Railways moot suburban corridor, automatic signalling

A suburban corridor and automatic signalling have been mooted by the Railways to introduce more trains and Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) to end hardship faced by commuters, especially short-distance commuters.

Participating at a meet-the-press of the Press Club here on Wednesday, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Rajesh Agrawal said the Railways had submitted a proposal to the government on automatic signalling, which could be justified only for such corridors.

Thiruvananthapuram is an ideal location for setting up a suburban corridor and the first one could be Thiruvananthapuram–Kayamkulam. Taking into account the special situation in the State and the overdependence on trains, the DRM said special passenger trains and air-conditioned MEMU services would have to be operated for short-distance commuters.

In reply to a question on the fate of the coaching depot at Nemom, the DRM said the proposal was still under consideration. “The division will move ahead with the proposal,” he added.

On the crackdown on season ticket travellers in reserved coaches of long-distance mail and express trains, Mr. Agrawal said complaints from reserved travellers had compelled Railways to take strict action. He said travellers should reserve tickets or travel in de-reserved coaches.

To a query on the shortage of travelling ticket examiners and stationmasters, Mr. Agrawal said accountability-levels had increased and hence the station masters were required to do additional jobs and take up additional responsibilities. “There will be opposition and some levels of discomfort, but everything has been done objectively. But if need be, additional staff will be provided,” he added.

Detailing on the upgrade of facilities at the Kochuveli and Kazhakuttam railway stations, the DRM said Kochuveli had been upgraded from level D to B category.


Green toilets in trains on anvil

To tackle the issue of environmental degradation and corrosion of tracks due to toilet waste seeping on the lines, the railways plan to install Green Toilets in trains. Work began on the project some time back and a number of coaches are ready with the department, at their respective manufacturing units.

A major reason for the interest in the project is that the railways could save up to Rs. 350 crore every year that it spends on waste decomposition from the tracks.

This year’s railway budget mentioned that Kakodkar and Pitroda Committees, formed to recommend measures for modernization of railways, suggested that there was an urgent need to replace open-discharge toilets with Green Toilets for cleaner and safer railways eco-system.

Ludhiana station superintendent Ravinder Sharma said that the Design and Research Development Organisation had developed bio-toilets that were under extended trial to test their efficacy and suitability.

By June 2013, 2,500 coaches will be fitted with bio-toilets. Trial runs of retention-evacuation and vacuum toilets are also planned on a few premium trains such as Shatabdi Express.

Based on the results of the pilot project, more coaches would be equipped with green toilets.

“Disposal of waste on railway tracks creates a lot of stink, and makes it difficult for passengers to stand on station platform. The concept of “Green Toilets” would solve nearly half of our problems in making railways a hygienic and eco-friendly place,” said, Manjit Singh Dhillon, a senior citizen.

Feroezpur divisional railway manager NC Goyal said that work was in progress on the project and would be given final shape by the first half of 2013. He added that a complete switch over to bio-toilets would be complete by 2016-2017.


Now find train ticket details on LCD screens

Thanks to a series of changes made at New Delhi railway station, commuters will now get to see their ticket details displayed on LCD screens at the counters. The facility was inaugurated by Delhi Divisional Railway Manager A. K. Sachan on Tuesday.

Mr. Sachan said that it has also now been made mandatory for porters to keep a rate list, which has not been revised since the past one year, with them. To deal with the crowds at the entrance to the Ajmeri Gate side of the railway station, baggage scanners and ticketing counters have been shifted to the inside part of the building.

Talking about the facility Mr. Sachan said: “The LCD screens, which have been strategically placed at every booking counter, will display the ticket details including the name, date of journey, number of tickets purchased, destination, the fare in Hindi and English, and the name of the ticket operator.

If passengers find any mistake on the screen, then it can be pointed out before getting the ticket from the counter.”

The LCD screen facility is available only for unreserved tickets, but Mr. Sachan said the facility will soon be extended to reserved tickets.

The LCD screens which are called as Dual Display Infotainment System will also have entertainment videos, live news, cricket scores, important railways safety videos and advertisements.


