Drive-in platform at Bhopal station by yr-end

The city of lakes will join the league of metros–Mumbai and Kolkata– after drive-in platform at the main station of the railway division of West Central Railways (WCR) comes up, expectedly at the end of year.

The new platform No. 6 is coming up at the cost of around Rs 9.5 crore as part of the plans to turn main station into model one, officials said. Right now, Mumbai and Kolkata are having drive-in platforms, officials added.

“The work of platform without a roof cover is going at a fast pace, officials said. “Once it is constructed, we will see response. Thereafter, we are going to add many features to it,” they said.

Apart from number No. six platform, efforts are on to lay a new foot-over-bridge from platform No. one to six at an estimated cost of Rs 4.5 crore as part of the main station up-gradation plan, officials said.

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Open to the tracks toilets make way for bio-toilets

The Indian Railways is replacing the existing open to the tracks toilets with brand new bio-toilets. The aim is simple: prevent corrosion of tracks and provide stench-free toilets to passengers.

“Some green toilets are already being manufactured and fitted in coaches, and we plan to manufacture 2500 bio-toilets in the current year,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The problem of environmental degradation and corrosion of tracks due to night soil (night soil is a euphemism for human excrement collected at night from cesspool, privies, etc) has been a long standing one. Rail corrosion costs the railways more than Rs. 350 crore every year.

“Our aim is to replace the existing toilets with bio-toilets in all long distance trains,” the official said.

The official said that the complete switch over to bio-toilets in new coaches will be carried out by 2016-17 while the total elimination of direct discharge toilet system in all passenger coaches will be done by 2021-22, the end of 13th Five-Year Plan.

The Kakodkar Committee on railway safety and Pitroda Committee on railway modernisation had strongly recommended in their reports for replacing the conventional open-discharge toilets with green toilets with a view to having cleaner, hygienic and safer railway ecosystem.

Five years and 43,000 carriages

Both the panels’recommended that toilets with nil or harmless discharge be installed within the next five years in all 43,000 carriages used by the Railways.

Waste is dumped directly on to the tracks because of the existing toilet system in trains.

Many passengers ignore requests to not use toilets when trains halt. Apart from the unbearable stench it creates, the practice leads to clogging of rail lines at busy stations.

Bio-toilets are already operational in some coaches as part of a pilot project. “Some modifications are being made during the trial and now the new technology will be extended to as many trains,” said the official.

Besides DRDO designed bio-toilets, trials for vacuum toilets are also being planned in a few premier trains.PTI

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rlys look to PM for one-time grant to revamp safety

The cashstrapped railways is planning to approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a onetime financial grant to revamp its safety-related infrastructure.
After several requests for financial assistance were turned down, the transporter has prepared a detailed project report of several specific work that need urgent attention and are critical for passenger safety. “The report is ready and is expected to be put up before the Prime Minister’s Office very soon,” an official said.
The railways is hopeful of getting help after Trinamool Congress, which holds the portfolio, seems to have made peace with UPA and has extended support to presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
The finance ministry under Mukherjee had rejected the railways’ pleas for financial support, asking the transporter to hike passenger fares on which it is incurring a loss of Rs 20,000 crore every year.
Sources said railway minister Mukul Roy will take up the matter with the PM, seeking a one-time grant on the lines of the Special Railway Safety Fund. The fund was set up with the Centre’s grant of Rs 17,000 crore when Nitish Kumar was minister during the NDA regime.
Roy has already discussed the matter with the PM and has briefed him about the poor financial heath of the transporter.

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Managing waste at Capital’s major railway stations

At 10 in the morning, Roshan Kumar is negotiating one of the busiest hours of his daily work on platform No.16 at New Delhi railway station. The New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express has just chugged in and Roshan’s job is to ensure that sufficient number of waste pickers enter the train to pick the leftover food, papers, bottles, plastic packets, plates, glasses and all else considered waste before it goes to the depot.

Each of the 10 boys belonging to the organisation, Safai Sena – which comprises 22,000 kura and kabariwallahs from Delhi-NCR – carries a black plastic gunny bag to fill the waste and carts them away to a shed at the far end of the station. “The waste gets segregated at the shed,” says Roshan. The bottles are separated and machine-crushed to make granules. The papers are set aside in sacks. Juice and chips packets, plastics, match box, etc. are taken out of the wet waste. “The leftover is taken to the Okhla landfill.”

