Switch to hi-tech train loos for hygiene

Most people travelling by a train tend to blame cleaners and fellow passengers alike for not keeping the
train’s toilets clean. But a paper by a professor of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A)
argues that Indian Railways should minimise the role of human beings in keeping train toilets clean and
adopt advanced technology toilets instead.

The paper titled, ‘Toilets and Trains’, by Prof G Raghuram of IIMA suggests that the Indian Railways
should start replacing existing train toilets with the ‘chemical toilet’, ‘modular toilet’ or ‘vacuum toilet’.
Arguing for adoption of advanced toilets on trains, the paper says that, in the year 2005-06, around 730 million
people had used trains to travel. This boils down to 2 million passengers a day and an average of
around 300,000 litres of fecal waste per day. Indian Railways runs 8,700 passenger trains and touches about
7000 stations, the paper states.

Use of technologically advanced toilets would enable the Indian Railways to use human excreta and waste water to generate energy and provide water for plants located on the railway station premises. The paper further suggests that the Railways should remove caste-based recruitment of employees for the task of toilet cleaning. And if it continues with the old system, it should increase the salary of cleaners to attract more people to join its toilet cleaning team, the paper

The current method of disposing of human waste from trains is merely to deposit the waste on tracks
using what is known as the ‘Hopper Toilet.’ “The IR has been experimenting with different types of toilets
like the chemical, modular, etc,” said Prof Raghuram. “The Railways should adopt a toilet technology
where waste is stored after separating the water from it.”

He further said that this water could be stored in the train and discharged at major stations to be used for
plants in the gardens maintained by the Railways. Similarly, the solid matter from human excreta could
be collected at the train’s terminating station to produce biogas and generate electricity. “Imagine, if there are 50 trains terminating in Ahmedabad, the solid fecal matter collected and stored to generate biogas could generate electricity for the lights at the railway station,” he said.

Prof Raghuram also said that the vacuum toilet (it is used in commercial aircraft) seems to be the best toilet
as it not only stores the fecal matter for alternate use but also helps in conserving water. His paper states
that the implications of adoption advanced technology toilets for passengers as well as railway staff must
be clearly understood and dealt with appropriately.

Click to access 11sunday%20ahm-pg1-0.pdf

Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 10:33 am  Comments (2)  

Manual Telephone Enquiry System Commissioned

In addition to the existing information system through Rail Sampark “139” a Manual Telephone Enquiry System has been commissioned by South Central Railway for the benefit of the Rail Users in the Twin Cities.Passengers can now access the enquiry through Telephone number 040-27829999. This number will have four lines which will function round the clock to cater to the needs of the Rail Users.

Passengers can now enquire regarding running of Trains, arrival/departure of Trains from various stations, Rescheduling/ Cancellation/ Diversion of trains from the Twin Cities and also MMTS Services.


Soon, you can SMS your complaint

Travelling by a train and unhappy with the facilities offered onboard? Here’s your ticket to a smoother ride – passengers travelling via any train of the West Central Railway can now get their complaints registered through a simple SMS.

West Central Railway Jabalpur Zone has issued SMS number for all three divisions including the headquarters.

A special complaint and grievance redressal cell has also been instituted at Jabalpur.

The resolution of complaints will be the responsibility of the office of the DGM (general).

However, complaints related to the commercial deportment will fall under the jurisdiction of the CCM Office.

Currently, any grievant train traveller can ask the TTE or train guard for the complaint book.

However, the new SMS system will enable travellers to register their complaint quickly and find out what the railways has done to resolve the same.


Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Mumbai Sale of tourist tickets rises on Mumbai locals

Tourist tickets that enable travelling on all the lines have emerged as popular amongst tourists and commuters, statistics revealed. Statistics reveal that, compared to last year, there is a 54% growth in the sale of first class tourist tickets in the Central Railway (CR) in 2010-11 and 66% in the s
econd class.

In Western Railway (WR), there is a 60% growth in the sale of first class tickets and 72% growth in the sale of second-class tickets.

On the Central line, 1,13,932 first class tourist tickets, and 51,528 second class tourist tickets were sold in 2010-11.

The railways offer three kinds of tourist tickets. To travel on all lines for a day in first class, a commuter will have to pay Rs170. For three days, it is Rs330 and for 5 days it is Rs390.

These tickets are sold for second class travel with lesser charges: Rs50 for a day, Rs90 for three days and Rs105 for five days.

Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relation officer of CR, said: “There was a campaign held to promote these tourist tickets amongst commuters during Diwali and at the end of the year. Not only tourists, but even regular commuter who wish to travel long distance once in a while prefer tourist tickets.”

“These tickets are popular amongst commuters during festivals such as Ganesh Chathurti or Diwali. It is convenient for them as they can hop into any train without worrying about the ticket,” said a CR official, in condition of anonymity.


Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 9:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Low-calorie platter for Shatabdi passengers from July 1

Passengers aboard the Shatabdi Express will be offered a healthy platter soon, with Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) all set to offer them a sumptuous spread of low-carbohydrate, low-fat health foods from July 1.

The healthy menu would include herbal tea, boiled vegetables, double toned milk, whole wheat bread and sprouted salad, among other foods. Low-fat table margarine, marmalade, cornflakes and boiled eggs will also be offered and are sure to appeal to the gastronomical sense of health-conscious travellers.

