Oct 31, 2013

Railways take measures to prevent misuse of IZZAT season ticket

The Ministry of Railways has taken further measures to prevent misuse of the ‘Izzat’ Monthly Season Ticket (Izzat MST) and to ensure that the scheme actually reaches the low income category people. Under the new measures which have become effective from October 15, the following has been decided: For availing (Izzat MST), the passenger should first obtain income certificate from local government officials like SDM/SDO/BDO/Tehsildar and thereafter obtain income certificates from Member of Parliament of Lok Sabha. After obtaining income certificate from the government officials as mentioned above, recommendations from Member of Parliament of Rajya Sabha and / Union Ministers should be submitted to the DRMs.

On production of the above mentioned income certificates and a copy of Photo identity Card cum residential proof, Izzat MST should be issued.

In case of Izzat MST issued on production of income certificate from District Magistrate or on BPL Card or any other certificate issued by Central Government under a recognised poverty alleviation programme, including ration cards issued to persons under “Antyodaya Anna Yojana”, Izzat MST will be issued directly on production of residence proof. In case of residential proof the following may be accepted: Photo Identity Card cum residential proof like Voter Identity Card, Passport, Driving License, Ration Card, Adhaar Card, Bank Pass book from nationalised Bank with Photograph or any other Photo Identity Card cum residential proof issued with photograph by any Government in India or a Government Agency in India. As announced in Railway Budget 2009-10, the Ministry of Railways had decided to introduce this ‘Izzat’ MST Scheme of uniformly priced Monthly Season Tickets (MSTs) at Rs 25 inclusive of all surcharges which will be issued up to a distance of 100 Kms to persons working in unorganised sector with monthly income not exceeding Rs.1500.


Kozhikode Railway Station to have World Class facilities

Kozhikode: Minister for Social Welfare M.K.Muneer and M.K.Raghavan, MP, respectively inaugurated the new escalators and elevators at the Kozhikode railway station as part of making it a world-class facility on.

With this, the railway station became the first in South India with either an elevator or escalator access to all platforms. The new facilities comprise two sets of escalators at the first platform with a capacity of 18,000 persons per hour and three elevators each (at platforms 1,3, and 4) which can carry 11 people at a time.

Railway sources said the facility was set up at a cost of INR2.5 crore. With these facilities, the station had become friendlier to senior citizens and differently abled persons, Dr. Muneer said. “As the Minister for Social Welfare, I am the happiest man about this facility,” he said.

The Minister said he would take special efforts to release the INR2 crore sanctioned by the State government three months ago for the development of the Kozhikode railway station. Dr. Muneer, who stated that steps were afoot to solve the water crisis at the Kozhikode station, said INR.78 crore had already been allocated for the Panniyankara railway over bridge.

“The land acquisition will begin once the district-level land purchase committee fixed the price,” he said. Raghavan, who presided over the function, said a INR300-crore master plan prepared by the Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organization (KITCO) for the development of the Kozhikode station had already been submitted to Railways.

“A session is planned in the city soon to get feedback from the media and the public about the project, which is expected to be implemented on a public-private partnership mode,” Raghavan said. Maintaining that the plan to set up a pit lane and a satellite station for Kozhikode at West Hill was under the active consideration of the authorities, Raghavan said Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) services from the city to Ernakulam and Palakkad would begin after the ongoing electrification of the Shoranur-Kozhikode line got over.

A new building for the reservation office and a waiting room at the fourth platform were among the works envisaged, he said. “Work on a fancy restaurant to be set up in a bogey at the fourth platform was also progressing,” Raghavan said.


IRICEN day celebrations to be held on November 1

PUNE: Indian Railway Institute of Civil Engineering (IRICEN) will be celebrating its 56th IRICEN day on November 1.

The IRICEN day function will be presided by Subodh Jain, Member Engineering of the Railway Board. Among others who would be attending the function include Central Railway General Manager B P Khare, and Secretary of Railway Board H K Jaggi.

