Oct 30, 2013

How Metro, Infrastructure projects can be made Viable on PPP mode

NEW DELHI: The Urban Development (UD) ministry has red flagged overdependence on real estate revenues to make Metro rail and other infrastructure projects viable on public private partnership (PPP) mode.

After the failure of Delhi Airport Metro Express Line and Hyderabad Metro, where private players were banking heavily on revenue from realty sector, the ministry has come to the view the revenue expectation from such activities should be limited to 20%.

In a recent confidential Cabinet note circulated to elicit responses of other ministries, Nirman Bhawan has cited how the concessionaire of airport express line projected income from property development to the extent of 70% of gross revenue for 20-25 years, and later it would taper to 37%. “With the slump in the real estate business, the entire revenue collection of this line got jeopardized eventually seeking exit of the concessionaire from the project,” the note says. It proposes that such public transport projects should not be converted into “real estate projects open to various market risks”.

For the Hyderabad Metro project, the successful bidder in 2007-08 banked heavily on revenue from real estate development and had even quoted negative grant. The note says though this was hailed as a successful model and it was assumed such Metro projects would be money-spinners, the “euphoria” was “short-lived” due to the 2008 economic slowdown. The project was bid out again in 2010. Even the new concessionaire is facing upheaval task due to present financial condition.

The note backs auditing by Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) of expenditure of private parties in project development if the cost increases beyond 10%..

For smoother and timely completion of these major urban mass transport projects, the ministry has also suggested sweeping changes both relating to seeking clearance and permission to carry out construction without any hindrance.

The ministry wants that while providing land for Metro works no government agency should seek alternate land. Moreover, the price of the land made available should be at government rate.

Second, all departments concerned must issue working permission for speedier construction so that there is no time and cost overrun. The ministry has also sought exemption of Metro works from seeking clearance under the Ancient Monument and Archeological Sites & Remains Act to carry out construction close to monuments. In fact, it argues that Metro in other countries provides better link to such sites of historical and cultural importance.

Third, it pitches for exemption from getting forest clearances for such projects by treating these as important public utility key infrastructure works such as roads and water supply. The ministry has also underscored the need to appoint commissioners of Metro Railways safety considering its expanding reach to several cities.

Source..Rail News

Dimapur Railway police nabs 1 with gelatin sticks, detonators

The personnel of the Government Railway Police Station (GRPS) of Dimapur Railway Station arrested one person for possessing huge quantity of explosives on Saturday last. According to a statement issued by the Additional Superintendent of Police Dimapur and PRO today said that the accused, identified as one Samuel Lalramsan Hmar (27 years) of Rengkai village, Churachandpur, Manipur, was found smuggling the explosives in two bags, when police checked his belonging on suspicion as he alighted from the Intercity train at Dimapur Railway Station on charges of smuggling explosives. A total of 290 gelatin sticks, 450 detonators and 45 meters of fuse wires were recovered from Samuel. Police are investigating the source of the explosives and involvement of other accomplices in the crime. Investigation was on to apprehend the entire explosive smuggling gang, the statement said.

Source..Rail News

Turkey opens World’s Deepest Undersea Rail Link – connects Asia with Europe by SeaRail

Istambul: Turkey has opened an underwater railway tunnel linking Europe and Asia, and the two sides of Istanbul, realizing a plan initially proposed by an Ottoman sultan about 150 years ago.

The Marmaray tunnel runs under the Bosporus, the strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and divides Istanbul between Asia and Europe. The tunnel is 13.6 kilometres long, including an underwater stretch of 1.4 Kilometres.

It is among a number of large infrastructure projects under the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that have helped boost the economy but also have provoked a backlash of public protest.

“I wish from God that the Marmaray that we are inaugurating will be a benefit to our Istanbul, to our country, to all of humanity,” Mr.Erdogan said at the opening ceremony.

Officials hope that with up to 1.5 million passengers a day, the tunnel will ease some of Istanbul’s chronic traffic, particularly over the two bridges linking the two sides of the city. A more distant dream is that the tunnel may become part of a new train route for rail travel between Western Europe and China.

The underwater portion of the tunnel wasn’t dug, but was dropped in sections to the sea bottom the immersed-tube method used around the world. Turkish officials say that at more than 55 metres deep, it is the world’s deepest railway tunnel of its type.

Started in 2005 and scheduled to be completed in four years, the project was delayed by important archaeological finds, including a 4th century Byzantine port, as builders began digging under the city.

Rejecting any fears that the tunnel could be vulnerable to earthquakes in a region of high seismic activity, Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim said that it is designed to withstand a massive 9.0 magnitude quake. He calls it “the safest place in Istanbul.”

