Sep 5, 2014

Metro rail work to start in a year

NAGPUR: Construction work on Nagpur metro rail will take at least one year as a large number of formalities have to be completed. The state and union cabinets will have to clear the project once again at revised cost.

Meanwhile, the state government has cleared the alignment of the metro rail and a notification will be published within two to three days. Citizens will be given sixty days to register their suggestions and objections.

Pravin Darade, outgoing chairman of Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT), said that at first the special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed, which will be headed by urban development secretary, government of India (GoI). "The SPV will then appoint a consultant to estimate the cost at revised rates, prepare a plan to expedite the process and prepare a global tender," he said.

Commenting on the viability of the project, he said that even if 30% of increased floor to space index (FSI) was purchased in 20 years then the metro railway will get Rs20,000 crore. "The increased stamp duty will fetch us Rs10,000 crore. So there is no problem with viability of the project," Darade said.

On construction of elevated track in stretches having flyovers, he said, "The tracks will run parallel to the flyover. We will need to acquire some land. We will accommodate property owners at our cost until the structure is ready and then rebuild their properties."

The SPV will have to raise 50% of the funds by taking soft loans from international banks like JICA, ADB, which give a long moratorium on repayment. "Some 10 to 15% will have to be raised from the market. Some banks like HDFC, Axis Bank, SBI and PNB have already approached NIT. The willing ones will form a consortium to lend us. However, we will take loan from them at the last stage when money from other sources dries up. The civil work component is 40% while rolling stock is 60%. So we will take the high interest loan when we require the trains," he elaborated.

New NIT chairman Harshdeep Kamble said that metro railway would be one of his top priorities. Other focus areas would be Nagpur metro region and increasing the revenue of NIT.
Source..times of india

Rail job probe reach widened

New Delhi, Sept. 4: The CBI is probing suspected “anomalies” in railway appointments starting from the time Mamata Banerjee headed the ministry, a senior agency official toldThe Telegraph.

He said the suspected irregularities had tumbled out during the agency’s investigations into the cash-for-posts scandal that broke last year, with then minister Pawan Bansal’s nephew among the accused.

Agency sources clarified that the matter was still under inquiry and that a separate case would be filed only if they got enough evidence to substantiate the allegations.

“We stumbled upon several key documents that suggest some irregularities in appointments since 2009. We have found some anomalies and are examining files and documents running into thousands of pages,” the official said.

He said agency officials were scanning all transfers, postings and promotions, especially those in the Railway Protection Force, between 2009 and 2012.

“We are also inquiring into the role of the Railway Board. We have got several complaints that transfers were not based on merit,” he said.

Mamata, who took over as railway minister in May 2009 during UPA II rule, resigned in May 2011 to become Bengal chief minister.

Trinamul leaders Dinesh Trivedi and Mukul Roy successively became railway minister before their party pulled out of the UPA government in September 2012. A month later, Congress leader Bansal took over the ministry’s reins.

“We have already accessed the files of transfers and appointments in the railways over the past five years. Our officers are in touch with some senior railway officials to understand the pattern of appointments made by the Railway Board during that period and also the role of railway ministers in the appointments,” the CBI official said.

“We are also verifying to what extent the Railway Board was involved in transfers and tenders.”

Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla was arrested in May last year on the charge of accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh as a first instalment for manipulating a posting for Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar. This was said to be part of a Rs 10-crore cash-for-posts scandal.

Bansal had to resign as railway minister and was grilled by the agency, which said it could not find “prosecutable evidence” against him. In July last year, the agency filed a chargesheet against Kumar, Singla and eight others.

Bansal, made a prosecution witness against his nephew, is under the scanner in a separate inquiry relating to alleged favours in promotions and postings in the ministry during his tenure.

The agency is also probing alleged irregularities into the procurement of new coaches, worth over Rs 300 crore, for the Calcutta Metro in 2011-2012.

“The Railway Board had given the contract to a Chinese company in 2011 for the procurement of the coaches,” the official said.
Source..telegraph india

Rail network project to link GCC states begins

GCC launches multi-billion dollar project to establish rail network linking member states who are seeking to put their disputes aside
Saudi Minister of Transport Jebarah bin Eid al-Suraisri attends a meeting of Arab transportation ministers in Kuwait City (AFP).
Source..middle east eye

Rail contract to speed trains out of Port of Tacoma

An agreement under which a Tacoma city-owned short line will provide maintenance on BNSF Rail locomotives could cut one to three hours from the turnarond time for container trains leaving the Port of Tacoma for the Midwest, according to an article in the News Tribune.