At the IRICEN day celebrations, the 1987 silver jubilee batch officers of Indian Railway service of Engineers (IRSE) cadre will be felicitated for completing 25 years of service in Indian Railways. The officers are also holding a seminar on a tropical theme “second phase of track modernising on Indian Railways” and “Ethical conduct and experience sharing”. Medals and trophies will be awarded to outstanding IRSE officers of 2009 batch and group B officers.

Incidentally, November 1 is also celebrated as IRSE day by the officers of Indian Railway Service of Engineers throughout the Indian Railways to mark the beginning of the illustrious service 123 years ago. IRICEN day has been synchronized with IRSE day as IRICEN is alma matter of all IRSE officers.

From November 1, IRICEN will start functioning from the new building at Koregaon Park. The new building is a Green building with platinum rating, which is the highest rating in Green building certification awarded by Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).


Modern signalling system installed at Bharatwada station

Nagpur: The Nagpur division of Central Railway has, for the first time, commissioned electronic interlocking signalling (EIS) system at Bharatwada station near Nagpur for smooth and accurate train operations.

The electronic system is a shift from conventional route relay interlocking (RRI) system. The existing signalling system at Bharatwada was 30 years old and needed to be replaced.

“We plan to install similar system in Godhni. The advantage of EIS is that operation time of trains can be regulated to seconds,” said Manoj Kumar Sinha, senior divisional signalling and telecommunication engineer (Sr.DSTE).

Of the 101 railway stations in the division, only two – Gudan Khapa and Tadali – have the age-old level pulling system, while 94 have panel interlocking (PI) systems, five stations – Nagpur, Amla, Ballarshah, Sevagram and Ajni- have RRI systems. Of late, the Railway Board has decided to gradually shift to EIS. To start with, small stations are being taken up first to gauge its success.

Sinha said EIS was a microprocessor based system occupying less space. It consumes less power and is more reliable, safer and easy to install and maintain.

“The conventional systems require large number of relays, complex wirings, thousands of soldered joints and they are susceptible to failures,” said Sinha. After its installation on October 28, no signal failure has been reported. The staff was being trained to operate the new system, he added.

Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Brijesh Dixit was himself keen to expedite installation of the system. “The EIS was commissioned in three hours while it takes days for commissioning conventional signalling system,” Dixit said.

Sinha said the best part of EIS was that it had a standby facility and could be operated through conventional operating panel.


Home platform at Nagpur station to be ready in January

NAGPUR: Boarding a train from Nagpur railway station is expected to get a whole lot easier with Central Railway readying home platform towards Santra Market side.

“Need for a home platform at the eastern side of the station was being felt for a long time due to heavy congestion at the western side. Initially, trains starting from and terminating at Nagpur will be operated from this new platform. It will be commissioned in January 2014,” said Brijesh Dixit, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Nagpur/Central Railway.

The new home platform will have a majestic facade of contemporary design depicting a large orange to go with city’s reputation as ‘Orange City’. It will have well lit circulating area with an attractive canopy, escalator, drop-n-go facility, auto stand, car and two-wheeler parking etc.

“While the western side of the station has heritage value, the eastern face will b sport a modern and contemporary look. Proposed world class station is also being planned this side. The proposed Nagpur metro will also pass from this side and will have connectivity with it,” said Dixit.

Officials claim the new development will prove so inviting that east side will become entrance of choice for passengers. Some of the works like full platform roof cover, washable concrete apron under the track will be done in next phase, Dixit added.

The new platform will be numbered 8. It will have innovatively designed roof cover, which will be totally leakproof and will give a pleasant feeling of space and defused lighting. Attractively designed water stands are being provided with water coolers and water filters for dispensing drinking water. Overall ambience will be enhanced by green patches and clear surroundings. This platform will be a virtual gallery of railway heritage articles, with the old period clocks, lamps, bells, benches and such other pieces, preserved and displayed.

The real attraction for users of the platform will be ‘car-to-coach’ facility. It is at present available at select railway stations in metros. “Passengers using this platform will have the option of going up to the platform directly from their car and two-wheelers,” said P D Patil, public relations officer (PRO).


