Dish TV in talks with rlys to beam live services in trains

Chandigarh: Dish TV, the direct-to-home broadcast vehicle of Subhash Chandra’s Zee Network, is in talks with the Indian Railways to launch live television services in trains. Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV, who was in Chandigarh to announce a free recharge offer, said, “The tender has been issued by the Railways and we intend to submit our bid. Initially one train will be made available for testing the product and we are hopeful of being awarded the contract.”

Dish TV has also extended its Live TV services to private cars and buses. Kapoor added, “A private bus operator has started using this service in Delhi. Discussions are on with few other operators.” Kapoor also said that Dish TV has registered an increase of 33% in sales this year with the subscriber base crossing 4.8 million. “We are targeting the 5-million subscription mark (translating into 25 million viewers) by end of this fiscal and the 8-million mark by end of next financial year. The turnover is expected to be around Rs 900-1,000 crore by March 31, 2008.”

Despite the overall gloom and the increase in competition, Dish TV has been able to hold its own. The competition, Kapoor said, has helped expand the market. “If in June-July about 6 lakh DTH subscribers were added per month, the number grew to around one million new subscribers between October-December. The new entrants in the DTH space have expanded the market size. We are also planning to launch our Digital Video Recording box soon,” he added.

Under Dish TV’s free recharge offer, if a customer recharges for a certain amount, she gets an equivalent amount of recharge as bonus. In other words, the recharge becomes completely free.

Dish TV has also introduced Recharge-free ItzCash (ItzCash is a multi-purpose pre-paid card that enables consumers to shop online, book railway tickets, buy Internet connection packages, play online games and pay utility bills) coupon, specifically for this offer. This is a new concept in the DTH industry where subscribers can top-up their subscription using tailor-made package cards.

Now, complaint registers to be kept at railway stalls

Aggrieved passengers travelling with the Indian Railways can now register their complaints at railway stations. In a meeting between the members of the Railway Board and officials of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Cooperation Ltd (IRCTC) at New Delhi, it was decided that complaint boxes will be put up at stalls, which are leased by the IRCTC and will also keep a tab on all these registers.

Earlier, the deputy station superintendent was in possession of the complaint register.

“It was a common problem faced by passengers who found it difficult to register their complaints and avoided doing so. To bridge this communication gap between the authorities and passengers,

it was decided that the complaint registers would be maintained by the shopkeepers at railway stations. Feedback from the passengers is a priority for us, which helps in improving services,” said IRCTC Aneet Dulat, chief regional manger.

These registers would then be audited by the IRCTC officials. Complaints related to different departments would be subsequently forwarded while the ones dealing with catering and food will be looked in by IRCTC.

Passengers, meanwhile, have welcomed the move and expressed relief over the matter of filing complaints, the issue which was being neglected by the railway authorities since a long time.

“I had to spend an hour to register my complaint. While at first, I could not locate the official who is responsible to look after the register. After that, the register could not be located. This is a very wise decision taken by the railways for the benefit of passengers,” said a passenger who had just registered his complaint.

“The decision will be implemented by the next month. Also, there will be attempts by IRCTC to inform the passengers about these registers,” Dulat added.

Rail meet to address logistics needs

Railway Board chairman KC Jena held a high level meeting on Saturday here to discuss a detailed plan being prepared by the Indian Railways
to address the fast growing logistics needs- both for passenger and freight services- in the Greater Kolkata metropolitan area.

The plan, which is perhaps the first of its kind being tried out by the Railways’ system to tackle fast growing needs of Kolkata and its suburban area, essentially revolves around an integrated approach by Eastern (ER), South Eastern (SER) and Metro Railway to tackle the demanding transportation needs of the area over the next 15-20 years.

The meeting was attended by Deepak Krishan, General Manager, Eastern Railway, AKJain, General Manager, South Eastern Raiway and VN Tripathi, General Manager, Metro Railway and principal head of departments of all the three Railways based in Kolkata.

“A detailed and holistic plan is being worked out encompassing all the three railways, namely ER, SER and Metro to identify the needs of the greater Kolkata region. We are in the process of shortlisting a consultant who will help us prepare the blueprint for its execution,” a top Railway official told ET.

The Railways’ technical services arm, RITES, is likely to be one of the agencies shortlisted for the consultancy. “A decision on the appointment of the consultant is expected shortly. We will have to decide whether it is through an open tender or through a single tender, he added.

“We have decided on the terms of reference for the job and have completed an internal study to make a detailed assessment of the number of passengers and freight customers as well as the number of freight terminals in and around Kolkata. This will help us understand the need to either relocate or augment these terminals to meet future needs,” the official said.

