Central Railway gets cracking on 15-car train project

Central Railway (CR) has begun work on running 15-car services on between Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus and Kalyan by carrying out extension of the length of platforms.

The work on extending the platform is being carried out at platforms at Byculla, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Mulund and Dombivli stations.

senior CR official said, “Our target is run as many as 10 services by October 2012. Apart from extending the work on the platform, we also have to undertake modification of yard or relocation of signal, wherever necessary.”

Unlike WR, CR has decided to first extend the length of platforms where halts will be provided for 15 -car services. Western Railway (WR) introduced 15-car services rakes on its suburban section in 2009. They halt at all the stations between Borivli and Virar, except Naigaon.

The official explained, “On WR halts for 15-car services at many stations were provided months after the services was introduced. For example, it has not yet provided halt at Naigaon station as the work on extending the length of platform is still under progress.”

Fifteen-car services on CR will originate and terminate from CST as well as Kurla, Dadar, Thane and Kalyan. The services will be planned without drastically altering the time-table, he added.

The fifteen car services will be increase the carrying capacity of at least 10 services on CR by 33 per cent when compared with 12-car services.

The number of services on CR is 1,573, including 208 services on the Thane-Vashi-Nerul-Panvel-Trans habour route; 580 services are on the Harbour line, of which 172 operate between CST and Bandra, and CST and Andheri. It has already augmented all its 785 services to 12-car from 9-car.


Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

AC double-decker trains on Mumbai-Ahmedabad route likely by Aug 15

AC double-decker trains on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, as announced in the last railway budget, are expected to ply by this Independence Day.

The air-conditioned coaches for the service reached Ahmedabad this week from the Kapurthala coach factory and they are expected to be cleared by the Railway Safety commissioner soon.

The double-decker services on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Jaipur-Delhi routes were announced in the last railway budget, but they could not be started last year after the manufacturing of coaches got delayed.

“This week, the modified double-decker coaches came to Ahemadabad; as trials of this train have already been undertaken by another A/c double decker train allotted for Jaipur-Delhi route and modifications were also done accordingly, only a clearance certificate from the Commissioner of Safety is required,” a senior railway official said.

The trial runs were conducted in April and a double decker coach allotted to North Western Railway for the Jaipur-Delhi route was used for the purpose.

These coaches have LHB fiat rubber bogies with air spring with secondary suspension like Volvo buses, which controls the jerks while travelling.

Train no 12931 will leave Mumbai Central at 6 am and reach Ahmedabad at 1 pm. In the return direction, train no 12932 will leave Ahmedabad at 2.20 pm and reach Mumbai Central at 9.40 pm.

The train will run on all days except Sundays and it will halt at Boivali.

While a conventional compartment is able to carry around 64 passengers, the AC trains will have room for at least 35.


Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 8:12 am  Comments (2)  

NWR’s double-decker train ready to be flagged off

The much-awaited double-decker train scheduled to run between Jaipur and Delhi has finally got safety clearance from Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS), which was the biggest hurdle in its operation. The authorities of the North Western Railways (NWR) are now waiting for the railway board to announce the official date to run the train between the two stations.
It may be recalled that the first ever double-decker train for Rajasthan reached Jaipur on April 11 this year and was handed over to NWR.
“The safety clearance has been given to us by CRS. Thus, we have asked the officials of the concerned departments and NWR’s Jaipur division to be ready for operations,” said a senior officer of NWR. The officials claimed that the train could chug off from the first week of August.
“The ongoing Jaipur-Delhi non-stop has been extended till July 20. If this does not get extension, we hope to replace it with the double-decker that would also be operated on the same time table. One cannot speculate the dates but it appears that we will have permission,” said an officer.
However, there is a possibility that it may be chugged off from August 1.
Lalit Bohara, chief public relations officer of NWR said that the officials of the Jaipur division are ready and are awaiting the final dates. “It can start any time now since we have got safety clearances. The dates would be finalized by the railway board,” Bohara added.
Earlier, NWR authorities were waiting for safety clearance and permission for its maiden run from the railway board.
The train had already had two successful trial runs between Jaipur and Delhi. The double-decker train was announced by former rail minister Mamata Banerjee in her budget for 2011-12.

Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 8:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Alstom to make Sri City a global sourcing hub

For the French multinational Alstom, setting up of a rolling stock manufacturing unit at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh could be the beginning of a new phase in its transport business in India.

Though the facility is being created initially to make coaches for the Chennai Metro, it could become a sourcing hub for its projects in India and other countries.

According to Mr Henri Poupart Lafarge, President, Alstom’s transport business, the Sri City venture was in line with the company’s strategy to be closer to its clients as also an indicator of its expanding global footprint.

“Sri City factory is not only to cater to our operations in India but also to the rest of the world; we are pushing our global footprint towards the fastest growing markets that includes India, Latin America and the Middle East,” Mr Lafarge said.

Alstom will spend €30 million to develop the Sri City facility. The investment may not be large, considering similar manufacturing projects in the automotive sector. But the project will bring in new technology and engineering capabilities that could help make modern metro trains locally.

Initially, the extent of indigenisation will be 40 cent, but will eventually go up to 80 per cent, he said. Besides, the projects could attract investments in India by Alstom’s global vendors and also fuel development of domestic ancillary units.

The facility, being built in an area of 156 acres, is scheduled for commissioning in this September. The first set of rolling stock is expected to roll out in January, 2014.

The fists set of steel cars for the Chennai Metro is being built in Alstom’s factory in Brazil. The cars built in India too will be identical.

The €243-million order from the Chennai Metro Rail for supply of 168 cars seems to have encouraged Alstom to explore other metro projects in the country more vigorously.

Mr Lafarge believes that the company is well placed to take advantage of the growing opportunities in metro rail projects in India, despite tough competition from other global players.

Talking to a group of visiting Indian journalists in Paris, he said, the company will bid for the third phase of the Delhi Metro and other projects in the country. Earlier, Alstom had supplied the signalling system for the Delhi Metro. It also has a contract from the Bangalore Metro for signalling equipment.

The company has an order for the train control system for Jaipur metro. Other urban rail projects, including Kochi Metro, Hyderabad, expansions in Bangalore and Kolkata are expected to come up in the near future.

Alstom’s Bangalore facility provides application engineering for a number of its projects in Europe and Asia. The centre is now being converted into a group R&D centre.

Alstom, a major player in building high-speed trains, also sees opportunities in India, where it had associated with Indian Railways in the past. Its Coimbatore unit, set up in 1999, manufactures a range of traction and signalling equipment mainly for the Indian market.

Globally, transport business contributes only 25 per cent of the company’s revenue as the major share comes from the power business. This is the case in India too.

However, Mr Lafarge expects transport business to grow faster in the emerging markets with a number of cities planning metro rail services.

Despitethe Euro zone financial crisis, Alstom continues to have orders in the homemarket. Currently the company is engaged in a major project for automating line-1of the Paris Metro.

Dedicated Freight Corridor to prosperity

The ministry of railways has embarked on an ambitious project of connecting the four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai through the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). The existing capacity on the trunk routes between these cities is over-saturated, and needs to be freed up for transporting higher volumes of freight traffic. The first phase of the project will consist of two routes: the Eastern Corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni and the Western Corridor from Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Mumbai to Dadri near Delhi. These will comprise mostly of double track railway lines capable of handling 32.5 ton axle load, longer trains and also double stack containers. When completed, they will provide a faster, and safer transport system that will run at reduced unit cost, enhancing not only railway’s share of the freight transport business but also releasing capacity for the large passenger market in the densely populated regions. It will also reduce the level of emission of greenhouse gases by encouraging a modal shift from road to rail.

With the surge of containerised maritime freight, and development of more efficient freight distribution systems, freight corridors are receiving a growing level of attention. The idea behind a rail corridor is rather simple: just like trucks, the trains must have the opportunity to run in one move from the originating point to the destination. Several countries are now veering round to the view that greater freight volumes can be carried by creating dedicated railway lines to goods traffic and eliminating bottlenecks and interference with passenger trains. At the same time, the cost of rail transport must be reduced in order to make it competitive with road transport. By linking major hubs to which freight flows converge, these transport corridors help in serving the markets better. They lead to better integration between production and distribution centres and also a greater reliability of distribution. By bringing about greater efficiencies in production systems and supply chains they accelerate the pace of economic development. There is also the objective of optimising railway’s role in the multi-modal transport chain and services and developing valuable synergies with shipping companies, ports, inter-modal operators, freight customers and all stakeholders in the global logistics system.

