UNESCO to evaluate Matheran rail in September

New Delhi, Aug 27(PTI) An international team is arriving in India next month to inspect the over century old Matheran railway in Maharashtra for its possible inclusion in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

A high-level team of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) will inspect Matheran railway, operational since 1907 in the Sahaydri mountain range near Mumbai, which was selected by UNESCO in its tentative list of World Heritage Sites three years back.

“The ICOMOS team would assess the outstanding universal value, its conservation management and authenticity aspects among others of this unique mountain railway during the visit,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

The team would also examine the socio-economic importance of this 20-km-long narrow gauge rail service in Matheran.

The visit is important because UNESCO will accord the World Heritage Site status depending upon the recommendation of the ICOMOS team, the official said.


Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Konkan Railways chugs on J2EE apps

Vijay Devnath, IRSEE, Chief Manager (IT), Konkan Railway Corporation Limited talks about the replacement of Konkan Railway’s 10-year-old Informix-4GL based RAP system with J2EE applications

Konkan Railway earlier relied solely upon Railway Application Package (RAP), a system that computerized all the operational processes of a railway system. The data capture was on the action place and subsequently it provided information for better decision-making and increased asset utilization.

Challenges faced

The biggest IT related challenge was to manage a 10-year old 4GL technology intermixed with modern J2EE applications with browser-based interfaces. There were issues related to using this age old application system, which was built on Informix 4-GL, a 25+ year old CUI language for the Informix RDBMS. The typical issues were:

No support for newer technologies for clients, e.g. Web-browser, layered security, user isolation, connections pooling, etc.
No GUI support (VT-terminals, only CUI)?
No concept of load-balancing in RDBMS, application, reduced reliability
The language technology (4GL, proprietary of Informix) had been dead for over six years
Being a proprietary platform, the cost of support was on the higher side and there was a lack of trained vendor manpower; the future was uncertain
The OEM had given ‘End Of Support Life’ notices
There was a lack of compatibility with current generation systems (hardware, OS, software tools)
A lack of flexibility when compared to current software and user expectations (GUI) existed

Business benefits of J2EE

A J2EE ERP system was implemented in 2008-09. There was a marked improvement in the operations of Konkan Railway thanks to this deployment. The new system has a user-friendly interface on the Client side offering a choice of GUI or browser-based UI. Moreover, it is modular and secure. There is an option of direct PDF/CSV/XML outputs. Moreover, the application can be accessed from any IP Network. The browser-based UI can be used over the Internet, behind Firewalls (with SSL); viewing, saving and e-mailing of reports is possible

Both live systems, the old 4-GL and new J2EE, are working in-parallel—updating the same databases, saving Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) from having to go for an urgent, costly and chaotic replacement of critical systems.

Prefers custom-built ERP and apps

Currently we are using a custom-developed ERP system with the backend being on a standard RDBMS (Informix) and middleware Application servers (Jboss). We do both in-house development as well as third-party led development for new applications. We try to customize the Open Source and commercial products for our needs.

We use Open Source software heavily from operating systems to application servers, groupware and development tools. The primary reason for using Open Source is the freedom from strict licensing and the greater choice that it confers. Additionally, in critical production environments, we use commercially-supported open-source products. In certain cases, we are also using proprietary commercial software such as RDBMS and PC operating systems.

Relevance of Green IT

Green IT is highly relevant for e-governance because these projects are financed by the tax-payers, so they need to be as efficient as possible. Further, given the power situation in the country, we need to save every watt of power and it is in the interest of our nation.

The disposal of e-waste is not a major problem for our organization; however it is tackled by procuring most equipment on a ‘buy-back scheme’, where the supplier of new equipment has to properly dispose-off the condemned equipment.

E-governance projects are benefiting the common people, by providing them with information which is was normally available only in paper files. However, successful examples of e-governance projects are still few and far when compared to failed or stalled projects.

My personal experience has been with paying multiple types of bills/dues online and using credit/debit cards for Web purchases. Today, such facilities are still used by the educated and successful individuals—not the true common man in India.

Managing IT for Konkan Railway
I am the Chief Manager of Information Technology in KRCL. In my current capacity, I am responsible for everything and anything related to IT, which is critical in this corporation, where all business functions are fully or partly on the custom-built ERP system. Prior to this job, I had worked in the IT department of Indian Railways for about nine years and before that I was a Maintenance Manager (of Electric Locomotives, Traction supply) in the Electrical Department of the Railways.

