Spl cyber crime wing for rly cops

The Government Railway Police (GRP) of the state force has got a cyber crime wing. The new group will help GRP, which is now dependent on the cyber unit of the city and state police.

“The unit will come in handy to crack crimes reported in our jurisdiction. Earlier, to solve even minor cases we had to depend on cyber crime officers of the state and city police who had access to a sophisticated laboratory,” said additional directorgeneral of police (railways) R Sekar who was behind setting up the unit.

The special cell would reduce the dependence on the state and city police, particularly for small cases, he added. The new unit recently busted a gang involved in a series of burglaries on trains with the arrest of nine people from Haryana. “If needed we will seek the upgradation of the state cyber crime laboratory in Chennai to widen our scope,” he added.

Sekar said they planned to rope in more police personnel, of ranks ranging from constable to inspector and having expertise of cyber crime investigation, to work in the special unit. “Many policemen and women have completed specialized courses related to cyber crime investigations.”


Immune to toothless law, touts derail surveillance

Despite repeated drives against touts who illegally sell rail tickets at a premium, the offenders, exploiting loopholes in the law, get away with mere payment of a fine even after being caught as many as six times, officials admit.

“Under the Railways Act, for touting one can only be fined Rs. 5,000 or be imprisoned for a maximum of six months or both,” an official said.

Exercise blunted

Senior officials insist that though checking has been intensified by the Anti-Fraud Squad at booking centres and reservation counters, on platforms and inside trains, and raids have been conducted across areas under Northern Railway, their helplessness in keeping touts behind bars for long periods has blunted the exercise.

After about 120 preventive checks this month, 74 persons were apprehended and handed over to the Railway Police Force for prosecution, a senior official said: “Northern Railway also organised raids on the premises of authorised and unauthorised ticketing agencies in order to prevent blocking of reservation under fictitious names and subsequent sale of transferred tickets.”

During these checks, 52 touts, seven unauthorised JTBSs [Jansadharan Ticket Booking Sewak] were prosecuted under Sections 143/144 of the Railway Act and two passengers were found travelling on transferred tickets.

But, in the end, nothing substantive came out of this as the touts were back at their business once they came out on bail after paying the fine, the official said.

‘Tighter provisions’

“We need tighter provisions and punishment for frequent defaulters. I think the law should be made stricter for the touts who have started taking it for granted,” said another senior railway official.


60 railway stations to raise a toast to the sun for power

Sixty railway stations under the Thiruvananthapuram division are planning to utilise solar power to help reduce dependence on power supplied by the KSEB. Thiruvalla, in Pathanamthitta district, last week, became the first railway station in the state where solar panels were installed. According to railway officials, the plan is to set up 5 Kilowatt solar panels at all the identified stations.

“The division can only afford to set up these many kilo watts of power, as the initial installment for each station would be Rs 8 lakh. Hence, the project will only be imposed on small way side stations. Major stations like the Ernakulam Railway station, Thiruvananthapuram railway station etc will not come under this scheme,” said Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal.

He added that the help of private agencies would also be sought for the implementation of the project. Another railway official, in charge of the project said that they will approach the state-owned Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology ( ANERT) which is providing subsidies to all those organisations who wish to set up one kilowatt power solar panels. “The available scheme does not support 5 KW panels. However, we are planning to make a request for a subsidy to help our project,” the officials added.

Currently, a medium-scale station utilises 2000 units of power every two months. With the introduction of the 5 KW solar panels, the stations can generate 20 units per day. The power produced would be enough to run the functioning of the station master’s room, reservation counter rooms and platforms. However, the power received from the signalling systems will not be utilised for running the systems.


Railways cuts charges for moving containers

In a surprise move, the Railways has decided to charge less for moving some categories of containers.
After deciding, in November 2012, to raise haulage rates by up to 31 per cent in two instalments — in December 1, 2012, and February 1, 2013, the Rail Ministry has now decided to lower the rates by five per cent in two segments — 10-20 tonne cargo in twenty feet equivalent unit (TEU) containers, and 20-40 tonne cargo in forty feet equivalent (FEU) containers.

This follows a plea by the Association of Container Train Operators. The charges for movement of empty wagons will be cut by 13 per cent. The cuts become effective April 1.

Both Container Corporation of India (Concor), the largest container train operator with over 70 per cent of the market, and Gateway Distriparks Ltd (GDL), a listed firm, plan to cut tariffs. For the operators, haulage rate accounts for 65-70 per cent of operating cost.

According to Concor Managing Director Anil Kumar Gupta, “We are planning to pass on the benefit to customers. We will rework the tariffs.”

