Rs 200-cr locomotive plant to be set up in Sehore

An Indo-US joint venture firm has announced to set up the first diesel locomotive plant to manufacture environment-friendly and fuel-efficient railway engines at Sherpur village in the adjoining district of Sehore.

The firm will invest over Rs 200 crore for the project. Disclosing it to the media persons the Managing Director of the Daulatram Engineering Services Pvt Ltd CP Sharma said his firm had entered into a partnership with the US-based National Railway Equipment Company (NREC) to star the pioneer project in the state.

According to him, it was the first such example in which a private firm was given the permission in the county to manufacture diesel locomotive.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Industries Minister Kailash Vijawrgiya will lay the foundation stone for the ambitious project at Sherpur village on Saturday, Sharma said.

The plant will be set up in a 50 acre land already acquired by the company. “The joint venture has already bagged the order from Indian Railways and Chennai Metro to manufacture two such engines for them. These are currently being manufactured jointly by the company along with Diesel Locomotive Modernisation Works in Patiala,” he said. These two locomotives will be rolled by January next from the Patiala unit, Sharma said.

The next five locomotives will be rolled out from the new facility in next 18 months.

Indian Railways’ need for speed

There are multiple agencies working towards building high-speed rail corridors and the Railway Ministry is doing pre-feasibility studies.

That India needs high-speed rail systems — trains running at approximately 250-350 km per hour-speed is known. But, it would augur well for different agencies of the Government to identify one dense stretch, pool in all efforts to implement such a project fast. The lessons from this stretch could be applied to some other stretches.


At present, there are multiple agencies working towards building high-speed rail corridors. The Railway Ministry is doing pre-feasibility studies for six stretches across the country. Then there are some State Governments which are doing parallel exercises for running high-speed trains. The Kerala Government has commissioned a pre-feasibility study for high-speed rail (HSR) along the West coast of Kerala — Thiruvananthapuram-Kasargod. Similarly, the Haryana Government is evaluating running of high-speed trains on the Delhi-Sonepat-Panipat route.


The costs involved are huge. The Thiruvananthapuram-Ernakulam link is expected to cost in the range of Rs 40,000 crore. Similarly, the Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor is expected to cost more than Rs 50,000 crore. How will they be funded?

In this context, it is important to note that for the Railway Ministry proposals, even the cost of the pre-feasibility studies is being shared with the various State Governments, who are likely to benefit.

Given such costs, all implementing agencies have admitted that these projects will have to be taken in public-private partnership (PPP) mode with private participation. The exact model of PPP will have to be evaluated and decided. That process itself could take four years at the minimum — going by the time taken by the Government to decide such issues for railways’ factories and highways in India.

Should the whole project be given out to a consortium on design-build-finance-operate-transfer basis? Or should the project be unbundled — by breaking it up into station management, train operating companies — with the network being owned and managed by another agency?

“Which agency should run the trains? Who should then build and maintain the infrastructure,” asked Mr V. K. Dutt, former additional Member (Electrical), Indian Railways’, while speaking at a seminar on high-speed trains, jointly organised by the Institution of Engineers (India) – Delhi State Centre, IET (UK) – Delhi Local Network and Institution of Railway Electrical Engineers (IREE).


Then there are some technical issues. Should the new lines be made interoperable with the current system? Simply put, should the new rolling stock be such that they can move on the existing railway lines, something that France did? This is desirable because it would allow the new train sets to access much deeper areas on the existing network.

But this requires a lot of extra time and money because the existing railway lines and signalling systems have to be upgraded. It also means that the new network has to be built on a broad gauge — globally, the railway lines and rolling stock are on standard gauge.

Many experts who are outside the Indian Railways’ system per se, favour a non-interoperable standard gauge network.

The views of DMRC, which is doing the study for the Kerala Government, are well known. They are all for standard gauge — Mr E. Sreedharan has publicly stated his disappointment with the Indian Railways for not allowing the initial Delhi Metro network to be built on broad gauge. But Indian Railways has traditionally been quite rigid on this issue, insisting on interoperability.

What should be the proposed revenue box model? What share of the revenue can be taken out by monetising land? Who should be made to pay for the development — there have been examples like Manchester, where all beneficiaries — corporates and users — were made to share the cost.


Pricing of tickets is another issue. The high-speed trains — while requiring Government support — cannot be allowed to become a tool for populist measures.

