Indian Railways News

Railways saves over Rs 5,000 crore in power bills in two years

The railways has registered savings of Rs 5,636 crore in power bills from April 2015 to October 2017, the transport behemoth said today.

It also projected a cumulative saving of Rs 41,000 crore in the next ten years.

“The Indian Railways (IR) has succeeded in achieving a cumulative saving of Rs 5,636 crore from April 2015 to October 2017 against the Business As Usual (BAU) mode by procuring power directly under Open Access arrangements.

“This cumulative figure is likely to further go up to Rs 6,927 crore by the end of the current financial year which is around Rs 1,000 crore more than the stipulated target,” the ministry said.

The Open Access policy under the Electricity Act, 2003, allows consumers with electricity load above 1 MW to procure power directly from markets.

The railways currently sources power through open access route in seven states–Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and Karnataka–and Damodar Valley Corporation area.

Five more states namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have also agreed to permit the railways for flow of power though open access route which is likely to start by next year, the ministry said in a statement.

“The estimated savings on these accounts indicates that in ten years (2015-’25), these initiatives can generate a cumulative saving of about Rs 41,000 crore,” the statement said.

As of now out of total requirement of about 2,000 MW of the IR for electric traction power more than 1,000 MW is flowing under open access. This has reduced the average cost in these states, where power is flowing under open access, to about Rs 5 from earlier cost of more than Rs 7 per unit.

These savings, the statements said, will be utilised for taking up electrification of the rail network as part of Mission Electrification.

This will further reduce the diesel bill and multiply the savings in energy bill, taking it to about Rs 10,500 crore per annum in the next few years on 100 per cent electrification of the IR network, the ministry said.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission had allowed the railways to undertake transmission and distribution of electricity as a deemed licensee under the Electricity Act through an order in November 2015.

The railways consumes around 2.8 billion litres of diesel a year, costing Rs 18,000 crore, and 17.5 billion units of electricity. Currently, nearly 30 per cent of the fuel bill goes into paying state taxes.




Railways to invite tenders for electrifying 8,000 km every year from next fiscal

The Indian Railways will start tendering 8,000 km of rail lines for electrification every year, starting next financial year, to complete the network electrification target in the next five years.

In a first, the contract size that will be awarded on the government-funded engineering-procurement and construction (EPC) model, will be mostly in the range of 1,500-2,000 km to achieve faster completion. “We are standardising designs and processes to save time and cost. Along with that, we are building a pipeline for bidders so that they’re sure about the quantum of contracts available for the next four-five years,” a top railway official said.
The official said instructions have gone across to zones to send details of high-density corridors that should be prioritised. Almost 70% of traffic in both passenger and freight segments is mostly on 40,000 km of rail routes. Nearly half of the 66,000-km railway tracks in the country have been electrified so far.

The railways, which currently has a fuel bill of Rs 26,500 crore, will save Rs 10,500 crore in fuel bill annually by electrifying its entire route. The cost for electrifying would be around Rs 30,000-35,000 crore. Railways is aiming to cut project cost by at least 20% by offering large contracts.

New toilets in trains no better than septic tanks: IIT-M study

A new kind of toilet using bacteria to break down human excreta has been deployed in Indian trains over four years to 2017, at a cost of Rs 1,305 crore, but this toilet is no better than a septic tank, the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) has concluded after a two-year long study.

As many as 93,537 “bio-digesters” — as the toilets are called –have been installed in mainline express and mail trains by the Indian Railways. These are small-scale sewage-treatment systems beneath the toilet seat: Bacteria in a compost chamber digests human excreta, leaving behind water and methane. Only the water, disinfected later, is let out on the tracks.

However, sanitation experts and various studies — including those commissioned by the railways — have pointed out that most of the new “bio-toilets” are ineffective or ill maintained and the water discharged is no better than raw sewage.

“Our tests have found that the organic matter (human waste) collecting in the bio-digesters do not undergo any kind of treatment,” IIT professor Ligy Philip, who headed the latest study, told IndiaSpend. “Like in the septic tanks, these bio-digesters accumulate slush (human excreta mixed with water).”