Coming, privatisation of Railway passenger segment

Kharge launches High Speed Rail Corporation stressing need for safe, reliable and affordable transport

The Railways on Tuesday set the ball rolling for privatising its passenger segment on its existing infrastructure with the launch of the High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd (HSRCIL).

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge launched the HSRC as a fully-owned subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, which his predecessor Nitish Kumar had set up with the objective of raising extra budgetary resources — from the market and private investors.

Mr. Kharge, however, issued a word of caution against adopting new technology.

No technology for gratis

“You should not buy horses merely because horse shoes are freely available,” was Mr. Kharge’s caution. He stressed how technology could be made available for even free. “At times they tell us how cheap it is. The question is whether it suits us or not, not whether it is cheap or free.”

He launched the corporation at an “International Conference on High Speed Rail Travel — Low Cost Solutions.”

Mr. Kharge, however, underlined the need for high speed rail while focusing on providing a mass mode of safe, reliable and affordable transport. Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said the Corporation, as the implementing agency, would contribute in the joint venture to be formed under the Public Private Partnership mode. The other stakeholders could be the State governments and private investors, explained corporation chairman Satish Agnihotri.

Seven routes

The Railways have identified seven routes — all commercially viable — on which the mini high speed trains with a speed of 160 km per hour to 200 km per hour would be operated under the PPP mode.

Officials maintained a stoic silence when asked if the railways were giving away the most viable routes to the private sector.

Some of the routes identified are Ahmedabad-Mumbai, Amritsar-Ludhiana-Chandigarh-Delhi, Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna, Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore-Chennai. The first project to be implemented under the scheme will be the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.


Metro, infrastructure projects can’t bank on realty: Urban Development ministry

NEW DELHI: The Urban Development (UD) ministry has red flagged overdependence on real estate revenues to make Metro rail projects viable on public private partnership (PPP) mode after the failure of Delhi Airport Metro Express Line where the private player exited in less than three years of its operation.

In case of these projects and also 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 Cabinet note, UD ministry 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,” 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. 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%. The ministry wants that while providing land for Metro works no government agency should seek alternate land. Moreover, the price of the land should be at government rate.

Second, all departments concerned must issue permission for speedier construction so that there is no time and cost overrun. The ministry 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. It argues that Metro in other countries provide better link to such sites of historical importance.

Third, it pitches for exemption from forest clearances for such projects by treating these as public utility infrastructure works.


CBI grills Kul Bhushan, Member (Electrical) Railway Board

New Delhi: CBI today questioned Railway Board Member (Electrical) Kul Bhushan in connection with its preliminary enquiry into alleged corrupt practices during his tenure.

CBI sources said Kul Bhushan was asked to appear at the agency headquarters in connection with the preliminary enquiry, registered soon after bribery scandal involving former Railway Minister Pawan Bansal’s nephew had surfaced, which relates to several counts of alleged corrupt practices including purchase of ‘benami’ properties.

They said Kul Bhushan who arrived at the headquarters in the morning was subjected to intense questioning till very late in the evening.

Kul Bhushan was not immediately available for reaction.

The sources claimed that at several points during the questioning sessions, Kul Bhushan could not come up with satisfactory responses when he was confronted with documentary evidence.

They said it is alleged that Kul Bhushan had acquired several ‘benami’ properties worth several crores from Railway contractors in lieu of favours promised to them.

Citing one such instance, the sources claimed, that a flat worth Rs.1.80 Crore was allegedly purchased as ‘benami property’ in Bangalore as an accommodation for his son.

Kul Bhushan is also under CBI scanner for alleged corruption in a separate enquiry related to purchase of coaches for the Kolkata Metro. It is alleged that Kul Bhushan also helped in nurturing vendor cartels at Level II in RDSO which wanted to stop contractors from upgrading from Level I to Level II to maintain its monopoly in bagging contracts, the sources said. The sources said it is alleged in the enquiry that he helped a renowned-builder by granting relief in terms and condition for the development of Rail Land Development Authority prime land at Sarai Rohilla here. It is also alleged that he shared eligibility details of proposed Rs.150 crore Railway Signals factory at Chandigarh with the interested contractors at the very initial stage and sought partnership in exchange of favours extended to the contractors, CBI sources said. The sources said he alleegdly influencing transfers and postings in the railway with the help of middlemen and other private persons.

