Western Railway gets its first motorwoman

MUMBAI: Priti Kumari is excited these days. The 33-year-old from Bihar is slated to become the first motorwoman on Western Railway in a few months;
she will also be the first woman in the history of Indian Railways to be given direct entry to the post, making her slightly different from Asia’s first motorwoman-Surekha Yadav of Central Railway-who had to work her way up from the post of assistant loco pilot.

Kumari is, nevertheless, awed by what Yadav has done. The mother of six-year-old Aditi Arya says she would “definitely” like to meet Yadav. “I had read about Yadav but didn’t know I would be the first at WR,” she said, her eyes lighting up. “I want to meet Yadav, it is my wish. But I am happy that the name of a post in WR is going to change because of me,” Kumari added.

Kumari married when she was in the final year of college and had no work experience. She had a diploma in electronics engineering but, as she waited for results, she became pregnant and family took priority. But what helped was her family background; her mother was a social worker in an educational mission and her father worked at a private college. They drilled into her the importance of education and working.

Sitting at the Mahalaxmi EMU car shed in a bright pink and blue salwar kameez-sindoor in the parting of her hair, bindi in place and armed with shiny bangles-Kumari looked like any other Indian housewife. But that was till she started speaking about her future.

Kumari is now undergoing a year’s training with 46 male colleagues and will be ready for her first suburban train by next August. The training is divided between theory and practical sessions.

“I have always wanted to work but was looking for a hatke (different) job. There is no praise when the jobs are not different. I saw the advertisement in Employment News and gave it a shot. I applied for two posts in the railways (for a junior engineer’s post in Allahabad and the one here). My in-laws, too, pushed me to work as I had studied so much,” she said.

Her husband, Devkant Darbey, is a sergeant in the Indian Air Force and is now posted in Nashik. Her daughter is back home in her mother’s care.

Kumari is living with her relatives in Dahisar. “I miss my daughter but I know right now I won’t be able to look after her well as I don’t know much about the city and am still settling down. Besides, her studies will suffer,” she said.

For the last one month, Mumbai has been all about work-learning all about signalling, trouble-shooting, traction motors and electricals-and not much sight-seeing. Weekends see her in Nashik or her husband comes down here. But in the coming days, she intends to make some trips to Mahalaxmi and Siddhivinayak temples and the Elephanta Caves.

But WR’s first motorwoman still does not have a cellphone. “That can wait. I can make do with the PCO for now,” she said.

Two other women have been selected by WR for the same post. They are expected to join training soon.


Colourful coaches for Duronto Trains

CHENNAI: For the first time in the history of Southern Railway, a multihued train ran on its tracks.

Duronto is an experiment with colours. Painted predominately in green with splashes of red and blue, it looks bright and colourful.

The high quality vinyl wrap was designed by Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee herself.

Duronto is not merely a beauty on the tracks. Its coach body is made of stainless steel. This reduces tare weight by 1.5 tonne, enabling the train to run at higher speeds up to 130 km per hour.

It is longer than conventional coaches and can accommodate 72 berths in AC 3-tier. The capacity of conventional coaches is just 64 berths. In the Duronto sleeper coaches, 78 berths are available, as compared to 72 in conventional sleeper coaches.

All coaches boast of auto closing vestibule doors. These doors automatically close in the event of fire and prevent it from spreading to the adjacent coaches. All cabins are provided with emergency lamps and cellphone chargers.

Giving some relief to the hygiene conscious people, a Controlled Discharge Toilet System (CDTS) has been introduced in the train. CDTS discharges human waste only when the train reaches a speed of 30 km per hour, thus keeping railway stations clean. The toilets too have autoclosing doors.

The AC coaches are provided with wide window glasses with increased height for a better view.

Passenger friendly amenities like bottle holders, magazine bags, snack tables and mirrors have been provide in the non-AC coaches as well.

Air springs in bogies instead of oil springs provide better riding comfort. The train also has superior thermal and sound insulation features. The entire train has a public address system.


Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Research institute for mass transit system

Mumbai The research and training institute for mass transit systems set up in association with Federal Transit Authority (US Department of Transport) and Government of Maharashtra will be conducting its first training course from September 23 to 25. A team of seven experts from FTA and various US universities are scheduled to conduct sessions on mass transport, safety and security, environment sustainability and fare integration.

The institute is the outcome of a cooperation pact signed between the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) of the United States and the state government early this year. It will focus on sharing the technical and financial aspects of Mass Rapid Transit Systems.

“The National Research and Training Institute (NRTI) is first-of-its-kind not only in India but the entire Asia and would serve transport related issues exclusively,” said Ratnakar Gaikwad, Metropolitan Commissioner.

