Oct 21, 2013

Fewer tickets being booked; cash-strapped Railways worried

New Delhi: Trains may be running full, but there is a decline in number of tickets booked in the past six months, causing worry for cash-strapped Railways. 

The number of passengers travelling in the non-suburban sector, which include reserved and unreserved class in mail and express trains, during April-September was 1,982.35 million as against 2,058.03 million in the same period last year.

Ticket bookings in the six-month period, according to Railway Ministry data, showed a decrease of 3.68 per cent as compared to last year.

Though the passenger fare along with reservation fee and super-fast surcharge were hiked this year, the growth in earnings is not up to the expectation.

The passenger earnings during April-September period were Rs. 18,099.83 crore as against Rs.15,582.42 crore during the same period last year, an increase of 16.16 per cent only though the projection was more than 20 per cent.

Blaming ticket-less journey for the fall in revenue, Railway Board Member (Traffic) Devi Prasad Pandey said, "We have intensified ticket checking exercise at major stations.

Steps are being taken to make tickets easily available with opening up of more counters and deployment of more personnel for this."

Besides intensifying ticket checking drive, Railways is also installing ticket vending machines at more stations for short journey.

"Though coaches are running with full capacity, ticket bookings are not matching to it," Pandey said, adding that, "It should not happen because all trains are running full."

Asked whether fare hike and economic slowdown have adversely affected the passenger movement, Pandey said, "Road travel is costlier than train and it is the preferred mode of transport for common people in the country."

As far as economic slowdown is concerned, he said, "It is not the sole reason. People are travelling in trains and there are long queues for buying train tickets always."

Booking in long distance journey has not been affected. The fall in ticket booking has been noticed in short journeys, he said.

Pandey is, however, hopeful of tiding over the situation. "Passenger bookings will improve in the coming months and it has already shown an increasing trend this month due to various measures being undertaken," he said.
Source - NDTV

China punishes eight in railway corruption case

Policemen hoist a Chinese national flag in front of an entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court where the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will be held, in Jinan, Shandong province September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files

China's anti-graft authorities have punished eight people at a state-owned rail construction firm for spending more than $100 million on hospitality last year, a disciplinary body of the Communist Party said on Monday.

Besides waste and fraud, the country's railway system has been mired in debt from building high-speed lines. President Xi Jinping has vowed to crack down on official corruption, saying he will target high-flying "tigers" as well as lowly "flies."

China Railway Construction Corp. Ltd., the country's second-largest infrastructure contractor, spent 837 million yuan on receptions for guests, the ruling party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said.

Wang Qishan, China's top anti-corruption official, has ordered that the bloated hospitality costs "must be dealt with severely", the disciplinary body said, adding that 57 others were criticized, with one person facing prosecution.

Investigators found problems with invoices and accounting, according to the state enterprises regulator, the disciplinary body said on its website.

The company, which could not immediately be reached for comment, has moved to cut hospitality costs after the probe, the body added. It did not say what punishment the eight individuals received.

China's railways have faced increased scrutiny from anti-corruption officials and the public after a scandal in which former railways minister Liu Zhijun was prosecuted for corruption and abuse of power.

One of several officials implicated in the scandal, Liu received a suspended death sentence this summer. In China, that usually implies life in prison.
Source - reuters

Chhapra wheel factory yet to be declared open

PATNA: The clearance from Railway Board notwithstanding, the wheel factory located at Belapur, Chhapra, is yet to be declared open by the railways. The factory has not been made functional despite installation of machinery plants at the factory and completion of trial production under the supervision of experts.

According to sources, railways conducted trial production of wheels from this factory in March last year. As per the plan, it also took up performance guarantee test (PGT) of the wheels in August last year which was mandatory prior to starting full-fledged production of wheels, sources said. The wheel plant at Chhapra had successfully carried out wheel casting process. The semi-manufactured wheels, which were brought to the factory from Bangalore railway wheel factory, were given final finish here. About 500 such wheels were given final finish at the Chhapra plant, sources said.

According to an ECR official, the railway successfully produced a set of seven wheels during trial production stage. Railways used about 17 tonnes of super fine scrap materials to produce these wheels. Rare equipment and machinery tools have been installed at the factory to produce quality wheels to fulfill the needs of railways, he said.

The project has cost about Rs 1,417.23 crore to railways. Former railway minister Lalu Prasad had kicked off the civil work of the wheel factory on July 29, 2008. Since then work on the project continued uninterrupted, sources said. Railways has acquired 138 acres of land at Belapur. It acquired 52 acre land land for the factory, 35 acres for rail siding yard to store wheels in stacks and 51.76 acres of land for constructing railway colony for its employees, sources said, adding Chhapra wheel factory which is the second in the country after the one in Bangalore, would fulfill the needs of Indian Railways.

The factory has the capacity to produce about one lakh wheels of goods wagons, passenger coaches and locomotives per year fulfilling the needs of the entire eastern and northern regions of the country. Besides, wheels at this factory is being manufactured on the latest US based Griffin technology, sources said adding railway colony is a must on the factory campus so that staff and officials could live on the campus to monitor production process shiftwise. Uninterrupted supply of electricity is also required for the factory to complete wheel casting without any hindrance, sources said.
Source - TOI

Indian Railways' RailTel to launch Railwire rural broadband service

Aiming to provide seamless state-of-the-art communication network, RailTel - the telecom arm of Indian railways - will launch Railwire, a high capacity broadband service, in rural and remote areas of the country.

"Railwire will be launched across the country. Our aim is to reach out to rural and remote areas of the country at affordable rate," RailTel Managing Director B K Bahuguna said.

Currently Railwire service has been launched as pilot project in limited areas of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala having over 6,000 customers.

"Railwire service has been designed to provide an open source content delivery platform for providing various services including Broadband Internet, IP telephony, e-HealthCare, e-Education, and other content driven services like gaming, video on demand services to individuals and small and medium business segment using cable operator's infrastructure," Bahuguna said.

RailTel has built nationwide optical fibre cable (OFC) based broadband and multimedia network using railway?s seamless right of way with the objective of modernising rail network.

RailTel has constructed about 42,000 km of OFC network in the country, and work on another 7,500 km is in various stage of completion. The OFC network presently reaches to over 4,200 towns and cities, including rural areas.

As part of its expansion plans, RailTel is exploring ways to facilitate broadband through WiFi at railway stations for convenience of passengers.

Source - NDTV





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