Sachin Bhanushali, Deputy CEO, Gateway Distriparks, explained: “In segments where we were losing our competitive edge with road transporters, the Ministry has reduced haulage rates by up to 8 per cent. GDL plans to pass on the benefits to its customers for loaded containers.”

The move is also good for other container players such as the shipping lines backed APL India Infrastructure and Hind Terminals.

Some of the other moves aimed at increasing containerised cargo movement are a 25 per cent reduction in rates for fruits and vegetables moved in containers by the National Horticulture Board and the Agriculture Ministry.

The Railways moved 37.24 million tonnes of container cargo in 11 months of this fiscal, registering a 7 per cent growth year-on-year.Before 2007, Concor, a listed subsidiary with a majority stake by Railways, was the only player in the segment.

By opening the market, the Railways allowed container train firms to invest in flat wagons that carry containers and book cargo from customers. However, investors accused Railways of increasing charges steeply and frequently making it difficult for them to operate.

The Railways, on its part, has maintained that instead of developing new markets to attract cargo from road to rail, many container train operators tried eating into Railways traditional customer base by targeting heavy cargo movement.


High-speed rail: Project report to be submitted in June

The detailed project report for the 1.18-lakh crore high-speed rail network from Thiruvananthapuram to Mangalore, being prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), will be submitted in June.

Three agencies, including World Bank, have expressed interest in the project, which is the biggest infrastructure project ever envisaged by the state.

“The survey to prepare a detailed project report for the first phase of the project from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam has almost been completed, and the survey for the second phase has started,” said DMRC officials.

“The DMRC will submit the detailed project report in June. Based on the report, decisions will be taken about the implementation of the project.

“Though the project is only at an initial stage some international agencies have expressed their interest in associating with it,” said T Balakrishnan, chairman and managing director, Kerala High-speed Rail Corporation Limited.

Asked about the viability of the project, Balakrishnan said that the state is implementing the project keeping in mind the next 100 years.

The Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalore high-speed passenger corridor was mooted in the 2009-10 budget speech of the LDF Government.

The project was cleared by the State Cabinet in February 2010.

The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation was appointed the nodal agency to develop the project and the DMRC conducted the pre-feasibility study.

The study stated that only 256 acres would be required for the first phase of the project between Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam.

According to DMRC officials, the high-speed rail network will have only 11 stations. The separately set up stations will be connected to the existing railway stations in the state.

On completion, the high-speed rail project will enable one to travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in 142 minutes, covering 526 km.

“The DMRC has appointed separate agencies to conduct the survey. Details about the estimated traffic and cost will be studied thoroughly. Based on the survey, the DMRC will prepare a detailed project report for the rail corridor,” said a DMRC official.

Published in: on March 31, 2013 at 6:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Rlys gets survey nod for forest tracks

The National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) has given a nod to the railways for a survey on the proposed line from Sevoke to Rongpo, the second within Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. This key elephant habitat in North Bengal has already seen six elephant deaths so far this year
While experts feel a second line within the sanctuary will only result in increase in traffic, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) sources revealed that even though the survey nod has been given, permission for starting construction on the stretch is subject to fulfilment of certain conditions.

“Since a stretch of key elephant corridor is being used for a rail link, the Bengal government has been asked to make up for this and legally notify the forests of Baikunthapur and Upalchand, covering an approximate area of 25 square kilometres. This stretch of reserve forest is a corridor between Mahananda and Gorumara National Park and is often used by the jumbos,” said NBWL member M D Madhusudan, adding that the state was supposed to notify the area in 1995, when an environment clearance was granted to the Teesta Barrage project near Gajaldoba.

But it was never done. Sources revealed that even rhinos from Gorumara sometimes cross over to Mahananda using this corridor. “If protected, this forest patch could prove crucial for conservation of wildlife in North Bengal,” said a conservationist.

Forest department sources revealed that since the environment clearance was given to the Teesta Barrage Project authorities then, they were supposed to take up the initiative. “The plan was to notify the area as a conservation reserve and it would have enjoyed the same protection status like a sanctuary or a national park. But the Teesta Barrage officials never took it up with the foresters,” said an official.

The Army’s Eastern Command is, however, relieved that a go-ahead has been given to the railways to carry out a survey for the proposed 44.39 km rail link. The Army has, for long, sought rail connectivity to Sikkim for movement of men and equipment.

“In today’s world of precision guided missiles, it is always prudent to have an alternate route to move troops and equipment to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). China has already got a rail link to Lhasa. While movement of troops by road is not a problem, it is time consuming to move heavy equipment along mountainous roads. Movement of heavy equipment by rail is much faster,” a senior officer said.

