Sep 9, 2014

‘Mission Varanasi’ plan to be ready by October

5-year target to make Prime Minister’s constituency world-class, hi-tech city

Keen to rejuvenate the soul of Varanasi, the Narendra Modi government has set an ambitious plan of developing the holy city into a world-class, hi-tech city within the next five years with construction of a 12-km elevated road, a light rapid transit system covering 15 km and three new smart townships in and around the temple town.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents the holy city in the Lok Sabha, in December this year, would launch the ambitious plan and the strategy on implementation of all projects that are being envisaged would be ready by mid-October.

A blueprint for converting Varanasi into a world-class hi-tech city sets an ambitious target of five to seven years with facilities such as high-speed broadband internet connectivity up to 100 Mbps speed and availability of Wi-Fi in public places.

Sources told this newspaper that the blueprint for Varanasi, which is being fine-tuned by officials from Prime Minister’s Office, envisages construction of a 12-km long elevated road that connects the Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport in Babatpur with Varanasi that runs through the railway station and the iconic Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

The blueprint also envisages completing the project by the end of 2019, while it also sets aims at completing all beautification-related projects by 2017. The sources also said construction of a Metro Rail or a Light Rail Transit System (LRTS) from Andhra Pul on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road to the BHU covering a total distance of 15 km is being considered, but a decision on whether it would be a Metro or LRTS is likely to be taken in the coming weeks with a few experts suggesting that a MRTS network like Metro is not feasible in the city.

The blueprint, the sources said, also talks about constructing 3 new “Smart Townships” in and around the holy city of Varanasi with active participation from the private sector as part of the efforts to expand urbanisation and providing all urban pockets with “smart city” facilities.

The blueprint is currently being fine-tuned by officials at the Prime Minister’s Office, which will take a final view on how the projects will be implemented and the financial implications of it. The fact that PMO officials are keeping a close watch underlines the importance that Mr Modi attaches to redevelopment and rejuvenation of Varanasi.

The plans also include information technology and biotechnology parks in and around Varanasi with establishment of Research and Development (R&D) Centres in both sectors, the sources said. The blueprint also lays much stress use of technology to secure the city and provide foolproof security to its residents and tourists.

The blueprint also envisages a 24-hour waste water treatment plant and a 24-hour solid waste collection plant that would take care of the environmental concerns of the holy city.

With an aim to enhance the lives of weavers, who form a major chunk of the local population, the blueprint has proposed a Centre for Performing Arts, Design and Skill Development for weavers that would help the community members’ blend technology with their ages-old tradition.

With Varanasi being an integral and important part of Purvanchal, the government also plans to construct a Bhojpuri film city. The blueprint also talks about appointing a committee of secretaries and mission director for the project.
Source..asian age

Madhya Pradesh to showcase light metro rail at GIS

INDORE/BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh government is going all out to lure investors by showcasing the proposed light metro rail (LMR) for Indore and Bhopal, which may become a reality by 2020, if all goes well.

A detailed project report (DPR) is expected to be completed by December this year and is being prepared by a German consortium along with an Indian partner. The entity has conducted an alternative analysis of the six corridors in Bhopal and Indore of about 30-35km each to be implemented in first phase.

Construction cost in both cities works out to be about Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crores each at present prices, government officials involved in the project said. Backed with experts' opinions, urban development and environment department (UADD) officials say such provisions would meet a high hourly passenger carrying capacity for these cities.

Through bus rapid transit network, an estimated Rs 1,000 crore has already been pumped in the two cities, one considered a commercial capital and other an ideal destination for tourism and business.

A sustainable strategy to relieve traffic thrombosis is being prepared. In a comparison of the passenger carrying capacity and operating speed light metro rail is considered most suitable, said department of UADD officer-on-special-duty (transport), Kamal Nagar.

"It is estimated that an hourly passenger capacity is 35,000-45,000 per corridor. LMR will fulfill the need of an average speed of 35-45kmph depending upon the station spacing. The current passenger carrying capacity and operating capacity of buses is much lower," he said. Currently, metro trains are not allowed to cross 42km per hour at curves and are allowed a maximum speed of 80km per hour.

"It would be, therefore, prudent to meet the expected demand on long-term basis so that ultimate supply is provided through a high capacity system in a phased manner," he added. To lure investments, MP government claims that LMR would be directly used by potential investors. An estimated 60% of state GDP is driven from urban cities.
Source..times of india

Rail tickets to have bar code; no ID proof needed



New Delhi: The Indian Railways may soon come up with rail tickets having a bar code which will free the passengers from the hassle of carrying ID proofs. 

The passengers won't have to show their ID proofs along with the tickets as the tickets will be examined by machines.

On examining, the machine will send the details of the ticket to the central server. In case of any discrepancy, the details of fine and punishment will get registered on the central server. 

This system will also keep a check on ticket collectors who divulge into mal-practices and bribery. Bar code tickets will ease out the whole process for railway travellers and will also save time.
Source..zee news

Major Achievements/Initiatives of Indian Railways During May 2014 - August 2014.

Followings are the major achievements/initiatives of Ministry of Railways during May 2014 to August 2014:-

1. KATRA CONNECTIVITY; In another landmark engineering marvel, Indian Railways completedUdhampur-Katra Broad gauge line in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Prime Minister dedicated this line to the nation at a programme on 4th July. This line has brought Jammu & Kashmir Valley nearer to the rest of the nation . Four train services up to Katra commenced from July 2014. These are: New Delhi- Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Express, Pathankot-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra DMU and two DMUs between Jammu Tawi-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra.

