Jan 21, 2014

Railways to test new safety devices



The recent accident in B1 coach of Hazur Saheb Nanded-Bangalore City Express, which caught fire on December 28, 2013, near Kothacheruvu, Anantapur district, killing 26 passengers, has raised serious questions linked to rail safety.

There were many unanswered questions: Why were the fire extinguishers kept outside the coach and not inside, why were there no hammers, and how do emergency windows open since people had to rush to the toilet to break open the window and escape. The question related to the absence of an emergency phone is yet to be answered.

Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railways, Anil Kumar Agarwal says it is mandatory for every coach to have two fire extinguishers and two emergency windows. Hammers are another added feature.

New safety features

In the wake of increasing mishaps, the railways is now contemplating to add some new features to the trains, says Agarwal. “Work is on in this direction, but we have to ensure that the devices are fitted and installed in such a manner that people do not fiddle and misuse them. Many a time, there have been cases where items such as hammers are missing from trains, especially when they are most required.”

Praveen Pandey, Senior Divisional Operations Manager, SWR, says the Research and Development wing of railways in Lucknow is now working on the suggestion of introducing fire alarms in trains. “They are looking at how the alarms can be used to not only ring an alarm and switch on sprinklers but also stop the train. They want to ensure that the alarm is not too sensitive that it might detect smoke from outside affecting its utility value. Also, cigarette smoke should not ring the alarm bell.”

Emergency brakes

The sensors should have emergency brakes, because if one coach of a train moving at over 120 kmph catches fire, then in the next few seconds, the following eight coaches catch fire too. So designing and introducing a new feature needs a lot of detailed thinking, adds Pandey.

Another feature being studied is the use of toughened window glasses for AC coaches (just like in Volvo buses), instead of having just two emergency windows. Further, these windows should not have the present mechanism, where the grills need to be opened first before the glass is removed. The window glass should be designed in such a way that it can be broken by a strong kick.

The research team is also looking at the train design. Instead of two fire extinguishers placed outside the coach, there should be smaller ones fitted inside the coach near the Brake Chains. 

Also on the agenda are additional railway police personnel in the train. 

Two years back, on a trial basis, the railways had introduced sensors in Bhubaneshwar - New Delhi Rajadhani Express. But this was not implemented. Agarwal feels that fitting sensors and cameras in trains is a good idea but a costly affair. 

According to him, only two or three will not do. At least, ten are required in each coach and they should be regularly monitored by some one in the train.

The railways is also now contemplating on how to increase the number of emergency phones in the train, and the number of people handling it. Presently the emergency phones are handled by the TT and the pilots. They are now contemplating whether such a phone can be installed in every coach provided that they are not misused. 

Pandey points out that AC coaches in trains are always vulnerable because they are closed and have a lot of circuits and fuses when compared to non-AC coaches. In case of a small smoke or any discomfort, a person can immediately open the window of a non - AC coach, but that is not possible in AC coaches. So apart from the railways, it is also important for the people to be cautious and aware at all times.
Source..deccan herald

Railways may charge more for passenger amenities



Railway travellers may have to pay the passenger amenities cess if the recommendations of Passengers Amenities Committee are implemented. 

The committee has proposed cess similar to what air travellers have to pay for better services on board trains as well as at railway stations.

The committee, led by Chairperson Chalavadi T Narayanaswamy, after inspecting 45 stations during the past five months recently submitted its report, comprising 11 other recommendations in order to improve the travelling experience on Indian Railways. A meeting will be held with all railway officials and the minister to discuss the report in the second week of February.

Briefing reporters, Narayanaswamy said, “There is no specific allocation of budget for amenities and therefore it should be collected separately. However, its a recommendation and Railways can decide on how much to charge or not.”

“Even bus fares are revised from time to time to provide better services. Railways have a much wider network compared to buses and largely depend on passengers for funds to improve facilities,” he added.

On cleanliness at stations, he said the railways should have a comprehensive policy on maintaining cleanliness in stations and coaches. 

‘Mechanised washing’

He said there should be a provision for mechanised washing of all coaches. Similarly, referring to bedrolls being provided in various trains, he said provisions should be made for automatic bedrolls vending machines to provide clean bedrolls to passengers. 

