RCF bags Greentech Environment award

Rail Coach Factory (RCF) has bagged the prestigious Greentech Environment Excellence Gold Award 2009 consecutively for the second year. RCF General Manager Pradeep Kumar received the award from Greentech Foundation in the 10th Annual Greentech Conference on Environment Management held at Kovalam (Kerala) on October 12. More than 300 corporate houses, Public Sector Undertakings, Government bodies, NGOs and others, participated in the conference.

Selected Companies were awarded the Greentech Environment Excellence Gold and Silver Awards across many categories such as Cement, Engineering, Construction, Hospitality, Chemicals and Fertilisers etc.

RCF has taken many strides to conserve energy and made its contribution to sustainable environment management. About 7000 tubelights of 40 Watts tube lights have been replaced with 28 Watts energy saving fittings. Now Indian Railways have also entered into a contract with a US company under a CDM Project to replace all the incandescent lights with CFLs and work on this project is likely to start soon. Measures have also been taken to improve the design of RCF built coaches to make them environment friendly by using Controlled Discharge Toilets System to eliminate filth from the station area as this system operates when the train picks up a speed of 30 kmph.

Further, to achieve zero discharge of toilet waste, eco- friendly biological toilets have also been developed. RCF has already acquired ISO 9001-2000 certification and was the first organisation in the country to obtain ISO-14001 certification for both workshop and township. The GM emphasised the need to make a shift from private transportation to public transportation in a big way and construct green buildings to save the energy for future generation. He congratulated RCF officials for their contribution in achieving eco-friendly environment and urged them to present the factory as a model of sustainable development to the rest of the world


Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Royal Rajasthan on Wheels” flagged off

JAIPUR: The “Royal Rajasthan on Wheels” train was flagged off from Safdarjung railway station in Delhi on Sunday for its first commercial trip this year with several new facilities for the passengers, such as satellite television, cultural programmes and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity, introduced on board.

According to an official release here, the luxury train has been booked to 40 per cent of its capacity and will run every week regularly till March 28 next year. The tourists aboard the train will be taken to more sites during the trip to the desert State and will get value for their money.

The release quoted the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Chairman and Managing Director Manjeet Singh as saying that passengers would remain connected with the rest of the world while on the move through Internet and would get the spa facility within the next four months. With a change planned in the luxury train’s route from the next tourist season, passengers will be taken to Varanasi and Khajuraho as well, besides covering the “golden triangle” of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra. Mr. Singh said the new arrangement would ensure that tourists can see more sites that were not possible earlier.

The new route of the train will be Delhi-Jodhpur-Udaipur-Chittaurgarh-Sawai Madhopur-Jaipur-Khajuraho-Varanasi-Agra and back to Delhi. Mr. Singh said the food would be served to the passengers at five star hotels at all these places as far as possible. Mr. Singh said the booking of passengers was likely to touch the figure of 1,500 during the current season, making up 60 per cent of the train’s capacity. The RTDC has also reduced the passenger fares for the train, which has the capacity to carry 82 persons in a trip.

Mr. Singh said the tourists would be taken deep inside the forest areas at places such as Sawai Madhopur and Bharatpur and given a royal treatment. A special light and sound show will also be organised at Taj Mahal in Agra during their visit.


Tatas in talks for rail engines

Kiel (Germany), Oct. 18 (PTI): Voith Turbo — a unit of German engineering giant Voith AG — is negotiating with Tata Motors a deal to set up a locomotive diesel manufacturing unit in India.

“If everything goes according to schedule, we might start working on the plant by 2011,” Hinrich Krey, managing director of Voith Turbo Lokomotivetechnik, said.

“The proposed plant would also cater to the need of the railways, besides supplying engines to the German parent company,” he said.

Meanwhile, the South Korean government has ordered Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle — Tata Motors’ joint venture in the country — to recall 3,276 trucks because of technical glitches in the steering system in its three models, officials said.


Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rly to offer economy meal

After the popularity of ‘janta meal’, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) is all set to launch Janahaar Plazas offering cooked food at affordable prizes at railway stations across in the country.

Under the plan, Chandigarh , Ludhiana and Jammu would be among the few stations where these plazas would be introduced in the first phase by March 2010.

“These air-conditioned plazas, to be operated and managed by the IRCTC, would have both standing and seating arrangements. It has been decided that the food platter served at these plazas would be below Rs 20. These plazas have been conceptualized keeping in mind the scarcity of eateries for the public including the general-class passengers,” said IRCTC Group General Manager (Catering) Aneet Dulat.

Though the menus for these plazas have not been decided yet, it is expected that the food would be region specific with a touch of the local cuisine. For instance, the menu will offer karhi chawal or rajma chawal or chana kulcha in the Northern railways section.


Railways to set up film cities and studios

New Delhi: With an aim of promoting art and culture, Railways are planning to set up film cities and studios across the country to impart training to deserving Railway employees and their wards.

The proposed film cities and studios will be developed through public-private partnership model by the Railways at locations to be identified by a Railway committee headed by noted theatre personality Saonli Mitra.

Besides film cities and studios, Railways will also develop art galleries and handicraft centres at major stations, a senior Railway Ministry official associated with the newly-constituted Railway Committee on Heritage and Culture told PTI.

The basic purpose is to set up professional institutions and cultural centres through PPP model for providing training and promoting these creative art forms, he said and added, “such institutes will impart training to deserving railway employees, their wards and also to outsiders.”

On art gallery at railway stations, the official said it is not necessary that a separate enclosure will be created at platforms but the existing waiting halls and pillars can be utilised for art works. Art galleries are existing at all major stations in Europe and Canada and this can be done here too, he said. The committee will also explore possibility of introducing “moving libraries” in some premier trains. — PTI


Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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IRCTC seeks passengers’ opinion on quality of food

New Delhi, Oct 11 (PTI) As part of its efforts to ensure passenger satisfaction, IRCTC has invited online opinions from travellers on the quality of food served onboard trains.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Limited, which looks after catering services on trains, has come in for a lot of flak over the quality of food served.

Though IRCTC has opened various channels to help passengers post their feedback which includes registering complaints on trains itself to improve services, it feels that the latest initiative will provide a correct assessment of its catering services.

On its website ‘www.irctc.co.in’, the Railway PSU seeks an opinion poll with the question — How was onboard catering on your last train journey?

Passengers have to click in either of the two — satisfactory or non satisfactory.


Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

PPP in rail space is a win-win situation for all

When it comes to the discussion on what it takes to make rail a more competent form of transportation in India, I will go as far as saying that much
of the future of India and providing value to the Indian citizens depends on it.In order to best appreciate the magnitude of the problem, here are some important aspects that need to be considered, when talking about Indian rail.

The overall Indian transport system currently carries approximately 2.8 billion tonnes of cargo, of which the road has approx 65% market share with rail trailing with about 30%. The 30% market share alone is represented by the 833 million tonnes (MT)moved by the Indian Railways last year.

While we have one challenge of increasing the rail market share to about 50% in order to bring efficiency into the Indian logistics sector, several reports suggest that basic demand in the Indian freight transport system itself is expected to grow from 2.8 billion tonnes to 5.2 billion tonnes over the next seven to 10 years.

So even if the rail market share does not change from the current 30% levels, we are still looking at doubling of movement on rail from the 800 MT levels today to about 1,600 tonnes over the next few years. And that just accounts for the domestic traffic. With emerging infrastructure such as the FTWZs, India is bound to see an increase in the overall box throughput from the current 6.5 million TEU levels.

There is an urgent need for both the Railways and private operators for ‘thinking big’ and collaborating in the true spirit of PPP.

If the Railways and private operators collaborate and increase the rail market share from the current 30% levels to 40% over the next few years, we are talking about 40% of the net Indian freight system – which is anticipated to be around 5.2 billion tonnes. This represents 2 billion tonnes of cargo that needs to move by rail.
Currently, the Indian Railways is moving just 833MT. Fighting for this 800 million tonnes is very different from collaborating for the 2 billion tonnes that is required for increasing the efficiency of the Indian logistics system.

