Railways switch over to e-auction for scrap disposal

Indian Railways have switched over to 100% e-auction for disposal of scrap eliminating need for physical presence/physical bidding by purchasers. The move is aimed at bringing transparency for the benefit of bidders.

A senior railway official said, “Indian Railways disposes scrap worth Rs 3500 crore every year. Till recently, scrap disposal by Indian Railways was being carried out through public auctions requiring physical presence of purchasers for bidding. This e-auction system has been developed in house by the Ministry of Railways. In this auction system, electronic bidding system has been designed to enable participation in auction through internet using digital certificate (DSC) for security. No physical presence of purchaser is required for biding.”

Any purchaser can participate in e-auction for scrap lots put up for auction on entire Indian Railway system by getting themselves one time registered on website http://www.ireps.gov.in. The e-auction module ensures payment process electronic and smooth for purchasers. No cash handling is required by purchasers and Railway’s cashiers. Bidders participate in the biding process through special arrangement of lien mark instead of any cash transaction. Bidding process is completely transparent widening the reach of the bidder for participation in various auction of different lots through internet from anywhere thus, curtaining the role of middleman.

Till date about 1200 purchasers have got themselves registered for participation in e-auction of scrap on Indian Railways and scrap material worth more than Rs 1000 crore have been disposed off by Indian Railways through e-auction till date.

Thus, e-auction is saving time and effort both for Railways and bidders, bringing in complete transparency, cost effectiveness and efficiency in disposal of scrap on Indian Railways.


Railways forms company to handle green power biz

The Indian Railways has formed a new entity — Renewable Energy Management Company — to handle its renewable energy portfolio.

The Railways has an installed capacity of 5 MW of solar and 10.5 MW of wind power. Plans are afoot to install another 8 MW of solar power, according to Anil Kumar Saxena, Additional Director-General, Indian Railways.

Given its size and presence across the country, the Railways has been asked by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to evaluate the potential of solar power generation, sources said. This, according to the Ministry, will help save on power consumption and help it get the electricity at stable rates over the next 25 years.

Rising bill

The Indian Railways spent Rs 24,130 crore on fuel in FY12. This includes over Rs 3 crore for coal, Rs 10,628 crore for diesel (2.71 million Kilo litres) and about Rs 13,500 crore on power bills for locos, suburban locals and other needs.

Locos and EMU services alone consume 12,762 million units. The Railways still burn 1,000 tonnes of coal a year to run steam locomotives on some sections in the Southern and the Northeast Frontier Railway.

Estimates indicate that there is potential to harness 193 MW of solar power alone through rooftop application on rail land and buildings.

The Ministry also wants the Railways to participate in the bidding of 750 MW grid-connected projects under the National Solar Mission, slated to come up shortly.

The sources said tenders for installation of solar units at 200 stations and 21 office-buildings are in progress. The Railways will also float bids for setting up solar units at 1,000 level-crossings. It will identify about 10 locations to install off-grid solar thermal systems for use in cooking and laundry.

A detailed project report for this will be sought from consultants in a couple of months. Going forward, workshops, manufacturing facilities and training centres may also be equipped with solar and solar thermal plants.

Last week, the Rail Land Development Authority said it had tied up with global property consultant Knight Frank India to monetise vacant railway land at 53 locations across the South and West. This again would enhance the rooftop coverage of solar panels for the Railways.

Knight Frank will solicit ‘expression of interest’ from developers, retailers and hoteliers and manage the bidding process.

The rail authority has over 120 sites across the country, which it intends to lease out through competitive bidding.

The plan is to develop multi-functional complexes to provide amenities to commuters, including budget hotels at stations, while generating additional revenue for the Railways in the process.


Commodity-Wise Freight Revenue Goes up by 7.75 Per cent

The Railways have generated Rs. 36465.59 crore of revenue earnings from commodity-wise freight traffic during 1st April to 31st August 2013 as compared to Rs. 33841.63 crore during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 7.75 per cent. Railways carried 426.14 million tonnes of commodity-wise freight traffic during April-August 2013 as compared to 405.42 million tonnes carried during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 5.11 per cent.

Out of the total earnings of Rs. 6775.43 crore from commodity-wise freight traffic during the month of August 2013, Rs. 2828.56 crore came from transportation of 39.29 million tonnes of coal, followed by Rs. 674.48 crore from 9.80 million tonnes of iron ore for exports, steel plants and for other domestic user, Rs. 565.32 crore from 7.91 million tonnes of cement, Rs. 541.41 crore from 4.33 million tonnes of foodgrains, Rs. 396.77 crore from 3.41 million tonnes of petroleum oil and lubricant (POL), Rs. 419.62 crore from 3.12 million tonnes of Pig iron and finished steel from steel plants and other points, Rs. 458.81 crore from 4.93 million tonnes of fertilizers, Rs. 116.31 crore from 1.50 million tonnes of raw material for steel plants except iron ore, Rs. 375.61 crore from 3.69 million tonnes by container service and Rs. 398.54 crore from 5.16 million tonnes of other goods.


Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Now, train journey set to become sweeter for diabetic patients

Train journeys have just become sweeter for diabetics.

The initiative of the Indian Railways to serve diabetic meals on board has become popular across the country prompting most diabetics not to carry their own food.

“We are accepting a huge number of orders from diabetics across all trains that have pantry cars. Response in indeed pretty good on Rajdhanis, Satabdis and Durontos where meal service on board is mandatory,” said an Eastern Railway spokesperson.

The railway authorities planned to introduce special diet for diabetic passengers on recommendation of the Passenger Services Committee (PSC), headed by Derek O’ Brian, which was formed when Mamata Banerjee was railway minister.

“Apart from normal meals, diabetics also get the option of choosing tailor-made snacks. In fact, they get a spread of diabetic continental dishes on board Rajdhani, Satabdi and Duronto.

Passengers only need to inform what they want to have when the pantry superintendent comes to take the order,” the spokesperson added.

India is reckoned to be the diabetes capital of the world with an estimated 50.8 million diabetics, more than the entire population of Spain.

“We are very careful about diabetic food and are carrying raw vegetables and ingredients ideal for diabetic patients on every pantry car. In fact, quantity of food consumed is very important for a diabetic patient and we give special attention on serving the exact quantity. Such services are also popular in South-bound trains of South Eastern railways that carry a huge number of patients,” said a senior IRCTC official.

There is huge variety of sugar-free food available on board.

At present, the railway officials are providing passengers with sugar-free juice, tea, coffee and boiled vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

Besides, they are serving cholesterol-free food items for heart patients like fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-spice food prepared with salt and pepper.

For breakfast, they are also providing cholesterol-free butter.

“For years, I had to carry my own meals with me. There were occasions when I found that meals had turned stale by the time I wanted to have them. Now, I can have fresh prepared food on board,” said Sabita Choudhury a diabetic patient.


Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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India’s northeast to be linked to Trans-Asian Railway Network

Mountainous northeast India would be connected to the railway network of neighbouring Myanmar to link up with the ambitious 81,000 km-long Trans-Asian Railway Network (TARN), an official said.

“To connect with the TARN, a 118-km railway track would be laid between (Manipur capital) Imphal and (border towns) Moreh and Tamu (the latter in western Myanmar),” Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Engineer (Construction) Harpal Singh told IANS.

“The survey work is now on and it would be completed by March next year,” Harpal Singh said.

He said that another 257-km railway route from north Tripura’s Jawahar Nagar railway station to northern Mizoram’s Kolashib and Myanmar’s Darlon has been proposed to connect with TARN.

“If Tripura and Manipur linked with the TARN, the northeastern states would be the gateway to Southeast Asian countries,” Harpal Singh explained.

“For the development of northeast India’s economy, tourism and people-to- people contacts between the region and Southeast Asian countries, the TARN would play a vital role,” he added.

The proposed TARN covers 80,900 km of rail lines, including 22,600 km in South Asia, Iran and Turkey. The southern corridor begins in Kunming in China and Bangkok in Thailand and ends in Kapikule in Bulgaria.

The length of the route between Bangkok and Kapikule is 11,460 km and provides trans-continental connectivity to China, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Iran and Turkey.

Harpal Singh said that as per the ‘Vision-2020’, prepared by the North Eastern Council, the NFR would connect all the state capitals of northeastern states by 2020. Currently, Assam’s main city Guwahati and Tripura capital Agartala are linked with the Indian Railways network.

Agartala is one of the newest stations and came on the country’s rail map in October 2008.

The NFR is one of the 16 railway zones in India. Headquartered at Maligaon in Guwahati, it is responsible for rail operations in the entire northeast and parts of West Bengal and Bihar.

Harpal Singh also said that work on a new rail link between India and Bangladesh along Tripura would start later this year.

“To ease surface transport between the hilly northeastern states and rest of India and the neighbouring country, thisline would also play a key role,” he added.

At a cost of Rs 252 crores, India will build a 15-km track linking Agartala with Bangladesh’s southeastern city of Akhaurah, which is also an important railway junction connected to Chittagong port, resource-rich Sylhet and capital Dhaka.

“Necessary survey and alignment of the railway tracks have been completed. Bangladesh would soon engage the agency for laying railway tracks on their side. We expect the work on the line would start this year,” the NFR construction chief added.

An agreement for the new railway line was signed between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina during the latter’s visit to India in January 2010.