Waitlisted passengers 

The committee has recommended that more provisions be made by adding additional coaches in trains to accommodate waitlisted passengers, apart from ensuring that platforms are kept free of encroachments.

Source..deccan herald

RRB recruitments: Indian Railways to hire for 26,567 posts



The recruitment will be done for two posts: assistant loco pilot (ALP) and technician categories such as technician, signal GR ll, telecommunication maintainer, wireless maintainer, moto driver, carpenter, signal GR Ill, fitter, blacksmith, painter and mechanic. 

The pay scale for the jobs is between Rs 5,200 and Rs 20,200 with a grade pay of Rs 1,900.

The vacancies have been put out by Railway Recruitment Boards in Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Allahabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Muzaffarpur, Bilaspur, Chandigarh, Chennai, Gorakhpur, Guwahati, Jammu and Srinagar, Kolkata, Malda, Mumbai, Patna, Ranchi, Secunderabad, Siliguri and Thiruvananthapuram.

Important dates: 

Last date for applications: February 17
Date of written examination: June 15
Candidates appearing for assistant loco pilot posts will also have to appear for an aptitude test.

Eligibility: 

Those aged between 18 and 30 can apply for the posts. There will a relaxation in age limit to five years for SC/ST candidate and three years for OBC candidates.

Source..indiatoday

Railway job not safe for women staff

Kochi: A woman junior engineer was inspecting a railway coach as part of the periodic overhauling at the Ernakulam marshalling yard located at an isolated place nearly 500 metres from the Ernakulam South station the other day. 

She had to carry out the inspection along with a senior male technician and there was none else in the compartment. To her utter shock, her colleague suddenly tried to outrage her modesty.

“The accused Jayapal, 56, was arrested and released on bail. The woman stated that there was no one else in the coach when the incident happened,” a senior Railway Police official said. This incident is an eyeopener on the lack of safety of working women in the railways. Often they have to work alone with male staff or do night shifts.

They are even deployed at level-crossings at night in Alappuzha section. The railway unions have called on the authorities to streamline the working hours of women. A senior SRMU leader said the union’s women council was conducting a study on their safety issues and that it will put up concrete suggestions before the authorities.

“The women’s strength in the Thiruvan-anthapuram division has gone up from five percent to 25 per cent now. So we can’t ask the authorities not to put them in night shifts. Rather they should provide them security as far as possible. Measures like strict action in such cases and deploying more than one woman in a group are some of the solutions,” he said.

Source..indiatoday

Railway employee shot at



KOLKATA: A 45-year-old railway employee was shot at in Naihati station on the Sealdah-Ranaghat section late on Sunday when three youths fired at a GRP team.

The two GRP men had a narrow escape while the bullet hit Narayan Das, a railway electrical staffer, in his stomach. He was admitted to the Sealdah BR Singh Hospital. Police are looking for the threeyouths.

The incident occurred around 10.30pm when the three youths were detained. "When they were asked to open their bag, one of them took out a gun

and fired at the GRP men. The bullet hit Das instead," a GRP official said.The three men, however, managed to flee with the bag.

"A hunt has already been launched to nab the culprits. We are also investigating how the three managed to escape after being detained by the cops," the official also said.

Hospital sources said that the bullet luckily did not pierce Das and he was stable.

Source..timesofindia

‘My aim is to double railway network’



The target can be achieved if funds are provided, says Minister Kharge

Admitting that the rail route density in the State was poor, Minister for Railways M. Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday said that his aim is to double the network from 2,400 km to 4,700 km.

If adequate funds are provided both by his Ministry and the State government and land is made available by the State government, the target could be achieved within eight years, Mr. Kharge said.

He was speaking after flagging off the Yeshwanthpur-Chandigarh Sampark Kranti Bi-weekly Express (22685/22686) and laying the foundation stone for remodelling of the Yelahanka Railway Stationhere.

All the demands of the region cannot be met this time as he would be presenting the vote on accountnext month. He would try to get the best for the region within the available resources.

He said that in the last eight months as the Railway Minister he had given fillip to long-pending projects and ensured that work was completed. This was due to infusing more funds by the Railways as well as equal contribution from the State government.

