Nov 29, 2014

Rail ticket 'rip-off': passengers routinely denied cheapest fares

Self-service machines — which are used to purchase almost a quarter of all rail tickets — offer wildly different fares, The Telegraph can disclose
Passengers purchasing an off-peak ticket at peak time are particularly vulnerable to being sold the wrong fares Photo: Getty Images

Rail passengers are routinely being denied the cheapest fares when they buy tickets at stations, The Telegraph can disclose.

Self-service machines — which are used to purchase almost a quarter of all tickets sold annually — offer wildly different fares, an investigation by this newspaper shows.

Customers buying from a machine can pay more than £200 when a ticket for the same destination can be found elsewhere at the station for more than £100 cheaper.

For example, at machines run by train company Northern Rail in Leeds, passengers buying a First-Class Anytime Return to Birmingham were charged £271.

Only feet away, an East Coast trains machine offered the same journey using a First-Class Off-peak Return for £145.70. This type of ticket is not available for customers using Northern Rail’s machines, which means that some passengers might not be aware that they could save £125.30 by travelling off-peak.

The investigation also found that many machines promote expensive fares, bury cheaper options and do not apply discounts for groups or families.

There have been calls for an inquiry into the country’s complex system of rail tickets, which has already been heavily criticised by MPs.

Louise Ellman, chairman of the transport select committee, called for the “unfair” system to be overhauled.

“The industry needs to put things right and if it does not, the Government must get involved. Passengers are being treated unfairly and being forced to spend more than they should,” she said.

Since 2004, the proportion of passenger revenue collected by machines has grown from just seven to 21 percent. Rail travel is at record levels with 1.59 billion journeys recorded in 2013-2014.

In 2011, Theresa Villiers, as transport minister, condemned rail companies over how difficult ticket machines were to use and challenged the industry to clean up its act.

But The Telegraph investigation examined rail fares across the country and found that customers were being offered different prices for the same journey depending on which operator’s machine they used.

How to beat rail fare rises

At King’s Cross, East Coast machines offered a ticket from London Euston to Liverpool on a First-Class Anytime Single fare for £229.50. However, a Thameslink & Great Northern machine just feet away offered a London Midland-only First-Class Anytime Single for £94 – a saving of £135.50.

The London Midland option would involve a change at Stafford and the journey would last around three and a quarter hours, more than an hour longer than the more expensive option. But passengers were not given the choice.

In some cases customers are not offered cheaper prices for identical routes.

At Chiltern Railway’s Birmingham Moor Street station, a ticket from the city to London by any permitted route cost £49.50 for an Off Peak Single, while a Virgin machine at the city’s New Street station, just five minutes’ walk away, offered a Super Off Peak Single for £31, also by any permissible route — a saving of £18.50.

The investigation found that passengers using machines were missing out on the chance to “split” their fares into cheaper legs and to “stop short” on journeys. Splitting the journey from Carlisle to Manchester into three tickets can save passengers up to £50.

This little-known trick is impossible at most station ticket machines because most only sell fares from the station where they are situated. Passengers can, however, purchase “split” tickets at a ticket office.

Ticket machines also deny people savings by failing to suggest options to “stop short” — sometimes it is cheaper to buy a ticket for a point beyond the desired destination and get off early.

Machines do not always offer the same savings to groups that are available at ticket offices. Four adults travelling from London Victoria to Dover on an Off-Peak Day Return can do so for £88. However, this option is not available on Southeastern machines at Victoria, and the cheapest Standard Off-Peak Day Return for four costs £133.20 — a £45.20 premium.

Elsewhere, rail operators were found to be promoting more expensive tickets on their own machines’ “quick select” screens when fares almost half the price were available, albeit less visible.

For example, London Midland’s machines at Euston station automatically display more expensive fares, forcing passengers to sift manually through alternatives to secure the best travel deal.

A Standard Anytime Return from London to Birmingham was quoted at £164 on a London Midland machine. But a passenger searching through the options to Birmingham would find a Standard Anytime Return travelling with London Midland-only listed on the same machine. The latter ticket was priced at £69 — a saving of £95 if the passenger was given the choice of the slower London Midland train.

Mike Hewitson, head of policy at the rail watchdog Passenger Focus, said travellers wanted information to be given to them in a clear and simple way.

