Eyeing revenue, railways starts spade work to develop land in Mumbai

The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has begun a survey to find out how portions of land owned by the railways on the city’s suburban network can be commercially developed.

The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has begun a survey to find out how portions of land owned by the railways on the city’s suburban network can be commercially developed.

The study would not only assess the market situation for development but also the impact it would have on the existing infrastructure like roads and underground utilities.

The survey, called the ‘best use option’ study, is expected to take six to seven months to be completed because its scope is extensive, said officials.

The first five plots the MRVC is looking at are in Mulund (West), Bhandup (East), Thane, Chinchpokli and Currey Road.The railways has almost 430 million square metres of land across the country. The officials said the survey is being conducted as the railway ministry is considering the view that the railways must commercially exploit its land to gets its dismal balance sheets back in the black.

“It is a desperate situation for the railways. It needs to run more trains every year because of the annual rise in passengers. Many of these run on diesel which is bleeding the railways. Second, staff salaries continue to rise. In such a situation, looking at commercially exploiting land instead of allowing them to get encroached due to lack of activity is important,” said an official.

Central Railway alone has some 4.7 lakh square metres of land either encroached or under litigation in Mumbai.

Officials said the survey is looking at Central Railway areas because the Western Railway lands are being locked in for the elevated corridor between Oval Maidan-Churchgate-Virar.

“The elevated corridor project would require commercial development of land to allow the private participant to recover costs. So around 1.4 million sqft of railway land between Churchgate and Virar are being held back as part of the elevated corridor calculations,” said an official.


Rail takes BEST route to cut ticket counter queues

To reduce queues at booking counters, Western Railway (WR) will soon introduce portable ticket vending machines. The devices will be similar to those used by BEST bus conductors.

As a pilot project, the machines will be tried out at Virar, Nallasopara, Elphinstone Road and Churchgate stations, with five units for each station.

The project will be implemented in collaboration with Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), which will extend technical and financial assistance, said a senior WR official. “The machines will be used to give single-destination tickets to commuters. We believed the technology is fast as well as reliable. The devices can be easily connected via a Wi-Fi network to the unreserved ticketing system (UTS), which will help prevent fraudulent transactions.”

Earlier efforts to reduce queues included the introduction of coupon validating machines (CVMs) and smartcard-operated automated ticket vending machines (ATVMs). The official said ATVMs account for only 5.3% of the total card ticket traffic per day. And though CVMs’ share is almost four times that, the queues at booking offices have shown no signs of shortening.

At Rs 25,000 each, the portable machines will be a lot cheaper than ATVMs (Rs1-1.5 lakh each). “Also, since they will be staff-operated, their failure rate will be much less than that of CVMs or ATVMs, which are commuter-operated,” the official said. “People who are not well-versed with information technology find it difficult to use ATVMs. Moreover, the time spend to select the right option is greater because the user is expected to click buttons more than twice to get a ticket.”

WR plans to introduce the portable machines at stations were the demand for tickets has gone up significantly in recent years, said an official of the commercial department of WR’s Mumbai division. Booking offices continue to sell 5.48 lakh card tickets a day, compared to 2,171 CVM booklets (19% of tickets) and 36,764 ATVM tickets (5.3%). Once portable ticket vending machines are introduced, the booking office load will be expected to go down substantially. The official said, “We will soon have a preliminary round of discussion with MRVC officials.”

Season ticket holders | 24.93 lakh Card ticket holders | 10.53 lakh Total | 35.46 lakh
Booking offi ces | 87 Booking counters | 334 (up to Dahanu Road)
Card tickets issued per day | 5.48 lakh Season tickets issued per day | 40,175 Card tickets sold at booking counters | 75%

No of ATVMs | 185
Daily ticket sale | 36,764
Daily smart card sale | 500
Passengers who use ATVMs per day | 57,581
Tickets sold through ATVMs | 5.3%

CVM booklets sold per day | 2,171
Passengers who use CVMs per day | 1.9 lakh
Tickets sold through CVMs | 19%


CR to get rain-proof signalling system before next monsoon

Central Railway (CR) commuters can expect a smoother journey next monsoon. The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) wants to install an advanced signalling system. This Austrian system, as opposed to the existing one, is touted as rain-proof.