According to R Ramana, Additional Chief, Transport and Communication division, officials of MMRDA, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking will be attending the three-day short-term course. He added that FTA which will share information on the research conducted by them will be given information on the public-private partnership (PPP) model, which is highly appreciated by the US.

The institute would carry out researches on mass transport, on which there is little stress by the implementing agencies. It will also train transport planners.

Gaikwad added, “With the increasing and improving transport facilities, the necessity of more transport planners is also growing. It is this need that will be addressed by the operational and safety related training programmes organised at the NRTI.” With mass transit systems coming up in Mumbai and neighbouring Navi Mumbai apart from Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore, there will be high demand for trained staff and transport planners


Railways to lease out barren land

PATNA: The railway ministry has decided to take up the ambitious project related to automation of railway land management system across the country.

Under the plan, the railways would use hectares of vacant and waste land not required for operational purposes for commercial needs to earn additional revenue.

According to a Railway Board official, the board approved this plan to lease out barren and unused railway land for commercial purposes with a view to generating revenue. This project, which has already got the nod of the railway ministry, is being taken up first in four metropolitan cities of the country. Subsequently, it will be taken up in other states across the country, including Bihar.

The board has directed all the railway zones to identify such land and inform it immediately so that it could be entrusted to Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) for the commercial exploitation of the barren and waste land, the official said, adding the board intends to standardize and automate such plots.

Although the railways has given the task of identifying barren land in each zone of the railways and lease them out for commercial purposes to interested people who are keen to exploit these lands for business purposes only to Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL), all the zones have also been directed to chalk out the details of such land on their own, the official added. The railways has taken a decision to use barren lands either for hotel or any commercial ventures, he said.

The East Central Railway (ECR) has a lot of land lying barren in several districts in Bihar. There are about 1,500 acres of land lying unutilized at about 350 stations under the ECR. These lands are mostly those which could be fully commercially exploited, sources said.

The railways intends to lease out land at Gaya, Dehri-on-Sone, Bagaha, Raxaul and other places in the state. Earlier, the ECR had proposed to set up plush hotels at historically important places in the state to cater to the needs of tourists.

A proposal to this effect was sent to RVNL to decide it in the larger interest of giving a fillip to tourism in the state. However, no concrete steps have been taken in the matter so far, sources said.

The railways had earlier decided to lease out land to Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) at Bagaha and the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) at Dehri-on-Sone for building their office complex. However, the project could not materialize, sources said.


Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dial a Meal service by IRCTC

In a month, IRCTC will launch service for people on board trains to order food from Ahmedabad railway station

By Yogesh Avasthi
Posted On Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 03:15:42 AM

Soon, you won’t need to starve yourself on a long-distance train without a pantry car. Get ready to order on the move after the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) introduces its ‘dial-a-meal’ service in a month. Passengers will be given the option to choose from a varied menu.

The helpline number will operate 24 hours a week. The passenger can call a specific number, to be announced when the service is launched, and the call centre will first check if the orders can be delivered on that route.

If the service is available along the route, the passenger has to give the name of the train he/she is travelling on as well as the berth and coach numbers. The call centre executive will list the items available for the passenger to place an order. When the train chugs into the station, an IRCTC employee will deliver the food to the passenger’s seat.

The service will be available at the Ahmedabad railway station in two months, and gradually set up at other stations across the state. “There is a base canteen on platform 1 at the Kalupur railway station.

We are modernising it by installing the latest equipment. Once we finalise the helpline number, we will advertise it on trains at kiosks on the platforms,” said Pravin Parmar, chief regional manager of the IRCTC.

The menu offers fixed vegetarian or non-vegetarian thali, samosas, khaman, dhokla, biriyani and pulao. “We will include more items like pizza, burgers, juices, pasta and noodles later on,” he said.

As many as 112 trains pass through Ahmedabad. Most of them are long distance trains. However, only 25 to 30 trains have pantry cars.

“Food on trains without pantry cars is a major issue. Even on those with pantry cars, the menu is limited. Passengers on any train passing through Ahmedabad will be able to avail themselves of this facility that will provide a wide variety of dishes,” Parmar added.


Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Railway staff takes recourse to yoga

LUDHIANA: To help its employees fight the daily workload and stress level, the railway authorities have decided to arrange special yoga classes for
the employees, particularly front liners, who have to deal with commuters on a daily-basis.

Also, with some passengers alleging that officials did not behave properly with them, yoga classes will go a long way to mellow them down.

The railway authorities had also arranged courtesy classes for its employees to help them learn how to behave with commuters.

The special classes had been arranged for ticket checkers, reservation and booking clerks at the Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar railway stations.

The aim is to distress the railway employees, as it will increase their efficiency as make them aware of the importance of good communication.

