Sonia, PM to launch rail link to Kashmir on June 26

The much-awaited railway section linking Kashmir valley with rest of the country will be launched on June 26 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will jointly flag off the first train.

The 18-km-long section between Banihal in Jammu and Qazigund in Kashmir will provide an all-weather surface link to the Valley which often gets cut off from the rest of the country due to snowfall during winters.

Northern Railway is coordinating with the Jammu and Kashmir government to arrange bus service from Uddhampur to Banihal for passengers to avail train service for the Valley.

“The bus service will be available from Udhampur to facilitate passengers availing train from Banihal next month,” a senior Northern Railway official said.

The Banihal-Qazigund section, which includes an 11-km-long tunnel, will reduce the distance from 35 km (by road) to 18 km. It has been constructed at a cost of Rs 1,691 crore.

“It was a challenging task. Besides the difficult terrain, land was acquired for the Kashmir rail link project in adverse law and order situation in the state,” the official said.

Train service is already operational within Kashmir valley in the 118-km-long route between Qazigund and Baramulla in north Kashmir.

“The mandatory inspection of the track by Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) is being done and the clearance is awaited. The line is expected to open on June 26,” the official said.

Trial run on this section was successfully done on December 28 last year and since then trains carrying stones are running on regular basis.

Work on this section was executed by IRCON, a PSU under railways. It will have two main railway stations – Banihal in Jammu division and Qazigund in Kashmir division.

In addition to these stations, a halt station is also being provided at Hillar village in Anantnag district for the convenience of local public.

IRCON Director (Works) Hitesh Khanna said commissioning of this section would help realise the dream of connecting Jammu region with Kashmir valley. He said it was Maharaja Pratap Singh who first explored the possibility of connecting Jammu to Kashmir Valley with a railway line way back in 1898.

IRCON completes first phase of railway reconstruction project in Sri Lanka

The railway line from Medawachchiya to Madhu Road in the war-ravaged Northern Province of Sri Lanka, part of a 252 km reconstruction project being implemented by Indian public sector company Ircon International Limited, was commissioned and dedicated to the people of the island nation at a function yesterday.

It was a historic occasion as train services recommenced on this section after a gap of 23 years.

Sri Lankan Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Transport Kumara Welgama, Minister for Industries & Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister for Traditional Enterprises and Small Industries Development Douglas Devananda and High Commissioner of India Ashok K Kantha inaugurated the long awaited train services on the section.

Deputy Minister of Transport Rohana Dissanayake, General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways B A P Ariyaratne, IRCON Chairman & Managing Director Mohan Tiwari, Ircon General Manager S L Gupta and other senior officials of Government of Sri Lanka were also present on the occasion.

All the dignitaries joined the maiden trip before the inaugural ceremony. The train journey from Medawachhiya took 30 minutes to cover a distance of 43 kms and was greeted with joy by large number of residents of the area on arrival at Madhu Road.

A press release from Ircon said the railway tracks from Omanthai to Kankasanthurai and Medawachiya to Talaimannar were completely destroyed during the devastating years of war in the region.

The Government of India has extended lines of credit to build the 252 kms railway lines in Northern Province and the project was given for implementation to Ircon.

The release said the 43 km segement had been completed as per schedule at a cost of $ 81 million. The reconstructed railway track is designed with a speed potential of 120 kmph, it said.

Work is progressing on the other segments of the project and they are expected to be completed by March 2014.

Published in: on May 18, 2013 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kashmir Valley to get crucial rail link by May

The critical Banihal-Qazigund rail section will expectedly be commissioned by this coming May at the PMO’s prodding, making the Kashmir Valley accessible throughout the year putting an end to its isolation during winter.

The 17.7 km-long section was tested in the last week of December. The rail section comprises the longest rail tunnel in India, passing through the Pirpanjal Himalayan ranges that separate the valley from the Jammu region and the rest of India.

IRCON, which is executing the project at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,670 crore, was expected to complete the other mechanical and electrical jobs by this March. The Commissioner of Railway Safety, too, was expected to give his clearance for operation within March.

