Rlys to go for new bidding for Bihar loco units

Cancelling the previous tender finalized during Lalu Prasad’s tenure as Railway Minister for setting up two multi-crore rupee locomotive projects in Bihar, government today decided to start a afresh bidding process for them with changed terms and conditions.

The proposal for Rs 1,293.57 crore modern electric locomotive factory at Madhepura and Rs 2,052.58 crore diesel locomotive factory at Marhowra was finalised in 2006-07 during the then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad.

However, the projects got delayed for various reasons and finally all issues were resolved and the Cabinet approved the proposal for setting up the factories in joint venture with locomotive manufacturers to be selected through a fresh bidding process with limited equity contribution from railways.

New bidding documents will be finalised with the approval of the Cabinet, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Earlier six leading companies — two for Marhowra and four for Madhepura — were shortlisted in 2010 through pre-qualification bidding process.

“However, now there will be fresh bid for shortlisting the bidders for the projects,” said the official adding “since there were changes in various clauses fresh bidding documents will be prepared.”

The scope for maintenance contract was changed drastically from the earlier one as per the recommendations of railways.

Earlier, it was the manufacturer’s responsibility to maintain all locomotives but now it was restricted to 250 locomotives each for diesel and electric and rest will be maintained railways itself.

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/logistics/rlys-to-go-for-new-bidding-for-bihar-loco-units/article4673774.ece

IRFC to raise up to Rs 6,000 cr within 2 weeks

Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC), the fund raising arm of the Indian Railways, will mobilise Rs 5,500 crore — Rs 6,000 crore, in the remaining two weeks of the current fiscal from the domestic market.

Funds raised by IRFC are used to pay for buying locomotives, wagons and coaches for Indian Railways.

“From the total fund mobilising target for the current fiscal of about Rs 15,000 crore, we have to raise about Rs 5,500-6000 crore. We will do that before the current fiscal ends and make available to Indian Railways,” Rajiv Datt, Managing Director, IRFC, told Business Line.

TAX-FREE ISSUE

IRFC raised about Rs 7,000 crore through its tax-free bond issues in the current fiscal, which is Rs 3,000 crore short of the Rs 10,000-crore permitted to IRFC through tax-free bonds for the fiscal.

This was because all organisations with permissions for tax-free bond issues hit the market after December 2012, in effect reducing the time window when firms could raise money. As a result, many firms have not been able to mobilise money from the market.

Last week, nine firms, including India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Ltd, IRFC, Dredging Corporation, Ennore Port and JN Port were vying to raise money through tax free bonds. NHAI did not even hit the market to raise funds as it had not spent the money raised in previous fiscal.

Railways plan

Meanwhile, Indian Railways plans to approach the Finance Ministry to raise at least Rs 10,000 crore through tax-free bonds in the next financial year.

“We have not firmed up the exact amount that we will seek from the Finance Ministry. But, at the minimum, we would like to ask the Ministry to maintain the Rs 10,000-crore limit,” said Railways’ Financial Commissioner Vijaya Kanth.

In fiscal 2012, IRFC had mobilised the entire Rs 10,000 crore through tax-free bonds.

This fiscal, among all issuers, IRFC may end up raising the maximum amount through tax-free bonds.

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-economy/irfc-to-raise-up-to-rs-6000-cr-within-2-weeks/article4516800.ece

Railways plans water recycling plant in Manmad for washing wagons

The Indian Railways has decided to set up a water recycling plant in Manmad to tap used water from loco sheds and re-use it for washing and cleaning of locomotives and wagons.

“We have planned recycling of waste water generated from washing of train wagons and locomotives such that our daily intake is reduced by 50%. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 8 lakh and has been forwarded for financial sanction,” a senior railway official from Manmad said.

Manmad junction on the Central Railway caters to traffic from Mumbai, Bhusawal, Aurangabad and Daund and is one of the busiest. However, it faces acute shortage of drinking water supply because of its location in the area where rainfall is low. Moreover, rains have failed in this part of the region for the last three years, and the town gets water supply at 21 days’ intervals.

“The Railways has its own reservoir to store water from where it is pumped for purposes including water feeding to trains and cleanliness at the junction. The Railways requires nearly 1.5 lakh litres of water daily for washing and other purposes of which 50,000 litres will be sourced from the water recycling plant,” the official said. Daily consumption of water in the station stands at 22 lakh litres – most of which is fed to the railway passenger bogeys.

