Jun 1, 2014

Metro services extended

In view of the Indian Premier League finals , Namma Metro train services between M.G. Road and Byappanahalli have been extended.

According to a Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. release, services have been extended from 10 p.m. on Sunday to 1 a.m. on Monday with a frequency of 30 minutes.


After Fin Min objection, Railways stops officers' promotion

The Railway Ministry has stopped promotion of officers in two of its secretarial services after alleged irregularities were pointed out by the Finance Ministry.

A scam had come to light in two lesser-known services-- Railway Board Secretariat Service and Railway Board Secretariat Clerical Service -- where promotions were being made allegedly without following due procedures and bypassing Union Cabinet's jurisdiction.

Terming it as a 'serious lapse', the Finance Ministry had written to Railways to 'revoke' its decision for promoting these officials through cadre restructuring. 

Following this, Railways decided to stop the whole exercise.

"It is noted that Department of Personnel and Training and Ministry of Finance have pointed out certain anomalies.

Major changes planned in railway sector: DV Sadananda Gowda

Gowda today said he intended to bring major changes in the railway sector and he would focus on the 'four S'- safety, service, security and speed. 

MANGALORE: Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda today said he intended to bring major changes in the railway sector and he would focus on the 'four S'- safety, service, security and speed. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already proposed bringing in speed trains and bullet trains, he said. 

Gowda said his predecessor Mallikarjuna Khargee had put a burden on him by announcing an increase of 10 per cent hike in railway tariff and 5 per cent hike on freight and not implementing them. He said the responsibility vested on him was huge. The railway sector has 13.2 lakh employees and he needed at least a month to study the sector. 
In his first visit to the district after assuming the post of Railway Minister, Gowda said he was extremely fortunate to work alongside PM Modi in his cabinet. 

Addressing party workers at the BJP district office here, Gowda said the people wished to see a change in the country and to see Modi becomethe Prime Minister and it had now materialised. 

"This change has taken place with the help of BJP workers and the Sangh Parivar", he said. 

SOURCE - economic times

Delhi to Agra in 90 minutes by train soon

The transporter has plans to run bullet trains at 350 kmph between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, but is awaiting nod from the top.

NEW DELHI: With bullet trains on top of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda, railways has targeted running trains at a speed of 160 kmph between Delhi and Agra by the year-end.
The transporter has plans to run bullet trains at 350 kmph between Mumbai and Ahmedabad on an elevated track and six other routes, but is awaiting nod from the top.

Meanwhile, the transporter is going ahead with semi-high speed trains between Delhi and Agra by upgrading the existing track.

Rail travelers would be able to reach the Taj city in 90 minutes. As of now, Bhopal Shatabdi takes 126 minutes to reach Agra from Delhi at an average speed of 110 kmph. With the increased speed of 160 kmph, the travel time will be reduced to 90 minutes.

Railway board is reviewing progress of the key project every month.

SOURCE - economic times

Home: Deccan Queen enters 85th year of service linking Mumbai and Pune

The Deccan Queen, the iconic train that links Mumbai and Pune and has over the past eight decades grown into a veritable institution with intensely loyal passengers, entered its 85th year today.

The introduction of the train on this day in 1930 was a major landmark in the history of the Great Indian Peninsula (GIP) Railway, the forerunner of the Central Railway. This was the first deluxe train introduced on the railway to serve two important cities of the region and was aptly named after Pune, which is also known as ‘’Queen of Deccan’’.

Initially, the train was introduced with two rakes of seven coaches each, one of which was painted in silver with scarlet mouldings and the other with royal blue with gold lines. The under frames of the coaches of the original rakes were built in England while the coach bodies were built in the Matunga Workshop of the GIP Railway.

In the beginning, the Deccan Queen had only first class and second class accommodation. First class was abolished on 1st January 1949 and second class was redesigned as first class, which continued upto June 1955, when third class was introduced on this train for the first time. This was later re-designated as second class from April 1974 onwards. 

The coaches of the original rakes were replaced in 1966 by anti-telescopic steel bodied integral coaches built by Integral Coach Factory, Perambur. These coaches incorporated improved design of bogies for better riding comfort and also improvements in the interior furnishings and fittings. The number of coaches in the rake was also increased to 12 from the original seven, providing additional accommodation. Over the years, the number of coaches in the train has been increased to the present level of 17 coaches.