The product, from the firm Frauscher Sensortechnik, is at present being tested by the Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO; the railways’ benchmarking body), Lucknow. MRVC’s MD Rakesh Saksena said, “We installed 64 of the devices, called digital axle counters (DACs), in Parel a few months ago for field trials. The data is being sent to RDSO. Monsoon is the ideal time to gauge the success of the device.”

Once RDSO certifies the trials as successful, the device will be installed between CST and Thane, and in Kalyan and Raoli Junction. It will cover 1,095 track sections and comprise 1,503 detection points. The project, which is part of MUTP, costs Rs 55 crore.

A DAC, comprising two detectors on either end of a track section, detects a train on the section by tallying axles. Each coach of a local train has four axles (for four sets of wheels).Thus, a 12-car local has 48 axles. Each detector of a DAC will count these. A perfect tally would mean that a train indeed was present in the section. The signal in that section will turn red to ensure a reasonable gapwiththe next train on the same track.

DIGITAL DESIGN Central Railway plans a switch from analog to digital signalling to beat rain-related interference
EXISTING SYSTEM TRACK CIRCUIT DEVICE | Detects the presence of a train on a section of the track. The two rails of the track are connected by a relay coil. When a train passes through the spot, a circuit is formed. When this happens, the default status of a signal—which is green—turns red, indicating that the section is occupied DRAWBACK | If it rains, the circuit often becomes faulty because of the presence of water, turning the signal red in a section even without the presence of a train.

ADVANCED SYSTEM MULTI-SECTION DIGITAL AXLE COUNTER | A track is divided into sections, with a signal post marking each. The advanced signalling system will have axle detectors at both ends of a section. The signal will turn red if the number of axles counted by the first detector matches that counted by the second SUPERIORITY | While the existing track circuit device works on electricity, making it vulnerable to conductors like water, the advanced system is based on the electromagnetic field


Consultant to chart suburban rly growth

The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has decided to appoint a consultant to prepare an expansion and development plan for the suburban railway network, keeping in mind the passenger growth scenario till 2031.

The corporation has floated an expression of interest and six consultants will be shortlisted by May. The evaluation and appointment of the consultant is expected to be finalized by June-July. The corporation has set a time-frame of one year to complete the study.

A senior MRVC official said: “We wanted a specific study for Mumbai’s suburban railway network to develop a time-based proposal with estimated costs of physical expansion, increasing capacity and improving quality in line with the changing requirements of commuters. This will be done for the period 2016 to 2031.”

The scope of service also includes a pre-feasibility study for investment proposals for the same period, including costestimates aswell asfinancial andeconomic viability of the proposed project.

The official said the consultant was expected to identify corridors for expansion purposes.Theexpansion couldbein the form of extending existing corridors, having new corridors or by laying additional tracks to enhance capacity.

At present, Central Railway and Western Railway operate 2,600 suburban trains per day in and around Mumbai and carry about 7.1 million passengers.
The official said the study would draw up an estimate of the demand for suburban services till 2031 based on surveys carried out in the past.
The consultant would also have to address issues such as station improvement, increasing capacity, quality of service and a comfortable commute, new terminals, extension of platform on existing corridors and pre-feasibility study for identified projects, among others.


Railway tickets at grocery stores?

If the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has its way, a unique ticketing system that would work across suburban railways and the BEST Undertaking should be in place by next year.

NO MORE QUEUES? The move follows the introduction of ATVMs in 2007.

The MRVC plans to install these new ticket vending machines at neighbourhood stores, banks and post offices. The ticketing system would deliver tickets in a fraction of a second. A proposal has been sent to the World Bank.

According to MRVC officials, such a system is crucial in a suburban system due to the crowd and peak hour movement of commuters.

“The commuter does not have the time to wait in serpentine queues. Also, the commuter should be able to procure tickets with cash or even a credit card,” said an MRVC official.

“We are looking at creating a ticket vending system similar to the Oyster ticket system in London. The system would be unique as both the suburban railways and the BEST Undertaking would be brought together and it would ensure that the revenue flows to each of the undertakings according to the commuter usage,” he added.

“Once the World Bank approves our proposal, we can call for global tenders to carry out a study on a ticketing system, which would take into account the peculiarities of the transport system in the city,” said MRVC Chief
Operations Manager Prakash Rao Vazalwar.


Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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