Loco pilots given free SIM cards

As part of the steps initiated for improving safety, Railways have started distributing free mobile SIM cards provided by Airtel to the loco pilots of Kerala.

The programme, under the Thiruvananthapuram Division, began by issuing the cards at Nagercoil, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Ernakulam.

Railway sources said the SIM cards under the closed user group (CUG) system would enable the loco pilots of running trains to contact the base control office directly. This would help them meet emergency situations. Earlier there was no provision for loco pilots of running trains to contact the control office directly.

The mobile numbers of all the loco pilots would be available at the control office. As of now, loco pilots have only walkie-talkies with which only nearby stations can be contacted. Calls from the free SIM issues would be free of cost to all railway CUG numbers. Free calls of up to Rs.300 a month are also provided for calls to land and other mobile numbers.

The sources said the system had been implemented as per orders of the Railway Board and was already in force in several divisions.


Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 11:09 am  Leave a Comment  

New Policy for Connectivity to Coal & Iron Ore Mines

In a path breaking initiative, the Ministry of Railways has announced a new policy for connecting coal and iron ore mines by rail. The policy called ‘R2CI – Railways Policy for Connectivity to Coal and Iron Ore Mines’ provides incentive to the developers by way of return of capital; invested in the construction of the line over a period of 10-25 years through a surcharge on the freight. Railways will also undertake the operations and maintenance of the line at their own cost after the ownership of the line is transferred to Railways. The policy has two models. These are; Capital Cost Model and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Model for flexibility. While the Capital Coast Model is relevant when there are two players, the SPV Model is meant to take care of a situation where there are a large number of players. This policy should enable the parties to take up constructions of the line and be free from the worry of operations and maintenance. The demand for coal and iron ore is growing at a fast pace and rail is the only feasible and sustainable mode of transport. This policy is expected to hasten the development of rail network connecting the coal and iron ore belts for use.

— (UNI) — 22DI27.xml


Dedicated Frieght Corridors Project as Per Schedule

The Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) project of the Railways is moving ahead as per schedule and will be completed by December, 2016. Presenting the Railway Budget for 2011-12 here today, the Minister of Railways, Mamata Banerjee said that the main loan agreement for phase I of Western Corridor of DFC with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been signed and bidding process for civil and track work has commenced. For the Eastern Corridor, the appraisal by World Bank for Khurja-Bhaupur section would be carried out next month. The Railway Minister announced that work from Dankuni end on the Eastern Corridor has also started.

Stating that land is a sensitive issue, the Minister of Railways said that in order to reduce the number of land losers, efforts have been made to bring the alignment of the DFC parallel to the existing railway network, thereby using 12,000 acres from railways’ own land bank. This has reduced the requirement of land acquisition by 2,718 acres resulting in a saving of about Rs. 300 crore, she said.


Multi functional complexes at five stations soon

Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) today announced appointment of private developers for development of Multi Functional Complexes (MFCs) at five stations – Cuttack, Dehradun, Jhansi, Katra and Nanded.

Railways have introduced the concept of MFC at railway stations beginning year 2009-10 for developing facilities for rail users at one centralised complex.

Indian Railways operate more than 7000 stations across the country.

“The aim is to upgrade the existing amenities for the rail users in cities having tourist and religious importance by way of developing the land/air space at railway stations, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

MFCs are being developed through private investment to provide rail users with facilities such as shopping, food stalls/ restaurants, book stalls, ATMs, medicines and variety stores, budget hotels, parking etc.

RLDA, a statutory authority established by Railway Ministry for generating non-tariff revenue from railway land, had appointed Knight Frank India as marketing consultant for the first six MFCs to be developed through private parties. Out of the six MFCs, five MFCs were awarded to Keshari Estates Ltd (Cuttack), Janak Holdings (Dehradun and Nanded), Bhagwati Infraestate Pvt. Ltd. (Jhansi) and MGC Estates (Katra).

