‘Rail Business’ to fill knowledge gap

India’s railway sector — complete with government and private railway systems, their subsidiaries, vendors and customers — though quite large, is devoid of any publication devoted exclusively to discuss the issues relevant to the sector. There is one publication by the Railway Ministry. But as it happens in such publications, the focus is more on the ministers and the honchos in the ministry. The recent publication of Rail Business with focus almost entirely on the country’s railway sector, it is hoped, will fill the gap, more so because a retired General Manager of the Indian Railways, Mr V.K. Raina, is the driving force behind it.

The articles, some contributed by retired railway officials, many of them were Mr Raina’s colleagues, are interesting because they throw up some issues critical for the railways. For example, a retired Member (Traffic) has discussed the challenges ahead as the Indian Railways targets higher growth. The infrastructure expert of Ernst and Young has analysed the railway PPP model. A Tata Steel executive has written on logistics challenges facing a major steel plant. There is a piece on the legendary Karnail Singh who made a difference in the Railways. There are also articles on R&D, designs, wagons, locomotives, Duronto and environment issues, among others. We’ve no doubt the publication, if it maintains the standard, will click.


Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Escorts to manufacture rail wagons

NEW DELHI: Delhi-based tractor and farm equipment manufacturer Escorts will foray into manufacturing of railway wagons, besides expanding the basket

of products under its tractors division , a top company executive said.

Escorts’ joint MD Nikhil Nanda said: “We would be launching new tractors to keep the market exciting and aggressively increase our market share by expanding our dealership base in western and southern markets. Besides we would foray into making wagons for the Metro and the Monorail segment from our Railway division.”

Escorts, that follows a October to September fiscal year, reported net profit of Rs 23.4 crore for the first quarter ended December’ 09 compared to net loss of Rs 0.34 crore in the year ago period. Bottomline was buoyed by lower costs and higher demand which also helped the company report 21 per cent increase in net sales at Rs 600.22 crore for the quarter.

The company also saw positive impact of its cost reduction measures which brought down the ratio of raw material to total sales to 67.8 per cent compared to 70.3 per cent in the corresponding period a year ago.

Escorts would pursue its multipronged strategy with agri-machinery, infrastructure and the railways division as the core business verticals. The company will soon launch a slew of new tractor models.


Railways to build first flyover track

PATNA: With the completion of Rajgir-Tilaiya new line, the railways now intends to build a flyover track between Bakhtiarpur and Barh in Patna


district at an estimated cost of over Rs 60 crore for the smooth run of goods trains carrying coal directly from Tilaiya (Jharkhand) for NTPC power station being built at Barh.

The flyover tracks will be the first of its kind in the Indian Railways and it will be completed on priority basis. It is a joint venture of the railways and NTPC.

The civil work on the proposed flyover track is likely to begin soon between Bakhtiarpur and Barh on the mainline section of Danapur division under East Central Railway (ECR).

According to the chief administrative officer (CAO) of East Central Railway, the railways is likely to finalize the design and structure pattern of the flyover track in January itself. The railways has invited tender to begin the ambitious project in the current fiscal year, he said.

The CAO maintained that the completion of this project would facilitate smooth and uninterrupted supply of coal to the thermal power station being built at Barh. The railways intends to carry coal wagons directly from Tilaiya to the Barh power station from the Rajgir-Bakhtiarpur route of the Danapur division, he said, adding the railways would segregate completely coal goods traffic line between Bakhtiarpur and Barh so that mainline traffic on the Patna-Howrah route is not delayed due to movement of coal wagon goods train.

According to sources, this project was duly sanctioned by the Railway Board during Nitish Kumar’s tenure as railway minister to maintain smooth flow of traffic on the mainline route, particularly between Bakhtiarpur and Barh stations. Besides, railways would run at least four to five coal laden rakes daily from Tilaiya to Barh via Rajgir-Bakhtiarpur section of the division. The sanctioned flyover track is a 20 km stretch between Bakhtiarpur and Barh.
According to sources, it will be the only flyover track carrying coal wagons in such large numbers as far as from Tilaiya to Barh to cater to the needs of the power station.

The railways, however, intends to segregate a separate line from the Bakhtiarpur yard to the power station for the time being to maintain supply of coals uninterrupted. Since completion of the flyover track will take time, the railways proposes to build a separate line from Bakhtiarpur to Barh as a temporary arrangement. This has become possible following completion of the new lines between Rajgir and Tilaiya at a cost of Rs 230 crore, sources said.
It may be recalled that commissioner for railway safety (CRS) R P Yadav recently inspected the newly built Rajgir-Tilaiya lines. CM Nitish Kumar had demanded early opening of this line while flagging off two new trains from Patna Junction recently.

