Mar 13, 2014

Kharge to inaugurate new Hampinagar Railway Station on 15th March

Bangalore (SBC): Soon, residents of Jayanagar, Vijayanagar and Mysore Road need not go to the Nayandahalli railway station to catch a train. The South Western Railway has constructed a small station at Hampinagar in Vijayanagar (near RPC Layout) and it will be thrown open in a couple of days.

Union Minister for Railways Mr.Mallikarjun Kharge had announced that the Hampinagar station would be ready by March 15 and the station is likely to be inaugurated the same day without much fanfare, owing to the model code of conduct.

Most of the work on the station is already over and ticketing services are also likely to start on March 15.

A relatively smaller station, it is spread over five kilometres and passengers have to get in and out through the level crossing, due to congestion around the station. Officials are yet to decide on trains that will stop at the station.

Sources said that to begin with one or two passenger trains will stop here in the morning and evening for the convenience of those working in nearby places.

Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar Aggarwal said, “It’s a small station to start with. Later, depending on the requirement, it will be expanded. So far, it has not been decided on the trains which will have stoppages. We are waiting for an approval on this from our headquarters.”

It is being renamed as the Vijayanagar Krishnadevaraya station. Since the station is located in a busy area and is surrounded by encroachments, it will be quite a task for passengers to approach the station. Railway officials said that they may seek the BBMP’s help whenever required to clear the area of encroachments.

The railways has managed to get the station constructed without seeking financial aid from any agency.

When questioned why the station was not mentioned in the railway budget, officials said that this is a very small station and does not need to be mentioned in the budget.

Source-Rail News

Karnataka going slow on Land Acquisition for Railway line projects

Land acquisition for Tumkur–Davangere line yet to get Cabinet approval

Bangalore (SBC): The State government is said to be lukewarm to new railway lines sanctioned on cost-sharing basis as it is going slow on land acquisition for such projects.

One of the classic cases is the 199.7-km Tumkur–Davangere line, which was announced in the 2011–12 Railway Budget and sanctioned by the Railway Board in October 2013.

The cost of the project is Rs.1837 crore. The Railway’s share is Rs.856 crore and the State government’s share is Rs.980 crore, including the land acquisition cost of Rs.124 crore.

Though the new line will provide connectivity to the proposed National Investment Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) near Tumkur, which is expected to provide jobs to over 1.6 lakh people, the State Cabinet is yet to approve land acquisition for the project.

The NIMZ is proposed on 14,091 acres of land in Tumkur and Sira taluks abutting National Highway 4 and is expected to attract an investment of over Rs. 35,000 crore with an anticipated annual turnover of about Rs.80,000 crore.

The proposed railway line passes through the NIMZ. The station is proposed at Thimmarajanahalli.

A series of letters has been exchanged between the South Western Railways, special land acquisition officers in Tumkur and Davangere districts, and the Infrastructure Development Department to hasten land acquisition. However, land is yet to be handed over to the South Western Railways, though it sent the first proposal for acquisition of 324 acres of land in Tumkur district to the government in December 2012.

While the government is yet to appoint special land acquisition officers for the project, land acquisition officers in charge of other projects were given additional responsibility. Letters by these officers seeking release of funds for land acquisition too have not received any response from the government, sources in the South Western Railways told.

Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee told that the government’s priority was to complete the doubling of the Bangalore–Mysore line. The other projects would be attended to on the basis of their economic viability, industrial improvement and employment generation. Karnataka was the first State in the country to opt for cost-sharing in projects to augment the railway network.

Source-Rail News

Works on East Central Railway projects to be affected due to Polls

Hajipur (HJP): The ongoing railway projects, including those which were cleared during Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad’s tenure as railway ministers, worth over several crores in Bihar are likely to be affected due to ensuing Lok Sabha elections. The projects cleared during Nitish and Lalu regime are already delayed in the state for one reason or the others.

Railways is working hard to complete Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge project within the stipulated time of March 2015 to ease the huge traffic flow on the Gandhi Setu. But the construction work is likely to face a great setback due to Holi and elections. Besides, the flow of fund is also likely to hit the construction work.

Fate of two locomotive manufacturing factories (diesel) at Marhaura (Rs 2,052 crore) and ‘electric’ at Madhepura (Rs 1,293 crore) will also hang in balance as railway ministry cannot take any decision in this regard due to elections. Any decision on the two factories, to be set up in Bihar on public private partnership (PPP) mode, is possible only after the installation of a new government at the Centre.

Besides, the row over newly built Patliputra station in Patna could not be resolved so far. Even this row is not likely to be resolved before Lok Sabha elections, sources said.

ECR CPRO Amitabh Prabhakar, however, rejected the notion of any delay in various railways projects. The fund flow for the sanctioned ongoing projects will continue and railways is hopeful of completing most of them, he said.