2. SAFETY MEASURES;

Review of Kakodkar Committee; With focus on improving safety, Railway Board held a series of meetings to review recommendations on various technical and technology related aspects of the High Level Safety Review Committee constituted by Ministry of Railways under the chairmanship of Dr. Anil Kakodkar. The exercise aimed at examining the recommendations in regard to their feasibility and implementation.

Automatic Block Signalling; Automatic Signalling on 150 Route Km is targeted for commissioning during 2014-15. Against this 53 Route Kms. of Automatic Signalling has been commissioned during these 3 months. Automatic Block Signalling is being provided on Sub-urban section and High Density Routs which permits more than one train between two block stations to increase the line capacity and reduce headway between two trains.

Route Relay/Interlocking at Major Stations; To eliminate mistakes in multiple cabins mechanical lever frame working at major stations to ensure safety in train operations, Route Relay/Electronic Interlocking (RR/EI) with Centralised Operation of Points and Signals are being provided. During these 3 months, Gomoh (ECR), Bardhaman (ER) & Chheoki (NCR) have been commissioned. Work for EI at Nagda (WR) is in advanced stage and targeted for commissioning in September 2014.

Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS); TCAS is an Automatic Train Protection System being developed indigenously by RDSO in association with Indian vendors. This system is aimed at preventing train accidents caused due to driver’s error of Signal passing at Danger (SPAD) or non-observance of speed restrictions. Extended field trials with multi-vendor interoperability features are in progress by RDSO in Lingampalli-Wadi-Bidar section (250km) of South Central Railway.

Radio Communication; Mobile Train Radio Communication system has been commissioned on 15thAugust 2014 covering the Metro Railway, Kolkata from Naopara to Kavi Subhash Nagar. Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) system is based on Global System for Mobile-Railways (GSM-R). The system enables continuous mobile communication from train while on run with emergency calling features.



3. IMPROVING CLEANLINESS; With a special emphasis on cleanliness, a special cleanliness drivewas launched in June 2014 on all railway stations and trains across the country. Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) all over the country personally visited inspected and supervised the cleanliness activity during the drive and initiated remedial measures to make a visible impact on cleanliness in passenger areas.

30 additional mail and express trains have been covered under On-Board Houskeeping Service (OBHS) to ensure cleanliness in the trains on move. Altogether Indian Railways has implemented the scheme in 446 trains. To ensure cleanliness on track, passenger coaches are being fitted with bio-toilets. During this financial year so far 475 coaches have been fitted with bio-toilets by RCF and ICF.

To improve the level of cleanliness on trains and at stations, the budget allocation for cleanliness in the current year has been increased by 40 per cent over the previous year.

Action has also been initiated for framing the guidelines to outsource cleaning activities at 50 major stations to professional agencies and to set up a separate Housekeeping Wing to have focus attention and exclusive responsibility of maintaining cleanliness and sanitation at stations.



4. HIGH SPEED TRAINS; Continuing with its emphasis on increasing the speed of passenger trains, successful trial of semi high speed trains with 160kmph conducted between New Delhi-Agra. The other identified sector for 160 kmph are; Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Mysore-Bengaluru-Chennai; Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahmedabad; Chennai- Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabad. 

A high level meeting was convened by Railway Board to discuss the action plan for these nine corridors. The meeting was among others attended by 19 Divisional Railway Managers connected with these nine corridors. Simultaneously, Ministry of Railways took steps for introduction of High Speed Bullet Trains in the country on Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor. It is the part of the Ministry’s ambitious plan to have Diamond Quadrilateral network of High Speed Rail connecting major metros and growth centres of the country. A detailed presentation was also shown to Railway Minister. Interim report-I of JAICA about Mumbai-Ahemdabad has been received by the railway Board. A provision of Rs. 100 crore has been made in this Budget for high Speed project to RVNL/HSRC (High Speed Rail corridor) for taking further steps.

The issue also came up during the recent visit of the Prime Minister to Japan. Japan expressed its readiness to provide financial, technical, operational support to introduce bullet train in India.



5. IT INITIATIVES; In a move to provide more hassle-free services to railway users, Indian Railways launched new IT initiatives/applications developed by its autonomous organisation, Central Railway Information Centre (CRIS). Some of the salient features are as follow

Next Generation e-ticketing (NGeT); NGet system which can book 7200 online tickets instead of 2000 tickets per minute and now to attend 2,00,000 enquiries instead of 50000 per minute, launched 

Freight E-Demand system; In Freight train movement, the need for an on-line system for Registration and Demand for rakes and wagons has been finally met with the launch of the e-Demand module of the Freight Operations Information System (FOIS). With the release of this module, customers can sit in the convenience of their homes or offices and register their freight demands.

Freight E-Diversion system; The power of IT has been extended to revamp the current manual process of diverting coal rakes among the Power Houses and Corporations of Electricity Board through the new “e-diversion system”. The system will allow authorized Railways personnel to issue diversion orders and notify controllers by integration with the Control Office Application.

Go India Smart card; This is a pan India smart card to enable passengers to pay for tickets for long distance reserved, unreserved, and suburban journeys as a pilot project. It can be used at nominated UTS counters and Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) and nominated PRS counters for reserved tickets.

