Mar 22, 2014

Deal for Chinese technology to help upgrade railways finalised

A 2007 file photo of the first Chinese-designed and manufactured high-speed train CRH2-300 at CSR Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. Ltd. in Qingdao, east China. AP Photo

Premier Li Keqiang has said ‘integrating’ China’s technology in India’s railway and energy sectors would be a “breakthrough” in Sino-Indian cooperation, as both countries finalised plans to modernise Indian Railways with Chinese technical assistance.

“We have to integrate our technologies of high-speed railways and energy equipment with the Indian market as a breakthrough in Sino-Indian cooperation,” Mr Li said during a meeting with Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Mr Ahluwalia, who headed the Indian delegation at the third round of Strategic Economic Dialogue held in Beijing this week, called on Mr Li on Wednesday during which he apprised him of progress made in specific proposals relating Chinese cooperation to modernise Indian railways, including heavy haul of freight, improving existing rail lines to drastically increase the speed of trains.

Indian officials say New Delhi is seeking Chinese assistance for track improvement to increase the speed of trains up to 180 kmph, which they say is a cheaper option compared to high speed trains, as they require exclusive tracks covered on both sides entailing issues like land acquisition as well as big expenditure amounting to Rs. 120 crore a km.

The Indian delegation included Railway Board Chairman Arunanendra Kumar and a team of senior officials.

For high speed track development, India has proposed Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Chandigarh sectors as pilot projects to China. The move was expected to gather steam after the general elections in India.

Mr Ahluwalia was confident that whatever the composition of the new government in New Delhi they would back the projects as they are most feasible at present.

Indian railway construction is expected to showcase Sino-India cooperation, state-run China Daily quoted officials as saying after Mr Ahluwalia’s meeting with Li.

At the SED, the two sides signed memorandums and pacts on sustainable urbanisation, IT and the energy sector.

The construction and upgrading of the Sino-Indian railway topped the agenda of the SED meeting, which was presided over by Mr Ahluwalia and Mr Xu Shaoshi, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Mr Ahluwalia also held talks with top officials of the state owned China Development Bank, which finances infrastructure projects all over the world.
Source - The Hindu

56 Bi-weekly Special Trains between Miraj and Yesvantpur - Bookings for 06518 open from 23.3.2014

Railways have decided to run 56 Bi-weekly Special trains between Yesvantpur and Miraj to clear the extra rush of passengers during summer holidays. The details are as under:
Train No.06517 Special will leave Yesvantpur at 20.40 hrs o­n every Monday and Thursday from 31.03.2014 to 30.06.2014 (28 trips) and will reach Miraj at 10.15 hrs next day.

Train No.06518 Special will leave Miraj at 16.45 hrs o­n every Tuesday and Friday from 01.04.2014 to 01.07.2014 (28 trips) and will arrive Yesvantpur at 06.20 hrs next day.

HALTS: Tumkur, Arsikere, Davangere, Hubli, Dharwar, Belgaum, Ghatarabha and Kudachi.

COMPOSITION: 20 coaches including o­ne First AC cum AC-2 Tier, o­ne AC-2 tier, Two AC-3 tier, 8 sleeper class, 5 General Second class and 2 General second class cum guard’s brake vans.

RESERVATION: Bookings for Train No. 06518 open o­n 23.03.2014
Date: March 21, 2014.

Source - This news comes to you from the Public Relations Department, Central Railway, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai.
(V. Chandrasekar)
PRO-HQ

Breakfast gets more expensive



Over the past few months, basic commodities that make up the bulk of Americans' morning meal have sharply risen in price. Although the reasons for the price increases vary, most people will be likely to see higher food costs at the breakfast table in the coming months.