From its inception, apart from providing high standards of comfort to the passengers, the train has witnessed various improvement such as introduction, for the first time in India, of coaches with roller bearings, replacement of end on generation coaches with self generating coaches with 110 volts system and introduction of first and second class chair cars providing increased accommodation to passengers. 

The distinctive colour scheme of cream and oxford bluewith red band above the window level has been recently adopted as the colour scheme for this train, aCentral Railway press release said.

The rake was changed in 1995 with the following special features: 

* All newly manufactured or about a year old, air brake coaches.
* The five first class chair cars in the old rake have been replaced by five AC chair cars providing an additional seating capacity of 65 in a dust-free environment. Also the nine second class chair cars provide additional seating capacity of 120 seats compared to the old coaches. Thus, the new rake provides a total seating capacity of 1417 as against 1232 seats in the old rake, an increase of 15%.
* The dining car offers table service for 32 passengers and has modern pantry facilities such as microwave oven, deep freezer and toaster. The dining car is also tastefully furnished with cushioned chairs and carpet.

At present, Deccan Queen (12123/12124) runs with 17 coaches, including four AC chair cars, one dining car, 10 second class chair cars and two second class cum brake vans, the release added.
Source - net indian.

CAG Report on Railway Pacts Another Smirch on UPA

Shashi Kant Sharma

NEW DELHI: After the 2G and coal scam-fuelled fires, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the railways could well trigger a deluge of debates over some ad hoc decisions taken by the UPA regime. According to sources, the CAG audit report examining public-private-partnership (PPP) projects cleared by the previous regime is almost ready. It is learnt that while concession agreements were found signed with different private parties, there was “no uniformity” in the agreements. Sources said CAG has audited six projects under Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) and found glaring loopholes in the pacts.

“At the moment I can say the report would be damning, exposing the ad-hoc policy adopted by the UPA government while signing concession agreements,” a source said.

In 2008, during UPA-I, the Manmohan Singh-led government had decided to invite PPP in the non-core railway sectors for setting up of logistic parks, wagon investment schemes, wagon leasing schemes and also for setting up new factories for production of wagons, coaches and locomotives. Due to lack of resources, the government, while drafting the 12th five year plan (2012-2017) identified a number of areas including private freight terminals, redevelopment of stations, logistics parks, port connectivity, an elevated rail corridor (Churchgate-Virar), high speed corridors (Mumbai-Ahmadabad), dedicated freight corridor (Sonenagar-Dankuni) and loco and coach manufacturing units. The government had expected investment to the tune of `80,000 crore for all these PPP projects.

An official said CAG is also giving final touches to a compliance audit report on defence for Navy and Air force. This will be followed by another CAG report on Stressed Assets Stabilization Fund (SASF) which was constituted by the government in 2004 to purge non-performing assets of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI). A total `9,000 crore of zero-interest special securities loaned to SASF by the government were given to IDBI in lieu of the NPAs transferred. Two CAG reports on direct and indirect taxes are also complete and likely to be tabled in the next session of parliament. However, sources said that telecom audit on 3G & 4G is still in progress and likely to be ready before the winter session. “Another controversial audit of Delhi Discom is also in the process, a source said. The Aam Aadmi Party-led government had ordered audit of accounts of three power companies in January 2014. On May 13, CAG Shashi Kant Sharma had pointed out that in many audits reports involving private parties, the national auditor found evidences that fall into a pattern of private players trying to distort competition, upset free market fairness and cause loss to both public exchequer and competitors. He advised the government to make sensible and simplified changes in the design of contracts so that incentives to fudge revenue are systematically removed.

However, the previous regime may find solace in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent statement that CAG reports should not be used for political gains. During his farewell speech in Gujarat Assembly on May 21, Modi had said CAG reports must not be used as a weapon to target political opponents but should be utilised to find solutions.
Source - new indian express

Samar Jha: Healing Indian Railways

The Modi government came to power riding on a plank of development. Very clearly, its focus has to be growth and infrastructure. The railways need special attention because of the moribund state they are in now. For far too long, Indian Railways (IR) has had little vision and long-term strategy.

Narendra Modi's vision of a modern India with high speed trains connecting its main cities can only be one facet of the transformation that is necessary. The dedicated freight corridors, high-powered locomotives, heavy axle-load wagons and modern signalling are some others. The metamorphosis of IR into a modern transportation system needs extraordinary vision and mission-mode implementation.

Solutions to IR's ills are well documented and available easily. Yet the required political will and management initiative have been lacking. What ails IR?