On the eve of the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the Northern Railway provided training to Roshan and a dozen others on waste segregation and recycling plastic bottles. When some months later, it floated tenders to let out the work of clearing waste from dustbins at all the four major railway stations of Delhi, and also to pick waste from Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains that reach the city every day, Safai Sena was chosen to do the job. “We got the contract in November 2011,” says Jai Prakash Chaudhary, secretary of Safai Sena, a unit mobilised by Delhi-based NGO Chintan in 2009.

Divided into two shifts, 70 Sena members work round the clock at the New Delhi station alone. “Most people work here only. Since no Rajdhani or Shatabdi train goes to the Old Delhi railway station, we clean only the bins there and segregate the waste. Same with the Hazrat Nizamuddin station. A few bottles come here from Anand Vihar station for recycling though,” says Chaudhary. The workers – between 20-50 years – are mostly from U.P., Bihar and West Bengal. For a salary of Rs. 6,000, they lug in every day about three tonnes of waste from the bins across the New Delhi station alone. “They bring in two tonnes of waste from the 15 Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains that reach the New Delhi station daily.”

Sena’s bottle-crushing unit handles roughly 150 bottles daily. “Once they become granules, they are put in sacks and taken to Bhogpura in Ghaziabad (where most members moved after their dwellings were removed from Geeta Colony). “They are washed there and sold to company suppliers,” says Roshan. Vijay Rai, the unit supervisor, says they work every day of the month. “Trains come everyday, so do we.”

Roshan recalls facing harassment at the platforms initially. “Even some railway workers stopped us because they used to earn money by selling empty bottles.” Things are better now, but he adds: “The police accuse our boys of stealing whenever a passenger’s belongings get lost. It demoralises them. We have been requesting them to stop kanglas (homeless rag-pickers) from entering trains so that we can ensure that nothing goes wrong.” Homeless rag-pickers pick whatever can be sold from the waste produced by other trains. The waste from the tracks is picked by railway janitors and dumped within the stations. At the New Delhi railwaystation, they drop them at a dump yard next to the Safai Sena shed. “We pick from it what can be recycled, rest they take to the landfills,” says Roshan.On platform No 16, he points at a dustbin dressed in a garbage bag. “We have our expenses, each bag costs Rs.3. There are about 250-300 bins in this station itself.” Some distance away, there is a bin without a bag. “A kangla must have taken it; we have no protection from them. There are 100-200 of them.”

So why not Sena involve them too? “Many are drug abusers and are petty thieves; we can’t get work out of them.”

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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AC double-decker trains 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.

Railways cuts telescopic benefits as freight moves shorter distances

As the distance that goods are moved through rail declines, the Railways plans to continue the trend of reducing telescopic benefit.

Mr K. K. Srivastav, Member – Traffic, Railway Board, told Business Line, “This (trend) will continue.”

The Indian Railways may have registered over five per cent growth in commodity loading in June 2012 year-on-year, but the average distance for which commodities are transported is down by over three per cent.

The Railways moved its customers’ cargo 638 km this June, against 658 km in June 2011.

The average lead was 679 km in 2010-11 and 676 km in 2009-10. To deal with this reduction in average distance, the Railways has been tweaking its freight rates in a manner so as to reduce the telescopic benefits, which it has traditionally given to customers.

Simply put, the progressive rate, at which the Railways charged lower for the longer distances, has sharply reduced.

This has helped the Railways register almost 27 per cent growth in earnings for moving a tonne of freight over a kilometre, but this is lower than the 23 per cent growth it has seen for every tonne of cargo.

However, the Government-run behemoth has set a target of increasing its average lead to 662 km in the current fiscal. For this, it could be helped by petroleum products, foodgrains, cement, steel, and domestic container movement. Those commodities that moved shorter distances include coal for thermal powerhouses and cement.

In June, the Railways moved 80.43 million tonnes of cargo, with a 5.23 per cent growth.

The freight earnings were at Rs 6,925 crore, up 29.21 per cent during the period.

Pipavav port handles record box trains in a day

Port Pipavav, situated in the Amreli district of Gujarat, on Thursday said that it set a new national record on July 17, 2012 by handling 14 container trains in a day. This is by far the largest number of container trains handled in a day by any container terminal in India, according to a company statement here.

From three to five trains per day in 2009, the port has steadily increased the rail frequency to 14 trains in a day in 2012. In June 2012, the port created a new benchmark for itself by handling 197 container trains in the month. Increasing volumes and operational efficiencies made it possible for the port to enhance rail volumes and frequency.

