Railways to install bio-diesel plant in Chennai

Tiruchirappalli, June 16: As part of its efforts to move towards less expensive bio-fuel, the Railways proposed to establish a one lakh litre capacity bio-diesel plant at the Southern Railway Loco Works at surburban Perambur in Chennai.

The plant, to be set up by Indian Railways Organisation For Alternative Fuels (IROAF) in association with the Southern Railway by the end of 2010, would extract oil from jetropha and pungum seeds and convert it into bio-diesel, Southern Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer V Carmelus told PTI here.

The bio-diesel produced at the plant would be meant exclusively for the usage of Southern Railway operations.

As per an MoU signed recently, Southern Railway would provide the space and infrastructure while the IROAF would handle the technical operations of the plant, he said.

IROAF would procure the requisite plant and machinery, estimated to cost around Rs.Two crore and as per the MoU the plant would be commissioned within next 18 months.

The capacity of the plant would be one lakh liters per day and Southern Railway would obtain the bio seeds through contractual farming planned in Railway owned land. Besides diesel locomotives, the bio-diesel would be also utilised for road vehicles belonging to the railway administration, he said. – Agencies


Indian Railways plan 4 luxury trains

New Delhi: Europe and America is reeling under a recession, but that hasn’t stopped the Indian railways from introducing four luxury train tours in January with an eye on the high-end foreign tourist.

Fall in the number of buyers at Delhi fashion week
The new train tours — two each for Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata — are along the lines of the palace-on-wheels, and was planned after a joint venture by railways and the travel company Cox and Kings. The tours will wind their leisurely way across the country for eight days and seven nights for a princely tariff of $1,000 a night. Stopovers will include such places as Gaya and Varanasi on the Kolkata route, and Bandhavgarh and Khajuraho on the Mumbai route.

Rakesh Tandon, the managing director of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), says he is not worried about recession. “We launched these projects because our surveysshowed us that there was a market for these services. Upper-end tourism is still not hit by recession, and we are hoping this will be a profitable venture,” he said. The tours have such evocative names as Celestial Journeys and Royal Line and the railways is going to run these on a 50-50 revenue-sharing model with Cox and Kings.

The Palace-on-Wheels, a pioneering effort of the railways in luxury tourism, started making a profit just a couple of years ago and its southern version, Deccan Queen, is still struggling to make a profit. These experiences have made the railways propose budget versions of these trains.

However, with railway minister Mamata Banerjee keen on appeasing the aam aadmi more than anything else, there’s a doubt whether the project will be given enough rope.


Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 8:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dial 139 to order food

If the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has its way, soon passengers will be able to place meal orders before boarding long distance trains. The service, to be introduced initially in trains to and from the metros, can be availed through the toll-free number of 139, with passengers being given the option to choose from a menu ranging from Indian to Chinese and Continental.

“In an attempt to minimise complaints from the passengers, the IRCTC has submitted this unique proposal to the Railway board. Once this is implemented, it is expected to bring a revolutionary change in catering services on trains across the country,” said Group General Manager (Catering), North Zone, Aneet Dulat.

Taking a cue from her predecessor, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken all possible measures to appease the taste buds of a diverse population. She has not only customised menus by adding the popular local delicacies, including machher-jhol and sandesh for passengers travelling to West Bengal, dhokla and khaman on Mumbai trains, and avial for Southern trains, but also given a wider variety for the passengers to choose from. The new menu, with added options, has come into effect from the first week of June.


Rail Europe in talks with Indian Rly for ticket booking access

MUMBAI: European railway major Rail Europe plans to soon offer customers the option of booking tickets aboard luxury trains being operated by Indian
Railways through their website.

Rail Europe is in talks with authorities at Indian Railways to allow each other access to ticket booking systems so that passengers booking for trains in Europe can book tickets for trains in India and vice versa.

“Markets like Australia, Japan, South America and New Zealand are interested in Indian Railways and have been seeking information about luxury trains here,” Rail Europe, sales director for Asia, Florence Pasquier said.

“We would like links to maximum luxury trains like the Deccan Odyssey and Palace on Wheels,” she said.

Rail Europe is in talks to allow booking on Indian trains through their website by January 2010 and is open to allowing Indian passengers to book European trips through their existing website, Rail Europe India Executive Director Gopi Iengar said.

The railway service which covers almost all of Europe also announced the creation of a special website for Indian commuters, where travelers can book their tickets or rail passes in rupees using credit cards.


Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 8:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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S Rly to supply biodegradable bed rolls to passengers

TIRUCHIRAPPALLI (TN): The Southern Railway has plans to provide bio-degradable and disposable bed rolls for passengers travelling in express trains.

As an experimental measure, passengers traveling in the air-conditioned coaches of Chennai-Madurai Pandian Express train would be supplied with bed rolls which are bio-degradable and easily disposable, Southern Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer V Carmelus, who is in-charge of all the rolling stocks in the zone, said here.

To start with two bed spreads and one pillow case, all in pristine white would be given to the passengers and based on their feed back, it would be extended to other trains.

As per the proposal, a wrapper printed with the phrase “KINDLY TAKE IT HOME would enthuse the travelers to retain the linen themselves after the journey.

It would also mean that the linen supplied were absolutely fresh, he said.

He said at present more than 20 per cent of the bed rolls supplied were not returned by the passengers at the end of the journey or considered lost or theft.

The new scheme would also address the concerns of passengers who were against using the linen supplied by railways although they were neatly washed and pressed.

Carmelus, who was here recently, was optimistic that the new scheme would gain popularity and patronage though it would cost more for the railway administration.


