Dec 29, 2013

Russian railway station bombing boosts terror fears ahead of Olympics

In this photo made by a public camera and made available by the Associated Press Television News smoke pours out after an explosion at Volgograd railway station, in Volograd Russia on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. More then a dozen people were killed and scores were wounded Sunday by a suicide bomber at a railway station in southern Russia, officials said, heightening concern about terrorism ahead of February's Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. (AP)

At least 14 people were killed and scores were wounded Sunday by a female suicide bomber at a railway station in southern Russia, officials said, heightening concern about terrorism ahead of February’s Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack in Volgograd, but it came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Sochi Games.

Volgograd, 900 kilometres (550 miles) south of Moscow, lies about 650 kilometres (400 miles) northeast of Sochi, a Black Sea resort flanked by the North Caucasus Mountains.

Suicide bombings and other attacks linked to Islamic rebels roaming the North Caucasus have rocked Russia for years. The government has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers, police and other security personnel to protect the Olympics, President Vladimir Putin’s pet project, and the organizers have pledged to make the Sochi Games will be the “safest Olympics in history.”

Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the nation’s top investigative agency, the Investigative Committee, said the suicide bomber detonated her explosives in front of a metal detector.

“When the suicide bomber saw a policeman near a metal detector, she became nervous and set off her explosive device,” Markin said in a statement. He added that the bomb contained about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of TNT and was rigged with shrapnel.

Markin said that security controls prevented a far greater number of casualties at the station, which was packed with people at a time when several trains were delayed.

Markin put the death toll at 14, while Volgograd’s regional governor, Sergei Bozhenov, said 15 died.

Russia’s Health Ministry said about 50 people were injured.

The Interfax news agency said that the suspected bomber’s head was found at the site of explosion, which would allow security agencies to quickly identify her.

Female suicide bombers, many of whom were widows or sisters of rebels, have mounted numerous attacks in Russia. They often have been referred to as “black widows.”

In October, a female suicide bomber blew herself up on a city bus in Volgograd, killing six people and injuring about 30. Officials said that attacker came from the province of Dagestan, which has become the centre of an Islamist insurgency that has spread across the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya. She took a Moscow-bound bus from Dagestan, but left it in Volgograd for an unclear reason and took a local bus, where she detonated her explosives.

As in Sunday’s blast, her bomb was rigged with shrapnel that caused severe injuries.

It wasn’t immediately clear where Sunday’s bomber came from, but officials in Dagestan were checking whether the attacker could come from the region, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Russian state television reported that Sunday’s explosion occurred at the security gate at the station’s entrance. The Interior Ministry said that one police officer died in the explosion and three others were wounded.

Images caught by a security camera facing the station, broadcast by Rossiya 24 television, showed the moment of explosion: a bright orange flash inside the station behind the main gate followed by plumes of smoke.

“We heard a loud bang from behind, saw a bright flash and fell on the floor,” local resident Svetlana Demchenko, who witnessed the explosion, was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Numerous ambulances were parked outside the station, and several motionless bodies were placed on the pavement.

On Friday, three people were killed when a car rigged with explosives blew up on a street in Pyatigorsk, the centre of a federal administrative district intended to stabilize the North Caucasus region.

Following Sunday’s explosion, the Interior Ministry ordered police to beef up patrols at railway stations and other transport facilities across Russia.

Russia in past years has seen a series of terror attacks on buses, trains and airplanes, some carried out by suicide bombers.

Twin bombings on the Moscow subway in March 2010 by female suicide bombers killed 40 people and wounded more than 120. In January 2011, a male suicide bomber struck Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, killing 37 people and injuring more than 180.

Umarov, who had claimed responsibility for the 2010 and 2011 bombings, ordered a halt to attacks on civilian targets during the mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in the winter of 2011-12. He reversed that order in July, urging his men to “do their utmost to derail” the Sochi Olympics which he described as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.”

Russian authorities have introduced some of the most extensive identity checks and sweeping security measures ever seen at an international sports event.

Anyone wanting to attend the games that open on Feb. 7 will have to buy a ticket online from the organizers and obtain a “spectator pass” for access. Doing so will require providing passport details and contacts that will allow the authorities to screen all visitors and check their identities upon arrival.

The security zone created around Sochi stretches approximately 100 kilometres (60 miles) along the Black Sea coast and up to 40 kilometres inland. Russian forces include special troops equipped for patrolling the forested mountains towering over the resort, drones to keep constant watch over Olympic facilities and speed boats to patrol the coast.

The security regime includes a ban on the entry of all cars from outside the zone starting one month before the games and ending only one month after they end.
SOURCE - the globeand mail

Konkan Railway sees record passengers on special trains

The Konkan Railway has had a successful year. The special trains set up to cater to seasonal rush has been used by a record 12 lakh passengers, up from 8 lakh last year. There is a possibility of even more trains next year.

“This year, Konkan Railway ran the highest number of special trains on its route. As many as 844 special trains were run in 2013 (784 in the financial year 2013-14 up to December), which is an increase of 57 per cent as compared to last year’s 537,” said Vaishali Patange, chief public relation officer, Konkan Railway.

These special trains were run for catering to heavy rush seasons like summer vacations and during festivals, etc.

On and above the special trains, it even added 1,724 coaches with the regular trains for clearing passengers on waiting-list.

Due to an increase in passenger traffic in the present financial year (2013-14) a total of Rs267.15 crore has been earned as compared to Rs226 crore in the corresponding period, last year.

Given the record increase of passenger as well as freight traffic on a single line of Konkan Railway, there are various plans to augment its capacity including doubling of railway track.

