Northern Rly starts Rs 20cr catering project

The Northern Railways has launched a Rs 20-crore culinary project, a first since it wrested the right to cater on trains from Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) last year. As per the new plan, it will dish out at least 2,16,400 meals per day from 12 mega and medium kitchens and 15 small kitchens across its network, which covers Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

The IRCTC was in charge of catering services on trains and stations across the country until a new catering policy, introduced in 2010, made railway zones responsible for catering.

The Northern Railways general manager recently sanctioned the sum estimated to be spent in the first phase of the project, expected to be completed in a year. In this phase, seven mega kitchens will be set up at New Delhi, Nizamuddin, Jammu Tawi, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Varanasi stations.

“The equipment for the 11 big and small base kitchens alone will cost over R7 crore. We will be aiming for the most sophisticated and upgraded kitchen set-up available,” said SK Sharma, Northern Railways spokesperson.

The zonal railways in coordination with South Central Railways is preparing the menu, which will have to be sent to the railway board for approval. The team is focusing on a variety in terms of national and international cuisines and health food.

After meeting the heads of all the divisions, general manager SK Budhalakoti has also laid out a complaint redressal and cleanliness plan for the existing system of food on trains.

This involves ticket examiners doubling up as quality inspectors. Around 225 close-user-group cell phones have been distributed among ticket examiners, canteen staff and supervisors for this purpose.

“The ground staff will be coordinating with new monitoring cells at all the divisions and at the headquarters at Baroda House in Delhi,” said Budhalakoti.

This is aided by a relatively new system of accepting complaints through SMS on a centralised number. The turnaround time for SMS complaints is 90 minutes. Through these measures, complaints reduced by 47% last year compared to the year before that.

Budhalakoti has specially mentioned ridding the coaches of rodents and cockroaches and making sure that no food-related littering is allowed.

Station staff to help in case of bomb scare

To beef up the security at Charbagh station, GRP has revised the bomb drill. The idea is to involve every staff present at the station to speed up the search operation in case of any bomb threat at the station. The Government Railway Police (GRP) held the first briefing of the staff on the drill on Wednesday. “We will assign the area of responsibility to vendors and sanitary staff tomorrow,” Amitabh Yash, SP Railways said.

The drill will upgrade the profile of security at the station. Till now, in case of any bomb scare, it used to take at least three hours to sanitise the station area. Station officials said though the bomb drill has been revised in the wake of August 15, it will continue even after the independence day. While the railways station staff will help in searching the bomb, security personnel will intensify checking.

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 1:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Railways keen on using Kaveri engines developed by DRDO

The Indian Railways has shown keen interest in the Kaveri engine, which is being developed for fighter aircraft, to power its trains, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has told a Parliamentary Committee.

“A request has come from the Indian Railways to know that whether Kaveri engines can be used for powering locomotives,” DRDO told the Standing Committee on Defence.

In its report tabled in Parliament last week, the Committee said the DRDO has plans of producing Kaveri engine in large number in collaboration with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).

Railways plans 4,000 German coaches on track

Come 2016, Indian Railways will roll out coaches using German technology. Four coach factories will replace the indigenously-designed carriages with 4,000 Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches.

However, the Indian Railways is not planning to make a complete shift to LHBs on rail tracks, but the Integrated Coach Factory (ICF)-designed old coaches will be phased out once they outlive their life span.

Conventional coaches run for 25 years and are prices at Rs 1.5 crore, while LHB AC coaches cost between Rs 2.5 crore and Rs 3 crore, serve about a decade more.

According to K K Saxena, general manager, Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala, a complete phase-out of conventional coaches and proliferation of LHB coaches would be possible by 2040, if there was no policy change by the government.

“The complete switchover from conventional coaches to LHBs is possible when RCF starts rolling out non-AC LHB coaches on a large scale.”

RCF produces “end-on-generation” air-conditioned LHB coaches. It is also expected to develop a second variant of the power car for non-AC coaches within the next five to six months, which will have commercially useful space on the top. At the bottom, there will be underslung power generation sets of lower capacity suitable for them.

Increase in carrying capacity and life cycle of LHB coaches is expected to bring down transportation cost for every kilometre by about 12 -15 per cent, even though production costs of LHB is higher.

RCF has invested Rs 114 crore since 2007 for the transition. Another Rs 130 crore has been sanctioned for phase II of the project, which will be invested over a period of 2-3 years, said Saxena.

To start with, trains with more than 20 coaches will use LHBs, then it will be extended to mail/express trains apart from Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto. LHB coaches manufactured in RCF in Kapurthala are mostly used in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains while other mail and express trains are equipped with conventional coaches built at the ICF in Chennai.

Increase in carrying capacity and life cycle of LHB coaches is expected to bring down transportation cost for every kilometre by about 12 -15 per cent, even though production costs of LHB is higher. With the optimisation of line capacity, the speed potential can also go up to 200 kilometres an hour from 110 kmph now.

“Apart from the economic benefit, LHB coaches offer better safety and do not turn turtle in case of a head-on collision,” said a railway ministry official.

A senior ICF official said they have invested Rs 300 crore for 250 coaches since 2009-end. The planned rollout of LHB coaches from RCF in 2011-2012 at 450 has increased almost 77 per cent from the actual production of 257 between 2001 to 2006.