The tube sections are joined by flexible joints that can withstand shocks.

Ottoman Sultan Abdulmejid is said to have proposed the idea of a tunnel under the Bosporus about a century and a half ago. One of his successors, Abdulhamid, had architects submit proposals in 1891, but the plans were not carried out.

The tunnel is just one of Mr. Erdogan’s large-scale plans. They include a separate tunnel being built under the Bosporus for passenger cars, a third bridge over the strait, the world’s biggest airport, and a massive canal that would bypass the Bosporus.

The projects have provoked charges that the government is plunging ahead with city-changing plans without sufficient public consultation. The concern fueled protests that swept Turkey in June.

Tuesday’s ceremony on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic was attended by Erdogan and other officials, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country was heavily involved in the construction and financing of the railway tunnel project.

Japan’s Seikan tunnel linking the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido is the world’s deepest, getting 140 meters (460 feet) below the seabed and 240 metres below sea level. The Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France is as much as 75 metres below sea level.

Source..Rail News

Mumbai Express chugs into Nizamabad in Telangana

Nizamabad Railway Station will become an important junction soon -Madhu Yaskhi Goud

Member of Parliament Madhu Goud Yaskhi, here on Monday, received the newly introduced weekly express train between Mumbai and Nizamabad. The train was formally flagged off by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge at Lok Manya Tilak Terminus in Mumbai yesterday evening.

This weekly train (No: 11205) departs at LTT Kurla on Saturday at 1640 hours, arrives in Nizamabad on Sunday at 0915 hours and leaves for LTT on the same day at 2315 hours and reaches on the following day at 1355 hours, according to railway authorities.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Madhu Goud said his two-year effort to get a sanction of an express train between Nizamabad-Mumbai fructified thanks to the cooperation of Railway Minister. Some more express trains would be sanctioned, he said.

Saying that the Nizamabad railway station would become an important junction in the region after the completion of Peddapally line connecting Karimnagar, Jagityal and Armur, he said the line would become operational within a year.

Sufficient funds for this line have been allocated in the railway budget and most of the work was completed, he said adding that the new train would cater to the needs of the people of the district who frequented Mumbai.

Replying a question he said that the Telangana State would be formed within two months and no one could stop it. “Our party will win the elections in two States and it will not have truck with any political party”, he added.

Source..Rail News

New Signboards for Darjeeling Hill Rail Stations

Siliguri: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is getting a makeover with the addition of signage in bright colours at all 14 stations of the Unesco heritage site, most of which will be given fresh paint also.

The refurbishment of the hill railway has started with Sukna station, 10km from here, where signboards have been put up in blue and yellow.

The boards show the name of the station, distance to other stations and direction, besides informing passengers about the Unesco world heritage status of the toy train.

“We are putting in all efforts to highlight the DHR as a prime tourism destination. In the process, we have started the revamp of all 14 stations that fall along the 80km route of the hill railway from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The first station to get a revamp is at Sukna and the outcome is quite satisfying. The station looks quite pretty with new signage and display boards. We have decided to give other stations also the same look,” said Arun Kumar Sharma, the divisional railway manager, Katihar division.

The 14 stations of the DHR still retain the old-world charm with cottage-style structures and tin roofs, wooden chairs for the passengers and small flower gardens fenced with wooden railings which usually have the model of a toy train on display.

“Tourists come to experience all that is antique and the old-world ambience of the hill railway that comprises engines, coaches and stations. Tourists like to halt at stations, sit on wooden chairs and take pictures of the cottage-styled structures as much as they want to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the route,” said a DHR official.

“Since the hill railway is 132 years old, refurbishing the stations from time to time is essential so that they do not look worn out. Apart from installing new signboards and signage, we will also give the cottage-styled structures, wooden chairs and railings a fresh coat of paint wherever it is required,” a DHR source said.

Source..Rail News

Braveheart GRP Pounced on Patna Terror suspect while trying to flee the blast spot

Patna: A security official caught hold of a man scurrying away from a Patna railway station toilet where a blast took place Sunday. And the terror suspect who tried to bluff his way out has turned out to be a big catch. Mohammad Imtiaz Ansari, main accused in the serial blasts in Patna, was caught by a Government Railway Police (GRP) official when he suspected something was amiss with the youth trying to flee after coming out of toilet following a bomb explosion. Senior officials have declined to name the brave GRP official for security reasons as also because it would endanger him. “Imtiaz was forced to flee after a bomb exploded when another terror suspect Ainul alias Tarique was trying to fit or fix a timer in a bomb at a Patna junction toilet,” a senior GRP official at Patna junction said. ADG (Special Branch) Rajesh Chandra said Imtiaz tried to act smart when the GRP official first pounced upon him and nabbed him. “He said he was a tailor (darzi) and he had to go to Kalyanpur in Motihari. But there is no place called Kalyanpur in Motihari. In fact, Kalyanpur is in Samastipur district,” Chandra said. Police recovered a piece of paper from Imtiaz’s pocket, which had seven phone numbers and they recovered his mobile phone too. Additional Director General (Rail) P.N.Rai described it as a big catch.