– As told to Vinita Gupta


Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Automation of Rail Land Development Authority

After the completion of computerization, RLDA’s next project is to automated Railways land management for which it plans to deploy an ERP system according to it’s Joint General Manager-IT, Ashok Kumar Gupta

Indian Railways (IR) has hectares of vacant land and waste land that is not required for operational purposes in the foreseeable future. Such land would be identified by the zonal railways and the details thereof would be advised to the Railway Board. These plots of land would thereafter be entrusted to the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) by the Railway Board in phases for commercial development. The business processes involved had to be standardized and automated.

RLDA is an autonomous body created under the Ministry of Railways by a Special Act of Parliament. As the organization’s staff is not well-versed in IT it is a Herculean task to create an environment for the implementation of an IT project. To provide good governance and make an IT project successful is the biggest challenge that we faced.

The ERP system for land management will have modules for land management, project management, employee management and financial management with regular and exceptional MIS and real-time alerts to all concerned.

The process of developing a request for proposal (RFP) is already on in order to select the appropriate vendors/system integrators for facilitating the implementation of the ERP system and provide the requisite hardware and network components.

For a smoother flow of information

Computerization kicked of with a government-centric mission i.e. technology within, for facilitating the flow of information within a department and later from one department to another. But now with the introduction of e-governance projects, the transformation has been effected and information is no longer the privilege of a select few but rather it flows from the government to the citizens. This is how e-governance has become helpful to the common man who can now interact with the system directly and have his grievances redressed rather than depend upon the middlemen in the hierarchy who have been fleecing the common man.

About RLDA

Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) is a statutory Authority, under the Ministry of Railways, set-up by an Amendment to the Railways Act, 1989, for development of vacant railway land for commercial use for the purpose of generating revenue by non-tariff measures.

– As told to Vinita Gupta


Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Battery-operated cars for disabled

Battery-operated cars at Rly stations for disabled
NEW DELHI: Extending a helping hand to disabled and elderly passengers, Railways have decided to operate battery-operated cars for them at major stations.

The small cars will operate round-the-clock to facilitate the needy passengers, a senior Railway Ministry official said. The service will be free.

The vehicles will be run by private operators who will be selected by the zonal railways under certain terms and conditions.

Zonal railways have been asked to work out details with the private operators for signing an agreement for a period of one year.

Railways will provide electricity for charging the batteries of the vehicles and operators will be allowed to advertise on the panel of these small four seater cars.

The modalities of selecting the operators and the possibility of revenue sharing are being worked out, he said. – PTI


Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Railway introduces passenger-friendly technology in MEMU trains

Making the mundane journey more interesting for the daily commuters and other passengers boarding the MEMU trains, Western Railway (WR) authorities have put on track bogies with infotainment facilities onboard.

To begin with, WR authorities introduced the Passenger Information System (PIS) system, which is designed to provide information regarding the next stopping station.

Senior WR officials, Vadodara Division introduced the 12-rake train on Tuesday.

The PIS system will help passengers inside the MEMU trains know their de-boarding station in advance.

“At the moment we have got sanction for two rakes. The facility has been installed in one of the rakes. But gradually it will be installed in rest of the coaches in 13 different MEMU trains which are plying between different destinations,” said a spokesperson at WR, Vadodara Division.


Published in: on August 15, 2009 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  

NXP to supply ICs for contactless smart cards to Railways

Philips promoted NXP Semiconductors today said it has been selected by the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) to power contactless smart cards for automatic fare collection using Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) across the country and the project will begin by next month.

Initially, the ATVMs will be rolled out across five major cities in India, namely New Delhi, Secunderabad, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Pune.

As per the agreement, NXP will provide MIFARE DESFire-based ICs for approximately 6.5 lakh contactless cards over a period of one year.

”The project is expected to commence in September 2009 and will initially be rolled out in two cities,” NXP Semiconductors Senior Director (Global Sales and Marketing India) Ashok Chandak told reporters here.

However, he did not mention the name of the two cities where the project is expected to commence next month.

— (UNI) — 13DC13.xml


Darjeeling station to be recreated in sylvan UK town

LONDON: The romance of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway will be recreated at a station in sylvan Cornwall, England as the heritage train’s oldest
surviving locomotive will ferry visitors on August 19 and 20.

Steam engine enthusiasts are looking forward to the event as the Launceston station in Cornwall will bear the sights and sounds of Darjeeling. Stalls selling Indian crafts and shehnai music will be played on the public address system during the two days.
Organised by the UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS), the money raised during the two days of ‘Darjeeling ambience’ will be used to support the needy through education and medical facilities in India.

Managing Director Nigel Bowman said the event had been publicised nationally in the specialist railway press, and hoped it would attract lots of visitors.

“The fact that the money raised will be used to alleviate poverty in the area is an added bonus,” he said.

