On local trains, it’s graffiti grief for women

A woman journalist was in for a shock recently when she started receiving lewd calls from strangers. On enquiring, she found that someone had scribbled her phone number along with an obscene message in a local train compartment. She then lodged a police complaint.
While her complaint is pending with the cyber crime cell, the menace has been giving other women commuters a tough time. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has registered several cases of damaging or defacing railway property, of which five per cent are cases of obscene graffiti against women, officials say.

Such graffiti is usually seen in luggage compartments and second class ladies’ compartments that become general compartments after 11 pm.

Over the past five years, the RPF registered 766 offences on the Western Railway (WR) and 15,311 on Central Railway (CR). These include defacing trains, damaging banners or altering letters or figures in trains or on railway premises. However, the railway administration has failed to take serious action as it “does not have separate data on cases of obscene graffiti in local trains”.

Women commuters prefer not to approach police. WR commuter Neha Dutt said, “It would be better if the railway authorities frequently cleaned the train coaches and removed the obscene posters and graffiti.”

Before 2004, such cases were handled by Government Railway Police (GRP). Later, the RPF was empowered to deal with such cases under Indian Railways Act, 1989.

In April 2002, the then railway police commissioner Rakesh Maria formed three squads comprising 10 police personnel. Police had then nabbed two culprits red-handed.

On April 18, 2002, a 23-year-old final year engineering student and on April 25, 2002, another 20-year-old college student were caught while scribbling vulgar graffiti on the wall of second class ladies’ compartment. RPF authorities, however, said it was difficult to catch the offenders red-handed.

WR registers cases of defacing trains under section 166 A and 166 B of Indian Railways Act, regarding damage to railway property. The CR’s RPF, however, registers these cases as creating nuisance under sections 145 A, 145 B and 145 C of the Act. The minor penalty entails imprisonment for a month or a fine Rs 500 to Rs 1,000.

Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, CR said, “This is the work of perverted minds. Though the law takes care of such offenders, the permanent solution is that every member of the society must respect women.”


You may not get season pass for WR’S AC local

If the Western Railway (WR) has its way, you will have to buy a card ticket before each journey on the much awaited air-conditioned (AC) suburban local train, slated to begin next year.

The rail authorities are against the idea of subsidised season tickets, the most preferred method of daily commute on the western line, as they say that it would not be economical for the railways.

“If a season pass is introduced for the AC local, the train would be as packed as the first class compartments of suburban locals,” said a senior railway official.

The railway authorities are confident that even without the availability of season passes, enough commuters would be willing to travel on the upcoming train as heavy traffic and overcrowding make travelling by road and local trains an inconvenient option.

WR authorities have prepared a proposal detailing the proposed fare structure for the AC local and sent it to the Railway Board, the apex body of the Indian Railways which will take the final decision on it.

While the senior official refused to disclose the proposed fare structure, he suggested that fares would be at par with those for AC buses and AC chair cars of the railways.

Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory has been tasked with manufacturing the first AC local.

While the train was scheduled to arrive in the city last April, it has been delayed till next year over some technological challenges.

“It is expected to take at least five more months,” said another senior official of WR.

As this is the first AC train of its type, delays are unavoidable, the official said.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times


JTBS scheme a hit on CR

JAN Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewa (JTBS), the Railways’ outsourcing scheme, has shown substantial growth over the past year, with its share in total ticketing rising from one per cent in January 2012 to 11 per cent in January 2013 on Central Railway (CR). On Western Railway (WR), the scheme has been poorly received. While there are 141 JTBS centres on CR, there are are only four on WR in Mumbai division.

Though commuters have to pay a rupee extra while purchasing tickets from JTBS centres, many prefer this over long queues at ticket booking offices.

Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway manager, CR said, “JTBS counters in Thane, Mumbra, Kurla and Govandi sometimes sell over 10,000 tickets a day.”

Mukhtar Malim Kasam, a JTBS operator at Mumbra, said, “On weekends, 5,000-6,000 tickets are sold. On a regular day, we sell up to 3,000 tickets.” A ticket booking window sells a maximum of 3,000 tickets per day on both CR and WR.