Rlys not responsible for luggage loss in passenger custody

The Maharashtra Consumer Redressal Commission has observed that if any luggage is not handed over to railway administration against a proper receipt, the Railways will not be responsible for any theft or loss of the luggage. The commission was hearing an appeal filed by a Divisional Railway Manager of Central Railway against the order of the district consumer redressel forum which had directed the DRM to pay Rs 1.35 lakhs to US resident Anagha Prasanna Walimbe for loss of her gold ornaments. “It is not stated anywhere that the suitcase containing ornaments was under lock and key and when it was opened after leaving Pune railway station and reaching residence,” the bench presided by commission member S R Khanzode observed recently. Khanzode also observed that the complaint of theft lodged with the Railway Police was closed and made final as ornaments were not traceable. In the absence of any cognate evidence placed on record by Walimbe, the railway administration shall not be held responsible for negligence or rendering deficient service to provide security/ protection to the luggage in the custody of the passenger, though travelling on a reserved ticket. The Sholapur district consumer forum had directed the railways to pay Rs 1.35 lakhs along with 9 percent interest after Walimbe filed a complaint saying that she travelled in the reserved second class on December 25, 1998 from Sholapur to Pune. In her complaint, she said her luggage was kept under lock and key with her and after reaching Pune railway station, she took an autorickshaw to reach home. When she verified her luggage at night she found that her gold ornaments were missing from the suitcase. She filed a case with the Railway police the next day. Walimbe had alleged deficiency in service on the part of the railway administration and said there was no police bandobast or ticket collector to take care of her belongings of the passengers. However, railways said she did not deposit her luggage with the administration. Accordingly, she did not take a receipt.


A lesson for train commuters on screen

Those who commute by train can now heave a sigh of relief. According to the Government Railway Police, there has been a dip in property crime on trains. Most of the offences were committed on trains at the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border and sometimes in trains from Kerala, police officers say.

A total of 16 major crimes, including stealing of suitcases and jewels, took place last year, but this year, only 11 have been reported till date.

To educate passengers across the state, especially at smaller stations, inspector S. Sekar of the Government Railway Police, with the help of an aspiring film director, has come out with a short film on crimes committed on trains. “People who often travel by train have acted in the movie, which has been funded by a private trust,” said P. Madhavan, who directed the film.

Though there were six incidents of theft committed by mixing drugs in biscuits and cool drinks last year, none have been reported this year.

“Most thefts happen on Coromandel express and Grand Trunk Express, and mostly when they reach the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border. Many of the doping incidents happen on Bombay Mail and Trivandrum Express routes,” said Mr. Sekar.

Crimes are more frequently reported during summer holidays and festive seasons, when the number of commuters is on the higher side. “Our main headache was doping. But we have been able to bring it down this year by conducting many awareness drives to educate passengers on safety while travelling in trains,” Mr. Sekar said.

The two-minute film will be screened at all railway stations that have television sets, said deputy inspector general of police, railways, R. Dhinakaran.

“People become casual and less alert around their co-passengers on a train. The video depicts real life situations faced by passengers,” said divisional railway manager S. Anantharaman.


AC coach vestibules to remain closed to prevent robberies at night

To prevent robberies on trains, the Vijayawada railway division has decided to close the vestibule (passage) between the AC bogies in the night. This decision comes in the wake of increasing number of robberies on trains. Divisional railway manager Anurag hoped this step would curb the movement of robbers on trains, especially in the AC bogies.

“We have decided to block the vestibule between AC bogies between 10 pm and 6 am so that the unauthorized movement could be restricted,” Anurag told TOI on Thursday. Besides this, GRP and RPF escort parties would be deployed on trains for the safety of the passengers at night.

As summer is more convenient for thieves and robbers to strike, the DRM cautioned the passengers against wearing expensive jewellery during train journeys. “Passengers should keep in mind that robbers would always be waiting for an opportunity to strike,” he said. CCTV cameras have been installed at key locations at various stations to keep a watch on suspects, he said.

Asserting that the recently-introduced tagging of luggage in the reserved bogies has been well received, the DRM said that they would take up more passenger-friendly measures.


Aircraft fumigant for roachless trains

In a bid to offer roach-free and rodent-free travel for train passengers, the Chennai Division of Southern Railway has introduced a new chemical to fumigate the rakes. Methyl bromide, the chemical that is being used, has proved successful in eradicating the cockroach menace, one of the biggest woes of commuters. It is a widely used fumigant for quarantine purposes, cho sen by quarantine authorities around the world, owing to its effective penetration and rapid action, and is used to fumigate aircraft and cargo as well.

Briefing newspersons on the sidelines of the 57th Railway Week celebration on Thursday, S Anantharaman, Divisional Railway Manager, Chennai Division said, “We have employed the new chemical with all proper precautions by treating coaches in atmosphere-controlled chambers. It is has been introduced for the first time in Chennai Division.”


