Rlys wants your view on new rakes

A team from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, on Monday started collecting commuter feedback on new rakes plying the suburban rail network.

The survey was kicked off on Monday. The feedback form comprises 33 questions on issues such as the present seat design, the quality of cushions and handles, ventilation, illumination, etc. The questionnaire also seeks to know if commuters would like the new rakes to be equipped with sockets for charging cellphones and laptops.

“This is a preliminary survey and we aim to collect feedback from at least 500 commuters in the next couple of days,” a senior ICF official said. “The responses will be analyzed and presented in the form of a report to ICF’s chief design engineer.”

The report is expected to be prepared in two months.

Managing director of Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) Rakesh Saksena said, “Based on the commuter feedback, changes can be made in the design of future rakes.”

The MRVC has already suggested changes for 72 rakes that are to delivered after two years. These suggestions include cushioned seats in second-class compartments, better-quality cushioned seats with more comfortable backrest and more leg space in firstclass compartments.

It has already been decided that the new rakes will have stainless steel bodies instead of the current Corten steel ones as it requires less maintenance. The first two prototype 12-car rakes will run on a trial basis in Mumbai by early next year. If the trials are successful, four such rakes will be supplied per month from December 2013 onwards.


Freight hike to pull railways out of red

His fare hike proposals may have turned controversial for political reasons, but what has gone largely unnoticed is Dinesh Trivedi’s quiet move to increase freight rates by 20 percent on March 6, days before he presented the rail budget as railway minister.

According to sources in the railway ministry, the hike in freight rates will fetch an additional Rs.16,000-17,000 crore and provide a much-needed financial cushion to the railways. The railways’ freight earnings are Rs.80,000 crore annually. “Even without a passenger fare hike, the railways will be in a comfortable position thanks to the freight rate hike,” said the railway ministry official, speaking to IANS only on condition of anonymity as he was not supposed to speak to the media.


Officials say the freight hike went unnoticed as it was announced March 6, when the nation’s attention was focussed on vote count for assembly polls in five states. Indian Railways was staring at an earnings shortfall of Rs.7,000 crore just two weeks ago. It earns around Rs.28,000 crore from passenger fares annually.

The additional earnings from a 20 percent freight rate hike coupled with enhanced loading target and minor to moderate fare hike announced in the March 14 rail budget for 2012-13 would help generate around Rs.25,000 crore for the railways in the next financial year, said the sources.

Even if the fare hike is partially rolled back to placate a miffed Mamata Banerjee, chief of Trivedi’s Trinamool Congress, the railways would still end up mopping up an additional Rs.4,000-5,000 crore in passenger earnings, said sources. Owing to pressure from Banerjee over the rail budget, Trivedi quit the post Sunday.

The railways would still have to take hard decisions to meet the challenge of generating large amounts – to the tune of Rs.9 lakh crore over the next five years – to address the safety and modernisation imperatives pointed out by two expert panels headed by former Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar and prime minister’s adviser Sam Pitroda.

“The safety and modernisation challenges will remain till the railways address them,” former Railway Board chairman R.K. Singh told, adding “the move to hike freight rate before the budget would certainly help the national transporter.”

According to the Kakodkar panel, elimination of over 32,000 level crossings across the 64,000-km track alone would require Rs.50,000 crore, which is one-fourth of the rail budget 2012-13 size of over Rs.2 lakh crore.

Published in: on March 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

SMS is a valid railway ticket now

In its effort to reduce the use of paper, Indian railways now allows soft copies of travel ticket as a valid one booked through either of the services- Short messaging service, virtual reservation message, or mobile reservation services- facilitated by its online ticket booking website irctc.

The SMS received by a passenger while booking an e-ticket on irctc would be considered a valid authority for travel.

Accordingly, the virtual reservation message (VRM) and mobile reservation message (MRM) which include the screen-shot taken of an e-ticket, and displayed it on laptops and mobile phones respectively would also serve as an authorised ticket on par with electronic reservation slip (ERS).

