France’s top railway operator for comparative study

KOLKATA: A team of top officials from Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français (SNCF), France’s top railway operator which also runs the TGV,
are now in the country to undertake a comparative study of engineering and maintenance of rolling stock.

The French delegation will hold meetings with the Railway Board and in various zonal railway headquarters to discuss and exchange notes on maintenance methods and practices in the two countries.

As per of the visit, the SNCF team met officials of the Western Railway in Mumbai on Friday, after meeting the top brass of Eastern Railways in Kolkata on Thursday. The French team is also likely to visit facilities of Indian Railways’ Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in Lucknow.

On Thursday , the team visited a number of field maintenance shops under Eastern Railway. This included Coaching Maintenance Depot at Tikiapara and Electric Engine Maintenance Unit at Howrah. Officials of Kolkata’s Metro Railway also made a presentation on rake maintenance to SNCF delegation.

In his meeting with the SNCF team, Eastern Railway general manager Deepak Krishnan said Indian Railways gives top most priority in the maintenance of rolling stock in an effort aimed at improving overall service quality. This includes maintenance of passenger coaches, wagons and engines to ensure reliability, safety and availability of rolling stock.

A three-stage maintenance of rolling stock is undertaken at different levels like end-to-end of journey, maintenance at primary base of the rolling stock and periodical overhauling in the workshop. As a result, the Railways has managed to improve on time performance and punctuality and reduce failure of rolling stock. For instance, in running of suburban trains, Eastern Railway presently maintains 98% punctuality.

SNCF delegates touring the country include Serge Cridhig, Kervella Cedric, Arnaud Sohier, Bruno Bouette, Laurence Ezraty-Daziano, Thierry Chantriaux, Kazmierczak Jerome and Michel Testand. From Eastern Railway, all principal head of the departments attended the meeting including Md. Jamsheed, Divisional Railway Manager, Howrah and Satyender Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager, Sealdah.

Luxury train attracts travel industry

JAIPUR: The travel industry has evinced a keen interest in Rajasthan’s brand new luxury train, the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels. Tour operators and travel agents thronged the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation stall at the Great Indian Travel Bazaar, a three-day show which concluded here on Tuesday.

Rajasthan Tourism, knowing well the potential of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar, the country’s largest buyer-seller mart in the tourism sector, had made special arrangements to bring the train to Jaipur from Phulera where it was stationed for the off season.

Rajasthan Tourism made arrangements to take the participants out for a visit to the train. The visitors were visibly impressed by the ambience, comfort and services provided aboard the train, which is in the category of the now hugely successful Palace on Wheels.

Royal Rajasthan On Wheels General Manager B.K. Sharma said, “I am amazed at the number of queries that have come for the train. As many as ten travel agents approached us with the intention of becoming the General Selling Agent in their respective countries.”

Bateel Travel General Manager Raza Khan described the train as an amazing tourism product which he would like to popularise in West Asia. The tour operators who visited the train included Trevor Lake, Imam Hossain, Michel Anitas, Danila Weigel, Vikas Nabar, Koolwal Kohli and Gerhard Dress.

The Rajasthan Department of Tourism, one of the organisers along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Union Tourism Ministry, and World Travel and Tourism Council tried to promote lesser known destinations in the State at the mart, apart from the popular ones. The B2B session for Rajasthan Tourism ended on a very optimistic note in terms of new business to be generated from across the country as well as abroad.

As many as 178 foreign buyers representing 159 companies from over 42 countries interacted with 168 registered Indian enterprises in tourism from across the country. The governments of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh showcased their tourism products at the mart along with the Union Ministry of Tourism.

“The response to the travel bazaar has been tremendous,” said Usha Sharma, Commissioner Tourism, Rajasthan. “In two years’ time the travel bazaar has become an important forum for buyers and sellers of tourism products,” she pointed out.

A club on rails –

Train fans are as reliable as the railways they love. In 2009, the Indian Railways Fan Club (IRFCA), a website dedicated to the serious love for Indian Railways, completes two decades.

While some members document the Indian Railways photographically, others are engaged in conservation and awareness building, still others are simply here for ‘railfanning’. Sign-up costs nothing and the site itself is a huge treasure of information that will intrigue even the lay visitor, covering everything from trivia, history and technical explanations to FAQs on rolling stock databases, signalling, operations, railway zones, loco sheds and even tracks classifications, specifications and maintenance. ‘Steam in India’ has a special following of its own. Annual conventions, the latest was held in January in Bangalore, also draw great numbers of enthusiasts. So, if IRFCA is the Indian Railways Fan Club (which, as it categorically states, is not officially affiliated to the Indian Railways), what’s the additional A for? It used to be the Indian Railways Fan Club of America, where the group first started before the rapid spread of the internet turned it global. Today, one of the two biggest contingents of Indian Railways fans is from India.