Railways to launch Blue-Fi facility at Bangalore City

A fortnight from now, when you enter the Bangalore City Railway Station and the your mobile phone Bluetooth is enabled, don’t be surprised to receive a host of information, including details of arrival and departure of trains, downloadable games, wallpapers and so on.

The Bangalore Division of the South Western Railway (SWR) is all set to launch Blue-Fi, a combination of Bluetooth application as well as Wi-Fi connectivity at the station, facilitated by RailTel Corporation of India, the Railway Ministry’s telecom arm.

Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Sudhanshu Mani told The Hindu that Blue-Fi was one of SWR’s several initiatives to enhance passenger comfort. The facility is free for passengers while the Railways plans to get revenue through advertisement.

A first for railways

While a private company is already providing Wi-Fi connectivity at the Mysore Railway Station, the Bluetooth facility is a first for Indian Railways, said K. Manohar Raja, General Manager, RailTel, Bangalore. He told The Hindu that the entire City Station — from Platform 1 to 10 — will be covered by the Blue-Fi network.

Passengers can access unlimited data for free through Bluetooth as data transfer takes place very quickly. For Wi-Fi, however, the passenger has to send an SMS to a number to be specified to get the password. Using the password, the passenger can surf for half an hour. To continue, another SMS needs to be sent.


Go trainspotting at Bangalore railway station

The Bangalore Division of the South Western Railway (SWR) has put a replica of the 4,500 horse power diesel loco — Wide Diesel Passenger (WDP4) Locomotive — on display at the City Railway Station.

Manufactured by the Diesel Locomotive Work, Varanasi, 44 such locos are being maintained by the Diesel Locomotive Shed, Krishnarajapuram, in Bangalore. Since the loco is a matter of prestige for the Indian Railways, the Bangalore Division thought it fit to keep its replica on display, said Divisional Railway Manager Sudhanshu Mani.

Mr. Mani said WDP4 is the most powerful diesel engine available in India, which can haul up to 24 coaches at a time. Train rakes with a minimum of 21 coaches are fitted with this loco and many trains leaving Bangalore are hauled by this engine, he noted. “Also, WDP4 is the most technologically advanced loco and hence we thought of displaying its replica at the City Station,” he added. A railway engineer familiar with WDP4 said that this loco can clock up to 160 km per hour and is fitted with state-of-the-art microprocessor-based controls. These technological advancements make the loco one of the safest engines to be deployed to haul passenger coaches, the engineer noted.

While a conventional loco consumes about 164 gm diesel to produce 1 bhp, WDP4 consumes 155 gm of diesel to produce the same power, he said. Across the country, there are about 400 WDP4 locos, the engineer added.

The replica is kept for display near the parking lot at the Okalipuram entrance of the City Railway Station.


Train Enquiry using GPRS at New Delhi station

NEW DELHI: The next time you find yourself lost at New Delhi railway station wondering about the status of your train or berth, forget queuing up at the long winding enquiry counter line because help is at hand, courtesy a new scheme soon to be introduced by Northern Railway.

Under this, the ticket checking staff manning the station entrances and exits would be provided with hand-held devices based on General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) technology which will provide the latest information on train positions just at the touch of its screen after entering the relevant train number.

The information provided to the passenger will include the scheduled arrival time of the train, the duration of delay if any, the new expected time of arrival of the train and the platform number on which the train will be arriving.

According to Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi Division Northern Railway, Ashwini Lohani, two such hand-held sets would be tried out on a pilot basis at New Delhi railway station within the next 10 days and if found successful the service would be extended to Old Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin railway stations as well with 10 additional sets being procured.

“The idea is to facilitate passengers who no longer have to run from one counter to another to know the latest update of their train. All they have to do now is approach any of the ticket checking staff present at the station and give them their train number. Once this number is keyed in the hand-held set, the exact information on the train would show up automatically on set’s display screen for the convenience of the passengers,” he added.

Mr. Lohani said: “We are trying to integrate all information provided by the railway telephone enquiry number 139 on these sets. This would also include information of trains running not just on a particular day but also one day before and one day after it as often during fog trains running one day get delayed to the next day as well.”

In addition, the reservation charts pasted on station display boards and causing much overcrowding and confusion too could be a thing of the past with the Northern Railway planning to introduce digital reservation charts on 46-inch LCD display sets.