IIM-Ahmedabad to outline benefits of bullet train

As the state government readies to install a Rs 56,000 crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Pune bullet train project, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has decided to conduct a research that will quantify the benefits of the service.

The research, which is going to be part of an ongoing research on ‘Sustainable urban transport,’ is being carried out by IIM-A faculty P R Shukla. It aims to estimate the actual economical, social and environmental benefits that could be reaped through the bullet trains in comparison to the airplanes.

Shukla said that the bullet train service will lead to conversion of air passengers into train passengers which will lead to reduction of carbon foot-prints by around nine times. “An Ahmedabad-Mumbai to and fro trip by air releases 156 kilograms of carbon per person. The same trip by a bullet train will release only 18 kilograms of carbon. The carbon foot print of the bullet trains will even reduce further as the electricity starts getting generated through more carbon free sources,” he said.

Drawing a parallel between air travel and travel by bullet train, Shukla said, “While boarding a flight needs a long duration of check-in and check-out, which adds up to the total duration of travelling, this drawback will be eliminated in a bullet train, making it much more convenient and probably more effective thanairplanes in terms of travel duration.”

The bullet train service should be offered with a leapfrogging character by arranging many stops at strategic locations in between the two final destinations, opined Shukla. “This will enable people to travel quickly to several cities between Ahmedabad and Mumbai unlike that of an airplane.

This feature clubbed with a more affordable fare will make bullet trains a comparatively more inclusive mode of transportation. Facilitating a quick and efficient transportation to a large number of people will lead to significant economic growth,” he said, adding that even though the short term investment of the project is high, its long term benefits will be even higher.


Railways to procure Rs 500 crores hi-tech rescue equipment

To speed up rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of accidents, railways have decided to procure hi-tech equipment worth Rs 500 crores, including high-speed self-propelled accident relief trains, plasma cutters and 175-ton capacity cranes.

Hydraulic cold and hot cutters and tunnel rescue equipment will also be procured to make rescue operations faster and effective.

Estimated to cost about Rs 500 crores, railways will float global tenders for procuring the high capacity equipment shortly.

“We will go for procurement of latest machineries required for faster rescue and relief operation during train mishaps,” said a senior railway ministry official, adding “the procurement will be carried out in phases.”

Currently, railways have 140-ton capacity cranes. “There is a requirement for 175-ton capacity cranes to take care of higher axle loads,” he said.

Plasma cutters are required to cut coaches and wagons made of stainless steel. “Since railways are replacing conventional coaches with stainless coaches and wagons are also now made of steel, we need plasma cutters.”

Asked about difficulties faced during rescue operations in recent train accidents and lessons learnt from them, the official said, “It is a continuous process to upgrade skills and machineries involved in rescue and relief operations.”

Railways have 170 accident relief trains (ART) stationed across the country. “But these ARTs require locomotives to run. So we will go for self-propelled ARTs which do not require locos,” the official said.

According to railways’ disaster management plan, an ART has to start its emergency run within 30 minutes of receiving a message about an accident in the day time and 40 minutes during the night.

Railways have their own communication network and medical infrastructure. Besides uniformed force of RPF/RPSF, the national transporter has an Army of gangmen spread across the country which are pressed into service to restore the affected line.

However, there is absence of tunnel rescue equipment in case of a mishap in rail tunnels.

“We are procuring tunnel rescue equipment along with the high-capacity cranes,” the official said.

Besides accidents, railways disaster management plan takes into account natural calamities like earthquakes or flash floods which also disrupt train services.


Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

HCL Infosystems bags broadband order from Indian Railways

Indian Railways has awarded HCL Infosystems a contract to provide dedicated broadband to various railway offices & residences across the country.

The new broadband connectivity will support more than 30,000 users.

However, neither HCL Infosystems or Indian Railways revealed the value of the contract.

HCL will provide end to end ADSL 2+ broadband network on Indian Railways enterprise wide area network through RailTel Corporation of India, an arm under the Rail Ministry.

With this new high speed internet service, Indian Railways is planning to connect all railway offices and residences spread across the country at over 108 locations.

The company will be a turnkey provider for deploying the ADSL2+ Broadband network with full responsibility of the network design and planning, deployment, and service roll out and maintenance of the network.

The project is a first of its kind in the country and specially rolled out for RailTel, the IT arm of Indian Railways. It will enable the reach of Railnet to the residential colonies and offices of Indian Railways by utilizing the copper cable already laid for voice communication.

Rajeev Asija, Chief Operating Officer – Enterprise Business, HCL Infosystems said:
“Indian Railways is a well trusted brand for the citizens of the country and we are pleased to be associated with them as the trusted partner to deliver solutions for broadband connectivity.

“We are confident that this solution will bring a revolution in the adoption of broadband solutions in the Indian Railways’ administration and also foster our vision of enhanced broadband in the nation.”

The solution will be capable of supporting approximately 30,000 users and will provide the operator with network flexibility, scalability for innovation and a rapid return on investment, HCL said.


Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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All trains may soon have AC pantry cars

With the change in its catering policy and stress on quality food, the railways is once again mulling to replace all existing pantry cars with air-conditioned (AC) pantry cars phase-wise. According to a Railway Board official, a proposal to this effect has been pending with the Board for its final approval.

The Board may give its nod to the ambitious project after getting green signal from the railway ministry. The AC pantry cars are the need of the hour to maintain quality of food as per passengers expectation, he said. According to sources, the Board has been considering all aspects of the proposed plan.

It is likely to approve the introduction of AC pantry cars in all mail and express trains soon replacing old and damaged pantry cars on the pattern of the Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express pantry cars, sources said, adding about 10 to 15 AC pantry cars would be attached, in the beginning, to premier trains on a trial basis.


Railways to expedite ACDs’ installation

Railways has decided to expedite installation of Anti-Collision Devices (ACDs) at all vulnerable places across the country to prevent mishaps on tracks. Trials and retrials of the ACDs are being held to ensure their effectiveness. Railways has almost made a breakthrough on this front after making a slight modification in the design and structure of the devices.

The newly-developed device is a foolproof system to prevent head-on collision on tracks. It is so sensitive that it will give an alert signal to loco pilots of both the trains if they are running on the same track, enabling them to prevent a mishap, according to a Railway Board official.

According to chairman of Railway Board (CRB) Vinay Mittal, railways is fully committed to ensure foolproof safety on tracks. It is with this aim that the railways has been conducting trials of ACDs at various places to check their effectiveness. Though the device is a bit complicated, railways is hopeful of its successful introduction across the country. An expert team of railways recently conducted its trial in Southern Railway and North Frontier Railway. These trials were successful. Earlier, the ACDs were successfully tested on Katihar-Guwahati-Dibrugarh-Ledo section of North East Railway. It was also tested on the Jalandhar-Amritsar route. Now, the railways would install this device on a priority basis at all vulnerable places in different zones of railways, Mittal said.


Southern Railway to open mechanised laundry

In a bid to ensure pest free railway compartments and clean linen, the Southern Railway would soon open a mechanised laundry here, said Southern Railway General Manager, Deepak Krishan. At present, the railways is working on a strategy to control pests in airconditioned compartments in consultation with Pest Control of India and Central Warehousing Corporation.”Soon dirty linens will not be seen in railway compartments as Southern Railway is all set to open a mechanised laundry in Chennai in the next six months,” Krishan said.

The in house washing facility would improve the quality of linen in trains originating and terminating in Chennai.”Steps to control pests including cockroaches and flies, are not adequate and we are looking at new methods in consultation with the two departments,” he said. He said disposing off trash and litter, especially PET bottles, from compartments was a major problem faced by railways.Krishnan vowed that the quality of food in trains would improve with the announcement of new catering policy 2010. “The management of catering services has been transferred to the Zonal Railways from Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to leverage on Railways’ reach and resources all over the country,” he said.”The Indian Railways will focus more on quality than on profits the prime focus of IRCTC,” he said.


Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Private freight terminal at Timmapur likely

South Central Railway (SCR) will now introduce private freight terminals (PFTs), a move aimed at improving its participation in the overall transport chain. This rail division, which currently holds the fourth position in freight movement among 16 divisions in the country, hopes to improve its freight figures with this private partnership terminal model.

The SCR has recorded a 13.3 per cent growth in its freight earnings in the April-June period in 2011 compared to its earnings for the corresponding period last year. For the same period, SCR’s freight earnings stood at Rs 1,347 crores, out of its total revenue collection of Rs 1,916 crores. As a whole, the freight earnings constitute approximately 70 per cent of total SCR’s earnings.