Earlier, railways had decided to develop north Bihar on the pattern of Bangalore, Hardwar and Bhopal as most of railway projects are located there. An avenue of employment opportunities would emerge for people in the state. Railways have major factories at Jamalpur, Chittranjan (Bengal) and Varanasi. Barring Varanasi, other two factories have no ancillary support. Incidentally all these proposed factories in Bihar, will have full ancillary support, sources said, adding there is no place across the globe where such major factories have been set up within a radius of 300km only. Thus Bihar would be a state on the map of developed railways in the country, a former technical experts of railways G N Sahay said.

Source-Rail News

AAP fields women candidate against Mallikarjun Kharge in Gulbarga

B.T. Lalitha Naik, former Minister, is in the fray against political heavyweight and Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge

Gulbarga (GR): The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has sprung a surprise in the Gulbarga Lok Sabha (SC) constituency by fielding a relative outsider B.T.Lalitha Naik, former Minister, as its candidate against political heavyweight and Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge.

With this, two candidates belonging to the Banjara community — Dr. Naik and BJP candidate and former Minister Revu Naik Belamagi — will test their luck against Mr.Kharge here.

The Janata Dal (Secular), however, is yet to announce its candidate for the seat. The name of State convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti D.G. Sagar, who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly election in the Gulbarga Rural (SC) constituency in 2013, is on top in the list of probable JD(S) candidates. Sixty-nine-year-old Dr. Naik hails from Thangali tanda in Chikmagalur district and is now a Bangalore resident.

A former Minister in the erstwhile Janata Dal government, Dr. Naik started her political career as a member of the Upper House in 1986. She was elected to the Legislative Assembly from Deodurga in Raichur district in 1994.

For a brief period she was the president of the women’s wing of the JD(S) and also national executive member of the party. She, however, failed in her subsequent attempts to enter the Assembly from different constituencies.

Dr. Naik is a relatively new face to the voters of Gulbarga. Her candidature has come as a surprise even to AAP activists in the constituency.

Books to her credit

Dr. Naik has written at least 16 books, including a collection of children’s stories, dramas and novels. Considering her contributions to the fields of literature and social service, Kuvempu University, Shimoga, conferred an honorary doctorate on her in 2009-10.

Dr. Naik has also acted in films such as Zadero Pankheru (Forest Bird) in Banjara dialect, Priya-O-Priya and Ashanti; telefilm Ondu Hennina Kathe, and popular teleserial Mukta Mukta.

Source-Rail News

Delhi Metro to fill up 1194 Vacant Posts in 2014

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is recruiting for the post of Station Controller, Customer, Relation Assistant, Junior Engineer and Maintainer. Interested and eligible candidates should send in their job applications before April 15, 2014.

Vacancy details:
Station Controller / Train Operator (SC/TO): 98 Posts
Customer Relations Assistant (CRA): 234 Posts
Junior Engineer / Electrical: 89 Posts
Junior Engineer / Electronics: 136 Posts
Junior Engineer / Mechanical: 35 Posts
Junior Engineer / Civil: 32 Posts
Maintainer: 570 Posts

Discipline-wise Distribution of Maintainer Vacancy
Electrician: 199 Posts
Fitter: 152 Posts
Electronic Mechanic: 175 Posts
Ref and AC Mechanic: 44 Posts

Total Number of Post: 1194 Posts

Eligibility criteria:
Station Controller/ Train Operator (SC/TO): Applicant should have done a three year Engineering Diploma in Electrical/ Electronics or equivalent or BSC Hons (Physics/Chemistry/Maths) or BSc (Physics/Chemistry/Maths) from a government recognized University/Institute.
Customer Relations Assistant (CRA): Applicant should have completed a graduation course in any discipline, from a government recognised University, and computer literacy (Certificate in Computer Application Course of a minimum 6 weeks duration)
Jr. Engineer/ Electrical: Candidate should have a three year Engineering Diploma in Electrical or equivalent from a government recognised University/Institute.
Jr. Engineer/ Electronics: The candidate should have a three year Engineering Diploma in Electronics or equivalent from a government recognised University/Institute.
Jr. Engineer/ Mechanical: The applicants should have a three year Engineering Diploma in Mechanical or equivalent from a government recognised University/Institute.
Jr. Engineer/ Civil: The applicants should have a three year Engineering Diploma in Civil or equivalent from a government recognised University/Institute.

