Common transport ticketing card likely for Mumbai

Part two of the city’s experiment for a common transport ticketing card, on the lines of London’s Oyster Card or Hong Kong’s Octopus card, has just begun. The Indian railways has promised to come to the city’s rescue for this project, after the failure of the ‘Go Mumbai’ card, the city’s much-promised common transport card.

The Railways has already embarked on a project to convert the railway ticketing smart card into a city transport card, to be used on several applications. In Delhi, trials have begun with the Delhi Metro.

The railway card, called the Automatic Ticket Vending Machine (ATVM) card, has been a hit with Mumbai’s seven million commuters, and has been extensively used by new and existing commuters.

“We understand the importance of making smart cards work across different modes of transport. In Mumbai, this requires some upgradation of technology, and the Railway Board is likely to take a decision soon,” said Madhav Pathak, managing director, Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) in New Delhi. CRIS is the national IT arm of the Indian Railways.

“In Delhi, the ATVM system is being introduced with the capability of multiple applications being supported, and CRIS is collaborating with the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation on this,” Pathak added. “More than five percent of the passengers on central railways (CR) already use our smart card. We are identifying novel methods to promote it,” CR chief spokesperson SC Mudgerikar said.

IR to soon manufacture high power locomotives

Sanjeev Handa, member (mechanical) of the Railway Board, said the Indian Railways (IR) would soon manufacture high power locomotives of 12,000 horsepower.

Handa was addressing a function at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) on Saturday. He also flagged off a duel cab WDP 4D locomotive of 4,500 HP on the occasion. Addressing the function, he appreciated the work of DLW personnel in manufacturing the ultra modern locomotive. He said the operation of high speed trains was a challenge before the Indian Railways for which high power locomotives were needed.

Speaking on the occasion, DLW general manager KK Saxena highlighted the performance of DLW and said locomotives were being exported to countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Chief mechanical engineer Rakesh Vatash highlighted the features of WDP 4D locomotive. The DLW manufactured the duel cab locomotives with front and rear options for the first time. It can run at 130-km per hour maximum and 22.5km minimum speed.

Published in: on October 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Now, a local that will will break the 100kmph speed barrier

This month, the suburban railway will break the 100kmph speed barrier for the first time in its history.

Although voices are being raised in city’s railway circles whether the train can be allowed to run at such high speed given the closeness of stations within the city limits, the first train is being readied at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and will be brought to Mumbai by month-end.

“The 102nd train is already in Mumbai and the 105th, which is being manufactured, is likely to be the city’s first hi-speed train. While a few of its coaches are ready, the entire train should be ready and should be in city by October end or early November,” said PC Sehgal, managing director of the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC).

The new train is being procured under the Rs4,500-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), funded by World Bank and coordinated by the MRVC.

While the train will be similar to the existing ones, its high-speed bogie (wheel sets) will make all the difference. The bogies frames and technology has been bought from Siemens Australia.

A senior railway official said, “It has taken the railways six years to study and design the new train bogie. We are making a limited number of them and city should get just four to five of such trains which will be divided between Central and Western Railways.”
Officials said the train could achieve high-speeds on longer journeys beyond Kalyan, and in a few months when they start the run to Dahanu.

Officials said it is the track condition that allows higher speeds. In today’s context, the new high-speed train can achieve a speed of 110kmph on suburban local track and a speed of 130kmph on the track beyond Virar and Kalyan.

“Once the new train arrives, it will be subjected to heavy trials and oscillation tests. We will be loading them with sacks of sand to match the weight of a crowded train,” he added.

AC train trial from New Garia to Dum Dum

Metro Railway enjoyed its first cool ride on Thursday, two years after Mission AC rakes was greenlighted, but most underground regulars will have to wait well beyond Puja for a taste of comfort.

The noise and the huddle under fans were missing for the handful who boarded the AC train — one of the two air-conditioned rakes of Metro Railway procured from the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai — on a trial run flagged off by Mamata Banerjee from New Garia on Thursday evening. And no one was complaining.

The trial train went from New Garia to Dum Dum but when the limited commercial run begins on Friday, it will travel only the 8.7km stretch between New Garia and Tollygunge stations.