Once sanctioned, the plant could be readied in six to eight months as a place has already been identified and other sanctions are in place.

According to the officials such a plant could be one of its kind in the state. The water fed for the recycling plant would be mostly grey water that can be easily treated and used for purposes other than drinking. “The Railways would thus lessen the quantity of fresh water intake contributing substantially towards water conservation,” the official said.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-03-03/nashik/37410068_1_grey-water-waste-water-manmad

Steam rides back at rail museum

From Sunday, visitors to the National Rail Museum can take a historical train ride. A restored relic of the country’s first monorail—Patiala State Monorail Tramway (PTST) – is ready to spew steam and smoke again. Although the original tramway ran two routes in the princely state of Patiala between 1907 and 1927, at the museum the tiny engine will do only a 10-minute loop run.

Railway historians say the Patiala monorail was conceived in the early 1900s and was built in the reign of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, under the supervision of the chief state engineer Colonel Bowles.

“As a young engineer in 1900, Bowles was laying the site of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway works at Kharagpur in Bengal. He faced trouble with the narrow gauge contractor tracks and tried, successfully , the Ewing monorail system. In this arrangement, about 95% of the weight of a vehicle is taken on the single rail and the rest on an additional wheel on an outrigger. In later years, Bowles used the same technology for a 15-mile monorail line from Sirhind to Morinda,” a historian told TOI.

One of the objectives of the tramway was to put to work more than 500 government-owned mules. But in 1909, four locomotives were built and delivered by Orenstein & Koppel of Germany (O&K) at a cost of $500 to $600 (about Rs 7,000 in those days) each.

A locomotive and a saloon of the erstwhile PSMT have been restored for the museum after an effort of several months.

“With help from the (railways’ ) Amritsar workshop, Rewari Steam Shed staff and NRM staff the loco has been brought back into operational condition,” said NRM director Uday Singh Mina.

A ride will cost Rs 200 for adults and Rs 100 for children . The number of runs in a day will be governed by the number of visitors. “It takes up to three hours just to light up the steam engine, but after that the train will run without problems as one keeps charging it with coal,” added Mina.

Of the three other locomotives built by the German company, one is exhibited at a workshop in Amritsar and the other two have been lost. NRM managed to acquire locomotive number 4 in the 1970s and it has been exhibited since then.

“To get the engine operational again, the boiler had to be dismantled and cleaned. The smoke tubes were in bad shape and had to be replaced, where required. The pipline is regularly inspected for choking and breakages,” added an official. The saloon has been restored by a Chandigarh-based heritage conservation agency.

The PTST and the audioguide facility for visitors were inaugurated by Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal at the 37th Museum Foundation Day this week. The audio guide system will relate the historical significance of exhibits like a story, in Hindi and English. It will also ease the crowding near specific exhibits. The museum gets up to 5,500 visitors in a day, with the average being 1,700-1 ,800, said officials.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Steam-rides-back-at-rail-museum/articleshow/18412096.cms

Bombardier, Siemens, GE, Alstom, EMD at war over Rs 40,000-cr locomotive market

In eight years, Indian Railways wants to be in a position to issue a ticket within five minutes of a traveller demanding it. For anyone who comes across this idea enshrined in a report titled Vision 2020, the road ahead is absurdly simple: technology would help issue more tickets to passengers at their doorstep through an array of devices.

But the Railways, even as it gets to that part about delivering the ticket, also has to deal with the fact that it needs to be able to run enough trains to meet the massive demand for seats. It is obvious to anyone who travels by rail for the first time in India that the demand for seats is much more than the supply, which is why tourists get to shoot those postcard pictures of villagers travelling on top of trains.

By 2020, the Railways needs to procure 5,334 diesel locomotives and 4,281 electric locos, spending an estimated Rs 1,20,000 crore. Given that its production units are overburdened, the Railways has decided to procure locos through public private partnerships. The Railways also does not have the resources to adequately fund its massive capital expansion needs on its own, given a surging wage bill which has significantly inflated its overheads.

The Railway Board will soon finalise a tender, to be opened in a few months, for procurement of electric locomotives vis-a-vis a joint venture with the private sector in Madhepura in Bihar. Another tender for a similar diesel loco manufacturing plant may also happen this year. Together, the two contracts are said to be worth around Rs 40,000 crore spread over a supply period of 10 years.

