Bogie mounted air brake system for coaches

Railway coaches sent for periodic overhaul (POH) to the railway workshop at Golden Rock are being equipped with bogie mounted air brake system replacing the normal system for effective braking and easier maintenance. The shift in the braking system is based on the recommendation of the Lucknow-headquartered Research Design and Standards Organisation, the sole research and development arm of the Indian Railways.

The bogie-mounted air brake system has been provided till now in a little over 150 BG passenger coaches that were put back into operation after the POH was done at Tiruchi workshop. This braking system has been provided in both air-conditioned and non-AC coaches.

Passenger coaches are usually sent for a POH once in 18 months to railway workshops located across the country including the one in Tiruchi which is presently engaged in a myriad of activities, including manufacture of steam locomotives and container wagons for the Container Corporation of India.

As part of POH, the braking system is being changed to bogie-mounted air brake type by carrying out necessary modifications in those passenger coaches which did not have this system, say workshop authorities.

The advantage of bogie-mounted air brake is that it provides effective braking and the system is easier for maintenance, say officials of the 87-year-old workshop which has been given a target to carry out POH of 840 passenger coaches in the current fiscal.

The authorities say newly-manufactured passenger coaches rolling out from Integral Coach Factory at Perambur in Chennai and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala have been provided with bogie-mounted air brake system.

In addition to POH of passenger coaches, the workshop had carried out intermediate overhaul of as many as 1,100 bogies till now in the current financial year.

New housing project for slum dwellers on Railway land

The Union Ministry for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) has identified sites for in situ rehabilitation of slums in the city. To be taken up on a pilot basis, the project will be initiated in slum clusters that have come up on Railway land and perilously close to the tracks in Zakhira and Choona Mandi.

A meeting of officials from HUPA and the Railway authorities was held recently to draw up a plan for clearing out the slums that have come up near the tracks. “There are about 9,000 hutments that have come up in these areas on Railway-owned land. The Ministry is now working out a plan to rehabilitate these people within one kilometre of their existing dwellings,” said an official who was part of the meeting.

While the land will be provided by the Railway authorities, the new houses will be constructed by the HUPA Ministry.

“There is an in principle agreement to carry out the rehabilitation work by the two Ministries. A joint task force has been set up to carry out surveys and work out the details of the project, under which flats in multi-storey buildings with basic amenities will be offered to these slum residents,” the official said.

Officials are also exploring the possibility of relaxing rules pertaining to density norms, floor area ratio, and height restrictions etc., to ensure the project is not stymied.

Details of financing the scheme are also yet to be firmed up, though it is possible that the HUPA will bear 50 per cent of the cost, with the Railways chipping in with 25 per cent and the remainder will be borne by the allottees with assistance from the Rajiv Rin Yojna, a loan scheme for lower income groups.

“It [the project] is still in the nascent stages, but the idea is to not only remove these hutments that are dangerously close to the Railway tracks, but also improve the living conditions of the people who live there. We are keen on in-situ rehabilitation, because our experience shows that whenever rehabilitation has been carried out at a distance farther away from the slums, a lot of people are hesitant to move, because it impacts their work and livelihood. We are therefore, eager to ensure that rehabilitation is holistic,” the official said.

HUPA Minister Ajay Maken had recently written to Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna to ensure that slum cluster residents and hawkers in the city are not removed without providing in-situ rehabilitation. The Minister’s intervention came in the wake of representations and complaints made by slum dwellers, alleging harassment by the local authorities.

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rail Radar to guide passengers through the fog

Panicking in a dense fog at Odhaniya Chacha, an unfamiliar station in Rajasthan, and unable to get any response from a gawky officials at a half-open information counter? Try the Indian Railways’ new offering: Rail Radar.

With an interactive Google map, this new software, designed by the railway ministry’s IT wing Centre for Railway Information Systems, is a live tracker of all passenger train traffic in real time and was launched just before winter set in.

“Map your trains live. Train travel made easy,” said Sunil Bajpai at CRIS, while sharing the new software, available at The software is available in the form of a website and an Android app. It allows users to continuously watch the movement, with a graphic description, of trains that are currently running in India.