Train Enquiry Mobile App; Indian Railways has enhanced the Train Enquiry system by developing a Mobile App and a desktop application for Windows 8 platform. It has now become easier to track the movement of passenger trains and arrival and departure timings for the benefit of passengers. The app connects to the Train Enquiry system at the Back-end.



6. PASSENGER FRIENDLY TICKETING SCHEME; A new scheme called the Yatri Ticket Sewa Kendra (YTSK) Scheme has been launched in August 2014. Under this scheme, agents of Indian Railways can operate ticketing terminals at various locations in the cities and towns for issuing reserved tickets and unreserved tickets. The scheme is aimed at expanding the reach of the ticketing systems of Indian Railways and evokes the principles of PPP and provides for revenue sharing between the private operators and Indian Railways. 



7. NEW RAIL NEER PLANT AT MUMBAI; A new Rail Neer plant at Ambernath (Mumbai) of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a Public Sector Undertaking of Ministry of Railways,was inaugurated for commercial production. The production capacity of this plant will be 2 lakh liters per day, raising the total production (of the four plants) to 6.1 lakh litres of Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) daily. Till now, existing three Rail Neer plants used to cater to the Northern, Eastern and Southern parts of our country.



8. STATION DEVELOPMENT; Shareholder Agreement and Development Agreement for the functioning of Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) have been signed. This will further expedite the work of development/re-development of railway stations on Indian Railways.

At present, with the approval of Ministry of Railways, five railway stations at- Chandigarh, Anand Vihar, Bijwasan (both at Delhi), Habibganj (Bhopal) and Shivaji Nagar (Pune) have been entrusted by Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) to Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) for redevelopment that will involve modernization and up gradation of passenger amenities at these stations by raising finances through commercial development of railway land and air space at these stations.



9. FDI; As per Cabinet decision, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been allowed in infrastructure development of Indian Railways. FDI will provide a permissible framework to foreign investors who are keen on making investment in rail sector. This was important as all big ticket projects like high speed train project; dedicated freight lines etc require huge investment. Also since FDI policy is a sectoral policy meant for governing all allied companies working in rail sector, permitting foreign investment will bring down the cost of funds for these companies leading to growth of manufacturing industry, employment etc.



10. COAL RANSPORTATION; Transportation of coal is an important activity of Indian Railways and is very crucial for the country’s power supply system. Railways along with Power and Coal ministries held special joint meeting to put three critical coal connectivity projects on fast track and formed Multi Disciplinary Project Monitoring Unit for better coordination.

The three rail connectivity projects for coal movement are:

i) Tori-Shivpur(44kms), Shivpur-Kathautia(53kms) railway line in North Karanpura in Jharkand.

ii) Jhasuguda-Barpalli-Sardega railway line (53 kms) in Ib valley, Odisha.

iii) Bhupdevpur-Korichapan-Dharamjaigarh(180 kms) in Mand-Raigarh coalfield, Chhattisgarh.



11. ELECTRIICATION; Electrification of 591 route kilometres of railway track has been undertaken which include 150 Rkm between Vellore -Villupuram, 100 Rkm between Pathankot –Jammu Tawai, 81 Kms between Manmad-Puntamba-Shirdi, 88 Kms between Barabanki-Gonda, 88 Kms between Chhapra-Siwan-Thawe and 84 Kms between Kurja-Meerut.



12. SOLAR POWER PLANT; Solar Power Panels of total 2.1 MW capacity installed and commissioned at Rail Coach Factory, Rae Bareli. At present, this factory is functioning completely on solar power. Action has been initiated for installing Solar Power project at Katra station to be completed by December 2014.



13. ENERGY CONSERVATION; Indian Railways introduced Hotel Load Locomotive in regular service in Lucknow-Raipur Garib Rath express resulting in substantial fuel saving. Integral Coach Factory has turned out 1400 Horse Power DEMU with engine which is smaller in size and has Electronic Fuel injection and meets Tier-1 emission requirements. Thus, the DEMU is not only fuel efficient, but it is also environmental friendly.



14. STATUS OF PROJECTS IN NORTH EASTERN REGION; Meghalaya got its first rail connectivity with the completion of Dubhnoi-Mendipathar new line in August. The 19.75 Kms line was completed at a cost of Rs. 248 crore. In the Lumbding – Silchar Guage Conversion project, most critical tunnel No. 7 of 1687 metre lenth has been completed in August 2014. This tunnel is located on a 6 degree curve in a very unstable geological condition. Three kilometres tunneling work has been completed and two tunnels have been made through in Jitban-Tupul-Imphal new line project. One girder of 125 metre span has been launched on 10th July 2014 on Rail-cum- Road Bogibeel bridge project which is being constructed over Brahmaputra River in Assam.



15. ELIMINATION OF UNMANNED LEVEL CROSSINGS; During this period against the target of 125 , a total number of 176 unmanned level crossings were eliminated. 58 manned level crossings were closed against the target of 35 manned level crossings. Works for construction of 249 RUBs/Subways and 30 ROBs have been undertaken against the target of construction of 130 RUBs and 25 ROBs during this period. 



16. DOUBLING; More than 60 Kms. doubling of railway lines in different sections were completed during this period. This includes Bandla – Katwa section in West Bengal, Krishnanagar – Bathuadhari in West Bengal, Sabi – Lilapur in Gujarat and Ambari – Falakata section in West Bengal. In addition gauge conversation of Fatehabad – Indore section in Madhya Pradesh was also completed during this period.

