May 24, 2014

Special Report: Russian Railways paid billions to secretive private companies

Russia's then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin travels in Russia's first high speed train Sapsan in Leningrad Region in this December 19, 2009 file photo. REUTERS-Ria Novosti-Alexei Druzhinin-Pool-Files

In the world's biggest country, railways are still a route to riches. With nearly 1 billion passengers a year and $42 billion in annual sales, the state company Russian Railways is a giant commercial opportunity.

At its head is Vladimir Yakunin, an old friend and long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin. He oversees a company that strikes international deals, issues bonds to major investors and plans hugely expensive new high-speed lines. By many measures, Russian Railways is a standard corporate colossus.

But a Reuters investigation has uncovered another side to the state-owned company: Under Yakunin, it has paid billions of dollars to private contractors that disguise their ultimate owners and have little or no presence at their registered headquarters.

Railways to run special tourist trains on Banihal-Bla-Bud route

Jammu, May 23: Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to run two special tourist trains on Banihal to Budgam and Banihal to Baramula route of Kashmir.
Starting from June 2, in order to cater the needs of tourists visiting Kashmir, the trains will be on track till June 30 and will run between Banihal –Baramulla and Banihal -Budgam railway stations on six days a week except Sundays and make 25 trips in this period. As per officials, train number 04611 Banihal- Baramula will depart from Banihal station, everyday expect Sunday at sharp 8.10 am from June 2 to reach Baramulla at 11.45 am on the same day.

On the return journey, train number 04614 will depart from Baramulla Station at 12.00 noon to reach Banihal at 03.05 pm on the same day. Having six car accommodations, Banihal- Baramula special train will stop at Hillar Shahbad Halt, Qazigund, Sadura, Anantnag, Panjgam, Bijbihara, Awantipura, Kakapora, Pampore, Budgam, Srinagar, Mazhom, Pattan, Hamre and Sopore stations enroute in both the directions.
Similarly special train number 04612 Banihal-Budgam will depart from Budgam at 06.05 am from June 2 to reach Banihal at 07.55 am, the same day.
In the return direction, 04613 Banihal- Budgam special will depart from Banihal at 03.20 pm to reach Budgam at 05.15 pm the same day. Having six car accommodations, Budgam – Banihal special train will stop at Srinagar, Pampore Kakapora, Awantipura, Panjgam, Bijbihara, Anantnag, Sadura, Qazigund and Hillar Shahbad Halt stations enroute in both the directions.
SOURCE - greaterkashmir

Time to run trains on secure, corporatized fast track

The Times of India, on Thursday, launched a series on challenges facing the new government, along with possible solutions. This is in line withTOI's manifesto (MANIFESTOI , published on March 14) which drew out a blueprint for the next administration. In the first two parts, we dealt with the biggest issues facing the PMO and finance ministry, how the external affairs, defence, home, health, HRD and environment ministries could be streamlined. We conclude with a roadmap for the ministries of labour, transport, railways, law, urban development, energy and tourism.


Railways to install automatic ticket vending machines soon

ALLAHABAD: To provide respite to the passengers standing in long queues for booking tickets, North Central Railway is planning to install automatic ticket vending machines (ATVM) at the stations. The passengers will simply have to insert 'Smart Card' into the ATVM machines and the ticket will be printed within seconds.

Giving information about the plan, chief public relations officer of North Central Railway Naveen Babu informed, "About 222 automatic ticket vending machines will be installed at the different stations of NCR spreading across the Allahabad, Jhansi and Agra divisions. Out of this 147 will be smart card machines while the remaining 75 will be versatile machine. The former will be operated through Smart card while the latter can be operational both through smart cards and even through coins."

The AVTMs will be installed at Allahabad, Kanpur, Agra, Jhansi, Gwalior, Aligarh, Mirzapur, Fatehpur and other stations. ATVM are touch screens based ticketing kiosks operated using smart cards. The passengers can purchase and recharge smart cards from the ticket counters. The smart card has to be placed on a slot in the ATVM and the user has to select the starting station, route and the destination using the touch screen. After confirming the details, the ticket is printed and delivered. Once the ticket is issued, charge is debited from the Smart Card.

The smart card may be availed from the smart card counter nearby the ATVM machine at the railway station. There will be a security deposit for smart card, which can be recharged. As far as operation of versatile AVTM is concerned, it can be operated both through smart card and also through coins. This is beneficial at small stations where passengers travel less distance.

The passenger simply has to enter railway fare by putting the coins inside the machine and the ticket will be printed. Throughout the country, Indian Railways will install 5594 ATVM in, which 3594 will be smart card based while the remaining 2000 machines will be of versatile category.
Source - TOI

Can Modi get Indian railways on track?