BSP contributes for Rlys dedicated freight corridor

Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) is contributing to provide impetus for the Indian Railways much awaited dedicated multi-modal high-axle load freight corridor in the Eastern and Western corridors, BSP sources said here.

BSP, a unit of the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), was producing its new items continuously to strengthen the Indian Railways.

Apart from producing international standard wagons and coaches, the BSP has been producing railway plates and tracks to give a boost to the railway project.

SR to set up Heritage Centre in Triuchirapalli

TIRUCHI: A heritage centre will be set up here to showcase the rich heritage and history of railways, the Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi, S. Subramhanyan said here on Monday.

The Southern Railway had sanctioned of Rs. One crore for establishing the centre which will help in focussing the superior character of railway as a travel mode compared to others, he said while presiding over the 54th Railway Week Celebrations organised by the Tiruchi Division.

Highlighting the performance of the division, he said passenger earnings had increased to Rs. 131.23 crore in 2008-09 from Rs. 116.54 crore in 2007-08 thereby registering an increase of 10 per cent.

The overall gross earnings of Rs. 304.50 crore in 2008-09 showed an increase of 22 per cent over the previous year.

Owing to combined efforts of railway employees, the division was able to register an all-time high originating loading of 5.374 metric tonnes against the originating loading of 4.822 metric tonnes during the previous year, registering a growth of 11 per cent.

The division also witnessed an increase in the number of trains operated in 2008-09 as well as in the number of passengers. Despite introduction of several trains the punctuality performance was not comprised, he said.

Highlighting some major developments in the division, Mr. Subramhanyan said gauge conversion works between Mayiladuthurai and Tiruvarur and from Tiruvarur to Karaikudi would commence shortly.

Electrification work between Ariyalur and Tiruchi had been completed with testing underway. It is expected to be operationalised soon, he said. Eco-friendly toilets which have been put on trials at Srirangam would be extended to level crossing gates and way-side stations.

Releasing a Special Cover brought out in connection with the 150 years of Railway in South India, the Post Master General, Central Region, Tiruchi S.P. Rajalingam said the Defence, Railways and Postal Departments were great blending factors for the unification of the country.

Awards and certificates were distributed to railway staff on the occasion in recognition of their excellent work.

The Additional Divisional Railway Manager S. Ramasubbu, Southern Railway Mazdoor Union divisional secretary P. Palanivel and Dakshin Railway Employees Union divisional president M.S. Unnikrishnan spoke.

IIM launches programme for Indian Railway service officers

KOLKATA: IIM Calcutta has been commissioned by the Railway Board of India to conduct a 12-week executive general management programme for 60 officers, as a part of the regular 18-month training program for Indian Railway service probationer officers.

In this connection, Indian Railways and IIM Calcutta have signed an MoU for training of Indian railway service officers for the next five years starting this year.

The general management programme will cover topics in economics, human resource management, management information systems, public policy, behavioural sciences, operations management, marketing, ethics, finance and accounting and strategic management. The training programme also includes sessions with industry experts and visits to various industries in the eastern region.

After selection through the Engineering Service Examinations and the Civil Services Examinations of the Union Public Service Commission, the probationer Indian railway service officers are required to undergo an 18-month training program before induction into service on various railway zones.

The 18-month training program includes classroom training at Railway Staff College Vadodara and specialised training institutes, as well as field training on zonal railways, divisions, construction organisations and manufacturing units of the Indian Railways.

Prof B Nag, one of the IIM-C programme directors along with Prashant Mishra and Sahadeb Sarkar said in a release: “This programme is amongst a continuous series of collaborations with the Indian Railways on various aspects over the past few years- in fact this programme has started just when we have completed the Business Plan Study for the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors for the Indian Railways.”

Integral Coach Factory installs first Green energy project

Chennai: Integral Coach Factory (ICF), under the Ministry of Railways, Govt. of India, has embarked upon the first Green Energy Project of the Indian Railways by installation of 10.5 MW Wind Power Plant at Kasturirengapuram and Urumangalam Villages, Radhapuram Taluk, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu. The Centre for Monitoring System of the Windmill was switched on by Shri Sukhbir Singh, Member/Electrical, Railway Board, New Delhi, in the presence of Shri.L.M.Sahore, Chief Electrical Engineer, ICF, Shri. S.P.Vavre, Chief Electrical General Engineer, ICF, and other senior officials of Railway Board, ICF and Tamil Nadu Electricity Board.