“Our research shows us that ticket machines still aren’t particularly user-friendly,” he said.

“Passengers should be able to use ticket machines and be confident in what they are offered, without needing to be 'experts’ in the system.”

The campaign group Railfuture said that passengers were being forced to “jump through hoops” to get a reasonable fare. Bruce Williamson, a spokesman for the organisation, said it was “clearly wrong” that the cheapest fares were sometimes “buried” behind a number of option menus while the more expensive ones were promoted on the main default screens.

“Cheaper options have to be readily obvious and easy to find, not hidden from customers,” he said. East Coast said it was not aware that the London Midland-routed fares were missing from its machines at King’s Cross and said this had now been changed.

Northern Rail said it was working with its suppliers to ensure all necessary data were fed into its ticket machines to offer the best value fares to customers. It said this sometimes involved entering new data manually.

A spokesman said that the company would strive to “correct any inconsistencies”.

Southeastern said it was “difficult” for customers to buy group fares from ticket machines.

It said it was not able to include every fare on machines because too many were available.

A spokesman added: “If that ticket is unavailable or the customer has been sold an incorrect, more highly priced ticket, we will happily refund the difference.”

Chiltern Railways explained there had been “a minor technical error” that resulted in a fare not appearing on its machine.

London Midland said the majority of its machines were in place to sell the most commonly purchased tickets to passengers travelling on the day – so they tried to keep the screens “simple and easy to use”.

“Tickets for more complex journeys are always better bought online or at a booking office,” a spokesman said.

Rail, road and bus spending is the way to bridge the north-south divide

London’s first mayor, Ken Livingstone, according to Hendy, “was actually given transport because in 2000 nobody else much wanted it. The difference in Manchester is that Richard [Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese] and Howard [Bernstein] and all the other council leaders have identified rightly that transport is an integral part of creating economic growth.”

A Metrolink tram in St Peter's Square in Manchester. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for The Guardian./Christopher Thomond

‘Vomit trains, I call them. They’re very rattly and unpleasant. The seats are like park benches.” The disparaged carriage is well known to rail users in the north of England: this is an ageing Pacer train, wheezing its way into Manchester Piccadilly station.

Raising his voice above the screeching of brakes, Alan Bryson, 40, a researcher from Sheffield, adds: “I think if London commuters had to get on those every day they’d have got rid of them by now. It’s about money, isn’t it?”

That suspicion is shared by Bernard and Janet Saxton, 74 and 66, waiting on the Piccadilly platform for their evening train home, just back from a trip to London. Down there, says Janet, “Oh, they have beautiful trains. Lovely.” The Saxtons single out the Chester line as a source of particular suffering. Bernard adds: “I’ve just seen that train go out now and it’s clapped out. It doesn’t go frequently enough, it’s full to the brim.”

The gap between the north and London in quality of transport has found a totemic symbol in the Pacers. But the problem goes beyond the rolling stock. Money has not flowed into infrastructure in anything like the same way. An infamous study by IPPR North in 2011 drew howls of protest from the embarrassed coalition by pointing out that the national infrastructure plan would see £5 per head spent in the north-east, compared to £2,731 in London and the south-east. If that was an extreme example, more recent analysis of Treasury figures by PTEG, the group of city transport bodies in the north, showed the total subsidy for London in infrastructure and operations is over 2.5 times more per head than in the regions.

There are examples of major improvements around the country: Nottingham’s extended tram network, the Manchester Metrolink now reaching the airport and the overhaul of Birmingham New Street among them. But these pale beside the money spent on Tube upgrades, Crossrail, and revamping stations in London, and the regions can only look enviously at the regulated bus service, fully integrated Oyster smartcards and rejuvenated overground commuter lines.

Even if you grant a capital city special treatment, transport executives in the north point out their networks fall far short of comparable regions such as the Ruhr area of Germany or the Dutch Randstad conurbation.

The north’s grievances are felt in the Midlands too. Birmingham city council leader Sir Albert Bore says: “The spending per head is a fraction of London’s. The level of funding has been pitiful.” The city is struggling with traffic, he says: “It’s not just peak hours, it’s all-day congestion in some areas. Birmingham’s congestion could potentially throttle off economic growth – if investment doesn’t come, Birmingham will not be the economic honeypot that it looks to be becoming.”