The annual production capacity projection for LHB coaches in 2011-2012 from the three factories, including the upcoming one in Raebareli will be 506 but is expected to go up eight-fold in 2016-2017. By then, the Palghat factory is also expected to join the three production units in manufacturing LHB coaches.

The Railways acquired the passenger coach manufacturing technology through two separate agreements with Alstom LHB in 1995, one for supply of 24 EOG coaches and the other for transfer of technology to produce the coaches at Indian rail coach facilities. The 24 EOGs were imported at Rs 131.37 crore.

Shortage of Central Railways csmart card to end soon

Commuters will be able to buy smart cards from all Central Railway (CR) stations soon.

For a long time, commuters were unable to buy smart cards at most stations as the CR did not have them in stock. But the CR has recently placed an order for 1 lakh smart cards with a private firm.

The first lot of 15,000-20,000 cards has already
arrived and many stations, especially the ones which witness more commuters, have been provided with smart cards.

“There was a massive shortage of smart cards and it did take a long time for us to make smart cards available as the tender floated had been delayed,” said a senior CR official. “Recently, a private firm was awarded the tender and supply of cards from the firm has resumed. We have got around 20,000 cards and we should be able to receive all the 1 lakh cards in a little over a month’s time.”

Chief spokesperson of the CR, VA Malegaonkar, said: “We have begun selling an average of 750 cards on our suburban network every day ever since we got the first lot of supplies. We have sufficient stock for 20 days.”

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 1:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Solar power to be supplied in trains soon

India will soon be only the second country in the world to get supply of solar power in trains. Successful trial run of train bogies having electrical equipments running on solar power was done on the Pathankot –Jogindernagar narrow gauge on July 26.

Railway officials say that solar powered train coaches would help save millions of unit of power every month. The Railway department at Pathankot has been working on the project for last eight years.

Officials also said that passengers will be able to recharge their phones and laptops in these coaches. The solar powered coaches will also reduce the load on the engine. Apart from solar power, the coaches will also be fitted with rechargeable batteries as a fall-back option.

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Clean drinking water at CR stations soon

Commuters who travel on Central Railway (CR) can soon expect clean drinking water at stations.

“On Friday, two machines were installed at CST,Passenger can now have the option of not buying package drinking water” V A Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer (CR) said. The administration plans to install drinking water dispensing machines (WDM) equipped with reverse osmosis (RO) technology at 25 stations in the Mumbai division.

“We had invited Expression of Interest for the project. Three companies have come forward and been given permission to install 59 machines across 25 stations.” Commuters will get this facility free of cost, he added. Even the railways will not have to pay these companies for making this facility available.

Indian Railways plan six high speed rail corridors

Indian Railways, the world’s fourth largest rail network is planning to build six high speed rail corridors to provide faster rail connectivity across the country.

Indian Railways has said they plan to set up six corridors that will be capable of running trains at 300km p/h trains.

The Railway Ministry, as planned in the recent annual budget, set up the National High Speed Railway Authority (NHSRA) which will be responsible for implementing bullet train services in the country.

NHSRA will be an autonomous body with its administrative control under the Ministry of Railways.

The six corridors that have been selected for the project are— Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar (450 km), Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad (650 km), Hyderabad-Dornakal-Vijayawada-Chennai (664 km), Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore-Ernakulam (649 km), Howrah-Haldia (135 km), Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna (991 km).

Twelve state governments and one Union Territory (UT) have given their approval to share the cost of consultancy on a 50:50 basis.

Railway officials have also recently discussed a feasibility plan regarding the Howrah-Haldia high speed rail corridor.

The bullet train service will allow passengers to reach Patna from Delhi in 3 hours and Amritsar in 1.5 hours.

The new Railway Minister, Dinesh Trivedi said that it is a very important project to help the economy grow, thereby increasing the ‘purchasing power of the people’.

UK-based Mott Macdonald, who are conducting the pre-feasibility study for the Howrah-Haldia high speed rail corridor project, has submitted their interim report.

The same company has also been selected to do a pre-feasibility study on Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad (650 km) corridor.

Shatabdis go for TVs to take on Volvos, low-cost airlines

Passengers of Shatabdi trains will now be able to watch their favourite programmes on live television free of cost while on the go. In an attempt to stave off competition from both high-end Volvo buses and low-cost airlines, the Northern Railway are all set to install television screens in all passenger coaches of Shatabdi trains originating from Delhi.

“The railways are the cheapest form of transport but we are doing everything we can to improve the travelling experience. Now, through this free, value-added service, passengers will have a good time catching up on news and entertainment including cricket matches,” said a Northern Railway official.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

IRCTC to launch tour packages to holy places

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will launch tour packages for holy places of Shirdi Dham and Shani Singhnapur, Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and Dakshin Bharat Yatra.

Dakshin Bharat Yatra will begin on August 31 and end on September 11. Shirdi Dham and Shani Singhnapur Yatra will commence on September 21 and end in three days. The tour to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu will start on September 30. This tour will culminate on October 3.

All the three tour packages will commence from Kanpur Central railway station. The three tours will culminate in Kanpur.

A passenger, by paying a sum of Rs 6,156, can be a part of the Dakshin Bharat Yatra which will cover Tirupati, Rameshwaram, Madurai and Kanyakumari.