On local trains, it’s graffiti grief for women

A woman journalist was in for a shock recently when she started receiving lewd calls from strangers. On enquiring, she found that someone had scribbled her phone number along with an obscene message in a local train compartment. She then lodged a police complaint.
While her complaint is pending with the cyber crime cell, the menace has been giving other women commuters a tough time. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has registered several cases of damaging or defacing railway property, of which five per cent are cases of obscene graffiti against women, officials say.

Such graffiti is usually seen in luggage compartments and second class ladies’ compartments that become general compartments after 11 pm.

Over the past five years, the RPF registered 766 offences on the Western Railway (WR) and 15,311 on Central Railway (CR). These include defacing trains, damaging banners or altering letters or figures in trains or on railway premises. However, the railway administration has failed to take serious action as it “does not have separate data on cases of obscene graffiti in local trains”.

Women commuters prefer not to approach police. WR commuter Neha Dutt said, “It would be better if the railway authorities frequently cleaned the train coaches and removed the obscene posters and graffiti.”

Before 2004, such cases were handled by Government Railway Police (GRP). Later, the RPF was empowered to deal with such cases under Indian Railways Act, 1989.

In April 2002, the then railway police commissioner Rakesh Maria formed three squads comprising 10 police personnel. Police had then nabbed two culprits red-handed.

On April 18, 2002, a 23-year-old final year engineering student and on April 25, 2002, another 20-year-old college student were caught while scribbling vulgar graffiti on the wall of second class ladies’ compartment. RPF authorities, however, said it was difficult to catch the offenders red-handed.

WR registers cases of defacing trains under section 166 A and 166 B of Indian Railways Act, regarding damage to railway property. The CR’s RPF, however, registers these cases as creating nuisance under sections 145 A, 145 B and 145 C of the Act. The minor penalty entails imprisonment for a month or a fine Rs 500 to Rs 1,000.

Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, CR said, “This is the work of perverted minds. Though the law takes care of such offenders, the permanent solution is that every member of the society must respect women.”


JTBS scheme a hit on CR

JAN Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewa (JTBS), the Railways’ outsourcing scheme, has shown substantial growth over the past year, with its share in total ticketing rising from one per cent in January 2012 to 11 per cent in January 2013 on Central Railway (CR). On Western Railway (WR), the scheme has been poorly received. While there are 141 JTBS centres on CR, there are are only four on WR in Mumbai division.

Though commuters have to pay a rupee extra while purchasing tickets from JTBS centres, many prefer this over long queues at ticket booking offices.

Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway manager, CR said, “JTBS counters in Thane, Mumbra, Kurla and Govandi sometimes sell over 10,000 tickets a day.”

Mukhtar Malim Kasam, a JTBS operator at Mumbra, said, “On weekends, 5,000-6,000 tickets are sold. On a regular day, we sell up to 3,000 tickets.” A ticket booking window sells a maximum of 3,000 tickets per day on both CR and WR.

Earlier, JTBS policy did not allow additional counters. Other rules related location of JTBS shops too are stringent. A policy review in 2010 popularised the scheme, said a senior railway official who did not wish to be named. The official said the share of JTBS was now equal to Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) that contribute 11 per cent to ticketing.

On why WR was not promoting JTBS, Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, WR, said, “We have many booking counters to take care of queues. Also, ATVMs and CVMs together contribute 30 per cent to overall ticketing on WR.”


CST gets solar panels to meet its energy needs

THE Central Railway (CR) has undertaken a pilot project to reduce its carbon footprint at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in Mumbai division and Tikekarwadi in Solapur division. For this, it is looking at solar energy to fulfil the power needs at these stations.

In December last year, Khandala station was provided with equipment to harness solar and wind energy. “Tikekarwadi has now become the first station on CR to meet all its power requirement through solar energy. At CST, the 10-kW solar panel is meeting some of the requirement, said Vidyadhar Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer, CR.

Rising energy costs had compelled CR to take steps to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy. According to the spokesperson, the average cost of one unit has gone up by around 16 per cent due to increase in energy prices between 2011-12 and 2012-13. Last year, CR earned a Rs 5.77 crore rebate on non-traction energy owing to the green initiatives undertaken by the administration.

“With measures such as these, we hope to reduce our dependence on non-renewable sources of energy further,” said Malegaonkar.

“In addition, about 50 level-crossing gates are powered by solar energy. We have also taken measures like running pythons (two freight trains attached together) and switching off auxiliary systems when trains are at stations. Such measures have helped us improve specific energy consumption by 2.7 per cent,” he said.


Ride to Matheran on steam engine powered by diesel

From June, railway enthusiasts will again have a chance to witness a “steam engine” hissing its way up the hills of Matheran. The engine was last seen in Matheran’s hills in November 2011.

It was pulled out of operation after embers from the coal-fired steam engine sparked fire on dry grass along the route. After the forest department and locals objected to the plying of the coal-fired train, the Central Railway (CR) has now found a solution to the problem. “Instead of coal, the newly modified steam locomotive will be fired by diesel,” said CR’s divisonal railway manager, Mumbai, Mukesh Nigam.

The modification of the B-794 steam locomotive is being carried out at Golden Rock Workshop, Tiruchirapalli, in South Eastern Railway at an approximate cost of Rs 20 lakh. “The steam engine has its own charm and there were many requests to run the services through such locomotives,” Nigam added.

Despite the modification, it will have the authentic sounds of the steam whistle. The engine will also get a fresh coat of corrosion-free glossy paint.

The refurbished locomotive is scheduled to arrive in the last week of May. The trial will be carried out for a few days after which the locomotive will be pressed into service in June. The train will be run only as a chartered service. It will be able to pull three coaches. The tariff is yet to be finalized. An official said, “Due to huge demand, we decided to re-introduce the service.”


Chain-pulling delays 25 Central Railway trains every day

Chain-pulling incidents on long-distance trains are behind Central Railway (CR) trains running late during rush hour, said officials.

CR officials concede that since the onset of summer peak season, at least 20 to 25 suburban services run behind schedule daily, said CR officials. “There has been a huge rush on platforms at CST, LTT and Kalyan to board trains, especially those heading towards North Indian, Kokan and Goa. It has been observed that a passenger fails to board a train due to overcrowding in compartments and on platforms,” said a senior CR official.

There have been instances when passengers indulge in Alarm Chain Pulling. The official said, “Most of the incident occurs at CST, LTT or Kalyan. AS a result, the trains gets held up, because of which the train scheduled to leave behind the affected mail/express train also gets held up.”

So far, number of ACP case registered in March and April stood at 134 and 135.

“Fifty-four cases of chain-pulling were registered till May 12. Of these, passengers had a genuine reason to halt the train in only 20-25% instances,” he added. The official said, “In more than 50 per cent of cases, the actual reason for chain pulling in not known as the offender cannot be identified. In suburban train, most of the ACP cases are originate from compartments reserved for handicap commuters. In Long distance trains, the cases are in general as well as reserved classes as many failed to board the train due to late arrival at stations.”

The Railway Protection Force wants the administration to reduce people crowding on platforms due to ensure quicker entry and exit of passengers. “One measure that needs to implemented is stopping the sale of platform tickets,” said an RPF officer.

A total of 11.65 lakh people bought ticket in 2012-13 compared to 9.55 lakh in the preceeding year.

CR runs total of 1,600 services daily, including long-distance trains, from Mumbai. “A chain-pulling incident will delay a train by five to 10 minutes. The loss of time is significant at Suburban trains in Mumbai run at frequency of 4 minutes. A delay of 10 minutes can have cascading effect on other services too.”


Central Railways spends Rs14 lakh in 60 days to keep birds at bay

In past two months, the Central Railway (CR) has spent more than Rs13.7 lakh on bird repellents between Kalyan and Thane. According to a CR authority, the railways has been facing this problem for quite sometime now, with birds, especially pigeons and crows, building their nests on overhead equipment (OHE), poles and pantographs, often disrupting rail traffic.

In past two months, the Central Railway (CR) has spent more than Rs13.7 lakh on bird repellents between Kalyan and Thane. According to a CR authority, the railways has been facing this problem for quite sometime now, with birds, especially pigeons and crows, building their nests on overhead equipment (OHE), poles and pantographs, often disrupting rail traffic. The overhead wires or a train’s pantograph come in contact with the twigs used to build the nests and cause technical glitches.

As authorities have been looking for a permanent solution to shoo the birds away from the wires and other sensitive places on the tracks, it has been applying non-toxic repellents like gels, paints and other wooden repellents on the equipment that could prevent birds from nesting there. “There have been many instances of birds disrupting rail services, with their nests on portals that hold overhead wires causing short circuits and power failures that delays services. The problem worsens every summer,” CR public relations officer AK Singh said.

In the last two months, railway officials have removed over 200 nests in Thane and its adjoining stations, which they claim have caused at least 6-7 minor disruptions.

According to an official, the railways had tried dangling wooden sticks like scarecrows from the electric poles last year. Weights or wooden sticks attached to threads would sway with the wind and scare the birds off.

“This didn’t deter birds from building nests on the poles or OHE. It somehow proved effective in the western lines as in past one year, there have been fewer disruptions due to birds,” the station master at Thane station said.


Published in: on May 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Soon, CR trains to get TV sets

Mumbai’s crowded local trains will now have television sets. The Central Railway (CR) has mega plans to get them installed in all 80 electric trains that ferry 40 lakh passengers.
The TVs are to run programmes like quiz shows, popular comic as well as railway-related and public service messages.

“We already had them in 10 trains and now want to try and install them in all 80. We have called for proposals. Let’s see what the response is like,” senior divisional commercial manager (CR) Atul Rane said. “The basic idea is to run infotainment and quiz programmes that would be uploaded through the Internet on running trains.”

CR hopes to provide good infotainment to its commuters and earn significant revenue through this project.

Speaking on the safety of the TV sets in trains, railway officials said they will be encased in metal boxes and welded to the interiors to make them theft-proof.

The idea of introducing TVs in local trains was first materialised by the Western Railway in March 2007 after passengers of Shatabdi Express enjoyed a customised entertainment system on board.

There are 29 12-car trains at Sanpada in Navi Mumbai, 13 at the Kurla car shed and 38 at theKalwa car shed and sources said the cost of the project is around Rs3 crore


Published in: on February 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Long-distance travel to be faster in a month

You can now expect to save some time on your long-distance travel as Central Railway (CR) works towards switching to a 25-KV alternating current (AC) system between Kalyan station and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) within a month.

Once operational, the new system will save at least 20 minutes for every long-distance service. The test-charging of the AC power system is being carried out during the weekend. On Sunday, the first AC locomotive on CR will run between Kalyan and LTT on a test drive.

CR’s chief electrical engineer P K Srivastava said, “It will also bring down energy consumption by 33% due to the regenerative braking system.”

At present, AC-compatible locomotives cannot ply south of Kalyan, while DC locomotives cannot run north of the station. Nearly 44 long-distance trains from LTT have to spend an average of 20 minutes in Igatpuri or Bhusaval to change locomotives. Likewise, 11 long-distance trains that travel via Diva and Vasai have to undergo the process at Vadodara or Valsad.

“Under the AC system, the trains will not have to change locomotives,” Srivastava said. “Usually, test-charging is done during the day, but we can’t shut down suburban services.” By Sunday, CR will test-charge nearly 240-km at a go. The exercise is being carried out without any special block.

But even after the test turns out to be sucessful, CR will continue to operate suburban services on this section on DC power due to non-availability of adequate AC-DC compatible rakes. Srivastava said, “Only after switching to AC system between Kalyan and LTT, will we be able to run AC-DC compatible rakes and AC locos on this stretch.”

The WR handed over a DCAC rake to CR on Friday. CR will then be able to restrict the use of DC compatible rakes between CST and Thane. Services beyond Thane to Kalyan, Dombivli and further will operate on DC-AC rakes.


• CR has switched to AC system on Igatpuri-Kalyan and Lonavala-Kalyan section

• Of the total 119 rakes on CR, 51 are AC-DC compatible. CR needs five more AC-DC rakes to run services up to Kalyan-Dombivli on AC traction


Matheran toy train will operate till 9pm

If you’ve taken even a few weekend trips away from the city, chances are you’ve been on the Neral-Aman Lodge-Matheran toy train. Now, the 105-year-old train chugs along over 21 kilometres of ghats will get a makeover. The Central Railway (CR) is taking different measures to sustain the service that has been running into losses. These include strengthening the tracks, extending services to later in the evening and renovating the railway station. Currently, the railways incur an annual expense of Rs. 16 crore in maintaining and operating the diesel locomotives. The fare box collection is only Rs. 30-40lakh.

“It is impossible to operate the services with such a high investment and such low returns. Therefore, we will try different ways to increase the revenue. We are also working on reducing the cost of operations by making technical improvements,” said Subodh Jain, general manager, CR.

The railways are trying to increase the speed and capacity of service by adding more coaches and a rear engine to the existing train. Currently, a five-coach train runs along the Neral-Matheran stretch. The administration is planning to extend this to eight coaches.

In addition, the plans of starting services at night are also at an inception stage. “Currently, the last train from Matheran leaves at 6.30pm, but there is a huge demand for night trains from tourists and locals. Therefore, we will request the commissioner of railway safety to add two more services after sunset that will allow these trains to operate till 9pm and allow luggage to be transported after that,” added Jain.

The administration has also added 5-seater luxury family coach to the toy train. The coach has a sofa couch and a camera fitted outside it, which will enable the commuters seated inside to enjoy the view without opening the windows.


Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Central Railway e-plan puts RTI applications on fast track

Central Railway (CR) is planning to use information technology to ensure quicker disposal of RTI queries and make the process more transparent.

During 2011-12, CR dealt with 8,147 RTI applications, 1,344 first appeals and 175 second appeals. Twenty-seven public information officers (PIOs) deal with information requests filed across five divisions. “An application may be filed in Mumbai, but the information may have to be collected from another division or a workshop within the city,” a senior CR official said.

“We used to send the application by post and this caused delays. Moreover, we would have to make photocopies of the application for our record before dispatching the request. The entire process was tedious,” he added. Under the new system it is easy to track RTI queries. “After a request for information is received it is scanned, assigned a unique number and uploaded on the intranet. PIOs can access the applications online and collate data from relevant sources,” said an official.

“Every RTI application is forwarded to all 27 PIOs and is tracked online. This has reduced paperwork,” said VA Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer of CR.

“Employees dealing with RTI queries were trained at Indian Institute of Public Administration in Bengaluru. We will have an in-house magazine ‘Prabhodini’ dedicated to issues related to RTI,” Malegaonkar added.


• After an RTI query is received it is scanned and assigned a unique number and uploaded on the CR intranet

• PIOs access the applications online and collate data from relevant sources

• Every RTI application is forwarded to all 27 PIOs and is tracked online. The initiative has improved scrutiny and reduced paperwork, claim CR officials.