Keen to Join the Bandwagon

According to the plan, the Railways will provide land while the selected bidder would set up the infrastructure and assure a roll-out for a given number of years. The Railways plan to acquire around 800 electric locos from the private sector player. The modalities of the diesel loco project are being worked out. Given the massive procurement plans of the Railways, India has become an exciting market for international manufacturers.

This is why Bombardier, Siemens, GE, AlstomBSE -0.33 % and EMD have all become aggressive about their presence here. Several cities in India are also constructing Metro rail system, which opens up an additional market for these companies which manufacture coaches, locomotives, signalling systems, etc.

Bombardier for instance has set up a new Railway vehicle manufacturing site at Savli, Vadodara, Gujarat, as well as a propulsion systems manufacturing facility and software development centre for signalling and traction applications in Vadodara.

GE India has announced plans to set up a facility that will also manufacture diesel locomotives in Maharashtra with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore. “We are targeting India. We will participate in the tender to be floated soon by the Indian Railways for 1,000 electric locomotives. We are willing to offer 10% cheaper rates than other companies,” Alstom’s locomotive platform director Jean-Marc Tessier had said in an interview earlier in France. While EMD has been a long-standing technology partner for diesel locomotives with the Railways, Siemens too plans to cash in on the opportunity.

Slow, But Not Steady

For the Railways, these tenders would mean a generational change in the way it approaches procurement. As of now, the national transporter manufactures its own locomotives and coaches as well as relies on imports. However, the idea of assuring a massive off-take to two private players is something that the usually conservative railway board is slowly waking up to.

As of now, the Railways has the least amount of exposure to the private sector among other infrastructure segments. Critics have often accused the board of moving at a snail’s pace in opening the doors to companies. Although the two projects were approved in 2006 during the regime of Lalu Prasad, the projects could never take-off on account of procedural issues. In 2008, after getting the cabinet approvals, the Railways floated tenders for setting up a diesel loco factory in Marora and an electric loco factory at Madhepura.

The tender ran into controversy as only GE submitted a bid for the diesel locos. railway officers say at that point, they were in no position to grant the contract as it would then be perceived to have been given on nomination, which would have been in conflict with CAG norms. There have also been sharp differences among Railway Board members over these contracts with some officers having objected to the manner in which the concessions were being devised.

Yet to Gather Steam

Taking into account the kind of infighting taking place at the Railway Board over these projects, the Prime Minister’s Office has started demanding time-bound action on these projects. However, the bureaucratic tussles at the board are still coming in the way of a quick closure of the issue. Recently, there was a debate on whether the winning bidder would be paid an advance for the first set of locos that they would import prior to setting up the facility in India.

A member of the board who retired recently has floated a strongly worded note objecting to such practices. On the controversy, Railway Board member (electrical), Kul Bhushan declined to comment. “The tender should be out soon and we are working towards it. Please appreciate that we are following the due process,” he said.’

There is also a talk about the turf war between the electrical and mechanical wings of the Railway Board. It is said that the mechanical department, which was earlier the sole guardian of locomotives, is unhappy that the electrical wing has got a huge role in this area of expertise due to the rising demand for electric locomotives over diesel locos.’

Globally, All’s Charged Up

This is a phenomenon taking place across the world with several countries going in for electric locomotives although a majority in use today run on diesel. The International Railway Journal says there are around 47,000 electric locomotives currently in operation worldwide with an average age of around 27 years. While the proportion of electric locomotives has increased considerably in the past few years, diesel traction remains dominant. Electric locomotives account for less than 30% of all locomotives worldwide.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/transportation/railways/bombardier-siemens-ge-alstom-emd-at-war-over-rs-40000-cr-locomotive-market/articleshow/18198016.cms?curpg=3

BHEL to expand Jhansi plant to manufacture locomotives

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited will expand capacity at its Jhansi plant to manufacture 100 locomotive units for railways by next year, up from the present output of 75 and 50 last year, according to its Chairman & Managing Director B. Prasada Rao.

As for the metro segment, for which BHEL has tied up with Hitachi to offer solution to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, new manufacturing facilities will be created in Bangalore for control components, Bhopal for traction motors and Jhansi for locos.