Earlier, JTBS policy did not allow additional counters. Other rules related location of JTBS shops too are stringent. A policy review in 2010 popularised the scheme, said a senior railway official who did not wish to be named. The official said the share of JTBS was now equal to Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) that contribute 11 per cent to ticketing.

On why WR was not promoting JTBS, Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, WR, said, “We have many booking counters to take care of queues. Also, ATVMs and CVMs together contribute 30 per cent to overall ticketing on WR.”


WR turns to IIT for tips on increasing services

Western Railway (WR) has approached IIT-Bombay, asking the experts for suggestions on how to increase services on the suburban corridor.

WR runs 1,250 services, of which 1,116 are 12-car, 14 are 15-car and 120 are 9-car. But the facility does not seem to be enough for 36 lakh commuters who avail of the facility every day. At a commuter interface meeting, organized by Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam in Borivli, some passengers requested WR’s general manager Mahesh Kumar to increase the number of services. Besides, they also asked for the installation of escalators at Borivli station and an increase in the height of platforms to cut down on the gap with train footboards.

“We have done our best in the past few months to squeeze in as many services as possible. However beyond a point, it becomes difficult to introduce more trains because of the limitations in the time-table,” Kumar said. “We have requested IIT-Bombay to explore the possibility of starting new services by improving the frequency of trains. We have given them all the data and information that had been sought. We are likely get the report by June.”

IIT-B’s operations research department will also conduct a study to suggest technical measure to improve the railway’s functioning. For example, the study will suggest if the inter-signaling distance can be relocated or changes can be made at crossover points where trains shift from one track to another.


Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Clean linen to greet you on trains soon

Concerned about complaints of stained and torn bed-sheets, blankets and other linen in air-conditioned coaches, Western Railway (WR) has decided to adopt an automatic laundry system. In the first phase, washing machines will be installed at Ahmedabad, Surat, Mumbai, Junagadh and Indore railway stations.

While the system is operating at Indore railway station, it will start in the coming few weeks at Mumbai and Ahmedabad. At Mumbai, machines will be placed at CST and Mumbai Central stations.

Automatic washing machines will steam wash, dry, press and fold bed-sheets, blankets and other linen. According to sources, WR will implement the system under BOOT (Build Own Operate and Transfer). Tenders for inviting contractors have been floated and a decision is expected to be taken soon.

Sources added that each machine will have capacity of six ton ne(per shift). If it is operated in three shifts it can cater to the needs of 37 trains daily.

“We wanted to improve linen service in air-conditioned coaches. Also, we had to incur high transportation cost to bring washed bed-sheets and other stuff from contractors,” said Sharatchandra Yaan, chief PRO of WR. According to him, contractors engaged for the task were not doing their work properly which has forced WR to take action. “This system will not only save costs but will also solve problems faced by passengers,” Yaan added.

The existing system of laundry in WR is that the linen is owned, washed and supplied by small contractors at a cost of Rs25 per bedroll. Though they are supposed to replace the bed-sheets/blankets every year, they do not do so citing heavy losses. That’s why stained or torn bed-sheets/blankets/pillows are provided much to the chagrin of passengers.

WR to develop its 1.30 lakh sqm land to fund AC corridor

The city might get its dream elevated air-conditioned (AC) Churchgate to Virar corridor, but, at the cost of Western Railway’s (WR) 1.30lakh sqm stretch from Bombay Central to Borivli.

The Western Railway (WR) plans to commercially exploit its 1.30lakh sqm of land in eight locations to generate funds for the Rs. 20,000-crore project. While Bombay Central, Bandra, Andheri, Mahalaxmi and Borivli are the five locations, the other three spots have not been revealed.

The administration plans to give the project on built-operate-transfer basis for 20 years. “We don’t want to take financial aid from the World Bank because we will have to return it with interest. We are considering the development of land that is available, to generate funds,” said a senior WR official.

Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, WR, said: “We have received proposals for the appointment of legal and financial consultants, which are being evaluated. The valuation of land will be done after receiving minute project details from the consultants. Once we get the estimates, we will request the state government to provide us with the corresponding FSI so that we can earn the said amount by developing the land.”

Last week, WR general manager Mahesh Kumar met state chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad to discuss the project.