How to apply: Eligible candidates should apply online through the DMRC official website:

Once the candidate has submitted the duly filled online application, he/she is required to mail (by ordinary post only) none copy of the ‘Registration Slip’ along with the necessary documents to: DMRC Limited, Post Bag No. 9, Lodhi Road Post Office, New Delhi- 110003

Important dates:
Opening Date for Registration: March 11, 2014
Last Date for Submitting Online Application: April 15, 2014
Last date of Receipt of Printed Registration Slip along with Documents: April 22, 2014

Source-Rail News

Delay in Lucknow Metro project will not be tolerated: UP Govt to Officials

Government fears that due to delay, the project cost would scale up and increase the burden on the people as it is ultimately borne by common man

Lucknow (LKO): A senior UP government official today warned the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) against adopting dilly-dallying tactics towards the project. Adviser, Uttar Pradesh government’s External aided Projects Department, Madhukar Jetley, said, “No laxity or dilly-dallying on the part of officials will be tolerated in the project. Action will be taken against those found guilty of unnecessary delay”. ”The implementation of suggestions given by LMRC Principal Adviser E Sreedharan, during his recent visit should be followed in letter and spirit”, Jetley told reporters here.

He said that due to delay, the project cost would raised and it was ultimately borne by people.

The procedure for selection of experienced professionals should be done as suggested by Sreedharan without any delay to make LMRC successful, Jetley added.

Source-Rail News

Kejriwal journey in Mumbal Locals creates Chaos at Stations

Mumbai: AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal today kicked off his Lok Sabha campaign in Maharashtra with a ride on a suburban train here that was marked by chaos and vandalism amid multiple complaints of discomfort to commuters.
Workers of Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) were accused of vandalising station property after metal detectors were damaged during the chaos at the Churchgate station where Kejriwal rode by train from Andheri.

There was chaos at Churchgate station on Kejriwal’s arrival. The AAP leader earlier took an auto-rickshaw ride.

Welcomed by a crowd of AAP activists, the former Delhi Chief Minister stepped out of the airport and hailed an auto rickshaw along with two other senior party leaders. There was a large media contingent and a significant police presence at the airport.

A contingent of police personnel, media persons and party activists trailed the auto rickshaw over the entire five-km distance till Kejriwal alighted near Andheri station.

The AAP Chief then boarded the city’s lifeline Mumbai local, to travel to Churchgate station in south Mumbai.

As he alighted, a crowd greeted, cheered and virtually mobbed Kejriwal, who was clad in a skyblue shirt with sleeves partly rolled up, his trademark AAP cap and dark trousers. Kejriwal acknowledged their greetings by raising his hands.

Metal detectors at the Churchgate station were toppled in the heavy rush as AAP workers made their way out.

Among the crowd was also a group of youths who showed black flags to Kejriwal as he was leaving the station.

They said they did not belong to any organisation but were students who were protesting against Kejriwal’s alleged “media management” as seen in a leaked video of him on YouTube in which he appears to tell a news anchor to highlight parts of his interview.

Reacting on the damage to property during Kejriwal’s arrival, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said the state government will assess whether the damage done today is accidental or purposely done and take action accordingly.

“Wherever law has been flouted action will be taken. Political parties should think while organising such march(es). In a city like Mumbai, it causes immense discomfort to commuters,” Patil said.

Patil also said there is law in Maharashtra which says that cost of damage done to public property shall be recovered from those who are responsible.

Meanwhile, passengers trying to board the slow local from suburban Andheri to Churchgate faced inconvenience as Kejriwal got into the train along with his senior party colleagues and AAP workers.

Later, Kejriwal took out a ‘Jhaadu Chalao Yatra’ through Mumbai streets along with AAP Lok Sabha nominees Medha Patkar and Meera Sanyal.

Kejriwal also attended a private fund-raising meeting, after which he began another road show traversing south Mumbai.

Source-Rail News

Kochi Metro: Move to relocate Metro station from railway land invites criticism

Kochi: The Kochi Metro Rail Ltd’s (KMRL) move to build a Metro station at the Kochi corporation-owned land near Government girls higher secondary school, Ernakulam, instead of having it on Southern railway premises has invited severe criticism as it could upset plans for seamless integration of public transport in the city.

Commuters will be forced to depend on other modes of transport to shuttle between Ernakulam south railway station and Kochi Metro’s station.

Terming it a self-defeating move, a senior official with Kochi Metro said, “The public expects Kochi Metro authorities to provide a hassle-free transportation facility. Across the world there is a practice of linking Metro systems with existing airports, railway stations, bus terminals and even ports. The new decision will force passengers either to walk between the two points or depend on other vehicles.”

The Ernakulam south (junction) is one of the major points on Kochi Metro’s route, and it is a point where the road, railway and Metro network meet. Even there exists a possibility of developing south railway station to international standards.

As KMRL announced the move to relocate Metro station after the declaration of Lok Sabha polls, neither the Centre nor state government could take a “political decision in favour of Kochi Metro”. It could also lead to a situation where various other agencies which acquired land for development works denying land for Kochi Metro.

Expressing concern over the development P Rajeev, MP, said, “This is a serious situation. KMRL is a joint venture of both central and state governments. And it was the state government which helped in acquiring land for railway. Other agencies which have received similar benefit from the state could cite the example of railway and deny land for the prestigious project.”

He also demanded that Union minister K V Thomas “should own up the responsibility of Kochi Metro not getting land from railway”.

Blocked rail crossings rile Munster officials

MUNSTER | The Munster Town Council wants answers from Canadian National Railway regarding a nearly 11-hour blockage Friday of a rail crossing on White Oak Avenue near 45th Street.

A CSX freight train blocked the CN-owned tracks from about 2 p.m. to midnight.

Mechanical failure of a train engine is to blame.

But town officials said it's troubling that the engine crew apparently left the train dead on the tracks when its shift was up. A relief crew was brought in later, but the train didn’t move until after midnight.

“We’ve got a lot of angry neighbors. That train was extraordinarily long,” Town Manager Tom DeGuilio said at Monday’s Town Council meeting.

DeGuilio estimated the train’s length at more than 9,000 feet.

DeGuilio said railroad crossing blockages — and very long trains — are becoming more frequent in town.

He sent a letter to CN on Friday asking whether CN or CSX should be held responsible for the blockage of the crossing. He asked CN for a discussion regarding the installation of adequate warning devices at the White Oak and 45th Street crossings to warn motorists and emergency personnel when the crossing is occupied.

DeGuilio said sensors have been installed at Griffith’s seven-track crossing to enable monitoring of train traffic via the Internet. However, when the town inquired about the sensors it was told their signals were not compatible with the sensor system, DeGuilio said.

“We want this resolved,” he wrote in his letter to CN. “The town is willing to consider some financial assistance with this project. Our desire is to link the track sensors to remote signs to advise motorists and emergency dispatch of blockages.”

He emphasized concerns that “cutting off” the community for lengthy periods of time could influence the town’s ability to respond to an emergency. Town officials also are taking issue with the condition of the Calumet Avenue crossings and are seeking immediate repairs.

DeGuilio’s letter reminded CN of Munster’s support for CN’s purchase of the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railroad.

A more immediate reminder of town officials’ displeasure with the extended blockage will come in the form of a fine: CN received a $250 ticket for Friday’s incident.

Council President John Reed, R-1st, also instructed Police Chief Steve Scheckel to now ticket CN, CSX and other violators under a state statute that allows for a $500 fine.

Metro North Rail Service Delayed After Explosion Reported In East Harlem

Service on two Metro North lines has been delayed this morning after a major explosion was reported at 116th Street in East Harlem, according to the MTA.

Both the Hudson line and New Haven line have been temporarily delayed in and out of Grand Central Terminal.

The Metro North Station at 125th Street and Park Avenue is just blocks from the location of the reported building explosion, which happened around 9am this morning.

Supreme Court ruling won't jeopardize public rail-trails in Lancaster County, officials say

Trail 2

Owners of a handful of public rail-trails in Lancaster County are cautiously optimistic that a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday won’t result in landowners demanding their land back or money for compensation.

The rails-to-trails movement suffered a blow Monday when Supreme Court justices ruled 8-1 that government easements used for rail beds expired when the railroads went out of business.

Some 1,400 bike and nature trails have been built since the rails-to-trails movement began in the late 1980s. Many of the trails are on former railroad beds.

The justices ruled in a case involving a private landowner in Wyoming whose land is crossed by the under-construction Medicine Bow Rail-Trail on an old railroad right of way in a national forest that the federal government assumed it still owned.

After the ruling, Kevin Mills of the rail-trail advocacy group, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, warned that the ruling would cause increased litigation, trail owners being forced to compensate landowners and even shut down some popular rail-trails.

“At a minimum, it creates uncertainty and/or expense,” he said immediately after the decision.

But since then, the conservancy has said the decision’s “reach is much narrower than has been reported in the press.”

Nervous owners of local rail-trails seem to agree.

“None of our trails are directly affected by that ruling,” said Paul Weiss, county parks and recreation administrator.

Lancaster County owns the 5.5-mile Conewago Recreation Trail along the northwest border with Lebanon County, the 2.1-mile Lancaster Junction Trail in East Hempfield and Penn townships and a short rail-trail in Money Rocks County Park in eastern Lancaster County.

All three were built on former rail beds. 

“Based on my understanding of the ways the Lancaster County rail-trails were acquired, our trails are not adversely affected by this ruling,” Weiss said.

James Cowhey, executive director of the Lancaster County Planning Commission, had a similar view.

“I don’t believe that the case is going to affect the rail-trails in Lancaster or Pennsylvania because of what it is specifically about,” he said.

The ruling seems to only involve rights of way granted by the federal government after 1875.

That’s when the government granted railroads rights of way across vast undeveloped areas in the West to further westward expansion.

