Train covering India’s longest rail route from tomorrow

A new weekly train ‘Vivek Express’ covering the country’s longest rail route from Dibrugarh in Assam to Kannyakumari in Tamil Nadu will commence operations from tomorrow. The train will be flagged off from Dibrugarh by Union Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region, Paban Singh Ghatowar, NF Railway spokesman, S Hajong said. Covering the distance of 4286 km in 82.30 hours, the weekly train will leave Dibrugarh every Saturday at 11.45 pm and reach Kanniyakumari on Wednesday at 10.25 am. On the return direction, it will leave Kannyakumari every Saturday at 2 pm and reach Dibrugarh on Wednesday at 3.30 am.

Published in: on November 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chugging through centuries of history

The National Rail Museum, in New Delhi, is a unique museum and the only one of its kind in Asia. Focusing on the Rail History of India, this museum offers its visitors a lot of fun and entertainment, coupled with an insight into rail history, heritage, nostalgia and the romance that goes with it. It was inaugurated on February 1, 1977.

“This tourist spot spread over 11 acres of landhas over 90 different types of exhibits which include locomotives, royal saloons, cranes, wagons, coaches, furniture, signal and telecommunication equipment, clocks, tickets and ticketing machines. These exhibits offer the visitors an insight into our rail history and heritage”, says Mr Jitender Tatawat, Museum Officer at the National Rail Museum. The indoor gallery at the museum has history ingrained in the various models and artefacts displayed there. There is a toy train and a park for children too.

Old gold

The Morris Fire Engine, which was built in 1914, has been given a place of honour in the museum. Used by the erstwhile Nizam’s State Railways, Hyderabad, this pre WW-1 vintage car, which is still in working condition, is one of its kind in the world. This fire engine was used in Secunderabad to put out fires in railway engines and coaches as well as around the city whenever the necessity arose. The National Rail Museum in New Delhi and the Regional Rail Museums in Chennai and Mysore are storehouses of rail heritage and history.

Arjun A Bharadwaj, a ten year old visitor from Bengaluru, said he found the Indian Railways history interesting and learnt a lot from the indoor and outdoor exhibits. He feels “all children must visit this museum, only then will we all develop pride in the most important transportation system of the country.”

Royal carriages

“One of the prized possessions of the museum is the Monorail of the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala State, which is the only working steam monorail in the world. The royal saloons of the Maharaja of Mysore, the Gaekwar of Baroda and the Raja of Bhavnagar are still intact and can be viewed by visitors. The Vice Regal Dining car used by the Viceroys and the royal coach of the Prince of Wales are open to visitors too,” continues Mr Jitender.

On track

The history of the Railways in India dates back to the mid 19th century. Soon after the first ever rail journey took place in the world, the British began contemplating setting up railways in India to help with their transportation and commerce. The British set up two companies in London – the East Indian Railway and the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, where construction for the Indian Railways began immediately.

The first Indian train of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR), was set on its tracks on April 16, 1853 from Bori Bunder in Bombay to Thane. Four hundred guests took this voyage in 14 carriages, hauled by three steam locomotives – Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. On August 15, 1854 the first train of the East Indian Railways ran between Howrah and Hooghly. Two years later the Madras Guaranteed Railway Company was set up and the first train of this company ran between Veyasarpaudy and Walajah Road on July 1, 1856.

The British managed to set up rail connections from the three major port cities, namely Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Over the years the railway network has expanded tremendously. Many stations, bridges, tunnels and workshops have been constructed. Today, under the unified Indian Railways, we have the second largest rail network in the world.

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

To match China, Railways eyes neighbourhood projects

Spurred by China’s rapid infrastructure thrust along India’s borders, the Indian Railways has pitched in for rail and road projects in South Asian countries including Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal. In the process of executing $800 million worth rail track projects in Sri Lanka, the Indian Railways Construction Company (IRCON) – a PSU of the Indian Railways -is staking claims over other big ticket projects including restructuring of air fields at Jaffna and Trincomalee, ministry sources said.

In the aftermath of the decade-long insurgency that ravaged the northern part of the island country, India has cornered the rail reconstruction contracts under a loan agreement encapsulating an Indian line of credit, while China has been working on the road rebuilding contracts.

