Railways to educate people on unmanned level crossings

The Indian Railway will launch Tuesday a 7-day safety drive to educate people on negotiating unmanned level crossings.

“The number of unmanned level crossing accidents occurring on Indian Railways is a cause of concern,” said a railway ministry statement, adding that out of 35,363 the railway’s level crossings, 17,954 are unmanned, giving rise to accidents, primarily due to inadequate precautions by the road users.

It said that though the train accidents at unmanned level crossings have marginally reduced in last five years – from 65 in the year 2005-06 to 62, the fatalities in level crossing accidents accounted for nearly 74 percent of all train accident fatalities in India in 2009-10.

The launch of 7-day safety drive is to coincide the International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD), which the International Union Of Railways has slated for June 22 this year.

The Indian Railway is presently engaged in building road over bridges and under bridges besides limited-height sub-ways at busy railway crossings to enhance their safety, the statement said, adding that it built a total of 249 over or under bridges and subways in 2009-10.

It will build many more such bridges and subways in fiscal 2010-11, the statement said.


Documentary on Hill railways of India bags UK award

A documentary series on the hill railways in India has won the prestigious Royal Television Society Award of the United Kingdom early this week. The three-part series —shown by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC)— is based on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Niligiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka Shimla Railway. All the three hill railways are the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Of the three films, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was directed by Tarun Bhartiya, a Shillong-based Indian director with an all Indian crew. The other two films, Kalka Shimla Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway, were directed by Hugo Smith and Nick Mattingly.

“The hil railways is a metaphor of life in India. The railways are unique in their own way. They flourished during the British Raj and are still running brilliantly. There are so many folk songs based on these trains. Also, the film was shot against the backdrop of the 2009 elections and Gorkhaland agitation,” says Bhartiya. “Culture of the people here is so different than those from the plains,” says Gerry Troyna, the producer of the film.

The film got overwhelming response in UK. “The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has a character called Sita Chetri who is a porter and climbs the hill to make a living for her family of five. A widow, she wants her eldest son to study in the best college in Darjeeling, but the lack of fund makes it difficult. After watching the film, we got several mails from people willing to help her,” adds Troyna.

Troyna has made several films on the Indian Railways. His six-part series on the Great Railway Journeys in the 1980s included his journey from Mumbai to South India. The series got BAFTA nomination for best documentary series. He also won accolades for his series on documentary on the Bombay Railway, Monsoon Railway and Indian Hospital Train-The Lifeline Express.

Constructed by the British for their luxury, these hill railways have now became a lifeline for people in the hills.


IRCTC special tourist train to Jammu

KANPUR: To provide affordable tour packages to the passengers on newer destinations, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will soon launch a new tour package from Kanpur to Jammu (Vaishno Devi shrine) for the people of the Industrial City.

The tour package will include to and fro travel expenses (ticket booking), transportation from railway station to hotel, lodging and fooding expenses.

Manoj Sinha, chief regional manager (CRM), IRCTC, who was on a visit to the city recently, said, “Very soon we will be launching a new tour package between Kanpur and Jammu railway stations for the passengers who are willing to go up to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. This tour package will benefit the passengers because its prices are going to remain the lowest in comparison to other tour packages available presently.”

Under the new package scheme, the IRCTC will pick up a passenger from the Jammu railway station and drop him/her to Katra at the designated hotel. The passenger will also be given the ‘darshan’ slip which is required at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. During four days and five nights stay in the hotel, the passenger will be extended all necessary facilities.

“The passengers will remain comfortable all throughout their journey. They will just have to book the tour package with us and rest we will handle,” added Sinha.

Presently, the IRCTC is also looking forward to launch three new tour packages, all of which will be originating from Lucknow. Lucknow-Mussourie, Lucknow-Shirdi and Lucknow-Vaishno Devi are the three new tour packages in the offing which the IRCTC will be launching probably by the end of this month.

To further facilitate the passengers, a tourist information centre will soon be commissioned at the Kanpur Central railway station (city side) where the passengers will be able to get necessary information related to the tour packages offered by the IRCTC.

“In the first phase, we will be setting up tourist information and facilitation centres (TIFCs) in Lucknow and Allahabad by the first week of July. In the next phase, we will be doing the same at Kanpur and Gorakhpur. The existing tourist information centre in Varanasi is under re-modelling phase and it will be completed before the start of the Commonwealth Games”, said Sinha.


What India can learn from China’s amazing railway system

In 1949, the Chinese Railway network added less than 22,000 km of poorly maintained, war-damaged lines. By 2008, its network touched 80,000 route km — 36 per cent double-tracked and 35 per cent electrified.

During 1950-1980, China added 107 railway lines, stretching over 30,000 km, and has plans to extend the network to 20,000 route km by 2020 — 50 per cent of it double-tracked and 60 per cent electrified.
With an audacious investment programme, Chinese Railway, like the country’s most dramatic burst of wealth creation, inspires awe as much as envy.