Such soft copies of ticket will contain all the important details such as pnr no, train number, date of journey, wagon class, names of Passengers, coach number, berth number, fare, etc.

SMSes, VRMs, and MRMs tickets would be valid only if they are produced along with a proof of identity in original which will include any of the documents such as voter photo identity card, passport, PAN card, driving license, photo identity card issued by Central /state governments, student identity card with photograph issued by a recognized school / college, nationalised Bank Passbook with photograph, credit card with laminated photograph, and unique identification card “Aadhaar”.

The soft copy of the ticket should be displayed during the course of on-board and off-board checking. If the passenger fails to produce or display the SMS due to any eventuality such as loss, discharged mobile or laptop etc., but has the prescribed proof of identity, a penalty of Rs 50 per ticket will be levied by the ticket checking staff.


Published in: on March 17, 2012 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Railway Budget 2012 to focus on upgradation of signalling system

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi is likely to spell out a blue print for upgrading signalling and telecommunication system to prevent accidents in the upcoming Rail Budget despite financial constraints.

Besides, the Rail Budget will have proposals for state-of-the-art coach manufacturing units in Karnataka and Gujarat.

Railways which has sought Rs 50,000 crore from Finance Ministry as gross budgetary support (GBS), has got only Rs 25,000 crore for the next fiscal from the central kitty.

The multi-crore action plan for upgradation of the system is slated to cover the 19,000 km long major trunk route such as New Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Kolkata and New Delhi Delhi-Chennai corridors.

Budget 2012 at ET: Budget 2012 | Union Budget | Railway Budget 2012 | Budget News

“The upgradation exercise is a long-term plan to be carried out in a phased manner,” said a source in the railways.

In-cab signalling system, similar to the technolgy followed in European countries and already available with Delhi Metro, would be aggressively taken up by the railways, a mention of which is expected in Trivedi’s budget speech on March 14.

Keen on introducing high speed trains, Trivedi is also likley to announce a new bullet train corridor for Rajasthan.

The 591-km Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Jodhpur route is slated to be taken up for pre-feasibility study for introducing bullet trains, which run at a speed of 350 km per hour, and an announcement to this effect is likely to be made on March 14.

Trivedi could also announce a proposal for induction of trains sets, which run at 200 km per hour, on the Delhi-Mumbai route.

A train set consists of a high horse power electronic locomotive with about 10 modern coaches and is estimated to cost Rs 200 crore.

Green initiatives are also likely to get a big boost this time as a proposal for manufacturing as many as 2,500 environmental-friendly toilets could be included in the budget.

The Rail Budget 2012-13 is also slated to have measures for improving passenger amenities at stations and trains.

Railway Minister could announce plan for manufacturing 25,00 green toilets in the next fiscal as green intiative.


Live Status of Trains at Secunderabad on Web-Site and “facebook”

Shri G.N. Asthana, General Manager, South Central Railway,launched“Live Status of Train Arrivals / Departures at Secunderabad Railway Stationonthe SCR website “www.scr.indianrailways.gov.in”andthe “facebook” account of Secunderabad Division today(6.03.12)for the benefit of travelling public.

Going o­ne step further in cornering the potential ofinformation technology towards improving customer services, South Central Railway has made available the real time display of the live status of train arrivals / departures at Secunderabad Railway Station o­n its website.

Secunderabad Division, the biggest Division o­n SCR, launched an interactivefacebook accountto disseminate information and the real time display of the live status of train arrivals / departures at Secunderabad Railway Station through the popular medium of social networking Website.The information as available o­n the train display boards in Secunderabad station are made available o­n linethrough SCR official web-site and alsoonthe facebookpage of Secunderabad Division for the convenience of passengers.

With this facility, Passengers can now directly view the information for themselves about the arrival / departure timings and the nominated platforms of their trains at Secunderabad Station with out need for a separate enquiry calls etc.


Woman drives local train in Hyderabad

Yet another male bastion fell in Hyderabad on Women’s Day on Thursday with a woman driving a local train of the South Central Railways (SCR). S Satyavati became the first woman loco pilot of SCR when she independently drove a Multi Modal Transit System (MMTS) train. She piloted ‘Matrubhumi Ladies Special Train’ from Falaknuma to Lingampally suburban stations. Satyavati joined as Assistant Loco Pilot in Bangalore in 1999, and was later transferred to Secunderabad division. She was promoted as Loco Pilot (Goods) in 2005 and had been working in shuttling duties on goods trains in and around Hyderabad area for the past few years, SCR sources said.


Published in: on March 10, 2012 at 10:16 am  Leave a Comment  

CR to use ‘hot air’ to fight rats in long distance trains

Long-distance commuters can look forward to a pleasant journey as Central Railway has decided to upgrade passenger amenities on trains that come for maintenance at Wadi Bunder.

CR general manager Subodh Jain told TOI, “We want to upgrade the standard of cleanliness and maintenance of coaches. The Wadi Bunder yard staff has been entrusted with transforming passenger amenities in the Vidharba Express, a premier train. A similar exercise will be carried out on the Punjab Mail.”

The maintenance of trains is being carried out at the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Wadi Bunder and Mazgaon. But Wadi Bunder has been selected it has facilities like a mechanized laundry and better pit line.

Stickers will be pasted inside coaches to inform commuters that the maintenance is being carried out at the Wadi Bunder yard. Jain said, “We aim to build a Wadi Bunder brandname by upgrading passenger amenities.


Published in: on March 10, 2012 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Central Railway to cushion the hard second-class ride on trains

Central Railway commuters who travel second-class but enviously gaze at those comfortable seats in first-class compartments are in for good news. Within a month, work will begin on cushioning those hard, plastic seats which will make long-distance travel a breeze. For the first time in the history of Mumbai suburban railways, CR is all set to fit cushions on the seats in second-class compartments. “At the moment, the seats of second class compartments are either made of old compressed wood or the new blue ones in the Siemens rakes made of polycarbonate. We plan to provide a cushioning on the existing seats on a pilot-project basis, for which tenders have already been invited. Work should start in a month’s time,” said a senior official.


Published in: on March 10, 2012 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Railways should give equal importance to electric and diesel traction

The superiority claimed for electric traction is based on: faster speeds of electric locomotives, higher energy efficiency, pollution-free environment friendly operations, higher horse power providing higher load hauling capacity with consequential reduction in the number of locomotives required, better productivity, reliability in operations, economy in running costs, less manpower and maintenance requirement, and ability to generate energy through regenerative braking, and so on.
But studies have shown that all these claims are not correct or relevant to Indian conditions. Even on the basis of the not-too reliable figures, electric traction consumed 45 per cent more energy than diesel traction. The average speeds of goods trains hauled by diesel and electric locomotives are of the same order and have remained the same for the last quarter of a century.

In India, the maximum speed potential of all diesel and electric locos is the same, namely 140 kmph, except that of ABB passenger loco, which is 160 kmph. This is, however, of no consequence in Indian conditions because of the infrastructual constraints. Therefore, in practical terms it can be concluded that speed of trains is not traction-specific.

If we take into account the polluting effect of electricity generation from all sources, electric traction not only loses its advantage over diesel traction in the matter of pollution, but also comes out as more polluting than diesel traction.

The popular belief that electric locomotives have higher load hauling capacity, because of higher horsepower is also not correct. The load hauling capacity of any locomotive depends primarily on its ability to start a load, which in turn is dependent on adhesion. The maximum adhesion achieved in the case of the 6000 HP ABB electric locomotive is 37 per cent, while the 4000 HP GM locos provide an adhesion factor of 43%. The starting tractive effort of the 6000 HP ABB locomotive has been only 47 tonnes compared with about 53 tonnes for the 4000 HP GM locomotives. In the matter of producivity also the comparison goes in favour of diesel traction. In the US, freight trains carrying up to 23,000 tonnes are hauled by multiple diesel locomotives, but running of such long trains under electric traction is unthinkable due to current limitations of OHE.

In matters of reliability, safety and so on also, electric traction does not have any advantage over diesel traction; on the contrary, there are several minus points in electric traction.