Taking cognizance of the failure to abide by the deadline, the Prime Minister’s Office held a meeting here on Friday, took stock of the situation, and directed that the section be commissioned within the next two months. The Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee chaired the meeting.

The trial run of the first train in December tested the single broad gauge track of the 11.215-km-long Pirpanjal tunnel, constructed at a cost of Rs.1,172 crore. It also has a three-metre-wide maintenance and emergency road route.

IRCON declared that it would be able to provide world class ventilation in the tunnel apart from installing safety emergency lighting, sensors for detection of obnoxious gases and fire and linear fire alarm systems by March, notwithstanding the severe winter. This deadline to connect Qazigund, the last station in the Valley, with Banihal in the Jammu region opening up Kashmir to the rest of the country has been missed.

When commissioned, this section will allow connectivity to passenger trains up to Baramulla via Srinagar. The 345-km-long Jammu-Srinagar-Baramulla section will get operational entirely in 2017 when Banihal is connected with Katra. Till then, visitors will have to use the road route up to Banihal and take the rail route that beats the weather condition providing all-weather connectivity.

The PMO also set deadlines for completion of strengthening of power transmission and distribution networks in J&K by March 2014 while directing that the 44-KW Chutak Hydro Electric Power project in Kargil be completed by October. The deadline for the 45-MW Nimoo Bazgo Hydro Electric Project in Ladakh is expected to go critical by December.

CCEA clears 3 Joint venture Railway projects

The minister for railways, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, today announced the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to approve three important railway projects to be funded through joint venture.

The CCEA approved the construction of a new broad gauge line between Raigarh (Mand colliery) to Bhupdeopur railway station of 63 km length at a cost of Rs 379.08 crore to be funded through a joint venture (JV) consisting of IRCON International Ltd (a railway PSU) and two other stakeholders, South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) and Government of Chhattisgarh.

IRCON will spearhead the process of formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with 26 per cent equity and the Government of Chhattisgarh will transfer government land free of cost.

The Government of Chhattisgarh will thus participate to the level of 10 per cent in equity, either through capitalisation of land or through cash contribution and SECL will take the balance equity. The project is likely to be completed in the next five years during the 13th Plan period.

Ircon signs MoU with Chhattisgarh govt for rail corridors

Aiming at expansion of railway infrastructure for smooth movement of passengers and freight in Chhattisgarh, the state government has joined hands with Ircon and South Eastern Coalfields for construction of about 300 km of rail network.

A MoU envisaging the development two rail corridors in the state was signed between Chattisgarh government, South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) and Ircon in Raipur last week, said a release.

The rail corridors project will be implemented in joint venture model in which Ircon, a subsidiary of railways, will hold 26 per cent equity and the balance will be held by the state government and SECL.

The project — East Corridor and East-West Corridor — would come up at an estimated cost of Rs 4,000 crore.

While East Corridor will be about 180 km from Bhupdevpur—Gharghoda—Dharamjaygarh up to Korba, the 112-km long East-West Corridor will be from Gevra Road to Pendra Road.

The corridors are expected to facilitate movement of passengers as well as freight traffic mainly coal.

The preliminary work on the corridors will start this year.

Rail authority to soon bid for commercial use of land

Having got the Cabinet’s nod to go ahead with leasing land, the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) is all set to invite bids over the next few days to garner revenues from commercial use of land.

RLDA will follow three models of commercial utilisation, either directly or through joint ventures.

These are: multi-functional complexes (MFCs) , over 40 of which will be developed with Ircon and RITES, commercial sites and modernisation of five stations.

In the current fiscal, the authority expects to receive Rs 400 crore from commercial use of land.

But, out of this, Rs 330 crore is expected from Parsvnath Developers, from a contract awarded to it, a few years ago.

The Indian Railways’ land lease activities had come to a standstill after a Cabinet circular in 2011 had barred all Ministries from leasing land.

MFCs and commercial sites will be offered to developers on a 45-year lease period. In this model, the developer is required to make available facilities for rail users on at least 200 square metre land within the first nine months. On the remaining land, which could be 1,000-3,000 square metre in size, the developer is free to build shops, restaurants, book stalls and budget hotels.

During the demand survey, retail brands such as Pantaloon, Cafe Coffee Day, The Loot, Woodland, WH Smith (Travel News Services) had evinced interest to set up shops at the MFCs. RLDA has lined up 60 new MFC sites and six stand-alone sites for which the bidding process is being initiated in phases. Some of the MFCs will be bid out in joint venture with RITES and Ircon.

“Commercial sites will be offered at six locations – Katra, Amritsar, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Bangalore – with a 45-year lease. In commercial sites, we are not dictating the end-use of the land. For instance, we do not specify whether a hotel should be built or office space should be built,” an RLDA official said.

The authority has also been entrusted by the Rail Ministry for modernising five stations at Chandigarh, Anand Vihar (Delhi), Bijwasan (Delhi), Habibganj (Bhopal) and Shivajinagar (Pune).

These stations are being developed through the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation, a joint venture company created by Ircon and RLDA in which the former is the majority partner.

Chenab rail bridge to be blast proof

The steel rail bridge coming up over the river Chenab, said to be the world’s tallest and longest, will also be the safest in the country from the security point of view.

It is part of the Jammu-Baramulla rail line now under execution that would link Kashmir with the rest of the country. The critical project has opened up the pristine mountains to even the locals, spurring development and rehabilitation of those seeking to return to the mainstream in the Valley and the State in general.

The job of constructing the most challenging 70-km stretch between Katra and Dharam has been vested with the Konkan Railway Corporation Limited, while the Northern Railway is executing the portion connecting Udhampur and Katra. IRCON has the responsibility of laying the track from Dharam to Baramulla via Srinagar.

The focal feature of the 328-km all-weather route from Katra to Baramulla is the 1,315-metre-long rail bridge across the Chenab — an engineering marvel.

The rail link to Kashmir was launched in 2003 but work was suspended in 2008 for reviewing the alignments, when attention was focused on securing the bridge from possible attack. Despite the delay, the cost of constructing the bridge has been retained at Rs. 512 crore.

A Finnish consultant is now revising the design to make the bridge — which will be supported by a 467-metre steel arch structure — blast proof, KRCL executive director Rajesh Agarwal told a team of visiting journalists. Even if somebody throws an RDX bomb from a running train, the bridge being constructed with 25,000 tonnes of special steel of 63 mm thickness, will withstand the blast.

The concrete pillars too have been subjected to special treatment to bear the brunt of explosives. Given the bridge’s crucial location, a ring of air safety network has been cast against any aerial attack. The bridge, with a lifespan of 120 years, will be the first in the country to get such a sophisticated ring of security.

Mobilisation of resources has been completed with about 8,000 tonnes of steel already stacked up at the work site and the erection of concrete piers. Real work will start once the Finnish company prepares the final design, which is expected in about three months. The project is expected to be completed by December 2017.

The pylon of cable cars is in place and, tragically, during the initial work, two personnel lost their lives due to a malfunction at the worksite.

The tall rail bridge — 359 metres from the river bed — has been designed to withstand wind speed of up to 260 km an hour, though the in-built system will automatically stop movement of trains as and when the wind velocity reaches 90 to 100 km an hour. Generally the wind blows at about 40 km per hour at these higher reaches.

To construct this 70-km stretch, which has 18 tunnels and 26 bridges, the KRCL has had to construct 166 km of new roads on these steep mountain slopes, much to the delight of the local people living in remote villages. “We had to otherwise trek our way to and fro,” said a gleeful Mushtaq Ahmed.

Now buses trundle along these roads, most of which are yet to be black-topped. It has also opened up new opportunities, with commercial activities too picking up along the routes, spurring economic development.

It has given more than 4,000 jobs to the locals, including those who had gone wayward. “The families of surrendered militants come to us pleading that their wards be given jobs,” said project director Rajesh Tripathi.

As a matter of fact, the project has been specifically aligned to touch the lives of the people. The government had struck down the initial blueprint that suggested a couple of tunnels of 35-50 km length and just about a couple of bridges. But that would have bypassed the local residents, who can now use the train service.

Both Mr. Tripathi and Mr. Agarwal expressed confidence of completing the bridge in 42 months, the latest by 2016.

