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Dec 9, 2014
In a chat with ET Now, Parvesh Minocha, Group MD-Transportation, Feedback Infra, talks about opening up of private investments in railways. Excerpts:
ET Now: The rail minister has clearly stated that $100 billion worth of investment is required and they are inviting private participation in the railway sector. How keen would private participants be to invest in the railway sector?
Parvesh Minocha: Private participants and foreign investors are keen. I am not sure about $100 billion, but yes, it has to start with a big idea.
Currently are there projects which can absorb even a fraction of that? No. But like the minister said, he is going to come up with ideas and bring them to the table. If that happens, there is certainly money available to be invested in the sector.
ET Now: Do you speak to participants on the private side who would be willing to invest?
Parvesh Minocha: Investment in railways is typical of all infrastructure investments. Railways are still not talking about giving up the operations. Therefore returns are reasonably certain given the volumes which it has and the projection which the private parties will make.
Players are very similar too. There are no great new players who are not there in the rest of the infrastructure space. Most of the players are common. A lot of it is actually interconnected.
ET Now: Have you had talks with any investors who may have approached you for an investment?
Parvesh Minocha: We have got many inquiries in the last three-four months. Currently it is mostly about EPC. There is investor enthusiasm, but in the absence of ready projects I am not sure we are going to see ready interest. A lot will depend upon what the railways do and how they treat prospective investors.
ET Now: I am asking this question more from a stock market perspective: a lot of people were banking upon these reforms coming in and suppliers to the railways actually benefiting out of it. Do you think it will happen over the course of the next 18-odd months? Do you think the order books of the wagon manufacturers, the signal equipment manufacturers, etc., will start getting filled in?
Parvesh Minocha: If you look at metro rail, it is already happening at full blast. Will it start happening for wagons, etc., too through the normal supply route? I think Yes, through the privatisation route will take a while, because when you want PPP participation, it takes time to bid, finalise, do the financial closure and then start work.
Eighteen months seem a good time, but I do not expect it to happen in the next six months, particularly from a PPP angle. From an EPC or a normal supply angle it may happen, but not from a PPP angle.
RPF IG reviews training offered to 400 Constable Recruits
Incidents of drugging of passengers on board long-distance trains have come down in the Southern Railway zone in the wake of sustained awareness campaign, Inspector General-cum-Chief Security Commissioner, Railway Protection Force (RPF), Southern Railway, B.Mohan said.
The awareness campaign initiated by the RPF to alert passengers about drugging on trains and the need to remain vigilant about strangers has had a positive effect, Mr.Mohan said.
The IG, who was here to inspect the training being imparted to 400 Constable Recruits at the RPF Zonal Training Centre, said passengers had started listening to the safety messages being put across to them from time to time.
He said there was no major increase in railway-related crimes in the zone that accounted for six railway divisions – Chennai, Tiruchi, Madurai, Salem, Palakkad, and Thiruvananthapuram.
The RPF escort teams deployed on board different trains would soon be put through a course on various aspects connected with their duties.
“We have decided to conduct an intensive capsule course from December second week for the train escort parties across all divisions,” the IG said.
The module for the course designed by the Director General, RPF, would cover a gamut of issues, including the needs of passengers, basics of train escorting, alertness, communication, and knowledge of the topography, he said.
The course would be held in Chennai in batches for the teams to refresh their knowledge and sensitise them to various aspects connected with the escorting pattern.
The RPF has embarked on the task of revamping its Bomb Detection Squad in the zone by taking out untrained personnel and replacing them with trained ones to make it more effective, he said.
The process was currently on in different railway divisions in the Southern Railway zone.
The vacancies existing in the Constables category in RPF in the zone would be filled up once the Constable Recruits complete their training and inducted into the force, IG Mohan said. About 4,000 women Constables would be recruited all over the country in the next few months, he said.