Under the agreement, Tacoma Rail, a regional shortline with 200 miles of track, will do minor maintenance and stock the BNSF units with supplies to allow them to proceed on their routes into the U.S. interior more quickly, Dale King, superintendent of Tacoma Rail, said in the article.

Tacoma Rail has for several years provided similar services for Union Pacific, the region’s second largest railroad behind BNSF, the article said, and will now do the same for BNSF.

“Before last month, BNSF locomotives that hauled unit trains of oil, autos and containers to the port were disconnected from the trains they powered and sent across the Puyallup River for servicing at a BNSF facility,” the article said. That servicing is now being done by Tacoma Rail in its Tideflats yard. The close proximity of Tacoma Rail’s maintenance facilities to marine terminals at the port makes it possible to cut turnaround times for the locomotives, the article said.

Minnesota hires rail inspectors along oil route

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Department of Transportation is hiring more rail inspectors in accordance with a new state law.

The St. Cloud Times reports ( ) the legislation was passed in response to the increasing amount of oil trains leaving North Dakota's oil fields and traveling through Minnesota. The state's main route for oil transportation is along the BNSF Railway, which runs through east St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids and other communities north of the Twin Cities.

Spokesman Dave Christianson says the state department has already hired two new track inspectors, as well as a new hazardous materials inspector. He says the inspectors are a critical part of Minnesota's response to the amount of freight trains carrying oil through the state.

State officials estimate that eight to 13 oil trains pass through Minnesota every day.

Midwestern officials seek federal help on rail grain delays

FARGO, N.D. - North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple has told federal regulators who oversee railroad service issues that he considers the ongoing delay in grain shipments in some Upper Plains states an emergency situation.

Dalrymple was among dozens of officials from the Dakotas and Minnesota who testified Thursday in Fargo before the National Surface Transportation Board. Many crops in the three states are at near-record levels; producers say the backlog is costing them millions.

Some believe the increased shipments from North Dakota's western oil fields are largely behind the delays.

Dalrymple says the board can provide an oversight role to ensure balance between the agriculture and energy sectors.

Railroads have said they don't favor one sector over another.

The Wilton Farmers Union Elevator told the governor that as of last month it was still waiting for a train that had been scheduled to arrive on April 8.
Source..houston chronicle

Sohar Port and Freezone ideal for rail terminal

A $2bn national trade surplus; rising imports and exports, access to 3.5bn consumers, and growing demand for inland freight services, makes Sohar Port and Freezone an ideal location for a rail freight terminal, according to executive commercial manager Edwin Lammers.

The Middle East has embarked on its most ambitious rail network ever. Some $250bn has been allocated for the construction of 67,000km of railway lines.

This includes the eagerly anticipated Gulf Railway, which will connect Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, over the course of the next three years. It is also one of the principle reasons why Oman’s logistics network is projected to grow beyond the $12bn mark by 2017, according to Lammers.

As one of the main driving forces behind a trade surplus of $2bn in Oman, Sohar Port and Freezone is one of the world’s largest port development sites and has sustained double-digit growth for over a decade. Its position outside the Strait of Hormuz has made it an ideal transhipment centre between east and west, as well as an important gateway to over 3.5bn consumers.

And Lammers says that plans to house a national food reserve alongside the port’s burgeoning petrochemical, and automotive, and logistics industries make it a clear choice for a rail freight terminal.

“This is an exciting time for the Middle East rail industry, and even more so here in Oman. Work has already begun on the first phase of a 2,244km freight and passenger rail infrastructure, and the plan is to connect port logistics with consumer markets in UAE and Saudi Arabia,” said Lammers.

“As this rail network grows, the value created by transporting cargo by rail will grow exponentially, and will power the national logistics market. This is already valued at $8bn. At the same time, rail links have the additional benefit of increasing efficiency and reliability, improving road traffic management, increasing transit volumes and cutting costs, and reducing the pressure placed on the environment.

“This is good news for the economy, and for Sohar, especially when you consider that we will soon be responsible for managing the country’s national food reserves and the first ever terminal dedicated to agricultural bulk commodities.

"Together with the steadily rising demand we have seen for rail services among freight forwarders and the other industries we support, the fact that Oman has placed a strong emphasis on developing demand-driven services, makes Sohar an obvious choice for a rail terminal.”

Growing demand for the expansion of inland freight services across Oman has prompted the government to set aside $15bn for the creation of the country’s first ever rail network.