His blueprint to get the basic infrastructure of a continental European city has a price tag of £4bn. “Even over 20 years, that’s well beyond the sort of money we’ve had in years past.” He is searching for private finance but says it will only come if long-term government funding commitments do too.

Yet the tide appears to be turning. A key government argument for HS2 has been the potential rejuvenating effects of high-speed rail for the north, even if sceptics claim the benefits will flow the other way, to the capital. To much fanfare, both George Osborne and David Cameron appeared on a stage in Leeds last month to announce their commitment to a so-called HS3, tunnelling through the Pennines to slash journey times across the region.

Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield gathered under the One North banner in August to unveil a £15bn transport plan, predominantly rail but with some road and port improvements, which the chancellor appeared to endorse. There is widespread anticipation that Osborne will back up his words with a firm pledge of money in December’s autumn statement.

Historic underinvestment in the north is at long last being recognised in Westminster, says Louise Ellman MP, chair of the transport select committee. “I’m hopeful we’re at the beginning of a process, but I won’t feel confident until it is translated into a timed programme and investment made available.” In her Liverpool constituency, she says, people don’t feel sufficiently connected and journey times are holding back development. Electrification of regional lines and station upgrades in the programme known as the Northern Hub will, Ellman says, make a difference. “But it’s not enough. It’s important that local authorities keep together and campaigning.”

Sir Howard Bernstein, deputy leader of Manchester city council, agrees. London transport flourished through making its case with a unified voice, backed by business, he says: “I believe the One North perspective is as powerful as the London perspective in the context of the bang for buck we’d get for the greater levels of transport spending.”

London is making common cause with Manchester in particular to push for greater devolution. According to London’s transport commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, such control is integral to creating a successful system and a thriving city, even if the capital “got the powers by accident”.

Work on Crossrail in London is proceeding apace. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Observer

Osborne has pledged some measure of devolution, going so far as to say a mayor for Manchester could regulate buses – reversing one of the Thatcher government’s first measures in privatising the industry. Now, though, the rallying call is financial freedom for cities: Hendy joined counterparts in Manchester last week to herald a report commissioned from economists Volterra to show that devolving more powers would tackle “damaging underinvestment” and bear fruit in economic growth and jobs.

The HS2 high-speed line, due in 2033, is helping to drive debate over the future shape of northern infrastructure. Sir David Higgins, the chairman of HS2, warns that its benefits will only accrue if it is fully integrated into the wider network, and specifically highlights the paucity of existing northern links.

Cities on the route have high hopes, inspired by a report from the Independent Transport Commission that highlights the catalytic regeneration effects high speed rail has had around stations in Europe. Speaking at a conference suite in the new King’s Cross-St Pancras development in north London, Higgins said he loved the fact that the building now had a higher rental yield than ones in the City. “It shows how much mass transport and mass transit underpins development.” According to Bore, Birmingham’s premium office space is being snapped up in anticipation of HS2.

In the planners’ most optimistic vision, a new rail spine will fuel growth across England, if not beyond, and, as Higgins puts it, “rebalance” Britain (echoing the call from the CBI and politicians of every hue). That might finally end what Hendy calls “a barren argument” over north versus south: “If what you want is growth in the UK economy, what you want is for every British city to do well ... We’re not arguing that they should have a bit less and they should have a bit more.”

Furthermore, he says, the money poured into the capital’s infrastructure is fuelling not just the city’s own economy but the national one: “One reason is that London drives it; and the other is London has created almost 60,000 jobs in the rest of Britain doing things that we need in London.”

That line might sound like scant consolation without direct, substantial investment in the north. The very day after the PM pledged to back HS3, London mayor Boris Johnson announced that the Treasury had pledged to half-fund Crossrail 2 – at a price far outstripping the sums designated for the trans-Pennine links. While the government forecasts more austerity, will there be a hard choice ahead?

Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, says: “I don’t think it’s a matter of taking it away from London – it’s a matter of ensuring the overall infrastructure is right across the country. For instance, you might include Reading in the London investment; but it’s actually very important to the south-west, to open up the throat of Reading for services going down to the south-west. What is done here increases capacity in other parts in the country. London is always going to be an economic centre, but I don’t want to see cities in the north held back.”

Even without a firm commitment to HS3, McLoughlin says, “there will be other improvements sooner: the electrification going on, the money we’re spending on [Manchester] Victoria station, it’s all part of the infrastructure.”