I dare say that if this is not fixed, the financial ramifications for India will be horrifying. Can our roads really take 65% of 5.2 billion tonnes or 3.3 billion tonnes – even in a few years? How much product wastage, delays, unnecessary fuel burning, and inefficiency do we put up with?

With all that is discussed in regards to logistics in this country, this perhaps becomes ‘one of the’ if not ‘the most’ important issues that needs to be addressed. The truth is that if this initiative of privatisation of the rail sector is done in a manner where every private participant in the space is facing so many issues, how do we propose to initiate more PPPs in this sector as was recently announced by the Indian Railways? After all, we do not want PPP to stand for Poverty in the midst of Potential Plenty!!


Published in: on October 10, 2009 at 8:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Discover India – Special train from IRCTC

KOZHIKODE: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has allotted one more tourist train to the State under the ‘Discover India’ programme.

It will leave the State on November 29 and take the Konkan route to Goa. The destinations will include Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, and Hyderabad. The 14-day journey, which concludes on December 12, will cost Rs.7,180, including the cost of food and accommodation. For details, call 0495 – 276 5784.


Commuters opting for metro due to traffic jams

NEW DELHI: Time and fuel consuming traffic jams in the Capital are a major reason why a significant percentage of people have chosen to leave their private vehicles at home and opt for the Delhi Metro railway.

According to a new survey conducted by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) among metro users, 23.27 per cent of the respondents cited traffic jams as the main reason for their shifting to the metro. For the rest, making the transition from private to public transport was a consequence of endless parking problems, safety, time and comfort.

The results of CRRI’s survey, made public by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, indicate that while 5.14 per cent of the respondents opted for the metro because of parking problems, 16.51 per cent said it was reduction in commuting time that made them shift to the metro.

“With the number of commuters on the Delhi Metro rising, the environmental and social benefits gained by the city because of the mass transport system will help recover the full cost of Phase I two years earlier than anticipated by the CRRI,” said a senior DMRC official.

He said according to a recent study by CRRI, the break-even cost of Phase I would be achieved in December 2011. CRRI had carried out a similar study in 2007 when it had concluded that the cost of Phase I would be recovered by 2013.

“The advancement of the break-even point by two years is mainly because of the increasing ridership of the metro, which was 500,345 per day in 2007 and has gone up to 850,170 now in 2009 when CRRI conducted the fresh review study. The economic rate of return also went up from 16.90 per cent to 19.98 per cent in these two years because of the increase in ridership,” the official said.

Attempting to quantify the social and economic benefits of the metro, DMRC officials said the survey pegs the value of accrued benefits of Phase I at Rs.10,801.64 crore by the end of March 2012, while the cost of construction of Phase I was Rs.10,571 crore. “These benefits are a result of passenger time saved, fuel cost saved, reduction in capital and operating cost of vehicles, reduction in environmental damage, accidents prevented, and time saving and less maintenance cost on infrastructure,” the DMRC official said.

Up and up

The survey, which was conducted earlier this year, indicates that the number of two-wheeler users who had the option of shifting to the metro and did so has more than doubled from 32.81 per cent in 2007 to 66.3 per cent in 2009.

The number of car owners who had the option of shifting to the metro and did so has increased from 52.35 per cent to 62.29 per cent in these two years. One-fourth of all metro commuters, about 24.8 per cent, are two-wheeler owners and almost one-fifth, 18.11 per cent are car owners.

“The survey focused on aspects like saving travel time, fuel cost saving, vehicle cost saving and reduction in emission of greenhouse gases among several more. The annual cost saved by metro passengers on account of reduced travel time will go up three times from Rs.310.13 crore in 2007 to Rs.947.07 crore in 2009. Similarly, the annual saving on account of reduced fuel consumption will be Rs. 180.89 crore in 2009, more than double from Rs.73.22 crore two years ago,” the DMRC official said.