The railway minister on Thursday inaugurated the 2.8km stretch from Kavi Nazrul (Garia Bazaar) to Kavi Subhash (New Garia) — named after poet Subhash Mukhopadhyay — completing the extension of Metro Railway beyond Tollygunge.

Metro will run the entire stretch from Dum Dum to New Garia from Friday. But the new AC rakes are being spared the burden of the 25.1km ride because the authorities are apprehensive about how they cope with rush-hour Calcutta.

“The new trains will run five times daily at non-peak hours between New Garia and Tollygunge stations for a month. They will later operate on the whole stretch till Dum Dum,” said Mamata.

Till the new trains get the clearance for a full run, passengers who board the cool-blue coaches from New Garia will have to get down at Tollygunge and wait for the next train with sweaty old coaches and rickety doors to arrive.

But for many waiting for just another Metro train it was an “unbelievable” experience when a snazzy new one rolled in. Mamata flagged off the first AC train at 5.15pm on Thursday from New Garia, promising commuters a dream ride.

“This is absolutely unbelievable. This is an international experience. I was prepared for another rickety ride in a suffocating coach but this new AC rake came along. This is a great Puja gift,” said Swapna Bhattacharya, 24, a resident of Subhashgram, on the southern fringes of Calcutta.

The large windows with clean glass panes, the handle bars with multiple prongs, the matted floor, the digital display boards flashing the names of stations made Calcutta’s beloved Metro special again.

“It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the interiors,” said Surangana Dey, 17, a student of Class XII, who found it easier to hold on to the overhead handles hanging at an easy height.

“There are glass partitions at the seat-ends to ensure people don’t use them as seats or armrests,” said the Patuli resident. She was also excited about the “noiseless” journey. “Our conversations used to get drowned by the noise earlier,” she said softly.

But many of Surangana’s friends and most Calcuttans will miss the cool coaches during Puja. “I had made up my mind to take the Metro when I go pandal-hopping with my family just because of the AC trains. We were so excited when we were told they would start running from Mahalaya,” said Dum Dum resident Tarun Kanti Sarkar.

At the flagging-off, Mamata alleged that “someone had done some sabotage” because of which there was a delay in commissioning the new rakes. She did not elaborate.

Metro had reported some of the glitches in the new rakes, including problems with the brakes.

Even on Thursday, there was a delay of a few minutes in the first ride of the inaugural train, but not because of a snag. It was held up because the minister was busy distributing green flags among her party colleagues on the stage.

A few hours later, Metro services were disrupted for 15 minutes, from 8.40pm to 8.55pm, between Tollygunge and Garia Bazaar because of a signal failure.

Published in: on October 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Toilets in local trains soon

The railways plan to introduce toilets and washbasins on local trains soon, railway minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday.

Speaking at Howrah, on the occasion of flagging-off of two more Duranto Expresses, she promised a ride to Digha in 2 hours 15 minutes after three months. The two new Durantos will run between Howrah and Pune (bi-weekly) and Howrah and Digha (daily). The frequency of Howrah- Bangalore (Yeshwantpur) Duranto has been increased to four days a week.

”There are some local trains that run for 3 hours. I’ve plans to introduce toilets and washbasins in them for benefit of elderly and women. DEMU local that will run between Burdwan-Azimgunj soon will have toilets,” she said.

Published in: on October 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Pushers’ at stations hustle people into Metro

f the train doesn’t move, bring on the pushers.

But before you have a vision of an army of men straining to goad a Metro rake into motion — as they do to cars with sputtering engines — all that the pushers did was shove passengers in, away from the doors.

Calcutta’s Metro Railway authorities deployed “pushers” at several stations during Ashtami and Navami to ensure that passengers kept a minimum distance of four to five inches from the doors so they could shut properly and trains could run on time. If even one door of a compartment doesn’t shut properly, a train won’t move.

Metro sources said the plan worked to some extent. “The situation was very bad on Panchami, Sashthi and Saptami when schedules went haywire and trains were delayed by more than 10 minutes on an average. On Ashtami, the delay was reduced by half,” said an official.