A three-member NBWL standing committee team, who had visited the site in February, has submitted a report to the Centre last week. A copy of it has also been sent to the state government.

Among other conditions, put forward to the state, is setting up of a monitoring committee with geologists, seismologists and elephant experts, who will monitor the project site once the construction starts and submit a report to the Centre every six months. “We have also asked the state and railways to set up a join corpus, funds from which will be utilized to manage man-animal conflict in the area,” added Madhusudan.

“Once they submit a detailed report on all this, along with their survey findings, then only we will give a nod to the construction,” said Madhusudan, adding that in the long term, the state has been asked to divert traffic on this route via Jalpaiguri, instead of Alipurduar.

Meanwhile, Union minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury said that the construction work on this stretch will take time to start since a survey for this project is a time-consuming matter. “But as I said earlier, we are not irrational and everything will be done after protecting the wildlife in the corridor,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Army also wants the government to expedite work on all railway links in the North East. Many of these are tied up as clearances from the MoEF are awaited. These include the 88 km Dimapur-Kohima link in Nagaland with a project cost of Rs 850 crore and the 97.9 km Jiribam-Imphal link with an estimated cost of Rs 4,478.17 crore.
State told to legally notify a 25-sq km forest patch between Mahananda and Gorumara
Railways has been asked to submit plans to check elephant mortality in the corridor after consulting experts
A joint corpus to be set up by the state and railways, funds from which will be used to manage man-animal conflict in the area
A state-level monitoring panel will be formed, which will review the project site once the construction starts and submit its report to the Centre every six months

Japanese agency to fund Rs 11,400 cr for 3 projects

Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), a funding agency, has signed a loan agreement with the Government of India, to provide soft loans up to a total of ¥199,035 million which is about Rs 11,400 crore.

These are long-term loans of 30-40 yearswith low interest rates. From the total loan, 68 per cent will be used to fund the construction of the western arm of the dedicated rail freight corridor, 24 per cent for the Metro project in Chennai, and remaining for a piped water project in Purulia district in West Bengal.

According to a JICA release, ¥136,119 million has been allocated for the construction of dedicated rail freight corridor between Delhi and Mumbai.

The loan, carrying a concessional rate of 0.2 per cent, is to be repaid over a period of 40 years with 10 years’ grace period.

The project will be executed by the Ministry of Railways and Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India.

For Chennai’s Metro rail construction, ¥48,691 million is being provided.

The loan carries a interest rate of 1.4 per cent and is to be repaid in 30 years with grace period of 10 years. The third project, for which a ¥14,225 million will be extended, is the piped water supply project in Purulia district in West Bengal.

Water supply facilities will be constructed to provide safe and adequate drinking water to the people of the area.

The loan carrying a interest rate of 1.4 per cent is to be repaid in 30 years with a grace period of 10 years.

The project will be executed by Public Health Engineering Department, Government of West Bengal


Joining ‘billion tonnes’ club could be a tough ask for Railways

The 2012-13 financial year is about to end in a few days, but figures and trends so far don’t seem to suggest that India will break the billion tonnes freight mark, as claimed by both Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Railway Board chairman, and join the select club comprising China, Russia and the U.S.

The Railway Minister had declared in his budget speech that the Railways would achieve the mark in the current financial year by carrying 1,007 million tonnes of freight, and the claim was backed by chairman Vinay Mittal as recently as last week.

In the 11-month period till February, the Railways ferried about 911.53 million tonnes, just about 4.1 million more than the 875.65 million tonnes carried in the corresponding period a year ago. But still it fell short of the 913.58 million tonnes target by 2.05 million tonnes.

Thus the Railways is required to transport at least 88.47 million tonnes in March to reach the billion tonnes mark. But questions remain, given that its performance in February was a matter of concern. It carried just about 83.60 million tonnes last month, less than the 83.76 million tonnes transported in the corresponding month in 2011-12.

To meet the revised target of 1,007 million tonnes the Railways would actually have to transport 95.47 million tonnes this month which might prove to be a tough ask, particularly in light of the poor performance in February, when it fell short of the revised target of 85.68 million tonnes by 2.08 million tonnes or 2.43 per cent less.

Accruals, however, shot up riding on the hike that was affected over a year ago before the presentation of the 2012-13 budget.

For the 11 month period ending February there was a 24 per cent jump from Rs. 61203.42 crore to Rs. 76459.72 crore this year. But in February the rise was lower at 21.95 per cent, with earnings standing at Rs. 7113.09 crore, up from Rs. 5832.69 crore.