News reports indicate China’s plans to extend its Tibet railway network into the strategically important Chumbi valley area, next to Sikkim and the Siliguri corridor.

China has also been building a railway line connecting Kunming in China to Singapore. Bracing up for the competition, India has offered to design, supervise and construct roads in Myanmar.

This fiscal, IRCON has been awarded two important rail contracts with Nepal: The Rs 238-crore project for constructing a rail track from Jogbani in Bihar to Biratnagar in Nepal and the Rs 446.72-crore project for gauge conversion from Jayanagar in India to Bijalpura in Nepal, with extension up to Bardibas on India-Nepal border.

Indo-Nepal train connectivity projects worth more than Rs 700 crore have remained at the drawing board stages.

These include the 12-km link between Nepalganj Road in India to Nepalganj and the 15 km-track planned to connect Nautanwa in India to Bhairwaha in Nepal.

In respect of both these proposals, the Railways have completed the detailed survey and submitted the final report to the ministry of external affairs.

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Railway stations can generate good revenue : Union Minister

Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi today said that railway stations in the country have a potential to generate good revenue, which can be done through public-private partnerships (PPP). “The assets of Indian Railways are amazing. So far, nobody has looked at the railway stations with the thought that they can generate revenue,” Trivedi said, while speaking at the Goa Think Fest 2011 here. “Why can’t we have railway stations like airports?,” he asked. He said that a PPP model can be implemented at the railway stations for revenue generation. Trivedi said that Indian Railways is country’s engine of growth, which is not possible without the reforms in Indian Railways. The minister said that in the 12th Five Year Plan, one trillion USD have been marked for the upgradation of railway infrastructure, of which, 50 per cent will come from the private sector. ‘Goa Think Fest-2011’ was flagged off on Friday here with people from various fields including politics, technology, art and culture, sharing thoughts on issues.–union-minister/890011.html

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Matheran toy train to get swanky coaches

Matheran’s toy train will soon have swanky coaches that offer a panoramic view of the hills to commuters.

The old coaches, of wood and metal, were built in the 1960-70s but were refurbished periodically. Unlike the old coaches, which had benches, the new ones will have chair car-type seats that are retractable with arm rests and eye-pleasing interiors made of fire-retardant material.

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm  Comments (1)  

LED lights in train coaches now

The railways, which has decided to manufacture low-cost stainless steel coaches, would provide eco-friendly and energy-efficient LED (light emitting diode) lights in them.

According to a Railway Board official, the existing train coaches are fitted with CFL (compact fluorescent light) which consume more energy compared to LED lights. “We are keen to introduce the new lights to save energy,” he said.

Railways to set up new body to improve stations

Indian Railways said Friday it will set up a separate Railway Stations Development Corporation to improve passenger facilities.

“A need was being felt to have a nodal agency with the required professional competence for undertaking such projects in a holistic manner,” Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi told reporters here.

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tiny device from IIT-Kanpur can prevent derailment

After fabricating Jugnu, the country’s tiniest satellite launched last month, Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur graduates have now come up with a matchbox-sized device to monitor wear and tear of railway tracks and prevent derailment.

The new device is aimed at replacing a bulky, box-like contraption that is currently used by Indian Railways.

“Our device is a supplementary system for monitoring track health, making it simpler to integrate with the existing railway infrastructure,” said Kshitij Deo, M.Tech in mechanical engineering, who developed the device with three others from the vibration and dynamics lab of the IIT.

For Railways, safety is important as thousands of trains use around 114,500 km tracks of its network – the world’s fourth largest. With regular use, the tracks develop cracks and fissures, including problems linked to loose nuts and bolts at the joints. If the tracks are less firmly anchored on the soil, it could lead to derailment.

All these faults can now be detected in real time and recorded automatically to prevent derailment thanks to the oscillation monitoring system, a cutting-edge device weighing just 100 grams.

The device has been designed and developed by a team of IIT-Kanpur’s mechanical engineering graduates, under the guidance of N.S. Vyas, professor and head, mechanical engineering, and the Railways’ Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow.

The device, based on micro-electro mechanical system, can monitor track health more comprehensively and enable efficient track maintenance.

“The extremely handy package locates and logs track faults accurately with the help of the GPS (global positioning system), eliminating human errors and making train journeys safer. It has a battery life of 10 hours and can be recharged by USB port on computers,” said Deo who developed the device with three others from the vibration and dynamics lab under Vyas.

