Aug 25, 2014

HC constitutes monitoring committee for metro workers

BANGALORE: The Karnataka high court has ordered for constituting a monitoring committee which will function till completion of all construction work relating to Bangalore Metro Rail Project. 

The committee has been asked to meet at least once in a month and also to assure strict enforcement of legal provisions in various labour laws. 

A division bench headed by chief justice D H Waghela then disposed off a PIL filed by one Samuel Sathya Seelan, a social worker. 

The petitioner had complained that no one is taking care of BMRCL workers or about their living conditions and authorities are only indulging in blame game and the attitude of the officers is very casual. 

He further complained that the work conditions at work place are inhuman and the migrant workers are in a helpless condition and the norms under building construction workers act is violated.
Source..times of india

DART to consider dedicated bus roads for long-languishing Cotton Belt rail corridor

After years of discussion of providing commuter rail service on the old Cotton Belt Line between Plano and Fort Worth, DART officials are considering building bus-only roads along the route. Officials say that option is much cheaper than rail service but wouldn't preclude it if funding ever became available.
With no funding in sight for passenger train service along the Cotton Belt line in Denton and Collin counties, Dallas Area Rapid Transit is considering a road that only buses would use.

It’s not the rail service long envisioned for the corridor – and it wouldn’t necessarily preclude trains from running if funding is ever secured. But it could be the agency’s fastest option for providing an east-west connection in an area with large gaps in rail service.

“It’s less expensive initially,” said Gary Thomas, the agency’s president and chief executive officer.

Bus rapid transit is a relatively new concept in North America. It gives buses dedicated lanes that other vehicles can’t drive on. It also uses longer vehicles, has fewer stops and features more enhanced stations than traditional bus routes.

DART owns about 62 miles of Cotton Belt right-of-way, from Fort Worth to Plano. The T, which is Fort Worth’s transit agency, will operate passenger rail service on Tarrant County’s portion of the Cotton Belt beginning in 2018. Its TexRail will run from downtown Fort Worth to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s Terminal B.

The portion DART will operate in Dallas, Denton and Collin counties is seen as key to connecting Fort Worth, the airport and cities along or between DART’s Green and Red lines. The east-west connector would enhance DART’s current light-rail network, which is currently a hub-and-spoke system. That configuration leads to long trips for suburb-to-suburb passengers who are forced to go through downtown Dallas.

Addison awaits full connection into DART’s light-rail system. But officials there are against using bus rapid transit to do so.

That city has contributed more than $200 million in sales tax to DART during the 31 years it has waited for rail service along the Cotton Belt. The city has even set aside land on Festival Way for its first passenger rail station.

City Manager Lea Dunn said it’s not fiscally prudent to spend money on creating bus rapid transit only to later launch passenger rail service.

“It would be more expensive in the long run,” Dunn said.

The Dallas City Council’s transportation committee will discuss the possibility of bus rapid transit during an update on the Cotton Belt on Monday afternoon.

Fort Worth’s Spur a model

The T borrowed several bus rapid transit concepts when it launched a bus route called The Spur in downtown Fort Worth. It has enhanced stations and uses a longer bus. It also has priority at traffic signals so its green lights are longer and its red lights are shorter.

“We can get travel time advantage through the intersections because we can manipulate the lights,” said Curvie Hawkins, an assistant vice president for the agency.

The Spur carries about 7,000 passengers a day and looks different than the rest of The T’s fleet. Hawkins said it carries people farther and faster than normal bus routes. But the price tag is much lower than a rail line.

The potential on the Cotton Belt remains to be seen.

“It really depends on the corridor that’s selected,” said Yonah Freemark, a project manager for the Chicago nonprofit Metropolitan Planning Council.

He said that the cheapest approach for bus rapid transit is to dedicate existing road lanes to buses. That’s not an option on the Cotton Belt because there aren’t roads in the right-of-way --- there are only train tracks.

Weighing options

Thomas said DART has looked at dozens of different approaches to getting service going in the corridor. Their cost estimates range from $300 million to more than $2.5 billion. A phased bus rapid transit approach that would begin with a route from Carrollton’s Green Line to Addison would be on the least expensive end. Full rail service from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Plano or Richardson would be on the high end.

