Now, MPs can build railway stations where they want

Believe it or not, now your Member of Parliament can decide where to halt a particular train.

According to a privilege extended to lawmakers by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, MPs can now sponsor the construction of the railway stations from his/her annual budget of Rs 5 crore and etch his name for perpetuity on a steel or metal plaque.

The statistics and programme implementation ministry has included halt stations in the list of constructions allowed under the MP Local Area Development fund.

The modified guidelines say that funds from the MPLAD scheme can be used for constructing the halt stations ‘to facilitate the local community for easy access to railways and boarding/de-boarding from the train’.
The announcement, however, has irked the Railway ministry, which has so far not agreed to empower the MPs to decide the halts of trains in their area.

Worried Railway ministry officials say that the schedule of trains will be disrupted if MPs start deciding the halt stations.

The only scope left for the Railways to prevent the mushrooming growth of the halt stations at every small town and village is with the MPLAD guidelines stating that “the implementation will be carried out as per the provisions of the Railways”.
The guidelines, pushed by Minister of State S K Jena, stresses that there should be no duplication or duplicate accounting.

If the Railways are also contributing to establishment of any train halts, the accounts of expenditure will be strictly maintained separately for both MPLAD scheme and Railways, say the guidelines.

“A plaque (steel/metal) indicating the cost involved, contribution made from MPLADS/Railways, if any, commencement, completion and inauguration and the name of the MP sponsoring the work should be permanently erected,” the guidelines add.

Now, railway TTEs to get palmtops

For cash- strapped government behemoth Indian Railways, this is big news. The ticket-checkers on board all the Rajdhani Express trains would soon be seen carrying hand-held computers, instead of the archaic reservation chart enabling them to allot seats to short distance passengers.

The decision comes after the success of the pilot project by the Delhi divisions in three Shatabdi trains for the past three years.

“We will be allotting palmtops soon. The success of the pilot project on the Ajmer-Delhi, Amritsar-Delhi and Dehradun-Delhi Shatabdis has helped us to take this decision,” said S K Sharma, CPRO, Northern Railway.

The palmtop will replace the long reservation list carried by the Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs). The palmtops, connected to the central server, will enable the TTE to update the status of passengers who turn up for the journey. It would reflect the status of available seats on a train across the railway network, which could be booked by any passenger willing to board it in at the next station. The system developed by Centre for Railway Information System and to work in tandem with SIMRAN (which tracks real time movement of trains), will help railways earn extra revenues, claim officials.

Eastern Railway CPRO Sameer Goswami said, “Till now, we have no circular from the railway board in this matter. We too will introduce palmtops as part of the national scheme once we get the necessary go ahead,.

Sources at Baroda House, the headquarters of Northern Railway, claim the process will stop the TTEs from charging arbitrarily for short distance bookings.

Published in: on April 8, 2012 at 8:34 am  Comments (1)  
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Now, catch your train driving a golf-cart

LUCKNOW: The last time Naseema Bano decided to undertake a train journey from Charbagh station, she walked nearly 400 m to get to her coach. Wincing Twitter Facebook Share Email Print Save Comment with pain due to her chronic arthritis, Bano made up her mind not to travel again in a hurry. Come January, 2010, however, Naseema Bano could well plan another trip to meet her grandchildren. Thanks to the Northern Railways’ (NR) plan of introducing free golf-cart services in all A1, A and B class railway stations across Uttar Pradesh, ailing, handicapped and elderly passengers are likely to get a free ride to their designated train compartments. Conceptualised by the Lucknow division of NR in tandem with Delhi based Carrieall Technologies India Pvt Ltd, the first consignment of golf-carts is likely to arrive by the end of December, 2009 and will first cater to the A1 grade cities of Varanasi and Lucknow. Accommodating four passengers at a time, in Lucknow, the carts will ferry passengers between platforms 1 and 5 through the connecting subways. Platforms 6 and 7, which are not connected by subways, however, will remain unconnected for the time being, in view of passenger safety. “The implementation of the scheme has been done in accordance with the policy decision to this effect by the ministry of Railways in New Delhi.

Starting the services depends upon how soon the suppliers give us the carts,” says Neeraj Sharma, senior divisional commercial manager, NR. Well begun but half baked. While passengers stand to benefit from the implementation of this scheme, the railways look ill-prepared to take on additional traffic at a station that is already bursting at the seams. The designated subways may accommodate the four-seater carts, but will leave little space for pedestrians to walk and railway officials to transfer luggage. Parking arrangements for the consignment of 101 carts and making arrangements to charge the battery-operated vehicles are other aspects that the railways are yet to attend to. On a hopeful note, a railway source says, “Once Carrieall Technologies delivers the carts to us, the operational issues can be ironed out within a week.” But even as the railways approach the matter on a positive note, the manufacturer remains unwilling to commit to a definite date for the delivery of the first three to four vehicles.”I will be travelling to Lucknow to work out the final details.

The first few carts should be delivered before the end of the year,” says Rajesh Kumar, director, Carrieall Technologies India Pvt Ltd. If implemented, the golf-cart services stand to win the railways a lot of passenger goodwill. The lack of infrastructural preparedness and dependency on the manufacturer, however, is likely to put a spanner in the works for a bright idea that can otherwise enhance the quality of public life.