17. PEMIMIUM TRAINS FOR MORE BERTHS; With a view to make sufficient berths available to passengers, Indian Railways introduced 29 premium special trains during April to August 2014 and more than 950 trips have been operated during the summer period. These trains which have been operated under dynamic fare system earned approximately 40 per cent additional revenue as compared to trains operated on normal fares.



18. BETTER SERVICE TO THE PASSENGERS; After carrying out intensive safety tests, air conditioned double-decker trains have been introduced for commercial run on 3 more routes, namely Kacheguda-Tirupati, Kacheguda-Guntakul, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus- Madgaon, thus providing low cost inter-city ravel. To improve upon the quality of linen, Indian Railways is setting up mechanized laundries. Four such laundries were set up at Varanasi, Bikaner, New Jalpaiguri and Lucknow.



19. INDO-CZECH COOPERATION; Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India and Czech Railways (Ceske Drahy) of the Czech Republic and Association of Czech Railway Industry (ACRI) of the Czech Republic on Technical Cooperation in the field of railway sector on 19.8. 2014.



20. IMPROVING CATERING; Indian Railways also strengthened its monitoring mechanism forimproving catering in trains and stations. In a recent move, 13 catering agencies were penalized with Rs. 1 lakh each for their negligence in serving quality food to passengers in the trains. In order to provide value to passengers in the different regions, popular items from the north, south, east, and western parts of the country will be introduced in the Rajdhani, Shatabdi, and Duronto trains.

Branded packaged pre-cook food has also been introduced as a pilot project in a few selected trains.



21. SPEICAL TRAINS; In order to clear extra rush of passenger during this peak summer season, 8778 trips of special trains were made run. Also 25452 extra coaches were attached on temporary basis. 40 extra coaches ere attached on permanent basis.



22. TRANSPORTATION OF MILK; Railway Ministry is taking steps for further streamlining the transportation of milk through rail. New design milk wagons have been finalized. A total of 60 Rail Milk Tankers are already proposed for procurement over the next 3 years. Out of these an order for 30 new railway milk tankers has already been placed by M/s RITES on behalf of National Dairy Development Board and Amul.



23. NEW WAGONS; New wagons have been designed with ERP lining and with sliding roof for transportation of salt and other commodities. This will facilitate transportation of salt in a much more convenient and economical way.

Indian Railways has designed high capacity parcel vans which can carry higher parcel load.



24. EXTEDNING EXPERIMENTAL STOPPAGES; Railways extended the validity of all experimental stoppages of various trains for a period of three more months upto 30.9.2014.



25. STATION AMENITIES; Escalators and 3 Lifts commissioned to improve passenger amenities.



26. USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA; To keep pace with the modern means of internet media, Indian Railways launched its three social media platforms namely Facebook, Twitter and You Tube with the URL @railminindia. Railway Budget was for the first time live streamed on social media platforms.



27. RAILWAY PLAYERS BAG MEDALS AT CWG; Railway sportspersons as a part of Indian contingent at recently concluded Commonwealth Games-2014, (CWG) at Glasgow, Scotland, again brought glory to the nation by bagging 9 medals out of total 64 medals won by India. Indian Railways felicitated these sportspersons by announcing cash awards to each of them.



28. AWARDS TO RPF PERSONNEL; On the occasion of Independence Day, 2014, the Hon’ble President of India has awarded President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service and Police Medal for Meritorious service to 14 RPF/RPSF officers and staff.



29. RECRUITMENT; A total of 16,299 candidates have been empanelled for recruitment in Indian Railways during June to August 2014. 341 ex-servicemen have also been empanelled for recruitment during the same period. A total of 76000 candidates are also targeted to be empanelled by 31st March 2015.



30. NEW RAILWAY COURSES; Courses in subject related to Railway Engineering Transport Management are being introduced shortly in association with IIT, Khargpur. Steps have been initiated for this purpose.



31. WEB PORTAL FOR ROB/RUB; Indian railways would become more responsive for speedy clearance of crossing of Road Over Bridges/Road Under Bridges (ROBs/RUBs) of different state government by hosting an online web portal for which trail will start soon.



32. RESOURCE MOBILISATION;

Investible surplus funds; Action has been initiated to put in place a scheme to bring the investible surplus funds of Railway Public Sector Undertakings in infrastructure projects of Railways through appropriate annuity model.

Commercial Exploitation of Vacant Land; The vacant land plots which are not required by the Railways for its operational needs in near future are entrusted to Rail Land Development (RLDA) for commercial exploitation, which will help in mobilizing additional financial resources. Developers for commercial development of another 5 sites are likely to be fixed ruing 2014-2015. Out of these the tender process has been initiated for four sites: - Vijayawada, Esplanade (Chennai), Aurangabad and Tollygunj (Kolkatta).

Advertisement on wagons; 14972 wagons have been offered for advertisement out of which 600 wagons already under contract for advertisement.



33. MINISTER’S INTERACTION WITH FIELD LEVEL OFFIERS; In a unique meeting of its kind, Railway Minister had a detailed interaction with General Managers and DRMs of all Zonal Railways for speedy implementation of important railway projects and programmes.



34. RAILWAY BUDGET; Railway Budget for the year 2014-2015 was presented in Parliament to outline various important policies, programmes, schemes and projects of railway sector.



35. FREIGHT INCENTIVE;

A special freight incentive scheme has been launched to monetize the empty flow of wagons by offering automatic rebate to customers moving commodities on traditional empty flow routes.