Imtiaz confessed that he along with six people was divided into three groups with specific assignments to carry out the blasts. He admitted that all the bombs were planted Sunday morning after 9 a.m. “Imtiaz told police that he along with another terror suspect was given the task of planting bombs at the Patna junction toilet and other adjoining places, and two other groups were asked by Tahseen Akhtar to plant bombs on two sides of Gandhi Maidan, where Modi was to address the rally,” he said. Tahseen is an activist-leader of the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen, and is the brain behind serial blasts now. Six of the seven blasts took place in and around Gandhi Maidan before Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was to address a rally. Six people were killed and 83 injured in these serial blasts. Imtiaz told sleuths that all of them left Ranchi by a bus Oct 26 night and reached Mithapur bus stand, nearly 300 metres from Patna junction around 6 Sunday morning. Chandra said the terrorists formed three groups that left for different destinations, including Patna railway junction, with six bombs each – made of 8-9-inch pipes with explosives filled inside. Bihar Police have decided to reward the GRP official who caught Mohammad Imtiaz Ansari. Additional Director General (Rail) P.N. Rai said the GRP official will be rewarded for his courageous action. Bihar Police chief Abhyanand has recommended Rs.25,000 prize for the brave GRP official, Rai said. He, however, refused to name the GRP official on security grounds. He said Imtiaz was a big catch as that will help to crack the case of serial blasts in Patna. “Terrorist Kasab was caught during Mumbai terror attack. More or less similarly, Imtiaz was caught by GRP official,” Rai said. Officials at police headquarters here said that state government is likely to announce a bigger prize for the GRP official. The first of the low-intensity blasts ripped through a toilet at around 10 a.m. at the newly-built Platform 10 of the Patna railway station in the heart of the city. After an hour, by which time Modi had reached Patna but not the rally ground, six explosions took place – four inside the Gandhi Maidan, and two around it. The Patna railway station is located two-three km from the sprawling Gandhi Maidan.

Source..Rail News

International Technical Conference on “High Speed Rail Travel, Low Cost Solutions” launched

New Delhi: The Minister of Railways Shri Mallikarjun inaugurated a two day international technical conference on “High Speed Rail Travel; Low Cost Solution” here today. While addressing the conference, the Railway Minister said that India’s primary focus has been to provide a mass mode of safe, reliable and affordable transport, being the largest passenger Railway in the world, it is a natural aspiration of the people of this country that Indian Railways provide them high speed rail travel.

Shri Kharge said that most countries consider high speed capability to be in the range of 250 to 300 kmph which requires a dedicated track with fencing and can be prohibitively costly. For a country like ours track fencing also has its own set of associated issues. Thus, leveraging Rolling stock technologies may provide a lower cost solution to meet the immediate needs of achieving speeds of 160 to 200 kmph and that too on the existing track. For speeds above 200 kmph the costlier and time consuming solution of providing a separate dedicated track with fencing becomes inescapable. Therefore, the focus of this conference is to consider achieving higher speed trains in the range of 160 to 200 kmph with marginal inputs in the existing infrastructure, besides given the financial constraints and issues related to land acquisition and track fencing, as an interim step, the Railway Minister said.

Wishing all the success to Conference, Shri Kharge said that the deliberations in this conference between the various stakeholders will bring about a better understanding of the underlying technology issues and make higher speed rail travel in India a reality.

Source..Rail News

Pipavav Railway Corpn Ltd pays Interim Dividend of Rs.38 million to Pipavav Port

Port at evening
Pipavav Railway Corporation Ltd (PRCL) declares maiden dividend after 10 years of operation

Mumbai: APM Terminals operated Gujarat Pipavav Port (APM Terminals Pipavav), one of Western India’s fastest growing gateway ports, received an interim dividend of Rs.38 million (5%) from Pipavav Railway Corporation Limited (PRCL) on the 23rd of October at Mumbai – a historic first for Indian Railway’s flagship infrastructure company under Public Private Partnership (PPP).

