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Lisa McMahon

Transport users across greater Sydney have taken up more than 700,000 Opal cards, the stored value transport ticket that is being introduced at a cost of $1.2 billion.

In the past fortnight alone more than 120,000 Opal cards were issued, suggesting a widespread advertising campaign may have cut through.

Nevertheless, Ms Berejiklian expects queues to form at a number of stations as commuters realise they cannot buy their regular ticket. Adult MyTrain weekly tickets are no longer for sale; nor are monthly, quarterly and yearly MyMulti tickets.

The Opal card's continued rollout sees the end for many paper tickets as of Monday morning. Photo: Kate Geraghty

The government is also no longer selling Adult Off-Peak Return tickets, meaning adults who buy return train tickets in the middle of the day, late at night or on Saturday are no longer eligible for cheaper travel. They would need an Opal card for off-peak discounts.

The Transport Minister also expects delays at some inner-city stations as more commuters leave through gates with their Opal card. There have been issues at some stations with ticket readers not displaying properly during peak hours. Readers have also occasionally been out of operation on some bus routes.

"While many customers have already made the move to Opal, I am expecting some queues at train stations and ferry wharves today as some customers realise their regular paper tickets are no longer available," Ms Berejiklian said.

"Train stations and ferry wharves are normally very busy on a Monday morning, and with the retirement of some paper tickets, I am asking customers to allow a little extra time and be patient on their morning commute."

Opal cards for concession holders and pensioners are not yet available, and the system has not yet been introduced on all buses.

At Wynyard on Friday, Narayan Takkekar was one of a number of commuters lining up to buy an Opal card from a pop-up store set up for sales.

"It's the end, right, I've got to buy it," Mr Takkekar said. "Better late than never."

Pensioner excursion tickets will remain on sale, and TravelTen bus tickets are likely to remain on sale for about a year.

TravelTen ferry tickets are no longer sold, meaning that people whose public transport use is limited to a few ferry trips a week are likely to pay more with the Opal card.

Carbon savings should be spent on public transport review: Rail Back on Track

A commuter advocacy group is calling for a full review of the public transport network and its fares. Photo: Glenn Hunt

The Queensland government's $30 million in carbon tax savings should be spent on a comprehensive public transport review, according to a commuter advocacy group.

Premier Campbell Newman announced at the weekend that Queensland residents would be asked to decide whether the unexpected windfall should be used to decrease fares or increase bus and train services.

But Robert Dow from Rail Back on Track described it as a token, vote-winning exercise, saying the money would be better spent on a comprehensive review of fares and the network in order to bolster efficiency and patronage.

"Pragmatically, it's a superficial exercise," he said.

"Rather than trying to buy votes, there needs to be a commitment to a proper fare review. We have an unsustainable public transport network, it's poorly designed and we are stuck with one of the world's most expensive transport systems.

"People will say a five per cent cut is better than nothing but it's short-term thinking.

"It's not addressing the systemic issues with a poorly designed fare structure and the obvious network issues."

Public transport fares in Southeast Queensland are among the highest in the country, Mr Dow said, which prevents many people from using the network.

Network connectivity is also a major problem, with almost non-existent feeder bus services to rail hubs also stymieing patronage.

"My experience is people will pay a fair fare," he said.

"If Translink cut fares by 30 per cent, they would make money with increased patronage."

"The government needs to consult with the public, use the money to commit to proper fare review, and explain why the network has to be improved.

"If they do that they will get the public on board.

"This five per cent cut is short-term. In six months time we'll back to where we were."

Mr Dow also said the lack of capped tickets, such as daily and weekly tickets that enables commuters to take multiple trips, was prohibiting families from using the network, while Queensland was also the only state that did not offer concessions to the unemployed.

In announcing the unexpected windfall on Sunday, Mr Newman said he wanted the savings passed on to commuters. 

"We have found $30 million worth of savings in the transport budget with the abolition of the carbon tax," he said.

"We're now asking Queenslanders, do they want a decrease in public transport fares or do they want more services?

"We think people should have their say, whether they be public transport commuters or just the broader members of the public."

The $30 million had been earmarked to pay higher annual electricity bills and other costs that were forecast to be incurred by the public transport system with carbon pricing in place.
Source..brisbane times

Transport Minister: No further cuts to Irish Rail subvention

Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe. Photo credit: Gerry Mooney

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that he will be not proposing any further cuts to the Government subvention to Irish Rail next year.

Speaking earlier today at the signing of the new five-year Luas operating contract with Transdev, Mr Donohoe said that he will be proposing that there will be no further cuts to the Government budget for Irish Rail.

“Across the discussion in the run up to this particular point, I always emphasised that so it is my intention to commence negotiations in relation to next year's budget, by proposing no further cut for next year in subvention to Irish Rail,” he added.

Exploratory talks at the LRC between the unions and rail chiefs reconvened this morning, ahead of the second wave of strike action which is set to take place this weekend.

The SIPTU and NBRU trade unions represent the 2,100 workers involved in the dispute.