“The entire cost would jointly born by the ministry of external affairs and the ministry for development of northeastern region. The Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the track on the Indian side,” the official added.

A steering committee under Radhika Lokesh, an additional secretary in the external affairs ministry has also been formed to implement the new India-Bangladesh railway project, for which a memorandum of understanding was signed in Dhaka on Feb 16.

“The NFR is now extending the 135 km railway network up to (southern Tripura’s border town) Sabroom. With the establishment of the new railway link, north east India would be connected to the Chittagong port by rail,” Harpal Singh noted.

From Sabroom, Chittagong is just 72 km away.

Surface connectivity is an important factor as the landlocked north eastern states are surrounded by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China. The only land route to these states from within India is through Assam and West Bengal. But this route passes through over 70 percent hilly terrain with steep roads and multiple hairpin bends.

India has for long been seeking land, sea and rail access through Bangladesh for ferrying goods and heavy machinery to the northeast from abroad and other parts of the country.

Agartala, for instance, is 1,650 km from Kolkata and 2,637 km from New Delhi via Guwahati and West Bengal, whereas the distance between the Tripura capital and Kolkata through Bangladesh is just about 350 km.


Karnataka plans bullet trains to Mysore, Chennai

Karnataka plans to operate bullet trains from Bangalore to Mysore and Chennai, with the help of Japanese technology and funds, to decongest the city and facilitate speedy intra and inter-state travel, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Monday.

“I have invited Japanese experts for discussions with Indian Railways and our officials to explore introducing bullet trains initially between Bangalore and Mysore and Chennai to provide high-speed travel between intra and inter-cities,” Siddaramaiah said on return from a week-long visit to China Sunday.

During the China visit from Sep 9-15 to participate in the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Dalian in the northeastern Liaoning province, Siddaramaiah met Japanese Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura and discussed on getting his country’s technical and financial support for the high-speed trains and infrastructure corridors.

“As Japan was the first country in the world to introduce bullet trains and operate them successfully since the sixties (1960s), I am sure their experts will be able guide us in having similar high-speed travel in the state as it will help us to decongest Bangalore,” Siddaramaiah said.

Cruising at 300 km per hour, a bullet train will cover the 150 km distance from Bangalore to Mysore in 30 minutes and Chennai, which is 360 km away, in over an hour.

“We are exploring the possibility of having high-speed trains to tier-two cities like Mysore, Hubli and Mangalore in the state and cities like Chennai outside the state for fast movement of people and goods. A bullet train will bridge the travel time between Bangalore and Mysore leading to their development as twin cities,” Siddaramaiah said.

The chief minister invited Shimomura to participate in the third Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) the state government will hold in Bangalore in October 2014 to attract global investments across the state in diverse sectors.


Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Railway stations in state to soon sport malls, hotels

Railway passengers in the state can expect major improvement in the amenities being provided at stations as the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) is planning to hand out land for development under private public partnership (PPP) mode.TheRLDA, which works under the railway ministry, willl ease out land to private developers who will then build multi-functional complexes (MFCs) which would include budget hotels, shopping outlets, ATMs, food courts and parking spaces.

Eight stations in AP including Nizamabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Kacheguda, Zaheerabad, Karimnagar and Kurnool have been selected for the project. Bids have already been invited for Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam stations.

RLDA official ssaid railway land measuring 1,000 to 3000 square metres would be developed. The developer who wins the bid would get the land on a 45-year lease. However, the MFCs will be part of the railway operational buildings and would be transferred to the railway authorities when the lease expires.

In south and west India alone, land parcels in 53 locations are expected to be developed. The RLDA aims to earn around Rs1,000 crore from the sites this financial year. “We are engaged in the development of land/air space entrusted to generate non-tariff revenue and creation of assets for the Indian Railways. In this context, we have opened bids for Gujarat and are in the process of opening bids for Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra,” said R K Garg, joint general manager, south west RLDA.

Around 20 developers evinced interest at Thursday’s pre-bidding meeting, which was organized by property advisor firm Knight Frank which is collaborating with the RLDA in the south and western regions. The bidding is expected to be held on October 19.

In addition to this project, the South Central Railway has been modernizing stations by installing escalators and elevators.


• Railway Land Development Authority is set to hand out land to private developers for building multi-functional complexes

• These complexes would include budget hotels, shopping outlets, ATMs, food courts and parking spaces

• The developer would be given a 45-year lease, after which the complex would be taken over by the railways

• Eight stations in AP – Nizamabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Kacheguda, Zaheerabad, Karimnagar and Kurnool – have been selected for the project.


Published in: on September 15, 2013 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

PPP route for new railway coach factory

Indian Railways has decided to pursue the public-private partnership (PPP) model for setting up a new coach factory, encouraged by the response it received from private companies to build a locomotive project in Bihar.