The plan will be worked out with other key agencies involved in growth and development of the city namely, Kolkata Metropolitan Development Agency (KMDA).

The meeting also reviewed the performance of the three railways and also discussed the launch of Metro Railways’ extended services upto Garia. The service in that stretch is likely to operational by end of March 2009.

Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Railways to introduce Bullet train for Delhi-Patna route

Patna, Jan 22,: Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on Thursday said that the Indian Railways have commenced the process for a Bullet train that will run between Delhi and Patna.

“We will introduce a bullet train between Delhi and Patna for which the Railways are going to appoint a consultant for presenting a feasibility report,” Lalu, who is also the RJD chief, told a public meeting here.

Speaking at the public meet Lalu informe that a locomotive factory would be inaugurated at Marhaura in Chapra next month and an electric engine factory would be set up in Madhepura, which was last year hit by the floods of the River Kosi from Nepal.

The Union Cabinet has given clearance to the Railways to set up seven factories worth rupees 55,000 crore (550 billion rupees) in Bihar, Lalu added.

These projects would be able to generate enough employment in next three years that the local youth of Bihar would not have to look out of the State for job opportunities, said Lalu while adding “instead people from other states would come to Bihar for employment”.

He informed that the Railways have take over two loss-making units of Bharat Wagon at Muzaffarpur and Mokama and also the Dalmiyanagar factory for revival.

New Kerala

Want a porter? Punch numbers for quick service

Want a porter? Punch numbers for quick service – Tatanagar porters reach tech junction, use mobile phones to build rapport with customers

Jamshedpur, Jan. 25: Iqbal Khan (Amitabh Bachchan) in Coolie had had to struggle for a living — be it attending to passengers or spearheading movements for his rights.

But that was 1983. Two decades later, the new-age porters at Tatanagar railway station have hi-tech methods to keep their business going.

They are now busy building better rapport with the customers with the help of their cell phones. The porters have started distributing their numbers to customers and are focusing on better customer service.

Om Prakash, a porter at the Tatanagar railway station, has been working for the past 13 years. The profession had not been lucrative enough for him till a year ago. Then, he bought a mobile phone.

Today, he believes that his earning has multiplied and a few passengers
recognise him for his “ good customer service”.

“Whenever I attend to a passenger, I give them my number. This has helped me gain a few customers, a decent number of them being businessmen and shopkeepers.
The passengers give me a call sometime before the train is to arrive with their train name so that I can be ready to carry their luggage. A few people also call me to ask for information about the train timings, which I do in order to maintain the rapport,” said Om Prakash.

The Tatanagar railway station has a dearth of porters.

After the railways started promoting the porters to the post of gangmen, about 27 of them have remained so far in a span of a year. There are a number of people who are not registered porters but have started working as one to make a living.

“About 110 porters in the past six months have been promoted and we are just 27 now. One will no more find the crowd of porters that used to crowd compartments on the arrival of trains. We are too few in numbers. Also some people from outside have also started carrying luggage as a way of earning. Competition for us has become tough so we had to look for our own ways of survival,” said Ma Canker, another porter at the station.

Hence the new tech-savvy avatar of porters.

Maintaining a mobile was difficult initially, said some, but with lower call
charges, it has become easier for the porters.

“Socha nahi tha ki itna accha hoga (I did not think it will yield such good
results). It was a liability first but now I find a Rs 1,000-1,500 rise in my
monthly income. Now we are just a call away,” said Om Prakash.

“The world is developing so why not the porters? I think it is an excellent idea and it’s good that uneducated people like porters are also trying hi-tech methods for survival,” said Amarjeet Arora, a local businessman at the station.

Inspired by these four porters, others are also planning to invest in the gadget that is sure to bring them better income. “Once I have the money, I will buy a cell phone so that even we can be a call away from the passengers, especially at night,” said one Gajadhar Pandey.

Now charter a train to your destination

Mumbai: Next on the itinerary of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism
Corporation (IRCTC) is ‘chartered tour package’ to destinations of your choice.

The first such train will begin from February 19 from Vasai Road in Mumbai to Goa via Ahmedabad.

Owing to the immense popularity for its recent initiative – the Bharat Darshan scheme – the IRCTC was flooded with requests from different communities and corporate clients asking them to design short and comfortable packages. With the summer vacations round the corner, IRCTC has already chalked out three such packages – Goa, Tirupathi and Vaishnodevi.