There’s currently no estimated timeframe or funding sources for any of the options. And bus rapid transit on the Cotton Belt is far from being a sure-thing.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet,” Thomas said.

Dunn said she understands that DART should explore its options. But getting rail service should be its focus.

“That’s what we need to be pushing for,” she said.

Bombardier bullish on Indian high-speed rail project

The NDA Government’s dream railway project – Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project – has evoked positive response from the Canadian aerospace and transportation company, Bombardier Transportation. The company has said that it is bullish about the upcoming high speed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, according to a Business Standard report. “Bombardier is one of the global leaders for high speed and very high speed trains with over 900 trains delivered worldwide. Our Zefiro high-speed trains are energy efficient with high capacity and smart interiors. Once the tender details are finalised, we would be very keen to participate and bring our high-speed train technology to India,” said Daniel Daigle, Vice President, Human Resources, Asia Pacific, Bombardier Transportation. He added that Bombardier has been following the developments of Ahmedabad Metro and that it will evaluate bidding for the project once tender specifications are issued.

The company stated that in the wake of the new government allowing 100 per cent FDI in Railways, it was open to more investments and increasing employee base locally subject to winning the projects it is currently pursuing for India.

"For a company like Bombardier, which has been investing in India for the last five decades, it gives us an impetus to invest more towards transforming the rail transportation in India. We are interested in various rail projects in India and hoping to embark on a journey together with the new government to bring world-class rail infrastructure," Daigle added.

Meanwhile, the Canadian firm is reportedly looking at developing its Savli facility, Gujarat, as an export hub. In recent times, the company has bagged several orders from various parts of the world including Brazil and Australia. Substantial portion of its $2.7 billion order book is expected to be executed at its Savli and Maneja facilities near Vadodara.

“QNGR is one of the largest projects for Bombardier Transportation globally and Savli site will manufacture 450 commuter cars along with its bogies. Substantial portion of $ 2.7 billion for Bombardier Transportation will be executed at its Indian sites in Savli and Maneja, both near Vadodara,” said Daigle.

Having made one of its most important and strategic investments of Rs 230 crore in Savli site near Vadodara, Bombardier Transportation is developing it with an intention to promote export oriented activities. “As the site was built with the intention to develop export-oriented activities also, Bombardier keep evaluating prospects for exporting metro cars and bogies to Asia Pacific, Europe and North America,” said Daigle.

Post delivering more than 600 metro cars to Delhi metro, Savli site received its first export order in June 2012 only three years after commencing commercial production, to supply bogie components for Adelaide EMUs to Bombardier Transportation Australia. Subsequently, the Savli site also started exporting bogie components for commuter trains in Victoria to Bombardier Transportation Australia. In its third export order, it is exporting 521 bogie frames to Bombardier Transportation Brazil for Sao Paulo monorail.

Metro rail fine, but viability in doubt

Mega project hits several roadblocks even before preparation of DPR

The city of victory – Vijayawada - is heading to have a rail-based Mass Rapid Transit System, if the hurried move to implement the metro rail project is an indication.

Though the State government is keen to pump more than Rs. 14,700 crore for metro rail project in a stretch of 49 km in the next six to seven years, its viability is a billion dollar question.

The Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority (VGTMUDA) hasn’t received any expression of interest (EOI) application so far to carry out the feasibility study for the mega project, which is mandatory before the preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The last date for receiving the EOI is September 1 and the UDA would spend Rs. 25 crore on the DPR preparation.

Further, the passenger mobility criteria have emerged as another issue for the project to be materialised.

“The urban mobility has to be more than 15,000 per hour, if the project has to be successful. But, the fact is the mobility is less than 2,000 per hour in Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali circuit and it is in the range of 2,500 to 3,000 per hour in Gannavaram-Gollapudi corridor. These two corridors are slated for phase-1,” UDA sources say.

“Going by the experience in Hyderabad,” UDA sources say, “the government would have to spend Rs. 300 crore per km to lay an elevated corridor for metro rail.”

Meanwhile, the question in the minds of people is as to why the government has chosen to implement the project between Gannavaram - Gollapudi and Kankipadu – Vijayawada, if the capital is to come up between Vijayawada and Guntur.

Many political parties are of the opinion that project is being pushed hurriedly to win the hearts of people.Populist policy?

The reasons cited by the government are that there is a need to develop urban transport system as the capital would be located between Vijayawada and Guntur and the metro rail is incorporated in the AP Reorganisation Act.

CPI (M) city secretary Ch. Babu Rao said that though the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has spent crores of rupees on the BRTS project, it is yet to see the light.

“Going by this experience, the government has to prepare a comprehensive plan for development of the region,” he said.

It may be noted that the BRTS project is in limbo, even after the VMC has spent more than Rs. 80 crore.

The Union government has already asked the corporation to refund the funds released for it.
Source..the hindu

China seeks private investments in railway sector

BEIJING: China has sought private investment in its tightly controlled loss making railway sector, as it presses ahead with its costly high speed rail projects at home and abroad. 

On an inspection tour of the China Railway Corporation(CRC), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said he wants to see more private investment in railways as its development will stabilize economic growth, enhance social harmony and help urbanisation, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. 

Asking CRC to seek new innovative sources of investment, Li said, "Railways paid for solely by the government and managed by administrative order must become a thing of the past." 

China has spent vast sums on railways in recent years and changing the way they are financed is very high on the government's agenda. 

Earlier in April, the Chinese cabinet had brought an action plan on railway financing, deciding to set up a fund open to private investment. 

The fund value is expected to reach 300 billion yuan ($48.6 billion). 

In addition, 150 billion yuan of railway bonds will also be issued this year, with overtures being made to banks to encourage them to fund railway projects. 

Later, the CRC had raised the bar on railway investment for 2014 to 800 billion yuan, hoping to bring over 6,600km of new trackline. 

Announcing that Central and Western regions will be government's top priority, Li said, "People in these areas are eagerly looking forward to new railways, which will narrow the gap between the west and the east and bring them into the centre of our nation's modernisation process." 

Official reports last year had said Chinese railway owe $43 billion debts to various banks. 

Railways are fundamental to China's development and their purpose cannot be achieved in any other feasible way, Li said. 

"We should turn the great potential of railways into real productivity and make the sector a new engine of change," he said. 

China has already completed 11,028km of high speed train network that include engineering marvel of construction of rail lines on the permafrost in Tibet. 

China's ambitious high-speed rail projects include construction of Trans-Asian Railway Network connecting China with Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and 1,776 km of railway being built from Lanzhou in the western province of Gansu to Xinjiang. 

China is also reportedly planning to build an ambitious 13,000km rail line to operate bullet trains to America through Russia passing through a tunnel underneath the Pacific Ocean to reach the continental US via Alaska and Canada. 

In May, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has offered to construct a host of high speed railway lines in Africa and India is also seeking investments from China to modernize its ailing railway sector.
Source..times of india.

Re-alignment woes for Metro Rail

The HinduBadichowdi road in Hyderabad. Photo: D. Chakravarthy
No clarity over Sultan Bazar- Badi Chowdi limits before diversion works are taken up. A clear diversion "by a few metres" away from Sultan Bazar towards the Tilak Park side and clear the main road onto the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), agitating traders of the area are not convinced.

Is Badi Chowdi part of Sultan Bazar? Or does Sultan Bazar begin after Badi Chowdi ends? These are the perplexing questions metro rail officials have to grapple with before they think of changing the alignment away from Sultan Bazar as per Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s directions.

While the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) engineers are preparing a blueprint — to be presented to the Chief Minister — showing a clear diversion “by a few metres” away from Sultan Bazar towards the Tilak Park side and clear the main road onto the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), agitating traders of the area are not convinced.

“As far as we are concerned, Sultan Bazar starts from the Veer Savarkar statue (Kacheguda crossroads) and ends at Andhra Bank in Koti. There are a couple of temples and a mosque even if the alignment changes on Badi Chowdi. At least 300 traders will be affected,” argues Govind Rathi, chairman, Traders Joint Action Committee, Sultan Bazar.

