Self tatkal counter to beat touts

One passenger reservation counter will function as ‘Self Tatkal Counter’ at Mangalore Central, Kannur and Kozhikode railway stations from August 1 to 10 on a trial basis between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. As directed by the Railway Board, this is being tried all over the country to discourage touts walking away with bulk of the Tatkal tickets, said S. James, Public Relations Officer, Palakkad Division of Southern Railway. He said the identity of passengers would be checked when they are in queue, and those booking Tatkal ticket for themselves would be directed to Self Tatkal Counter.

Central Railways vacate 213 posts to balance losses in railways

Indian Railways has been stressing on privatization policy and most of its work is handed over to private companies to take care off. Following the order of Railway Board, 213 posts under Central Railway Mandal have been vacated and the employees have been shifted to various other departments.

It is to be mentioned that 1 lakh people serve for Indian Railways. Railways play a vital role for increasing the economy and development of the country. However, Indian Railway has been suffering losses for few years. It is worth mentioning that India Railway was the first to provide 7th Pay Commission to its employees. Due to this, the expense on salaries of employees has increased but income of railways failed to shot-up. To deal with this, railway fares were increased in this rail budget. Taking cognizance of the fact that most of the funds are utilized in salaries of railway employees, the department has decided to decrease the number of employees. The department has decided to issue tenders for private and outsourcing companies to minimize the burden of these expenses. The decision is being followed strictly in India Railways. Many works have been handed over to private companies where railway employees were deployed earlier.

Talking about Nagpur railways, Railway contributes in major areas and around 16,000 employees work under this region. Railway Board has started to vacate 1 percent employees every year. Under this privatization, the tender for cleanliness, food, base kitchen, pantry car has been given to private companies or contractors.

In the year 2012-13, 213 posts of group D and C under central railway have been vacated so far. The employees include workers, peon, ward boy, helper, gangmen, etc from Group D while ticket checking staff, nurse, technicians, loco pilot, guard, supervisors complete the employee list of Group C. These employees are shifted to various other departments but new recruitments are not made for these posts.

It is to be noted that around 600 to 700 employees retire every year, but the posts remain vacant. The Group D employees get a payment of Rs 17,000-18,000 per month that makes it 1.5 lakh per year. Thus, railways have successfully saved an approximate amount of Rs 7-8 crore on these 213 employees.

Published in: on May 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

India’s Railway Board oversees top network, $11.5 bn budget

India’s Railway Board is vested with the powers to oversee and manage what is ranked among the world’s top five railroad networks and one of the largest employers, with an estimated 1.4 million people on its rolls.

The board, including its chairman, comprises seven members, each entrusted with a specific area of operation, reporting directly to the Railways minister. The members oversee areas related to mechanical, traffic, engineering, electrical and staff, besides a finance commissioner.

“It is the highest decision making body of the railways, which approves all the policies and projects pertaining to Indian Railways,” Indian Railway spokesperson Anil Kumar Saxena told IANS.

The Railway Board was constituted in 1901 and its powers were formalised four years later. The officers today are members of the Indian Railway Personnel Services – a Class A civil service under the Union Public Service Commission.

The seven-member board is powerful financially as well.

All decisions pertaining to its large budget, pegged at a whopping Rs.63,363 crore
(Rs.633.63 billion or $11.5 billion) for the current fiscal, is routed through it.
In fact, railways is the only ministry that has been having a separate annual budget since 1920, long before independence in 1947, given its crucial contribution to the economy and the role it plays in nation-building.

The network is spread over 64,000 route km with 7,083 stations, to ferry 23 million travellers and 2.65 million tonnes of goods daily on 12,000 passenger and 7,000 freight trains.

To ensure that the railways is able grow, while also remaining financially healthy, an expert committee under under tech evangelist Sam Pitroda, also the prime minister’s advisor on public information, infrastructure and innovations, had made several recommendations.

“The structure of the Indian Railways has remained largely unchanged for decades and it remains a functionally oriented institution that is organised around its cadres, instead of around its businesses or customers,” the panel had observed.

“Reorganise the Railway Board along business discipline to reflect chairman as chief executive officer and members for safety, business development, commercial, technology, information and communications technology, signalling, freight, passenger services, infrastructure, finance, human resource and public-private partnership.”