Bela Meena, additional general manager, IRCTC, said, “We came across lots of people while undertaking the Bharat Darshan project who were ready to pay more
for additional comforts. Besides they were not all keen to visit the places we had chalked out in the itinerary. This is the reason we designed the concept of a ‘chartered train’, which will be for specific destinations. We also plan to offer the entire coach if we get around 60 people from the same community wanting to travel to a particular location.”

Talking about the requests she said, “Interestingly we came across a large number of people from the Jain community wanting to travel to their pilgrimage sites in Gujarat and Ahmedabad. Some corporates, too, have approached us with similar requests.”

The chartered train will come at a price as it will be a specially designed
package with added facilities. “Unlike the Bharat Darshan package where we do not charge the ’empty haulage’ and the ‘detention’ charges, the passengers travelling in the chartered train will have to bear these charges. Empty haulage is the charge incurred while assembling the coaches from various places together and detention charges are those which are incurred when the train is detained at a particular destination while the passengers go site seeing.”

When asked whether IRCTC would be required to seek permission from the Railway Board before charting the new package she said that it has already received an approval. Currently, the corporation is flooded with various requests from people asking to plan packages for destinations in East India like Darjeeling during the summer vacations.

This is the second such venture of the railways after the successful Bharat Darshan scheme, which was announced by the Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav early this year. “We use a 7-coach non-AC sleeper class train plus a pantry car and two service locomotives to carry 504 passengers for Bharat Darshan. However, in the chartered train scheme we hope to carry 900 passengers on 15-coach train which comprises six 3-tier AC coaches and six sleeper class coaches besides pantry and service locomotives,” said Meena.

Railways targets car-ferrying business with auto wagons

Two such trains started trial runs last month; each can load 270 cars—existing trains can only carry 125 cars

Bangalore: The Indian Railways is taking on truckers—traditional
rivals in the auto logistics business—by building trains specially designed to carry more cars.

Last month, the railways started trial runs using two such trains, called auto wagons, designed by the Research Designs and Standards
Organization, in Lucknow, and built at the Jagadhari workshop near Ambala in Haryana. Ready to load: An auto wagon carrying Maruti Suzuki’s Alto cars.

These trains have 45 double-deck covered wagons, each capable of
carrying six small cars. One train can load 270 cars, at least double the capacity of existing wagons. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, India’s biggest car maker, used these auto wagons to transport the first export consignment of its new small car, the A-star, from the Gurgaon station, about 15km from its Manesar plant in Haryana, to Mundra Port in Gujarat.

The 1,150km distance between Gurgaon station and Mundra Port was
covered in 51 hours. “We plan to cut transit time to 30 hours,” said
a Maruti Suzuki executive who didn’t want to be named. From the port, the cars were loaded on a carrier owned by Japanese shipping firm NYK Line and shipped to Europe.

Until now, Maruti Suzuki had been transporting cars by rail in what
the railways call new modified goods trains that have a capacity of
125 cars. These trains are old passenger bogies converted into goods
wagons. “We want to enter the auto logistics business in a big way to
increase the rail dispatches of cars,” said a railway ministry official who didn’t want to be named. “Less than 2% of the finished vehicles manufactured in India (about 1.6 million cars annually) are now transported by rail, the balance is by road.”

In comparison, nearly 25% of cars made in Europe, the US and China
are transported by a combination of rail and water. For almost a year beginning mid-2006, Maruti Suzuki had transported cars by rail to Mundra Port and then on ships to customers in Kochi.

This was discontinued in September after Maruti turned down a demand
from the ship operator, Shreyas Shipping and Logistics Ltd to raise
rates. Maruti Suzuki is now building a terminal siding inside its plant so
that cars rolling out of the plant can be loaded directly on to the
auto wagons, said the company executive.

The railways plans to induct 10 more auto wagons. Each auto wagons
costs about Rs15 crore to build.

Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Konkan Railway completes 11 years

Friday, 23 Jan, 2009

Konkan Railway will be completing 11 years of the commencement of its through line train operations on January 26th 2009.

It was on this day in 1998 that the trains directly connected Mumbai with Mangalore in shortest possible time, reducing the travel between these places from 36 to 16 hours.

In the 11 years, it is the first time that Konkan Railway has not reported any consequential accident on its route in 2008. Konkan Railway has achieved this feat by taking extra efforts to increase safety on its route by executing massive earthworks, widening the slopes, planting lakhs of Vetiver grass as soil erosion control measure, and various other geo-tech works to arrest boulder falls and soil slippage during the monsoon. The efforts have borne fruit. There has not been any major traffic disruption on the route in the past 3 years since the time these massive safety works were executed and a special Monsoon Time Table implemented on the route.