Crew Management System to boost train operations

New Delhi, June 19: A state-of-art computerized system is being deployed by Railways across all crew booking lobbies of both drivers and guards for efficient train operations and safer journey.

The crew management system (CMS) is proposed to be deployed in 300 crew lobbies aiming at bringing in higher efficiency of drivers and guards and better crew deployment.

“So far 288 lobbies having 88,000 crew members have been covered and we hope the entire project work would be completed shortly,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

Crew lobby is where drivers are assigned their duties and a record is maintained detailing their rosters and hours of work put in.

The official said the system will also enable regulation of the working hours of drivers and put an end to complaints of fatigue.

“Higher performance level would also raise efficiency of train operations and safety of passengers,” the official said.

The crew have been provided with biometric access that makes their authenticity devoid of any proxy reporting.

In other words, none other than the assigned driver can take charge of the train, as happened a few months back when a superfast train between New Delhi and Kanpur was operated by unassigned staff, said another official.

Implementation of CMS was approved by the Railways in 2006. The task was entrusted to CRIS for developing and providing the system, which has borrowed the best of diverse system, though not of similar efficiency, prevailing in other zones.

It automates day-to-day business functions of the crew thereby providing information of their status throughout, rostering their duty allocations, providing information on availability of crew at their home station and assigning crew to trains, the official said.

One of its hallmark lies in keeping track of the crew. It provides global tracking of all crew on the system in real time whether they are on train, resting at headquarters, on training or on leave, the official said.


Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 8:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Nukkad nataks to check trespassing on railway tracks

In a bid to curb trespassing on railway tracks, the Western Railway (WR) has come up with a unique solution. Nukkad nataks (street plays) will be warning the commuters against crossing railway tracks. The move forms part of the Anmol Jeevan drive by WR against trespassing on rail tracks.

The first nukkad natak will be performed at the Churchgate Station on Friday at 4.30 pm. The play will be in the form of a conversation between two people. One of them gets run over by a train while crossing the rail tracks. The play will be performed at different stations of WR between June 22 and June 30.

The drive is supported by Western Railway’s women’s social service committee.

Shyam Sunder Gupta, Chief Public Relations Officer, said, “Apart from strict action against the offenders, the WR wants to make its commuters aware of the hazards of crossing the tracks. Through the street plays, which will be performed by the WR staff, an attempt will be made to create an emotional impact on commuters who do not follow the rules.”


Darjeeling toy train motivates people to donate blood

The Suryanagar Samaj Kalyan Sanstha, a voluntary forum observed the World Blood Donors Day by holding a blood donation camp aboard the famous toy train of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways Toy at Siliguri Railway Station on Sunday.

The blood donation camp aboard the train continued as it chugged along upto Kurseong, halting at all stations enroute.

The toy train was decorated with posters, banners and with different kind of scientific information material on voluntary blood donation.

The mobile exhibition will enlighten the masses including students about the significance of blood donation.

“This way, we are trying to make people aware taking the toy train from Siliguri station to Kurseong hills having an exhibition in the train itself,” said Sankar Sen, member of Siliguri Suryanagar Samaj Kalyan Sanstha.

Santa Subba, a blood donor agreed that it is a noble day on which volunteers have donated blood.

“In the past we have donated blood a lot of times. The main thing is that the Toy Train is hosting the blood donation camp and I feel more people should come and donate blood,” he added.

The NGO believes that blood donation camps symbolise the true nature and spirit of humanity, displaying a marvellous spirit of being one with the community. (ANI)


IRCTC to introduce common recipe book

PATNA: Stung by repeated complaints about poor quality of food, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to introduce
common recipe book for private caterers providing services on running long distance passenger trains.

This decision has been taken to standardise food and meals being served to passengers on running trains across the country.

Talking to TOI, an IRCTC official said that a recipe book has been prepared in consultation with the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM). This approved recipe book is being issued to all base kitchens of the railways to maintain quality of food. The railways have about 100 base kitchens across the country. Each such base kitchen is being instructed to follow the recipe book to supply quality meals to passengers on running trains, he said.

The IRCTC has also instructed its staff to paste menu cards on each mail and express train so that passengers could know the exact price of meal being served to them aboard trains. IRCTC has been asked to put on display call numbers in each coach of mail and express train for making any complaints or suggestions by the passengers, sources said.

An IRCTC official said that though this facility was introduced in November last year on experiment basis, good response received by the IRCTC has encouraged its staff to ensure better service to passengers and to provide quality meals to them on running trains, he said and added that IRCTC has proposed to increase marginally quantity of meals, too.


Railways using scrap to make wheels

NEW DELHI: The huge quantity of scrap generated by Railways is now making way to manufacturing units for production of wheels, thanks to the
innovation brought about in this field.

Senior Railway Board officials said the Railway Wagon Factory in Bangalore has made a major headway in this regard using about 1.2 lakh ton of scrap metals for rolling out wheels.

“Scrap will also be used at the Chhapra Wheel Plant,” they said.

The breakthrough came after the Bangalore plant reviewed the scrap, which mostly comprise worn out rail tracks, and made improvements in their metallurgy.

Railways also stand to save revenue with the in-house utilisation of scrap, officials said.

In fact, in-house utilisation of scrap was first recommended by a high-level committee, after which a study in re-utilising the scrap was taken up.

Interestingly, the breakthrough in utilising scrap comes at a time when the Railways have achieved the highest ever sales earning by selling scrap in the last financial year.

Railways earned Rs 3,005 crore by selling scrap, which is 9.8 per cent higher than the sales of previous years, officials said.