The Chinese railways trailed Indian Railways technologically until the 1980s. In fact, even in 1990, its 24,800-km core network with an annual density of 30 million gross tonnes or more had largely 50 kg/m and 43 kg/m rails; as many as 55 per cent of the wagons were with plain bearings.

Until 1980, steam locomotive continued to remain its mainstay, carrying 76 per cent of its traffic. Today, Indian Railway, lost in shibboleths of systematic self-destruction, lags way behind Chinese Railway, and has no tangible strategy for growth.

On the other hand, Chinese Railway, now the world’s second largest freight railway system and the largest passenger system, has by far the highest traffic density (passenger-km and tonne-km per km of line) — it is 10.5 times the world average. Its output per locomotive, per freight car, per passenger coach is among the highest.

Chinese Railway’s priority development plans have centred on high technology and a judicious mix of traffic routes for passenger trains running at 200 kmph and freight trains at 120 kmph.

Travel time has been reduced by increasing service speeds and reducing train stops. Between 1997 and 2007, Chinese Railway carried out six stages of ‘speed raising’: maximum train speed that was generally around 80-100 kmph in 1991 has gradually been raised to 160-200 kmph on popular passenger corridors.

The first 300-kmph electric multiple unit (EMU) train set was inaugurated in August 2008 between Beijing and Tianjin. CR is currently constructing 350 kmph passenger dedicated lines (PDLs). The combined length of PDLs by 2020 will be 16,000 route km; another 35 mixed traffic lines will be equipped to operate at 200-350 kmph.

Chinese Railway is busy developing its capacity and quality for freight and passenger traffic in line with the economy’s astounding growth.

It already operates 2,700 m long, 20,000-tonne heavy- haul coal trains. Its containerised freight is forecast to reach 400 million tonnes by 2020 compared with just 64.5 million tonnes in 2006.
As Chinese Railway is poised to have the largest high-speed rail network worldwide, it will have a similar seminal infrastructure for heavy-haul freight transportation.

The principles underpinning the Mid-to-Long Range Railway Network Plan (MLRNP), 2003, approved for CR by the State Council, include: Coordination of rail development with that of other transport modes; separation of passenger and freight transport on constrained busy trunk lines to increase capacity and improve service; development of inter-city fast passenger networks; expansion of the rail network to support and encourage sustainable economic development, regional development and national defence; raising the local content of railway equipment and promotion of local railway manufacturing.

In 1991, the Chinese government enacted a Railway Law, which gave the ministry of railways overall control of policy, technical standards, planning, investment and finance, leaving just the day-to-day management and delivery of rail transport services and infrastructure to the regional railway administrations (RRAs).

For raising capital for new constructions, a surcharge was applied to all freight traffic in 1990. A second surcharge was introduced in 1993 for freight moving on electrified lines and was used for extending electrification over the network.

In 2005, China opted for public-private partnerships for new constructions, including the PDLs. Local railways in China came into being in 1960 essentially as feeder lines financed by respective local governments. Joint venture railways, established first in the 1990s, account for more than 50 per cent of the new constructions.

Chinese Railway’s track structure is being constantly upgraded: PDLs will all have ballastless track and the heavy-haul high-density Daqin line, originally laid with jointed 60 kg/m rail in 25m lengths on the east-bound loaded track, is being replaced by continuously welded 75 kg/m rail on 2,600-2,700 mm long sleepers laid at 1,840 per km.

Four large equipment maintenance bases are due to be completed by 2013, one each at Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou. These will be aided by 35 modern satellite depots across the network. Concomitantly, several state-of-the-art signalling and communication systems have been planned.

China has emerged as a strong manufacturer of railway equipment as much as a burgeoning market for it. By 2020, China will potentially be the global leader in rail technology.

Technology transfer from Japanese and European companies has enabled China’s railway supply industry to acquire the knowhow to build rolling stock ranging from 350 kmph EMUs to heavy-haul locomotives. Matching advancements have been made in track and signalling technologies.

On dedicated heavy haul corridors, such as Daqin line, wagons of aluminium or stainless steel body with 25 tonne axle load, fitted with rotary couplers, and for up to 120 kmph operation, are being introduced progressively.

The whole approach has been pragmatic coupled with bold initiatives, clarity, and continuity. Major rationalisation measures initiated by Chinese Railway have entailed massive investments as well as drastic disinvestments.

Many railway stations with low volume of freight have been closed; short distance passenger traffic has been actively discouraged to release capacity for longer distance rail travel.

Following a ‘productivity layout adjustment’, locomotive depots, passenger car depots, vehicle depots and passenger transportation sections and train crew districts were all reduced.

