Railways plan for 26-car express trains, long stations

If local trains are getting longer, mail and express trains are not ones to be left behind. The railways have begun planning to accommodate 26-car express trains for increased carrying capacity and to cut down the waiting list.

The plans have been included in the final version of the proposed world-class Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), which will be longer and higher than the existing station. The plans envisage local train platforms fit for 15-car trains and outstation platforms for 26-car trains.

The proposal for converting CST into a world-class station received an in-principle approval last month, with longer platforms as one of its features. A French consultant has been appointed to prepare the plans.

“The 15-car local train will be a reality. It has already started running on Western Railway, and a study has begun for its implementation on CR. The new station will be equipped for that,” a senior official said.

As far as outstation trains are concerned, the latest locomotives can haul a maximum of 26 passenger coaches. The station will be designed for this requirement too. WR has already begun work at Churchgate.

“The world heritage station will be turned into a world-class station with all the state-of-the-art facilities. What this means is that the station will have facilities at par with those in other cities such as Hong Kong. Global bids will be invited for the project,” a senior railway official said. The heritage building, however, will not be touched.

“The project is to be executed with private sector partnership by leveraging the real estate potential in the space above the station and on railway land nearby,” he added.


Published in: on January 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Vaccum Cleaner on Track

For decades, an army of rag-pickers would march up and down the city’s railway tracks gathering empty plastic bottles, wrappers and other garbage that had been thoughtlessly discarded by commuters. But now, Central Railway (CR) has its very own vacuum cleaner. For the first time in India, an engine has been modified into a massive trash can, which is able to pull in all the garbage as it chugs along the tracks.
An old engine that was to be relegated to the scrap yard got a new lease on life when CR general manager Kul Bhushan came up with the idea of morphing it into a garbage disposal system on wheels. CR engineers worked on the engine at the Parel workshop and last week it was quietly put to work.

Vinit Kumar, deputy general manager, Central Railway said, “We have modified one of our old engines in such a way that it will work as a vacuum cleaner.”

For over a week now, CR officials have been operating this cleaner-on-wheels every night on some of the dirtiest stretches on the central line—between Kurla and Wadala stations, and CST and Masjid station.


Published in: on January 8, 2011 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Railways’ green Initiative gets International Acceptance

In a significant boost to Indian Railways’ efforts towards climate preservation, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has approved and registered the project of Improving Energy Efficiency in Indian Railways residential quarters through Compact Fluorescent. Three per cent of the Carbon Credits that would accrue from the project will also be earned by Indian Railways.

As a unique model, Minister of Railways, Mamata Banerjee, launched this project based on clean development mechanism to distribute over 14 lakh CFLs free of cost to Railway employees housed in Railway colonies, in exchange of energy intensive incandescent lamps. The project aims at demonstrating Railways commitment to climate preservation and inculcating wide participation from masses to arrest global warming. It also serves to reduce energy bill. This project is expected to reduce 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission annually and has been acknowledged as one of the biggest initiatives in sensitizing people towards environment. This project has been executed over Northern, Eastern, Western, Southern and North Frontier regions


Rly meals to offer diet-conscious choices

Patients and the calorie-conscious train traveller need not worry any more. Indian Railways is planning to introduce a diet menu. The menu will offer unlimited options to those who prefer simple cooking and those whose diets are restricted by ailments.

This new addition to the menu comes after the railways introduced diabetic cuisine for its passengers from October. “The sugar-free diet has scored a huge hit among those who have been strictly instructed by their doctors to consume less calories. We hope diet food will solve the crisis for passengers with ailments and those who are wary of spicy food,” said a senior railway official.

In Rajdhani Express, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has already introduced diet meals for dinner. The menu comprises moog dal combined with jeera rice, lauki tomato curry, rajma masala, curd and green salad. “The option is available. Any passenger can opt for a diet meal. The price is included in the ticket,” added the official.

The meal on mail trains will, however, have to be paid in addition. “We are yet to fix a price chart for the food items which will be available in the diet meal. The new menu was issued on December 3. We will introduce the new menu in phases and only selected items will be available on trains,” informed the official.

The menu offers an elaborate choice of juices and drinks — beetroot soup, tender coconut water, bittergourd soup and soy milk. In breakfast, the options are milk with cornflakes, boiled egg, vegetable dahlia, scrambled eggs with brown bread and boiled vegetables and fruit yogurt. “For lunch or dinner, the passengers can select from a variety of chicken and vegetable preparations. The menu offers lemon chicken breast with brown rice and tossed vegetables, atta roti, cucumber raita and dal. Depending on the condition of the patient, vegetable khichdi can also be served. Trains which have a pantry car attached to their trail of compartments can order some food to their specifications. The cooking can be customised according to requirements,” said the official.

“Patients who travel on Indian Railways can also carry their own diet chart. If permitted under the options available, items which dieticians have prescribed can also be served,” concluded the official.


Now, windmills will power trains

Southern Railway will install seven windmills at either Aralvaymozhi or Kayathar near the Western Ghats as part of its plan to tap wind energy to meet the rising demand for electricity to run trains. Currently, the zone uses power supplied by Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Kerala State Electricity Board and Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh.