Breakfast beverages such as coffee and orange juice have had some of the sharpest increases in recent months, gaining nearly 50 percent since fall. Drought conditions in Brazil have been reducing coffee and orange juice production; Meat prices have been rising as well, led higher by pork, which is trading near all-time highs. Bacon and sausage are becoming more expensive as a result of a disease that is estimated to kill off as much as 10 percent of this year's piglets, sharply reducing the pork supply.

Even cereal eaters have not been spared the price increases. Milk has gushed higher as drought in Western states cuts into cows' production. Meanwhile, breakfast cereal staples such as oats and wheat have each risen by more than $1 per bushel in recent months. Wheat gained amid concerns about dry weather in the Midwest affecting this year's crop and fears that the Ukrainian crisis could restrict exports from Eastern Europe, while oats jumped as logistical issues prevented movement of the grain from Canadian farms to American consumers.

ETHANOL BOILS OVER

Despite falling gasoline prices over the past month, some drivers might be seeing higher pump prices because of a sharp increase in ethanol pricing. Ethanol is commonly blended with gasoline to boost the octane power of the fuel. Since late January, ethanol futures have risen more than a dollar per gallon, trading yesterday for $2.82 per gallon, the highest price in over two years. Most of the U.S. ethanol is produced in Midwestern corn-producing states but is predominantly consumed in the heavily populated East Coast, requiring train transportation to get the fuel to consumers. Prices have been rising as rail shipments of the fuel slowed to a trickle this winter. Snowstorms have reduced rail volumes significantly, and many trains have been diverted to carry more lucrative goods, such as crude oil. Longer term, some analysts expect prices to decline as the glut of Midwestern ethanol reaches demand markets but warn that the process will take time. Opinions are solely the writer's. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker in Valparaiso, Ind. He can be reached at 800-411-3888 or www.indianafutures.com. This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.
Source-columbia tribune

DMRC seeks dedicated body to speed up land acquisition

The HinduLand acquisition to widen the three-km-long Vyttila-Pettah Road into four lanes has not begun. Kochi Metro would reach the terminal station in Tripunithura through the road. Photo: Vipin Chandran

State government yet to formulate rules on the basis of Centre’s new Land Acquisition Act

DMRC has sought constitution of a dedicated land acquisition authority for Kochi Metro, since the process has almost stalled despite repeated extension of deadlines.

The agency’s Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan had recently spoke about the need for an authority with special powers for land acquisition. “Metro’s civil works are going on in full steam only from Aluva up to MG Road. There are only two work sites in between MG Road and Pettah because of the inordinate delay in land acquisition on South Railway Station’s approach road, SA Road and four-laning of Vyttila-Pettah road,” metro sources said.Special officer

DMRC is reportedly keen to have a special officer appointed at the helm of the authority on the lines of a dedicated unit headed by former Ernakulam Collector Gyanesh Kumar, constituted a decade ago to fast-track infrastructure projects in Kerala. Apart from widening roads, the authority would be vested with powers to remove encroachers.

Back in January, MD of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) Elias George had lauded the role played by then District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareeth in acquiring 31 of the 40 hectares of land needed for metro’s via duct. March 31 was fixed as the extended deadline to acquire the rest of the land.

“The deadline is unlikely to be met because of the State Government’s delay in framing rules based on Centre’s new Land Acquisition Act. Though procedures are similar to the older Act, the new legislation has stipulated higher compensation. Many land owners are waiting for formulation of rules prior to surrendering their land,” said a senior Kochi Metro official.

A committee of government secretaries that was entrusted with framing rules for the State is yet to complete the task. Moreover, a high-level committee on land acquisition headed by the Chief Secretary has not met anytime recently. All this has hampered land acquisition for the project. The process has further been affected because of change of guard at the helm of district administration and also because many revenue officials in charge of land acquisition are deputed for poll duty.

Currently, KMRL and the Revenue Department prefer negotiated purchase of land. “If that fails, we may choose to invoke provisions of Metro Act which is valid for a year more. We also have to see whether the new Central Act exempts land acquisition for metro.” A Revenue official associated with Metro’s land acquisition said that survey of properties that had to be acquired for metro was overdue. This is because the metro alignment is yet to be finalised at a few places where stations are expected to come up.