In some regions, which have a grouping of many smaller countries, speedier freight transport can lead to closer economic integration. In the European Union, for instance, construction of dedicated freight corridors is high on the agenda. The Community of European Railways (CER) has promoted special studies on six major European corridors dedicated to freight on which the project European Railway Infrastructure Master Plan (ERTMS) is proposed to be implemented. In signing the Rotterdam Declaration (2010) ten European transport ministers have reinforced and confirmed their intent to cooperate in the development of European rail freight corridors and allow them to grow together into networks.

In US, because of a huge surge in demand for freight haulage in the country, which is predicted to increase by 92 per cent between 2002 and 2035, billions of dollars are being invested to build new corridors for handling cargo that is increasing as a result of a rising population and the accumulating supply of commodities. It is also felt that there will be huge fuel savings by switching freight from highways to rail. US economists estimate that a 10 per cent shift from road to rail can cause national fuel savings of more than a billion gallons a year, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 12 million tons.

China too is moving in a big way in expanding capacity for rail freight by creating 12,000 kms of high-speed dedicated passenger lines between major provincial centres. The existing tracks will then be used to accommodate growing demand for freight that will more than double the rail transport capacity in such corridors. It is the other way about in India where a freight-only corridor has been preferred over the dedicated passenger corridor, as it is estimated that the investment required for the latter will be much greater, and with relatively lower returns. Additionally, heavy investments will be required for augmenting capacity on existing networks to handle the growing freight business.

The World Bank and Japanese financial agencies have extended loans to the Indian Railways to finance identified segments of the project. However, there is no clarity as yet on the source and availability of the balance funds. Delays in execution of the project also have to be factored in as these can escalate the costs further. The cost for the two corridors has escalated to nearly `77, 000 crore from the originally estimated `28, 000 crore. With the marked slowdown in the economy the forecasts of traffic growth and revenue may also require to be reworked to more realistic figures.

As the cost and time overruns of the project were rising beyond acceptable levels, the Prime Minister’s Office stepped in and conducted a detailed review of the project last February. Thereafter, it took the decision to monitor its progress directly, clearly conveying its annoyance to the railways for the latter’s lackadaisical approach in handling this project. While this should stir the railways to action, it is equally important that the public is at all times kept informed of what is being done to expedite completion of the work. This will serve as an image building exercise for the railways, because all said and done, DFC happens to be one of the biggest infrastructure projects that is being undertaken in the country.

Freight corridors with the potential of carrying high volumes for longer distances, that can help reduce costs sufficiently to compete with road, form a very small minority of route kilometres on most national railway networks, and in some countries do not exist at all. If, therefore, the DFC is able to achieve its performance targets, it will on the one side accelerate India’s GDP growth, and on the other, establish benchmarks that other countries, still in the process of planning similar corridors, can aim at. The government must, therefore, ensure that the project continues to move in top gear.

S N Mathur is former MD, Indian Railways Finance Corporation.

E-mail: mathur.surendra@gmail.com


City-wide Metro network may start operating by 2015

The city’s Metro network will be the second widest after Delhi, with the railways already allocating much of the funds for the construction of Metro tentacles across the metropolis and beyond.

The railways have already started simultaneous constructions at a never-seen-before speed at alignments like Joka-BBD Bag, New Garia-Airport and Dum Dum-Barasat via Airport. The Metro railway authority has set a deadline of 2015 by which the entire network is likely to become operative.

For this financial year, the railways have allocated Rs 750 crore for Joka-BBD Bag metro, Rs 1050 crore for Noapara-Barasat via Airport and Rs 1050 crore for New Garia-Airport. This is the highest ever allocation for any railway project in a metropolitan by the railways, said a senior Metro Railway official.

The railways have also changed the Dum Dum-Airport alignment. Earlier it was thought that the Metro up line from Dum Dum would touch Noapara, Ramkrishna Pally and Shantinagar before reaching Airport and the down line would touch Noapara, Dum Dum Cantonment, Jessore Road and Airport. “However, to bring down the cost, we have changed the alignment. The alignment from Noapara to Airport via Jessore Road will be double-line for both way movements.”

In fact, the airport will also be connected by the 32-km New Garia-Airport via Rajarhat alignment. Both the Dum Dum-Airport and the New Garia-Airport alignments will go underground. There will be direct access from the Airport underground Metro station to the integrated airport terminal though a giant escalator. The Dum Dum-Airport alignment will go underground after reaching Jessore Road and New Garia-Airport alignment will go underground after reaching VIP Road.

The 5.2-km Dum Dum-Dakshineswar alignment will run on an elevated track and will be further extended by 12.5 km till Barrackpore. “The constructions are on real fast-track, as we don’t face land acquisition hurdle. The project sites are mostly on vested land and we have taken utmost care to be less invasive as far as razing properties are concerned,” said Metro Rail spokesman Pratyush Ghosh.

“There will be interchanging facilities for the passengers from one Metro corridor to another and also from suburban train services of Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway. For instance, the interchange between north-south and east-west Metro would be at Central station. Similarly, the interchange between Joka-BBD Bag and north-south Metro would be at Park Street,” the spokesperson said.

With these ever increasing tentacles of Metro network, a few suburban railway stations would be very important for their interface with Metro rail. For instance, Dum Dum will be an important stations where both north-south Metro, airport alignment and north-suburban railway will have an interface, said a metro spokesperson

“So, we are asking the state government to upgrade the existing dispersal system, otherwise there will be complete chaos outside the station during the peak hours, once the entire operation starts functioning.” Besides, we have plans to introduce the common ticket system for the commuters who need to avail themselves of different modes of rail transport to reach their destinations,” the spokesperson added.

With the introduction of a Rs 56-crore automatic fare collection ( AFC) and new ticketing system, the Kolkata Metro is also going snazzy. Three air-conditioned rakes have been introduced, giving much-needed respite to commuters in the sultry weather.


Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 7:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Concor to set up 3 logistics parks in State

Container Corporation of India Ltd, a public sector unit under the Ministry of Railways, plans to set up three logistics parks in West Bengal at an estimated investment of Rs 150 crore. This is part of the company’s plan to set up 15 such hubs across the country.

According to Mr Sanjay Swarup, Group General Manager of Concor, the corporation has identified land at Durgapur in Burdwan district, Dankuni in Hooghly district, and Siliguri in North Bengal, for developing these multi-modal facilities. One such park will require nearly 100 acres of land. These parks will have facilities like warehouses, container yards and cold chains under one roof.

“The land acquisition process is on for these parks. While the Railways will provide the land at Durgapur and Dankuni, we are in talks with the State Government for land in Siliguri,” Mr Swarup said here on Tuesday. He was addressing a seminar on logistics organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Apart from three parks in West Bengal, Concor has identified three locations in Andhra Pradesh; four in Odisha; one each in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan; and two in Uttarakhand, for setting up such facilities.

Mr Swarup said Concor is trying to speed up the land acquisition process.

Rail Freight Corridor

On the occasion, Mr H. D. Gujrati, Executive Director of Railway Board, said the commissioning of dedicated freight corridors along the Eastern and Western regions, is expected before March 2017.

The 1,839-km freight corridor will cover Dankuni in West Bengal to Ludhiana in Punjab. Meanwhile, the 1,480-km western corridor will connect Dadri in Uttar Pradesh with Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra.