And Owen Reidy, a SIPTU organiser, said that subvention is a “fundamental issue” in the negotiation process.

Strike action is expected to take place this Sunday and Monday, causing chaos for the 80,000 GAA fans who will be in the capital for the All Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary. While students and workers travel plans will also be disrupted the following day.

ARG Transportation selected to revive central Washington line

USA: Washington State Department of Transportation has selected San Pedro & Southwestern Railroad and Coos Bay Rail Link operator ARG Transportation to revive freight services on the 40 km Othello – Royal City line in central Washington.

ARG is to spend six months determining interest from prospective customers. If the results are favourable it will reopen the line, which the state acquired in 1993 to prevent it from being abandoned and to safeguard the infrastructure. Freight services ceased in 1994, but following interest in revival $0·75m of state-funded repairs were completed in 2013.

‘I, along with the entire community, am excited that after years of work by the Port of Royal Slope and WSDOT, this project is moving towards completion’, said State Representative Matt Manweller on August 21. ‘A rail line out of Royal City will be a boon to economic development and another opportunity for local farmers to get their produce to international markets.’
Source..railway gazette

Hyderabad Metro Rail seeks suggestions on skywalks

Coaches of the Hyderabad Metro (Photo: PTI/File)
Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Metro Rail has invited suggestions to help plan the connectivity of its skywalks better.

Speaking at ‘August Fest 2014’ here, HMR managing director N.V.S. Reddy said, “We want schools, colleges and commercial complexes to be properly connected to the skywalks. To ensure that it is effective and also people-friendly, suggestions from students, teachers, professors and businessmen are welcome.”

The intention is to ensure complete utilisation of skywalks. At the same time, safety and security are also to be kept in mind.

Metro stations chief architect Sushil Verma explained, “Metro stations are being built on one pillar which is the first of its kind in the world. The stations will have skywalks which will connect to nearby schools, colleges, shopping malls. Over 200 skywalks have been planned in the city.”

While planning, designs from Japan, Bangkok and other cities were taken into account but the metro stations were built to suit the Indian environment. There is a lot of ventilation inside the metro stations and solar technology will also be used so that electricity consumption can be reduced.

Mr Reddy explained, “Street furniture will be an important aesthetic aspect of metro stations. They will depict the culture of the state and at the same time be useful for senior citizens, women and children.”
Source..deccan chronicle

MRTS: lack of vision costing Kerala dear

Lack of vision, know-how, and adequate bureaucratic support is costing the State dear in taking up projects to solve the transportation problems in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

A far-sighted approach by involving a team of experts and proper homework could have avoided the ignominy the State is facing while scrapping the elevated mass rapid transit system (MRTS) and going for the light rail transit system (LRTS) in its place. The project originally under the Transport Department is now under the Public Works Department.

Official sources told The Hindu that the government was not happy with the volte-face of Principal Adviser to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation E. Sreedharan and his advice to go for LRTS. Transport planners are sceptical whether the project will take off at all. Eyebrows have been raised over the haste in which DMRC is going ahead and fine tuning the detailed project report (DPR). DMRC’s views that Kozhikode will not fall under the 10-lakh urban population and that getting funds from the Centre is bleak have raised suspicion.

Mr. Sreedharan had convinced the government that monorail was the best option to solve the transportation problems. The consortium led by Bombardier Transportation Holdings USA Inc had quoted a prohibitive cost. Mr. Sreedharan changed his stance before the project was scrapped and is backing LRTS describing it as “cheaper and reliable alternative mode.”

“The government had no other alternative but to go by the advice of Mr. Sreedharan. There is no dissent at the board meetings of Kerala Monorail Corporation Limited. In Kochi Metro, the DMRC is depended on as Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. does not have expertise,” sources said.

Transport planners say the argument that LRTS is cheaper is not true as it will need Rs.180 crore for laying one-km compared to the Rs.162 crore estimated for monorail by DMRC.
Source..the hindu

AP Govt to enlist DMRC services for metro rail project

HYDERABAD, SEPT 1: The Andhra Pradesh Government is set to enlist the services of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and its principal advisor E Sreedharan to work on metro rail projects planned in the new State.

The metro rail expert Sreedharan met with the State Chief Minister N Chandrababau Naidu to discuss the State Government's move to develop two metro projects over the next 3-5 years.

The State Government has planned a metro project in Visakhaptnam and Vijayawada-Guntur initially and is considering another project in Tirupati.

According to a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office, the State Government has assigned the construction of metro rail projects to DMRC.

E. Sreedharan has been appointed as advisor for the AP Government on metro rail projects.

During the meeting, the Chief Minister said Andhra Pradesh would initially have two metro rail projects in Visakhapatnam and VGTM (Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri) area. He has asked the DMRC principal advisor to finish both the projects within three-and-a-half years.

The Chief Minister has asked Sreedharan to prepare a feasibility report for a rail-based mass rapid transit system.

The State Government has also proposed a metro rail project for Tirupati. However, the Tirupati metro rail project would be taken up once the Visakhapatnam and VGTM projects are completed.