Source-PIB

Text of the Speech of Minister of Railways Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda at the Press Conference on 8th September 2014

The Minister of Railways Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda highlighted the achievements/initiatives of Railways during May 2014 – August 2014. Following is broadly the text of Shri Gowda’s speech:-

“I took charge of Ministry of Railways in the last week of May this year. This was a huge responsibility of leading a huge organisation which is hailed as a life line of the nation. Indian Railways run more than 12000 passenger carrying trains and more than more than 7000 freight trains everyday. With in around one month of our taking over we were required to present Railway Budget. Under the directions of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, we presented the budget to take the Railway Ministry to new era of connecting the people across the country with all necessary requirements of the people.. 

Before we took over charge of the Railway Ministry, there was a tragic railway accident involving Gorakhdham Express in Uttar Pradesh which claimed many innocent lives. This saddened me. My two cabinet colleagues Shri Manoj Sinha and Shri Kalraj Mishra visited the accident site. So the first challenge we faced was safety. Hence, immediately on assuming charge we declared that Safety of the passengers will be our primary concern. So we will take care of safety and security of the people.

First meeting which I had with the Railway Board was on the issue of Safety. I called upon Railway Board to take all steps to ensure safe operations. Next, I directed the Railway Board to examine the recommendations of Kakodkar Safety Committee with regard to their feasibility and implementation. I have also given instructions to expedite the introduction of indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) to avoid collision. We are also working on Simulation Centre and Safety Villages. A safety week was also observed all across Indian Railways in the month of June. We have also started modern Vehicle Borne Ultrasonic Flow Detection system to detect rail and weld fractures for ensuring safety.

Another area of concern is loss of innocent lives at unmanned level crossings. While Railways is taking steps to eliminate unmanned level crossings which will still take 5 to 6 years as per the availability of funds, till then it is necessary to educate road users for observing safety precautions. Safety is one of the crucial aspects and we have attached utmost importance. During this period 176 unmanned level crossingswere eliminated against the target of 125 and 52 manned level crossings were closed against the target of 35. Works for the construction of 249 RUBs and 30 ROBs have been taken up against the target of 130 and 25. Also, a system of gate counsellors is being introduced for the remaining unmanned level crossings so that the chances of accidents are reduced to large extent till either RUB or ROB is constructed.

About 80 per cent of the budget announcements are in various stages of implementation and remaining will also be taken up with in a month. For the first time, the implementation of the budget announcements is being monitored by the Minister. Ever since the budget was presented, the performance of Railways has been improving which is reflected by the improvements in efficiency parameters in the last 100 days/three months. Freight loading has increased by 5% , freight earning has increased by 12.3 % , passenger numbers by 4.73 % and passenger earnings by 23 % over previous year.

The efficiency figures have shown such a marked increase because there has been aggressive promotion of premium trains- 29 have been run in the past three months- bringing in important earnings, 7 new trains have been introduced in this period, approximately 25000 extra coaches have been attached as a passenger facility and more than 8000 trips of special trains have been run over Indian Railways. This has not only helped the railways but have also facilitated the passengers in their movement tremendously.

Inauguration of Katra Rail Link by flagging off the Shakthi express by Honorouble PM Narendra Modiji was a major milestone for Indian Railways. We have also taken an innovative step of introducing composite Rail cum Road Ticket to provide the passengers a seamless travel facility up to Kashmir.We will be introducing another novel facility of booking a single ticket from anywhere in the country up to Kashmir and if there is demand then passengers will have comfort of travelling in the same coach up to Katra.

One of the major initiatives of our Government under Narendra Modi ji is to permit FDI in Railwaysto bring much needed investment in the Railway Infrastructure. The FDI will come in handy for the big ticket projects like High Speed Rail as well as for the remaining portion of the DFC apart from capacity augmentation projects like doubling and introduction of Automatic Signalling system.

Indian Railways is planning to convert signalling system to automatic signalling completely which alone can result augmentation of capacity by 2 -3 times and this again is being planned through either PPP and FDI.

Cleanliness is another area where we have given our attention most. Railways have been asked to take up the cleanliness drive on a mission mode and the same is being monitored from Railway Board.Inspections: Inspections of stations for cleanliness by senior officers has been activated, so far665 stations across all zonal railways have been thoroughly inspected by the highest levels in a fortnight long special cleanliness drive launched on 6th June 2014. The cleanliness activities will now be monitored with the aid of CCTVs. Bio- Toilets: Introduction of more and more bio-toilets is the only way to make the tracks in the Railway station area clean and neat. About 300 coaches have been fitted in the past three months withbio-toilets. These are special types of indigenously built toilets with hardly any discharge. A detailed plan is being worked out to fit all trains running in one sector with bio-toilets so that all the stations in that sector will achieve 100% cleanliness.On board housekeeping services, already employed for trains, have been extended to more trains bringing the number up to 446 trains. OBHS has received good feedback from passengers, we will be covering all new mail, express and premium trains with this facility so that passengers are satisfied with cleanliness of the trains.

The budget allocation for cleanliness has been increased by 40% over the previous year.

IT Initiatives: We have rolled out many passenger friendly IT initiatives as well as IT initiatives to improve the revenue earnings from the freight operations. The following are the new initiatives:

Next Generation e-ticketing (NGeT); NGet system which can book 7200 online tickets as against of 2000 tickets per minute in the previous system and can now attend to 2,00,000 enquiries instead of 50000 per minute has been launched a month ago. A record 6,24,855 tickets were booked in one day on 27/8/14 through this new system.

Freight E-Demand system; An on-line system of Registration for rakes and wagons has been launched.

Freight E-Diversion system; The system will allow authorized Railways personnel to issue diversion orders and notify controllers by integration with the Control Office Application.

Go India Smart card: This is a pan India smart card to enable passengers to pay for tickets for long distance reserved, unreserved, and suburban journeys and the same is being taken up as a pilot project.

Train Enquiry Mobile App; Indian Railways has enhanced the Train Enquiry system by developing a Mobile App and a desktop application for Windows 8 platform.

Yatri Ticket Sewa Kendra Scheme: This scheme is aimed at taking the ticket reservation system further closer to the passengers. The new scheme will help us increase number of reservation counters in the country to reduce the rush as well as to take the reservation system closer to the passengers. Under this scheme the reservation counters which are on par with the Railways run reservation system will be allowed to be opened by the authorised agents of Indian Railways on PPP model.

Preparations for implementation of this scheme are being taken up and will be formally launched with in 2-3 weeks.

Semi High Speed Rail System:

Along with our commitment to take up bullet train project in the county, IR will also take steps to introduce semi high speed trains between important cities in 9 sectors which are announced in Budget. A successful trial was conducted between Delhi and Agra in the month of July, remaining sectors are also being targeted for the trail shortly. This initiative will reduce the travel between these cites considerably.

Solar Energy:

Use of Solar energy is being given top priority by our Honorouble PM Narendra Modiji. In this direction, Railways have already taken steps in this direction. 
A solar system with the capacity of 2.1 Megawatt has been installed in the Rail Coach Factory, Rae Bareli and the whole factory runs on the solar power itself.

Similarly, work of installing solar panels on the Katra Railway station has been initiated and will be completed by December this year. Installing solar panel on all building and Railway stations will be taken up through PPP model for which a comprehensive policy is being prepared and the same would be finalised with in a month. The work of installing the solar panels is likely to start by the end of the year.

Speeding up the Projects in North Eastern Region:

The north-eastern states rail connectivity is a mission area for our government. The works in the north east have taken seen maximum speed in construction activity. On 11th August 2014, Meghalaya got its rail connectivity with the completion of the Dubhnoi-Mendipathar lines. Three more lines into the North east will be completed this year. Southern Assam will soon be brought under the broad gauge network with the start of the longest ever Gauge conversion project between Lumding and Silchar measuring 210 kms.

Premium Trains and double decker trains were introduced to cater to the demands of the passengers.

Improving Catering:

Catering quality is a source major complaint from passengers next only to cleanliness. Our govt has decided to bring in a change which passengers want.

The strategy being planned is to provide the passengers a choice. Passengers can choose: either pre-cooked ready to eat food items or order for food from a local food chain in the town where the train is passing by or the food supplied by the caterer on the train. The passengers can also book the meal when they book the ticket.Third party audit system will be in place shortly so that the quality is assured.

Apart from third party audit, an automated system of passenger feed back on food quality has been introduced. This feed back system will be extended to cover atleast 10 per cent of the passengers initially so that the quality can be judged perspective of the passengers. Severe action is being taken on the caterers against whom the complaints are found true, already heavy fines upto Rs.1 lakh have been imposed in few cases.



Movement of Milk and other essential commodities:

Indian railways have focused on Milk transport and have decided to run an additional train between Palanpur and Baraut along with the existing 3 trains. NDDB and GCMMFL have also placed an order to manufacture of 30 high capacity Milk Tankers of 44,600 litres against the present capacity of 40,000 litres. Indian Railways have also identified locations for provision of refrigerated storage for storing perishable produce of farmers prior to transportation.



Skill Upgradation:

Skill upgradation of the manpower is a crucial aspect for any organization especially technology intensive organisations like Railways. Various steps like tieup with IITs for special courses and training of ground level staff in association with local technical institutions are being taken up. Setting up of specialized educational institution has been our dream and in that direction steps are being taken to set up Rail University. One team of officers have been deputed to visit Rail University in China and upon receiving the report further steps will be taken.

Revenue Generation Initiatives:

Special Design for Salt Wagons: New wagons have been designed with FRP lining and sliding roof for transportation of salt. The lower tare weight will permit higher loads therefore greater revenues.

A special Freight incentive scheme has been launched to monetize the empty flow of wagons by offering automatic rebate to customers moving commodities on traditional empty flow routes.

Advertisements on the wagons are being explored as an option for increasing the revenue. So far, 14972 wagons have been offered for advertisements out of which 600 wagons are already under contract for advertisement.

Major Activities to be launched Shortly:

i. Separate Dept for House Keeping with staff from stations level to Board level to keep up the Cleanliness of stations and Trains is being set up. The dedicated inter-disciplinary manpower which will be created out of existing staff and will be entrusted with the only responsibility of looking after Cleanliness which is currently looked after by too many agencies along with their regular duties.

ii Indian Railways is launching anew online software system for submission of applications for sanction of RUB and ROB. This system will reduce delays and also status can be known online. This will not only make the process of sanction faster but also make it transparent as process simplification has been done through govt process re-engineering.