Still, availability of land for projects is a major hindrance, Mr. Kharge said and cited the examples of Tumkur-Davangere, Tumkur-Rayadurg and Bidadi-Chamarajanagar new lines and Bangalore-Mysore doubling project. Though Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is responsive, the bureaucracy has not kept pace with him, the Minister regretted. He has written to Mr. Siddaramaiah about the non-availability of land.

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily and Yelahanka MLA S.R. Vishwanath were present.

Source...the hindu

Cambrian Coast rail flood repairs at Barmouth and Pwllheli to take months



The Cambrian Coast railway line may not fully reopen for another four months as repairs after tidal storms continue, Network Rail says.

It is closed between Dovey Junction and Pwllheli in Gwynedd due to flood damage at Tywyn, Barmouth and Criccieth.

Engineers used a helicopter to conduct an aerial survey showing the line north from Barmouth to Pwllheli suffered the "most devastating damage".

The line south from Barmouth to Tywyn could be reopened by 10 February.

But the route onwards from Barmouth to Pwllheli will take longer to repair with engineers "working on a programme to re-open fully by mid-May 2014".

The sea wall was washed away by tidal flooding at Llanaber with 300 tonnes of ballast lost to the sea.

Last week, two trains marooned on the stretch of line had to be lifted onto lorries and taken by road to Chester for routine safety checks.

"Network Rail fully understands the social and economic role that the Cambrian Coast line plays in the communities along it," said Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Wales.

"This has been an extremely challenging period, but the rebuilding operation is under way and our priority is to safely re-open the railway as soon as is possible."

The company said efforts to inspect the line and assess the damage had been initially hampered by continued severe weather and high tides.
The Cambrian Coast line is used by tourists as well as local residents

Source..BBC

Kenya Railways Corporation MD Alfred Matheka contradicts PS on cost of railway



Kenya Railways acting Managing Director Alfred Matheka before the House committee where he answered questions on the railway tender. [PHOTO: STANDARD] By PAUL WAFULA NAIROBI: Kenya Railways Corporation has contradicted figures of its parent ministry on exactly how much it would cost to construct a kilometre of railway in Kenya. The parastatal’s Managing Director Alfred Matheka told the Parliamentary Public Investment Committee that Kenyans will pay Sh342 million ($3.98 million) per kilometre of the 609.3km Standard Gauge Railway while the Transport PS had indicated that the railway would cost Sh318 ($3.7 million) per kilometre. It also emerged that the Chinese company awarded the contract to build the railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), was also given the mandate to supervise itself. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), that was made public for the first time, shows how government officials locked Kenya into a contract that would have the same contractor carry out feasibility study design, source funding and supply the wagons and locomotives for the railway line. “If the study was approved by the Ministry of Transport, CRBC would be the sole agent to design (engineering, procure and contract), construct and supervise all the works of the project,” the MoU which was signed by former Transport minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Mr Du Fei, a general manager of China Road and Bridge Corporation (Kenya) read in part. According to the MoU signed on August 12, 2009 between the government and CRBC, the initial railway line was to 500km long and was to be used by electric locomotives, and not the current line whose length is now 609.3km to be used by diesel-powered locomotives. SUPERVISE PROJECT Put to task, the Kenya Railways Managing Director told MPs that he was also not comfortable with the provisions of the MoU that would see the Chinese company supervise itself, adding that Kenya Railways would instead seek for an independent consultant to supervise the project. However, this would be in breach of the MoU as signed by the government. But what stunned the MPs most on Monday was the realisation that Kenyans will end up paying three times more in insurance premiums for the loan, despite being a government-to-government contract. Matheka said Kenyans will pay about Sh13 billion as insurance premiums for the loan from the Chinese government to construct the Sh327 billion railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi, at a rate of 6.9 per cent.

Source..standard media

Railway union ballot: 90% employees in favour of strike



VADODARA: A majority of railwaymen are in favour of a strike to press for their long-standing demands. This was stated by officials of National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), who had conducted a strike ballot for two days to know the views of the railway employees, on Saturday.

It was during the national convention of NFIR held at Vishakhapatnam in December that the convention had taken a historic decision to hold a strike ballot on Indian Railways as the long pending demands of the railwaymen, which had been accepted by the ministry of railways were not being considered by the finance ministry.
Source..timesofindia

 

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