A total 86 MFCs will be developed by RLDA across the country through private parties as part of the second phase of the MFC project announced in the rail budget in the year 2010-11. Bidding for the second phase is to be initiated soon.


Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 7:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mumbai-Delhi food corridor plan to end veggie shortage?

The government’s Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the freight corridor might still be on the drawing board but a dedicated food corridor to transport fruits and vegetables is ready to roll out.

To deal with shortages, the agriculture ministry has got Indian Railways on board to pick up fruits and vegetables from Mumbai and other areas falling on the rail link to Delhi.

The railways would use some of its existing capacity and will also look at the possibility of having refrigerated vans in the future so that ‘bhaji’ from Mumbai can be sold in Delhi.

Though the plan has been in the works for a while, it was finalized recently after the railways agreed to ship fruits and vegetables, whose shortage was the prime driver of prices this winter, at lower rates.

Now, a Cabinet note is being moved to operationalize the scheme. The food corridor would also help the government deal with some of the setbacks it has received in developing fruits and vegetable hubs around large urban centres such as Delhi.


Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 7:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Railways to set up four biodiesel plants

In one of the biggest initiatives for bio-fuel production in the country, Indian Railways is poised to set up four bio-diesel plants costing about Rs 120 crore.

While two bio-diesel esterification plants are going to be commissioned at Raipur and Chennai during the next two years, the other two units will be set up subsequently, a senior railway ministry official said.

Each plant, estimated to cost around Rs 30 crore, will produce 30 tons bio-diesel per day, which means more than 9,000 tons a year, the official said.

Produced from waste oil, fatty acid and non-edible vegetable oil, bio-diesel will be blended with the HSD oil for running locomotives.

The use of bio-diesel will reduce the consumption of petro-diesel to some extent at present, the official said, adding the eco-friendly measure will also earn the Railways carbon credit worth Rs 2 crore per plant per year.

The Railways, a major consumer of diesel, currently consumes 2.2 billion litre diesel in a year.

The Railways is keeping a close track on global developments taking place in the field of use of alternate fuels, gas turbine engines, fuel cell technology for adoption of gas turbine locomotive on fossil fuels.

Trials are in progress for running locomotives on dual fuel mode using CNG, the official said.

Indian Railway Organisation for Alternative Fuels has been formed to take up projects for introduction of alternative fuels like CNG and bio-diesel.


‘Bharat Tirth’ train to commence from Bhopal

‘Bharat Tirth’ train — a special tourist train to be run by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited — will leave from the state capital on March 4.

In a release issued here, IRCTC’s Western Region’s Group General Manager Virendra Singh said the train will leave from Habibganj station at 1230 hrs on March 4. The train will convey tourists to Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka and Aurangabad.

This is the second such train from Madhya Pradesh. The first one will leave from Indore on February 19. Sixty per cent seats have been reserved for the purpose.


Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Indian Railways tourism wing “Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation” launches one more tourist train named “Bharat Tirth”. The inaugural train will be leaving from Howrah on 19th February 2011 on a 14 night & 15 day package covering the most popular destinations of South India known for their spiritual and Cultural importance viz. Bangalore, Mysore, Madurai, Kanya Kumari, Rameswaram, Pondichery, Kanchipuram, Chennai & Tirupati.

The tariff for the inaugural offer is kept at bare minimum @ Rs. 7700/-, Rs. 12310/- and Rs. 21550/- for budget standard & deluxe categories respectively and the cost includes Rail Travel, Food Service, Road Transfers for sight seeing and accommodation. The train will be under constant surveillance of society guards to ensure safety & security of tourists and their baggage.

People of Orissa have the opportunity to board the train at Bhubaneswar. For more details customers are requested to visit http://www.railtourismindia.com /tourist trains/Bharat tirth/Dakshin darshan or contact regional office at Bhubaneswar on tel 0674-2303657.


“Black beauties” fire up India’s railway tourism

The pounding of pistons, the rhythmic chuff of a locomotive and storybook names such as “Fairy Queen” are all part of the allure of India’s old-fashioned steam railways, which once tied together this vast nation.