And most of those government rights of way occurred west of the Mississippi, according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Ephrata, Akron, Warwick Township and Lititz have been working for years to build a 8-mile rail-trail linking the communities.

Dan Guers, Akron borough manager, said he thought that when Pennsylvania Railroad originally built the railroad, they purchased land from landowners.

“I didn’t think it had any impact on us,” Guers said of the court ruling.

Manor Township’s new 5.25-mile Enola Low Grade Trail on an abandoned rail bed also was once owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was not immediately known if the Pennsylvania Railroad was ever given rights of way by the federal government, but it appears doubtful.

Still, John May, the trail’s champion and a former supervisor, said he was sufficiently worried about the Supreme Court ruling that he dispatched an e-mail to township officials and suggested they investigate.

A 23-mile section of the abandoned Enola Low Grade line was turned over to six Solanco municipalities by Norfolk Southern in 2008. All have since opened the trail to public use.
Source-lancaster online

Car stuck on light rail tracks

A car being driven by elderly woman going to a hair appointment has become stuck on light rail tracks on the Gold Coast.

The 88-year-old woman was on her way to her weekly blow dry appointment at a local hairdresser when she became disoriented and started driving down the tramline.

For 60 metres on the Sundale Bridge she drove on an angle with one wheel on the raised tracks, the other on concrete one foot below.

A GoldLinQ spokeswoman says the car crossed from the roadway to the tram tracks on the Southport Bridge around 9am.

Trams are travelling the tracks as part of testing of the system but the spokeswoman says there was no tram on the line at the time of the incident.

'Go down in history'

Salon owner Michael Cameron says he knew something was wrong when his client was late.

"The main thing is that she's very well, she will die of embarrassment, but I think she's a legend and will go down in history," he said.

Witness Chris Bleymberg says the car crossed from traffic lanes on the bridge.

"She was doing about 80 ks yeah, she was going pretty quick and her car just bounced through the air hit the side rail and I thought she was going to go off the edge," he said.

"[She] hit the rail and bounced back onto the tracks and all the workers came up running and took her down to the bottom."

'Lucky to escape'

Gold Coast Police Sergeant Bruce Pearce says the woman was shaken by the incident.

"She became disorientated," he said.

"Alcohol or anything wasn't a factor in this I think she just purely became disorientated and continued driving along the tracks."

Senior sergeant Pearce says she's lucky to escape injury.

"This is the third incident, there's no damage to the tram in this incident but it's also a matter of the people of the Gold Coast getting used to the trams being around," he said.

Police say they will interview the driver again but are unlikely to press charges.

The woman was assessed by paramedics and eventually made it to her hair appointment.

Rail services affected due to technical snag

THANE: Rail services were affected for over half-an-hour on Tuesday after a rail fracture developed on the Up slow line between Diva and Mumbra. The snag took place at around 8.45pm. Trains running towards Mumbai were diverted on the fast track till Mulund. Services were resumed by 9.30pm. tnn

It may be noted that a day earlier, the section witnessed a signal failure reportedly caused by some MRVC work going on in the area that paralysed traffic for over an hour on the stretch. Last week a signal failure had claimed lives of two gang men on the same stretch.
Source-times of india

IL&FS Engg up 9% on bagging Rs 300 cr order from Rail Vikas

Moneycontrol Bureau Shares of IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company shot up as much as 9 percent intraday Wednesday on getting letter of acceptance (LoA) for Rs 299.76 crore from Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL). "The order is for construction of seven elevated metro stations from sub CBD-1 to Titumir in New Garia - Airport Metro Corridor of Kolkata Metro Line in the state of West Bengal," the company said in its filing. The project is to be completed in 36 months from the date of issue of LoA. Meanwhile, the company is already executing two railway contracts for RVNL worth more than Rs 500 crore in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The stock closed at Rs 39.80, up 5.99 percent amid large volumes on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Experts: Sh327b rail project makes no economic sense

Kenya: Economists have dismissed the construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) line, arguing that the multibillion shilling project does not make economic sense. The project, which is already under scrutiny over its controversial procurement process, is said to be too costly. The economists argued the Government should have refurbished the current metre gauge railway. It is estimated that the SGR will cost Sh327 billion compared to refurbishing the current metre gauge railway that would have cost Sh20 billion. Economists David Ndii and Kiriro wa Ngugi said yesterday during a forum in Nairobi on the railway, that an upgraded metre gauge line would have given a similar performance as the SGR. The Ministry of Transport hopes to transfer cargo from road to the SGR. The goods would move at 80km per hour and passengers at 120km per hour, which according to the economists can be achieved by refurbishing the current railway. Their sentiments are in line with a recent World Bank report that noted the SGR does not have an economic case in East Africa. See also: Ecobank board removes CEO following months of turmoil “The metre gauge rail built for heavy duty performance can do as good as standard gauge. It can move a significant load of cargo from the roads to rail at speeds of 80km/hr, which is what is expected of the standard gauge,” said Ngugi. Meeting under the auspices of Ufungamano, a forum of religious organisations, the two economists further noted that the high costs would make it unlikely for the project to go from Mombasa past Nairobi. The new line is expected to go to Malaba, then to Kampala and Kigali, terminating in Eastern DR Congo. As it stands, however, Uganda and Rwanda have not started working on the railway. Currently, only the cost of the Mombasa-Nairobi segment is known, with the Transport ministry saying it will soon do a feasibility study on the Nairobi-Malaba segment. External loans “It is highly unlikely that it will go beyond Nairobi. The cost will not allow it to go the other half (between Nairobi and Malaba),” said Ndii. He added that the country would end up with a railway running parallel to the metre gauge, which is already paid for and hence cheaper to use.
Source-standard media