“Closing the doors was a major problem as the trains were overcrowded. Passengers must maintain a minimum gap of four to five inches from the door so the gates can be closed,” said Metro Rail general manager Amar Nath.

The sources said the “pushers” were activated during the 7-11pm rush hour at stations like Kalighat, Dum Dum, Kavi Nazrul (Garia Bazar), Esplanade and Sovabazar.

According to officials, some 5.3 lakh passengers took the Metro on Ashtami. By late Navami evening, almost a similar number had taken the underground.

One of those who experienced the thrust was Tarun Brahmachari. The Garia resident had just boarded the train from Kavi Nazrul station yesterday and was trying to squeeze in when a pair of hands pushed him in from behind.

“The coach was crowded and I had just managed to squeeze myself in. But I was so close to the door that it refused to shut and kept opening. Suddenly, a pair of hands propelled me away from the door. I turned around to see an RPF official pushing me in. After that the door shut.”

A senior Railway Protection Force official said the pushers were deployed from among RPF personnel and volunteers. “At stations that were overcrowded, officers and constables were instructed to guide passengers on how to properly board the train and maintain a distance from the door. This is being done since yesterday to maintain punctuality,” the official added.

So the pushers did the trick? Barnali Mitra doesn’t think so.

“I was planning to go to Kalighat but got off at Park Street after boarding the train at Esplanade,” said the English honours student from Dum Dum. “The RPF men had pushed passengers into the train, causing suffocation.”

An RPF jawan at Park Street said some of the passengers got agitated after being pushed in. “But we explained to them that if they didn’t move inside, the train won’t move.”

Metro authorities have also engaged celebrities like Prosenjit to create awareness about the need to stay away from the doors and are screening the clips on television screens inside stations.

RPF officials said some 850 personnel had been deployed at stations to manage the Puja crowd, against the 280-odd on normal days.

“The pushers have helped us a lot. Passengers keep trying to board the train and we have to wait till all of them are inside. Even after that doors can’t be closed on the first attempt,” said a driver.

So be prepared for a push the next time you take the Metro. When it come to the push, Metro will shove, pushover or not.

Published in: on October 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ads on stairs, platforms: Central Railway’s latest idea

Central Railway has come up with a novel way of generating revenue and also maintaining stations’ infrastructure. It has begun leasing out space on platform floors and staircases at stations for displaying advertisements.

“This is the best way to earn revenue and maintain the infrastructure in aesthetic look. We have done this on experimental lines at five stations — CST, Dadar, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli and Chembur,” SC Mudgerikar, CR spokesperson said.

“At all these stations, we have given ad space on two staircases each. The rates are as low as Rs15 per sq feet.”

Last month, the CR had leased out platforms to a TV serial advertisements that had pasted yellow stripes near the edge of the platform.

While they displayed their ad on the yellow strip, it also served as a safety mark for passengers on the platform.

Mumbai’s suburban railway ferries nearly 7 million passengers daily and its stations and premise are the best mode of capturing public attention.

Commuter organisations welcomed the move but said that the money generated from such ideas should be used to improve infrastructure on city’s suburban railway only.

“It does look good and will improve the aesthetics of the premise, but the railways should be careful and not over-do it. They should also use the money generated from such campaigns for bettering suburban railway,” S Gupta, Mumbai Yatri Sangh said.

The railways have moved over to novel methods of advertisements recently from painting the entire train with an ad campaign to installing life-size TV screens at city’s both termini, besides normal modes like banners and hoardings. Other ideas include inserting ads in grab handles, cheque drop boxes and scrollbars.

One idea that, however, failed was the installation of plasma TV sets in few suburban trains on Western Railway. The scheme, introduced last year, failed after commuters complained about objectionable content on them.

AC trains from Pune on high occupancy

PUNE: Rail travellers from the city prefer the comforts of an air conditioned berth, even if it’s a pinch on the pocket. According to the railway data, the three fully air conditioned (AC) trains from Pune to Delhi, Nagpur and Howrah have received overwhelming responses. While the Pune- Delhi and Pune-Nagpur trains registered an occupancy of around 90 per cent, the Pune-Howrah Duronto registered an occupancy of 40 per cent on its maiden voyage.

