Jul 29, 2014

Real-life rail stories

From the story of a 70-year-old who visited a railway station as a toddler to catch a glimpse of Mahatma Gandhi few days before he was shot at, to a hilarious tale of a tourist with a fellow Indian passenger who tried hard to befriend him and in turn kept getting them both in trouble — Railonama is a Pandora’s box of eclectic rail travel experiences.

Railonama is a compilation of train-inspired stories. Pic/AFP

The book, which comprises of 45 train-inspired stories of people from all over the world, is finally ready for a release on August 9.

“Stories for Railonama have been carefully selected from a pool of over 200 submissions, from people living all over the world who have travelled in Indian trains.

Railonama, Anupama Sharma, Good Times Books, Rs 250

In this book, tourists and citizens have opened up and written about their unforgettable journeys in India. While all stories are unique, some even date back to the pre-Independence era. This commemorative book of memorable journeys has captured events that would otherwise have been forgotten,” believes Delhi-based Anupama Sharma, the brain behind this crowd-sourced book.

Each story is about four to six pages long. “About half of the stories are from people living in India, while an almost equal number of stories are from Indians living overseas,” informs Sharma. 

The book will be available in bookstores from August 9 onwards.
Source..Mid Day

Labour to allow cooperatives and mutuals to run railway franchises

The shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh, is to unveil Labour's proposals during a visit to Glasgow. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features
Labour will offer cooperatives and mutually-owned companies the chance to run Britain's rail services.
Senior figures in Labour's transport team will suggest in Glasgow on Monday that employees and passengers could take a far greater role in running the railways, including bidding for specific franchises such as ScotRail.

Mary Creagh, the shadow transport secretary, and James Kelly, the Scottish Labour party's transport spokesman, will also confirm the party's 2015 general election manifesto is to include giving public sector bidders the same rights as private operators to bid for franchises.

Before her visit to Glasgow, Creagh said: "Two decades on from rail privatisation, passengers across the UK are getting a raw deal from many of the rail operators. The first priority should be passengers, not profit. That's why we need a new deal for our railways, in Scotland and across the UK."

Labour's offer to extend rail ownership reform to co-ops and mutuals comes after trade unions and Labour MPs pressed for a full-scale renationalisation of each rail franchise when existing contracts expire.

Polling evidence suggests the principle of state-owned rail services is popular among voters following the success of the east coast mainline, which was taken back under state control after its private operator failed. But renationalisation was rejected at Labour's national policy forum earlier this month. Labour strategists fear wholesale renationalisation could backfire and reinforce criticism that it is anti-business. They also argue most passengers, particularly in south-east England, want lower fares and better services first.

Labour will propose "encouraging cooperative principles into the rail industry to make sure that passengers and employees are involved in transport delivery". Its policy forum paper said the party would champion "democratic renewal", including cooperative and mutual ownership.

Labour would test its plans for cooperative ownership of rail services in Scotland if they are able to give the Scottish parliament the legal powers to allow public ownership of the ScotRail franchise, one of the UK's most successful and popular, as part of a package of increased devolved powers for Holyrood.

That proposal hinges on pro-UK parties winning the Scottish independence referendum in 2015, and Labour winning the May 2015 general election. Labour leaders in London are still mulling over the details of legislation in the rest of the UK as part of its work on the party's 2015 manifesto.

The Scottish National party has meanwhile pledged a review of rail ownership if Scotland becomes independent, alongside an uncosted pledge to renationalise Royal Mail after a yes vote.

James Kelly, Scottish Labour's transport spokesman, said: "The SNP's white paper [on independence] says that after separation, we can consider new forms of ownership for our railways. But we don't need independence for that. We will devolve these powers to the Scottish parliament in Labour's first Queen's speech and open up our railways to public sector companies.

"We need our railways to be working for passengers. Under the SNP, more than half a billion pounds of public money funds the rail franchise. That's why we need public sector companies to be able to compete on a level playing field with the private sector."
source..the guardian

Chattanooga rail backers want to get on track with new passenger line

Jim Olson first visited Chattanooga in 1993 to ride on the historic steam locomotive at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRRM).

He and his wife fell in love with the town so much that when an engineering job came open at the Tennessee Valley Authority two years later, Olson moved from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Chattanooga and has never left.

“There are people all over the world who want to ride on a train and, like me, many of them will come here and maybe even stay here if we had more train service,” Olson said.

Local train enthusiasts hope to tap into that market from both tourists and local commuters with a new light-rail passenger train route proposed to be added from the TVRRM to downtown and out to Enterprise South.

