Passenger amenities to be improved at 24 railway stations

Indian Railways has decided to improve passenger amenities at 24 stations in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Rajya Sabha was informed on Friday.

Minister of Railways, Mallikarjun Kharge while replying to a question said that the upgradation of these stations will be done on a 50:50 cost sharing basis.

“The priority of work for improvement of amenities has been jointly decided by ministry of Railways and ministry of Tourism,” said Kharge.

The stations identified are Hyderabad and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Hospet in Karnataka, Agra Cantt, Rai Bareli and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Safdurjung in Delhi, Kamakhya and Guwahati in Assam, Haridwar in Uttarakhand, Kurukshetra in Haryana, Gaya in Bihar, Madurai and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Tarapith, Tarekeswhar and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Amritsar in Punjab, Aurangabad and Nanded in Maharashtra, Puri in Odisha and Jaipur and Ajmer in Rajasthan.

The Railway minister said that in the first phase, seven stations have been jointly inspected by the nominated officers from both the ministries to identify amenities needed there.

Published in: on August 31, 2013 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wagon industry running out of steam as Railway orders dry up

The domestic wagon industry, stuck with its sole client – the Indian Railways – appears to be running out of steam in the present economic situation.

Procurements have dwindled affecting profitability and creating over capacity. During the economic slowdown, corporate orders first dried up; after 2009-10, the own-your-own wagon programme got derailed for want of takers among the bulk commodity users.

The industry’s attempts to diversify into Railway coach (EMU/MEMU) manufacturing also faced mid-course troubles, as the Railways put brakes on its long-term capacity building plans.

The top two industry players currently could achieve around 20 per cent of their turnover by diversifying into non-Railway businesses. Incidentally, corporate orders for wagons in four years to 2010 totalled 10,000 units. The industry received the last order of 17,000 wagons for 2011-12 from the Railways.

According to industry sources, beginning Q4 of FY12, the release of orders continued till Q1 of 2013-14, when Cimmco Ltd one of the three listed players — received an order for 514 wagons. Texmaco Rail — the largest among over half a dozen local players — got the biggest order of 3,915 units.

Texmaco Rail, with a capacity of 800 units-a-month, took 4-5 months to execute the order in 2012-13. Since then, its wagon production capacity has been idling. Texmaco has decided to focus more on exports and diversification in view of the erratic procurement programme of the Railways and substantial under-utilisation of capacity set up with significant capital cost.

Some of the industry players had identified exports and diversification into related structural engineering businesses as the alternative route to keep their business wheels running.

Last fiscal, 31 per cent of Texmaco Rail’s turnover came from exports, which helped maintain its profitability during 2012-13. But, Titagarh Wagons Ltd, with insignificant exports, saw its operating profit decline 54 per cent last fiscal. Industry watchers think gaining a firm footing in the export market takes time. “Overcoming cross border tariff and technology hurdles are major constraints,” said a senior official of an industry unit.


TWL, through the acquisition of an ailing but technology-rich French unit, has been trying to be on track in the highly competitive European market for the last three years. It met with moderate success.

“There is future potential for turning this unit as TWL’s technology engine. It may also help it in accessing other markets such as Africa or Latin America,” an analyst remarked.

Cimmco Ltd, which recovered from its sickness in 2011-12 to make a profit of Rs 4.19 crore, reported a loss of Rs 10 crore in 2012-13 for want of adequate orders. Now, controlled by TWL, Cimmco employs 450 at its manufacturing unit. “Increasing cost of manufacturing is also an issue that is affecting the margins,” an industry insider said.

Umesh Choudhary, MD, TWL, said the plans that had been taken up in the last few years for diversification and collaboration related to Indian Railways purchases, had to be shelved.

Listed players such as Texmaco, TWL and Cimmco have been hovering a little above their year-lows and way below their year-highs.

Smaller unlisted players such as Burn Standard, Braithwaite and Jessop, who entirely depend on Railways, however, are most-affected due to lack of orders.

Railways to speed up fixing of bio-toilets

The Railways has informed Parliament that it will speed-up the implementation of bio-toilets on passenger coaches.

The data placed before the House reveals that in the last four months, 2,285 bio-toilets have been fitted.

The ministry said now 1,400 running coaches have 3,800 bio-toilets on various trains. The Railways is now manufacturing all new conventional passenger coaches fitted with bio-toilets.

This pollution-free technique entails treatment of human waste in anaerobic condition by bacteria. It converts human waste into water and small amount of gases, methane and carbon dioxide.

The gases escape into the atmosphere and waste is discharged after chlorination onto the track, thereby avoiding human waste on the track. This is environmentally friendly and also improves the working condition for the track staff.