According to Economist magazine, Indian Railways is the seventh-largest employer in the world.

It ranks as the largest employer after the US defence department, the Chinese army, Wal-Mart, China National Petroleum, State Grid of China and British health services.

It has an annual revenue base of Rs.1,06,000 crore ($19 billion).

The first train in the network operated from Mumbai to Thane on April 16, 1843.

Grinding halt for ‘royal’ train soon?

After changing its colour thrice since its launch, the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW), a super luxury tourist train that can barely break even during its run, now looks at getting its haulage model changed. The fixed haulage charges, now applicable to luxury trains, are highly exorbitant.

Following a letter by chief minister Ashok Ghelot to railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, chief secretary C K Mathew and officials from the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) are slated to meet member traffic, Railway Board at New Delhi, in this regard.

‘Royal Rajasthan on Wheels’ – touted as India’s most luxurious train – is a joint venture between RTDC and Indian Railways. At the moment, the Rajasthan government owes Rs 30 crore haulage charges to the ministry and with RTDC running in losses, it seemed adifficult thing to run the train on the current model.

In 2010, the railway board had increased haulage charges from Rs 1,000 per kilometre to Rs 2,000. If the RTDC had paid Rs 30 lakh per trip as haulage charges, it has to pay nearly Rs 60 lakh per trip now. While the railway board had offered a discount of 40% since 2011, the objective of the meeting would be to negotiate with the board to consider extending the discount by two more years i.e. till 2009 when the RROW was flagged off. The RROW which is parked for the season is said to have run on 50% capacity last season and generated Rs one crore which barely covered running expenses and commissions to general sales agents (GSAs). For the next season, only 25 per cent tickets are booked.

“The haulage charges are exorbitant and we plan to propose to the railways to run the train on revenue sharing basis as the Palace on Wheels (POW). While railways get 56% of the revenue, Rajasthan’s share is 44% is far more logical,” said Vinod Ajmera, managing director of RTDC. Besides there would also be discussion on POW coaches overhauling, he said. The average life of the train coaches is 18 years but POW has already done 18 years, well past its life.

Unlike POW which has been running on fixed itinerary for years, RROW has since its inception been a “victim of officials and politicians’ whims and fancies”. A stark example is when the train was running in losses, it changed its colour thrice. “Initially, it was painted golden to reflect the colour of the sand. This was when BJP was in power. In late 2008, Congress came to power and with it the train’s colour was changed to dark yellow. And then, the train’s colour was changed to blue. Initially, the RTDC was reluctant to change the colour since it had already bought yellow paint. But the train finally had to be painted blue at a cost of over Rs 4 lakh to the RTDC at a time when the train was incurring a loss of Rs 5 crore every season,” a source said.

Moreover, while POW for years maintains the same well-researched itinerary, RROW is now contemplating changing the itinerary, which will also be one of the issues listed on the agenda of the meeting.

Anubhuti coaches to have features ‘similar to aeroplanes’

Minister of state for railways, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, confirmed on Saturday during his visit to the rail coach factory, Kapurthala, that the railway board has received design proposals for “Anubhuti” coaches from the RCF and the factory would be given orders after approval by the board. It is learned that RCF has proposed internal features “similar to aeroplanes” to make these super-luxury coaches extremely comfortable.

RCF has proposed to have LCD screens and entertainment system and features similar to those in aircraft, while also designing diffused lighting in place of focused lights as is the practice in trains.

These coaches would be having motorized automatic sliding door in compartments while in all earlier coaches, these were manually operated doors, which required a bit of force for opening. “These motorized doors would open with just pressing a button and would be making a class difference for travelers, pushing the standard of coaches to the next orbit,” an RCF official, privy to the design details, told TOI.

RCF officials revealed that the inside aesthetics they had proposed included paneling with world class phenolic-based fiber reinforced plastic, which was currently the best used material for internal aesthetics. Rubberished floor having anti-skid properties has also been proposed.

While bio-toilets are already being manufactured and fitted by RCF, Anubhuti coaches would have modular lavatories with better space management and aeroplane-type fitting. While the RCF has already rolled out coaches with Wi-Fi, the Anubhuti coaches would have this feature integrated in them.

