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Jan 2, 2014
New Delhi: CBI today registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) to probe alleged misuse of emergency railway tickets by some railway unions in collusion with some of travel agents.
Sources in the agency said the PE was registered against unknown persons to carry out a thorough probe for misuse of railway tickets issued under quota to various railway unions.
According to the PE, some of the office bearers were allegedly colluding with travel agents for confirming railway tickets at a premium, the sources said.
CBI had arrested a Railway Board member earlier last year in an alleged bribery case and carried out raids at various places during which some documents were recovered which indicated that such a practice is being followed by some individuals, the sources said.
CBI had, during a discreet probe, claimed to have found that these emergency quota tickets were being handed over to some travel agents who used to charge a huge price for confirming a waiting listed ticket.
A senior CBI official claimed it was a full-fledged racket and there were instances when waiting listed tickets of the rich and the powerful, including businessmen, were being confirmed from this quota.
The official said the travel agents had been identified and would be called for examination soon besides some of the office bearers of a few railway unions who had allowed confirmation of wait listed tickets.
Chennai (MAS): The procedures that filmmakers have to follow to obtain permission is mindboggling – bank guarantees, indemnity bonds and hefty security deposits.
In spite of having so many formalities at the back-end, what surprises railway officials is the perseverance of many filmmakers in using authentic train and other railway properties on their sets, especially given the access to state-of-the-art studio craft and SFX facilities.
For one, the application seeking permission for a film shoot involving railway property has to be made at least one month in advance. And, if a rake and crew is required, the same is released only after weightage has been given to passenger needs, and that too against a security deposit of Rs.50,000 per coach.
Further, the filmmaker has to remit a hefty insurance premium against the value of railway properties used apart from furnishing a refundable Rs. 5 lakh bank guarantee as indemnity bond.
Among the six railway divisions in Southern Railway, Chennai and Madurai have featured the most popular locales for film shoots (about 25 locations each), followed by Salem (10 locations) , Palakkad, Tiruchi and Thiruvananthapuram (9 spots). Railway officials point out that with the expansion of operations at Chennai Central and Egmore stations leaving only a window of three to five hours as “idle time”, these terminals are more or less out of bounds for film shoots these days.
However, with busy traffic routes not sanctioned for shooting schedules, these days most of the train scenes are being shot in places like Chengalpattu, the Guruvayoor-Shoranur stretch, Sengottai, Thenmalai, Udhagamandalam, Tenkasi and Palani, an official said.
New Delhi: The government is likely to allow Foreign Direct Investment in high speed trains and other projects including development of rail lines between project sites and existing network.
‘The Commerce and Industry Ministry has sent the cabinet note on the matter and a decision is likely to be taken this month only’, a government official told PTI.
Besides, proposing 100% FDI through automatic route in the cash-starved railway sector, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has also proposed to de-license and de-reserve few areas of the sector.
However, FDI will not be allowed in train operations and safety.
At present, there is a complete ban on any kind of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the railways sector except mass rapid transport systems.
According to the proposal, foreign investment would also be allowed in ‘sub-urban corridor, high speed train systems and dedicated freight line projects implemented in PPP mode’, the official said.
It has also suggested widening the definition of ‘infrastructure’ by including railway line and railway sidings.
As per the proposal, foreign companies would be allowed to pick up 100% stake in the special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will construct and maintain rail lines connecting ports, mines and industrial hubs with the existing rail network.
‘It will be first-to-last mile connectivity between ports and things like coal mines to the existing railway freight stations’, the official said.
First-to-last mile connectivity would mean smooth movement of raw materials from mines to ports.
The move will help in attracting more and more FDI besides development of infrastructure for industrial purposes. Indian Railways are facing a cash problem.
Industrial development and exports have been suffering on account of poor infrastructure, which hampers output and raises the cost of production.
It is felt that railways can play a role in providing a reliable transport facility necessary for promoting industrial growth.
Players setting up sea ports and large mines need efficient railway connectivity.
Welcoming the development, experts said the government should come out with clear rules for public-Private- Partnership (PPP) projects.
‘A clarity is required on scope and terms of PPP projects’, Head of Tax department in corporate law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas, Krishan Malhotra said.
New Delhi: With a view to getting rid of the ‘Babudom’ and better serve the market savvy consumers, railways have asked its employees to be “polite” to those using its services and adopt the “service with the smile” approach.
“In the New Year, our emphasis, then, should be to focus on providing our customers with a pleasant experience in their interaction with the Railways-be it passenger or freight.
‘Service with a smile’ was never so relevant as it is today,” Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar wrote on Wednesday, acknowledging for the first time that railway services have been unfriendly and the top brass is willing to address it.
The Chairman Railway Board has, in his message, explained the direction towards which railways want to move into-increased earnings and curb on expenses.
“Our focus and mission is clear: the earnings of Indian Railways have to go up. Expenses need to be contained. We need to prioritise,” the CRB said.
“So far this year, we have seen a growth of 8.8% in freight earnings and 18% in passenger earnings over the corresponding period of the previous year. Yet the pace needs to pick up further, he said.
“Our resources are limited and hence the need for judicious allocation of resources…
We need innovative financing models. We need to bring in investments by demonstrating success in our PPP initiatives and in our flagship Dedicated Freight Corridor Project,” he went on to state.
This needs to be combined with customer satisfaction, he said.
“Our customer segments cut across all strata of society. The challenge before us is to meet the rising passenger expectations in the face of financial constraints. More is expected of us…Our passengers should get value for money….We need to deliver quality and on time,” Kumar said in his message to the employees.
Bangalore (SBC): Travel time between Peenya and Swastik theatre in Malleswaram, close to Majestic, will soon be drastically reduced, from the present 60 minutes by bus during peak hours, to about 20 minutes when the metro begins operations.
During the recently concluded oscillation and emergency braking distance trials conducted by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) operated metro trains at 90 kmph on this stretch, which makes up reaches 3A and 3B of Namma Metro.
BMRCL managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola said, “We reached Sampige Road metro station [behind Swastik theatre] in just eight minutes. With nine one-minute stops en route nine metro stations and the permissible commercial speed [which will be less than the actual maximum speed], the journey is likely to take about 18 to 20 minutes.”
Mr. Kharola told that RDSO personnel did not seek further clarification and felt they were satisfied with the trials. They might take about two weeks to consolidate the test results and issue the speed certificate, paving the way for the safety trials by the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety, he said.
BMRCL is hopeful of commencing commercial services by this month-end or February first week if everything goes as planned, Mr. Kharola added.
Although commuters can reach Swastik in 20 minutes from Peenya, getting to Majestic from there will not be as quick or easy. With existing traffic bottlenecks, it might take another 20 minutes to reach Majestic, the present public transport hub of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation and the Railways, which is just about 800 m from Swastik.
BMTC managing director Anjum Parvez said the corporation was not planning to introduce any feeder services connecting metro stations with the bus network.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) B. Dayananda told that BMRCL authorities were yet to approach the Bangalore traffic police on the issue. “As and when they approach us, we will devise plans,” he said.
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