During the previous DHRS annual event, the station of Sukna was recreated, but this year the society has decided to transform Launceston into Darjeeling.


Delhi Metro stations to get 160 handicrafts kiosks

Delhi Metro stations will soon have 160 kiosks exhibiting and selling handicraft and food products from all over the country.

The ministry of textiles in collaboration with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will set up the kiosks in select Metro stations with an aim to promote the small-scale industries in the country.

‘The high quality kiosks will be fabricated by Delhi Metro and will be installed at existing and upcoming Metro stations in a phased manner starting from October 2009,’ DMRC spokesman Anuj Dayal said.

Textiles Secretary Rita Menon Thursday gave DMRC Managing Director E. Sreedharan a Rs.50 million cheque as the first installment for setting up the kiosks.

The ministry will pay the company another Rs.50 million and the DMRC will provide the space required and take care of the upkeep of the 9X12 square metre kiosks.

‘The kiosks are expected to be popular among Metro commuters and foreign buyers, expected in large numbers during the Commonwealth Games, as they can easily access the products even without leaving the Metro premises,’ Dayal added.

— Indo-Asian News Service


Published in: on August 15, 2009 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rly parcel office being computerised

PATNA: The Danapur division of East Central Railway (ECR) has started computerisation of railway parcel office at Patna Junction to check leakage
and malpractices in booking of railway consignments from here. Besides, it would maintain full transparency in the functioning of railway parcel office.

According to divisional railway manager (DRM), Danapur, Gyan Prakash Srivastava, Patna Junction has become a nerve centre of parcel booking these days yielding good revenue to the railways. It will be the second such station of the ECR after Gaya Junction having computerised parcel office. CRIS, a well known company, has been installing sophisticated machines to computerise the parcel office at Patna Junction, he said. The DRM said that the Railway Board has approved the computerisation of railway parcel office at Patna Junction and other major stations of the division to maintain a clean record of booked railway consignments. Besides, work will be faster in computerisation system, he said.

According to senior divisional commercial manager (senior DCM) of Danapur Om Prakash, the railways has worked out the details to link functioning of parcel offices of all major stations under ECR through computerisation network. The new system will avoid delay in transporting the booked railway consignments from one place to another across the country, he said.

The senior DCM said that the entire computerisation process would be complete latest by next month, adding the railways could keep a close watch on delivery of the consignments.

That apart, the railways has decided to build two additional pit lines at Rajendra Nagar Terminal this year to maintain LHB coaches of Rajdhani Express. The railways would extend the length of platform no. 1 from the present 19 coaches capacity to 24 coaches at Rajendra Nagar Terminal. Thus, all mail and express trains having a load combination of 24 coaches could be easily accommodated on platform no. 1 of Rajendra Nagar Terminal either for departure or arrival, sources said.


Railway officials to ‘adopt’ stations, trains

LUDHIANA: Taking an initiative towards making employees more responsible towards their work and simultaneously bringing about an improvement in the
condition of stations and trains, the railway authorities have devised a new plan wherein the officials would be made to adopt a particular station, train or even both. The officers would be held accountable towards any discrepancy existing on the stations or trains that they have ‘adopted’.

The concerned officer would have to look after everything right from the food quality to the condition of waiting rooms and he has to submit a report to the higher authorities.

Sources revealed the authorities would be providing a free hand to the officials to question the staff deployed at stations or in trains. They would be required to submit a monthly or bi-monthly report to the zonal manager, who would review the report for implementing the new measures.

Each official, who adopts the railway station or train or both, would make surprise visits to the station for checking the quality of drinking water and food along with inspecting the condition of waiting rooms and toilets. He would also assess security arrangements and overall passenger amenities.

Similarly, officials in charge of trains would take stock of timings and delays, quality of food provided in the train, condition of coaches, the overall level of hygiene and cleanliness in toilets and address complaints of passengers.

Though, as of now, the scheme has been implemented in the Delhi division only, it would be extended to other divisions as well. In the meantime, divisional railway manager, Ferozepur division, Satish Chander convened a meeting where all the station superintendents were handed over the charge of stations like Ludhiana, Jammu, Amritsar and Jalandhar.

The authorities have been handed over the complete charge of stations to the superintendents. They have full authority to ask questions from any department, concerning a problem. Earlier, work was kept pending as it involved the clearance from many officers.

The step envisages at making officials more accountable and responsible towards improving railway services, informed the divisional railway manager, Satish Chander. He further asserted that the scheme has already been implemented in Delhi division and the first report of their drive would come in August. After which it would be extended to all the five divisions under Northern Railways. “However, for the time being we have made the station superintendents responsible for all these jobs,” he added.