Even as the number of chairs has not yet been decided and reduction in their number is also not being ruled out, the proposed design and material of these chairs aim at making these much more comfortable. “Even if the number may not come down or there would be slight difference, these chairs would have better leg space and comfort,” said a RCF official.

Meanwhile, the MoS, who visited RCF when it is completing its silver jubilee year, said that the mandate of Anubhuti coaches is very clear — to make the journey a super-luxury experience. Manufacturing of these coaches would be started by RCF here as soon as the design is finalized, he said.

Railways pay Rs.60,000 to theft victim

The Union Ministry of Railways has paid a Delhi resident Rs.60,000 on the instructions of the Delhi Consumer Disputes Forum which had directed that she be compensated for theft of her purse during travel.

The payment was made after the Forum issued summons to the Railway Board Chairman this past January threatening penalty under the Consumer Protection Act for failure to comply with its order of November 2012.

It was in February this year that Archana Raj, a resident of Rani Bagh, received the compensation from the Railway Ministry.

Ms. Raj had complained that her purse was stolen while she was travelling in an AC II Tier coach of AP Express from Secunderabad to New Delhi on August 14, 2009. The case took a long time and it was only on November 6, 2012, that the Forum ruled in her favour in an open court. When the Railways initially did not pay up, Ms. Raj again moved the Forum on December 19 last to demand that “because of deliberate disobedience of the order”, proceedings under Sections 25 and 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, be initiated to enforce and execute the order with suitable costs, compensation and interest.

Thereafter the Forum issued summons to the Railway Board Chairman on January 15 this year demanding to know why penalty as contemplated under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, for not complying with the orders not be imposed on him. The summons had their effect and the complainant got her compensation through a cheque drawn on February 6.

Anubhuti rail coaches may roll out from Rae Bareli

The new Anubhuti coaches may be rolled out from the rail coach factory in Rae Bareli, the constituency of the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

This is a proposal under the consideration of the Railway Ministry.

Another option is to have such coaches manufactured at each of the coach factories, including Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala and Integrated Coach Factory, Chennai.


The new proposed coaches of the Indian Railways with better interiors — termed as Anubhuti or experience — may be priced about 40 per cent higher than the AC chair car.

These coaches will have about 50 seats in one coach as against 56 in the executive class coaches.

Improved facilities

“They would have much better interiors, more space for a person, improved lighting, upgraded toilets, automatic opening and closing of internal doors, roller blinds as curtains, LCD video screen, amongst others,” Keshav Chandra, Member-Mechanical, Railway Board, said recently.

Shatabdi trains

The plan is to place one Anubhuti coach in each of the Shatabdi trains that ply on a range of about 400 km, with a travel time of four-six hours.

The Executive Chair Car coaches cost about Rs 2.5 crore. These coaches will cost another Rs 30-40 lakh extra.


Coach interiors of Anubhuti would be on the lines of mocks designed by West Central Railway Coach Rehab Workshop, Bhopal, for other coaches.

The mock-ups of improved chair car, AC 2 tier, and AC 3-tier coaches were at the coach care centre near New Delhi Railway Station. Two Vadodara-based vendors — Kemrock Industries and Exports and Hindustan Fibre Glass Works — have supplied raw material for the new coaches.

Mock models of Anubhuti coaches have not been designed yet, said Railway officials.

To ensure train drivers get sleep, Rlys ropes in families

To ensure safety, the Railways wants its drivers to get a good night’s sleep. And to provide that, it is reaching out to their families, telling them to have in place a conducive atmosphere that allows it.

Zonal railways have been holding interactive sessions with families of loco pilots and assistant loco pilots, telling them nothing at home should come in the way of the drivers’ fill of rest and uninterrupted sleep when they arrive after duty, including household chores.

The move follows increasing incidents of accidents due to train drivers jumping signals. In May last year, 24 people were killed when the driver of Hampi Express had overshot a signal and rammed into the rear of a stationary goods train in Andhra Pradesh.

A set of guidelines reiterated by the Railway Ministry recently also stressed on measures to identify drivers who “indulge in activities other than rest” and to counsel them.

“The sessions are very helpful because when a person is at his home station after long hours of duty, it is natural that he gets caught up in household responsibilities and chores. We have realised that it often prevents them from getting a fair share of sleep before the next assignment,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

‘Signal Passing At Danger’ — the term used for accidents or near-accidents due to jumping of signals — is often attributed to drivers not being alert enough to spot “stop” signals especially at night.