This online system will be modified to handle various permissions local authorities require from Railways for crossing the railway line for water supply projects and UGD projects. 

iii. IR will take up a major Cleanliness Campaign on October 2nd. The campaign will involve all 13 lakh employees and officers. The campaign will focus more on Shramdaan rather than just awareness campaigns. All the senior officers of Board have been assigned various zones and divisions for participation and monitoring the effectiveness of the campaign.

iv. Model Concession Agreements are being finalised and would be made available to the investors with in a month in order to facilitate them to invest in specific projects through PPP model. We are targeting more investment in infrastructure from customers of Railways this year for first mile and last mile connectivity. Later we will focus on investment in infrastructure in the over congested sections. 

v. Development of World Class Railway Stations did not take off so far because of lack of participation from local municipal corporations and delays in plan approvals. In order to over come this problem, a new approach of taking up development stations in association with local municipal corporations through PPP model is being launched. Surat and Mangalore have come forward where in the Corporations will take care of land use change and plan approvals.

More number of stations will be taken up wherever the local Municipal Corporations and State Governments come forward.

We are working hard to see that whatever was announced in the rail budget is implemented and more resources are mobilised.

We will be setting up a short duration committee on Resource Mobilisation which would basically give immediately implementable recommendations so that we are in a position to mobilise the funds for various projects.

Thanks a lot for all your co-operation in giving adequate media coverage to all our efforts and programmes.”

Source-PIB

Indian Railways’ Freight Loading up by 4.60 per cent during April-August 2014

Indian Railways carried 445.73 million tonnes of revenue earning freight traffic during 1st April- 31st August 2014. The freight carried shows an increase of 19.59 million tonnes over the freight traffic of 426.14 million tonnes actually carried during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 4.60 per cent. 

During the month of August 2014, the revenue earning freight traffic carried by Indian Railways was 88.15 million tonnes. There is an increase of 5.01 million tonnes over the actual freight traffic of 83.14 million tonnes carried by the Indian Railways during the same period last year, showing an increase of 6.03 per cent.
Source-PIB

Gowda's first 100 days as rail minister fail to impress



Assessed against expectations, the performance of Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda in the first 100 days of the National Democratic Alliance government fails to impress.

“Safety and security of passengers is my key priority,” Gowda said, addressing the media at a press conference here on Monday. However, eight train accidents in the past three months and failure to amend the Railways Act, 1989, to limit the railways’ liability for accidents don’t support Gowda’s statement.

Though a review of the recommendations of a high-level committee on railway safety was undertaken, no substantial step was taken to implement the measures suggested.

Gowda has however, done away with 176 unmanned level crossings, against the targeted 125 in 100 days.

On another rise in passenger fares, Gowda said the system in place would do its job, refusing to specify. In June, the railways had raised passenger fares 14 per cent and freight rates 6.5 per cent, under the fuel adjustment component system. A partial roll-back of this was, however, carried out for suburban trains, following opposition to the move.

A review of passenger and freight rates is undertaken every six months.

Gowda has also failed to offer clarity on reforming the Railway Board, a key announcement in the 2014-15 Railway Budget. “This is a matter Prime Minister Narendra Modi should address,” he said when asked about the steps taken to restructure the board.

On the alleged ties between the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation and a Saradha Group-owned travel company, the minister said a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation was underway, adding there was no need for a separate probe by the Railways.

Recently, the Cabinet had paved the way for private investment, including foreign investment, in Indian Railways. “We are assessing various projects where private players have shown interest,” Gowda said when asked about coming projects through the foreign direct investment route.
Source..business-standard

American Farms are in Jeopardy—Because of Inefficient Rail Service

Canadian Pacific rail cars lined up last week to receive grain at the Farmers Union elevator in Wilton, N.D. (Jerry Hagstrom)

FARGO, N.D.—Deregulation has been a popular theme in U.S. politics for decades, but a Surface Transportation Board hearing here last week on railcar shortages and service delays provided an example of how dependent rural America still is on a federal regulatory agency to push the railroads to provide vital services.

The BNSF Railway Company and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company move commodities from the northern tier of states stretching from Minnesota through the Dakotas and Montana to the ports in Washington state and to processing facilities elsewhere. But if the carriers do not provide cars to ship wheat, corn, soybeans, and other commodities this fall, farmers and agribusiness risk losing billions of dollars and the U.S. reputation as a reliable supplier of agricultural products will be tarnished, a wide range of witnesses testified at Thursday's hearing.If rail carriers don't provide cars to ship wheat, corn, soybeans, and other crops this fall, farmers risk losing billions of dollars.

Citing a study showing that North Dakotans have already lost almost $67 million due to rail delays and could lose another $95.4 million, North Dakota Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple told the board the situation "is about the individual elevators and farmers out there who have no place to go—they have no power, no influence over the situation except for you."

The problems began last winter when BNSF (formerly the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) and Canadian Pacific fell way behind schedule in providing railcars to ship the 2013 crop and there were fears that the rails would not provide fertilizer before spring planting. The railroad executives have blamed last winter's severe weather and congestion at rail yards in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago, but the farm leaders say the railroads are favoring the growing energy industry in the Bakken area of western North Dakota or at least have made more promises of service than they can deliver.

On April 15, the STB ordered the two railroads to report within three days their plans to ensure the delivery of fertilizer and to provide weekly status reports on those deliveries. On June 20, amid continuing complaints about negative effects from backlogged grain-car orders and delayed shipments of loaded grain cars, the STB gave the railroads one week to submit plans to resolve their service problems and ordered them to provide weekly reports on the outstanding grain-car orders and the average number of days late for all outstanding orders until each carrier resolves its backlog.