As for delay in taking over land in Vyttila-Pettah Road, PWD is yet to assess the value of buildings that have to be demolished. “To overcome the delay, we have requested State government to entrust the work to KITCO.”
Source-the hindu

Usman Sultan, aged 22, of Lawkholme Lane, beat victim with axe handle


Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Keighley man jailed for violent attack at railway station

A 22-year-old man who beat a passenger with an axe handle in the ticket office at a railway station has been jailed for 16 months.

Usman Sultan repeatedly whacked Hasan Mumtaz with the weapon after chasing him in to Keighley station after they spat at one another in the street, Bradford Crown Court heard.

The public witnessed the attack, at 9.20am on January 22, including a mother, with a young child in a pram, who fled the scene in terror.

Sultan, of Lawkholme Lane, Keighley, pleaded guilty to causing Mr Mumtaz actual bodily harm in an attack labelled “mindless violence” by Judge John Potter yesterday.

Sultan admitted the offence at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court but was committed to the higher court for sentence.

He already had convictions for affray and using threatening behaviour.

Prosecutor Jo Shepherd told the court Sultan pulled up next to Mr Mumtaz in his red Audi S3 as he walked towards the station to take a train to Leeds.

The men exchanged insults and spat at one another.


Mr Mumtaz had bought his rail ticket when he saw a hooded man with a wooden axe handle approaching in the booking office.

He realised it was Sultan and grabbed him in a headlock but the defendant swung the weapon at his head. Mr Mumtaz suffered bruising to his arms when he raised them to protect himself.

Repeated blows were struck before rail staff intervened, warning Sultan that his actions were being captured on CCTV cameras.

He left the scene and Mr Mumtaz took a train to Leeds where he told police about the assault.

Peter Byrne said in mitigation that Sultan was spat at first and realised he had over-reacted: “He concedes it was entirely unacceptable behaviour in a public place.

Judge Potter imposed a restraining order banning Sultan from contacting Mr Mumtaz or going near his home. He said it was a sustained assault with a weapon, telling Sultan: “You are somebody who quickly resorts to violence when in temper.”
Source-the telegraph andargus

Rising U.S. rail-truck volume makes J.B. Hunt a bet



The rail-truck industry is poised for a second-quarter rebound after harsh weather caused a decline in shipments.

Total U.S. intermodal volume — goods shipped by more than one means of transportation — rose 6.3 percent in the four weeks ended March 14 compared with a year ago, according to figures from the Washington-based Association of American Railroads. Shipments have increased since mid-February when they contracted 0.8 percent, the biggest decline in almost two years.

More favorable weather has helped this type of freight get back on track, said Malcolm Polley, president of Stewart Capital Mutual Funds in Indiana, Penn. For investors who believe a further increase in consumer spending and intermodal activity is coming, J.B. Hunt Transport Services — the largest publicly traded company in the industry — is “as close to a pure play on this” as they can get, he said.

The Lowell, Ark., based carrier, which generates more than 75 percent of operating income from its intermodal business, is bracing for a springtime recovery after a slower-than-expected first quarter, said Terrence Matthews, president of the intermodal division. Volumes probably will rebound to be in line with — though at the lower end of — its full-year forecast of 10 percent to 15 percent gains, he said. J.B. Hunt is scheduled to announce results for the January-March period on April 14.

The recent rise in volumes reflects “some optimism,” which bodes well for the broader economy, said Charles Clowdis, managing director of transportation-advisory services at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. That’s because consumer goods such as electronics, clothing and furniture make up as much as 72 percent of containerized freight, he said.

Demand probably will pick up in a “real way” in April, though volumes could be challenged as the carriers “dig out of the network congestion hangover” from the first quarter, said John Mims, an Arlington, Virginia-based analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co. “Bad weather has been masking what is otherwise a fairly decent demand environment.”