Now, heritage train aficionados are turning their passion towards the foreign tourist market, hoping for even more attention — and preservation — for the “Iron Ladies” they love.

“Steam heritage tourism is a potential tourism sector for the country,” said Ashwani Lohani, Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi, Indian Railways.

“The presence of raw fire that fires raw power in the belly of steam locomotives attracts tourists, and the unique sound, the rocking gait, the shrill whistle, the throbbing body and an open design… are features that impart an irresistible charm to these black beauties,” he added.

Lohani, once director of India’s National Rail Museum and who piloted the historic run of the Fairy Queen, an 1855 steam locomotive recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest working locomotive, is hardly alone in his passion.

There are several fan clubs on social networking websites, as well as magazines and blogs about travel to unusual places.

Others pour their hearts into fashioning model trains or dreaming about doing so. A museum dedicated to train miniatures in the western city of Pune has over 400 working model trains which draw more than 500 people every week.

“There are people who come to purchase these models and stock them in their drawing rooms and there are those who just admire them but can’t afford to buy them because of their price, which vary from $100 to $300,” said Ravi Joshi, who runs the museum.

Now, with a growing number of foreign visitors coming for vacations and even weddings in India, tour operators are hoping to cash in on increasingly broad interest.


“There was a time when foreign travellers will be interested to travel only by luxury tourist trains of India such as Palace on Wheels,” said Ashok Sharma at travel firm Real India Journeys.

“Now there are hard-line steam railway travellers and photographers who come in huge groups every week. We refer to them as ‘narrow-gauged’ or ‘single-tracked.'”

Some 80 foreign tourists rode the Fairy Queen during its last season of roughly 12 to 14 runs, while more than 1,200 visited the National Rail Museum from October to December last year.

Yet despite growing interest, train enthusiasts feel efforts towards preservation have been few and far between after a noticeable decline in the number of steam trains two decades ago.

“Many countries, especially the UK, retained a sizable number of steam locomotives, primarily for the twin causes of heritage and tourism. India also could have retained more of steam than what it has,” said Lohani from Indian Railways.


MMRDA invites bids for Matheran funicular railway

The much-awaited funicular railway at Matheran may turn into reality soon, as Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has floated tenders for the project on built-operate and transfer (BOT) basis. The scope of the project, as per the tender with last date of March 21 for submitting bids, includes designing, construction, development, financing, operation and maintenance of funicular railway between Matheran and Dudhani, a statement here today stated. The Funicular Railway system would be Double Reversible Funicular railway with two passenger cars and attached goods trolley. Currently, a narrow-gauge railway line is connecting Neral and Matheran on the Central Railway’s Mumbai-Pune route. This line is 20 km long and takes about two hours. Once the Funicular Railway is operational, it will make it possible to travel from Dudhani to Mailllot Spring Point in 10 minutes. ”Matheran is a popular tourist destination and funicular railway will be an added attraction for tourists. This project will be a landmark for MMRDA and would also boost tourism by improving connectivity to the hill station, one of the most important tourist attractions in the region,” said, Ashwini Bhide, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner of MMRDA. The Rs 100 crore project would cover a route of 1.3 km from Dudhani village near Panvel to Maillot Spring Point. Lower Terminal Point (LTP) will be near village Dudhani. LTP area is located about 1.3 km beyond the village of Dudhani with an altitude of 260 meter with Upper Terminal Point (UTP) at Matheran. This area is located below the Maillot Spring Point and near the Sunset Point at Matheran. Dudhani Point will have a parking facility for 500 cars and restaurants at UTP and LTP.

Two rakes with capacity of 60 passengers each would be guided by cables along the tracks. The train will pass through beautiful valleys of Matheran enhancing travelling experience. Moreover, during non-peak hours and non-peak seasons, the funicular railway can also be used for transporting goods uphill, an added advantage to the residents of hill, the release added.

— (UNI)