In an important reform in 2005, a whole tier in the Chinese Railway management structure, the sub-administration level of regional administration (akin to divisions on IR) was abolished, leaving RRAs with a direct line of management to depots, stations and yards.

By 2005, Chinese Railway transferred some 900 schools and colleges and 400 hospitals to local governments. Surplus staff not directly involved in railway operations were put on the RRA rolls in what are called diversified economy companies set up in 1985.

Raghu Dayal


Bharat Darshan Train for budget tourists

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), a public sector enterprise under Railway Ministry, today announced a special rail tour package for the budget travellers by running a dedicated tourist train named ”Bharat Darshan” which would go to various destinations across the country.

Talking to reporters here, IRCTC Zonal Tourism Officer (East Zone) Shishir Khare said the train would also travel to various pilgrim destinations, including Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Ujjain, Pondicherry, Madurai and Rameswaram, at a very low cost. Some of the rail tour packages were Shimla-Manali, Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, Nainital-Kausani, Haridwar-Mussoorie, Kedar-Badri, Puri, Goa, Darjeeling-Sikkim and Rajasthan, he said adding the travellers would be provided all facilities like confirmed rail reservation, all meals, accomodations, house-keeping serivice, sight-seeing by deluxe buses and special security arrangements.

The whole services would be provided to the tourists at very nominal cost of Rs 500 per head per day, he added. The train would consist of ten coaches, seven sleeper class, one pantry car and two SLR.

Describing the journey the train would travel, Mr Khare said, ”During the Char Dham Yatra the train will commence its journey from Howrah, then it will travel to Puri, Konark, Varanasi and Haridwar. Following that the tourists will travel by deluxe buses to Rishikesh, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath and Nasik.

After that the train will start its return journey from Nasik to Howrah via Rameshwaram.” The train would have a maximum of 500 travellers, he said adding the train would start its next journey from July 4 next.

On air-tickets, which were being sold by the IRCTC through its different agencies across India from March last, he said the tickets were being sold only for domestic flights and the response was quite satisfactory.


Konkan Railway gets patent for anti-collision device in US

Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) has been granted the anti-collision device (ACD) patent in the US for its ‘Track Identification System'(TIS) recently.

An official spokesman of KRCL told Business Line on Wednesday that this patent is in addition to the ACD patents that have already been granted to KRCL in India and abroad earlier. The same has been granted on June 1.

KRCL’s ACD network is capable of preventing head-on and rear-end collisions in mid-sections, collisions at high speed in the station area, side collisions with derailed vehicles obstructing adjacent line, collisions due to train parting/jumbling and collisions with road vehicles at level crossings.

This pilot project of ACD system, which was developed by KRCL, was commissioned in North-East Frontier Railway in June 2007.

The Ministry of Railways has now assigned the work of installation of ACD Network initially on other three Railways — South Western Railway, South Central Railway and Southern Railway.

The main functioning of TIS is to ensure that when a train fitted with ACD traverses a point and crossing zone of the station yard (from where it can switch from one track to another), the unique TIS residing in it will detect automatically whether the train has deviated to the other track or not.

KRCL has to its credit 18 patents granted for Sky Bus, ACD and TIS in India and abroad , added the spokesman.


Published in: on June 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Homes planned for those living by rail track

KOLKATA: The Railways would provide accommodation to those living by the track to prevent accidents, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced here on Sunday.

Speaking at an official function, Ms. Banerjee said the initiative Sukhi Griha Parikalpana, was a part of the “human face of the Railways.” There would be a “pilot project,” and depending upon its success, the scheme would be considered for implementation across the country.

“There are so many who live in shanties by the side of railway lines and don’t even have the basics of food, clothing and shelter. Their homes shake when the trains pass by and there is the added fear of accidents,” Ms. Banerjee said.

For those who wanted to participate in the scheme, basic accommodation would be provided, Ms. Banerjee said.

The one-room apartments with toilet and kitchen areas would be built on Railway land in collaboration with the Ministry of Urban Development.

To prevent its misuse, the scheme would only be available to those already enlisted with the Railways, she added.


Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ladies special trains hit it off with women

New Delhi: High on comfort and low on price, the ladies special trains running between Delhi and small towns in neighbouring states have proved to be a hit among the fairer sex, who feel ‘secured’ in these special services.

Within a year of being launched, the New Delhi-Palwal Ladies Special train ferries nearly 2,000 commuters from a small town in Haryana to the capital everyday as increasing number of women are opting for these services over regular trains.

The L-Spl trains, as they are known, are not only less congested but also safer and more comfortable for women, as compared to regular services.

But, the commuters also have a grievance. They want the timing of the train be changed.

Besides the Palwal service, Northern Railways have also introduced a Ladies special connecting New Delhi to Ghaziabad, a satellite town which brings thousands of people to the capital everyday.