Mr C.K. Rajan, Head of Container Business at APM Terminals Pipavav, said that with the new rail-mounted gantry cranes scheduled to become operational in the fourth quarter this year, its efficiencies will improve further, attracting more cargo volumes at the port.

In 2011, the port handled 610,243 TEUs, an increase of 31% over 2010. In 2010, volumes grew by 45% and in 2009 it had grown by 65%.

Port Pipavav launched double stack container trains in India for the first time in 2006.

The port is now working towards making it a double stack high cube compatible corridor by the end of 2012. The port currently has eight railway sidings and will be adding three more as volumes grow further.

Simultaneously, the port has improved efficiencies in handling bulk cargo. A new Gottwald crane and new storage yards are already operational. So far, the port has predominantly handled coal and fertilizers and is planning to increase the number of commodities handled at the port. The new bagging plant will soon be commissioned.

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Record booking of 4.95 lakh e-tickets on July 13

Nearly five lakh train tickets were booked through the IRCTC’s e-ticketing website on July 13, a record single-day booking.

The website has achieved a record booking of 4.95 lakh e-tickets involving more than nine lakh passengers on last Friday, a senior IRCTC official said.

The IRCTC had recorded an average of 4.47 lakh e-tickets per day since the new timing for Tatkal tickets came into force on July 10 as against the 3.60 lakh average earlier.

Recently, Railways and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation have taken a slew of measures to help genuine customers to get tickets and to prevent unauthorised persons from booking them.

The opening timing of booking advance reservation period and Tatkal tickets have been segregated to 8 AM and 10 AM, respectively. Agents have been barred from booking tickets during initial two hours after the opening of counters and on the internet.

In order to improve the availability of website during the initial peak hours, IRCTC has augmented the infrastructure capacity including hardware, software and internet bandwidth.

With the implementation of above measures, the earlier abnormal pressure on the website has been reduced to a great extent, the official said.

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Railways to take passengers on a musical journey

A musical journey awaits passengers of premier trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi with Railways deciding to play classical sound tracks in coaches.

Instrumental music played by maestros like Ustad Bismillah Khan, TN Rajaratnam Pillai and Pandit Pannalal Ghosh will keep passengers entertained in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains which have a public announcement system in place.

Railways have sourced the music from the All India Radio library.

“We have sourced certain selected instrumental and Carnatic music from the All India Radio library. The AIR has permitted us to play the music in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Besides shehnai tracks by Ustad Bismillah Khan and sarod of Ustad Alluddin Khan, the offering includes rare raags on violin by Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, Nagaswaram of TN Rajaratnam Pillai and flute by TR Mahalingam and Pandit Pannalal Ghosh among others.

Other artists whose music will entertain train passengers include tabla by Ustad Ahmed Jaan Thirakwa, Dhrupad by Dagar brothers, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee on sitar, Radhika Mohan Maitra and Sharan Rani on sarod.

The ministry has given instruction to zonal railways that while playing the music, the region through which the train passes should be kept in mind.

Railways are also taking a number of initiatives for on-board entertainment of passengers.

“We are in the process of providing live TV facility in Shatabdis originating from New Delhi,” said the official.

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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RPF might be separated from railways

The Railway Protection Force ( RPF) is likely to be separated from the railways, and some plans are afoot in this regard.

While RPF sources said IB has given some reasons for it, it has not been decided when and how it will be done. But the RPF employees are apprehensive about it.

On some earlier occasions, although discussions on the issue were held, it is for first time when the question raised about separation of RPF from the railways, sources said.

If the IB report is implemented, the Central Government could take a decision to give responsibility of RPF to home ministry by year- end.

IB has raised several questions on the existence of RPF. Sources further said an association has been formed in RPF which is coming in the way of smooth working of the organisation.

Sources further said earlier an exercise was done to merge GRP with the district police but the state governments were opposed the proposal. As a result, the Central Government did not take any initiative towards this direction.

IB said the RPF staff was not properly trained to deal with the crimes taking place on trains.

During the last few years scenario of crime has changed but the RPF team has not changed.

IB further said even after several efforts, the trains and passengers are not safe. Working pattern of GRP has also been mentioned in the proposal. It was said that as two police forces work in the railways, they try to put the blame on each other, sources added. So, proper investigation of crimes could not be done and neither GRP, nor RPF take the responsibility for any crime.

RPF was given status of semi- military force on September 20, 1985 and ever since then it has been working to the status.

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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