Dec 31, 2013

Small Rail projects go the all-in-one contract way

Small rail-based transportation projects of 6-10 km stretches have started adopting a new project implementation strategy — contracting out all jobs to one vendor.

Big metro projects

For big Metro projects, multiple contracts are awarded for project execution. For instance, there are different contracts for rolling stock, signalling, electrical and systems integration.

Gurgaon’s Rapid Metro Rail, which is running a 5-km project, started this strategy in India, when it awarded multiple contracts to Siemens Transportation for a 10-year period.

The jobs included procurement of rolling stock, electrical and signalling systems, and integrating these to ensure they function as a total system and provide services. Rapid Metro Rail is following the same strategy for its 7-km expansion, another project awarded to Siemens Transportation.

City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra, which is implementing a 10-km stretch in Navi Mumbai, is also following a similar strategy. Bidders for this project include a consortium of L&T & Rotem, Hyundai and Thales.

Siemens feels this concept is slowly catching up in India, as Metro authorities are realising its benefits.

“This is evident from the fact that the Navi Mumbai Metro tender is being developed on similar lines,” according to Tilak Raj Seth, Executive Vice-President and Country Sector Lead, Infrastructure and Cities, Siemens Ltd.

But other equipment vendors in the Metro rail equipment segment — Alstom and Bombardier — point out that this mode of project implementation is yet to catch up in India. Delhi Metro, Chennai Metro and Bangalore Metro are being taken on turnkey project management contracts, where lesser number of functions are outsourced for a lower tenure of about five years.

Alstom Transportation’s Managing Director Bharat Salhotra said they were seeing the advent of turnkey contracts, but awarding all contracts to one vendor is yet to start in India.

Turnkey contracts

Harsh Dhingra, Chief Country Representative, Bombardier Transportation-India, echoed the same and batted for turnkey project management contracts. In fact, most of the public procurement contracts were earlier based on item-rate basis, which were more like procuring further subsets of equipment and fixing them all together.

“Turnkey projects focus on optimisation of complete system rather than reducing cost over the lifecycle of the system. Shorter implementation time rather than item rate contract system and a more reliable project delivery schedule,” said Dhingra.

Suits smaller projects

Industry experts say having a single vendor to supply a “track-to-train” solution suits smaller projects well, as it also prevents developers from investing in specialised manpower to keep the complex Metro rail systems running. Moreover, the value of divided contracts for smaller projects may be quite low to get firms to evince interest.

Sanjiv Rai, Managing Director, Rapid Metro Gurgaon, said the firm has signed a 10-year agreement with Siemens “to work with our maintenance team, to maintain the system and do whatever is required to keep the system in running order.”

Source..Rail News

Twin Blasts in Bihar hit Railway services

Katihar (KIR): Two low-intensity bombs exploded on the rail tracks near Katihar in Bihar Monday morning causing rail traffic disruption in the New Delhi-Guwahati route for four hours. Train services were restored on the route by noon.

Katihar railway police said the bombs exploded around 7 am between Azamnagar and Khuriyar railway stations. No one was, however, injured in the incident.

The explosions near bridge pillar number 156/157 took place before any train could cross the route. Katihar Railway SP Jitendra Mishra said the track men were trying to find out an unidentified object lying on the tracks when the explosion took place.

Later, he said, two more bombs were found at the same place. “As we had to run a check of the tracks before services could be resumed, inspection has been intensfied along the tracks under Katihar division,” Mishra added.

Source..Rail News

No land will be acquired without peoples’ consent: Konkan Railway assure villagers

MARGAO: Reacting to the news item with regards to the villagers’ opposition to the proposed land acquisition for a new railway station at Sao Jose de Areal, Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) has, in a press statement, stressed that “no land in Goa will be acquired by Konkan Railway without the consent of the people of Goa.”

“Konkan railway respects and values the sentiments of the people of Goa, and their interests and feelings are of paramount importance to us. It is clarified that no land in Goa will be acquired by Konkan railway without the consent of the people of Goa. The need was felt to start more trains from Goa, thus necessitating the augmentation of the existing infrastructure. It is in this context that the proposal for a new station, including road over bridge in place of level crossing 48, was made and was sanctioned at a cost of about 20 crore,” Baban Ghatge, Senior Manager, Public Relations, KRC said in the press note.

“Konkan railway is of the opinion that railway infrastructure development will bring in direct and indirect economic benefit and development to the state of Goa,” Ghatge added in the note.

Source..Rail News

Passengers trapped inside due to unsafe coach design, despite clever enough to escape

Fire safety officials observed that “Technically Unsafe Design of AC Coaches” coupled with heavy Bed linen and Cotton Pillows inside the AC Coach have contributed fire to spread fast. Railways to make design changes in compartments, which will go a long way in averting accidents

The 26 passengers, burnt alive in the Bangalore-Nanded Express fire accident in Anantapur on Saturday, could have been saved, if the train compartments had enough space for passengers to exit quickly during an emergency, A. P. Fire Services Department officials feel.

Fire safety officials have advised the railway authorities to make design changes in compartments, which will go a long way in averting similar incidents.

