Dec 11, 2014

Moving ahead on railway stations

In its first Railway budget, the BJP-led NDA government had focussed on passenger amenities and inviting private participation in the modernisation of infrastructure. While putting Meghalaya on the Railway map recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spelt out a scheme to privatise and modernise railway stations. He said 10 to 12 stations will be taken up under the programme to significantly upgrade passenger amenities and make them akin to airport terminal buildings. The thought is not new, nor is the attempt to upgrade major stations. Similarly, the plan to leverage the extensive extent of railway land available has been talked about for years, without much progress being made. Commercial utilisation of railway land could be very profitable, but needs to be done with caution to prevent exploitation or corruption. Now that the government has decided to allow 100 per cent FDI in Railway projects, the Ministry, now under a new Minister, the reform-minded Suresh Prabhu, should work on the details to roll out the programme. The first step will have to be the identification of stations across the country, deciding on what exactly the private sector or partner can do, and the sensitive issue of levying user charges. In any scheme of privatising public space, the question of user charges comes in, and it needs to be addressed in conjunction with the extent of investment and the kind of facilities provided in these stations.

When Mr. Modi spoke of trains running underground and commercial buildings coming on top of that space, the reference must be to the metro rail and stations in major metropolitan centres. What is more pressing is raising standards and facilities at existing railway stations in key cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad, Allahabad and Patna, to name a few centres. These are the stations that are old and call for urgent modernisation. In a limited way, the zonal railways have been enhancing amenities such as display boards, seating arrangements and catering facilities, providing in some stations even Wi-Fi. There is so much scope for a significant leap forward in the matter of amenities: these should include retiring rooms, waiting rooms, toilets, electric cars and wheel chairs for the aged and physically challenged, and, above all, maintaining cleanliness. Even where the Indian Railways has tried to provide some of these facilities, there is just no upkeep or maintenance. The area of cleanliness and maintenance is one to which the Railways need to pay immediate attention. The earlier the Railways start finalising this scheme and implementing it, the better. It should not be allowed to go the way of earlier plans.
Source-the hindu.

Railway staff pad up to go on strike

Aggrieved with the government’s decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in railway projects, a million rail employees on Wednesday decided to go on strike.

They are yet to decide when the strike will begin. A strike lasting a single day will cost the railways Rs 2,400 crore.

Indian Railways has 1.31 million employees. Of them, a million are affiliated to the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR). On Wednesday, a meeting of the working committee of the union was held here and the decision was taken to mobilise the entire workforce.

“We have decided to go on strike against the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi)’s decision to sell the railways to foreigners,” said M Raghavaiah, general secretary of the federation.

He added no date has been decided upon but the workers would stage a protest in front of Parliament in April next year. “Successive past governments are responsible for the financial malaise of Indian Railways, not the workers. The past governments have announced new lines that are nor remunerative. Concessions have been provided, even though the fares have remained stagnant for 10 years. Despite that, workers have managed to make Indian Railways the fourth largest freight carrier in the world, with a load of 1,100 million tonnes every year,” he said.

He also said the workers were willing to provide their provident fund as loan for the railway works. “But the PM thinks beating drums in Japan will bring money.”

Bandra, Mumbai Central part of 50 stations to be spruced up

MUMBAI: Passengers visiting Bandra Terminus and Mumbai Central may soon get to see cleaner stations on a par with airports as the railways has decided to outsource the cleanliness and maintenance work to reputed agencies. Across India, the railway board has selected 50 stations where work will be outsourced under the integrated cleanliness contract system. On Western Railway, three stations have been selected, including Mumbai Central and Bandra Terminus. However, none of the stations on Central Railway's Mumbai division finds place in this list. 

A senior railway official said, "The cleanliness contract will include the entire geographical area of the station, including the concourse, platforms, tracks and approach road. The entire contract will be given to a single agency." 

Such has been the emphasis of cleanliness that the railway board has asked medical officers or those in charge of cleanliness at stations to visit airports, corporate hospitals or five-star hotels to learn their best practices. 

The official said, "We hope to get rid of stinky and overflowing toilets as regular maintenance of the drainage system will be undertaken to ensure free flow of sewage generated in stations." 

Railways will also ensure quick cleaning of rags and rubbish as soon as a train departs from a platform. 

Senior officials will monitor the cleanliness of stations via live feeds provided by CCTVs. High pressure jets and steam cleaners will be pressed into service to remove stains from walls and floors. Moreover, illumination levels will be improved in the concourse area. Specific teams would be set up for supervision of platform, concourse, approach roads etc to ensure round-the-clock monitoring. 

The official said, "There will be immediate removal of debris generated at the stations. Moreover, broken tiles will be immediately replaced so that smooth surface is available for cleanliness work." 

Under the outsourcing contract, the railways has set certain parameters for cleanliness, including shine level, dust level, paan and gutka stains etc for platforms, foot-overbridges, walls, glass facade, escalators and toilets. 

An official said, "If the cleanliness work is not as per the set standards, penalty will be imposed on the contractor. Penalty will also be imposed for defunct machines and unsafe practices."
Source-times of india

PICS: This is how R 3000 crore Surat Railway Station will look like

PICS: This is how  R  3000 crore Surat Railway Station will look like
PICS: This is how  R  3000 crore Surat Railway Station will look like
PICS: This is how  R  3000 crore Surat Railway Station will look like
Source-the hindu

4 squads to ride locals for women’s safety now

Navi Mumbai: Railway authorities have stepped up to ensure safety of women commuters on Trans-Harbour and Central lines. Four special security teams, two each on both networks, known as the Shakti Team, have been deployed to man the corridors between Thane-Panvel and Karjat-CST from Wednesday. 

The teams will work in two shifts — 7am-3pm and 3-11pm and will comprise three constables headed by a female RPF officer (inspector or sub-inspector). Each team will include two women and two men, and will be given mobile phones. "We believe that now travelling in trains on this corridors will be safer," said Anita Singh, a commuter. 

The female cops have been trained on the lines of the Nirbhaya Team by the GRP. The training will help them understand the criminal activities along the rail routes. 

They will also undergo advanced training in martial arts and self-defense, said Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, CR. 

"The teams will work in coordination with the GRP. They will also accompany ticket checkers. With their introduction, we are hopeful to curb crimes along this routes," said Bohra. 

Till now, Harbour and Central lines had five such teams, now nine teams will patrol these routes.
Source-times of india





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