The CRRI survey says that the number of vehicles that have been taken off the road with the introduction and expansion of the metro has shown a progressive reduction in daily vehicle demand. In 2009, the metro will take the daily share of 57,953 vehicles for all other modes of travel such as cars, buses, two-wheelers, auto-rickshaws, the survey claims. “The annual vehicle (capital and operating) cost-saving will almost triple from Rs.93.21 crore in 2007 to Rs.276.24 crore this year. Reduction in emission of greenhouse gases will be about 131,395.34 tonnes. This is a five-time increase from 27,614.34 tonnes in 2007. The emission cost-saving will also increase almost three times from Rs.14.29 crore in 2007 to Rs.41.04 crore in 2009,” the official said citing the report.The survey claims the metro has also substantially helped reduce the rate of accidents on the roads. “The metro will help avoid a total of 255 accidents, including 51 fatalities, in 2009. In 2007, the respective figures were 196 and 21. The accident cost-saving will be Rs.9.35 crore this year as against Rs.6.28 crore two years ago,” the official said. Referring to the improvement in road journeys, the CRRI report says because of increase in average speed of road vehicles, the annual cost saved by road passengers on account of reduced travel time would be Rs.240.18 crore in 2009.


Published in: on October 10, 2009 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Longest Railway Bridge at Kochi is ready for commissioning

If you thought that you could take a train ride on the longest railway bridge in India, you are mistaken since India’s longest Railway Bridge which is being commissioned in Kochi, connecting the International container transshipment terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam with Edapplly, will have only container traffic to and from ICTT. The rail connectivity will be ready in December 2009 and today you are witnessing the last span of this bridge being put in place or the launching of the last girder as engineers would put it.

Indian Railways have been the pioneers in construction of long span bridges. Rail-cum-road on river Yamuna near Delhi was built in 1864. The longest railway bridge used on date in Indian Railways is on river Sone at Dehri and consists of 93 spans of 30.5 m each totaling to 2836.50 m.

This longest Railway bridge (4.62Km) between Edapplly and Vallarpadam (ICTT) – 8.86 Km is being constructed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) , a subsidiary of Indian Railways, at a cost of about Rs 300 crores as part of the proposed Rs.2,118 crore ICTT, billed as the country’s first global hub terminal. M/s Dubai Port is constructing the ICTT on a BOT system for the Cochin Port Trust and this bridge provides the rail connectivity to it.

The work of this 4.62 Km Bridge began in October 2007 and is being made ready after a period of 2 years which equates to building 190 m of bridge per month or 6.3 m of bridge every day. An enviable record considering the fact that about 80 % of this bridge is built in the back waters. Had it not been for the initial delays on account of the land acquisition protest, this period could have still been reduced, but now no one is complaining looking at this engineering marvel.

This bridge is constructed over pile foundations at 133 locations. The height of the bridge is about 7.5 m above the ground level after the entry and the exit points and this allows water channel movement and road crossings at Mulavukad and Chittoor beneath it. The bridge has 132 spans consisting of 33 spans of 20m and 99 spans of 40m which is made of PSC girders and caters to electric traction. A total of 231 girders, each girder weighing 220 tonnes have been cast at Vallarpadam and were transported to the location through motorized trolleys and launched in position by the completely automatic launching girder which was fabricated and imported from China by the contractors which you are witnessing.

This assumes importance since the bridge runs mostly over the back waters. Latest design concrete sleepers, modern rail fastenings and head hardened rails are being utilized to construct the track over the bridge.

The bridge took 18000 tonnes of steel, 50000 tonnes of cement and is founded over piles totaling to about 64000 m for the complete bridge put together including foundation for the future track. Concerted efforts of about 700 workers and 50 engineers of the contractor M/s AFCONS Infrastructure Limited under the supervision of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited have made this a reality.

As targeted by RVNL, the Rail connectivity to the ICTT can be provided by December as only a small portion of earth work and track works are only left to be completed.