Flexibility of diesel traction is its greatest advantage. This is highlighted in the Year Book 1999-2000: “Diesel traction is highly flexible and adaptable to future technological advancements such as the ‘fuel cell’ technology, posed as a promising alternative source of energy in the near future.” Under this technology, a simple device combines hydrogen from a variety of fuels with oxygen from air to produce electricity. This requires no moving parts, and produces no noise or smoke. Diesel locopmotives can be easily converted by replacing engine with fuel cell.

According to the International Railway Journal of March 2000, fuel cell trains shall be a reality in eight years, that is, by 2008. All overhead wires will then become redundant. It seems a breakthrough has already been achieved by BHEL, Hyderabad. On this technology being adopted, all arguments about oil conservation, foreign exchange saving and so on will become meaningless.

It is of vital importance that we do not ignore the fact that both diesel and electric traction can meet the needs of the Indian Railways with equal efficiency. There should be no attempt at developing one mode at the cost of the other. What is required to be done now is to concentrate on removing the infrastructure constraints for availing of the maximum benefits of the high tech equipment already procured.

Suggested approach

Exercises for formulating details of the Tenth Five-Year Plan, Annual Plan and Railway Budget for 2002-2003 are round the corner, and the Indian Railways need to take a close look at all the pitfalls brought out herein before making resource allocations for exising projects and including new projects. Policy indications about optimising the use of the already electified sections would also need to be spelt out.

* Non-viable and uneconomic routes, adjudged on the basis of reliable and honest data should not be considered at all. What needs to be done now is to make the best use of the routes already electrified, and avoid taking up any further projects without ensuring financial viability.

In the Year Book 1999-2000, the ministry of railways has accepted the equal role of both the modes of traction, stating: “In an effort to cut costs and improve efficiency, IR is going ahead with its policy of converting maximum routes to diesel and electric traction.” This needs to be faithfully adhered to. Both the new technology locmotives should be used fully, and allowed to remain in good fettle and duly upgraded from time to time, so that IR does not become tied up to one mode alone.

* Over 60 per cent of freight and 46 per cent of passenger traffic are now hauled by electric traction. Higher operating costs of electric traction, very high capital costs, perennial power shortage, and above all security considerations compell a re-think of the flawed strategy of electrification. The time has come for increasing the share, as also the quality, of traffic allocated for diesel traction.

* Elsewhere in the world, de-electrification and running of diesel engines on electrified routes are adopted as acceptable methods for achieving economies. There should, therefore, be no compunction in adopting at least the latter method for achieving economies. There should, therefore, be no compunction in adopting at least the latter method by IR. The capital investments on electrification need not be considered a waste. In any case it is already sunk cost, and we can adopt the philosophy of ‘let bygones be bygones’.

* The mindset needs to be changed. We are not dealing with an ‘either or’ situation, but as a complementary solution, in which both electric and diesel traction should be given equal opportunities, in the national interests as also in the interests of the railways.

* One method of distribution could be to allocate passenger traffic for electric traction and freight traffic for diesel traction. Allocating specific operational and geographic areas to either mode could be another method. The objective should be to give equal importance to both the modes. This is fully in keeping with the policy indicated in the Year Book 1999-2000: “In an effort to cut costs and improve efficiency, IR is going ahead with its policy of converting maximum routes to diesel and electric traction.” Equality is assured in this.

(The writer is former Financial Commissioner, Railways, and ex-officio secretary to the Government of India)


Published in: on March 10, 2012 at 10:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Railways set to manufacture 2,500 ‘odourless’ bio-toilets

Passengers travelling in long-distance trains will soon get respite from the stench of toilets with Railways set to replace them with “odourless” bio-toilets. With a view to provide more hygienic conditions, Railways is firming up a green initiative to manufacture 2,500 bio-toilets in the upcoming fiscal. Unlike traditional toilets in trains where the waste is discharged on tracks, the new system will treat the same inside a tank with the help of a bacteria, which will convert it into harmless gas and water.