However, the maintenance of bio-toilets require caution. Throwing items like plastic bottles, paper cups, cloth, sanitary napkins, plastic/poly bags and gutka packets will choke these toilets and render them non-functional.

Iron consignments from CPT to boost Railways’ revenue

The Railways is gearing up to transport its largest freight consignment in the past couple of years from the Cochin Port Trust. This comes after several years of nominal rail freight movement from the Ernakulam wharf. The Railways expects a huge revenue boost from this consignment.

This September, a ship carrying iron ore sourced from Jindal group of companies in Orissa will berth at the Ernakulam port. The first consignment, which comprises 52,000 tonnes of iron ore is expected to berth at the wharf by mid-September. If all goes well, a total of 1,00,000 tonnes might be shipped to the wharf, of which the majority is expected to be transported from Kochi through rail.

Gearing up to transport the material to Salem, the Railways Thiruvananthapuram division which is expecting a huge revenue boost through this movement is currently repairing and lifting the dilapidated rail track connecting the wharf to the Mattanchery halt station, on a war-footing. If the movement proves to be a success, the Railways will see increased transportation of goods from the Ernakulam wharf in the near future.

“We are in touch with both the Port Trust as well as the Jindal company. They are planning to source a total of 1,00,000 tonnes to the Salem Iron and Steel industry. If our first transportation proves to be a success, there are talks to transport the entire iron shipment through rail. This is expected to be a major boost to our revenue”, said Ernakulam area managar P L Ashok Kumar.

This is perhaps the first time that iron is being transported through rail from the Ernakulam wharf. Last year, even though huge quantities of Gypsum had been transported from the wharf to another centre, the freight had been subjected to derailment twice. “This had been a huge blow for us. The condition of our railway tracks had dilapidated over the years due to less freight movement. Occassionally, blocks of coal had also been transported to a few units in the country. However, we are expecting the much needed boost in the coming days, so we are not taking any chances and are in the process of repairing the tracks”, Ashok Kumar said.

The officials said that they have been in talks with the Cochin Port Trust for the past one year. The renovation work of the tracks which was started two weeks ago is expected to be completed by September 10. The total estimated cost of the work is Rs 50 lakh.

Same platform to board bus and buy train tickets

Frequent traveller Deepak Panda jumps out of the bus and makes a dash to the railway station to know about train schedule. Panda’s hassle might end if the development authority’s plan to have railway booking counters and an information centre at the bus terminus takes shape.

According to preliminary plans drawn up by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, the terminus will be developed into a multi-storey complex. The ground floor will be used for parking buses and booking tickets. The upper storeys will house railway reservation counters and an information kiosk.

Vice-chairman of the authority Vishal Kumar Dev said the development authority had several meetings with the East Coast Railway regarding makeover of the complex. “It was decided that while the ground floor would be used for parking of city buses and providing space for passenger amenities, repair workshops and allied facilities, the railway could use the upper floors to set up enquiry kiosks and booking counters.” The last meeting was held in May.

The authority has engaged an architect to draw up a detailed plan for the project. On the other hand, the railway also has plans for expansion of the existing station and addition of two more tracks near platform No. 1.

With expansion of two more tracks, the station building, housing the office of the station master and other offices, will have to be demolished along with the booking counters. Some of these could be relocated to the nearby bus terminus complex.

As daily commuter Panda said: “The railway booking counters and information kiosks should be located in a spacious area and the authorities should act on their plan as soon as possible.”

At present, the railway ticket-booking counters and information kiosks are located several metres away from each other. Once it is near the city bus terminus, passengers can know the timings of trains easily after arriving there.

Chief public relations officer of the railway J.P. Mishra said: “It was decided that the development authority will prepare a master plan for the land where the city bus terminal is situated. Once we get the master plan, we will respond to it immediately.” He said once the authority finalised its plan, the railway, too, would start working on its expansion project.

A senior railway official said while the Rs 80-crore station renovation plan was getting delayed due to funds crunch, the state government had offered to bear 50 per cent cost of the project to ensure a modern railway terminal.


• City bus terminus near railway station to become modern transit point for both bus and train passengers
• Ground floor to become pick-up and drop point for bus passengers
• Other floors to have ticket-booking counters for trains and enquiry kiosks
• Architect engaged to prepare terminal master plan

IRCTC website would book over 7,000 tickets per minute

The IRCTC’s website will book 7200 tickets e-tickets per minute in days to come. In written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, on Friday, minister of state for railways Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy said ‘next generation’ e-ticketing system is under developement by Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS).