The colour coding: blue for ontime and red for delayed trains. There is a box that deals with trains affected, in a span of 24 hours, by fog alone. There is even a tab showing the expected time of arrival (ETA) using an algorithm that is fed inputs from the local control offices and monitoring stations.

“This is one of our endeavours to eliminate inconvenience to people. The family members now need not come to stations and wait for hours,” said railway minister Pawan Bansal. For the extra curious, there is an option that gives passengers the route covered by a specific train and the trains arriving at and departing from a particular station.

The system has a minor accuracy offset. “The data is refreshed every 5 minutes. Plus, there is no control on weather, breakdowns and congestions,” said CRIS managing director Vikram Chopra. Also, cargo and goods trains have been kept out of the application. Some officials have raised security concerns with tracking trains. “The assertion that knowing a train’s whereabouts or routing promotes terror or is a security risk is baseless paranoia,” said the CRIS official.

R-Infra in race to build elevated rail corridor

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has joined the race to build the $4 billion Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor, the largest infrastructure project in the offering under the public-private-partnership (PPP) model.

“We have attended the pre-bid meeting and will submit our bids by first week of March, before which the railways are likely to sort out issues like the state support agreement and land acquisition,” said a source from RInfra. The request for quotes (RFQ) submission is due on March 8, 2013.

R-Infra, which reported 78% increase in its December quarter net profits to Rs 728 crore, will have to compete with infra majors like L&T, IL&FS & GMR, Gammon and CAF of Spain, who have also expressed desire to bid for the project.

The project will be offered under the design, build, finance, operate & transfer (DBFOT) model and will provide air-conditioned metro like experience to commuters.

The 63km route will have a 43km elevated section and 8km underground section with 26 stations in-between. SYSTRA & RITES are the technical consultants for the project. The winning bidder is expected to complete the project in five years.

The railways ministry expects 1.7 million commuters to take this corridor in 2019-20. R-Infra is also implementing its first Metro project in Mumbai, which will be operational later this year.

“R-Infra with its experience in Metro will be serious participants. We are developing the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line and are wellversed with the project issues in Mumbai and in particular to the project alignment,” said the source.

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Country’s first 24×7 prepaid auto booth

A prepaid booth promises well deserved respite from overcharging for commuters at the railway station. This is the first booth in the country that will operate 24X7. All the other booths function only till the evening.

The booth, established jointly by Government Railway Police (GRP, Haryana) and Northern Railways, is managed by GRP, Haryana. GRP staff conducted verification of all auto drivers who operate from the railway station. Thereafter, auto drivers were roped in under the scheme, which was launched on January 23. Commuters make the payment in advance at the railway station.

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Railways plan to do away with pantry cars aboard trains

The Indian Railways are planning to do away with cooking arrangements in pantry cars and instead aiming setting up 250 base kitchens across the country to prepare about six lakh meals and snacks a day.

The base kitchens, proposed to be set up at all major stations, including New Delhi, Nizamuddin, Old Delhi, Howrah, Patna, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar and other originating stations and junctions, will prepare the meals in hygenic conditions, said a senior railway ministry official involved with catering service.

“Pantry cars in trains will be no longer used for preparing foods but for storing meals and snacks prepared in the base kitchens,” the official said, adding that “Only hot beverages like tea, coffee and soup will be prepared in pantry cars.”

There are 302 mail and express trains having pantry cars for preparing and serving food to onboard passengers. Currently, the Railways provide about six lakh meals and snacks a day, including the 91,000 meals being served in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains.

“The aim is to provide quality, hygienic food to the passengers,” he said, and added, “The base kitchens will be set up on railway land near the stations.” The Railway will give land at a nominal fee of Rs1 per sq feet to caterers for setting up the base kitchens.

The total volume of food business in the Railways is estimated to be around Rs 2000 crore a year.

Meanwhile, the Railways are finalising a common bidding format across the country for providing branded food items.

The national transporter will empanel brands for certain items and make it mandatory for caterers to invest in base kitchens.