Volumes probably will increase this year even after the sluggish start, which is why Mims maintains an outperform recommendation on J.B. Hunt. Still, the “lingering question” is how quickly activity returns to the pace of the late fall, he said.

Total intermodal shipments grew at a four-week average of 7.4 percent from a year earlier in October and November, based on the Association of American Railroads figures. That compares with gains of 3.5 percent in December-February.

Weather-related disruptions in January and February created a backlog, with some shipping companies “thousands of loads behind schedule and still playing catch-up,” according to Matthews. Industrywide, the post-holiday momentum “almost came to a stop” as several blizzards gripped the country, Clowdis said.

Truckers picked up some of the slack intermodal carriers couldn’t transport, though a “very real” shortage of drivers has led to a capacity shortage and higher shipping rates for transporting goods by truck alone, Matthews said. That’s good news for J.B. Hunt, as the company is “more positive on the pricing outlook in intermodal than this time last year.”

The ability to boost prices is one reason why Mims is a “big bull” on the carrier. Any increase would spur investor interest after J.B. Hunt has trailed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, falling 6.6 percent since Nov. 29 compared with a 3.7 percent gain for the S&P.

“What gets this stock moving is pricing of 2 to 3 percent on top of low double-digit volume growth,” said Mims, who sees J.B. Hunt outpacing the broader market as the U.S. expansion continues.

The company’s stock has suffered amid the decline in intermodal volumes. This is reflected in a drop for analysts’ earnings expectations this year to $3.30 a share, down from estimates of $3.41 in December, according to Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in New York, which manages about $1.5 billion in assets.

The relationship between this consensus estimate and J.B. Hunt’s stock performance - both relative to the market - has broken down recently after tracking closely in the last few years, Polley said. This shows that analysts still are optimistic about volume and price increases while investors are less certain, he said. Buying this stock now is akin to making a bet that “earnings expectations turn into earnings reality.”

Neither Polley’s or Ghriskey’s firms currently hold J.B. Hunt, though Ghriskey closely follows the company and its intermodal competitor Hub Group because they offer a “great read-through on the health of the domestic economy.”

Gross domestic product will accelerate 3.05 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s up from an estimated 1.9 percent gain in the three months ending March 31.

Rising transport volumes are a bullish indicator because an increase will benefit shares of related companies and the broader market, Polley said. “These stocks snap back in anticipation of a turn in the economy.”

Meanwhile, hiring figures and retail sales suggest consumers are in “pretty good shape,” Polley said. U.S. employers added 175,000 workers to payrolls in February, which followed six months of upward revisions, Labor Department data show. Retail sales rebounded 0.3 percent last month, after declining 0.6 percent in January, according to Commerce Department figures. Purchases increased an average of 0.3 percent each month in 2013 and 0.4 percent in 2012.

Consumer spending will return to a more normal level this year, though such a bounce-back probably won’t be “raging,” Ghriskey said. That’s partly because there’s no guarantee the slowdown in intermodal volumes was caused solely by bad weather.

Even so, based on his anecdotal channel checks, Clowdis says some pent-up demand is starting to be unleashed. One contact, a furniture manufacturer, saw shoppers disappear from showrooms as temperatures dropped, though there’s renewed interest now with milder weather, he said. Similarly, Mims said he’s “still in the camp that the year starts flat and takes a while to recover.”

Investors will monitor how quickly intermodal activity recovers. For Polley, these shipments are a good way to gauge the health of American households “without a lot of other noise.”

“When you start seeing these volumes increase, it’s more of a purer consumer-driven demand story.”
Source-herald net

Autodesk picked for Qatar Rail BIM

The company will provide BIM implementation, consultancy and advisory services to Qatar Rail, which is responsible for the design, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance of the entire rail network and systems within Qatar.