“We also plan to make the most of the carbon credits we will earn after the windmills are in place,” said Southern Railway chief electrical engineer M C Murali. Four firms that own land in these regions with wind energy potential have bid for tenders to install windmills that are expected to generate 12 billion units of power. The tenders will be awarded before March. The power generated will be linked to the grid and will help Southern Railway save Rs 12 crore on its power bills.

The Centre for Wind Energy Technology (CWET), an R&D institute under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, is studying the wind potential of the locations submitted by the firms who have bid for the project. The centre has complete data on the wind potential of micro sites across the country.

According to CWET, Tamil Nadu has the most number of sites where wind power density is greater than 200 watts per square metre. The listed 45 sites are located close to the western ghats.

The windmills are expected to generate 12 billion units of power, which will be linked to the grid and will help Southern Railway save Rs 12 crore on its power bills.


Train modellers work to construct entire railway kingdoms

The engine disappears inside the tunnel, dragging with it wagons of coal, and emerges from the other end. Just as it continues its journey across a long bridge, a large hand emerges from the horizon and lifts it off the tracks. The coal wagons are replaced with wagons carrying cars. No, this isn’t the hand of the Almighty. These replicas of hills, tunnels, bridges and lakes have been meticulously handcrafted by Abhimanyu Shaunik, a rail modeler who is otherwise in the business of touch screen monitors. Not only does Shaunik collect models of miniature trains, but he also creates a landscape replete with stations, bridges and tunnels. Once that is done, the trains begin their fascinating journeys.

Shaunik is not the only one working tirelessly to recreate railway kingdoms. P J Singh, an engineer who has retired from Delhi’s Imperial Hotel, has built a model of the picturesque Barog railway station on the Kalka-Shimla route. Ranjeev Dubey, who runs a law firm, has constructed perfect replicas of the Barog and Solan stations. And while Sanjiv Narayan refuses to cave into modelling layouts, he is the proud creator of a 110-feet-long railway track. “You can just sit down and run the trains, switch tracks, do some shunting and spend hours that way,” he explains.

What is it about miniature trains and layouts that make it such a maddening passion? Narayan, who got his first train set when he went to study abroad after graduating from IIT Delhi, was thrilled to bits with his acquisition. Shaunik and Singh too got their ‘first’ models when they went abroad. And have remained hooked ever since.

Rail modellers spend years working with their miniatures. For Dubey, it all began when he picked up a five-rupee book on train models from a pavement stall. Today he spends about an hour every day and more on weekends to pursue his miniature-modelling passion. “It takes years to build a model,” says Dubey.

It is indeed a painstaking exercise. So Shaunik works “in bits and pieces”.“There are phases of intense work and then I leave the exercise for several months before coming back to it,” says Shaunik. “That’s the beauty. You can take it up at your own convenience.”

For Shaunik, the real fun lies in thinking of new ways to improve the layout. The ‘pastor’ outside the church near his railway station is Father Bill Clinton as the tiny board near the door of the church door proclaims. There is also a Hercules Rum factory near his station with a tiny signboard that reads: ‘No Trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.’

The real effort lies in adding minute details to the landscape. Most modelers are obsessed with getting as close to the real thing as possible. “All ground cover is made of natural material — crushed rock, soil, sand and grit — stolen from friendly neighbourhood houses under construction. The track is covered with crushed granite sieved to the right diameter held down by diluted white glue. The undergrowth and trees are made from synthetic hand-me-down blankets and finely ground foam from old foam pillows coloured with fabric paints after being pulped in the kitchen liquidiser,” explains Dubey. Since they are constantly on the look out for bits and pieces for their models, even an inhaler’s cap is a find. Singh cuts it into two semi-circular orbs to use as lampshades for the stationmaster’s house.
A hobby it might be, but it is not cheap. An engine of a train model could cost as much as $200 and scenery kits could cost anything from a few hundreds to several thousand dollars. Most rail modelers own boxes of trains, kits and figures that they source from abroad and spend years assembling kits, creating detailed landscapes and train settings. Still dare to think these are just boys who never grew up?


L&T bags Rs 1,103-cr dedicated rail line orders

Larsen & Toubro’s railway business unit has secured orders totalling Rs 1,103 crore for construction of dedicated railway lines linking the power plants to the main network and ‘merry-go-round’ systems.

A Rs 365-crore order is from Maithon Power, a joint venture project between Tata Power and Damodar Valley Corporation, for construction of a 21-km dedicated link to their power plant at Maithon in Jharkhand.

Second order

The second order worth Rs 270 crore is from Nabha Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of L&T Power Development, for a 13-km double-track electrified rail link to its power plant at Rajpura in Punjab.

A Rs 151-crore order is from BALCO for augmenting and strengthening its existing facilities at Korba in Chhattisgarh.

The company has also secured orders worth Rs 317 crore from Sterlite Energy for further enhancing its dedicated railway facilities which is under implementation at Jharsuguda in Orissa.

L&T said the orders would be executed by Rail Infra Division of the railway business unit, Faridabad on design, build and lump sum turnkey basis. The work includes design, obtaining statutory approvals from Indian Railways.

The order also requires construction of bridges including rail and road flyovers, track laying, signalling and overhead electrification.