PRCL is a Joint Venture company between Indian Railways and Gujarat Pipavav Port under the PPP model to undertake the construction, operation and maintenance of the Surendranagar-Gujarat Pipavav Port, Rail Connectivity Project spanning 271 Kms.

The dividend cheque for the current financial year was handed over to Mr. Dinesh Lal, Director of APM Terminals Pipavav by Mr.Pankaj Malviya, Managing Director of PRCL.

Earlier in the week PRCL also presented the Railway Minister Mr.Mallikarjun Kharge with an Interim Dividend of Rs.49 Million in Delhi.

Steadily increasing traffic at APM Terminals Pipavav, which forms the bulk of PRCL’s traffic, has enabled the company to roll-out its maiden dividend to the Stakeholders. PRCL and APM Terminals Pipavav who jointly pioneered double stack container movement in India, upgraded to double stack high cube (9’6″) capabilities in July this year which further enhanced the value proposition at APM Terminals Pipavav, which has had a direct impact on the increase in volumes to and from the Port.

About Gujarat Pipavav Port (APM Terminals Pipavav)

Gujarat Pipavav Port is part of an international network of Ports and Terminals belonging to APM Terminals of the AP Moller-Maersk Group. Strategically located in Gujarat, approx152 nautical miles from Mumbai, APM Terminals Pipavav is one of the Western India’s fastest growing gateway ports. The port has excellent connectivity to the rich hinterland in North and Northeast India. Since taking over in 2005, the port has steadily expanded its infrastructure facilities to suit its growing customer base. APM Terminals Pipavav, a successful Public Private Enterprise is emerging as an important gateway port on the west coast of India for containers, bulk and liquid cargo.
Source..Rail News

Kharge launches High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd (HSRCIL)

Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge today formally launched the High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd. (HSRCIL), a subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL), that will develop high-speed rail corridors i India to run passenger trains at speeds upto 350 km per hour.

Speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day international technical conference here on “High Speed Rail Travel: Low Cost Solutions”, he also unveiled the logo of HSRCIL which has been designed by the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad.

Mr Kharge said that the Indian Railways currently carry more than 7 billion people annually, which is equal to the entire human popuation on earth. He said the Railways’ recent focus on technology upgradation had been driven largely by the objective of achieving higher levels of safety for passengers.

“Despite the fiscal constraints in upgrading the aging infrastructure and in the face of rising costs, the number of train accidents per million train kms has reduced from 0.41 to 0.13 over the past decade,” he said.

He said Indian Railways had attained speeds of 120 kmph on its Mumbai and Kolkata Rajdhani Express trains way back in 1973. In 1998, the Bhopal Shatabdi Express became India’s fastest train, attaining a speed of 140 kmph which was further increased to 150 kmph in 2006.

Meanwhile, many countries like, China, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, South Korea and Spain have developed high-speed rail to connect their major cities. The maximum commercial speed on most of these high-speed rail lines is 250 to 300 kmph.

He noted that, since the first such high speed rail system began operations in Japan way back in 1964 and became widely known as the bullet train, several countries have built extensive high-speed networks, and there are now several cross-border high-speed rail links.

“Most countries consider high speed capability to be in the range of 250 to 300 kmph which requires a dedicated track with fencing and can be prohibitively costly. For a country like ours track fencing also has its own set of associated issues. Thus, leveraging rolling stock technologies may provide a lower cost solution to meet the immediate needs of achieving speeds of 160 to 200 kmph and that too on the existing track,” he said.

Mr Kharge said that for speeds above 200 kmph the costlier and time consuming solution of providing a separate dedicated track with fencing would become inescapable.

“Therefore, the focus of this conference is to consider achieving higher speed trains in the range of 160 to 200 kmph with marginal inputs in the existing infrastructure.

“Achieving this higher speed train travel of 160 to 200 kmph will also need understanding of many new technologies which Indian Railways has not been extensively exposed to, such as aerodynamic profiles, light weight technologies, cab signaling etc.,” he said.

“This intermediate step can be considered preparatory to achieve high speed train travel of 250 to 300 kmph in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said the Railways had undertaken pre-feasibility studies of seven high speed corridors. A preliminary study for Mumbai-Ahemdabad route has estimated its cost to be around Rs. 65,000 crore.

Mr Satish Agnihotri, Chairman of HSRC and CMD of RVNL said that HSRC would undertake project activities such as preparation of project related studies, preparation of the technical standards for HSR Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor and any other corridor decided by the Government. It will provide support to Ministry of Railways and Government of India in finalizing the financial and implementation models.

The conference is being attended by policy makers, senior administrators, rolling stock manufacturers, research institutions, consultants and industry professionals from India and abroad.
Source..rail news





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