The bidding norms have provisions to prevent only a few catering firms from cornering a large share of business.

The bidding in catering service is expected to begin by May this year.

Indian Railways to get Saravana Bhavan-Kamat Food on board

Indian Railways has effected yet another hike in catering and locker as well as dormitory services.

Indian Railways has decided to do away with pantry car services in all trains and instead set up base kitchens in all railway junctions and major starting destinations. The pantry car services are being controlled by two contractors hailing from Kolkata and more so brothers with one base being from Lucknow. The complaints against these contractors were mounting for over-charging, foul language and stale food. The Railway Minister had put out a complaint number for travellers to tell about the quality of food.

In a silent move, the Railways affected a hike in locker facility and in dormitory as well as rooms in stations. These had been lying not upgraded for a decade.

The base kitchens will be leased out on railway properties at Re 1 per sq m and the prices will be fixed by railways. The food prepared by base kitchens will only be hereafter heated in pantry cars and served in trains. Pantry cars will only make tea/coffee and soups with certified branded products.

The monopoly of the railway contractors in fleecing travellers will be done away with setting up 350 base stations across the country. Currently, six lakh meals and snacks in a day to passengers including 91,000 meals being served in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains are served which costs Rs 2000 crore business for railways.

With regionalising the catering business, railways will tie up with branded food items region-wise to serve quality food. Quality food makers like Saravana Bhavan or Kamat in the South or other regional players will be open to set base kitchens. This will help travellers to get quality food and also do away with cartelisation of food supply. Yet another move is to introduce branded stuffs like in curd and similar products so that complaints on these products will be addressed by these companies. Coming on the heels of the fare hike, Railways expect to serve quality food and increase revenue.

Workshop to start production of frameless tank wagon soon

The Railway Workshop, Golden Rock, will soon commence production of a unique bogie frameless tank wagon (BTFLN), meant for transport of petroleum products, according to P.Mahesh, its Chief Workshop Manager.

The Railway Board has already awarded an order to the workshop for the manufacture of the wagons.

The wagons, with tank barrels made of high tensile steel, will be fitted with bogie mounted brake systems.

The tank barrels are being manufactured by M/s.Braithwaite & Company.

The prototype has already been built and production of the wagons would begin after inspection by Railway Design and Standards Organisation, which is expected soon, said Mr.Mahesh, after unfurling the National Flag at the Republic Day celebrations in Golden Rock on Saturday.

The workshop has also undertaken a new order worth Rs.120 crore for the manufacture of 660 bogie low platform long container wagons, used for transporting domestic containers.

CONCOR has also placed an order worth Rs.217 crore for supply of 1,000 bogie low platform container flat wagons (BLC).

The workshop has successfully turned out 538 BOXNHL stainless steel wagons so far out of 600 ordered, and is gearing up to execute another order for 320 more wagons placed by the Railway Board. The board has also placed an order with the workshop for supply of 25 WDS6 locos. The workshop has so far exported 137 locomotives earning Rs.52.90 crore as foreign exchange.

It has supplied two new X-class steam engines with oil fire technology for Nilgiris Mountain Railway.

The third steam loco is ready and will be despatched soon, he said.

Railways likely to defer freight corridor by 2 yrs

Anticipating problems related to land acquisition in West Bengal, the Railways might take a preemptive step of pushing by a couple of years the deadline for completion of its ambitious 3,300-km-long dedicated freight corridor project. Running through the eastern and western flanks of the country, the corridor will now be completed by 2018 instead of its earlier schedule of 2016, officials close to the matter told FE.

This is because the Railways still has to acquire around 1,000 acres of land in Bengal to lay the tracks for a section of the dedicated corridor and is apprehensive about completing this land acquisition on time, given the history of agitations for land in Bengal. And with the state being ruled by firebrand TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, an estranged ally of the Congress, there is fear that the acquisition process would not be smooth.

This is for the first time that Railways has taken into account the prevailing political situation to make adjustments in its project schedule.