On the other hand, the existing railway monitoring equipment is bulky and operated manually, with two people being required to feed the location into the bulky device.

It is mounted on a special coach, the oscillation monitoring unit. Since it forms part of a small train, the exercise cannot be undertaken frequently. Track clearances have to be sought and the routes planned and finalised in advance, said Deo.

“The biggest challenge lay in engineering a device that could pinpoint faults with a high degree of precision while simplifying use with a drastically reduced size. We did manage to reduce the number of buttons to one as against 50 required on the keypad of the railway equipment,” said Deo.

The device once placed on the floor of a running train’s coach measures and records vibrations. Any fault or irregularity on the tracks changes the pattern of vibrations. The device feeds all such data and locational faults into a fingernail-sized data storage card with the help of a GPS receiver.

If the vibrations cross a certain threshold, especially in case of a critical fault, the device alerts engineers with audio-visual signals (beeps and flashing LEDs). Post- journey, the storage card is retrieved from the device and plugged into the computer for reading the track’s actual condition and analysis by the railways.

The plan is to install at least three-four such devices on trains running on each route to monitor each track on a regular basis.

The project grew out of a visit by the director of the RDSO to IIT-Kanpur. “We were demonstrating a similar vibration measurement instrument developed by us. In subsequent meetings, the project was finalised and we designed the device in close coordination with RDSO officials,” said Deo.

“The project took a year to fructify, involving some 25 field trials on trains, including Shatabdi and Rajdhani Expresses. The RDSO has been optimistic about the project. Many times we actually walked on the track to verify faults as predicted by the device,” recalled Deo.

After the successful completion of the first phase, the RDSO is keen on going ahead with the second phase and testing the device on trains in all the railway zones. If its performance is found satisfactory, it would be approved by the Railways.

Woman power stuns train goons

On board Canning Matribhoomi Local: They call themselves the Matribahini – vigilante guardians of the women special train launched by chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Thugs, molesters and mischief makers who muscle into women-only coaches have found out very quickly that tangling with the sari army leaves them with a bloodied nose and a battered ego.

TOI saw the Matribahini at work on the ‘ladies’ special’ Canning Matribhoomi Local. The women look no different from the para’r mashi, or the office executive rushing to beat the clock. But once inside the train and face-to-face with a rogue, they turn into lionesses. They have braved threats of acid attacks and assault and are never shy of a good fight for what’s right.

Even the railway police seem willing to give them a free hand. “Marpit jokhon kortei nemechhen, bhalo bhabe korun (When you are out to fight it out give the rogues a good bashing),” was the suggestion from a GRP officer, says Shyamolima Mitra, an employee with the Kolkata Police Co-Operative Bank, leader of the Matribahini.

The vigilante group has struck fear into men who are always looking to squeeze into a women’s train. Ever since the Matribahini gave the war cry, the number of intruders has dropped sharply, say sources.

“It began all of a sudden three months ago. I boarded the train from Champahati and found two passengers sprawled on the seats. I asked them to get up but they started hurling filthy abuses. They said that women should always be under their feet. This made me go insane with anger. I started thrashing one of them. Immediately, two more women joined me and beat up the other one. We hauled the duo off the train and forced other male passengers off as well. They had stood silently as we fought. The three of us swore that we would never allow any male passenger, except the elderly, ailing and hawkers, “said Shyamolima.

What started as a band of three is now 30 strong – led by Ritu Haldar, Bula Sarkar, Bulbul Banerjee, Bibha Majumdar and Sumitra Naskar. Common names. Varying ages. Uncommon bravery.

TOI followed them on Monday as they checked coach after coach, shouting and sometimes shoving men off. They would start politely but firmly: “Eta ladies’ special. Neme jaan.”

The male ego took a bruising. Some got down at very next station, red about the ears, but most of the intruders stuck on against the “female audacity”. Then push came to shove. The Matribahini corralled the men into the middle of the coach and shouted them down. Glare for glare. Word for word.

The men lost the argument and most got off at the next station, sheepishly, jeered by a few passengers on the platform.

The few that stubbornly stayed on in the coach were in for some special treatment. They were taken aback when slaps and punches started raining down. There was nowhere to go. The train had started. Stuck in the coach, outnumbered and outgunned, they could only cower from the blows. Chastened, they scurried off at the next station.

