Jute geo-textiles for railway track

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said her department would explore the possibility of using jute geo-textiles in railway tracks – a decision welcomed by the jute industry.

“Railways will explore the possibility of using jute geo-textiles wherever the soil formation of the railway track is unstable and weak,” she said in her budget speech.

“It’s a nice decision. It gives validation to our efforts with jute geo-textiles in the last few years,” Atri Bhattacharya, Jute Manufactures Development Council (JMDC) secretary, told IANS.

In road construction, jute geo-textiles give more durability to roads. Geo-textile is eco-friendly, bio-degradable material that is used for soil conservation and soil management. For roads, jute is used as a sub-grade between the foundation and the upper layer.

“We have already used geo-textiles for two stretches of railway track between Madhusudhanpur and Sebaichandi section of the Howrah-Burdwan chord line, which has helped reduce the subsidence level to a huge extent,” he said.

Bhattacharya also mentioned that this approach would open up a huge opportunity for the domestic market.


Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 4:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Railways to introduce trolleys at stations

Indian Railways will introduce airport-style trolleys at important stations for the benefit of senior citizens and women passengers.

This was announced by railway minister Mamata Banerjee in her budget speech Wednesday.

Banerjee said: “Railways propose to introduce modern trolleys at all important stations which will be handled by uniformed attendants to assist senior citizens and women passengers.”

At present passengers either use coolies (porters) to carry their luggage or use luggage that they can wheel themselves.

National High Speed Rail Authority to be set up

Minister for Railways Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that the Railways are planning to go in for Dedicated Passenger Corridor (DPC) on the lines of Dedicated Freight Corridor.

Saying DPC will be known as the “Golden Rail Corridor” of the Indian Railways, Ms. Mamata said that high speed rail corridor will become a catalyst for India’s economic growth, a stimulus for the development of satellite towns and reduction of migration to metropolises. She said therefore it is proposed to set up a National High Speed Rail Authority for planning, standard setting, implementing and monitoring these projects.

She said construction of High Speed passenger rail corridors is another transformational initiative that Railways will embark upon in the coming years. She said Indian Railways proposes to invest in developing high speed corridors of 250 to 350 kmph speed. Already six corridors have been identified and as the projects would require large investments, they will be executed through PPP mode. (ANI)


Railways to SMS on reservation, train status

Indian Railways may soon begin sending SMS messages on train punctuality and seat reservations to passengers, just like airlines.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said in her budget speech that her ministry was taking several initiatives to improve passenger satisfaction. These included SMS updates of reservation status and punctuality of trains to passengers and SMS updates on the movement of wagons to freight customers.

The railways also proposed to induct e-ticket based mobile vans for issuing reservation tickets in government medical college hospitals, high courts, district courts, university campuses, IT hubs, IITs and IIMs.

Ticket centres will also be opened at district headquarters and village panchayats with state and private support.


Book your rail tickets at IITs, IIMs, courts

People will soon be able to book their railway tickets at Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), high courts and hospital campuses, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said in her budget speech Wednesday.

Presenting the budget in the Lok Sabha, Banerjee said: “I propose to induct e-ticket based mobile vans for issuing reservation tickets in government medical college hospitals, high courts, district courts, university campuses, IT hubs, IITs and IIMs.”

“To give more facilities to the common people, railway proposes to open ticket centres at district headquarters and village ‘panchayats’ (councils) with infrastructure support from local government/semi-government authorities and private organisations,” Banerjee announced.

Railways eye ppp for swanky stations

The humble railway stations of India, most unassuming and reflective of their grey colonial roots, are set for a scrub. The state-run Indian Railways will partner private companies to co-brand select stations, to start with, under a new “adopt-a-station” policy.

It will facilitate passengers to view their favourite programmes on Rail TV — an infotainment channel to be on offer in all key trains as well as stations. It will also offer a rail magazine for the avid reader on the lines of in-flight magazines and the icing on the cake will be a railway royalty card for frequent travellers on suburban trains — similar to frequent flier programme — to avail of special discounts at station outlets, or get bargain tickets.

These are part of Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s blueprint aimed at increasing non-core revenues of one of the world’s oldest and largest rail networks, through a public-private partnership (PPP). Its target: a whopping 10-fold increase in advertising revenues to over Rs 1,000 crore for 2010-11, from an estimated Rs 125 crore this financial year. A part of the new strategy is expected to be announced in the Railway Budget. A special department to focus on generating the non-core revenue is also being created.