Autodesk’s consulting team will support Qatar Rail on the implementation of BIM technologies and practices. The aim is to help decrease the overall time and costs of railway projects by minimising rework and miscommunication, providing better insight into projects,and helping accelerate decision-making earlier.

Over the next three years, Qatar Rail will employ several services offered by Autodesk starting with the company’s input on BIM standards, quality control and integration across organisations. Autodesk will also implement a technology platform within Qatar Rail to train, support and collaborate with the company’s assigned staff for the railway project. Additionally, Autodesk will outline specific BIM standards and processes for the railway project that will serve as the foundation for BIM requirements.

“A rigorous BIM process implementation has the potential to deliver tremendous benefits to the owner/operators of national infrastructure projects like Qatar Rail, from the design phase, through construction, commissioning and ongoing operations,” said Callan Carpenter, vice president, global services.
Source-theconstructionindex

Engineers should also think of solutions to problems, says Metro Rail official

The HinduStudents at the IOB endowment lecture held at Pondicherry Engineering College on Friday. Photo: S.S. Kumar

Chennai Metro Rail official delivers IOB endowment lecture at Pondicherry Engineering College

Introduction of electric locomotives across the world has helped the industry in a number of ways, said Deputy General Manager of Operations of Chennai Metro Rail Limited S.M. Amuthan.

Initially, all electric trains were run using a direct current system, and now, to improve efficiency, they were being run using alternating current, he said.

The Metro Rail in Chennai would be run using 25kV AC, but even now, there were more advanced systems in place, including those running in Singapore and other cities, Mr. Amuthan said. He was delivering the IOB endowment lecture on ‘Drives for Electrical Locomotives’ at the Pondicherry Engineering College on Friday.

“The idea is that all engineers should not only think of problems but also of solutions. It is only through this process that new inventions are possible,” he said.

The lecture was organised by the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the college.
Source-the hindu

Services to remain affected as Mangalore rail division to undertake track maintenance

MANGALORE: Train services will be regulated as railway will be undertaking track maintenance work between Changanasseri and Chengannur stations for 15 days from March 24 to April 13, barring Fridays and Saturdays. The delay would be ranging from 80 minutes to 4.30 hours.

The trains are: Train No. 16629, Thiruvananthapuram - Mangalore Malabar express leaving Thiruvananthapuram Central at 6.30pm will be rescheduled to start at 11pm (4.30 hrs late); Train No. 16347, Thiruvananthapuram -Mangalore express leaving Thiruvananthapuram central at 8.40pm will be rescheduled to start at 10.45pm (2.05 hrs late); Train No. 56603, Thrissur-Kannur Passenger scheduled to leave at 5.55 am will be rescheduled to leave at 6.15 am(20 mts late); Train No. 16311, Bikaner - Kochuveli express of Thursday will be detained at Chingavanam or Changanasseri stations for 80 minutes and Train No. 19260, Bhavnagar - Kochuveli express of Monday will be detained at Chingavanam or Changanasseri stations for 80 minutes.
Source-times of india.

Rail museum looks to make inroads into tourism

The HinduA steam-operated ploughing engine, made in 1895, is on display at the Regional Rail Museum — Photo: K. Pichumani


Various measures proposed to attract Chennai residents and tourists to the 12-year-old facility

It is celebrating its 12 anniversary this month, but to date, not many people in Chennai, or those visiting from other parts of the country, know about the Regional Rail Museum.

With two galleries, a host of outdoor heritage exhibits dating from the 1800s, a toy train that takes visitors around the premises, and a playground, the museum has something on offer for everybody — from rail enthusiasts and students to casual tourists.

To increase the number of visitors from the current average of 5,500 per month — comprising mostly students and locals — museum officials are tying up with the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC).