Transport activists feel that the railways should develop the land on its own. “The WR should develop the land and then lease it to private entities instead of allowing someone else to develop it. Also, instead of giving the project on BOT basis, the railways should construct the elevated corridor on their own,” said Jagdeep Desai, transport activist.


Mumbai Sale of tourist tickets rises on Mumbai locals

Tourist tickets that enable travelling on all the lines have emerged as popular amongst tourists and commuters, statistics revealed. Statistics reveal that, compared to last year, there is a 54% growth in the sale of first class tourist tickets in the Central Railway (CR) in 2010-11 and 66% in the s
econd class.

In Western Railway (WR), there is a 60% growth in the sale of first class tickets and 72% growth in the sale of second-class tickets.

On the Central line, 1,13,932 first class tourist tickets, and 51,528 second class tourist tickets were sold in 2010-11.

The railways offer three kinds of tourist tickets. To travel on all lines for a day in first class, a commuter will have to pay Rs170. For three days, it is Rs330 and for 5 days it is Rs390.

These tickets are sold for second class travel with lesser charges: Rs50 for a day, Rs90 for three days and Rs105 for five days.

Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relation officer of CR, said: “There was a campaign held to promote these tourist tickets amongst commuters during Diwali and at the end of the year. Not only tourists, but even regular commuter who wish to travel long distance once in a while prefer tourist tickets.”

“These tickets are popular amongst commuters during festivals such as Ganesh Chathurti or Diwali. It is convenient for them as they can hop into any train without worrying about the ticket,” said a CR official, in condition of anonymity.


Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 9:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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15-car trains at Churchgate

The much touted 15-car train of the Western Railway (WR) will make its debut at Churchgate on Wednesday, Republic Day.

The local train, which can accommodate 6,000 people during rush hour, had been on trial run between Dadar and Virar with halts at Bandra, Andheri and Borivli, and all stations between Borivli and Virar except Naigaon and Dahisar.

On January 26, the service will be extended to WR’s southern terminus. After two-day tests, the service will be regularised on Friday.

As with Dadar-Virar, there will be 12 Churchgate-Virar services daily by one train. But within the year, the number of trains would be increased to three, with the number of services going up to 50.

“Before the end of 2011, we would have augmented two 12-car trains to 15-car ones, a WR official said. This would add 38 services to the existing.

He said the work to extend platforms three and four at Churchgate is almost complete. The realigning of the tracks is over. Surfacing of the platforms will be finished in a few days, whereupon amenities would be introduced.

The schedule of the 15-car train will be revised as well, since travel time would increase by 15 to 20 minutes per trip. Also, with the furthering of the destination, the efficiency of the train’s utilization will go up by 20%.


Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Travel on spic and span WR trains

The suburban local trains on Western Railway (WR) can be expected to be cleaner than usual. Each train will now be cleaned once every 10 days. Earlier, it was cleaned every 40 days.

The mechanised cleaning at the WR started on Thursday. The work is being handled by a private agency at a cost of Rs 4 crore for two years.

The trains will be cleaned using mechanised cleaning methods wherein the paan stains, stickers and graffiti will be removed using jet water sprays and fragrance filled liquid. “Cleanliness of trains was a major issue. There was frequent chain pulling by commuters because coaches were unclean, which affected the punctuality of train services. Hopefully, this won’ be the case anymore,” said R.N. Verma, General Manager, WR.

Everyday eight trains will be cleaned; four each at the Mumbai Central and Kandivli car sheds respectively. “The cleaning time for one coach will range from anywhere between 25-45 minutes depending on the filth on and inside a coach,” said an official from WR.

Every day 76 out of 84 trains go to car sheds and sidings (individual tracks separated from the line near stations for allowing trains to park at night) for cleaning. The quantum of water taken by the mechanised jet sprays will be around 500-700 litres per coach depending on the stains. “This is 40 per cent lesser than the water used by the conventional method,” added Verma.

The WR are also looking at creating 60 bore wells between Churchgate and Borivli for drawing water at cost of Rs 63 crore. They have dug one bore well each at the Mumbai Central and Kandivli car shed for cleaning trains.


Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment