Jul 27, 2014

Centre's hawk eye on Metro rail

HYDERABAD: In a blow to the TRS government's plans to get the alignment of the Hyderabad Metro Rail project changed, the Centre has decided that the Project Monitoring Group (PMG) under the cabinet secretariat will directly monitor the venture and ensure that it is completed as per its schedule. 

"A web-based monitoring system will be launched by September. Until then, the state government will give a progress report on the project once every fortnight," said sources who were privy to the meeting held in Delhi on Friday that was attended by Union finance secretary Aravind Mayaram, Telangana chief secretary Rajiv Sharma, Telangana municipal administration & urban development principal secretary S K Joshi, HMRL managing director NVS Reddy and L&T chief executive V B Gadgil. 

The Centre convened the meeting following a complaint from L&T that the Telangana government wants the alignment of corridor-1 changed so that it goes underground near the Assembly building and the design of corridor-II modified so that the traders in Sultan Bazaar are not displaced. The move could prove to be a roadblock to the TRS government's plans as despite it being a signatory to the concessionaire agreement (by virtue of being the successor state of united AP), only the Centre and L&T have a stake in the project. 

"It is a very significant development since this is the first time that an infrastructure project is coming under the PMG's scanner. So far, the PMG has been facilitating clearance of 215 stalled projects with investment of Rs 1,000 crore and above in the areas of power plants and mining," said an official in the Union finance department. The PMG is headed by Anil Swaroop, additional secretary, cabinet secretariat. 

According to the sources, Anil Swaroop said there were about seven or eight issues related to alignment of route and land acquisition among others that have to be resolved in a time-bound manner. "Timelines have been fixed to resolve the stand-off between L&T and Telangana government," the sources said but refused to elaborate.The sources said the Centre has asked the Telangana government not to press for the change in the route alignment of the metro rail as it would have legal and financial implications as it is being executed under the public private partnership (PPP) model. "In the meeting, Aravind Mayarama asked Rajiv Sharma to ensure full cooperation from the state government to the project," said the sources. 

HMRL MD NVS Reddy said: "The Centre is very keen on the progress of the project, and works would not be hampered from any quarters whatsoever." Telangana MA&UD principal secretary S K Joshi said: "The Centre will not be supervising the works per se, but monitor the project in its entirerity." The decision to bring the Hyderabad metro rail project under the purview of the PMG is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of putting in place a foolproof system to ensure hassle-free execution of projects, Joshi added. 

However, a Telangana government official said the metro rail project cannot progress without the cooperation of the state government as its agencies, including the GHMC, are involved in facilitating land acquisition and giving various clearances
Source..times of india

In big infrastructure push, PM sets roads, rail, power targets

With the objective of boosting growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met the secretaries of nine economic ministries to outline a plan to put infrastructure development in top gear over the next two years.

At the meeting with the secretaries of roads and highways, civil aviation, shipping, power, telecom, railways, petroleum, coal, and industry, planning secretary Sindhushree Khullar made a presentation on targets for different sectors. She spoke of bottlenecks faced during the UPA regime and mooted the idea of a monitoring unit in the Planning Commission to remove these.

She also stressed on swift, time-bound clearance of projects and easing of environmental norms to ensure projects take off, government sources said. “The focus of the presentation was speedy development of smart cities, ports, roads, special economic zones and corridors (like DMRC). Greater infrastructure development by way of building more airports and ports, and having better connectivity through the railways was discussed,” said a source.

The infrastructure sector is a focus area for the Modi regime, and projects worth over Rs. 50,000 crore have already been cleared in the two months the government has been in power.

Construction of roads remains a top priority with the Centre setting a target of awarding projects for the construction of 8,500 km of highways this fiscal, against 9,638 km in 2013-14. However, the UPA government had managed to award projects for just 3,169 km last year.

Of the 8,500 km of highways, 3,500 km would be PPP projects and the remaining would be implemented on the EPC (engineering procurement construction) model where the government provides 100% funding.

The target for actual construction of highways in 2014-15 has been set at 6,300 km.

As many as 189 highway projects with a total cost of around Rs. 1,80,000 crore are currently stuck due to problems such as land acquisition issues, clearance delays, etc.

Since availability of power is critical for infrastructure development, issues related to power generation and transmission projects were discussed. “It was pointed out that the biggest challenge today is not power generation but transmission,” a senior government official said.

Building gas pipelines to ensure projects don’t suffer from fuel shortage also came up.

The official said, presently, over Rs. 1 lakh crore of investment in gas-based power capacity is suffering due to shortage of gas.

For the railways, it was proposed that 300 km of new track should be laid in the current fiscal.

The Indian Railways laid 450 km of new track in 2013-14, short of the targeted 500 km.

For the aviation sector, the plan panel proposed lowering the investment target from Rs. 1,008 crore in the previous fiscal to Rs. 934 crore this year, since investment realisation was just about 55% of the target in 2013-14.

A plan to develop airports in non-metro cities was talked about.

Other issues that came up for discussion included mobilising coal from one location to another, increasing rural tele-density and providing undersea fibre optic connectivity to the Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands.
Source..hindustan times

No funds for 60-km rail line survey

Important suburban train surveys, like the one for a 60-km line from Thane to Navi Mumbai airport, that were announced in this year’s railway budget, are unlikely to happen this year as the funds allocated in the Railway budget are inadequate, said Railway sources. It costs around Rs 7-8 eight lakh per kilometre for a fresh survey, but Railways has allotted only Rs 9 lakh for the survey of the entirely new Thane to Navi Mumbai airport line.
Officials are doubtful and say that this is too meagre an amount. “When we do a Detailed Project Research (DPR) of a completely new line with no prior research done on it whatsoever, we spend Rs 7-8 lakh per kilometre. We have to spend time and money on this research, but many a times we get in outside experts to consult with us,” said a railway official.
“These surveys are very complicated and a lot of work goes into them as we have to create a new line around whatever existing infrastructure that may lie in its path. That means we may have to circumvent a building or an ongoing project. Also, we have to see if there is an environmental issue at hand and get permission in the wake of that,” said the official.
Anil Tiwari, a railway expert, said, “Ideally, Railways have to do the survey if it is asked to do so. It can ask for more money in the supplementary budgets that can be asked after the main budget is announced.”
“If it does the survey , it will be timely as it will have a concrete plan in their hands until the Navi Mumbai airport begins to operate flights,” he said.
SOURCE..asian age

Courting Danger: Case of Removed Rail Gate

A level-crossing where a gate was set up and later removed near Buddiram village in Srikakulam district | Express Photo
SRIKAKULAM: The apathy of the railway authorities and elected representatives has put the lives of a large number of people, particularly students, in grave danger at the unmanned level crossing close to Amadalavalasa railway station in Srikakulam district. Interestingly, the railway officials had built a guard room and installed all required equipment for a fully-operated railway gate two years ago but removed the gates within a couple of weeks, consequently turning equipment worth lakhs of rupees into unusable scrap.

Ward Number 21 of Amudalavalasa municipal limits had an unmanned level crossing near Kuddiram village where scores of people travel across the tracks every day. The railway authorities, following pressure from locals, constructed a guard room in 2012 and installed a railway gate which was operated for a couple of weeks by a gateman. The authorities had written to the general manager, East Coast Railway for sanction of a gateman post to the Kuddiram village gate. As there was no sanctioned post, railway authorities removed the gate and locked the guard room. As a result, the equipment has now become useless.

“There will be thousands of proposals laid on the tables of railway authorities at various levels. Unless there is political intervention from the local elected representatives, these proposals are unlikely to be cleared. Due to poor coordination among the local MPs, the post might not have been sanctioned,” a senior official of Waltair railway division said.

There are several unmanned level crossings at Itchapuram, Palasa, Tekkali, Narasannapeta, Amadalavalasa and Etcherla. At every unmanned level crossing, a large number of people, mainly students, cross the tracks. Several fatal incidents have been reported in the past and cattle being run over by the trains on the tracks is very common.


“The civil works were completed about one-and-a-half years ago. The equipment has also been acquired. However, due to lack of manpower, the gate has not been opened. There is no clarity on which railway station has jurisdiction over the gate. It could be either Amadalavalasa railway station or Dusi station. To operate the gate, a minimum of four persons are needed. There is no possibility of outsourced personnel in the Safety Department of Railways. At present, it is only an unmanned level-crossing,” a railway official said.
SOURCE..new indian express

No More UMLCs on New Rail Lines

HYDERABAD: Wherever new rail lines are proposed to be laid in the South Central Railway, there will be no unmanned railway level crossings (UMLC).

To avoid any scope for accidents at UMLCs, Indian railways as part of the national agenda have taken a policy decision not to have any UMLCs where new rail lines are proposed in the near future and to do away with all the existing unmanned crossings by 2016 to averrt accidents, SCR chief public relation officer K Sambasiva Rao has said.

As per the proposal, the SCR will construct subways by constructing road under bridges (RuBs) or Road over Bridge (RoBs). It also proposes to merge unmanned level crossing gate with the nearby manned crossing and have suitable road diversions to check accidents.

Having RoB, RuBs and subways at level crossings will be a permanent solutions and there will be no need to recruit staff to man the level crossings. Each subway would cost Rs 50 to Rs 75 lakh which would be economical in the long run.

As on April 1, 2014, there were nearly 13,000 UMLCs across the country. There are about 640 unmanned level crossings spread over six divisions of the SCR and an action plan has been prepared to eliminate all of them by 2016.
SOURCE..new indian express

Jul 26, 2014

Passengers face travel disruption caused by storms

Several train services cancelled on Saturday due to earlier stormy weather, as airports face one of their busiest weekends on record
Commuters at Paddington Rail station try to get information from rail staff after discovering they are unable to travel because of disruption to signals between London and Reading caused by a thunderstorm Photo: LNP

Passengers continued to face disruption on Saturday as the aftermath of sudden storms saw more travel problems.

Thousands of people were affected by delays and cancellations on busy commuter routes on Friday as the weather took a turn for the worse.

There were seven cancellations to services by First Great Western on Saturday "due to poor weather conditions earlier", its website said.

South West trains said their engineers had worked through the night to avoid further delays.

"Our teams continued to work through the night to ensure that trains and train crew are in the correct positions to enable us to operate our full timetable from the start of service on this morning," they said in a statement.

Anti-collision devices hold the key, says rail body

Being developed by the Railways, the TCAS is currently undergoing field trials. In the context of Thursday’s accident involving a train ramming a school bus, resulting in deaths at an unmanned level crossing (UMLC), the TCAS assumes significance.

Could Thursday’s collision involving a train and school bus in Medak district have been prevented if a Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), currently undergoing field trials, were in place?

Yes, say experts at the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the technical wing of the Indian Railways that indigenously developed the promising new safety device. Its features include automatic braking of locomotives when they confront each other on the same track, preventing a train from passing through a red signal by tripping its speed, keeping a tab on the speed beyond prescribed limits at various track sections.

In the context of Thursday’s accident involving a train ramming a school bus, resulting in deaths at an unmanned level crossing (UMLC), the TCAS assumes significance.

Officials of RDSO are confident of adding a feature wherein there would be a continuous, high-pitched whistle both from an UMLC and the approaching locomotive, to warn road users trying to cross the tracks.

The whistle would automatically start once a locomotive touches the 300-metre mark on either direction at the UMLC, said Mahesh Mangal, Senior Executive Director-Signal at the RDSO. Once installed, the TCAS will constantly update the locomotive pilot, information pertaining to the location of a signal, an UMLC, the safe distance that the train can move and permissible speeds.

TCAS is based on a combination of railway signalling data with radio communications, global position, radio frequency identification devices (RFID), software and logic and is said to be the first-of-its-kind. It comprises three main sub-systems-Loco TCAS the onboard equipment, Station TCAS deployed at stations and level crossings and RFID tags on the tracks, at one each per kilometre.

The device, with European Level II safety features, promises to prevent train accidents and based on successful trials. Officials are confident that the TCAS would be far more effective than all other safety devices.

As for the cost, installation of TCAS would cost about Rs.10-12 lakh per route km and the project cost is estimated at about Rs.7,000 crore for Indian Railways. This will cover about 64,000 route km, all the 6,000-odd stations, 8,000 to 10,000 Interlock level crossing gates and the 10,000-odd locomotives (engines) and take five years to implement, officials said.
Source..the hindu

Jul 25, 2014

INDIAN RAILWAY - Development of Railway Stations for Tourism

The identified stations are Puri, Gaya, Tarapith, Tarakeshwar, Agra Cantt., Guwahati, Kamakhya, New Jalpaiguri, Amritsar, Rae Bareilly, Varanasi, Haridwar, Delhi Safdarjung, Kurukshetra, Jaipur, Ajmer, Tirupati, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Nanded, Hospet, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram and Rameshwaram. In the first phase, 5 stations (Amritsar, Agra Cantt, Gaya, Rae-Bariely and Thiruvananthapuram) have been jointly inspected by a team of officers from Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Tourism to identify the amenities needed and part allocation of funds made. In addition, Jaipur and Ajmer stations have been jointly inspected and works finalized while Delhi Safdarjung and Kurukshetra stations have been jointly inspected. The stations are identified on the basis of heritage and tourism importance of the stations/destinations it caters. Railways undertake these works on priority after release of funds by Ministry of Tourism. 

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.


Running of Summer Special Trains

Indian Railways plan special trains well in advance and additional coaches are attached in regular trains to clear the extra rush of passengers during summer and festival seasons keeping in view the pattern of traffic, operational feasibility and availability of resources. On a few occasions, special trains are required to be run at the last moment to clear rush due to sudden events. This is an ongoing process in Indian Railways. 

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.


Modernisation of Railway Network

Modernisation of services and extension of Railways network is an ongoing process over Indian Railways. There is a constant endeavour of Ministry of Railways for capacity augmentation and upgradation of tracks and rolling stock, improvements in signalling systems, training and monitoring of loco pilots, induction of modern technologies, including provision of enabling infrastructure. 

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.



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