The Indian railways have been dying a slow death, thanks to the apathy shown by successive regimes. Modi has promised to modernise the Indian public carrier and CNBC-TV18 looks at the key issues that needs to be resolved. Indian railways are the third largest rail network in the world. The public carrier is used by 23 million passengers and hauls 2.7 million tonnes of freight, every 24 hours but underinvestment and populist measures like not increasing fares has bled India's biggest public employer heavily. In FY14, revenue target fell short by over 18 percent, while planned investments were cut by 6.3 percent. However, panels upon panel setup by the UPA government have called for greater investments and reforms in tariffs to generate revenue. The planning commission, Rakesh Mohan panel, and the Sam Pitroda panel proposed a hike in fares to generate revenue. But hardly any of this advice was ever implemented. Experts believe this can be done by offering premium services. The big bang proposals that have been on the drawing board include dedicated freight corridors across the country, loco manufacturing units, private freight terminals, elevated suburban corridors and bullet trains. This kind of a vision will not be possible without capital and investment projections to kick start Indian railways, differs from panel to panel. Planning Commission has estimated a requirement of Rs 456743 crore while the Sam Pitroda panel has recommended a requirement of Rs 839 140 crore. To ensure availability of capital, proposals like allowing FDI in railway infrastructure is already ready. Experts say that fund inflow in to the sector should not be a problem. Umesh Chowdhary, VC & MD, Titagarh Wagons says, “Don't think there is a dearth of money inflow in to the railway sector as it is an attractive sector.” Other ways of raising capital for the sector include disinvestment in railway PSU, commercialisation of railway land, modernisation surcharge. The benefits of such measures are estimated to add 1.5 to 2 percent to national GDP.

Source - .money control

Why boarding speeding railway stocks is risky?

Even with budgetary support, expenses will be skewed towards building infrastructure

Railway-related stocks across segments – ranging from those building tracks to those manufacturing wagons -- may have shot up sharply after the Narendra Modi-led BJP got a clear mandate in the elections.

Shares such as Titagarh Wagons (which has now acquired Kalindee Rail Nirmal), Texmaco, Modern Industries, and BHEL have gained at least 25 per cent since May 16.Fund infusion worry

However, analysts are wary of the sustainability of the rally as the momentum of these stocks, which cater mainly to the rolling stock space, depends on fund infusion by the new Government.

Analysts said it must be noted that the extent to which capital expenditure of the Railways will go up depends on the BJP-led Government’s budgetary support.

According to Morgan Stanley, the financial performance of Indian Railways has been on steadily deteriorating in the 11th Five-Year Plan and also during the ongoing 12th Plan. “The lack of surplus generated has constrained investments required to meet the needs of the economy,” said Morgan Stanley in a recent research report.Infra to benefit first

Moreover, even if the budgetary support to the Railways were to go up, the expenditure in the first few years will be skewed towards building the fixed infrastructure such as rail tracks and signalling systems, pointed out an official. This would fuel demand for construction firms, sleepers, cement, steel rails, cables and signalling systems, among others.

Already, the dedicated rail freight corridor, which is basically like a third parallel rail line along the existing tracks, has created opportunities for firms in the construction space.

Continuation of Government focus on this project, for which loans from World Bank and JICA have been tied up, will create a business pie for firms in the infrastructure space.

Companies such as L&T, Tata Power, GMR, BSCPL, Oriental Structural Engineers, Essar Projects, Patel Engineering, Afcons and IL&FS India are already trying to tap this business.

Companies manufacturing steel rails include SAIL, Jindal Steel and Power. Those in signalling systems include Alstom and Siemens.

Even if BJP’s plans to create a bullet train network — which would be a very expensive affair — were to fructify, first there would be demands for track infrastructure.Only from existing space

However, analysts feel, the demand for rolling stock such as locomotives, wagons and coaches, can come from the existing network and significant capacity addition on the newer network. Demand for rolling stock on the existing network will depend partially economic recovery and good growth in traffic.

In fact, after the economic slowdown, Indian Railways’ traffic growth had slowed, which had pushed railways to slow down its wagon procurement programme. Also, demand for more rolling stock driven by newer infrastructure, such as new lines, will kick in only after completion of the track infrastructure.
Source-the hindu business line

No entry for agents at railway reservation centres

PUNE: Railway ticket booking agents will not be allowed to book tickets at the computerized reservation centres of the railway administration. The ban came into effect in Pune division a few days ago.

The Railways authorizes the Rail Travellers Service Agents (RTSA) to book tickets for train travel. Agents charge passengers an additional sum for the service. There are 20 authorized RTSAs, who have photo identity cards and letters of appointment, active in Pune division.

A railway official said on Thursday the decision to ban entry of agents at reservation counters was taken long back, but a notification was issued on Tuesday. "Agents will not be allowed at the counters, but people can walk in at any reservation centre to book their ticket. The counters, if designated for agents, will now be open for all," the official said.

However, there are no concrete checks in place to ensure agents are weeded out of the queue. Besides, a ban may not have much impact on ticket booking as many people book tickets online. As per a rough estimate, about 40% tickets in Pune division are booked on the IRCTC site.

The RTSA Association wants agents to be allowed in till the railway administration appoints RTSAs as e-ticketing agents.

The association's president, Manik Birla, said, "A sudden ban is illogical. This will not only affect us, but will also cause inconvenience to several passengers who will have to visit reservation centers. Such a decision may lead to growth of unauthorized agents."

Birla said the railway authorities and the IRCTC should expedite the process of appointment of RTSAs as e-ticketing agents.

Ways of booking

## At the counter, a passenger needs to fill in a form giving details of travel like train name, train number, passenger details, etc

## The process, if done through IRCTC site, is much simpler with no need to stand in queue


## At the reservation counter, a passenger is expected to produce proof of identity

## The IRCTC booking system does not require any ID proof, but the passenger needs to have an authorized online account
Source-times of india





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