The Railways have over 7,500 stations across the country. As many as 11,000 passenger trains and over 6,000 goods trains crisscross the nation every day, which sources say, “can be leveraged well for their advertising potential”. The non-core revenues constitute 3 per cent of Railways’ total projected revenue of Rs 90,626 crore for 2009-10. The advertising revenue target for this year was pegged at Rs 360 crore.

According to internal studies, the Railways have utilised only 8 per cent of their potential from non-core businesses. In contrast, the Delhi airport alone expects to earn around Rs 100 crore annually from advertising. Banerjee, who has appointed ad man Suhel Seth to put together a plan, has started work on centralising information on inventory (space) that the Railways have across the country under member (traffic). Currently, advertising space is sold in an ad hoc manner by station managers. There are five members — traffic, engineering, electrical, staff and mechanical — under the Railway chairman to look after the entire operations.

Once ready, the Railways will appoint the top three media buying houses to sell the space on its behalf.

Also, to ensure a company can track the impact of its advertisement on consumers and effectively market its products, the Railways will invite a research agency to create a Railways Measurement Index (like TRP for television) and work on a comprehensive demographic profiling at key stations — collecting details like age and profession, among others, of passengers.

Says Suhel Seth: “There are 17 million footfalls that the Railways get every day. We will leverage this footfall and convert it into revenue for them. The model will ensure that the Railways do not have to spend anything, but earn through a revenue-sharing model from the private sector.”

The Railways will put together a tourism board, too, which will focus on opportunities to enhance revenue from tourist destinations. The logic: Eighty per cent of the destinations presented in Incredible India! campaign can be accessed by a rail network and a comprehensive policy is needed with the tourism department to develop the reach. Also on the anvil is a plan to sell passenger data for marketing purposes.

Seth says they are looking at various modules of advertising. For instance, companies could adopt the entire station and use the space inside and outside of it to advertise. The pantry cars could be sponsored by an FMCG company in food business. Companies could also be given an offer to create a brand wrapper around a cargo train. Sampling of products like tea, biscuits and food items could be taken up in trains.


Wagon industry welcomes prospects of higher production

The wagon manufacturers see demand from the Railways to grow substantially in the next fiscal entailing a positive direction for a long-term growth.

Though the Railways’ procurement size remains the same, the final placement of orders for the last floated tender for 2009-10 has not taken place yet. As the industry does not suffer from capacity constraints, industry captains have welcomed the prospect of higher productions.

There are six to seven wagon makers in the country and half of it is in the private sector. A few have already got into making of steel wagons and are planning to enter aluminium wagons too. Some of them are also poised to diversify into locomotive shells, EMU coaches and components.


According to Mr Umesh Chowdhary, Managing Director of Titagarh Wagons, the 2010-11 Railway Budget has set a target of procuring 18,000 wagons. “This means the industry is likely to be asked to effectively produce around 30,000 wagons as 2009-10 will have an order carry-over of 12,000 wagons into the next fiscal”, Mr Chowdhury observed

Mr Pawan Ruia, Chairman of Jessop, which has mild-steel wagon making capacity and has embarked upon a plan to produce steel wagons, welcomed the decision to set up five wagon manufacturing units and a DMU manufacturing unit in public-private partnership mode.

In view of current scarcity of wagons and coaches, Mr Ruia considered the Budget promise of introduction of modified wagon investment scheme a positive move.

“The immediate increase of 1,000 route km during the financial year 2010 is a bold step towards future plan of 25,000 route km within 2020.

“However, we’d be happier if the target of procuring new wagons for the next year was increased from the level of the current year”, Mr Ruia said.

The targeted 944 million of tonnes of freight loading for the next year should be a benchmark and Jessop & Co Ltd was geared up to rise to the occasion to deliver the rolling stock needed for it”.

Industry insiders said the Budget has set long-term direction for significant improvement in railway infrastructure and set in motion a process for greater private partnership along with a promise of removing procedural bottlenecks and delays.

“Investments in building infrastructure and introduction of technology from private sector may pour into manufacturing of special wagons, coaches and locomotives once delay in project implementation and procedural hurdles are removed,” said a senior industry official.