Exuding hope that 25 to 30 cities in the country will have metro rail in the near future, he said BHEL was positioning itself to cater to the market. The capacities at the new plants will be in tune with the market (demand), he told journalists here.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/bhel-to-expand-jhansi-plant-capacity/article4152566.ece

Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 9:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Railway food prices to go up

Foodgrains, vegetables and fruit, among others, will be costlier because the Railways has decided to increase haulage charges for container train operators by 31%. Pawan Kumar Bansal is expected to elaborate on the decision in his first formal interaction with the media as railways minister on Wednesday.

Haulage charges, which container train operators pay the Railways for using the tracks, signalling systems and locomotives, will be increased in two stages — in December this year and February 2013.

A train’s cost of haulage from Delhi to Mumbai is currently Rs. 15,690. From February 1, it will be Rs. 20,590. Other essential commodities likely to be impacted include Basmati rice, soyabean, almonds and apples, besides garments, electronic goods, handicrafts, machinery and newsprint.
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-21/nagpur/35257857_1_pantry-car-poor-quality-food-deputy-station-superintendents
“We are demanding a rollback,” said Amitabh Chaudhary of the Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO).

The decision to hike passenger fares is likely to be kept on hold for the time being.

A second Shatabdi train from Delhi to Chandigarh and the flagging off of 20 trains are among other announcements Bansal is expected to make.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Railways-hike-may-push-up-food-prices/Article1-962096.aspx

Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 8:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Railways hike may push up food prices

Foodgrains, vegetables and fruit, among others, will be costlier because the Railways has decided to increase haulage charges for container train operators by 31%. Pawan Kumar Bansal is expected to elaborate on the decision in his first formal interaction with the media as railways minister on Wednesday.

Haulage charges, which container train operators pay the Railways for using the tracks, signalling systems and locomotives, will be increased in two stages — in December this year and February 2013.

A train’s cost of haulage from Delhi to Mumbai is currently Rs. 15,690. From February 1, it will be Rs. 20,590. Other essential commodities likely to be impacted include Basmati rice, soyabean, almonds and apples, besides garments, electronic goods, handicrafts, machinery and newsprint.

“We are demanding a rollback,” said Amitabh Chaudhary of the Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO).

The decision to hike passenger fares is likely to be kept on hold for the time being.

A second Shatabdi train from Delhi to Chandigarh and the flagging off of 20 trains are among other announcements Bansal is expected to make.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Railways-hike-may-push-up-food-prices/Article1-962096.aspx

Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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50 made-in-India railway engines to chug into Pak

After months of dilly-dallying, India has finally agreed to sell and lease out its locomotives to Pakistan, thus helping the neighbouring country restart its defunct train services.

In the first-of-its-kind deal, the Indian Railways will deliver 50 refurbished American Locomotive
Company (ALCO) technology locos at an estimated cost of Rs. 350 crore.

Another set of 50 new locos of a higher horsepower (3000-3500) will also be leased out. Lease charges of Indian locomotives work out to Rs. 900 per hour or Rs. 21,600 per day.

Pakistan is expected to get delivery of the first instalment of 10 refurbished engines of 2,000-2,600 horsepower capacity sometime next year.

The proposed arrangement will include a liberalised visa regime for Indian engineers who will be required to visit Pakistan for training purposes.

While yearly maintenance of engines is proposed to be done at the Indian Railways shed at Ludhiana, the Pakistan government has agreed to ramp up facilities at its railway shed at Mughalpura near Lahore.

Running 19,000 trains over a 54,000-kilometre network each day, the Indian Railways is hugely stressed for train engines.

“But the production units will churn out train engines in bigger numbers in the coming years. Issues with Pakistan have now been sorted out. We will shortly start working on the modifications and fix up the used locos to be delivered to Pakistan,” officials said.

With 137 of its fleet of 494 locos dysfunctional, train operations in Pakistan have virtually collapsed and annual losses worth a whopping R25 billion have been reported. In the last four years, the Pakistan government has provided Rs. 93 billion subsidy to its railways department, Rs. 32 billion as assistance for development projects and Rs. 14 billion as overdraft from the State Bank of Pakistan, railways minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said recently.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/50-made-in-India-railway-engines-to-chug-into-Pak/Article1-949598.aspx