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.

Made-in-India coaches to run on Metro track

New Delhi The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has ordered eight new coaches, to be manufactured indigenously for the first time, to add to the carrying capacity of four trains in operation at present. The coaches will be manufactured by the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd in Bangalore.

The coaches will be designed to carry a maximum of 390 people — 50 sitting and 340 standing. “Two new coaches will be added to the four trains, increasing their carrying capacity by 780 each,” said a DMRC spokesman. The 70 trains operating at present run with four coaches each.

For the first time, the Metro coaches are being manufactured by an Indian company without any collaboration with a foreign firm, according to the DMRC. The coaches will be inducted after a test and trial session. The delivery of the first two coaches is expected by August.

computerised train management system in Western Railway

In a bid to minimise failures of new rakes, Western Railway has come up with a solution in the form of a computerised train management system that would continuously monitor various performance parameters of key train components. The data would then be downloaded from a port at the motorman’s cabin.

One of the major reasons for the failure of the new rakes has been related to traction motors. With this system, impending failures can be detected in advance. The system’s software has been programmed to interpret the deviations in the performance parameters of the components and issue warning in form of messages.

During night when all events are being downloaded from the port at the motorman’s cabin, if the system pops-up a message number 145, it means that there is bearing failure or cage breaking in the traction motor.

Lalit Patnoi, Divisional Electrical Engineer, WR, told media persons: “Event Downloading has been started in all rakes at the interval of three days from February 28 for intense monitoring of message number.145 to detect defects in traction motor in advance, as well as other defects, which may cause failure of train on tracks.”

Sunder Gupta, Chief Public Relations Officer of WR said, “Twelve traction motors have been changed in time before a failure could occur by monitoring of message number 145.”

Meanwhile, as traction motors have been the source of majority of the failures in WR and CR, Siemens, the firm that provided technology for the rakes, has given order to replace all traction motors in the new rakes. New motors are expected to arrive in Mumbai in April. Meanwhile, spare motors are being used to replace damaged motors at the Mumbai Central EMU car shed.

Gupta said, “So far, 56 traction motors have been changed in the new Siemens rakes, out of which 36 traction motors had failed.” At present, there are 17 rakes on tracks and two are under commissioning at Kandivali car shed.×7/434709/

Gupta added that an upgraded version of train management software has been uploaded in two rakes, and based on its performance, it will be extended to all rakes.”

Other initiatives

1. From February 6 onwards, while stabling of Siemens rakes in both of the sheds as well as in stabling yards, temperature of TM driving end bearing is being monitored to detect TM failure in advance.
2. To prevent the malfunctioning of Auto Warning System (AWS), a cyclic check of this has been started from February 16, and till date 16 rakes have been completed.
3. To improve the reliability of rakes, multi function vehicle bus (MVB) testing has been started.