“There were so many men on the train earlier that no one would believe it was a ladies’ special. The gates were invariably overcrowded by men. Any woman would feel intimidated to board the train. Once a girl protested but she was immediately surrounded by a bunch of rogues who took turns kissing her before getting down at Ballygunge station. We decided enough was enough,” said Shyamolima.

“One day, we saw a youth making obscene gestures at a couple of college students in the compartment. The girl looked terrified. When we confronted him he started abusing us. We gave him a severe thrashing and forced him off at Garia. He threatened to get us beaten up by eunuchs. Later, we heard from hawkers that he was a notorious criminal. So we reported him to the GRP. But we are determined that we will beat before getting beaten up,” said Sumitra Mondal, a hefty lady in her 30s. Her husband’s sudden death forced her to leave her small son at home to work in a glass factory.

The women often go to the GRP, missing office on some days to see a case through. “What we understood was that they had limited resources to protect all women passengers. But we got the assurance of a help on a phone call and a word of encouragement,” said Shyamolima.

Rogues have threatened them with acid and razor attacks. “At times we think it is too risky for unarmed women like us. But the very next moment, we feel that if we give up, it will be many steps back. Slowly and gradually, this battle has generated courage in other hapless women travelling on the train. For long we suffered harassment, molestation, taunts, abuses and assault. Now it is time to fight back and end the humiliation,” said Nilam Roy.

“Before we banded, none of us knew the other. We used to travel like islands. But this battle has developed a strong bond,” said Bibha Majumdar.

The Matribahini not only fights for the women. Dinabandhu Haldar, a teenage hawker, owes his sight to them. “My left eye was badly damaged after a man beat me up because I stopped him from using abusive words against the didis. These sisters pooled in their resources to get me treated,” Haldar said.

“The hawkers have always been a strong support for us,” said Pakhi Sakar. There is a penalty of Rs 500 for men boarding this train but police let them off after taking Rs 100-200, says the Matribahini.

Eastern Railway spokesperson Samir Goswami said: “We are trying to put lady RPF personnel on such trains, particularly in the evening. We will definitely increase raids by RPF and railway personnel to catch intruders.”

Published in: on November 5, 2011 at 2:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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S. Rly to facilitate bulk movement through ‘Kairali Queen’

The Southern Railway is to focus the SME segment in Kerala in a big way to facilitate bulk movement of cargo through its special train – Kairali Queen – initiated by the Railways for goods movement in the State, Mr Rajesh Agarwal, Divisional Manager, SR, has said.

Speaking at an interactive meeting organised by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, Mr Agarwal said that the special train will enable SME’s to get the benefit of rake movement, as the train Kairali Queen is aimed at encouraging SME entrepreneurs in agro based products/industry of Kerala. It is an offer by the Railways to facilitate bulk movement of products to long destinations.

However, Mr Agarwal pointed out that the huge potential of the Indian Railways is unutilised in the State. By bringing SMEs under the railway umbrella, he said the trade and industry will prosper in the State.

Today, bulk movement is through roads, he said and called upon businessmen, freight forwarders to take the initiative to shift the cargo movement through rail.

The mobilisation of goods from Kochi port to various destinations through rail transit will be much cheaper and effective than road transport. There are plans to promote goods transport and priority would be given to move containers from Vallarpadam terminal, he said.

He said the idea is to aggregate one rake in (42 or at least 30-40 wagons) in one day. Simultaneous loading can be done on the same day to same destinations at 3-4 locations.

The train will ply two days in a month each for Delhi, Gujarat, Kanpur, Mumbai, Kolkata etc.

Loading can be done from 4 different places, any type of commodity, any number of wagons, to a single destination. There are four loading points in the State which comprises Angamali Goods Shed, Willingdon Island, Changanassery or Alappuzha Goods shed and Kollam or Kayamkulam goods shed.

The advantages over road transit were that the rail can move 50-60 tonnes a wagon with much cheaper freight and smaller and assured transit time.

There will be no issues of check posts, Octroi etc. and not affected by day/night/weather/agitation. The location of the train is available with the Goods Shed Supervisor through Railways FOIS network.

Published in: on November 5, 2011 at 2:19 am  Leave a Comment