Self Propelled Accident Relief Train

In most of the countries in the unfortunate event of Railway accident, relief and rescue work is not spearheaded by Railway organization but by civil authorities as in case of road accidents. However, on Indian Railways, because of the historical reasons all the rescue and relief work is carried over by Railways. Indian Railways has an established system for such a disaster response for over a century and half. ART, i.e. Accident Relief Train is one such important component for restoration of the Railway working.

Indian Railways has the provision of Accident Relief Trains at all the important stations to carry out rescue, relief and restoration work during natural calamities/accidents/unusual incidents. This is one of the unique characteristics of Indian Railways because nowhere in the world the relief, rescue and the restoration work is carried out by the Railway organization. In other countries, the responsibility of such work is borne by the civil administration. Indian Railways as consistently strived hard to improve and upgrade the Accident Relief Trains or the ART, which plays a major role in such operations.

The Accident Relief Train (ART) for Mumbai area of Mumbai Central Division of Western Railway is located at Diesel Loco Shed Bandra. It is mainly used for speedy restoration of traffic in Mumbai suburban area from Churchgate to Virar after an emergency or an unusual incident. Besides this, it is also utilized for restoration of railway working upto Palghar in case of emergency.

The ART is located Diesel Loco Shed Bandra since the days of steam traction. During the steam traction period, the ART was equipped with heavy mechanical screw jacks and water hydraulic jacks. Later in July 1993, the mechanical screw jacks and water hydraulic jacks were replaced by modern light weight hydraulic rerailing equipment supplied by a German Company.

Present Status:

Previously the Accident Relief Train was powered by locomotives brought from line in case of accidents/ derailments. Due to this, a little more time was required for the departure of ART from the shed. This problem was solved by using the modern technology and making the ART self propelled in June 2001. The self propelled ART was manufactured and supplied indigenously by Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala.

Presently ART BA has one self propelled Accident Relief Train consisting of two coaches carrying one set of rerailing equipments and one truncated ART consisting of five Nos. of wagons/coaches/BFR carrying one additional set of rerailing equipment and permanent way materials required for restoration of damaged track of approximate two k.m length.

Other Major Features:

· Communication:- ART is equipped with all modern advanced technology for better communication facility, such as walkie talkie, group mobile and satellite phone.

· Training and Preparedness:- SPART is taken out for weekly trial on every Saturday and full scale Mock trail is regularly carried out for staff preparedness.

· Inflatable Rescue Air Bags:- SPART is equipped with inflatable rescue Air Bags imported from Holland. It is a very useful life saving device. These bags are extremely useful in case of passenger train accidents as it is worked with 6 kg/cm² of air pressure which is given by compressor. It inflates very quickly and takes a load of 130 tonnes. It only requires 1” ground clearance and can lift several tones with the touch of a button. It is primarily used in low insertion situations with heavy weight needed to be lifted in rescue of passengers.

· Hydraulic Rescue Equipment:- It consists of hydraulic cutters, spreaders and hand operated tools for cutting of coaches for rescue of passengers trapped inside the coaches in case of an accident.

· Under water cutting equipment:- Also Known as petrogen, is able to cut under water iron and steel in case of accident in under water.

· Inflatable tower lights:- One of the most innovative rescue equipment is inflatable tower lights. It is a light weight, portable and glare free illumination system, which is ideally used for meeting any illumination requirement whenever there is an accident or an emergency situation.

· Inflatable tent:- These are very special type of tents, used in remote areas, for giving shelter to the affected passengers. It can be inflated and erected at the site of accident within 10 minutes. These tents are so strong that they can sustain extreme weather conditions.

· Self contained breathing apparatus:- The ART contains a self contained breathing apparatus. It is a device which is worn by rescue workers and fire fighters for breathing air in immediate danger to life. This apparatus has basically three main components i.e. a high pressure tank, a pressure regulator valve, and an inhaling connection (mouth piece, mouth mask or face mask).

Remarkable achievements of ART Bandra:

· ART played a major role in restoring of about one k.m of railway track which was completely washed away due to flood at Palghar in February 2005. ART staff worked round the clock under heavy rains continuously till the restoration of the railway track.

· On 10.10.2005 ART even played a major role outside the railway premises by placing back the airplane VT-SID -737 (SAHARA AIRLINES) which was off shot from the main runway at Santacruz Domestic Airport during takeoff.

