AC double-decker train’s trial done, to run soon

With the trial-run of the much awaited double-decker air-conditioned train between Jaipur and Delhi successfully completed, it is all set to have its maiden run next month. Authorities are now waiting for the green signal from the Railway Safety Commissioner for its maiden run.

The train ticked all boxes and passed all check parameters during its test-run. The trial run was continued for four days, in which its running was tested at different speeds.

The train will start running between Jaipur and Delhi Sarai Rohilla any day in the next month (May).

It will replace Jaipur-Delhi non-stop special train. The service period of the present non-stop trains is going to end on April 30.

The double-decker train can run only after April 30 as the commuters have reservations in the non-stop trains till late April.

Mamata Banerjee during her tenure as railway minister had announced the project in her budget for 2011-12.

The double-decker train was designed and developed indigenously by Research Development and Standard Organisation at the Kapurthala rail coach factory.

It will have 13 coaches with a seating capacity for 120 passengers in each coach. The lower floor of the train has a capacity of 70 passengers while the upper floor has a capacity of 50 passengers.

The train will have stops at Gurgaon, Delhi Cantt and Delhi Sarai Rohilla at the same timings. It will leave Jaipur at 6 am and reach Sarai Rohilla in Delhi by 10:30. It will return at 5:35 pm to reach Jaipur at 10:05 pm.

According to railway sources, the ride will cost Rs 347 from Jaipur to the last stop at Sarai Rohilla. The fare from Jaipur to Gurgaon will be Rs 327.

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Himalayan Queen now fully solar powered

The coaches of Kalka-Shimla toy train — the Himalayan Queen — have been converted to solar- based power system with the aim of harnessing green energy and reducing carbon emission. It is the first train in the country to have all its coaches solar powered. The experiment will earn carbon credit for the track that is on the heritage list of UNESCO.

Each coach has been built at a cost of Rs 1.25 lakh and is provided with a 100-watt solar panel. The florescent tube has been replaced with the much brighter LED lights. The coach can function two days without the sun and can make two trips. The coaches have also been provided with solar power charging sockets.

Trial runs were earlier done on trains running on the Pathankot-Jogindernagar track. For the past one year, one coach each on two trains were being run on solar energy.

Officials state that the conventional generation system had become obsolete and required frequent maintenance. With the new system and removal of many of the mechanisms required under the old generation system, the coaches have become lighter.

Divisional electrical engineer R K Gupta said that the new system will require little maintenance and reduce energy saving by Rs 4.35 lakh per annum.

“This is one of the green initiatives taken by the Indian Railway authorities for the ecologically fragile hill state,” said P K Sanghi, divisional railway manager, Ambala.

“All seven coaches of the train are lit by solar energy. A major advantage on this track is that the coaches do not require air conditioners or fans. If the system works successfully we will extend solar lighting to regular tracks on this UNSECO heritage route having more than 806 bridges and 103 tunnels,” Sanghi added.

Rail Board for reducing duty hours of drivers

Reducing duty hours of mail/express train drivers to six hours (they encounter a signal every minute on an average) to monitoring the crew on his first trip after having availed rest (since most of the signal-jumping cases have occurred after the train drivers have availed headquarter rest) are among the suggestions that came up during a recent meeting on SPAD (signal passed at danger) convened by the Railway Board.

The meeting was attended by chief mechanical engineers of all zonal railways and one mechanical loco inspector from each division and was addressed by Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal and other high officials.

The meeting followed the recent spate of train accidents including the one involving the Hampi Express on May 22 leading to the loss of 25 lives.

Pressure has also been mounted on the Railway Ministry by the All-India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) for improving safety measures in view of the frequent train accidents.

A communiqué containing the minutes of the meetings and various suggestions made by the participants has been circulated to the General Managers of all the railway divisions in the country.

It was suggested in the meeting that since the loco pilots (train drivers) were found to be above 55 years of age in majority of the cases of jumping of the signal by trains, the retirement age of drivers should be brought down to 55 years.

It was also suggested that links should be made in such a way that there are not more than 2-3 continuous night duties for train drivers.

Efforts should be made so that the running staff (train drivers) was not made to perform more than six hours duty between 10 pm and 6 am, it was suggested.

It was also suggested that retro-reflective board indicating the type of signal with arrow towards the relevant line should be provided at each signal post. In case, there are more than two lines, the signal post of additional line should be of different colour. The name of the station should be written on signal posts of station signals.

The participants also asked for ensuring proper time tabling so that margin for acceleration or deceleration is available depending on the load and gradients and incorporating a concept of loco recovery (making up for lost time) in the working time table.

Suggestions made in the meeting also included subjecting drivers to breathalyzer test before embarking on a journey and counselling their families on the ill-effects of alcoholism. It was also suggested that train drivers should be protected from being arrested in case of accidents as this causes anxiety and increases the stress level of drivers.

“The crew should be counselled not to work under pressure since he has to operate the train under maximum permissible speed now that the concept of booked speed is no longer there. Safety has to be given priority over punctuality,” said the communiqué.

Proposals of Railway Board meeting
Reduce duty hours of mail/express train drivers to six
Monitor crew on first trip after having availed rest
Retirement age of drivers be brought down to 55 years
Not more than 2-3 continuous night duties for drivers
Subject drivers to breathalyzer test before a journey
Drivers shouldn’t be arrested in case of accidents

Third oldest railway station in country set to turn 156

While a quick glance from outside might depict a ‘remote’ train station, a closer study would reveal a piece of history.

The Royapuram Railway Station, the first in South India and third in the country after the Victoria Terminus in ‘Bombay’ and Howrah Station in ‘Calcutta’, will turn 156 next Thursday.

Few in the area, predominantly inhabited by fishermen, may be aware of its history, but it was this station, inaugurated by Lord Harris on June 28, 1856, that served as the railway headquarters till 1873. One might not believe it today but all trains from the then Madras Province left for various parts of the country from this station in Royapuram, now considered an overcrowded urban ghetto.

A large part of the station in Royapuram might have been reduced to rubble today, but there is a lot of history left in it to be protected for posterity.

The Railway Ministry had conceded to the demands of some history buffs and architectural conservationists and announced in this year’s Budget that it would study the feasibility of converting Royapuram into Chennai’s fourth terminal.

Lured by the commercial benefits a terminal would bring, few locals have also joined the chorus now. People of north Chennai are hopeful that at least south-bound trains would be shifted to Royapuram, which was the case after north and east-bound trains were shifted to Chennai Central in 1873.The south-bound trains were moved to Egmore which came into existence in 1907.

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Now, track your train on mobile phone

Knowing the exact location of a train was never so easy as one can now track it on a mobile phone.

A joint team of Railways and IIT-Kanpur has developed a technology — the real-time train running information system — which enables a mobile user to access information about the exact location of a train. One has to type the train number and SMS it to 09415139139 or 09664139139 for knowing the exact location of a train on real-time basis, a Railway Ministry official said.

The service is currently available for 36 pairs of premier trains, including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto. “Not all premier trains are covered yet. Some of the trains covered under the project included Mumbai Rajdhani, Howrah Rajdhani, Dibrugarh Rajdhani, Sealdah Duronto and Shatabdi trains for Bhopal, Kanpur and Amritsar,” the official said.

The facility would be extended to all major trains in the next 18 months and the railways has allocated Rs 121 crore for the project, he said.

“It will cost about Rs 50,000 to install a receiver on the locomotive for making the system operational. There will be a centre at New Delhi for receiving data from across the country,” the official said.

A lesson for train commuters on screen

Those who commute by train can now heave a sigh of relief. According to the Government Railway Police, there has been a dip in property crime on trains. Most of the offences were committed on trains at the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border and sometimes in trains from Kerala, police officers say.

A total of 16 major crimes, including stealing of suitcases and jewels, took place last year, but this year, only 11 have been reported till date.

To educate passengers across the state, especially at smaller stations, inspector S. Sekar of the Government Railway Police, with the help of an aspiring film director, has come out with a short film on crimes committed on trains. “People who often travel by train have acted in the movie, which has been funded by a private trust,” said P. Madhavan, who directed the film.

Though there were six incidents of theft committed by mixing drugs in biscuits and cool drinks last year, none have been reported this year.

“Most thefts happen on Coromandel express and Grand Trunk Express, and mostly when they reach the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border. Many of the doping incidents happen on Bombay Mail and Trivandrum Express routes,” said Mr. Sekar.

Crimes are more frequently reported during summer holidays and festive seasons, when the number of commuters is on the higher side. “Our main headache was doping. But we have been able to bring it down this year by conducting many awareness drives to educate passengers on safety while travelling in trains,” Mr. Sekar said.

The two-minute film will be screened at all railway stations that have television sets, said deputy inspector general of police, railways, R. Dhinakaran.

“People become casual and less alert around their co-passengers on a train. The video depicts real life situations faced by passengers,” said divisional railway manager S. Anantharaman.

‘Three hoots alert’ for railway passengers

Train drivers will alert the passengers by giving three hoots when the chain is pulled unnecessarily. The passengers should become alert and keep away from the windows, according to press release of Dos and Don’ts by the Government Railway Police (GRP).

Railway Police Superintendent M. Naganna gave a list of precautions railway passengers should observe while travelling on trains. Advising passengers against carrying expensive jewellery and items while travelling, Mr. Naganna said that thieves were using several methods to steal.

Suitcases should be locked and chained to the seats. Women should cover mangalsutram if they open the window for air. He said jewellery should not be put in handbags or purses, because thieves learned to steal them while passengers were sleeping.

Passengers should be more alert when the rush was more because thieves were at their best in crowded trains.

First horticulture train leaves from Nashik

The first special horticulture train carrying onions from Nashik farmers left for Kolkata on Monday, providing a new avenue for transporting agricultural goods to distant places in the country in less time and expenditure.

The container rake docked at the Kherwadi railway station, north of the Nashik Road station, to receive the cargo. The horticulture express, according to officials, would deliver consignments to Chitpur near Kolkata, covering 1,800km in 36 hours. Currently, onions are transported by trucks that need at least 120 hours for the journey.

The dedicated special train, designed to carry agricultural produce across the country, has been introduced jointly by the National Horticulture Board and the Container Corporation of Railways (ConCor). It will help farmers and traders from Nashik to reach markets in West Bengal in less time and costs, A Farooq, an agent who booked the train at Kherwadi in Nashik district said. Kherwadi is a centrally located railway station having proximity to Niphad, Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, major onion producing towns in the country.

“We used to transport onions in goods trains earlier as well, but the box wagons were less helpful for transportation as they generally had no ventilation and the doors had to be kept open, though they were sealed by wooden planks. This led to theft of the produce. Now we have specially designed containers which have good ventilation, which will also help increase the shelf life of the produce,” Farooq said.

Earlier, it would take more than 120 hours at the cost of Rs 40,000 per container to transport 16 tonne of onions, while the same will now cost Rs 32,000 and travel time will be just 36 hours, Farooq said.

The Nashik director of the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), R P Gupta, said that the train would help give a boost to traders and growers in the region.

“The traders and the growers, so also the consumers, will benefit from the reduced time of travel between the two destinations. The design of the containers is almost satisfactory because we feel that some more ventilation has to be added to it. The ventilation on the top, bottom and sides is good, but more is required at the centre, front and rear ends as well,” Gupta noted.

Small traders and farmers to benefit

Small farmers and traders, who had to cough up huge sums to transport goods to Kolkata, won’t have to bear with carting agents anymore as the new train promises to deliver goods, even in small quantities, to the unit of one container without agents or middleman, Changdeorao Holkar, managing committee member, National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation, said.

“Even small farmers who wish to transport goods to various destinations now have the chance to do so without coughing up huge sums to middle-men or clearing agents. All that farmers and agents have to do is go to the Railways and book one or two containers, as per their requirement, make the payment and fix the date when the rake will available for transport,” Holkar said.

Published in: on June 23, 2012 at 3:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Rail bridge over Chenab will be world’s highest

The world’s highest railway bridge — five times the height of Qutub Minar and 35 metres taller than Eiffel Tower — will come up over the Chenab river on the under construction rail link to the Kashmir Valley.

The bridge will rise 359 metres over the Chenab, 65 km from Katra, on the 73-km Katra-Dharam section of the ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project. This section alone will cost around Rs 5,005 crore.

Konkan Railway Corporation, with experience of building 179 major bridges on the path-breaking rail link through the Konkan region, will execute this particular section.

The 1,315-metre bridge will use up 25,000 million tonnes of steel and will be an engineering marvel. “Work is going on in full swing,” said Rajesh Agarwal, general manager, Konkan Railways.

The world’s tallest rail bridge is on France’s Tarn river and its tallest pillar rises 340 metres while the actual height at which trains run on the bridge is 300 metres. “The Chenab bridge will be the highest in the world,” Northern Railway chief administrative officer Chahatey Ram said.

Observing that wind speed at the height of 359 metres may go up to 266 kmph, the engineers have decided not to allow trains crossing the Chenab bridge if the wind velocity is more than 90 kmph. The railways has designed the signalling system at the bridge in such a manner that it shows the stop light automatically when wind speed is more than 90 kmph.

Considering the inaccessible terrain of the Himalayan mountains, the bridge will get a special coat of paint with a life span of around 35 years to protect it from the tough weather.

Besides the steep topography and fragile geology, engineers constructing the Katra-Dharam line also have to factor in security concerns. While Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force provide security to engineers and workers implementing the project, the support of locals is coming in handy. “Only two incidents of terrorists targeting the project have been reported since work was started,” said Shovkat Malik, SSP, GRP, Kashmir Range.

The railways has constructed a helipad to transport construction material and equipment. For the 73-km section which involves construction of 63 km of tunnels and 7.5 km of bridges, Konkan Railways is constructing 176 km of roads to access the project sites. Railways has already constructed 104 km of roads which is giving connectivity to remote villages which were till now inaccessible.

Central Railway e-plan puts RTI applications on fast track

Central Railway (CR) is planning to use information technology to ensure quicker disposal of RTI queries and make the process more transparent.

During 2011-12, CR dealt with 8,147 RTI applications, 1,344 first appeals and 175 second appeals. Twenty-seven public information officers (PIOs) deal with information requests filed across five divisions. “An application may be filed in Mumbai, but the information may have to be collected from another division or a workshop within the city,” a senior CR official said.

“We used to send the application by post and this caused delays. Moreover, we would have to make photocopies of the application for our record before dispatching the request. The entire process was tedious,” he added. Under the new system it is easy to track RTI queries. “After a request for information is received it is scanned, assigned a unique number and uploaded on the intranet. PIOs can access the applications online and collate data from relevant sources,” said an official.

“Every RTI application is forwarded to all 27 PIOs and is tracked online. This has reduced paperwork,” said VA Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer of CR.

“Employees dealing with RTI queries were trained at Indian Institute of Public Administration in Bengaluru. We will have an in-house magazine ‘Prabhodini’ dedicated to issues related to RTI,” Malegaonkar added.


• After an RTI query is received it is scanned and assigned a unique number and uploaded on the CR intranet

• PIOs access the applications online and collate data from relevant sources

• Every RTI application is forwarded to all 27 PIOs and is tracked online. The initiative has improved scrutiny and reduced paperwork, claim CR officials.