The website would have high performance and seamless access even at peak time and have high availability and business continuity, scalability to cater to future growth and security to prevent frauds and unauthorized access. The estimated cost is Rs 68.97 crore.

Published in: on August 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Role of ‘COFMOW’ in Indian Railways

Central Organisation for Modernization of Workshop (COFMOW) headquartered in New Delhi is a centralized agency of the Indian Railways responsible for modernization of Railway Workshop/Production Units and for carrying out procurement of specialized machinery and plant and induction of Modern workshop technologies. The database already exists with COFMOW for M&P which is most regularly used by the Indian Railways. COFMOW is maintaining a detailed compendium containing updated technical specifications of all the Machinery and Plants being most regularly used in the various running Maintenance Sheds, Workshops, Production Units across the various Railways in India. COFMOW is also maintaining a vendor directory in which sources for machines regularly procured by COFMOW are included. COFMOW undertakes continuous updation of the data base by including sources based on the latest technologies available in the market. It also undertakes revision of the machine specifications to suit the specific requirements of Railways based on a continual interaction with manufactures and the Railway units.

Use of Unconventional fuel on Indian Railways

ins with Bio-Diesel blend of upto 20% have been done on a few locomotives in Northern, South Eastern & Southern Railways. No large scale induction of Bio-Diesel as an alternate fuel has been done due to non-availability of Bio-Diesel in large quantities at economical prices. However, very small scale operations in Southern Railway, primarily on shunting locomotives, has been continuing for past many years.

One Diesel Power Car (DPC No. 19002 of Shakurbasti Diesel shed) has been converted to CNG-diesel dual-fuel mode and is running successfully in services at present.

Railways have decided to set up two in-house Bio-Diesel plants of 30 tonnes per day each. The plants will be located at Tondiarpet (Chennai) in Tamil Nadu and Raipur in Chhattisgarh. In addition efforts are also being made to procure Bio-Diesel from trade. Works are in progress in both locations.

Railway Board has sanctioned a work of conversion of 20 diesel Locomotives to dual fuel mode with LNG as substitute fuel.

Sanction for conversion of 100 Diesel Power Cars (DPC) exists and contract for 50 numbers have been awarded and process of conversion has been initiated. Presently two DPCs are under conversion which will be completed in four months from now.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Railways Take Measures to Ensure Good Quality Hygienic Food to Passengers

It is a continuous endeavour by the Indian Railways to provide good quality hygienic food and water to Railway passengers. Accordingly, a New Catering Policy, 2010 has been introduced on 21.7.2010 with a mandate for effective quality assurance programme, wherein ISO-22000 International Organization for Standardization) standards are to be progressively implemented for major contracts/units. Supervision and monitoring have been strengthened through a mechanism put in place by deploying railway personnel, who check quality and hygiene and take corrective action in a time-bound manner.

About 44286 inspections have been carried out in the last one year April 2012 to June 2013. If any irregularity is found positive actions like imposition of fine, warning and termination of contract etc. are taken according to the gravity of offence/irregularity. Passengers’ opinion cards also circulated for feedback and improvement. A centralized having a toll free number 1800-111-321 for prompt redressal of the passenger grievances related to the catering activities for real time assistance to travelling public. On the same pattern, Catering Monitoring Cells have been set up at Zonal and Divisional level for daily monitoring of the catering activities.

Published in: on August 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Railways Take Steps to Ensure Better Passenger Amenities

Regular analysis and review of occupancy pattern of passenger coaches is undertaken and efforts are made for introduction of new trains, enhancement of extra coaches in the existing trains and running of special trains subject to operational feasibility, commercial justification, availability of resources etc.

Coaches for passenger services are provided with a certain level of amenities and fittings, which conform to laid down safety benchmarks. The amenities provided in coaches include:

• Cushioned seats/berths, toilet & washbasins facilities etc. in all mainline coaches.

• Looking mirrors, snack tables, magazine bags, water bottle holders, coat hooks, small luggage racks, luggage securing arrangements, mobile/laptop charging sockets etc. in reserved coaches (including sleeper class coaches).

• Curtains for aisles/windows and dustbins etc. in all AC coaches.

• Lights, fans, night lights and emergency lights in all passenger coaches. The Safety Standards in coaches include:

• The coach shell structure is of an “Anti-telescopic” design to enhance safety.

• Coach furnishing materials conform to stringent fire retardant parameters.

• The interior fittings/furnishings of the coaches are with ‘injury-free’ design features.

• Emergency Alarm Chain apparatus in all coaches for stopping the train in emergency.

• Emergency windows in all coaches for faster exist/evacuation.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Published in: on August 30, 2013 at 3:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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