Kansas City Southern Sees Mexico Preserving Rail Exclusivity

The Mexican Senate will probably abandon an attempt by the lower house of Congress to force the nation’s two largest railroads to open up their networks, according to Kansas City Southern. (KSU)

Senators may change the lower house’s railroad bill in ways that would win support from the U.S. company, Jose Zozaya, president of Kansas City Southern’s Mexico unit, said in an interview. The modifications are likely to boost connections between rail lines without giving third-party companies access to exclusive networks operated by the Missouri-based railroad and Grupo Mexico SAB (GMEXICOB), he said.

“We’re very optimistic about what will come out of this reform,” Zozaya said. “We think senators have the best disposition to improve the reform.”

Leaving exclusive rail networks intact would protect Mexico’s existing railroads by limiting competition and maintaining efficiency. The lower house’s original bill faced opposition from the industry because, as written, it would slow rail traffic and damage the Mexican government’s efforts to attract more foreign investment, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.

Kansas City Southern operates the nation’s second-biggest railroad under a 1997 government concession that extends to 2027, while Grupo Mexico’s rail unit manages the largest.

Zozaya’s comments came as Kansas City Southern Chief Financial Officer Michael Upchurch said the Mexican Senate may make “substantial changes” to the bill approved last month by the Chamber of Deputies. Upchurch spoke today at a JPMorgan conference in New York.

The Senate may propose modifications to the bill before the current legislative session ends April 30, Upchurch said.

Kansas City Southern climbed 1 percent to $101.24 at the close of trading in New York. Grupo Mexico, which got about 20 percent of 2013 sales from its transportation division, advanced 0.6 percent to 38.28 pesos in Mexico City.

Strong rail demand spurs $4.2M for 6 Western Pa. upgrade projects


City now tracking hazardous rail cargo

Seven of every 100 train cars trundling along the city's waterfront CN tracks carried dangerous cargo like crude oil last year, say fire officials working to prevent a tragedy like the Lac-Mégantic explosion.

National rail companies won't give out real-time data on hazardous cargo — but they're now revealing historical numbers that can help the city "find any gaps" in emergency plans for train derailments, said Fire Chief Rob Simonds.

The federal government told rail companies to share past data with cities in November, several months after 47 people died in a train derailment and crude oil explosion in Quebec.

Simonds said he's recently received "good information" — not all of it public — from both Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National, but so far only the latter has spelled out specific percentages for dangerous cargo carried through the city.

Safety advocates have criticized the railways for withholding real-time data that could be used by emergency responders battling fires or explosions of unknown cargo.

Simonds said he can work with historical information on routine dangerous cargo, but added the "next logical step" would be real-time reports on "unique" or unexpected hazardous goods that aren't regularly transported.

Councillor Sam Merulla went further, warning the lack of real-time data could lead to "another Plastimet." He argued the consequences of the infamous 1997 North-End plastics fire were "amplified" by firefighters' lack of information about what was inside the burning recycling plant.

"Whether it's a building or a rail car, our firefighters need to know what they're up against," he said, adding only emergency officials need to see the sensitive data.

"These rail lines touch just about every ward in the city, so really it's an issue that hundreds of thousands of residents should be concerned about."

CN says hazardous materials like chlorine, oil products and fertilizers could be found last year on about 7 per cent of rail cars travelling through the city on its lines. Those tracks run along the lake through industrial Hamilton and Stoney Creek towards Niagara, as well as through Dundas to Brantford.

It's unclear how many rail cars in total pass through the city in a year. CN says an average of four freight trains a day travel the lakefront line, but other cargo trains start or end their journeys in the north Hamilton industrial hub.

More than 60 per cent of transported dangerous goods are flammable products like crude oil, gas and propane — not surprising, since rail transport of crude has surged nationally from 500 carloads in 2009 to 140,000 last year.

Spokesperson Ed Greenberg said "security guidelines" prevent CPR from making public similar numbers for its rail lines, even if the data is shared with fire officials.