Having spent a considerable amount of his career at Port of Rotterdam, a world top ten port, Lammers says that one of the unique advantages that Sohar has over other logistics hubs in the region, is its close relationship with the 600 year-old Dutch shipping juggernaut – its partner of 12 years.

“Sohar has grown at a tremendous rate, and we owe much of our success to the exceptional vision of the Sultanate of Oman, but we have also benefitted from a close relationship with Port of Rotterdam that has allowed us to access global best practices on behalf of Sohar and the country as a whole.”

“I am confident that this relationship will prove valuable once more, as Oman seeks to tap into a global rail freight industry that was valued at around $210bn only last year,” Lammers said.

Lammers revealed the Port of Rotterdam is currently in the process of expanding and modernising its own freight rail infrastructure, and that this experience could prove pivotal in building a rail network from scratch.

He also noted that building such a network will require more than simply installing the lines, and says Oman will need to develop new services and a skills-base.

“More than 250 freight trains start and finish in Rotterdam every week and are expanding the port’s reach, creating new cargo flows and revenue streams. But a modern rail network takes more than the physical infrastructure and must be accompanied by customer-focused and efficient rail services and well thought out coordination planning. This is where the unique experience we have in Sohar will be most important in the Gulf.”

“Equally important will be the development of a skilled Omani labour force, complete with everything from train drivers, locomotive and railroad engineers, and station masters, to train dispatchers, foremen and signalmen. There is no doubt that we will have to work hard to achieve this, but it will be worth it in the long run, with businesses and consumers ultimately paying less at the checkout,” he concluded. week online

Rail shipments of oil keep climbing

Oil production has outpaced pipeline capacity, resulting in more crude shipments by train.

Rail shipments of crude oil rose to 119,634 carloads in the most recent fiscal quarter, an increase of more than 10 percent over the 106,605 shipments in the comparable period last year, according to figures released Thursday by the American Association of Railroads.

The association, an industry trade group, called it the busiest quarter ever for crude oil shipments by rail. In the single month of August, shipments rose25 percent compared with the previous August. Shipments of other commodities showed more modest gains.

As oil production has soared past pipeline capacity, trains have become a favored alternative for the petroleum industry. But as traffic continuesto increase, the practice has drawn intense scrutiny.

A series of accidents and spills, including a derailment that killed dozens of people last year in a small town in Canada,has prompted federal officials to issue safety warnings and emergency orders.

As smaller accidents strike communities across the country, fire officials say they fear a majorcatastrophe. The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed new regulations on rail worker training, oil composition testing, train speed and tank car construction.

Rail officials say they can manage the shipments on their own with careful route selection, speed control and inspections.
Source..houston chronicle.

Metra CEO settlement cost rail agency $1.3 million

CHICAGO – The Chicago area's Metra commuter rail agency has released accounting details showing the departure of its former chief executive cost taxpayers more than $1.3 million.

Just over half of that went to pay outside attorneys to defend Metra against allegations of political patronage that emerged during the matter.

Former CEO Alex Clifford alleged he was forced out of the job last year for resisting outside political pressure in hiring and other personnel and contract matters.

The new leadership at Metra since then has put in place ethics reforms aimed at ensuring hiring decisions are free of political interference.

New board Chairman Martin Oberman said Thursday he made the settlement costs public to reinforce the agency's commitment to transparency.
Source..the herald

Dearness allowance hiked by 7% for central government employees

New Delhi: Government today approved 7 percent hike in dearness allowance (DA), taking it to 107 per cent of basic pay, a move that will benefit around 30 lakh central employees and 50 lakh pensioners including dependents.

"The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for the release of an additional instalment of DA to general government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners with effect from July 1, 2014. This is an increase of seven percent over the existing rate of 100 percent of the Basic Pay/Pension, to compensate for price rise," a press statement said here.
Image: Thinkstock

The increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission, it said.

The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both DA and DR would be about Rs 7,691 crore per annum and Rs 5,127 crore respectively in the financial year 2014-2015 (for eight months -- July, 2014 to February, 2015), it added.

As per the practice, the dearness allowance is worked out on the basis of 12 month average of Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW).

The average rate of retail inflation for industrial workers from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 was 7.25 per cent.

Therefore, the central government decided to hike dearness allowance for it employees by 7 per cent.

The previous UPA government had increased DA to 100 per cent from 90 per cent with effect from January 1, 2014, on February 28 on the basis of agreed formula for revision of the allowance.





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