Tourists bring ‘Bharat Tirth’ trains to Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI: The inflow of tourists from northern states to pilgrim centres in the state seems to have encouraged railways to introduce as many as eight ‘Bharat Tirth’ tourist train routes into the state.

The trains link pilgrim centres like Kancheepuram and Madurai with other centres in the north. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is expected to operate tourist trains from time to time.

“These are the routes through which the tourist trains will be operated. The trains may be planned like the Bharat Darshan trains that are run periodically by the corporation,” said an IRCTC official. The details would be known only later, he said.
A senior railway official said that there is good inflow of tourists, especially senior citizens, from north Indian towns like Mathura, Gaya, Jaipur and others to Rameswaram, Kancheepuram, Madurai.

“The trains covering these routes will make tourist movement hassle-free. The Bharat Darshan trains are highly popular. Recently, IRCTC also introduced special tourist trains linking the Buddhist circuit. Discussions were held with Sri Lankan officials to lure pilgrims from the island nation,” said an official of IRCTC.

In addition to luring more tourists to Tamil Nadu, the railway budget has also announced trains connecting Howrah with Puducherry.

Mamata Banerjee, in her speech mentioned that Aurobindo Ashram was the reason for introducing trains from West Bengal to the Union territory. “Several people travel from West Bengal to Chennai to visit Aurobindo Ashram. Now, they can travel direct to Punducherry,” said a railway official.


First air-conditioned double-decker coach developed

Kapurthala (Punjab), Feb 26(ANI): The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) of Kapurthala boasts of developing a prototype of the country’s first air-conditioned double-decker coach.

The officials of the factory claim that the double-decker coach has been completed in a record time of eight months.

The RCF started preparing such coaches after Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced in her Railway Budget speech in 2009 that AC double-decker trains will be manufactured to cope up with heavy rush of commuters.

RCF’s General Manager Pardeep Kumar said that the preliminary testing of the double-decker prototype has been conducted successfully, and it would be rolled out next month for trials.

“We have made India’s first double-decker AC coach in the RCF. We have completed a prototype of the coach and the first stage of testing of the coach has also been completed successfully this month. Earlier also, double-decker coaches were made but they did not have any AC and had some or the other manufacturing problems. So, we have overcome all those problems and made this coach with a completely new design,” Kumar said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that Indian Railways would introduce double-decker trains as a pilot project.

“India’s Railway Minister announced that two trains would be running between Delhi and Kolkata as a part of the pilot project. Depending on the response, the project will be further extended in terms of number of coaches,” Kumar said.

Kumar further said that after the successful completion of the oscillation trails by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the RCF would start manufacturing double-decker coaches for trains.

The new coach shell design is capable of running at a speed of 160 kilometer/hour, and it will be 1.5 feet higher than the normal coach and will have a seating capacity of about 130. (ANI)

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Catering services being overhauled

A major overhaul of Railway catering services is on the anvil with an action plan being put into operation, geared at improving quality of food, overcharging and measures to improve food safety and hygiene.

Such an action plan was put into operation on the basis of a study done by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), relating to various dimensions entailing onboard provision of food services.

The study is based on an onboard customer satisfaction survey with a sample size large enough to cater to the cultural and geographical distribution of a continental size country that is India.

The survey highlighted that the major problem areas identified included food quality (50.88 per cent), Bedroll (15.09 per cent) and overcharging (13.73 per cent).

IRCTC adopted a strategy to counter problems that included introduction of hamper system in base kitchen, conducting food and hygiene audit, centralised rate contract for reputed branded quality product, MoA with HPCL for smooth supply of LPG gas over catering units and adoption of fuel efficient practices in base kitchen.

”The overall quality approach benefited IRCTC with cost saving of Rs 8.91 crore,” a statement said. Incidentally, the study got the ‘QCI-DL Shah National Awards on Economics of Quality’ which was received by IRCTC Managing Director Rakesh Kumar Tandon at a function here today.

IRCTC took up the ”challenge” of improving quality of catering services and ”started measuring and re-building its capabilities”. In order to further improve quality of services of the mammoth public sector undertaking, a plan of action has been put into practice.

These included coordination with railways for improvement in pantry car equipment, spreading awareness among passengers to curb overcharging, improvement in cleanliness of compartments as well as panty cars in coordination with railway authorities.

— (UNI) — 19DC3.xml