(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 25, 2012)

Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 7:38 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

1st class tourist ticket fares up from Aug 1

Commuters who wish to travel by the first class on purchase of tourist tickets will have to pay higher fare from August 1. The new tariff was approved by the railway board on July 24.
Under the tourist ticket scheme, passengers can travel unlimited times during its validity from any station on the suburban sections of Central and Western Railway. A senior railway official said the fare for tourist ticket for first class was Rs 170 (1 day), Rs 330 (3 days) and Rs 390 (5 days).
According to the new chart, the fare will be now be Rs 210 (for 1 day), Rs 365 (3 days) and Rs 430 (5 days). However, there will be no change in the tariff of second class tourist tickets.
Sources said the railways sold at least 2,000 first class passes in the categories while 1,100 tourists bought those for second-class. These tickets are issued maximum 3 days in advance, excluding the first day of validity. No refund is admissible on unused/partially used tourist tickets. But tourist tickets booked in advance can be cancelled before the day of validity on which charges of Rs 10 for second class and Rs 20 for first class per passenger will be deducted.


Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 7:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Nagpur Division sets national benchmark for Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) signalling system

In 1999, Old Delhi’s stations route relay interlocking (RRI), an advanced signalling system having 1,124 routes entered the record books for being commissioned in 48 hours. After 13 years, Nagpur Central Railway has scripted history by commissioning a RRI system with 533 routes in just two-and-a-half-hours without any hiccups.

RRI is the system used at large and busy stations having large number of train movements. In this, an entire route through the station can be selected and all associated points and signals along the route can be set at once by pressing two buttons for receiving or dispatching trains.

“Conventionally, commissioning of major yards of size comparable to Nagpur takes at least 96 hours with large-scale traffic disruption. Had we followed the old system, at least 600 trains would have been disturbed, but we accomplished the task in which 10% trains were affected,” said divisional railway manager (DRM) Brijesh Dixit.

Reviewing the RRI success after commissioning it a month ago, Dixit told TOI the results were evident. Entry and exit of trains at Nagpur has become safer, smoother and reliable. Now more signalled shunting is possible.

“Now we can manage all the four up and down lines simultaneously for movement of goods train in the yard. Earlier, only two lines could be operated. Secondly, restriction on trains moving to Itwari side have also been removed with the withdrawal of two diamond crossings at Howrah end,” Dixit said.

The commissioning of RRI was done after a lot of brainstorming and meticulous planning. In 2008, Pune RRI with 425 routes was commissioned in 120 hours. In Nagpur, 533 routes were commissioned in 18 hours (yard remodelling in 15.5 hours and actual RRI commissioning in 2.5 hours). Now Dixit is flooded with calls from his counterparts all over India asking how he made it possible.

“It is all team work,” said Dixit modestly. “We adopted a functional approach. It was like keeping a patient conscious while performing an open heart surgery. The life of new system will be 25 years,” he said.

“First, all points, then track circuits and signals were shifted on new cable and patched with old panel during the preparatory stage. This entire exercise was done without causing a single detention,” said Dixit.

Normally, getting Railway Board recognition is tough in railways, but board chairman Vinay Mittal announced an award of Rs 1 lakh for the feat. Besides, Central Railway general manager Subodh Jain announced an award of Rs 5 lakh to all departments involved.

Sudeep Shrivastava, deputy chief signalling and telecommunication engineer (construction), and others involved in project admit that situation in Nagpur was complicated compared to Delhi, Mumbai and Howrah where most of the trains terminate.

“Nagpur yard has most of the trains passing through it and hence any long duration working would have crippled operations in both north-south and east-west directions. We completed the work with bare minimum disruption,” said Shrivastava.

Safer, smoother, reliable

* Operational flexibility enhanced as signalled movements increase from 369 to 533 in new RRI

* At Ajni end there will be more operational options

* Run through facility from Nagpur goods yard to Ajni yard

* Speed restrictions removed near diamond crossing

* Additional route for despatch of trains from platform no. 4, 5 and 6

* Entry and exit of trains has become more safer and smoother


Konkan Railway bags turnaround trophy

Konkan Railway has received the Turnaround Trophy from Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises for the posting profits three years in a row.

Konkan Railway project was commenced in 1990 and completed in 1998 at a cost of Rs 3,555 crore, connecting the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and Kerala.

The project however suffered from cost and time overruns and due to the heavy financial burdens, the Konkan Railway Corporation was listed as Sick & Loss Making PSU.

However, Konkan Railway emerged out to be a profit-making organization for the first time 2009-10.

Its 760-kilometre line connects Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala – a region of criss-crossing rivers, plunging valleys and mountains.