Land acquisition begins for 179 Kms Chennai-Karaikal East Coast Rail project

The 179 Km Project is under Progress at an Estimated Cost of Rs.800 Crore

The State government has started acquiring land for the East Coast Rail project, said Union Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office V.Narayanasamy here on Tuesday.

The 179-km ECR project passes through Chennai, Mammallapuram, Puducherry, Cuddalore, Mayiladuthurai, and Karaikal at an estimated cost of Rs.800 crore.

Speaking at the flagging off ceremony of the Lokmanya Tilak–Karaikal Weekly here, Mr. Narayanasamy said there were demands for new trains connecting Karaikal with New Delhi, Kanyakumari, and Kollam and the demands would be placed before the Railway Ministry.

The 22-km Karaikal–Peralam gauge conversion project envisaged at Rs. 178 crore but funds had not bee allocated this year. According to the Minister, it is expected that Rs. 120 crore would be sanctioned this year for the project. Persistent demand for extension of the Velankanni–Vasco-da-Gama Weekly special up to Karaikal will be pursued.

The long-standing request for all trains extended up to Karaikal to halt at T.R. Pattinam be taken up personally with Mallikarjuna Karge, Mr. Narayanasamy said.


The Tiruchi–Howrah bi-weekly Express (12664) that was scheduled to leave Tiruchi at 4 p.m. on October 29 has been rescheduled to leave Tiruchi at 4 p.m. on October 30 because of late running of pairing train. The Puducherry–Howrah weekly express (12868) scheduled to leave Puducherry at 12.30 p.m. on October 30 has been cancelled, a Southern Railway press release said.


Great rail journeys that exist only in fantasy

Trans-Siberian railway

A rail tunnel has opened under the Bosphorus, offering tantalising possibilities for rail anoraks, writes Tom de Castella.

"Anything is possible on a train," wrote Paul Theroux in the Great Railway Bazaar, "a great meal, a binge, a visit from card players, an intrigue, a good night's sleep, and strangers' monologues framed like Russian short stories."

For fans of great train journeys the possibilities have just magnified. A rail tunnel has opened under the Bosphorus, the strait separating Europe from Asia.

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who opened the new line, declared it would connect "London to Beijing".

The Turkish PM was perhaps getting caught up in the moment. At the moment it's a suburban railway linking both sides of Istanbul. And there's a much easier way to get to China - the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing.

A rail trip across Asia via Istanbul is intriguing though, says Mark Smith, founder of website The Man in Seat 61. Once bits of engineering work in Turkey are finished, you'll be able to board a train at St Pancras and - after a few connections - alight about 10 days later in Bangladesh. That's if you're not assassinated by bandits in southern Iran or al-Qaeda in Pakistan, he adds.

The Bosphorus tunnel offers other intriguing possibilities. Since the late 19th Century there's been a plan to build a railway between Cairo and Cape Town. There are now railways between Nairobi and Cape Town. If Africa's northern section was built, one could hop on a train in London, and via Istanbul, Syria - remember this is a train lover's utopian vision - and Egypt, reach the Cape some time later.

The longest journey Smith has done is Moscow to Vladivostok, which takes seven days. "Even I was going a bit stir crazy by the end. There's an awful lot of birch trees."

Changing scenery is a must, says Matthew Engel, author of Eleven Minutes Late. So is interesting company. On that score Amtrak in the US wins, he says.

Outside the densely populated north east, few Americans use the trains. "The people who do are a little bit, sometimes very, eccentric. And enormous fun." The trains are notoriously slow - "40 plus" hours from Chicago to LA. "It's like being on a cruise ship except no-one is boring."





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