On the occasion, Shri Sukhbir Singh released a Project Design Document for the registration of this project with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) for claiming carbon credits. The wind power plant is expected to generate approximately 25.9 million units annually, which would completely offset the total annual energy requirement of 25 million units of ICF.

The Green Energy Project qualifies for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) benefits, which are expected to generate a revenue of Rs.2.5 crores per annum on account of carbon credits. The project has been completed in a record time of 4 months after the award of the contract. Tamil Nadu Electricity

Board authorities gave speedy clearance for the grid connectivity. The specific locational advantages of this site are ready land availability on free-hold basis, availability of grid connectivity with Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and the Centre for Monitoring System of the wind mill round the year.

Rail fair generates huge interest

VARANASI: The adverse weather conditions with heat waves blowing across the stalls at North Eastern Railway (NER) stadium, Lahartara could not stop
young and enthusiastic participants of Railway Fair 2009, who gathered to know about the history and development of Indian Railways marking the colourful inauguration of three-day fair on Saturday.

While the divisional railway manager (DRM), NER, Varanasi, DN Jha formally inaugurated the fair in the evening, the venue witnessed display of around 50 stalls giving it a mini-India look on the inaugural day.

A number of specialties of different parts of the country including bedsheets from Bhagalpur (Bihar) and quilts of Jaipur (Rajasthan) apart from famous bamboo furniture from Bareilly were displayed on the occasion. Similarly, the specialties of the region including handicrafts made from Banarasi silk, world famous carpets from Bhadohi and stone carvings of Chunar (Mirzapur district) also attracted the attention of viewers, majority of them being the family members of railway employees.

It may be mentioned that NER divisional women’s welfare association (NERDWWA) has organised the fair to raise fund for various welfare programmes carried out in a year.

According to Manju Jha, president, NERDWWA, the fair has included display of salient features of Indian Railways (exhibited through photographs and models) and multi cuisine touch has been also given to it displaying various eating specialties of different parts of the country.

Hoards of people gathering near the stalls selling idli, dosa and even Banarasi paan was also one of the highlights of the day.

A number of stalls giving information about bank loans, insurance plans and education institutions (coaching centres) also attracted the attention of the people.

Booking tickets online soares by 135 %

Not only Aviation sector is becoming hi-tech but the Indian Railways are also progressing ahead by engaging modern technology. Nearly 75 per cent railway passengers living in Metropolitan cities and towns are using Internet facility to book railway tickets.
Going to railway station to fetch railway tickets and standing in long queues is now going to be a thing of past. In a period of just one-year number of people getting railway tickets booked online has increased by 135 per cent.

4.40 crore people got tickets booked online:
Those citizens who have access to computer at their home or at close distance they are getting railway tickets booked through Internet. While travellers who take assistance of authorised railway agents their percentage is 23 per cent. Online ticket booking is helping crores of people and it has become a profitable preposition for railways too. From April 2008 to March 2009 nearly 4.40 crore people got tickets booked through Internet. Last year this figure was mere 1.89 crore.

An officer of Railway Division informed that the practice of advance booking of tickets through Internet is now in vogue. E ticketing prevents selling of tickets in black. In a period of just one year number of people getting tickets booked online has soared by 135 per cent. Another advantage of this facility is that black-marketing of reserved tickets has stopped to a great extent. Owing to e-ticketing role of travel agents is getting eliminated and the ticket cannot be transferred to other person as under e-ticketing passenger has to keep ID proof with him while traveling. Now number of railway travellers has increased by 127 per cent. From April 2008 to March 2009, 7.98 crore travellers traveled in trains while last year this figure was only 3.51 crore. Due to this profit of railways has registered an increase of 129 per cent.

Suggestions can now be SMSed to CR

MUMBAI: Central Railway (CR) wants you to help it serve you better. It has started, on a trial basis for six months, a scheme in which passengers can participate and help the railway management by messaging or e-mailing their feedback.

Feedback and suggestions can be SMSed to 9004411111 or e-mailed to

Officials said it would help them align resources and priorities to customers’ need. “We need to know what commuters want and this will reduce the gap between commuters’ expectations and our performance,” CR chief PRO, S C Mudgerikar, said.