According to the Pune railway division, the Pune-Delhi non-stop Duronto express has registered an average occupancy of more than 90 per cent. The train was introduced an year ago in September 2009. It is scheduled for two days a week on Tuesdays and Fridays from Pune to Delhi.

Similarly, the Pune-Nagpur-Pune Garib Rath, which is scheduled for three times a week from Pune on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, has registered an occupancy of around 85 per cent. The train was introduced in January 2009.

Suhas Lohakare, public relation officer, Pune railway division, said, “The Pune- Hazarat Nizamuddin Duronto is the only train between Pune and Delhi that travels via the Western route and covers the distance within 20 hours. All the other trains take more than 25 hours. The train has registered high occupancy in all seasons.”

About the Pune-Nagpur Garib Rath, Lohakare said, “According to statistics, the train is running with an average occupancy of 85 per cent. It has reduced its rates for AC coaches as compared to rates of AC coaches in ordinary trains.”

Lohakare added that the third fully AC train, from Pune to Howrah, was introduced recently, and has registered a good response (around 40 per cent occupancy). It is a significant number for the maiden journey of a train, he said.

U Nachiket, who travelled by Duronto said the travel time between Pune-Delhi has certainly reduced as compared with other trains. However, he added that the Tatkal’ facility should be made available for the Duronto express.

Harsha Shah of the Railway Pravasi Group, said, “Even tough AC trains are introduced by railways, the arrangements of berths should be made more comfortable. The berth arrangements in economy class are not comfortable for long journeys, especially for senior citizens. Besides, the railways should design new coaches for AC trains.”

Shah said the frequency of these trains should be increased considering the increasing response from passengers as there have been complaining about heavy rush and non-availability of reservations most of the times.

Published in: on October 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

KRCL launches diet food in select trains

The Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) has launched diet food in select trains, a senior railway official said today.

“Since the time we have introduced diet food, we are getting good response. There is a section of people who are conscious about their diet even in the journey,” KRCL’s Public Relation Manager Baban Ghatge said.

The diet food is really clicking and is currently introduced on Konkan Kanya Express and Mandovi Express on stations like Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Thivim, Karmali and Margao.

The railway pantry offers a host of menu for taste buds without compromising on calories. Juices, coconut water, Green Tea and Soya Milk in beverages are available in the trai, he said.

“For Breakfast one can enjoy oatmeal, cornflakes, egg white omelete, dalia or wheat upma, fruit yogurt and others. Veg and Non-veg soups are also available on board. And if you still feel hungry, you can have grilled sandwiches, sprout chat, boiled vegetables and sugar free sweets served on your seat,” Ghatge said.

KRCL officials said that the diet food concept was launched “keeping in mind the changing time.”

The corporation, which will be celebrating its 21st foundation day tomorrow, has also added a feather to its cap by introducing a service for senior citizens free of costs.

Aptly named as ‘Shravan Seva’ after mythological character of Shravan Bal depicted in Ramayana, who carried his elderly parents on the shoulders, the service provides free coolie services on major stations on select trains.

Ads rake in 10 cr for Central Railways in just six months

The economic slowdown clearly seems to be a thing of the past in the city. In the first six months of this financial year, the Central Railway (CR) reported a 34% increase in its revenue from advertisements compared to last year.

Between April and September, CR collected revenue of Rs 10.08 crore while the amount was Rs 7.51 crore last year.

S C Mudgerikar, chief PRO, Central Railway said, “This year, as the economy is growing and companies are doing well, they are willing to spend more on advertising.” According to some railway officials, innovative ideas for putting up advertisements could be behind the substantial increase in the revenue. Life-size TV screens have been installed at some terminals. Ad balloons and ads painted on the entire length of trains have also gained in popularity. “The revenue will be used to maintain amenities for commuters and existing infrastructure,” said Mudgerikar.

Recently, CR started leasing out space on staircases at stations for advertisements. The project has been introduced from October onwards at CST, Dadar, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli and Chembur stations. “We hope to raise more than Rs 1 crore in a year by leasing out the space on the staircases,” said Mudgerikar.

Read more: – The Times of India