Ron Harr, the president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce who first rode a train to Chattanooga when he was only 14, said the Scenic City is in a unique position to capitalize on the renewed interest in light rail transport. In a luncheon speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club Monday, Harr dubbed the new route “Choo Choo 2.0” and insisted the city has both the name recognition and rail infrastructure for success without having to spend as much as most cities would for a light rail system.

“Because of that magical song in 1943 (Chattanooga Choo Choo), we have a railroad brand already,” Harr said. “We also are unique in that a lot of our rail infrastructure hasn’t been as dismantled as it has in other cities.”

Harr stressed that any passenger rail service must be designed not to hamper the important freight rail service provided in Chattanooga by CSX and Norfolk Southern.

“We don’t want our freight rail friends to be worried at all because what we’re doing will totally stay out of their hair,” he said.

The city of Chattanooga applied this spring for a $400,000 grant from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program from the federal Department of Transportation. The federal grant would match $300,000 from the city to study passenger demand, routes and fares for a passenger train route through parts of Chattanooga.

The grant request is among $9.5 billion of such requests submitted this year and few, if any, are likely to be funded until Congress approves a transportation package to replenish the depleted highway trust fund.

But Harr and others insist the planning grant is a small step toward what could develop into a major transportation asset for Chattanooga. Harr said a $40 million upgrade of rail lines and passenger equipment could add rail service from downtown to East Chattanooga and to Enterprise South, where VW and Amazon are growing and crowding existing roads with cars.

Lisa Maragnano, executive director at Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), said a new rail line could complement the city’s bus line and offer new transportation alternatives outside of the driving passenger cars.

“We have so much infrastructure here already, it would be silly not to look at what we have and see what we can use to provide better transportation and choices for commuters and businesses,” she said.
SOURCE..times free press

Adani mining gets Australia nod for coal, rail project

Picture for representational purpose (Photo: DC archives)

New Delhi: The Australian government has given environmental approval to Adani Mining’s 16.5 billion dollars Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project in Queensland.

The Australian high commissioner to India, Patrick Suckling said on Monday that his government’s decision to give the green signal to the project shows that Australia is open for business.

“This project will drive economic growth and create more than 6,000 jobs in Australia. It will also boost India’s development by providing electricity to 100 million Indians,” he said.
SOURCE..deccan chronicle

25 Crore Double-Decker Train in Mumbai Already Damaged

The bright yellow coaches have blue plastic foil all over them as well as tape on the windows.

Mumbai: At a time when plans for a bullet train are afoot and passengers are demanding better trains with superior facilities, an air-conditioned double-decker train, procured recently for nearly Rs. 25 crore, has been languishing on a siding near Mulund station. Meant to operate on the Mumbai-Goa route, the train has become a playground for miscreants.

It has been damaged to such an extent that the toughened glass windows are cracked, apparently as a result of stones being thrown at them. Some of the windows have been plastered with tape and blue foil has been pasted on parts of the bright yellow coaches, probably to hide damage. Most of the damage has been done to the lower portions of the coaches. 

The 10-coach AC double-decker train has been standing on one of the siding tracks between Mulund and Nahur stations, very close to the tracks on which local trains ply. The track is covered with shrubs and people walk along it even as buildings are being constructed next to the rail lines.

Normally, railway police staffers patrol these sidings and yards, catching hold of unscrupulous elements. "It is possible that the stones were thrown while the train's trial runs were underway on the Roha-Ratnagiri stretch. It is unlikely that such an incident happened since the time that it has been parked there (near Mulund). We will still look into the matter," said a senior Railway Police Officer.

The cost of each double-decker coach is around Rs. 2.5 crore, bringing the total cost of the 10 coaches to Rs.25 crore. "It is sad that miscreants treat the train so badly and damage it," said Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Central Railway, when mid-day showed him photographs of the damaged train.

The train is slated to be run on the Mumbai-Goa route, which is a money-spinner. In May-June, officials from Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO), Central Railway and Konkan Railway jointly conducted trial runs for the train.

According to officials, the trial runs were held between Roha and Madgaon, and Madgaon and Ratnagiri in two phases. The officials claimed that the section between Roha and Madgaon has 68 tunnels and the train managed to navigate the stretch satisfactorily. A report is being prepared by the RDSO and it will be submitted to the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Central Circle.

Enhanced capacity

The AC double-decker train has a carrying capacity of 120 passengers per coach against 60-70 in a normal coach. Despite there being at least 27 trains on the Mumbai-Goa route, a large number of buses, carrying 45-50 passengers each, also ply on it. Railway officials said the 10-coach AC double-decker should be be able to carry at least 1,200 passengers.





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