The IIT-M study was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and submitted last week to the Union Ministry of Urban Affairs.

Railways may put 30,000 km of power lines on the block

In a major disinvestment initiative that follows New Delhi’s decision to dilute its Air India ownership, the Centre is considering a proposal to put on the block about 30,000 km of Indian Railways power lines, potentially fetching the national transporter Rs 1 crore for each kilometre of infrastructure.

With the likely upfront receipts of Rs 30,000 crore, the Indian Railways will take on projects that deliver higher returns.

Apart from state-run power companies, private-sector firms and pension funds will also be allowed to bid for these power lines, a senior government official told ET, detailing broad points of the proposal. “It is being deliberated. The idea is that the railways will take these lines on lease and pay a fixed interest to the owner,” he said.

According to the initial plan, the railways will continue to manage the operations and maintenance (O&M) function of these power lines.

“The O&M will be handled by our engineers. The funds raised through this sale will be utilised in projects that have a return of more than 12%,” a top railway official said.

Talgo chief meets Rail Ministry, offers to manufacture in India

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today met José María Oriol, the CEO of Talgo, who offered to build the light-weight, energy efficient Spanish Talgo trains in the country under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, ministry officials said.

The meeting is significant as the project to introduce these trains has been in cold storage since the Indian Railways conducted trials last year to validate their speed potential.

Sources say that during the meeting Oriol told Goyal that the company was open to “everything” – from manufacturing the coaches to entire train sets in India.

The minister was assured that the company supported the government’s Make in India campaign and “risked coming to India at their own cost” because they wanted to “manufacture” in the country, a ministry official said.

During the trial run in September last year, the train clocked a top speed of 180 km per hour and completed the 1,384 kilometre journey between New Delhi and Mumbai in 11 hours and 40 minutes, compared to the 15 hours and 50 minutes taken by the Rajdhani Express.

However, since then the idea of making them operational in the country has made little progress as a committee highlighted a series of problems with the ambitious project, including that such a large order size, technical changes to train design and high lease costs could not go through without competitive bidding.

What made Talgo trains attractive for Indian Railways was the fact that it can be deployed on existing tracks. The lightweight design and advanced suspension technology allows Talgo trains to travel faster, minimises risks of accidents and puts less force on existing tracks during high-speed manoeuvre.

While the average speed of Rajdhani and Shatabdi coaches is around 70 kmph, Talgo trains can run at an average speed of 105 kmph on the same tracks.

The successful trial of Talgo trains was even highlighted in the list of the NDA government’s achievements in its first two years.
However, a question mark hangs over the fate of the project after the Indo-Spanish joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Spain in May this year did not mention it.

3 Dead, Several Injured After Train Derails In Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot

Three people were killed and at least nine nine persons left injured after a Patna-bound train derailed near Manikpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh early this morning, police said. Thirteen coaches of the Vasco Da Gama-Patna Express derailed at 4.18 am after it left the Manikpur station, less than 12 hours after a Bolero jeep collided with a passenger train near Lucknow killing four and injuring two.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has ordered an inquiry into the incident and announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh each to the family of the dead, Rs. 1 lakh for those with grevious injuries and Rs. 50,000 for the injured. “Immediate rescue and relief operations started and an inquiry ordered into the derailment of Vasco Da Gama-Patna Express at Manikpur, UP. My sincere condolences to the families of the deceased,” Mr Goyal said in a tweet.

Chitrakoot Superintendent of Police Pratap Gopendra Singh said a man and his six-year-old son from Bettiah district of Bihar died on the spot while the third person died at a hospital. Two of the injured are said to be serious.

Anil Saxena, Railway spokesperson, said medical relief is being provided to the injured. “Patients have been admitted to Manikpur and Chitrakoot Hospital and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has been closely monitoring the situation. Ashwani Lohani, railway board chairman, has been asked to rush to the spot,” he said.

Railway officials are on the spot and investigating the reasons that led to the accident. According to Additional Director General (Law and Order), Anand Kumar, fractured railway track could have derailed the coaches. The incident has disrupted the movement of trains on the Patna-Allahabad route.