No developing country such as India can afford to allow suicidal competition between different modes of transport. Therefore, the government should seriously consider merging the ministries of railways, surface transport, shipping and civil aviation into a single ministry of transport. The growth target for transportation in the country needs to be at least two per cent higher than the GDP growth to ensure sustained development.

IR's basic problem is financial. Years of steadily declining market share (IR's market share in freight is less than 40 per cent and an abysmal 12 per cent in passenger) has meant lower growth of earnings, though expenditure continues to mount (IR is the world's biggest employer with staff expenditure of around 50 per cent of total expenses). This leaves very little surplus for growth; not even enough for replacement of over-age assets. Arrears of replacement of track, bridges, rolling stock and signalling were once reduced through a special railway safety fund (SRSF) at the turn of the century. Now arrears have built up again and there is talk of launching SRSF-II.

One reason for IR's financial woes was the political necessity of holding down fares. With the Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority, this problem may get tackled. However, it will require dexterous financial management to simultaneously bring down the freight tariff, which is among the highest in the world. It is hence important that the Tariff Authority be made a statutory body by amendments to theRailway Act. IR should then aim for a quantum growth in traffic. Aiming for 1,500 million tonnes of freight traffic by 2016-17 should be the first step.

Of course, this growth can come only with a massive injection of investment in building new infrastructure. The two dedicated freight corridors should be completed on a mission mode in the next three years, and at least two more (the East-West and the West-South) taken up at once. In addition, the 125 or so capacity enhancement works (new lines, port and mine connectivity, doubling) on the shelf, which may require about Rs 35,000 crore, should be completed on priority. Part of the financing for this can come from suspending dividend payment.

Mr Modi's vision of high speed trains must be made a reality. The High Speed Rail Corporation can be given time targets for building the identified corridors. Financing the construction of the lines, and their financial viability, are areas of concern but innovative solutions will have to be found.

In freight traffic, it is time we make a clean break from the past and begin procuring only 25-tonne axle-load wagons, moving eventually to 32.5-tonne. This step, together with the induction of high-horse power locomotives, would enable IR to introduce heavy-haul freight trains. Matching the ambitious targets for traffic should be ready availability of rolling stock. If IR aims at a high growth trajectory, it must have the required rolling stock, which should be available in surplus to meet surges in demand.

IR is a behemoth whose management is a massive challenge and there is an urgent need for reforms. Structurally, the present zone-based geographical organisation has outlived its utility. IR must urgently restructure into lines of business verticals. There would be resultant focus on passenger, parcel and freight businesses.

It is time that serious thought is given to corporatising the railways. Much has been written and said about the Railway Board system. The fact is that it is an archaic construct with minimal contribution. Crass departmentalism pulls decision-making in multiple directions. This needs to change.

Whether corporatised or not, the time is ripe for the formation of a management cadre in the railways with lateral entry, based on a strict selection criterion, by railway officers of, say, 15 years' seniority. They will fill the senior general management posts such as Divisional Railway Managers and General Managers.

While IR's performance in safety over the past ten years is better than most would believe, even one accident is painful and unacceptable. Other than corrective technical and managerial steps, an independent Safety Department on the lines of Audit is essential.

An accounting reforms project for introducing commercial accounting is underway but it needs to be given a serious push for implementation by, say, next financial year. Along with it must come a robust system of costing. Presently, IR's cost data is scanty and unreliable.

With a workforce of over 1.3 million, IR needs to seriously improve productivity. While there is a case for reviewing manpower, in the short term multi-skilling and re-deployment will enable the present workers to handle the increasing traffic.

It is time that India set up railway universities where railway technology and railway management are taught to under-graduates and post-graduates who can then be employable in IR.

Many of these suggestions can be taken up for implementation immediately and begin to show results within a year. Putting IR on the fast track would be the Modi government's best advertisement of success, for the railways touch millions of lives daily.

Major fire at railway guest house near Connaught place in Delhi, no casualty reported

Delhi: A major fire broke out on Saturday evening at Indian Railway Project Management unit office near Connaught place in the national capital. No casualties have been reported so far. 
According to initial reports, eight fire engines were rushed to the spot to help put to douse the fire.

“The railway guest house is located close to a busy market in the heart of the capital. The incident of fire was reported around 6:50 pm today,” a fire official said. 

However, the railway officials have said that the fire has been brought under control. 

"Eight fire tenders have been rushed to the spot. The fire is under control," ADO MK Sharma said.
Source - zee news





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