Feb 6, 2014

'Centre should increase share in metro rail'

NAGPUR: MP Vilas Muttemwar once again demanded that the central government should increase its contribution in Nagpur metro rail project. Raising the issue through rule 377 in the parliament, which could not transact any business on Wednesday, he said that the formula for cities like Pune could not be applied to Nagpur as its population was half that of the former.

As per the current formula the share of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) is 5% and that of Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) is 5%. The state government will contribute 20% while the central share is 20%. Remaining 50% will be loan.

Apparently feeling that it may be difficult to fund half the project through loan, the state government had asked NMC and NIT to double their share so that the loan component reduces to 40%. Both the local bodies had refused.

Muttemwar said that the central share should be increased to 40% for all non-metro cities so that the loan component reduces to 30% and funding becomes easier for these projects.

The MP further said that Nagpur was one of the important cities in the country which was developing fast industrially. Unfortunately, the transport network has not increased to the same extent to meet the increasing requirements of this city having a population of over 40 lakh, he said. The state government had submitted a proposal for a metro rail with this aim in mind.

Cabinet nod to Metro rail depot on PAC campus

LUCKNOW: UP cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod for construction of Metro rail depot on the campus of 32nd PAC battalion on Kanpur Road. The site is located near Amausi airport.

The cabinet has also authorized chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to make changes in the project proposal as per requirement to meet its implementation challenges.

As per the decision, home department will transfer around 52 acres of PAC land to Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) free of cost. LMRC is a special purpose vehicle formed by the state government to execute Metro project.

LMRC had surveyed the site in September and sent the proposal to various departments seeking suggestions and feedback. The final proposal was sent to the cabinet a few days ago which was approved on Wednesday.

The 83-acre PAC campus includes many buildings, offices, quarters, residences and parade grounds. All these would have to be redesigned. While depot of Metro rail's North-South corridor would be constructed on 52 acres, the remaining 31 acres would be used for constructing dismantled structures.

An LMRC official said, "The structures occupy a lot of space since they are scattered. In the new layout we have proposed high-rise buildings to accommodate all the structures in a limited area." He added, "We would first begin construction on new campus design so that people get rehabilitated and after that we will take up depot's construction."

The cabinet has asked home department to demolish all the structures falling within the proposed depot area and instructed LMRC to carry construction on new campus design at its expense. The depot design has been prepared by project's interim consultant, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

The detailed project report (DPR), prepared by DMRC in 2001, had proposed depot site near the airport but since it came within the funnel zone of airport, the site had to be relocated. Accordingly, DMRC revised the DPR in 2013 and the depot was proposed at the present site.

Officials said the construction of depot would begin along with the construction of North-South corridor and is expected to take same time as the corridor. The depot would work as shelter for yards, testing tracks and trains.

The 23-km North-South corridor, running from Amausi airport to Munshipulia, is expected to be ready by March 2018. The 11-km East-West corridor, from Charbagh to Vasantkunj, is expected to be ready by March 2019.
Source..times of india

CN Rail reaches tentative agreement to avert strike

Courtesy of CNA labour disruption at the country's largest railway would cause significant strain on the country's rail capacity, which has been hampered by harsh winter weather in recent months.

Canadian National Railway Co. reached a tentative agreement Wednesday with the union representing 3,000 of the company’s engineers, yard and train workers just hours after the workers served a 72-hour strike notice.

CN said in a statement the details of the deal would be withheld pending ratification. The company said it would work with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the workers, over the next 45 days to ensure the successful ratification of the agreement.

“We commend the leadership of the [Teamsters] for reaching consensus with the company and averting a possible strike,” said Jim Vena, CN chief operating officer, announcing the deal.

“This will ensure continued service to our customers in a very challenging environment where extreme winter conditions have hampered CN operations and affected service levels,” he added.

The TCRC would have been in a legal strike position shortly after midnight Feb. 8.

The news of the deal came after the federal government said it was preparing legislation to prevent the strike.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch said a strike at the country’s largest railway would hurt farmers and the forestry sector, and she warned any job action would undermine Canada’s economic recovery.

That followed an urgent plea earlier in the day by Canadian grain shippers for Ottawa to intervene immediately in the event of labour disruption, which they said would be “catastrophic” given the backlog of wheat, canola, and other grains this winter.

Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Winnipeg-based Western Grain Elevators Association, was one of those who urged Ms. Leitch to enact back-to-work legislation immediately in the event of a CN strike.

Western grain producers are facing a shortage of rail cars this winter after harsh weather hampered railways from moving a record crop this year in Canada.

Canada government warns it will block rail strike

Canada's labour minister, Kellie Leitch, has given notice it will legislate rail workers back to work if they go on strike, saying a labour disruption would hurt the economy. "Our economy must be protected, our products must reach markets and our jobs must be preserved," Leitch told a press conference yesterday. Her remarks came after the Teamsters union -- representing some 3,000 workers at Canadian National Railway, or CN -- gave 72 hours strike notice. The Conservative government, she said, intends to introduce legislation to ensure that "CN stays on track." Strike notice was given after CN workers rejected a tentative labour contract reached last fall. 

Leitch estimated the cost of a railway strike to the Canadian economy would top Canadian 450 million dollars per week. Ottawa previously intervened to also prevent or end work stoppages at Air Canada and at Canadian Pacific Railway in 2012.


UPDATE 4-CN Rail, union reach deal after gov't threatens back-to-work law

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co reached a deal on Wednesday to avert a strike by conductors and yard workers after the Conservative government said it would use back-to-work legislation to keep the country's biggest railway operating.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference gave notice earlier in the day that it intended to strike as soon as Saturday after members voted against a tentative agreement with Canada's biggest rail operator.

A new three-year agreement is a modification of the tentative pact reached in October, union general chairman Roland Hackl said.

"I'm glad there's not going to be a strike," he said, shortly after the deal was reached. He said no details would be released until the deal is ratified.

A work stoppage by about 3,000 conductors, train and yard workers would have disrupted a vast cross-country network that ships goods ranging from lumber and crude oil to grains and automobiles.

Kellie Leitch, the country's labor minister, had said at a press conference in Ottawa that the government was preparing back-to-work legislation to "protect Canada's economy and Canadian grain farmers."

The Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have been quick to intervene in recent years to avoid major labor disruptions. In 2012, it legislated striking workers back to work at both CN rival Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Air Canada.

The swift government response came after the union told Reuters that CN said in a morning meeting it was "done negotiating" and workers must choose between an existing labor deal and walking off the job.

The union said its conductors, train and yard workers had voted down a tentative pact, negotiated in October, due to deep distrust of the railway because it didn't respect provisions for rest.

Members were angry that they are being made to work 12-hour shifts, despite asking to be relieved after 10 hours, Hackl had said, calling it a safety issue.

The union said that CN tried, but failed, to remove contractual rest periods from the agreement in talks last year. Following that, rest violations multiplied, the union said in a letter to CN, in many cases by 300 to 400 percent.

Montreal-based CN has said that extreme winter weather conditions have hampered normal operations and that it complies with statutory rest provisions.


Any service disruption would have exacerbated a severe backlog in moving western crops to ports that has racked up shipping penalties for grain handlers and left farmers with few buyers. [ID: nL2N0JS13T]

Record wheat and canola harvests have overwhelmed CN and CP, resulting in a combined backlog of some 40,000 grain hopper cars.

A walkout would also have affected crude oil being shipped by rail, which has surged over the last few years as oil production exceeds pipeline capacity.

CN said it shipped nearly 25,000 carloads of crude in its recently reported fourth quarter and 75,000 for the full year.

CP also shipped 25,000 carloads of crude in that quarter, and 90,000 carloads for the year.

Extreme cold and heavy snowfalls have already hampered operations this winter. CN issued a cold weather advisory for western Canada on Tuesday, saying that it was running shorter trains in the hardest-hit areas and detouring where required.

The labor dispute as rail safety is under scrutiny in Canada and the United States, following a series of derailments across the continent that have caused deaths and evacuations due to oil spills and fires.

Most notably, a runaway train carrying crude exploded last summer in Lac Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

Last month, CN said its railroad's safety record in 2013 improved 9 percent, even as it dealt with a series of high-profile derailments, including two in New Brunswick in January. One train caught fire and burned for days.

CN shares ended 11 Canadian cents higher at C$59.43 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.





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