“We are in talks with TTDC officials to include the museum in its Chennai itinerary and in package tour offers. That way, people from outside Chennai will get to know about the museum,” says curator D. Neelakandan. With summer vacations just around the corner, this is the best time to attract tourists to its 6.5-acre premises, situated near ICF bus terminus, he says. Walk into the galleries and you can step into a coach from the Mumbai suburban train network. Or look at old railways map of India, watch the ticking of a century-old clock and study the engine block of a diesel locomotive.

The exhibits are interspersed with posters of high-speed trains from across the world, the history of the Indian Railways and models of coaches made for other countries — Sri Lanka, Philippines, Vietnam and Zambia.

Step outside, and you can board a coach from the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, or climb into a steam locomotive that was built in 1909 and ran for over 80 years.

To make it more tourist-friendly, the museum has several plans lined up — opening a restaurant in an airconditioned coach, making the exhibits more interactive and creating a park, among others, says S. Srinivas, chief design engineer of the Integral Coach Factory that maintains the museum.

For C. Sridharan, who visited the museum with his family on Wednesday, it was an interesting experience. “But if there had been someone to take us around and explain the significance of each exhibit, it would have enhanced our experience,” says the Ayanavaram resident.
Source-the hindu

Working class can tip scales in North Chennai



After the secretariat, the smooth six-lane Beach Road closes in on you. A few quick turns lead you to the Kasimedu fishing harbour where at least one lakh fishermen come ashore every morning with their catch. It's these fishermen, along with labourers of Perambur and Thiruvottiyur and residents of Kolathur, who will decide the fate of candidates in North Chennai parliamentary constituency. 

"We are seeing a change. The roads are being widened, and we are expecting a new flyover that will connect us to Ennore. While the progress is slow, at least something is happening," said Nandakumar, a fisherman, hinting at his inclination towards AIADMK. 

A sense of neglect has always pervaded North Chennai, a constituency comprising labour and fishing communities who are less demanding than their more educated and vocal counterparts in other parts of the city. Lack of roads and transport, and high levels of pollution have always been pressing issues. In the last three years, AIADMK has been focusing its attention here, and plans to use its achievements in local governance to win votes in a national election. But the sitting MP, TKS Elangovan, is from DMK. 

"Several projects which we started in 2001 are nearing completion. These projects address the core issues that affects this constituency - transport and pollution," said former speaker and AIADMK leader D Jayakumar. "These projects slowed down during the DMK period," he said. 

CPM said it would focus on sea incursion and completion of Inner Ring Road. "Because of the sea incursion, traditional fishermen cannot keep boats near their houses," said party candidate U Vasuki. With the port, fishing harbour and industries like the nowclosed Binny Mills, north Chennai has been the epicentre of the labour movement. But this has not translated into votes for the Left parties. "The Labour Progressive Force, which supports DMK, has a history of working on these issues," said V Suresh of People's Union for Civil Liberties. 

"All this while, workers had to be loyal to the party their union supported - another reason for DMK's success. But AIADMK, over the last six months, has carefully nurtured the fishing community by announcing several schemes," said Suresh. 

A lot of jobs at Chennai Port and other public sector undertakings are being outsourced to private agencies. The port has lost a lot of its business in the last five years, partly due to a court order which prevented it from handling coal and iron ore. This has affected labourers the most. "The number of permanent employees has come down from 25,000 to 7,000. We will take this up as a poll issue," said Vasuki. While fisherfolk comprise about 8% of the electorate, more than 80% are from the labour force. 

Expansion of metro rail is high on everyone's agenda. "The extension of metro rail up to Thiruvottiyur will be a boon for people employed in various IT and ITES companies on Old Mahabalipuram Road," said Jaffar, a resident of Royapuram. 