“Do you want to target the aam admi (common man)? TGV — the high-speed train of French Railways — is approximately 20-30 per cent cheaper than some other European railways running high-speed trains. It enjoys an 80 per cent load factor,” says Mr Michel Testard, Indian Business Development Consultant to the SNCF (French Railways).

Mr Testard suggests: “Target a stretch — which is on an even terrain — that connects two cities separated by a distance of 300 km or so; and each city should have a population of at least 10 million.” The even terrain is important because of the cost implications — the cost of building one km of railway line could double in difficult terrain, such as mountainous region or those with water bodies.

These are just some key questions that have to be addressed before the projects start getting implemented. After all, it took almost 30-35 years for Delhi to get its metro system, after it was first proposed in 1972-75.

Railway ministry plans to set up National High Speed Rail Authority

he Indian Railways does a commendable job transporting an estimated 20 million people to the remotest parts of the country every day. Yet, modernisation eludes it even as nations like China and South Korea have stolen a march over us.

Indian Railways may have the most extensive network in the world, but its trains still run at speeds between 60 kmph to 130 kmph. Successive populist union rail ministers have turned down every attempt to raise fares, which would have helped upgrade the network and offer more comfort to commuters.

So far, the ministry has only proposed feasibility studies for high speed trains. The ministry of railways, in consultation with state governments, proposed high speed corridors between Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar, Pune- Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Hyderabad-Dornakal-Vijaywada-Chennai, Chennai-Bangalore-Coimbatore-Ernakulum, Howrah-Haldia and Delhi-Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna. The ministry also planned to set up a National High Speed Rail Authority for standard setting, implementing and monitoring these projects. The estimated cost of construction cost per km would be up to Rs 100 crore.

The Railways intends to run high-speed passenger trains at about 250 kmph on these routes.

While India’s ambitions are still on paper, Japan, which was completely devastated in world war II, introduced its first Bullet Train way back in 1964. The Shinkansen— as the Bullet Train is more popularly known all over Japan— revolutionised train travel when it took to the tracks, touching speeds of 210 kms an hour.

Today, it criss-crosses across Japan at speeds of upto 300 kms an hour. This correspondent was fortunate to travel on a bullet train some years ago. We were on our way to the city of Kitakyushu, a distance of 67.2 kms from Fukuoka. At precisely 12.59 pm, the Shinkansen starts its run. The urban landscape whizzes past the window at almost the same speed as a Boeing 737 taking off a runway. The scenery changes so swiftly, it is hard to believe a train can move so fast. At exactly 1.15 pm, our Shinkansen enters the Kokura station in Kitakyushu—a distance of 67.2 kms covered in just 16 minutes. It is akin to travelling from Churchgate station to Palghar (a little beyond Virar) in such little time.

Hopefully, someday in the distant future, a passenger will be able to travel between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in less than three hours.

IIT Kharagpur helps Indian rail speed up

At a time when the world has reached a speed of 330 kilometres per hour on rail, the best that India could achieve has been a little over 130 kilometres per hour. But it is high time that we too sped up, feels the Indian Railways and with this intent, it has entrusted IIT Kharagpur with the responsibility of providing the technological knowhow. The research is to happen at the newly opened Railway Research Centre of IIT Kharagpur and work has already started. The goal is to immediately increase the maximum attainable speed to 200 kilometres per hour.

Experts who have workd in the railway board are however askance. They feel that over the past two decades the focus of the railways has been to keep the fare low, even if it is at the cost of not improving the infrastructure or spending to augment safety of rail travel. To introduce high speed trains the centre will have to re-lay tracks at a cost of Rs 100 crores per kilometer, which is a mammoth expenditure that the railways are not prepared for. So why this exercise?

The project that IIT Kharagpur has received is four pronged and is aimed at improving not only the speed but the general efficiency of moving trains, keeping the present infrastructure in mind. A total of three years time has been allotted to the centre within which time it should come up with solutions to the specific problems that have been earmarked by the Railway Board, the apex administrative body of the Indian Railways.

Four broad areas have been identified as “immediate needs” by the railways – improving speed, imrpoving carrying capacity (heavy haul), use of advanced material, advanced signalling and maintenance for better safety. A total of eight IIT Kgp departments have started work in tandem for this.