Both companies maintain sharing real-time data, even with select municipal officials, isn't worth the risk. "In the event of an incident, we can get that information to first responders very, very quickly," said CN spokesperson Jim Feeny.

After the Lac-Mégantic disaster, some rail experts and safety advocates called for the phase-out of aging oil container cars and the rerouting of fuel shipments around dense urban areas — a call echoed recently by Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow.

Rerouting trains is likely a non-starter in Hamilton, said Simonds, since Hamilton can't "exclude" cargo required by businesses in the city.

But Simonds added the city and rail companies can work together to improve rail safety through specialized training and the creation of "Hamilton-specific protocols" for emergencies. "It's an ongoing dialogue that is going to help us," he said.


REFILE-CN Rail CEO says will meet Ottawa's grain shipment target

(Refiles to clarify that most, but not all, grains go directly to terminals, in last paragraph)

* Says huge backlog would exist even under ideal conditions

* Issued embargo notice to halt lumber shipments

* Trucker strike in Vancouver causing lumber backlog

* Says embargo not impacting or related to grain shipments

By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co , the country's biggest railroad operator, said on Wednesday it will meet the federal government's order to ship 500,000 tonnes of grain a week, but its chief executive said there would still be a severe backlog even under ideal conditions.

Last week, the Canadian government ordered the country's two main rail companies to meet the weekly target in order to address a shipping backlog from a record crop of wheat and canola.

The enormous backup combined with a long and severe winter have resulted in overdue orders for tens of thousands of grain cars.

CN Rail CEO Claude Mongeau told investors at a conference in New York on Wednesday that the railway still needs to move 10 million tonnes of grain for export, noting that is twice the amount of potash it moves and as much as all its of lumber shipments in a year.

CN has already moved a record amount of grain from early September to early December - 22 percent more than average, Mongeau said, beating its best peak period in history.

"We'll meet the order and go from there," Mongeau added.

Had the size of last year's harvest been known earlier, Mongeau said grain elevator companies could have moved an additional 10,000 car loads of grain earlier in the season to clear inventory for storage.

"Under any scenario, even if the grain elevators had done what they could've done, even if we had no winter, we would still have a huge backlog," he said.

"I regret that the government has a accusative tone ... we shouldn't be singled out to give the impression that somehow it's a railroad problem."

The federal government's order took effect immediately and will last for 90 days, although it can be renewed. It also gives Canada's rail companies four weeks to ramp up deliveries.

Separately, Montreal-based CN said it placed an embargo on rail shipments to container-stuffing facilities in Vancouver last Sunday due to an ongoing strike by container truck drivers at Canada's largest port.

The facilities accept railcar shipments of products - in this case lumber - that need to be transferred into smaller containers, which are then trucked to the port.

"We put the embargo on to avoid any further backlog building up," said CN spokesman Jim Feeny. "We are looking for exemptions; if they're able to handle the railcar, we'll take them over."

The embargo only applied specifically to the Vancouver facilities and did not affect the bulk of grain shipments, he said.

The government order on grain shipments was not the reason for the embargo, Feeny added, as grains are typically shipped directly to the terminals and most do not go through the stuffing facilities. (Editing by G Crosse)

Funding shortage could delay U.S. road, rail projects this summer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. transportation officials warned lawmakers on Wednesday that dwindling funds for highway and rail projects may cause delays in work this summer during the height of the construction season unless they quickly approve billions of dollars in new funding.

The Highway Trust Fund, which receives money from a federal tax on every gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel sold in the United States, is expected to become insolvent by 2015.

Funding for some programs could fall to dangerously low levels by this summer, forcing the Department of Transportation to delay payments to states, Peter Rogoff, the department's acting under secretary for policy testified before Congress.

"If the trust fund were to become insolvent, hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation could be at risk and our ability to address the many road, rail, and transit needs in every state will be severely impeded," Rogoff said.

The highway segment of the trust fund, he said, could fall below $4 billion by July and the transit segment could fall below $1 billion in August. The United States levies 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel to pay for transportation projects. But fuel use is now lower than projected as vehicles become more efficient, and that tax is no longer enough to feed the fund.

Congress has enacted temporary patches allowing money from the general fund to be transferred to the Highway Trust Fund to pay for some transportation projects. A temporary measure passed in 2012 to fund surface transportation projects including roads and bridges for two years is set to expire on September 30.

Transportation officials and some lawmakers fear that if the law lapses it could set the United States economy back as costly infrastructure projects are delayed.

Testifying before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, the officials urged lawmakers to adopt a long-term funding measure and to authorize the $302 billion sought in President Barack Obama's 2015 budget proposal that would fund the transportation projects for another four years.

The Department of Transportation has also warned of a growing "infrastructure deficit" given the number of major projects that need to be undertaken, including the repair or replacement of outdated bridges.