Recently, K K Srivastava, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, had also issued a letter saying that proper rest for drivers was of paramount importance as cases of signal jumps are increasing due to “non-observance of proper rules”.

“It has been observed that drivers who have been inducted departmentally and drivers who are performing duty after availing headquarters rest are more prone to ‘SPAD’,” Srivastava wrote.

Engine drivers have been complaining for years about long and continuous duty hours depriving them of rest. Their duty hours as a routine stretch beyond 15 hours.

CCI rejects complaint against Railway Ministry

Observing that there is no “prima facie case”, fair trade regulator the Competition Commission of India ( CCI) has rejected a complaint alleging the Railway Ministry was abusing dominant position by charging different rates for transporting commodities.

The complaint, filed against the Railway Ministry and the Railway Board, had alleged that transportation charges were based on end use of commodities.

The CCI, in its order on December 13, said there was no evidence of violation of Competition Act.

“…In the absence of any prima facie case of violations of the provisions of the [Competition] Act, being made out on the basis of available material, the Commission is of the view that no interference is warranted by the Commission in this case,” it said.

As per the norms, the Railway Ministry and the Railway Board have the right to reclassify and revise the rates of commodities transported by railways in India.

“… The Commission is of the view that in exercise of its function of re-classification and revision of rates/freight no prima facie violation of the provisions of the [Competition] Act has been established,” CCI said.

Further, the regulator noted that the complainant — Mineral Enterprises — has not clearly defined the relevant market related to the case.

Mineral Enterprises, engaged in mining and exporting iron ore, alleged that the Railway Board has re-classified charges for transporting iron ore on the basis of its end use, resulting in different freights rates.

However, in a dissenting order, CCI member R Prasad said that prima facie, it can be concluded that unfair and discriminatory levy imposed by the Railways based on end use was affecting competition in the sector in an adverse manner.

Noting that there are no other operators in the railway services market or the railway freight market, Prasad said there is no doubt about the dominance of the Indian railways in this market.

“In fact in the market of rail freight services there is no substitutability and interchangeability with any other service,” Prasad said.

Train names convey a lot

One may ask: “What’s in a name?” But this popular saying is not true in the case of names given to trains. A train name conveys many things and passengers often find it convenient to connect with it rather than train numbers or with just source and destination stations.

A couple of years ago the Secunderabad – Guwahati Express derailed at Simhachalam North Station. There was utter confusion among relatives of passengers from different parts of the country as scrolls appeared on TV channels that the Guwahati Express had derailed. Some thought the train was Trivandrum – Guwahati and others construed it as Bangalore – Guwahati Express.

A passenger went to the Gnanapuram entry of Visakhapatnam Railway Station recently to reserve a berth from Visakhapatnam to Tirupathi. He submitted the reservation slip giving the details but forgot to write the name of the train.

He intended to travel in ‘Tirumala Express’ as he could reach Tirupathi in the early hours.

The passenger was delighted when he got a berth. It was only after leaving the counter, he realised that he was given a berth on the Puri – Tirupathi Express, which reaches Tirupathi in the evening. He went back to the reservation counter and the counter clerk said: “You haven’t written the train name.”

“But, I have written the train number on the slip,” said the passenger.

It is a different matter that the clerk cancelled the first ticket and issued another for Tirumala Express. When the railway staff themselves find train names more convenient and patronise them, passengers can’t be expected to be different.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy had suggested naming the Secunderabad – Tirupathi bi-weekly Express as ‘7 Hills Express’, when the train was flagged off last week.

Union Minister M.M. Pallam Raju had recommended naming of the Kakinada – Secunderabad tri-weekly AC Express as ‘Vasishta Express’ after the Vasishta River.

The naming a train should have the approval of the Railway Board.

The local MP, Minister or Chief Minister should take the initiative in this regard. Members of the FaceBook Users Group have already submitted a representation to Union Minister D. Purandeswari, who represents Visakhapatnam in the Lok Sabha, on the naming of the two trains to Shirdi and Chennai to be launched on December 15. They also suggested names for other trains passing through and originating/terminating in Visakhapatnam.

Published in: on December 15, 2012 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,