In these 11 years, Konkan Railway has also made significant strides in train operations and innovations. The innovative Anti-Collision Device, a patented technology of Konkan Railway is being implemented in phases over various zonal railways in India. KRCL has now formed a special `ACD Task Force’ to tap the immense potential that ACD has in the domestic and the international market.

However, Konkan Railway has also brought a financial turnaround in the last 4 years, displaying a significant increase in its earnings, total surplus and achieving the lowest net loss and highest Operating index so far. In the past, the World Bank has appreciated KRCL’s practices to bring down the cost of operation and maintenance and termed it a benchmark for others to follow. Further on, Konkan Railway aims at fostering marketing strategies for commercial implementation of its innovative technologies far and wide and nurture efforts to make the Corporation a profit making unit.

Further on, Konkan Railway aims at fostering marketing strategies for commercial implementation of its innovative technologies far and wide and nurture efforts to make the Corporation a profit making unit.

‘Rail wardens’ on duty to make station safer

Chandigarh The interface that the Government Railway Police (GRP) sought to create between them and the general public through the ‘Rail Warden’ scheme, launched a month ago, has started reaping dividends. These rail wardens
were appointed on the basis of their experience and alertness from a diverse group comprising porters, commuters, autorickshaw drivers and station employees such as the cleaning staff.

The team recently assisted in the recovery of a stolen autorickshaw. “In one of the weekly meetings we were alerted about the increasing autorickshaw thefts from the railway station. I made a list of the vehicle numbers that were stolen.
On January 15, I spotted one such autorickshaw parked in Banur and immediately informed the GRP,” says Rajnish Kumar, an autorickshaw operator appointed as a rail warden.

There are two women among the 25-odd rail wardens appointed by the GRP. In the weekly meetings, the team’s primary job is to report any suspicious object,person, theft or case of eve teasing in the trains or at the platforms.

GRP Station House Officer (SHO) Inspector Teerath Ram addresses the rail warden’s weekly meeting at the railway station.

Apart from encouraging them, we want to channelise their experience and abilities in the right direction. We also train them in checking vehicles in the parking areas, passengers and luggage at the platforms,says the SHO.

On the inclusion of women in the team, he adds: Female participation is
needed as several issues like eve teasing and harassment in trains need to be addressed.

GRP Inspector General K K Mishra adds: The objective is to identify a section of people from the community which can be an assisting intelligence force for us. We have inducted people from various professions that cover a large area of the railway station, including the parking, platforms and the trains.

The enthusiasm of the team is commendable considering they are not offered any salary or incentives for the work. For 60-year-old Kehar Singh, who has worked as a porter at the railway station for nearly four decades, the work gives him a sense of satisfaction.

After serving the passengers for the last four decades, I feel honoured to be part of this community, says Kehar.

Railway to computerize parcel office

PATNA: Work on computerization of the railway parcel office is to
start this month. This step has been taken to maintain full
transparency in the booking of luggage from Patna Junction for far-
off places by mail and express trains, said Danapur DRM B D Garg.

According to Garg, Patna Junction has been the hub of parcel booking generating good revenue for the railways. It will be the first such station of the East Central Railway (ECR) to have computerization facility in the parcel office. The railways have given the contract to CRIS, a well-known company, to expedite computerization, he said.

The DRM said Railway Board has already given its nod for
computerization of the railway parcel office. Under the plan, the
railways have decided to computerize parcel bookings at every major station of the division to facilitate easy parcel bookings and
maintain a clean record of bookings. Work will be faster in the
computerized system, he said.

The DRM informed the railways have worked out the details to link
functioning of parcel offices of all major stations under ECR to the
computerized network. The new system is likely to check malpractice
and delay in transporting the booked consignments, he said.

Garg said the railways have taken various steps to provide more
passenger amenities at Patna Junction. The 20-feet-wide foot
overbridge (FOB) at Patna Junction has been thrown open to
passengers now.

According to Garg, two other FOBs located at “Howrah and Delhi ends”will be widened up to 16 feet at Patna Junction to cope with the
rush of passengers. A proposal to this effect has already been sent
to Railway Board, he said.

To streamline the maintenance work of coaches, particularly of LHB
German coaches of the Rajdhani Express, the railways have decided to build two additional pit lines at Rajendra Nagar Terminal. Besides,
the railways would extend the length of platform no. 1 from the
present 19-coach capacity to 24 coaches at Rajendra Nagar Terminal.

The work will be taken up soon after acquiring private land of about
500 square metres at Rajendra Nagar. After the completion of the
project, all mail and express trains having a load combination of 24
coaches could be easily accommodated on platform no. 1 either for
departure or on arrival there, the DRM said.