Perhaps, conceding his demand, the Railway Board soon asked the CRS to inspect the line and submit his report soon. It is believed that the CRS would give his final nod soon for opening traffic movement on this line. The railways will thus have a direct connectivity with Tilaiya-Rajgir-Bakhtiarpur-Barh route for the coal wagon goods trains, sources said

Rlys eyes more use for alternative energy

The Railway Ministry has asked its officials to consider the potential of accessing subsidy schemes and fiscal incentives offered under the wind power programme as well as the National Solar Mission for use of renewable energy in the sector.

Ministry sources in the know told Business Line that, “The Railways can look at projects of harnessing solar or wind energy for feeding emergency lighting load and electrification of level-crossing gates in this backdrop.”

The Railways commissioned windmills at Kasturirangapuram and Urumangalam village, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, on March 30, 2009, to generate 10.5 MW. The windmill farm was set up at a cost of Rs 66.05 crore.


By drawing 16.3 million unit of energy over a seven-month period from the windmills commissioned in Tirunelveli for the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Perambur, Chennai, the Railways says it saved Rs 5 crore.

The Railways has provided solar-based water heating systems of different capacities for some training institutes, running rooms and rest houses. It has completed electrification of more than 1,200 manned level crossings with solar-based lighting system.

The Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Mr Farooq Abdullah, has written to the Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, saying that alternative sources of energy should be promoted.

The Minister’s letter was based on the observations made by a consultant appointed by his Ministry to study the areas where renewable energy can be used for railway applications.

“Railway establishments are vast. The alternative sources of energy can be used at stations, staff quarters as well as for catering activities,” sources said.

Incentives package

The Ministry for New and Renewable Energy has introduced generation-based incentive for wind power projects with a capacity addition target of 4,000 MW during the Eleventh Plan period. The National Solar Mission has also been launched.

“Investments in renewable power projects are made mainly by private developers to whom the project sites are allotted by State governments. The Centre facilitatES the setting up of such projects through generation-based incentives apart from applicable fiscal incentives. In addition, attractive tariff regimes are being offered by state utilities,” official sources said.

A package of fiscal and financial incentives is available under the wind power programme which includes concessions such as 80 per cent accelerated depreciation, concessional Customs duty on specified items, excise duty exemption, sales tax exemption, and income-tax exemption for 10 years, among others.

The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) provides loan for setting up wind power projects.

A potential for wind power generation of around 48,000 MW has been estimated in the country, in areas having minimum wind power density of 200 watts per sq. metre and assuming land availability of one per cent in such areas. The potential for solar energy is estimated for most parts of the country at around 20 MW per sq. km of open, shadow free area covered with solar collectors.


IRCTC to expand its product portfolio

With an aim to further expand its product portfolio, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) will be inviting Expression of Interests (EOI’s) from air content aggregators, as well as Global Distribution Systems (GDS) for domestic flights inventory. The EOI will be opened by next week for one month. IRCTC will be working on a commission model with the company winning the bid. As per official sources, EOI will further allow IRCTC to expand its product offerings and make it a one-stop shop for travel products for consumers. IRCTC currently has registration of over 11 million users on the website and this will be good way to offer something more to the users.  

Further more, the company is also aggressively promoting its recently introduced web services solution which enables IRCTC to integrate their inventory on to a travel agents website/ Online Travel Agent (OTA) which further enhances the distribution scope for IRCTC. For instance, once the web services integration is completed by IRCTC and the travel agents website or OTA, the end users can book the tickets and other products from the travel agents website or the OTA.


Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Oberoi to launch tourist train in Punjab

The Punjab Government has given its approval to the Oberoi Hotels Group to be partners with the state in the luxury train project which had been approved by the Railway Ministry.

The Oberoi Group was the single bidder for the luxury tourists train project which would be started on the pattern of Palace on Wheels that cris crosses Rajasthan. For this project, the group would pay Rs 90 lakh per annum to the state. This decision was taken in a meeting of Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) here today. The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

In another decision, the government has asked the Cultural Affairs and Tourism Department to expedite the conservation project of the prestigious historic Gobindgarh Fort at Amritsar. The Army has agreed to hand over the fort to the state government.

Presiding over another meeting to review the master plan of Gobindgarh Fort prepared by the Tourism Department, Principal Secretary Cultural Affairs and Tourism Geetika Kalha informed that the state government had already sent a proposal to the Centre and demanded Rs 50 crore for the entire project of Gobindgarh Fort.

