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.


First phase of CRS will benefit four lakh passengers daily

Using the City’s existing rail infrastructure, the Commuter Rail Service (CRS) proposal offered suburbs-bound commuters a quick and cheap alternative, an escape from the gridlocked roads.

But, finding no mention in the Railway Budget 2013-14, CRS was destined for the cold storage. Informed experts and concerned citizens now want at least the first phase launched as a pilot skeletal service, with a few modifications to the project as envisaged by infrastructure consultants, Rail India Technical and Economic Solutions (RITES).

First, where the project stands today. The RITES had submitted its final report on the project to the State Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) in August 2012. The BJP government in the State had reportedly cleared the CRS project in March 2013 in a Cabinet meeting and the proposal sent to the Railway Board in Lucknow.

However, the Board could not take a quick decision on the funding. Result: It found no mention in the railway budget.

But the project need not wait another year. Eager to resurrect the eminently workable CRS, Satinder Pal Cho­pra, a seasoned researcher on railways, has suggested a few modifications to kickstart the project’s Phase 1A.

Four lakh to be benefitted

“About three to four lakh passengers will be benefitted by just this initial phase alone,” he told Deccan Herald.

Citing the Railways’ policy of giving operational priority to suburban trains (over long distance Express trains) while framing railway time-tables, Chopra recommends that all trains under CRS should halt at the City and Cantonment railway stations for not more than five minutes. This would ensure that the schedule of other trains is unaffected.

Since Platforms 3, 7 and 9 at the City station are occupied only less than 50 per cent of the day, Chopra says the suburban trains on the Bangalore City-Malur section could berth at Platform 3, the City-Ramanagara section on Platform 7 and the City-Yeshwantpur-Tumkur section on Platform 9. At the Yeshwantpur station, all these trains could stop at Platform 3. This arrangement would require only minor changes in timings / berthing of two to three long distance trains.

Designed this way, the CRS first phase could accommodate 20 suburban services on the City-Malur section, 16 on the City-Ramanagara section, six each on the City-Tumkur, Yeshwantpur-Tumkur and Yeshwantpur-Hosur sections, and two services on the Cantonment-Hosur sector.

The RITES report, however, had sought the construction of two more platforms at the City station, exclusively for commuter trains. Its rationale: The 10 platforms are fully occupied and there is hardly any slot on any platform for handling additional trains.

Suburban trains are operated with Main Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) and Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU). These trains accelerate and decelerate much faster than the normal trains. Currently, the South Western Railways operate six MEMU and 10 DEMU services as passenger trains daily.

In all, the SWR use only one MEMU rake (combination of coaches) and three DEMU rakes. Chopra’s recommendation is to add three more DEMU and four more MEMU rakes to join this fleet, for the first phase of CRS.

The four additional MEMU rakes could be shared between the City-Malur and City-Ramanagara sections. The three DEMU rakes could operate on the Cantonment-Hosur, City- Yeshwantpur-Tumkur, and Yeshwantpur-Hosur sectors.

DH News Service


Bigger, faster & slicker trains to connect cities

With rising demand for inter-city travel, railways is stepping up production of diesel electric multiple unit (Demu) trains with better interior design, increased capacity and more pulling power suitable for connecting smaller towns. An advanced version of such a train was flagged off on Monday at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF). The 10-coach train with 1,600HP engine is made for South Central Railway.

“The new stainless steel Demu can run faster and carry more people than conventional ones. We have given importance to aesthetics while designing the train. The interior is screw-less like the interior of Anubhuthi (a new premium coach railways is planning to introduce for high-end travellers). This shows that the factory is capable of making premium coaches,” said ICF general manager Abhay K Khanna.

Demu and mainline electric multiple units (Memu) are coaches with their own motor cars and are used for shuttle services in semi-urban and rural areas. There are more than 1,000 trains in service. These are slower than the 105kmph the new Demu can reach.

“ICF has made the three phase AC transmission Demu indigenously. There is demand for a few hundred such trains across the country because they do not need a locomotive,” said Railway Board member Keshav Chandra.

The coach factory will make one more such train this financial year and more than seven such trains are in the pipeline. The trains will be made Euro II emission compliant in the future. “We may upgrade electric multiple units (used in suburban trains) to three phase AC transmission with switching technology,” he said.

Research Development and Standards Organisation was part of the project since it was conceived six years ago. “The train will have emission rate of 147g per brake horse power hour as against the 155g in 1,400HP Demu,” said RDSO director general V Ramachandran.

ICF launched a self-propelled accident relief train that can travel at 155km per hour and has an operation table and post-operative ward for Bilaspur division. ICF plans to make 15 such trains this year as Indian Railways plans to station one accident relief train at 59 divisions.

ICF produced 1,620 coaches this year and surpassed its target by 19 coaches, a 7.2% increase over 2011-12. ICF is planning to make 75 LHB coaches this year.


First diesel-electrical multiple unit with 10 coaches
Concealed screws, cushioned seats with stainless steel frame and bottle holder, polycarbonate handholds with nylon straps, stainless steel chequered anti-slip flooring for better interior aesthetics
Aluminium windows with polycarbonate louvers, digital display boards and audio announcements
Can carry 2,900 commuters
Maximum speed of 105kmph
Digital fuel sensor
Remote monitoring system equipped with GPS and GPRS to detect fault