“Speed is a priority for the railways at the moment. However, as things stand now, it is not possible to haul it up from the existing 130 kilometres per hour to the desired 330 kilometres per hour. Countries that have been able to achieve this use a completely different rail technology. So we have decided to do it in stages. We will first provide the technical support that will help to increase the speed to 200 kilometres per hour,” explained Siddhartha Mukherjee, a senior faculty member who heads the centre and is leading the research.

Nearly 100 faculty members and research scholars are working together on the project that involves electrical, ciomputer science, mechanical, metallurgy, civil, rubber technology, electronics and aeronautical engineering departments. There is a lot of excitement on campus over this mammoth project and faculty members say that a project of such magnitude has never been tried before.

One of the key experiments happenening at the moment in the institute’s laboratories is whether a different quality of steel should be used both in the construction of the rails as well as the coaches. One of the options that the scientists are looking at, is Bainitic Steel. “It is unparalleled in its malleability and ductility. The most advanced railway systems in the world have already been using this steel. However, we will also have to consider mass availability of this kind of steel and the cost effectiveness,” informed Mukherjee. This steel is being considered especially because the Railway Board has asked the institute to provide the knowhow so that the load carrying capacity can be sharply increased. “We will have to use the hypothetical load and study the resultant stress and strain over a long period of time before arriving at a conclusion. The material used to build the compartments and the design of the compartments will also go through changes to increase efficiency,” said a faculty member involved in the project.

The recent spate of accidents have also induced the railways to ask the institute to imrpove the signalling quality. While in the more advanced systems in the world, fully computerised cab signalling is in vogue, India still follows the old rail side signalling technique. “We have been told that the idea was not to completely change the old pattern but to improve efficieny of the existing signalling system by developing an analytic signalling logic design tool,” Mukherjee explained.

Train coaches to have 1200 bio-digesters by 2013

In a bid to ensure clean railway tracks, the Indian Railways would install Bio-digesters in all conventional coaches by 2020.
After getting successful results of fitted bio-digesters in 195 coaches since 2007, the Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala is all ready to install bio-digesters in around 300 coaches during the current financial year.

Each coach is fitted with four bio-digesters, which ensures eco-friendly toilet system by treating human excreta with special enzymes produced by a patented bacteria culture.

“The basic idea is to replace all open defecation systems presently operational in all conventional coaches by the year 2020 to give hygienic and pleasant travel experience to the commuters,” revealed Varinder Vij, senior public relation officer of Rail Coach Factory adding that, “the system is bit costly right now but the railways and union environment ministry are working on the modalities to share the cost-burden.”

Since 2007, the Rail Coach Factory has rolled out 195 conventional coaches to different zones of Indian Railways. For other AC and special coaches, the Controlled Discharge Toilet Systems (CDTS) had been installed by railways which were designed to ensure that waste from the toilets is retained in tanks while the train is waiting at a station or it is passing through city limits.

When the train picks up certain speed (say 30kmph) the waste gets discharged on to the tracks.

“This system had helped to keep the stations and tracks within the city limits clean but at outskirts and at certain points the situation deteiorated. So green toilets using bio-digesters is a better solution,” Vij said.

“Earlier, ladies used to throw sanitary napkins and clothes into the toilets, then designers worked on it to add a mechanism using ball-valves which segregate these products from waste material,” he added.

The coaches rolled out from RCF since 2007 are effectively working in the New Delhi-Rewa Express, Gwalior-Chhapra Express, Gwalior-Indore Express, Nizamudin-Indore Express, Mumbai-Varanasi Express, Indore-Jammu Malwa Express and Pushpak Express.

“In the current year, out of 300, 22 coaches for Kochivelli-Bangalore express have been sent to Southern Railways and the work for completion of remaining coaches is undergoing at a very fast pace,” added Vij.

“The bio-digesters are filled with bacteria which do not require replenishment for a long time, once charged, the system is almost maintenance free. The system is composed of 7 different chambers and the human waste is broken into these chambers where they are treated with bacteria and the leftover liquid is treated with chlorine before disposal,” he revealed.

“The use of bio-digesters ensures cost effective indigenous technology and retro fitment is feasible on existing coaches,” he added.

Published in: on September 1, 2012 at 8:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Indian Railways – 10 Interesting Facts

1. Fastest train in India New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express is the fastest train in India. The all air-conditioned superfast train clocks a maximum speed of 150km/h on the Faridabad-Agra section. It also has the highest commercial speed – 89.87 km/h- and covers the 704 km New Delhi – Bhopal stretch in 7 hours 50 minutes.

2. Longest, shortest run by a train Vivek Express from Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari travels a distance of 4273 km, making it the longest run in terms of total time and distance in Indian Railways. Shortest run: Scheduled services between Nagpur and Ajni stations situated just 3km from each other – primarily meant for crew to travel from Nagpur station to the workshop at Ajni.

3. Longest non-stop travel/ Trains with most stops Trivandrum – H. Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express travels the 528km stretch between Vadodara and Kota non-stop. In second place is the Mumbai Rajdhani Express that travels nonstop between New Delhi and Kota. The record for maximum number of stops by an Express/Mail train is held by Howrah – Amritsar Express 115 halts, followed by Delhi – Howrah Janata Express 109 halts and Jammu Tawi – Sealdah Express 99 halts.

4. Longest, shortest station names Shortest names: Ib, near Jharsuguda in Odisha and Od, near Anand in Gujarat. Longest name: Venkatanarasimharajuvariipeta on the Arakkonam-Renigunta section near Chennai.

5. Least punctual train Guwahati-Trivandrum Express is said to be the most unreliable long-distance train in the country. The charted journey time is 65 hours and 5 minutes, but the average delay on a trip is about 10-12 hours.

6. Two stations at same location Srirampur and Belapur are two different stations in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra which are both at the same location on the railway route but on opposite sides of the track.

7. Most powerful locomotive Electric locomotive WAG-9 used for hauling heavy freight rakes is the most powerful locomotive in Indian Railways’ fleet. The 6,350 horsepower beast is homed at Gomoh, Ajni,Lallaguda,Tughlakabad and Bhilai. Modified version of WAG-9 named WAP 7 is IR’s workhouse for high speed passenger service. It is capable of hauling 24 coach trains at speeds ranging between 140 and 160 km per hour. WAP-7 has similar horsepower as that of WAG-9 but comes with modified gear ratios for faster acceleration.

8. Last stations in North-South-East-West direction Northernmost railway station is Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir. Westernmost is Naliya near Bhuj in Gujarat. Southernmost railway station is Kanyakumari, while the last station on the east of India is Ledo on branch line from Tinsukia.

9. Junction with most number of routes originating from it Mathura junction with 7 routes- Broad Gauge (BG) line to Agra Cantt, BG line to Bharatpur, BG line to Alwar, BG line to Delhi, Metre Gauge (MG) line to Achnera, MG line to Vrindavan and MG line to Hathras, Kasganj. Six route junction – Bhatinda. Five route junctions – Lucknow, Guntakal, Katni, Varanasi, Kanpur Central, Villupuram, Dabhoi, and Nagpur.

10. Most number of parallel tracks/ Three gauges at one station Seven parallel tracks between Bandra Terminus and Andheri – 10km. Siliguri station on NFR holds the distinction of having three different gauges present.

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 6:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Indian Railways Plans to Build Four Biodiesel Production Plants

Indian Railways, Asia’s oldest network, plans to build four plants to produce biodiesel fuel, according to a government statement.

The first two will be completed by 2013 at a cost of 600 million rupees ($11 million), according to the statement late yesterday, which cited a written reply from Railway Minister K.H. Muniyappa to parliament.

The plants will have the capacity to produce 30 tons of fuel a day and will be set up at Tondiarpet in Tamil Nadu state and Raipur in Chhattisgarh state. The locations of the other two are being finalized, Muniyappa said.

The state carrier also plans to install solar photovoltaic panels and wind turbines in the next three years, according to the statement, which didn’t provide further details.

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 6:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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21 years of curing disabled on rail

Celebrating 21 years of service to the masses of rural India, Impact India Foundation’s Lifeline Express, the world’s first hospital on a train, has introduced a new programme, Prevention of Disability.

For over two decades, the train, in partnership with the Indian Railways, has reached remote villages in the country to restore sight, movement, hearing and correction of cleft lips with dental and neurological treatment and more, completely free of cost.

Brightly coloured on the outside with rainbows and flowers, the hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities and equipment to cater to the needs of the rural patients.

Zelma Lazarus, CEO, Impact India Foundation, said, “After serving 7 lakh people in the villages of India, we are hoping that one day this train will be defunct and our services will no longer be required as health services will be readily available to all the people in the villages.”

Commenting on the diversification in health services provided by the Lifeline Express, which is also known as the Magic Train of India, Lazarus stated that the focus had now shifted on prevention and sustainability. Prevention of disability through school health education to build knowledge, skills and positive attitudes on health amongst the rural schoolchildren is the latest goal.

This means using everything that is a part of the existing health infrastructure in rural Maharashtra for preventing disabilities, said Lazarus. “This will be used as a model for the entire country.”
In this sector, Impact India Foundation has managed to reduce the rate of disability in Maharashtra by 72% by spreading awareness about the issue.

E-ticket cancellations fetch railways Rs 750 crore

An integral part of a family holiday or business trip is proper planning, and most Indian travellers usually book their train tickets weeks, if not months, in advance. But the best laid plans can go awry and often do. The Indian Railways understands this principle well-it is what has, after all, enriched the government organization substantially over the years.

Between 2005 and 2011, the Railways earned a neat Rs 750 crore (almost equivalent to its annual profit) on account of cancellations of e-tickets alone. (Its earnings from e-tickets from 2005 to April 2012 were Rs 30,094 crore.) RTI activist Manoranjan Roy, who procured this information, says that the railways must do away with cancellation charges. “Indian Railways now has several avenues for generating revenue,” he points out. “It must stop burdening the common man with cancellation charges.”

In 2011, between March and December, the railways earned Rs 198 crore from cancellation charges of e-tickets. Ever since it began in 2005, e-ticketing has ballooned to make up about 40% of all rail ticket sales. Railway officials say that the convenience that booking and cancelling an e-ticket offers has seen more passengers making advance bookings that very often result in cancellations. In fact, one out of every three e-tickets sold is cancelled.

If a confirmed ticket is cancelled more than 24 hours before the scheduled departure of the train, the penalty is Rs 70 for an AC first-class ticket, Rs 60 for AC Tier-2, AC Tier-3 and AC chair car, Rs 40 for sleeper class and Rs 20 for a second-class ticket. In fact, even if a wait-listed ticket is not confirmed, the Railways go on to deduct Rs 20 before refunding the remaining sum.

Popular trains have long waiting lists of 700 or 800. “Close to 95% of the wait-listed tickets do not get confirmed and automatically stand cancelled,” explains a rail officer. “Hence, what ordinarily happens is that most passengers book themselves on more than one train; others with flexible travel dates book tickets on different days if they are on the waiting list.”

Clearly, somebody’s attempts to stay on top of the chaotic train travel in India can be somebody else’s huge gain.

E-way to big bucks

Year ——– Tickets sold (lakh) —— Ticket sale income (Rs crore)——- Revenue from cancellation charges (Rs crore)

2005-06 —-25 ———- 317 ——- 2.85

2006-07 —-68 ———- 678 ——- 5.79

2007-08 —- 189 ——- 1,700 —— 15.61

2008-09 —- 440 —— 3883 ——– 99.42

2009-10 —- 719 —— 6011 ——– 190.63

2010-11 —- 969 —— 8007 ——– 235.37

2011-12 —-1,161 —– 9498 ——– 198.80*

(* Cancellation figures up to December 2011)

Railways plans to rope in foreign hands for catering .

The Indian Railways is mulling over the idea to engage international professionals to improve its catering service and a proposal is under consideration by the Rail Bhawan as a pilot project on 26 premium trains, including Rajdhani, Shatabadi and Duranto Express trains.

“Services of these specialised professionals would be hired through a global tender. The idea is to set a benchmark for catering services under the supervision of the department,” railway officials said here on Saturday.

After a new catering policy was unveiled in July 2010, the task of monitoring the quality of catering service was shifted from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to the Zonal Railways.

The move has seen a sharp decline in the number of complaints against the quality of food dished out onboard and the availability of cheaper options on stations. The gripes reduced by as much as 30 per cent. Railways has already proposed to set up base kitchen across the country to provide quality food on running trains and at platforms.

With a new policy in place, the Railways had issued a Standard Bid Document (SBD) for managing the catering services, wherein adequate weightage was given to engaging reputed professionals to ensure quality of food.

In the recent Budget, the Ministry had also set a target to improve upon the hygiene and cleanliness on trains and Railway premises. The Ministry has separately proposed to set up a specialised body to take care of the “very specialized activity” of housekeeping.

Published in: on April 1, 2012 at 7:50 am  Comments (1)  
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