The authorities came up with the idea of yoga classes after instances of bickering between railway employees and commuters were brought to their notice.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a railway employee said, “It is a great initiative by the authorities for the employees. However, they need to understand that officials have deal with thousands of commuters. One or two such instances might have occurred but it does not mean that all employees are at fault.”

He said most of the arguments took place after commuters were caught travelling without tickets.

Senior divisional commercial manager Dharmendra Kumar said, “It is a good move for the employees as they go through a lot of stress all the time.”

He said they had arranged courtesy lessons and yoga to improve the working skills of the employees.


Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 3:24 pm  Comments (1)  

Railways to launch sports train

New Delhi, Sept 14(PTI) In order to heighten mass interest in next year’s Commonwealth Games, Railways have decided to run a special train from November this year focussing on youth and sports across the country.

Besides the “sports train”, railways will also launch a science train from Gandhinagar on October 2 this year.

While the sports train will run for a year, the science train will run for nine months covering every state, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said today.

There will be also exhibitions in the trains along the route, she said.

While the sports train will be run in coordination with the Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry, the science train will be launched in coordination with the Science and Technology Ministry.

“We will also coordinate with IIT, Ahemedabad, and IIT, Khragapur, for bringing IT technology to rural areas.


Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm  Comments (1)  

Delhi Metro’s new digital coaches likely.

New trains of the Delhi Metro with newly-designed coaches having better passenger safety and convenience features will start running next month. ”Altogether 424 coaches to form 83 trains, both four-car and six-car have been ordered at a cost of about Rs 3,000 crore. The contractor, Bombardier Transportation, has already provided five trains, of which one is in transit,” Harjit Singh Anand, Director of Delhi Metro rolling stock, said. From next month, at least three to four trains would be received every month and the project would be over by January 2011, he said.

”They will initially run on line two, from Jahangir Puri to Sushant Lok, and both sections of line three, from Yamuna Bank to Anand Vihar and to Noida,” he informed.

”The new coaches, which will run on broad guage, are more digitised. There is external side display on each car for indication of destination station. The root maps above every door are now digital to indicate the present, next and destination station,” he said.

Four CCTV cameras have also been fixed inside the cars which would help the driver check for any untoward incident or nuisance. ”It has been observed many a times that some passengers misuse the speaker phone meant for talking to the driver. With the cameras, he would be able to check that,” Mr Anand said. Besides, two rear view cameras, one on each side of the cab, have also been fixed for complete view of the platform. ”People keep rushing towards the train even if its gates are about to close. So external speakers for audio warning signal during opening and closing of doors have been put,” he said. There would be sockets in each car to charge cellphones and laptop batteries. ”With the new lines operating, people might have to travel long distances. So this is done for their convinience,” he explained. Other improved features like better air-conditioning, heating and humidity control functions, more poles to grab while travelling, reduction in noise level, lighting operation, increased frequency, better speed, along with other technological advancements have also been taken care of.


Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Professionals roped in to inspect food quality in trains

NEW DELHI: Faced with increased complaints about the quality of food served in trains, a railway PSU has roped in over 80 quality control professionals to conduct inspection in pantry cars and base kitchens.

“As many as 80 quality control professionals have been recruited by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to conduct inspection in base kitchens supplying food to trains for effective monitoring of catering services,” Railway Board Chai rman Mr S S Khurana said.

Speaking at a seminar on “food safety and quality in transport sector”, he said attempts are also being made to strengthen the passenger grievances mechanism by helping them register their complaints directly from trains using mobile and SMS service.

IRCTC, engaged in railway catering services, has come under a lot of flak for its performance with Railway Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee demanding immediate corrective measures. Mr Khurana said IRCTC, as part of its brand building exercise, has also starte d offering outdoor catering services in several ministries and premier institutes like IIT in Delhi. – PTI

Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Railways to offer space in trains for advertisement

NEW DELHI: Railways have now decided to offer space in trains for advertisement to augment their revenue.

Each zone will choose five trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi class of trains for utilising their space for product promotion — both in the interiors and exteriors.

“Along with advertising their products, the clients will also be responsible for the upkeep of the coaches, cleanliness and onboard sanitation of coaches,” said a Railway official.

The reserve price for product promotion has been fixed at Rs one crore in Rajdhani trains and Rs 50 lakh for Shatabdi trains.

However, the general manager can reduce the reserve price in these trains based on the recommendation of a committee, the official said.

Reserve price for other trains will be decided by senior officials of the respective zones subjected to the approval by the GM, he said.

Two years back, Railways allowed commercial publicity in a couple of Rajdhani trains and it yielded a good response from the advertisers, the official said.