Take the case of Akansha Yadhav, a journalist who regularly takes the special train from Ballabgarh to Nizamuddin. She says she feels comfortable once she boards the train as it full of women and less crowded than normal trains.

“Travelling in L-Spl provides peace of mind and of course it is comfortable for women. In a normal train, the rush factor is always there,” she said.

Northern Railways spokesperson Anand Swaroop said the service is increasingly getting popular by each day.

“Nearly 2,200 women travel every day by the train (Palwal L-spl). L-spl is a success because there is sense of security which local trains do not provide to women,” he said.

“One of the reasons could be that more working women commute from Palwal to New Delhi… timing could also be the factor of the increased popularity. I think it is a success, but the occupancy has to go further,” divisional Railway manager (Northern Railway) Aswin Lohani said.

“It is safe, cheap, comfortable, fast and most viable option for women these days,” a lady ticket inspector in a Palwal-bound train says.


Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

First aid kiosks to be set up at 23 Delhi metro stations

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation will set up special first aid kiosks at prominent metro stations on its network during the Commonwealth Games to provide prompt medical service to commuters.

The DMRC has shortlisted 23 metro stations that are expected to have a higher footfall during the Commonwealth Games. The kiosks will be set up at these stations where teams of four qualified “first aiders” will be on duty.The shortlisted stations are Rajiv Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan, Qutub Minar, Kashmere Gate, Rithala, Patel Chowk, R.K Ashram, Chandni Chowk, Netaji Subhas Place, Model Town, Pitampura, Akshardham, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Jangpura, Pragati Maidan, Indraprastha, Tuglakabad, AIIMS, INA, Hauz Khas, Anand Vihar, and Vishwavidyalaya.

“For the project, Delhi Metro has tied up with St. John Ambulance Brigade, a reputed charitable organisation. Besides first-aid, other basic medical facilities such as blood pressure and temperature check up and general medicines will also be provided. While the first-aid professionals will be from the St. John Ambulance Brigade, the medicines and other related equipments will be provided by DMRC,” said a spokesperson.

Apart from the first aid kiosks, round-the-clock ambulance facilities will also be available around metro stations. Ambulances will be stationed at some strategic locations from where they can be rushed to the metro stations in cases of emergency. “The Customer Relation Associates of DMRC, who will be posted at all metro stations, are also being given detailed training of providing first-aid. Therefore, even in metro stations where these special first aid kiosks won’t be available, the metro staff will be in a position to help the commuters,” the spokesperson said.

Station staff has also been provided with a detailed list of the hospitals near their stations so that they can take the commuters to these hospitals in cases of emergency.


Plan panel for politics-free rail tariffs

The Planning Commission is pitching for an independent body to regulate railway tariffs, as it feels that this is integral to encouraging the much-needed private investments into the sector. Commission member BK Chaturvedi told FE: “Passenger tariffs have not been revised regularly for a while and there have been only marginal adjustments in freight rates. There is a marked gap between India’s ratio of passenger fares to freight and that of other countries. We need to remove this anomaly and ensure that tariffs and user charges are fixed through a mechanism that is independent of government functioning.”

When asked whether this would be a politically feasible, he said: “Politics is part of governance. But fixation of tariff and user charges should be an independent decision.” According to the Indian Railways’ own estimate, the sector needs an investment of Rs 14 lakh crore in the next 10 years, the bulk of which has to come from the private sector.

“Railways needs large investments for expansion. For this, tariff fixation should be kept away from other decisions,” Chaturvedi said, adding, independent decision-making would facilitate better investment opportunities in the railways by linking fares to cost.

Indian Railways, with its monopoly over rail traffic in the country, is free to fix tariff for its services. But tariff decisions are largely influenced by politics, as evident from passenger fares remaining unchanged for the last seven years.

At one point, the Railways thought of linking fares to variable costs like fuel costs, but the same did not fructify. A senior railway official said: “We cannot afford to raise passenger fares as it would hamper many political ambitions.”

Former financial commissioner of Railways Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan said: “For some stretches, we have passenger fares below that of a bus. We need a better transport policy, which prohibits use of road transport beyond a particular distance.” She said such a policy will improve traffic and enable the utility to link its fares to actual costs.

“We have not had a comprehensive revision of transport policy since 1984, despite the huge surge in vehicle population choking cities,” she said.

Railways carries 35% of freight and 12% of passenger traffic in the country, with the road network accounting for the rest.

Railways is now getting more aggressive in raising freight rates to make up for the losses on passenger transport. “We would be looking at increasing freight rates frequently while appearing not to be doing that,” Railway Board chairman Vivek Sahai had said last week. In May, the rate of iron ore transport was raised by Rs 300 per tonne, which was second such hike in two consecutive months.


Published in: on June 12, 2010 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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