Instead, Mr. Rathi and his group suggest the alignment to be diverted at Kacheguda crossroads, either towards the railway station or towards Ramkoti, Tilak Road, Abids and M.J. Market. There are also traders having a contrary view.

“Badi Chowdi is from Veer Savarkar statue till Bata crossroads, after that it is Sultan Bazar. Will this project halt if we protest for a small section? It has been conceived by experts to benefit the entire city,” avers A. Venugopal, trader. “People got emotionally prepared to make way for metro rail for the sake of development. Property owners are ready as there are low rentals and resultant court cases over decades,” claims D. Prakash, another businessman.

“It’s better to spend the extra cost of any alignment change on providing good relief and rehabilitation measures to the affected tenants and hawkers,” chips in K. Nagesh, trader. Metro corridor two (Jubilee Bus Station-Falaknuma), originally, is supposed to pass through the crossroads onto Badi Chowdi, Sultan Bazar, Puthlibowli and onwards to MGBS.

Metro engineers insist that the alignment changes proposed after Badi Chowdi will be “minimal” and since piers are yet to be laid on the road, extra cost can be contained.

21 piers to be removed 

HMR has also proposed to remove the already built 21 piers on the Lakidikapul road to avoid the Legislative Assembly building. The viaduct will be curved into the DGP offices, take it parallel to the existing Indian Railways lines by demolishing existing police quarters, bring it back onto the Public Gardens through the Telugu University gate.

Alignment changes, even if ‘minor’ is expected to cost more than Rs.200 crore, which has to be borne by the State government. But, first the Chief Minister has to approve and only then L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad will come into the picture to prepare its own construction schedule, add metro rail officials, unwilling to be quoted.
Source..the hindu

Feeder service routes finalised for Metro Rail

30 routes along the 11-km stretch between Koyambedu and St. Thomas Mount identified

Chennai Metro Rail has finalised 30 routes along the 11-km stretch between Koyambedu and St. Thomas Mount to run feeder services—mini buses and share autos that will help in transporting commuters from interior areas to the nearest Metro Rail stations. The first Metro Rail service in the city is all set to start in about two months from now in the 10-km stretch between Koyambedu and Alandur. But the feeder services may not begin right away, according to sources.

“We have held discussions with the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) officials and given suggestions for routes along this corridor. But it may take a while before this facility comes into place,” an official of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) said.

In addition to mini buses, share autos would ply in three areas —Arumbakkam, CMBT and Ashok Nagar. “We have considered share autos, since these three areas have narrow streets where mini buses cannot ply through,” an official said. Meanwhile, an MTC official said they were asked to provide bus connectivity to seven CMRL stations including Broadway, Alandur, Poonamallee High Road (between Egmore and Central) and Koyambedu.

“The buses will operate on a number of different routes from each station, allowing commuters to travel to any place within a 10-km radius,” the official said.
Source..the hindu

Metro rail plan report in 10 months

BHUBANESWAR: The state government on Saturday awarded the contract of preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed mass rapid transit system (MRTS) between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar covering a distance of 30 km to a Secundarabad-based agency.

The consultant, Balaji Railroad Systems Limited (BARSYL), will suggest the state government whether to go for metro, mono-rail or light rail system or a combination, a senior government officer said. BARSYL would prepare the DPR in 10 months, he added.

Housing and urban development (H&UD) minister Pushpendra Singhdeo said keeping in mind the future needs of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, MRTS must be planned in advance. "The agency would start work soon. I hope it will come out with the best plan to improve the traffic system between the two cities," he said.

BARSYL was selected as consultant for preparing the DPR through competitive bidding from among six bidders. It will take a consultancy fee of Rs. 2.52 crore for the project, to be financed evenly by the Centre and the state, government sources said.

H&UD special secretary Sisir Kumar Ratho and BARSYL chief executive officer Manoranjan Prasad signed the contract. "MRTS worldwide is meant to provide faster and cleaner transport option. We will come out with a suitable greener plan for faster mobility between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar," Prasad said.
Source..times of india





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