Railways offers PPP-mode revival of defunct stations

With the Municipal Corporation offering to renovate the defunct Thudiyalur railway station at a cost of Rs 39.85 lakh, residents of colonies along the Coimbatore — Mettupalayam road section want the remaining three stations also to be revived.

After repeated representations, the Southern Railway was now operating three special services in addition to a regular service. There were eight services from Coimbatore to Mettupalayam and from Mettupalayam to Coimbatore and the train has received overwhelming patronage. Mettupalayam People’s Welfare Federation convener T.T. Arangasamy has appealed to Southern Railway to increase the frequency with two more services in either direction and also to operate the services on Sundays. The train service now has only two stoppages at Perianaickenpalayam and Karamadai and the residents’ demand was to revive Veerapandi, Pudupalayam, Thudiyalur and Urumandampalayam railway stations. The Coimbatore — Mettupalayam section has a number of residential colonies, industries and educational institutions accounting for a steep increase in passenger traffic. A stop for these four pairs of trains would serve more passengers, Mr. Arangasamy said.

Meanwhile, the Southern Railway has offered to revive the defunct stations, provided the stations were renovated under the Public — Private Partnership (PPP) mode also known as Shramdhan scheme. As far as Thudiyalur railway station was concerned, the erstwhile Thudiyalur Town Panchayat (presently an added area of Coimbatore Corporation) had passed a resolution to this effect.

Now, the Coimbatore Corporation has also passed a resolution on September 19 to renovate the Thudiyalur station i.e., the station master’s room, platforms and toilet facilities at a cost of Rs 39.85 lakh. The Vellakinar Town Panchayat, vide its communication dated August 16, had communicated its willingness to renovate the Urumandampalayam railway station and provide basic amenities. With regard to Pudupalayam and Veerapandi railway stations, the Railway Struggle Committee and respective local residents’ associations were in talks with philanthropists and corporate houses to seek their contribution for station renovation works.

Mr. Arangasamy also appealed for increasing the platform length at Mettupalayam and Karamadai besides extending the Coimbatore — Mangalore Passenger Train No 56323 and 56324 up to Mettupalayam. With regard to electrification of the section, Railway sources said the scheme was sanctioned in 2012 — 2013 at a cost of Rs 26.08 crore and the tenders had been opened. Railway Electrification, Allahabad, will commence works shortly.


Keeping track of railway history

Southern Railway hopes to showcase the 150 years of its existence with a museum in Tiruchi.

Maps, bells and lamps made of “China Glass”. Staff badges, clocks and yellowing piles of paperwork. Huddled together under the soaring ceiling of the ‘Heritage Room’ of Southern Railway’s General Office building in Tiruchi, they seem to be passengers waiting for their journey to start.

And, in a way, perhaps they are. For these artefacts of a bygone era are to form a part of the upcoming railway museum. The collection, curated by an in-house team of officials, includes items such as old manuals, maps, gazettes, and files containing Indo-Ceylon Steamer service records and photographs in addition to out-of-use equipment such as stamping sticks, belt buckles of foremen and signal devices.

The museum is meant to be part of the erstwhile South Indian Railway’s sesquicentennial (150 years) celebrations, though as Mrs Manjula Rangarajan, Divisional Railway Manager, concedes, it’s a little behind schedule.

“The building is now complete, we are working on the electrification. Due to fund constraints, it is not possible for us to throw open the entire museum in one go. So we thought we’d do it in phases. The central hall is ready, and as part of our sesquicentennial celebrations, we thought we would inaugurate this part of the museum. We have a broad idea of where we want to place the exhibits, though it is subject to change in the future,” said Mrs Manjula in an interview with The Hindu.

The site shortlisted for the Railway Heritage Centre, as the museum will be known, is adjacent to the Community Hall near the Tiruchi railway junction, with a total area of about 15 acres. The original station building of the city that was then known as Trichinopoly, built in 1886, will be spruced up to serve as the office and ticket sales counter of the museum.

When we visited, the flooring tiles were being laid in the central exhibition hall, built in a quasi-Raj style. The proposed centre (with an approximate budget of Rs20mn) will be allocating 500 square metres for indoor exhibits. Besides the transport artefacts mentioned above, there is provision for a study room for researching railway history, philately on railway themes, and a digital archive of rare documents related to the South Indian Railway.

“We are planning a family-friendly destination,” said Mrs Manjula of the project. The indoor exhibits will be complemented by an external visitor area containing shady alcoves and eateries, and even a toy train and one or two vintage locomotive engines.

As to what she feels is the most significant part of the heritage collection, Mrs Manjula pointed out to the vintage paperwork that “tell us how we used to run the railways 150 years ago, and how much of it is still in place. It seems we have very good systems in place which are time-tested. Whatever mishaps occur would be mainly due to human error. The signalling systems were rudimentary, technological advancements may have occurred, but the system remains the same.”

The fragile paper documents need a climate-controlled storage system, which, for now, says Mrs Manjula, is still to be finalised.

Reflecting on the future of train travel in India, she said, “I think we are here to stay definitely for a couple of centuries. Our avatars may change, but we will always be there because it will take some time for our people to move away from the railways to the roadways as they have done in the West. More people are indeed taking flights to their destinations (in the domestic sector), but it’s a very large pie, and we have a very large share of that pie.”

Mr S Sayinathan, Traffic Inspector and one of the collection’s curators, says that only after he got formally involved in the project did he realise the indelible link between the railways and India’s history. “After coming to this department to preserve heritage material, I found out that the South Indian Railway is a great organisation,” he said, adding that the development of rail routes throughout the country reflected the India’s growth as well.

“Among our records we have details of how a 542-km stretch on the Tiruchi to Erode route was converted into broad gauge in a mere five hours, on the Pamban cantilever bridge that connects the Palk Strait to mainland India, and which opened to traffic in 1914, and the Unesco heritage status-Nilgiri Mountain railway (inaugurated in 1899 and still in service),” said Mr Sayinathan.

The museum project has also sparked interest among the families of the British staff who worked in South Indian Railway, says Mr Sayinathan, many of who have got in touch and shared their own memorabilia related to the years spent by their forefathers in India.

In 2010, Southern Railway published a glossy volume of rare photographs and historical information titled Marvels of The South Indian Railway, compiled by S Subramhanyan, then-Divisional Railway Manager, as part of the sesquicentennial celebrations.

Considering the potential value of the antiques inside, the Heritage Room is kept locked and out of bounds to the public. The room has the railway security force personnel’s protection throughout the day, and fire alarm systems are in place to avert potential disasters.

An expert from the Saraswathi Mahal in Thanjavur has helped to guide the team in preserving the artefacts for posterity against termites. But dealing with the mice and other rodents has required the services of the rather more simple mousetrap.

Mr Sayinathan checks the authenticity of each piece individually, a process made easier, he says, due to the British habit of stamping every item with the name of the company. “We cannot display all the old materials, because some may still be in use,” he said. “[But] we want to showcase our history to the public, so that they can understand our achievement.”


Published in: on July 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Train tickets to carry helpline numbers of railway police

The helpline numbers of Government Railway Police in Tamil Nadu and Kerala will now be printed on the back of the tickets booked through the Passenger Reservation System for the benefit of travellers in distress.

This was decided at a high-level coordination meeting on security convened by Southern Railway and attended by Government Railway Police chiefs of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry.

“Initially, these numbers will be printed on the back of tickets booked through the PRS. Soon, we will extend it to open tickets too,” V. K. Dhaka, Chief Security Commissioner, Southern Railway said.

Officials attending the meeting emphasised the need for constant exchange of crime intelligence between the GRP, Railway Protection Force and local police for effective prevention of crime and extremist activities.

They also reviewed the security of passengers, especially women passengers, and exchanged inputs on improving overall safety of travellers.

Though the crime rate in 2012 on the Southern Railway network has come down by 12 per cent from the 2011 levels, the coordinated vigil will be sustained, Mr. Dhaka said.

The meeting also took stock of the state-of-the-art Integrated Security System project that envisages putting in place an anti-terror apparatus that includes high-tech surveillance cameras, under vehicle scanners, doorframe metal detectors and X-ray baggage screening conveyors and explosives detection and disposal mechanisms at important stations.

In Chennai, the system has already been set up at Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore and Basin Bridge apart from four more suburban stations. In all, the ISS is being set up at 14 stations in southern railway including Madurai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram Central, Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Mangalore.

Rakesh Misra, Southern Railway General Manager, said the ISS which was already installed at six stations would be commissioned in the remaining eight stations expeditiously. More stations will also have CCTV coverage, he said.


New rail museum to showcase memorabilia

The rich heritage of the erstwhile South Indian Railway (SIR), the landmark railway construction work executed in the colonial era, rare photographs and documents providing insights into the developments taken place in different periods of railway history, will all be showcased in the rail museum coming up near Tiruchi junction.

Spread over five acres
Coming up on five acres near Rail Kalyana Mandapam, the museum project is being set up as part of the 150{+t}{+h}year celebrations of the SIR which had Tiruchi as its headquarters then. Southern Railway was created by merging Madras and Southern Maratha Railway, South Indian Railway and Mysore State Railway.

The construction of museum building on an area of 9,500 square feet has been completed with interior works, landscaping, construction of compound wall, and laying of a toy train track will be taken up shortly, according to railway officials.

Having spent Rs.1 crore for establishing the museum, divisional railway authorities have been provided with additional funds amounting to Rs.50 lakh by the Railway Board for the project.

Ready by June
The pending works are expected to be completed by June, say railway officials.
The museum will also house old lamps used at stations, clocks and other articles made use of by the erstwhile South Indian Railway Company besides old gazettes, railway manuals and books used during the British Raj.

Outer space to be used too
To capture the attention of the public, outdoor exhibits such as steam loco, steam crane and other railway mechanical and electrical equipment are proposed to be exhibited outside the museum.

Preserve for posterity
The museum will provide interesting trivia about the origin of the SIR and the developments that took place subsequently as well as showcase the superior character of the railways, officials said.

The whole idea of setting up the museum is to preserve the rare documents, old photographs and equipment for posterity, says Divisional Railway Manager Manjula Rangarajan.

The old manuals and articles presently housed in the heritage hall in the office of the divisional railway manager would be moved to the new facility in order to preserve them in a better fashion. All in all prospects are exciting…


More comfortable journeys on double-decker train in the offing

More comfortable journey for passengers travelling on the new coaches of double- decker train is in the offing as many changes have been incorporated in them, including the number of seats that have been reduced to 120 from 128 after their redesigning at Rail Coach Factory here.

Several crucial changes have been made by RCF engineers based on the feedback received from passengers and railway officials who travelled on the first double-decker train operating between Howrah and Dhanbad stations since October 2011.

Senior RCF PRO Virender Kumar Vij said that 17 newly-designed coaches were rolled out from the factory on March 31 and had undergone field trials on the Delhi-Jaipur track.

“Basically, we have reduced the width of coaches by 80mms as there was some operational problem with the previous coaches as platforms were extended at some stations due to repair or other reasons. By reducing the coach width, this problem has been sorted out,” he said claiming that “this is the optimised standard design prepared by RCF officials”.

Apart from reduction in the number of seats, reclining chairs have been installed. Also, half of the seats would now be in one direction and others in opposite direction, with a snack table in the centre, added Vij.

Interiors of the coaches have been worked upon to improve aesthetic aspect.

Another rake is ready to be rolled out in the first week of June to be run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. By the end of this year, two more rakes for Southern Railway (Chennai to Bangalore) and for West Central Railway (Habibganj to Indore) would be rolled out from RCF, he added.

“Senior railways officials are highly impressed with the newly designed coaches and it is expected that these coaches will replace the existing Shatabdi coaches all over the country in the near future,” he said.


Published in: on May 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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LED signals to enhance visibility at level crossings

Southern Railway will provide LED signals at level crossing gates and yards to ensure better visibility in all mainline signals and prevent mishaps, Southern Railway General Manager Deepak Krishan said on Thursday.

Addressing the 57 Railway Week Celebrations of Southern Railway, Mr. Krishan said LED installations had been completed at 296 stations so far, of which 90 LED signals were provided in 2011-12.

Southern Railway, conferred the national-level shield for safety-related works and train punctuality, also expects to shortly complete the installation of the Integrated Security System at 14 select stations, including Chennai Central. The integrated system was expected to bring about improvements in passenger safety and security through state-of-the-art surveillance, he said.

According to Mr. Krishan, while the tragedy at Arakkonam, where ten lives were lost when an EMU rammed a stationary train, was most unfortunate, what equally raises concern was the loss of lives and injuries due to negligence of road users, especially while crossing unmanned level crossings. Of the seven consequential accidents last year, four occurred at unmanned level crossings, he said.

Apart from awareness campaigns that involved sending 85 lakh SMSes, issue of pamphlets and screening of short films at railway terminals, the Railways is phasing out unmanned level crossings from the system, he said. In addition to the closure of 78 unmanned level crossings by providing alternate limited height subways or diversion of road, 37 such crossings had been upgraded to manned crossings.

So far, the achievement of eliminating 115 of the 1,127 unmanned level crossings was a record and had earned a shield from the Railway Board, he said.


Southern Railway to chug along green way

CHENNAI: Travelling by train could soon be a green way with Southern Railway planning to replace polluting diesel with much more environment-friendly and indigenously produced bio-diesel in its diesel locomotives.

As a first step towards making the operation of trains environment-friendly and cost-effective, Southern Railway has signed a MoU with Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) to set up a mega bio-diesel plant at the Loco Works in Perambur.

The plant, with a capacity of one lakh litres per day, is expected to meet the bio-diesel requirements of Southern Railway, South Central Railway and South Western Railway.

The railways is going ahead with electrification of tracks but several pockets in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are yet to be electrified and hence require diesel locomotives to operate trains. With the cost of diesel high, the railways has cosen bio-diesel as an alternative fuel.

Currently, about 600 kilo litres of diesel are used per day to operate trains on the southern trunk route from Chennai Egmore to Tiruchi, Madurai, Kanyakumari and also to Tuticorin.

“Many popular trains from Chennai Egmore are operated with diesel locomotives. The mega plant will be able to produce bio-diesel to fuel these trains as well as the diesel locomotives used for shunting,” said Southern Railway chief mechanical engineer V Carmelus.

The plant is expected to start production by 2010 and “will be able to meet the requirement of the green fuel for railways in the coming years,” he added.

According to a study conducted by the Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchi, the green fuel has many advantages it reduces wear and tear of engine components, enhances the life of fuel-injection equipment, cuts the use of lube oil and reduces exhaust gas temperature.

The Loco Works in Perambur already runs a pilot plant and produces around 250 litres of bio diesel, used for a couple of locomotives and also for automobiles used by the factory.

As early as 2002, experimenting with bio-diesel began as part of a mission to find an alternative fuel. After trials, the New-Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express was run successfully on a five per cent blend of bio-diesel.

In 2003, Southern Railway started its experiments with trial production in a five-litre plant by procuring raw oil of Pongammia Pinnata (Karanja) at the Loco Works. Four automobiles were put on bio-diesel; one of them was fully run on bio-diesel while others used a 20 % blend of the green fuel.

In July 2004, a pilot plant of 100 litres was installed. The Loco Works uses cooking oil collected from star hotels as raw material to produce bio diesel. Currently, Southern Railway uses bio-diesel to run a broad gauge locomotive, a Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU), two metre gauge locomotives and industrial machinery like fork lifts, bulldozer, tipper trucks, cranes and others. Nilgriri Mountain Railway is also run using bio diesel.


Travel in style on Shatabdi exp

CHENNAI: The Southern Railway is all set to redefine luxury and passenger comfort in Shatabdi through introducing LHB German design coaches. Very soon the Chennai-Bangalore- Mysore Shatabadi will don a new look with these coaches.

“The LHB coaches, compared to the current air-conditioned sleeper or chair car rakes, are more comfortable with new amenities,” said an official with the southern railway. “This new generation passenger coaches focus on passenger comfort, safety and operation and life cycle costs. These coaches will be longer but lighter and will be maintenance friendly. It also has an aesthetic appeal,” added the official.

The sophisticated LHB coaches — named after three engineers Linke, Hoffman and Bosch are developed at Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, in association with Germany’s Alstom Group.

Though the southern railway has not yet officially announced the date of introducing the new coaches, highly placed officials clarified that it would be inducted into the service of the southern railway in a month’s time.

It is pointed out that the facilities in the train include an improved ride comfort-ride index reduced to 2.5 at 160 km per hour. Anti drumming feature and sound insulation giving a good noise reduction; functional toilets, which allow easy and good cleaning; optimised design of pantry with functional trolley.

It also has comfortable seats with infinitely adjustable back seats; windows of big sizes allowing good visibility with functional roller blinds; luggage racks of modern design with integrated lamps for all seats.

To ensure safety in the LHB coaches have modern design of vestibule for inter car connection; anti-climbing feature to prevent climbing off during collision; improved brake system with wheel slide protection; use of fire code for materials following state-of- art practices; four emergency windows are provided per coach; increased coach length to provide extra carrying capacity (AC chair car carries 78 passengers against 67 in existing design); coach weight reduced through design innovations for lower hauling costs (AC chair car weight brought down by around 5 tonne); ease of manufacture by suitable material selection and design; anti-corrosive materials to give better corrosion protection; toilets designed for discharge at predetermined speeds to help station cleanliness; improved availability through longer intervals between maintenance schedules; enhanced maintenance friendliness through easy accessibility and exchangeability of wearing parts; entrance doors flush with side wall allowing automatic car washing, functional switch board cabinet centrally located and easily accessible electrical equipment; closed roof mounted air conditioning units eliminating incidence of water dripping into the coach; glued PVC floor which allows no floor damage through water seepage; the coaches have been provided with Tight Lock Center Buffer couplers and shall be culpable with AAR type coupler fitted on locomotives.


Southern Railway planning to start medical college

CHENNAI: Southern Railway is to start a medical college with private participation by making use of the existing medical facilities available at its hospital in Perambur here.

The Chief Medical Director of Southern Railway on Friday called for expression of interest from resourceful medical institutions in the country for establishing and running the college at the cost of institutions as per the Medical Council of India regulations. The institutions should have at least 10 years’ experience in running a medical college and attached hospital as per the MCI norms. Foreign institutions can also participate in the bid, provided they comply with respective foreign medical regulatory authority norms.

Southern Railway is now running a 500-bed hospital on a 15-acre site in Perambur and the same is to be shifted soon to new premises. The existing hospital premises and the proposed new hospital complex will be available for establishing the medical college.

According to the Medical Director, the Perambur railway hospital has basic specialities in 15 disciplines and super-specialities in three disciplines.

The hospital has been recognised by the National Board of Examinations for recognition in postgraduate training. International institutions such as Royal College of Surgeons had also accredited the hospital for imparting training in PG courses.


Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 11:46 am  Comments (2)  
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