Exactly a year ago, over 100 people were killed and nearly 200 injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express jumped the rails near Kanpur. The number of deaths due to train accidents has already reached over 200 this year, the highest in a decade.

Earlier in August, at least a dozen carriages of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express ran off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar. At least 23 people were killed and more than 70 injured in the accident. A few days later, over hundred people were injured when 10 bogies of the Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district of the state.

Former Railway Board chairman AK Mittal had resigned taking responsibility for frequent train accidents. Ashwini Lohani, the former chairman of national carrier Air India, then replaced him as the new chief of the board. The then Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, had also offered to quit, but was told to wait by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Cabinet clears Indian Railways’ plan to seek Dividend Waiver for 2016-17

The railway ministry can now move a resolution in both Houses of Parliament adopting the Railway Convention Committee’s recommendations for a waiver on dividend for 2016-17. Cabinet approves Resolution for adoption of the recommendations of the Railway Convention Committee (2014) as contained in their Sixth Report on “Rate of Dividend payable by the Railways to the General Revenues for the year 2016-17 and other ancillary matters”

The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared a proposal for a one-time waiver of Indian railways’ dividend payout of around Rs 9,000 crore to the general exchequer for 2016-17, purely as a one-time move, the Rate of Dividend payable by Railways to the General Revenues be waived off. With this, railways can now approach the Parliament for its approval to the waiver.

After the merger of the railway budget with general budget last year, it was decided that the national transporter would not have to pay dividend for the capital invested in it. While railways was budgeted to pay Rs 9,730 crore as dividend for last financial year, a subsidy of Rs 4,300 crore was claimed by it towards loss-making routes, putting the net dividend reportedly at about Rs 5,430 crore.

“Cabinet approves the proposal of the ministry of railways to move a resolution in both the houses of Parliament adopting Railway Convention Committee’s (2014) recommendations that for the year 2016-17, purely as a one-time move, the rate of dividend payable by the railways to the general revenues be waived off,” said the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on its Twitter handle.

Artesyn and Lab To Market Collaborate to bring SIL4 COTS ControlSafe™ Platforms for Train Control & Rail Signaling to Indian Market

Artesyn Embedded Technologies, a global leader in highly reliable and available embedded computer systems, today announced a collaboration with Lab To Market Innovations Pvt Ltd, an Innovations development company incubated at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, to bring the ControlSafe™ portfolio of rail computing platforms to the Indian railways market.

Artesyn’s ControlSafe portfolio includes the ControlSafe Platform, ControlSafe Expansion Box Platform, ControlSafe Carborne Platform and the ControlSafe Compact Carborne Platform. They are designed to enable rail system integrators to accelerate time-to-market and reduce the cost and risk of developing or upgrading train control and rail signaling applications. By leveraging a SIL4 COTS fail-safe and fault-tolerant computing platform, railway technology companies can focus on their value-added offering and final certification for end solutions.

“The ControlSafe portfolio is designed for a wide range of onboard and wayside applications and is already saving integrators years of time-to-market and millions in development costs all over the world,” said Qianqian Shao, product manager, Artesyn Embedded Technologies. “We have selected Lab To Market for its entrepreneurship and experience in the Indian market and this alliance will enable us to jointly tailor solutions for the next generation of India’s train control systems and signaling applications.”

“India has a world-renowned rail infrastructure carrying over 20 million passengers a day and a growing need for investment into dedicated freight networks,” said professor S.K. Sinha, founder and managing director of Lab to Market. “We have assembled a team of some of the best experts in transportation, electronics, embedded systems and business development, backed by the number one university in India for technology and research. Using the ControlSafe platform, with SIL4 certifications, will help us bring this much-needed infrastructure to reality more quickly, cost effectively and with a reliable development roadmap.”

The first three platforms in Artesyn’s ControlSafe portfolio have been certified to SIL4, while certification is planned for the latest platform to be announced, the ControlSafe Compact Carborne Platform.