The statement said Sreedharan has assured the Chief Minister that DMRC would support and assist the State Government in its efforts to develop the metro projects.
Source...the hindubusiness line

Two central ministries urged to set Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited house in order

PUNE: Citizens' groups have taken it upon themselves to draw the Centre's attention to the abject neglect of the public transport system in the city.

They have appealed to the urban development ministry and the ministry of road transport to improve the public transport in the city. The activists, had earlier made several suggestions to the state government on how the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited, the city bus transport company can be improved.

The groups — Sajag Nagrik Manch, and PMP Pravasi Manch, in letters sent to urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, and minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, said the city bus transport service has worsened because of alleged ineffective administration with a complete lack of transparency, accountability and financial discipline.

"We are seeking your help in making PMPML upgrade its services for the benefit of commuters," Vivek Velankar of the Sajag Nagrik Manch, and Jugal Rathi of the PMP Pravasi Manch said.

They said there was enough politics over the metro rail project, but there is no alternative to a safe, reliable and efficient bus transport service. Such a service will compliment the metro rail project, they added.

The groups said bus commuters are facing severe hardships on various counts. Of the 2,030 buses including those on lease, 705 buses are not plying for various reasons including breakdown, and lack of maintenance.

If the buses are repaired, it will not only benefit thousands of commuters, but also help in adding revenue of Rs 60 lakh per day. PMPML, which is facing a huge financial crisis because of consistent losses every year, will benefit from the additional revenue. The groups said that if the buses are repaired, no new procurement of buses will be required. There are several indications that there have been large-scale irregularities in the purchase of buses procured under JNNURM.

The transport utility does not have any mini buses which can pass through narrow roads of the city. Nearly 70% of the bus commuters who travel by buses are from the main areas of the city. Many fatal mishaps involving PMPML buses have occurred in the city, the groups said.

PMPML should undertake an urgent time-bound programme for total accident prevention, the groups said. The groups have also made a demand that lands at abandoned octroi posts in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad city should be handed over to PMPML for bus terminals and creating other facilities for commuters.

Last month, a senior PMPML official said the transport service is on a death bed as it is struggling to keep its buses on road. Ageing buses with broken seats, frequent breakdowns, pathetic condition of bus stops, lack of hygiene, poor frequency of buses and low reliability are some of the prominent problems experienced by over 10 lakh commuters every day.

How users perceive bus travel

Cleanliness: Many commuters feel the buses need a thorough cleaning. They are often strewn with bus tickets, wrappers, groundnut shells and other waste

Boarding: Senior citizens and women often find it difficult to board buses because some have high floors. The side handle to grab for support is often missing or is hanging loose

3. Bus Network: Connectivity is still the biggest problem users face, often having to change buses thrice to reach short distances. Bus stops are inconveniently situated and in a bad shape

4. Affordability: Users are at loggerheads with the PMPML authorities over fares which they said can be lowered
Source..times of india

Aug 31, 2014

Commerce ministers to hold talks ahead of Xi’s visit to India

Nirmala Sitharaman had held talks with Gao Hucheng when she visited China with vice-president, Hamid Ansari in June this year. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint Beijing: Ahead of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s forthcoming visit to India, commerce ministers of both the countries are set to hold talks to finalize multi-billion dollar package of Chinese investments in India. Commerce minister, Nirmala Sitharaman is due to arrive in Beijing on Monday to take part in the India, China joint economic working-group (JEG) headed jointly along with her Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng. The two ministers would meet on 2 September to discuss a broad trade agenda which includes China’s plans to address India’s concerns of mounting trade deficit which is currently averaging around $35 billion per annum. India’s trade deficit with China mounted to $8.84 billion in the first three months of this year out of total trade volume of $21.98 billion. The bilateral trade amounted to $65.47 billion in 2013 with trade deficit totalling $31.42 billion. This is Sitharaman’s second visit to China after she took over as commerce minister. She held talks with Gao when she visited China with vice-president, Hamid Ansari in June this year. The commerce ministers talks would focus on the broad package of Chinese investments that were expected to be announced during Xi’s visit New Delhi expected to be in the third week of September, officials told PTI. High on the agenda of investments are the Chinese industrial parks in India, which was expected to be announced by Xi during his visit. A Chinese delegation is currently in India visiting three different locations, including New Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The two sides have already signed an MOU outlining a broad frame work for the parks. India wants China to set up four such parks, while China wants to make a beginning with one. Discussions were expected to be focused on the products China wants to manufacture in the parks while Chinese officials maintained the quantum of the investment would be announced by Xi during his visit. Considering the rapport established between Xi and Narendra Modi during their meeting in Brazil on the sidelines of the recent Brics meeting, the extent of Chinese investments would be discussed during their meeting in New Delhi. Yet another area of discussions would be China’s involvement in India’s plans to modernise its railways. China is keen to construct the high speed rail network on build, operate and maintenance basis while India currently prefers China to modernise the existing tracks to improve the speed as well as modernising the railway stations. mint


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