On any given month, people find it difficult to get confirmed tickets to and fro of Goa, thereby plans afoot to increase regular trains between Mumbai and Goa. The other idea is to start double decker air-conditioned trains between Mumbai and Goa, which dna was the first to report earlier this month.

“Given the rush and demand of passengers, the total number of passenger trains will keep increasing every year, we cannot decrease the number of services,” said Patange.

The NYE rush
Anticipating extra rush of passengers on New Year’s eve, the Western Railway and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking will run special trains and buses respectively on December 31. “Four-Virar bound and equal number of Churchgate trains will be plied by us,” informed a WR spokesperson.

Source - DNA

Hyderabad Metro Rail trial runs from June

Hyderabad Metro Rail authorities are planning to begin trial runs of the first train on the elevated track nearing completion between Nagole and Mettuguda from June 2014 onwards.

The trial runs will go on for at least nine months before the Commissioner of Rail Safety certifies it fit for allowing public transportation.

“The current year was a tumultuous but a satisfactory year for us. It’s a real achievement considering that the project was written off as jinxed. While there are no major hurdles, the challenges of construction like land acquisition, shift of utilities pipelines belonging to telephones, power, water and sewer, remain,” said Hyderabad Metro Rail Managing Director N.V.S. Reddy on Saturday.

Tracks laid

Interacting with presspersons, Mr. Reddy said that coaches sourced from Hyundai Rotem will start arriving by May next year for the trial runs to begin. About 10 km of rail tracks sourced from Tata Corus (France) have been laid on the above mentioned section.

He was confident that the scheduled date of launching passenger service on ‘Ugadi’ of 2015 on the section would be met.

Thus far, close to Rs.4,000 crore has been spent on the project with Rs.3,100 crore by L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad (L&TMRH) constructing the project as the concessionaire, and Rs. 900 crore by Hyderabad Metro Rail for land acquisitions and so on.

About 70 per cent of the viaduct and 90 per cent of overhead stations too is being pre-cast to avoid traffic disruptions on the ground below.

“Our aim in the months ahead is to get most foundations and piers done so that we can work atop without disturbing the traffic below,” said Mr. Reddy. L&TMRH taking up the entire project in one go, cooperation of Uppal farmers in lending their lands for the project, Dalit organisations in allowing the right of way across sensitive sites and certain bold decisions by the government has helped the works to move on.

Superior project

The Hyderabad Metro Rail Managing Director asserted that the project was superior to all other metros coming up elsewhere in the country thanks to the ‘latecomer advantage’.

“The city is with us. We have managed to stir up the imaginations of the people by explaining the benefits of a safe and reliable public transport,” Mr. Reddy added.

The trial runs will go on for nine months before being certified fit for public transportation

Panvel-Diva rail section turns 50

It was a nostalgic moment for 87-year-old Chandrasekhar Virkar, who was the chief guest at the golden jubilee celebrations of Panvel-Diva rail section at Panvel station on Saturday morning.

The Panvel-Diva rail section has completed 50 glorious years of its existence, wherein it witnessed a good deal: the first goods train in 1964 to numerous super fast trains today, including the Rajdhani running over it.

Virkar was one of the at the Panvel-Diva rail section when the first goods train chugged off in the period between 1962 and 1964. The rail section was commissioned in 1964 by the Indian Railways.

The 87-year-old arrived at the function in his wheelchair but could not speak much because of his illness. Virkar worked in the goods department in the 1960s.

Around 200 people gathered at the railway station to welcome the driver and guard of the Diva-Roha passenger train that plied between Panvel and Diva. A number of old passengers also came in the event.

“We welcomed the driver and guard of the train and offered them sweets and greeted them on the completion of 50 years of the section,” said Dr Bhakti Dave, president, Panvel Pravashi Sangh.

The foundation stone of the section was laid in 1962 by the then minister for railways SK Patil.

The section became ready in just two years. After eight years, the station consultative committee was set up for the development of station, paving the way for the passage of passenger trains.

Over the period, a lot of development has taken place here, including the doubling of tracks, electrification of the route and introduction of a number of long-route trains.

On the occasion, the Panvel Pravashi Sangh listed some demands that include interlinking of Harbour line with the main line in Panvel, the starting of Panvel-Khopoli section, increasing the number of platforms at Panvel station and originating long route train from Panvel.
Source - DNA

Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation's new year gift for Jaipur residents

A special train would take city people to five jyotirlingas in three states.

Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will run a special train to pilgrimage for the citizens of Jaipur. This pilgrimage train would visit to five jyotirlingas in three states of the country.

The tour will start from January 20 from Jaipur and will return after 10 days. The IRCTC has scheduled the itinerary of the train in which the train will reach Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh on January 21. Here passengers could visit Mahakaleshwar. After that, the train will reach Dwarka in Gujarat on January 22 and after the night stay could visit the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga next day. The pilgrims would visit the Somnath Jyotirlinga on January 24 at Veraval. The train will go to Aurangabad on January 25 and visit the Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga on January 26. The train will proceed to Nasik, where the passengers would visit the last pilgrimage Trayambkeshwar Jyotirlinga in Nasik. The train will return back to Jaipur on January 29.

IRCTC tourism manager, Yogendra Singh Gurjar, said “We have planned the tour in a package.

We will provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and lodging during journey. A total of Rs 5,500 per person would be charged for the tour. It includes whole facilities during the journey.”

After this a special train will also run to south Indian pilgrimages from February 1. This train will go to Reinungunta where passengers could visit Tirupati Balaji, Kanchi Kamakshi temple in Kanchipuram, Rameshwaram temple, Meenakshi temple at Madurai and Padmanabh temple at Thiruvananthapuram. The train would return back Jaipur on February 12.
Source - DNA





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