The railways sought request for qualification (RFQ) documents from private companies on Monday for building the Rs.600 crore coach factory at Palakkad in Kerala. The factory will supply 1,200 stainless steel coaches and 200 aluminium coaches to Indian Railways.

“The factory would have a manufacturing capacity of 400 coaches per annum and the indicative cost for the setting up of the factory is about Rs.600 crore, including the cost of land,” said the RFQ document.

The factory is proposed to be set up through a joint venture in which Indian Railways will own a 26% stake subject to a cap of Rs.60 crore investment limit.

The project aims to create additional capacity for modern passenger coaches and introduce light weight and energy efficient aluminium coaches.

“Indian Railways has an annual demand of 5,500 coaches,” said Arunendra Kumar, acting-chairman of the Board in an interaction with reporters on Friday.

General Electric Co. (GE), Alstom SA, Bombardier Inc., Siemens AG, and China’s CNR Corp. Ltd and CSR Corp., had shown initial interest for setting up a Rs.1,293.57 crore electric locomotive factory at Madhepura in Bihar by submitting their request for qualification documents on 2 September.

RFQs for setting up a diesel locomotive factory at Marhowrah (Bihar) can be submitted till 22 September.

For the Palakkad coach factory, RFQs can be submitted till 24 October. Indian Railways expects to announce a short-list of as many as six suitable pre-qualified applicants eligible for participation in the bid for the project by November.

“The cost of manufacturing an air conditioned (AC) coach is estimated at Rs.2.5 crore and that for manufacturing a non-AC coach is at Rs.1 crore,” said a railway official requesting anonymity.

“Projects such as these will put the economic growth back on track. Manufacturing activity has been weak. If this kind of PPP is done in the right manner, it will spur manufacturing growth. The government clearly needs to leverage on the private capital and market borrowing at a time when it cannot finance manufacturing activity,” said Abhaya Agarwal, partner, infrastructure advisory, at EY Llp in India.

“The railways, however, must ensure that the project develops into a full-fledged globally competitive manufacturing unit rather than just being a lock-in technology with Indian Railways. It is high time we create a success PPP story in railways,” he said.


Train Management System at Mumbai Central

Pramod Kumar, GM, Western Railway visited the Train Management System at Divisional Railway Manager’s Office, Mumbai Central. He discussed various aspects of this innovative system with concerned senior officers and appreciated its excellent performance, which has notably improved the operational efficiency of Mumbai’s suburban train network. This system has also been instrumental in better management of EMU services on Western Railway, as ‘ON LINE’ display of movement of all trains including train identification is available with the Sectional Controllers which in turn helps them to take timely and proper decision for cancellation, diversion and terminating of rakes in case of any major disruption to the service train due to unusual occurrences.


Indian Railways Pulls The Plug On Rail Radar, Train Enquiry

The Indian Railways has pulled the plug on Rail Radar and Train Enquiry, and launched its own Train Enquiry system. An announcement on the new train enquiry website informs visitors that, starting September 6th 2013, they should use http://enquiry.indianrail.gov.in/ntes/ instead of Rail Radar and TrainEnquiry.com. Rail Yatri, which had launched the Rail Radar and Train Enquiry that have now apparently been shelved have declined to comment: we contacted them after receiving a note from a user unable to access Rail Radar. Note that CRIS (the Central Reservation Information Systems) had launched Rail Radar at our #NAMA conference last year.

An announcement in the press (read this) calls the new Train Enquiry, as “a new, enhanced interface”, which frankly, is a ridiculous assertion if you compare the ugly new interface and user experience with what existed just a week ago.

It’s not just the interface, but the experience is also much worse: it’s ridiculous that the CRIS version of Train Enquiry asked me to fill out a CAPTCHA form before I could access the page.

This switch from Rail Yatri to CRIS is also a surprising move, especially given that, just last month Rail Yatri recently launched Rail Wisdon, an initiative for collecting (crowdsourcing) information relevant for train travelers – information such as which exit to leave the station from, which train stations the doors usually are locked at, interesting food and tourist places near train stations, among other things. Rail Wisdom is still available on the RailYatri website.

Our Take

Why should CRIS have a monopoly on railways information, and decide who uses this information and how? Why can’t they just release an API, so that, not just Rail Yatri, but anyone who wants to pull their train timings data can use it as they deem fit? Think of online and mobile travel guides that can integrate live train information. If someone can do a better job of it than CRIS, then why not? By monopolising information, CRIS is limiting consumer benefit.

For the Indian Railways, which is a public sector undertaking, the focus should be on making it easier for users to get the information they need, and for this, they need to be less territorial about it. What’s better for consumers is what matters, and the switch that we have seen here is a significant step backward.