An IRCTC official in Delhi said, ‘We are looking at a July 1 launch for the healthy menu and this would then be extended to other chair car trains operating under the Ambala railways division. We are also actively considering introducing other cuisines like continental and Chinese, but this would take some time to strategize and implement.’


Published in: on June 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

CR’s automatic cleaning system saves time, water

Merely four months after it started operations, the Automatic Coach Washing Plant at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) will have cleaned 75,000 coaches of Central Railway trains by Saturday.

V A Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer, CR, said, “The plant, which was installed in February 2010, uses less water, saves time and requires less manual labour to clean the coaches. Nearly 32-35 labourers were deployed to wash the coaches manually. After the plant was commissioned at a cost of Rs 2.19 crore, the same work can be executed with the help of just 4-5 people. The quality of work is also superior.” Malegaonkar added, “The cost of washing one rake by the automatic system is Rs 550. By the manual system, the railways have to shell out Rs 3,100 per rake.”

On an average, 10 rakes, or 200 coaches, are cleaned every day at LTT. The system also saves water as the technology consumes 10 per cent less water than the manual system. Malegaonkar said, “On an average, 3 lakh litres of water were used every day when the manual washing system was prevalent. However, the new technology does the same amount of work with 25,000 litres per day.” The automatic system is also less time-consuming. “Previously, labourers used to take an average of 45 minutes to clean each rake. With this system, we are able to finish the task in 8-10 minutes,” he said.


Sumptuous meals on trains

Commuters can expect to have a sumptuous meal while travelling by some of the important trains as the Western Railway has drawn up plans to serve a range of mouth-watering dishes.

A few weeks ago, WR took over the management of kitchens from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation after the ministry received complaints about the quality of food. The meals are being provided by the WR in Rajdhani Express, August Kranti Express, Rajdhani Spl Express and Shatabdi Express.

Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, WR, said, “Our aim is to increase the variety as well as nutritional value of the food being served on these trains.” Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare is served on these trains.


Hot food to be served at rly station

Now, you won’t have to make do with cold food at the railway station. Thanks to the authorities, who have taken back their decision of banning the use of LPG gas cylinders on platforms.

The railway vendors would sell hot meals on modular trolleys for the time being and then railway authorities would set up a base kitchen at platform number one where food would be cooked.

The commuters were forced to eat cold food at the station because the vendors used to cook food early in the morning serve it through out the day.


Published in: on June 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm  Comments (1)  

Central Railway saves electricity, earns Rs51 crore

Eager to drive home the message of judicious use of electricity, the Central Railway (CR) has, in the previous year, managed to substantially reduce its electricity consumption by using a combination of new energy saving technologies and by applying simple energy saving tricks in its everyday operations.

According to CR’s chief spokesperson VA Malegaonkar, the overall energy consumption has been reduced by a substantial 15% in the year 2010-2011 as compared to 2009-2010. “If the CR consumed 7.63 units per gross tonne kilometre (GTK) in 2009-10, the number had come down to 6.49 units per GTK in the 2010-11,” he said. GTK is a unit of measurement representing the movement of one tonne of rail vehicle, including the weight of tractive vehicle, over a distance of one km. This reduction in consumption enabled the CR to earn about Rs51 crore in the 2010-11.

Elaborating further on the several measures that enabled the CR to save electricity, Malegaonkar said in specific sections of operations such as ghats, only single loco-engines were used even if 3 were available. Auxillary circuits, which consume high electricity, were turned on only when the train was in operation. Also, if the train was to halt at a particular location for more than 45 minutes, the loco engine, which enables the movement of the train, was turned off.

On the suburban section, the new trains purchased under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), which were brought into operations, also helped save electricity as their contemporary regenerative braking technology is designed to harness the mechanical energy lost through conventional friction braking system. Regenerative braking uses the electricity generated by braking, which is transmitted to the overhead wire.


IRCTC food joints to come up at 130 Delhi Metro stations

Diversifying its catering business, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is all set to open food joints at 130 Delhi Metro stations in the capital soon.

“We are in the process of signing an agreement with DMRC for opening IRCTC cafeterias at 130 Delhi Metro stations here,” a senior IRCTC official said.

As per the arrangement, DMRC will provide space for the cafeterias on a rental basis to IRCTC. “While DMRC will facilitate space and other infrastructure support, our responsibility will be setting up the kitchen, cooking, service and operation of the food outlets at Metro stations,” said the official.

A senior DMRC official said though there are fast food restaurants at some Delhi Metro stations, they are finalising the deal for IRCTC-run cafes at several stations to offer Metro passengers competitive facilities.

The DMRC official said the move is also part of the property development plan to earn additional revenue. IRCTC, a subsidiary of Railways, has been divested of catering responsibility in trains as per the new railway catering policy.

“We are now diversifying our catering business by opening up food plazas and cafeterias at many places across the country,” said the IRCTC official. Currently, IRCTC runs 70 food plazas and plans to open 50 more across the country.

Recently, IRCTC has opened up cafes at nine locations in the capital including Udyog Bhawan, Shastri Bahwan, IIT-Delhi.