About Lab To Market

Lab to Market’s main business is to develop and license products/solutions to industries with the active involvement of academia. Lab to Market is incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and works closely with the faculty of this most prestigious institution, known world over for its world class facilities and research output. Our mission is to develop market-ready and commercially-viable products and solutions from the ‘proof of concept’ and ‘laboratory prototypes’ of academic institutions, research laboratories and similar others.

About Artesyn Embedded Technologies

Artesyn Embedded Technologies is a global leader in the design and manufacture of highly reliable power conversion and embedded computing solutions for a wide range of industries including communications, computing, consumer electronics, medical, military, aerospace and industrial automation. For more than 40 years, customers have trusted Artesyn to help them accelerate time-to-market and reduce risk with cost-effective advanced network computing and power conversion solutions. Headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Artesyn has over 16,000 employees worldwide across ten engineering centers of excellence, four wholly-owned world-class manufacturing facilities, and global sales and support offices.

Rake diversion triggered Shutdown of NTPC Simhadri unit: Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd

BHUBANESWAR: Diversion of coal rakes entitled for NTPC’s Simhadari plant from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (MCL) by NTPC management triggered shutdown of its 500 MW unit in Andhra Pradesh, an MCL release said.

NTPC management had continuously diverted coal rakes from MCL entitled for Simhadari STPS (super thermal power station) to the Korba STPS and Seepat TPS (thermal power station) which were running super-critical.

MCL has been regularly offering coal as per programme of NTPC Simhadari to South East Central Railway as well as East Coast Railways.

As on date, materialisation of Andhra Pradesh-based thermal power station has been 95 per cent of pro rata ACQ (Annual Contracted Quality) for the month and 79 per cent for annual pro rata ACQ.

Between November 11 and 14, 2017, MCL has dispatched an average of seven rakes to NTPC Simhadari (seven, six, nine and six rakes respectively), which has been more than the supply of 5.5 rakes per day to the plant, as per the decision of the sub-group of the Ministry of Coal.

MCL is committed to maintain continuous supply of coal to its consumers and with the cooperation of Railways, the company has been successful in checking the growing demand-supply gap in the country. On Tuesday, 73 rakes were provided by Railways to MCL for coal supply.

In the current quarter Q3, the supply of coal from MCL has crossed an average of 400,000 tonnes per day.

MCL has supplied about 82 million tonnes of coal to its consumers in the current fiscal and has sufficient stock to feed all power consumers, including NTPC Simhadri.

The company had crossed 141 million tonne supply of coal to consumers during 2016-17, which had been the highest supply ever by any coal company in the country.

Now onus on States to ensure Land Transfer for Rail Projects: CRB Ashwani Lohani

NEW DELHI: With nearly 500 projects worth Rs 4 lakh crore delayed, the railways has decided that no new project will be taken up from now on until states give written commitments regarding transfer of land. Delay in land acquisition is one of the major causes for new rail projects not taking off.

The decision was taken by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani following internal deliberations. The board has issued policy guidelines to all zonal headquarters authorising general managers (GMs) to invite tenders only if they are reasonably certain of the possibility of land acquisition within a reasonable time-frame.

“In suppression of all earlier instructions, Railway Board has decided that issue of tenders or commencement of physical work for New Line projects shall be taken up only after completion of land acquisition subject,” said the policy document issued on October 30.

The document says that GMs can also consider seeking a written assurance from the state governments in this regard. The idea is to put the onus on state governments for smooth transfer of land for railway projects.

“The problem of land acquisition comes in new line projects, majority of which are recommended by states. So, the new guidelines put the onus on states to provide the land if they want new projects to be sanctioned,” said a senior railway board officer.

According to official statistics, there are about 491 projects – new lines, gauge conversion and doubling — pending completion. Of these, 171 are new railway line projects worth Rs 2 lakh crore.

“For the purpose of execution, large projects can be divided into phases by GMs… after ensuring that each phase, on completion, yields commercial return for Railways,” the policy document added.

It has been decided that the policy will be followed not just in cases of new projects but also old ones where tenders have not yet been finalised. Under the earlier policy, tenders could be issued if 70 per cent of land was available for the projects. But according to railway sources, it was hardly followed.

The guidelines have been sent to all states so that they can initiate the procedures for facilitating land acquisition for railway projects.