The target for the current year is Rs. 85956 crore, and too fulfil it the Railways would require to put in an extra effort to earn about Rs. 9496.38 crore, given that it had just about earned Rs. 7113.09 crore in February.


RailYatri.in uses crowdsourced information to give real-time railway updates.

Where has the train reached? Which station? Is it on time? These questions often make you anxious when loved ones are aboard. But, getting answers may not always be possible. Hold onto your horses! Noida-headquartered RailYatri.in now gives a user updated information about train movement.

RailYatri.in covers around 80 per cent of 3.29 million square kms of India with 7,500 trains/week, 9000 train stations and 20 million daily travellers to share real time updates with passengers. Another brainchild, RailRadar gives real time visualization of all trains running in India on Google Maps, an endeavour that received visibility in international media.

Using the site, the company, in collaboration with CRIS (Centre for Railway Information Systems), help users zoom the map and get details of a train’s movement along a particular station.In addition, users can search for a particular train and also get the running status, location, route and stoppages of a train. Status of a train – whether it is on time or not – can also be obtained on the website.

“All of us including our dear ones are regular users of Indian Railways. When we started, there was simply a mission to figure out how and in what way can the simple question of ‘Where my train is’ be answered by the passengers,” is how Manish Rathi, the co-founder and CEO of RailYatri, describes his idea.

Rathi has worked across the telecommunications, wireless and software industries for nearly 16 years.A US patent holder, Rathi completed his dual masters from Michigan and did his Bachelors in Production Engineering from the University of Mumbai. A technology enthusiast, Manish is also an avid blogger.

Interestingly, Rathi is not alone in his venture. He has Sachin Saxena as co-founder.

A Stanford and IIT Graduate; Sachin has over 20 years’ experience with enterprise software start-ups and established companies. His experience spans leadership roles in professional services with teams in the US, India, Ukraine, Japan, and Argentina.

According to Rathi, the idea for the website came up during a train journey. While taking one, he had difficulty in locating the train.

“It occurred to me that if a 8 by 10 inch courier be located at various stages of its transit, there has to be a better way to get the right location of a train,” he added. Thus was born RailYatri.

Of course startups have their share of labour troubles. And it was no different for RailYatri. Conceptualising and executing a solution targeted at 80 per cent of India’s travel base involves dealing with overwhelming numbers.

“With the evolution of platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, there has been a fundamental change in the manner in which information is consumed by people. People now want information customised to their requirements delivered promptly via medium of their choice,” says Rathi

The key was to make smart decisions – in areas such as product management, technology & R&D.

Engaging with Indian Railways to understand their operations was a significant learning curve.

Time was spent with the Railways to obtain a deeper understanding of their operations. And finally, the hands-on approach paid off. RailYatri came up with better products to help passengers travel smarter.

RailYatri.in started a pilot on the Sabarimala festival. It provided travellers with train-related information specific to the festival on the Train Enquiry website, but also gave this information feed to civic and law enforcement authorities, media channels, etc.

After this successful pilot, RailYatri launched trainenquiry.com’s new version. This incorporated a new search that allows users to search either by name or code of a train/station.Emphasis was laid not just on finding the current position of the train; but also in determining the best algorithm to predict the time the train is expected to reach an upcoming station.

“We have seen dependency grow on web and mobile versions grow by 200 per cent over the last 12 months. Our next step was to develop an application that could track live position of train on maps,” Rathi said. Hence, Rail Radar in October 2012.

Last winter, an interactive display of fog-impact on train movement on RailRadar in addition to information information on trainenquiry.com was launched.

“A specific micro-site for Kumbh also came up and in future we would look to launch specific events pages that impact the Rail traveller,” Rathi hopes. Perhaps Rail travel will be more fun then.



Rlys to deploy guards at all crossings

Unmanned railway level crossings will be history in the state soon. Guards will be deployed at all unmanned level crossings in the state, minister of state for railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said here on Thursday. With the deployment of guards, Kerala will be the first state in the country without unmanned level crossings. The minister visited the Ernakulam-Alappuzha stretch, which has the most number of unmanned crossings. The Thiruvananthapuram railway division has 18 unmanned level crossings, while all crossings in Palakkad division are manned. Guards were deployed in as many as 36 unmanned crossings in Thiruvanathapuram division in 2012-13. Though the minister did not specify any timeframe to deploy guards at crossings, an official said all level crossings in the state would be manned by this year-end. Minister Chowdhury was in Kochi for the stone laying ceremony of escalators at the Ernakulam Junction (South) railway station.