The list of “destistations” starts with Brunel masterpiece London Paddington
“Not only for their engineering feats are the railways of the United Kingdom remarkable,” wrote Sir John Betjeman, “but also for the architecture of their stations.” The poet would be delighted that English Heritage has revealed its choice of 10 great English railway stations.
The list of “destistations” starts with London Paddington, a Brunel masterpiece, and ends at St Pancras, where Betjeman is celebrated with a larger-than-life statue.
Yet English Heritage’s selection is causing controversy in the railway fraternity, with claims that equally important stations have been left out.
Paddington, in the limelight thanks to the eponymous new film, is included as “the first real cathedral of the railway age”. Next is Newcastle, described as “a classical tour-de-force”. Windsor and Eton Riverside is chosen because of its “engaging Tudor-style composition”, while Carlisle is “built in fine, local red sandstone, complemented by an ecclesiastical-looking clock tower”.
Huddersfield, “fronted by a magnificent classical portico”, is fifth. Sixth-placed Monkwearmouth, north of Sunderland city centre, is “a strikingly handsome classical civic building which resonates dignity and permanence”. Unfortunately for the traveller, it is now a museum rather than a railway station.
Four trains an hour still serve Battle in East Sussex, which has “a Gothic-style to evoke the former splendours of the famous Battle Abbey nearby”. In eighth place, Wolferton in Norfolk was “built to serve the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate”. The Tudor-style station was closed down in the 1960s, like so much of the British railway network, in the Beeching cuts.
Great Malvern, “one of the most characterful stations of the 1860s”, is ninth. Britain’s most celebrated terminus, St Pancras, makes the list for engineering as well as aesthetics: “The largest man-made span in the world for over 20 years,” says English Heritage.
Some rail experts contacted by The Independent expressed surprise at the organisation’s choice. Mark Smith, founder of the Seat61.com website, said: “The stations listed are wonderful - but there are so many more. Battle but not Rye's lovely Italianate station? Paddington but not King’s Cross? Newcastle but not York?”
Mr Smith added that a place should have been found for Bristol Temple Meads, “including Brunel's first trainshed”.
The absence of one of England’s pioneering railway locations was tweeted by Jason Thirkell: "Where’s Darlington Bank Top, Darlo being the birthplace of the railways?”
Newcastle Central was second
Chris Woodcock, editor of the European Rail Timetable, said: “I would include Preston station ahead of Carlisle, though any positive debate promoting all that is good about the railways of this country should be welcomed.”
The English Heritage survey was also welcomed by Nigel Harris, managing editor of Rail magazine: “Stations made statements on behalf of the companies that built them - and the grandeur of the architecture speaks of an era of massive corporate pride and chutzpah. We invented the railways, they changed and created the world we live in and it's right that we should care for and continue to use and enjoy them.”
Last word to Sir John Betjeman: “Railways were born in England,” he wrote in 1960. “The early railway architecture of this country is therefore of more than merely national importance. It is the beginning of the whole history of the Railway Age.”
Revenue earnings of the railways between April 1, 2014 to November 30, 2014 have registered an increase of 12.36% in comparison to the same period last year.
According to an official statement of the ministry, the railways earned a revenue of Rs. 100622 crore compared to Rs. 89341.26 crore during the same period last year.
The statement further revealed that the total approximate earnings from goods between April 1, 2014 and November 30, 2014 was Rs. 67130.96 crore compared to Rs. 60144.16 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 11.62%.
The total approximate revenue earnings from passengers in the same period was Rs. 28510.24 crore compared to Rs. 24523.71 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 16.26%.
The approximate revenue earnings from other coaching amounted to Rs.2669.55 crore compared to Rs. 2515.78 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 6.11%.
The total approximate numbers of passengers booked during the peiod was 5581.33 million compared to 5662.54 million during the same period last year, showing a decrease of 1.43%.
In the suburban and non-suburban sectors, the numbers of passengers booked was 3022 million and 2559.08 million compared to 3028.44 million and 2634.10 million registering a decrease of 0.20 per cent and of 2.85 per cent respectively during the same period last year.
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