The corridor, funded by Japanese banks and the World Bank, and to be built at an estimated cost of R90,000 crore, involves construction of 540 km of railway lines for freight movement spanning from Sonnagar in Bihar to Dankuni in West Bengal.

“We are in the process of notifying land in Bengal and once it is done, objections from land owners would be considered by the Railways and the local authorities. Given the history of land acquisitions problems in Bengal, we are proposing to push the deadline by a couple of years,” a senior railway board official said.

The 540-km-long section of the corridor from Sonnagar in Bihar to Dankuni in Bengal has to come up on a public-private partnership model. But being a big-ticket railway project with an investment of around R15,000 crore, it will also be hard for the Railways to find a private partner to invest in the project.

“Though there’s a steering committee to clear land acquisition issues, it could still take time. Finding a private player for such a big project can also take time. We are breaking the 540-km-long section into two parts,” the official added.

The stretch, which is an extension of the eastern freight corridor, is expected to primarily carry coal and iron ore traffic in the Dhanbad, Jharia and Raniganj region.

The dedicated freight corridor corporation (DFCC), a special purpose vehicle under the rail ministry, has acquired approximately 8,000 hectares of land over nine states and 61 districts in a span of less than three years without any major upheaval. The speed has been spurred by the fact that land acquisition is one of the preconditions for funds from the World Bank and Japan Industrial Cooperation Agency (JICA), the agencies funding the eastern and western corridors, respectively

Coal India’s stock may deplete rapidly as dispatches speed up

If everything goes well, 2012-13 may prove to be an exceptional year in the history of Coal India (CIL). Having made it a norm to accrue pit head stock for more than a decade, the company is now set for a significant dilution of this stock this fiscal, as off-take soars past the production growth.

True, the company had set its sight on despatching 37 million more tonnes of coal this year against 29 mt estimated production growth. But not many took it seriously and, for valid reasons.

Over the years, a cash-strapped Indian Railways failed to take up projects to ensure faster movement of freight. And to add to the problem, rail capacities which were to be sponsored by CIL hit the usual hurdles of environment clearances and land acquisition.

But this year has proved to be a watershed. Ask A. N. Sahay, Chairman of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), one of the growth engines in the CIL family, Sahay is all praise for the local railway bosses in Odisha for making things easy.

While CIL is anticipating the pit-head stock to be diluted by approximately 5-6 mt this year from 71 mt, Mahanadi Coalfields alone is expected to bring down the stock level by 5 mt from 21 mt.

“Some of the major coalfields like Talcher have witnessed a 30 per cent rise in coal evacuation by rail and are hopeful of more growth in the days to come,” says an MCL official. Growth in rail traffic is also witnessed in Ib-valley coalfield.

Interestingly, it does not mean a change in ground realities. The company-sponsored 30-km Talcher-Angul loop line has hit a land acquisition hurdle and is yet to be implemented. The situation is more or less the same with all major rail projects mooted to ease coal traffic from Vasundhara, Ib-valley and others.

“If anything has changed, it is the focus of miners to supply more coal to their consumers and a matching intent shown by a segment of railway officials to pave way for the same,” said a CIL official.

The end result is both sides are opting for innovative ideas, to maximise capacity utilisation.

For example a mere strengthening of the line to evacuate the Ib-valley coal reduced derailments, leading to higher freight movement. Similarly after bottlenecks on the existing line were cleared, rake movement from Talcher doubled to 40 a day. The Railways promises to push it up to 60 rakes a day next year, that too without the proposed loop line.

MCL is not alone to have witnessed a dramatic rise in off-take. Ranchi Based Central Coalfields (CCL), Bilaspur-headquartered South Eastern Coalfields (SECL), Charat Coking Coal (BCCL) of Dhanbad and West Bengal based Eastern Coalfields (ECL), have recorded remarkable dilution in stocks.

If CCL diluted stocks by half to 8 mt, ECL brought it down to one-third at 1.36 mt, BCCL diluted inventory by 30 per cent and SECL ended at 4 mt, less than half of its opening stock.

As of December 2012, only two miners Western Coalfields (WCL) and Northern Coalfields (NCL) have shown little progress in stock dilution.

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment