Harbour line commuters won’t have to wait for the CSTM-Panvel elevated corridor to enjoy air-conditioned travel as the railways and the state government will be introducing air-conditioned locals on the line by the end of 2014.

High-tech and stainless steel AC coaches, similar to Metro coaches, will soon be procured for the project. These coaches will have closing doors and will be connected by vestibules, making it easy for commuters to move from one coach to another.

As part of the ongoing Rs. 714 crore project to introduce 12-car services on the harbour line, a total of 53 air-conditioned coaches (four-twelve car rakes and five extra coaches) will be procured.

“Rolling stock component of the project is estimated to cost about Rs. 520-crore and coaches will soon be procured through a global tendering process,” said a senior official of Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC), an agency planning and execution body, for suburban railway projects.

The global tendering process will be initiated after Railway Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) finalises specifications of these air-conditioned coaches, said the official.

On Thursday, MRVC met with BP Khare, general manager of CR, to inform him that the project was on schedule.

The official added that each coach is estimated to cost over Rs9 crore, but costs might escalate as the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) had to procure such coaches for Rs15 crore each.

To accommodate the 12-car trains and other related works, the MRVC has already awarded all tenders for extending the length of platforms on the harbour line. The extension work is likely to be completed by the end of 2014.

The railways have already proposed two elevated rail corridors in the city, on which it plans to run air-conditioned trains.

CSTM-Panvel elevated corridor is one of them and is estimated to cost around Rs9,800 crore. For the project, the MRVC had conducted a ‘willingness to pay survey’ among Harbour line commuters last year.

However, the long awaited dream of suburban commuters to travel in air conditioned trains will come true in the next few months.

The first air-conditioned suburban local for the city is being built at the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and is likely to reach city in August, say WR officials.

Railways get software to set timetable

The railways are finally moving with the times. Hoping to improve the punctuality of services, the authorities are abandoning the practice of manually preparing timetables and have commissioned a software to prepare a timetable based on traffic volumes on different sections.

“We have appointed the German company RM Con for automatic preparation of timetable,” said the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation’s managing director Rakesh Saksena. “The software, called Rail Operation Simulation Program, will be very useful when 72 new rakes are added to the CR and WR fleet.” Manual preparation of timetables does not always maximize utilization of resources.

At present, WR operates 1,305 services over 125 km and CR operates 1,618 services over 300 km. Harbour line’s frequency is a train every five minutes; CR’s Main line has a service every four minutes and WR every three minutes during peak hours.

Saksena said the program will make use of all available slots. “Data is being fed into the program. We expect the automatic timetabling system to be ready by October 2013.”

The German firm will identify critical locations and factors affecting headway and operations (with respect to tracks, signals, rolling stock and traction power supply). It will help optimize “train links and list trains due for various given maintenance schedules”. Additionally, it will help prepare “platform occupation charts and crew links for timetables”. “It will help develop temporary timetables for periods such as blocks and disruptions,” said an MRVC official.


Railways ties up funds at zonal levels for 360 pending projects

With the Ministry of Railways back with the Congress after 16 years, a fresh wave of change is sweeping through the ministry.

For the first time, the railways has prioritised its 360 pending projects worth about Rs 4 lakh crore and tied up funds with them at zonal levels.

The ministry is also cautious about spending this time, as for the first time in a decade or so, it did not go for any supplementary demand for grants in the monsoon and winter sessions of Parliament.

“The railway is right now focusing on the existing projects. We have tied up funds for works at zonal levels and the power to reappropriate funds from one work to another vest with the board now in contrast to the zones earlier,” a senior railway ministry official told Business Standard.

“We also did not go for any supplementary demand for grants during the parliamentary session as the intention was to focus our resources on the budgeted works rather than starting new works.”

The railways, which went for a freight hike of 20-25 per cent in March 2012, is expecting a surplus of around Rs 12,000 crore.

The targeted annual Plan outlay of around Rs 60,100 crore in 2012-13 is expected to be financed by gross budgetary support of Rs 24,000 crore, internal resources of Rs 18,050 crore, extra budgetary resources of Rs 16,050 crore and railways safety fund of Rs 2,000 crore.

The funds raised by Indian Railways Finance Corp (IRFC) are totally dedicated to buy rolling stock.

In 2011-12, the railways invested these funds for project financing. But now, it is investing money on assets that have sure shot returns. The rolling stock being the only asset which starts generating money from the first day is the safest bet in contrast to long gestation period projects.

Among the key works under plan are: New lines, gauge conversion, track renewals, signaling and telecommunication and rolling stock. All the planned expenditure is dedicated on this. Among the key budgeted non-planned expenditure in 2012-13 are: 37 per cent on staff salaries, 16 per cent on pension funds and 17 per cent on fuel charges.


Railways signs pact with Spain on high speed trains

The railways on Friday signed an agreement with Spain to promote cooperation and information exchange in the areas of bullet trains, enhancing speed of passenger trains on existing lines and improving safety of train operations.

The MoU was signed by railway minister C P Joshi and Spanish minister of public works and transport Ana Pastor Julian for technical cooperation in the rail sector that includes modernization of rolling stock among others.

Railways has announced seven high-speed corridors and has prepared a Cabinet note to set up a high-speed rail authority to run trains at 300 km/hour.


Railways keeps off market for funds so far this fiscal

For the first time in at least eight years, Indian Railways has not mopped up funds from the market even though almost half the financial year is over, signalling a sound financial run.

Thanks to an across-the-board freight rate hike of 24-28 per cent in March, the Railways’ financial position has been looking up. Revenues from freight registered 26 per cent growth for the first four months despite loadings going up by a much lower level of 4.3 per cent. Freight earnings account for almost 70 per cent share of its total earnings.


In this backdrop, the Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC), the fund-raising arm of the Railways, can afford to delay its borrowing in the current fiscal, given the tight liquidity situation in the market. IRFC has to raise Rs 15,000 crore, of which Rs 10,000 crore will be tax-free bonds. It is yet to get the Finance Ministry’s nod for this. So, the first round of fund-raising appears unlikely before October. IRFC funds are primarily used to buy rolling stock, such as locomotives, wagons and coaches. This ensures that the loans are securitised against rolling stock, allowing it to access cheaper funds.

In 2011-12 fiscal, IRFC raised funds at a weighted average interest rate of 8.73 per cent, which was 0.57 per cent lower than the average cost achieved by all AAA-rated entities put together. Till date, it has acquired 6,073 locomotives, 36,613 passenger coaches and 162,238 freight wagons for the Railways, which are valued at Rs 82,447 crore.

“This is a first such occurrence since 2004,” said a source.


On whether the delay in raising funds was because of a possible slowdown in acquisition of rolling stock, Vijaya Kanth, Finance Commissioner, Railway Board, recently told Business Line that there was no slowdown in rolling stock acquisition and this was more a reflection of the of the financial health of the Railways.

In fiscal 2011-12, the IRFC funded the acquisition of 506 locomotives, 2,757 passenger coaches and 13,208 freight wagons, valued at Rs 12,604 crore. This was the highest ever funding of rolling stock by IRFC.


Published in: on September 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Spanish wagon maker makes India tracks

Spanish rolling stock maker CAF hopes to set up a manufacturing unit in the country given its increasing scope for business in the metro railway segment. A final decision in this regard is expected by next year.

Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway, usually including both powered and unpowered vehicles.

CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles), along with its joint-venture partner MELCO, has been awarded a contract for nearly Rs 800 crore to supply 14 rakes (84 coaches) to the East West Metro project in Kolkata. Previously, the company supplied eight rakes for the Airport-link of the Delhi Metro.

“We do have plans to start a manufacturing unit here. We are scouting suitable locations for setting up the unit,” Mr Juan Jose Garcia, International Division Area Director, CAF told Business Line. Mr Garcia, however, declined to speak on possible locations for the upcoming unit, the expected investment and product details. “We are a listed company in Spain and are bound by regulatory issues,” he said.

Global rolling stock majors such as Bombardier and Alstom have already built capacities in India to tap the urban rapid mass transport segment.

According to Mr Garcia, CAF, currently the fourth largest rolling stock maker in the world, has already bid for orders from upcoming metro rail projects in Hyderabad (L&T Metro Rail, Hyderabad) and Jaipur. In Hyderabad, it expects contracts for 42 rakes of three cars each. Details of the Jaipur project are yet to be finalised.

For the East West Metro in Kolkata, some rakes will be imported from Spain while others will be manufactured locally. CAF has also bid for the North-South extension project to be carried out by the Kolkata Metro authorities.