Ircon signs deal with Sri Lankan Railways for signalling system

Railway PSU Ircon has entered into an agreement with Sri Lankan Railways for installation of signalling and telecommunication system on the rail network in that country.

The project, to be executed in the northern province of Sri Lanka at a cost of USD 86.51 million will enhance safety at level crossings and provide GPS-based station clock system, and public address system etc. at major stations, the PSU said a statement.
The work will cover the entire section in Anuradhapura – Kankesanturai and Medawachchiya -Tallai Mannar Sections covering a length of 313 kms and 28 stations.

An MoU was signed in this regard in Colombo yesterday between GM of Sri Lanka Railways B A P Ariyarathna and MD of Ircon Mohan Tiwari.

Signalling work will involve provision of centralised control panel, interlocking colour light signal with electrically operated points, and train detection system.

Ircon has earlier also executed railway projects in Sri Lanka, successfully completing the Galle-Matara Section of Coastal Railway Line in February, the statement said.

Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mott MacDonald appointed consultant on high speed rail corridors

Bengaluru, Karnataka, July 19, 2011 /India PRwire/ — Mott MacDonald has been appointed by Indian Railways Construction Company (IRCON) International Limited, on behalf of India’s Ministry of Railways, to conduct pre-feasibility studies for a proposed high speed rail service between Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi and Patna.

India’s demand for public transport has been growing at around 10% a year over the last decade but the development of the country’s public transport infrastructure has lagged behind in comparison. The Government’s Vision 2020, India’s long term national development plan, is being introduced to rectify this imbalance and it envisages the implementation of four high speed rail projects, one in each region of the country. There are also plans for a further eight high speed corridors to connect commercial, tourist and pilgrimage hubs in India. Also supporting the development of high speed rail corridors is both the desire for more environmentally friendly public transport services to relieve traffic congestion and pollution on roads, as well as faster more time-efficient journeys which can be provided by the new high speed rail systems using bullet trains capable of travelling up to 300 kilometres per hour.

Mott MacDonald will help to identify key issues for development of the project on a public-private partnership basis. This will include reviewing all technical aspects of the property and the corridor infrastructure development in relation to alignment with existing facilities as well as any environmental impacts and assessment of high speed rail technology. It will also involve analysis of operational and business requirements, ranging from forecasting preliminary service ridership figures, estimating capital required, costs and benefits analysis and development of a planning and implementation schedule as well as an organisational structure for taking the project forward.

Gaurav Srivastava, Mott MacDonald’s project director commented, “With over 100 years’ experience in developing rail systems, Mott MacDonald is one of the world’s leading transport consultancies and provides clients with a one-stop railway capability and consultancy service, paying attention to safety and sustainability. We are delighted that our rail specialists, Michael de Voil and Jean-Pierre Quinaut, are involved in the delivery of this important assignment.”

He added, “High speed rail would position India for future growth and economic development and spur tourism. There is an untapped, potentially huge market in India for premium transport services, which combine speed, safety and comfort.”

The capital value of the high speed rail corridor is anticipated to be around INR 1100 billion (£15 billion).

Mott MacDonald’s report is due for completion towards the end of 2011.

CIL may join Ircon-Rites in rail project

As part of its product evacuation plan from Mozambique, Coal India is considering a proposal to join the Ircon International and Rites-led consortium constructing and rehabilitating the civil war ravaged rail system in Mozambique. Both Rites and Ircon are subsidiaries of Indian Railways.

According to sources, the Rites-Ircon have recently approached CIL to pick up participatory stake in the Beira Railroad Company engaged in rehabilitating, operating and upgrade 850 km long rail line in central Mozambique, including Beira Port, to carry 12 million tonnes of coal annually at an estimated cost of $440 million.

The Rites-Ircon duo holds 51 per cent controlling stake in the consortium.

Confirming the development, a senior CIL official told Business Line that the rail system would be of immense importance for evacuation of coal from Mozambique to India.

The official, however, stressed that a decision in this regard was still awaited. Efforts to secure comments from Ircon in this regard, remained unsuccessful.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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