And what of the Pacer trains, those daily reminders to northern commuters that their southern cousins are more deserving? “Their time is limited,” McLoughlin says, “but there may be areas where they can play a role. But on the main routes, they’ve had their time.”

In the pipeline: a new £350m Metrolink line to Trafford Park; more work on the Northern Hub rail scheme, including Network Rail’s Ordsall Chord scheme, a route linking Victoria and Oxford Road railway stations and enabling trains to cross the city.
The pipe dream: fuller fiscal powers to enable higher transport spending; introducing light-rail tram-trains.

In the pipeline: extending the Metro tram route into the city centre, as far as New Street station. 
The pipe dream: three new Metro lines, including one linking the centre to planned high-speed railway stations and the airport; express bus routes with priority lanes and signals; rerouting the A38 motorway in tunnels under the city.

In the pipeline: a proposed trolleybus scheme called New Generation Transport. 
The pipe dream: a rail link to Leeds Bradford airport.

In the pipeline: improving the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail link; upgrading the M8, M73, and M74 motorway networks; further redevelopment of the city subway. 
The pipe dream: a high-speed rail link to Edinburgh.

In the pipeline: reregulation of private bus services. 
The pipe dream: further development of Tyne and Wear Metro system, starting with replacement of the train fleet and exploring potential for new lines; widening the A1 north of the city.
Source-the guardian.

What’s Wrong With Oil Transport by Rail

Tanker rail cars, bearing hazardous materials placards, on an elevated railway in Aurora, Ill. earlier this year. Bloomberg News

KATE GORDON: I recently sat down to dinner with a group of high-level agricultural sector leaders in Minnesota. Again and again, the conversation turned to an issue that’s at the forefront of these business leaders’ minds: the fact that railcars carrying crude oil are displacing cars carrying agricultural goods, resulting in massive delays in shipments of hundreds of pounds of food.

Despite the hoopla surrounding Keystone XL, the fact is that a growing percent of the oil we produce in this country is moving not by pipeline, but by rail. Today we ship 11% of domestically produced fossil fuels by train. One consequence of this boom is the months-long log jam it has created for other industries dependent on rail service. As oil trains measuring more than a mile long weave their way from production fields like the Bakken in North Dakota to refineries along the U.S. coasts, other commodities are being crowded out of the freight queue and are subject to long delays, or forced to find more expensive alternatives.

That’s a problem not only for the Midwest farmers I spoke to, but for overall U.S. competitiveness in the agricultural sector. As one agribusiness consulting firm director recently told the Financial Times, “The inherent advantage the U.S. has had for a long time has been in transportation, both rail and water.”

It’s also a problem for our aging rail infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that crude freight trains overwhelmed rail lines in 2013 with 415,000 carloads, up from 9,500 in 2008. It doesn’t help that the majority of these tank cars are dismally outdated and unsafe in case of an accident, and if they break down they can tie up the rail lines for days or weeks, not to mention risking explosions and oil spills along the way.

One way to fix this problem is to require the oil industry to invest heavily in rail infrastructure, to ensure there’s enough capacity to move their train loads of oil across the country without creating logjams for other critical commodities, like food.

Another, better fix is to push alternatives to oil, like biofuels and electric vehicles, to decrease the need to move the stuff around in the first place.

Given the choice, I personally would rather have trainloads of corn rolling through my community than trainloads of explosive crude oil.

Kate Gordon (@katenrg) is vice president and the director of the energy and climate program at Next Generation. She previously served as vice president for energy and environment at the Center for American Progress.

Six ideas that can change Railways’ future

The most crucial thing for the Railway Minister is to bring back profitability and sustainability into the functioning of Railways.

Every year Railways has been borrowing money from the government to bridge its deficit, this can only stop if Railways improves its services on the freight front.

The real potential of the largest rail network in the world remain unrealized as freight is treated as a step sister by successive Ministers. Too much focus is there on the passenger fares while the real story lies in how Indian Railways can boost the economy of the country.
This mean that you have to fight the road industry lobby that comprises of auto, truck and construction companies. They have led us to believe that roads are important and that they are even a crucial infrastructure for development. So much so that elected representative addresses the issue of roads first. Roads, particularly highways are becoming highly discriminatory in nature, not allowing two wheelers or even pedestrian. One could argue that they serve only a section of the society. One could even argue that they serve cars and trucks more than people.

This debate has not taken place in our country. We do not discuss public transportation versus spend on roads. We do not discuss the expenditure on railways versus the expenditure on roads, both are alternatives. But by putting them in different ministries we have effectively curtailed any discussion on these issues.

Freight services generate profits, which are diverted to subsidize passenger fares, leading to an overall loss in operations. Freight accounts for more than 70 per cent of revenues but does not get the attention it deserves.

Development of freight services has been ignored over the years, and Railways has been losing market share to road transportation. Even though, road transportation is an in-efficient way of transporting bulk cargo and it is far more polluting. Depending on road transportation also has a direct impact on our oil bill and affects the cost of doing business. Logistic costs also have to be taken into account from an overall countries competitiveness point of view. If the cost of shipping a product from factory to port is too high it will reduce its demand overseas.

Trucks add to congestion in cities and highways they are inefficient as a transport unit. But the truck manufacturers lobby is a strong one, working quietly behind the scenes on higher investment in highways. Investment in Highways needs to be balanced with investment in building the Railways freight infrastructure.

An abridged version of these suggestions was written for

1. Railway charges freight on the basis of the shortest route to the destination not on miles or kilometers travelled. Though, congestion on high traffic routes means that the shortest route is rarely taken, a fact pointed out in several CAG reports. Freight prices need to be recalibrated in such a manner that every booking is profitable and the customer gets a rate that is consciously lower than road transportation.

Currently, profits on freight are divided on a zonal and divisional level through apportioning of route travelled in these zones. This is an old way of accounting and reduces accountability for making a freight profitable. Internal adjustments are made to share freight revenues between regional heads. Every booking has to be profitable and higher share of the revenues and profit should be given to the center that makes the booking. Reducing the total time a freight is on tracks should be reduced.

There is no clear picture of profit on each booking nor is there any incentive for a zone to send the traffic through the shortest route. Freight traffic is the first one to be diverted in case of congestion. This mindset has to change and will do so only if it is measured how long does a freight train takes to clear a zone and what improvements have been done on timings. This does not need very sophisticated system, GPS systems used by small fleet owners already do this.

Railways can learn from this and implement them quickly.

2. One of the largest items of freight is iron ore and here there are numerous scams. This has made ore as a category a loss making item for Railways. This is ironic and shows the rot that has set into the Railway bureaucracy where scams are commonly perpetrated by manipulating the books. In iron ore, concession is given on freight and as this is controlled by railway officials it is easy to manipulate.

South Eastern Railways has admitted to freight evasion of Rs 1875.63 crore in 15 cases, the real evasion maybe larger. This can be controlled by payment of full freight first and concession to be repaid or be adjusted against future freight payment. This can ensure cash flow and check evasions.

3. The total capacity of both rolling stocks and locomotives for freight is very poor. Unlike passenger services where capacity is vocally demanded and added. The demand for increasing freight capacity is rarely raised as an issue. Procurement of locomotives is slow due to dependence on domestic manufacturing. Railways need to look at lease and maintenance models to augment capacity similar to private airlines that survive on leasing aircrafts. Global manufacturers would be more than eager to offer locomotives on a lease model. Only thing is how to handle the domestic lobby of suppliers.

4. Even rolling stock or wagons supply to the railways has been poor both from public and private enterprises manufacturing them in India. Here also new lease model that reduces the initial capital expenditure and spreads the payment over a period of time can be tried. This would ensure that these companies who have virtually monopoly on the production can be assured payments. It is important for Railways also as it has a cash crunch that can only be bridged if it able to have much higher capacity on the network. Supply from China need to be considered with Chinese banks funding the lease, a model perfected by several companies in oil exploration, and even telecom. Chinese banks will very keen to fund the Railways supply of rolling stock we need this funding but have to be careful about the long time riders on this.

5. Freight traffic was 975 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2012 and is expected to grow to 1405 MMT by 2017, a CAGR of 7.6 % during 12-17 according to Aranca Research. But expansion is not keeping pace with this demand as Railways does not have any surplus. Huge project like the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) are stuck with land acquisitions and financing issues. Smaller projects some 800 odd ones are not getting the attention because of the obsession with DFC.

DFC is a $16.7 bn project that was expected to be completed by 2017. But as per its balance sheet for 2012-13 the cumulative project execution of just Rs 2334.43 crore (approx.$400million) has been done. Spending time and efforts on DFC comes from a mindset of all or nothing. This has to change, incremental capacity is as important and smaller projects between ports and clusters need to be developed on a priority basis.

One of the biggest bottle-neck to power sector is delivery of coal and rail linkages from mines to power plant an area that has been neglected by Railways. The coal minister is looking at rationalization of logistics in such a manner that the supply is assured to power plants as well as costs are not too high. This is an important area from a growth perspective hence it needs much higher level of attention from both these ministries.

6. Railways has tried and tested PPP models the success rate has been poor. Privatization cannot fill the gap in freight capacity. For instance the Automobile Freight Transport scheme was announced a few years back and got a lukewarm response with only Maruti-Suzuki showing interest. But no progress has taken place on it since then due too may constraints, the policy needs to be revised.

PPP should not be seen as an alternative to investment or to shirk away from areas where only government can invest. One of the learning from the PPP initiatives has been that private sector will not invest for long term annuity kind of returns, they look for short term returns, and they cannot be relied on creating infrastructure. It is important for Railways to take the learning on PPP on infrastructure projects into account before planning any further PPP models.
Source-first post

रेल यात्रा को सेफ बनाएगा एयरपोर्ट्स का फॉग वॉर्निंग सिस्टम!

मौसम वैज्ञानिकों का कहना है कि जाड़े के दिनों में सड़क मार्ग और रेलवे से होने वाली यात्रा को सुरक्षित बनाने के लिए उसी फॉग वॉर्निंग सिस्टम का इस्तेमाल होना चाहिए, जिसका उपयोग एयरपोर्ट्स पर होता है। 
भारतीय मौसम विभाग अभी प्रमुख सड़कों और आगरा, जैसलमेर, मदुरै, लेह और द्वारका जैसे टूरिस्ट स्पॉट्स के लिए वेदर इन्फॉर्मेशन जारी करता है। यह वैष्णो देवी मंदिर के लिए भी सैटेलाइट इमेज और पूर्वानुमान जारी करता है। 
हालांकि नई दिल्ली, लखनऊ, वाराणसी, अमृतसर और जयपुर के हवाई अड्डों पर यह विजिबिलिटी के बारे में 6-18 घंटे पहले अनुमान जारी करता है। वेदर साइंटिस्ट्स का कहना है कि जाड़े में रियल टाइम विजिबिलिटी फोरकास्ट से रोड और रेल जर्नी और सुरक्षित बन जाएगी। इंदिरा गांधी इंटरनैशनल एयरपोर्ट पर मौसम निगरानी कार्यालय के निदेशक आर के जेनामणि ने कहा, 'जाड़े में जब कोहरा बढ़ता है, तो राजमार्गों और रेलवे के रास्तों पर दुर्घटना का डर भी बढ़ जाता है। इस सेक्टर के लिए कोहरे के बारे में पहले से अनुमान जारी करना जरूरी हो गया है।' उन्होंने कहा कि सड़कों पर डिजिटल डिस्प्ले और रेल ट्रैवलर्स के लिए रियल टाइम इन्फॉर्मेशन की आवश्यकता है। 

जेनामणि ने कहा कि कोहरे पर नजर रखने के लिए पहले से सूचना देने की प्रभावी व्यवस्था ज्यादा महंगी भी नहीं होगी। उन्होंने कहा, 'दिसंबर से लेकर फरवरी के बीच कोहरे के कारण रेलवे को कई ट्रेनें कैंसल करनी पड़ती हैं। राजमार्गों पर भी कई दुर्घटनाएं होती हैं। अगर यह तकनीक एयरलाइंस के काम लाई जा सकती है तो दूसरों के लिए इसे क्यों नहीं अपनाया जा सकता है।' 

रेलवे 31 दिसंबर से 15 फरवरी के बीच की 30 ट्रेनें पहले ही कैंसल कर चुका है। इनमें डिब्रूगढ़ राजधानी, लुधियाना शताब्दी और मोगा शताब्दी भी हैं। इस दौरान 5 ट्रेनों का रास्ता बदले जाने का फैसला भी हो चुका है। 

एक मौसम वैज्ञानिक ने कहा, 'रनवे विजुअल रेंज सिस्टम एयरपोर्ट्स के रनवे पर एयरक्राफ्ट के लिए विजिबिलिटी का आकलन करता है और पायलट को रास्ता तय करने में मदद देता है। ऐसा ही सिस्टम रेलवे के काम आ सकता है, जिसमें किसी स्टेशन से ट्रेन के चलने से पहले ही आगे की राह पर विजिबिलिटी की रियल टाइम इन्फॉर्मेशन दी जा सकती है।' 

नॉर्दर्न रेलवेज के चीफ पब्लिक रिलेशंस ऑफिसर नीरज शर्मा ने बताया कि कोहरे के कारण जब विजिबिलिटी बिल्कुल कम हो जाती है तो रेलवे रेल ट्रैक्स पर विस्फोटक का इस्तेमाल कर ट्रेन ड्राइवर्स को ऑडियो सिग्नल देता है। उन्होंने कहा, 'विजिबिलिटी जीरो होने पर ट्रेन ड्राइवर्स को अधिकार है कि वे ट्रेन रोक दें। हालांकि, पहले स्टॉप सिग्नल से 275 मीटर पहले डेटोनेटर्स रखे जाते हैं। हम जीपीएस बेस्ड फॉग सेफ डिवाइस भी यूज कर रहे हैं। इसकी लागत 1.5-2 लाख रुपये है।' 
Source-nav bharat times

‘Give us a proper platform’

Passengers struggling to board or disembark from trains at Krishnadevaraya station due to low level of platform

Passengers using Krishnadevaraya station, located in the midst of a densely-populated residential area on Railway Parallel Road in Vijayanagar, are happy to have a station close to home. But they want a platform at the station and bus connectivity to other parts of the city.

At present, the station, which started functioning in March this year, has a “low level platform”. Passengers must climb into the coaches from ground level and be quick because trains stop there only for a minute.

H. L. Sanjeevaiah, a passenger, said, “Seniors and children find it tough to get into or out of trains.”

The station has a covered “low level platform”, but no seats. As there is no washroom, passengers walk into nearby houses asking owners if they could use their washrooms.

Passengers also want the services of three BMTC buses, which used to stop next to the station till a year ago. The buses were withdrawn after work on two bypasses blocked the route to the station.

P. Boraiah, a resident of the area, showed a letter signed by 100 residents requesting BMTC to resume services of 87 A, 87C and 63A.

At least 250 people take the trains on weekdays. The number goes up on weekends. The trains originate at Bengaluru City and are headed to Mysuru.

Anil Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru, South Western Railway, said Rs. 1.39 lakh was spent from the MLA’s fund.

Source-the hindu

Some trains from Puducherry partially cancelled on Dec. 1, 4, 5

Southern Railway has partially cancelled some train services from Puducherry on December 1, 4 and 5.

According to a press release, due to line block to facilitate engineering works at Villupuram yard, the following changes will be made in the pattern of train services on those three days.

The following trains will be partially cancelled: Train No.56706/56705 Madurai – Villupuram Madurai passenger trains will be partially cancelled between Vriddhachalam- Villupuram.

Train No.56041/56042 Tirupati – Puducherry – Tirupati passenger trains will be partially cancelled between Chengalpattu- Puducherry, Train No.56037/56038 Chennai Egmore – Puducherry – Chennai Egmore passenger trains will be partially cancelled between Tindivanam-Puducherry.

The following trains will be fully cancelled: Train No.66045/66046 Melmaruvathur – Villupuram – Melmaruvathur passenger trains will be fully cancelled. Train No.56863/56864 Villupuram – Puducherry – Villupuram passenger trains will be fully cancelled.

Train No.12635 Chennai Egmore – Madurai Vaigai Express will be regulated for 20 minutes between Chennai Egmore – Villupuram.
Source-the hindu

CAG says railways responsible for Maha Kumbh tragedy

A stampede at Allahabad railway station on February 10, 2013, killed 38 during Kumbh Mela who had gathered to take a dip in Ganga.The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has blamed lack of proper coordination and disaster management plan besides security staff crunch on the part of railways that resulted in the February 10, 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela stampede at the Allahabad Railway Station that claimed 38 lives.

The CAG tabled an audit report in Parliament on Tuesday wherein it answered queries.

The report squarely blames the railways for the deaths on platform number 6 of the station.