Besides, the Government had also demanded Rs 10 crore from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The entire conservation work would cost about Rs 25 crore, which includes Rs 5.2 crore for the conservation of boundary walls of the fort, Rs three crore each for the four bastions, Rs 2.5 crore for darbar hall and remaining would be spent on other buildings in the Fort.

Central circular buildings of the fort, known as Dyer’s Bungalow, would be restored as artifacts based museum. Apart from this, two other museums would be developed to depict the history of Maharaha Ranjit Singh, Anglo-Sikh war and British period at the two bastions.

It was also informed in the meeting that a car parking would also be constructed outside the fort, whereas inside, a 20 room Heritage Hotel along with ten tent houses would be developed. Darbar Hall would be developed as a restaurant and ‘toshakhana’ (treasury room) as a cafeteria. The Chief Minister also asked the Tourism Department to chalk out possibilities to start boating in the moat around the Fort.

He also directed the department to seek expert advice in this regard.

— (UNI) — 20DR83.xml


Rly to shut 1000 unmanned crossings

PUNE: The Indian Railways has aimed to close down 1,000 unmanned railway crossings by this year and replace them with the railway overbridges (ROBs), while plans are being readied to add another 3,000 such ROBs in the next few years to prevent accidents at unmanned level crossings, a top official said on Thursday.

 “Accidents at unmanned level crossings is a major cause of concern for the Indian Railways (IR). With an aim to prevent such avoidable accidents, we have decided to close down 1,000 unmanned crossings. These would be replaced by ROBs. In the coming years, we plan to have 3,000 more such ROBs,”

 Member Engineering, and President of Institution of Permanent Way Engineers (IPWE), Indian Railways Rakesh Chopra told reporters.

 He was speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of the IPWE technical seminar on the Impact and experience of heavier axe loads on Indian Railways and resultant maintenance strategies and Innovation in design and construction of ROBs and railway underbridges (RUBs) on the Indian Railways.

 “IR needs to enhance its capacity to carry 1100 million tonnes (MT) by end of the current five year plan. This is expected to touch 2,200 million tonnes by the year 2020.

 Clearly, no individual research can be done today. We need to learn quickly from the experience elsewhere in the world in order to face an event when it occurs,” Chopra said.

 Earlier, delivering the key note address at the seminar, Chopra stressed on the need to develop preventive measures to upkeep of track, bridges and structures.

 “We need to find out about the equipment and machinery required for this and put into use. The progress is very dismal and the use wherever these have been provided, is being compromised,” he said.

 He said that speed restrictions and detentions cause a loss of earnings. The IR has to appreciate this fact.

 “Once we are in the railways, we need to understand that we are ‘business engineers’, who are required to participate in the management of its product, that is transportation.

 We cannot therefore, have methods and systems that take years of speed restrictions and thus loss of earnings, to provide Railway Overbridges (ROB) or Railway Underbridges (RUB),” Chopra said.

 The approach needs to be that of providing a solution by shortening the field work time – whether this is at the foundation stage, construction, launching or finishing, he added, urging the IR and industry to work together for finding solutions to the existing problems.


Rajdhani trains have become moving billboards

Out-of-home advertising in India is no longer confined to hoardings and billboards at strategic locations. The country’s super fast Rajdhani trains have become moving billboards with technology making the wrap concept a major hit. One such example is that of the OOH initiative undertaken by Peacock Media to promote Kerala tourism.

Peacock Media specialises in displaying digital advertising platforms in public transportation vehicles such as long-distance buses and trains in India. The OOH firm has already wrapped a few other Rajdhani trains with advertising commercials of brands like Airtel and Max New York Life Insurance and has existing deals going on with Mindshare for HUL’s Domex and Lifebuoy-branded toilets, wash basins, consumables and audio spots running on trains.

Commenting on the wrapping of the Delhi-Trivandrum Rajdhani Express, Sandeep Chawla, Director, Peacock Media, said, “The train’s 17 coaches depict 17 places of tourist attraction in Kerala. As the train moves through 6-7 states, it will be advertising Kerala’s tourist spots among millions of potential domestic tourists.”

The Delhi-Trivandrum Rajdhani Express is claimed to be the first train with 17 different creatives used for the 17 coaches.

Peacock Media has a five-year contract with the Indian Railways, which also includes improving services inside the train. “In terms of maintenance, we have a full-fledged professional facility management and house-keeping agency, which maintains the train throughout the journey time with on-board house keeping services,” Chawla added.