“Make the existing doors in compartments user-friendly and remove side lower and upper berths to ensure free movement of passengers,” is the clear-cut suggestion from fire services officials.

Fire-fighters said that they found at least seven charred bodies at the entrance of the B1 air-conditioned compartment. “It was obvious that passengers had tried to exit the compartment, but due to the narrow passage in the AC coach, they got trapped and were burnt alive,” a fire-fighter says. “It’s difficult for passengers to move freely in the passageway due to the side lower and upper berths. One can imagine the plight of passengers when a fire breaks out as there is a rush to get out. It gets even more tough for AC compartments where there is a narrow collapsible door,” avers Regional Fire Officer (Eastern Region), D.Murali Mohan. Adding to the situation, the linen had further contributed to fire spreading fast.

Separate arrangements should be made for storing baggage instead of allowing passengers to store it beneath berths. Installation of smoke detectors in the compartments should be taken up. Railway engineers should design the coach doors in such a way that they could be opened effortlessly even by women and children during emergencies, he says.

Two constables – Chennakeshavulu and Vasu along with Home Guards, Anantha Reddy and Venkataramudu from Kothacheruvu police station, also said the doors were locked from inside.

“We used stones from the tracks to break the windows and get in. We tried to use tree branches to break windows but did not succeed and within few minutes, flames engulfed the coach. The passengers were clearly trapped and found it difficult to get out,” Chennakeshavulu recalls.
Railways ill-equipped to tackle fires
A fire safety wing, started in 1962, was wound up as accidents ‘were not occurring’ in trains

The fire safety mechanism in Indian Railways has come into sharp focus in recent times because of the rising number of mishaps in trains across the country, more so in Andhra Pradesh.

There have been as many as five major fire accidents in the State starting from Goutami Express in 2008 to the recent Bangalore City-Nanded Express in the last five years. Yet, there have been conflicting claims on the cause of the accidents and concrete measures to provide a fool-proof fire safety mechanism in trains has been absent, point out officials from the A.P. Fire Services Department, declining to be identified.

Interestingly, the Indian Railways did have a fire safety wing till May 1999, but for reasons best known to the officials concerned, it was shelved. The wing was started in 1962, but it gradually got ignored and started weakening perceptibly from 1992 onwards on the premise that fire accidents “were not occurring” in trains. The wing was totally abandoned in May 1999, they reveal.

The department comes into the picture since railways depend on fire services wings of different States to tackle any fire emergencies. “It’s a mystery why the Indian Railways abandoned the fire wing,” remarked senior fire service officials. They affirm that having a dedicated wing for fire safety akin to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) is the best way to tackle fire mishaps and also prevent them. “Just like the RPF men regularly inspect all compartments to keep a tab on those moving suspiciously and ensure safety of passengers, special fire safety wing personnel can look into fire safety issues constantly inside the compartments before the journey and during the running stage, too,” they explain.

“Fireman can check fuse boxes, air-conditioned units, sockets and other electrical equipment. In case of a fire breaking out, he will immediately swing into action and take up fire-fighting operation. He can also guide passengers on quick evacuation from the coach avoiding the chaotic situations inside,” explained Regional Fire Officer (Eastern Region) D. Murali Mohan.

In fact, acknowledging the importance of the fire safety in 2009, municipal corporationshad set up separate wings to deal with fire-related problems.

It is advisable for the Indian Railways to at least start such a mechanism on a pilot basis and gradually extend the service to all trains, Mr.Mohan added.
Delay in “Very Early Warning Smoke Detection System” setup

The Railways has been tardy in installing equipment to avert fire accidents in trains even while it battles rising number of such cases. So far, the “Very Early Warning Smoke Detection System (VEWSD)” is installed only in Bhubaneswar Rajdhani, while soon it will be part of Ranchi Rajdhani also.

Had this system been part of the ill-fated AC coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express, which caught fire early on Saturday morning leaving 26 people dead in their sleep in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur, the mishap would have been averted.

In fact, VEWSD during trials in Bhubaneswar Rajdhani had averted two fire tragedies after which it was operationalised in the train on a regular basis. After six months of operationalising the system in Bhubaneswar Rajdhani, the Railways will be replicating it in Ranchi, while fire accidents continue to take lives during train journey.

“The VEWSD has provision of interfacing with the air brake system of the coaches so that in the
event of fire alarm, trains get stopped, allowing passengers to disembark without panic,” an internal note of the Railways has stated.

The fire in coaches becomes deadly as it spreads due to the train running in full speed, with passengers not getting chances to exit.
Source..Rail News

NFR to start train services in Rangiya-Rangapara section

Rangiya (RNY): The Northeast Frontier Railway was scheduled to start passenger train services in the Rangiya Junction-Rangapara North Dekargaon section by January 15.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting convened today by Sonitpur Deputy Commissioner Lalit Gogoi with senior railway officials and representatives of more than 50 organisations demanding the running of trains in this section, a NF railway release said here.

The railway administration has already started preparation for running trains in the section and a detailed notification on the timings and stoppages of the trains would be issued soon.

The 144.48 km stretch recently converted to broad gauge section will have 17 stations between Rangiya and Rangapara North, the release said.

Source..Rail News





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