"All the industries in our area are sunset industries (old and polluting ones). Like south Chennai, IT industries must be promoted here," said Balasubramanian of Kolathur. For most middle-class voters, all parties are the same. "The roads have become too narrow for the growing population," said 71-year-old Narasimha Rao. "We do not have anything to vote for."
Source-times of india

Hudco support sought for metro rail project



VISAKHAPATNAM: GVMC has appealed to the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (Hudco) to provide financial support for the metro rail project proposed . The civic body has also urged Hudco to financially help the corporation by sanctioning Rs 300 crore for two major 24x7 water supply projects mooted for the south-west and north-west sectors of the city.

The appeal was made by GVMC commissioner MV Satyanarayana to Hudco chief vigilance officer PRK Naidu during the latter's visit to the corporation on Friday. The civic chief also pointed out that though Hudco had sanctioned loans worth Rs 175 crore for various projects under JNNURM, only Rs 100 crore had been disbursed so far.

While Naidu said that Hudco had released Rs 66 lakh to GVMC as its CSR programme, the civic chief said the funds were utilized for various constructions of sheds at the dumping yard in Kapuluppada, night shelters, renovation of school buildings, toilets in schools and construction of public toilets.

Earlier, Naidu along with civic officials had a whirlwind tour of the old city area, flyover bridge as well as the BRTS corridors at Pendurthy and Simhachalam.
Source-timesofindia

India says no to Chinese high speed rail



Business Line reported that India has indicated that it will not seek China's assistance in exploring the possibility of setting up its first ever high-speed rail line, dealing a blow to China Railway Corporation, which has been looking aggressively to enter the Indian market, building on its success at home. In China, the company has, in a span of 5 years, constructed the world’s largest high speed rail network.

The agreed minutes of the third Strategic Economic Dialogue, which was held here, carried no reference to high-speed rail development, unlike in the previous round. China had pushed for listing high-speed rail as one area of cooperation under the SED’s infrastructure working group, 1 of the 5 groups that meet under the umbrella of dialogue.

The previous SED dialogue, which took place in New Delhi in November 2012, had highlighted three areas of rail cooperation: high speed rail development programme, heavy haul and station development.

The minutes released, referred to raising speeds of existing routes instead of high speed rail. Indian railway officials said that Japan had been awarded a contract to carry out a detailed project report into the feasibility of a Mumbai Vadodara high speed rail line. Officials denied that security concerns were a factor in leaving China out of India’s high-speed rail plans.

A senior official said that “There is no such policy decision, cooperation was possible in the future, depending on how the Japanese proposal went.” Mr Arunendra Kumar, Chairman of the Railway Board, said in an interview that cost was the biggest factor. He said that high speed rail will involve building entirely new track, which would also require significant land acquisition.

Mr Kumar estimated the cost at INR 120 crore per kilometer of track. India is, however, keen to get Chinese expertise in raising the speed on 3 railway corridors between New Delhi and Agra, Kanpur and Chandigarh. Chinese officials said they could help raise speed from the current 130 km per hour to 160 or 200 kilometer.

China has rapidly modernised its rail network, which only three decades ago lagged behind India’s. Express trains run at 200 to 250 km per hour, up from the 110 km per hour speed before a massive modernisation. The Government has also revamped stations to build a network of modern, airport terminal-like rail hubs.

Indian Railways officials got a first hand experience of China’s impressive railway network, travelling on a 325 km per hour train between Beijing and Tianjin, from the capital’s sprawling new South Railway station.

While Japan has a far longer history in building high speed rail lines, China has rapidly developed what is now the world’s largest high speed rail network, building 13,000 kilometer of entirely newly laid track. Mr Wang Mengshu, a prominent railway and tunnelling expert at Beijing Jiaotong University, who advised the Government on its high speed rail programme, said that land acquisition would not be a major factor for India, as in China, most tracks ran on elevated rails and required minimal farm land.

But Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who chaired Tuesday's SED and met with Chinese Premier Mr Li Keqiang on Wednesday, said that high speed rail network may not be cost-effective for India. He said that “In terms of cost effectiveness, we will be the lowest income country to have a high speed rail.”

Source - Business Line

 

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