Some advocates have pushed for an increase in the fuel tax to keep the trust fund from insolvency, but many lawmakers are reluctant to raise the taxes. Obama instead has proposed raising new money by ending some tax breaks for businesses. The gas tax was last increased in 1993.

Therese McMillan, deputy administrator at the Federal Transit Administration, said the United States needs to invest in transit safety, keeping roads in good repair and increasing capacity in congested urban areas.

"These investments are needed to create the 21st century public transportation systems our nation deserves and needs to be competitive," McMillan said.

The pleas come days after the American Public Transport Association said that ridership on U.S. trains, buses and commuter rail rose by 1.1 percent in 2013 to 10.7 billion trips, the highest since 1956. Transit ridership, up 37 percent since 1995, has far outpaced population growth in that time.

The officials testifying on Wednesday, who also included staff from the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said they planned to send Congress a proposal for the reauthorization of transportation funding in coming weeks.

Metro, mono rail projects stuck owing to model code

Road infrastructure projects in the state have been delayed and the enforcement of model code of conduct is going to add more days to them. Several projects have been put on hold for at least three months, till the elections finish by the end of May. According to the code, no new project or scheme can be announced and all pending tender processes must be frozen till the elections are done.

The worst affected perhaps is chief minister J Jayalalithaa's pet project, monorail for Chennai. The state transport corporation envisioned completing it by March 2017. The due date for receiving applications from potential bidders was March 3, the corporation planned to sell bid documents to shortlisted companies on April 2 and open bids for scrutiny on May 5. They have no explanation for how they planned the project in the midst of elections. An official said, "The opening of bids may not happen till the model code of conduct is lifted." 

Chennai metro rail's first phase, stuck owing to termination of a contract for construction of 10 stations, is another cause for concern. Completion of seven stations is crucial for inauguration of the first phase between Koyambedu and Alandur by the end of the year. So far, an alternative contractor has not been identified. Officials claim they may get special permission from the Election Commission to finalise the contract."The model code of conduct may not affect us because tenders have been floated. We can take permission from EC and award the contract," said an official. 

Work on two grade separators at Red Hills and Tambaram will be held up owing to delay in finalising bids. "We called for tenders for a fourlane grade separator at Red Hills-Kolathur junction on February 28," said an official.
The highways' plan to widen GST Road between Tambaram and Irumbaliyur —a distance of 1km—is also stuck. Last year, the government had sanctioned Rs 43 crore for the work. "Initially we had planned to open the tenders by end of March. Now, we will have to wait," said another official.
Source-Times Of India

Government going slow on land acquisition for rail line projects?

Land acquisition for Tumkur–Davangere line yet to get Cabinet approval

The State government is said to be lukewarm to new railway lines sanctioned on cost-sharing basis as it is going slow on land acquisition for such projects.

One of the classic cases is the 199.7-km Tumkur–Davangere line, which was announced in the 2011–12 Railway Budget and sanctioned by the Railway Board in October 2013.

The cost of the project is Rs. 1,837 crore. The Railway’s share is Rs. 856 crore and the State government’s share is Rs. 980 crore, including the land acquisition cost of Rs. 124 crore.

Though the new line will provide connectivity to the proposed National Investment Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) near Tumkur, which is expected to provide jobs to over 1.6 lakh people, the State Cabinet is yet to approve land acquisition for the project.

The NIMZ is proposed on 14,091 acres of land in Tumkur and Sira taluks abutting National Highway 4 and is expected to attract an investment of over Rs. 35,000 crore with an anticipated annual turnover of about Rs. 80,000 crore.

The proposed railway line passes through the NIMZ. The station is proposed at Thimmarajanahalli.

A series of letters has been exchanged between the South Western Railways, special land acquisition officers in Tumkur and Davangere districts, and the Infrastructure Development Department to hasten land acquisition. However, land is yet to be handed over to the South Western Railways, though it sent the first proposal for acquisition of 324 acres of land in Tumkur district to the government in December 2012.

While the government is yet to appoint special land acquisition officers for the project, land acquisition officers in charge of other projects were given additional responsibility. Letters by these officers seeking release of funds for land acquisition too have not received any response from the government, sources in the South Western Railways told The Hindu.

Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee told The Hindu that the government’s priority was to complete the doubling of the Bangalore–Mysore line. The other projects would be attended to on the basis of their economic viability, industrial improvement and employment generation. Karnataka was the first State in the country to opt for cost-sharing in projects to augment the railway network

Met Council proposes $85M Southwest LRT tunnel

New Southwest Corridor proposal aims to break an impasse with Minneapolis but would add to line’s cost.

The Cedar Lake Trail alongside a current freight train track that has been a proposal sight for the Southwest Corridor light rail line in St. Louis Park, Minn.





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