· On 11.07.2006, the entire nation was rocked by serial bomb blasts in Mumbai local trains. ART played a vital role in restoring the railway traffic within shortest possible period.

There are 42 skilled and supervisory staff nominated for the ART. This staff is kept in readiness 24 hrs i.e. all the time for meeting any emergency. As soon as the information of any unusual/emergency is received, the ART moves out in about 30 minutes during day time and in about 45 minutes during the night time for rescue and restoration.

Bullet train project gets closer to realisation

The dreams of Amdavadis to reach Mumbai in less than two hours have moved a step closer to realisation. The detailed project report for the bullet train between Ahmedabad-Pune has been finally submitted to the railway board.

The report has pegged the cost of the project, which covers nearly 530 km between Ahmedabad-Pune, at around Rs 56,000 crore. Of this, around Rs 50,000 crore will be used for the construction of tracks and other infrastructure alone. Officials in the western division said that once the detailed project report gets a clearance, the fund sharing will also be decided between the Maharashtra and the Gujarat governments. The bullet train, which is capable of running at 350 km per hour speed, aims to reduce the travel time between Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Pune to less than three hours.

The current travel time for the 450 km distance between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is six hours and thirty minutes by the non stop Duronto train. The same for the 100 km Pune-Mumbai is three hours. The report has also suggested alignment, fare structure and volume of passengers in the proposed high-speed corridor, the first of its kind in the country.

Officials said the pre-feasibility study by a French rail transport company reveals a travel time of 1 hour 52 minutes between Ahmedabad-Mumbai without any stops at a speed of about 350 km per hour. The same from Mumbai to Pune is estimated to be around 40 minutes.

The study has also predicted that 26.6 million passengers would travel by the bullet train every year with 2021 as the horizon year.

Officials said that the major issue would be the fund sharing between Mumbai and Pune. Gujarat wanted the train to run only till Mumbai, but on the request of the Maharashtra government the project was extended till Pune.

Officials said that the railways have already made it clear that the entire project would be on a public-private-partnership. Earlier this year, a French rail transport company was awarded the contract for conducting pre-feasibility study.

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 11:38 am  Comments (4)  

Development of Green Toilets on Trains

Efforts are on in several directions for development of Environment Friendly Toilets in trains. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by Ministry with Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)for Joint Technology development using Defence Research & Development Establishment (DRDE) bio-digester technology for passenger coach toilet systems. Designs have been developed jointly by RESO & DRDO based on this technology and Indian Railways Production Units have been instructed to manufacture two rakes based on this technology. Zero Discharge Toilet System (ZDTS) has been developed jointly by Research Design & Standards Organization (RDSO) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. Efforts are also in hand to carry out trials of vacuum retention type toilets on Shatabdi Trains.

ZDTS has been tried out on one coach based on design jointly developed by RDSO, Lucknow and IIT, Kanpur. The action is in hand by RDSO to carry out extended trials o one rake based on this technology.

Suitable technology option for Indian Railways operating conditions are yet to be established for which Railway is working on various technology options as described above. Further course of action regarding adoption of suitable technology mix for all trains will be taken, based on the outcome of trials with different technology options.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways, Shri K.H. Muniyappa in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

Travel by Maharajah Express to tour UP by train

Finally, there’s something on the tourism front for the city that Lucknowites can celebrate. For a city crammed with historical spaces, not to mention a unique culture, the complaint often has been that it hardly falls within the tourist map, with foreigners just passing through Lucknow on their way to better advertised places like Varanasi or even the Buddhist circuit. But hopefully, all that should change with this latest initiative of the Royal India Railway Tours, a partnership between IRCTC and a private tour operator, which is bringing a luxury train into the city as a part of its travel itinerary that includes Agra, Varanasi, Gwalior, Bandhavgarh and Khajuraho.

On the lines of super luxury trains like Royal Rajasthan on wheels, Royal Orient and the Deccan Odyssey, The Maharaja express too promises to give its guests a taste of UP, with a luxurious touch. As Nalin Singhal, director, tourism and marketing, IRCTC explains, “We have already brought in several tourists for on this train and so far the response has been enthusiastic. Our endeavour is to provide an experience which is away from the traditional tour one undertakes of India. Depending on the future response we may also consider increasing the number of destinations.” Interestingly, while there are other luxury trains that include Agra and Varanasi in their itinerary, this is for the first time that such a train has come to Lucknow. Also, the project sees active membership by Muzaffar Ali, who has for long championed for greater efforts regarding tourism in Lucknow. Says Singhal, “The kind of clientele we are catering to – premier foreign tourists – can be great ambassadors for tourism and naturally help encourage others to consider destinations like Lucknow.”

Awasthi, director, UP Tourism firmly agrees with, when he says, “Such an initiative can be really advantageous for Lucknow especially since Lucknow traditionally has never been a tourist destination. It will help create an opening for the city among tourists who generally stop by on their way to the Buddhist circuit. We are willing to provide every help and support they require.”

Metro training its staff to handle abandoned persons

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is training its officials on how to effectively handle cases of children and adults found abandoned on metro premises. On Friday it organised a workshop at its Training School in Shastri Park to sensitise the station staff on how to deal with abandoned adults or children.

According to the DMRC officials, a lot of times children get separated from their parents or individuals mostly women and older people get left behind at metro stations. These people are then taken into the care of the Station Managers who then are entrusted with restoring them with the families and notifying the law enforcing agencies.

“All the Metro Station Managers and Assistant Station Managers attended this workshop. Senior DMRC officials along with experts from an NGO dealing with such issues addressed the employees,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

Communication skills

The workshop included sessions on the necessary communication skills for interacting with the abandoned individuals, immediate liaison with police and other agencies concerned and rehabilitation in secured environs.

“Experts from the NGO were invited to the workshop for an in depth presentation to the metro staff regarding help and assistance in such cases. During the workshop, the station staff were instructed on how to immediately contact the police by dialling 100 if they come across people who have been left behind at the metro premises. They were also provided with the telephone numbers of NGOs for the homeless,” said the spokesperson.


The DMRC also plans to sensitise the Metro Citizens Forum volunteers on how to render help to the people left behind or abandoned.

“There are more than 500 volunteers working with Delhi Metro currently and they can be of great assistance in dealing with such cases. People seeking assistance from the metro staff inside the metro premises can also call on the Metro’s helpline number (011) 128128 and the metro security number 011-22185555,” the spokesperson said.

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 11:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Airlines’ loss is railways’ gains

The budget travellers dream of taking a flight at the drop of a hat being dashed in mid-air by soaring air ticket prices, the humble train has triumphed again.

Data available with Western Railway (WR) shows the train has won many recent converts, which has the railways coffers overflowing. The Mumbai-Delhi route, among the busiest air routes, has witnessed a 10% increase in revenue earned by the railways over last November. Moreover, the busy Mumbai-Delhi sector has seen an 18.99% increase in demand this November compared to the same month last year. WR generally earns an excess of Rs 20 crores per month on the Delhi-Mumbai sector, this November WR earned Rs 2.5 crores more due to increased demand. WR officials said though November-December is usually the peak season for travel, this huge growth can be attributed to the skyrocketing air fares.

WRs chief PRO, Sharat Chandrayan, said, “Airfares have been ramped up since November and they have shown no signs of coming cial train twice a week (Monday and Friday) to cope with the demand, he said. The special train raked in as much as Rs 12 lakh per trip.”

The Garib Raths, also called the poor mans Rajdhani, has also been running house full on the Mumbai-Delhi sector on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. WR has augmented this train with one 3-AC coach with a carrying capacity of 72.

Rates on the Garib Rath are Rs 552 on chair car and Rs 667 for a 3-AC berth. This is probably what a flier pays as his taxi fare, said Chandrayan. The extra coaches earn WR around Rs 50,000 a day. WR runs around 11 services to Delhi daily, excluding holiday specials.

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 11:16 am  Comments (1)  

Rlys to modernize signal system

Stung by frequent accidents and mishaps on tracks, the railways has decided to adopt foolproof safety measures concentrating on modernization of signal system at the country level.

According to a Railway Board official, the Board has decided to introduce centralized electrical and electronic interlocking system on all important routes to check recurrence of accidents mainly caused either due to signal failure or overshooting of signals by loco pilots. The railways would introduce this new modern system at about 4,500 stations at the country level, he said.

Besides, the railways would take up track circuiting work on priority basis on all vulnerable routes. About 2,400 block huts have been created across the country to further improve security measures, particularly on tracks. The railways has already installed LED signals at 3,600 stations at the country level, a Board official said, adding the old signalling system is being replaced by most modern and sophisticated ones to enhance efficiency of signalling system.

The board official told TOI that the railways is introducing multiple aspect colour light signals at all crowded points from safety point of view. Warning signals are being installed at 895 places. Work on about 200 km is currently in progress these days at different places in the country, he said, adding the railways is committed to improve signalling system at those places where complaints about signal failures are more often.

According to sources, the Danapur division of East Central Railway (ECR) has witnessed maximum number of signal failures recently causing detention of mail and express trains either at stations or at outer signals. Alarm chain pulling and hose pipe disconnections are other problems plaguing the division for a long time.

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 11:14 am  Comments (1)  

Delhi-style makeover for Kolkata Metro

The Metro will soon undergo one of its biggest transformations. By March 2011, the old, fault-ridden gates will be chucked and new Delhistyle radio frequency controlled gates will be in. Say good-bye, also, to magnetic paper tickets and hello to tokens.

What’s better, trains will run at five minute intervals during peak hours. The growing passenger pressure has necessitated the drastic changes, officials say.

“We plan to introduce a new gating system by March 31 next year. The existing turnstiles will be replaced by flap gates. Presently, there are 211 gates but the new system will have 280 in 23 Metro stations. The technology behind the flap gates is called ‘radio frequency identification’ while the existing ones work on magnetic recognition. The tickets will also give way to reusable tokens. The Delhi Metro runs on this system,” said chief operations manager of Metro Rail, Surajit Kumar Das, on Friday.

The current system allows 33 to 35 passengers to enter the station through the turnstiles per minute. The flap-gate system will allow 45 to 60 people in 60 seconds. “The passenger handling capacity will increase by 50%,” Das added. “This will ensure smooth passenger movement over the next five years. The next upgrade will happen thereafter.”

The Metro expects to decrease the gaps in peak hours (9am to 11 am, 5pm to 7pm) from six minutes to five minutes. “Over a period of one hour, the frequency of trains will increase. There will be four additional pairs of trains in the morning and evening,” Das said. The ultimate aim is to reduce the gap to four minutes.

The gates have been posing problems over the past year. Several gates don’t work and passengers face trouble while entering and exiting the platform despite valid tickets. The situation is such that passengers are often allowed free entry and exit leading to loss of revenue for the Metro Railway.

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 11:08 am  Comments (1)  

Railways to set up Mechanized Laundries

washed linen and hygienic food at affordable prices to its passengers. With a view to further improve upon the standards of cleanliness and hygiene in the linen supplied to passengers in trains, Railways are in the process to set up mechanized laundries at important coaching depots.

New Catering Policy, 2010 has also been announced to address the issues regarding quality of food supplied in trains. The management of catering services has been transferred to the Zonal Railways from Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in order to leverage on Railways’ reach and resources all over the country.

Regular checks/inspections are also carried out at various levels to monitor the level of cleanliness of linen and quality of food.

Washing of linen and distribution to the passengers and the catering services On Board in Indian Railways, including southern Railway, are a mix of ‘Departmental’ and ‘Outsourced’ services. Wherever outsourced, the agencies/contractors are selected through prescribed procedures including Tenders.

Railways have planned to set up mechanized in-house laundry for linen washing at Basin Bridge (Chennai), Trivandrum and Ernakulam coaching depots of Southern Railway. As of now, there is no departmental catering on any of the trains on Southern Railway.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways, Shri K.H. Muniyappa in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

Allotment of Contracts under New Railway Catering Policy-2010

As per now Catering Policy 2010, the allotment for general category which are all major units and 75 per scent of general minor units at ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ category stations is to be done by Zonal Railways through open competitive and two packet tender system. The allotment for 25 per cent of the Special Minor Units at ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ category stations for reserved categories and 49.5 per cent Special Minor Units and 50.5 per cent of the General Minor Units at ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’ category stations is to be done by calling of applications, by the Divisions. However, the allotment of Food Plazas, Food Courts and Fast Food Units is to be done by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

As per Catering Policy 2010, issued recently on July 21, 2010, a reservation of 3 per cent at ‘A”, ‘B’ AND ‘C’ category of stations and 9.5 per cent at ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’ category of stations has been earmarked for allotment of catering units to minorities. During the last three years, on Southern and South Central Railway a total number of 10 and 3 catering units respectively have been allotted to licensees belonging to Minority communities. No change is presently envisaged in this respect.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways, Shri K.H. Muniyappa in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.