The reports showed that the fertilizer did arrive when it was needed and that there has been some progress in reducing the backlogs of grain-car orders, but with analysts predicting a huge crop this year, the STB decided to hold the field hearing. The board required rail executives to testify and to stay through the day to listen to the agriculture industry and public officials explain the economic impact of elevators running out of storage capacity, risks of stored grain spoiling, and penalties incurred by farmers and other shippers for products that are not delivered on time.

The STB's actions occurred amid considerable pressure from Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., John Hoeven, R-N.D., and John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who have been impressing on the railroad officials the gravity of the situation. The role has been an odd one for the legislators because they have not proposed legislation. Heitkamp explained in an interview on the sidelines of the hearing that "legislation wouldn't happen fast enough" and that the only place to which the ag community could turn is the STB, the agency that was established in 1995 when the old Interstate Commerce Commission was terminated. The ICC's heavy regulatory hand didn't work but there is still a role for government to help "captive shippers"—people and companies with few or no transportation alternatives—when they have complaints, Heitkamp said.North Dakotans have already lost almost $67 million due to rail delays, and could lose another $95.4 million.

STB Chairman Daniel Elliott, a former transportation union lawyer appointed by President Obama, had obviously gotten the message.

"Ag in the Upper Plains is in dire straits," Elliott said in an opening statement.

He and the other commissioners—Deb Miller, a Democrat and former Kansas transportation secretary, and Ann Begeman, a former Republican congressional aide who noted she came from a farm background in South Dakota—proved to be aggressive questioners, especially of Canadian Pacific, which lawmakers and the STB have previously criticized for being particularly lax in making plans to improve service.

At the end of the nine-hour hearing, BNSF and Canadian Pacific officials promised to provide more cars and speedier service, but it was unclear whether the STB would take any further action. Elliott noted that the STB has broad powers to act in the case of emergency, but said he does not want to take actions that could make the situation worse. He said in a brief interview that the STB will continue to require the reports on commodity rail shipments and the backlog "until we get significant improvement."

Heitkamp, a lawyer and former North Dakota attorney general, said she has been discussing Elliott's powers with him and that she believes that "some things can be tweaked" at the STB to force the railroads to improve.

The harvest months should determine whether the combination of congressional pressure and regulatory action can indeed force the railroads to move the commodities to ports and processing—or whether the hearing was only an opportunity for the farmers and others to get their complaints off their chests.
Source..city lab

Happier journey: 70 minutes snipped off rail journey to Kanyakumari

But passengers feel that the travel time can be cut further by reducing the number of stops. —FILE PHOTO

Now, the train will leave at 8 p.m. from Bangalore and reach Kanyakumari at 3.15 p.m.

The reduction of travel time from Bangalore to Kanyakumari by 70 minutes, beginning September 1, has been welcomed by many rail passengers. Some, however, feel that this can be achieved only if the train cuts down on the number of stops.

According to the new timings, the train will leave at 8 p.m. from the city and reach Kanyakumari at 3.15 p.m.

Tinu Cherian, a social media professional, who travels by the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express regularly, said the Railway authorities claim to have reduced travel time by increasing the speed. But until it cuts back on halts at smaller stations, the time cannot be reduced, especially for those going to Thiruvananthapuram.

Officials in the South Western Railway said no stops had been eliminated on this route. Anup Dayanand Sadhu, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, South Western Railway, said the train’s travel time had been reduced by decreasing buffer time (trains maintain this to use as a back up to catch up on the lost time).

The time was also reduced by getting the train to travel on sections that have been electrified and where lines have been doubled.

K.N. Krishnaprasad, a retired Union government employee, said passengers must look out for names of stations on the timetable. If the names have asterisks, it means that the train would stop there at present but pass by them any time depending on a decision taken by the Railways. According to the Southern Zone Timetable, there are 22 stations with asterisks on the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express (16526) route and four stations on the Kanyakumari-Bangalore City (16525) route.

Mr. Sadhu said, “No stop had been withdrawn.” The names of stations, with an asterisk, were “temporary stops”. It meant that the train would continue to halt there for now, but may not stop after six months.

The decision to stop at a station or pass by depends on whether it is commercially viable. For instance, at least 35 tickets must be sold at that particular station everyday for the train to stop there.

A problem that passengers hope will be mitigated is of office-goers streaming into coaches at Palakkad and alighting at Ernakulam.

Mr. Cherian said when he wakes up in the morning at Palakkad, all seats in the coach are occupied by office-goers. He said, “I get down from my upper berth only after Ernakulam, where they leave the coach.”

Another passenger, Yamini Nair, who travels regularly, said, “The office-goers ask passengers with reservation to wake up and vacate berths, ignoring the fact that we have a longer journey.”
Source..the hindu

Light rail breakdown closes line between Central and Lilyfield

Trams are not operating between Central and Lilyfield this morning following a breakdown near the Fish Markets shortly before 9am.
Commuters have been advised their light rail tickets can be used on train and bus services instead.
Kristen Forbes of the Transport Management Centre said mechanics were on the site but there was no indication of when the line would re-open.
The light rail is continuing to run between Lilyfield and Dulwich Hill.
A fallen tree, also near the Fish Markets, interrupted the light rail service for several hours on Thursday last week. The previous day, services between Central and Convention stations were delayed due to a mechanical problem with one of the vehicles at Central.

Source..SMH

 

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