Officials on Tuesday said that the first such private terminal at Timmapur is nearing completion and that it would work as a model to attract private investments to such terminals. A second such proposal is also in the pipeline at Nagolepally, officials said. “We have traditionally allowed private players to only handle their own traffic but here they would also be able to handle third party cargo and even collect user charges,” said an official. The revenue generated from PFTs would be shared between SCR and the private player.

“We are opening up huge business potential for the industry, and for railways, it would mean great growth prospects and penetration of freight services,” said Sunil K Agarwal, chief operations manager, South Central Railways, adding that the end customer would also be benefited with novel aspects like door delivery of goods, quality packaging and so on.


Railways keen to complete DFC project by 2017

The railways has been working hard to complete its dream project, the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), on a priority basis and wants to make it operational by the end of year 2017. The first deadline set for it was 2015 which was later on extended to 2020.

According to Chairman of Railway Board (CRB) Vinay Mittal, the freight corridors — east and west — would open a new chapter in the history of railways. Goods traffic would get a fillip after completion of these projects. Goods trains would run faster on these two routes, Mittal said.

Sources said the railways has already started civil work of the DFC in the eastern region. It has awarded contracts to an agency to carry out civil work on the Mughalsarai-Sonenagar route. The project would be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 12,000 crore in the eastern region. The eastern DFC linking Dankuni in West Bengal with Ludhiana in Punjab will prove a boon for businessmen, they said.


Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rlys plans to switch to German coaches by ’16

The railways plans to switch over from indigenous ICF coaches to German technology based Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) ones in all mail and express trains within the next five years.The LHB coaches, which have fire-retardant quality and advanced couplers, are designed to minimize fire accidents. The move is aimed at infusing more safety measures in train operations, with railways expected to enhance production capacity of its coach factories to 2,000 LHB coaches in 2014-15 and another 4,000 in 2016-17.

The modern coaches that are made of stainless steel have more in-built safety features, and can absorb shock and impact of derailment more effectively. A senior rail official said, “The sturdy and robust design obviates capsizing of coaches in case of accidents. This helps to minimize damage and reduce the loss of lives.” The casualties in the recent Kalka derailment could have been much less if the train was running on LHB coaches, he said. The state-transporter is planning to introduce LHB coaches in mail and express trains in a phase manner by 2016-17 as they are equipped with fire-retardant material and advanced couplers.

Unlike indigenous ICF coaches, which are prone to capsize or climb on each other during a collision, the LHB bogies don’t get toppled. Apart from restricting the speed limit to 105 kmph on mail line and 110 kmph on Rajdhani tracks, ICF coaches raise safety concerns due to a large number of hanging under-gear parts. Though a traditional coach costs Rs 1.5 crore each against a LHB one that comes for Rs 2.5 crore-Rs 3 crore. The modern coaches are more comfortable, have a higher life-span of 35 years against ICF’s 25 years, and also have a 12%-15% higher passenger capacity that can raise revenue.


Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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CR plans to make short films on travel, safety

You might soon see a professionally shot government awareness programme with all the hallmarks of fine film-making. The Pune Division of the Central Railway has approached the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) for collaborating on a documentary that would create awareness about railway safety and precautions.

A Central Railway official on condition of anonymity said the film primarily plans to highlight the perils of track and level crossing, which kill several people daily. “Other parts of the film will talk about railway safety, ticketless travel and cleanliness issues. The decision has been taken after a recent spate of accidents in the Pune Division and other parts of the country”, said a railway official on condition of anonymity.

The issue was discussed during a meeting between CR and FTII officials yesterday. Central Railway Public Relations Officer (PRO) Yogendra Kumar Singh confirmed the development and said that the plan was to make a series of small 1 or 2 -minute documentaries on each subject.

“The accident in Punjab’s Ferozepur district where five members of a family were killed when a speeding train hit a tempo they were travelling in. Plus, the Indian Railways is a monolithic social organisation where people from all strata of the society converge. The films will be aimed at all types of audiences. However, I am yet to plan how to air the films on television”, Singh said.

Interestingly, Singh is an avid film-maker and has shot a film on the swine flu menace last year, which was aired on a leading TV news channel. “The main focus would be on safely crossing platforms using the Foot Over Bridges (FOBs) and not crossing the tracks”, he said. FTII Registrar Prakash Magdum said, “FTII will consider the railway’s proposal by carefully studying the plan and take a concrete decision.”