The train, which sports the tag line, ‘Chalo Kerala’ in Hindi and ‘Go Kerala’ in English, journeys through the heart of India. This campaign is for a period of six months till June 2010. The traveling showcase is expected to reach out to more than 3 crore people across 10 states, including Delhi NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka as well as Kerala. OOH advertising on long-distance trains is highly effective as each train is visible to nearly 60,000 people on every platform it crosses every day, most of which are unique audience. Also, such advertising builds responsible brand image as the services offered are seen as the brands’ CSR initiative. Such advertising also has extremely long attention span, say 16-36 hours in the case of Rajdhani trains.

The experiment has been successfully executed abroad. The Gatwick Express, which is a non-stop rail link between Gatwick Airport and central London, provides the same OOH advertising option with the advertisement pasted across the train’s exterior. Amtrak, the US’ financially struggling railroad, also turned its premium Boston-Washington service into a moving billboard.

However, for India, it is somewhat a new experience. “It is a new medium and the market has to accept the same, which in turn will decide the potential revenue for the medium,” Chawla pointed out. In this modern era of digital printing, fleet graphics, the wrap-around concept has added a new dimension to advertising opportunities. However, the biggest challenge for the successful execution of such projects is to have vinyl prints that would last long and withstand all kinds of weather conditions, let alone acts of vandalism.



Indian Railways to test freight wagon fatigue

NEW YORK . One of world’s largest passenger and freight carriers, Indian Railways has has placed a USD 4 million order for a test rig to perform fatigue testing on freight wagons with Moog’s Industrial Systems Group, a division of Moog Inc. (NYSE: MOG.A, MOG.B).

The order was placed by Research Designs & Standards Organization (RDSO) division of the Indian Railways to Moog, a leader in providing high-performance testing systems to the transportation, automotive and aerospace markets.

The 5,000 kN bogie test rig includes high capacity actuators, a hydraulic power supply, a portal frame and floor design as well as a fully integrated 8-channel system that combines Moog’s software and test controllers. This test controller system is based on a leading-edge platform and includes a real-time Ethernet interface, enabling transparent integration of 96-channel data acquisition.

Moog’s test rig will simulate real running conditions for Indian Railways and will be used to test new bogies with higher payload capacity for increased freight-carrying and speed performance on the existing rail network. This is intended to boost freight capacity for Indian Railways while the dedicated freight corridor, covering about 2,762 km (1,715 mi) on the Eastern and Western corridors, is being developed.

By procuring this new test rig, Indian Railways will be able to design and validate axle load wagons of up to 40 tons in comparison to the existing 22 to 25 ton models.

“Freight transport is a key revenue driver for Indian Railways, making up 70 percent of revenues and it is growing rapidly. Until the dedicated freight corridor is operational, they need to extract more from their existing rail infrastructure to meet the ongoing rise in demand for freight-capacity. To do so they have designed new test requirements to assess payload parameters on bogies and ultimately increase payload capacity. Moog understands Indian Railway’s requirements and is providing a test-system that matches railway’s specifications,” said K.M. Sathish, sales manager, Moog India.

“The development of this fatigue test rig is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise in developing test systems that can help transportation systems extract more performance from their existing and future infrastructures. We are really delighted to work with Indian Railways on this project and are confident Moog’s test system will help them increase their freight payload capacity. The high payloads and the extensive tests RDSO requires are quite unique and represent a new step for railways,” Anurag Kashyap, managing director, Moog India.

Missed calls help passengers track delays

 NEW DELHI: Fog continues to wreak havoc on train schedules but there is one group of passengers which has devised a method to figure out delays and cancellations. Using this method which relies, interestingly, on missed calls, the daily passengers association on the Delhi-Palwal and Delhi-Rewari routes has been giving half-hourly updates.

According to passenger B L Sharma, who uses the Delhi-Palwal route, this is how it works: A commuter at the station sends a missed call to another passenger travelling on the train, asking her for an update on the train. If the train is 10 minutes late, the passenger repliles with one missed call. If there is a delay of 20 minutes, there are two missed calls. Three missed calls mean the delay is for over 20 minutes.

If the call is disconnected within five seconds even as the passenger on the platform makes the call, it signals that the train has been cancelled. If it gets a ‘busy mode’ response, the message is that the train is over an hour late. If you receive one missed call and then receive another missed call a few moments later, it is presumed that the train is delayed by over an hour.

Passengers say the station masters in smaller stations too have informally began collecting information through this system. “The beauty of the system is that it is cost-free and benefits both the passengers and railways. It is also the fastest,” said Smita Aggarwal, a daily passenger from Rewari. Station officials acknowledge its usefulness. “We often use this information and check it with our control room to make announcements,” said an officer at the Tilak Bridge station.