The Uttar Pradesh government had ordered an inquiry after the accident while a judicial probe was initiated following Opposition pressure.

The report says that the railway administration was aware that more than 3.05 crore pilgrims would be present for Shahi Snan on Mauni Amavasya and 4.10 lakh passengers might travel via trains.

However, the railway administration failed to coordinate with government authorities regarding crowd management. The railways also failed to block the influx of pilgrims towards the station, including their diversion to designated mela stations, which led to their huge build-up. It found a 33 per cent security staff shortfall at the station for ensuring passenger safety and this deficit rose to 48 percent on the fateful day.

Mela officer, NCR was required to coordinate with the nodal officers of NR and NER zones for running mela special trains and to divert pilgrim traffic from Allahabad to other mela stations. But, the report did not find any evidence of nodal officers holding meetings.

The railways also failed to manage movement of special trains. There was shortfall in special trains run by the three zones on three important bathing days and immediately thereafter when larger crowds were anticipated.

No alternate arrangement was planned for freight trains to ease the movement of mela special trains. The audit shows that there was no "Railway Disaster Managment Plan". Further, doctors and medical staff were not posted near the railway station to deal with emergencies.

It says politics was played over the deaths. Azam Khan who was Kumbh Mela incharge offered his resignation to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who rejected it. The question now arises whether the railways will take any action.

Source-india today

Railways offers security-related helpline number to commuters

New Delhi: Railways has launched a round-the-clock helpline service to provide security-related assistance to passengers across the country, Rajya Sabha was informed on Friday.

In a written reply to the House, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Gupta said the helpline number (1800-111-322) has been operational across the country to enable passengers seek security-related assistance.

Gupta said that about 1,300 trains are being escorted daily by Railway Protection Force (RPF)on vulnerable and identified routes, in addition to 2,200 trains escorted by the Government Railway police.

All the Ladies Special trains running in metropolitan cities are being escorted by women RPF constables to ensure proper security to women passengers, he said.

The minister also said that an integrated security system consisting of electronic surveillance of vulnerable stations through Close Circuit Television Camera network, access control, anti-sabotage checks has been finalised to strengthen surveillance mechanism over 202 sensitive railway stations.

To create a more effective security mechanism over Railways, a proposal for amendment in the Railway Protection Force Act has been moved by the Ministry of Railways with the approval of the Ministry of Law and Justice and Home Affairs.

He said this will empower the RPF to deal with serious crimes in passenger areas.
Source-zee news

Rail Stocks Gain on Report of Investor Meet

Railway-related stocks saw some buying action today on reports that the railway ministry has called for an investor meet on December 5.

Texmaco Rail & Engineering gained 2 per cent, Titagarh Wagons was up 1 per cent while Kalindee Rail Nirman Engineers surged 3.7 per cent.

Those likely to attend include investment banks, consultants and infrastructure companies, the report said.

The focus of the meeting will be to increase investments in the railway sector, traders expect.

Inter-state gang promising railway jobs busted

The Bihar Police today nabbed the kingpin of an inter-state gang in the state capital, which cheated money from youths by promising jobs in the Railways. 

The police seized several ATM cards, bank passbooks, SIM cards, a large number of fake documents pertaining to jobs in the Railways and a stolen car from him. 

Patna Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Jitendra Rana said the nabbed person has been identified as Rajeev Kumar, a resident of Jaganpura in Patna, who was also an accused in a case of kidnapping. 

"Kumar used to pose as a railway vigilance officer and had a team of accomplices working with him. He used to take youths in confidence and cheat lakhs of rupees from each of them by promising jobs in the Railways. So far he has confessed cheating Rs 1 crore from various aspirants," Rana said. 

The SSP said the gang was active in Bihar and West Bengal. Kumar, during interrogation, has also provided a list of 15 youths from whom he took around Rs 66 lakh. 

"We had been looking out for him since his name figured in the kidnapping of a youth, Mohammad Ehtesam, in August this year. Though Rs 15 lakh ransom had been demanded, the youth managed to escape and filed an FIR naming Kumar. During our investigations, we stumbled on the fact that the wanted person was involved in a job racket too," Rana said. 

The SSP also said today's action was taken after intelligence inputs on Kumar's arrival in Patna. The police was now probing the extent of his racket and the types of crimes committed, while looking for other gang members.





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